Week 27: 1 Kings

Prepare these questions for Sunday, October 6.  We will not meet on September 29 because there is no Inside Out that week.

1Kings is the continuation of the narrative begun in 1 and 2 Samuel. The first half is about King Solomon (David's son with Bathsheba) and the second half if about several other kings after Solomon's death.

1. Transition from David to Solomon was not particularly smooth. What happened and how did Solomon become king? What challenges might that have made for Solomon?

2. Solomon was and is known for being a wise king. What verses or passages reveal his wisdom in these chapters?

3. What kind of king was Solomon, really? Faithful? Honest? Selfish? Arrogant? Wise? Foolish? What qualities do you see in chapters 3 through 11?

4. After Solomon's death there was a rebellion and Israel split into two parts-Israel in the North and Judah in the South. The rest of 1Kings details the leaders of these two kingdoms and the highlights of their reigns. What does the rebellion and subsequent turnover of rulers tell you about the attitudes and faithfulness of the Israelites during this time?

Week 26: 2 Samuel

Prepare these questions for Sunday, September 22, 2013.  We will have two weeks worth of questions to discuss this week.

2Samuel details the life of David as king while it continues the narrative begun in 1Samuel.

1. How did David become king and secure his role as leader?

2. What is the story of Bathsheba and what does it reveal about David's character?

3. What happened with Absalom and how did David react to the outcome?

4. David was an amazing warrior and king while, at the same time, a very flawed and selfish man. What conflicts do you find in your own heart that might limit your ability to fulfill what you were meant to do with your life?

5. What was David's legacy? (There are several possible answers to this question so just go with what you think.)

Week 25: 1 Samuel

Prepare these questions for Sunday, September 22, 2013.  We will not meet on September 15 due to Vertical Reality.

1Samuel is the first half of the story of how Israel went from having judges who ruled to having a monarchy. It starts with the prophet/judge Samuel and then moves into the transition to Israel's first kings, Saul and David. It is unclear who actually wrote down the stories, but it is certain that this book (along with 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings) is meant to record the history of the monarchy of Israel.

1. Who was Samuel and how did he become a prophet/judge of Israel?

2. Who was Saul and how did he become the first king of Israel?

3. How did David enter the story and what was his relationship to Saul?

4. What are the highlights of the following events in David's life?
-battle with Goliath
-Saul tried to kill David
-friendship with Jonathon
-spared Saul's life in the cave

5. Why was it disobedient for Israel to demand a king? Where have you willfully demanded something you knew was disobedient in your life and what were the consequences?

Week 24: Ruth and Song of Songs

Prepare these questions for Sunday, September 8, 2013. We will have two weeks of questions to discuss this day since we did not meet on Labor Day.

The book of Ruth tells a particular story that happened during the time period of the rule of judges. Eventually life events would result in Ruth becoming the great-grandmother of the legendary King David.

1. How are Naomi and Ruth related and what troubles did they face?

2. What happened to these two women and how is God's hand seen in their story?

Song of Songs
This book is a love poem between a man and a woman. They direct their thoughts to each other, but also friends who respond during the poem. The piece may have been used in actual marriage ceremonies, but may also have been just an example of love poetry from the time period. "King" and "Queen" probably refer to the Bride and Groom, however, if King Solomon was the author, he may have meant that literally.

3. Although the language is far from modern (my husband does not compliment my body parts by comparing them to animals, for instance), a lot of the sentiment stands the test of time. What emotions or thoughts do you see that reflect the feelings and desires of lovers today?

4. What qualities do the lovers admire in one another? Would you look for these qualities in your spouse?

5. These two books (Ruth and Song of Songs) are very personal, not the sweeping stories of Israel and massive miracles. What role do they have in the narrative of the Bible?

Week 23: Judges

Prepare these questions for Sunday, September 8.  We will not meet on Sunday, September 1 due to Labor Day.

The book of Judges describes the time after Joshua no longer led Israel but before their government became a monarchy. There is no author listed and several different judges are described. For the most part, Judges is a cycle of failures and faithless decisions by the Israelites followed by a time of success when a good judge rose up to lead. The main lesson is that God's plans succeed in spite of human participation and faithfulness.

1. Although you probably don't erect altars to foreign gods in your room like the Israelites did, we all turn toward ungodly things from time to time. What people or things do you turn to on occasion instead of God?

2. Chapters 4 and 5 contain the stories of two rather formidable women, Deborah and Jael. Who were they and what stands out to you about their stories?

3. Chapters 6-8 tell the story of Gideon. Describe his defeat of the Midianites and identify 2-3 characteristics that allowed him to be used by God?

4. Samson (Chapters 12-16) has quite a memorable story. What was Samson's downfall and how did he avenge himself in the end?

5. Over and over again this book shows failure and chaos returning to Israel. Why would such detail of Israel's faithlessness be in the Bible?