BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58

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Summary 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

Saul tells David he’s only a boy; he can’t go and fight Goliath. David says he has killed bears and lions in defense of his sheep, and God will deliver him from this Philistine like he delivered him before. Saul dressed David in his armor, but David took off the armor because he wasn’t used to them. All he took was a staff and 5 smooth stones.

Goliath approached David with his shield bearer in front of him. Seeing he was only a boy, he taunted him. David responded by saying he comes against him in the name of the Lord Almighty and he will defeat him in God’s name, showing all gathered that the battle is the Lord’s. They approached each other, and David struck with a stone and hit Goliath between the eyes, felling him.

David cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword. The Philistines ran when they saw Goliath fall and the Israelites chased them, cutting them down. The Israelites took their plunder and David took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem and kept Goliath’s weapons.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:14-23:

13) God protected David as he fought off lions or bear who were coming after his sheep. God also has anointed David and brought him to help Saul with his music. God has been faithful throughout David’s life, so why wouldn’t God be faithful now? David knows he will win cause God will win. It’s encouraging because God always wins and uses people and situations for your good.

14) David knew the Lord would deliver him, so he said so. By not taking any weapons of steel into the battle, David shows his utter reliance on God to use the stones to overcome. David gives God all the credit and knows it is God fighting the battle — he is only the instrument.

15) Personal Question. My answer: Same thing. Step out in faith every day in God’s plan for my life and give Him all the credit.

16)

  • Both David and Jesus represented their people. Whatever happened to the representative also happened to God’s people.
  • Both David and Jesus fought the battle on ground that rightfully belonged to God’s people, ground they had lost.
  • Both David and Jesus fought when their enemy was able to dominate the people of God through fear and intimidation alone.
  • Both David and Jesus were sent to the battleground by their father (1 Samuel 17:17).
  • Both David and Jesus were scorned and rejected by their brethren.
  • Both David and Jesus fought the battle without concern with human strategies or conventional wisdom.
  • Both David and Jesus won the battle but saw that their enemies did not give up willingly.
  • Both David and Jesus fought a battle where victory was assured even before the battle started.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

David’s confidence is what stands out here. He knows God is with him, and he knows God will do it all. He doesn’t let the fact that he’s young stop him. He doesn’t use the armor and weapons provided because he knows he doesn’t need any of that. He knows God will overcome, and he acts on this knowledge. A great lesson for us all!

For a cute, short kids video on David and Goliath, click below

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 10, Day 5: 1 Samuel 17:33-58:

God had been preparing David his whole life for this moment. With every defeat of lion and bear, David grew more confident with God. God often calls us to be faithful right where we are and then uses our faithfulness to accomplish greater things. In the midst of our preparation we rarely see how God will use it.

Saul only saw the outside: a small inexperienced boy; he did not see David’s heart of God.

David increases in boldness as the story progresses. First, he said someone should fight Goliath for a righteous cause (1 Samuel 17:2629). Then he said he would fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32). Now he says he will kill Goliath.

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Lessons Learned from David’s Confidence with Goliath

  • God often calls us to be faithful right where we are and then uses our faithfulness to accomplish greater things.
  • In the midst of our preparation we rarely see how God will use it.
  • David knew that God’s help in times past is a prophecy of His help in the future.

Saul, still seeing the practical tactics, offers David his armor. Saul’s armor does not fit David physically nor spiritually.

Why 5 Stones to defeat Goliath?

  • David only needed one stone to kill Goliath. Some suggest because Goliath had four relatives who were also giants, whom David and his associates later killed (2 Samuel 21:18-22).
  • Always have a back up plan. God is true, but God does not work always on the first try.

David followed through on his words. He went to battle.

Goliath had to look around to even see David, he was so small compared to Goliath. When Goliath did see David, he was insulted. The Hebrew word for dog (kaleb) is used in passages like Deuteronomy 23:18 for male homosexual prostitutes. Goliath felt that sending David was an insult to his manhood.

God is the only weapon David needs.

David responds, confident God is the only weapon he needs. We can imagine Goliath’s deep, deep, bass voice reverberating against the tall hills surrounding the Valley of Elah. The sound struck fear into the heart of every Israelite soldier, and probably even some of the Philistine soldiers! Then David answered with his teen-age voice, perhaps even with his voice cracking. The Philistines laughed when they heard David practically screaming in his cracking voice and the Israelites were both horrified and embarrassed.

This battle was for the fame and glory of God alone, which David makes sure to emphasize in his every word. He never uses the word “my” or “I”. It is God’s battle, and he stands for all of Israel. This battle will prove to all (including the Israelites) that God is the ruler of all and can give victory without sword or spear.

Image result for 1 samuel 17David runs out to meet Goliath. He doesn’t stop and pray. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t hesitate. God does it all, but we take action as well.

While a shepherd, David talked to God and took a lot of target practice with his sling. Now his communion with the LORD and his skill with the sling are both used by God. Bible scholar Clarke says, “In the use of the sling it requires much practice to hit the mark; but when once this dexterity is acquired, the sling is nearly as fatal as the musket or bow.”

What does David see that no one else sees in Goliath?

  • Everyone else thought, “Goliath is so big, I can’t beat him.” David thought, “Goliath is so big, I can’t miss him.”

Just as the Philistine god Dagon fell on his face before the LORD (1 Samuel 5:2-5), so now the worshipper of Dagon, Goliath, falls on his face.

God loves to use the weapons of  Satan against him (David using Goliath’s sword to cut his head off).

The Philistines agreed to surrender to Israel if their champion lost (1 Samuel 17:9). We should never expect the devil to live up to his promises. But the soldiers of Israel pursued and defeated the Philistines. David’s example gave them great courage and faith in the LORD.

Since it was many years later that Jerusalem was conquered (2 Samuel 5:6-10), this likely means David eventually brought Goliath’s head to Jerusalem. But David will use the sword of Goliath later (1 Samuel 21:9). David had some enduring reminders of God’s great work.

Bible scholars are unsure if Saul recognized David or not.

  • Some think David played behind a screen or a curtain for Saul so Saul never saw his face.
  • Others think because of the distressing spirit, Saul was not entirely in his right mind.
  • We also know David did not spend all his time at the palace but went home to tend sheep (1 Samuel 17:15). It’s possible David’s appearance changed during a time when he was away from Saul, so Saul didn’t immediately recognize him.
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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6

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Summary of 1 Samuel 6:

The priests and the diviners of the Philistines hatch a plan to send the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites: they made gold models as a guilt offering of 5 gold tumors and 5 gold rats in a cart with cows who had never been yoked before. They put the guilt offering and the ark in a cart. If the cart went towards Beth Shemesh, then it was God against them. Otherwise, it was chance.

When the ark returned to the Israelites, they sacrificed the two cows as burnt offerings to God and the large rock they set the ark down upon remained a witness. However, 70 Israelis died because they looked into the ark.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

6) The Philistines knew they had to send a guilt offering to God. By sending gold models, the Philistines hoped to send the originals out of the country as well. They put the objects in a cart and put stipulations on what it meant if the cows went one way or another, thinking the animals would prove it was by chance and not by God all of this happened. We put stipulations and meaning on objects or actions as well and say it means God is with us or it’s His will or not, when in reality we have no clue.

7) The people made a burnt sacrifice to God, using the cows sent over. However, 70 people looked into the ark and God killed them for it since this was against His laws. Believers blatantly disregard Him and His commands such as we see here with looking into the ark of the covenant.

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: God is in control, and He rewards His people when they obey and puts consequences on them when they disobey. As long as I obey, I’m rewarded. When I disobey, I’m not.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

This isn’t exactly an encouraging passage. However, it does make a point: obey God or suffer the consequences.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 3: 1 Samuel 6:

The Philistines kept the ark of the covenant for 7 months because they did not want to part with such a trophy. However, ultimately, they had to. It can take a long time before we realize the futility of resisting God.

The Philistine priests had enough sense to know they offended the LORD God. Therefore, they knew they should do something to express their sorrow and repentance before the LORD. We were not told in 1 Samuel 5 that the plague involved rats. Acknowledging God’s judgement is one way to give Him glory.

The Philistines admitted that the God of Israel judged their gods and had jurisdiction over their lands. They confessed that He was Almighty God, yet they did not worship Him instead of their gods. Big mistake.

The testing of God by the Philistines:

The Philistines decide to test God to make sure the plague was sent by Him. The test was stacked against God. Two milk cows which have never been yoked should not pull a cart at all; instead, they should have resisted their yokes. Additionally, the Philistines separated the babies from their mothers. The “maternal instinct” of the cows would draw them not towards the land of Israel, but back home to their own calves. The Philistines devised a test that “forced” the God of Israel to do something miraculous to demonstrate He really was the cause of the plagues.

God never wanted the ark to be transported by a cart. He wanted it to be carried by poles set in rings on the side of the ark (Numbers 4:15).

The ark didn’t have “handles” and was not to be carried by lifting it directly in one’s hands. Instead, it was to be carried by inserting gold-overlaid wood poles into gold rings at each corner of the ark. The poles were to remain inserted in the rings, and to be the source of contact with the ark. Apart from touching the poles, it was forbidden to touch the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:12-15).

Ironic how the Philistines were wise enough not to look in the ark of the covenant and instead placed the models next to it, but the Israelites weren’t.

Image result for 1 samuel 6Of course, the cows showed God’s glory. Two cows who never pulled a cart before with no driver left home and marched the ten miles or so to a city they had never been to. They left their own calves behind and went straight on a certain road, with never a wrong turn, never a stop, never turning aside into the fields to feed themselves, never turning back to feed their own calves. The cows were unhappy about doing God’s will cause they lowed.

The Israelites finally had God back (He had never left them, but in their minds He had).

What the Israelites did right upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant:

  • In a strict sense their offering was against the Mosaic Law. First, they offered female animals to the LORD, which was forbidden (Leviticus 1:322:19). Second, they made a burnt offering to the LORD away from the tabernacle, which violated the command in Deuteronomy 12:5-6. Yet God knew both their hearts and the remarkable circumstances, and He was no doubt honored.
  • The Israelites were careful to let the Levites handle the ark, as was commanded by the law (Numbers 4:1-615). Beth Shemesh was a priestly city (Joshua 21:16), so priests were on hand.

What the Israelites did wrong upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant:

  • The Ark of the Covenant was only to be touched and handled by specific Levites from the family of Kohath, and even they were commanded to not touch the ark itself (Numbers 4:15). The men of Beth Shemesh sinned by not only touching the ark, but also looking into it inappropriately.
  • God dealt with the Israelites more strictly than He dealt with the Philistines who just transported the ark by a cart. God did this because the Israelites, who had His law, should have and did know better. It is sad to consider that the Philistines showed more honor to the holiness of God than the Israelites.

Isaiah 55:8-9 shows this thought: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” We need to respect the fact that God is God and we are not, and there are some things we just will not, and should not, know.

What is the holiness of God?

Holiness means that God is separate, different from His creation, both in His essential nature and in the perfection of His attributes.

Image result for holiness of godWhen Peter saw the holy power of Jesus he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). When the disciples on another occasion saw the holy Jesus shining forth at the transfiguration, they were greatly afraid (Matthew 17:6). When we meet the Holy God, we are excited and afraid all at the same time.

Holiness is part of the new man we are in Jesus (Ephesians 4:24), and we are invited to be partakers – sharers of Jesus’ holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

Though God is holy and apart from us, instead of building a wall around His apartness, God calls us to come to Him and share His apartness. As it says in 1 Peter 1:16, God calls us to be holy, for I am holy. Holiness is not so much something we have as much as it is something that has us.

We don’t know why they picked this village. All we know is the men of Kirjath Jearim received the ark and it stayed there for many years until King David brought it to the city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5

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Summary of 1 Samuel 4-5:

1 Samuel 4:

Israel fought against the Philistines who defeated them. Not understanding why, the elders of Israel decide to bring the ark of the Covenant out from Shiloh and take it into battle, hoping then they’ll defeat the Israelites. At first, the Philistines were scared, knowing the history of the God of Israel and how powerful He is. However, they rallied and the Israelites were defeated, losing 30,000 men. They fled to their camp and the ark of God was captured. Eli’s sons, who brought the ark back, died in the battle.

Hearing the ark of the Covenant had been captured, Eli who was 98 years old, fell over dead after having led Israel for 40 years. Phineas’ wife gave birth after his death, named her boy Ichabod, which means no glory.

1 Samuel 5:

Image result for 1 samuel 4 & 5The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

3) The ark of the covenant was the place God/His glory dwelled. It held the broken Ten Commandments by Moses and the Testimony by God, the gold jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff. The Israelites were hoping God would be with them in battle if they took the ark of the covenant with them and grant them victory over the Philistines.

4) When the ark of the covenant arrived in the Israelites’ camp, all Israel shouted so loud the ground shook and scared the Philistines to the point they almost retreated. When the ark was captured, Eli and his two sons died because of it. When the ark was captured, all of Israel mourned and of course the Israelites were defeated in battle. Phineas’ wife gave birth to her baby.

The Philistines took the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod and set it in their god Dagon’s temple. The god had fallen before the ark of the Lord! God afflicted tumors upon the people for stealing the ark. The ark was moved to Gath where the same tumors afflicted those people. Next, the ark was sent to Ekron where people died and were afflicted with tumors so the Philistines decided to send the ark back to Israel.

God is in control. Just because the Israelites thought God would show up and give them victory if they brought the ark with them, didn’t mean He did. They did not consult God on this matter. God also afflicted tumors on people as punishment for stealing the ark. God is God. He does what He wants.

5) This would be when they use God’s word to justify their actions. Pick and choose pieces of the Bible they think support their decisions. They claim God is with them in this or that decision when He’s not.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Great lesson on God being in control. Just because you parade God around doesn’t mean He’s going to do what you want Him to do when it’s not in His will.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 8, Day 2: 1 Samuel 4-5:

Who were the Philistines?

The Philistines were an immigrant people from the military aristocracy of the island of Crete (Amos 9:7). Small numbers of Philistines were in the land at the time of Abraham, but they came in larger numbers soon after Israel came to Canaan from Egypt. They were organized into five city-states. The Philistines were the first people in Canaan to process iron. Israel competed on more equal terms with Moab and Ammon, but the Philistines had Greek military equipment (such as helmets, shields, chain mail armor, swords and spears) making the Philistines more formidable opponents.

During this time there was no great world power (such as Egypt or Assyria) seeking to dominate the region. So, Israel’s battles were waged against her near neighbors, such as the Moabites, the Ammonites, or as here, the Philistines.

Why bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle?

  • The Ark of the Covenant was the representation of the throne of God in Israel. Kept in the most holy place of the tabernacle, the people never saw it. Only the high priest entered and saw the ark, and only once a year. The elders wanted to take this representation of the throne of God out of the holy of holies (it could be moved when the tabernacle was to be moved), cover it, and bring it into battle with them. They hoped it would give confidence that God was really with them.
  • The ark went into battle before. The ark went in front of the marchers around the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:6-8). Moses told the priests to lead the ark into battle against the Midianites (Numbers 31:6). Later, Saul brought the ark into battle (1 Samuel 14:18), as did David (2 Samuel 11:11).
  • The elders rightly sensed they needed God’s help to win the battle. But they were wrong in the way they sought help. Instead of humbly repenting and seeking God, they turned to methods that God never approved. They only cared if it worked.
  • The elders believed the presence of the ark would make God work for them. “Their idea was that God should be forced to fight for them. If He was not willing to do it for their sake, He would have to do it for His honour’s sake.” (Ellison)
  • They regarded the ark as the ultimate “good luck charm” and believed they could not lose with it there. They looked to the ark to save them, not to the LORD.

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Spurgeon’s Take on the Israelites’ Use of the Ark of the Covenant:

“Instead of attempting to get right with God, these Israelites set about devising superstitious means of securing the victory over their foes. In this respect most of us have imitated them. We think of a thousand inventions; but we neglect the one thing needful… They forget the main matter, which is to enthrone God in the life, and to seek to do His will by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Why did the Israelites’ shouting upon seeing the Ark of the Covenant not work?

The Israelites thought they could manipulate God and force Him into doing what they wanted Him to do.

Bible Scholar Clarke says this: “Had they humbled themselves, and prayed devoutly and fervently for success, they would have been heard and saved. Their shouting proved both their vanity and irreligion.”

Their shouting was not from the heart nor did the Israelites have faith.

The Philistines knew the history of God and of the ark going into battle with the Israelites, but they did not submit to God. Hence, the tumors sent when the ark was taken as punishment for unbelief.

What do we learn from the Philistines’ victory over the Israelites?

  • Instead of giving up when things look bad we should trust the LORD and fight all the harder and decide we will not give up. Courage and persistence win many battles, even sometimes for the wrong side.

Why did the Israelites lose this battle?

  1. The Philistines fought with the courage of desperate men.
  2. The Israelites felt the battle would be easy with the ark of the Covenant there and did not try as hard.
  3. God did not bless Israel’s superstitious belief in the power of the ark instead of the power of God.

God did not appreciate being summoned to win a battle like a genie in a bottle. The Israelites believed if God was with them, they didn’t need to try so hard. We do this same thing. We think if God is on our side, the work will be easy.

Not only did Israel lose this battle, they lost far worse than they did before taking the ark into battle. The loss which prompted them to take the ark resulted in the death of about four thousand men of Israel (1 Samuel 4:2). With the ark more than seven times as many men of Israel were killed.

Fun Fact: In the late 1970’s, a five-line inscription was found on a grain silo in the ruins of Izbet Sarteh. When deciphered, it was found to contain a Philistine account of this battle, the capture of the ark, even specifically mentioning the priest Hophni. This is the earliest known extra-biblical reference to an Old Testament event.

Why did God allow the ark to be captured?

  • Losing the ark was far worse than losing the battle.
  • The very “thing” they thought would win the battle was captured. Israel made an idol of the ark and God often deals with our idolatry by taking the idol away.
  • God wanted to make sure the Israelites understood their mistake and punished them severely.

Even a good thing can be made an idol. God does not tolerate idols.

God still used the ark for His glory as He punished the Philistines wherever the ark traveled.

We see the fulfillment of God’s promise that the two sons of Eli would die on the same day as proof of His ultimate judgment on the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:34).

Image result for aphek to shilohThe battle was fought near Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1), and it was at least 20 miles from Aphek to Shiloh. The messenger had a long way to go, the route was mostly uphill, and he carried very bad news.

Because the news was so bad he came with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. These were some of the traditional signs of mourning. The messenger brought bad news, and he let his appearance reflect how bad the news was.

The next time we encounter Eli’s family, they have moved as a group to Nob. Several Bible passages mention Shiloh’s destruction as a punishment for sin (Psalm 78:60-64Jeremiah 7:12 and 26:9). As an important site for worship, the Israelites were even more in despair at its destruction.

Bible scholar Ellison explains:  “The glory of God had indeed departed, but not because the ark of God had been captured; the ark had been captured because the glory had already departed.”

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

  1. He allowed it as a righteous judgment upon Israel as a nation and the family of Eli. They simply received what they deserved.
  2. Secondly, God allowed it as a correction to the nation, so they would not trust in the ark of God, instead of in the God of the ark.
  3. Finally, though it seemed so terrible to man, was it all that terrible to God? At that moment, did God wring His hands in heaven, worried about how things would turn out? Worried about His reputation? Worried about the Philistines and their gods? Looking at it this way, the glory had not departed at all. Instead, God was just beginning to show His glory.

What do we learn from the defeat of the Israelites and the capture of the Ark of the Covenant?

  • Many circumstances that we regard as a calamity, God uses in a marvelous way to glorify Himself. Israel was right to be sad at the loss of life and the ark on that day. But they should have been confident, knowing God was well able to take care of Himself.

Bible Scholar Poole explains: “Thus as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it, as we shall see.”

1 Samuel 5:

No doubt, the Philistines were jubilant and confident in the superiority of their god over the God of Israel. They faced the God of Israel in battle and believed their god Dagon delivered them and defeated Israel. Dagon was half-man, half-fish and believed to be the father of Baal by the Philistines. Now, the Ark of the Covenant of Israel’s God stood as a trophy in the temple of their god Dagon. The victory seemed complete.

Instead, the statue bowed down before the ark of the covenant.

What do we learn from the ark being with the Philistines?

  • God will glorify Himself. He doesn’t need man to do so.
  • God can be as a fragrance of life to some and the aroma of death to others (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). It’s our choice.

God had given the Philistine priests a chance to turn from their god Dagon to Him. They rejected God despite the evidence. Now they would be punished. God would try again, only this time, it would be harsh.

What were the tumors? Possible answers include:

  1. Hemorrhoids
  2. Bubonic plague
  3. Dysentery, bloody flux, and ulcerated anus

The Philistines sent the ark back. They got rid of God. But we can’t get rid of God nor push Him away. One day, we’ll all answer to Him.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1

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Summary of Passage:

A famine forced the family of Elimelech, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem, to settle in Moab, a neighboring, unbelieving country. Elimelech died, leaving his wife, Naomi, a widow with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion. Mahlon and Kilion marry, but ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion die, leaving all without someone to support the family.Image result for ruth 1

The famine had ended so Naomi sets out with her two daughters-in-law named Orpah and Ruth back to Judah. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law, both of whom are Moabites, to return to their families and remarry, so they can be cared for.

Both protest, but Orpah goes. Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth loved Naomi too much to leave, so they returned to Bethlehem with Naomi being very bitter over her situation. Luckily for them, the barley harvest was just beginning.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

3)  Elimelech died, leaving his wife and two sons alone. Her two sons married eventually, but then they died as well. Everyone died except Ruth and the daughters-in-law.

4) Ruth gave up a chance to remarry a Moabite and have children and restart her life. Ruth gave up her land and her gods and all that she knew. I’m not sure Ruth thought about her gains. Moab and Israel were bitter enemies, so Ruth is taking a big risk immigrating to a land where the people may treat her as a despised foreigner. All she knew was she wanted to be with Naomi no matter what and she wanted to be God’s child. She gained a life in God.

5) Personal Question. My answer: It’s easy to get pulled down in the muck of misfortune. Anger, depression, sorrow, grief, heartache, and an overwhelming sadness are human emotions we all face and all must deal with. These emotions do pull us down and affect everything we do including family and decisions. I’ve been very fortunate as I haven’t been through misfortune like others (I’ve had my difficulties but not compared to basic survival needs like how I’ll eat, slavery, torture, back-breaking hard work, etc. like others in this world). My view of God has stayed the same. I question Him and ask Him why, but I don’t doubt Him and turn away from Him. I know it’s all for a reason and if I stay the course (His course), He will never lead me astray.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

Such a powerful story of love and pushing through the heartache to still see God in the clearing. Death caused by man’s sin is never easy to abide, but it’s a fact of life and fighting it only creates more misery. I love how Naomi and Ruth stick together in their heartache. Both are grieving severely, but man, created to be together and not apart, is stronger together and both women are stronger as one unit than separately. God is good to give us this story and encourage us when we face the same situation in our lives. Through it all God is there. And He has a plan. Believe in Him.

Read my original posting on Ruth HERE

Amazing video on the entire book of Ruth HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 2: Ruth 1:

This account begins in the closing days of the Judges, a 400-year period of general anarchy and oppression when the Israelites were not ruled by kings, but by periodic deliverers whom God raised up when the nation sought Him again.

Notable among the Judges were Gideon, Samson, and Deborah. Each of these was raised up by God, not to rule as kings, but to lead Israel during a specific challenge, and then to go back to obscurity.

The days when the Judges ruled were actually dark days for Israel; the period was characterized by the phrase everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:618:119:1, and 21:25).

Elimelech and his family had to hike through the desolate Jericho pass, through the Judean wilderness near the Dead Sea, going across the Jordan River, into the land of Moab. This was a definite departure from the Promised Land of Israel, and a return towards the wilderness from which God had delivered Israel hundreds of years before. These were clearly steps in the wrong direction.

God specifically promised there would always be plenty in the land if Israel was obedient. Therefore, a famine in the land meant that Israel, as a nation, was not obedient unto the LORD (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).

Elimelech has intentions to return to Bethlehem, but it turned into ten, tragedy-filled years – and Elimelech never returned to Israel. The name Elimelech means “God is king” – but he didn’t really live as if God was his king.

Life was not easier in Moab.  Elimelech soon died, leaving his wife Naomi a widow with two boys, Mahlon and Chilion, to care for.

Was Elimelech’s death God’s judgment?

It is hard to say that this was the direct hand of God’s judgment. Why bad things happen to good people is a hard questions to answer. What is certain, however, is that the change of scenery didn’t make things better.

We sometimes think we can run away from our problems, but find our problems follow us. That’s because you can’t escape you–fallible, imperfect sinner.

Mahlon and Chilion took wives among the Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. Again, this was not in obedience to God; God commanded the Israelites to not marry among the pagan nations surrounding them.

Ten years pass and both the sons die, leaving all the women widows. To be a childless widow was to be among the lowest, most disadvantaged classes in the ancient world. There was no one to support you, and you had to live on the generosity of strangers. Naomi had no family in Moab, and no one else to help her. Indeed, these were desperate times.

Why was Naomi deciding to return to Bethlehem significant?

From distant Moab, Naomi heard that God was doing good things back in Israel. She wanted to be part of the good things that God was doing.

Our life with God should make others want to come back to the LORD just by looking at our life. Our walk with the LORD should be something that makes others say, “I want some of that also!”

Naomi took action. Many hear of the good things God is doing in the lives of others, and only wish they could have some of it – instead of actually setting out to receive it. Naomi could have stayed in Moab all of her life wishing things were different, but she did something to receive what God had to give her. She took action. Where do you need to take action today?

By telling the Moabite women to go back to their families this was the best thing for the two women. Their families would care for them. She blessed them and prayed they would remarry.

Deal kindly is the ancient Hebrew word hesed. “Hesed encompasses deeds of mercy performed by a more powerful party for the benefit of the weaker one.” (Huey)

In Ruth 1:9, Naomi described marriage as a place of rest: The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband. God intends that each marriage be a place and source of rest, peace, and refreshment in life.

From the crying going on, it is obvious the women had grown to love one another.

According to the laws of ancient Israel, if a young woman was left widowed, without having had a son, then one of her deceased husband’s brothers was responsible for being a “surrogate father” and providing her with a son. Naomi here says that she has no other sons to give either Orpah or Ruth.

Naomi realizes their sin

Naomi realizes their disobedience and says their calamity is of their own making. They were disobedient,  leaving the Promised Land of Israel and marrying their sons to Moabite women.

However, Naomi is returning to God; she’s not running away. She was not bitter against God. She is drawing closer to Him, not going further away from Him.

Naomi didn’t accuse God of doing something wrong against her. She acknowledged His total control over all circumstances. It was actually an expression of trust in Him.

What does Naomi’s return to Israel teach us?

  • If we will return to Him, His hand will go out for us again! Naomi had no idea – not the slightest – of how greatly God was going to bless her in a short time.
  • Ruth’s declaration to follow God is made upon seeing Naomi’s action to return to Him. Actions do speak louder than words.

Ruth forsakes her gods for Naomi’s God.

People should be able to look at your life, just as Ruth looked at Naomi’s, and say “I want your God to be my God.” Your trust in God and turning towards Him in tough times will often be the thing that draws others to the LORD.

The Long Walk Home

Image result for ruth 1It was a long walk from Moab to Bethlehem, and the trip was mostly uphill. We can imagine along the way Ruth asking her mother-in-law Naomi all about the God of Israel and the land of Israel.

Bethlehem was just a village with probably a hundred or so people; everyone in the village would have known everyone else and remembered those who had left years ago.

The name Naomi means “pleasant”; the name Mara means “bitter.” Naomi used this to tell the people of Bethlehem that her time away from Israel, her time away from the God of Israel, had not been pleasant – it was bitter.

Naomi wasn’t ones of those who says “fine” when asked how she’s doing. She’s not going to pretend all is right in her world. She tells it like it is.

So many of us pretend life is find instead of dealing with our problems. We run away instead of draw close.

Naomi was not bitter against the LORD. She knew the answer to her problems lay in getting right with God.

Themes of Book of Ruth

  • The answer to our problems lies in turning towards God, not running away from Him.
  • It all begins with one decision: to go back to God. So many blessings come from that decision (the Lord Jesus whose relative is Naomi) that you don’t know about.
  • God blesses those who turn towards Him.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 27, Day 5: Romans 15:13

Summary of passage:  Paul prays that God fills them with joy and peace as they trust in Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

13)  Trust gives us the faith we need in order to hope.  Without trust, hope is empty as we truly don’t believe it will come to pass.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If we don’t trust, we have no hope.  God grants us both and is good for doing so.  At the end of the day, hope is all that gets me by sometimes.  I hope in God and trust in Him to do as He says He will.  As I see Him fulfill His promises, my faith grows as does my trust and hope.  It’s a beautiful cycle I never want to end!

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Everyone.

Conclusions:  Trust and hope are really broad topics and are tightly intertwined.  The more you trust, the more hope you have and the more faith is strengthened.

End Notes:   The prayer and blessing concluding the section is appropriate. As God fills us with the blessings of His joy and peace in believing, we are equipped to live in this common bond of unity God calls us to.

Throughout the Bible, hope is considered a desirable attribute of human life.  Hope is a gift of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament and includes trust, confidence, and refuge in the God of hope.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 26, Day 2: Romans 14:1-8

Summary of passage:  Accept those who are new believers and fail without looking down on him or condemning him.  The Lord will strengthen him.  We all belong to the Lord and God knows our heart for what we do.

Questions:

3)  Without passing judgment.

4)  Whether to eat meat or not to eat meat.  Disputable is open to debate whether it is acceptable or not meaning there is no agreement.  Forbidden are those things that are outlawed, meaning there is a majority agreement on what is acceptable or not.

5)  God is the standard and we are to live for Him.  Both the weak and the strong should be motivated to serve the Lord and give thanks for His provision.

Conclusions:  Acceptance is the theme here.  Mankind is messy.  All of us.  We are all equal.  None of us is better than the other.  Paul reminds us to accept each other and let God handle the rest.

End Notes:  Paul warns us not to judge others whose faith is weak, usually a newer Christian or one ignorant of God’s ways.  He was probably addressing Jewish Christians in Rome who were continuing to observe the hallmarks of Jewish identity, such as dietary restrictions and the keeping of the Sabbath and other special days.  Their concern was not the same as that of the Judaizers of Galatia  They Judaizers thought they could put God in their debt by works of righteousness and were trying to force this heretical teaching on the Galatian churches, but the “weak” Roman Christians did neither.  They were wrestling with the status of the Old Testament regulations under the new covenant that Christ ushered in.

In Paul’s mind, the weak brother is the stricter one due to their legalistic attitudes and lack of love towards others.

Undoubtedly these weak ones did not see themselves as such. They probably saw the meat eaters as weak.  Legalism has a way of making us think that we are strong and those who don’t keep the rules the way we do are weak.

Paul reminds us it is God’s job to judge, not ours.  We must rise above these petty arguments and be united in our faith in Christ.  Christians do not agree on all matters pertaining to the Christian life, nor do they need to.  Fellowship should not be based on agreement.

By bringing in the aspect of observing certain days, Paul is talking more about principles than specific issues. It’s up to the conscience of the individual. But whatever we do, we must be able to do it to the Lord, not using “conscience” as an excuse for obviously sinful behavior.

From birth to death, we are connected to one another and we are to live for the Lord always.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 2: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

3)  The definition of submit according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation; to yield oneself to the authority or will of another”.  Everyone must submit to governing authorities because God is the one who had given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The same reasons people struggle with submitting to God (which in this passage Paul says is the same thing i.e. God and authorities are the same):  people want to do what they want to do (selfishness) and not what others tell them to do.  Human nature is inherently evil and if a person wants to be able to kill another, that’s what he wants to do.  Man wants power and to lord over others.  God established rules/government so there would not be anarchy in this world.  I’m fine with following the government (when you’re brought up in society it’s relatively easy to obey).  It’s the daily selfishness I struggle with such as when I’m driving being nice to others or putting others needs before mine or giving up my time for others.

5)  When man/human authority asks us to go against God and His Word.  Daniel ignores the decree by King Darius to not pray to God.  This is against God.  When you’re asked to do something that goes against your conscience or that you know is wrong.  Then you can disobey.  Killing others, persecuting others, causing physical harm to others, etc.

Conclusions:  Great passage by Paul and very important today when people are so against governing authorities.  You may not like who is in office, but God put them there so respect them and the laws of your country.

End Notes:  Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.