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Relevant Passages: 1 Samuel 2, 8, 17; 2 Kings 2, 5, 22-23

Children are a two-edged sword. Jesus says that we must become like little children (Matt. 18:3), but Paul says that when he became a man he gave up childish ways. To become like a child may therefore be a mixed scene. Still there is much to learn from the children presented in Scripture.

  1. Samuel, Eli’s sons, Samuel’s sons (1 Sam. 2, 8). If we judge strictly by outcomes, Hannah did it right, Eli did it wrong; Samuel did it wrong. Are there any clear-cut principles in the biblical narrative of Samuel that can point the way as to how to “raise” good children? Is it possible that the good children were genetically predisposed to be good?
  2. David: youth underestimated (1 Sam. 17). In the story of Goliath, almost everyone underestimates young David’s ability: his brother Eliab, King Saul, Goliath himself. Is there any clue in the narrative that might suggest that David was not as “small” as his youth might imply? Can we generalize from David’s story and grant more autonomy and opportunity to young people?
  3. Forty-two boys and two bears (2 Kings 2). The author of this study guide will admit that the story of the two bears and the 42 boys was one of the most impressive ones he heard as a child. Indeed, he has concluded that it significantly curtailed his prayer life. There is no point in getting mauled before your time. How can one teach respect without going so far as to teach inordinate fear at the same time. Do children need the same heavy-handed threats today?
  4. Little maid and Naaman (2 Kings 5). Is there any clue in the biblical account as to why the little slave girl was able to give such an impressive witness for her God? To what extent is such a straightforward witness enabled by a person’s temperament?
  5. Josiah the young king (2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chron. 34-35). The story of Josiah tells of impressive maturation as a youth, but a faltering in the prime of life. Because Josiah would not listen to God speaking through Pharaoh Neco (2 Chron. 35:22), he died a tragic death. Are there any lessons which can be learned from this “old-age” slippage?

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