Lesson 5

Winning and Losing

(Judges 13-14; 2 Samuel 11; 1 Kings 18-19)
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Introduction: There is nothing like a academic discussion of sin. No need to make the discussion of sin too personal, right? So far in our lessons this quarter we have discussed the general conflict between good and evil. Let's bring it closer to home this week. How is the conflict between good and evil going in your life? This week we look at how the battle influences the lives of individuals. Maybe you will see yourself in some of these stories. Let's jump in!

  1. Samson

    1. Read Judges 13:1-3. How is life for Manoah? How about life for his wife? What is God doing here? (Something amazing is underway. In the midst of a lousy life (occupation by the enemy, sterility) God enters with a miracle.)

    2. Read Judges 13:4-5. What kind of day is this wife having now? (Imagine someone comes to your home, waves a magic wand and says, "Your troubles are over! Whatever is bothering you, I'll take care of it." That is essentially what is happening here. The biggest problems in life were no doubt enemy occupation and the shame (see Luke 1:25; Genesis 30:22-23)of not being able to conceive. The angel says he has the solution for both problems.)

    3. Read Judges 13:6-8. What do you think of Manoah? Did God just toss the dice in deciding who should be the parents of this deliverer? (This is a great guy. He wants to be sure he does exactly what God wants him to do. If you read on you will see that God sends the angel to Manoah again, and Manoah responds in complete faith.)

    4. Their son, the deliverer, is named Samson. We pick up our story at the time he is a young man. Read Judges 14:1-4. All right parents, would you respond the same as Samson's parents?

      1. Young people, what do you think about this? Was Samson right? Does this prove that even if your parents cite the Bible ( Deuteronomy 7:3-4) you could still be right because God has made a special exception for you?

      2. What do you say, parents, about verse 4? (A number of commentators seem to think that Samson was really doing God's will. However, I think Elwell's Evangelical Commentary on the Bible has it right. He says, "from the Lord" does not mean "God's positive, moral will." Rather, "God uses [Samson's] impiety to create an occasion against the Philistines." Parents do what is right when they follow the Bible.)

    5. Chapters 14 and 15 of Judges go on to report that Samson's new Philistine wife betrays him, and then she gets killed (not by him). Samson is next found with a prostitute ( Judges 16:1) and later with a woman named Delilah who also betrays him ( Judges 16:4-17). Let's pick up the story by reading Judges 16:18-21. Where did Samson go wrong?

      1. Is the problem that he has huge muscles but a brain the size of a cashew?

      2. Is the problem the women in his life?

      3. Is the problem that he thinks he is too smart for evil to catch up with him? (You could argue for all three, but I think the real problem is that he wallows in temptation and evil. He does not flee from it, he hangs around it.)

    6. Judges 16:21 tells us that Samson is blinded, and given the task an animal would normally perform - moving the grind stone. I can see him constantly walking around in circles moving the grind stone. Compare what his parents had in mind for his life, with where he is now. Is that the way sin works in our life?

    7. How did Samson die? (If you do not know the story, read Judges 16:23-30.)

      1. Judges 16:30 has a very interesting comment. It says Samson killed more Philistines when he died than when he lived. Was this God's plan for his life?

      2. I recently read the statement, "It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others." Was that Samson?

      3. Would you say that Samson was basically a good man or basically an evil man?

        1. Who should be more concerned about sin - basically good people or basically evil people? (The great disappointment of Samson's life was what he could have been. Those of us who want to follow God need to be vigilant not to make sinful choices -- they can ruin our life.)

  2. Elijah

    1. Tell me the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. (If you are not familiar with it, read it in 1 Kings 18:19-39.)

      1. Read 1 Kings 18:21. What is Elijah's goal in asking this question? (He wanted a commitment to the true God.)

      2. What does his question suggest about the lives of the people? (That they wanted to dabble in sin and in righteousness at the same time. They had a "Samson" view of sin.)

      3. Verse 21 ends with "But the people said nothing." What does that tell you? (That they refused to make a commitment.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:38-39. Did the people make a commitment? Why? (Because they saw the power of God when Elijah was faithful. It was an awesome display of power.)

      1. What is your reaction to a God who is willing to go to such lengths to win the allegiance of the people?

    3. Read 1 Kings 19:1-4. How do you explain Elijah's reaction to the words of Jezebel? How could he go from the mountain-top experience of single-handedly standing up to the prophets of Baal, to wanting to die because he was afraid? (Evil continues to challenge even the most victorious saints.)

      1. What counsel would you have given to Elijah? (We can never look away from God no matter how successful our life has been in promoting the gospel. The fact that we trusted in God's power yesterday is no guarantee that we will today. Daily, we must turn to God for strength.)

  3. David

    1. Read 2 Samuel 11:1. What inconsistency do you see in verse 1? (It says it was the season "when kings go off to war," but King David did not.)

      1. Would you say that David was an excellent manager because he knew how to delegate responsibility?

      2. Would you say that David had a responsibility to personally lead his troops?

      3. Is this a management decision on which opinions can vary, or is this a matter of sin?

        1. Doesn't the fact that the troops won show that David made the right decision?

    2. Read 2 Samuel 11:2-3. Do you see any problem with walking around at night and surveying your kingdom?

      1. Do you see any problem with bathing on your roof-top when most other people are sleeping? (I suppose that if your name is "Bath"sheba, regular bathing is required. Seriously, the name Bathsheba means "daughter of an oath.")

      2. Do you see any problem with David looking long enough to see this woman was "very beautiful?"

      3. Was it sin for David to "send someone to find out about her?"

    3. Read 2 Samuel 11:4. Was it sin for David to send for Bathsheba? Was it sin for David to sleep with her? (While the Kings of Israel often had several wives, David had been alerted that she was already married.)

      1. What does this show us about the nature of the conflict between good and evil in our lives?

      1. If you look back over the series of steps that lead to David's adultery, where would you say that he crossed the line into sin?

        1. Where would you say he crossed the line into bad judgment? (Verse 1 strongly suggests that David crossed the line into bad judgment when he did not accompany his troops into battle.)

      2. Do you think anyone just falls into sin on an impulse? (Generally sin is a progressive matter. We walk into sin by taking steps that are not, in themselves, sinful. The question you should always ask yourself is not just "Is this sin?" but "In what direction am I walking?")

        1. Is David's sin a variation on the "Elijah problem?" (David had a glorious background of faith and triumph over evil. But past victories when walking with God do not guarantee you will not walk off the path today.)

    1. Read Psalms 51:10. What lesson has David learned about sin? (This gets back to my old theme that sin is an attitude. Actions are merely the result of sinful attitudes. If you want to fight the conflict between good and evil in your life, you need to ask God to cleanse your attitude: a pure heart and a steadfast spirit. This request for a pure heart should be a daily task.)

    2. If you know the story of David, how important is this failure in his life? (King David was wounded for the rest of his life. Because he lost his moral authority in matters of sexual sins, when his son was involved in sexual sin he did not discipline him. This lead to murder, the alienation of his son Absalom, and at one point the loss of David's kingdom. (2 Samuel 13-15) Many people lost their lives as a result of David taking the wrong steps towards sexual sin.)

      1. If you are reading this lesson over the Internet, it means you have access to the pornography available on the Internet. What is the natural result of viewing pornography - even "soft porn?"

        1. Are you in the same relative position as David looking from his roof-top at Bathsheba bathing?

        2. Have you any reason to believe that you are any more righteous than David - the man who was so devoted he took on Goliath? Have you any reason to believe that your life, the life of your wife, your children, and those nearest you, will not be permanently damaged because you were looking?

    3. Friend, the lesson from Samson is that we should not hang around sin. The lesson from Elijah is that everyone, no matter how great a champion for God in the past, must daily turn to God for strength. The lesson from David, is that sin starts in little things that are not in themselves sin. This daily turning to God should be for a pure heart, a right attitude. Will you turn to God daily for Him to create in you a clean heart and a right spirit?

  1. Next week: Faith Amid Turmoil

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