As I look around the room I see people with a variety of talents, skills and spiritual gifts. (Name a few.) God gives skills, talents and spiritual gifts to each of us. God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes.
1. What is the purpose of the talents and skills we possess?
2. Is the purpose different for everyone or the same? (God’s general purpose is the same—to bring glory to God and accomplish His will on earth. God’s specific purpose for each of us is carried out in different ways depending on the specific talent, skill or spiritual gift.)
Last week we saw how David reclaimed the throne and headed back to Jerusalem. Second Samuel 19 ended with anger and recrimination between the tribe of Judah and the ten northern tribes. There was a perception that David showed favoritism toward his own tribe, Judah, even though they were the last tribe to recognize David as king again. There was great discord between the tribes.
3. What does maintaining a strong tribal identity lead to without a strong, unifying leader? (Chaos and division.)
In today’s study, a story about the rebellious Sheba, we will see how God uses people’s skills to accomplish His purposes. Listen specifically for the skills used by David, Joab, and the woman of Abel to resolve the situation.
Read 2 Samuel 19:43
Let’s see what happens in the midst of this chaos!
Division! Read 2 Samuel 20:1-2
1. What words and actions reveal Sheba’s character? (He was Benjaminite, was known for wickedness.)
2. People can use their skills for good or for evil. What skills did Sheba use and for what end? (He took advantage of the conflict and further divided the 10 northern tribes, named Israel, from the tribe of Judah.)
3. What could have happened if he had used his skills for good? (He could have helped to unite all 12 tribes—the tribe not counted for is Levi—the priests.)
4. How did sin play a role in Sheba’s actions? (Sheba became the voice of those who questioned the good work of God through His anointed one.)
5. How did the past get in the way of the future?
6. How can a person make sure that when a leader is questioned the concerns are legitimate and not based on a past bias?
Consider these statements: “We’ve never done it that way before.” “The way we used to do it worked so why should we change?”
7. How can these statements lead to questioning God’s provision?
8. How can they be a stumbling block to the future?
9. How can the church address the issue of change in a positive fashion?
10. How do we see some of these issues coming to the surface in our nation? (The race issue especially!)
11. Why do people take advantage of conflict? (It is wise to consider the motives behind others’ actions. Sometimes we must question provisions and leaders. More often we must show trust in provisions and leaders.)
Read 2 Samuel 20:4-13 (Discuss briefly. I personally believe Joab had the best interest of the unified nation in his heart!)
Civil War! Read 2 Samuel 20:14-16
Although the passage does not expressly say this it seems the further Sheba went north the more support he lost. The city he finally stopped in was on the northern border of Israel.
1. Why does a position or office of leadership not always guarantee a high degree of influence?
2. Why does the situation seem dire for Abel? (A city under siege that has no force outside the walls to attack the enemy will be cut off from their water supply and food. They will slowly die or surrender to their enemy.)
3. Why are we surprised that a woman is the spokesperson for the city? (We assume women had very little influence in ancient Israel but that is not the case in several situations.)
4. How does a crisis bring out the best and worst advice?
5. How can you tell the difference?
Wisdom Conquers! Read 2 Samuel 20:17-21
1. Why would a “peaceful and faithful” person agree to throw the head of Sheba over the wall?
2. What can we appreciate about the ways this woman used wisdom? (She halted violence, asked questions, requested that Joab listen to her, revealed her character, asked Joab about his intentions, listened to the problem, and accepted a proposed solution.)
When compromising take care not to compromise core values and beliefs.
3. What skills are necessary to avert revolt in churches or other groups of believers? (Godly people who are willing to compromise on issues that are not biblical principles. We must stand firm on the Word of God but be willing to compromise on lesser issues to keep unity.)
4. In an age of moral confusion and political polarization, why is it important to show wisdom, restraint, and the ability to compromise in the face of a crisis?
5. How strong is the temptation to compromise on core principles at such a time? (Not much at all—IF you have already made the decision not to compromise your core principles before a crisis arises! The decision is already made!!)
6. Is there a relationship between political polarization and a widespread decline in moral integrity?
7. What about the racial issues our churches and nation faces?
Summarize and Challenge:
We are each gifted in different ways. Every person has gifts and abilities given to them by God. These gifts are typically given in seed form and we have to develop them through experience. However, the pressing question is not how we can recognize our capabilities, although that is an important issue. The greater question is, “To what end?” What is the ultimate purpose of our abilities?” PSG pg 91
God uses the skills of people to accomplish His purposes. We see Joab using his leadership and warrior skills. We see this woman using her leadership skills and negotiating skills.
1. What are some potential problems in a family?
2. What are some potential problems in a church?
3. What are some potential problems in a community?
4. How can I play an active part in being part of the solution and not the problem?
Pray, asking God to help us seek peace and godly compromise as needed in the conflicts we encounter daily.