Some Old Testament Texts for the Kingdom Season – passages to think about (perhaps in November) which look toward the coming King.
Session 1 1 Samuel 8.
1. Read 1 Samuel 8 (v1-9, 10-18, 19-22). What is it about?
2. Samuel has acted as a “Judge” – how does this differ from our understanding of a judge? Can you name other Old Testament “judges”?
3. Why do the elders who come to Samuel want a change? What do they want?
4. What does Samuel say against having Kings? Is he right?
5. What sort of writing is this? What is the writer telling us?
6. Who does Samuel see as King of Israel?
7. What in general are the benefits of good Kings?
8. How does all this feed into the New Testament, and into Christian faith?
9. In what ways do the positive things about Kings apply to Jesus?
10. In what ways do the negative things about Kings make Christian faith more difficult or demanding?
To end, reflect in silence on the Kingship of God. Say Psalm 95 together.
Session 2 Psalm 145
1. Read Psalm 145. (1-7, 8-13, 14-21). What sort of writing is this? How does it compare with last week’s text from 1 Samuel 8?
2. Look at the first 7 verses. Have you ever said something like this, or wanted to?
3. v1 “I will exalt you . . “ (other versions: extol, honour, praise). When and how do we do this? Why? (or why not?) What reasons are there for v3 “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise”?
4. Is it true that God’s faithful people “tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might”? In what ways does this happen, and how might we make it easier?
5. v17 “righteous . . faithful”. Are these attractive qualities? Do we advertise them enough?
6. This is a Praise psalm. You may remember Morning and Evening Prayer include, “O Lord, open our lips” “And our mouth shall show forth thy praise”. What is the point of praise in worship?
7. What links this Psalm to God’s Kingdom, and to Jesus bringing of it? Does it add to our understanding of what the Kingdom is?
End by reading the Psalm again, changing “my God” v1, and “the LORD” several times, to “Jesus”. Can you use this as a Christian praise of the Kingdom and the King. Say the Grace as an ending.
Session 3 Daniel 4
1. Read Daniel 4:1-18. Daniel is an exiled Jew, in the court of the Assyrian King. The book of Daniel is in a style called Apocalyptic, and offers a wide-ranging view of history. It is curious in being in 2 languages: Hebrew and Aramaic. Do we have a single view of human history?
2. Read Daniel 4:19-27. Why is Daniel hesitant to explain the dream? What does he advise the King?
3. Why do you think this story would have been important during the time of the Maccabees, and in many other times of persecution?
4. What does it add to our ideas of God’s Kingship?
5. Read Daniel 4:28-37. There is no indication of how long this attitude continued! The incident is supported by evidence from Qumran: “One of the documents found at Qumran (4Q242 or 4QPrNab) is entitled The Prayer of Nabonidus. In this piece it is the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus, rather than his more famous predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, who is afflicted. Similarities include the seven-year illness and restoration by a Jewish diviner (unnamed). A dream is involved and worship of the correct deity is the result. . .”
6. What does the sovreignty of God mean for rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, and for us?
7. If we think of Jesus as King, is there anything we can learn from comparing him with Nebuchadnezzar?
End with this prayer, adapted from Daniel 4:37:
Now we praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Amen
Session 4 Isaiah 53
1. We have looked at Kings and Kingdom in the Old Testament, from Samuel’s dislike of kings, to the praise of Psalm 145, and Daniel’s prophecy of a King’s pride brought down. Tonight’s passage is not about kings – or is it? Isaiah has several Servant Songs. (Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50, and this, 52:12-53:12). The early Christians applied them to Jesus (Acts 8:32-5, 1 Peter 2:22,) , and it seems that Jesus saw his ministry as a combination of Messiah and Servant – a connection not known in that form before his teaching.
2. Read Isaiah 52:12 – 53:12. What are your first reactions? How do you think those who heard Isaiah understood this?
3. Is 52:12-15. Why were people appalled?
4. Is 53:1-3. How would these verses apply to the people of Israel (the traditional Jewish interpretation), and to Jesus?
5. Is 53:4-6. How can the suffering of one help another?
6. Is 53:7-9. When is silence an appropriate response?
7. How do these verses apply [a] to Israel and [b] to Jesus.
8. Is 53:10-12. Does this help you understand Jesus death?
End by reading the song “Meekness and Majesty”.
Session 5 Luke 24:13-35.
1 Read Luke 24:13-35 (perhaps with 3 readers: vv13-18, 19-24, 25-29). “[Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”. Does this surprise you? Why do you think he did this?
2 They were walking along a road, without any books. What does this say about their knowledge of the scriptures?
3 What texts do you think they talked about?
4 Of the passages we have looked at in this series, I guess Isaiah 53, perhaps all of Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50, 52:12-53:12 would have been included. Perhaps not 1 Samuel 8, which is background, or Daniel 4.
5 What else? As time allows, consider:
Genesis 3 (3:15); Genesis 22 (Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac); Exodus 12 (Passover, the blood on the house doors); Deuteronomy 18:15-19 a prophet like Moses; Numbers 24:17 the star of Jacob; 2 Samuel 7:12-13 and all the promises of a King like David; many Psalms: 22:1,18; 69:21 vinegar to drink; Ps 118:22 became a key text for Christians, cp 118:16-23; Isaiah 7,9,11 (as in carol services) Isaiah 25:8 the end of death; 35:6 healing miracles; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 7:13-14 the Son of Man; Micah 5:2 Bethlehem; Zechariah 9:9 Palm Sunday; 11:12 thirty pieces of silver; 12:10 mourning an only son; (this is NOT a full list!)
6 None of these might be “proof”, but with hindsight, and taken together, what do you think they show?
End considering this: We now continue some 4,000 years of preparing for and living in Kingdom times. We still look forward.
Bless one another with the grace.