Israelites

Feared - 1 Samuel 12:12-22

1.      What is it that strikes the greatest fear in you? Or of what are you most afraid? (For me it has to be snakes!)

There are almost countless phobias. I saw a list of 200 this week, everything from fear of the navel to fear of heaven to fear of beards.

Some fears are healthy while some are destructive. In the Old Testament we find many passages talking about the fear of God.

2.      What does it mean to fear God in the Biblical sense? (The Holman Bible Dictionary has the following on the subject: “The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience.” “Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience.”   This fear of God will accomplish the same in the life of a believer!)

 

Every time we read about someone in Scripture who has an encounter with God they are filled with this reverential fear and awe that spawns confession, repentance and obedience!

In today’s study, we’ll discuss God’s character and the place fear has in our relationship with Him.

 

Since last week’s study, Saul has been anointed king; he has been received by the people as king, delivered Jabesh-Gilead from the hands of the Ammonites, and finally Saul’s confirmation as king. Today’s Scripture text is part of Samuel’s final public speech, and his longest recorded speech.

The Covenant Revisited! Read 1 Samuel 12:12-15

 

1.      What caused the people to demand a king? (They were under attack by the Ammonites and they thought they needed a king to lead them into battle. In 1 Sam. 8:19-20 the people state that they want a king so they will be like the other nations surrounding them.)

The ultimate end here is evident! When we apply this principle to our lives we realize that when we want to become like the world around us we forsake God for our own selfish desires. We drift further away from God and His will for our lives.

2.      In whom were the Israelites placing their trust? (Their earthly king not God their ultimate King. They had rejected God as their King.)

3.      What three directives do we find in these four verses? (“Fear the Lord, worship the Lord and obey the Lord.”)

4.      How does obeying these directives show trust in God?

5.      What would happen if they did not follow these three directives? (God’s judgment would fall upon them.)

6.      How would having a king change the relationship between God and His people?

7.      How would it be different?

8.      How would it be the same?

9.      How do you see God at work in your life despite the times when you have failed to follow Him?

It is important for us to remember the fact that even though our circumstances may be different from that of other Christians in other places, the core of our identity and of what God expects of us remains the same!

 

Note: The last phrase in verse 15 is difficult to interpret. However, the Leader’s Guide states the following concerning this phrase: “The old Greek version says, “and against your king,” and in this case the old Greek could be correct. Samuel makes the same point in verse 25. If the Israelites failed to keep the Sinai Covenant, having a king would make no difference. Both king and people would be destroyed for their sin.”

 

A Sign Delivered! Read 1 Samuel 12:16-18

 

1.      How did God demonstrate His power before the people? (God sent a thunderstorm.)

2.      Why would a thunderstorm at this time be considered an act of God? (This was the dry season in Israel. It was very rare to have rain during harvest time. Also the fact that Samuel prayed to God and it happened just as Samuel said is another indication that it is an act of God and not a happenstance.)

Because of the thunderstorm, the people realized they had offended God, and they “greatly feared” Him. This fear produced both reverence and unease in the people.

3.      Is fear of God a positive or negative thing? (Fear of God can involve many things—terror, honor, submission, dread, astonishment, and awe. People who are enemies of God might feel terror in their fear because of His unlimited knowledge and power, for God is consistent in His judgement based on His righteous character. For believers, the same “fear” is used to describe the proper attitude toward God. But this carries the ideas of respect, reverence, or awe. Christ has satisfied God’s wrath once and for all, so we do not fear condemnation, but we are still accountable to a holy God.)

4.      What does the “fear of the Lord” look like on a daily basis in the life of a Christina?

 

God’s Mercy and Grace! Read 1 Samuel 12:19-22

 

It isn’t necessarily a sin to have a king but when we trust the king rather than God to deliver us we have sinned.

1.      Samuel warned the people to turn away from “worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you” (v. 21). What “worthless things” do people follow after today, hoping that these things can deliver them? (Anything that receives higher priority than God in our lives becomes a “worthless thing”. Our possessions, our jobs, our education, our skills—these may enrich our lives, but they can never deliver us.)

In turning from worthless things, Samuel called on the people to follow and worship God. In the end, only our relationship with God remains. We should invest wisely in that relationship.

2.      How can we avoid succumbing to the fear of the unknown?

3.      What did the people beg Samuel to do?

4.      What words of hope did Samuel offer the people? (Even though the Israelites had sinned in asking for a king, they could still choose to follow God and to worship Him. Samuel promised the people God would not abandon them.)

God is unchanged, still full of mercy and grace today. We can count on His faithfulness to His promises.

 

5.      How would you describe the balance between God’s judgment and His grace?

6.      When can God’s judgment and His grace complement each other?

7.      When do we see both working simultaneously?

8.      What hope do you find for yourself in verse 22? (God will not abandon you. He will work on you until the day He calls you home so that you can be the person of God He designed you to be. It may be painful at times but it is all for our good and His glory!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Samuel called the Israelite people to have a healthy, reverential fear of God. He encouraged them to avoid being scared or having an unhealthy fear of God. Samuel reassured the Israelites that, despite their sins, God would graciously continue to lead His people if they would obey Him. The same is true for us; God is ever-faithful and deserves our reverent fear.

 

Identify the sins that come between you and God. Spend time in prayer, asking God to forgive you and empower you to live a god-honoring life.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus, review the information on the inside front cover of you guide, or talk to the pastor or some other leader.

We honor God and show our gratitude in the way we live. Hebrews 13:15 reminds us that our lives should be “a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Father, may we approach worship this week with fresh eyes—with an attitude of respect, reverence, and awe!

 

King? - 1 Samuel 8:4-9, 19-22

  Last Sunday we studied 1 Samuel 5 and 6 to understand who or what is worthy of our worship. We found that idols can be physical items worshiped as well as items taking the place of God in a person’s life. When the ark, which represented God’s presence, was placed alongside an idol, God caused the idol to topple. The people understood the event as Dagon being defeated. Because the people of Ashdod failed to recognize God as holy, they experienced a divinely-initiated plague. After 7 months of tumors and rats, the Philistines sought guidance for the return of the ark. When the ark arrived unexpectedly in Beth-shemesh, the people worshiped God by offering sacrifices. Through this lesson we saw (1) that anything we place before or equal to God will fail and topple, with us taking a fall as well. (2) Since God is holy, we should follow His directions completely. (3) God is worthy of our very best in worship.

   Today we move on to 1 Samuel 8 where we find the Israelites have decided they want to be ruled by an earthly king. This desire will transition them from a theocracy (government ruled by God) to a monarchy (government ruled by a king).

 

Read “A King Demanded” 1 Samuel 8:4-5

   Why did Israel want a king?

   What reasons did the Israelites give Samuel for needing a king?

   Was Samuel’s age and his son’s dereliction of duty reasons or excuses for wanting a king?

   How can wanting to be like the people around you lead to trouble? God wants us to be more like Him in every area of our lives. The people we want to be like may not be trying to be more like God.

   How can peer pressure be a problem? With the Israelites, wanting to have a king like their neighbors was a sinful choice. They were rejecting God’s lordship in their lives.

   Look at the question on pg. 46 of your PSG: How does a desire to be like other people impact a person’s values and character? We all want to “fit in” but sometimes we forget God wants us to “fit in” with Him. Fitting in with others may require us to lower our values from God’s standard.

   What does it mean to live set apart for Jesus while still living as a member of society?

  

   Moses gave instructions and regulations for future kings in Deuteronomy 17, but having a king was not God’s ideal plan for the Israelites. Israel was privileged in being different from other nations because God was their King. These regulations limited the power and splendor of the future king. He would not be dependent on military power and riches. He was exhorted not to entangle the nation in political alliances that would expose Israel to pagan worship. Instead, he was exhorted to guide the nation into obedience to God’s law. The true king would not be a tyrant, but a king who ruled in accordance with God’s revealed will. By reading and obeying God’s law, the king would be reminded that he was to be a man of the people. He was no different than anyone else, except that God had chosen him to guide the nation in righteousness.
It seems God was anticipating a request for a king by the Israelites and here He is warning them what will happen.

   So, we see the Israelites wanting to take matters into their own hands.

Do we ever want to take matters into our own hands instead of letting God lead? Patience! When will we learn to wait and listen for God to speak to us? God’s timing and directions are worth waiting for.

 

Read “Rejection Declared” 1 Samuel 8:6-9

   What was the Israelites’ request? “Give us a king to judge us”.

   What did Samuel think of their demand and what was his response? He thought it was sinful so he prayed to the Lord.

   What did God think of their desire to be like their neighbors? God saw this as a rejection of His lordship and Samuel’s leadership in their lives.

   Do you think God acted with grace in verse 9? He did give them a warning.

   How can we distinguish between God’s perfect will and His permissive will? We know God’s will for our lives by studying His Word, praying and seeking the counsel of mature believers. God causes some things to happen. Some things He allows to happen. Nothing happens apart from God’s will.

God is willing to allow His people to make their own decisions, even if those choices are poor and lead to pain and regret.

 

Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 to see Samuel’s warning of what would happen if a king ruled over the people.

   Basically the king would have the power to confiscate persons and their wealth, as well as the power to give favors to some people while crushing others. The end result was that the Israelites would discover they had no rights at all. Obviously, not every king would follow the principles governing kings as we just reviewed in Deuteronomy.

   Pg. 48 of PSG has an intriguing question: What does a believer lose by relying on a human authority more than Christ? How does this relate to today’s world?

 

Read “Rebellion Determined” 1 Samuel 8:19-22

   What was Samuel’s role in Israel’s demand for a king? Samuel was faithful to seek the Lord’s guidance and delivered an unpopular warning. Remember he gave an unpopular warning to Eli a few Sundays ago.

   What is the people’s response in verse 19? The people heard Samuel’s warning describing what life would be like with a king instead of God as a leader. Still, they refused to take the next step and heed Samuel’s warning. They were determined to have their own king. What about the times we are determined to have our own way?

   What do the descriptions of the desired king reveal about their hearts?

   What does God’s allowing Israel to have a king teach us about God? We can hear God’s instructions for living but neglect to take the next step and follow those instructions in daily living.

 

Conclusion:

·         God desires His people to be distinct from others, trusting Him in all matters.

·         When we reject God’s leaders and their warnings, we are rejecting God in the process.

·         We can trust God to provide godly leaders even when we are tempted to take matters into our own hands.

·         Ask yourself what is keeping you from giving God full control of your life today.

 

Close with prayer asking God to bring all areas of your life under His control. Pray for our government leaders to have God’s wisdom in decision making.