23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah. . . . 25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. 1 Kings 16:23, 25-26
As you probably figured out yesterday, we are getting into a section of Scripture (1 Kings / 2 Chronicles) that can get you really lost as you try to flip back and forth between the two books and keep track of who’s over which kingdom. I’ve learned a few things over the years of both reading and teaching through these passages that might help you keep track. I hope this helps:
- In 1 Kings, the king of one kingdom is introduced by when he began to reign relative to the king’s reign in the other kingdom. So if its a king of Judah, it will be “In the ______ year of so-and-so king of Israel,” and vice versa. So if a king in one kingdom had an especially long reign, you might get two or three kings in a row for the other kingdom.
- There’s typically a summary statement that grades the king: “So and so did what was evil/right in the eyes of the Lord.”
- Usually, there’s a reason given for the grade. Why was the king given the evaluation he was given? I use the acronym WORK, because these areas are usually covered:
WALK: Whose ways did he walk in? If he walked in the ways of his father David, he was good. If he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, he was bad.
OBEY: Did he obey God?
RESTORE/RENEW/REMOVE: Did he restore the temple, renew the covenant, and/or remove the high places? If so, good. If not, bad.
KEEP: Did the king keep the covenant? Did he lead the people to?
- Watch for coups. There are several times in the northern kingdom (Israel) when a king gets assassinated, a dynasty ends, and a new family takes over. We saw this today when Baasha killed Nadab, ending the line of Jeroboam. But you only see this in the Northern Kingdom. In Judah, there is a straight line of succession from father to son for FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. Not because the kings of Judah were that much better. Out of 20 kings, there were only 8 good ones. But it’s because of God’s promise. God promised there would always be a son of David on the throne of Judah.
- Generally, but not always, kings who were faithful to God had longer reigns. There are exceptions. But consider that the Northern kingdom (Israel) had 19 kings in a little over 200 years. They were all bad. The Southern kingdom (Judah) had 20 kings in almost 350 years. Eight of them were good.
Again, I hope this helps. There’s lots of lessons in this part of the journey. Hang in there!
There are lots of charts online that show the lineup of rulers. I posted a really simple one yesterday (here it is again if you missed it) but there are others that give a lot more detail. I really like this one from Providence Academy because it has hyperlinks to give you even more detail.