4 Ways to Teach the Gospel from 1 and 2 Kings

Each book of the Bible uses different stories, language, and themes to describe the good news of what God has done in Jesus. If you’re a youth pastor or small group leader, here are two ways to talk about Jesus as you teach through 1 Kings and two more from 2 Kings.

Jesus is the Promised Son of David

God promised David that a son from his line would rule forever, and that his kingdom would never be undone by death or rebellion (2 Sam. 7:13). But in the first chapter of the book of Kings, David is on his deathbed and his son Adonijah is trying to steal the throne from David’s chosen successor Solomon (1 Kings 1:1; 2:10). The author of Kings wants us to ask: Will God keep his promise to David even when David is dying and rebellion is brewing?

The answer to that question is of course, yes! God protects David’s dynasty from implosion. David successfully crowns Solomon as king and ends Adonijah’s rebellion. In Solomon, God began to fulfill his promise that a son of David would rule forever. God continued to fulfill this promise by ensuring a descendent from the line of David was on the throne in Jerusalem for hundreds of years, even when Israel’s kings were faithless and evil (2 Kings 8:19). 

But God’s promise to David did not fully come true until Jesus, the final son of David was born (Matt. 1:1). Unlike his forefathers, Jesus’ reign did not end when he died; instead his rule ultimately began the day he died. Jesus’ funeral depicted a coronation filled with crowns, robes, scepters and an announcement engraved above his throne, which just happened to be shaped like a cross. Jesus is King of the Jews, the King of God’s people. He rules forever because he rose from the dead and now sits in heaven, ruling over all the earth. David’s son is on the throne, and neither death nor any rebellion can overthrow his rightful rule.

Jesus is Greater Than Solomon

In many ways David’s son Solomon is the best king in Israel’s history. 1 Kings 4:20 describes how under his rule, Israel grew “as numerous as the sand on the seashore,” wording directly from God’s promise to Abraham. The author intends for us to understand that God’s promise to Israel’s founding father has finally come true. Drawing on images and numbers from creation, Solomon’s wise rule is described seven times. Like Adam, he knows all about God’s creatures (1 Kings 4:33). He is given “dominion” over God’s people as Adam and Eve were given leadership in Eden (1 Kings 4:24). And every family rests in peace in private gardens (1 Kings 4:25). Just as in the Garden, when Solomon finally builds the temple and God’s presence falls, man and God walk together once again! And when a queen from Sheba sees Solomon’s wise reign, she begins to worship God (1 Kings 10:8). This episode fulfills another promise God made to Abraham that his family would bless the world. Of all the periods in Israel’s history in the Old Testament, Solomon’s rule gets the closest to restoring what was lost in the Garden, and to receiving what was promised to Abraham.

But Jesus is a better King than even Solomon. Jesus even says so (Luke 11:31). He also says that one day we will meet the Queen of Sheba. And she will pass judgement on anyone who refuses to admit Jesus’ kingly wisdom as she did. But unlike Solomon Jesus’ wisdom was not proved by money or power, but his weakness (1 Cor. 1:25). Jesus died while his kingship was mocked and he was humiliated. While Solomon’s wisdom and wealth prolonged his kingdom, Jesus’ foolishness earned resurrection from the dead for all people. More impressive than Solomon’s throne is Jesus cross (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

Despite how it often appears, weakness is more powerful than wisdom. Solomon’s wisdom earned him an earthly kingdom, but Jesus’ weakness gained resurrection from the dead leading to an eternal kingdom. Like the queen of Sheba, we can look at Jesus’ cross and see a greater spectacle of wisdom than Solomon’s kingdom (1 Cor. 1:23-24). And like the queen of Sheba, if we worship God because of this wisdom, he will raise us from the dead and place us in a Kingdom that cannot end. 

Jesus is our Ultimate Prophet

Israel’s prophets play a major role throughout 1 and 2 Kings. These messengers denounce evil kings, and as Israel devolves into national disorder, the prophets’ miracles offer God’s hope. God uses Elijah to multiply food and to raise a dead woman’s son in an era when Israel’s king cannot provide for their people. Elisha does similar miracles but he also purifies tainted water, un-poisons food, and heals a leprous man in an era where Israel has polluted herself with idolatry and evil. Elisha and Elijah’s miracles all point to God’s mercy towards and his willingness to act on behalf of the oppressed. 

This is precisely how Jesus came into the world as well. He is the truest and greatest prophet of God. He condemned the corrupted elite with his words (Matt. 23). And through miracles of multiplying food, raising the dead, and cleansing lepers, he also demonstrated his compassion towards the oppressed (Matt. 9:36). But Jesus is not simply a prophet speaking on God’s behalf, he is himself God. His actions are not symbols of what God is like, they are “the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). 

Jesus reveals that he has come to denounce and disarm the evil powers of this world, and to show compassion on his people—just as the prophets taught us to expect. Jesus began to do this during his life on earth, but it was the cross that he humiliated earthly powers. He absorbed a hit from their greatest weapon, death, and walked out of his grave more powerful than when he entered (Col. 2:16). And on the cross Jesus shows ultimate prophetic compassion to his people because if Jesus died and rose, then so will those who follow him. 

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

The book of Kings is a book about death—even the seeming death of God’s promises to his people. Everything Israel hoped would guarantee God’s promise of eternal kingdom failed. No human king brought lasting salvation to God’s people. In Kings we find that David’s descendents have married into the idolatrous line of Ahab. The temple is either in disrepair or plundered of its sacred objects. The prophets who stood up against evil kings all die. And even when obedient kings like Hezekiah and Josiah follow God with their whole hearts, they cannot not save Israel from national death at the hands of Babylon. The author wants his readers to know that nothing can save God’s people except God himself. Neither kings, nor temples nor prophets nor obediences can save. Only God can rescue his people.

This is why the book of Kings is also the first book of the Bible to record a resurrection. In fact it records three resurrections. Elijah raises a widow’s son from the dead (1 Kings 17). And Elijah’s successor, Elisha, raises two people from the dead. One of those resurrections occurs when a dead body simply touches the bones of a buried Elisha (2 Kings 13:20-21)! The book of Kings is also about life from the dead. The book of Kings promises that when God’s people die, he will raise them up, not by their power, but his own.  

Jesus promises us the same thing. There is no obedience we can offer him, no political power we can wield, no prophetic stance we can take that will save us or God’s people. Our only hope is for God to save us by his power alone. And like the prophet Elisha’s dead bones, Jesus’ spent body and shed blood brings life from the dead. So instead of anxiously grasping for salvation, throw yourselves into his grave (Rom. 6:5). Israel we have died, but in Christ we will rise from the dead.

Interested in studying 1&2 Kings with your youth group? Check out Rooted’s new curriculum on Rooted Reservoir!

Seth Stewart is a husband and a dad, and after a decade in student ministry is now working as the Editor-in-Chief at Spoken Gospel. Spoken Gospel creates online resources that point to Jesus from every passage of Scripture. Seth spends his day writing, speaking, and being his family's chef.

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