Bible Study: Messy Relationships

This one-part Bible study considers the stories of Samson and Delilah and Hosea and Gomer, asking what we can learn from them about healthy relationships.

Topics: Biblical Case Studies, Dating/Marriage, Guy/Girl Relationships

Download a PDF of the Bible Study: Messy Relationships Student Handout and the Messy Relationships Leader’s Guide.

Test your Bible Knowledge

  • Name a few examples of Bible characters who give examples of good, healthy relationships.

  • Can you think of some bad examples of relationships from the Bible?

  • Why do you think that it is easier to find examples of “bad” relationships in the Bible than good ones? (Need some help? Try looking up Romans 3:23 for some insight.)

Consider the Ten Commandments

(Go to Exodus 20 or dust off your Catechism if necessary.)

  • What relationship(s) do the first three commandments address?

  • What relationship(s) do the last seven commandments address?

  • What does this tell us about the importance of how we treat our relationships with others?

Messy Relationships

Relationships are complicated, plain and simple. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God they forever altered the harmonious state of our relationships and brought into our relationships pride, miscommunication, selfishness, resentment and deception. It is shocking to see as we read the Bible that God’s people were not immune from these painful effects of the Fall in their relationships.

Messy Relationship CASE STUDY #1: Samson and Delilah

God uses some unlikely and often unworthy characters in His story. Read Judges 16:4-21.

  • What were some of the ungodly characteristics that Samson and Delilah displayed?

  • How did Delilah misuse her ability to influence her mate?

  • What important asset did Samson cease to use in his relationship with Delilah? (Check out Proverbs 3:13 for a hint.)

  • If Samson and Delilah were friends of yours in a dating relationship, what advice might you give them?

  • What was God’s original design for the marriage relationship?

  • What can we learn from what went wrong here?

Messy Relationship CASE STUDY #2: Hosea and Gomer

God did a strange thing in the life of the prophet Hosea. He asked Hosea to live out Gods relationship with Israel by marrying an unfaithful woman named Gomer. Read these two excerpts from their story: Hosea 1:2-3, 3:1-5.

  • What was Gomer’s occupation?

  • What messy struggles do you imagine might have existed in Hosea and Gomer’s marriage?

  • What God-like characteristics did Hosea live out here?

Messy Relationships 101

The purpose of the Bible is to tell us about the story of God restoring His relationships with us. The main relationship we learn about in the Bible is the relationship between God and His people. While we see the painful effects of sin in Scripture, we can also hear God’s voice calling us to healthier relationships–relationships in which we reflect the love of God to one another. We can see God’s action as He lives out with us one-half of a perfect relationship.

  • What are some words that you would use to describe God in His relationship with us?

  • What are some words that you would use to describe us in our relationship with God?

  • Scripture calls Christ the bridegroom and compares us, the Church, to the bride. How has God designed the marriage relationship to mirror His relationship with us?

Check out the verses below.

What does God invite us to do in relationships in each of these passages that is a God-like characteristic?

  • John 13:34

  • Zechariah 7:9

  • 1 Peter 3:8-9

  • Ephesians 4:32

  • Which of these descriptors is hardest for you to live out? Why?

Closing Thoughts

As humans, we are often motivated in our relationships by what we hope to get out of them. What should our motivation be for living out godly principles in our relationships? Because God LOVES you! He ADORES you! He FORGIVES you when you mess up. Jesus would stop at NOTHING to show you the extent of His love! Why strive for demonstrating godly characteristics in our relationships? We simply reflect Him to those with whom we have relationships. What a privilege!

Live It

Review your answer to the question “Which of these descriptors is hardest for you to live out?” and ask God to continue to strengthen you to live in your relationships and prepare for relationships in your future.

About the author

Leah Abel graduated from Concordia University Nebraska and spent 11 years serving as a DCE in Florida. She now lives in Centennial, Colorado, with her daughter Amelia and her husband Scott and is Student Ministries leader at Our Father Lutheran Church.
View more from Leah

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