Survey of Old Testament Kings

For many of us reading through Kings-Chronicles is a slog.  The text volleys back and forth between Israel (Northern Kingdom or Samaria) and Judah (Southern Kingdom or Jerusalem).  What precipitated the soap opera that was old covenant Israel?

King David’s murderous tryst with “the wife of Uriah the Hittite” had far-reaching consequences.  God took the life of their first (and illegitimate son).  As adulterers both David and Bathsheba were subject to capital punishment (Lev 20.10). Yet, God took the life of their “innocent” son instead one day shy of his circumcision (2 Sam 12.18).  The innocent dying instead of the guilty.  That has a familiar ring to it (1 Pt 3.18).

Solomon soon came along to the now-married King and Queen.  Boy Solomon started with a world of promise and gloriously inherited his father’s throne.  But,

“King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh [his legal albeit politically-advantageous wife]: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, ‘You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.’   Solomon held fast to these in love.  He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away” (1 Kgs 11.1-3).

You name the nation and Solomon had him a gal-in-waiting.  The sins of the fathers.

God therefore promised Solomon would be the last king of a unified Israel (1 Kgs 11.9-13).  Before the ink would dry on Solomon’s death certificate ten tribes would defect. And so it was.  The northern ten tribes took their ball and went home, renouncing their allegiance to David (1 Kgs 12.16).  Out of a sheer display of mercy, God retained one tribe (Judah) and the runt tribe (Benjamin) for the sake of his promised to David.  Incidentally, Jesus came from the tribe of Judah to befriend the runts.  That will preach.

The historical narrative of Kings-Chronicles traces roughly the next 400 post-Davidic years of Israel’s sorted story.  The author will follow one king to his death then ratchet back to follow the other nation’s king during the same period.  In other words, the author follows the announcement of Israel’s king with “Meanwhile, back in Judah.”  And so on until each nation was sacked in God’s judgment.

Some years ago, after getting confused and bogged down in OT history, I decided to put together my own chart of Israel/Judah’s kings and the corresponding prophets who served them.  There are hundreds of these charts out there and they far better than mine.  I simply needed to do the work myself so as to pay more attention to the narrative. And I wanted to arrange the material in a way that suited my cerebral wiring.  So I offer this Survey of Kings to anyone who might benefit as well.  The dates are approximate and drawn primarily from John Bright’s A History of Israel.

Feel free to print it out and shove it in your Bible.  Let me know about any significant changes you would suggest or errors you find.  If you want your own version to tweak then I’ll gladly send you the spreadsheet.  It can always serve as a coffee mug coaster in a pinch.  In whatever way it might help you then God be praised.

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