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13. The Bible's Big Story

25 lesson plans for children, young people and their leaders.

Lesson 13 A king is appointed – Samuel and Saul Bible reference – 1 Samuel chapters 1-15. The book called ‘Judges’ ends with the words: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he pleased”, chapter 21 verse 25. A summary of the events of this time is found in Judges chapter 2 verses 18-19. (Ask two good readers to read aloud one verse each, to the class). God was angry. He was sad and disappointed with His chosen people. Samuel was the last of the judges to lead Israel, 1 Samuel 7 verse 15, Acts 13 verse 20 . He was born in answer to the prayers of his mother, Hannah, 1 Samuel chapter 1. Let’s see how it happened.

Stop and act (1) Appoint three class members to be actors, one female and two males. Ask them to act out the story as you read from the summary below. They play the parts of Hannah, Eli and the young Samuel. Encourage the students to use their imaginations in playing their roles. To involve more people, change the actors for each of the three scenes. (There is no Samuel in scene one). Read the story slowly.

Scene 1: (based on 1 Samuel 1 verses 9-18). “The old priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the door of the tabernacle (the place of worship, the house of the Lord) at Shiloh. Hannah came in. She slowly walked to the place for praying. She knelt down and bowed her head. Her heart was breaking because she had no children. She wanted a baby. She made a promise to God: “If You give me a son, I will give him to You to be Your servant here, as soon as he is old enough”. She did not know what more to pray. Her mouth moved, but no words came out. Eli looked at her. He thought she had drunk too much wine. He walked towards her and began to tell her off. Hannah replied: “I have not been drinking, sir. I am telling the Lord all of my troubles. I really do need and want His help”. Eli looked kindly at Hannah. He realised he had made a mistake. He said: “May God give you what you have asked Him for. Now, go in peace”. Hannah walked slowly out of the tabernacle. Eli returned to his chair and sat down. Scene two (based on 1 Samuel 1 verses 24-28). About three or four years later, Eli was lying down at home. Hannah arrived with her young son, Samuel. She also brought some things to make an offering to the Lord. Eli stood up and came to greet Hannah. Hannah told Eli how God had answered her prayer. She was so happy! Together, the three of them went into the house of the Lord. Hannah kept her promise to God. After making her offerings, she prayed a long and happy prayer to God. Then she went home alone.


Samuel was left to worship God and serve in the house of the Lord under the guidance of Eli the priest. Scene three (based on 1 Samuel 3 verses 1-21).

As the years passed, Samuel served the Lord. He did what Eli told him to do. He kept the lights burning by filling them with oil and trimming the wicks. Eli was now nearly blind. Samuel slept in the house of the Lord, next to the Covenant Box. Eli slept in his own room nearby. (Warn the class that you will soon want them all to speak out the Lord’s voice. They must slowly say: ‘Samuel, Samuel’, every time you point at the sleeping boy). One night God spoke to Samuel. (Point at the boy – the class say, ‘Samuel, Samuel’). Samuel got up and ran to Eli saying ‘You called me, sir? Here I am’. Eli woke up and said: ‘I didn’t call you. Go back to bed’. Later God spoke again to Samuel. (Point at the boy – the class say, ‘Samuel, Samuel’). Samuel got up and ran to Eli saying ‘You called me, sir? Here I am’. Eli woke up a second time and said: ‘I didn’t call you. Go back to bed’. A third time God spoke to Samuel. (Point at the boy – the class say, ‘Samuel, Samuel’). Samuel got up and ran to Eli saying ‘You called me, sir? Here I am’. Eli woke up again and said: ‘I didn’t call you. But I think I know Who did! If He calls again say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’. Now, go back to bed. Samuel was soon asleep. The Lord came and stood nearby Samuel. (Have the class come and stand as carefully as they can, near to Samuel). God spoke to Samuel once again. (Point at the boy – the class say, ‘Samuel, Samuel’). Samuel said: ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’. The Lord told Samuel some sad things that were soon going to happen to Eli and his family. In the morning, although he didn’t want to, Samuel told Eli what God had said. Eli accepted the message from the Lord. Samuel continued in the tabernacle. He learned how to listen to God’s voice and how to tell other people what it meant for them. This was very important. God was going to use Samuel to do this for the rest of his life. (Have everyone return to their places).

This Samuel became the first of the prophets to bring God’s word to the whole of Israel. A prophet is someone who listens to God. and then speaks to others. He passes on what he ‘sees’, or understands from God. The Hebrew word ‘roeh’ means a ‘seer’. It is used more of Samuel than anyone else in the Bible.4 Not all prophets or seers come from God, but Samuel definitely did. Everyone recognised this, 1 Samuel3 verses 20-21; chapter12 verse 18. 4 See 1 Samuel 9:11; 9:18; 9:19; 1 Chronicles 9:22; 26:28; 29:29.


Samuel also became the last of the judges to rule Israel, 1 Samuel 7 verse 15. God had prepared and called this man for a very special purpose. He was going to anoint Israel’s first ever king! During 1 Samuel chapters 4 to 7 Israel fight against the Philistines. They fight for the land of Palestine (a form of the word ‘Philistine’). The people of God are defeated. The Covenant box is stolen, chapter 4 verse 11. God brought trouble on the Philistines wherever they put the captured Covenant box, chapters 5 and 6. God does not need His people. He is able to do His own work by Himself! After twenty years the Lord defeated the Philistines. Loud thunder from heaven made them panic, and Israel chased them away, 1 Samuel 7 verse 10-11. About twenty-five more years go by and Samuel is now an old man. The people “commit a great sin against the Lord by asking Him for a king”, 1 Samuel 12 verse 17 (second part). Let’s hear how it happened. Ask two good readers to read aloud, one verse each, 1 Samuel 8 verses 4-5. Stop and discuss (2) Ask, ‘can anyone remember the verse learned last lesson?’ Answer: Judges 17 verse 6 “There was no king in Israel at that time; all the people did just as they pleased”. Ask, ‘why did the Israelites want a king?’ (If no-one knows, have the two children read again 1 Samuel 8 verses 4-5). Answer: The people of God wanted to be like the other countries around them. Ask, ‘What had God called His people to be?’ Answer: God’s people in God’s plan in God’s place – different from other people because they are the people of God! Stop and read (3) Have different children read aloud: Genesis 12 verses 2-3; Exodus 19 verses 4-6; Leviticus 20 verse26; Deuteronomy 7 verse 6; Joshua 1 verses 6-9.

In our lessons so far, we have seen God is patiently fulfilling His promise to Abraham. Over hundreds of years God was faithful to His word. God’s special people have not always been so good. Now, in 1 Samuel chapter 8 verse 5, they ask for a king “as other countries have”. Verse 20 they want a king, “so that we will be like other nations , with our own king to rule us and to lead us out to war and to fight our battles”. How sad God must have been. Samuel was not pleased with the peoples’ demand either. But in verse 7 God says to Samuel: “You are not the One they have rejected; I am the One they have rejected as their king”.


Even when people choose not to do God’s will, God is still in control of events. God will give people what they ask for but, at the same time, He will be working out His own good purpose. God is so great. God knows everything past, present and future. God is never defeated . “God is never surprised by what His people do, nor is He at a loss to know what He should do”. 4 God promised Abraham a great nation through whom the whole world would be blessed, Genesis 12 verses 2-3. God promised some kings would be among his descendants, Genesis 17 verses 6 and 16. Through Moses God said that He Himself would choose a king, at the right time, Deuteronomy 17 verses 14-15. The verses which follow these explain how the kings would learn to honour the Lord and lead the people wisely. BUT this was not the right time. Saul was not the right person. God lets the people have what they want. In doing so He is judging them for their disobedience. Through Samuel God warns them what they will have to pay to have a king, 1 Samuel 8 verses 10-22. Stop and discuss (4) Ask the class to quietly read to themselves 1 Samuel 8 verses 10-18.Can they find a list of twelve things that a king will take from the people? Answers: sons, verse 11 daughters, verse 13

best fields, verse 14

best vineyards, verse 14 best olive groves, verse 14

one tenth of corn, verse 15

one tenth of grapes,

verse 15 servants, verse 16 best cattle, verse 16

best donkeys, verse 16 one tenth of flocks, verse 17 even the people themselves will be slaves, verse 17 The people still choose to have a king. God told Samuel to let them have what they wanted. God would judge them by letting them have their own way, 1 Samuel 8 verses 18-22. In chapters 9 and 10 Samuel anoints Saul to be the first king for Israel. God tells him to do this, 9 verses 15-16. God will use Saul to save Israel from the Philistines. God will send His Spirit to strengthen him for his new role, 10 verse 6. Stop and read (5) Ask three or five students to read these Bible verses:

1 Samuel 10 verse 25 Samuel probably based his teaching about a king on Deuteronomy 17 verses 14-20, where Moses gave God’s plans to the people. 1 Samuel 12 verses 14-15 4 Warren Wiersbe Be Successful 1 Samuel (Colorado Springs:Cook/Victor) 2001, p.47


Although God was sad the people asked for a king, if they and the king honoured and obeyed God, God would be with them and bless them.

It is sad Saul soon ignored God’s commands for a king.

1 Samuel 13 verses 13-14

God, keeping true to His word, would replace Saul with the king He wanted to be king.


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