Saul

Respect - 1 Samuel 26:1-25

1.      In general, what are some common actions of a selfish person? (Concerned for his own success, constantly turns conversations to himself, unwilling to give to others, constant desire to be in the spotlight, etc.)

2.      What percentage of people do you believe view the majority of others as selfish?

3.      What percentage of people do you believe view themselves as selfish?

(Consider these verses: Philippians 2:3-4; James 3:14-16; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Psalm 119:36; 1 Timothy 5:6)

4.      Which guides our decision making, opportunity or principles of God’s Word learned before opportunity presents itself? (See Gal. 5:24-25; Psalm 119:11)

5.      So, is your life defined by the opportunities you encounter or principles from God’s Word that guides your decisions?

 

We will consider three basic concepts in this session:

First, God’s plans are always better than our plans!

Second, selfish tendencies can lead to premature victories (complete with additional problems and guilty conscience).

Third, God’s plans require us to filter opportunities through the lens of respect for others and godly principles.

 

Opportunity Knocks! Read 1 Samuel 26:1-8

 

1.      Did Abishai’s proposal make good sense from a military perspective? (It was as if Saul had been handed to David on a silver platter.)

2.      How easy is it for us to do the wrong thing when those we are with and trust encourage us to sin?

3.      What are the dangers of equating an open door with God’s will?

4.      How does one know the difference between a true open door and a test disguised as an open door?

5.      Every day we encounter opportunities and decisions. What influences you the most in these opportunities throughout the day?

People make decisions in a variety of ways—what benefits me, what benefits everyone, what seems right, what feels right, or what is easiest. For believers facing a decision, the question should always be, “What would God have me do here?”

 

Godly Respect! Read 1 Samuel 26:9-12

 

1.      Why did David refrain from killing Saul? (It was not because he had great respect for Saul personally, it was because Saul was God’s anointed and David did not consider it his task to kill Saul, he would leave that in God’s hands.)

2.      How did David say God would take care of this in His own time?

3.      What words did David use to express being a humble servant of the Lord’s?

David refrained from doing evil, allowing God to show him a greater purpose and direction. Remember this: “Actions do not determine our character, our actions reveal our character.”

4.       Why did David take Saul’s spear and water jug? (I believe it was simply to prove to Saul that David was there and could have taken Saul’s life if so inclined.)

5.      Respect is often seen as something that must be earned. David showed respect to someone who didn’t show respect to him. Why is it hard to respect people who disrespect us? Why should we?

6.      What lessons can we learn from David in regard to the way we treat our political leaders today? (While we don’t agree with what some elected officials do or say, believers should respect the office they hold. Believers are instructed to submit to authorities and to pray for them.                                                      [see Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Tim. 2:1-4])

 

 

 

 

Remorse! Read 1 Samuel 26:13-21

 

1.      What did David say to convince Saul that trying to kill him was wrong?

2.      How did Saul react to the news that David had chosen not to harm him?

3.      How did Saul express his remorse?

4.      Is remorse the same as repentance, if not how is it different? (Ture repentance comes when God convicts a person of sin and there is a transformation in that person’s heart. Real change is made!)

5.      When have you seen a situation change for the better because someone chose to do good instead of harm? (Take the highroad and see what God can accomplish.)

6.      Saul said David “considered my life precious”. What are ways we can consider each other’s lives precious today?

Imagine what our homes, churches, and communities would look like if we all treated one another as precious!

 

This was the second opportunity David had to kill Saul, yet David chose to wait on God’s timing.

 

Trust in God! Read 1 Samuel 26:22-25

 

1.      David chose to turn away from harming Saul. In what ways did David show respect for Saul, even though Saul had been pursuing David to harm him? (David returned Saul’s spear. He called for God to repay every man for “his righteousness and his loyalty”. David did not call for Saul to consider his “life valuable,” but did ask God to do so.)

David and Saul went their separate ways. These are the last words they said to each other.

2.       Why didn’t David go with Saul? (I think because of God’s direction. Saul was constantly back and forth so David could not trust him.)

3.      God promises to protect and care for His people in numerous passages throughout Scripture. What causes a person to transition from knowing God’s promises to taking action based on those promises?

4.      When have you taken action based on the promises we find listed in Scripture?

 

Daily we face opportunities that are open doors for ministry. What we choose to do with the opportunities God gives us determines whether we humbly follow His path or make selfish decisions.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What biblical principles did you discover from our study of David and Saul?

God’s redemptive plan for believers coincides with a believer’s respect for life and humility in accepting God’s will.

2.      What is the correlation between humility and respect?

3.      How does humility promote respect?

4.      In what ways is God calling you to humble yourself before others?

5.      How do we, as a group, encourage humility and respect among the group members?

6.      What are the situations today where you need to step out of the way and allow God to work His will?

 

Be willing to let God work in His way and in His timing with some challenge or problem you are facing today. Pray for God’s leading and guiding in each step you take.

 

Blinded - 1 Samuel 22:6-17

   Last Sunday David found a faithful friend in Jonathan (Saul’s son), who was willing to place David above his own ambitions. In fact, Jonathan presented his royal robe, sword and other items to David as a demonstration of his commitment to David. Jonathan used arrows, as a prearranged demonstration, to signal David that his life was in danger. David and Jonathan said their goodbyes and committed to be friends no matter what happened in the future. Their friendship was based on a mutual trust and belief in God.

 

   Today we will see how personal ambition drove Saul to desperate actions. We will also see, as believers, sometimes opposition confronts us, even when we are simply doing the right thing.

   Chapter 21 is skipped and although it is a short chapter, it continues on from last week’s lesson and builds the foundation for today’s lesson. In chapter 21 we see that David, after bidding farewell to Jonathan at the stone Ezel, had fled to Nob. There, he talked Ahimelech the priest out of food (bread) and Goliath’s sword. It so happened that Doeg, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen was there that day and saw what went on between Ahimelech and David. Then David fled to Gath and went to Achish, the king of Gath. David became afraid of King Achis and pretended to be mad so Achish would not want him around. From Gath, David fled to the cave of Adullam and soon his father and entire family showed up and David became their captain. David then went to the king of Moab and asked that his family could stay there until he knew what God wanted him to do. Chapter 21 ends with David going to the forest of Hereth in Judah.

 

Read 1 Samuel 22:6-10 “Pursued By Saul”

   What do we see as signs of Saul’s paranoia? It appears he was rejected, closed-minded, defiant, argumentative, and disagreeable.

   How do these terms describe what might happen when a person decides that his or her decisions do not need counsel.

    How did Saul’s jealousy and ambition lead to his desperate accusations? Saul was so jealous of David that he questioned the loyalty of his closest soldiers, accusing them of betraying him and aiding David. Saul falsely accused his own son Jonathan of plotting against him.

   How do unchecked ambition and pride lead to paranoia and fear?  

   How could unchecked ambition lead to desperate behavior in our lives? If our ambition is unchecked, we become self-centered in our attitudes and actions. We don’t value other people as we should. We are consumed with pursuing our own selfish desires. Sinful behavior always leads to destruction.

   How can people convince themselves that what they want to believe is true?

 

Read 1 Samuel 22:11-15 “Guilt By Association”

   What false accusations did King Saul hurl toward Ahimelech the priest? Saul accused Ahimelech the priest of siding with David in conspiring against him. Saul’s accusations suggested that Ahimelech was guilty of treason against him.

   How did Ahimelech respond? Ahimelech did not deny Saul’s accusations, but he defended David as being loyal to Saul. Any help that Ahimelech provided to David was with good intentions and not out of any desire to harm Saul. Ahimelech displayed insight and courage in dealing with King Saul. He was “honest, sincere, and well-crafted” as he “defended David’s character”.

   What are the five truths Ahimelech used to defend David? David was Saul’s servant, he was faithful, the king’s son-in-law, captain of his bodyguards, and honored in the king’s house.

   How did these serve as a defense for Ahimelech? These characteristics were all indicative of the king’s most trusted warriors and family members. When one of the king’s family members asks for help, you help.

   Ahimelech faced opposition simply for doing the right thing in helping David.

   As a believer, when have you faced opposition for doing the right thing? Sometimes we experience opposition because of our own sin. We bring trouble on ourselves. However, not all adversity is the result of our own sin. Bad things do happen to believers who are simply doing the right thing. We should remember that even in the face of opposition, we can trust in God’s strong presence in our lives.

 

Read 1 Samuel 22:16-17 “Desperate Measures”

   What did Saul order the Israelite guards to do and what did they do? They were ordered to kill Ahimelech and his entire family. Verse 17 concludes by saying “But the king’s servants would not lift a hand to execute the priests of the Lord”.

   What does the punishment declared by King Saul reveal about him? Saul’s mistaken thinking let him believe Ahimelech was a traitor.

   What does his servant’s reaction reveal about him? King Saul was not held in high esteem. Out of reverence for God, it is not surprising that they would not lift a hand to execute the priests of the Lord. There was no real evidence supporting a conspiracy against Saul; therefore, no priests needed to die.

   How do we see King Saul’s unchecked ambition lead to sin and destruction? Saul’s ambition hurt his relationships, even within his own family. Because of his ambition, Saul sinned greatly, even to the point of trying to murder anyone he considered a rival, and he had poor judgment in deciding who was his rival.

   Look at the Key Doctrine “Social Order”, p. 109 in the PSG. Who does this doctrine address? What are the principles to be applied?

   As believers, we must be willing to take a stand against anything that violates God’s laws and principles. Read Philippians 2:3-5. How we can know when to obey authorities and when doing so defies being Christlike.

 

Summary

   Is all ambition bad? How can we guard against unchecked ambition in our own lives?

·         Not all ambition is bad. Channeled in a positive way, ambition helps us pursue the education, training, and careers we need to do well in life. With ambition we provide for our families and take on responsibilities in our churches and communities.

·         With unchecked ambition, we lose perspective and become self-centered.

·         If we give God first place in our lives and seek Him with our whole hearts, then our ambitions will have a proper balance in our lives.

 

   Close with prayer asking God to help us develop a more Christ-like attitude in all our conversations and interactions with others. Pray that we can be more like David and Jonathan by putting the needs of others ahead of ours.

 

Delivered - 1 Samuel 17

1.      What is the biggest, most difficult job you have ever undertaken?

2.      Was the task intimidating at first?

3.      What led you to finally accept the job?

4.      Was it a job you volunteered to do or did someone come looking for you to do it?

5.      What was the outcome?

 

6.      Just considering the information we have thus far learned from 1 Samuel, what do we know about David so far? (He is Jesse’s son, he is a shepherd boy, he is youngest in his family, he has been anointed a future king of Israel, he has been chosen to play his musical instrument for Saul when he is disturbed by an evil spirit, and evidently not old enough to be in the army. Perhaps most important, he believes in the God of Israel and trusts Him for deliverance from whatever foe he may face.)

When a person is faithful to God and trusts Him in all situations then that person is available to be used by God to accomplish extraordinary, super human, God anointed feats.

 

Read 1 Samuel 17:1-30 or tell what happens in these verses.

 

Remember, when Saul was anointed as King of Israel, there was a strong indication that he was a head taller than anyone else in Israel.

What was David’s brother’s opinion of David?

 

Confidence in God! Read 1 Samuel 17:31-37

 

1.      How did Saul see David?

2.      What gave David confidence that he could defeat Goliath? (God’s faithfulness in the past to deliver him from the lion and bear. It is important to note that although David said God had delivered him, David still honed his skills so he would be ready to be used by God when the right situations presented itself.)

3.      Saul questioned David’s experience in battle. How could David’s lack of battle experience have been a disadvantage?

4.      How could his lack of experience been an advantage? (David’s approach to the battle with Goliath was under God’s direction not any previous experience.)

5.      How can God use our past as a foundation for our future?

6.      Has there been a time when you had to convince someone that you had the ability, experience, and confidence to do a particular task?

7.      How can a person’s past experiences help him or her succeed in the future? (Do the principles and skills you have learned and developed in your secular job help you in service to God?)

David may have lacked a soldier’s training, but he was an experienced fighter because of his time spent in the wilderness protecting sheep. Equipped with this experience, David displayed a sure confidence in God’s ability to protect him.

When we place our confidence in anything other than God, it leads to defeat. As believers, we should face all challenges with our confidence rightly grounded in the truth of the gospel.

 

Read 1 Samuel 17:38-41 or share the content of these verses.

 

Why did David choose smooth stones to use? (There is less wind resistance and they will hit the target with more accuracy.)

 

False confidence in himself! Read 1 Samuel 17:42-44

 

1.      We’ve seen how David’s brothers viewed David, how the king saw David and now how did Goliath view David?

2.      How would you contrast David’s humility and confidence in battle with the pride and arrogance of Goliath?

3.      What was Goliath’s “trash talk” against David? (He suggested that David’s staff was nothing more than a stick used to beat a dog. Then he “cursed David by his gods”. This was more than just a fight between two men. It represented a battle between the false gods of the Philistines and the one true God of Israel.)

Every challenge, trial, and problem is an opportunity for God to show Himself strong before the world! (See Prov. 3:26; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 4:16; and 1 John 5:14.)

4.      In what items or people do we sometimes place our confidence?

5.      What are the limits of each item or person?

6.      How do those limits point us to our need to trust in God at all times with all things?

 

God’s Victory!  Read 1 Samuel 17:45-50

 

1.      David gave God the credit for the victory over Goliath. Consider some major successes in your life. How hard or easy was it for you to give God the credit? (Goliath put his confidence in his “dagger, spear, and sword”. David’s confidence rested in “the name of Yahweh, of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies.”)

Goliath had a false confidence in himself; David had a sure confidence in God; this made all the difference.

It can be an easy trap to want to take all the credit for our victories and successes in life. We must constantly remind ourselves that all we are and have comes from God!

 

Our relationship with Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit in our life strengthens us for daily living.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.   What principles did you glean from the study of David’s encounter with Goliath? (God’s faithfulness to David in the past strengthened David’s dependence upon God in the future.)

2.      David used a battle with a giant as an opportunity to make God’s name known in the world. Where and how can we make God’s name known today? (We can be intentional about witnessing; we can be intentional about giving God the credit in our lives, both in the words we speak and in the way we live.)

3.      What are some giants you need to face with confidence in God that He will give you the victory?

When we are making God’s name known, it will be part of our activities at home, in the workplace, and where we play. His name is not reserved for Sunday mornings. Look for fresh ways to make God’s name known in your daily conversations this coming week.

 

A life lived fully committed to Christ is the best witness we can have!

 

Close with prayer that we will be more committed to live a life of victory through Christ this coming week.

 

Judged - 1 Samuel 15:1-23

1.      When you are looking for someone to hire to do a particular job what qualities do you look for in that person? (A person who will do the job exactly as I want it done. They may have their own idea of how to do it but I have reasons for doing it the way I want it done.)

2.      When God seeks someone to fulfill a task or role, what qualities does He desire? (Willingness to work, integrity, teachable, humility, faithfulness, obedience.)

3.      The Israelites asked for a king. Did they get what they asked for? (Yes! King Saul led them into military battles and won many victories over their enemies. Read 1 Sam. 14:47-48.)

4.      When someone mentions King Saul’s name what are the first thoughts that come to your mind, successful warrior king or utter failure?

 

Saul’s son, Jonathan was a great hero of Israel. In a remarkable Israelite victory over the Philistines near Michmash, Jonathan proved to be a great warrior, almost singlehandedly striking panic into the hearts of the Philistines. His complete confidence was in the Lord, evidenced by his bold declaration: “Nothing can keep the Lord from saving whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam. 14:6) Would that Saul had that faith and character.

            God entrusted Saul with leading the Israelite people. However, just as Saul ascended quickly to the throne, he also descended quickly because of his disobedient actions.

The Amalekites had been the proverbial “thorn in the side” of Israel ever since they came out of Egypt. They now threatened to divide the western half of Israel right in the middle so that the north and south would find it difficult banding together in battle against the Amalekites.

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-6 to set the situation.

Note: Some might question why everything—men, women, children, animals—had to be destroyed. The Amalekites, nomadic tribesmen and descendants of Esau, had been enemies of Israel since the time of the exodus from Egypt. They had continued to wage war with the people of Israel using barbaric methods. God had been patient with the Amalekites for a long time while they continued to reject Him. Their promised punishment had finally come due. Any of them left would be like a person keeping back a little sin in their lives; it would always be a hindrance to moving forward with God.

Saul’s Disobedience! Read 1 Samuel 15:7-9

 

1.      What compromises did Saul make?

2.      Keeping the best animals after the battle was won seems like a smart idea, so why was it wrong? (God had commanded Saul to destroy everything and everyone! Saul thought he knew what was best, not God.)

3.      What makes settling for partial obedience so tempting?

4.      In what ways could a believer keep the “best” back for themselves in his or her obedience to God? (Tithes, time, total effort in a task, etc.)

5.      Is partial obedience really obedience? Why? Or Why not? (Some might argue a little obedience is better than no obedience at all. For the Israelites, destroying “all the worthless and unwanted things” required no great sacrifice on their part. Saul decided that they could pick and choose what they wanted to obey.)

Partial obedience is disobedience!

 

Samuel’s Confrontation! Read 1 Samuel 15:10-11

 

1.      What do we learn about Samuel from these verses? (Samuel’s heart was broken by Saul’s disobedience. He laid his burden before the Lord all night, perhaps because he knew what he would have to do in the morning.)

2.      When has your heart been broken because of another’s disobedience? What did you do?

 

Read 1 Samuel 15:12-15

3.      What do you find astonishing here about Saul’s actions? (See 1 Sam. 10:21-22. What had happened to Saul?)

4.      When Saul said he had followed God commands, what was Samuel’s response?

5.      How did Saul attempt to justify his disobedience? (He tried to blame it on the troops first. Then he tried to justify his disobedience by saying he kept the best animals to sacrifice them to God.)

6.      In what ways do we try to justify our disobedience? (Sometimes our disobedience is simply an unplanned wandering down a slippery slope away from God. Other times it is a deliberate choice toward disobedience. Both are wrong.)

7.      What makes confronting someone about his or her disobedience a challenge?

8.      What risks are involved when confronting someone?

9.      What risks are involved when we don’t confront someone?

10.  When we see a fellow believer choosing disobedience, how can we approach that person redemptively, showing them grace? (God did not appoint us a judge or critic over each other. We should be models of God’s grace in approaching someone living in disobedience. That person must know, beyond question, that we love them unconditionally, that we have their best interest at heart and desire only God’s best for them!)

1 John 1:9 was written to believers! God’s desire is that everyone repent and turn to Him in obedience—that should be our goal in all our conversations and actions.

 

Read 1 Samuel 15:16-21

 

God’s Rejection! Read 1 Samuel 15:22-23

 

Greed is a terrible taskmaster!

1.      How does accepting partial obedience or religious practice as a substitute for full obedience show disrespect for God? (We either ignore what God says or we simply think we know best and either is deadly spiritually.)

2.      The original language of verse 22 could be translated “obedience surpasses sacrifice”. Why does God want our obedience more than our sacrifices? (The greatest evidence of our obedience to God is a life lived by His commands. Your tithe on Sunday doesn’t cover your disobedience Monday through Saturday!)

3.      What is the connection between disobedience and idolatry?

4.      What was the result of Saul’s disobedience? (God had rejected Saul as king.)

5.      How does our disobedience contribute to our being set aside by God? (We did nothing to earn our salvation, and we cannot lose it. Yet our disobedience can result in our being removed from useful service to God. We discard our usefulness through our disobedience.)

People who struggle with repeated, ongoing disobedience against God and His people should evaluate whether they ever really made a true commitment to God in the first place. Read 1 John 3:9 and 5:18. The best translation is those who continue a life of sin. We all sin but those who belong to God will turn in repentance when we do sin and claim 1 John 1:9, which, by the way is written to believers.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

First Samuel 15:22-23 essentially summarizes chapter 15. God expects our obedience rather than our partially obeying and offering sacrifices as a substitute.

1.      How do we know what God wants us to do? (Study His Word.)

2.      What are some ways we can choose to fully obey God?

3.      Review your life, looking for areas of partial obedience. What actions do you need to take to complete your obedience to God?

4.      How can we encourage each other toward complete obedience to God in every area of life? (Sometimes we are more inclined to criticism than encouragement in our relationships. Let’s be each other’s best cheerleaders—praying, encouraging, and lifting each other up so we are all stronger in pursuing total obedience to God.)

 

Personal Challenge: Evaluate your words, thoughts, and actions this week. Ask yourself if God is getting your best. Make total obedience to Him your goal in every situation!

 

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!

 

Converted - Acts 9:1-25

1.      How would you define the word “convert”? (Cause to change in form, character or function.”)

2.      What is the difference between “reform” and “transform”? (Reform—Make changes in something or someone in order to improve it. Transform—make a through or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.)

When we come to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior our lives are transformed, our old nature dies and our new nature is a transformed nature to be like Jesus. Everything is changed! We aren’t simply reforming our old nature; we have a new nature brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit!

3.      Who would you be most surprised to see accept Jesus as Lord?

In today’s Scripture passage we see Saul’s personal conversion from perhaps the most zealous opponent of Christianity to the most passionate follower of Jesus in the early church. The Christian community was shocked and a little leery of him, and for good reason.

4.      What other dramatic conversions can you recall from Scripture? (Matthew, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, blind Bartimaeus.)

The Confrontation! Read Acts 9:1-6

 

Note that Saul recognized the power of what was happening, but he was unsure about with whom he was speaking.

Damascus lays claim to being the oldest continuously occupied city in the world. Christians evidently had fled there when the persecution began in Jerusalem, just as they had to Samaria.

 

1.      How did Jesus literally stop Saul in his tracks? (Saul saw a brilliant light in the middle of the day, a light brighter than the sun. Acts 26:13 Paul testifies before Agrippa.)

2.      How did Saul respond? (With reverence and respect.)

3.      Twice Jesus indicated Saul was persecuting Him. Do you think this shocked Saul?

4.      What does Jesus telling Saul that He was the One he was persecuting indicate about Jesus’ relationship with His followers? (This shows the close personal connection Jesus has with His bride, the church. He takes any persecution as a personal attack against Himself. How do you feel when your children or grandchildren are hurting?)

5.      How would you characterize the confrontation between Jesus and Saul?

6.      Why do you think Jesus chose such a dramatic way to confront Saul? (Notice we don’t find any two encounters with Jesus being the same. He speaks to each of us individually and personally. Jesus knows exactly what we need individually.)

Reflect on your personal encounter with Jesus. Some people may feel that they have to be in a place like Saul, far away from God, before they truly “understand” grace. This can lessen the influence of those who have experienced a godly home built upon biblical principles. Any salvation experience is a testimony of the power of God; all lost people, regardless of circumstance, are in need of salvation. (Maddox Perkins, for example. It takes the same amount of grace for him as it did for Saul.)

 

The Companions! Read Acts 9:7-9

 

1.      Why do you think Jesus appeared to Saul when he was traveling with companions, rather than when he was alone? (Saul’s companions, aware of a sound but not of what was said, led him to Damascus since he was unable to see. It appears the audible voice was intended for Saul alone. Saul’s companions were eyewitnesses to an encounter of some type. The fact that they shared the experience helped to authenticate it historically.)

2.      How was Saul changed by his encounter with God? (There was a certain amount of humility now that didn’t exist before. He had to rely on others to get him to Damascus. In an instant, Saul had changed from a powerful man on his way to arrest others, to a helpless individual who had to be led by his companions.)

 

3.      How do you think his companions might have responded to the change?

Before meeting Jesus, Saul was spiritually blind but physically sighted. Now he was physically blind but spiritually sighted!

 

Read Acts 9:10-14

 

The Commission! Read Acts 9:15-20

 

1.      Do you think you might have been hesitant like Ananias?

2.      Jesus called Saul His “chosen instrument”, what does it mean to be chosen by God as His instrument? (God chose Saul to carry the gospel to gentiles, kings, and Israelites. His commissioning message included suffering. God uses all kinds of people in His kingdom work and does so in different ways. Notice how He used Saul’s traveling companions, Ananias and Saul, himself.)

3.      Is there anyone you know whom you would call a “chosen instrument” for God? (All Christians are God’s “chosen instruments”. Each of us has a specific Spiritual Gift and a mission to complete. Your calling is no less significant than that of Saul’s. His may be more visible to the world but as he was obedient so we are to be obedient to God’s call in our lives.)

4.      Saul’s conversion experience is recounted twice more in the book of Acts. If Saul were to share his testimony with our class, what points do you think he would include?

Not all testimonies are as dramatic as Saul’s, but a dramatic change occurs any time Jesus moves in a life!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      Could Saul still have chosen to stubbornly reject Jesus? (Yes! But God knew Saul’s heart and, I believe Saul was doing what he thought was God’s will as he persecuted Christians. When he realized Jesus was God’s Son and had died for the sins of the world Saul had no problem being totally committed to follow Jesus from then on.)

2.      Saul and his traveling companions experienced an unforgettable road trip on the way to Damascus. How can you make sure you’re being God’s messenger as you travel the road of life? (If you’ve accepted Christ as your personal Savior, the next step is to share Jesus with others. All believers can share Jesus with others based on their personal experiences with Him. All testimonies are based on personal experience and all are valid. Think about how your life was before Christ, how you came to Christ, and how you’re continuing to serve Him.)

 

We simply need to proclaim the truth of Acts 4:12—“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people and we must be saved by it.”

 

3.      How is your conversion different from Saul’s conversion?

4.      In what ways was your conversion similar to Saul’s?

 

We are all saved by grace through faith!

 

Pray for someone with whom you can share your own personal testimony this week!