EPISODE SUMMARY

Kingdom: David, Saul and Solomon

Saul, the king of Israel, is slowly sinking into paranoia. Bitterly regretting his dispute with the prophet Samuel, he is convinced that he has lost the chance to establish his own dynasty, and the kingdom he has fought so hard to secure will at any moment be snatched from him. When David’s popularity explodes after he proves himself by brilliantly defeating the Philistine warrior Goliath, Saul’s mistrust grows. Convinced that David is after his crown, he exiles him from his court and then doggedly pursues him, consumed with jealously. It is a decision which proves fatal: the Philistines trounce the divided Israelites. Saul and his son Jonathan are both killed in battle - leaving the throne open for David. A golden age for Israel follows, as David conquers the city of Jerusalem and settles the Ark of the Covenant. They have a nation, a homeland, a capital. But David is but an earthly king, seduced by power and lust. He falls for Bathsheba, the wife of his loyal friend and officer, Uriah, and takes her as his own. When Bathsheba falls pregnant, he orders the death of his friend. David is duly punished by God - his son dies. But God forgives him, and his second son by Bathsheba, Solomon. It is Solomon who will build God’s temple in Jerusalem.

COLUMN

by Rob Brynjolfson
Director of WEA Leadership Institute

The 4th episode entitled “Kingdom” in the The Bible TV series aired during a remarkable time in history. A populist leader in Venezuela passed away, and a non-traditional Pope was elected. So, what do Kings Saul and David have in common with Chavez, Pope Francis I and Kingdom Leadership?

The Bible series’ portrayal of transition from theocracy to a kingdom is couched as a political struggle. Samuel is portrayed as father bent on maintaining his own familial dynasty like a nepotistic hegemonist reluctant to relinquish the theocracy as though it were really a prophetocracy. The dramatic statement “but your children are known to take bribes,” is what apparently drives the aging prophet to ask God for guidance. It would not have been easy to relinquish power. God had to remind his prophet who was being rejected: “It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king (1 Sam. 8:7).” This past month we saw an unusual relinquishing of power and were surprised by a rare display of humility when Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) broke 600 years of tradition and resigned from the papal office.

The portrayal of King Saul played out predictably. He is a weak leader, a populist eager to please the crowd with sensationalism and gifts while forsaking the commandments of God. Clinging desperately to the prophet, he is told “the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel away from you.” The pursuit of populist power surely misguides leaders today. We are saddened for Venezuela in the loss of their very popular president Hugo Chavez. Yet, while the nation is still in the process of burying their dead leader, politicians already shamelessly capitalize on his fame while tightening a fist on national politics through intimidation, censorship, and the abuse of judicial processes.

David was presented as a man abiding his time, patiently waiting for his natural succession to the throne. Once Saul died in battle and King David set himself on a throne in Jerusalem the movie jumped to the story of his adultery. To dramatize the crime, as though it were not already horrendous enough, the TV movie foreshadows the adultery with Bathsheba and cover-up murder of her husband Uriah, by having the characters interact and develop a previous friendship. We clearly perceived how the lust of power deceives people into believing they are above the law.

This account of political power struggles at the beginning of the biblical kingdom reminded me of the plenary address during the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town 2010 in which Chris Wright reiterated the ageless, ongoing and repetitive problems of the people of God. He exhorted us to confront the idols of power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed. Later during the week, when “habemus papam” was pronounced in the Vatican, the world noted how the Cardinals collectively chose to navigate a new course for the Roman Church. Pope Francis I already surprised us, not just because he is the first Jesuit and non-European Pope, but he is a man who lives out a message of humility, simplicity, concern for the poor, and care for God’s creation. He did this by naming himself, not after St. Francis Xavier, but Francis of Assisi, and then by taking the bus home.

So, let us pray for our leaders, denominational, national or international, to stand up for leadership that befits the Kingdom of God – where we break down the three persistent idols of power and pride, popularity and success, and wealth and greed.

NOVEL

David, king of Israel, kneels in the tabernacle tent, the Ark of the Covenant arrayed before him. This is not the smug David of just a week earlier, who believed that his chosen status somehow exempted him from God's judgement. He has ben fasting for seven days. Now he is dressed in sackcloth, a coarse and drab material that scratches his skin and possesses none of the brilliant colors and precise tailoring of the royal robes. These are the clothes of a slave, the clothes worn by his ancestors during their years in Egypt. And like a slave pleading with a master to spare his life, David is pressed flat to the ground. He begs and pleads, "Anything, Lord. I will do anything You command. Please spare my child."

David's prayer has also lasted seven days. The lack of food and his focus on God give his the face the delusional look of a man who has lost his way.

And then he hears Bathsheba scream.

David pushes himself to his feet and races from the tent, stepping out backward so as not to turn his back on the Ark. He races through the palace, searching for someone who can give him news. He finds a servant. "What news?"

But the man cannot bring himself to speak. David races on, until he hears a soft shuffling noise coming from a long hallway. It is Bathsheba, and she is so pale and drawn that she can barely walk. In her arms is the limp bundle of blankets holding her dead son. Bathsheba's eyes are redrimmed from crying.

David collapses and wails in agony.

"First my husband, and now my son," says Bathsheba. "We are cursed."

"But I was anointed," David whimpers. "God blessed me."

Nathan speaks next, standing over David. "Then you abused your power, and turned to tyranny. A king is never above his God."

David blinks back tears.

"You were supposed to rule in His name, not your own," continues Nathan.

"We're finished," groans Bathsheba. "The people will all see that God has left us."

Nathan says nothing. David stares at him, waiting for an answer. "Prophet?" he asks.

"God loves you, David. Even though you are weak. You have admitted your sins and asked for forgiveness. You have also forged God's nation on earth. He will not take this away from you," Nathan tells him. And then, to Bathsheba: "And he will grant you another son."

A Story of God and All of us

This novel is a companion to The Bible miniseries. Readers will revel in this epic saga of warriors, rebels, poets and kings, all called upon by God to reveal His enduring love for mankind. Ultimately, God’s plan is fulfilled in the story of Jesus the Messiah, whose life, death and resurrection bring salvation to one and all. Hardcover 337 pages.

CASTS

  • Young David - Jassa Ahluwalia

  • David - Langley Kirkwood

  • Goiath - Conan Stevens

  • Uriah - Dhaffer L'abidine

  • Bathsheba - Melia Kreiling

BIBLE LOOKUP

David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

© New International Version (NIV)

David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11)

David and Bathsheba

11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

DISCUSSION

By faith not by sight

David is often seen as an example of great faith and courage against all odds. While this is true, David’s faith wasn’t a blind faith. No, he saw with a different set of eyes. While everyone saw the menacing physical presence of Goliath and compared it to their own physical resources, David saw Goliath’s physical presence and power in the light of God’s presence and power. When he compared Goliath not to himself but to his God, the odds shifted considerably. He had courage and faith not because his faith was blind but because his faith saw rightly.

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SMALL GROUP GUIDE

Below is sample list of small-group study and discussion questions for small groups that use this guidebook in conjunction with The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study.

  1. Open in prayer.
  2. Go around the room asking everone to briefly answer this question: "What is the biggest challenge you've ever faced?"
  3. Watch video: "David and Goliath."
  4. Question: "If you had been there that day, say as one of Israel's soldiers, what do you think you would have been thinking or feeling as Goliath came out to taunt Saul and his troops?"
  5. Read 1 Samuel 17:1-11, 32-51.
  6. Question: "What did Goliath say (in the video and in verse 9) would happen if he defeated an Israelite champion? And what would happen if an Israelite champion defeated him?"
  7. Question: "Read David's speech to Goliath in verses 45-47. What do you think of David's words? Were they bluster? A response to Goliath's taunts? Did he think they would scare Goliath? Or was something else going on?"
  8. Question: "According to verses 49-51, what killed Goliath-David's stone or Goliath's own sword?"
  9. Question: "David saved Israel that day from slavery to the Philistines. Jesus' victory on the cross saved us from slavery to sin. What do you think that means for us in practical terms?"
  10. Question: "What sorts of 'giants' are you facing right now?"
  11. Any other questions or comments?
  12. Close in prayer.

The Bible 30-Day Experience Guidebook © 2013 by Outreach, Inc.

Small Group Guide is From The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study + Guidebook

This five-week study for individuals and small groups based on some of the epic stories of the Bible, with an emphasis on God’s plan of redemption for mankind through Jesus Christ. This study features inspirational video clips from the epic Bible miniseries.