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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, June 13, 2021

June 10, 2021
  • 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
  • Psalm 20
  • 2 Corinthians 5:6-17
  • Mark 26:34


The majority of this week's readings are about God’s anointed and the qualities God desires and looks for.  Saul was made king because the Israelites desired a king to protect them and a kingdom to rival their neighbors. And Saul looked the part -- tall, strong and magnificently handsome. Very king-ly.  Unfortunately he was also proud, paranoid, fickle, and ultimately disobedient.

When Samuel was told to bestow the kingship on another it looked as though he would make the same mistake. But God repeatedly rejected Jesse’s older sons, finally coming to his youngest son David.  Like Saul, David is described as handsome and would prove himself warlike. That is fair -- this is the folk history of an ancient and traditional society. Physical beauty is to be expected of a king and warfare was the reason for the state.  While mentioning his looks seemingly undercuts what God tells Samuel earlier in verse seven about him not valuing appearances, and although David will prove himself to be a very flawed protagonist as king, he still hues much closer to what God desires from his servants, and what Paul commends in the Epistle reading.  He is humble, open and genuine in his love for the Lord, to the point of appearing foolish to more worldly characters in Samuel I.  Michal, his first wife and youngest daughter of Saul, will rebuke him for dancing unashamedly when the Ark of the Covenant is reclaimed and brought to Jerusalem.

The Psalm this week, attributed to David, also commends things that to the world would appear to be utter folly. While it is a rather martial psalm, it opens by reminding the reader that in the worldview presented in the books of Samuel and Kings, the relationship between God and his people is one of reciprocity and openness, and therefore trust should be put in Him, rather than strength of arms.

Personally, the story of David has been harder to comprehend as I’ve gotten older, perhaps mainly due to my tendency to overthink things and dwelling on the more negative aspects of his character. Why does God in his foreknowledge seek out a king who will one day kill Uriah the Hittite or fail to punish Amnon?  God's mercy is occasionally shocking, His ways after all are not our ways and He does not look to the things we mortals do, not physical appearance, and sometimes more off puttingly not innate ability, intelligence, or most shocking of all he accepts us and wants a relationship with us regardless of our sins.  He desires a humble, contrite heart, open to his love, not perfection.

  • How does God’s desire for an open, humble, and contrite heart compare and contrast with more modern notions of greatness or morality?
  • How do we as a church or individual believers cope with being perceived as foolish or unworldly?  How are we to respond to these perceptions? And how seriously should we take these criticisms?
  • How open to God and to each other and to the church are we?  How can we help make the church visible a more trusting spiritual environment?

Author:  – Ben Watts


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