Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, July 25 (TLW29B).
This non-denominational study relies on the Bible explaining the Bible, uninfluenced by any church’s practice or preferences and it follows the Bible’s sequence of progressive revelation. We recommend that you read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. Bible readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, a resource shared by many different churches and chapels and the text is the widely-used and contemporary NIV © Biblica.
2 Samuel 11:1-15 – God’s power is given to fulfil His word and order, not controlling others
John 6:1-21 — Power that comes by faith releases God’s provision
Ephesians 3:14-21 — When we give our hearts to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives power to see spiritually and reveals the extent of God’s love
And also read: Psalm 14
Theme: Good and bad sources of power
• See also this week’s article on this theme, Right and Wrong Sources of Power.
2 Samuel 11:1-15 – Power from position alone can turn abusive
David’s kingship should have fulfilled God’s word and order, not lust
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
“Rabbah” – or Amman. David is complacent, sending Joab to quell the Ammonites.
2-3 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
“Beautiful” – a rare description in the Bible for a person.
“From the roof” – David’s palace, on a terraced structure several storeys high which excavations have revealed in the old city, gave a view of the whole city and nearby courtyards.
“Eliam and… Uriah” – listed among David’s elite warriors, 2 Sam. 23:34, 39. In a compact city it seems unlikely David did not know who was living nearby.
4-5 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
“I am pregnant” — the Bible indicates that she could not have been pregnant already, but gives no hint of her being compliant in the adultery. David and Bathsheba would have known that the penalty under the law was death for both of them, Leviticus 20:10.
6-7 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.
“David asked him” – a pretence. David would have received regular reports.
“Uriah” – the name, ‘The Lord is my light’, tells us he was a Hittite, from the kingdom to the north of Canaan, who had adopted the Israelite faith.
8-9 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
“Wash your feet” – go home off duty and relax with your wife. Uriah understood what was implied, v.11.
10-11 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”
Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
“Staying in tents” – the Ark was with the army in field camp, for worship and to seek guidance in the war. Uriah’s attention to his duty makes David’s dereliction of his, all the more damning.
“Such a thing” — breaking the rule of abstinence when on duty, 1 Samuel 21:5, Exodus 19:15.
12-13 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
14-15 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
“Put Uriah out in front” — David, having failed to make it appear that Uriah was the father of Bathsheba’s child, plots Uriah’s death so he could marry Bathsheba quickly and disguise his sin.
SUMMARY This is the shameful story of David’s multifaceted sin: coveting another man’s wife, adultery, cover-up and deceit, constructive murder — and despising the word of the Lord, 2 Sam. 12:9-10.
APPLICATION This week’s story about right and wrong sources of power opens with a popular figurehead’s embarrassing failure. David’s success had given him temptation to misuse power — he could send for someone, and he was deceived into thinking he could do what he liked. But in the moment we think ‘we can do it’, we are already moving away from trusting and obeying God.
QUESTION What do you take for granted is yours to decide in life, and how is God challenging that for you?
John 6:1-21 — The power that faith releases brings God’s provision
Jesus tests His disciples with a huge crowd to feed and nothing to give them
1-4 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed Him because they saw the signs He had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with His disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
“Some time after” – Jesus was proclaiming the Good News around Judea and in Jerusalem, John 5. Now, six months or so later, they have moved north, to Galilee.
“Far shore” – north-east shore, probably near Philip’s home area of Bethsaida, Luke 9:10.
“Jewish Passover… near” – a crowd swelled by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. The Passover celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and God’s provision of food and water, giving deeper meaning to what happens next.
• For further study, read Exodus 15:22-16:3.
5-6 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.
“He said to Philip” — as we get to know the Lord, we can see how the Lord uses apparent difficulties and setbacks to grow our faith.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
“Half a year’s wages” – literally 200 denarii. A denarius was a labourer’s daily rate.
8-9 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
“Loaves” – a meal of small, coarse pita breads and salted fish.
10-11 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
“Five thousand” – in reality, far more, with women and children counted.
“Distributed” – miraculously, the food multiplied to be more than enough for all. In Luke’s account, the food multiplies in the hands of the disciples as they give it out, Luke 9:13,16.
12-13 When they had all had enough to eat, He said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
“Wasted” – Roman feasts always had food left over, but Jews considered waste of food immoral.
“Twelve baskets” – symbolic of the needs of the 12 tribes of Israel met by God.
14-15 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.
“The sign Jesus performed… the Prophet” — like Elijah, or like Moses, as foretold in Deut. 18:15. Jesus shows people He is God by miraculous provision as in stories they knew, like Elijah in 2 Kings 4, and the manna in Exodus 16.
“Make Him king by force” – to save the nation in the manner of King David. But Jesus came asLord and Saviour of the world.
16-17 When evening came, His disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.
18-21 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
“Don’t be afraid” – the disciples’ greater fear than the strong evening winds on Galilee was seeing a ghost-like Jesus walking out to help them, recalling Moses leading Israel through the water, Exodus 14, Psalm 77:19-20. Jesus is showing His sovereignty over the world He created.
“It is I” — in Greek, ‘I AM’. Jesus, revealing Himself as Messiah in this fifth sign, used the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, Exodus 3:14; John 4:26, John 6:35.
SUMMARY The disciples were powerless to provide anything for a hungry and restless, stadium-sized crowd. Later, rowing hard against a strong wind, they seemed powerless to reach the far shore.
APPLICATION As the boy’s pilchards and pita bread went on supplying a vast crowd, the disciples’ faith was stretched. Nothing is impossible for God, our way to Him is faith in Jesus, and He will test and stretch that faith.
QUESTION Do you know of a story of ‘desperate prayer’ that resulted in a lack being turned into more than enough?
Ephesians 3:14-21 — The Holy Spirit gives power to see spiritually
The Spirit reveals the extent of God’s love when we give our hearts to Jesus
14-15 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
“For this reason” – going back to the original thought of v.1, Paul can see in the Spirit how these Greeks are being built together with Jews, the ‘living stones’ of Spirit-filled believers creating the new ‘temple’ of God’s presence.
• For further study, read Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10.
“I kneel” – expresses deep reverence. Most people stood to pray.
“Every family in heaven and on earth” – our identity, whether angelic beings in heaven or humanity on earth, is in belonging to God as Father.
16-17 I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…
“Inner being… hearts” – the same thing, centre of moral being and consciousness and related to the new self and new creation.
• For further study, see , Eph. 4:24, 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15
“Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” – or “make His home in your hearts…” (NLT). What happens at conversion, a decision of our will in which we invite Christ, by His Spirit, to come and inhabit our hearts to be the source of all spiritual power and ministry.
• For further study, read also John 3:1-21 esp. vv. 5-8 and 14-17.
18-19 …may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“May have power… to know…” — not a new idea, Micah 3:8, Zech. 4:6, but now being able to live in spiritual power and awareness, transformed by Christlike sacrificial love, and showing what God is like to others.
“Love that surpasses knowledge” — not unknowable, but so great it cannot be fully known.
20-21 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
“Now to Him… be glory” — God is glorified in Christ, whose sacrificial death brought the assembly of believers into existence, and is glorified by all those who belong to Him and show His power and compassion.
SUMMARY This prayer of Paul’s for the believers in Ephesus is also is one of the key Bible passages that explains conversion — how the new birth brings us a new, personal awareness of God. It takes us from knowing about God in a religious or institutional way, to a heart-changing living relationship. God becomes real to us as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. It’s difficult to convey in words but all becomes crystal clear as we ask Christ to take up residence in our hearts.
APPLICATION Note how Paul’s prayer begins, and ends, with submission, praise and adoration. It makes a sandwich of His appeal to God for His gift of the the power of the Holy Spirit to live for Him influenced by His love which touches everyone and everything. With the Holy Spirit’s eyes, we begin to see where heaven connects with earth.
QUESTION What is your story — or your hope — of “being strengthened with power in your inner being”
PRAYER Lord, I realise that man’s power corrupts but Your power provides, reveals and releases Your love. I am sorry for the times I have relied on my influence or ability, instead of turning to You. Help me to know You better, and to trust You more, as I grow in awareness of Your Holy Spirit in my life and world. Amen.
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