1KI  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 12
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The trial of kingly power placed in the hands of men
The Books of Kings show us the kingly power established in all its glory; its fall, and God’s testimony in the midst of the ruin; with details concerning Judah after the rejection of Israel, until Lo-ammi had been pronounced upon the whole nation. In a word, it is the trial of kingly power placed in the hands of men, not absolute, as in Nebuchadnezzar, but kingly power having the law for its rule; as there had been a trial of the people set in relationship with God by means of priesthood. Out of Christ nothing stands.
The foreshadowing of Christ’s kingdom
Although the kingly power had been placed under the responsibility of its faithfulness to Jehovah; and although it had to be smitten and punished whenever it failed in this, it was yet at this time established by the counsels and the will of God. It was neither a David, type of Christ in his patience, who, through difficulties, obstacles and sufferings, made himself a way to the throne; nor a king who, although exalted to the throne and always victorious, had to be a man of war to the end of his life; a type in this, I doubt not, of what Christ will be in the midst of the Jews at His return, when He will commence the coming age by subjecting the Gentiles to Himself, having been already delivered from the strivings of the people (Psa. 18:43-4443Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me. 44As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me. (Psalm 18:43‑44)). It was the king according to the promises and the counsels of God, the king established in peace, head over God’s people to rule them in righteousness, son of David according to the promise, and type of that true Son of David, who shall be a priest upon His throne, who shall build the temple of Jehovah, and between whom and Jehovah there shall be the counsel of peace (Zech. 6:1313Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zechariah 6:13)).
Responsibility and election
Let us examine a little the position of this kingly power according to the Word; for responsibility and election met in it, as well as the foreshadowing of the kingdom of Christ.
In chapter 7 of the Second Book of Samuel we have seen the promise of a son whom God would raise up to David, and who should reign after him, to whom God would be a father, and who should be His son, who should build the temple of Jehovah, and the throne of whose kingdom God would establish forever. This was the promise: a promise which, as David himself understood, will be fully accomplished only in the Person of Christ (1 Chron. 17:1717And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God. (1 Chronicles 17:17)). Here is the responsibility: “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men” (2 Sam. 7:1414I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: (2 Samuel 7:14)); which David well understood also (1 Chron. 28:99And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. (1 Chronicles 28:9)).
The book which we are considering shows us that this responsibility was fully declared to Solomon (ch. 9:4-9).
From all these passages, we perceive that the royalty of David’s family was established according to the counsels of God and the election of grace; that the perpetuity of this royalty, dependent on the faithfulness of God, was consequently infallible; but that at the same time the family of David, in the person of Solomon, was in fact placed upon the throne at that time under the condition of obedience and faithfulness to Jehovah.1 If himself or his posterity were to fail in faithfulness, God’s judgment would be executed; a judgment which nevertheless would not prevent God’s fulfilling that which His grace had assured to David.
(1. This is the universal order of God’s ways: to set up blessing first under the responsibility of man, to be accomplished afterwards according to His counsels by His power and grace. And it is to be noted that the first thing man has always done is to fail. Thus Adam, thus Noah, thus under law, thus the priesthood, thus as here the royalty under law, so Nebuchadnezzar where it was absolute, so, I add, the church. Already in the apostles’ days all sought their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. God continues His own dealings in grace in spite of this, all through, besides His government according to responsibility in the public body in this world, but a government full of patience and grace.)
The scope of the Books of Kings
The Books of Kings contain the history of the establishment of the kingdom in Israel under this responsibility, that of its fall, of the long-suffering of God, of God’s testimony amid the ruin which flowed from the unfaithfulness of the first king, and finally that of the execution of the judgment, a longer delay of which would but have falsified God’s own character, and the testimony that should be given to the holiness of that character. Such delay would have borne a false testimony with respect to that which God is.
We shall see that, after Solomon’s reign, the greater part of the narrative refers to the testimony given by the prophets Elijah and Elisha in the midst of Israel, and in general to that kingdom which had entirely departed from God. Little is said of Judah before the complete ruin of Israel. After this the ruin of Judah, brought on by the iniquity of their kings, is not long delayed, although there were moments of restoration.