Challenge 8 Trouble!

CONTENTS

The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop

Stories in this challenge

David is sorry                                                2 Samuel 12:1b–13a

Solomon is wise                                            1 Kings 3:16–28

Solomon’s Temple                                        1 Kings 8:17–30

Elijah and the prophets                            1 Kings 18:30–39

The fall of Jerusalem                         2 Kings 25:1–11

 

COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  • Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet [here: hyperlink]. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’

 

COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

This challenge covers around 400 years of history! They were eventful years in which the united kingdom of David and his son Solomon split into two: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The sin of the northern kings, exemplified by Ahab, resulted in the fall of the capital city, Samaria, in 722 BC. This marked the end of Israel. Judah failed to learn the lesson and was taken into captivity in Babylon in 586 BC.

These centuries, like the period of the Judges, are marked by times of disobedience and occasional times of obedience, the difference being that the kings now have a significant influence on how things develop. Through good times and bad times God never loses sight of his ultimate purpose.

King David was successful, yet despite his openness to God’s will and way and the significant growth of the kingdom, he failed big time through the events surrounding Bathsheba – not just the affair, but the murder of her husband and the attempted cover-up. His sorrow and restoration remind us that our failure need never be final. Repentance will bring God’s forgiveness. The trouble with much of the idolatry that we find in other kings is that there is never any hint of repentance. Despite all his wisdom, this is a lesson that Solomon never seems to have learned. His priorities, so firmly fixed on establishing a centre for the worship of God at the outset, were later diverted and idolatry crept in.

From the glory of God filling the Temple, we move to the depths of failure characterised by Ahab and Jezebel. Add Elijah into the equation and we have a really exciting sequence of events as he is fed by ravens, offered accommodation by a widow, heads up the remarkable showdown on Mount Carmel – but then flees, feeling rejected and in total despair.

The heart of failure in every situation is moving the focus away from God – and the people’s persistent rejection of God leads to the Babylonians becoming God’s instrument of judgement on the city of Jerusalem.

 

CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

This challenge begins with David – and the previous challenge ends with David. For this reason, it will probably be easiest to take the stories chronologically rather than disrupt the flow by beginning with the key story (‘Elijah and the prophets’).

Look ahead to Challenge 9, which includes Psalm 51 that was written by David as a result of the same events explored in ‘David is sorry’. You could read this part of Challenge 9, out of the given order, to help your child link the historical character of David with one of his most famous writings.

Challenge 9 includes examples of Solomon’s wisdom and advice. Again, you may like to read these sections alongside the stories of Solomon in this challenge.

You will need to supply some background information for each of the stories in Challenge 8.

  1. In ‘David is sorry’, please don’t feel that you need to protect children (especially older children) from knowing that David had an affair with someone else’s wife – or that he used desperately wrong measures to avoid blame. These are not unfamiliar situations for children: television and movies and sometimes their own experiences make most children aware of adultery and cover-up.
  2. The next two stories: ‘Solomon is wise’ and ‘Solomon’s Temple’ need the explanation that the next king of Israel was Solomon. Older children might be intrigued by the fact that Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba (after they had married). Such is the measure of God’s grace.
  3. Beginning with the reign of Solomon, God’s people began a downward slide of disobedience against God. Into this situation, God sends his prophets – and one of the most prominent was Elijah. ‘Elijah and the prophets’ is one episode in his outspoken and brave ministry.
  4. The defeat and capture of God’s people in ‘The fall of Jerusalem’ is the natural outcome of continued disobedience. God’s prophets had warned and his people had not listened.

 

CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

The story of Elijah has wonderful humour in the midst of a very serious challenge to God. Children will enjoy this – they might be surprised to find that God has included such down-to-earth stories.

Throughout this challenge, there is the underlying theme of choosing what side you belong to. That choice brings consequences – it did for David, for Solomon, for Elijah and the prophets, and for the people of Israel.

You could pick up this thread, by beginning the challenge by making the outline of a child on a large piece of paper. As the stories unfold, note inside the outline ideas about what it means for a child to choose God’s side. For some children, it might be appropriate to invite them to talk about whether or not they have ‘chosen God’s side’ and what difference that makes to everyday life.

 

CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Why did Solomon make unwise decisions after he had been given the gift of wisdom?

This question will only come up if children are familiar with the story of Solomon or decide to read further. Point out that we can easily have skills or gifts and yet choose not to use them (for example, we might have great athletic skills but choose not to play sport).

If the gift is going to make a difference to our lives, we have to practise using it. God has promised us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5), but we will still make foolish choices if we don’t listen to him.

 

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

Things went well when David and Solomon obeyed and honoured God. But successive kings, and the people too, turned away from God and this led to disaster. The kingdom divided into two parts, each with a king. Then, first the northern kingdom of Israel, and later the southern kingdom of Judah, were taken over by enemies, the towns were destroyed and the people were taken away to other lands as slaves.

Think together about your own country. Do the leaders obey and honour God? And what about the people – do they honour God? Do they follow God’s ways? Write down any situations in your country that are not pleasing to God: there may be items in the national or local news, or your child may suggest something that they have heard about. Pray about these things together. Encourage your child to keep praying for your country and its leaders.

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