Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, August 1 (TLW30B). 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
Theme: Learning to honour God in His gifts to us
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a — A prophetic word makes David aware how He has violated God’s gift of royal position.
John 6:24-35 — At first, hearers could not grasp that the gift of Jesus is to be bread of life from heaven.
Ephesians 4:1-16 — Christ’s gifts to His church are the ministries that equip the rest of the body.
Also read: Psalm 51:1-12
• See also this week’s article which explains the theme Learning to honour God in His gifts to us
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a — God’s gift of royal position violated
David concealed his wrongdoing until a prophetic word brought him to repentance
26-27 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
“Displeased the Lord” – dramatic understatement about David’s misuse of the Lord’s promise that he would shepherd His people, breaking the tenth commandment (coveting), the seventh (adultery), then the sixth (murder).
• For further study, read 2 Sam. 5:2, 2 Sam. 7:7; Exodus 20:13-17
12:1-3 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
“The Lord sent Nathan” – Nathan, the court prophet, models the kind of parable that later Jesus used.
4 “Now a traveller came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5-6 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
“As surely as…” – Response in the form of an oath.
“Four times over” – the customary restitution. David later lost four of his sons; Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah all died violently.
7-8 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
“Gave your master’s house…” – conventional way of describing the throne with its royal privileges.
9-10 ” ‘Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in His eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
“You struck down…you killed…” – figure of speech. David was responsible for Uriah falling in battle — but was blind to the sin of his actions until this point.
11-12 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”
“Out of your own household… calamity” — foretelling of Absalom’s rebellion and abusing the royal concubines, 2 Sam. 16:22.
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
“I have sinned” — now David turns in repentance, but he will see consequences from his wrong actions.
SUMMARY The story suggests that David is in denial of his wrongdoing until some time after the birth of his son, when Nathan the court prophet shares the revealing story. Then the reality of his adultery, constructive murder and disregard for God’s order hits him.
APPLICATION David repents in a wholehearted way. He experiences God’s grace, but sin sets in train consequences. To go against what we know is right was costly for David, and can be costly for us.
QUESTION How ready are you to allow God to reveal your wrongdoing and repent — admit it and turn from it?
John 6:24-35 — The gift of Jesus, bread of life from heaven
At first the hearers of this teaching cannot grasp the spiritual significance
24 Once the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
“To Capernaum in search of Jesus” — the most likely place.
25 When they found Him on the other side of the lake, they asked Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?”
26-27 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs I performed, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”
“Not because you saw the signs” — like the 12 disciples, they needed more time and teaching to grasp the meaning of the sign.
“Food that endures to eternal life” – Jesus’ miracle with ordinary bread points to Him being authorised by the Father as the giver of spiritual ‘food’ that brings new life.
28 Then they asked Him, “What must we do, to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”
“What must we do…” – the crowd, used to Jewish religion of good works and merit, misses the point that eternal life is received, not earned. The one indispensable ‘work’ is to exercise faith and believe in Jesus Christ.
• For further study, read Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:20-28.
30-31 So they asked Him, “What sign, then, will You give that we may see it and believe You? What will You do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
“Bread from heaven” – a far greater gift than manna, which only met physical needs at that time and place.
33 “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“For the bread of God” — is spiritual and eternal, life through the Son, which God is giving now.
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
“Give us this bread” — the crowd are not yet seeing the spiritual dimension.
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.”
“Jesus declared, “I AM…” – in Greek, this is solemn and emphatic, sounding like God’s words in Exodus 3:12-15.
• For further study: This is the first of seven key “I am” sayings in John’s gospel, John 6:35, 8:12, 10:7,9; 10:11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1,5.
SUMMARY The people who saw the miraculous provision of food on the hillside were seeing Jesus reveal who He really was, and the real gift He had to give — Himself, the source of new and eternal life.
APPLICATION The first hearers believed in earning God’s favour by religious good behaviour. Our world also teaches that reward comes by merit, but Jesus is giving a spiritual, different teaching. The bread He offers never runs out or spoils — it is Himself. When we receive Him as Saviour and Lord, we experience His new life, which is eternal.
QUESTION How would you explain how you received Jesus’ life-giving gift to someone exploring Christian faith?
Ephesians 4:1-16 — Christ’s gifts to His church are His ministry 64
The ministries given to those who lead are for equipping the rest of the body
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
“Worthy of the calling” – a life showing Christ’s call will show growing spiritual maturity and oneness with others.
• For further study, see 1 Thess. 2:12; Romans 12:1; Col. 1:10.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
“Humble and gentle” — not needing to prove oneself.
“Bearing with one another” — true Christian life is patient and forgiving. Tensions will arise — we have an enemy that will see to that — but Christian maturity counters that with corporate humility and love that emphasises reconciliation, Colossians 3:12-15.
3-6 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
“Make every effort to keep” — an urgent appeal. The Holy Spirit in regenerate believers brings a unity of heart and mind, a powerful threat to Satan, which is why he attacks it relentlessly. We have to guard what the Holy Spirit gives.
“One body… one Spirit” – seven foundational facets of this spiritual unity, expressed in the form of a prayer declaration.
7-8 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When He ascended on high, He took many captives and gave gifts to His people.”
“He took many captives” — literally “He took captivity captive”. Paul is quoting freely from Deborah’s victory song in Judges 5:12 and Psalm 68:8. Ancient kings took tribute as part of victory, but sometimes handed some back in clemency. Christ took captive the bondage imposed by Satan, and is generous in bestowing leadership gifts.
9-10 (What does “He ascended” mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
“He also descended” – Jesus who ascended, and now fills the earth with His spiritual presence, is none other than the one who descended to become incarnate in humble circumstances and then suffer death for us.
11-12 So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
“Apostles… prophets… evangelists…pastors… teachers” — five special ministry strengths. Apostles are envoys sent out to pioneer a new work; prophetic ministry emphasises God’s present purposes and praying them in; evangelists communicate the Good News with special clarity; the shepherd is about caring for the flock, often also a teacher with the gift of making plain the Bible’s message and application
13 …until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
“Fullness of Christ – also in Eph. 1:23, the full expression of what Christ is like. Filled with Christ means not filled with one’s own importance, so able to build faith and unity in the congregation and beyond.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
“No longer… infants” – not suggestible, and prone to squabbling, but growing into the maturity of knowing Christ and reflecting His values.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
“The mature body” – Christ’s people, in all their diversity, growing together in Him, v.16 below.
16 From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
SUMMARY AND APPLICATION Turning to Jesus and receiving His gift of new life opens up a dimension of spiritual life we didn’t know before, and it goes on in learning and growing. Among the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit brings are these five gifts of ministry for leaders to help others grow. The church doesn’t need priests — everyone who knows Jesus exercises a priesthood under Him — but it needs equippers to get others doing what they do, under Jesus.
QUESTION When we encounter difficult people, what does this passage say are good responses?
PRAYER Lord God, in Your wisdom You have given us minds to think with, freewill to make choices and practicalities in life to get on with. But we’re not so good at seeing the spiritual dimension of life woven into all these. Help us to have the mind of Christ and to be led by the Spirit of Christ, using the gifts You give us with the care of craftsmen, not the blows of the unskilled. And in all things to work for unity and the honour of Jesus. Amen.
PRINT EDITION You can download a PDF of the print edition from the link below. It prints on A4 paper to produce a four-page Bible-size folder. Permission given to copy for your own use, for your Bible study or home group, or for inclusion with your church bulletin.