Jerusalem's story, study 2
The elderly Samuel would have travelled the Jerusalem road on his journey to anoint David as King of Israel (1 Samuel 16). As Jerusalem seemed an insignificant city, so David was the youngest of Jesse's sons - not even worth calling in from the fields! From that moment, David the shepherd boy entered onto a long a difficult road. He struggled with the envy of his brothers; jealousy, rejection and attempted murder by King Saul and years of wilderness living.
When David was finally established as King, Hebron was his capital in the heart of Judea, a precarious location at a time of tribal rivalries. Jebus/Salem was in Benjamin and on the borders of Judah, Manasseh and Ephraim. It was a more neutral setting for a capital. David took the city in 1004. The ark was returned and David established his capital as the spiritual and political centre of the nation.
Read: 2 Samuel 5:6-12
Water has always been Jerusalem's "Achilles heel". Within the city walls, rain water was collected in cisterns. This would not have been fresh or "living water". There was just one spring called "Gihon" down on the Eastern slope. This was below the level of the Jebusite defences. Much later Hezekiah built a tunnel to draw the water to the pool of Siloam within the city walls, but the Jebusites had a simple water shaft sunk down to the level of the spring. David realised that here was the way into his chosen city.
1) What did David do when he had captured Jerusalem?
2) How did David know that God had established him as king over Israel?
The nation was promised through the covenant with Abraham, but was won through David's victory by the sword. Christians have very different views on the rightness of going to war, and many parts of the Bible are difficult to interpret because of this. Discuss in your group the issue of war, whether it is ever justified and whether God can ever work through military means.
David reigned in Jerusalem for 33 years. He left behind a united nation, a strong capital and a beautiful palace. The one thing he did not achieve, and this at the Lord's command, was to build a Temple. David was a warrior and was considered unsuitable for this great project. Building the Temple was the prime task of Solomon, David's son. Jerusalem flourished under Solomon. It became a crossing point of developing trade routes for the Egyptians and the Phoenicians.
Read 2 Chronicles 2:1-3:2
1)Why was this Temple going to be great but not great enough for the Lord? (Verses-5-6)
2)What was the reaction of the king of Tyre to Solomon's request?
3)Who lived within Israel?
4)Where was the Temple to be built? How does the location link to David and to Abraham (cf. Genesis 22:2 and 2 Samuel 24:18-25)
Israel became a flourishing centre of trade during Solomon's rule. How did this affect Israel? Why should Christians become involved in the issues of fair trade today?
The size and importance of Israel under Solomon showed God blessing his request for wisdom rather than power.
Read 2 Chronicles 7:1- 5
The Hebrew word for Glory is Shekinah. What is associated with the Glory of the Lord?
The hill just to the west of the Temple Mount is mistakenly called Mount Zion today. The name Zion was originally the southern part of Mount Moriah or the main hill that the Temple and the early city of Jerusalem was built on. Last week we focused on Mount Moriah and Sacrifice. This week we have focused on David's city and the theme of nationhood and of the dedication of the Temple.
The passages today have looked at both war and trade between nations.
Pray for countries where different people groups are at war with each other. Pray for problems of trade between nations.
We have seen a people become a nation and community.
Pray for unity and community in your own church or fellowship.
Pray for unity and peace in modern Jerusalem.
When the Temple was completed and dedicated, the Glory, or Shekinah, of the Lord came down in brilliant light. This would have reminded the Israelites of the times in the wilderness when the Glory of the Lord came in this way. They would have remembered the Tabernacle, Mount Sinai and God leading the people with a pillar of fire.
Use a candle to focus your thoughts. As you look into the flame, think through those situations in the Bible where light and fire are a symbol of the presence of God. You may like to give the group a moment to reflect on this and then ask them to share their thoughts.
The making of a nation
There are many Christians who see the modern return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel as a sign of God's faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham. Other Christians would not agree with this and believe the Palestinian people have the true claim to the land. Still others believe that the land should belong to both peoples.
Two broad issues come out of this. Firstly the issue of Prophecy and how we interpret scripture. Secondly, justice and reconciliation; how can this be found by the Jewish and Palestinian peoples whose heritage is the same small land?
Here are some references for further study in this area.
Has God finished with Israel? by Rob Richards (1994, Monarch). This book draws together the prophecies for a covenant return to the land of the Jewish people.
Whose promised land? by Colin Chapman (1983, Lion Publishing plc). This book seeks to understand the State of Israel in terms of its impact on the Palestinian people.
The Covenant with the Jews by Walter Riggans (1992, Monarch). See Ch 4 "Biblical Prophecies and Modern Politics" This chapter looks at the return in the light of the issues of justice and peace.
These pages contain sample extracts form:
A series of seven Bible studies for individuals of groups.
Published by Olive Press: St Albans, 1998