Israel Routs the Philistines; Jonathan Eats Honey (1 Samuel 14:15 – 48)

Scripture Text:

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1 Samuel 14:15 – 48

Questions:

1. Do you ever experience “panic attacks”? When? What are you panicking about these days? How do you find relief?

2. What is meant by Saul’s command to the priest (verse 19; see also Exodus 28:30)? What does this action reveal about Saul?

3. Who is credited with the Philistine-busting? How is that particularly clear?

4. On a scale of 1 (trusting God) to 10 (trusting self), how would an impartial observer rate your current trust level. What story lies behind the rating?

5. What is the longest span of time you have gone without food? For what purpose? How did you feel? How did you break the fast?

6. Have you ever done something that everyone knew was forbidden except you? Was “ignorance” your excuse? Were you punished or not?

7. Why does Saul bind his troops with this oath? What does this reveal about Saul? Is he a stubborn fool? Is he exercising trust in God?

8. What is Jonathan’s opinion of his father’s oath? Do you sympathize more with Saul’s or Jonathan’s reasoning?

9. What does it say about Saul that before now he had never built an altar (verse 35)?

10. Why do you suppose God refuses to answer Saul (verse 37)? Why does God single out Jonathan (verse 42)? What could God be trying to tell Saul?

11. Overall, is Saul a strong leader of Israel? A weak one? Or both? Explain.

12. What position(s) of authority do you presently find yourself in (family, job, church, etc.)? How do you guard yourself from being “a heavy” in exercising that authority? How can you be more Christ-like in the role?

13. In what ways are you, like Saul, impulsive and uncertain in your words? Likewise, are you able to back up what you say? Or are you easily out-voted by others?

14. When you are wrong, what does it take for you to publicly admit it?

15. What do you rely on as a means for making tough decisions? What is your version of “casting lots”?

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Israel Without Weapons; Jonathan Attacks the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:16 – 14:14)

Scripture Text:

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1 Samuel 13:16 – 14:14

Questions:

1. When you play a game with sporting equipment inferior to your opponents, how do you feel?

2. In what specific ways have you seen God exalted through your weaknesses and “unsharpened swords”?

3. Which of your inferior tools will you entrust to God for sharpening and for His use today, so that His power may be seen?

4. Have you ever run an obstacle course or climbed a cliff? Describe the experience.

5. When have you experienced the proverbial truth, “pride goeth before a fall”?

6. How do you see Jonathan’s raid on the Philistine outpost:

  • outstanding courage?
  • 10-to-1 long shot?
  • foolhardy presumption?
  • expectant faith?
  • one-upmanship over Saul

7. Why do you think Jonathan felt so confident of God’s blessings?

8. What “cliffs” do you think God would have you climb for Him? How does your response to life’s obstacles compare with Jonathan’s?

9. What would it take for your Christian walk to be characterized by “expectancy”?

Additional Note on 1 Samuel 13:16 – 22

I always find background information popping up in Scripture fascinating. (Maybe it’s the nerd in me.) One reason for the great power of the Philistines (despite their relatively small number) was the fact that at this time they alone knew how to make iron implements and weapons. Only the royal family of Israel possessed a sword or a spear (verse 22); presumably weapons that had been smuggled in and hidden.

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Samuel Rebukes Saul (1 Samuel 13:1 – 15)

Scripture Text:

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1 Samuel 13:1 – 15

Questions:

1. If drafted into military service tomorrow, would you go whole-heartedly, reluctantly or not at all? Why?

2. What do you do if someone you are meeting is late?

  • go on without them
  • wait a little while
  • wait a long time
  • blow a fuse
  • stay cool

3. What command does Saul violate (see 1 Samuel 10:8)? What does this tell you about Samuel’s  authority and role (chapter 9:13)?

4. Saul’s biggest mistake was presuming to:

  • send most of the troops back home (verse 2)
  • attack the Philistines (verses 3, 4)
  • rally a bunch of cowards (verses 6, 7)
  • offer a sacrifice (verse 9)
  • disregard the Lord’s command through His prophet (verses 8 and 13)

5. Who was to blame for Saul getting in trouble?

  • the Philistines – for oppressing God’s people
  • the Israelites – for deserting Saul
  • Saul himself – for going ahead
  • Samuel – for cutting it close
  • God – for putting Saul under such pressure

6. Saul’s punishment (verses 13, 14):

  • seems unreasonably severe
  • was deserved
  • affected his descendants more than Saul himself
  • opened the way for a better king (David)

7. What does this story tell you about Samuel and Saul’s relationships?

  • the Lord directed Saul through Samuel
  • Samuel was testing Saul
  • Saul resisted Samuel’s authority
  • Samuel was trying to make Saul look bad

8. When you sin, which of the following are you most likely to blame?

  • circumstances
  • bad timing
  • someone else
  • your sin nature
  • your past
  • your genes
  • yourself
  • God

9. How do you feel about Saul falling so fast from success to failure? In what way are you afraid of failure?

10. How have you related to these authority figures – your father, your mother, school and government authorities, your employer, your spiritual leaders, God? Do you need to make peace with your past? If so, how?

11. Is relating to persons in authority something you struggle with now? If so, in what way?

12. When has God been “late” in keeping a promise to you? Did you rush ahead and take things into your own hands? What happened? How did (or can) you make restitution?

13. How hard is it for you to admit when you are wrong?

14. What aspects of your faith and personality only come out under crisis circumstances?

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