Opening prayer –
Begin by praying this prayer. Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Part 2: Time for a King?
God’s people are struggling with what it means to live in the promised land. They managed to get by with the help of the Judges for a while, but they begin to worry that they aren’t organized or equipped to deal with the enemies that are around them. They allow their fear and lack of faith in God to get the best of them and ask the Lord for a king. God calls the prophet Samuel to anoint the first, Saul, and eventually the second king, David.
While the kings are at times successful in uniting the people and in battle, God’s people also discover that no king or human leader is as dependable and faithful as God.
Part 3: Saul, David and Solomon
While there a number of kings through the years in the Southern Kingdom (Judah) and in the Northern Kingdom (Israel), three kings stand out as having the most significant impact on the history of God’s people: Saul, David and Solomon.
The stories of these three kings are told in 1 &2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles. Here are three quick summaries from Enterthebible.org which provide background on these three kings.
Saul – the first kings of Israel – Saul was anointed by Samuel to be the first king of Israel. He was the son of Kish, a wealthy man of the tribe of Benjamin. His first test came when he successfully rallied the men of Israel against the Ammonites, proving himself to be an able soldier. When Saul became moody, David entered his service as a musician. Later, David gained fame as a warrior and Saul became jealous and tried to kill him. David fled and lived as an outlaw. Eventually Saul and his sons and the men of Israel fought a battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. Before battle Saul had a medium call Samuel’s ghost back from the dead. In the battle they were disastrously defeated, the sons of Saul were slain, and Saul fell upon his own sword. (Author: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus)
David – the second king of Israel who united the southern and northern kingdoms – David, a shepherd, was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem. He was anointed by Samuel to be successor to Saul who was first king of the united Israel. David entered Saul’s service as a musician, but when David defeated Goliath, the Philistine champion, Saul became jealous. Soon Saul tried to kill David, but Saul’s son Jonathan, who was David’s close friend, helped him to escape. David lived as an outlaw for a time. Once Saul entered a cave where David was hiding. Instead of killing Saul, David secretly clipped off the corner of Saul’s robe, showing his loyalty to the king. Eventually, Saul died in battle with the Philistines, the men of Judah made David their king.
After winning a war against the followers of Saul’s son, David was chosen as ruler by all the tribes of Israel. His reign began in 1000 BC. He captured Jerusalem and made it his capital. David broke the Philistine power, united the country, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and established Jerusalem as the religious center. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, but repented. He was forced to flee from Jerusalem when his son Absalom rebelled, but when Absalom was killed, David grieved deeply. Shortly before David died, he indicated that his son Solomon should succeed him on the throne. God promised David that one of his sons would always be on the throne, and the New Testament finds this promise fulfilled in Jesus. (Author: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus)
Solomon – the third king of Israel who was known for wisdom and building the first temple – Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. He came to the throne aided by his mother, Nathan the prophet, and Zadok the priest. Solomon prayed for wisdom and became famous for his wise sayings. He built the first Temple in Jerusalem using forced labor and materials obtained from Hiram of Tyre. Solomon solidified his power by marriage alliances with other kingdoms. These marriages eventually led to the establishment of pagan shrines in Jerusalem. (Author: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus)
Part 4: So What Does this Mean?
Watch the first two minutes of this video to hear a few helpful thoughts on what it means for the people of Israel to have a king. If you enjoy the presenter, the remain portion of the video reviews and discusses some of the early history of the kings of Israel.
Discussion Questions answer in comments below:
- Which of the three kings do you find the most interesting?
- Are you surprised to learn that the kings of Israel were very human and made mistakes? What can their humanity and imperfection teach us about God’s ability to work in and through each of us?
Part 5: Conclusion & Closing Prayer
Closing Prayer – Pray the follow prayer at the close of the session. Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Bless our land with honesty in the workplace, truth in education, and honor in daily life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance; and from every evil course of action. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.