Hannah, David and Bathsheba Bible Study eBook giveaway

Narelle here. Today we are giving away free eBook copies of the leaders guide for our August Featured Studies of the Month.

All you need to do is visit our Smashwords page and use the coupon code GA39M at the checkout. The coupon code is valid today. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210081

Smashwords may ask you to sign in or set up an account to enable the eBook to be stored in your Smashwords account. You can download the eBook in multiple formats including PDF, Epub and .mobi for Kindle.

If you’re wondering how to transfer a Smashwords eBook to your Kindle, please refer to my blog post How to read eBooks from Smashwords on Kindle Enjoy!

Solomon: A wise king who broke the covenant

by Narelle Atkins

King David appointed his son, Solomon, to rule as the king of Israel after his death. God blessed Solomon and answered his request in 1 Kings 3 by giving Solomon great wisdom and a discerning heart. Solomon became famous for his wisdom and people from faraway lands travelled to see him, including the Queen of Sheba.

King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem and the royal palace. Israel prospered under his leadership. In 1 Kings 9 the Lord appeared to Solomon and reminded him of the importance of obeying the Lord and keeping the covenant. God said that if Solomon or his sons turned away from the Lord or worshiped other Gods, they would lose the covenant blessings including the land given to them by the Lord.

Solomon’s downfall was his love for foreign women. “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew older, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. ” 1 Kings 11:3-4.

Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord and his idolatrous worship angered the Lord. He built shrines for the Moab god, Chemosh, the Ammonite god, Molech, and the other gods who his wives worshiped and offered sacrifices on their altars. Although his father David was far from perfect and committed many sins, David was also repentant and didn’t worship idols.

“So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.’” 1 Kings 11:11-13.

After Solomon’s death in 930BC, the kingdom of Israel was split into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). The Southern Kingdom kept the line of David intact and included the holy city of Jerusalem. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom in 722BC. The Southern Kingdom was conquered in 586BC and the people were taken into exile by the Babylonians.

God’s Heart is Love

by Eleanor Gustafson

We talked on Monday about fearing God and that it’s not just an Old Testament thing. The New Testament gives us the classic example of Ananias and Sapphira and their little white lie. Believers were selling property and giving the proceeds to the Apostles to distribute as needed. Ananias and Sapphira sold some property but fudged on how much they had received. They wanted to look good. Had they said they were keeping part for themselves, who would have objected? Just don’t lie. Peter asked, “Did you sell you land for x number of dollars?” “Oh, yes!” Dead.

Fear indeed, but we need to see God in his full dimensions, not just the parts that make us feel good. However, the essence of God is love. The doctrine of the Trinity makes sense only in this understanding of love. One person cannot love in a vacuum; love requires at least two persons. Long before the universe and all its inhabitants existed, the triune God was giving and receiving love. God IS love, and that’s our bottom line.

But the other important God dimension is his holiness. Less comfortable but necessary for us to be able to understand who he is. A holy God cannot tolerate sin—BAM! You’re dead. A loving God provided atonement for our sin and receives us back to his loving home. Jesus—God himself—made the way. He IS the way.

Even in the context of sin, God shows his love. We see this in Psalm 51, David’s confession of his affair with Bathsheba:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love… Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Keep in mind that even though David was guilty of both of adultery and murder, God called him a man after his own heart.

As we learned from Narnia, God is not a tame lion. He’s not safe, but he’s good.

The novel I’m currently writing lines out the concept of a spiritual True North, versus Magnetic North. Without going into the science of those terms, we can say that Magnetic North can lead us astray spiritually, whereas True North keeps our heart compass tight to God, no matter the circumstances. We are a grand mix of sin and devotion, but moment by moment, we look to the love of God to pull us out of the mire and into his presence.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mike Yaconelli in The Wittenburg Door, issue #131:

I would like to suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, ‘Fear not’; a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or a doctrine or theology, it is God’s burning presence in our lives. I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing—including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.

Fear God, yes, but know that you are much loved by this holy God.


Eleanor K. Gustafson (aka Ellie) began thinking up stories when she was five or six years old. When she started to read, God grabbed her with—yes—a story that had an invitation at the end, and she was hooked for life. But after reading her early attempts at writing, friends and even her mother told her straight out to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, however, and began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978.

The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David is her fourth novel and builds off the biblical account of David, bringing the characters and dramatic elements to life and full color. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences—riding horses, gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—help bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.

Website – http://www.eleanorgustafson.com

Amazon reviews – http://www.amazon.com/The-Stones-Eleanor-Gustafson/dp/1603740791/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342304125&sr=8-1&keywords=gustafson+stones

Our Holy, Fearsome God

by Eleanor Gustafson

King David is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. A man of multiple personnas—shepherd, musician, warrior, lover of God, king, ladies’ man—he gallops through the entire Bible with startling relevance for us today.

David was a mighty warrior who fought only in the name of and for the honor of God. He freed the nation from its enemies, completing the task begun by Moses and Joshua, and also drew tribal factions together—an even more daunting task. In my book (The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David), I tried to portray David as the first national leader who truly understood Israel’s holy destiny. The nation of Israel, her land flowing with milk and honey, finally began to look and act like the treasured possession God had promised through Abraham and redeemed from Egypt. And, of course, David was the shepherd/king archetype of Jesus, the true Son of David.

Any discussion of the David story must include a number of sticky issues—David the sinner, David the man of blood—in some cases obeying God’s command to wipe out entire populations, including infants and livestock.

And both of those point up yet another issue—the fear of God that put David flat on his face on a number of occasions. We generally don’t like the concept of fearing God. Too Old Testament, we say, so we “translate” fear into reverence or awe, more in keeping with the New Testament’s God of love, grace and mercy. David, though, knew raw fear—when Uzzah touched the ark and was struck dead, when Nathan nailed David over his sin with Bathsheba, and when he saw the angel of death after numbering the fighting men.

Let’s look more closely at Uzzah. Years earlier, the Philistines had captured the ark but found it too hot to handle and sent it back to the Israelites. For 70 years it remained in the care of a Levite family until David decided to give it a permanent home in Jerusalem. An excerpt from my book shows the deadly implications of having that holy Presence in their midst.

…………

David circulated among the musicians, leading the singing and shouting. Then, at the height of land . . . an ox stumbled. No obstacle, no unevenness. A misstep, perhaps. The hand of God, perhaps. Whatever, the cart lurched, and without thinking, Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark.

From all reports, he seemed to swell and then deflate as though he had popped, as though his body tried but could not contain such a strong infusion of life.

David’s face went deathly white. Then dragging a wheezing, constricted breath from deep within, he howled against this outbreak against Uzzah.

It seemed clear in retrospect what went wrong. Uzzah obviously did not think carefully about what he was doing. He had grown up around this object. When the ox stumbled, he reached out to steady it. A reflexive act. His last act.

The ark of God, the holy God; the ark called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty; the ark of the Presence that can kill… (2 Samuel 6:2, not verbatim)

…………

Striking people dead puts God in a bad light that we on this side of the cross find uncomfortable, if not dismaying. But even in the New Testament, we find a clear example of fear in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. Stay tuned for our continued discussion (on Wednesday), along with the other side of the coin.

Eleanor K. Gustafson (aka Ellie) began thinking up stories when she was five or six years old. When she started to read, God grabbed her with—yes—a story that had an invitation at the end, and she was hooked for life. But after reading her early attempts at writing, friends and even her mother told her straight out to stick to music as a career. She pushed manfully along, however, and began publishing both fiction and nonfiction in 1978.

The Stones: A Novel of the Life of King David is her fourth novel and builds off the biblical account of David, bringing the characters and dramatic elements to life and full color. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences—riding horses, gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—help bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.

Website – http://www.eleanorgustafson.com

Amazon reviews – http://www.amazon.com/The-Stones-Eleanor-Gustafson/dp/1603740791/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342304125&sr=8-1&keywords=gustafson+stones

David and Bathsheba

by Deborah Horscroft

King David was far from a perfect ruler. Like Eli he did not discipline his sons and many followed their own wicked ways. Our chosen passage (2 Samuel 11-12) does not find him at his best.

In a time when other kings were at war, and David’s own army were in battle under another man, David was mooching around the palace. After a nap he had a stroll and caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman bathing. Instead of averting his eyes or going to visit one of his many wives or concubines he pursues Bathsheba, wife of one of his loyal body guards, Uriah. Lust gave way to adultery, deceit, and ultimately treachery and murder. David lost the respect of many followers, the loyalty of family and friends and the son of the adulterous union.

Confronted with his sin, David repented. As with everything he did, it was passionate and whole hearted. Psalm 51 records his cry for mercy. He offered God a sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and even these great crimes were forgiven by a merciful God. However, the consequences of his sins remained.

David and Bathsheba went on to raise another son, King Solomon, whose wisdom is renowned, and through whom Israel would one day see their Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

Samuel: The prophet who established kingship in Israel

by Narelle Atkins

The prophet Samuel was dedicated to the Lord by his mother, Hannah, at a very young age. He grew up in the temple and ministered before the Lord under Eli, the priest.

“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a Prophet of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 3:19-20.

Samuel played an instrumental role in Israel’s transition from the rule of Judges to a monarchy. He was a judge over Israel throughout his lifetime and when he grew old he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.

In 1 Samuel 8 we learn that Samuel’s sons were wicked and did not walk in the ways of their father. The elders of Israel requested Samuel appoint a king to lead them like the kings of the surrounding nations. They wanted a king who would lead them out and fight their battles.

Samuel was not happy with their request and he prayed to the Lord. The Lord told Samuel that it was not him they had rejected. The Israelites had rejected the Lord as their king. Samuel told the people the Lord’s response to their petition and how their lives would not be improved under a king (see 1 Samuel 10-18). The Israelites refused to listen to Samuel and the Lord’s response was to give His people an earthly king.

Samuel anointed Saul, a Benjamite, as the first king of Israel. Saul was not a good king and, as earlier foretold by Samuel, the Israelites suffered under Saul’s rule. Samuel later anointed David as the king of Israel. David had a difficult relationship with Saul and he did not rule over Israel until after Saul’s death.

Free ebook for the month of August

Narelle here. In August we are giving away free copies of our Ahab and Jezebel Bible Study Leader’s guide to our blog readers.

All you need to do is visit our Smashwords page and use the coupon code XL39X at the checkout. The coupon code is valid until August 31. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210086

Smashwords may ask you to sign in or set up an account to enable the eBook to be stored in your Smashwords account. You can download the eBook in multiple formats including PDF, Epub and .mobi for Kindle.

If you’re wondering how to transfer a Smashwords eBook to your Kindle, please refer to my blog post How to read eBooks from Smashwords on Kindle Enjoy!

Hannah: A faithful wife

by Deborah Horscroft

Hannah was the favourite wife of an Ephraimite called Elkanah. Hannah shared the same fate as many famous women of the Old Testament, in that she was unable to do what the culture deemed most important, and that was to have children. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah had produced children and took every available opportunity to rub Hannah’s nose in her “failing”. When the times of sacrifice and celebration came, Hannah became so depressed she could not eat.

In her anguish, Hannah poured her heart out to God. She lived in evil and chaotic times where the faithful were few. She wanted a son, not just for her own sake, but to serve God. She made a vow that would be unthinkable for most mothers. She would give up her son to God’s service, for his whole life.

Evidence of the moral and religious deterioration of the time is seen in Eli the priest’s reaction to Hannah crying and pleading before the Lord. He assumed she was drunk. Certainly Eli’s own sons had been behaving abominably in the temple, taking the offerings that belonged to God by force and treating the serving women in the temple as prostitutes, with no regard for the Lord.

1 Samuel 3:1 tells us that in those days there were few visions and it was rare to hear from God, yet Hannah knew when she fell pregnant that she had received an answer from the Lord. Her prayer of pleading became a prayer of praise.

Hannah rejoiced in a God who has power over life and death, who loves justice and is a refuge for the humble. Similar prayers of praise are recorded by King David (2 Samuel 22) and Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

Hannah’s prayer was prophetic, looking forward to the reign of God’s anointed king, David, and ultimately of the Messiah. (Messiah and Christ are the Hebrew and Greek words for “the anointed”.)

If you read through 1 and 2 Samuel you can follow the leadership of Hannah’s son Samuel, culminating in the anointing of David.

Announcing our August Bible studies of the month

In August we are featuring Bible studies on Hannah, David and Bathsheba plus Ahab and Jezebel from our People of the Old Testament Bible study series.

The leader’s guides will be released in two eBooks. The first eBook will feature two studies on Hannah and two studies on David and Bathsheba. The second eBook will feature two studies on Ahab and Jezebel.

Deborah and Ruth Bible Study eBook giveaway

Narelle here. Today we are giving away free eBook copies of the leaders guide for our July Featured Studies of the Month.

All you need to do is visit our Smashwords page and use the coupon code XK73C at the checkout. The coupon code is valid today. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177800

Smashwords will ask you to sign in or set up an account to enable the eBook to be stored in your Smashwords account. You can download the eBook in multiple formats including PDF, Epub and .mobi for Kindle.

If you’re wondering how to transfer a Smashwords eBook to your Kindle, please refer to my blog post How to read eBooks from Smashwords on Kindle Enjoy!