Tag Archives: bible stories for kids

The Rich Young Man

Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-23; Luke 18:18-23

One day a man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, how can I enter the kingdom of God? I want to live forever.”

Jesus knew the young man was very rich. He also knew the man had trained for many years to become a religious leader. Jesus told the young man something he already knew. “Follow the commandments.”

The young man said, “I have been careful to follow all the commandments. Now I want to do more.” This man wanted to make sure he was as close as possible to God.

Because of this Jesus loved the young man. He knew, though, there was one thing which stood between this man and God. He knew the young man loved his money and things more than anything else in the world. The man loved God, but he loved being rich even more.

So Jesus said, “You have missed one thing. If you want to become perfect, go and sell your things and give your money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow Me.”

When the man heard this, he became very sad. He lowered his head and turned away. He knew deep down that he had not given God first place in his life. He was not willing to give up his riches and follow Jesus.

Jesus’ disciples still sometimes thought that God’s love could be bought with money. They assumed that people were rich because God wanted to reward them. That is not necessarily true. Jesus said, “Listen, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to love God more than his money.”

Jesus is part of God’s plan for saving people from all their wrongs. Only through Jesus can they enter the kingdom of heaven. It has nothing to do with how rich people are or how hard they try to be good. People think they have to do all sorts of things in order to earn their way into heaven. The truth is, God makes it possible. It is His gift for anyone who asks for it. You can’t buy it and you can’t earn it. God alone can give it to you.

Jesus said, “Everyone who is willing to leave behind their homes, parents and friends to follow Me will be given a hundred times more while they live on earth and in the world to come. That is the place where people live forever. Many who are first here on earth will come last in heaven. And those who come last here, will come first in My kingdom.”

Bible Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 18:1-33

Bible Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

A short time later, Abraham had three visitors. Abraham knew that one of the men was really the Lord. He walked with the three to a hill. From there they could look down at the city of Sodom.

The Lord said, “I have heard how terribly evil the people are who live in Sodom. If it is true, then I will destroy that place.”

The two men who had traveled with the Lord were really angels in disguise. They set off for Sodom.

Abraham wanted very much to ask the Lord a question, but did he dare? He knew, though, that the Lord was his Friend, as well as his God. So he swallowed hard. “Lord, what if there are fifty good people in Sodom? What will happen to them?”

“I will not harm the city if there are still fifty good people.”

Then Abraham asked again and again, each time using smaller numbers, would God spare the city for forty-five good people, for forty, thirty, twenty, or for ten? Each time the Lord said yes.

There were not ten good people in Sodom, but four. The only bright spot in the evil city of Sodom was a man named Lot. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He lived in Sodom with his wife and two daughters.

Lot met the angels, who were disguised as men. “Come to my house. There you will be safe from the mean people here.”

The people of Sodom tried to hurt the angels, though. The angels told Lot, “You must come with us. The Lord cannot stand this bad place. He’s going to destroy it!  We will help you run away, but you must not look back!”

Just a few hours later, the Lord rained fire onto Sodom. Lot and his family were safe, but Lot’s wife looked back to watch. Instantly she became at all stone!

God had kept his promise to Abraham. He took care of the good people in Sodom.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Daniel 2:1-13

Soon after Daniel became the king’s adviser, King Nebuchadnezzar kept having a terrible dream. He called all his wizards. “This dream upsets me, I want to know what it means.”

The wizards said. “Yes, Your Majesty tell us your dream and we’ll find out what it means.”

But the king answered “No. You must first tell me what I dreamt, then what it meant. If you can’t do this you and your homes will be torn to pieces. If you can do this thing I’ll give you rich gifts and great honor.”

The wizards thought maybe they had not heard right. So they said again. “Let the king tell us his dream, then we’ll be glad to tell him what it means.”

The king grew angry. “Oh no you don’t, you’re just trying to trick me. Now listen! You tell me my dream and then you can tell me what it means!”

“But no king has ever asked this of his magicians!”

The king became even angrier. He stood up and pointed at all the wizards whining and mumbling in front of him. “Enough! If you cannot follow this order, then I’ll have you killed!”

So the order went out to kill all the king’s wise men. The order included more than just the wizards; it meant all the king’s advisers. That meant Daniel and his friends would be killed too! Daniel and his friends prayed together. Late that night, Daniel had a vision. He thanked the Lord, then ran to see the king.

“Can you really tell me what I dreamt? Can you say what it means?” The king asked.

Daniel said. “No but there is a God in heaven who can; you saw a horrible statue. Its head was made of gold, its chest and arms were made of silver, its waist and hips of bronze, its legs of iron and its feet of both iron and clay.

“A great stone broke loose from a cliff and destroyed the statue, piece by piece. The stone grew to become a mountain which covered the whole earth. “That was the dream and the meaning is that each part of the statue is a different kingdom. You, as king of Babylon, are the head. After you will come another kingdom, and then another. Then finally a fourth kingdom, as strong as iron, will rule. But it will be a divided kingdom.”

God had shown the king how Babylon would fall to Persia, and later, Greece which would be followed by Rome. Rome was the divided empire. Then God would work the greatest miracle of all, using His own Son, Jesus. His would be a different kingdom, based on peace, not war. Daniel went on to talk about this time, so very far in the future.

“While the divided kingdom rules, God will set up another kingdom which can never be destroyed. It will last forever. That is the great stone, cut from the mountain by the same great God who has shown these things to the king.”

The king said to Daniel, “Your God is truly the greatest and wisest!”

Then, the king made Daniel the most powerful man in Babylon, next to the king himself.

Many years passed and King Nebuchadnezzar soon forgot what he had said about Daniel’s God being the only one. Instead he built a giant statue of gold and called this his god. He sent out an order.

“Whenever the royal music is played, everyone must fall to the ground and pray to this statue. Anyone who doesn’t, will be thrown into a blazing furnace to die.”

Before long the king’s men noticed that the three best friends of Daniel were not praying to the golden statue. If they had, they would have broken God’s law. This law said, “I am the Lord your God. I will be your only God. Do not make statues and worship them.”

When Nebuchadnezzar heard this he sent for Daniel’s friends. He called them by their Babylonian names.”Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is it true you will not worship my statue?”

The three men stood firm. “We can never worship your god. Even if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, our God is able to save us from it.”

Nebuchadnezzar burned with anger. He ordered his soldiers to tie up the three men. “Take them away! And see that the fire is seven times hotter than usual!”

The soldiers threw Daniel’s friends into the furnace. However when they did it was so very hot and the soldiers were the ones who died! Then, the king saw something which was even more amazing. The three men were no longer tied up! They walked between the flames but they did not suffer at all. But, even more astounding, was that a fourth man was in furnace with them and He shone brighter than the fire itself. Could this have been Jesus Himself, sent by His Father to comfort the three men?

The king ordered the men to come out. When they walked out of the fire, the fourth man disappeared. Daniel’s friends were safe!

The king shook his head.”Incredible! Surely your God is the greatest. He protects those who trust Him. From now on no one is allowed to say anything bad about your God.”

Sunday School Lesson on King Solomon Topic Discussion

1.Share a time in your life when you received either really good or really bad advice. What lesson did this teach you about wisdom?
This question will get the class thinking in practical terms about the importance of wisdom and where that wisdom often comes from. Try to get one or two people to share life stories about words of wisdom that spared them from negative consequences. Likewise, the class may profit from some negative stories (perhaps starting with the teacher!) of bad advice they received, perhaps from friends during the teenage years.
2.What are some ways that the world defines wisdom? Which of these are compatible with Christianity and which are not? Why?
Worldly wisdom presents itself in many ways: IQ scores, college degrees, street smarts, commonsense, etc. These may be valuable to the Christian in varying degrees, provided that they are undergirded with a denim to honor God.
Solomon proclaims that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Every quest for knowledge, wisdom, and instruction most stand on this foundation. Wisdom most include leading people to know and worship the one true God, embracing His priorities.
3. First Kings 3:11 lists some things that Solomon could have asked for. Why is wisdom so far superior to anything else, both then and now?
It’s been said that what will be our undoing in any endeavor or project are the things that “we don’t know that we don’t know.” Say that I am building a house. I realize that electrical codes exist, but I don’t know what those codes are specifically. Since that’s something that “I know that I don’t know,” I can solve the problem with a bit of research. That’s quite different from being totally ignorant to the idea that electrical codes even exist. That would be a case of something that “I don’t know that I don’t know.” What dangerous situation!
It’s wisdom that will keep us out of the “don’t know what we don’t know” situations. It would-be natural for an ancient king to request military power or to pray for protection from jealous brothers who might like to have him assassinated. Wisdom is better because it provided Solomon a sense of discernment concerning the real need or threat in such areas.
Solomon’s request for wisdom also demonstrated a humility that all leaders should have before God. The request also showed that Solomon had the people’s needs in mind above his own. Each of these is a superior quality in a leader, especially one on David’s throne.
4.God gave Solomon more than he asked for. Do you think that those who seek and practice the wisdom of God are also blessed with earthly rewards? Why, or why not?
We can agree that this is true, while acknowledging obvious exceptions. When Israel kept the law, they experienced better health, inure productive economies, and ethical, safe communities and families. In Ephesians 6:2 Paul quotes the Fifth Commandment: “Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” When we live according to God’s plans and priorities, we can experience many earthly benefits in health, security, honor, etc., even though those things are not our main focus.
5.Why do you think wisdom is so hard to attain? What are the obstacles to acquiring it in our world today?
One obvious problem is that we are too busy to read our Bibles. It is in His Word that God gives us wisdom, but we simply do not take time to fill our minds with His thoughts. Instead, we succumb to the many other sources of information that bombard us with falsehood and distractions. It’s been said that we are living in the Information Age, but from a godly perspective we could call it the Disinformation Age.
Could it also be that we are seeking the very things Solomon didn’t seek but received anyway? When we seek wealth, security, vengeance, and recognition, we disable ourselves from receiving wisdom. When we seek God’s wisdom, all that we truly need tends to come to us in due time.

Sunday School Lesson on King Solomon Activity

Into the Lesson
Display an image or a video clip of a genie rising from a magic lamp. Ask the class, “Given=ft wishes, what would most people name? Give time for responses, noting the egocentric, materialistic nature of most. Then say, “Given a much greater opportunity to satisfy personal needs and wants, Solomon made an altogether different request.”
Make a transition by saying in a manner similar to PBS’s Sesame Street, “Today’s lesson is Brought to you by the number 3 and the letter I.”Display large images of both 3 and I.
Into the Word
Direct the class to read silently today’s text in I Kings 3:3-14, noting elements that appear in threes. After a time of reading and pondering, ask the following questions, either in the order of the verses (as given here) or in some random artier. Suggested answers are in italics.
(1) “What three attributes of Solomon indicate his relationship with God?” (loved the Lord, walked in the statutes of his father David, and offered sacrifices—vv. 3, 4);
(2) “What three attributes of God are indicated to Solomon at Gibeon?”;God appeared, God spoke, God offered a gift—v.5):
(3) “What three characteristics of David are toted in verse 6?” (walked in truth, righteous, up-right—v. 6);
(4) “What three expressions of humility and inadequacy does Solomon make in response to God?” (too young, not smart enough,3versvhelmed by the number of people—re. 7, 8)
(5) -What three end results does Solomon want when he asks God for an understanding heart?”for governing wisdom. for ability to distinguish good and evil, and for strength to deal with so many people—v. 9):
(6) “What three things does God commend Solomon for not asking?” (long life, riches, and victories over enemies(v. 11);
(7)”What three ‘extra’ things did God grant Solomon?” (riches, honor, and long life. 13, 14).First Kings 4 ends with a summary statement of the nature and extent of the wisdom God granted to Solomon. Arrange with a student be-fore class to do the following: After surveying the lesson text (having used the preceding activity),turn to your prearranged helper and ask, “(Student’s name), did God grant Solomon’s requestor wisdom?” Tell your helper to answer enthusiastically and emphatically with words such as, “Did He? Why . . .” and then have the helper read 1 Kings 4:29-34. Once the helper finishes, affirm, “God does answer prayer especially when it is not self-centered and when it is for the welfare of His people.”
Now ask the class to explain how “this class is brought to you by the letter I.” Accept reasonable answers. These will certainly include the ideas that Solomon’s request refused to focus on “I”(himself) and that God’s “I” statements clearly revealed His personal intentions of what He would do for Solomon.
Into Life
Note to your class again the unselfish nature of Solomon’s request and the abundant grace God showered as a result. After a brief discussion of the things people typically pray for, ask, “What are some of the nonmaterial things the Scriptures admonish as to pray for?” When someone suggests wisdom (based on James 1:5), stop and ask, “Yes, but what kind of wisdom?”Have someone read James 3:13-18. List the characteristics of earthly wisdom: envy, strife, confusion, every evil work. Ask, “How do these things keep one from praying for the right things?” (Ex-ample: envy certainly keeps one from praying for others, for it is others who are being envied.)Continue with a list of the wisdom that is “from above.” Once that list is made (from James3:17, 18), ask the class, “And how do these attributes give impetus to praying for the right things? (Example: ‘full of mercy” gives direction to prayers of compassion for the needy and the distressed.)Recommend that your learners keep this passage open during their times of prayer this week, as a guideline for how to pray in wisdom.

Samuel Sunday School Lesson Topic Discussion

1.What experiences in Samuel’s life equipped him to pray effectively? What personal experiences have taught you how to pray?
Samuel grew up in the temple surrounded by the leaders of God’s people. He had a mother who modeled a life of fervent prayer. He was called by God as a prophet and served as a judge of God’s people. Sometimes the very experience of being thrown into leadership causes a person to pray more fervently.
As a general rule, most of us pray more out of need than from self-discipline. Thus when we step out into ministries that are larger than our abilities, we pursue prayer as the only available means to fulfill our tasks for God! To move from praying primarily out of need to praying out of self-discipline is a mark of spiritual maturity.
2.What should biblical repentance look like today? Does Samuel’s four-part process still apply? Why, or why not?
We often think of repentance as feeling sorry for our personal sins. But biblical repentance also requires a change of our will. That is, we change our allegiance from the world (or self) to God. But there is more. Biblical repentance includes recompense (Exodus 22:1-15; Numbers 5:5-8:Luke 19:8). That is, we make restitution to the one wronged whenever possible. Furthermore, the concept of repentance in the Bible often has a plural subject. Thus it is not merely something an individual does (as important as that is), it is also a group activity. National repentance, especially one accompanied by a fast, is very biblical.
3. If God called you to be a Samuel in the twenty-first century, how would you lead your nation to repentance? What activities would you call people to participate in?
We must be careful here not to allow this to become a political debate. However, there are some things in the Bible that are beyond question. For example, idolatry is the main thing that Samuel called his own people to repent of. But we should not restrict our thinking of idols as being merely blocks of wood and stone. Idols of the heart are most displeasing to God (Ezekiel14:4, 7; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5, 6). Unfortunately, the casual use of the word idol, as in the TV show American Idol, has desensitized many to the sobering nature of the word. Certainly, sexual immorality is a blight that calls for repentance; it is listed alongside idolatry in 1 Corinthians 5:10, 11. The ease with which we abort babies must make God sad. Our list could include violence, neglect of the poor, abuse of women, and abandonment of children. As always, repentance begins in our own hearts. We may not pour out water on the ground as did Samuel; we may write letters to sponsors of lurid TV programs instead.
4.What kind of an Ebenezer could we raise today? In other words what kinds of memorials could we establish that would remind us to pray for our nation and repent of our sins?
Every year the ancient Israelites were to ob-serve a Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). It was a time of national repentance. Some Christian groups have similar observances surrounding Easter or (in America) the anniversary of the court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Could we participate in such traditions? Could we combine a national day of prayer with a fast for forgiveness? Could we use the Lord’s Supper as an Ebenezer that would re-mind us to repent as a church? Try to create a realistic list of Ebenezer events you could practice.
5.What are the various kinds of prayers and petitions that we could lift up to God? Which kind do you pray most often? Why?
Obviously, there are different kinds of prayers. Help your students think through the following: praise (honoring God for who He is and what He has done), confession of sins (both individual and corporate), thanksgiving (recognizing and appreciating God’s provisions), requests (presenting our needs before God for healing, provision, comfort, guidance, and strength), imprecation(praying against some person, thing, idea or behavior that stands in the way of God’s church),intercession (asking God to help someone else, whether an individual or a nation). This last kind of prayer is the focus of this lesson. Perhaps you could end by putting this one into practice.

Samuel Sunday School Lesson Activity

Into the Lesson
Carry into the classroom a rock that is as large as practical. Write EBENEZER conspicuously on the rock. Cover the rock with a cloth, and then display the rock as class begins.
Lead the class (or have someone else lead) in singing the old hymn, “Come, Thou Fount.” Make sure to include the stanza that begins, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” Point out that today’s text includes the Bible verse (v. 12) on which hymn writer Robert Robinson based Isis poem. Also, plan to use the hymn at the end of class. You may want to include the lesson writer’s story of Robin-son’s writing and re-experiencing the truth of his song.
Into the Word
Establish brainstorming pairs. Give each pair one of the letters of the word REPENTANCE.(Repeat the E and the N if you have an adequate number of students; if you have more than 20students, repeat the letters R. P. and C.)
Direct the pairs to look at today’s text and any other biblical texts on repentance, if they choose. They are to make a list of components or actions involved in repentance that begin with their as-signed letter. Give pairs six to eight minutes to work, and then call for responses.
Though you will get some surprises, expect such responses as the following: R—returning, regretting, restoring, realizing; E—ending, eliminating, embarrassment, examining; P—peace. pain, past, pleading; N—need, necessity, nearness (to God), neglect, newness; T—talking, tears, tenderheartedness, tenacity, thinking, truth; A—abandonment, anguish, accountability, action, admitting, atonement; C—commitment, change, character, choice, cleanness, conscience.
After the pairs have deliberated, ask them to connect their ideas to specific verses in today’s text. When they report their decisions, you should hear such connections as these: returning is the call of verse 3; eliminating relates to the call to put away idolatry in verse 3; commitments shown in verse 4 as the Israelites obeyed God and destroyed their enemies as God had long commanded; etc.
Ask each pair to present its list and its connections to the text. Have the word REPENTANCE displayed in large letters. Point letter by letter, asking for students’ comments.
As a visual reminder of the components of repentance, recruit pantomime players to stand in a row and do the following: the first player squints his eyes as he puts a finger to the side of his nose, cradling his chin in his other fingers while slowly nodding his head pensively (to rep-resent thinking); a second player rubs her eyes vigorously with her clenched hands and silently sobs (to represent sorrow/remorse); a third player assumes the classic prayer pose with hands palm-to-palm and head bowed (to represent sharing his decision with Cod in prayer); a fourth player walks across the room and abruptly turns to retrace his steps (to represent the turning aspect of repentance); a fifth player pulls play money from her purse and starts giving it to the other players (to represent a sacrificial offering aspect of repentance.)
Give your players the freedom to represent their ideas in other ways. As class members identify each component of repentance, write it clearly into a list for display. Come back together once again to ask, “Where do you see these components of repentance in today’s text?”
Into Life
Distribute to each class member a small round stone with an E written on it. Tell students that his stone is their “Ebenezer.” Ask students to use their stones throughout the coming week as reminder of this study and as a stimulus to pray for someone they know who needs to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness.
Finally, lead the class in singing again “Come, Thou Fount.” or at least the stanza beginning, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.”

Samuel Sunday School Lesson

God Answers Samuel’s Prayer
A. National Repentance

“O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity” (Hosea 14:1).This type of call to national repentance is found repeatedly throughout Scripture. It was a constant message of the Old Testament prophets (ex-ample: “Say unto the house of Israel, … repent,” Ezekiel 14:6). Jonah was sent to Nineveh, a non-Israelite city, to call that city to repentance;
Jesus used that example in His call for a generation to repent (Matthew 12:41). We often view calls for repentance from an individualistic perspective. That is, we assume that a call for repentance is a call to each person to get right with God. While individual repentance is vital, the Bible also issues calls of repentance to communities and nations. God will not bless a society that encourages sin. History is littered with stories of communities and nations that descended into depravity and eventually were blotted out by God. A striking example is the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:24; Isaiah 3:9).
Today’s lesson relates the story of a period of repentance for the nation of Israel. Israel was called by Samuel, God’s prophet and judge, to give up its pagan idolatry and return to God. The resulting repentance brought deliverance from a national threat. It brought a period of revival and spiritual blessing.
We should take encouragement from this story, for such calls to national repentance are not just relics of the biblical world. We need godly voices in modern nations to resist evil and to call for repentance, even in the face of ridicule and disbelief. We cannot predict the success or failure of such appeals, but we can be sure of God’s blessings if such calls are heeded.
B. Lesson Background
Samuel is one of the most multitalented characters in the Bible. His amazing story starts even before his birth. His mother, Hannah, prayed fervently for God to remove her inability to bear a child. She vowed that if a son were given to her, he would be dedicated to the service of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). When God answered her prayer, she named her son Samuel, meaning, “his name is God” or perhaps “heard of God.” This name is an acknowledgement of the one true God. Samuel grew up in the tabernacle at Shiloh under the tutelage of Eli the priest. There, as a young boy, Samuel received a message directly from God (1 Samuel 3:1-14). The message concerned God’s displeasure with the household of Eli, but its reception confirmed the extraordinary ministry that awaited Samuel.
Beyond that of child prodigy, consider some of the other roles played by Samuel in the Bible. He was a prophet, meaning that he was God’s spokesman (1 Samuel 3:20). He was a seer, meaning that he received supernatural visions from God (1 Samuel 9:19, 20). He “judged Israel all the days of his life” and was the last of the judges(1 Samuel 7:15; Acts 13:20); that fact makes him a transitional figure to the era of the prophets (Acts 3:24; 13:20). Finally, he was a kingmaker, the one who anointed both Saul (1 Samuel 10:1;15:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:13) as kings of Israel.
Today’s lesson is the aftermath of a horrifying incident in the history of Israel in which the ark of the covenant was used as a tool for war(1 Samuel 4:3, 4). This ill-conceived plan resulted in the defeat of Israel and the capture of the ark by the Philistines (4:10, 11). The Philistines are often seen as the traditional enemy of the people of God in the Old Testament. They occupied the seacoast area of Gaza in southwest Israel, south of Joppa. They had five strong cities in this area: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron.
The Bible and other sources tell us that the Philistines were originally foreign invaders from the land of Caphtor (see Antos 9:7), which some scholars identify as the island of Crete. At the time of the exodus, the Philistines were already well established in their territory (see Exodus13:17). They appear prominently in Judges and1 Samuel and are finally conquered by David. After Solomon, however, the Philistines seem to have a small revival of independence and resume their role as the bane of Israel. Although now gone, they left their name on the region, for Palestine is derived from Philistine. In matters of religion the Philistines are often pictured as polar opposites to the Israelites. There seems to be no more degrading title than to be called an “uncircumcised Philistine” (see 1 Samuel 17:26).The recovery of the precious ark is the occasion for Samuel’s call for national repentance.
I. Call and Repentance(1 Samuel 7:3, 4)
A. Abandoning False Gods (v. 3)

3. And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Repentance is described here as a return to God. Sin is when we wander away from God, disregard His will, and become alienated from Him. Samuel was saying in effect, “If you’re serious about getting right with God, here is what you must do.”
Samuel then outlines a four-part process of national repentance for Israel. First, they are to do this wholeheartedly, not holding anything back. Partial repentance is false repentance. Second, they are to stop all worship of other, pagan gods. God does not allow for multiple allegiances in matters of worship. Third, they are to prepare their hearts. Repentance requires determination to change. Fourth, they are to pledge themselves to serve God exclusively. Repentance is more than the passive elimination of sinful practices. It is tinning to active obedience to God and His will.

B. Serving the Lord Only (v. 4)
4. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lotto only. Since entering the land of Canaan, the Israelites had struggled with rejecting pagan gods. These gods am summarized here as the Baulim (Baals, or male deities), and the Ashtaroth (Ashtoreths, or female deities). The chief Philistine god was called Dagon (see 1 Samuel 5:1-5).The author is pleased to tell as that the children of Israel heard Samuel’s message. They abandoned their false gods in order to serve and worship the Lord God exclusively.
Maya Angelou is a well-known professor, poet, and actress. She tells a story that helps to explain her success. Her grandmother was a storekeeper in rural Arkansas. When a person wills a reputation for complaining would come into the store, the child Maya would be called in-side to listen to the litany of complaints about weather, work, etc.
As an adult, Angelou remembers her grand-mother’s words to her after the complainer had
left: “Sister, there are people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like aching is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
The wise old woman’s words summarize Israel’s actions in today’s text. Samuel had told the nation what it should do; the people recognized the change that needed to be made, and they made it! Sometimes the call for change comes from a messenger of God such as Samuel; some-times it comes directly from the Bible; some-times it comes from the circumstances of life. In any of these cases, wise people change their ways. They repent. That’s when they find that God has blessings waiting for them.
II. Crisis and Victory(1 Samuel 7:5-11)
A. Prayer of National Repentance (vv. 5, 6)5, 6. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mize, and I will pray for you unto the Lone. And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lotto, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lou, And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
Mizpeh (also spelled Mizpah) is a location of special significance in ancient Israel. The city is one of three in central Israel that Samuel uses as locations for his circuit-court judging (the others being Gilgal and Bethel; 1 Samuel 7:16). It was also a site for national assembly (Judges 10:17;20:1; 1 Samuel 10:17).
Samuel leads Israel in a powerful symbolic act before their admission of sin: he has them pour water on the ground. This probably is to represent emptying their hearts, purging them of sin. The accompanying call for fasting, a traditional sign of repentance, reinforces this interpretation. After these acts of preparation, the people con-fess their sin aloud. This is also an important component in the process of repenting.
B. Treachery of the Philistines (v. 7)
7. And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it. they were afraid of the Philistines.
How do the Philistines hear about this gathering of Israel? The Philistine leadership probably maintains a spy network within Israel. At any rate, the Philistines decide to take advantage of peaceful national prayer meeting as an opportunity to massacre their enemies. Not surprisingly, the people of Israel are afraid when they become aware of this Philistine threat.
C. Prayer for Deliverance (vv. 8, 9)
8, 9. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
Having repented, the Israelites turn to Samuel for deliverance. This continues the pattern of judges-as-deliverers that we sass repeatedly in the book of Judges. Samuel now agrees and cries out in a great prayer of intercession for the children of Israel.
Doctrinally, we should not understand this as God rewarding Israel’s repentance with deliverance. This mistaken notion is what leads people to “make deals with God” when they are in a desperate situation. “God, get me out of this and I’ll give up drinking.” Or, “Lord, help me survive this terrible mistake and I’ll give money to the church.” But it doesn’t work this way. God al-ways seeks our repentance.
When we are in proper fellowship with God, we have His favor. When we are at odds with Him, He may use adverse circumstances to brings to repentance.
D. Defeat of the Philistines (vv. 10, 11)
10, 11. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Loon thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
God’s choice for Israel’s deliverance is both powerful and dramatic: a supernatural roar of thunder. We should also understand that while this terrifies the Philistines, the men of Israel are not afraid. Because their hearts are right with repentance, they know that God is fighting for them. This allows them to rally quickly and rout the enemy. When we are right with God, we are able to remain calm and confident in the most frightening situations.
III. Proclamation and Ebenezer(1 Samuel 7:12, 13)
A. Lord’s Help (v. 12)

12.Then Samuel took a stone. and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lies helped us.
When the battle is over, Samuel proclaims victory by erecting a memorial. This memorial is in the form of a large stone, which Samuel calls thenezer. In Hebrew this means “stone of help.”What an irony that Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser character its A Christmas Carol, has that name!)Samuel’s actions are significant for three reasons. First, he clearly gives credit for the victory to God, not the men of Israel. Second, he names the stone to emphasize Israel’s dependence upon God. Third, he establishes a tradition of remembering, calling Israel to understand all the events that led to its repentance and subsequent deliverance.
Many monuments erected around the world memorialize wars and their victims. America has monuments dedicated to the soldiers who fought in her wars. Napoleon intended the Arc de Tri-oomph in Paris to memorialize his greatness, but it has since become a French memorial to those who died its World War I. Canada has its National War Memorial in Ottawa.
There are other kinds of memorials. The Statue of Liberty was a birthday gift to America to remind the world of the victory of independence that America had achieved. The Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, DC remind people of the character and contributions of those men. Many people will never visit such memorials, but it is now possible to view ‘virtual” memorials on the Internet.
When Samuel raised his Ebenezer, he was creating a reminder for Israel that God had acted to save them from their enemy. A far simpler—but much more profound—memorial than any we have mentioned is the one we Christians have: the Lord’s Supper. When we partake of its rudimentary elements, we remember the victory of Christ over sin. And we need not go to Ottawa, Paris. or Washington to appreciate it.
B. Lord’s Protection (v. 13)
13.So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no snore into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lotus was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
This summary statement reflects Israel’s continued reliance on God and God’s continued protection of Israel. With God as Israel’s shield, the strong rival, the Philistines, no longer trouble them. The text leaves us with a small sense of foreshadowing, however: this situation continued all the days of Samuel. Repentance is not a one-tune thing. It must continue and go beyond generational boundaries through the years. When relationship with God falls into neglect and sin, disaster dooms.
A. Raising Ebenezers
Robert Robinson (1735-1790) was an Englishpreacher. In 1758 he wrote the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount” when he was only 23 years old. Stanza 2 of this famous hymn says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come.”For Robinson this was a reference to the salvation he had found after a youth of horrible sin. His early years of evil had been so destructive that he nearly lost his life. After conversion, however, Robinson drifted away. He fell back into a life of sin and abandoned the Bible. Many years later, Robinson was riding in a coach. Seated across from him was a woman deeply engrossed in a hymnbook she had just acquired. She was humming one of her favorites, the tune of “Come, Thou Fount.” Having no idea whom she was talking to, she innocently asked Robinson if he knew that hymn.
Robinson burst into tears and replied, “Madam, I am very unhappy with the man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I bade them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” Robinson had accidentally stumbled back upon that Ebenezer of his. Sitting there beside his own hymn, he realized how far he had wandered and how awful was his journey and destination.
In today’s lesson Samuel built a monument to help Israel remember God’s providential deliverance from the Philistines. Building a monument is an attempt to ensure that a person or event will be remembered by succeeding generations. The Bible teaches that “the memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7). Monuments can be powerful tools for interpreting and remembering our history. Do you have monuments in your spiritual history? Are there people and places that stand out as turning points for you, where you were rescued from self-destruction or where you made commitments that shaped your future? Take some time to remember.
B. The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer
An acquaintance of mine named Paul shared an amazing story with me in church one Sunday. Paul was an older gentleman and not in very good health (a leukemia survivor). He had a heart for missions and frequently traveled to an Asian country to encourage churches and to transport Bibles and materials for a mission agency. On a recent trip Paul’s health problems caught up with him. He returned with an infection that led to pneumonia and a high fever. He was taken to a hospital directly from the airport in SanFrancisco. After a stay of 11 days, he was finally allowed to go home. But he ended up in the hospital again. The fever would not go away. After a few days Paul was released, but the fever persisted and he got even worse. He was unable to go to work.
On Saturday afternoon he lay down to take a nap, the fever raging. He awoke rather suddenly a few hours later and realized that the fever was completely gone. He was very weak but well. Why is this amazing? Don’t people recover from pneumonia all the lime, every day, in every city? My friend Paul didn’t understand it either until he began to do some time-zone calculations. One of the churches he had visited in the Asian country had a small intercessory prayer group that had met every Sunday for many years. They had learned of his illness that week. When Paul calculated the time differential, he realized his fever had left him at the precise time they were praying for him.
There are many reasons to pray. We pray as an act of worship. We pray as an act of repentance. We pray in times of personal trial to seek God’s help and mercy. But one of the greatest ways to use the marvelous gift of prayer is as an act of intercession: praying for other people.
Any church is stronger if believers know the great needs of fellow believers and take time to petition God on their behalf. That’s what Samuel did. This type of praying allows it to move be-yond self-centered prayers. Too often our prayers are like a Christmas list to Santa Claus, packed with our own wants and needs. When we pray sincerely for the needs and pains of others, we begin to think more like God, who cares for all. My friend Paul’s story (along with many Bible examples) is a witness to the effectiveness and power of intercessory prayer (compare Romans15:30-32; Ephesians 6:19. 20).
If you have never prayed for other people, start today—it is not difficult. Share some real needs among fellow class members; then agree to pray for those people during the week. Begin by committing to doing it once; then do it. Keep sharing and praying; you may be surprised at how rewarding the ministry of intercessory prayer can be.
C. Prayer
0 Lord, our help and protector, give us a heart to pray for others. Help us repent of the sins that foul our relationship with You. Please be merciful to us as You were to the people of Israel. Continue to deliver Your people in their times of need. In Jesus’ name, amen.
D. Thought to Remember
Intercessory prayer develops the church into a community of repentance and remembrance.

King Solomon Sunday School Lesson

A. The Explosion of Knowledge
Near the end of his life, King Solomon wrote, “of snaking many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). The modern world has realized both parts of this observation, perhaps far beyond Solomon’s wildest expectations. It is estimated that as many as 2,000 new books are published every week worldwide. Add to this the enormous output of newspapers, journals, magazines, WebPages, and other media. The total is far beyond the capacity of any one individual to keep track of, let alone to read and digest.
This ever-increasing rate of publication has been labeled the information explosion. Its close cousin is called the knowledge explosion: the constantly growing store of facts and theories. These twin phenomena have many implications. One of these is the short shelf life of any education or training. For example, someone who earned a college degree in computer science 20years ago would be woefully lacking in expertise about today’s computers unless he or she had been updating constantly. Every field of study re-quires constant study to stay current. At times this may feel like “weariness of the flesh”!Yet it is important to ask whether or not this avalanche of knowledge has made us any wiser. Has society’s increased stock of information solved the basic problems of wars, poverty, or disease? Has more knowledge eliminated the age-old vices of greed, pride, anger, or lust? If anything, we seem to be in a world that is greedier, prouder, angrier, and more sexually oriented than ever before. Remember: the most destructive wars of the twentieth century were fought between the most “educated” countries on earth! There is a lot of overlap in meaning among the concepts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. But one key idea that sets wisdom apart is that wisdom is a godly use of knowledge and understanding. This week’s lesson is about a man who requested wisdom from God and was re-warded with godly wisdom and much, much more.
B. Lesson Background
The third king of Israel was David’s son Solomon. Solomon reigned as king in Jerusalem from about 970 to 930 BC. His name is derived from the Hebrew word shalom (“peace”), thus Solomon means “peaceful one.” Nathan the prophet also gave him the name Jedidiah, meaning “beloved of Yahweh” (2 Samuel 12:25). Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba, David’s partner in adultery. Bathsheba’s first child, the product of their sin, died in his first week. David and Bathsheba’s second child was Solomon.
Solomon was the first king of Israel to inherit the throne from his father. After David’s death, Solomon acted quickly to remove any threats to his throne by executing Adonijah, his scheming half-brother (1 Kings 2:24) and Joab, a traitorous army general (2:33, 34). He also exiled the high priest, Abiathar, and replaced him with the loyal Zadok (2:35).
During the reign of Solomon the kingdom of Israel expanded its boundaries to its greatest ex-tent, from the Euphrates River to the border of Egypt (1 Kings 4:21). The kings in some of these territories paid annual tribute to Solomon, providing him with vast wealth.
The riches of Solomon have been the subject of theories and speculation, but the Bible itself has a great deal of information on this subject. His yearly tribute income was 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14). The modern equivalent of this amount is difficult to estimate, but this may have been eight to ten tons of gold every year-end this was only part of his income. His hoard was so plentiful that Solomon made hundreds of ceremonial shields out of gold to adorn his palace (1 Kings 10:17).
Solomon is also famous for his building projects. His greatest accomplishment in this areaways the construction of a house for the Lord, the Jerusalem temple. The primary purpose of the temple was to provide suitable and permanent housing for the holy ark of the covenant (see1 Chronicles 28:2).
The detailed description of this structure is found in 1 Kings 5-7 and 2 Chronicles 2-4. The construction took seven years and required more than 150,000 labourers (1 Kings 5:15). When finished, this edifice was undoubtedly one of the most splendid buildings of the ancient world. The Bible also tells us “King Solomon loved many strange women” (1 Kings 11:1). It is recorded that he had 700 official wives and 300concubines (secondary wives). Unfortunately, we are also told that these wives led him away from the Lord in his old age (1 Kings 11:3, 4). We do believe, however, that the elderly Solomon sorted through all these things and returned to God before his death. This seems to be the lesson of the book of Ecclesiastes—a book thought to have been written by Solomon near the end of his life. He finishes this book by admonishing his readers that our primary duties are to love God and to keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Today’s lesson presents a young Solomon who finds himself in a powerful position that exceeds his capabilities. When the weight of his responsibilities is combined with his inadequacy, he does not despair. He trusts God.
I. God’s Appearing(1 Kings 3:3-5)
A. Abundance of Sacrifices (vv. 3, 4)

3, 4. And Solomon loved the Lone, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. To sacrifice in high places is not necessarily an act of paganism or idolatry (compare 2 Chronicles 33:17). The high place at Gibeon is the semi-permanent site of “the tabernacle of the Lord”(see 1 Chronicles 16:39). Gibeon is located in the Judean hill country, about seven miles northwest of Jerusalem.
The text does not tell us exactly what the burnt offerings are, but likely they are animals, probably young bulls. In this type of offering the entire animal is burned to ashes, giving it all to God. For Solomon to do this with a thousand bulls is a large, impressive display of his wealth, his devotion, and the seriousness of the occasion.
B. Offer to Solomon (v. 5)
5. In Gibeon the Loam appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
The offerings likely take more than one day. Because of the length of the time involved, Solomon stays in Gibeon overnight. During one of these nights he is visited by God in a dream. This type of communication from God is not un-known, but it is rare. There are fewer than 20people in the Bible who are said to have received dreams from God, and not all of these are believers (examples: Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Pilate’s wife). Nevertheless, dreams have long been recognized as a powerful way by which God has spoken to humans on rare occasions.
God does not confront Solomon with a call for action or obedience. Instead, God presents Solomon with a blank check: Ask what I shall give thee. There are no limits or guidelines given by God. Already, the wisdom of Solomon is being tested. Will he choose wisely or selfishly?
An old story tells of a woman who awoke in the morning and told her husband of her dream.”Last night I dreamed that you gave me a diamond necklace and earrings for our anniversary,” she said. “Do you have any idea what my dream means?” His cryptic answer was, “Tonight you will know.”
After work that evening, he presented her with a small package. Eagerly opening it, she found a book titled, The Meaning of Dreams. We can imagine what happened next! Seriously, though, you could spend a small fortune on all the books written about how to interpret your dreams. Solomon’s dream was not about diamond jewellery, although we should consider a vision of God in a dream to be of inestimable value! Justas the fictional woman’s dream came in the con-text of her relationship with her husband, it is likewise significant that Solomon’s dream came in the context of his relationship with God. The day before his dream, Solomon had made an exceedingly large number of offerings to God. That night God came to him in the dream. We shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that we can “buy” God’s presence with devotion or sacrifice. However, Solomon’s sacrifices were a tangible indication of his love for God. At the very least, we can see that God responds positively to those who seek to please Him. .
II. Solomon’s Request(1 Kings 3:6-9)
A. Solomon as David’s Successor (vv. 6-8)6. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unworthy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
Solomon does not blurt out a request, like “Gimme a new Cadillac!” Instead, he evaluates his needs by talking them through with God.(Isn’t this what prayer should be?) In this process he rehearses the marvelous relationship his father, David, had had with the Lord. Being king gives Solomon occasion to remember how God had kept His promise to David by allowing his son to succeed him as king.
7.And now, O Lord my God, thou hast modesty servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: 1 know not how to go out or come in.
Solomon has come to a strong conviction that he is inadequate for the task he has been given. Who could possibly fill the shoes of the great and famous David?
8.And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Solomon is aware that Israel is the chosen nation of God and that it has grown to be a very populous people. These factors combine to make him feel like a little child, unequal to his responsibilities. We may experience something similar when we observe the children of capable and powerful leaders. Sometimes a child is expected to live up to the legacy left by the father but can-not possibly fulfil these expectations. Following a famous father is not an easy path.
B. Solomon Seeks Wisdom (v. 9)
9.Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
David had left Solomon with the charge, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3). Solomon under-stands that a major component of being a successful king is related to his judgment. Therefore he asks for divine understanding in dealing with his people. He cannot do it by himself. Solomon asks, rhetorically, Who is able to judge this thy no great a people? The answer is that only the Lord himself can do this. Solomon desperately needs God’s help.
In this request Solomon submits his heart to God. Any cry to God for help is a cry of faith. He is following the advice of his father, to rule “in the fear of God.” He understands that even the greatest leaders are answerable to a higher authority and need God’s assistance to rule justly. We don’t have many kings left in our world, but any nation with a leader who depends on God will receive blessings because of this relationship.
III. God’s Promises(1 Kings 3:10-14)
A. Solomon’s Request Pleases God (v. 10)

10.And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.
Oh, to please the Lord! All too often we find ourselves in need of humility and repentance because we have displeased God. That Solomon is able to set aside petty, personal, selfish desires and pinpoint what he will need to serve God effectively is a display of wisdom at a young age. He has already learned the lesson he later teaches to others: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
B.Solomon’s Request Granted (vv. 11, 12)
11, 12. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and host not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy word: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
God well knows that Solomon could have asked for personal favours: longevity, wealth, or victories. (See question #3, page 80.) God promises to make Solomon a unique individual in history: the wisest man who ever lived. There are related yet distinct qualities that are promised here. When we see that Solomon is granted a wise . . . heart, we should realize that wisdom goes beyond the ability to discern good from evil. The wise person recognizes the difference and chooses to do the good. The one who understands but chooses evil is a fool (see Proverbs 14:16; Romans 16:19). Solomon’s gift is more than just the ability to know righteousness. He is enabled to choose righteousness.
Solomon’s heart is also to be one of under-standing. This has the sense of clear perception of a situation and insight into its implications. This means that Solomon will be able to discern. This is actually based on the Hebrew word for to hear.” It has the implication of one who listens judiciously, evaluating all factors carefully. These three qualities are repeated in Proverbs1:5: “A wise man will bear [discern], and will in-crease learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (see also 1 Kings4:29). Wisdom builds on wisdom. Wise choices lead to more wise choices. Deeper understanding results from listening to wise teachers.
C.Solomon’s Request Exceeded (vv. 13, 14)
13. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
There are those who attain great wealth but are despised. There are others who gain great honor and dignity yet die penniless. And, of course, there are many who perish being neither rich nor honourable. But few are recognized as persons with both riches and honor. Such ones are doubly blessed by God. Here God makes a promise to Solomon: he will be a person of vast wealth and someone respected very highly.
As mentioned above, Solomon’s wealth be-comes legendary. God’s gift of wisdom, however, causes Solomon’s reputation to spread far and wide. His wisdom is unlimited (1 Kings 4:29-31).He is the author of 3,000 wise sayings (proverbs)and over 1,000 songs (1 Kings 4:32). Some of these are preserved in our Bible books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon(see also Psalm 72).
“In a lot of ways, I was happier living a simpler life.” Those are the words of a multimillionaire who had made an amazing amount of money in the high-tech stock market boom of the1990s. His household was one of some 275,000in America with assets of over $10 million at the end of that decade—a group that was five times larger than it had been just 15 years earlier. Psychologists say people who become very rich very quickly complain about becoming isolated from their former friends; they even feel alienated from their sense of who they are. One man who sold his company for tens of millions of dollars said he felt a “gnawing anxiety that his money could disappear as quickly as it had come.” He found it hard to talk to his old friends about things they had easily conversed about before he was struck with sudden wealth. Many poorer people would be willing to change places with the rich, but they obviously aren’t aware of the psychological and relationship costs of having lots of money! God’s promised gift to Solomon could have been an unparalleled blessing. But it turned out to be a responsibility that Solomon was not fully prepared to exercise. He did not always “walk in my ways,” as God had said he must if he were to enjoy the blessings fully. Solomon’s experience proves once again that who you are—your character, etc.—is far Inure important than how much you have.
14. And if than wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
While the promises of wisdom and honor are unconditional, God does place conditions on the gift of a long life. This promise is contingent upon Solomon’s obedience to God’s laws, an obedience that God had seen in Solomon’s father, David. God had not seen in David a perfect record of obedience, of course. But God had in-deed seen a general life pattern of obedience, de-scribed as to wall( in my ways.
Unfortunately, Solomon will not match his father David. Solomon’s disobedience causes God to be very angry. God then modifies His earlier promise to David of a continuing king in Jerusalem from David’s family: much of Solomon’s kingdom will be taken away from his son Reho-boam (1 Kings 11:9-13). This promise is made good after the death of Solomon, and the kingdom is split into Judah and Israel.
A. The Search for Wisdoms

Solomon apparently was not content with God’s gift of wisdom. Ecclesiastes is a record of his wretched search for the meaning of life in many different areas. He confessed that he denied himself nothing (Ecclesiastes 2:10) and concluded that he hated life (2:17). “All is vanity,” he said (1:2); life is meaningless. How can wise people sometimes be so stupid?
Fortunately Solomon overcame the cynicism of his foolish quest and regained some of the wisdom he displayed at a younger age. Solomon was able to reaffirm that our purpose is to be found in our fear of God and in our obedience to Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
In modern society we find people seeking wisdom from curious sources. The media bombards us with the opinions of celebrities, as if being famous automatically brings wisdom. Why do we think the ability to hit home runs or make music videos gives a person understanding and discernment? Conversely, people who live wisely, fearing God and striving to keep His commandments, are rarely seen as those who should be honored and followed. Solomon knew that sinners were fools and fools were sinners.
So how do we seek and find wisdom? An obvious treasure, yet one we often ignore, is to study God’s Word. We are promised that Scripture is able to make us “wise unto salvation”(2 Timothy 3:15). The people of God should be people of His Word.
We should also seek to be taught by those whose lives display God’s wisdom. Solomon’s story teaches us that great wisdom will attract disciples. Great understanding and discernment is not often found in the very young, so we should listen to those whose faith has been tested, “tried with fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Not all old people are wise. But we are more likely to strike the rich vein of wisdom among our elders than among the young.
B. Prayer
O Lord, we can never be wise without Your presence. Give its hearts that seek wisdom, even when the wise choices are the hard choices. Give us peace in knowing that Your ways transcend the ways of the world, the paths of foolishness. We pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus, amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Recognition and development of true wisdom is tied directly to our relationship with God.

Jesus the Good Shepherd Sunday School Lesson Topic Discussion

1.The people of Jesus’ day had to deal with Pharisees as thieves and rubbers. Do the “thievesand robbers” that challenge your own spiritualvitality tend to be specific people or are theymore likely to be various temptations? How doyou counteract them?
All Christians have unseen treasures worthprotecting. These treasures include our reputa-tions, our friendships, and, ultimately, our spiri-tual destination. People and temptations candestroy these treasures, if we allow them to.We all know people who “drain our batteries”in a spiritual or an emotional sense. They’re ex-hausting to be around! A certain balance isneeded: our task is to try to help them withoutbecoming spiritually contaminated in the process(Jude 23). Falling into temptation is more likelywhen fatigue levels are high.
2.Caller ID is a helpful invention! But per-haps you ignored important messages by not responding to the ones marked “caller un-known.” What was a time when you were con-fused about whether or not it was God who was trying to speak to you through a circumstance or situation? How did you sort things out?
Getting to know God’s voice is a matter of staying connected to Him. God definitely speaks through the pages of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16,17); we stay connected by reading His Word(Psalm 119:105).
We also recognize God’s ability to channel our activities through open and closed doors of opportunity. Recognizing which is which takes spiritual discernment. Having a godly consciences important (Hebrews 13:18), but an untrained conscience is dangerous (1 Corinthians 8:7).
3. The people listening to Jesus were confused by His figures of speech. What subjects in the Bible still cause you confusion? How do you get about getting help to clarify those issues?
We sometimes say we look forward to being in Heaven where Jesus can explain all things tee us. Until then we need to be able to sort through the traditions, the cunning speakers with personal agendas, and the mistaken interpretations to determine what Jesus is truly expecting us to know.
This requires personal discipline in studying, cross-referencing interpretations with other related teachings in the Scriptures, and prayer for understanding. Listening to respected speakers and reading commentaries can help. But these will not excuse us from the personal responsibility we have for building our own understanding of God’s Word. The old saying is important:”Read all the books upon the shelf, but do all your thinking for yourself.”
4.Christians often fill their lives to the brim with activities and duties. Churches may be partially responsible for this hyperactivity. Howls this different from what Jesus meant by having an abundant life? What corrections do you need to make?
Some would suggest that our abundant life comes after we die, in eternity. But it should start when we give ourselves to the Lord. Cutting back on activities in order to have time to read the Bible, pray, etc., can be difficult. In some churches it seems that the only way to give up certain long-held jobs is either to move or die! Feelings of guilt at the prospect of cutting back on activities can be a hindrance. Receiving counsel from a spiritually mature Christian may help.
5.Jesus distinguished between shepherds and hired hands. How do we use this distinction to help us discern between those who have good and had motivations for being in leadership roles in the church?
Examining the motives of others is tricky. Jesus cautions us about passing judgment (Matthew 7:1), but He also challenges us to discern good teachers from bad through examining the fruit of their labors (Matthew 7:15-20). We have all known of those who donate many hours tithe Lord and His church. They willingly put their own comfort or plans second. That’s good fruit!
Such people become an embodiment of what Christ was trying to teach. Perhaps they don’t even wish to see themselves as “shepherds,” but their example serves this purpose. They probably will be the last to want attention, but they need to be commended for their efforts.