Understanding The Bible
The History of Israel:  Part 5b of 9

(1040-931 B.C.)
1 Samuel 8 and  1 Kings 11 through 2 Chronicles 9


Return to Syllabus

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

  1. THE UNITED KINGDOM: ACCESSION OF SAUL TO DEATH OF SOLOMON (1040-931 B.C.)   1 Samuel 8 - (1 Kings 11\ 2 Chronicles 9)
    With the choice of Saul to be their first king, the people of Israel enter a new era—the monarchy. Review again the periods of Hebrew history according to Whitcomb’s chart. It is during the monarchy that the nation reaches its greatest strength.

    Introduction to the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles Samuel and Kings tell the story of the rise, growth, division, and fall of the Hebrew monarchy, from the time of Samuel through the division of the kingdom, the histories of both kingdoms, to the fall of Jerusalem, 586 B.C.

    Chronicles gives a somewhat parallel account, beginning (after nine chapters of genealogies) with the death of Saul. After the division, Chronicles traces the history of only the southern kingdom, Judah, and ignores Israel except when she has contacts with Judah. The story is continued through the captivity, and closes with a short account of the decree of Cyrus permitting the return. The Chronicles is more interested in the religious life of the nation; the author of Kings, with the political life. Hence, details about a revival would best be sought in Chronicles; details about wars, in Kings.

  1. (Continued)
    1. REIGN OF SAUL, 1 Samuel 8 - 2 Samuel
      1. Inauguration of the monarchy, 1 Sam. 8-10
        While there was certainly an element of rebellion against God in the Israelite request for a king, in that it was prompted by a desire to be “like all the nations, “ and in that it may not have been God’s time for the change, still it was God’s plan that Israel should ultimately have a king. Provision for such had been made in the law (Dt. 17:14-20). Messiah, when He comes, will be a king. Note further that the kingdom continued the theocracy. Israel (when she had pious kings) was never an absolute monarchy. God by His law (Dt. 17:14-20), or by a prophet (1 Ki. 20:17-29), was always above the king.
      2. Events in Saul’s reign, 1 Sam. 11-2 Sam. 1
        1. Campaigns against various Canaanite nations, 1 Sam. 11-14
          Saul carries on the work of the judges; in many respects he was little more than a judge.

          Note 1 Samuel 13:19-22. Israel had no iron weapons except agricultural implements. The Philistines knew the secret of iron smelting and smithing and, keeping the secret from the Hebrews, maintained the military advantage. It is interesting that David spent a considerable time in Philistia while he was hiding from Saul. He pretended to be mad. After David became king, he had constant victory over the Philistines. From the excavation of Palestinian cities it is evident that the Philistines were more advanced culturally than the Israelites, and that they had the use of iron before the time of David, while the Israelites used iron widely only during and after David’s time (cp. 2 Sam. 12:31; 1 Chr. 22:3; 29:7). Is it too much to assume that David alertly learned the secret of this early “atomic bomb”? On Iron in Israel, see G. E. Wright’s “Iron in Israel, “ Bib. Arch. May, 1938, I, 2, 5-8; Bib. Arch. May, 1943, VI, 2, 33-36.
        2. Campaign against Amalekites and final rejection of Saul, 1 Sam. 15
          Recall the battle with the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16) and God’s command for their later utter destruction (p. 23). From this time God has rejected Saul as king and has chosen David, although David does not begin to reign for some years. Most of the rest of 1 Samuel deals with Saul’s efforts to kill David.
        3. David anointed, 1 Sam. 16
        4. Campaign against Philistines; David slays Goliath, 1 Sam. 17
        5. Saul seeks to kill David; David in exile, 1 Sam. 18-27
        6. Last campaign against Philistines; death of Saul, 1 Sam. 28-2 Sam. 1 (1 Chr. 10) At the conclusion of the battle of Mt. Gilboa, Israel was in little better condition man when Saul became king. They were overrun by the the Philistines. Saul’s reign ended in complete failure—personal and national. There are two ways of resolving the seeming contra­dictory accounts of Saul’s death. One is given in SRB, p. 353, n.l. The other simply understands that the Amalekite was lying (2 Sam. 1:6-10) in hope of reward.
    2. REIGN OF DAVID, 2 Samuel 2 - 2 Kings 2 (1 Chronicles 1-29)
      David’s character
      David was one of the world’s greatest men. His greatness was four-sided: king, warrior, poet, religious reformer. He “united at once four of the great scepters that rule the heart of man.” In addition, he was one of the greatest O.T. saints. Little wonder that Messiah should be called “Son of David.”

      Saul was set aside, but not David, and to the very end of the monarchy David’s descendants continued to rule over Judah. ft is David who, with Solomon his son, brings in the Hebrew nation’s greatest days. He began to reign c. 1000 B.C.

      We have already considered David’s youth and God’s choice of him to be king. We now take up the story with the death of Saul.
      1. David’s reign over Judah (7 ½ years), 2 Sam. 2-4
        1. David sets up his regime with Hebron as capital, 2 Sam. 2:1-4
          For 7 ½ years David reigned over only his own tribe, while the rest of Israel gave allegiance to Saul’s son Ishbosheth.
        2. David commends the Jabeshites, 2 Sam. 2:4-7
        3. Civil war: Ishbosheth, king of Israel, 2 Sam. 2:8-4:12
          The boundary between the two Hebrew groups at this time was substantially that between Judah and Israel during the Divided Kingdom. Ishbosheth seems to have been a puppet, controlled by his chief-of-staff, Abner. The war is summarized in 3:1. After the death of Abner and Ishbosheth, Israel was ready to accept David,
      2. David’s reign over all Israel (33 years), 2 Sam. 5-1 Ki. 2 (1 Chr. 11-29)
        1. Made king over united Israel; captures Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 5:1-10 (1 Chr. 11:1-11)
          Jerusalem was a very ancient city, probably the strongest in the land. Melchizedek (Gen. 14) had been a king of Salem (i.e., Jerusalem). The king of Jerusalem was defeated when Joshua invaded Palestine (Josh. 10) and for a brief time the Israelites seem to have captured at least a part of the city and set it on fire (Jud. 1:8). However, they could not hold it (Jud. 1:21), and when David became king, Jerusalem was still a Canaanite city. It was easily defended because of its location on the Judean highlands (Ps. 125:1-2), and the Jebusites boasted that their lame and blind could defend it. However, in their self-confidence they left unguarded their most vulnerable point, the gutter or watercourse. This was an underground tunnel which brought in water from the Gihon spring just outside the wall on the east of the city. This tunnel was the city’s main source of water, so important during a siege. David and his men climbed in through the tunnel and captured the city without a fight. (On Geography and History of Jerusalem, see WHA, pp. 97-99; “Jerusalem,” ISBE. Vol.111, 1595-1621.’)”

          The importance of David’s making Jerusalem his capital can hardly be overestimated. It was centrally located, a great fortress, and was not connected with either of the regimes during the civil war just past. It became the heart of the new Israelite nation.

          Note: Jerusalem was “Jebusite Salem, “ (i.e., Jebu-Salem, later changed to Jerusalem for euphony of sound) until David took it through Joab’s assault (1 Chr. 11:4-9). This feat of Joab made him captain of the host.
        2. Hiram’s league with David, 2 Sam. 5:11-12

          Tyre was the principal city of Phoenicia, the great seafaring nation on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, just north of Israel. Peace with Tyre was a great factor in permitting the growth of the Hebrew people under David and Solomon.
        3. Ark brought to Mt. Zion, 2 Sam. 6:1-19
          God had commanded His worship to be localized in one central place (Dt. 12). After the conquest of the land, the tabernacle, with its equipage, was set up in Shiloh, where it remained during the period of the Judges O08!1. 18:1; Jud. 18:31). With the capture of the ark by the Philistines, the tabernacle lost its glory and its value. In the reign of Saul it was at Nob (1 Sam. 21:1; Mk. 2:26).

          After the loss of the ark to the Philistines (1 Sam. 4) it never again was returned to the tabernacle. The Philistines soon returned it to Hebrew territory (1 Sam. 5:1-6:11). It was kept in the home of pious Hebrews successively at Beth-shemesh, Kirjath-jearim, and at Perez-uzzah (1 Sam. 6:12-20; 7:1-2; 2 Sam. 6:1-11). David now brings the ark up to Jerusalem, where he put it in a temporary tabernacle erected for it, although the original tabernacle was still at Gibeon (2 Sam. 6:12-23). Later it was placed in the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s temple.

          This bringing of the ark to Jerusalem was David’s second great political stroke consolidating his reign. It made Jerusalem the religious capital as well as the civic capital of the nation. It was also a tremendous help to the reformation of Hebrew religion. During the period of the Judges and the reign of Saul, the ark was in private hands and the tabernacle nearly deserted in a small Judean town. The result was that every man worshiped when, where, and whom he pleased (recall the book of Judges). But God, to protect the people from such apostasy, had commanded them to worship at only one place—where He should put His name (Dt. 12). David, led by: God, now sets up the worship at Jerusalem, the only approved place of worship and this greatly tends to discourage idolatry (Ps. 122).
        4. David’s desire to build a temple; Davidic covenant, 2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17 See SRB, p. 362, n.2. A most important note on the Davidic Covenant.
        5. David’s foreign wars, 2 Sam. 5:17-25; 8; 10; 12:26-31
          Palestine is located in the center of what has been called “The Fertile Crescent.” On either side (at the ends of the crescent) lay great world powers, Egypt in the southwest, and Mesopotamia in the northeast. It has therefore been impossible during most of its history for Palestine to control a great empire. Either Egypt or Mesopotamia was constantly annexing Palestine as a prelude to conquering her enemy at the other end of the crescent. Compare the con­dition of Poland historically, between Germany and Russia. However, the political condition in the fertile crescent at the time of David and Solomon was one of decline. Both Mesopotamia and Egypt were in weakness. Egypt had been powerful; Assyria would yet be so. Israel now expands into this political vacuum and fills up the outline of empire originally traced in the promise to Abraham—from the river of Egypt (not the Nile, but Wadi el Arish, south of Beer-sheba), traditional boundary between Egypt and Palestine, to the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).

          David also finally subdued the Philistines; they never had much importance after this time and the Israelites gradually took over the Philistine coastlands. However, they gave their name to the whole country of P(h)alestine (Philistine).
        6. David’s kindness to Mephibosheth, 2 Sam. 9:1-13It was customary for the first king of a new dynasty to kill all male members of the old dynasty and preclude any insurrection (2 Ki. 10:1-12). David here shows his greatness and keeps his promise to Jonathan.
        7. David’s sin against Uriah, 2 Sam. 11:1-12:25 Cp. Ps. 51; 32; etc.
        8. Troubles following upon David’s sin, 2 Sam. 13-20
          1. Affair of Amnon and Tamar, 13
          2. Absalom’s rebellion, 14-19
          3. Sheba’s rebellion, 20
          4. Three years’ famine; Philistine uprising, 21
        9. David’s psalm of praise (Ps. 18), 2 Sam. 22
        10. David’s last words, 2 Sam. 23:1-7
        11. David’s mighty men, 2 Sam. 23:8-39
        12. David numbers the people, 2 Sam. 24
          This chapter will be better understood when it is realized that the expression “number the people” in the O.T. times means “mobilize for war.” Only men of military age are numbered, and Levites (4-D’s) were exempt (Num. 1:47). Evidently it was not God’s desire for the aged David to prepare for further war.
        13. David’s preparations for the temple, 1 Chr. 22-29
          On musical instruments of Israel, mentioned in such passages as 1 Chr. 25:1, see 0. R. Sellers’s “Musical Instruments of Israel,” gib. Arch. September, 1941, IV, 3, 33-47.
        14. David appoints Solomon his successor; dies, 1 Ki. 1-2
    3. REIGN OF SOLOMON, 1 Kings 2-11; 2 Chronicles 1-9
      Solomon, building on the foundation laid by David his father, brought the nation to its greatest heights. Two recent discoveries throw light on Solomon’s reign:

      Solomon’s Stables at Megiddo
      Megiddo was the great fortress-city on the edge of the plain of Esdraelon. Here if anywhere there should be remains of Solomon’s military establish­ment. We have already mentioned the importance of the horse in warfare. 1 Kings 9:15,19; 10:26 inform us that Solomon did much building, mention­ing Megiddo, and then refer to his great military forces, especially horses and chariots, “bestowed in the cities for chariots.” Megiddo has been excavated, and found to have been one of these chariot cities. The stables were composed of units built on a standard plan to house some 480 horses. Hitching posts, stone mangers, and cobblestone floors (to keep the horses from slipping) have been found intact. That Solomon could have had so large an installation at just one place in his kingdom—there must have been other such elsewhere—indicates his wealth and military power.

      Ezion-geber; Pittsburgh of the Ancient East
      Locate Ezion-geber on a map. It is down in the desert, far from all civiliza­tion. It is hard to see how anyone would ever build a city there. Yet 1 Kings 9:26-28 refers to this place as a seaport of Solomon. Excavation shows that this was the case. The arid mountainous area near Ezion-geber contains much copper and some iron (Dt. 8:9). When Ezion-geber was uncovered, it was found to have been a compact metal smelting and manu­facturing city, which cleverly utilized the strong winds which sweep down the Wadi Arabah from the Dead Sea for forced-air draft forges. No other such city was ever found from ancient times. Solomon had the city built there, near to the metal supply, using the wind for bellows. Then, when the metal had been made into objects for trade, his ships took the objects southward, sold them, and returned with gold and other wanted objects (1 Ki. 10:11). Ezion-geber is a great commentary on Solomon’s wisdom, as well as his prestige and riches.

      For archaeological light on Solomon’s feign, you may read:
      Free, pp.168-170. Glueck, Nelson. The Other Side of the Jordan. New Haven: 1945. Pp.89-113.
      “Ezion-geber, Solomon’s Naval Base on the Red Sea, “ Bib. Arch. September, 1938, I, 3, 13-16.
      “Ezion-geber: Elath, Gateway to Arabia,” Bib. Arch. December, 1939, U, 4, 37-41.
      “Ezion-geber: Elath—City of Bricks with Straw, “ Bib. Arch. December, 1940, III, 51-55.
      Wright, G. E. “Discoveries at Megiddo,” Bib. Arch. May, 1950, VIII, 2, 36-46. WHA, pp. 47-48.
      1. Solomon’s accession and reforms, 1 Ki. 2:12-46
      2. Solomon’s treaty with Egypt, 1 Ki. 3:1-3
      3. Solomon’s wisdom, 1 Ki. 3:4-28:4:29-34
        Solomon is the great example of one seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness and having all other things added (Mt. 6:33).
      4. Solomon’s empire. 1 Ki. 4:1-28; 9
        In chapter 4 the tax collectors are named. Taxes were paid in produce; coined money had not yet been invented. Large buildings found in cities which were tribal centers are thought to be the centers of collection mentioned in this chapter, from whence the royal table was provisioned one month in a year. Thus was ful­filled 1 Samuel 8:11-18.

        Tadmor in the wilderness (9:18), later called Palmyra, was a great caravan city. Goods brought from the East for sale in Asia Minor and Europe could be trans-shipped here, bringing great wealth to the city. Probably Solomon obtained most of his wealth from trade. Compare Ezion-geber (p. 42), Queen of Sheba (below).
      5. Solomon’s temple, 1 Ki. 5-8; 2 Chr. 3-8
        Many attempts “have been made to reconstruct Solomon’s temple. The truth is that we are not given enough facts in the Scripture account to make a certain recon­struction. It was basically like the ancient tabernacle, but larger and much more complex. Around it were storerooms (for there was a great temple treasury) and courts, probably used for public gatherings. The Lebanon mountains were the source of timber for great buildings of that time. Cedar of Lebanon was taken as far as to Egypt for palace and temple building. Note that Solomon drafted Israelites for labor (1 Ki. 5; cp. 1 Sam. 8).

        The following archaeological articles are largely sensible in their approach: WHA, p. 48. Wright,
        G. E. “Solomon’s Temple Resurrected,” Bib. Arch. May, 1941, IV, 2, 17-31.
      6. Visit of Queen of Sheba, 1 Ki. 10
        Sheba is located in the southwest corner of Arabia. It was an important trading center, and point of origin of camel caravans. The visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem was probably for making trade arrangements. Very likely Solomon and the queen agreed on their respective spheres of influence in the caravan routes, so as to keep from interfering with each other.
      7. Solomon's harem and idolatry, 1 Ki. 11:1-13
        A careful study of this passage and Deuteronomy 7:1-7 will show that Solomon's sin was not in having many wives. This custom is never plainly condemned in the O.T.; some of the greatest saints had more wives than one. The sin lay in the fact that these wives were foreign ones--the very modern problem of "mixed marriages" all over again--for foreign women were heathen women. This is what led Solomon into idolatry. It should further be noted that many of these women were more like hostages than wives, for in those days wives were often exchanged when treaties were made with foreign princes. In some cases this was done in a treaty between "equals" in the hope of providing better relations with the other treaty nation (1 Ki. 3:1).

        On Ashtoreth, see p. 30. Milchom was Molech, "the reigning one, " a baal (Baal is a common noun, meaning "lord, " and was applied to many gods). He was worshiped with human sacrifice in Phoenicia (1 Ki. 16:31; 18), and an exceedingly detestable feature of Molech's worship was the burning of children to him in the fire (Lev. 18:20; 20:1-5; 2 Chr. 28:3; 2 Ki. 21:6; 23:10,13). Chemosh was worshiped in a similar manner (2 Ki. 3:27).

        The Song of Songs (which is Solomon's) must have been written quite early in Solomon's reign when his heart was tender toward God and susceptible to a high standard of human affection. Note the comparatively small number of treaty wives and concubines, contrasted with the thousand mentioned in this section above (Song of Solomon 6:8-9). Much later, after his long and bitter search "under the sun" (leaving God out), he wrote Ecclesiastes, emphasizing the futility of life unless God is dealt with directly (Eccl. 12:13-14). Proverbs followed these experiences (Eccl. 12:9-12).
      8. Troubles toward the end of Solomon's reign; his death, 1 Ki. 11:14-43
        Solomon no doubt brought to Israel wealth and prestige such as she had never known before, and with these, the inevitable accompaniments--loss of simplicity of life and faith and a tendency to imitate the sin and idolatry of the surrounding nations with whom Israel now had intimate contact.


Return to Syllabus


"Mason's Notes"

(formerly Philadelphia Biblical University, Philadelphia College of Bible.)
Copyright © 2012 to present,
All rights reserved.

Cairn University

200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
"Mason's Notes" Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Cairn University, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of Cairn University.