Week 1. Galatians 1: 1-10
1. How would you describe the tone of the passage?
2. Do you think Paul is getting a bit emotional? If so, what does that tell you about the connection between intellect and feelings? Do both have a part to play in living the Christian life and teaching?
3. Who is Paul saying he was sent by and who did not send him? Why does this matter to him?
4. How would you explain the gospel to someone today who asked you what you believed?
5. In verses 3-5 Paul tells us an enormous amount about the gospel. Try to put it into your own words.
6. How important is the gospel truth to you? How is it shown in your life?
7. Why will understanding the true gospel produce anger at false “gospels.”
8. What 3 “false gospels” do you think most affect the church today? Discuss (…nicely!)
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions
Sunday 11th December 2016
When the Unthinkable becomes Inevitable
2 Samuel 18: 19- 19:8 Psalm 3 Psalm 63
Grief affects people in all sorts of ways. Someone once explained to me that they felt incredibly tired for three years after their spouse died. The effect of grief was exhaustion, along with an inability to think straight and days of sheer confusion linked to an overwhelming sense of loss. There is no agreed time on how long grief may last; months or years are not uncommon. Famously Queen Victoria dressed in black for the rest of her life (some 40 years) following the death of her husband, to show that she continued to mourn for him. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, which took 21 years to complete at a cost of the equivalent to €800 million today, as a mausoleum for his wife. Grief often causes a very strong reaction.
Grief counsellors tells us that there are number of recognised stages to grief including the release of emotion, anger, confusion, depression and finally acceptance of a new reality living without a loved one and then hope.
As we read through the account of David’s intense grief after Absalom’s death we see many of these emotions expressed, especially when he opens up his heart to us through the Psalms. In fact David was so overcome by sorrow that he nearly lost the throne again and the kingdom ended up in turmoil. Ultimately he found enough strength through his faith in God to continue as king, but it was an uphill battle for a time. He desperately needed strong friends around him to get there. We learn a lot about both the sufficiency of God and the need for good friends around us in times of heartbreak as we think through the story.
Based on Psalm 3:3 & 63:2 – What was God revealing to David prior to Absalom’s death… and WHY? Are there truths that we can digest here?
Based on Psalm 63:7-8 – What was the significance of the position that David was adopting prior to descending into one of the darkest periods of his life and how might this speak to us in our life experiences?
Based on Psalm 3:7 & 63:9-10 – (a) for God to answer our prayers, sometimes there are unexpected consequences (b) the ultimate price for destroying our enemies is far more costly than we might anticipate (c) how should we allow this to mould and shape our thinking as we live out the New Testament commands to; ‘love your enemies’ Matthew 5:45 and to ‘overcome evil with good’ Romans 12:21?
To listen to the sermon click here: When the Unthinkable becomes Inevitable
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions
Sunday 4th December 2016
2 Samuel 15 – 18
Intrigue in the palace
King David’s life has been anything but easy since Nathan the prophet confronted him over his murder of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba. Nathan’s prophesy that calamity would befall David and that his house would know violence has come to fruition. His beloved eldest son, Crown Prince Amnon is dead, murdered in a revenge attack because he brutally raped his half sister Tamar, by her brother Prince Absalom who is next in line to the throne. After some years Absalom is permitted to return from exile and there is an apparent reconciliation with his father. However, underneath the surface they are anything but reconciled and intrigue and plotting is in evidence all around the palace.
For reasons best known to himself David seems to want to let sleeping dogs lie and therefore allows a very dangerous situation to develop around him by failing to intervene. Absalom starts to show signs of serious ambition and intent whilst he builds up support among the populace. The scene is sent for a showdown, one which David will do anything to avoid, but is ultimately unavoidable. The only question is who will end up wearing the royal crown and what will happen to the vanquished?
- What do you think Absalom was trying to do? What did he intend?
- Why do you think David allowed Absalom’s action and why do you think he allowed him go to Hebron? Why was Hebron politically important?
- Why do you think David seemed so eager to flee? What does this tell us about his state of mind compared to the man who had defeated Goliath? Why did he not take the Ark of the Covenant with him?
- Why did David not take action against Shimei?
- Why did Ahithophel have reason to desert David? Why did he suggest Absalom take the action he did (also see 2 Sam. 3:6)? Why did everyone listen to him (vs.23)?
- Why was Ahithophel’s advice better than that of Hushai? Does Ahithophel’s action seem very extreme (vs.23)? Why do you think he did this?
- Why did David issue the instructions he did? What do you imagine he hoped for?
- Why do you think Joab was so keen to kill Absalom – against the express wishes of David?
- Where do we/you fit into the story and what have you learned than you may implement in your own life?
To listen to the sermon click here: Intrigue in the Palace
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions
Sunday 27th November 2016
A HOUSE DIVIDED – 2 Samuel 13 & 14
The narrative of David and his family moved into a new space when he had an illicit affair with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, her husband. Nathan the prophet comes to David, not only to help him see his sin and expose him to the court but also to convey to him that his actions have precipitated a cataclysmic series of future events. These events will play out over the next number of years and cause David and his family unimaginable distress. The depraved and evil actions of some of David’s children seem to flow from this point at which he appears to lose his moral authority within his family.
Up to now we have seen many incidents when David has acted very shrewdly, in the face of adversity has shown amazing bravery and generally this man after God’s own heart has been blessed with gifts of wisdom and courage. However, we now enter into arguably the most difficult phase of David’s life, certainly the most difficult of his reign. Instead of fighting against foreign invaders who want to control his kingdom or the house of Saul who want his throne, it’s the house of David that causes him such pain.
The story we look at this week contains one of the most brutal instances of sexual violence in the Bible. Even in the often cruel Israelite world of 3,000 years ago, where life was regularly extinguished in bloody battles or through executions and where women were often treated no better than livestock, the tragic story of Tamar still has the ability to shock us. Through our revulsion, as we read the text and our confusion over David’s inaction and even perhaps our ambivalence towards Absalom’s murderous actions, we still manage to find God’s hand of restoration and mercy. Though we have to look hard to find it……
- Chap. 13: 1-22
- Do you think Amnon was really “in love” with Tamar?
- What “wicked fools” in Israel have we come across previously?
- Why do you think Amnon hated Tamar after he had raped her?
- What options do you think were available to Amnon to put things right?
- Why do you think Absalom says what he did? Do you think his words brought comfort to Tamar?
- What did King David do when he found out what had happened? Why do you think he did this? What should he have done?
- Chap. 13: 23-38
- How was Jonadab able to give such an explanation when he wasn’t at the feast?
- Was Absalom justified in his actions? Who do you think he did this for?
- What should David have done now? What responsibility did he have for what happened?
- Chap. 14:
- What’s the point of the parable that the woman tells?
- How does she trick David into action?
- Vs. 14 What does this tell us about God?
- Compare David’s response to Absalom with God’s response to him after he had sinned.
- How should we respond to those who hurt us and sin against us
To listen to the sermon click here: A House Divided
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions
Sunday 20th November 2016
Abject Failure: 2 Samuel 11 & 12, Psalm 51
Scandal in the Court!
You can perhaps imagine what the tabloids would have made of David’s affair with Bathsheba! Salacious stories sell lots of papers and get people talking. Whilst there was no CNN, Sky News or newspapers in the Jerusalem court I’m sure there were many whispers out of the king’s earshot. However when Nathan the prophet exposes David the game is up and it had the effect of a front-page story or the lead event on the daily television news. When President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky appeared together on the cover of Time Magazine in 1998 the headline read; The Sordid Tale that Imperils the President. There are many similarities between the stories; lust, an influential ruler seducing a young women, abuse of power, adultery, hiding the truth, exposure, public humiliation, long term consequences etc. It’s a tale that is as old as history and no doubt will be told again.
If the defeat of Goliath is the moment of David’s triumph (certainly it became his most famous positive action through the centuries) then this series of events involving Uriah and his beautiful wife was the moment of his greatest public failure. It has become infamous because the great hero of Israel – the man after God’s own heart – was revealed also as a conniving, power abusing, lust driven murderer. David’s initial failure to accept the possible consequences for his actions led to murder and God’s judgement. As we’ll find out in future weeks this was to have a catastrophic effect on David’s family and he would suffer terrible loss and pain for many years to come.
We are often shocked when our hero’s fail. We put them on pedestals and are amazed when we find out that they are human after all. The hands and voices that were so affirming and encouraging can easily become wagging fingers and tongues that tear down the fallen hero and consign them to the dustbin of failure, which has a sign on it’s lid: OF NO FURTHER USE. As we read through the last part of the story and Psalm 51 we discover that God does not treat either David or us so damaged that we cannot be of future use. The consequences of our failure may remain but God’s forgiveness is so complete that he does not bring back to mind our past sins and restores us mercifully.
- Why do you think David should not have ever been in the situation he finds himself in? (Chap 11: 1, 12:26-31). What can we learn from this?
- 11:2-5. Why do you think David sent for Bathsheba when he already had so many wives?
- 11: 6-13. Compare David and Uriah. Who is the man after God’s own heart? Why?
Matthew 1:6 Why do you think Matthew describes this part of the genealogy as he does?
- 11:14-26. What does this part of the story reveal to us about David and about Joab?
- 12: 1-14. What are the main accusations against David? What is the reason Nathan gives for David’s behaviour? Can we be guilty of similar sin – if so how might it manifest itself?
- 12:15-22 Does David’s behaviour seem a little odd or callous? What can we learn from it?
- Read Psalm 51 together. Who has David sinned against? Why would he say this? What is he asking of God and hoping for? What does God really want of David and us?
- 2 Sam. 11:27, 12: 24-25, 26-31 There passages are unsettling: David gets a new wife, an heir loved by God and he defeats his enemies. What do they tell us about God?
To listen to this sermon click here: Abject Failure
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions for 2 Samuel chapters 8-10
Sunday 6th November 2016
War and Peace.
(But it’s better news than Tolstoy had! and helps explain current Middle East conflicts).
Reading these chapters raise issues about how we understand and interpret Old Testament narrative passages. To a 21st century western person who watches the horrors of modern warfare on the television screen night after night chapters 8 and 10 may generate such questions as ‘Why would David be so brutal?’ But that presupposes that the way we understand the text is the same as people who lived then understood it. They however lived in a different time period of history, had a different context, a different culture, a different living environment and lifestyle. We need to try to understand how they would have understood it and to identify the key principles that God was conveying to them when he originally inspired these texts to be recorded. Then we need to travel forward again to our 21st century context, environment and very different world and ask the question of how we should understand, interpret and apply these key principles to our own lives. One of the best people to ask how we should understand 2 Samuel 8 and 10 would be David himself!
Understanding the War.
We get some help from Psalm 60, in which David penned his own thoughts on the period that is covered in 2 Samuel 8-10. It is one of his prayers before battle!
- What are David’s main concerns regarding the state of the nation at this time?
- Why does David think that God is angry?
- What does David believe about God’s relationship with the nation?
- Is there any significance in the fact that David prays first for spiritual restoration and then for victory in battle?
- What does that suggest about his heart attitude during the wars in 2 Samuel 8 and 10?
- ‘TheLord gave David victory wherever he went’ 2 Samuel 8:6, 14. What does that suggest is really happening through these wars?
- What else is God doing, based on 2 Samuel 8:13?
- What is the significance of the people appointed to help David rule? vv15-18.
- How do you think we are meant to interpret 2 Samuel 8 and 10? What are the main principles?
Expressing God’s Kindness
In between these chapters on War we have the unusual contrast of Kindness. Compare 2 Samuel 8-10 with 1 Chronicles 18, 19 and note the very close similarity of the words used. Just quickly skim through the two passages. Can you see any connection between 2 Samuel 9 and 2 Samuel 10? Reflect on the opening verses of each chapter. The Samuel passages are written to show the King in good light, whereas the Chronicles passages simply record the key events of the history of the time.
- Why do you think the writer tries to show the kindness in David’s character?
- How does he do this?
If the key principles of 2 Samuel 8-10 are
- God is working out his big plan for His world and will defeat all enemies against it, and
- His followers need to reflect His character to the people around them
How are we to respond to these chapters covering David’s life?
Read Titus 3:4-8 and reflect on your relationship with Jesus today.
To listen to this Sermon go to: War & Peace
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions for 2 Samuel chapter 7
Sunday 30th October 2016
This Chapter is a pivotal point in the unfolding plan of God restoring what was lost through the sin of Adam and Eve in falling for the question the devil posed to them – “Did God actually say”? Genesis 3: 2. God is in the business of restoring all things Acts 3: 21, and here in this Chapter God reveals a further part of His plan, which in the future will culminate in the Messianic hope, the coming of the Messiah and indeed the ultimate hope of His return. It is known as the Davidic covenant, though the word “covenant” does not appear in the chapter. To realise this we need to read Psalm 89: 3, 4 (indeed it is worth reading Psalm 89: 1 – 37 in conjunction with 2 Samuel Chapter 7).
David is king, his enemies have been subdued, both internally and externally, and as he looks around he realises he (David) is living in a house, while God dwells in a tent, and David feels this is not right Psalm 132: 4, 5. So he comes up with a plan, and consults Nathan, the prophet, (always a wise decision to get the view of someone you can trust). Nathan agrees with David. However man’s best and noblest plans are often not God’s will. David wanted to build a house for God (i.e. a Temple), God wanted to build a house for David (i.e. a dynasty). This kingly covenant had only one condition: divine judgement for disobedience in the kingly Davidic line as happened subsequently. However the covenant itself, would not be annulled, for it was established for ever. It was renewed to Mary (Luke 1: 31 – 33: see also Acts 2: 29 – 32; 15: 14 – 17). Solomon entered into the immediate covenant, however he was not promised a perpetual seed and if he sinned – as he did – he would be judged. Solomon shows the conditional character of the Davidic Covenant, but the Davidic Covenant is everlasting as it referred to the everlasting Son, Messiah, the Lord Jesus. David’s response in verses 18- 29, shows he grasps the wonderful scope of the prophecy and he bows in humble submission to God’s will.
- If you have an idea, which to you seems good, in relation to serving the Lord, do you submit your plan to God? How do your respond if He shows you a different direction, or indeed says “No” or “Wait”?
- Why does God so often choose those who do not seemingly have the ability to carry out a task?
- Do you think that David learnt from the many and varied events that he went through, especially in “the fugitive years” when he was on the run from King Saul ? What had he learnt when he became king, so that he could be a wise and gracious leader of God’s people?
- How do you understand God’s plan for the ages? Do you see continuity in the Scriptures or do you view the Bible as stories/events that have no connection.
- We as non-Jews have been brought into God’s family, His kingdom through the grace of God and repentance by us and cleansing from our sin in the shed blood of our Saviour. Does it fill you with awe and thankfulness? Where do we fit the Covenants, Abrahamic, Davidic and New?
- Do you realize just how much we totally rely on the faithfulness of God to fulfil His promises? How does this cause you to worship God, through the One who was also faithful unto death, even death on a Cross?
To listen to this Sermon go to: The Davidic Covenant
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions for 2 Samuel chapter 6 Sunday 23rd October 2016
Familiarity breeds contempt……. formalism breeds condemnation
The story of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem is one of celebration and disaster. What should have been a joyful occasion of national celebration turns into a tragedy when Uzzah unwittingly tries to steady the Ark, as it looks like it will fall to the ground, and dies in the process because God strikes him down.
Who’s at fault? Uzzah for his presumption in touching the Ark, Abinadab for not securing it properly, David for getting the transport wrong, or the priests who should have known better? David is angry and blames God. He is frightened to take further action and so the Ark goes into storage yet again for 3 months.
Finally, David gets it right and the Ark is brought to Jerusalem with great rejoicing. However, this time the familiarity that brought death is replaced with formalism that breeds condemnation on the King by his wife.
There are real lessons for us in this story about the holiness of God and the ramifications of ignoring this, and also how formalism brings condemnation and is a joy destroyer. We learn that we must hold such things in balance as the holiness of God and our own rules about what is appropriate. Acknowledging and respecting God’s holiness doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘dignified quiet and order’ (though neither is a bad thing) but it does always involve obedience.
1. Why was the Ark in Baalah? see 1 Samuel 4 – 7
2. What did the Ark represent? see Ex. 25:10-22, 40:1-5, 34-38
3. What precedent had been set regarding the Ark? 1 Samuel 5 & 6: 19-20
4. What was the first mistake made regarding transporting the Ark? vs.3
5. Do you think that God was unduly harsh on Uzzah? Why or why not?
6. What was David’s motive in bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem? (1 Chron 13:1-4)
7. Why did he retrieve it from Obed-Edom’s house?
8. What had David learned from the 1st disastrous journey with the Ark? (1 Chron 15: 11-15). What lesson is in this story for us to apply in our lives?
9. What practical things would you now consider doing/not doing when you consider those implications?
10. What was Michal’s issue with David? Can we be like her? How?
11. On personal reflection what life lessons have you learnt from this story that you can apply to your own life?
To listen to this Sermon go to: Familiarity breeds contempt – Formalism breeds condemnation
Life of David Series
Connect Group Questions for 2 Samuel chapter 3 – Sunday 2nd October 2016
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority”, rather famously wrote John Acton in 1887. Acton was an English politician and historian, who at one time represented County Carlow in Westminster. This famous quote came on the back of his political experience and understanding of history. Interestingly it was written around the time of the First Vatican Council in the context of his opposition to the promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility.
The narrative we are looking at this week would be at home in Game of Thrones , Lord of the Rings, or any historical novel involving plots, assassinations, revenge, inappropriate sexual relationships, posturing for power and a number of people trying to get their hands on the crown. What we learn through this story is that God’s plans will not be thwarted, though men may posture and think that they are in control. Those who think they have real influence, who see themselves as kingmakers can be so easily corrupted by power. Power is like an aphrodisiac that proves too powerful to ignore and drives men crazy causing them to commit acts they perhaps didn’t think themselves capable of.
However, when one’s authority is understood in the context of being a servant of God it can lead to a different expression of power. It blesses rather than dominates. It serves rather than is self-seeking. It doesn’t feel the need to pervert the purposes of God for personal gain. This is what it is to be a man or woman after God’s own heart.
Questions for Connect Groups
- Why do you think Abner slept with Rizpah? Does verse 6 give us a clue?
- Why was Abner so angry with Ish-Bosheth?
- What should have been Ish-Bosheth’s reaction?
- What do Abner’s subsequent actions tell us about him? Who was he serving?
- Why do you think David was so keen to have Michel returned to him?
- Do you think David should have done business with Abner?
- Vs. 22-38
- Do you think Joab was justified in his actions? Why?
- How did David show that he was a king with integrity?
- Vs. 36 Why do you think is so popular?
- What lessons do the narrative teach us regarding power, integrity and the drivers for the actions of Abner, Joab and David?
- Is there one point you can take from this passage that when applied to your own life will help you to become a person after God’s own heart?
To listen to this Sermon go to: David & Abner
Sunday 27th April – Connect Group Questions for 1Samuel 16
Life of David Series
A Man After God’s Own Heart
Imagine being known as a man or woman after God’s own heart! What a description but what exactly does it mean? Perhaps it refers to someone who thinks like God, has his priorities at the front of their mind, has his compassion in their heart, knows what God wants to do and then does it. In the book of Acts, Luke quotes Paul preaching in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch going through the history of Israel, saying that David was a man after God’s heart because he did everything that God wanted him to do. Remind you of anyone?
Ron Edmonson, in an online blog, suggests what it might mean to be a man or woman of God quoting David’s writing in the Psalms. Some of the traits he suggests we need to be are: Humble Psalm 62:9, Reverent Psalm 18:3, Respectful Psalm 1:9, Trusting Psalm 27:1, Loving Psalm 18:1, Devoted Psalm 4:7, Recognition of God the Father Psalm 9:1, Faithful Psalm 23:6 and Obedient –Psalm 119:34. Do these traits remind you of anyone?
Today’s reading describes the story of the prophet Samuel’s obedience to God in foretelling of a future king, and then taking action to anoint him, though this was a risky business. After the anointing ceremony the Spirit of God descends on David and he is filled with the power and presence of God. Does this event remind you of anyone? After his anointing, David’s first task was to bring healing and peace to the troubled Saul. He eradicates the power of the evil spirit afflicting Saul through his ministry. He brought peace where there was turmoil and joy where there was sorrow by releasing Saul from the prison that oppression had locked him into. Does David remind you of anyone?
- Why do you think God rejected Saul? (1 Samuel 15 10 & 22, 35)
- David sinned too but God allowed him to continue to rule – why the difference?
- Do you think that God chose Saul and changed his mind or Samuel made a mistake?
- What implications does this have for us in how God deals with us?
- God tells Samuel to move on from his mourning because he has work for him to do (16:1), can you think of events/disappointments that have stopped you from moving forward? What might God be saying to you now?
- Why do you think the elders in Bethlehem were so nervous (1Samuel 16:4)?
- How was Samuel judging who might make the best king?
- How were God’s criteria different? (1Samuel 16:7)
- How do we avoid falling into the same trap of judging people by the wrong standards and what do you think some of standards are?
- Throughout the introduction above I’ve linked David and Jesus. Do you think that God was foreshadowing the coming Messiah in his choice of king? How and why?
Sunday 1st May – Connect Group Questions for 1Samuel 17
Life of David Series Week 2
Death in the Valley of Elah
The Valley of Elah is named after a tree that grows there. It has a beautiful pink flower and a strong smell. However on the day that David met Goliath in the valley nobody was admiring the local flora. The stakes were massively high in a conflict that had the potential to make slaves of one group and rulers of another.
The Philistines, who had probably originated in Crete, had moved from the coastlands into a number of major cities in Canaan and for 200 years they hassled and harassed the Israelites (though at times they were allies when it suited both parties). Militarily they were superior to the Israelites; they had considerably more advanced weaponry and were known for their innovative use of iron. Their society was highly developed and they probably looked down on the Israelites as rather uncultured, much as the Romans and Greeks did centuries later. They also had a not so secret weapon. A giant of a man who was over 9 feet tall and for six weeks the two sides were locked into a shouting match about who had the greater gods. When it all came down to it that was indeed the issue. A fearsome fighting machine, a one-man wrecking ball that was used to smashing his opponents to death with ease represented the Philistine gods of Ashtoreth, Dagon and Baal-Zebub. A kid who has cut his teeth minding sheep instead of an apprenticeship on the battlefield represents the God of Israel, Yahweh. The bookies were not even giving David odds on a victory, just how long it would take Goliath to kill him. However, they were unaware of how God’s Kingdom works, how the weak will shame the strong ……
- Who should have been fighting Goliath? Look at 1Samuel 9:2 for a clue.
- The description of Goliath is one of the most comprehensive in the Bible – why do you think the writer takes so much time to describe what he looked like and what he wore?
- 1Samuel 17:8-11 What do they tell you about Goliath? What about our enemy – how is he similar?
- What was at stake in this battle? Who stood to lose most? How can we relate the answers to our own daily lives?
- 1Samuel 17:28 Do you think Eliab’s reaction to David’s question is understandable? What do you think is going on in his head, especially as he is the eldest of Jesse’s sons? What is do you imagine his reaction was after the battle? Have you encountered people in your life a bit like Eliab who don’t want you to succeed or who try to put you down? How did you/should you react?
- 1Samuel 17:38-39 What can we learn from David’s actions? How do we apply this in daily life?
- 1Samuel 17:45. Can you think of anything that Jesus said to his followers that mirror the sentiment of David’s words? What implication does this have for the church?
Sunday 8th May – Connect Group Questions for 1Samuel 18
Life of David Series Week 3
1 Samuel 18: 1-4, 1 Samuel 20, 2 Samuel 1: 17, 23-27, 2 Samuel 9 “Bro” –a popular term of endearment between men celebrating friendship, describing their relationship in terms of brotherhood. It suggests a relationship that is more than casual acquaintance. It implies that someone can be as close as a brother, even though they do not share the same genetic source. Of course it’s also true of sisterhood, though I don’t hear too many girls call each other “Sis”!
You may not make it through all the readings outlined above, however they cover only some of the relationship story of David and Jonathan. It’s a poignant story of fraternal love that brings out the best in two guys who remain friends in spite of the Kings attempts to pit them against each other. They should be natural enemies, but a deep bond forms between them that is not easily broken. It’s also a story of courage and determination to serve God regardless of the cost. It’s a story that teaches us about real “phileo” love and how we should act towards each other.
1. 1 Sam 18:1-4 What do you think it means to become one in spirit?
What do you think was the covenant between the lads? Why make one?
Why did Jonathan give David the gifts described? What did they signify?
2. 1 Sam 20: 1-16 We see David’s fear exposed – do you imagine he doubts Jonathan? Why?
At the end of Jonathan’s speech he appears to turn the tables and asks David for mercy? Why would he do that? What was he expecting?
3. 1 Sam 20: 30-32 Saul had a point (excuse the pun!) – what does Jonathan’s reply tell us about him?
What parts of 1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind?
4. 2 Sam 1: 17-19, 25-27 Why would David command the people to sing this song?
Verse 26 is often used to suggest that David and Jonathan had a sexual relationship and justification “..that God can both initiate and be pleased with same sex partnerships.” What do you think & why?
What do these passages teach us about the nature of true friendship?
What does it mean to be a Jonathan? How can you be one?
Sunday 8th May – Connect Group Questions for 1Samuel 21
Life of David Series Week 4
The famous David Bowie and Queen collaboration song Under Pressure starts off with the lyric “Pressure pushing down on me”. I’m sure that you can relate to that feeling. Circumstances can sometimes make us feel like we are being compressed or stifled. Over the past few weeks we have considered David as the anointed and chosen one, a young fearless hero and a humble and loyal best friend. They are all very positive images of a godly young guy. However, this week in our study we see some cracks appear, as they inevitably do at some time in all our lives. David is full of fear that he is going to be killed by Saul and appears to panic. We might ask ourselves how could someone who defeated Goliath, killed lions and bears, be so frightened when he knew God was going to make him king? Fear can do that to us – we can become irrational and the previous experiences of God can seem just a memory. Elijah, one of the greatest prophets suffered a similar fate. After seeing one of the most spectacular and incredible miracles of all time performed on Mount Carmel he does a runner because his life is threatened (1 Kings 18/19).
Why is it that after seeing God perform in such powerful ways did both Elijah and David lose their nerve? It shows that we are all human. At times we are all become afraid and may be tempted to doubt God or do some pretty stupid things. Both David and Elijah were rescued by God at their times of panic and I’m sure that they learned things about themselves and about God through the experiences. We should try to do likewise and not pretend that we are never frightened.
- What possible reasons can you give for David choosing to go to Nob?
- Read Psalm 23 – what does it tell you about how David was feeling and how he was reacting to his circumstances.
- Do you think that Ahimelech behaved in the correct way when David asked for food? Why? Can you think of an incident in the life of Jesus that resonates with this story? What lessons can we learn for our own lives from these events?
- Why in the world would David go to Gath (and with Goliath’s sword!)? Can you think of any decisions that you have made in a panic that you later regretted?
- Psalms 34 and 56 are identified as having been written at this time by David. Perhaps you can break up into two groups and read a Psalm each and then report back to the whole group on your answers to the following:
6. What does the Psalm tell you about David’s state of mind when he penned it?
7. What does it tell you about faith, fear and faithfulness?
8. Discuss the main lessons you have learned through reading the psalm.
Sunday 29th May – Connect Group Questions for Life of David Series Week 5
Growing into Leadership
Another song comes to mind this week after reading through 1 Samuel 23 – “When the going gets tough the tough get going!” David is in hiding with his growing band of men, but again he shows his growing leadership, by putting his own safety to one side in favour of the townspeople of Keliah who are being harried by marauding Philistine forces (even though they would betray him to Saul). The event shows how God is leading David and how he is prepared to do God’s will notwithstanding the cost to himself and though his men were less than enthusiastic about getting involved.
As I read through the story it reminded me of our own patron saint, St. Patrick, who was captured and taken into slavery by Irish pirates in the 5th Century. Though he could have treated the Irish as his enemy and even looked for revenge for his 6 years of captivity, he was led by God to come back and bless our ancestors with the Good News of the Gospel. That’s leadership and the rest is history! Like David and Patrick we are asked to bless people without looking for anything in return. We may be let down, rejected or even betrayed by them but God still asks us to bless everyone who comes our way. Jesus teaching on this matter is recorded by Luke; ‘But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you….. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them….But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Promoting these values is true leadership!
- Verses 1-6. How did David show leadership through this event? Compare him with Saul (1 Sam 13 8-11) – how did they differ in leadership style? What does verse 6 tell you about how David led his men? What does it say to us about how we should live?
- Verse 7-28. What do you think would have been David’s reaction to the questions he asked of God in verses 9-13? What do you think you might have done? How did he differ from Saul (Chap 22: 13-17) in his actions?
- How did Jonathan find David so easily whilst Saul had such trouble? What was the effect of Jonathan’s visit? Can you remember the main points of what it means to “be a Jonathan”?
- David ends up in the wilderness (just like Patrick ended up sitting on a mountainside). What do you think was happened to him? How are we to view “wilderness” experiences in our own lives? How do they shape leaders? What do we get to decide?
5. The first principal of Christian leadership is “To lead you must be led.” Read Luke 7: 1-10, and discuss what it teaches about leadership and being led. List 3 things that you can put into practice in your life from today’s study and share with the group.