Prophets in Kings

May 22, 2008

Just a quick post on prophets in the book (“books” for those of us who can not reconcile the fact that I and II Kings are really just one book…).

First of all, prophets and their prophecies–specifically the fulfillment of their prophecies–seem to litter the book.  Here are the prophecies which I found to be given and fulfilled within Kings:

  • I Kings 13:26 fulfills I Kings 13:22
  • I Kings 14:18 fulfills I Kings 14:12
  • I Kings 15:29 fulfills I Kings 14:10
  • I Kings 16:12 fulfills I Kings 16:3
  • I Kings 17:16 fulfills I Kings 17:14
  • I Kings 22:38 fulfills I Kings 21:21
  • II Kings 1:17 fulfills II Kings 1:4
  • II Kings 7:16 fulfills II Kings 7:1
  • II Kings 9:26; 10:17 fulfill I Kings 19:17
  • II Kings 23:16 fulfills I Kings 13:2
  • II Kings 24:2 fulfills II Kings 21:13-14

Though there may be others I have missed, I have only spotted two fulfillments of prophecies given outside of Kings:

  • I Kings 2:27 fulfills I Samuel 2:33
  • I Kings 16:34 fulfills Joshua 6:26

With all the prophecy/prophet emphasis noted above I am let to ask two questions: 1) Why is there so little prophetic involvement in the life and times of Solomon (chps. 1-11)?  And 2) Why does the author of Kings place such a large emphasis on the prophets?  Here is my stab at an answer to these questions:

1) The author of Kings uses the temple building/Solomonic era as one of the litmus tests which will    clarify the outcome of the book for the reader.  To illustrate: when Solomon builds his temple God offers him an ultimatum:

“Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.  Then I will allow your dynasty to rule over Israel permanently, just as I promised your father David…But if your or your sons ever turn away from me…then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this temple I have consecrated with my presence, and Israle will be mocked and ridiculed among the nations.” -I Kings 9:4-7

If in fact there is a divine ultimatum being issued here, then it sets the reader up over the course of the book with a clear guide by which he or she will be able to judge the actions of the following kings (cf. II Kings 25:9).

2) The answer to the second question (regarding the heavy emphasis on prophets) is that their function within the book is to declare the current state of things in view of God’s ultimatum (above).  Their role, as ones who remind God’s people of God’s standard, is central to the book, because it taps in to one of the central questions to the book: How will God’s people perform according to God’s ultimatum? 

Ultimately the outcome of the prophets’ involvement in Kings is the explanation of the demise of Israel/Judah (though there remains a point of light in II KIngs 25:27-30) and the establishment of God’s position on his people’s actions throughout the monarchy period. 

 

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