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.
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.