People of the Bible

Scripture helps us learn from the lives of those who have gone before us. It records good examples (James 5:10-11; I Peter 2:21) and bad examples (Hebrews 4:11; Jude 1:7).

Think about how God uses common people. Notice how they reacted to disasters (Acts 16:27-31). Consider the major decisions that impacted their lives (Acts 9:3-5).

Reading about their lives can give us the desire and direction to change. Their stories touch our lives.

 

Adam

I Corinthians 15:22 (His story is told in Genesis 1:26-5:5)

Eve

Genesis 2:18 (Her story is told in Genesis 2:19-4:26)

 


Cain

I John 3:11-12

(His story is found in Genesis 4:1-17)

Abel

Hebrews 11:4

(His story is told in Genesis 4:1-8)

Noah

Hebrews 11:7

(His story is told in Genesis 5:28-10:32)

Abraham

James 2:23

(His story is told in Genesis 11-25)

Sarah

Hebrews 11:11

(Her story is told in Genesis 11-25)

Isaac

Genesis 17:19

(His story is told in Genesis 17:15-35:29)

Rebecca

Genesis 24:67

(Her story is told in Genesis 24-27)

Esau

Hebrews 12:14-17

(His story is told in Genesis 25-36)

Jacob

Genesis 28:20-21

(His story is told in Genesis 25-50)

Joseph

Genesis 41:38

(His story is told in Genesis 30-50)

What could erupt in more resentment than friction within the family? Joseph is a prime example of someone who could have chosen to be vindictive, rather than forgiving. (See Genesis chapters 37-45.) He is the favorite son of his father, Jacob. Joseph's ten older brothers are so bitter and jealous that they sell him into slavery. Later, he is falsely accused of attempted rape, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten by a friend who promised to help. Joseph has every reason to sever ties with his family, vent hatred on humanity, and slam the door on God... but he doesn't.

Later when Joseph becomes the prime minister of Egypt, severe famine plagues the land. But through God's involvement with Joseph, Egypt is well prepared. When his brothers hear of Egypt's abundance, they make a long journey from Canaan in order to obtain food. While in Egypt they encounter their brother Joseph, who they had thought was dead but has now become the prime minister! What an opportunity for Joseph to take revenge! But instead of settling the score, Joseph speaks kindly to them and recounts the way God used their treatment of him for his good, for their good, and for the good of the Jewish people. "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life... And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance... He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-8).

Even though Joseph had been tossed into the deepest of pits, he emerged with extraordinary forgiveness toward those who wronged him. What was his secret?

The Secret to Joseph's Success

"Do not be distressed and do not be angry."
—When you realize that God, in His sovereignty, will bring good out of the wrongs done to you... you will have an attitude of forgiveness.
"God sent me."
—When you realize that God, in His sovereignty, will use your location (wherever you are placed) for good...
you will have an attitude of forgiveness.
"He made me."
—When you realize that God, in His sovereignty, will make your every circumstance result in good...
you will have an attitude of forgiveness.
Conclusion:
—When you are able to accept God's sovereignty over your location, your circumstances, and especially the wrongs done to you, and when you trust Him to use them one day for good... you will have success through your forgiveness!

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Question: "How can I respond in a Christlike way when I'm being treated so unjustly?"

Answer: Realize that Christ suffered unjustly and horrendously to pay the penalty for your sins—to make possible forgiveness of your sins. Therefore, after you become a true Christian, you rely on Christ (who lives in you) to enable you to endure your unjust suffering... but even more so, to forgive those who mistreat you. Be clear about this point—every authentic Christian is "called" to suffer, but with that suffering comes a blessing.

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully... For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." (1 Peter 2:19-23).

Moses

Hebrews 11:24-25

(His story is told in Exodus through Deuteronomy)

Joshua

Joshua 1:5-6

(His story is told in Exodus through Judges 2)

Caleb

Caleb’s story is found in Numbers chapters 13-14 and Joshua 14-15. He was a spy that gave good intelligence about the land of Canaan. His confidence in God’s promises caused him to stand against popular opinion. Because of other’s choices, he had to wait forty-five years for his desire to be realized. At eighty-five years of age he continued to pursue and claim God’s promises.

Life Lessons:

  • Doing right may put us in the minority (Numbers 14:25).
  • Other people’s choices affect us even when we want to do what is right. If we persist by faith, God always fulfills His promises. Because of the character of God, an optimistic, can-do spirit is possible throughout life.
  • God will reward (Joshua 14:13-14).

 Can you identify with the challenges of his life?

How does the story of his life touch you?

Rahab

Rahab was a prostitute of the heathen Canaanite people. At great risk to her life she chose to join God’s people in the defeat of Jericho. She is remembered as a woman of faith (Hebrews 11:31). She is an example of faith in action (James 2:25). She and her husband, Salmon were the great-great grandparents of King David. She is recorded in the ancestry of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

Life Lessons:

  • God uses people with a difficult past.
  • Identifying with the people of God can involve great risk.
  • God uses unlikely people for His glory (I Corinthians 1:26-29).

Can you identify with the challenges of her life?

How does the story of her life touch you?

Deborah

Deborah’s story is found in Judges chapters 4-5. She was the fourth and only female judge among her people. She faced an overwhelming assault that included nine hundred enemy chariots. Deborah demonstrated forward thinking and presented an organized battle plan. She won a great victory against the enemy, Sisera.  Her leadership is evidenced by being available to people, praying, encouraging, and singing. She led her nation to peace for forty years.

Life Lessons:

  • Nations need people willing to take leadership in a time of crisis.
  • God uses unlikely people who place their trust in Him.
  • Good leaders know the value of able helpers.
  • Effective leaders develop a plan for victory.
  • Wise leaders give God the credit for accomplishments (Judges 5:1-2).
  • Mothers are the best at multi-tasking (Judges 5:7)!

Can you identify with the challenges of her life?

How does the story of her life touch you?

Gideon

Judges 6:15-16

(His story is told in Judges 6-8)

Samson

Judges 13:5

(His story is told in Judges 13-16)

Ruth & Boaz

In the days when the judges ruled, there was not enough food for the people in the land of Israel. Elimelech heard there was food in Moab. He moved there from Bethlehem with his wife and two sons. Elimelech died and his wife, Naomi, was left with her two sons. The sons married women of Moab, and they lived there about ten years. Then both sons died. When Naomi heard that there was food again in her country, she decided to return to her own people. Her daughters-in-law loved her and wanted to go with her. Naomi told them to go back to their people and find good husbands. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law and left, but Ruth stayed and chose to identify with her and her people (Ruth 1:16). Naomi and Ruth arrived at the beginning of barley harvest. The custom in Israel during harvest time was to leave some stalks of grain for the poor people to gather or glean. When Ruth heard of this custom, she asked to glean in the fields. Naomi agreed. Ruth began to glean in the field of a wealthy man named Boaz. When Boaz saw the strange woman, he asked the overseer who she was and was told that she was Moabite girl who came with Naomi. Boaz told Ruth to stay in his fields and to drink from the water jars when she was thirsty. Ruth was surprised with his kindness.  Boaz had heard of her kindness to her mother-in-law. When the harvest was over, there was a feast. Naomi sent Ruth to the feast where Boaz and Ruth talked of a custom (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) that allowed her deceased husband’s closest relative the right to marry her and to care for Naomi and any property. Boaz told her he would speak to the relative the next day and if he gave up his rights, Boaz would like to marry her. The next morning Boaz went to the city gate to meet the relative who said he could not buy Elimelech’s property, marry Ruth and care for Naomi. Boaz told the elders that he would do so. The elders said they would be witnesses and asked the Lord to bless Ruth and Boaz. Ruth and Boaz were married. They are named in the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Their son was named Obed and would grow up to be the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David.

Life Lessons:

  • Ruth fulfilled God’s plan amidst difficult times (Ruth 1:1; Judges 3:12).

  • Ruth overcame great personal loss (Ruth 1:5).

  • Ruth made key decisions that affected the outcome of her life. She chose to not remain in despair. She left behind a season of death, disappointment, and loss.

  • Ruth established a relationship with Naomi that took the place of her previous family.

  • She did not let her nationality keep her from worshipping and identifying with the true God.

  • With her Moabite background, God uses her as an unlikely example (Deuteronomy 7:1-4; 23:3-6).

  • Relationships are a great treasure in times of testing (Ruth 1:8).

  • Diligent labor will be rewarded (Ruth 2:2,8).

  • Simple kindnesses are a great gift (Ruth 2:4; Deuteronomy 24:19).

  • Selfless loyalty does not go unnoticed (Ruth 2:11).

  • Hard work and trust in the Lord go hand in hand (Ruth 2:12).

  • The Lord evidences his kindness through caring people (Ruth 2:20).

Hannah

I Samuel 1:26-28

(Her story is told in I Samuel 1-2)

Eli

I Samuel 3:11-14

(His story is told in I Samuel 1-4)

Samuel

I Samuel 3:19-20

(His story is told in I Samuel 1-28)

"For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." I Samuel 16:7

After the men who outlived Joshua had died, the children of Israel did evil and stopped worshipping God.  They served other gods.  This made God angry, and He let their enemies overcome them.  Then the children of Israel groaned and cried to the Lord, and God sent a judge to deliver them.  They did this several times, and they had several  judges.  This is the story of the last judge of Israel, Samuel.  Samuel was also a priest.

A man named Elkanah took his family to Shiloh to worship God each year.  Hannah, Elkanah's wife, was unhappy because she had no children, and she wanted a baby very much.   Even though Elkanah loved her, she was still sad. One year when they went to Shiloh to take their offering, Hannah went to the temple and prayed earnestly to the Lord saying, If thou will give thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life. I Samuel 1:11.  After that Hannah was no longer sad.  The next year Hannah and Elkanah had a baby they named Samuel, which means "asked of God."  When Samuel was old enough, his parents packed his clothes in a neat bundle and took him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh.  They brought him to Eli, the priest.  Hannah told him she had prayed for the child, and that she was lending him to the Lord for as long as he lived. Hannah showed how much she loved God when she gave up the son she had wanted so much.  Eli knew God was pleased with Hannah.  Every year when Elkanah went with his offering, Hannah went with him and took a little coat she had made for Samuel.  He was growing taller and needed the new coat.  She was thankful Samuel could serve the Lord with Eli.

Eli had two sons who did many things that displeased the Lord. Even though he knew what they did, Eli allowed them to be priests Samuel lived in the temple with Eli. One night God spoke to Samuel while he was in his bed. Samuel heard a voice calling him and thought it was Eli. He ran to Eli, and said, "Here am I. You called me." Eli said, "I called not. Go lie down again." The Lord called Samuel again two more times. Then Eli understood that the Lord called the child and told him if he heard the voice again he should answer and say, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." Samuel obeyed, and God told Samuel he was going to punish Eli's house because his sons displeased the Lord by not obeying His Word. After that, Samuel grew, and all Israel knew he was to be a prophet of the Lord. 

As Samuel grew, the Israelites had war with the Philistines. The Israelites thought God had left them and asked Samuel for help.  He told them to turn back to God. The Israelites did put away these other gods and served the Lord only.  The Philistines prepared to go to war.  When they came to battle, the Lord thundered with a great thunder. The Philistines were afraid of the thunder of the Lord and were beaten by Israel. This was a great victory and everyone rejoiced. Samuel set up a stone and called it "Ebenezer" because that is where the Lord helped them.

Later when Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel, but they were not fair in their judgments. The people did not like what his sons did and demanded a king to rule over them.  

Samuel prayed unto the Lord. The Lord told Samuel to give them a king. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. I Samuel 8:7. 

Samuel told the people a king would make their sons and daughters be his servants. The people still wanted a king.

God sent Samuel to Saul, a tall, handsome man. This was the man to be the first king of Israel.  Samuel anointed Saul, which means he poured oil on his head as a way of setting him apart to the Lord. Samuel called all the Israelites to Mizpeh and presented Saul as the king of Israel. The people shouted, "God save the king."

Not long after that, Samuel told the people that he would no longer be their judge. He would stay and live among them, and tell them God's Words.

When Saul had reigned two years, some of his army overcame a group of Philistines soldiers. This angered the Philistines, and they attacked Israel. Samuel heard about the trouble. Saul agreed to meet Samuel at Gilgal in seven days. Samuel was not there, so Saul offered a sacrifice to the Lord. He knew God had commanded only the priests to do this.  The sacrifice was burning when Samuel arrived. When he saw what Saul had done, Samuel asked, "What have you done?" Saul began to make excuses. Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly." He told Saul because he had not kept the commandment of the Lord his kingdom would not continue. The Lord was looking for a man who would follow his ways.  

Another time King Saul went to fight against their enemies, the Amalekites. The Amalekites did not believe in the one true God and would turn others away from God. Saul was told by Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites and all they had. Saul fought against the Amalekites, but he saved Agag the king of the Amalekites alive along with  the best of the sheep, oxen and lambs. This disobedience made Samuel sad. Saul tried to say the people saved the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." I Samuel 15:22,23.  
King Saul's trouble began when he first disobeyed God. He was chosen by God to be Israel's first king. He made a good start, but his life ended badly. Saul did not obey God. 

The Lord then sent Samuel to Bethlehem. God knew there was a young man who followed the Lord there. God wanted him to be the next king. Samuel went to Bethlehem to Jesse's house.  He saw Jesse's sons, thinking the oldest would be the next king. He was a tall man who looked like a man of great respect, but he was not the one God had chosen.  
"But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."I Samuel 16:7.  
The next son was not to be king, nor the next son. After Samuel had seen seven of Jesse's sons, he asked if there were more children.  Jesse had one more son, the youngest, who was watching the sheep. They sent for him, and the Lord let Samuel know this youngest son was the one to be king. Samuel anointed David, the son of Jesse, to be the next king of Israel.  David did not become king right then, but later in God's time.  

Before David actually became the king of Israel, Samuel died. All the Israelites gathered to mourn his death, and they buried him in Ramah. Samuel began his life with a praying mother.  He obeyed the Lord all of his long life. He is a very important person in the history of Israel, who anointed the first two kings. Samuel was the last of the judges of Israel. He learned that people do not always want to follow God's ways. We look on outward appearances, but God sees what people are like on the inside.

Saul

I Samuel 15:22-23

(His story is told in I Samuel 9-31)

King Saul

"..to obey is better than sacrifice..." I Samuel 15:22

One day while Saul was looking for the lost livestock of his father, Kish, he met Samuel. Before Samuel left, he secretly poured oil on Saul's head to dedicate him to the Lord as king. The Israelites had wanted a king, and this tall, handsome man was the one God had chosen for their first king. Later all the Israelites were gathered at Mizpeh where Samuel proclaimed him king. The people shouted, "God save the king!" Some of the men did not like Saul. They spoke against him and brought him no presents. Saul was kind and did not answer them. 

One of the cities of Israel was about to be attacked by the Ammonites. They asked for help from other cities. Saul heard about it and got others in his kingdom to fight and win against the Ammonites. He could have then punished the men that had spoken against him when he was made king, but he did not. He was generous  to them! During his time as king, Saul fought against the Philistines and the Amalekites. He was a brave leader, but did not obey God as he should have.  

When Saul had reigned three years and had a small army, the Israelites had killed a group of Philistine soldiers. The large Philistine army set themselves to attack Israel.  Saul was to meet Samuel at Gilgal to offer a sacrifice before the battle. When Samuel was late arriving, some of Saul's soldiers were afraid and ran away. Saul, who was not a priest, offered the sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel. Only priests were to offer sacrifices. Saul began to make excuses when asked about it by Samuel. Samuel told him, "You have done foolishly."  If you had not disobeyed God, your family would have ruled Israel for a long time. Now your kingdom will not last, but will be given to a man who will follow God in all his ways. However, Jonathan, Saul's son, led an attack against the Philistines, and God gave Israel a great victory.

King Saul made war with other nations that troubled his people. Before going against the Amalekites, Samuel said to Saul, You must destroy everything. You must not take anything you find there. Saul with an army of two hundred ten thousand men attacked the Amalekites and won another great victory. Even though Samuel told him not to keep anything for himself, Saul took king Agag a prisoner. The Israelites also spared the best of the sheep, oxen and lambs. The Word of the Lord came to Samuel saying, I am sorry I made Saul king. He does not follow my ways and does not obey my commandments. Samuel was greatly disappointed too. When he met Samuel this time, Saul said, I have performed the commandment of the Lord. Samuel asked, "What do the animal sounds I hear mean?" Saul said the people wanted to save the best of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel told Saul, Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. I Samuel 15:22 
Samuel turned away to go to his home. He did not see Saul anymore before he died, but he mourned for Saul.  

When Samuel told Saul that God had rejected him, he did not lay aside his crown and stop being king. He went on ruling his people, but his good spirit was taken away. His heart and mind were troubled and he acted strangely. His servants saw this in the king and said to him, An evil spirit troubles you. Let us find a person who can play a harp. The sweet music will make you feel better. Saul agreed. The servants found David, the shepherd boy, whom Samuel had anointed king, even though Saul did not know that. David played the harp and King Saul's spirit was much better. David also killed a big enemy of Israel. Now King Saul not only loved David, but was grateful to him. David and the king's son, Jonathan, became close friends at that time and remained friends. 

David soon became a favorite of the people. This made King Saul jealous, and he hated him.  Three different times when David played his harp for the king, Saul threw a spear at him and tried to kill him. David saw it coming and was able to get away. David wanted to marry Saul's daughter. Saul told him to kill one hundred Philistines, and David could marry his daughter. Saul thought David would be killed in battle, but David killed two hundred Philistines. Saul had to let David marry his daughter. Saul became more and more jealous of David. He acted friendly to David, but he tried to kill him again. David's wife and his friend, Jonathan, both warned him about King Saul wanting to kill him. Finally, David had to run away and hide. Saul hunted David. One of his servants told the king that David had been with a priest. Saul believed the priest had helped David, so he ordered the death of all the priests. One of the priests got away and ran to David.  

Saul looked for David in the mountains, woods, and caves. One day Saul went into a cave, but did not see David and his men in the cave. When Saul fell asleep, David's men wanted to kill him, but David would not let them because Saul was the anointed of God. David cut a piece from Saul's robe. Outside the cave, David called for King Saul and said, I could have killed you, but I would not harm the Lord's anointed. I have cut a piece of your robe, so you can see I could have harmed you. Then Saul remembered how he had once loved David. He returned home with his men.  

Another time when Saul and his army was camped in the wilderness, David and another man found all the soldiers asleep. Saul's spear was stuck in the ground next to him, and his water bottle was near. The other man wanted to kill Saul, but David would not let him again because the king was the Lord's anointed. They took the spear and water bottle and left the camp. On a hill outside the camp, David loudly called to the captain of  Saul's army, "Did you leave your king without protection?" Someone could have killed him. Instead they took his spear and bottle of water. I have them. Saul was awakened. He saw how easily David could have killed him. He promised not to harm David, but David could not believe him. 

Saul's trouble began when he disobeyed God. His thoughts were wrong. After years of this, Saul became a troubled old man. The Philistines still fought with Israel.  David had left, so Saul did not have a great leader. He had to go to battle himself against the Philistines. When he saw the Philistine army, he was afraid. Saul had commanded the priests to be killed.  Faithful Samuel was dead. God would not speak to Saul. Saul was so afraid, he went to see a witch. Perhaps she could tell him what to do. What he heard from her made him more afraid. Saul heard that his kingdom would be given to David and he and all three of his sons would be killed in battle the next day. That is exactly what happened. The Philistines won a great victory. Brave men from Israel took the bodies and buried them and fasted seven days. 

Saul was chosen by God to be Israel's first king. He made a good start, but his life ended badly. Saul did not obey God. He tried to make it appear that he was doing what God wanted him to do, but he really did not do what God said for him to do. When God told Saul to kill the Amalekites and destroy all they had, Saul did not completely obey. Because of that his kingdom was taken from him and given to David. 

Sometimes we may want to follow others who are not doing what is right. We may do what we think would please God, but not do what God has already told us to do. That is the reason God told Saul through Samuel that to obey was better than sacrifice. God communicates with us and has told us what to do to please Him. We must always do what is pleasing to God.

David

Acts 13:22

(His story is told in I Samuel 16 through I Kings 2)

David- The Shepherd Boy

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.


One day in the fields near Bethlehem, a shepherd boy watched his father's sheep. A messenger ran to him to tell him to go to his father's house. When David, the shepherd boy, came to his father's house, he was anointed to be the next king of Israel by the priest Samuel. That means Samuel poured oil on his head to set him apart unto God. David did not become king then, but went back to the fields to watch his father's sheep. The Spirit of God was on David from that time, and he thought much about God. David loved being outside on the hills. The trees, flowers, and animals reminded him of God the Creator of all things. As he cared for the sheep, he played his harp and made songs about the things he saw on the hills and valleys. Many of these songs or psalms are in the Bible. 

Samuel not only anointed David to be king, but told King Saul that his kingdom would be taken away. Saul did not take off his crown, but continued to rule the people. He did not obey God's commands, so God took away the good spirit He had given Saul. Saul began to feel sad, and he acted strangely. His servants noticed the change and said, An evil spirit is troubling you. Let us find a young man to play sweet music to make you feel better. Saul said, Find such a man and bring him to me. They brought David to King Saul. David played his harp, and Saul was refreshed. David played so well that Saul was very pleased, and David spent much time with him in his house. 

During this time the Philistines had gathered their armies on a mountain, and Israel was on another mountain with a valley between them. One of the Philistines, a giant named Goliath, mocked the armies of Israel every morning and evening for forty days. Three of David's brothers were in the army of Israel. His father sent him to take food to them and find out how they were. When he got there, he saw Goliath, who was more than nine feet tall. The giant was shouting, Choose ye a man to fight me. If he kills me, we will be your servants. If I kill him, you will be our servants. No one from Israel would dare to go fight this giant. All were greatly afraid. When David saw it, he asked, "Why should this wicked Philistine bother us? I will kill him." Someone told King Saul, and he sent for David. Saul said, You are just a boy, and the giant has been a man of war since his youth. David told the king how he had killed a lion and a bear that took a lamb out of his flock of sheep. He said the Philistine would be like the lion and bear, and the Lord would deliver David from him. Saul said, "Go, and the Lord be with you."

On the way back, David picked up five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his bag. As he walked toward the giant, David had a sling and a stone in his hand. When Goliath saw David, he said, Am I a dog that you, a boy, should come to fight me? David shouted, "You come to me with a sword, spear and shield. I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts Who will deliver you to me. Then all the earth will know there is a God in Israel." David slang the stone, and it hit Goliath in the forehead. He fell to the ground with a great thud. The Philistines ran away, and the armies of Israel won the battle. The people of Israel were glad that they had won.

When David went back to the king's house, he met Saul's son, Jonathan. Jonathan admired David's bravery very much. They soon became close friends, but the king was jealous of David because the people also admired him, and the women sang about his bravery. One day as David played his sweet music on the harp, Saul was so angry and jealous that he threw a spear at him. David was able to get away. In all of this, David acted wisely. Another time, King Saul threw a spear at David.Again, David got away from it. Finally, Saul ordered David to be killed. David was afraid of the king, but he knew the Lord was with him. Jonathan saw what was happening and warned David to leave and run for his life. The two friends would miss each other. They made an agreement before the Lord to stay friends even though Jonathan's father wanted to kill David. 

David hid in caves, mountains and woods, but Saul hunted him there. David was running for his life. He was afraid of his enemy, Saul. David thought, Will I be killed before I become king? How long will the king follow me and try to kill me? David had to trust God to take care of him. Other men joined him in the mountains and woods. These men became David's army. They all ran and hid from the men of Saul for a long time. They had to move many times to get away. David and his men even lived among the Philistines for over a year.

One day Saul went into a cave, but did not know David and his men were there too. When Saul fell asleep, David's men wanted to kill Saul. David would not let them, but he cut a piece of cloth from Saul's robe. Outside the cave, David called for King Saul and said, "I could have killed you, but I would not hurt God's anointed. I have cut a piece from your robe, so you can see I could have harmed you." David would not harm the person anointed or set apart unto God. Saul knew it was true, and stopped chasing David to go home. Another time, David went into Saul's camp while all were asleep. He took Saul's spear and bottle of water. How easily David could have killed him, but he did not. David knew that he would be king after Saul's death, but he waited for God to give him the kingdom.

For years David ran away from Saul. Israel still fought against their enemies. Part of this time David and his men lived in a city named Ziklag. While they were away, the Amalekites, their enemies, had burned the city and had carried away their wives and children. David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (I Samuel 30:6). David took part of his men and went after them. The Amalekites were eating and dancing because of all they had taken. David killed all the men who did not run away and brought back all that the Amalekites had taken.

The Philistines still made war against Israel. King Saul had not only tried to kill David, but he had the priests killed. When he was going to war, there was no one who could pray for him to God. King Saul did what he knew he should not have done. He was afraid and went to a witch to ask about the battle. He had ordered all the witches out of the land, but he knew where one was living and went to her. The next day when the Israelites fought the Philistines, Saul and his three sons were all killed in battle. 

Three days later after David had come back from fighting the Amalekites, he saw a messenger coming and asked him, "How did the battle go?" The man answered him, "The men of Israel ran from the battle and many were killed. Saul and Jonathan were killed too." David asked, "How do you know this?" The man gave David the crown of Saul and his bracelet. David was full of sorrow. He mourned, wept, and did not eat all that day for the death of Saul and Jonathan. He said, "I am distressed. I will miss Jonathan very much. He was my best friend." David went to live at Hebron, but it was a very sad time for him.

David became the greatest king of Israel, but he started as a shepherd boy. David learned to obey his father in watching his sheep. He was wise in the way he acted with King Saul even though he was afraid many times. David trusted God and followed him with all his heart. God had chosen David as just such a person to lead his people, and He took care of David.

David - The King

Praise ye the Lord.  Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. Psalm 112:1

David was the greatest and best known king of Israel.  He believed in the Lord.  

When David lived at Hebron, the men of Judah made him their king. "Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel." (I Chronicles 11:3). David made Joab chief captain of the army and had many mighty men to stand with him. There was a long war between Saul's men and David's men. David got stronger and stronger, while Saul's men got weaker and weaker. When Saul's leaders were no longer alive, others came to David wanting him to be their king. They knew God had chosen David to be their ruler. They made him king over all the land. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah. (II Samuel 5:4, 5)

David wanted to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. The priests had been commanded to carry the ark on their shoulders by the staves in the rings on the side of the ark. Instead the people set the ark on a new cart. To put the ark on a cart was not the way God had planned to move the ark.  All the people were excited to see the ark come to the city. They played music and sang praises to God. Then as the oxen pulled the cart over a rough place in the road, the ark shook. One of the men put out his hand to make the ark steady. When he touched the ark, he fell down dead. God had commanded that no one but priests were to touch the ark, but the people did not follow God's command. One man was dead because they did not follow God's command. David was afraid and left the ark at the home of a man who lived near by. Later, David sent priests to bring the ark to Jerusalem on their shoulders. When the ark was back, they offered sacrifices to God. 

After he became king, David still missed Jonathan very much. One day he asked a servant about Jonathan's family. David said, "Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" (II Samuel 9:1). He learned that Jonathan had a son, Mephibosheth, who could not walk very well. Mephibosheth is a big name for a little boy! When Jonathan went to battle in Mount Gilboa, he kissed his little son and left. That was the last time the boy saw his father. Jonathan was killed in battle that day with his brothers and his father, King Saul. When the news came of the battle, the servants were afraid because their king was dead. Mephibosheth was only five years old, so he could not run very fast. His nurse picked him up and ran with him. She must have stumbled because the little boy fell and was hurt badly. He could not run again. 

When Mephibosheth grew older, David sent for him. Mephibosheth thought, What could the king want? When he came before the king, David said, "Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually."  (II Samuel 9:7). For his friend Jonathan's sake, David was kind to Mephibosheth as long as he lived.

There was a time when David had rest from his enemies. He was very rich. He thought about the beautiful house he had built for himself. God still lived in the tabernacle, or tent, the children of Israel had made for Him. David wanted to build a beautiful house for the Lord where the people could come and worship and offer sacrifices. Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee." (II Samuel 7:3). From that time on, David gathered material to build the house of the Lord. But he was not to build it. His son would build the house of the Lord with all the material David had brought to Jerusalem. "And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever." (I Chronicles 17:11, 12).

One day when other kings were at war, David was at home. He saw a woman named Bathsheba, who was very beautiful. He wanted to marry her. He found that she was already married to a soldier named Uriah. David still wanted Bathsheba to be his wife. He commanded that her husband, Uriah, be put in a dangerous place in the battle so he would be killed. When he was dead, David took  Bathsheba as his wife. Nathan, the prophet, came to see David. He told the king a story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had many flocks and herds, but the poor man only had one pet lamb. The rich man wanted to give his friends something to eat when they came to see him. Instead of taking one of his sheep, he killed the poor man's pet lamb to cook for his friends. David became angry about the rich man!  Nathan said,"That was just a story. You are like the rich man because you wanted Uriah's wife. You commanded that he be put where he would be killed in battle." David knew he had done a terrible thing, and he said, "I have sinned against the Lord." (II Samuel 12:13). God forgave David's sin, but did not take away the punishment. Nathan told David that he had given the enemies of the Lord something to speak to others against God. The first baby born to David and Bathsheba died. God gave them another baby later whom they named Solomon. God loved Solomon and chose him to be the next king of Israel. 

One of David's sons, Absalom, was not humble and did not try to please God.  Absalom wanted to be king when his father died. Perhaps he did not know God had chosen his younger brother, Solomon, to be the next king. Absalom did not want to wait until his father died to become king, so he became friendly with the people. He stood by the gate of the city speaking to everyone who entered the city. He told them what he would do for them if he were king. Some of the people liked what he said and they wanted to make him king. They gathered at Hebron to make Absalom their king. When David heard about their plan, he and his servants left Jerusalem weeping. Absalom decided to find David and kill him  A friend of David whom Absalom thought was his friend, told Absalom to form an army first. That gave him time to warn David of Absalom's plan. David crossed the River Jordan and hid in a town close by. David divided his men into three groups to meet Absalom's men. He asked them to be kind to Absalom for his sake. David's men won the battle.  Many of Absalom's men ran away. Absalom tried to get through the woods on his mule. The mule ran under a tree with low branches. The branches caught Absalom's head, but the mule kept going. Absalom hung by his head from the branches of the tree. One of David's men saw what happened and ran to tell Joab, the captain of David's army. Joab did not think about David asking them to deal gently with Absalom. Joab killed Absalom. A messenger ran and told King David his son was dead. David was very sorrowful. "And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people; for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son." (II Samuel 18:33, 19:2). Soon afterward, David and his followers went back to Jerusalem to live again. 

Israel grew to a strong nation under King David. He may have wondered how large an army he could raise. God knew David was not trusting in the Lord, but in the number of his armies. God was not pleased with this. Still, David commanded his captain, Joab, to count the soldiers. Joab did not think this was a good idea, but counted the soldiers when David told him again to do it. When the counting was finished, David knew he had many thousands of men. He also knew he had done wrong to count his soldiers. David confessed this saying, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done." (II Samuel 24:10). David was given a choice of three years of not enough food for the people to eat, three months running from his enemies, or three days of a great sickness. David chose the great sickness. He said, "Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man." (II Samuel 24:14). Many people died from the sickness. David went to Araunah to buy his threshing floor to build an altar unto God. When Araunah saw him coming, he said he would give the threshing floor to David. David did not want to sacrifice to the Lord that which cost him nothing. So he bought the threshing floor and offered to the Lord burnt offerings and peace offerings.  God was pleased with David's offerings, and the great sickness ended. 

By this time, King David was an old man. He had gathered much to build a house for the Lord.  He had fought many wars. He lay on his bed day after day. The people knew he would die soon. They thought his son Adonijah would be the next king. The prophet Nathan knew God had chosen Solomon to be the next king. He spoke to Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, who went to see the King David. She asked him if he had not promised that Solomon would be king after him. David said that Solomon would indeed sit on his throne. David called for the priest and prophet. He told them, "Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. (I Kings 1:33, 34). The people were happy with their new king, but Adonijah was afraid. Solomon called for him and let him go home in peace. David did not live long after that, but he did call together the leaders of Israel. David told them he would not build the house of the Lord because he had been a man of war, but Solomon his son would build it. Then David told these wise words to his son, "When I am gone, be strong and obey all the Lord's commands. Then you will prosper." David reigned over Israel forty years. He reigned in Hebron seven years, and in Jerusalem thirty-three years. "And he died in a good old age, full of day, riches, and honor: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead." (I Chronicles 29:28).

Thus ended the life of a man who desired to follow God with his whole heart.  David did not always do right, but he did confess his sins and try to do right after that.  David was a man who trusted wholly in the Lord. 

 

Jonathan

I Samuel 18:1

(His story is told in I Samuel 13-31)

Abigail

I Samuel 25:32-33

(Her story is told in I Samuel 25-II Samuel 2)

Solomon

Nehemiah 13:26

(His story is told in II Samuel 26-I Kings 11:43)

Elijah

I Kings 18:21

(His story is told in I Kings 17:1- II Kings 2:11)

Elisha

II Kings 2:9

(His story is told in I Kings 19:16-II Kings 13:20)

Jonah

Jonah was the son of the prophet Amittai. He lived during Jeroboam’s reign (793-753 B.C) and was an Israelite called of God to proclaim God’s message as a prophet. In II Kings 14:25, he prophesied that Jeroboam II would expand his kingdom made him a popular preacher. Though outwardly impressive to others, God ordered events in his life that revealed weaknesses in his character. Jonah failed the sailors, failed to pray, failed to preach the message of hope, failed to live the message of hope, but Jonah finally repented and he witnessed a revival among a very sinful people.

Life Lessons:

  • God has spoken. We need to heed His Word (II Timothy 3:16-17;I Peter 2:2 2).

  • When we refuse His Words, God sends storms to get our attention (Jonah 1:4; Psalm 107:23-31).

  • It is our human nature to want to chart our own course in life (Jonah 1:2-3; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 53:6; I Peter 2:25).

  • There is always a “ship” available to take us away from the joy of God‘s presence. There will be a fare to be paid (Jonah 1:3, 5, 9-10; Psalm16:11; Psalm 51:12).

  • God is omniscient. No one can hide from God! (Psalm 139:7-10; Hebrews 4:13).

  • God is sovereign in all things: the storm, fish, gourd, worm, scorching wind, and in all the events of our lives! We need to look for God at work in the events of our lives (I Peter 4:12-13).

  • God is persistent in molding the lives of His servants (Hebrews 12:6-7; Romans 2:4; Revelation 3:19).

  • Genuine repentance may come only after "hitting bottom" (Jonah 2:1; Psalm 119:67, 71, 75).

  • Just "feeling bad" is not the same as repentance (Jonah 1:10-11; Matthew 27:3-5; II Corinthians 7:9-10).

  • Prayers of repentance focus on getting right, not just getting relief (Jonah 2:7-9; I John 1:9; Psalm 51:1-13).

  • God can give His children a second chance to serve (Jonah 3:1-2; I Corinthians 1:26-31).

  • God is forgiving when even the most wicked repent (Jonah 3:5-10; Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21; I Timothy 1:12-15).

  • All people need to know of their sinful condition and God's provided remedy (Psalm 96:3-4; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:12-13; Luke 13:3; II Peter 3:9).


  • God wants us to evaluate our own heart and see lost souls as He sees them (Jonah 4:5; Matthew 9:36; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 139:23-24; Matthew 15:19-20a; Hebrews 4:12).

  • God wants us to have a cause worth living for (Jonah 4:8; Philippians 1:21; I Corinthians 9:16).


Josiah

II Kings 23:25

(His story is told in II Chronicles 34-35)

Nehemiah

Nehemiah 2:18

(His story is told in the Book of Nehemiah)

Esther

Esther 4:16

(Her story is told in the Book of Esther)

Job

James 5:10-11

(His story is told in the Book of Job)

Isaiah

Isaiah 6:8

(His story is told in II Kings 19-20:19 and the Book of Isaiah)

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:6-8

(His story is told in the Book of Jeremiah)

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 3:17

(His story is told in the Book of Ezekiel)

Daniel

Daniel 1:8

(His story is told in the Book of Daniel)

Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

Daniel 3:16-18

(Their story is told in the Book of Daniel)

Joseph

Matthew 1:19-29

His story is told in Matthew 1:18-2:23)

Mary

(mother of Jesus)

Luke 1:38 (Her story is told throughout the Gospels)

John the Baptist

Matthew 11:11

(His story is told throughout the Gospels)

Peter

Mark 1:16-17

(His story is told in the Gospels and Acts. He wrote I & II Peter)

Martha

Luke 10:41

(Her story is found in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-46)

Mary

(sister of Martha and Lazarus)

Mark 14:8-9

(Her story is told in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-46 and John 12:1-8)

Judas Iscariot

Luke 22:3-4

(His story told in the Gospels)

Mary Magdalene

Luke 8:2

(Her story is told in Luke 23-24)

Stephen

Acts 7:59-60

(His story is told in Acts 6-7)

Philip

The term “evangelist” means a “messenger of good." It is only found three times in Scripture and is used of only one man whose name was Philip (Acts 21:8).

 

Life Lessons:

 When the term evangelist is associated with Philip, he is not traveling, but he is at home (Acts 21:8-9). This passage reveals him later in life, after many ministry experiences, and successful in what really matters. The most important ministry is at home (Deuteronomy 6; Joshua 24:24; II Timothy 5:8).

The most important recipients of our labors for the Lord are our children (Psalm 78; Proverbs 22:7).

The effective leader in ministry has serving children (I Timothy 3:4; III John 1:4).

A godly home is one of hospitality (I John v.5-9).

Paul very likely had Philip in mind as an example to the younger generation when he encouraged Timothy (II Timothy 4:5) and the Ephesian believers (Ephesians 4:11-13).

 

In his younger years Philip served in the Jerusalem church as a deacon, a term which means "a servant" (Acts 6). Serving God requires good character and a heart to serve others.

Even “small jobs” are spiritual. The heart attitude reveals whether it is “spiritual” work (I Corinthians 10:31; I Corinthians 3:13).

Faithful service today provides a launching point for future ministry (I Corinthians 4:2).

 

Philip served as a missionary carrying the Gospel cross-culturally (Acts 8:5-8).

He did not shy away from proclaiming God’s Word in a hard place like Samaria (Acts 8:1-8).

He was a leader. His ministry was the first time in the Book of Acts that the ministry of the Word is moved from Jewish territory (Acts 8:5).

He boldly rebuked religious conformity with carnal motives (Acts 8:9-25).

He believed in the value of one soul. He left a thriving ministry to go to the solitude of the desert for one soul (Acts 8:26-27).

He was not prejudicial (Acts 8:29-30; Deuteronomy 23:1).                                                                                                     

He was quick to respond to an opportunity to share hope in Christ (Acts 8:29).                  

He gave answers to questions from Scripture (Acts 8:30-35).                                            

He helped a new believer in steps of growth (Acts 8:36-38).                                                

He evidenced an urgency to reach the unreached for Christ (Acts 8:40).

Simon the Sorcerer

Acts 8:9

(His story is told in Acts 8)

Paul

Acts 9:15-16

(His story is told throughout the New Testament)

Dorcas

Acts 9:36

(Her story is told in Acts 9:36-42)

Cornelius

Acts 10:1-2

(His story is told in Acts 10-11)

Barnabus

Barnabas is described in Acts 11:24 as “a good man.” It doesn’t say he was great man, brilliant, or exceptionally gifted. He was not one of the 12 apostles and he never wrote a Book of the Bible. He did impact the lives of Paul and John Mark who were inspired to write Scripture. .He was nicknamed Joseph by the Jerusalem believers which means “Son of Encouragement.” Barnabas was truly an encourager.

Life Lessons:

  • He treasured people. He sacrificially invested his resources in God’s work (Acts 4:36-37).
  • He took risk. He showed courage to minister to one with a dangerous background (Acts 8:1-3; 9:26; II Corinthians 12:15; I Timothy 1:13-15).
  • He served the local church in Jerusalem and could be trusted to represent them in ministry (Acts 11:19-26).
  • He saw the value of team effort (Acts 11:25). He was not jealous or competitive (I Corinthians 3:3).
  • He served the local church in Antioch and he was first to pioneer with Paul on missionary outreach (Acts 13:1-3).
  • He took initiative and saw the potential in people instead of problems. He was faithful. He wasn’t overly preoccupied with timetables and visible results (Acts 15:37-38).

John Mark

John Mark was given a great opportunity by his uncle Barnabas to join him and the Apostle Paul on their missionary journey (Acts 12:25). John Mark served for a short while and then left the team. Later he became a profitable servant of God.

Life Lessons:

  • The home is an important place of a child’s preparation for God’s calling (Acts 12:12).
  • Ministry is not glamorous; it is hard work requiring a servant’s heart (Acts 13:5; Matthew 20:27-28).
  • It is important to count the cost of any endeavor (Acts 13:13; Luke 14:28) and to determine to finish well (II Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 12:1-2).
  • Young believers will struggle and sometimes fail. They need encouragers like Barnabas to mentor them in God’s plan (Acts 15:39-41).

God can accomplish His plan in time through unlikely people (II Timothy 4:11).

Can you identify with the challenges of his life? How does the story of his life touch you?

Lydia

Lydia was the first recorded European saved under Paul’s ministry. She was “a seller of purple” which indicates she was probably wealthy from selling a valuable and expensive cloth used by nobility and royalty. The Lord opened her heart to Paul’s preaching. She and her family publically professed their faith in Christ and identified with His followers. Her Christian home was dedicated to ministry to others.

Life Lessons:                                                                                                       

  • Lydia is a reminder that there are no ethnic barriers in the family of God (Colossians 3:11; Romans 10:12-13)
  • Worship is not confined to a building. Prayer and worship is from the heart and can be given toGod by a riverside or anywhere.
  • A person’s value system is not dictated by their income. Lydia may have been wealthy, but her values were not in temporal things that would not ultimately satisfy. Her lifestyle focused on God’s kingdom.
  • A Christian home can be greatly used of God to be a blessing to others (Acts 16:15, 40).

Can you identify with the values seen in her life?

How does the story of her life touch you?

Philippian Jailor

The Philippian Jailor was a man in charge of men and he gave the orders. His career was important to him. He took his responsibilities very seriously, but an impulsive and uninformed decision almost cost him not just his job, but his life. God was concerned for this ungodly man and decided to shake things up a bit. As a result, the lives of this man and his family were changed forever.

Life Lessons:

  • A life built upon a career or anything else instead of God will ultimately crumble (Matthew 7:25; Acts 4:11-12).
  • Impulsive and uninformed decisions can end tragically (Proverbs 18:13).
  • God’s presence and power are necessary to see lives changed. The earthquake illustrates the need of the miraculous power of God to get the attention of men who are in a hopeless state.
  • Some people must “hit bottom” before they come to Christ (Acts 16:27).
  • When we love the unlovely, we are most like Christ (Romans 5:8). An unlovely person was loved and his life was changed forever (Acts 16:28).
  • God expects a contrite spirit (Acts 16:29; Psalm 19:7; 51:17).
  • A new life requires personal decision (Acts 16:30).
  • Change begins by responding to the simple invitation to believe (Acts 16:31).
  • The first steps of growth for a new believer includes professing his new faith publically through baptism (Acts 16:33).
  • The beginning of the healing process involves making things right (Acts 16:33).
  • One life genuinely changed by Christ can impact an entire family (Acts 16:34). 
  • A home dedicated to ministering to the needs of others will be blessed (Acts 16:34).
  • If one soul (or more!) comes to Christ through our suffering, it will be worth it all (I Peter 4:16, 19)

Can you identify with the challenges of his life?

How does the story of his life touch you?

Aquila & Priscilla

Priscilla and Aquila are a team. They are about serving, not self promotion. In four of the six references to them, Priscilla is mentioned first. Never does there appear a competitive spirit! They use their God-given gifts. They didn't covet the public speaking ability of other people like Paul and Apollos. They demonstrate that ministry and marriage can and should be complimentary. Aquila and Priscilla are never in Scripture mentioned separately. They are always together, working together, serving together, with unity, and compatibility. They are a picture of commitment and dependence on each other (Acts18:1-3).

Life Lessons:

Aquila and Priscilla were hospitable. They were able to help the Apostle Paul during his second missionary journey in a practical way by opening their home to him. Hospitality is an important part of ministry (I Peter 4:9; I Timothy 3:2).

Aquila and Priscilla remained strong in spite of the difficulties of many changing circumstances. They had migrated to Rome from the province of Pontus. Because of the expulsion of all Jews by Claudius in A.D.52, they had to leave. They then lived in Corinth and were discipled by Paul. They later moved to Ephesus and years later they again settled back in Rome. God allowed them to experience persecution that brought them to Corinth.

Aquila and Priscilla were willing to open their hearts and their home to meet the needs of a servant of God. God blessed them with an enduring friendship with Paul and they received tremendous blessing and instruction through an eighteen month intensive Bible study (Acts 18:11).

God led Aquila and Priscilla to travel with Paul as far as Ephesus on his journey to his home church at Antioch (Ephesians 18:18-22). They wanted to be to be an encouragement to his outreach ministry even if it was only for part of the trip. Their words and action show their love (Philippians 2:4). Both in their home and “on the road” they sought to be a blessing to God’s servant. Think about who God has brought along side of you at times in your life to be an encouragement (Proverbs 12:25).

Ephesus was the capital and leading business center of the Roman province of Asia (part of present day Turkey). A hub of sea and land transportation, it ranked with Antioch in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt as one of the great cities on the Mediterranean Sea. God gave Aquila and Pricilla a unique discipleship opportunity (Acts 18:24-28). They were carefully listening to the preaching of Apollos. They discerned that this preacher lacked needed information. Apollos had heard only what John the Baptist had said about the coming Messiah (Luke 3:1-18) and did not know Jesus had already come and been crucified and resurrected for our sin (I Corinthians 15:1-4). Consider what they did to help him.

I Corinthians 16:19 (written from Ephesus in A.D. 55).
On his third missionary journey, Paul returned to Ephesus and stayed for a three year period (Acts 20:31). Here Paul writes the believers at Corinth and extends the greetings of Aquila and Priscilla. Their greeting tells their friends they are thought of and missed. Consider how Aquila and Priscilla are using their home in Ephesus at this time to serve the Lord.

Romans 16:3-5 (written from Corinth in A.D. 57).
At the time of this writing, Aquila and Priscilla have returned to Rome after the death of the Emperor Claudius. They gave assistance that was personal, practical, and spiritual. Think about how they are described by the Apostle Paul in this passage.

Many of the believers of the early church were committed to have homes that would be a godly environment for worship (see Acts 2:46; 5:42; 20:20). As Priscilla and Aquila hosted church services in their home, they maintained a home atmosphere that honored God as a place of fellowship, discipleship, and worship. Paul, Apollos, and the church family felt right at home. Is your home an available tool for the Lord to use?

II Timothy 4:19 (written from prison in Rome in A.D. 66).
In the final words of his final letter written in A.D. 67, the Apostle Paul salutes Priscilla and Aquila who are now living in Ephesus again. Paul is soon to be executed by the Roman Emperor Nero for his faith. Paul cherished his special friendship with Aquila and Priscilla which lasted over a 15 year period. Think about the Christian friends God has blessed you with over the years. Take opportunity to greet them or to write to them.

There is every indication that Aquila remained faithful in their Christian faith to the end of their lives. What a blessing to see a couple begin to serve God and also finish strong. How we finish is important (see Ecclesiastes 7:1).


Finishing well requires endurance (Look at the four occupations listed in II Timothy 2:2-6). Perhaps you have failed in the past. The question now is, how will you finish (read Philippians 3:12-14)? Paul is an example of finishing strong for the Lord (see II Timothy 4:6-8)!

  • Review the Scriptures that we have studied about this special couple.

  • What qualities do you see that you desire for your life and marriage?

  • Visit with you spouse. Talk about your strengths and weakness. Pray together about the ways God wants to strengthen you both in your ministry for Him!

Apollos

Apollos was a passionate preacher, but he lacked training. Apollos was approached by Aquila and his wife, Priscilla who expounded unto him “the way of God more perfectly.” They taught him personally and privately (Acts 18:24-28). This young preacher was sincere and teachable in spirit. He humbly received the truth shared with him by a more mature brother and sister in Christ and became an effective preacher of the Gospel (Acts 18:29).

Life Lessons:

  • Not all preaching is necessarily accurate. It is important today to be discerning like Aquila and Priscilla.

  • There are sincere believers that need discipleship from caring Christians like Aquila and Priscilla.

  • A wise man will receive godly counsel (Proverbs 1:5;9:8-9).

  • A wise man will reject sinful counsel (Proverbs 1:10).

  • Believers need to restore one who is willing to receive the truth (James 5:19-20). They also need to separate from one who rejects the truth.

  • Scripture warns us of those in the last days who will reject the truth and preach false doctrine (See I John 2:18-21).

  • II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15, tells us how are we to respond to one who has an unteachable spirit (see also Titus 1:9-16; 2:1).

  • A false teacher has a substitute for God’s Word (see Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32). He will add to God’s Word (see Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18). He will take away from God’s Word (see Revelation 22:19).

  • According to II Peter 2:1-22 false teachers are found even among genuine believers (v.1), they can influence others away from the truth (v.2), and their words are impressive (v.18). False teachers promise others that they themselves are not experiencing (v.19).

God uses people like Aquila and Pricilla, but may also use circumstances to change a person’s thinking (see Psalm 119:67,71,75).


Take some time to study the Scripture and think about these questions:

  • When counsel is received, what is the blessing that is described in James 5:19-20?

  • What does God promise in Proverbs 1:23; 15:31; 25:12; 27:17; 28:9; 29:1?

  • According to Proverbs 27:6, what is better than the kisses of the deceitful?

  • According to Ephesians 4:14-15, how should we speak the truth to others?

  • According to III John verse 4, what is our walk (way of life) to be characterized by?

  • Read Matthew 18:15 and consider what a Christian is to do when a brother or sister in Christ has done wrong against him.

  • Read Matthew 5:23-24 and consider what a Christian is to do when he realizes that he has done wrong to someone else.

  • Take a moment to review Galatians 5:22-23. What spirit should a believer have in seeking to restore a brother according to Galatians 6:1?

  • According to Matthew 10:32-39, which individuals turn away from the truth that we share?

  • How does Scripture say that a person responds who rejects the truth of God‘s Word (see I Corinthians 2:14; I John 4:4-6; Galatians 4:16)?

  • The power of the Word of God is the secret to changed lives (see II Timothy 3:16-17 and I Timothy 2:15). What is the blessed man’s delight (see Psalm 1)?

  • What will cleanse a young man’s way and why should we hide God’s Word in our hearts (see Psalm 119:9-11)?

  • Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we are engaged in Spiritual warfare. What weapon do we use (verse 17)?

Timothy

Philippians 2:20—22

(His story is told beginning in Acts 16. I&II Timothy were written to him)

Titus

Titus was entrusted as an ambassador to a struggling church with great needs (II Corinthians 7: 6-16). He was willing to go a difficult place to serve in ministry leadership (Titus 1:10-12). He could be counted on to complete unfinished business (Titus 1:5). He was an example to Jewish believers that God could greatly use a Greek and that Gentile believers were not obligated to fulfill the cultural rites of the Jews (Galatians 2:1-3). He received counsel from the Apostle Paul in a Book that bears his name. He received, taught, and exemplified standards of godly leadership (Titus 1:6-9).

Life Lessons:

  • The fact that not much is known about him reminds us that God uses low-profile people.
  • There is a need for laborers willing to serve in challenging places among difficult people.
  • Faithfulness in our present labors can open doors for future ministry opportunities.
  • Good learners make good teachers (Titus 2:1-8).

Our faith can be revealed to a godless society through our example of living (Titus 3:1-8).

Can you identify with the challenges of his life? How does the story of his life touch you?

Philemon

Philemon's story is found in the Book of Philemon. He was a church leader whose slave had stolen from him and hid out in Rome. The challenge of Paul’s letter and his godly character gave his brother in Christ the confidence to approach him to make things right.

Life Lessons:

  • People who fail will need loving examples to give them truth and a renewed opportunity.
  • Appeal rather than demands can produce a desired response.
  • Where there is forgiveness, God can bring healing to relationships.

Can you identify with the challenges of his life?

How does the story of his life touch you?

Onesimus

The story of Onesimus can be found in the Book of Philemon. He was a runaway slave who realized that he must face his past. To make things right could have meant a death sentence. His obedience was a huge step of faith that was rewarded by God.

Life Lessons:

  • God remains at work in the lives of people who have disobeyed and rebelled.
  • Running from responsibility is never the answer.
  • Christian growth can require addressing painful issues of the past.
  • God can turn a life around.
  • Approaching people we have wronged can bring healing.
  • Obedience and humility can bring about reconciliation.

Can you identify with the challenges of his life?

How does the story of his life touch you?

 



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