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bull dog June 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 1Kings 20; Psalm 104; Psalm 114, 115

Dealing with Bullies

We are all familiar with bullying. It used to be common for bullies to steal milk money from other kids. Then bullies proceeded to steal lunch money from them. Now bullying is frequently seen on social media sites where kids threaten other kids. In the adult world, bullying can come in the form of threats, blackmail and even extortion. Why do people bully? What do we do about it?

Yesterday, we learned how God used a contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah, the prophet of the LORD. The contest demonstrated that the LORD was the one, true God. In today’s reading we see that God gives his disobedient people yet one more chance to see that he is the true God. God is longsuffering (very patient) with his people. Though we should not take it for granted, in his mercy and grace he may also give us more opportunities to repent if we have strayed from him. We need to pay attention, however, so that we are not punished for continuing in our sins. God was also going to show other nations that he is the true God. The way God was going to show them he was LORD was by defeating a bully, King Ben-Hadad of Aram (Damascus).

Bullies usually pick on people that they perceive to be weak. The King of Aram, who ruled a kingdom north of Israel, bullied Israel because she appeared weak.

Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty- two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying,
“This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’ The king of Israel answered, ‘Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.’”
The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”(1Kings 20:1-6, NIV).

King Ahab agreed to the first demand of Ben-Hadad because he felt he must, but now Ben-Hadad was overconfident that he could extort even more from him. Should Ahab give in? The elders of Israel were right in saying no. To give into bullying invites more trouble because the bully is enabled; he will not be pacified. Romans 12:18 instructs the Christian, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” (NIV). But there comes a time when the bully has gone too far. What then should we do? Should we continue to cower under him? Should we fight him like Israel did? Israel fought him in self-defense. Romans 12 continues, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19, NIV).

What is the answer to bullying? Make your appeal to God first. He is the keeper of your soul. “‘Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,’ says the LORD.” “‘I will protect them from those who malign them.’” (Psalm12:5, NIV). God defends his people. Do you want God to defend you? Then you must be part of his family (more…)

Second, we can stymie bullying by appealing to governing authorities. God has given governments authority to exercise justice, so tell them if you or someone you know are being bullied or threatened (Romans 13:1-5). Instead of a miraculous intervention like Israel was given, God may choose to work through governing authorities. Children should report bullying to their parents and teachers. Adults should report bullying to the police.

God himself intervened in Israel’s defense. Despite the fact that the nation of Israel was wicked, God still helped his people. Why did he do it? 1Kings 20:13 gives us the answer:

Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.’” (NIV)

Israel was an obstinate nation. She persisted in idol worship, but God was going to give her another chance to see who the true God is. Ben-Hadad thought Israel was weak, but he did not know the power of the living God when he chooses to defend his people. Twice God helped the small force of Israel gain big victories against the King of Aram because he maligned His name, thinking Him as merely the god of a certain place. A mere force of 7,000 Israelite men defeated well over 100,000 men from Aram. And, as the men were escaping to the city of Aphek, the city wall collapsed on 27,000 more of them. Truly God was with Israel and helped her.

Was King Ahab thankful to God? No expression of gratitude is recorded. Strangely, after defeating Ben-Hadad’s troops, he made a treaty with Ben-Hadad to fight against a common enemy, and then he let Ben-Hadad go. God wanted a complete victory. God did not want Ahab to make an alliance with another pagan nation. He said to the king,

“This is what the LORD says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’”

Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria. (1Kings 20:42-43, NIV)

What should have been a great victory that day turned sour because the king of Israel was foolish. Do you want complete victory over a bully? Let God bring complete justice, and do not interrupt it. However, when God punishes a bully, live in the fear of God, and do not gloat over it. Proverbs 24:17 says, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him,” (NIV). Live righteously and godly, and the LORD will provide your defense against bullies. Then you will know that the LORD is the true and only God who can save you.

Lessons to live by:

  • God loves us and is longsuffering; he may give us second chances to love and obey him. We need to pay attention, however, so that we are not punished for continuing in our sins.
  • To give into bullying invites more trouble because the bully is enabled; he will not be pacified.
  • What is the answer to bullying? Make your appeal to God first. God defends his people. Do you want God to defend you? Then you must be part of his family. (more...)
  • We can stymie bullying by appealing to governing authorities. God has given governing authority to exercise justice, so tell them if you or someone you know are being bullied or threatened.
  • Do you want complete victory over a bully? Let God bring complete justice; do not interrupt it.
  • When God punishes your enemy, live in the fear of God, and do not gloat over it.
  • Live righteously and godly, and the LORD will provide your defense against bullies. Then you will know that God is the true and only God who can save you.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 12:5 “’Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,’ says the LORD.” “‘I will protect them from those who malign them.’” (NIV)

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