4 Min Read

The books of Genesis through Samuel describe the progressive and gradual fulfillment of God’s promises to give Abraham the land of Canaan and to make of him a great nation. The books of 1 and 2 Kings describe a major reversal, a movement toward the eventual loss of the land and exile. The books of 1 and 2 Kings recount events that cover a period of just over four hundred years, from the death of David to the release of Jehoiachin from prison in Babylon. The following are five of the most helpful commentaries on the books of 1 and 2 Kings.

1. Dale Ralph Davis — 1 Kings, 2 Kings (Focus on the Bible, 2002, 2005).

I have already mentioned the high quality of Davis’ commentaries on the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel. His commentaries on 1 and 2 Kings are equally outstanding. These commentaries should be on the shelf of every Bible student and pastor.

2. Paul R. House — 1, 2 Kings (New American Commentary, 1995).

One of the best intermediate-level commentaries on the books of 1 and 2 Kings is the commentary by Paul R. House in the NAC series. This is the commentary to which pastors should turn if they are seeking more exegetical detail than is found in the works of Davis mentioned above. House explores historical, literary, canonical, theological, and applicational concerns thoroughly and competently. Highly recommended.

3. Iain W. Provan — 1 and 2 Kings (New International Biblical Commentary, 1995).

Provan’s commentary on Kings in the NIBC series may be the best individual contribution to that series. The format of the series limits the amount of space the author has, but Provan uses it wisely. He explores the theological themes of the book within its larger redemptive-historical context. Very readable and useful for pastors and teachers.

4. Donald J. Wiseman — 1 & 2 Kings (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 1993).

Wiseman’s contribution to the Tyndale series is another strong contribution. Although it is a bit more technical than the introductory-level works by Davis, this commentary, like the others in this series, is accessible to virtually any reader. Wiseman’s specialty is ancient Near Eastern history, and his insights from this field of study are evident in this work. A good introduction to the books of 1 and 2 Kings.

5. Mordechai Cogan (and Hayim Tadmor) — 1 Kings, 2 Kings (Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 2001, 1988).

Cogan and Tadmor co-wrote the volume on 2 Kings in 1988. Years later, in 2001, the commentary on 1 Kings was published. The volume on 1 Kings was written by Cogan alone. These commentaries are written from a somewhat critical perspective and should be used with care, but the author’s knowledge of the ancient Near Eastern context makes these works very helpful for those interested in more technical commentaries.


There are a number of other helpful commentaries on the books of Kings. Roger Ellsworth has written commentaries on 1 Kings and 2 Kings that will be helpful for preachers. The recent contribution by August Konkel to the NIVAC series is also worth consulting. Beal’s new commentary on 1 & 2 Kings in the Apollos series has helpful insights.

Helpful Related Works:

The prophets Elijah and Elisha are prominent figures in the narrative of 1 and 2 Kings, and these books outline the historical context in which the writing prophets ministered as well. For more on the nature and function of biblical prophets, see O. Palmer Robertson’sThe Christ of the Prophets. Raymond Dillard’s Faith in the Face of Apostasy: The Gospel According to Elijah & Elisha is also worth consulting.

This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.