In the last lesson, we learned about how Samuel was set apart by his mother, Hannah, to the Lord's service. Samuel continued to hear from God and became a trusted leader of the Israelites because of his relationship with God.
But as Samuel got older, the people were not as impressed with his two sons, Joel and Abijah. His sons accepted bribes, were only interested in making money, and did evil things. So, the people rebelled against the idea of them taking over after Samuel died. What's interesting to think about is that Samuel was raised under Eli as a father figure, and so he didn't exactly have a good role model of what a father should look like. Unfortunately, it seems that he followed the same pattern Eli did as a father, and ended up with the same results...
The Israelites saw the problem, but their solution was to appoint a king over them, just like the other people groups around them. Samuel warned them that they wouldn't like the outcome. This king would end up oppressing them, taking their sons and daughters and putting them into service, and he would require payment of taxes. Basically, they would regret asking for a King. But the people didn't listen and said they wanted a king anyway. Samuel asked God what to do, and God told Samuel to give the people what they wanted.
So now we are introduced to Saul, who would become Israel's first king. Saul was an impressive, handsome young man, strong and a head taller than anyone else in Israel. He was the kind of guy you would assume would become a king one day.
Saul and his servant were roaming around the countryside, looking for some donkeys that escaped from his father. They came across Samuel and asked him if he could tell them where his donkeys were. God had told Samuel the day before to expect someone from the tribe of Benjamin and that he would be anointed the king of Israel. So, when Saul and his servant came to visit him, he knew exactly what to do. He anointed Saul by pouring olive oil over his head. This was a symbol that this person was called by God for a specific task. God's spirit came upon Saul in power and he was a changed man.
Not everyone in Israel was excited that Saul was the choice to be king. But after Saul led them to victory in battle against the Ammonites, they agreed and formally made Saul their king by having a great big party.
Unfortunately, Saul didn't exactly obey God while he was king. There were two instances of disobedience that made God remove his favor from Saul as king. First, Saul made an offering to the Lord himself instead of waiting for Samuel. We don't know exactly why this was such a big deal, but the Bible makes it clear that this was in direct disobedience to God's command (you can read this story in 1 Samuel 13:1-15).
Also, Saul was commanded to attack the Amalekites and was given strict instructions on how to handle them (they were kill every living being and not spare anything). Saul didn't obey. So Samuel told Saul that God had taken the kingdom of Israel away from him (you might skip over this instance of Saul disobeying, as the concept of consecrating a conquered city to the Lord by killing every living being is a difficult one to understand, even for adults)
In the next lesson, we will learn who God is going to give it to...
Ask the children: Do you know who the President of the United States is? What is his job?
Today, we're going to learn about the man who became the first king of Israel.
Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.
For older children, read story straight from the Bible or tell the story yourself.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud 1 Samuel 8:1-9, 9:1-5, 9:15-17, 10:1-2, 11:14-15
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?