opposition

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.

 

Faithful - Acts 5:12-42

1.      What are some words or phrases you would use to define or illustrate the word “faithful”? (Constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, loyal, pious, staunch, steadfast, steady, true, dependable, reliable, responsible, solid, tried, trustworthy.

“Firm to one’s allegiance to someone or something!” “Following an original exactly.”)

2.      What motivates people to stand for a cause they believe in or will be faithful to? (People who take a stand are motivated by passion for their cause. It also takes courage to take a stand, particularly when standing up for our faith.)

3.      What are some ways a person willing to take a stand might respond to opposition? (Challenges to our faith are inevitable, as illustrated by today’s Scripture passage. The challenges sometimes involve persecution and physical pain.)

4.      What does faithfulness to Christ and His church look like?

 

The leaders in the early church in Jerusalem were bold in the proclamation of the gospel, even in the face of persecution, as we saw last week. But the persecution would only get worse as the Apostles’ boldness in sharing the gospel grew.

 

Luke records in Acts 5:12-16 that the church was growing by leaps and bounds. People were bringing the sick out into the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them. People were bringing the sick from surrounding towns and they were being healed.

The Jewish religious leaders were filled with jealousy so they arrested the Apostles and had them put in the city jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the jail doors and told the Apostles to go proclaim the Word of God in the temple complex and they obeyed.

Read Acts 5:21-24.

 

At this point you would think the Jewish leaders would simply repent and accept the truth of the gospel, but that didn’t happen.

 

Returning to the Scene! Read Acts 5:25-28

 

1.      Why do you think the Sanhedrin didn’t address the miraculous escape from jail?

2.      What motivated the religious leaders to silence the apostles?

3.      How is that motive seen in today’s world?

4.      What do these verses reveal about the apostles’ determination to share the gospel amid opposition?

5.      How does the apostles’ opposition compare with what most believers experience today?

6.      How faithful will we be in sharing the gospel when opposition comes?

 

Standing Their Ground! Read Acts 5:29-32

 

Peter did not deny that they had deliberately disobeyed the orders of the Sanhedrin; he did, however, indicate that they were following instructions from God.

1.      What is civil disobedience? (Refusal to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.)

2.      When is it appropriate for believers to submit to earthly authorities?

3.      How can we know when it is appropriate to disobey our civil laws? (We should obey laws in general, but sometimes it’s necessary to disobey laws that are contrary to God’s directives. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right direction.)

Key Doctrine: God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word.

4.      What message did Peter choose to share before the Sanhedrin—again?

5.      Why was this message more powerful than other things he could have said? (The gospel is the power of God unto salvation!)

 

Waiting During Deliberations! Read Acts 5:33-39

 

1.      Why might their rage have caused them to consider killing these men? (The Jewish leaders almost lost control of their emotions by acting impulsively.)

2.      What do we know about Gamaliel from this passage and others? (Gamaliel took a bold stand by addressing the Sanhedrin. He was most likely one of the older members of the council. He was a highly respected Jewish teacher and a Pharisee. Paul learned at the feet of Gamaliel. He was a voice of reason.)

3.      What wisdom do you see in Gamaliel’s proposal to the council?

4.      How might his words help believers today who face opposition to the gospel?

5.      Have you ever been guilty of fighting against God?

6.      What was the result?

Gamaliel stated that the test of time would prove the apostles’ message as true or false, and it has!

 

Rejoicing for the Opportunity! Read Acts 5:40-42

 

1.      What would you say to give a recap of what happened in these verses? (The apostles were punished that day; they received a severe beating and were ordered once again to STOP teaching and preaching in the name of this man Jesus.)

2.      How did the apostles respond to their treatment by the council?

3.      How can opposition to the gospel produce encouragement and courage in believers? (Jesus was also opposed by those in power, so we are in good company when we are opposed for proclaiming the truth of Scripture.)

4.      How does opposition and persecution provide a platform for the gospel to be shared and lived? (Even today when Christians are told by the authorities to either do something that is against the teachings of the Bible or stop doing something that the Bible clearly teaches us to do WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MAN! Nothing has changed in the last 2000 years, we must be faithful to God, no matter what others say or do.)

5.      How can we turn opposition for our faith into an opportunity to speak up for Christ? (Remember that the truth of the gospel is trustworthy and can be shared with confidence. We, as believers, can rejoice when persecuted, realizing that the gospel was proclaimed in the process.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Self-evaluation:

1.      When has my faith been challenged or opposed by others?

2.      When have I boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel in the face of persecution?

3.      Consider times in your life when someone challenged your faith. How did you respond?

4.      What can you learn from the response of the apostles to help you respond when facing opposition in the future?

 

We don’t actually know how many of the apostles were involved in this incident, but we do know it was more than one. We know from personal experience that it is much easier to stand for what is right when we are not standing alone! We need to stand together for the truth of God’s Word, but if the situation should come when we must stand alone know that the Holy Spirit is right there with you and will give you strength to do what is right in the face of opposition.

 

Rely on God’s strength to be faithful to Him in all circumstances.

 

Close with a prayer of commitment.