On Good Friday, we remember when Jesus was killed. It was a sad day for his disciples, and a sad day for us too. Before he died, he was beaten, slapped, tormented and had a crown of thorns put on his head. Then he was nailed to a cross with a sign that read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” above his head.
Think about someone you know who has died.
How did their death make you feel?
What did you do to celebrate their life?
Imagine you are the women and disciples at the cross when Jesus died?
How do you feel?
What do you think has happened to the King?
Imagine you are the Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus?
How do you feel?
What do you think might happen to you for looking after Jesus body?
Jesus the King showed a better way of being human and was willing to die for those he loved.
How can you be close to Jesus, even in his death?
What do you think this passage saying to you? What are you going to do about it?
God Comforts Elijah
Elijah is tired. He feels defeated, scared, and alone. God gives him rest and food and then speaks in a gentle whisper, addressing Elijah’s concerns. God is comforting, and he helps Elijah see that he’s not going to lose, he has nothing to fear, and he’s not alone.
Imagine that you are Elijah in this part of his story…
- How do you feel?
- What do you think about what is going on?
- How would you respond to God?
Think about a time that you felt discouraged…
- What did you or others do to comfort you?
- What does this passage tell us about God?
- What do you think this passage telling you? How will you respond?
God provides for Elijah
What do we know of King Ahab? (Refer 1 Kings 16:29-34) (Compare with the other Kings mentioned previously. Make a note of which ones were good and which were bad. What is the difference between the two groups?) What do you think will happen?
What do you think Elijah’s main task was? Why was it necessary? Why do you think God told Elijah to leave just after he gave the message to Ahab?
How do you think Elijah felt when the raven brought him food? How do you think he felt when the brook dried up? Rate his in confidence in God (out of 10) at that point.
How do you think the Widow felt when Elijah showed up and made his request? How do you think she felt each time she went back to make a new loaf of bread? How does she feel when her son stops breathing? How did Elijah feel? Rate his confidence in God (out of 10) at this point.
How do you think they both felt when the boy came back to life? Rate their confidence in God (out of 10) at this point. What do you think God was up to?
Name some other food miracles from scripture. In each case, what do you think God wants us to learn? Have you ever needed to trust in God for his provision? What happened? Rate your confidence in God (out of 10) then and now.
David is kind to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9)
What do you know of the relationship between David & Jonathan (King Saul’s son & Mephibosheth’s father)? (Refer esp. 1 Samuel 20, 1 Samuel 31, 2 Samuel 1) Why would you say that relationship developed? What was unusual about it? Why wasn’t Jonathan jealous of David? What risks were involved for both of them?
What did David promise Jonathan? How is that a radical departure from the ways of the world at that time? What normally happened to opponents/rivals of the king?
Why do you think Mephibosheth’s disability is mentioned twice in this passage? How does that add to our picture of David’s character? What does it mean for Mephibosheth to be seated at the King’s table?
(Refer 2 Samuel 7) How do you think the covenant between God and David affected this episode? When you read that Covenant, how do you feel? How it the covenant fulfilled immediately? Eventually? Eternally?
Who does King Jesus “invite to sit at his table”?
List some of the reasons David had to celebrate? What other emotions does David demonstrate in this chapter? In the psalms? In what ways do you relate to David?
Why does Michal despise her husband? What is David’s response? How might that inform the way we worship? Privately? Corporately? How comfortable does that make you feel?
When was the last time you really felt like celebrating with the Lord? How did you do it? How does our corporate worship incorporate celebration? What have we got to celebrate? How could we do it differently?
Given the fact that we’re approaching Easter, compare David’s nakedness before God with Jesus nakedness on the cross. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different?
Compare their triumphs/victories. What promises for David are fulfilled in Jesus? (see chapter 7) What significance to you see in Jesus’ ancestry?
In what ways are feeling called to be like David? In what ways are feeling called to be like Jesus?
David spares Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24:1-22)
You really must read all of 1 & 2 Samuel . . . it’s worth it!
What had gone wrong for Saul? (ref Chp 13 & 15) In what ways had he failed as King? How had Saul come to find himself so vulnerable in the cave? Why was Saul so intent on killing David? What impression do you get of the Saul the man? Saul the King?
If you were David – what would you have done? What contrast are we shown between the two men’s characters? Why does David say he wouldn’t harm Saul? Why is that important?
Have you ever had a plan, which you thought was from God – go wrong? How do you know it’s right to refute someone’s claim to be following God’s plan when you’re convinced it is wrong? If you’ve been called by God to do a job, how might you know when you’ve finished and it’s ok to stop/change?
How does approaching the topic of God’s call on your life change from an Old Testament view to a New Testament view? In what ways are we similar to David? In what ways are we different?
An Idol Bows to God’s Ark
Who’s the most famous Philistine you’ve heard of? Does it surprise you that it’s another 12 chapters before you hear of him? So what is it about the Philistines that make them enemies with Israel? What clues does this passage give you?
What punishment follows?
What fundamental truth is being displayed throughout this whole period of settlement (Joshua & Judges) and this season leading into eventual Kingship in Israel? What is different between the Israelites and the other nations? (refer Isaiah 44:6-24, Exodus:20:3-4)
What convinced you that God is real? What do you say to those who don’t believe there is a God? (Or who believe in other gods?)What evidence can you give them? What difference does believing in God make to your life? How does following Jesus help?
Are you still waiting for proof to believe in God (and Jesus)? What would it take?
God speaks to Samuel
This is an exciting albeit hair-raising section of the bible. I recommend reading the first couple of chapters to get your bearings (but a good read of Joshua, Judges & Ruth will also help set the scene). It’s worth bearing in mind that whatever happens with Samuel is meant only to be a precursor to the big news of King David who is himself a precursor and archetype for the really big news of God’s Messiah . . . but that’s a little down the track!
What do you notice about the first verse? How is that similar or different to today? Why might there have been so little “hearing from God”? What do you make of Eli’s character? And in comparison with Hannah? (ref chapters 1&2) What is the author trying to demonstrate about character and God’s blessing? How does that sit with your understanding of blessing post-Jesus?
What does Samuel’s early character reveal? What does verse 7 imply? How pleased do you think Samuel was to receive that particular word from the Lord? How did he respond? Did that word come to pass? What comment is made of Samuel?
How does that make you feel about potentially hearing a word from the Lord? How should you approach it? Write down all your thoughts and questions and then compare with 1 Cor 14:1-5. How is that different or the same? How does that make you feel about receiving a word from the Lord? What do you think the Lord is saying? What are you going to do about it?
God Makes the Sun Stand Still
Here’s what happens…
The Israelites fight against five armies to defend another population, the Gibeonites. In turn, God defends the Israelites, sending their enemies into a panic and causing the sun to stand still so they have time to defeat their enemies. God is our defender, too.
- Did anything in this passage capture your attention?
- What did you like about this passage?
- Did anything bother you? Why?
- Can you think of possible explanations for the miracles in verse 13?
- What does this passage tell us about God?
- What does this passage tell us about people?
- Who was actually responsible for Israel’s victory? Why is this important?