Leadership in the Bible - King David
Study Guide - Lesson 5

I. Re-cap and Introduction

II. Read II Samuel 11:1-5, 14-17, 27; 12:1-7, 13. This represents the core of the first events in the story of David and Bathsheba.

2 Samuel 11

In the spring, when kings go off to war, David sent Joab, along with his servants and all the Israelites, and they destroyed the Ammonites, attacking the city of Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

One evening, David got up from his couch and was pacing back and forth on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone and inquired about the woman. The report came back: “Isn’t this Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers to get her. When she came to him, he had sex with her. Then she returned home. The woman conceived and sent word to David. “I’m pregnant,” she said. 

14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 He wrote in the letter, “Place Uriah at the front of the fiercest battle, and then pull back from him so that he will be struck down and die.”

16 So as Joab was attacking the city, he put Uriah in the place where he knew there were strong warriors. 17 When the city’s soldiers came out and attacked Joab, some of the people from David’s army fell. Uriah the Hittite was also killed.

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband Uriah was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her back to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son. But what David had done was evil in the Lord’s eyes.

2 Samuel 12

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When Nathan arrived he said, “There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing—just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup—even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him.

“Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.”

David got very angry at the man, and he said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the one who did this is demonic! He must restore the ewe lamb seven times over because he did this and because he had no compassion.”

“You are that man!” Nathan told David. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I anointed you king over Israel and delivered you from Saul’s power.

13 “I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan.

A. How do we react to learning this about King David, especially knowing that David will be the ancestor of the Messiah?

B. Assuming we acknowledge awful wrong in David’s actions, what do we admire in him here, and what would we like to see in similar circumstances from other leaders?

C. How does David respond to chastisement, and what does this teach us?

D. Can you think of other leaders who have responded in this same way? 

III. I’ll introduce the story of Absalom. Then we’ll read II Samuel 15:1-9.

2 Samuel 15

Sometime later, Absalom got a chariot and horses for his own use, along with fifty men to run ahead of him. Absalom would get up early and stand by the side of the road that went through the city gate. Whenever anyone had a lawsuit to bring before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him, “What city are you from?” When the person said, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel,” then Absalom would say to him, “No doubt your claims are correct and valid, but the king won’t listen to you. If only I were made a judge in the land,” Absalom would continue, “then anyone with a lawsuit could come to me, and I would give them justice.”

Whenever anyone came near to Absalom, bowing low out of respect, he would reach his hand out, grab them, and kiss them. This is how Absalom treated every Israelite who came to the king seeking justice. This is how Absalom stole the hearts of the Israelites.

At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron so I can fulfill a promise I made to the Lord. Your servant made this promise when I lived in Geshur, in Aram. I promised that if the Lord would bring me back to Jerusalem, then I would worship the Lord in Hebron.”

“Go in peace,” the king said. So Absalom left and went to Hebron.

A. David seems to be responding in an uncharacteristically weak way, with bad judgment. Do you see it that way? If so, how would you explain it? 

1. Accepting continuing punishment?

2. Bad parenting?

3. Bad fortune in parenting? 

B. The story goes on...until Absalom is killed by David’s top lieutenant, Joab. David is highly displeased by Joab’s doing this. After considering a bit more of Joab’s story, we’ll explore the complexities of his relationship with David.

1. Given Joab’s loyalty and effective service, how do we explain David’s problems with him?

2. Can we identify similar “duality” in relationships between other leaders and their chief lieutenants?

C. Why was David so tolerant of Absalom, especially given the serious threat he posed to the kingdom? Was this a flaw in his leadership? Could Absalom’s threat have been prevented or avoided?

D. Let’s consider this issue: so much of the David narrative is personal. 

1. Why?

2. Why would the Bible go so much in that direction?

3. What key lessons do we learn from the personal narrative?

4. Do we have examples in other literature or history that help us with that question?

IV. Scan Chapter 22 (We won’t read it all in class, but it would be very helpful if folks looked at it beforehand.)

22  David spoke the words of this song to the Lord after the Lord delivered him from the power of all his enemies and from Saul.

He said:
    The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.
    My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!—

    he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength,
    my place of safety and my shelter.
    My savior! Save me from violence!
Because he is praiseworthy,
    I cried out to the Lord,
    and I was saved from my enemies.
Death’s waves were all around me;
    rivers of wickedness terrified me.
The cords of the grave surrounded me;
    death’s traps held me tight.
In my distress I cried out to the Lord;
    I cried out to my God.
God heard my voice from his temple;
    my cry for help reached his ears.

The earth rocked and shook;
    the sky’s foundations trembled
    and reeled because of God’s anger.
Smoke went up from God’s nostrils;

    out of his mouth came a devouring fire;
    flaming coals blazed out in front of him!
10 God parted the skies and came down;
    thick darkness was beneath his feet.
11 God mounted the heavenly creatures and flew;
    he was seen on the wind’s wings.
12 God made darkness his covering;
    water gathered in dense clouds!
13 Coals of fire blazed out of the brightness before him.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the Most High made his voice heard.
15 God shot arrows, scattering the enemy;
    he sent the lightning and whipped them into confusion.
16 The seabeds were exposed;
    the earth’s foundations were laid bare at the Lord’s rebuke,
        at the angry blast of air coming from his nostrils.

17 From on high God reached down and grabbed me;
    he took me out of deep waters.
18 God saved me from my powerful enemy,

    saved me from my foes, who were too much for me.
19 They came at me on the very day of my distress,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out to wide-open spaces;
    he pulled me out, because he is pleased with me.
21 The Lord rewarded me for my righteousness;
    he restored me because my hands are clean,
22     because I have kept the Lord’s ways.
    I haven’t acted wickedly against my God.
23 All his rules are right in front of me;
    I haven’t turned away from any of his laws.
24 I have lived with integrity before him;
    I’ve kept myself from wrongdoing.
25 And so the Lord restored me for my righteousness,
    because I am clean in his eyes.

26 You deal faithfully with the faithful;
    you show integrity toward the one who has integrity.
27 You are pure toward the pure,

    but toward the crooked, you are tricky.
28 You are the one who saves people who suffer,
    but your eyes are against the proud.
    You bring them down!
29 You are my lamp, Lord;
    the Lord illumines my darkness.
30 With you I can charge into battle;
    with my God I can leap over a wall.
31 God! His way is perfect;
    the Lord’s word is tried and true.
    He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

32 Now really, who is divine except the Lord?
    And who is a rock except our God?
33 Only God! My mighty fortress,

    who makes my way perfect,
34 who makes my step as sure as the deer’s,
    who lets me stand securely on the heights,
35 who trains my hands for war
    so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
36 You’ve given me the shield of your salvation;
        your help has made me great.
37 You’ve let me walk fast and safe,
    without even twisting an ankle.
38 I chased my enemies and destroyed them!
    I didn’t come home until I finished them off.
39 I ate them up! I struck them down!
    They couldn’t get up;
        they fell under my feet.
40 You equipped me with strength for war;
    you brought my adversaries down underneath me.
41 You made my enemies turn tail from me;
    I destroyed my foes.
42 They looked around, but there was no one to save them.
    They looked to the Lord, but he wouldn’t answer them.
43 I crushed them like dust on the ground;
    I stomped on them, trampled them like mud dumped in the streets.
44 You delivered me from struggles with many people;
    you appointed me the leader of many nations.
    Strangers come to serve me.
45 Foreigners grovel before me;
    after hearing about me, they obey me.
46     Foreigners lose their nerve;
    they come trembling out of their fortresses.

47 The Lord lives! Bless God, my rock!
    Let my God, the rock of my salvation, be lifted high!
48 This is the God who avenges on my behalf,

    who subdues peoples before me,
49     who rescues me from my enemies.
You lifted me high above my adversaries;
    you delivered me from violent people.
50 That’s why I thank you, Lord, in the presence of the nations.
    That’s why I sing praises to your name.
51 You are the one who gives great victories to your king,
    who shows faithful love to your anointed one—
    to David and to his descendants forever.

As we approach the end of David’s complex, pained, yet, in most ways, very successful life, what do we make of the Bible’s recounting of us this song of David.

A. What does it tell us about him?

B. What does it tell us about good leadership?

C. Can you locate in this chapter images of God’s actions that teach us about what God meant to David?

V. Read 23:1-4. These are David’s last words. What do they say to you?

23 These are David’s last words:

This is the declaration of Jesse’s son David,
    the declaration of a man raised high,
    a man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    a man favored by the strong one of Israel.
The Lord’s spirit speaks through me;

    his word is on my tongue.
Israel’s God has spoken,
    Israel’s rock said to me:
“Whoever rules rightly over people,
    whoever rules in the fear of God,
    is like the light of sunrise
    on a morning with no clouds,
        like the bright gleam after the rain
        that brings grass from the ground.”

 VI. Conclusion and Introduction to Solomon and Next Week

Leadership in the Bible - King David - Study Guide - Lesson 5

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