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An Heroic Ministry
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YWI - working with...
YWI is pleased to work in association with
Fuller Youth Institute, US
Sophia Network, UK
The Character of Solomon
MEETING AIM: To study the rise and fall of Solomon and to explore the areas of weakness in his character; to encourage the group to think about their own character and how they can live lives of integrity.
BACKGROUND PREPARATION: Paper and pens; a basketball net (or a bin) and ball.
Be wise! (10 mins)
Start the meeting by giving a fun challenge to the group. Their challenge is to negotiate with each other to get as many points as possible by the end of the task. Each person begins with 100 points. Walking around the room they are to meet up with as many members of the group as possible and negotiate 100 points. Between them they have to split the points – the catch being that it cannot be split 50/50. The winner will be the person who has the most points at the end of the allocated time. Provide pens and paper for everyone to record their results on after each round.
After the activity, ask the young people to feed back their results, looking at what tactics were used, and which ones were successful. Award a prize for the top negotiator.
Why do we mess up? (15 mins)
Ask a young person to volunteer to take part in a basketball shootout (or this could be done easily with a bin and ball). Start off by allowing them to stand a foot away from the hoop and to throw the ball in the net/ bin.
Present the young person as a world-class basketball champion, and ask the thrower how they feel about the challenge they have been set. Explain to the group that unfortunately the thrower has become boastful about their abilities – as you say this ask the young person to step back a few paces so they are now further from the basket. Now describe how they’ve become greedy with their enormous salary, and ask them to put their stronger arm in their pocket. Talk through the following options – adding each one to the thrower and writing the problem up on a board so the group can see it:
Now ask the thrower to attempt to score– it should now be nearly impossible for them to do so. Thank the thrower and allow them to return to the group.
A messed up life (5 mins)
Ask the group whether they have ever messed up in life because of any of the problems that thrower faced. Can they think of any more reasons that people mess up in life? Ask the group to split down into smaller groups and discuss the following questions:
Ask the group to feed back their ideas to the bigger group if appropriate.
KEY POINT: Say that from a distance, it would be easy to idealise Solomon. Looking more closely though, we see that Solomon was a stubborn King who refused to obey God and failed to pay attention to his own wise council.
Great expectations (10 mins)
Solomon’s life had exciting beginnings and he had everything going for him. Ask individuals to look up the following verses. He had:
· the blessing of God -1 Kings 3:13-14
· a variety of skills and interests – 1 Kings 4:29-34
· a record of achievements – Ecclesiastes 2:4-6
· unparalleled wisdom – 1 Kings 10:24
Explain that these things weren’t enough to prepare Solomon for his 40 year reign as King. Something was missing. Ask the group to imagine or if they know what could possibly go wrong for such a fine sounding King?
In The Message version of the Bible, read Proverbs 1: 22-33. What does this passage say is the cause of disaster? Make a list of these warnings and make the point that ironically, Solomon wrote these words: his life became a tragic fulfilment of his own words.
KEY POINT: Solomon was given unsurpassed ability to discern right from wrong. But in his latter years he indulged himself to the point of no return. He lacked the character to apply the wisdom and knowledge he had been given. One who has wisdom does not necessarily have character, and Solomon’s wealth eventually corrupted him.
The erosion of excellence (10 mins)
Read together 2 Kings 1-4 - King David’s charge to his son Solomon at the end of his life. Say that David had been known as a ‘man after God’s own heart’ and he was urging his son to be the same.
However, there were four main areas in which Solomon’s commitment, integrity and wisdom were compromised. Ask members of the group to read these passages:
· He became preoccupied with his riches and building projects (Eccl. 2:4-6)
· He made unwise alliances with unbelievers (1 Kings 3:1)
· He had many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-3)
· He had other idols and other gods (1 Kings 11:4-8).
Say that the consequences of Solomon’s defiance were God’s anger (1 Kings 11: 9-13), other human enemies (1 Kings 11: 14-25) and internal rebellion within his Kingdom (1 Kings 11: 26-39).
Chief advisor strategies (10 mins)
Split the group into twos and threes and ask them to imagine that they are Solomon’s personal board of advisors during his reign (although these advisors have the great gift of hindsight!) What strategies, structures and advice would they put in place or give to King Solomon to ensure that he didn’t make these mistakes? They have five minutes to prepare a presentation to the rest of the group to convince the others that they would make the best advisors and would have prevented Solomon’s defiance. Give the winning group a prize.
A question of character (10 mins)
Say that ultimately Solomon’s downfall was a result of his lack of character. A man called George Wood believes that our success and productivity will be proportional to our character. Read this quote: ‘Charisma without Character is Catastrophe’. Ask the group whether they agree with this comment. What does he mean? How was this true in Solomon’s life?
Ask the group to define the word ‘Character’. What makes up their character? People of character and integrity who take risks in their faith are most often the kind of people who see the fullness of God’s blessing in their lives. How could we employ some of the ‘advice’ or strategies that they presented for Solomon’s life in our own lives to make sure that we follow God and leave a good and lasting legacy with our lives?
Response (5 mins)
Ask the group members to find a quiet place in the room and give them a piece of paper. Ask them to pray and to reflect: When no one is looking, what are they like at their best and at their worst? Are there areas of their character that would be a weakness if they were in a position of great responsibility? What about now? Ask them to pray and ask God to strengthen them and show them how they can reflect the character of God more fully in their lives.
Notes for adapting
For younger groups… Summarise the story of Solomon for the group and after the ‘Why do we mess up?’ exercise, ask them how behaviour (ie envy and pride), can affect their friendships and family relationships.
For older groups… Hold a discussion about world leaders/ celebrities who have been considered ‘great’ or have ‘messed up’. What were the reasons for these mistakes?
For churched young people… Use the guide as a spring-board to discuss accountability and integrity in our lives. Suggest ways in which they can remain accountable to each other and explain why this is important.
Sarah Wynter is Youthwork’s Deputy Editor.
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