NextLevel Online: 1 Samuel

Session 9: God’s Kind of King (1 Samuel 14-16)

What kind of king does God want for his people?


Classroom Instructions

Materials: Session 9 Video

The Question: What kind of king does God want for his people?

Part 1 – Out with the Old (Saul’s Demise)

  • Against the Philistines ...

  • Against the Amalekites...

Part 2 – In with the New (David’s Rise)

  • Beginning a new...

    • God “regretted” (back to Noah)

    • David is one beyond the 7th (back to Adam)

  • And this time the right way…


  • Does our devotion to God run all the way down or is it merely skin deep?

  • How do we respond when admonished or rebuked?

  • In our evaluation of one another, do we value the things God values?

  • “Our failure does not signal God’s defeat” (B. Arnold)

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • In what ways can you see yourself in Saul?

  • Does your devotion to God run all the way down or is it merely skin deep?

  • How do you respond when admonished or rebuked?

  • In your evaluation of people, do you value the things God values?

  • In what ways does this introduction of David point beyond David to Jesus?

APPENDIX to SESSION 9 on Divine Violence

Divine violence is a complicated issue worthy of much study and reflection. I offer the following points not as a final statement, but because these things must be considered and respected. I am also not referring here specifically to 1 Samuel 15 but with respect to the issue more broadly.

  • It is likely that many (if not all of the) cities Israel destroyed were military outposts and not places where civilians lived.

  • Old Testament language of total obliteration might be intentional exaggeration – sort of like ancient military trash-talk that everyone knows not to take literally.

  • Israel was “a rag-tag group of slaves going up against the mightiest imperial powerhouses of the ancient world” and many of her strategies were ridiculous from a military standpoint. All that to say, be careful not to picture a powerful empire picking on the weak.

  • In some sense God met his people where they were at and took them where he wanted them to go. We read Scripture as a whole – as one unified narrative directed toward Jesus.

  • Related to this, is it right to say that because of sin’s corrosive effect, God had to “get his hands dirty,” so to speak, as part of his larger mission to bring salvation?

  • There is an impulse to cast the Canaanites (and others) as decent (even innocent) people who should have been left alone. Keep in mind that things like incest, infant sacrifice, ritual prostitution, and bestiality were part of their way of life.

  • The New Testament teaches that God fully and finally revealed himself in and through Jesus (Jn 1.18; Heb 1.1-3). However, also keep in mind that

    • Jesus never repudiated the Old Testament, and
    • some of the harshest threats in the Bible come from his mouth.
  • We believe in the resurrection, which means death is not the end of life. This is particularly relevant to the deaths of children. Given the Bible’s witness to an “age of accountability” (Deut 2.37-40; Isa 7.15-16), all who were truly “innocent” will spend eternity with Jesus.

  • Connected to this, we must always remember that we evaluate all of life from an eternal lens. Much of history will not make sense apart from the perspective of eternity.

  • Having said all this, let’s also remember not to approach these questions with a detached or de-sensitized attitude. Real people died (some in horrific ways). The Bible says God is responsible for their deaths. The Bible also says God is love and that his love is most clearly revealed on the cross. These things may be hard to reconcile in a totally satisfactory way.

  • Finally, God’s primary demand is that we trust him. When we try to figure things out apart fromsubmission to his Word, bad things happen. Adam and Eve specifically ate from a tree of knowledge of good and evil, which may represent our efforts to determine right and wrong apart from simple submission to what God has said. God doesn’t have to meet our standards or make perfect sense to us – that’s not how it works. God is the standard. God is God and God is good. We don’t get to tell him what he has to be and do to be good.

  • Here are some links to short pieces with these points and others.

  • Here are some longer treatments to check out if you’re interested:

    • Did God Really Command Genocide? (Paul Copan and Matt Flannagan)
    • Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Paul Copan)
    • The Skeletons in God’s Closet (Joshua Ryan Butler)
    • God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the OT Angry, Sexist and Racist? (David Lamb)
    • The God I Don’t Understand (Christopher Wright)

About NextLevel Online

The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.