Lesson 10

The Bible as History

(1 Samuel 17, Hebrews 11)
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Introduction: In many situations we need context to properly understand something. The Bible provides a historical context for our world-view. We know that problems exist for two reasons: Satan, and our decision to choose him over God. We know that God will, because of His love and unselfishness, end sin, death, and sorrow. We know that God works with His followers to bring great victories over evil. We know that those who forget history are bound to repeat the errors of the past. Let's dig into our study of history in the Bible so we will have a historical context for the problems we face today! A note to readers. I've decided, after some consideration, to change from the NIV to the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

  1. David and Goliath


    1. Read 1 Samuel 17:1-2. Who is the aggressor? Who started the problem? (The Philistines were gathered in territory "which belongs to Judah.")


    2. Read 1 Samuel 17:3. If you know something about military strategy, what is the problem here? (Whichever side goes down its mountain and attacks the other mountain has a serious strategic disadvantage.)


    3. Read 1 Samuel 17:4 and 1 Samuel 17:8-9. How did the Philistines intend to overcome this strategic stalemate?


    4. Read 1 Samuel 17:11. The Philistines have a great idea? Why don't the men of Israel agree?


    5. Read 1 Samuel 17:16, 20, 23-24. David's father sent him to bring food to his older brothers who were soldiers and to bring back a report on how they were doing. What report would you be putting together in your mind if you were David?


      1. How would you explain the "war cry" of verse 20 and the fear and fleeing of verse 21?


    6. Read 1 Samuel 17:26. How would you characterize David's attitude about this situation?


    7. Read 1 Samuel 17:28. What attitude does David's oldest brother have about David's attitude? (David is presumptuous. David is criticizing men who are much more important than him. He just came to see people get killed.)


    8. Read 1 Samuel 17:32-33. Is David all talk and no action?


      1. What is a military expert's analysis of David's chances against Goliath?


    9. Read 1 Samuel 17:36-37. What changes the opinion of King Saul, the military expert?


      1. Why would Saul agree to this? Isn't he putting the entire nation at risk? See 1 Samuel 17:9. (It must have been David's past experiences in relying on God.)


    10. Read 1 Samuel 17:38-39. Is Saul exercising common sense? Is David exercising common sense? Who has the better common sense?


      1. Why is common sense needed when David is depending on God?


    11. Read 1 Samuel 17:40. What would you say about David's common sense if you did not know the end of the story?


      1. What do you conclude from the statement that David's "sling was in his hand?" (Goliath could not see it.)


    12. Read 1 Samuel 17:42-43. What is Goliath's evaluation of David's common sense? (Notice that Goliath mentions the staff, but not the sling.)


      1. Is Goliath invoking the supernatural?


    13. Read 1 Samuel 17:45. On what is David depending for his victory? (God! He comes "in the name of the Lord of Hosts.")


    14. Read 1 Samuel 17:46-47. Let's concentrate on verse 47. David just said that he would cut off Goliath's head. Why does he then say that God does not save with sword and spear? (David's prediction about the future looks a little ridiculous to any bystander. This boy against a giant? That is why David tells the audience ("this assembly") that it is the supernatural that will win the battle.)


    15. Read 1 Samuel 17:49-50. Could any of the soldiers in the army of Israel have done what David did?


      1. Since they did not, what made David special?


      2. How much of David's confidence came from his past experience, and how much came from trusting in the Lord? Would David have trusted God even if he had not previously killed lions and bears?


        1. How did David approach the original lion or bear that he killed?


      3. In a sense, David's sling was like bringing a gun to a knife fight. Look again at 1 Samuel 17:50. What does this say about the optics of this victory? (This reveals that the normal observer of the day would think a sword was a more potent weapon.)


    16. What is the lesson for us today? Should we want to build up our faith by defeating lions and bears so that we can move on to giants?


      1. What is the equivalent problem in your life? Are your problems non-lethal? Should you desire more problems so that you can have faith when larger problems come?


      2. Consider encountering problems, could David have simply ignored this problem? Could he have returned home with the report that the entire army was a bunch of cowards? Or, God's soldiers had too much common sense? (It was David's problem because it was David's Lord who was being impugned.)


      3. Are you someone who complains about others, but is unwilling to tackle the problem yourself?


        1. Do you know people who just complain?


  2. David Compared


    1. Read Hebrews 11:32-33. Up to this point, Hebrews 11 recounts the heroes of the Old Testament. People like David who, through faith, "conquered kingdoms" and "stopped the mouths of lions." What does this history tell us is the result of having faith in God?


    2. Read Hebrews 11:35-36. What history does this suggest for Christians?


    3. Read Hebrews 11:37-38. Let's assume that Hebrews was written before David was born (it was not), and he had read this chapter. Would he believe, based on this history, that he might die by the sword of Goliath?


      1. How do you explain the difference between victors like David and victims like those described in verses 37 & 38?


    4. Read Hebrews 11:39-40. When the Bible refers to "all these," does it mean both the victors and the victims? (Yes.)


      1. What does history teach us with regard to the problems that we face? Will we be victors or victims?


    5. Look again at Hebrews 11:35. What do you think is meant by "refusing to accept release?" (I think it means refusing to recant faith in Jesus.)


      1. If you face death, like David, or accept continued torture, which of the two has the greatest faith? (They are both faith heroes.)


    6. Re-read Hebrews 11:40. What is the universal promise made to victors and victims in this life? (God has provided something better for us.)


    7. On what basis does God decide who kills lions and who is eaten by lions?


      1. Should the answer to this question matter? (It certainly makes a difference now, but it will not make a difference in the light of eternity!)


    8. Friend, are you willing to be a victor or a victim by faith in God alone? Why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to aid you in developing that kind of faith?


  3. Next week: The Bible and Prophecy.

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