Weekly Bible Chat

A study guide to talk through the Bible with someone else

Snow for the Soul

September 20, 2022

Introduction

If you want to teach an unfamiliar concept, compare it to a familiar experience. People have been using similes to teach for over 3,000 years (see Genesis 19:28, written in 1406 BC). Proverbs is filled with similes. Each verse we're reading this week is a simile.


Why are similes so effective? One study in 1993 found that metaphors take longer to process (1924 ms) than similes (1782 ms). Another study showed that metaphors and similes use more parts of the brain than literal sentences through "activation of sensorimotor areas of the brain in addition to semantic or linguistic areas". Similes let us understand concepts by using parts of our brain which deal with physical action.


Big Idea

All the similes we'll look at have to do with speech. Solomon's main goal is to help us understand the importance of care with our speech.


Read Proverbs 25:11-14


1. Look carefully at verses 25:11-13. Whom do these "good" types of speech benefit more, the speaker or the hearer?


2. How is verse 14 a "bad" use of speech? How does it affect the hearer? 


3. Based on what you observed about good speech and bad speech from these four verses, try to make a rule about what godly speech must do.


4. Why do you think "clouds and wind without rain" (verse 14) were a bad thing to the original audience of this proverb? How are those things like someone boasting about a gift they fail to give?


5. Why do people boast about things they aren't going to do?


Read Proverbs 25:18-20


This second section sets out three severely sordid similes.


6. Have you ever had someone bear false testimony against you like verse 18 states? How was it like a club, sword, or sharp arrow?


7. Have you ever tried do something hard while you had a bad injury, as verse 19 states? Tell the story to the other person. How was that injury like "an unreliable person in a difficult time"?


8. Have you ever poured vinegar on baking soda? If you haven't, do it and as you watch, imagine how this would be like a person singing to you when you are feeling upset.


9. Based on these profound truths about speech, what is one way you can try to improve the way you talk with others?


Three Royal Rules

September 13, 2022


Introduction

Proverbs 25 begins by stating it is a collection of "proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, transcribed." This means that King Solomon had written Spirit-breathed wisdom that hadn't been publicized for 200 years. When King Hezekiah read it, he had it published for all to read. In verses 2-7, Solomon gave three rules for life in the royal courts that as relevant for our lives as they were for his.


Big Idea

Understanding God's design for human life brings us lasting influence on others.


Opening Question

1. Before we dig into God's rules, share with each other an important rule for leading other people that you have observed. Tell how you learned this rule. What difference will it make in the way people follow a leader? What happens when a leader ignores or doesn't learn this rule?


Read Proverbs 25:1-7


Questions

2. Verses 2-3 indicate that God gains glory by concealing matters from us. But that kings attain glory by searching matters out. Why do you think God wants us to be curious people who investigate things? 


3. Life is full of confusing problems. What is something you are currently searching for answers about? Read Proverbs 2:1-6 for encouragement in your search.


4. Verse 3 is a reminder that we don't always understand the reasons motivating a king's decision. What are some reasons we don't always understand world leaders' choices?


5. Verse 4 uses an object lesson that is applied to our lives in verse 5. What's the similarity between dross in silver and wicked people in the presence of a king?


6. Can one of you name a wicked advisor to a king in the Bible? Can the other person think of a wicked advisor to a world leader in recent history or current events. Now compare the two. What similarities are there?


7. Our advisors help shape our decisions. Who are your three most trusted advisors?


8. Looking at verses 6-7, can you find a passage in the gospels where Jesus said almost the same thing?


9. Having a hard time? Give up? Look in Matthew 23, Mark 9, Luke 14, and Luke 18. 


10. The idea of being self-demoting is so important to God that He repeats it multiple times. Why is it so important to Him?


11. Look at the three royal rules of Solomon's court. Pick the hardest one for you to follow. What's one way you can practice it this week?

Rule 1: Search for God's Wisdom  (25:2-3)

Rule 2: Surround Yourself with God's People (25:4-5)

Rule 3: Stand with the Lowly (25:6-7)

Rescue from the disloyal

Sept 7, 2022

Introduction

Psalm 54 is a Maskil, likely a wisdom-oriented Psalm. 


David gives an introductory note to this Psalm. It says it was written "When the Ziphites came and said to Saul, 'Is not David hiding himself among us?"


Who were the Ziphites? 1 Chronicles 2 teaches that they were a family from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of a Judah. Through his daughter-in-law, Tamar, Judah gave birth to a son, Perez. Perez gave birth to Hezron. Hezron fathered Caleb. Caleb was the other courageous spy with Joshua who agreed Israel should take the land from the Canaanites. Ziph was Caleb's grandson.


Now David was also a Judahite who was from Hezron. David came from Hezron's descendants through Ram, a brother of Caleb. This means that David and the people of Ziph were relatives who lived in the same region of southern Israel.


This is very important because when King Saul began to track down and try to kill David, the Bible tells us that David, "remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph" (1 Samuel 23:14). David was staying in a region he knew around people he expected to be loyal. But some Ziphites betrayed David and reported his presence to Saul (1 Samuel 23:15-19).


Big Idea

That betrayal was the basis of this Psalm. It teaches us how to respond to betrayal.


Opening Questions

1. In confidence, share a time with the other person when you perceived that others may be betraying you. 


Parents, if you are speaking with your child, I encourage you to find something important to you that your child can understand. Seeing your honesty will help them.


2. Share what kind of prayers you offer to God in these times. What do you ask Him for? 


Read the Psalm


Questions for Discussion

3. The Psalm begins "Save me, O God, by your name". God's name is His reputation. In what way does it match God's reputation to help us when we are being attacked by others?


4. What is David's description of these betrayers in verse 3? Why is it important that David speak about their character in this way?


5. Note that, in verses 1, 2, and 4, David repeats his dependance on God for help. When people undergo personal attacks, we are often tempted to depend on something, including ourselves, substances like alcohol, medication, video games, or other people to provide relief. What alternatives to God tempt you?


6. What solution does the Psalmist seek for his problem in verse 6?


7. Verses 6-7 have a very different tone than the rest of the psalm. What do you think is going on in these last two verses?


Rescue from the wicked

August 23, 2022


Introduction

Psalm 53 is a shocking Maskil Psalm. It's shocking in how it portrays people. It's shocking in how it portrays God. People will do terrible things to each other and God will bring terrible justice upon them. The Psalm is divided into two parts: the way of the wicked (1-4) and the demise of the wicked (5-6).


Big Idea

As the Psalmist considers the atrocities of the present and the past, he looks to God for rescue in the future.


Read the Psalm


Questions to Discuss

1. In verse 1-4, what behaviors can you find that are connected to the denial of God's existence? Why do you think this might be?


2. Can you think of times throughout history when terrible evils were committed by a person, party, or nation that denied God's existence? If you need help, here's a Wikipedia article about State Atheism.


3. The apostle Paul quotes Psalm 53:1-3 in Romans 3:10-12. In Romans 3:9, to whom does Paul apply Psalm 53?


4. In what way have all humans become "worthless" as the Psalm (and Romans 3) indicate?


5. In verses 5-6, how does the Psalmist describes the end of the wicked on judgment day?


6. Who do the wicked "encamp" against in verse 5?


7. Why do you think rejection of God would cause the wicked to attack those people?


8. The wicked are called those who "do not call upon God" in verse 4. Share some of the most important times in your present and past when you have called on God. Try to remember what you asked for. How did God answer your prayer?


9. Before God returns to rescue Israel, something needs to happen to most Jews. Read Zechariah 12:10. What does God do before He rescues Israel? What does Israel do?

Spiritual Depression

August 17, 2022

Introduction

Psalm 42 is a Maskil Psalm where the author asks, "Why are you in despair, O my soul?" The pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote a book about this condition, called "Spiritual Depression". An earlier writer, John of the Cross, referred to it as "The Dark Night of the Soul". It's a mindset nearly every Christian struggles with at some point. It consists of the loss of the spiritual joy we had in the past. In its place, we experience sadness, despair, and emptiness.


Big Idea

God inspired the Psalmist to write a prayer for this season of life. He wants us to learn how to take even our darkest times to Him.


When we are in a time of spiritual depression, Lloyd-Jones challenges us with this question, "Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?" The temptation of letting our emotions control our thoughts doesn't go away when we become Christians. 


This Psalm teaches us how to respond to inner thoughts that disturb us.


Read the Psalm


Questions to Discuss

1. In verses 1-2, the Psalmist says he longs to "appear before God". This might refer to the Temple, where God was materially present in the form of a cloud. What might be happening that keeps the Psalmist away from worshipping there?


2. Like the Psalmist, sometimes we feel cut off from God. What kind of circumstances make you feel distant from God?


4. Verse 3 indicates something about the people around the Psalmist. What are they saying to him and what's the effect on him? 


5. As the Psalmist looks back on better times, what does he remember in verse 5?


6. Look closely at verses 6-8. The Psalmist is trying to think through, and pray through, his pain. What kinds of things does he remember about God?


7. Again in verses 9-11, the Psalmist talks to God and then himself (just like 6-8). He asks why God has forgotten about him. Now, we know God knows everything. The Psalmist knew that just as much as we do. Why do you think God permits us to ask Him that question?


8. Self-talk is a concept well-known in modern psychology. Self-talk is asking yourself questions and reminding yourself of what's true. But centuries before modern psychology, God was telling us how to do this. Find the following self-talk moments in this Psalm:

  • What questions does the Psalmist ask himself?
  • What truths about God does the Psalmist remind himself of?

9. Each of us struggles with unique pain that only God can fix. What are the main truths about God that your heart needs to remember?


If you'd like to listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermon series on spiritual depression, click here to listen to it.

Praying in Enemy Territory

August 8, 2022


Introduction

Psalm 56 is a Maskil Psalm that teaches wisdom about life following God. Its historical heading records that it was composed during David's retreat to the Philistine city of Gath (described in 1 Samuel 21:10-14). When Saul was chasing David, he was in such danger that he briefly fled to Goliath's hometown for safety.


Big Idea

Imprecatory psalms call for God's wrath to fall on God's enemies. Because of this, it takes careful consideration to properly apply them for use in the church.


In the Old Testament, God's enemies were groups who opposed Israel such as the Philistines, the Amalekites, and the Jebusites. In the New Testament, Jesus called God's enemies "the world". He taught that the world, deceived and led by Satan, hates Christ's followers because it hates Christ himself (John 15:18-19). This Psalm gives us a model for how to respond to the world's hatred.


Read the Psalm


Questions to Discuss

1. Do you think Christians in America experience persecution? Explain your reasoning.


2. Based on verses 1-2 and 5-7 what do you imagine David's daily experience in Gath was like?


3. Have you ever been oppressed or treated with suspicion because of your faith in Christ? If so, describe what happened.


4. Rather than fight back or flee to another city, how does David's respond to opposition in verses 3-4?


5. In verse 7, David prays, "God, bring down the nations in wrath." Why do you think it was ok for David to pray that way? Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Is it possible to do this and also pray like David does here?


6. Find the two verses which are repeated in this Psalm. What can we learn from this about enduring oppression?


7. In the final two verses, David says, "You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living." How can this be true if he is still uncertain about whether he will survive in Gath?


8. What Biblical verses give you assurance when others may dislike, suspect, or attack you?

The joy of Forgiveness

August 3, 2022

Introduction

Psalm 32 is called a "Maskil". There are twelve other Maskil Psalms: 4244—4552—55747888—89, and 142We don't know what a Maskil is, but some suggest it's a "memory passage" or a "wisdom song". 


Let's find some wisdom in this Maskil Psalm.


Big Idea

This Psalm is about the result of confession of sin and forgiveness: joy.


Read the Psalm together.


Opening Question for the Parent

What was a time when you apologized and experienced genuine forgiveness from someone else? Describe your feelings before and after.


For Both

1. Sometimes we don't want to recognize sin and apologize, to God or to others. What kind of thoughts or attitudes keep us from confessing our sin?


2. What reward for dealing with our sin does God promise us in the first two verses?


3. What consequence does God promise us for not dealing with sin in verses 3-4?


4. Verse 6 is interesting "Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to you immediately. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him." Do you think this might be alluding to the Flood? If so, how does the story of the Flood teach us to deal with sin "immediately"?


5. Verse 7 is such a contrast with verse 6. In verse 6, people are threatened with judgment for not confessing sin quickly. But when we confess our sin, what does God promise us in verse 7? 


6. Verses 8-9 sound similar to many Proverbs. What wisdom is being taught in verse 9? How does it apply to confessing sin?


7. Verses 10 and 11 contrast the benefits of confessing sin with the dangers of not confessing it. What are they?


8. As I think and write about this Psalm, I have had many sins come to mind. It caused me to end this with very personal question: what kind of sins are hardest for you to recognize and confess? 


Whatever your answer is, if you are willing to deal with that sin quickly and sincerely, God will fill your life with greater joy as you experience his forgiveness and protection. 

PRiorities

July 19, 2022

Introduction

There's just one verse this week:


Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house.


Proverbs 24:27


The first line is one idea stated two ways: outdoor work and preparing your field. It refers to field preparation so that crops can be grown. But the second line is different: building a house.


What does that teach us about this man? He doesn't have a house! So if you don't have a field or a house (but you do have land for both) which should you prepare first?


Big idea

This is about prioritizing first things first. 


Parent

When you had children, your life changed dramatically. Think of the way you used to live before kids; and think of how you lived after. Tell your child any specifics you can think of about how your time management and/or priorities shifted.


Youth

1. Summer break is a great opportunity to do things you want to do. How do you spend your time differently during summer vacation versus your time during the school year?


2. What does a person's field give them? (Hint: this guy is a farmer)


3. What does your house give you?


Both

This proverb had to be written because people don't naturally prioritize correctly. So imagine you have to take a wild field and turn it into a field that you can grow and harvest crops on. 


1. What work do you have to do to get that field ready for growing crops?

Hint: have you ever had a garden? The preparation issues are similar, but for acres rather than square feet.


2. What work do you have to do to build a house?


3. Take a guess on this one: why would someone rather build a house than prepare a field?


Final Question

Try to think of something you put off, procrastinate, or ignore, but you know (either from life experience or God's word) that it is more important than you have made it. How can you prioritize it more effectively?

The Slacker

July 12, 2022

Introduction

Wisdom is learned by experience; it can be ours or someone else's. In this passage, Solomon tells what he learned from someone else's failure:


I went by the field of a slacker

and by the vineyard of one lacking sense. 

Thistles had come up everywhere,

weeds covered the ground,

and the stone wall was ruined.

I saw, and took it to heart;

I looked, and received instruction: 

a little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the arms to rest,

and your poverty will come like a robber,

and your need, like a bandit.


Proverbs 24:30-34


Big Idea

Solomon is warning us about the long-term consequences of a lazy lifestyle.


Both

We all have unique preferences for down-time which can change throughout our lives.

Currently, what's one of your favorite ways to relax?

What's the difference between healthy down-time and sinful laziness?


Parents

1. Try to think of a time when you procrastinated on an important task or over-indulged in recreation. Describe what happened. 


2. Look at the last two lines: what does the Bible say laziness leads to? Have you personally witnessed an example of this for yourself or someone else? Tell the story if you can.


Both

3. Solomon never actually sees the slacker; he sees his work. Look carefully at the passage and find a) what his crop is and b) what is threatening a good harvest.


Youth

4. The fifth line indicates his "wall was ruined". Do an internet search to find out what was the benefit of a stone wall for a vineyard. Any results?


5. Lines 8 and 9 describe classic lazy behaviors. What are they? Which one is your favorite?


6. As you take a break from school, try think of three summer goals you can enjoy:


a) for your mind - what's something you'd like to learn more about this Summer? 

b) for your body - what's a way you want to stay active? 

c) for your heart - what's a way you want to become more mature as a Christian?