Katastrophic Kings

The Bible contains more Kings than you can shake a sceptre at. In fact there are two whole books dedicated to Old Testament Kings… called…er  … hang on, let me just check… oh yes… 1 Kings and 2 Kings!

Here are three of the most famous: Solomon, Saul, David

1. Who begat who?
2. Who lived the longest?
3. How did they die? Which one –
a. died peacefully but having upset God.
b. died in bed, suffering from the cold, and cuddled by a beautiful girl.
c. was wounded by an arrow and fell on his own sword.
4. Which one had an unusually arranged marriage with Abigail?
5. How many wives did they have in total?
6. Which one was king for longest?


1. Who begat who?

Well, David begat Solomon with Bathsheba (some of their begatting is recorded in certain detail in 2 Samuel 11). But Saul wasn’t related to either of them. His dad was Kish, and he was rich and powerful. Saul was butch, cool and good-looking.

2. Who lived the longest?

Saul was 72 when he popped his clogs – see 1 Samuel 13.

David was 70 when he slipped off the perch – see 2 Samuel 5.

Solomon was a good old age – 1 Chronicles 29.

So probably Saul, but maybe Solomon – depends what’s considered a good age. If he was anything like Methuselah it was 969, but I doubt it.

3. How did they die?

Solomon died peacefully but having upset God. The many women in his life led him to worship other gods. (see 1 Kings 11)

David died in bed, suffering from the cold, and cuddled by a beautiful girl. The land was searched for a beautiful young girl who could warm the king’s cockles. She looked after him in his old age but it was all above board. There was only hugging and warming. Nothing else. No hanky or panky. (see 1 Kings 1)

Saul was wounded by an arrow and fell on his own sword. He died in battle and when he was wounded and asked for his armour bearer to kill him the man refused to so he killed himself. The amour bearer then panicked and also killed himself. Three of Saul’s sons died the same day. A sticky end really. It ahd all gone Pete Tong for Saul. (see 1 Samuel 31)

4. Which one had an unusually arranged marriage with Abigail?

David. He had several unusually arranged marriages. He was refused help by Abigail’s husband Nabal and was intent on doing the guy some serious damage until the wise and beautiful Abigail jumped on her donkey and intervened. She apologised on her husband’s behalf and brought lots of nice poressies to David. Her husband, a rich fool, promptly dropped dead, and Abiagil, suddenly needing a second husband, headhunted David and bingo! Nabal was history. For all the news see 1 Samuel 25.

His marriage to Michal was also strange, it was love at first sight for Saul’s daughter when they first met. David bought her with 200 Phillistine foreskins. Romantic. But not long after the wedding David did a runner to escape Saul’s killers. He never came home and Michal’s heart got broken. But that wasn’t the worst of it, Saul then remarried her to another unsuspecting guy, and then David came hunting for her and dragged her away from that second marriage. No wonder she didn’t enjoy his display of Strictly Come Dancing. 1 Samuel 18 starts the sordid tale.
And then there was Bathsheba. The wife of his mate Uriah. You know the phrase, he only had to look at her and she was pregnant? Well almost applies here. David saw her through a window and the next thing you know she’s having a baby and her husband is having a funeral.  It’s all in 2 samuel 11.

5. How many wives did they have in total?

Saul had 1 – Ahinoam.

David had 8 – Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, Bathsheba.

Solomon had ooh – hundreds! Hundreds and hundreds! Well three hundred to be precise – plus seven hundred concubines!!! Which makes a thousand! If he slept with one a night it would take him 3 years to see them all. And he’d be exhausted. So the total was 1009.

6. Which one was king for longest?

Saul reigned for 42 years (1 Samuel 13).

David reigned for 40 years (2 Samuel 5).

Solomon reigned for 40 years (1 Kings 11).

So Saul lived longest and reigned longest. In spite of his many mistakes and misdemeanours.

7. What did God say to Samuel when the people came up with the brilliant idea of having a king?

a. “Call him William.”

b. “You’re kidding.”

c. “No.”

d. “Yes.”

e. “I’m busy right now, please leave a message after the tone.”

f. “There’ll be trouble.”

Answer: All of the above – apart from a/ and e/. The answer was sort of ‘yes you can have one’ and ‘no I don’t like it, it’s a bad idea.’ And he went on to explain all the things a king would demand from his people. Check out 1 Samuel 8.

AND NOW – it’s time to play – Good King – Bad King!

Can you spot which one in these pairs was the good guy and which was the bad guy?

a. Josiah – Ahaz

b. Rehoboam – Hezekiah

c. Ahab – Baasha

d. Jehoshaphat – Jehoram


a. Josiah – good, good, good. Cleaned up the nation and rediscovered the law buried amongst the rubble of his people. Ahaz – Bad, bad, bad. Sacrificed his own son to pagan gods.

b. Reheboam – not brilliant. Hezekiah – top banana. Rebuilt the temple and like his grandons Josiah, did lots to get everybody back on track. Rehoboam on the other hand gave everybody idols and relied on himself more than God. He was popular and well organised and the son of Solomon. But he illegally made sacrifices on the altar and when another prophet brought him up short he pointed at him and caught leprosy. Nasty.

c. Ahab – don’t touch him with a barge pole. Smelly smelly smelly. Married to Jezebel. Well scary lady and the reason we call nasty ladies Jezebel! Baasha – king of Israel who was always at war with Judah. Not so good either – the prophet Jehu said to him – ‘Those of your family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by the vultures.’ Nice. Not as bad as Ahab but not really a nice guy, so this is a lose-lose situation.

d. Jehoshaphat – king of the nice guys. The sort of king you’d like to meet on a dark night in a back alley. Got rid of idols, including the bronze snake that had once cured people but was now being worshipped as a god. Jehoram – oh oh! The words barrel and scarping the bottm of it come to mind. Son of Jehosaphat, but the lad was not his dad. Got married to Ahab’s daughter and it was more a case of like father-in-law like son. Started the decline of the people he was ruling.

Bonus nothing-to-do-with-kings-whatsoever question: What did Samson’s mum, Samuel’s mum, and John’s mum have in common?

Answer: They couldn’t have children and in each case an angel rocked up to tell each of them to visit Mothercare because a sweet, tiny bundle of joy was indeed on the way. N.B. each sweet, tiny bundle of joy turned out to be a juggernaut in one way or another.

And that’s enough about kings for now.

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