Key people

1 Kings


Bathsheba was the unlikely link between Israel’s two most famous Kings - David and Solomon. She was lover and wife to one, mother to the other. Her adultery with David almost brought an end to the family through which God planned to physically enter his world. Out of the ashes of that sin, however, God brought good. Eventually Jesus Christ, the salvation of mankind, was born to a descendant of David and Bathsheba.

David and Bathsheba’s story shows that little wrong decisions often lead to big mistakes. It is likely that neither was where he or she should have been. Bethsheba may been rash in bathing where she might be seen; David should have been at war with his army. Each decision contributed to the beginning of a very sad series of events.

Bathsheba must have been devastated by the chain of events - unfaithfulness to her husband, discovery of pregnancy, death of her husband, death of her child. We are told that David comforted her (2 Samuel 12:24), and she lived to see another son, Solomon, sit on the throne.

From her life we see that the little, day-to-day choices we make are very important . They prepare us to make the right choice when the big decisions come. The wisdom to make right choices in small and large matters is a gift from God. Understanding this should make us more conscious of the decisions we make and more willing to include God in our decision making. Have you asked for his help with today’s decisions?

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Became influential in the palace alongside her son Solomon

    • Was the mother of Israel’s wisest king and an ancestor of Jesus Christ

Weakness and mistake

    • Committed adultery

Lessons from her life

    • Although we may feel caught up in a chain of events, we are still responsible for the way we participate in those events

    • A sin may seem like one small seed, but the harvest of consequences is beyond measure

    • In the worst possible situations, God is still able to bring about good when people truly turn to him

    • White we must live the natural consequences of our sins, God’s forgiveness of sin is complete

Vital statistics

    • Where: Jerusalem

    • Occupations: Queen and queen mother

    • Relatives: Father: Elian. Husbands: Uriah and David. Son: Salomon

    • Contemporaries: Nathan, Joab, Adonijah

Key verses

    • “When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done” (2 Samuel 11:26, 27).

Her story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Kings 1-2. A related passage is Psalm 51.


Chosen for her youth and beauty, Abishag found herself one day the live-in-nurse of the great but elderly King David. Her job was to keep the ailing king warm. Within months her patient died. We know little about their relationship (although, for those who might wonder, the writer makes it clear that they never had sexual intercourse).

Almost immediately after David’s death, Abishag became the bargaining chip in a power struggle between his sons Solomon and Adonijah. Solomon had been chosen for the throne; Adonijah had tried to usurp it. Solomon could have killed his rival, but instead said that if Adonijah proved to be loyal, he would not be harmed (1:52).

Loyalty, however, was not in Adonijah’s vocabulary. When he went to Bathsheba asking for Abishag’s hand in marriage, he had strong ulterior motives. For Adonijah, Abishag was probably little more than a possible angle to renew his claim to the throne of David. Bathsheba may have been trying to do Abishag a favor as well as to pacify Adonijah. Solomon saw through the use, however and understood that Adonijah was planning to use Abishag (who had technically been a part of King David’s harem) to gain leverage in his fight for the throne. Adonijah paid for his request with his life, for he had proven that he would not be loyal to Solomon. These maneuvers revealed one clear fact: no one cared what Abishag thought. She might as well have been listed with the furniture.

Home and work are both settings in which persons are sometimes treated as objects. You may be hurt today by such treatment. Family members may withhold appreciation. Fellow workers may treat you like just another office machine. Resist these invitations to hopelessness by remembering that God knows you intimately and will always treat you as a person.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Served and apparently thankless role as king’s personal servant with grace and silence

    • Witnessed David’s decision to pass the throne to his son Solomon

Lessons from her life

    • We may go unnoticed and devalued by others, but God never loses track of us

    • We frequently know only a small part of the significance of events in our life as they relate to God’s larger plan for the world

Vital statistics

    • Where: Shumen, Jerusalem

    • Occupation: King David’s nurse and companion

    • Contemporaries: Nathan, Bathsheba, Solomon, Adonijah

Key verses

    • “The girl was very beautiful, and she looked after the king and took care of him. But the king had no sexual relations with her” (1 Kings 1:4).

Abishag’s story is told in 1 Kings 1:1-4; 2:13-24.


Wisdom is only effective when it is put into action. Early in his life Solomon had the sense to recognize his need for wisdom. But by the time Solomon asked for wisdom to rule his kingdom, he had already started a habit that would make his wisdom ineffective for his own life - he sealed a pact with Egypt by marrying Pharaoh’s daughter. She was the first of hundreds of wife married for political reasons. In doing this, Solomon went against not only his father’s last words but also against God’s direct commands. His action reminds us how easy it is to know what is right and yet not do it.

It is clear that God’s gift wisdom to Solomon did not mean that he couldn’t make mistakes. He had been given great possibilities as the king of God’s chosen people, but with them came great responsibilities; unfortunately, he tended to pursue the former and neglect the latter. While becoming famous as the builder of the TEmple and the palace, he became infamous as a leader who excessively taxed and overworked his people. Visitors from distant lands came to admire this wise king, while his own people were gradually alienated from him.

Little is mentioned in the Bible about the last decade of Solomon’s reign. Ecclesiastes probably records his last reflection on life. In that book we find a man proving through bitter experience that finding meaning in life apart from God is a vain pursuit. Security and contentment are found only in a personal relationship with God. The contentment we find in the opportunities and successes of this life is temporary. The more we expect our successes to be permanent, the more quickly they are gone. Be sure to balance your pursuit of life’s possibilities with reliable fulfillment of your responsibilities.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Third king of Israel, David’s chosen heir

    • The wisest man who ever lived

    • Author of Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, as well as many of the proverbs and a couple of the psalms

    • Built God’s Temple in Jerusalem

    • Diplomat, trader, collector, patron of the arts

Weaknesses and mistakes

    • Sealed many foreign agreements by marrying pagan women

    • Allowed his wife to affect his loyalty to God

    • Excessively taxed his people and drafted them into labor and military forces

Lessons from his life

    • Effective leadership can be nullified by an ineffective personal life

    • Solomon failed to obey God, but did not learn the lesson of repentance until late in life

    • Knowing what actions are required of us means little without the will to do those actions

Vital statistics

    • Where: Jerusalem

    • Occupation: King of Israel

    • Relative: Father: David. Mother: Bathsheba. Brothers: Absalom, Adonijah. Sister: Tamar. Son: Rehoboam

Key verse

    • “Wasn’t this exactly what led King Solomon of Israel into sin? L demanded. ‘There was no king from any nation who could compare to him, and God loved him and made him king over all Israel. But even he was led into sin by his foreign wives’” (Nehemiah 13:26).

Solomon’s story is told in 2 Samuel 12:24 - 1 King 11:43. He is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28-29; 2 Chronicles 1-10; Nehemiah 13:26, Psalm 72; and Matthew 6:29; 12:42.


Even clear warnings are hard to obey. The Bible is filled with stories of people who had direction from God and yet chose their own way. Their disobedience was rarely due to ignorance of what God wanted; rather, it grew out stubborn selfishness. Jeroboam was a consistent example of this all-too-human trait.

During his construction activities, Solomon noticed young Jeroboam’s natural leadership skills and made him a special project foreman. Shortly after this, God contacted Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah. He told Jeroboam that God would punish David’s dynasty by tearing the kingdom from Solomon’s son and that Jeroboam would rule the 10 tribes. And God made it clear that the same fate would destroy the people of Jeroboam’s family if they refused to obey God Apparently Solomon heard about these events and tried to have Jeroboam killed. The future king escaped to Egypt, where he stayed until Solomon died.

When Rehoboam, Solomon’s heir, took the throne, Jeroboam returned. He represented the people in demanding that the new king be more lenient than his father. Rehoboam’s unwise choice to reject his people’s request led to their rejecting him as king. Only Judah and the annexed tribe of Benjamin remained loyal to David’s dynasty. The other 10 tribes made Jeroboam king.

Rather than seeing this fulfilment of God’s promise as motivation to obey God, Jeroboam decide to do whatever he could to secure his position. He led his kingdom away from the God who had allowed him to reign. God had already warned him to the consequences of his actions - his family was eventually wiped out. And Jeroboam set into motion events that would lead to the destruction of the northern kingdom.

Sin’s consequences are guaranteed in God’s Word, but the timing of those consequences is hard to predict. When we do something directly opposed to God’s commands and there isn’t immediate disaster, we are often fooled into believing we got away with disobedience. But that is a dangerous assumption. Jeroboam’s life should make us recognize our frequent need to admit our disobedience and ask God to forgive us.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • An effective leader and organizer

    • First king of the 10 tribes of Israel in the divided kingdom

    • A charismatic leader with much popular support

Weaknesses and mistakes

    • Erected idols in Israel to keep people away from the Temple in Jerusalem

    • Appointed priests from outside the tribe of Levi

    • Depended more on his own cunning than on God’s promises

Lessons from his life

    • Great opportunities are often destroyed by small decisions

    • Careless efforts to correct another’s errors often lead to the same errors

    • Mistakes always occur when we attempt to take over God’s role in a situation

Vital statistics

    • Where: The northern kingdom of Israel

    • Occupations: Project foreman, king of Israel

    • Relatives: Father: Nebat. Mother: Zeruah. Sons: Abijah, Nadab.

    • Contemporaries: Solomon, Nathan, Ahijah, Rehoboam

Key verses

    • “But even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to choose priests from the common people. He appointed anyone who wanted to become a priest for the pagan shrines. This became a great sin resulted in the utter destruction of Jeroboam’s dynasty from the face of the earth” (1 Kings 13:33, 34).

Jeroboam’s story is told in 1 kings 11:26-14:20. He also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 10-13.


Elijah’s single-minded commitment to God shocks and challenges us. He was sent to confront-not comfort. And Elijah spoke God’s words to a king who often rejected his message just because he brought it. Elijah chose to carry out his ministry for God alone and paid for that decision by experiencing isolation from others who were also faithful to God.

It is interesting to think about the amazing miracles God accomplished through Elijah, but we would do well to focus on the relationship they shared. All that happened in Elijah’s life began with the same miracle that is available to us - he responded to the miracle of being able to know God.

For example, after God worked an overwhelming miracle through Elijah in defeating the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel retaliated by threatening Elijah’s life. And Elijah ran. He felt afraid, depressed, and abandoned. Despite God’s provision of food and shelter in the wilderness. Elijah wanted to die. So God presented Elijah with an “audiovisual display” and a massage he needed to hear. Elijah witnessed a windstorm, and earthquake, and a fire. But the Lord was not in any of those powerful things. Instead, God displayed his presence in a gentle whisper.

Elijah, like us, struggled with his feelings even after this comforting message from God. So God confronted Elijah’s emotions and commanded action. He told Elijah what to do next and informed him part of his loneliness was based on ignorance. Seven thousand others in Israel were still faithful to God.

Even today, God often speaks through the gentle and obvious rather than the spectacular and unusual. God has work for us to do even when we feel fear and failure. And God always has more resources and people than we know about. Although we might wish to do amazing miracles for God, we should instead focus on developing a relationship with him. The real miracle of Elijah’s life was his very personal relationship with God. And that miracle is available to us.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Was the most famous and dramatic of Israel’s prophets

    • Predicted the beginning and end of a three-year drought

    • Was used by God to restore a dead child to his mother

    • Represented God in a showdown with priest of Baal and Asherah

    • Appeared with Moses and Jesus in the New Testament Transfiguration scene

Weaknesses and mistakes

    • Chose to work alone and paid for it isolation and loneliness

    • Fled in fear from Jezebel when she threatened his life

Lessons from his life

    • We are never closer to defeat than in our moments of greatest victory

    • We are never as alone as we may feel; God is always there

    • God speaks more frequently in persistent whispers than in shouts

Vital statistics

    • Where: Gilead

    • Occupation: Prophet

    • Contemporaries: Ahab, jezebel, Ahaziah, Obadiah, Jehu, Hazael

Key verses

    • “A the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in ISrael and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.’

    • “Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!” (1 Kings 18:36-38).

Elijah’s story is told in 1 Kings 17:1-2 Kings 2:11. He is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15; Malachi 4:5, 6; Matthew 11:14; 16:14; 17:3-13; 27:47; Luke 1:17; 4:25, 26; John 1:19-25; Romans 11:2-4; James 5:17, 18.


The kinks of Israel and Judah, both good and evil, had prophets sent by God to advise, confront, and aid them. King David had a faithful friend in God’s prophet Nathan; Ahab could have had an equally faithful friend in Elijah. But while David listened to Nathan and was willing to repent of his sins, Ahab saw Elijah as his enemy. Why? BEcause Elijah always brought bad news to Ahab, and Ahab refused to acknowledge that it was his own constant disobedience to God and persistent idol worship, not Elijah’s prophecies, that brought the evil on his nation. He blamed Elijah for bringing the prophecies of judgment, rather than taking his advice and changing his own evil ways.

Ahab was trapped by his own choices, and he was unwilling to take the right action. As king, he was responsible to God and his prophet Elijah, but he was married to an evil woman who drew him into idol worship. He was a childish man who brooded for days if unable to get his own way. He took his evil wife’s advice, listened only to the “prophets” who gave good news, and surrounded himself with people who encouraged him to do whatever he wanted. But the value of advice cannot be judged by the number of people for or against it. Ahab consistently chose to follow the majority opinion of those who surrounded him, and that led to his death.

It may seem nice to have someone encourage us to whatever we want because advice that goes against our wishes is difficult to accept. However, our decisions must be based on the quality of the advice, not on its attractiveness of the majority opinion of our peers. God encourages us to get advice from wise counselors, but how can we test the advice we receive? Advice that agrees with the principles in God’s Word is reliable. We must always separate advice from our own desires, the majority opinion, or whatever seems best in our limited perspective, and weigh it against God’s commands. He will never lead us to do what he has forbidden in his Word - even in principle. Unlike Ahab, we should trust godly counselors and have the courage to stand against those who would have us to do otherwise.

Strengths and accomplishments

    • Eighth king of Israel

    • Capable leader and military strategist

Weaknesses and mistakes

    • Was the most evil king of Israel

    • Married Jezebel, a pagan woman, and allowed her to promote Baal worship

    • Brooded about not being able to get a piece of land, which prompted his wife to have its owner, Naboth, killed

    • Was used to getting his own way and got depressed when he didn’t

Lessons from his life

    • The choice of a spouse will have a significant effect on life - physically, spiritually, and emotionally

    • Selfishness, left unchecked, can lead to great evil

Vital statistics

    • Where: Northern kingdom of Israel

    • Occupation: King

    • Relatives: Wife: Jezebel. Father: Omri. Sons: Ahaziah, Joram

    • Contemporaries: Elijah, Naboth, Jehu, Ben-hadad, Jehoshaphat

Key verses

    • “But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:30-33).

Ahab’s story is told in 1 Kings 16:28-22:40. He is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 18-22; Micah 6:16.


The Bible is as honest about the lives of its heroes as it is about those who rejected God. Some Bible characters found out what God can do with failures when they turned to him. Many, however, neither admitted their failures nor turned to God.

Jezebel ranks as the most evil woman in the Bible. The Bible even users her name as an example of people who completely reject God (Revelation 2:20). Many pagan women married into Israel without acknowledging the God their husbands worshiped. They brought their religions with them. But no one was as determined as Jezebel to make all Israel worship her gods. To the prophet Elijah, she seemed to have succeeded. He felt he was the only one still faithful to God until God told him there were still 7,000 who had not turned from the faith. Jezebel’s one outstanding “success” was in contributing to the cause of the eventual downfall of the northern kingdom - idolatry. God punished the northern tribes for their idolatry by having them carried off into captivity.

Jezebel held great power. She not only managed her husband, Ahab, but she also had 850 assorted pagan priests under her control. She was committed to her gods and to getting what she wanted. She believed that king had the right to possess anything he wanted. When Naboth refused to sell Ahab his vineyard, Jezebel ruthlessly had Naboth killed and took ownership of the land. Jezebel’s plan to wipe out worship of God in Israel led to painful consequences. Before she died, Jezebel suffered the loss of her husband in combat and her son at the hand of Jehu, who took the throne by force. She died in the defiant and scornful way she had lived.

When comparing Jezebel and Elijah, we have to admire each one’s strength of commitment. The big difference was to whom they were committed. Jezebel was committed to herself and her false gods; Elijah was totally committed to the one true God. In the end, God proved Elijah right. To what or to whom are you most committed? How would God evaluate your commitment?

Weaknesses and mistakes

    • Systematically eliminated the representatives of God in Israel

    • Promoted and funded Baal worship

    • Threatened to have Elijah killed

    • Believed kings and queens could rightfully do or have anything they wanted

    • Used her strong convictions to get her own way

Lessons from her life

    • It is not enough to be convictions or sincere. Where our commitment lies makes a great difference

    • Rejecting God always leads to disaster

Vital statistics

    • Where: Sidon, Samaria

    • Occupation: Queen of Israel

    • Relatives: Husband: Ahab. Father: Ethbaal. Sons: Joram, Ahaziah

    • Contemporaries: Elijah, Jehu

Key verse

    • “No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel” (1 Kings 21:25).

Jezebel’s story is told in 1 Kings 16:31-2 Kings 9:37. Her name is used as a synonym for great evil in Revelation 2:20.