READ: 2 Samuel 20-21
THINK: Do you know any troublemakers? Do you hang out with them? Hopefully, you're not an unruly ring-leader yourself. Trouble is perhaps the easiest thing in the world to find if you're looking for it. In fact, it will find you just as easily if you get caught up with people who like to stir things up in a negative way. While many troublemakers know exactly what they're doing and purposely try to pull others into their contentious causes, others are convinced that they're in the right and won't stop until they bring attention to their concerns. Either way, it's easy to get dragged into a misguided mix if you're not careful about whom you associate with and what causes catch your attention. Of course, not everyone who shakes things up is a troublemaker, and we need people who dare to challenge the status quo. God's wisdom will help you discern the difference and avoid the traps of true troublemakers.
RESPOND: Why are some people so easily influenced by troublemakers like Sheba (12:1-2)? Why is it vital to deal with troublemakers right away to diminish their influence? What was wise about the advice of the woman in Able Beth Maacah (20:14-22)? When confronting or punishing troublemakers, how can we ensure that other people aren't unnecessarily harmed in the process? In what way had Saul defied God concerning the Gibeonites? (See 21:1 note.) Why is it vital for God's people to honor their commitments, agreements and contracts? Why did God allow Saul's descendants to suffer punishment for what happened to the Gibeonites? (See 21:14 note.) Why did David's men tell the king that he shouldn't go into battle with them anymore (21:17)? How should people approach their leaders if they're concerned about the leader's decisions, well-being or influence on others?
PRAY: Pray for wisdom and discretion to avoid being influenced or fooled by troublemakers and to recognize good advice when you hear it. Also pray for sensitivity so that you don't misjudge people as troublemakers when they're simply doing what's right or sincerely challenging you to do what's right.
ACT: If you're associating with a troublemaker-particularly if the relationship is close-confront the person with the fact that they need to make a change. If they refuse to listen, break away before you get caught up in the trouble. Also, if someone has given you some good advice that you have yet to follow, don't wait any longer to act on it.
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