2 Samuel 17.1-29; John 19.23-42; Psalm 119.129-152; Proverbs 16.12-13
You have to pay careful attention to the story of David and Absalom and their advisors. Just about the time you think one advisor (in this case, Ahithophel) has the upper hand and is influencing Absalom, another comes in and changes the wanna-be king’s perspective (as is the case with Hushai). In the midst of the tension of who will actually end up with the most influence, remember that at the end of the day, it is God who is at work and his plans will prevail.
Why do you think Ahithophel had such a strong reaction to his advice not being followed?
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate to be a secret follower of Jesus? Why?
How have you found following God’s laws to be a simple thing to do? Do you find them more simple than complicated or vice versa? Why is this the case?
How do we show our love for people who speak honestly?
2 Samuel 15.23-16.23; John 18.25-19.22; Psalm 119.113-128; Proverbs 16.10-11
It is interesting to me that in the midst of a hurried trial to try Jesus for failure to follow the Jewish law, that the leaders of the Temple would suddenly exclaim: “We have no king but Caesar.” Let me get this straight: You want to kill someone for claiming to be the king instead of God, who is the only king, but you are willing to deny God as the only king and advocate Caesar as king … when it best suits your interests? What are other ways people “adjust” their allegiance to God when it benefits them?
What do you think you would have been anticipating to happen in the future as you watched David your king leave Jerusalem because of the threats made by Absalom?
If Pilate knew Jesus was innocent–which it appears he did–why do you think he allowed him to be treated so brutally?
What does it mean to fear the Lord? Why is trembling in fear before him a good thing?
How does the Lord’s demand for “accurate scales and balances” impact how you do your job?
2 Samuel 14.1-15.22; John 18.1-24; Psalm 119.97-112; Proverbs 16.8-9
One of the things that often happens to believers is a tendency to assume the effort to remain in Christ, to continue to follow him, is not nearly as significant as the effort to get to know him in the first place. While there may be some truth to this idea–first knowing is certainly a key hurdle to overcome–scripture is full of examples of followers of Jesus longing to continue in God’s word. What do you do regularly to continue to learn more about God’s instruction … and what can you do more?
Why do you think David did not put a stop to Absalom’s actions at the city gates? Do you think he even knew what his son was doing?
Why do you think the Roman soldiers and Temple guards drew back from Jesus when he confessed who he was?
How have God’s commands made you wise?
In what ways does God determine your steps?
2 Samuel 13.1-39; John 17.1-26; Psalm 119.81-96; Proverbs 16.6-7
John 17 is one of the most powerful chapters of Jesus’ sayings in all of scripture. Perhaps the most significant portion of this prayer of Jesus is his request that his disciples remain unified. For many, unity would not be one of the hallmarks of Christianity – disunity and divisiveness would probably be better seen as the calling card of many followers of Jesus. What can we do today to ensure that people see the unity of believers, not the opposite?
Why would David long to be reunited with Absalom, giving what he had done to David and his family?
How would you say that Jesus has been revealed to you?
Why is it significant that God’s faithfulness has continued from the time of the psalmist to today? How have you seen this faithfulness at work in your life?
“When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace.” What examples can you give of this being true?
2 Samuel 9.1-11.27; John 15.1-27; Psalm 119.49-64; Proverbs 15.33
Today we discover some of the highs and lows of David. First, he seeks out the descendants of Saul to show them kindness on behalf of Jonathan. This being in spite of how Saul treated him. Second, he commits sin with Bathsheba, but does so in the most despicable of ways, having her husband killed in battle. Given these stories of David, what do you learn about God and his love for his people? What do you learn about the ways sinful people follow a holy God?
How often do we assume the worse about someone’s actions, only to have it backfire and cause us problems?
What does it look like, practically speaking, to remain in Christ?
What promises of God do you remember and hold on to?
What does it mean to commit your actions to the Lord? What would be the contrast of this? Which do you do more and why?
1 Samuel 17.1-18.4; John 8.21-30; Psalm 111.1-10; Proverbs 15.11
To some, it may have looked like just a giant of a man trying to provoke an army into battle. To David, it looked like his God, the God to whom he was faithful and had been faithful to him, being ridiculed. To some, it may look like no big deal, just a little sin here or there. To others, it looks like complete disobedience to our God and Father. How can we be sure to discern the ways people are defiling God in their actions or inactions toward him?
What would it have taken for you to have the faith to stand up against Goliath?
As you read the gospel reading for today, do you think you would have had any understanding as to what Jesus was talking about? Why or why not?
Psalm 111 is an acrostic – each line starts with the successive letter of the alphabet. Write an acrostic of praise, from A to Z, to God.
How do you find reassurance in the fact that God knows the human heart? What fear might it cause you?
1 Samuel 15.1-16.23; John 8.1-20; Psalm 110.1-7; Proverbs 15.8-10
So how many of you parents had a moment of awareness as you read Saul describe to Samuel how well he obeyed. “I did EVERYTHING God asked me to … well, except for this and that and also that … but I still did what he asked!” Why did Saul have such a hard time grasping what obedience to God really looked like?
What is your reaction to hearing God say he was sorry he ever made Saul king?
What would you have done if you were in the place of Jesus and someone brought you a woman caught in adultery? Why do you think this is the case?
How would you describe a king or ruler who was a Godly person?
Does it surprise you that God detests the sacrifice of the wicked? What does this tell you about the importance of your heart as you “sacrifice” to him today?
1 Samuel 14.1-52; John 7.31-53; Psalm 109.1-31; Proverbs 15.5-7
One of the reasons we can have faith in God to act on our behalf is that he is so faithful and good. In Psalm 109, as well as many other instances in scripture, we hear the author “remind” God of his nature. Being faithful and good is core to who God is, so calling out to him for rescue is not at all foreign to God’s being. How does your perception of God need to change in order for you to understand that he is indeed faithful and good?
Was Saul being disobedient in not following through with the vow/curse he made about his army not eating, especially with his son Jonathan? Why or why not?
Why do you think the people have such a hard time determining whether Jesus really is the Messiah?
What do you do when God seems silent and aloof?
What have you learned from times of discipline and correction in your life?
1 Samuel 12.1-13.23; John 7.1-30; Psalm 108.1-13; Proverbs 15.4
You really can’t blame Jesus’ brothers for wanting to get Jesus in the limelight more. After all, if Jesus was the savior of the world, wouldn’t he need to be in front of large numbers of the “world” in order to start saving them? Be famous, they say. Makes sense, right? Why is Jesus’ brother’s desire for him to make himself more famous misplaced in today’s story? What do you think would have been a better response on their part?
Why is it so easy for us, like Saul, to assume we need to do God’s job for him?
Why do you think Jesus goes ahead and goes to the Festival, but does so in secret?
How do you react to reading that God’s love is higher than the mountains and his faithfulness reaches to the clouds?
When have you used deceit and in doing so, crushed someone’s spirit?
1 Samuel 10.1-11.15; John 6.43-71; Psalm 107.1-43; Proverbs 15.1-3
Why is Saul hiding in the luggage when it comes time for him to be named king? And if you were an Israelite, how much confidence would you place in your new king? Given all of the things Samuel said would happen–and then they did happen–wouldn’t you think Saul would have believed God was with him? What’s going on here?
How do you think you would have reacted if someone told you of all kinds of things that would happen to show that God was with you and then those signs actually happened? Do you think you would have put your full confidence in God?
What sayings of Jesus would you consider “hard sayings?”
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out and tell others about it.
If a gentle answer deflects anger, why do we not answer more gently more often?