Leadership in the Bible Lesson 6
I. Re-cap and Introduction
II. I will describe Solomon’s three-part strategy by which he hoped to solidify his reign and garner power abroad. How might such a strategy be effective, and what might be its flaws?
III. Read I Kings 4:29-34. What are the core features of Solomon’s wisdom?
I Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom (Hebrew - chochma) and very great understanding (Hebrew - binah) - with largeness of heart as long as the seashore itself.30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than all the famous Easterners, greater even than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone, more wise than Ethan the Ezrahite or Mahol’s sons: Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His reputation was known throughout the region.32 Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs and one thousand five songs. 33 He described the botany of trees, whether the cedar in Lebanon or the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He also described cattle, birds, anything that crawls on the ground, and fish. 34 People came from everywhere to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; even the earth’s kings who had heard about his wisdom came!
IV. We’ll briefly note a) the building of the Temple - its elements, purposes, and its dedication; b) Solomon’s successes in building the nation; and c) the successful visit of the Queen of Sheba.
V. Read I Kings 11:1-6. Despite his success (and wisdom), we see here the basis for Solomon’s decline.
I Kings 11:1 In addition to Pharaoh’s daughter, King Solomon loved many foreign women, including Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. 2 These came from the nations that the Lord had commanded the Israelites about: “Don’t intermarry with them. They will definitely turn your heart toward their gods.” Solomon clung to these women in love. 3 He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred secondary wives. They turned his heart. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods. He wasn’t committed to the Lord his God with all his heart as was his father David. 5 Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and wasn’t completely devoted to the Lord like his father David.
What is it? What’s the lesson for us?
VI. After several selfish, materialistic, evil sovereigns in both kingdoms, we’re introduced to the prophet, Elijah, who appears to contest the particularly awful sovereigns, Ahab and Jezebel.
A. There are wonderful stories in these chapters; we’ll focus on one, I Kings 17:7-16.
I Kings 17:7 After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land.
8 The Lord’s word came to Elijah: 9 Get up and go to Zarephath near Sidon and stay there. I have ordered a widow there to take care of you. 10 Elijah left and went to Zarephath. As he came to the town gate, he saw a widow collecting sticks. He called out to her, “Please get a little water for me in this cup so I can drink.” 11 She went to get some water. He then said to her, “Please get me a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any food; only a handful of flour in a jar and a bit of oil in a bottle. Look at me. I’m collecting two sticks so that I can make some food for myself and my son. We’ll eat the last of the food and then die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go and do what you said. Only make a little loaf of bread for me first. Then bring it to me. You can make something for yourself and your son after that.14 This is what Israel’s God, the Lord, says: The jar of flour won’t decrease and the bottle of oil won’t run out until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 The widow went and did what Elijah said. So the widow, Elijah, and the widow’s household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour didn’t decrease nor did the bottle of oil run out, just as the Lord spoke through Elijah.
17 After these things, the son of the widow, who was the matriarch of the household, became ill. His sickness got steadily worse until he wasn’t breathing anymore.
What does this story teach? Why is it placed here? What does it reveal about the nature of true leadership?
B. Read I Kings 19:9-12. This is an account of Elijah’s seeking God’s support on the mountain. It is very important Biblical text. What does it add to our understanding of God, God’s role in our lives, and Elijah’s place in the story we’re reading?
9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord’s word came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a still, small voice.
VII. Elijah’s prophecy is fulfilled, and he ascends to heaven, to be replaced in leadership by a successor, Elisha. We’ll look at one of several fine stories about Elisha.
Read II Kings 5:1, 7-15. After a refresher on the condition of tzara’at, we’ll consider these questions:
II Kings 5:1 Naaman, a general for the king of Aram, was a great man and highly regarded by his master, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. This man was a mighty warrior, but he had a skin disease.
7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he ripped his clothes. He said, “What? Am I God to hand out death and life? But this king writes me, asking me to cure someone of his skin disease! You must realize that he wants to start a fight with me.”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that Israel’s king had ripped his clothes, he sent word to the king: “Why did you rip your clothes? Let the man come to me. Then he’ll know that there’s a prophet in Israel.”
9 Naaman arrived with his horses and chariots. He stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.10 Elisha sent out a messenger who said, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored and become clean.”
11 But Naaman went away in anger. He said, “I thought for sure that he’d come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the bad spot, and cure the skin disease. 12 Aren’t the rivers in Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all Israel’s waters? Couldn’t I wash in them and get clean?” So he turned away and proceeded to leave in anger.
13 Naaman’s servants came up to him and spoke to him: “Our father, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? All he said to you was, ‘Wash and become clean.’” 14 So Naaman went down and bathed in the Jordan seven times, just as the man of God had said. His skin was restored like that of a young boy, and he became clean.
15 He returned to the man of God with all his attendants. He came and stood before Elisha, saying, “Now I know for certain that there’s no God anywhere on earth except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant.”
1. What is Naaman’s problem?
2. Why can’t the king fix it?
3. Why can Elisha?
4. What does this take teach us about the Bible’s core thinking about the sort of leadership God expects of His servants?
VIII. Of the very few good kings in the books, Josiah is one. Let’s read about him in II Kings 23:1-3, 21-22, 25, 26-29.
II Kings 23:1 the king sent a message, and all of Judah’s and Jerusalem’s elders gathered before him. 2 Then the king went up to the Lord’s temple, together with all the people of Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets, and all the people, young and old alike. There the king read out loud all the words of the covenant scroll that had been found in the Lord’s temple. 3 The king stood beside the pillar and made a covenant with the Lord that he would follow the Lord by keeping his commandments, his laws, and his regulations with all his heart and all his being in order to fulfill the words of this covenant that were written in this scroll. All of the people accepted the covenant.
II Kings 23:21 The king commanded all the people, “Celebrate a Passover to the Lord your God following what is instructed in this scroll containing the covenant.” 22 A Passover like this hadn’t been celebrated since the days when the judges judged Israel; neither had it been celebrated during all the days of the Israelite and Judean kings. 25 There’s never been a king like Josiah, whether before or after him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his being, and all his strength, in agreement with everything in the Instruction from Moses.
II Kings 23:26 Even so, the Lord didn’t turn away from the great rage that burned against Judah on account of all that Manasseh had done to make him angry. 27 The Lord said, “I will remove Judah from my presence just as I removed Israel. I will reject this city, Jerusalem, which I chose, and this temple where I promised my name would reside.” 29 In his days, the Egyptian king Pharaoh Neco marched against the Assyrian king at the Euphrates River. King Josiah marched out to intercept him. But when Neco encountered Josiah in Megiddo, he killed the king.
We root for Josiah, yet he does not prevail. How and why? It pains us. What do we take away from his destiny? While we must confront his failure and its causes, we also can see an extremely positive side to his legacy? What is it? What difference does it make to us?
IX. Conclusion - As we wrap up our study of leadership in the Bible, let’s consider these questions: 1) what are the lessons here that mean the most to us, and 2) what wisdom do we carry away with us from our study?