Leading theologian, Peter J. Leithart, interprets 1 and 2 Kings for today’s church in this commentary. Leithart offers an accessible, thorough treatment of the ancient text and provides practical applications to aid in the teaching and preaching of the Word.
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“Wisdom cannot save Israel from division; Torah cannot save Judah from destruction; and the last refuge of hope, the temple, is torn apart and burned by a Babylonian king. All that made Israel Israel—king and priest, Torah and temple—is destroyed. As prophetic narrative, 1-2 Kings makes it clear that there is no salvation for Israel from within Israel. Having broken covenant, it faces the curse of the covenant: in the day you eat, you will be driven from the garden. Dying, you shall die.” (Page 20)
“Always, the church’s greatest tests come not from kings who call for imprisonment and torture; Christians relish martyrdom. The great tests arise from lying prophets, from wolfish bishops and priests, pastors and preachers.” (Page 100)
“The impression we get from 1-2 Kings is not that God is a stingy disciplinarian with an anger problem. If anything, the God of 1-2 Kings is irresponsibly indulgent toward his people, a God who does not seem to realize he cannot run the world without a dose of law and order. By the time Judah is sent into Babylonian exile in 2 Kgs. 25, we are not saying, ‘My, what a harsh God’; if we read attentively, we are saying, ‘It’s about time! What took him so long?’ The offense of the theology proper of 1-2 Kings is not that God is angry with the innocent. The offense is the offense of Jonah—the offense of God’s mercy, the offense of Yahweh’s unearthly patience with the irascible and unresponsive.” (Page 22)
“The book of Kings, especially 1 Kgs. 1–11, narrates the limitations of royal wisdom, while the book as a whole demonstrates the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, a wisdom that finds history elusive, unfathomable, uncontrollable. In its treatment of wisdom, then, 1-2 Kings is prophetic literature, demonstrating that wisdom is essential yet ultimately ineffectual to secure the health and salvation of Israel.” (Page 19)
Leithart does an eminently satisfying work of exposition. . . . The two disciplines of biblical and theological studies can only benefit from cross-disciplinary engagement and, certainly, Leithart demonstrates that both disciplines can be used critically and in service of the Church.
—Lissa M. Wray Beal, associate professor of Old Testament, Providence Theological Seminary
Leithart will certainly provide you with food for thought. . . . You will encounter useful ideas to provoke you in your sermon prep. This intriguing new series will incorporate contributions from a broad spectrum of theological traditions. You will want to keep your eye on the Brazos commentaries.
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