Small Group Studies

Greatest Story Ever Told: Week 3



This week in our series, The Greatest Story Ever Told, we are looking at the judges and kings of Israel. You see, God is the King, and He wanted to be the one whom the Israelites followed and obeyed. Unfortunately, they turned their backs on Him often. When they turned their backs on Him, they faced the consequences and were attacked by enemy nations. When they turned back to God, He sent judges to help rescue the Israelites from the enemy nations that were attacking them. This cycle continued until the Israelites decided to once again turn their backs on God and ask for an earthly king who would lead them instead of letting God be their King. Once again, this broke God's heart. The Israelites often faced the consequences of turning away from God, but God never once left them and showed grace and forgiveness when they turned back to Him.  



Today, we are looking at some of the leaders God appointed in Israel. Who is a past leader you admire? Why?





Bible Study

1, Read Judges 6:1-14. Why did God appoint Gideon to be a judge? 

Judges 6:1-14

The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. So the Lord handed them over to the Midianites for seven years. 2 The Midianites were so cruel that the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in the mountains, caves, and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, marauders from Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east would attack Israel, 4 camping in the land and destroying crops as far away as Gaza. They left the Israelites with nothing to eat, taking all the sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. 5 These enemy hordes, coming with their livestock and tents, were as thick as locusts; they arrived on droves of camels too numerous to count. And they stayed until the land was stripped bare. 6 So Israel was reduced to starvation by the Midianites. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help. 7 When they cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the Israelites. He said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of slavery in Egypt. 9 I rescued you from the Egyptians and from all who oppressed you. I drove out your enemies and gave you their land. 10 I told you, ‘I am the Lord your God. You must not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now live.’ But you have not listened to me.” 11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” 

13 “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” 

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

2. Read 1 Samuel 8:1-18. How did the Israelites reject God and His rule? What was the result?

1 Samuel 8:1-18

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6 Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” 10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

3. Read Acts 13:20-22. What did God say about David? What was one of the things that made David a man after God’s own heart?

Acts 13:20-22

20 All this took about 450 years. “After that, God gave them judges to rule until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people begged for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, who reigned for forty years. 22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ 

4. Read 1 Kings 11:1-13. Describe what led to Solomon's downfall and God's response.

1 Kings 11:1-13

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. 4 In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done. 7 On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods. 9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.” 



1. What happens when we turn away from God based on the Scripture we studied today? How have you seen this to be true in your own life? 

2. Why is discipline necessary? How have you benefited from discipline in your own life? 

3. What do we learn about God based on the passages of Scripture that we studied today?



One of the markers in following only God, the one true God, is obedience. Is there anything God has called you to do that you have been avoiding? Share that with your group, and commit to taking a step of obedience this week. When everyone is finished, pray together. Ask God to help you all take the steps of obedience He has called you to.



The Israelites, and even some kings, struggled to obey God. They were influenced by others and often chose to follow false gods instead of the one true God. The truth is, there is no other God but our God, the one, true God. Let's take a few moments to look at Scripture to learn how we are to honor and follow God as the only true God. 


Have Undivided Loyalty:

Because He is God, God demands our undivided loyalty. This means He is the One who has our undivided attention and affection. Nothing stands in the place that only He deserves in our lives. After all, He is supreme over all. 

1. Take a look at the very first commandments that God gave the people of Israel in the book of Exodus. Read Exodus 20:1-6. 

Exodus 20:1-6

Then God gave the people all these instructions: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. 3 “You must not have any other god but me. 4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

2, Summarize this command from God.

3, Why does God call His children to live with undivided loyalties?

4. What things get in the way of keeping us from having undivided loyalty?



If God is, indeed, God, and He is, then He demands our obedience. When He calls us to do something, we are to obey. Why do we obey? We obey because He is God. We do what He says because we respect Him and God and trust Him.

1. Read Luke 6:46-49, a passage of Scripture where Jesus taught about obedience.

Luke 6:46-49

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” 

2. Look back at verse 46. Summarize Jesus’ message in this verse.

3. Compare the person who obeys God versus the person who does not.

4. What is our motivation for obeying, according to this passage of Scripture? 



Because He is God, He demands our worship, attention, and affection. There is no one greater or more powerful than Him. Even more, He loves us. He demands every bit of the worship we can give Him. 

1, Read Psalm 11:1-5.

Psalm 11:1-5

1 I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! 2 The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. 3 The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?” 4 But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. 5 The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. 

2. Why are we called to worship, according to this passage of Scripture? 

3. According to this passage of Scripture, how are we to approach our worship of God?

4. What is the impact of worship?

5. How can we, as Christ followers, worship today? (There are many answers to this question!



One of the things that God commands us to do is to share our faith. Because He is God, our call is to obey Him. One of the ways we can be prepared to share our faith is by practicing sharing our two-minute study. Our two-minute stories are the stories of what our lives were like before Christ, how we came to know Christ, and the difference Christ has made in our lives. Divide into groups of two or three and practice sharing your stories. Over the next week, commit to sharing your two-minute stories with those who do not know Christ as opportunities arise. 


MONTHLY MEMORY VERSE (Available for download on Sagebrush App)

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? Psalm 71:19