1 Samuel: Listening to What God Says – Part 11

1 Samuel 4-7

1 Samuel: Listening to What God Says – Part 11

Using God for our own purposes

I. The STORY of one more bad DECISION. (4:1-21)
A. They QUESTION, but don’t wait for an ANSWER. (v.1-4)
B. A FALSE sense of SECURITY. (v.5-9)
C. Things go from BAD to WORSE. (v.10-21)

We’ve turned the corner from the book of Judges into 1 Samuel, but it doesn’t mean the people of Israel are making better decisions. The Philistines are making their life difficult and they can’t seem to figure out why God would let this happen.

1. Kid’s Question: Have you ever had something you considered lucky that you wanted to keep with you all the time?
2. When have you made assumptions about God wanted for your life? Did you regret them later?

II. The REST of the STORY. (1 Sam 5-7)
A. The Ark’s TOUR of repeated DEVASTATION. (1 Sam 5-6)
B. A GLIMPSE of RENEWAL. (1 Sam. 7:2-7)
C. Once again God FIGHTS for His PEOPLE. (1 Sam. 7:8-17)

What happens in chapters 5-7 is an unusual series of encounters between the Ark of the Covenant and the 5 major Philistine cities. Every time the ark shows up it brings nothing but pain and suffering for the Philistines. Eventually they send it back home which brings a sort of mini spiritual renewal to the Jewish people.

3. What stand out to you most about the interactions between the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant? Why?
4. Even after all this time the people still had their own idols in addition to Yahweh. How can we be aware of the idols that we carry along as we live day to day?
5. What does it look like to let God “fight” for you? Try to apply that to a situation that is currently troubling you.

III. Seeing OURSELVES in this TEXT. (Jas. 1:23-24)
A. SHRINKING God to a MANAGEABLE size. (1 Sam. 4:3,13, 5:1-2, and 7:3-4; Acts 17:24-25)
B. ATTACHING God to our AGENDA. (1 Sam. 4:3; Josh. 5:13-15)
C. ICHABOD moments are INVITATIONS to listen. (Lam. 3:19-32; Job 42:1-6)

These Old Testament stories often feel very far removed from our current situation. But the truth is that the Spirit often exposes some of our own habit patterns as we watch the Jewish people wrestle with what it means to be the People of Yahweh. The text will speak to us if we take the time to listen.

6. When have to felt uncomfortable with something God did or allowed? How did you move past that (if you did)?
7. What can you do to make sure your attaching yourself to God’s agenda instead of the other way around?
8. What have been “Ichabod” moments in your own life, when you felt like God was far away? What was the impact of those moments?