Consider the following statement from the Personal Study Guide: Change rarely happens without some type of conflict and pain.
1. Do you agree or disagree, and why? (Some changes are small and relatively pain free while other changes take us out of our comfort zone.)
2. If change brings conflict and pain, why should we accept, and even work for, change? (Sometimes change is required in order to follow God’s will.)
When we read 1 Samuel 16 and see that David is anointed to be the next king of Israel we may immediately assume this will be an easy transition because it is obviously God’s will. Such is not the case. David’s life illustrated that the fulfillment of God’s purpose may not happen easily or automatically.
After King Saul’s death we see a very difficult and drawn out civil war where David becomes stronger and the northern tribes become weaker. Some of the bloodiest wars are civil wars that pit brother against brother! Saul’s commander of troops, Abner, garners more and more support while it becomes more evident to all that Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth is not prepared to be a king.
As the civil war wore on, Abner killed Asahel, Joab’s brother and later Joab murdered Abner.
3. What do these changes reveal about human nature and God’s sovereignty? (It doesn’t matter what actions we take, God’s sovereign will is bound to be accomplished! We may resist what God is doing but it will be to no avail.)
(Read 2 Samuel 3:1-7 to set the context of the following verses.)
Taking a defeated king’s wife as his own was considered the final act of total dominance over the defeated king. We see this happen several times in Scripture. (Absalom taking David’s concubines.)
A New Ally! Read 2 Samuel 3:8-11
1. What would you say is Abner’s level of confidence that he has the support of his troops?
Abner was expressing his commitment to see the entire nation unified under David’s rule.
2. What do you see in Ish-bosheth’s nature that may have influenced Abner to change allegiances?
3. Anger and fear are strong motivators. What role did these play in Abner’s actions?
4. What role did they play in Ish-bosheth’s actions?
5. In what ways do you see Ish-bosheth and Saul as being similar?
Abner may have switched allegiances because he didn’t want Israel to suffer under another paranoid, weak king. He also may have switched loyalties because human nature doesn’t like being accused and disrespected.
6. Did Abner’s change of allegiance reveal hypocrisy or a change of heart? (I believe he truly had a change of heart, especially knowing that David had already been anointed as the next king by Samuel some 20 years or so earlier.)
Once again we see God’s sovereignty in Abner’s actions. God can change the heart of even the most devoted person. We can be assured that God’s purposes will be accomplished.
7. How does a person who is confident in the fulfillment of God’s purposes live and respond differently to life’s challenges than someone who isn’t? (Those who have confidence in God’s sovereignty have peace in the midst of the challenges that God is in control.)
A Restored Relationship! Read 2 Samuel 3:12-16
1. How could Abner send a proposal to make a covenant with David when he is just the commander of Israel’s army? (For all intents and purposes Abner was in control of Israel. Ish-bosheth was afraid of him; after all he was Saul’s cousin and had a great following among the Israelites.)
2. To whom did David send his response to Abner’s proposed covenant and what was the non-negotiable term? (That Michal be returned to David as his wife was the stipulation. Michal’s return was to restore not just his relationship with her but a state of righteousness to the land. David’s family relationships certainly do not embody the New Testament ideal of marriage!)
Because human nature is sinful, relationships and righteous standards will be broken. Believers, like Abner and David, had to take decisive actions to restore relationships and righteousness, even when those changes are painful and difficult.
3. What benefit might Abner’s covenant with David have brought to Abner? To David? What complicated their agreement?
4. Which do you think is more difficult—seeking restoration or granting restoration? (One requires humility the other forgiveness—letting a wrong go unpunished!)
5. What decisive actions can we take to restore righteous actions in our own behavior? (Determine—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”)
As we look at David’s life, having multiple wives was culturally acceptable. But just because something may be culturally acceptable doesn’t mean it is in God’s plan for our lives! Although it was culturally acceptable, throughout 2 Samuel we will see the destruction this family structure created in David’s house!
A Consolidated Kingdom! Read 2 Samuel 3:17-21
1. What changes in allegiances do these verses indicate had occurred?
2. How did Abner use his influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan? (Saul and Abner were from the tribe of Benjamin and it was important that Abner have their allegiance!)
3. In making crucial decisions in life, believers should always seek to base their actions on the affirmations made by God in His Word. How would that empower us to make and navigate difficult, but necessary, changes?
4. What are some difficult changes we must make as individuals? As a church?
God’s purposes will be fulfilled, and He honors leaders who are committed to His propose. God will fulfill His purposes with or without you. The ideal situation, for us and for God, is that we would allow Him to use us in fulfilling his purpose! We will be rightly blessed!
5. How did David demonstrate his trust in God by patiently waiting for what God had promised?
6. In what ways does David’s patient waiting on God’s blessing foreshadow Christ’s example?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What did we learn from Abner and David about how to respectfully implement change so God’s purposes are fulfilled and Jesus reigns as King in lives, homes, and churches?
We, as believers, can use our influence to encourage others to follow God’s plan.
2. Think for a moment: Who does your life influence?
3. What difference does it make how you live?
4. What hindrances are keeping you from using your influence to encourage others to follow God’s purpose?
5. How can you minimize these hindrances and exert your influence more effectively in a positive way?
Pray, asking that God’s purposes will be accomplished through us as He shows us how to use our influence to guide others to follow His plan!