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5. David: The Man After God's Heart 2: A Heart Open To Instruction

1 Samuel 24-25


As a young boy, David tended his father’s sheep (1 Samuel 16:11). While in his teens, he gained national attention by killing Goliath, the Philistine giant from Gath (1 Samuel 17). He was employed by King Saul to periodically appear in his palace to soothe him with his skillful harp-playing (1 Samuel 14:23). During this time, Saul’s son, Jonathan, became David’s closest friend (1 Samuel 18:1). Soon after David’s victory over Goliath, Saul became exceedingly jealous over David’s notoriety. Saul openly sought to kill David, thus began a thirteen year period of time that David was forced to flee from Saul.

In 1 Samuel 24 we find David and his band of 600 men living in the wilderness (in the “strongholds” – caves) of Engedi. (See map at the end of lesson one.) Engedi is east of Hebron on the shores of the Dead Sea. It was marked by many caves in limestone cliffs, lush vegetation, fresh water springs and waterfalls. The caves were a natural refuge and provided a lookout spot from which to see an enemy approaching. From 1 Samuel 23:14 (as well as what we learned in our last lesson), we know that Saul was committed to killing David and was still pursuing him ardently.

Day One Study

1. Read 1 Samuel 24:1-7. What is happening in verses 1-3?

2. What did David’s men (numbering ~600) encourage David to now do?

3. Discuss what David did and his response to his men.

4. David KNEW that he had been anointed for a special purpose. It seemed obvious to everyone that he would be the next king. This was a golden opportunity to kill Saul and take the throne as the rightful leader. Christ was similarly tempted in the wilderness. Read Matthew 4:8-10. How are these situations similar?

5. What prevented David from seizing the moment and killing Saul?

Think About It: The Bible is a real book, and this unique story is living proof. In the midst of his mad rush for vengeance, Saul must answer the call of nature. So he finds himself crouching in the privacy of a cave – but not just any cave. He tromps right into the mouth of the cave where David and his men were hiding. Talk about being vulnerable! Bad enough for the king to be seen at that moment, but to be in the very presence of the enemy. Oh, man! (Charles Swindoll, David, p. 84)

6. Read 1 Samuel 24:8-22. Why do you suppose David risked his life by going after Saul in verse 8?

7. What does David say to Saul? Why?

8. How does Saul react to David?

9. Considering human nature, what impact could this have had on David’s men who were watching?

10. The desire for vengeance or revenge can be one of life’s most subtle temptations. We may suffer a personal injury and we wait for just the right opportunity to repay the offending party. Read Romans 12:17-21.

·         What does the Scripture say about revenge?

·         According to these verses, how often are we to take revenge?

·         What are we to do instead?

Focus on the Meaning: Whatever we call it, God calls it revenge. And His feelings toward it are anything but ambivalent. Since we are not all-seeing and all-wise, it’s best to leave vengeance in the hands of our just and holy God. (Charles Swindoll)

David was able to restrain himself from killing Saul, but he couldn’t resist the temptation to cut off some of his robe. We often do the same to those who have hurt us with a little cut here or a little jab there. Cutting off Saul’s robe may have felt good at the moment, but it didn’t mend David’s injury. Healing came for David when he confronted Saul with the truth.

11. Your Lifes Journey: In what ways does David’s honest confrontation with Saul give you a positive example of how to deal with someone who has wronged you?

12. If a confrontation is not possible, what can you do to bring closure to a painful situation? (See also Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-13, and 1 Peter 3:8-12.)

13. Deeper Discoveries (optional): For insight into what David felt during this time in the cave, read Psalm 57.

Day Two Study

1 Samuel 25 opens with a tremendous loss to David and Israel – the death of Israel’s last judge and David’s mentor, Samuel (verse 1). In verse 44, Saul has also given David’s wife, Michal, to another man. David and his men move on to the wilderness of Maon, a desert area 8 miles south of Hebron. There, they protected the shepherds who watched over Nabal’s flocks. According to the customs of the day, during sheep shearing time the rancher would set aside a portion of the profits and give it to those who had protected his shepherds. This was, in a sense, a gratuity, just as we tip a waiter for good service. The tradition was not a law, but an implied contract.

1. Read 1 Samuel 25:1-42. Who is Nabal? How would you describe him?

2. Who is Abigail? How would you describe her?

3. Each character in the story makes a choice amidst the many conflicts and personal agendas. Make the following observations:

·         What choices did Nabal make?

·         What choices did Abigail make?

·         What choices did David make?

4. Throughout the conflict God was at work in the situation.

·         How was God faithful to Abigail?

·         How was God faithful to David?

5. In the first half of this lesson we find David immediately responsive to God’s Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 24:5). However his quick temper reduced him to initially responding in the flesh (i.e., fallen human nature) to Nabal’s selfishness. How can this be?! Paul experienced the same conflict as recorded in Romans 7:15-25. How then can we live victoriously in this life we live on earth? Is it possible? Read the following scriptures for insight.

·         John 15:5 ––

·         Galatians 2:20 ––

·         Galatians 5:16 ––

6. Your Lifes Journey: What encourages you in learning about how David or Abigail chose to respond in potentially explosive situations?

Related Topics: Curriculum, Faith

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