Just about everyone at some point in their lives has played “King of the mountain”. As young children we would go to the local hill, and the person on top was the king. Everyone else would strive to take that person down off the top, thus becoming the new king.
Students who have played Settlers of Catan know that the person in the lead always gets the robber. If they have played the game Risk they know that the leader is the one who is likely to get attacked the most. This idea is played out to perfection in 1 Kings 16.
1 Kings 16 tells the story of the reign of some of the kings of Israel. The chapter outlines the reigns of Baasha, king of Israel in 900-877 BC to Ahab in 869 BC. In all, Israel had 20 monarchs, all of which chose to live in wickedness. Five dynasties were set up in Israel, all were short lived and ended by assassination or violence. Seven monarchs were murdered, and 1 (Zimri – see 1 Kings 16:17-18) committed suicide. I put together a chart that illustrates the kings of the northern and southern kingdom here: Divided Kingdom dates chart
While many of the details in this chapter may be cumbersome to teach, there are several ways this chapter can relate to young people. Mosiah 29 teaches the idea that one wicked king will cause a nation to go astray. From the record we read: “Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a aking or kings to rule over you. For behold, how much ainiquity doth one bwicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!” (Mosiah 29:16-17)
We discussed the idea that as the father/mother/leader/general goes – so will the family/child/nation/war. There are many instances in the scriptures as well as the history of the world where this is proven true. Students came up with many examples –
1. Germany – every class mentioned how Germany suffered from the wickedness of its leader during the middle of the 20th century.
2. North Korea – by having a system where the people are oppressed, the lives of those that live in North Korea lead much different lives that those that live in South Korea.
3. King Noah (see Mosiah 11:2-6) caused his people to commit wicked acts due to his poor example.
We spent time in class relating this to the lives of young people. Some questions we considered were, “How does this relate to you? In what ways have you seen this to be true? Where have you seen this not be the case?”
A classic illustration of this idea of a father or mother not leading their child astray is the story of Abraham. Abraham’s father Terah chose wickedness, but Abraham did not follow his example (see Abraham 1:1-2, 5-6). He went against the grain. A question that provides for much thought is, “what was it that caused Abraham to not follow Terah? What might have been an influence in his life for good?” This application helps youth to see how their influence is needed to help their friends who may not have the benefit of a gospel centered home. Who knows if they are the very friend of an Abraham who doesn’t know he has the character of an Abraham?
We discussed examples of these types of situations in our class, times when children of parents who have not set the best of examples still go in the right direction in spite of the example in the home. Many students emphasized the truth that they are preparing now to become the fathers and mothers of those waiting to come to earth. Their decisions they are making right now are going to affect hundreds of lives in the future. By looking at this idea taught in 1 Kings 16, we were able to see how an otherwise obscure and violent chapter of scripture can have relevance in the lives of young people.