Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

27 February 2009

Navigating around Kings and Chronicles - Tip One

The first tip for navigating around 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles is to know the basic outline of this material. So what exactly is going on?

Well, in short, the twelve tribes who were descended from the sons of Jacob had settled in the Promised Land as the nation of Israel. And one day they decided they wanted a king to rule over them, just like the surrounding nations who all had kings, instead of having God rule over them. So God gave them a king in Saul from the tribe of Benjamin (which didn't really work out) followed by King David from the tribe of Judah (which did work out) followed by his son King Solomon (who experience mixed fortunes.) Here we have three famous heroes of the Bible.

After Solomon things got a bit sticky. His son Rehoboam succeeded him as king however Jereboam, an enemy of Solomon, muscled in and made life difficult. So the nation of Israel split. What was once one Israel split into two smaller nations.

Rehoboam ruled over two tribes – Judah and Benjamin – because God had promised to preserve the family line of David from Judah. Rehoboam's much reduced kingdom is here after referred to as the Southern Kingdom or Judah. (So from Rehoboam onwards, "Judah" includes Judah PLUS Benjamin, not just the single tribe of Judah! You can see why I got confused 15 years ago!!) And throughout 1 & 2 Kings we read of the rule of 20 leaders from Rehoboam in 931BC to Zedekiah's reign, which ended in 586BC. Each of the rulers came from the same family line, descended from David.

Jeroboam ruled over the other ten tribes. His kingdom is referred to as the Northern Kingdom or Israel. (So from Jeroboam onwards, "Israel" is now the ten tribes, not the whole lot! Trickier and trickier!!) And so throughout 1 & 2 Kings we read again of 20 more leaders, this time in the Northern Kingdom from Jeroboam in 931BC to Hoshea whose reign finished in 722BC. These 20 kings came not from one family line but from four different dynasties.

So 1 & 2 Kings then traces the history of the newly formed Judah (Southern Kingdom) until it fell to Babylon and Israel (Northern Kingdom) until it fell to Assyria. The final blow for trickiness is that the story keeps swapping from Judah to Israel and back again, over and over. And if you didn't understand that you were reading about two different nations (as I didn't 15 years ago) it is next to incomprehensible. But that little key of understanding is the first stage to unlocking this section of the Bible.


mattnbec said...

Great job of helping people with context. Big tick next to the 'C' of COMA (well, the big-picture version, anyway)!

Meredith said...

Thanks for ticking the "C" Bec!! If COMA is a mystery, it stands for "Context, Observation, Meaning, Application."