I Love Teaching 1 and 2 Kings
Here’s how I teach 1 and 2 Kings as part of the Deuteronomistic History. First, I read through a bunch of rules in Deuteronomy and write them up on the board. Then we read through the accounts of the kings, and—under each listed rule—I put a plus-sign if they follow the rule and a minus-sign if they break the rule.
Obviously Solomon and Manasseh fare the worst. Solomon gets a million minus points for foreign wives, building worship centers for other gods, amassing gold, and amassing horses (especially from Egypt, which was specifically forbidden!). What I like about the latter bit is that the narrator doesn’t make the connection to Deuteronomy obvious—if you read the passages about his wealth in 1 Kings in isolation, it looks like it’s just a tale of how great and wealthy Solomon was. But it looks differently when put up beside Deuteronomy. In addition, the effect is visually striking because by the time we’re done reading about him there are minus-signs all across the board.
Hezekiah and Josiah fare the best; usually there is not enough room for all of Josiah’s plus-signs. Sometimes I read the passage about Josiah and have some volunteer students tally Josiah’s marks. This is usually funny or entertaining because they’re left scrambling to keep up.
This teaching tool has served me well—when the students can see all the marks up on the board it’s pretty obvious what I mean when I say that this is the Deuteronomistic History.
Also, according to 2 Kings, the most religiously tolerant king—Manasseh—is the worst king, and the most religious intolerant king—Josiah—is the best king. Our values—such as religious freedom—are not biblical values, unless you ignore what the Bible says.