Theocratic Ministry School Review: week beginning June 29, 2015

Study information for Theocratic Ministry School Review

The following questions will be considered at the Theocratic Ministry School during the week beginning June 29, 2015. The date when each point is scheduled for discussion is included so that research can be done when preparing for the school each week.

1. What was wrong with the way that Michal spoke to David, and what lesson should married couples take to heart from this account? (2 Sam. 6:20-23) [May 11, w11 8/1 p. 12 par. 1]

2 Samuel 6:20-23

20 When David returned to bless his own household, Saul’s daughter Miʹchal+ came out to meet him. She said: “How glorious the king of Israel made himself when he uncovered himself today before the eyes of the slave girls of his servants, just as an empty-headed man openly uncovers himself!”+ 21 At this David said to Miʹchal: “My celebration was before Jehovah, who chose me rather than your father and all his household and who appointed me as leader over Jehovah’s people, Israel.+ Therefore, I will celebrate before Jehovah, 22 and I will humble myself even more than this and become low even in my own eyes. But by the slave girls whom you mentioned, I will be glorified.” 23 So Saul’s daughter Miʹchal+ had no children down to the day of her death.

Treating Your Mate With Respect

Even when you are alone with your mate, resist the urge to use sarcasm and name-calling. In ancient Israel, Michal got angry with her husband, King David. She spoke sarcastically and said that he acted “just as one of the empty-headed men.” Her words offended David, but they also displeased God. (2 Samuel 6:20-23) The lesson? When you speak with your mate, choose your words carefully. (Colossians 4:6; footnote) Phil, married for eight years, admits that he and his wife still have disagreements. He has noticed that, at times, what he says makes the situation worse. “I have come to realize that ‘winning’ an argument is actually a loss. I find that it is much more satisfying and beneficial to build up our relationship.”

2. How did the prophet Nathan react when Jehovah corrected him for telling David to go ahead and build a temple for Jehovah? (2 Sam. 7:2, 3) [May 11, w12 2/15 p. 24 pars. 6-7]

2 Samuel 7:2, 3

2 the king said to Nathan+ the prophet: “Here I am living in a house of cedars+ while the Ark of the true God sits in the midst of tent cloths.”+ 3 Nathan replied to the king: “Go and do whatever is in your heart, for Jehovah is with you.”+

Nathan—Loyal Advocate of Pure Worship

As a faithful worshipper of Jehovah, Nathan enthusiastically endorsed David’s plan to construct the first permanent center of pure worship on earth. On that occasion, however, Nathan apparently expressed his own feelings instead of speaking in Jehovah’s name. That night, God instructed his prophet to take a different message to the king: David would not build Jehovah’s temple. The person to do so would be one of David’s sons. But Nathan announced that God was making a covenant with David to the effect that his throne would become “firmly established to time indefinite.”—2 Sam. 7:4-16.
God’s will did not harmonize with Nathan’s judgment with respect to temple construction. Without murmuring, however, this humble prophet acquiesced to Jehovah’s purpose and cooperated with it. What a fine example to follow if God should correct us in some way! Nathan’s subsequent acts as a prophet show that he did not lose God’s favor. In fact, it appears that Jehovah inspired Nathan, together with Gad the visionary, to direct David in organizing 4,000 musicians in temple service.—1 Chron. 23:1-5; 2 Chron. 29:25.

3. Why did Nathan relate the parable recorded at 2 Samuel 12:1-7 instead of just telling David directly that he was guilty of serious sin? How can this account help us to be better teachers? [May 18, w12 2/15 p. 24 pars. 2-3]

2 Samuel 12:1-7

12 So Jehovah sent Nathan+ to David. He came in to him+ and said: “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many sheep and cattle;+ 3 but the poor man had nothing but one small female lamb, which he had bought.+ He cared for it, and it grew up together with him and his sons. It would eat from the little food he had and drink from his cup and sleep in his arms. It became as a daughter to him. 4 Later a visitor came to the rich man, but he would not take any of his own sheep and cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”+
5 At this David grew very angry against the man, and he said to Nathan: “As surely as Jehovah is living,+ the man who did this deserves to die! 6 And he should pay for the lamb four times over,+ because he did this and showed no compassion.”
7 Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man! This is what Jehovah the God of Israel says: ‘I myself anointed you as king over Israel,+ and I rescued you from the hand of Saul.+

Nathan—Loyal Advocate of Pure Worship

Consider why Nathan addressed the problem as he did. It is not easy for a person who has become emotionally entangled with someone to view his situation objectively. All of us tend to make excuses in an attempt to justify ourselves if our actions are questionable. But Nathan’s illustration moved David unwittingly to condemn his own actions. The king saw clearly that the conduct Nathan described was deplorable. Only after David himself had condemned it, however, did Nathan reveal that the illustration applied to the king. Then David could see the magnitude of his sin. This put him in the right frame of mind to accept reproof. He acknowledged that he had indeed “despised” Jehovah by his conduct in connection with Bath-sheba, and he accepted the deserved reproof.—2 Sam. 12:9-14; Ps. 51, superscription.
What can we learn from this? A Bible teacher’s objective is to help his listeners arrive at the right conclusion. Nathan respected David and therefore approached him tactfully. Nathan knew that at heart David loved righteousness and justice. With his illustration, the prophet appealed to these godly qualities. We too can help sincere individuals to understand Jehovah’s point of view. How? By appealing to their sense of what is right, doing so without assuming any air of moral or spiritual superiority. The Bible, not our personal opinion, is our authority regarding what is right and what is wrong.

4. Why was Absalom able to deceive the Israelites, and how can we protect ourselves from the “Absaloms” of our day? (2 Sam. 15:6) [May 25, w12 7/15 p. 13 par. 7]

2 Samuel 15:6

6 Abʹsa•lom would do this to all the Israelites who would come in to the king for judgment; so Abʹsa•lom kept stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.+

Serve the God of Freedom

7. What lessons can we learn from the account about Absalom? (See picture on page 14.)
7 Why were those Israelites so easily deceived? Perhaps they desired the things Absalom promised them. Or maybe they were swayed by his physical appearance. Whatever the case, we can be sure of this: They lacked loyalty to Jehovah and his appointed king. Today, Satan continues to use “Absaloms” in his attempt to steal the hearts of Jehovah’s servants. ‘Jehovah’s standards are too restrictive,’ they may say. ‘And look at all those people who do not serve Jehovah. They have all the fun!’ Will you see through such contemptible lies and remain loyal to God? Will you recognize that only Jehovah’s “perfect law,” the law of the Christ, can lead you to true freedom? (Jas. 1:25) If so, cherish that law, and never be tempted to misuse your Christian freedom.—Read 1 Peter 2:16.

5. How did Jehovah provide for David during a time of dire need, and what can we learn from this? (2 Sam. 17:27-29) [June 1, w08 9/15 p. 6 pars. 15-16]

2 Samuel 17:27-29

27 As soon as David came to Ma•ha•naʹim, Shoʹbi the son of Naʹhash from Rabʹbah+ of the Amʹmon•ites, Maʹchir+ the son of Amʹmi•el from Lo-deʹbar, and Bar•zilʹlai+ the Gilʹe•ad•ite from Ro•geʹlim 28 brought beds, basins, clay pots, wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, parched grain, 29 honey, butter, sheep, and cheese.* They brought all of this out for David and the people with him to eat,+ for they said: “The people are hungry and tired and thirsty in the wilderness.”+

Jehovah—“Provider of Escape” in Bible Times

15 Finally, David and his men arrived at the city of Mahanaim. There they met three courageous men—Shobi, Machir, and Barzillai. They were willing to risk their lives to help the divinely appointed king, for if Absalom gained a firm hold on the kingship, he no doubt would severely punish anyone who had supported David. Recognizing the plight of David and his men, these three loyal subjects brought much needed supplies, including beds, wheat, barley, roasted grain, broad beans, lentils, honey, butter, and sheep. (Read 2 Samuel 17:27-29.) The extraordinary loyalty and hospitality of these three men must have touched David’s heart. How could David ever forget what they did for him?
16. Who was ultimately responsible for providing David and his men with sustenance?
16 Who, though, was ultimately responsible for providing David and his men with sustenance? David was convinced that Jehovah cares for his people. Jehovah can surely give other servants of his a nudge, so to speak, moving them to come to the aid of a fellow worshipper in need. When reflecting on what happened in the land of Gilead, David no doubt saw the kindness of those three men as an expression of Jehovah’s loving care. Toward the end of his life, David wrote: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous [including him] left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” (Ps. 37:25) Is it not comforting to know that Jehovah’s hand is never short?—Prov. 10:3.

6. How can we benefit from David’s example in his dealings with a foreigner named Ittai? (2 Sam. 18:2) [June 1, w09 5/15 p. 27 par. 7]

2 Samuel 18:2

2 And David sent one third of the men under the command* of Joʹab,+ one third under the command of Joʹab’s brother A•bishʹai+ the son of Ze•ruʹiah,+ and one third under the command of Itʹtai+ the Gitʹtite. The king then said to the men: “I will also go out with you.”

Imitate the Loyalty of Ittai

We too should strive to look beyond cultural, racial, or ethnic differences—any lingering prejudices and animosities—and recognize the good qualities in others. The bond that formed between David and Ittai illustrates that our coming to know and love Jehovah can help us to overcome such barriers.

7. How might older ones in the congregation benefit from the example of Barzillai? (2 Sam. 19:33-35) [June 8, w07 7/15 p. 15 pars. 1-2]

2 Samuel 19:33-35

33 So the king said to Bar•zilʹlai: “Cross over with me, and I will supply you with food in Jerusalem.”+ 34 But Bar•zilʹlai said to the king: “How many days* of my life are left that I should go up with the king to Jerusalem? 35 I am 80 years old today.+ Can I discern between good and bad? Can I, your servant, taste what I eat and drink? Can I still listen to the voice of male and female singers?+ So why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?

Barzillai—A Man Aware of His Limitations

The account of Barzillai highlights the need for balance. On the one hand, we should not turn down a service privilege or avoid reaching out for it because we want a quiet life or feel incapable of shouldering responsibility. God can make up for our deficiency if we rely on him for strength and wisdom.—Philippians 4:13; James 4:17; 1 Peter 4:11.
On the other hand, we need to recognize our limitations. For example, perhaps a Christian is already very busy in spiritual activities. He realizes that by accepting further privileges, he would risk neglecting such Scriptural responsibilities as providing for his family. In such a situation, would it not be an indication of modesty and reasonableness on his part for him to decline additional privileges at present?—Philippians 4:5; 1 Timothy 5:8.

8. How do David’s words about loyalty assure Jehovah’s servants today? (2 Sam. 22:26) [June 15, w10 6/1 p. 26 pars. 6-7]

2 Samuel 22:26

26 With someone loyal you act in loyalty;+
With the blameless, mighty man, you deal blamelessly;+

“You Will Act in Loyalty”

What do David’s words mean for us? Jehovah does not waver or change. (James 1:17) He remains true to his standards and is ever faithful to his word of promise. In another of his psalms, David wrote: “Jehovah . . . will not leave his loyal ones.”—Psalm 37:28.
Jehovah values our loyalty. He treasures our loyal obedience to him, and he urges us to imitate him in showing loyalty in our dealings with others. (Ephesians 4:24; 5:1) If we display loyalty in these ways, we can trust that he will never abandon us. No matter how other humans may let us down, we can count on Jehovah to act loyally in our behalf, helping us to face successfully whatever trials may come our way. Are you moved to draw closer to Jehovah, “the loyal One”?—Revelation 16:5.

9. How did Nathan display loyalty to God, and how can we imitate that quality today? (1 Ki. 1:11-14) [June 22, w12 2/15 p. 25 pars. 1, 4-5]

1 Kings 1:11-14

11 Nathan+ then said to Bath-sheʹba,+ Solʹo•mon’s mother:+ “Have you not heard that Ad•o•niʹjah+ the son of Hagʹgith has become king, and our lord David does not know anything about it? 12 So now come, please, and let me advise you, so that you may save your own life and the life of* your son Solʹo•mon.+ 13 Go in to King David and say to him, ‘Was it not you, my lord the king, who swore to your servant, saying: “Your son Solʹo•mon will become king after me, and he is the one who will sit on my throne”?+ So why has Ad•o•niʹjah become king?’ 14 While you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.”

Nathan—Loyal Advocate of Pure Worship

Nathan was aware that Solomon was to succeed elderly David as king. So Nathan acted decisively when Adonijah attempted to usurp the throne during David’s waning years. Tact and loyalty again characterized Nathan’s actions. First he urged Bath-sheba to remind David of his sworn intention to make their son Solomon king. Then Nathan himself entered the king’s presence to ask whether David had authorized Adonijah’s succession. Realizing the gravity of the situation, the aged king instructed Nathan and other loyal servants to have Solomon anointed and proclaimed king. Adonijah’s coup was thwarted.—1 Ki. 1:5-53.

Nathan—Loyal Advocate of Pure Worship

From the few glimpses of Nathan given to us in the Scriptures, it is clear that he was a humble but vigorous defender of divine arrangements. Jehovah God assigned him weighty responsibilities. Meditate on Nathan’s qualities, such as loyalty to God and deep appreciation for divine requirements. Strive to imitate such qualities.
You are unlikely to be called upon to reprove adulterous kings or to thwart coups. With God’s help, however, you can be loyal to God and can uphold his righteous standards. You can also be a courageous, yet tactful, teacher of truth and a promoter of pure worship.

10. In what areas of life might a servant of God use imperfect reasoning to get around God’s commands, as Solomon apparently did? (1 Ki. 3:1) [June 29, w11 12/15 p. 10 pars. 12-14]

1 Kings 3:1

3 Solʹo•mon made a marriage alliance with Pharʹaoh king of Egypt. He married* Pharʹaoh’s daughter+ and brought her to the City of David+ until he finished building his own house,+ and the house of Jehovah,+ and the wall around Jerusalem.+

Is He a Good Example for You or a Warning?

12, 13. Solomon made what poor decision early in his reign, and how might he have reasoned?
12 And things definitely took a bad turn after he became king. Solomon formed “a marriage alliance with Pharaoh the king of Egypt and [took] Pharaoh’s daughter and [brought] her to the City of David.” (1 Ki. 3:1) Did this Egyptian woman imitate Ruth by taking up true worship? Nothing indicates that she did so. Rather, in time Solomon built a house for her (and perhaps her Egyptian maids) outside the City of David. Why? The Scriptures say that he did so because it was not fitting for a false worshipper to dwell near the ark of the covenant.—2 Chron. 8:11.
13 Solomon may have seen political advantages in marrying an Egyptian princess, yet could he justify it? Long before, God had forbidden the marrying of pagan Canaanites, even listing certain peoples. (Ex. 34:11-16) Did Solomon reason that Egypt was not one of those listed nations? Even if he reasoned that way, would such rationalizing be valid? Actually, his course ignored the clear risk that Jehovah had mentioned—that of turning an Israelite from true worship to false.—Read Deuteronomy 7:1-4.
14. How might we benefit from taking to heart Solomon’s warning example?
14 Will we let Solomon’s course be a warning example for us? A sister might attempt to rationalize forming a romantic link that ignores God’s directive to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 7:39) With similar rationalizing, one might share in extracurricular sports or clubs at school, underreport taxable income, or tell untruths when asked to reveal actions that could be embarrassing. The point is, Solomon must have used imperfect reasoning to get around what God commanded, and that same danger exists for us.

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