Time: United Kingdom ~1000-900 B.C.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10
The establishment of the monarchy was a momentous event in Israel’s history. As we study this era, we must not conclude that the monarchy itself was wrong. Centuries before, God had predicted that a king would rule over Israel. But in requesting the monarchy, Israel’s motives and timing were wrong (1 Sam 8). She blamed her problems on the absence of a king, not on her sin. She cast her eyes on her pagan neighbors rather than on God. If Israel had simply been patient, the monarchy would have come. Within a few years, David, the Judean shepherd boy, came onto the scene. Had Israel waited a bit longer, God would have placed the son of Jesse on the throne. But Israel’s impatience brought Saul to the throne. Physically impressive, Saul was the picture of a king. For many years, he strengthened his nation, until pride welled up in his heart. His subsequent sin led to judgment, and Saul died a tragic death on the mountains of Gibeon.
David’s reign ushered in the golden age of Israel. He unified the nation, established a strong government, and built the most powerful empire of his day. He conquered Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Syria. Philistia submitted to his authority. As the “sweet Psalmist of Israel,” David received God’s special blessing. He would be the ancestor of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. His leadership was decisive and effective. He captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his royal city and residence. Shortly afterward, he brought the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, publicly acknowledging the Lord’s kingship and rule over himself and the nation. The nation prospered, defeated its enemies, and extended its borders from Egypt to the Euphrates. The Lord announced that He would establish the Davidic dynasty forever.
About 10 years after David established himself in the city of Jerusalem, David’s weaknesses and failures began to be revealed. Even though David remained a man after God’s own heart, he nevertheless fell short of the ideal king. His sin with Bathsheba and his leniency both with the wickedness of his sons and with the insubordination of one of his advisors led to intrigue, violence, and bloodshed within his own family and the nation.
1. Read Genesis 49:10; Deuteronomy 17:14-20. What does God say about Israel’s future king?
2. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 9:15-16; 10:9-25. Relate these verses to the prophecies mentioned above.
3. Read 1 Samuel 13:13-14; 16:1-13, 18. What information is given about God’s choice of David and anointing him as king?
4. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): For more insight into the character of David, read the rest of 1 Samuel 16 through chapter 24. This section sets the stage for our lesson on Abigail.
King Saul, jealous of God’s choice of David, spent the latter part of his life chasing and trying to kill David. The story of Abigail is sandwiched between two incidents where David used self-restraint to spare Saul’s life because he was the Lord’s anointed.
5. Read I Samuel 25:1-13. Describe Nabal and Abigail.
· Nabal —
· Abigail —
6. Discuss the kind of marriage and home life Abigail and Nabal might have had based on what is mentioned about them so far.
7. Compare David’s request to Nabal’s response. [NOTE: Nabal’s pastureland was about a mile away from his home.]
8. Read 1 Samuel 25:14-35. From information in these verses, add to your description of Abigail’s qualities.
9. Tell Your Story: Abigail didn’t panic. Perhaps she was accustomed to such calamities given her husband’s character!! (See her opinion of Nabal in verse 25.) Would you have panicked? Have you ever been in such a dangerous (or perceived dangerous) situation? How did you get through it? Write a short description of this in the space below.
10. Why didn’t Abigail tell her husband what she was going to do?
11. Abigail provides us with a successful pattern for dealing with confrontation. Discuss her strategy in appeasing David and her conversation with him.
12. Read I Samuel 25:36-44. Once the danger was thwarted, how did Abigail deal with her husband, and what was Nabal’s response?
13. How did she do what was right on behalf of both her husband and David and “not give way to fear”?
14. How did the Lord deal with Nabal?
15. What signs do you see of spiritual growth in Abigail’s life in spite of living in such a difficult situation?
16. Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. How does God use difficulties to shape us?
17. Abigail probably lived in danger of violence and the constant stress of unresolved conflict. How might that have affected her attitudes and feelings?
Within two weeks, Abigail’s life was totally changed. David married Abigail and traveled with her (and his first wife Ahinoam) for two years. Abigail had one son as David’s wife—Chileab. Nothing more is known of Abigail beyond this.
18. Your Life’s Journey: Someone in your small group, perhaps yourself, may live in this kind of relationship. Fear and wrong attitudes can be as harmful as the abuse itself. When we react wrongly to people who mistreat us, we really let them control us.
· How should you counsel a woman in such a situation? See 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 5:6-10; 2 Timothy 1:7
· If it is yourself in such a situation, reach out to someone in your small group and let her pray for the situation as well as for your attitudes and responses.
19. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Jerusalem is one of the most important cities in history. Canaanites settled there soon after the dispersion from Babel in the third millennium B.C. It held an especially strategic location, controlling the primary north-south trade routes through Canaan as well as providing a military stronghold. Jerusalem became Israel’s capital during the time of David. Read the following scriptures to glean more information about Jerusalem: Gen. 14: 17-20; 22:1-19; Joshua 10: 1-28; Judges 1:1, 8, 21; 2 Sam. 5:6-12; 24:15-25; 1 Chronicles 22:1 and 2 Chronicles 3:1.
20. Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5. What information about Bathsheba can be gleaned from these verses?
21. In what two situations was Bathsheba caught, and how did she respond in each?
22. According to Deuteronomy 22:22, what was the penalty for adultery?
23. Read 2 Samuel 11:6-25. Contrast Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to Abigail’s husband Nabal.
24. Why do you think Bathsheba succumbed to this affair? What did it cost her?
25. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. Remembering how Abigail prevented an angry David from doing evil, how could Bathsheba have responded differently to David?
26. Read 2 Samuel 11:26-12:25. How did God view Bathsheba’s affair with David?
27. Based on 2 Samuel 12:10-14, what did the prophet Nathan say would be the consequences of this sin, both immediate and long-term? Was David the only one who would suffer? Explain.
28. Think About It (Optional): Read Psalm 51 for David’s heartfelt repentance (agreement with God about his sin and decision to change his behavior).
29. Deeper Discoveries (Optional): Read the rest of 2 Samuel to see how Nathan’s prophecy came true.
In spite of their sin together, God still loved Bathsheba. That’s His unconditional love. Of all David’s wives, He chose Bathsheba to bear David’s successor, Solomon. She joined two other women with marred reputations, Tamar and Rahab, in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1: 6-17).
30. Your Life’s Journey:
· Perhaps you, like Bathsheba, had an immoral relationship with your husband (or other person) before marriage or caused a first marriage to be broken up by your relationship to each other, and you are feeling guilty or fearful of the consequences. Agree with God that you have sinned. Accept the forgiveness He provided through His Son Jesus for all your sins—past, present, and future—then forgive yourself and forgive your husband. Ask the other person to forgive your part in the past.
· Read Psalm 103:10-14. God has already removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west. You will still have to deal with the consequences of your actions, but thanks be to Christ, not the guilt! Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Are you able to trust God to help you even through the consequences of sin? If not, ask someone you trust in your small group to pray for you regarding this.
God loved Abigail and Bathsheba. He knew what was going on in their lives. Marriage difficulties, the temptations they faced, the losses they suffered—He was there for all of it. He was able to do something about it. Abigail’s life was spared by using the strengths God gave her. Bathsheba, though she suffered the consequences of sin, was blessed with the birth of Solomon, heir to the throne. During their walk, a loving God said “no” to some things. Yet, Abigail and Bathsheba chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. Likewise, God may not choose to relieve you from a miserable marriage or prevent you from experiencing the consequences of sin. But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…
§ God loves me.
§ God knows what is going on in my life.
§ God can do something about it.
§ I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
31. List the situations that could have terrified Abigail. How did she respond to God in faith?
32. What opportunities did Bathsheba have to fear? How did she respond to God in faith?
33. Your Life’s Journey: Scripture describes both Abigail and Bathsheba as being beautiful women. In his commentary, Matthew Henry wrote, “The fear of God reigning in the heart is the beauty of the soul.” What does the Bible say of the role that physical beauty should have in a person’s character? See Proverbs 31:10, 30; 1 Peter 3:1-6, and any other verses you can find to support your answer.