You will find an introduction and outline to 1 Kings, here.
A prayer to use before reading from the Book of Common Worship:
God, source of all light, by your Word you give light to the soul. Pour out upon us the spirit of wisdom and understanding that, being taught by you in Holy Scripture, our hearts and minds may be opened to know the things that pertain to life and holiness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
An Outline of 1 Kings (from Nelson)
I. 1 Kings 1:1-11:43 The Reign of Solomon
A. 1:1-2:46 Solomon Comes to the Throne
B. 3:1-4:34 Solomon Governs Wisely
C. 5:1-8:66 Solomon Builds the Temple:
6:1-38 Construction and Furnishings:The details of Solomon’s building project can be uninteresting to modern readers and difficult to imagine. (see “Solomon’s Temple” in Wikipedia) We should read these descriptions understanding that they were to “dazzle readers with the splendor and glory of cedar and gold and elegant carving” (Nelson, 284) The date of this construction is symbolic and is the midpoint of Israel’s time in the promised land.
Modern readers also need to understand that the Temple was not built as a place of worship but as a residence/palace for God. Worshipers stood outside for prayer and sacrifice.
7:1-12 Other Structures: The Temple was part of a complex of buildings. There were five other buildings. The House of the Forest of Lebanon was larger than the Temple. Notice how the descriptions of these buildings are much shorter and give us much less detail. We are still supposed to be impressed by Solomon’s wealth and buildings but the Temple is presented as the most important building.
7:13-51 Bronze and Gold Furnishings: The text makes clear that the artisan Hiram, even though he was from Tyre, was not actually a foreigner. Once again we have descriptions of materials which are designed to make us amazed at Solomon’s wealth and achievement.
8:1-66 Dedication and Prayer: Verses 1-13 and 62-66 describe the dedication. Verses 14-21 and 54-61 give us theological commentary from Solomon and verses 22-53 are the prayer of dedication. We are told all of Israel is involved and enthusiastic. We also are to realize that God is present, because the Ark is present, and a cloud fills the hall ( clouds are a symbol of God’s presence) and the “glory” of the Lord is present. The dedication happened during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, which is when Israel reaffirmed its loyalty to the law every 7 years. (see Deut 31:10-13) Notice the theological ideas which are present and in continuity with other biblical texts we have read- God has chosen Israel and David, God has kept God’s promises. Solomon’s prayer begins with praising God for God’s loyalty, then there are 7 petitions which name the reasons people would pray at the Temple and finally Solomon’s prayer anticipates Israel’s future. Can you recognize how the themes in Solomon’s prayer have been present throughout Torah until now?
D. 9:1-10:29 Solomon and All His Glory:
9:1-9 God’s Promise and Threat: God appears a second time to Solomon and again faithfulness is emphasized as are the consequences of disobedience. That God speaks this to Solomon assures later readers that the future disasters are not due to God’s weakness or betrayal but were the consequences of Israel’s sin.
9:10-28 Prosperity and Glory: The story of Solomon giving another king twenty cities, seems odd. Did Solomon give away worthless cities? Was this a shrewd trade for gold? Did Solomon have to effectively sell off some land? We don’t know. The text seems to be trying to make is a wise act on Solomon’s part. Solomon’s building projects used forced labor, watch for the future results of this action. We have another description of Solomon’s wealth and empire.
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of 1 Kings
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Nelson, Richard D. “1 and 2 Kings” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Romer, Thomas, “1 Kings” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, Fully Revised 4 th Edition, Michael Cougan, ed. (New York:Oxford University Press) 2010.
Stinespring, William F. and Burke O. Long “ 1 Kings” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds.(New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.