seek

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.

 

Obedient - Acts 8:26-40

1.      How do you respond when you are interrupted?

2.      Do we ever run such a tight schedule that we miss opportunities to share the gospel with those around us?

3.      How willing are you to stop what you are doing, which is successful, to do something else?

Today’s Scripture passage reveals how an interruption provided an opportunity for Philip to share Jesus. Philip was obedient in following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

Last week we studied Acts chapter seven and the stoning of Stephen. Let’s see what transpired immediately after the stoning of Stephen.

Read Acts 8:1-3

It would seem that the Jewish authorities got away with stoning Stephen so they decided they would persecute all the Christians.

Read Acts 8:4-8

4.      What was the result of the persecution of the Christians? (The fulfillment of the Great Commission Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20—make disciples of all nations, and Acts 1:8—you shall be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judah, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.)

Acts 8:9-25 tells about the Samaritans accepting the gospel. Then Peter and John came to Samaria where the Holy Spirit confirmed to them that indeed the Samaritans had been saved. They also encountered a man named Simon who wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter but he repented of his sin and was himself saved.

In the midst of this great revival taking place in Samaria an angel came to Philip and told him to leave there to witness to one man.

We will see how God used the obedience of Philip to lead an Ethiopian to saving knowledge of the Lord. This chapter is a microcosm of the fulfillment of Acts 1:8!

 

 

Compelled to Seek! Read Acts 8:26-29

 

God used an angel in this experience to be the messenger to give the direction Philip needed, yet it was Philip’s dynamic obedience to God’s direction that would make an impact!

 

1.      How do you think you would have responded to the angel’s message, considering that you were having great success sharing the gospel in Samaria?

2.      How was Philip’s response in verse 27 to the call to “go” in verse 26 a sign of commitment to God? (Philip was responding in faith with urgency to share. God may also take us from one place to another in order to accomplish His purposes; we simply have to place our trust in His plan.)

3.      What are some reasons Philip could have given for not obeying the angel’s directions? (We are having success here. I don’t want to leave my family. I’m not prepared. I don’t want to witness to an Ethiopian, I don’t speak his language.)

4.      Where had the eunuch been and why would that be strange? (First he would have been a proselyte, but second, if he was a eunuch physically he could not enter the temple.)

5.      What barrier is overcome with Philip being told to go share the gospel with a eunuch? (The gospel is for all people, even those previously considered outcast.)

6.      How do you think you would have responded to the angel’s directions?

There must come a time and a place when we embrace the call of God to be obedient. For Philip, this was demonstrated by his obedience to share the gospel, just as believers have been called to this work today. Our actions can be used by God, but faith in Jesus comes from hearing the gospel and responding freely.

 

Prepared to Share! Read Acts 8:30-35

 

We really don’t know if there were several travelers or if this was the only group traveling at this time.

1.      If there were several traveling, how did Philip know who he was to share the gospel with?

The Eunuch was most likely reading from the Greek translation of Isaiah. It also indicates a certain amount of wealth because transcripts of the Scriptures were rather expensive.

2.      How did Philip strike up a conversation with the Eunuch?

3.      How does this passage convey Philip’s initiative and eagerness to share the gospel? (Because he was obedient to God’s direction, Philip ran up to the chariot and asked the Ethiopian a specific question.)

4.      How does it reveal the way the Holy Spirit had laid the groundwork for the encounter? (The Ethiopian was receptive and asked for his help in understanding the Scripture.)

Of all the passages in the Old Testament, the eunuch was reading Scripture that provided a natural transition into the gospel. He was reading from Isaiah 53, which describes the Suffering Servant (Jesus). Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy is a major theme of Acts.

5.      Notice that Philip was prepared to share the gospel. What can we learn from his example? (Philip had obviously studied the Scriptures. He addressed the eunuch’s questions, explaining how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies.)

Philip most likely used other Scripture as well, based on the phrase “beginning from that Scripture”.

6.      All believers have the Holy Spirit living within them. Does that mean we don’t need to study Scripture because the Holy Spirit will tell us what to say at the right time? (No! We must study Scripture for our own growth and so we can share with others as God gives us opportunity!)

We must recognize opportunities to share Jesus with others as the Holy Spirit directs us. We gain confidence to share as we grow in our understanding of the Scriptures.

There are people whom God has placed in our path so that we can share the good news with them. This doesn’t just mean through our actions—we must also engage in conversation and lead them to personal faith in Jesus that will then lead them to demonstrate their faith through obedience.

 

 

 

Focused on Salvation! Read Acts 8:36-40

 

1.      What does this passage say about the connection between salvation and baptism? (Philip baptized the eunuch as a declaration of the man’s faith in Jesus. It is a picture for the world to see that a transformation had taken place inside a person. We are buried with Jesus in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life with Him.)

2.      How do you understand baptism?

The eunuch coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior demonstrates that salvation is available to all who are willing to receive Jesus.

Baptism by immersion is a symbolic act of obedience for the believer. Water baptism has no saving power. Only Christ can provide salvation!

3.      How did the Ethiopian eunuch evidence his life change? (He went on his way rejoicing. Jesus changes lives—forever!)

4.      What did Philip do after this experience?

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Just as Philip had to be obedient in the direction that the Lord was leading him to share the gospel, so also the Ethiopian had demonstrated obedience by being baptized. Now he could share with people in Ethiopia the Good News about Jesus!

 

We are not saved simply to be rescued from hell but to help rescue others from hell as well.

 

1.      What barriers do we have to overcome to better recognize opportunities to share Jesus with others?

2.      What steps can we take to overcome those barriers?

3.      Are you equipped to share the Gospel like Philip?

 

Pray that the Holy Spirit would direct us as He did Philip in this passage and may we be willing to be obedient!