Sunday, March 17, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 19

Murders in the Land - 2 Samuel 3:22-4:12

Prayer: Lord help us to forgive those who harm us, help us to never seek vengeance but to remember that vengeance belongs to you & you alone.  God, only you are a perfect judge & able to dispense perfect justice, teach us to trust you to make things right.

Quickly Form Groups:
1.   Briefly have each person share about 1 person they need to forgive (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)
2.   Have you ever had to deal with the aftermath of a violent act perpetuated against yourself or a friend or a family member?  What emotions did you deal with & how did God help you through it?

A peace delegation has come & the civil war had ended.  The leaders of all the tribes of Israel, even the tribe of Benjamin, have chosen David as their king.  Abner, formerly the general for Ish-Bosheth's forces, has allied with David & been the man who has worked to bring peace to all Israel.  Abner is a hero, he has done the right & godly thing, he has promoted David as God's choice for king of Israel.

2 Samuel 3 v22-23: Joab & the army return from a raid, presumably against the enemies of Israel, and they come back successful - lots of plunder.  Joab's probably in great spirits, feeling pretty successful, but then... he hears the news that Abner has been to visit, Abner who killed his baby brother Asahel, and that David let Abner leave in peace.

Again, for those who may not have been with us during the last couple lessons, I want to remind everyone that all these people are related (family) and that all the fighting men had once served together - in fact David would have trained under & served under Abner in Saul's army, since Abner was Saul's commander at least as far back as when David slew Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  It's possible that Joab & his brothers also trained & served under Abner, though I didn't find any specific references to back up that possibility.  With that in mind let's continue to see how Joab reacts to Abner coming in peace.

v24-25: Joab is angry, Joab can't believe that David would let Asahel's killer simply walk in & walk away in peace.  Joab accuses Abner of deception, that he came to spy out David's stronghold & David's ways.  Joab is trying to discredit Abner, to undermine Abner's character - Joab may have even felt threatened that this obviously strong general was coming to join David.  I don't believe that Joab really believed that Abner was there to spy, he knew Abner's loyal & honorable character, but his anger & hatred of Abner were so strong that his thinking in this matter may not have been clear.  Notice that Joab isn't being particularly respectful of David here either, and David is his uncle & the king he is supposed to be serving.

v26-27: Apparently David didn't believe Joab's accusations because he doesn't act on them, he knows Abner well and knows Abner's character.  At this point Joab takes matters into his own hands, goes behind David's back, and has Abner brought back.  Abner returned, and Joab pretended to want to speak to him privately, but once alone Joab murders Abner.  Abner had killed Asahel in battle, after trying to turn Asahel aside, and when he had no other choice.  Joab's murder of Abner is premeditated, motivated by vengeance, in opposition to David's desires and in opposition to God's ways.  God's laws allowed for blood vengeance in the cases of murder, but not in cases of accident or from the results of battle - Joab was in the wrong. Deuteronomy 19:11-13

v28-30: David condemns this act of murder, he makes it clear that he neither ordered nor condoned it.  David proclaims his innocence & the innocence of his kingdom (remember Joab is his nephew) before the Lord regarding Abner.

David had many reasons to proclaim his innocence, these might include:
  • It would reflect on his kingship and kingdom, how he treated people, especially those who came in peace.  This murder put the newly brokered peace treaty at risk.
  • It would reflect on his personal character, he had entered into an alliance, and had received Michal back as a part of that agreement.
  • He had made promises to Jonathan & Saul regarding their family which may or may not have included Abner (more on that later).
  • It would reflect on his spiritual state if he allowed / condoned this murder since this was an offense to God.

David calls down a curse on Joab & his family, the blood of Abner would be on Joab & all his father's house, his curse was a sort of prayer that God would avenge by having sickness / wounds / violent death / hunger within Joab's family that would cause them to be in distress.  Why on the whole family?  Apparently Abishai, Joab's other brother, was in on the murder plot as well.

v31-32: What was Joab & his men's immediate punishment for their act?  They were forced to tear their clothes, to put on sackcloth (clothing of grief & repentance) and join in with the mourning process - forcing them to pay their respects to Abner.  David as well is mourning, but his mourning is genuine & he wept aloud along with the people.

v33-34: Here we see David's soft side come out, this warrior king is also a musician and man of compassion.  David sings a lament to his former general & friend, and even his lament proclaims Abner's murderers wicked men.  David's song moves the people to weep over Abner.

v35-37: David in his grief refused to eat, he fasted all that day because of his grief, and this was an important witness to all the people of Israel (not just the people of Judah) that he had no part in Abner's murder - his grief was genuine.  Because of David's actions the newly brokered peace treaty was no longer at risk, and the people of Israel knew they could trust their king.

v38-39: David addresses his men directly, he clearly points out that a significant man "a prince and a great man" has fallen, a hero has been slain.  The slaying of this hero, of this loyal and honorable general, of this man who brokered peace - this slaying has undermined David's authority as king.  Joab & Abishai have acted in a manner to undermine David's authority and he's pointing it out, but he leaves the rest of their punishment in the hands of God - that God would avenge their evil deeds.

David hasn't just "let it slide", he's pointed out the error, attempted to humble and correct these men, and then left it in God's hands to deal out whatever punishment He sees fit.  Some say David should have had these men killed because of their actions, and the passage we read earlier in Deuteronomy seems to back that up.  Once again David may not have been aware of that scripture, or he may have been trying to keep from stirring things up more within his family & his army, but at the very least he is attempting to put a halt to the bloodshed that has been the result of this civil war.

2 Samuel 4 v1-4: This passage makes me think "meanwhile, back at the ranch..." because I'm thinking that this news is reaching Ish-Bosheth prior to the news of the funeral & mourning over Abner.  Remember that this isn't necessarily happening sequentially, but at least it is happening after the death of Abner.  Perhaps it's possible that they think that Abner was ambushed & killed when he came to broker peace, perhaps they've not yet received news regarding the peace treaty - they didn't have the "instant" communication methods we have today.  This would explain their fear when getting the news of Abner's death.

Two important side notes are added at this point in the narrative:
  • Ish-Bosheth (son of Saul) has lost his general, but still has other fighting men - two specifically named here are part of a clan that was "adopted" into the tribe of Benjamin, we'll get back to them in a bit.
  • There is still another member of the royal line of Saul, Mephibosheth (son of Jonathan & grandson of Saul), but he was already lame because of an accident that happened when the family was fleeing for safety after the deaths of Jonathan and Saul.  We'll run in to Mephibosheth again in chapter 9.

v5-8: These two fighting men that Ish-Bosheth still thought were his have turned against him.  They pretend to go into the king's residence to get some provisions but that's not their intent.  They go into Ish-Bosheth's room while he is taking a nap and stab him in the stomach (perhaps the heart), killing him, then they remove his head.  They take the head of Ish-Bosheth to David, perhaps thinking that if Abner couldn't prove alliance by coming peacefully they could prove alliance by producing the head of Saul's heir.  Their words tell David that they have taken vengeance against Saul & Saul's offspring on his behalf.

v9-12: Oops!!  These two fighting men have made a grave error where David is concerned.  David had killed the one who told him of Saul's death, the one who claimed he had helped end Saul's life when Saul asked him to.  How much more upset will David be at these men, who have killed Saul's son when he was asleep in bed, a son who's general has just been killed - both of whom were seeking peace with David.  He deals with these two men harshly, they have acted traitorously & treacherously, and David has them killed.  Remember these are some who were "adopted" into Benjamin, foreigners that were living as aliens in Israel (we would call them "legal aliens"), and this may be why David treated them more harshly than he treated Joab & his men.  David may also have been more harsh due to the fact that they acted against the pledge that David had made to Saul (1 Samuel 24:16-22). The men are killed and their bodies left exposed, but the head of Ish-Bosheth is treated with dignity and buried with the body of Abner.

Closing Prayer:  Lord, it seems that sometimes even our best efforts don't bring about peace.  We see how David again & again had to keep correcting the fighting men to try to stop the bloodshed within Israel, how heartbreaking and frustrating that had to be.  Lord keep us from acting impulsively, help us to patiently wait for You to work out Your will in Your way and in Your time.

Quickly Form Groups Again:
3.   From this lesson what character traits to you see in David?  Are these traits good or bad?  Which of these traits do you see in yourself?
4.   Think about the things impacting our world, wars, alliances & treaties at risk, removal / deaths of leaders, changes in political or religious leaders, etc.  How might we pray for our world & the peoples of the world?  Time permitting, spend some time in your group in prayer for our world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 18

A Shift in Power - 2 Samuel 3:1-21

Prayer: Lord help us to be at peace with those around us, to be kind and considerate, and to be respectful of those you have put in authority.  In today's lesson we see a civil war, a power struggle, and people are hurt in the process.  Lord, we don't always know why trouble and struggles come, but we pray that we will learn from our troubles.

Quickly Form Groups:
1. Briefly have each person share 1 trouble or struggle they are facing (think single sentence), say a brief (think single sentence) prayer for each. (share, pray, share, pray, ....)
2. Has your family ever faced a problem that caused division?  What was done or could be done to try to resolve the division & bring peace?

There is a civil war that's started in Israel, though a temporary cease in hostilities was seen at the end of Chapter 2 the war is far from over.  We must keep in mind that these people are all related, the houses of Judah (David) & Benjamin (Saul) are intermixed - remember David's first wife Michal is Saul's daughter!  So though we call it a civil war we cannot think of it like we think of the U.S. civil war because the ties between the people in this instance are much greater - they're family!

2 Samuel 3 v1-5: The war continues, David's followers become stronger & Saul's become weaker, but its more than just that.  David's personal family also becomes stronger, evidenced by the sons born to him, while Saul's family is dying out.

In chapter 2 he had two wives, Adonijah & Abigail, when he returned to Judah; but now he has at least 6 who have born a son to him while settled in Judah.  It's possible he had sons & daughters when arriving in Judah, it's also possible that he had additional sons from these wives as well as daughters from these & possibly other wives.  Keep in mind that in the times when this was written sons were considered of more value since they would be more able to provide physical strength for manual labor or for war, also remember that the first son was always seen as the most significant.  I'm speculating that David had several wives and lots & lots of kids by this time, but we really don't know for certain.  Several of the sons named here will be mentioned significantly in the narrative of later portions of David's life, they would have been considered the "head" of their respective groups of full-siblings, but I won't go further than to just mention that now.

You notice that David's not being called on the carpet for having multiple wives, you'd think that the priest that traveled with him would have corrected this behavior, but he didn't.  It's possible that David was unaware of the scriptures concerning this, it's also possible that the priest was unaware - they had been on the run & not in a place where the scrolls of scripture would have been stored.  This points to a problem in Israel at this time, apparently there was a lack of knowledge of God's ways & laws (evidence of this will be seen in later chapters), and apparently there was an adoption of the ways of the cultures around them.  Fast forward to today - we all know people today who call themselves Christians, and even people who are Christians, who are living and acting just like the culture around us; in fact, I think if we were honest we would each see in ourselves a bit of this happening as well - this is something that should cause us to pause, reflect, repent, and pray!!

6-7: Abner is gaining popularity and strength within the family of Saul, and he is a cousin of Saul.  I mentioned last week that it was not unusual in the nations of those times for a strong general to take over if there was a weak king on the throne, and we know Ish-Bosheth is a weak king.  Apparently it was believed that Abner had taken up with one of Saul's former concubines, whether this is true & to what degree we don't know, and there is nothing particularly wrong with him taking this woman as a wife for himself; however, in the culture of the nations of those days taking a former king's concubine was seen as taking some of that king's power - this should not have been seen as a power grab for a God follower, but Ish-Bosheth perceives it as a threat.  What Ish-Bosheth is really doing is accusing Abner of trying to take Saul's place, trying to grab the throne, this is a serious accusation.

v8-11: Abner is livid, he's done everything he can to preserve Saul's throne & has been loyal to Saul's family & friends.  Pay attention to what he said in verse 10, he was aware that God had promised the throne to David, yet he has continued to be loyal to Saul even after Saul's death.  I'm guessing that Saul demanded a pledge of loyalty from his general, even if it was his cousin, and it was likely a pledge that included keeping his family on the throne.  I get a sense that Abner wasn't exactly happy with the situation but was continuing to be faithful, and this accusation becomes the last straw, he's had enough of Saul's dynasty - he's now going to support & promote David, the king of God's choosing.  Ish-Bosheth is silenced, he is fearful of his powerful general - this is one more proof that the real power & influence in the house of Saul lies with Abner not Ish-Bosheth.

v12: Abner sends word to David saying "Whose land is it?", implying he believes one of the following:
  • the land belongs to God, therefor God's choice should be in charge
  • the land belongs to God's appointed king - David
  • the lands of the non-Judah clans are under his (Abner's) power to be done with as he pleases
Whatever he meant may never be known to us, but the result is that he's letting David know that he intends to help David bring all Israel under David's rule.

v13-16: David is pleased with Abner's message, and he makes an interesting demand.  He demands from both Abner & Ish-Bosheth that Michal, his first wife, be returned to him.  Did David know that Michal had been given to another man?  I think he would have known this!  Did David love Michal so much that he just had to have her back?  I don't think so, this doesn't appear to be about love so much as it appears to be about power and authority.  Michal is Saul's daughter, David's marriage to her makes him Saul's son-in-law, David had earned this position by engaging in a war-effort that put him at great personal risk, David's marriage to Michal would strengthen David's claim to the throne in the eyes of those who might not accept that he was chosen for this position by God.  

Let's take a look at this situation: Michal was David's first wife, the one wife of his that would have been considered his true wife in the eyes of God - even though she had been given to someone else by her father Saul, and even though he had taken other wives.  This is a mess, she was likely about 12-14 years old when she was married to David & he fled, and at this point in the narrative she's probably in her early 30s.  She had a husband who obviously loved her, who followed after and wept & had to be ordered home by Abner.  She most likely had several children as well, they would have been left behind with her husband.  Michal has to be devastated, and once again we see her being used as a pawn in a power-struggle for the throne of Israel.

This seems to be cruel on David's part, but I believe David tried to make things as good as he could for Michal.  We will see Michal again many years later in the narrative, and when we do her resentment comes out against David - she despises & looks down on him even though he's the king.  In that passage we see a picture of her character that is not pretty - could it be that she was a spoiled little vindictive princess?  Could it be that she had been a demanding and cruel wife to her obviously devoted husband?  Notice that her husband was weeping but it doesn't say anything about her weeping.  She was royalty as Saul's daughter & would continue to be royalty as David's wife, was her attitude one of entitlement?  We don't know...

v17-18: Abner meets with the elders of those who have Ish-Bosheth as their king, apparently they have wanted to make David their king for a while.  In those times the strength of a king and that king's forces were as source of security for the peoples, apparently the elders had been wanting to shift power to David who had proven himself to be a strong king.  Abner tells them to go ahead and ally themselves with David, indicating that the army of the family of Saul is also going over to David - leaving Ish-Bosheth with no army to support his kingdom.  Abner confirms that this was what God had indicated He wanted all along, and that it's time to shift their loyalties to David.

v19-21: Abner is wise, he takes extra care to speak to the Benjamites (Saul's tribe) to make certain that they are also ready to shift authority to David.  Finally Abner goes with a delegation to David, and he is coming as a negotiator of peace - telling David what the peoples of Israel plan to do.  David responds by throwing a feast, this is joyous news, the end of a civil war and the reuniting of all Israel under one king - the king of God's choosing.  David sends Abner away in peace, to make the arrangements for David to become the king over all of Israel.

Closing Prayer: Lord, sometimes we resist your will even when you have shown it clearly.  Help us Lord to repent from this behavior, to humble ourselves and submit to you.  Help us Lord to do whatever we can in our lives to be at peace with others, but help us never to do this at the cost of being in your will.

Quickly Form Groups Again:
3. Thinking of Michal, share a time when you felt you had been treated unfairly.  How did you respond to the treatment?  Could you have responded in a more Godly manner?
4. Think of the social issues facing us today.  How can we be at peace with people who we are at odds with regarding social issues?  How can we demonstrate God's love but at the same time uphold His statutes?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 17

Is He King Yet? - 2 Samuel 2

Prayer: Lord help us to grasp the situation that David & the Israelite people were facing after the defeat of their king and their army.  Help us to come to an understanding of the turmoil and trouble, so we can empathize with the characters involved and better understand their actions.  Help us to learn from their example, and look to you for guidance when changes come and conflicts arise.

Quickly Form Groups and answer the following questions:
1.  If you know God has called you to a specific ministry or area of service, how quickly do you think God should place you in that service?  How patient are you during the process of preparation?  What can you learn from waiting that you might not learn if things fall in place right away?
2.  How protective of your family are you?  What is your family culture, what means were you taught to use when an "attack" came against your family?  What example did you get from watching parents & grandparents dealing with "attacks" on the family?

Setting the Scene: I'm not going to go back over David's early years, if any of you weren't here for those lessons I strongly suggest reading over them (lessons 1-16).  When we last left David he'd gotten the news that his predecessor and nemesis King Saul was dead, and that Saul's son Jonathan (David's best friend) was also dead, this was the result of Israel's war with the Philistines. So it would seem that things are finally set in place for David to ascend to the throne of Israel, after all he's already been anointed by God's prophet for that very position, but it's not that simple.

The nations around them practiced dynastic succession - when the king died the eldest son took over.  Also, frequently there were cases where a powerful general would usurp the throne, frequently from a young or week son who was set to inherit.  Keep this in mind as we move forward from this point, since there are sons of Saul still living as well as strong generals - both of David's & Saul's armies.  The uncertainty of life in a country with no leader adds tension to the whole situation for the people of Israel, and soon they'll start taking sides.

David has been a fugitive for about 12 years at this point, hiding out from King Saul who wanted to kill him, this at the ages of about 17 - 30 years old.  David has been living a nomadic type of life with his growing entourage of fighting men & families that had become oppressed under Saul.  All along David never attacked Israel, and at least once sent gifts to people in Israel to help them as they lived under Saul's tyrannical reign.  As we start today's passage David is still living in Ziklag, a town in Philistine territory, and the Philistine king still wrongly believes he has David under his control.

2 Samuel 2 v1: The words "in the course of time" speak volumes regarding David's patience.  David didn't rush in, he didn't try to immediately take over, he didn't assume he knew what God had in mind.  Instead David inquired of God, and he did so over time, making certain that he was going in God's time to the place God had chosen.  How did David inquire of God?  We don't have any clear indication, but it may have been through prayer or by the use of the Urim & Thummim.  How did God speak to David?  We also don't know that, but we do know that God was specific that David should go & the city he should go to was Hebron.

David had been told many years earlier that he was to be Israel's king, that he had been selected by God for that job, so it may have been tempting for him to simply march into Israel and assume command - but he didn't & this shows his depth of character.  I am fully convinced that David did not proceed until he was absolutely certain he had heard from the Lord.  As for me, I tend to run ahead and then ask the Lord to bless what I'm doing... how about you?  Are you patient as God works out His plan for you, or are you running ahead and expecting God to join you?

2-4a: David moves his entire entourage to Hebron, a city with a rich history for the people of Israel.  Hebron was a city where Abraham had settled, God spoke to Abraham there telling him Sarah would have a child (Genesis 18).  Many years after Abraham, as the Israelites were returning from Egypt and conquering the peoples inhabiting the promised land, after capturing Hebron Joshua gave the city to Caleb as a reward for his bravery.  Now David and his entourage will be able to stop running and settle down for a while in Hebron & its surrounding towns.  The people of the tribe of Judah, David's tribe, came right away and publicly made David their king.

v4b-7: David sends word to the men who had bravely recovered the bodies of Saul & his sons after they had been hung up for display by the Philistines.  David affirms that they were loyal to their king (Saul), and he commends them for that.  These men may have feared that David would see them as an enemy since they had acted so valiantly on Saul's behalf; instead David sends word to reassure them, and to invite them to come under him as their king (Manasseh).  We don't know if they accepted David's gracious invitation, but it speaks volumes of David's character that he wanted to reassure them that any prior allegiance to Saul would be honored and not avenged.

v8-11: Who is Abner?  He was Saul's general, and also his cousin, and he seeks to keep the royal line "in the family" by making Saul's son Ish-Bosheth king in Saul's place.  Remember that David had also served Saul, and David & Abner would have served under Saul together - these two men would have been well known to each other.  Ish-Bosheth is a weak king, with the real power being the army's loyalty to Abner; however, the remainder of Israel (those that haven't gone over to David) has him as king.  Ish-Bosheth only reigns 2 years (we'll hear of his demise in chapter 4).  David remains in Hebron 7 1/2 years, content to rule over the house of Judah.

I want to pause at this point and remind us that the action happening in the narrative of 2 Samuel is not necessarily happening quickly - we shouldn't read our "instant" culture into the narrative.  David likely took a bit of time returning to Israel, and time for Judah to gather and anoint him their king, but I'm guessing it wasn't particularly long - a couple months perhaps.  As for Ish-Bosheth many Bible scholars believe it may have taken years to make him "king over Israel" - after all, they had been squarely defeated by the Philistines & most of their territory had been lost in war - it would have taken time to rebuild the army and also to establish Ish-Bosheth as a dynastic heir.  From the timing of other events in the chapters to come it may have taken as much as 5 years to place Ish-Bosheth on the throne of Israel.

v12-14: We know who Abner is, but who is Joab? He is David's general, and also David's nephew (his sister's son).  Joab has a vested family interest in David's reign, and in expanding David's reign to over all Israel.  These two generals meet in Gibeon, in the tribal area of Benjamin (Saul's tribe), at the Pool of Gibeon - and there appears to be this stare-down happening.  The Pool of Gibeon is a well known archaeological site, it is a rather large cistern, cut into solid rock, it is about 82 feet deep & 37 feet in diameter, you would access the water by going down a staircase that was set along the edges of the cistern & then once at the bottom following a tunnel to an underground water source.  Water being a much needed commodity in an arid land, a pool like this would be something an army would try to capture in order to gain strength in an area.  Apparently Joab is trying to extend David's territory into the tribal lands of Saul's family.

v15-17: It appears that diplomatic discussions have failed, so to resolve their differences Abner suggests a representative battle, Joab accepts.  At this point 12 men from each side are selected, they all use the same tactic to attack, and they all die... hmm... well they were all trained in the ways of war of Israel.  The place was renamed Helkath Hazzurim which means "field of daggers" or "field of hostilities".  Since representative battle fails a full battle ensues and David's men are victorious - that's the short version, the long version is in the next verses.

v18-21: Three brothers, all David's nephews: 
Joab - is David's general.
Abishai - we've heard of Abishai previously, he is the one who snuck into Saul's camp at night with David back in 1 Samuel 26.
Asahel - we're hearing about this 3rd brother, and apparently he can run like a wild gazelle.

Asahel is focused, he's after the top guy in the opposing army & will not let up.  Remember these guys all know each other, these guys are all Israelites - all part of one big dysfunctional family & all have likely served together previously in Saul's army.  This is a civil war, the two sides know each other.  Abner knows Asahel, he tries to convince him to go after some of his men instead of him, but Asahel would not be deterred.

v22-23: Abner doesn't want to strike down Asahel and have Joab's vengeance focused on him, so he tries again to get Asahel to turn aside.  Asahel's persistence cost him his life, he was no match for Abner.  Did people notice, oh yes they did, it says "every man stopped when he came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died" - you don't take lightly killing the brother of the general of the enemy's forces.  Blood revenge was common in those days as it is today in some parts of the world where tribal feuds occur, Abner had tried to avoid this but failed.

v24-26: The two remaining brothers are seeing blood, they continue to pursue Abner even as the day is ending.  Suddenly more men are rallying to Abner, possibly men who were living in the area & had come out to join the battle, and they took their stand on a hill top.  Abner again tries to reason with his pursuers: Do they really want to increase the bitterness that has grown from the division within the Israelite peoples?  How long are you going to pursue your own people?

v27-29: Something in Abner's words caught Joab's attention, he realizes that their continued pursuit is not what God would want, so he blows the trumpet (likely a Shofar) signaling the troops to halt the battle.  Abner's troops marched their retreat through the night - a smart move considering the potential danger to Abner himself after the death of Asahel.

v30-32: Joab returns, and they've had losses, depending on how you count them they've either lost 20 men (Asahel + 19) or 32 (Asahel + 19 + 12 in representative battle).  In contrast Abner's forces have lost 360 men.  They take Asahel and bury him in his home town of Bethlehem, then march through the night back to David's headquarters in Hebron.

Closing Prayer: Lord help us to be patient, patient to hear from you, patient to be placed where you want us, patient for you to work out things in your time.  As you are helping us to be patient with how you work help us also to be patient with others around us, remembering to value people, remembering to love and forgive as you have loved and forgiven us.

Quickly Form Groups Again, and answer the following questions:
3.  Is there someone against whom you hold a grudge?  What should you do about it?
4.  Why is it important to resolve conflicts with others?  What is the Christian's responsibility if the conflict is with:
a.  a fellow Christian?
b.  a non-Christian?