Read David’s praise song in 2 Samuel 22 (which is also Psalm 18) aloud as an opening prayer.
If you could choose anyone you know to be king (or president), who would it be and why?
God answered his people’s request by appointing their first king, King Saul. But, Saul’s life and reign quickly fell apart. So, God chose David the shepherd boy to be Saul’s successor. Even though their relationship was rough (to say the least), David remained loyal to Saul for years. His loyalty and leadership caused much of Israel to call David their leader, despite Saul being the king. This ultimately led to difficulties between tribes, and civil war.
Eventually, Saul died and David became king. The monarchy took a sharp turn for the better, as David was faithful to God, defeated Israel’s enemies, and restored worship and justice in the nation. David trusted God and led with justice and righteousness. So much so, that today, 3000 years later, many Jews still point to David as Israel’s greatest leader.
So, it would seem that God’s people have been restored. But, will the successive kings of Israel follow in David’s footsteps by worshiping God alone and obeying His commands?
Samuel warns Israel to “be careful what you wish for” in 1 Samuel 8. He is specifically warning them to be careful seeking your own desires. God doesn’t disallow them a king or even their desire for material prosperity, but He is against their efforts to seek success through the same means and methods as the violent nations around them. SO, when David dies and Solomon is made king, he leads Israel to the pinnacle of its success… Which may just be fleeting.
Thinking back on your readings in 1 & 2 Samuel, what kinds of actions and choices demonstrates David’s righteous leadership? How do you know he was a “man after God’s own heart?”
Deuteronomy 8:10-18 NLT
When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
What does David’s warning about forgetting God during prosperity say about Israel during this “golden age?”
What does this say about the danger of prosperity in general?
As you read this next passage, remember Moses’ stern warning to Israel in Deuteronomy 8 about not becoming proud, but remembering God and always walking closely with Him.
1 Kings 10:14-29 NLT
Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold. This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders, all the kings of Arabia, and the governors of the land.
King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than fifteen pounds. He also made 300 smaller shields of hammered gold, each weighing nearly four pounds. The king placed these shields in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.
Then the king made a huge throne, decorated with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps and a rounded back. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne. There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!
All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!
The king had a fleet of trading ships of Tarshish that sailed with Hiram’s fleet. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.
So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. People from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.
Solomon built up a huge force of chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities and some near him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah. Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Cilicia; the king’s traders acquired them from Cilicia at the standard price. At that time chariots from Egypt could be purchased for 600 pieces of silver, and horses for 150 pieces of silver. They were then exported to the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram.
So, God clearly blessed Israel under Solomon. But, what kind of attitude should we have toward this progress and prosperity?
So, back to the first question, sort of… Who would you prefer as your king? Solomon, or David? Why? Would you want the prayerful musician-king who humiliates himself by worshiping God in his underwear, or the kind of global political and economic powerhouse who establishes you and your people above the other nations and exacts from them such wealth that “silver becomes like just another stone,” no matter what the cost?
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as being “prosperous.” Yet, if you drove a car to your life group meeting, you are in the top 5% of the wealthiest people on the planet! How do you think we have been blessed with this level of prosperity?
What attitude should we have toward this progress and prosperity? What should we do about it?
As your group prays together, how should we pray about the prosperity we have enjoyed, and what steps might God be leading us to take?