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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

1 Samuel 8-11, 15

Story Summary

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...

What You Will Need

Supplies
olive oil

Resource Sheet

Saul Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Samuel anointing Saul with olive oil to show that he was chosen to be the first king of Israel.

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

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.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

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.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: 1 Samuel 8:1-9, 9:1-5, 9:15-17, 10:1-2, 11:14-15

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Why did the Israelites want a king? (because Samuel's sons were evil and they wanted to be like the surrounding nations who had kings)
  • What did Samuel warn them about getting a king? (that they would be sorry they asked for one because the king would oppress them)
  • What did God tell Samuel when he asked what to do? (that Samuel should give the people what they asked for)
  • Who did God tell Samuel to anoint as king? (Saul)
  • What kind of person was Saul? (rich, impressive, handsome, young, tall, strong)
  • How did Saul come across Samuel? (he and his servants were looking for some donkeys that had escaped his father's herd)
  • How did Samuel anoint Saul as the chosen king? (by pouring olive oil on his head)
  • Why did God take the kingdom of Israel away from king Saul? (because he continued to disobey God)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • The Israelites demanded a king for themselves, even though Samuel told them they would regret it.
  • Did you know that God is in charge of everyone (even the President, your teachers, your pastor, and your parents)?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Children, obey your parents in everything. That pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

Reinforcement Activities

Making crowns

Scripture Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the Lord anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? 1 Samuel 10:1

Supplies card stock crowns, glue, decorating supplies

  • Print crowns on card stock using template.
  • Attach band together to fit each students head, using tape or staples.
  • Allow students to decorate with makers, jewels, stickers, etc

Chasing Donkeys

Heads up! This activity should be done on a carpeted surface

Scripture The donkeys that belonged to Saul's father Kish were lost. So Kish spoke to his son Saul. He said, "Go and look for the donkeys. Take one of the servants with you." 1 Samuel 9:3

  • Split the children into two groups.
  • Call one child from each group and have one child be a donkey and one child be Saul.
  • Create a starting line with plenty of room in front it.
  • The child who is a donkey should get on all fours at the starting line.
  • When the teacher says "Go", the donkey begins racing forward on all fours.
  • Give the donkey a 3 or 5 second head start and then tell the child who is Saul "Go".
  • Saul must tag the donkey.
  • Mark with a cone or other marker where Saul tagged the donkey.
  • Call pairs of children from the two groups until each has a turn to go, moving the marker only when one "Saul" tags the donkey closer than the marker.
  • Once everyone from one group gets to be Saul, switch groups until everyone has gone.
  • Reward the winner with a prize (candy bar or the like)

Anointing Oil

Scripture Then Samuel took a bottle of olive oil. He poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him. He said, “The Lord has anointed you to be the leader of his people." 1 Samuel 10:1

Supplies Olive oil, container

  • As the children are coloring their resource sheet (the picture of Samuel anointing Saul), walk around and let them dip their finger in the olive oil and place it on Saul's head in the picture.
  • Explain to them that in Bible times, people placed oil on someone's head to set them apart for God.

Salty Cookies

Heads up! Cookies should be prepared in advance

Scripture Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king everything the Lord had said. Samuel told them, “Here’s what the king who rules over you will do. He will take your sons. He’ll make them serve with his chariots and horses. They will run in front of his chariots.... 1 Samuel 8:10-11

Supplies Any cookie recipe

  • Israel thought they wanted a king, but Samuel told them they would regret it. What they got wasn't what they asked for.
  • Make cookies for your class, out of any cookie recipe
  • But make them extra salty - use 4 or 6 times the amount of salt called for in the recipe and leave out some sugar.
  • The cookies should look normal, but taste awful
  • Then leave the cookies out on a table. Don't ask the children if they want any - wait until they ask for them.
  • When they do, give them each a cookie.

Mother, May I?

Scripture Why didn’t you obey the Lord? Why did you grab what you had taken from your enemies? Why did you do what is evil in the sight of the Lord? 1 Samuel 15:19

  • Saul disobeyed God several times as king (see 1 Samuel 13:8-14)
  • Play the classic game of "Mother, May I?" to talk about how important it is to obey God.
  • Have all of the children stand in a row.
  • Give each of the students an instruction to move forward, one at a time (e.g. "Johnny, take 3 steps forward")
  • If they don't say "Mother, May I?" before the move, they have to back to the starting line.

Wow, He (or She) is Tall!

Heads up! Be aware of any children who might be sensitive to their size

Scripture Kish had a son named Saul. Saul was a handsome young man. There wasn’t anyone like him among the people of Israel. He was a head taller than any of them. 1 Samuel 9:2

  • Find the tallest person in your church and invite them into your classroom.
  • Then, find the tallest child in your class and line them up next to the tall adult.
  • Ask your students, "Who would you rather have lead you into battle?"
  • Assuming they say the tall adult, you can tell them that's exactly how people usually judge others (by their outward appearance)
  • Then tell them, "Next week, we're going to learn about what God really cares about in people."

Oil Picture

Scripture Then Samuel took a bottle of olive oil. He poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him. He said, “The Lord has anointed you to be the leader of his people." 1 Samuel 10:1

Supplies resource sheet, one per student, cotton balls, small cups with olive oil

  • Have students color resource sheet.
  • Dip a cotton ball in oil and rub it on the back of the resource sheet.
  • It will create a translucent look.
  • Hang in window, so the light can reflect through.

No one is Taller Than the King Game

Scripture Samuel told the people who were asking him for a king everything the Lord had said. Samuel told them, “Here’s what the king who rules over you will do. He will take your sons. He’ll make them serve with his chariots and horses. They will run in front of his chariots.... 1 Samuel 8:10-11

Supplies plate of items (crayons, marbles, etc) or cups of water

  • In the days of kings, there was often a rule that no one could be taller (or higher) than the king.
  • One person is chosen to be the king.
  • The king does different movements (standing up, sitting down, bending to pick something up)
  • The subjects' heads must always be lower than the kings.
  • The king can move faster to make it more challenging.
  • The subjects must carry a plate of objects to the king without spilling any or allowing their heads to be lower than the kings. If played outside, the subjects can carry a full glass of water.
  • The first person to make it to the king without spilling, wins!

Oil Painting

Heads up! Make activity for older students

Scripture Saul as king-I Samuel 8-11

Supplies Paper & markers

  • Instead of them coloring the reprinted picture, I will have them draw their family with the memory verse of "obey your parents". This can be covered in the olive oil for effect.