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Biblical Personality Profiles


Saul’s daughter Michal loved David, and Saul hoped to use this to his advantage. Saul offered David the right to marry Michal, but he asked for a very unusual “bride-price” which he assumed would lead to David’s death (1 Sam. 18:20–25). The scheme didn’t work, and Michal became David’s wife. When Saul once again tried to kill David, Michal warned him and helped him escape. Saul then gave Michal to another man even though she was still married to David. After Saul’s death, David arranged for Michal to be returned to him. But the story of David and Michal had a sad ending. When David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he celebrated by dancing before the Lord. This caused Michal to despise him, and she remained childless throughout her life. (2 Samuel 6:16–19)


Nathan was a prophet during the reigns of David and Solomon. When David desired to build a temple, he asked for Nathan’s counsel. At first, Nathan told him to go ahead, with the Lord’s blessing. But then, after hearing directly from the Lord, Nathan told David that one of his sons, rather than David himself, would be the one to build the temple. Through Nathan God also promised to establish the house and the kingdom of David forever. After David sinned with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan to rebuke him. To show David how wrong it was for him to take another man’s wife, Nathan told a parable about a rich man who took the only lamb belonging to a poor man. It was a powerful story, and David repented of his sin. (2 Samuel 12:1–15)


David’s son Absalom was a handsome man with the personality of a strong leader. When Absalom’s half brother Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, Absalom retaliated by killing Amnon. He then fled into exile. Three years later he returned to Jerusalem and was reconciled with David. But then he led a rebellion against David, and David himself was forced to flee the city. While battling David’s men, Absalom’s long hair became stuck in the branches of an oak tree, enabling David’s commander Joab to kill him. Absalom’s death allowed David to return to Jerusalem, but he mourned bitterly for his fallen son. Absalom’s betrayal of his father helped fulfill Nathan’s prophecy (12:10–12) that, because of his sin with Bathsheba, the “sword shall never depart” from David’s house. (2 Samuel 15:1–6)


Joab was the commander of David’s army. He was a complicated person, showing both strong faith and chilling ruthlessness in battle. In retaliation for the death of his brother Asahel, Joab murdered Abner, Saul’s general. He helped to bring about David’s reconciliation with Absalom. But later, after Absalom rebelled against David, Joab killed Absalom even though David had told him not to do so. Then, Joab rebuked David for mourning for his rebellious son rather than rejoicing with his victorious troops. As Joab so memorably expressed it, “you love those who hate you and hate those who love you” (19:6). Later, Joab supported Adonijah instead of Solomon as David’s successor. David advised Solomon to have Joab put to death. Joab was killed as he hid in the sanctuary. (2 Samuel 19:1–8)


Abishai was David’s nephew and became the commander of David’s “thirty men.” Like his brothers Joab and Asahel, Abishai was a loyal but ruthless warrior. He killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He urged David to allow him to kill Saul, but David refused to let him kill “the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:8–9). He fought alongside his brothers at the Battle of Gibeon, where Abner killed Asahel. Abishai later helped Joab kill Abner in revenge. When Shimei cursed David, Abishai thought he should be put to death, but again David refused his request. He helped lead David’s troops against Absalom, and again fought for David when Sheba led a rebellion against him. Abishai also saved David’s life by killing the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob. (2 Samuel 23:18–19)


Bathsheba was the beautiful wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s warriors. While walking on his roof one afternoon, David saw Bathsheba bathing. He sent messengers to take her and bring her to him, and he committed adultery with her. Bathsheba became pregnant, and David desperately attempted to cover his sin. He first tried to make it appear that the child was Uriah’s, but when that failed, he plotted the murder of his faithful soldier. After Uriah’s death, David married Bathsheba. His sin brought evil upon his household, including the death of his and Bathsheba’s first child. God had mercy on David, who repented of his sin. Bathsheba bore him four sons, including Solomon. (1 Kings 1:15–21)


The son of David and Bathsheba, Solomon succeeded his father as king of Israel. Rather than ask God for riches or power, Solomon asked for wisdom. His request pleased God, who granted him not only what he asked for but also what he did not ask—riches and honor such as the world had never known. Among the king’s most significant building projects were the first temple in Jerusalem and a magnificent palace. But riches and wisdom were not the only things Solomon had in abundance—he also had over 700 wives! He was a great king when he obeyed God, but sadly his marriages to women outside the people of God proved to be his downfall. Solomon’s reign ended in tragedy when “his wives turned away his heart” (11:3) by influencing him to worship pagan gods. (1 Kings 3:10–14)


When word of Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom reached the ears of the queen of Sheba, she traveled from Arabia to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a remarkable entourage, including camels bearing spices and gold and precious stones. The queen was deeply impressed by Solomon’s wisdom and wealth. This Gentile queen recognized that Solomon’s greatness was from the true God of Israel, and that God himself had put Solomon on his throne. Although the queen gave Solomon a tremendous gift—about 9,000 pounds (4 kg) of gold—it paled in comparison to the riches that he presented to her. Solomon gave the queen all she desired and more, after which she returned to her own land. (1 Kings 10:1–13)


Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, was in charge of the forced labor doing construction work in Jerusalem. He was approached by the prophet Ahijah, who prophesied that he would one day be king over 10 of the tribes of Israel. This prophecy came true when, after Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam refused to lighten his father’s heavy tax burden on the people. The 10 northern tribes revolted. They broke away from the two southern tribes and made Jeroboam their king. To prevent his people from returning to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam built competing centers of worship in Bethel and Dan. By inventing his own system of worship, he led the people of Israel astray. (1 Kings 11:29–40)


Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of the OT, ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel. He prophesied against the wicked king Ahab, who along with his wife Jezebel promoted Baal worship throughout Israel and persecuted the prophets of the Lord. Elijah challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel. He instructed the prophets of Baal to call upon their gods to send down fire from heaven. In an almost humorous way, the Bible records the prophets’ utter failure to get a response from their false god. When Elijah called upon the Lord, however, he sent fire from heaven to consume his altar. Following their humiliating defeat, Elijah slaughtered all 450 of the prophets of Baal. Elijah did not die, but rather was carried into heaven by chariots and horses of fire, as his successor, Elisha, watched. (1 Kings 18:36–40)


Ahab, the son and successor of King Omri, reigned over Israel for 22 years. Ahab married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel, who persuaded her husband and all of Israel to worship Baal. Ahab even built a house and altar for Baal. He was confronted by the prophet Elijah, who challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a “contest” on Mount Carmel (18:20–40). The Lord repeatedly revealed himself to Ahab through prophets despite Ahab’s idolatry. When Elijah prophesied the destruction of Ahab’s family, Ahab briefly humbled himself before the Lord and found mercy, only to return to his old ways afterward. Ahab’s reign was marked by conflict with Ben-hadad of Syria, whom he defeated in battle twice. (1 Kings 21:25)


Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab and the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. Because she was so wicked, her name, “Jezebel,” has become synonymous with evil (Rev. 2:20). As queen of Israel, Jezebel acted with power and influenced King Ahab. She promoted the worship of Baal and ruthlessly killed many prophets of God. When she learned of the defeat of her false god on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:20–40), she tried to kill Elijah, forcing him to flee into the wilderness. When Ahab sulked because Naboth would not sell his vineyard to him, Jezebel arranged the murder of Naboth. Jezebel met a gruesome end when she was thrown from a window by her own servants and was eaten by dogs, in fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy (2 Kings 9:30–37). (2 Kings 9:36–37)


Elisha was Elijah’s disciple and assistant and, eventually, his successor. He served as a prophet for 55 years and became famous for the many miracles he performed. Among these miracles was the healing of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. Naaman was a leper and came to Israel seeking to be healed. Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. At first, Naaman felt insulted by these simple instructions, but when he finally obeyed, he was healed instantly. Elisha’s God-given power did not end at his death. When a fallen soldier was thrown into Elisha’s grave, the soldier came back to life as soon as his body came into contact with the prophet’s bones (13:20–21). (2 Kings 5:8–14)


Jehu was an army commander who became king of Israel. He was famous for his reckless driving (9:20) but also for his great zeal for the Lord. He set out to destroy every trace of Baal worship in Israel. He killed the kings of both Israel and Judah, and then the entire household of Ahab. He killed the wicked queen Jezebel and then all Ahab’s sons, royal officials, and priests. Jehu then brought together all the followers of Baal by pretending that he himself wanted to worship their false god. Once all the Baal worshipers had assembled, Jehu killed them all. He destroyed the temple of Baal, turning it into a latrine. Sadly, though God used Jehu to completely eradicate Baal worship in Israel, he continued to worship the golden calves that Jeroboam had set up. (2 Kings 10:28–31)


Joash (also spelled Jehoash) was just an infant when his father, King Ahaziah of Judah, was murdered. Following the king’s death, Joash’s wicked grandmother Athaliah tried to kill everyone in the royal family so that she could claim the throne. Joash was spared when his aunt, Jehosheba, hid him in the temple. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada, the chief priest, revealed that the young boy was alive. Joash was proclaimed king, and Athaliah was put to death. Joash was a good king as long as Jehoiada was there to guide him. Probably his greatest achievement was making some much-needed repairs to the temple. After Jehoiada died, however, Joash listened to ungodly advice and disobeyed the Lord. His life ended tragically as he was murdered by his own men. (2 Kings 12:1–3)


Hezekiah was king of the southern kingdom, Judah, at the time when the Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom of Israel. Hezekiah was a good king who followed God throughout his life. He began his reign by completely reforming Judean worship. He removed the high places and all the idols that previous kings had allowed. At one point Hezekiah became very sick and was at the point of death, so he prayed that the Lord would heal him. God honored his prayer, promising to give him another 15 years of life. He also delivered Hezekiah and Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Hezekiah resembled King David more closely than any other Davidic king thus far. He is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:9–10). (2 Kings 18:3–8)


Sennacherib became king of the powerful Assyrian Empire following the death of his father, Sargon II. After defeating Babylon, Sennacherib began attacking the area of Syria and Palestine. His official records claim that he captured 46 strong-walled cities in Israel. Following a major victory at Lachish, he laid siege to Jerusalem. Sennacherib forced Hezekiah to pay a huge tribute. He mocked God, urging Hezekiah to turn his back on the Lord. Instead, Hezekiah prayed for God’s deliverance. God answered the king’s prayer, and the siege of Jerusalem was broken when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night. Sennacherib withdrew and returned to Nineveh, only to be killed by his own sons as he worshiped in the temple of the false god Nisroch. (2 Kings 19:35–37)


Josiah was only eight years old when he became king of Judah. He had been ruling Judah for 18 years when Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Book of the Law. As soon as Josiah heard the commands of God, he tore his clothes in grief and despair. He launched a massive effort to abolish pagan worship throughout Judah and Israel. After organizing a covenant-renewal ceremony, he destroyed all the buildings associated with idol worship. Among his most significant deeds was restoring the celebration of the Passover, which had not been observed since the days of the judges. Josiah was more faithful to the Lord than even David and Hezekiah. He was like the ideal king described in Deut. 17:19–20. (2 Kings 23:25)


Following the death of King Solomon, the people of Israel gathered at Shechem to make Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, their king. The people made one request: that Rehoboam lighten the heavy tax burden that his father had forced upon them. Rather than honor their request, however, Rehoboam vowed to make life even harder for the people of Israel. Disregarding the wise advice of his older counselors, Rehoboam followed the younger men’s counsel and warned the people: “My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (10:14). His plan for more oppressive control backfired, however, when the 10 northern tribes revolted and set up Jeroboam as their king. The northern kingdom would now be known as Israel and the southern kingdom would be called Judah. (2 Chronicles 12:13–14)


Asa became king following the death of his father, Abijah. As a result of his faithful leadership, Judah lived at peace during the first 10 years of his reign. The prophet Azariah prophesied concerning Asa, “The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (15:2). Asa took the prophet’s words to heart and immediately set about making religious reforms, including repair of the altar in the temple. He gathered the people together to make a covenant, commanding that anyone who would not seek the Lord would be put to death. Sadly, the last five years of Asa’s reign were marked by spiritual and physical decline, as the king began to trust human alliances and ability rather than God. (2 Chronicles 15:8–19)