Set Apart - Women's Bible Study Participant Book: Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings

Set Apart - Women's Bible Study Participant Book: Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings

by Jessica LaGrone


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Set Apart is a dynamic six-week study of 1 and 2 Kings that examines the holy habits of the prophets and kings who were set apart by their close walk with God. Each week we will explore the central story of one of these intriguing men of God and the specific practice each observed, as well as what the Bible teaches about this practice.

Each of these characters was trying to follow God while carrying out his calling on earth. As we consider their example, we will discover that even prophets and kings struggled and grew in their faith through spiritual practices, and we will learn how to follow God’s unique purposes for us in His Kingdom.

The Participant Book contains five daily readings per week, each including Scripture, reflective teaching material with questions and space for recording responses, prayer suggestions, and ideas for practical application.

Other components for the Bible study, available separately, include a Leader Guide, DVD with six 24-27 minute sessions featuring closed captioning, and boxed Leader Kit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426778421
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 06/16/2015
Series: Set Apart Series
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 636,705
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Set Apart Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings

A Bible Study on 1 and 2 Kings

By Jessica LaGrone

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2015 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-7842-1


Week 1


Set Apart by Consecration

Apart from fairy-tale movies and occasional stories of British royalty, our experience of coronation is limited. That moment when an existing king or queen passes on the crown to the appointed successor — the pomp and circumstance and ceremony — is tied to a fairy-tale image in most of our minds. Kings and queens are established as named leaders of a monarchy — that's coronation. But it's not consecration.

Consecration is two-way set-apartness. We are set apart by God for His purposes and His glory. But we also set ourselves apart, handing over all the parts of our lives to God — all surrendered to God for God's purposes. The word consecration is related to the word sacred. Being set apart or consecrated is a sacred and holy act.

King Solomon doesn't just have the fairy-tale coronation ceremony, one in which his father, King David, passes down the crown and they live happily ever after. He is consecrated, set apart for a holy and sacred purpose. But he will not thrive as king by relying only on his earthly crown. It is his consecration, his set-apart-by-God-ness, that makes him a great king. When he follows God's wisdom and leads by surrendering to God, he thrives. When he seeks God's wisdom first and lives a life different from the culture of idolatry around him, he finds success. But when he becomes overly enamored with the power of the crown, his story takes a turn.

I hope that you have experienced a consecration in your life — a time when another person dedicated you to God, prayed over you, and spoke words of faith into your life. But at some point, we have to consecrate ourselves to God — to hand over all the parts of our lives to God. We have to say to God, "I want to live a set apart life that glorifies you."

This week we're jumping right into Solomon's consecration story to discover more about what it means to be set apart by God and to set ourselves apart to be used by God.

Day 1: Set Apart as King

Read God's Word

1 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, "Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm."

3 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.

5 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. 6 (His father had never rebuked him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?" He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)

* * *

28 Then King David said, "Call in Bathsheba." So she came into the king's presence and stood before him.

29 The king then took an oath: "As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place."

31 Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, "May my lord King David live forever!"

32 King David said, "Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada." When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: "Take your lord's servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, 'Long live King Solomon!' 35 Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah."

* * *

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David's mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, "Long live King Solomon!" 40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.

1 Kings 1:1-6; 28-35, 38-40

Reflect and Respond

If you have spent any time at all in the checkout line at the grocery store, then most likely you have noticed that our culture has a fascination with royalty. If you are old enough to remember Princess Diana, you'll remember the coverage of her life from the moment she came on the scene until her tragic death. And just a few years ago we became enamored with Catherine (Kate) Middleton, who married Diana's son Prince William. For some reason, the concept of royalty captures our attention and keeps us coming back for more. The idea that a human being was at some point in his or her lineage set apart and called "royal" is fairytale-like and stirs our imagination.

Extra Insight

First and Second Kings were originally written as one book, on one scroll, in Hebrew. When the text was translated into Greek, which made it longer, it was separated into two books.1

Early in the Scriptures we read that God would rather not introduce the pattern of kings. Instead, God would lead His people and speak through judges and prophets. But the people wanted a king. Other nations had kings and palaces and courts; it was all so fascinating! Even God's people were consumed with the idea of royalty — so much so that they begged God to give them a king. They couldn't be satisfied with the Creator of the Universe leading through chosen prophets and judges. They wanted something more — more ornate, more official, more royal. They wanted a king. Finally, God relented and gave them their king, but He alone would determine the first king. God would set apart a chosen man to become the first king and, for better or worse, the history of God's people would be made by the actions and leadership of a line of kings.

As the book of First Kings begins, you can sense the excitement about who will be the next king after the great King David dies. If you've ever wondered how a king became a king, you'll get an idea here in Chapter 1.

King David, widely held as the greatest king ever to rule Israel, was in his last days. Once known as a great and strong ruler, David's heyday was clearly behind him. He was so frail and chilled that his advisors brought him a young girl to serve as a human space heater (1 Kings 1:1-2). While he was still technically king, David was so out of the loop on the happenings in his own country (and his own family) that his key advisor Nathan and wife Bathsheba had to cook up a scheme to inform him that Adonijah, his oldest living son, had seized the throne, declaring himself king without his father's blessing (1 Kings 1:11-27).

If David hadn't realized it before, it became clear to him that his days on this earth as king of Israel were coming to an end. And if he wanted to have any input into who would succeed him as king, he would need to act now. The future of the nation was no longer in his hands but in the hands of its forthcoming leaders, and the decision about who would be the next king was one that would forever shape the nation that David loved.

The Books of First and Second Kings are particularly interested in leadership. You don't need to look much further than the books' titles to find that they will reveal the important place that kings play in the history of God's people.

A good king meant good days ahead for the people of Israel. "As goes the leader, so goes the nation," according to the old saying. For Israel, the leaders were prophets and kings, powerful people whose own personal lives paved the way to a good or bad future for their followers.

The Books of First and Second Kings are primarily interested in whether a leader chose to follow and worship the One True God or fall into the temptation of allowing the worship of false gods and idols. The integrity of the king was ultimately connected to the fate of the people, and First and Second Kings are explicit about the fact that the leader's relationship to God is the most important thing about him.

Whatever they accomplish in their reign — whatever cities they build, wars they fight, civic accomplishments they have — these are of no consequence if the leader in question compromises his faith in God. A judgment of his reign is summarized in the first few sentences about each king.

Read the introductions to a handful of the kings in First and Second Kings. Next to each name, write how this king measured up in the Bible's judgment of his reign:

2 Kings 8:16-18 – Jehoram:

1 Kings 15:1-3 – Abijah:

1 Kings 15:9-11 – Asa:

2 Kings 18:1-3 – Hezekiah:

2 Kings 22:1-2 – Josiah:

As you can see from just a few examples, full devotion to God was the first and most important qualification for being a good ruler of God's people. Because of this, the takeover of the throne by David's oldest surviving son, Adonijah, sent a clear message about what kind of king he would be. Here was a leader who grabbed power for himself without concern for his father's will — or even for the fact that his father, the king, was still alive when he named himself king.

A wise mentor in ministry once gave me instructions about meeting new people in the first days and weeks as pastor of a church: "Watch out for the people who walk into your office and declare to you, 'I'm a leader. I'm important. I'm in charge of things here.' But look for the people who have their sleeves rolled up and are serving, making ministry happen. Those are your leaders."

Who are the leaders in your world who quietly make ministry happen?

In contrast to his older brother Adonijah's selfish takeover, Solomon received the throne because he was chosen by his father. Leadership is a gift. The roles we have that allow us to influence others are always a gift — both from the leaders who have influenced us and for the people over whom we have charge.

Consider the immediate transformation that Solomon went through in that moment when his father named him king. While he was already royalty by virtue of being born the son of a king, he went from being just one of many royal sons (1 Chronicles 3:9 lists nineteen sons and one daughter born to David) to ruler of the nation.

To drive home the impact of Solomon's royal conversion, the book of First Kings mentions him ten times before David's instructions to make him the next king, and every single time he is mentioned only in relationship to someone else:

Extra Insight

After her mention in the first chapter of First Kings, the next time Bathsheba is named in the book she is given status only in relationship to her son and is called "Solomon's mother" (see 1 Kings 2:13). This signifies the elevation of Solomon's status.

1. his brother Solomon (1:10)

2. Solomon's mother (1:11)

3. your son Solomon (1:12)

4. your son Solomon (1:13)

5. your son Solomon (1:17)

6. your servant Solomon (1:19)

7. my son Solomon (1:21)

8. your servant Solomon (1:26)

9. your son Solomon (1:30)

10. my son Solomon (1:33)

It's as if no one even recognizes Solomon's name except in relationship to someone who was already important. He is a royal nobody.

But when David gives instructions for Solomon to be named king over Israel, there is no name attached to give Solomon status. He now carries the rank of royal leadership.

Write below the words David instructs to be declared over Solomon when he is named king in 1 Kings 1:34.

This is the stuff fairy tales are made of. Cinderella finds herself transformed from maid to princess. The frog prince goes from the swamp to the throne with just a kiss. If the number of fairy-tale books and movies sold is any indication, rising to the rank of royalty is something that many people fantasize about.

Being set apart as king meant that Solomon would have incredible privilege, wealth, and power. Who wouldn't want to live in a palace with servants and robes and food fit for a king? But along with royal privilege comes the royal responsibility for the nation that he would serve.

The Book of First Peter tells us that the same thing has happened to you and to me. We were nobodies, with no status. And then God chose us to become royalty, with great privilege and great responsibility.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

Chosen. Royal. Holy. These words go together. They could have been written about Solomon, but they weren't. They are about you. They are declarations of who you are in Christ.

Being set apart is something that happens in us for others.

Below, write your name three times in the blanks on the left. Then in the blanks on the right, write the words [chosen, royal. Read each statement out loud, taking in the impact of its meaning. _______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

_______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

_______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

_______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

_______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

_______________________________________ is ___________________________________________.

When we read it in connection to ourselves, holy is possibly the hardest word on this list to swallow. We tend to identify this word either with those who are so good that they seem to live on a different spiritual plane or with those who act "holier than thou."

Being set apart is not something that means we see ourselves as better than others. On the contrary, it is only God's Spirit living in us that marks us and makes us different from those around us, and it is our brokenness and sinfulness that drive us to seek a new way, a new life in Christ. In his book Called to Be Holy, John Oswalt writes, "When the holy character of God is seen in broken, fallible people it is apparent that something supernatural has taken place in them. And this becomes a sign of hope to the world that their sinful condition can be addressed as well." The prophet Ezekiel talks about this when he says, "Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes" (Ezekiel 36:23).

The king was set apart to rule, not for his own sake but for the sake of his followers and his kingdom. Likewise, being set apart is something that happens in us for others. When we display the character of God, people around us are drawn to know Him.

In the coming weeks, we will explore what it means for God to set us apart as chosen, royal, and holy, and how this draws others to God. For now, let it begin to sink in: God chose you. He loves you. Once you were nobody, but now you are His. This privilege is greater than any earthly palace can provide.

Talk with God

Almighty God, thank You for giving me the interest and desire to study Your Word. Please reveal Yourself and Your love for me through this study. Help me to understand, beginning today, that I am chosen by You, that I am royalty because of You, that I am holy and precious in Your eyes. Set me apart, Lord, for Your kingdom purposes, not only in my life but also in the lives of others. Amen.

Act on It

Solomon was "chosen" to be king by his father. In your life, who has noticed special gifts and abilities in you and called them out? Has someone told you through words or actions that you are special and can do something worthwhile with your life? Say a prayer of thanks for the faith these persons had in you. You may want to write each one a note of thanks or tell someone about them and the positive influence they had on you.

Day 2: Marked

Read God's Word

32 King David said, "Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada." When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: "Take your lord's servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, 'Long live King Solomon!' 35 Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah."

1 Kings 1:32-35

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 "Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

30 "Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, 'This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32 Do not pour it on anyone else's body and do not make any other oil using the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from their people.'"

Exodus 30:22-33

We are a people who are set apart, called to be different than the world around us, marked for a purpose greater than we could dream of.

Reflect and Respond

When I was nine years old, I went away to summer camp for the first time. Judging from the whirlwind of preparation that overtook our household in the weeks before I left, you would have thought I was going to another continent. In the midst of all the piles of supplies gathered in our living room, one indispensable piece of the camp-readiness equipment was the black permanent marker we used to mark my things. According to my mom's instructions, everything to be packed for camp was immediately marked with permanent marker. T-shirts, sandals, bug spray, even toothpaste — all were inscribed with my name.

I thought this ritual of marking things a little silly at first (Even the bottle of sunscreen?) and then a bit embarrassing (Really? Even my underwear?). But then I arrived in a cabin of twelve girls and two counselors and saw just how necessary this practice had been. From day one the cabin was in utter chaos: our trunks and suitcases spilling out into the middle of the room, and all the clothes our mothers had neatly packed and folded now strewn about. With multiple identical Rainbow Brite T-shirts thrown over various bunk beds, how were we to know whose was whose? I found myself relieved that I could always spot mine — the black permanent marker on the tag had done its job.

Marked. Set apart from the others. Ownership declared.

These are actions meant not only for camping supplies but for people as well. Again and again in Scripture, God declares that we are a people who are set apart, called to be different than the world around us, marked for a purpose greater than we could dream of.

This is the kind of legacy David longs to give his son Solomon. David's intentions for Solomon to be set apart from those around him go beyond the role of kingship; they involve David's longing for his son to be fully devoted to God.

As part of Solomon's coronation, David commands that Solomon be anointed by both a priest and a prophet. These men, Zadok and Nathan, are two of David's most important spiritual leaders. We tend to think of kings as having the ultimate authority over their subjects, but even kings need spiritual leaders. Perhaps David was communicating to his son that he would need guidance from these men and those who would follow them in their roles. Take note of which prophet David chooses to anoint his son — his old friend Nathan.

David himself was appointed as king (since he was not born into a royal family) and then anointed by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). David was a stranger to the prophet Samuel at the time, having been selected with specific guidance from God. In contrast, the prophet Nathan has known Solomon all his life, even since before he was born.

The history of the relationship between Solomon's mother and father, David and Bathsheba, is infamous, and Nathan played a part in the scandalous story. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and when she became pregnant, David had her husband murdered to cover up David's sins.

Read Nathan's scathing rebuke of David for adultery and murder in 2 Samuel 12:115.

Who has the authority in this conversation? The king or the prophet?


Excerpted from Set Apart Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings by Jessica LaGrone. Copyright © 2015 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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