AUG. 21: RESPECT

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: I Samuel 26:7-12, 21-25

Although hated and abused by King Saul, David maintained his respect for Saul and for the Lord who had anointed him king. It is a story of the old king, still reigning but fading, and the new king in waiting, also anointed but not yet in power. David could have taken matters into his own hands and hastened the demise of Saul thus securing the kingdom for himself. That he did not do so is a tribute to his faith in and respect for God’s ultimate sovereignty. Earlier, Saul went into a cave not knowing David and his men were hiding deep inside. David could have killed him then, but did not do it (I Samuel 24:1-22). [Read more…]

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AUG. 14: PROTECTED

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 25:14-17; 32-38

“There but for the grace of God go I” is a statement attributed to 16th century English protestant John Bradford. Such was Bradford’s humility, that upon seeing the execution of hardened criminals, he understood God had protected him from falling into such crimes.  Maybe you can look back on a time in your life when God spared you from yourself.  [Read more…]

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AUG. 7: BLINDED

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 22:6-17

Selfish ambition creates a spiritual blindness detrimental to one’s own soul and to the well-being of others in the family of God. David was loyal to King Saul because Saul was God’s anointed. David trusted God’s timing for when he himself would become king. He was committed to never doing Saul harm (I Samuel 24:6; 26:9). Saul, on the other hand, filtered everything through the lens of his own paranoia. He thought David and Jonathan were plotting his demise. He wrongly suspected his own most trusted soldiers of disloyalty. He was a very troubled man pursuing David from pillar to post, seeking to take his life.  Our Scripture passage finds David along with several hundred dissidents hiding in the wilderness of En-gedi.

A report came in of his whereabouts (v. 6) as Saul was holding court in his home town of Gibeah. The monarchy was in its earliest stages, and there was no palace in Jerusalem. That would come later. Saul was more a military leader than a reigning monarch. His scepter was the spear in his hand.  His court was under the shade of a tamarisk tree.

Upon hearing about David’s location, Saul flew into a rage accusing his own inner circle of disloyalty and conspiracy (vv. 7-8). He referred to David as “Jesse’s son,” refusing to use his name so as to deride him as a son of a poor peasant. He accused Jonathan, who was not present, of plotting with David to overthrow him. He accused his men of knowing about a plot but not telling him. Spiritual warfare is real. The evil spirit afflicting Saul (I Samuel 16:14) blinded him from obvious truth, and he was ready to believe any lie of the enemy. He was primed for Doeg, the Edomite.

Doeg (v. 9) was not an Israelite. Edomites were enemies of Israel, yet somehow Saul took Doeg into his confidence and refused to believe his own men. He told Saul of having seen David at the priestly town of Nob, two miles from Gibeah.  He said David had been aided and abetted by Ahimelech the priest there (v. 10).

Saul convoked the whole priestly family to appear before him, and interrogated Ahimelech. He was abusive and accusatory (vv. 11-13). Ahimelech defended David with logical reasoning (v. 14). He defended himself, saying that it was part of his ministry to pray for the nation’s leaders and to give them Godly counsel when asked. He had only done for David as he had always done, and had no knowledge of a conspiracy against the king (v. 15).

Such was Saul’s spiritual blindness he had lost all sense of reason or respect for God. He ordered the immediate death of Ahimelech and his whole family (vv. 16-17) but his men refused to strike down the priests. Doeg, however, was only too willing to comply. Not only did Doeg kill all the priests assembled at Gibeah (except for Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son who escaped to David), he killed every inhabitant of the priestly town of Nob, both men, women, and children (ch. 22:18-23).

Selfish ambition and paranoia form a lethal combination destructive to a church, a kingdom, and to one’s own soul.

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JUL. 31: FAITHFUL

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 18:1-5; 20:35-42

There was the reigning, but rejected by God, King Saul. There was the heir apparent to the throne, Saul’s son, Jonathan. There was also Jonathan’s friend, the newly anointed but not yet reigning king, David. But this was no stage play. It was real life drama portraying the faithfulness of two friends and the faithfulness of the God they served. Both David and Jonathan were young men who served in Saul’s army. [Read more…]

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JUL. 24: DELIVERED!

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: I Samuel 17:32-37, 42-50

Has anyone ever sought to discourage you for a task God wanted you to accomplish? Such was David’s situation. His father Jesse sent him to the place where the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. He was to take food to his three soldier brothers, and get information on how the battle was going.  Upon arrival, he found the battle at a stalemate. Every day, a huge Philistine giant named Goliath, would taunt and challenge the Israelites. “I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let’s fight each other! Winner will take all!” (I Samuel 17:8-11). David was a shepherd boy in his teens. He asked his brothers and others about Goliath’s challenges, but his brothers shunned and belittled him. Word of David’s interest got to King Saul. David was summoned to the king, where he made what must have seemed an audacious proposal. [Read more…]

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JUL 17: ANOINTED!

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB MissionarySunday School Lessons explore the bible

Focal Passage: I Samuel 16:4-13

Saul had been chosen as Israel’s first king, but had failed miserably as he repeatedly disobeyed God.  God rejected him as king, and revealed to Samuel that He would choose another man to be king, a man after His own heart (I Samuel 13:14). The new king was not immediately identified, and Saul continued to reign. Only God knew who, when, and how the transition to the new king would take place. In His perfect timing, God called the Prophet Samuel into action. It was a dangerous assignment to anoint a new king while there was a sitting king. God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint as king one of Jesse’s sons (I Samuel 16:1). Samuel was obedient to God’s call, even though he knew he would be risking his life (16:2).  God gave him instructions to go to Bethlehem and organize a sacrifice (worship), specifically inviting Jesse’s family. Samuel was to anoint a son of Jesse whom God would reveal ( vv. 2-3). [Read more…]

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JUL. 10: JUDGED

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 15:7-15, 22-23

In I Samuel chapters 13-14 we see over time that Saul fought the Philistines and established his reign over Israel. Despite the fact that he stood head and shoulders taller than the average man, his heart lacked complete loyalty to God. At times, he acted foolishly and seemed to have allowed success to go to his head (ch. 13:9-13; ch. 14:28-30). When Saul appropriated for himself the role of priest in offering a sacrifice to the Lord, Samuel confronted him with his sin and told him of God’s judgment. “Your kingdom will not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart …” (ch. 13:14). Even though judgment was pronounced on Saul, God still sent him on a special assignment. He was to annihilate the Amalekites, bringing God’s judgment on them for their attack on the Israelites years before (Exodus 17:14; I Samuel 15:1-3). [Read more…]

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JUL. 3: FEARED

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 12:12-22

Do you fear the Lord? A healthy respect for our Creator is a good thing which should motivate us to worship and obey Him. The Israelites were involved in a cycle of fearing the Lord, then rebelling against Him, then experiencing His judgment through the attack of their enemies. When they were beaten, they repented and called on the Lord. The Lord then provided a judge to deliver them. Toward the end of Samuel’s lifetime, the elders of Israel got together and proposed a “better plan.” They insisted on having a king to reign over them instead of God. This was a sinful affront to the sovereignty of God over them (I Samuel 8:7).

Saul was chosen as Israel’s first king, and Samuel convened the people for a meeting.  He reviewed for them how God had always taken care of them, yet in a crisis where they should have turned to God, they insisted on having a king. Rather than coming to God, they had distanced themselves from God (v. 12). [Read more…]

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JUN. 26: KING?

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage:  1 Samuel 8:4-9, 19-22

I Samuel, chapters 8-11, provide the account of how Israel transitioned from being led by judges into a monarchy led by a king.  Judges were used by God as national leaders for the 12 tribes of Israel. However, there came a time when they wanted to be like the nations surrounding them. They demanded a king.

Samuel had been a very good judge, but he was growing old. His two sons that he had hoped would replace him chose to live for personal gain, even to the point of taking bribes and perverting justice (I Samuel 8:1-3). The elders of Israel were concerned for national leadership. They approached Samuel with two problems and a proposed solution. Samuel was old, and would soon die. His sons had proven themselves unfit to succeed him. Therefore, “make us a king, like all the other nations have” (I Samuel 8:5). [Read more…]

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JUN. 19: WORTHY!

By Al R. Hodges
Retired IMB Missionary

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: 1 Samuel 5:1-6; 6:11-16

God was working to reveal His holiness and power to the people of Israel.  The house of Eli had been rejected as God’s priests. Times were changing. The Philistines were attacking. Chaos and confusion were the order of the day.

Israel was losing a battle with the Philistines. They brought the ark of the covenant into the battle, thinking God would help them win. That day Eli’s two sons were killed, and the ark was captured. When Eli heard of it, he died (I Samuel 4:1-18). [Read more…]

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