Introduction: The ad campaign for the Commonwealth of Virginia is
“Virginia is for lovers.” That may be true, but I would add “Virginia
is for thinkers.” Why? Many years ago some states of the United
States decided that they would allow citizens to designate what was on
their car license plates. California decided to go for “snob appeal,”
and charged hundreds of dollars for “custom” plates. Virginia, in
contrast, let anyone have a custom plate for a fee of $20.00. The
result was that Virginia had a huge revenue flow from this decision
(much more than California, even though California is a more populous
state). Hundreds of thousands of cars registered in Virginia had
custom plates. If you lived in Virginia, what would you put on your
license plates? It appears to me that one of the most popular
decisions is to have your initials and the number 1. For example, “BNC
1.” A lot of people think they are number 1. Our lesson this week
suggests another custom plate: “BNC last.” I’ve never seen a plate
like that. Let’s plunge into our lesson and find out what is going on!
- What Would Jesus Do?
- Read Philippians 2:5. We see the popular slogan, “What
would Jesus do.” This seems a variation on that: “What
would Jesus think?” Is that how you understand this text?
- Once we figure out how Jesus would think, what
attitude He would have, what is required of us? (The
Bible says our attitude should be the same as that of
- Read Philippians 2:6-7. Our text says that Jesus, who “being
in the very nature God,” decided to making “Himself nothing”
by becoming like us. Can that attitude be translated into
- Would we have to become like a dog or cat (or a bug)
to translate that concept to our life?
- Or, is there a more direct comparison: are we
commanded not to “grasp” “equality with God?”
- Read Genesis 3:1-5. How long do you think Satan
contemplated the temptation that he would use on
- What is this temptation? (To become like
God! We have no reason to believe we should
be equal to God, but apparently this is a
huge weakness in humans. In this problem
area we should have the same attitude as
- In the abstract, how hard can that be?
Jesus was God! We are not.
- Read Philippians 2:8. Once Jesus became a human, did He
lower Himself even more? (He humbled Himself to the point of
dying for others.)
- Do we now have a point of reference that we can
follow? (We obviously started out “low” in comparison
to God. But, we can do precisely what Jesus did as
when He was a human.)
- What do you think it means to die for others?
Terrorists die for their cause. Is this the same
concept? (Hardly. Terrorists die to kill others.
Christians give up their life to allow others to live
- Let’s turn next to some Bible stories to see how this
principle should, as a practical matter, be applied in
- What Should Saul Do?
- Read 1 Samuel 13:1-4. What is the background for our story?
(King Saul seems to have sent most of his army home.
However, his son, Jonathan, continues a military campaign
against the Philistines. The Philistines get annoyed, and
decide to take care of the problem. Saul recalls the troops
and the two countries brace for all-out war.)
- Read 1 Samuel 13:5-7. What was the assessment of the average
Israelite soldier about the relative strength of the two
nations? (The Israelites had no chance. They were running
away or hiding.)
- If you were King Saul, what would you do? What would
you want to do?
- Read 1 Samuel 13:8-9, 12. Pretend you are the “lawyer” for
Saul. What argument would you make on his behalf? (I was on
time and in a crisis situation. Samuel was late. He did not
keep his appointment with me or with the country. God is
central to my life. I do not want to go to war without
seeking God’s favor. My situation is critical, my troops
are deserting. Someone has to step in and fix the problem
since Samuel is falling down on his job – which is to invoke
God’s blessing. God made me the King, and I am going to
- What do you think about this argument? Is Saul doing
something that you would do?
- Based on what we studied last week, what is wrong with
Saul’s approach? (He did not wait on God!)
- When it comes to making lawyers’ arguments, you generally
find you have more than one – and they disagree. Let’s look
at the other side of this argument. Read 1 Samuel 10:8. What
would Samuel’s lawyer argue? (Samuel was not late. Saul was
told to wait “seven days until I come.” The seventh day was
not yet finished and Samuel had not yet come.)
- A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory of the Old and New
Testaments suggests that Samuel deliberately waited until
the seventh day to come to “put the constitutional character
of the king to the test.” What do you think this means?(What
the commentary is talking about when it says “constitutional
character,” is the idea of separation of church and state.
Saul (representative of the state) was invading the province
of Samuel (the prophet of God). Instead of waiting on God,
instead of waiting on God’s prophet, Saul took matters into
his own hands.)
- What does this have to do with Eve’s temptation and
our lesson theme about self-sacrifice?(Eve wanted to
“occupy” part of God’s “space” – just like King Saul.
He thought he could be both King and Prophet. When we
want to make ourselves first, we occupy part of God’s
- Wait a minute! Didn’t we start out saying that we
should be like Jesus? What is this argument about
crowding God? Occupying His space? I thought we were
supposed to act as if we were inhabiting God’s space!
- Look at 1 Samuel 10:8 again. What was the last thing that
Samuel was going to do for Saul? (Tell him what he was to
- Was Samuel crossing the separation between church and
state and infringing on Saul’s turf? (The so-called
separation of church and state is not a Biblical
concept as it is most commonly applied in the United
States today. In the Biblical model, it means the
state cannot tread on the church. This fits perfectly
with the idea that man should not assume to be God.
Israel was led by God. Saul was not to move forward
without instructions from God.)
- Are you able to apply this instruction to your life?
Things are falling apart and God wants you to wait on
Him? Do you have sympathy for Saul?
- Read 1 Samuel 13:13-15. What was Saul’s error? (When we are
told that we should have an attitude like Jesus – to give up
ourselves for others – this attitude does not include the
right to disobey God and start making executive decisions
contrary to His will. When we do that, we invade God’s space
and make ourselves “number 1.”)
- What was the result of Saul’s error? (We cannot do
great things for God if we are not going to follow
- What Did Jonathan Do?
- Get the picture: The Philistines have 3,000 chariots with
two soldiers in each. They have foot soldiers “as numerous
as the sand on the seashore.” ( 1 Samuel 13:5) Saul, after
most of his soldiers have run away or hidden, has 600 left.
( 1 Samuel 13:15.) Worse, no one but Saul and his son,
Jonathan, have metal weapons. (See 1 Samuel 13:19-22). Saul
just got rebuked and fired. What a mess! What would you do
if you were an Israelite?
- What would you do if you were the King’s son?
- Let’s find out what Jonathan did. Read 1 Samuel 14:1-6. How
would you compare the attitude of Jonathan with the attitude
- Jonathan has just proposed to his armor-bearer that
the two of them should climb up the cliff towards the
Philistine outpost with the possibility that they will
attack the Philistine army. Just the two of them.
What would you say if you were Jonathan’s armor-bearer? (Read 1 Samuel 14:7. Would you say we have two
crazy guys? Or, two faith-filled guys?)
- Read 1 Samuel 14:8-10. Let’s analyze this a moment. Did
Jonathan just sit on a rock and await his fate? (No.)
- How did Jonathan approach the same goal that his
father, Saul, had so badly approached? (Jonathan came
up with a plan of action which depended entirely upon
- Read 1 Samuel 14:11-12. Has God approved? Is Jonathan
putting God to the test? Isn’t he forcing God’s hand when he
decides to create this test? (They have an immediate
problem. They need an immediate solution. If God is going to
act for them, He must act soon. I think what Jonathan
proposes primarily depends on God’s will. Jonathan is not
invading God’s space.)
- Read 1 Samuel 14:13-15, 20. Compare how Eve, Saul and
Jonathan approached their tasks in life. How does this
square with the idea of dying to self? (Both Eve and Saul
decided that they would take some of what belonged to God.
Terrible results followed. Jonathan depended wholly on God
to do great things – and great things followed.)
- Friend, will you follow Jesus’ example by putting obedience
to God first? It means you are expendable. Jonathan never
became king. Instead, he died in battle with his father,
Saul. ( 1 Samuel 31:1-2.) Jonathan gave up his life on earth
to satisfy God’s plan to make David King.
- Next week: Christ in the Crucible.