Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Commentaries for First Kings

I am currently preaching a series on the life of King Solomon as it is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11. Since I am now four weeks into the series, I have a decent handle of the different commentaries I am using. I have 11 commentaries on my desk that I am using in this series. Here are a few of them that I have found the most helpful. 

Philip Graham Ryken in his commentary on 1 Kings does a great service to pastors. He really has helped me think through some of the key ideas in the book. But most of all, he shows me a line or thread back to Jesus, the only real King. It is doctrinal and practical. But most of all, it is Christological. I have to be careful with this commentary. I only use it after I have spent some deep time in the text myself, because it could be really easy to take what he says as my sermon. It's that good! It is part of the Reformed Expository Commentary, which is starting to become one of my favorite commentary series in print.

Dale Ralph Davis is a close second to Ryken's commentary. His commentary on 1 Kings is part of the Focus on the Bible series. I put it second to Ryken mostly because of its brevity. I feel like he could spend much more time on the passages than he does. For instance, he spends less than seven pages on chapter two of First Kings, which deals with a whole lot of history. What he does say, though, is very helpful and his continual focus to bring it into practice for the 21st Century church is really beneficial.

For some time, I have enjoyed the Welwyn Commentary Series. This edition by Roger Ellsworth on 1 Kings is another edition that has some very good things to contribute to the discussion on King Solomon. Like Davis, I wish Ellsworth would camp a bit more on the text. Give me more discussion. But he has little nuggets that have helped link concepts together for me. There is only one thing that seems a stretch to me in this edition. Some of his applications read too much imagery into the text. For instance, in chapter 2, he makes the comparison that Adonijah's evils represent to the church today the evils of heretical teachings that seem sweet and harmless, but are deadly. Just a bit outside. But I can see through some of those comments.

Even though it is the NIV (just kidding), I have appreciated Iain W. Provan's work on 1 & 2 Kings. He seems to go just deep enough to gain some additional information that previous authors skip over. The additional notes at the end of each section of Scripture takes the reader even deeper into certain words or phrases. While the first three are more practical, this is a bit deeper into the text.

Marvin Sweeney's work on I & II Kings is one of the most technical commentaries that I am using. It is the first volume of The Old Testament Library commentary series that I have ever used. It is a well written volume that brings in some historical arguments for why people are acting as they are. One caution is that this is a very expensive book, so make sure to purchase it through CBD which has it at over 70% off (HERE)

There are several other volumes that I use each week, but these are some of my favorites. Have you ever studied the book of First Kings? What is your favorite commentary?


  1. Have you checked out Wiseman in the Tyndale OT series?

  2. I like Matthew Henry's although some of his language can be a bit archaic and stiff. Also if you don't know Latin some of his comments and insights are meaningless.


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