Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: September 17, 2017
Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 2 Samuel
2 Samuel 2-4
This Week’s Printable Resources:
- Lighthouse Discussion Guide (pdf)
- Lighthouse Leader Study Guide (pdf)
- Study Notes for 2 Samuel 2-4
- September Prayer Calendar (pdf)
Overview of this Lesson
Dark days and overcast skies. That describes 2 Samuel 2-4. With Saul and Jonathan dead, those loyal to Saul rush to make his last surviving son king. Ish-Bosheth was never supposed to be king, and he was a weak man who did not last long.
As often happens around weak leaders, intrigue immediately rises as subordinates jockey for position and seek to gain control for their own vices. These chapters are filled with intrigue and death, revenge and retribution. As the old sage once noted, “when a man sets out to seek revenge, he must first dig two graves.”
Sitting off to the side, as if he is watching the scene unfold in front of him is David, who is now King of his home tribe, Judah. While he still knows that the Lord has said David would be King of Israel, there seem to be many barriers in the path in front of him. Moreover, as we saw in 1 Samuel, David refuses to take matters into his own hand and force the issue. He is content to let God work out the details.
In this lesson, we see how David responds to this conundrum. We also will see how we should respond when God’s will is clear but the way is not.
Memory Verse for This Week
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
– Proverbs 3:5-6.
Salvation by Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-25; 8:38-39): We believe a person has a right relationship with God only by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. This makes believers eternally secure in Jesus Christ.
- Have you ever had someone ask for your advice and then not follow it? How does that make you feel?
- How do you respond when you know what the right thing is to do, but the path is not clear.
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
This Week’s Take Home Truth
God used everything that happened to lead them to their king.
Read the Text (2 Samuel 2-4)
Three chapters of rivalry and revenge can make one easily wonder, “What good can come from all this?” But God uses both good and bad to accomplish his purposes, and his sovereignty, while subtle, is still supreme. Read 2 Samuel 2-4.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
Summarize what is happening in 2 Samuel 2-4.
The last two chapters (1 Samuel 31 and 2 Samuel 1) describe what happened to King Saul and his son and heir, Jonathan. Both are killed in battle on Mt. Gilboa in the north. This leaves David in a perplexing situation. Saul and Jonathan and two other unnamed sons of Saul are dead. David knows he is to become king, but the path is still not clear, for there remains one other son, Ish-Bosheth, who is now Saul’s legal heir.
In addition, don’t let the reality of the national defeat escape you, for it provides a heavy layer of tension to the scene. As David indicates in his lament in chapter 1, “the beauty of Israel is slain.” Yes, Saul and Jonathan were men, but they were also Israel’s King and Prince. The defeat on Mt. Gilboa is a 9/11 moment for Israel. The nation’s leadership is dead and the Philistines have driven deep into Israel’s northern territory, greatly expanding their borders beyond their normal sliver of land in the southwest.
Chapters 2-4 show us how the Lord sovereignly resolves these problems to clear the path for David’s ultimate coronation as king of Israel. At the same time, we see more examples of David’s deep respect for authority and justice, which David rightly acknowledges come from God Himself. We also see David’s savvy political diplomacy as he navigates these thorny issues.
Who is Ish-Bosheth and what do we know about this man?
Ish-Bosheth is a son of Saul, and through the tragedies of war, he is left as Saul’s only surviving heir to the throne of Israel. His name means “man of shame.”
Ish-Bosheth is a man who was born and lived in the shadow of the king, but knew from birth that he would never be king. He was well down the line of succession, so, while he probably enjoyed a comfortable life at the king’s table, he was left out of the “kingly” discussions and intrigue that took place between Saul and his other sons. The reality of this is emphasized by the fact that Ish-Bosheth was not even considered worthy of fighting in his father’s army. Jonathan and his two other brothers were likely high ranking generals for Saul, and when the war with the Philistines broke out, they were on the front line of combat with the army in Mt. Gilboa. Ish-Bosheth was home with the women.
The tragic defeat on Mt. Gilboa, however, left Ish-Bosheth as the last of Saul’s sons still living. Consequently, in a time of national tragedy and great uncertainty, Ish-Bosheth became king. He was not prepared to lead as king, but he did not have a choice. Needing a successor to the throne, Saul’s commanding general, Abner, rushed to make Ish-Bosheth king of Israel. Ish-Bosheth was 40 years old when he became king (2:10).
Ish-Bosheth was a weak leader, and he would not live long after being made king. Within two years, he would be assassinated by two servants who thought they would win favor with David by murdering his perceived enemy (4:8). David didn’t see it this way at all. Once again, we see David’s deep sense of respect for Saul and his family, and even though the world saw Ish-Bosheth as a rival, David saw him as an innocent, righteous man simply fulfilling the responsibility given to him (4:11). Rather than reward the two assassins, he had them executed and their bodies publicly displayed to demonstrate to all the shame of their actions.
Side Note: When God’s Servants Are Motivated by Selfish Ambition
2 Samuel 4 describes the action of two assassins who murder Ish-Bosheth in his bed while he was sleeping. These were trusted servants who had easy access to the king and to his bedroom.
These two men committed this savage act in the name of the Lord and in the service of David (4:8). Yet, David quickly questioned the motives of these two assassins. Reading the text, it seems obvious they were seeking to enrich themselves by doing David the favor of killing his enemy. David wasn’t about to let these murderers commit such a heinous act in his name and in the name of the Lord.
In the church today, we still see examples of Baanah and Rechab, the two assassins. How often do servants of the Lord try to help Him out when in truth we are simply seeking to build a bigger and better name for ourselves and grow our personal kingdom? How much has been done over the centuries “for the church” in the “name of the Lord” because at the end of the day it made for a better life for those who carried out the work?
There are many servants who have rushed to share with the Lord what they have done for Him only to find our Lord’s reaction less than affirming. Paul touches on this in 1 Corinthians 3 when he states,
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. – 1 Co 3:11–15.
It is a good reminder to check our motivation when we claim we are doing something “for the Lord” or “for His church.”
Like no one else, Leonard Ravenhill captures the true value of a servant’s life and service before the Lord. It’s not about a bigger church or a greater minister, but about our obedience and devotion. Referencing 1 Corinthians 3:12, Ravenhill states,
“What is gold a sign of? I believe it’s a sign of our devotion to God. If I could have a small melting pot here, I’d put your $10,000 worth of gold in it and melt it down. What happens when you burn gold? Nothing! It just changes from solid to liquid, but you don’t reduce it. Can you see all the saints standing in heaven? And there’s Leonard Ravenhill standing before Christ whose eyes are filled with holiness. The whole place is breathing holiness. There in the presence and the majesty of an awesome God, the record of my poor life is read before all the saints of all the ages. And He puts the fire to my devotional life. Am I just a good showman? I sure like to preach because God called me to preach. I don’t care how I preach, and I don’t care whether you believe me either. I’m not responsible for that. I preach out of my heart all I believe, and I’d die for it. But say, am I just a showman? What’s my secret life like?
I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: no man is greater than his prayer life. I don’t care how big his organization is. Let me live with a man awhile and share his prayer life, and I’ll tell you how tall I think he is, or how majestic I think he is in God. What’s your devotional life like right now? Would you like Gabriel to hand down the book of your devotional life for the last month so it could be read out loud at church this Sunday? The gold is going to be tried through our devotional life.”
Father, forgive us when we rush to “do your work,” and “build your church” when what you ask of us is to be wholly devoted and faithfully obedient to your Word.
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22
What is David’s response to the uncertainty he faced following the death of Saul?
As we have witnessed thus far in the life of David, when things get difficult, he is often the calm voice in the room. Others are running frantically trying to solve the problems, and David displays an open and authentic trust in the Lord.
To set the stage for what is to happen in the next three chapters, the Bible begins in 2:1 by letting us know that “It happened after this (the defeat at Mt. Gilboa and the death of Saul and Jonathan) that David inquired of the Lord…”
In the North of Israel, General Abner is rushing to Ish-Bosheth to make him king and try and hastily reorganize the government as the threat from the Philistines looms. Humanly speaking, this would have been the perfect time to take the kingdom of Israel and appoint himself king. But instead, David prayed.
“Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?”
The Lord replied, “Go up.”
So David went up there.
If you are like me, you read that and your first thought is, “wow, I wish life was that simple.” The problem is we are often in too much of a rush. David had learned the secret of living in God’s will: “Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.”
Years later, David’s son, Solomon, would pen a proverb that would give great insight and comfort to God’s people for generations. It was probably something Solomon heard his father, David, remind him of many times: trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What is the key difference between David’s response in a time of great adversity and later in his life when he fell into sin?
It is nearly impossible to read about David’s life without “the rest of the story” in mind, as Paul Harvey used to say. Yes, David inquired of the Lord in 2:1, but it’s difficult not think, yes, but why didn’t David inquire of the Lord when he looked out from his room and saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing in the evening?
There is a key difference between David’s life in 2 Samuel 2 and 2 Samuel 11 when “Bathshebagate” begins to unfold. It’s the difference between how we respond during a time of adversity and how we respond during a time of success.
Oh, the lessons that are to be learned in that little sentence. We see David here in Chapter 2 coming off of a long, long period of intense personal suffering and trials. If David took a brief survey of his life to this point, he could honestly say that being anointed king as a young boy by Samuel was one of the worst things that could have happened to him. But it will not always be this way. In fact, David is on the cusp of entering a period of great success and fame. Between Chapter 2 and Chapter 11 David will become king of all Israel, he will utterly defeat Israel’s enemies and bring a time of great peace and prosperity to Israel. He will see the riches of the known world at that time flow into Israel as Israel becomes the super power of the Middle East.
Within time, David will go from a suffering soon-to-be king to a king of unheard of success. Here’s the lesson we must always remember: it is easy for us to turn to the Lord for guidance when things are bad, when the enemy surrounds the camp and there seems like no way out; but it is very difficult to seek the Lord when things are going well, when we are prosperous, safe, and fat.
Here are some key differences between people who live with adversity and people who live with success:
- In adversity, we tend to depend on the Lord (daily), and in success we tend to depend on ourselves.
- In adversity we tend to be humble, and in success we are prone to pride.
- In adversity we look up to God, and in success we look down on others.
- In adversity we are confident in the Lord, in success we are confident in ourselves.
- In adversity we develop patience (longsuffering is the King James word), and in success we tend to be impatient and driven.
What can we learn about the Lord through David’s simple prayer of inquiry to the Lord?
I find it very interesting that when David prays to the Lord, asking Him if he should go up to the cities of Judah, the Lord simply replies, “Go up.”
I think we can learn an important biblical principle here: many times God will give us general directions to His will and the specifics will come later.
“Lord, do you want me to go up to the cities of Judah?”
“Yes. Go up.”
The Bible doesn’t tell us how much time elapsed between that answer to prayer and the specifics.
That may have been a matter of seconds, or it may have been days/weeks. We know through our own life experiences that many times God leads us in a direction and then slowly fills in the blanks along the way.
As I look back on my life, it is easy (now) to see the hand of God directing me at several points along the way. But, I can tell you from first-hand testimony that I did not sense that specific leading at the time. I knew I was being called in a general direction, but I was as surprised as anyone when some of the specifics became clear.
You, too, can probably see that kind of direction in your life–“Lord, do you want me to get married?”
Wait. Wait. Wait.
Wait. Wait. Wait.
Later, sometimes years later, He will introduce you to the who.
Why does the Lord work this way? Because it helps us stay dependent upon Him day-by-day, step-by-step.
Do you pray and ask the Lord to give you faith? If so, then waiting is the key element. James tells us,
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
How can we stay dependent upon the Lord even in times of success and plenty?
Time in prayer and the Word of God is a sure way to stay dependent upon the Lord. Each morning our prayer should be…
Help me to live right!
Psalm 5:8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
Help me to know the truth and not be deceived.
Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Give me clarity when life is confusing.
Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Help me to know your will and do it.
Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
Becoming A House of Prayer
“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices; Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – Isaiah 56:7.
Prayer Focus for the Week of September 17
Set aside a portion of your Lighthouse for prayer.
- Pray for our high school youth ministry that God would raise up the next generation of Christian leaders.
- Pray for couples who are experiencing marital strife in their home. May the Lord protect them.
- Pray for those in our church who are struggling with terminal illnesses.
- Pray for our church’s elders and deacons who are servant-leaders among us.
- Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)
- Ask the Lord to give First Family the opportunity to minister to our community.
- Pray for Josh Skow, Steve Noble, and Dale Hittle as they lead us in worship.
Questions to consider as you continue to reflect on what you learned this week:
- Take Action: Write a letter to yourself and store it away for future reference. Remind your future self of the importance of staying dependent upon the Lord, especially when times are good and the path is clear.
- Appoint two people in your life who can speak truth to you even when you think you know it all. Give a copy of your “note of reminder” about pride to these two accountability partners to give you (if needed) in the future.
- Is there an impossible barrier in front of you right now? Have you inquired of the Lord? Let it be a focus of prayer this week: “Lord, what would you have me do?”
Work to memorize this week’s memory verse: Proverbs 3:5-6.
Our Core Belief this week is Salvation by Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-25; 8:38-39): We believe a person has a right relationship with God only by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. This makes believers eternally secure in Jesus Christ. Have you believed in Jesus Christ as the only way to make right your relationship with God? If not, do so today.
Remember to use the daily Bible reading plan as part of your walk with Christ, taking the time to reflect on each passage and what it means for your lives.
Coming Dates This Fall:
9/23/2017 – Men’s Workshop on Sexual Purity
10/01/2017 – Life Change Church Launch Day
10/15/2017 – Begin 40 Days of Prayer
10/25/2017 – Mobilization Conference Begins
10/27/2017 – 2017 GO Trip Reports
10/29/2017 – Guest Speaker: Ray Chang
10/29/2017 – International Dinner & Commissioning
10/30/2017 – Lighthouse Midterm Break; No Groups the week of 10/30/2017
11/05/2017 – Daylight Savings Time Ends
11/05/2017 – Fireside Chats Begin
11/13/2017 – Operation Christmas Child; 11/13 – 11/20
11/19/2017 – Harvest Offering
11/19/2017 – Thanksgiving Night of Worship
11/23/2017 – Thanksgiving Day; Church Facilities Closed
11/24/2017 – 40 Days of Prayer Ends
11/29/2017 – Fall Wednesday Night Ministries End
12/09/2017 – Kids’ Christmas Musical
12/24/2017 – Christmas Eve at First Family
12/25/2017 – Christmas Day
12/31/2017 – New Year’s Eve Day; Ankeny: 10:00 am | Bondurant: 10:00 am
01/01/2018 – New Year’s Day
01/07/2018 – Lighthouse Spring Semester Begins
Fall Teaching Schedule:
09/10/17 – 2 Samuel 1:1-27
David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.
09/17/17 – 2 Samuel 2:1-4:12
David becomes King of Judah; Civil War in Israel.
9/24/27 – 2 Samuel 5
David becomes King of Israel; War with the Philistines.
10/01/17 – 2 Samuel 6
David seeks to bring the ark to Jerusalem.
10/08/17 – 2 Samuel 7
The Davidic Covenant.
10/15/17 – 2 Samuel 8-10
David consolidates his kingdom.
10/22/17 – 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25
David’s great sin that brings destruction to his family.
10/29/17 – Guest Speaker
International Dinner (No Groups)
11/05/17 – 2 Samuel 12:26-13:39
Nathan rebukes David for his sin; David repents; the rape of David’s daughter, Tamar.
11/12/17 – 2 Samuel 14-15
The Parable of Two Sons; Absalom rebels against David.
11/19/17 – 2 Samuel 16-17
Absalom captures Jerusalem, lies with David’s concubines to show his contempt for his father.
11/26/17 – 2 Samuel 18
Civil War between Absalom and David. Joab kills Absalom. David mourns the death of his son.
12/03/17 – 2 Samuel 19-21
David is restored to the throne, but conflict and turmoil continue to plague David.
12/10/17 – 2 Samuel 22:1-23:7
David nears the end of his life as conflict and turmoil continue.
12/17/17 – 2 Samuel 23:8-24:25
David’s last words; David sins again and the Lord judges Israel; 70,000 die from a plague.