The Four Fears of David – Bible study based on Sunday 9th September 2012
1. As an opening group discussion question: when have you felt fear? Did it have a positive or negative effect on your life/the lives of those around you?
2. 1 Samuel 21:1-2 – David has developed a hardened heart and a fear of trusting others (quite understandably!) This leads to him telling lies that, in turn, lead to the death of Ahimelech and his entire community. There is a strong argument to suggest that Christ encourages us to combine wisdom and love in our dealings with others. Martin Luther King Jnr. summarised his understanding of Jesus’ teaching like this in Strength To Love (1963):
Jesus recognized the need for blending opposites. He knew that his disciples would face a difficult and hostile world, where they would confront the recalcitrance of political officials and the intransigence of the protectors of the old order. He knew that they would meet cold and arrogant men whose hearts had been hardened by the long winter of traditionalism. … And he gave them a formula for action, “Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.
How might a Christian practically go about combining a soft heart with a tough mind in day to living? How would it have affected David if he had applied Christ’s teachings to his meeting with Ahimelech?
3. 1 Samuel 21:9-10 – David is reminded of his previous victory over Goliath. This reminder fills him with courage and prompts his journey to Achish. It is likely that David’s plan was to become a mercenary or sell-sword for a period of time. The plan was disastrous and David was immediately captured, lost his sword and lost his dignity.
In what ways does the world lure us into attempting to be self-reliant? Why do you think the Bible actively discourages this behaviour?
4. 1 Samuel 21:12-13 – David is clearly afraid that his death is imminent. In Luke 12:4-7, Jesus claims that our fear of God should surpass our fear of death. Can a fear of death ever be truly conquered? Are there examples of people who appear to have done so?
Consider together this excerpt from a letter written by Corrie Ten Boom in 1974:
Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.
The fourth day, I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?”
The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.
“When I was a little girl, ” I said, “I went to my father and said,
“Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.”
“Tell me,” said Father,
“When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”
“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”
“That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…”
My African friends were nodding and smiling.
Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing,
” In the sweet, by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”
Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed.
I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.
But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.
6. Malachi 1:6-9 – expresses God’s anger at being treated without honour and fear. In Psalm 34:7, 9, 11, David places fear of the Lord (Yir’ah Yahweh) at the heart of his worship.
In a modern church service, how can a worshipper place Yir’ah Yahweh at the heart of worship?
Apart from singing, how else can we worship our Father?