Key Scriptures: Proverbs (various), 1 Kings 1:6, 2 Samuel 13, 2 Samuel 2:3-5, 2 Samuel 5:13-16, 2 Samuel 12:13-14
Guiding Question: How does God want the various members of a family to behave towards one another?
Optional Introductory Activity: Bring in video clips of various sitcom families. Try to choose clips that show an obvious dynamic between family members. Keep clips under one minute per sitcom. Show students one clip at a time. Ask them if they have seen episodes of that show in the past. Have them describe the family dynamic they see in the clip as well as anything else they may know about the family dynamics in the show. Ask students if the dynamics they notice make us believe this is a strong, healthy family or one that is struggling. Have them explain their choice.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) What do we know about King David’s wives and children and his relationships with them? Read 2 Samuel 2:3-5, 2 Samuel 5:13-16, 2 Samuel 12:13-14 and 1 Chronicles 3:1-9. Using the information in these verses at a minimum, how many wives and children did David have? Why might having numerous wives and children with each of those different wives cause problems in the family dynamic? David had a minimum of eight wives and probably more as concubines aren’t named, but were considered like a lesser wife. Many times these alliances were political in nature, or in the case of Abigail, possibly out of a sense of duty or kindness upon the death of her first husband. Then when you add Bathsheba to the mix…David having made it clear he personally wanted to be with her and feelings are bound to get hurt. Not to mention that many wives and kids living in the same household…we know David had at least 19 sons and a daughter that were named, plus at least two unnamed children who died in infancy. Why might having at least 20 children have caused problems for the children and David?
Children need and want a lot of attention from their parents. Some of David’s children were born around the time when he was establishing his kingdom, which means he may have been away from home quite a bit. Even when his kingdom was established, he must have been very busy with the business of running a kingdom.
The Bible makes a couple of interesting observations about David as a parent. Read 1 Kings 1:6. What hint does this give us about what kind of parent David was – at least with this child, Adonijah? Adonijah was causing problems. The Bible tells us Adonijah had become the person who would do these things in part because David had never rebuked him and questioned why he was making poor choices. Parents are supposed to teach their children how God wants them to live their lives and give them correction when they make poor choices. David had neglected his duties and as a result, Adonijah had grown to become a man who made poor, ungodly choices in life.
We can really see how dysfunctional at least parts of David’s family had become in 2 Samuel 13. (Read 2 Samuel 13). What happened in this story that lets us see how unhealthy the family dynamics were with at least this part of David’s family? Amnon, David’s firstborn had raped his half sister, Tamar. The Bible tells us David was angry when he found out about it, but apparently he did nothing to punish Amnon. Another of David’s sons, Absalom, was Tamar’s full brother. When he heard what his half brother had done to Tamar, he was furious and plotted revenge. He waited two full years before he set Amnon up to be killed by his servants and then fled the country for three years to escape any possible negative reaction from David. David eventually allowed Absalom to return, but their relationship had disintegrated to the point that Absalom carried out a coup to try and get the throne from his father, David.
What’s really interesting about these stories is that Solomon was also one of David’s sons (by Bathsheba). Solomon went on to write most of the book of Proverbs which contains a lot of God’s wisdom for how He wants members of a family to interact with one another.
(Note: For this next part of the lesson, you may want to have a large sheet of paper, white board or computer projection to record student answers. Divide it in half. Label one side “positive family behaviors” and the other side “negative family behaviors”. As students read each of the verses below, have them decide which behaviors mentioned are helpful or hurtful to the family dynamic and add them under the appropriate column.)
- Proverbs 1:8 and 6:20. Obey father’s rules & don’t forsake mother’s teachings
- Proverbs 12:4. Excellent wife is the crown of her husband
- Proverbs 13:24 & 23:13-14. Whoever spares the rod hates his son (Note: It is important to remind students God doesn’t want parents to beat their children in an abusive way. This is talking about correction/discipline.)
- Proverbs 15:17. Better a dinner of herbs in a house where there is love, than a fattened ox in a home filled with hatred
- Proverbs 15:20. Wise son makes his father glad, while a foolish son despises his mother
- Proverbs 15:27. Being greedy for unjust gain troubles one’s household
- Proverbs 17:17. A brother is born for adversity
- Proverbs 18:19. A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city & quarreling is like the bars of a castle
- Proverbs 19:14. A house and wealth are inherited, a prudent wife is from the Lord
- Proverbs 20:6-7. Blessed are the kids of righteous me with integrity
- Proverbs 20:20. Those who curse parents will be cast into utter darkness
- Proverbs 21:9. Better to live in the corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife
- Proverbs 21:19. Better to live in the desert than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman
- Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he won’t depart from it
- Proverbs 22:15. There’s folly in the heart of a child, but discipline drives it from him
- Proverbs 23:22. Listen to your father and don’t despise your mother when she is old
- Proverbs 29:15-17. A child left to himself brings shame to his mother, discipline your son and he will give you rest and delight your heart
- Proverbs 30:17. The eye that mocks father and scorns to obey mother will be picked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures
- Proverbs 31. Description of wife and mother
Skills Activity: Depending upon the amount of time and resources you have, you may want to have your students prepare and serve a meal or snack for their parents or guardians. If a student has no parent or guardian who will attend class with him or her for this session, find an adult in your ministry or church whom the child loves and respects to participate in the activity with him or her.
Before parents arrive, prepare a series of table talk questions revolving around the various Proverbs discussed in the lesson and individual family dynamics. Depending upon your students, you may want to have two or three families discussing the questions together or have individual families discuss them separately. You might also want to include some of the questions from this Focus on the Family article. (Click on “Continue reading” to see questions.) The goal is to have parents and teens begin talking about their family dynamic and how they can make it more godly. This activity will work well with some families and may create conflict in others. Those who find participating problematic could probably use additional resources and support. Families may find it helpful to have a copy of the Proverbs discussed and the questions you provided to take home, so they can continue the discussion at home and include other family members.
Challenge Activity: Look at the list of Proverbs about family interactions you discussed in class. Choose one which you need to be more vigilant about following. Write it down and place it where you will see it frequently. Find ways to be more intentional about following that Proverb. When you have been consistent about that Proverb, choose another on which to also focus.