The book of 1 Kings tells of God’s covenant people wrestling with the myriad problems of political existence from the last days of David to the time of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah during the divided monarchy. Recounting the past especially in light of the First and Second Commandments, 1 Kings shows how Israel’s history is related to their morality, warns of the danger of a divided heart, calls for obedience to God’s commandments, and summons the people to repentance and reform.
It is out of these concerns for ancient Israel, Rice contends, that 1 Kings speaks to the present: it prods us to identify the equivalent of Canaanite religion in our own society, to use Israel’s experience in political issues as a mirror in which to evaluate our own efforts, and to look for God’s presence in the arena of public life and service. Indeed, Rice argues, the basic affirmation of 1 Kings is that all nations, not just Israel, are “under God”.
Gene Rice is professor of Old Testament literature and language at Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, D.C., and the author of numerous scholarly articles.