This is the first lesson in a series of the history of Israel’s kings. Click here to see the lesson index.
This lesson introduces students to when the Israelites ask Samuel for a king. Their request was a rejection to the rule of God as their King. The students will learn that God’s ways are the best ways and we should keep our eyes on Him and allow Him to be our King instead of wanting to be like the world. The lesson can be used for Children’s Church and modified for younger students.
Bible Story: Israel Asks for a King
Scripture: 1 Samuel 8
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, crepe paper and other materials for students to use to decorate a throne, a crown, objects that represent things that we allow to be king in our life (friends, TV, games, sports,),
Learning Goal: Students will learn that when believers make Jesus the King of their lives, they will be different causing others to see God’s power in their lives and pointing them to Jesus.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: Who is on the throne? Have students decorate a chair making it into a throne. This activity will help students to recognize areas of their lives that have a higher priority than Jesus. (The activity can be used to teach the memory verse.) Using the different objects that take priority in our lives ask students how others would know that _______ is king in a person’s life. (If the object is sports related: people would know that sports is the king in a person’s life because that’s all they do, they skip church activities for sports, they spend more time practicing for their sport than reading their Bible and prayer.) After discussing the objects ask the students if they can think of anything else that we may have not mentioned that could rule our lives. Finally, place the crown on the throne representing Jesus as the King of our lives? How would others know that Jesus is King in your life? If you were to ask someone who they thought was the king of your life what would they say? Let’s pray that starting today we would allow Jesus to be the King of our lives.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Colossians 3:1: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
Bible Lesson: Israel asks for a King
(Give Bibles to students who need one)
Introduction to Bible Lesson: (This can be told by the teacher or older students might want to perform a skit to dramatize this story about the Jewels.)
Once upon a time a very special group of people named the Jewels lived in their own beautiful city named Jewel Town. The Jewels were a very unique group of people. The people living in the cities around them heard of the amazing history of how the Jewels came to Jewel Town.
Before the Jewels lived in Jewel Town they were not known as Jewels. They lived in a place called Dark Town and were slaves who were mistreated by their owners. They were forced to work hard and life was very difficult for them. A King saw these hurting people and sent a man to rescue them from the land they were living in. This King wanted these people to be His very own and called them the Jewels. The Jewels never saw this King but knew that this King was very loving and kind to rescue them from the horrible living conditions they were in. The King’s messenger told the Jewels all the plans the King had for them and how he was going to be their leader to the special town the King had prepared for them.
The Jewels followed the King’s leader and were thankful to be able to go to their very own town. They traveled for many miles and all along the way the King spoke to them through His messenger and prepared them for the place they would call home. He gave them special laws to protect them from the evil in the land. He promised to always protect and give them good things if they obeyed the laws He gave to them.
As the Jewels traveled they learned that their King was powerful. Along the journey to the town that would their very own, violent enemies tried to destroy the Jewels. When the enemies tried to hurt the Jewels their King protected them and destroyed their enemies.
Finally the Jewels arrived safely in the town their King provided and named it Jewel Town. They were so happy to finally have a place they could call their own. They never saw their King who had rescued them from slavery and delivered them from their enemies but they believed He was a good King and would always take care of them. They lived in the land and followed the laws that their King had given them and lived happy, peaceful lives.
One day several Jewels decided to visit their neighbors that lived in the next city. This city was very different than Jewel Town. The people didn’t have the laws like they had and they had a king who lived in a beautiful palace and wore beautiful kingly robes. Their king gave his people freedom to do whatever they wanted and to go wherever they wanted. The Jewels looked at this city and wondered why they couldn’t live like this.
The Jewels went back to Jewel Town and told their family and friends what they saw as they visited their neighbors. As they thought about their neighboring city and how different it was compared to Jewel Town they began to wish they could be more like that city. They wanted a king they could see. They didn’t like being different than all the others around them. They decided that they would go to the King’s messenger and ask him to give them a king they could see. The messenger was shocked when he heard their request. The Jewels had the best King in the whole world and they wanted a king they could see so they could feel normal like the others living around them. The people had forgotten how great their King was and how He had rescued them from slavery and gave them their own town to live in. They were ungrateful and didn’t care about the King they couldn’t see. They wanted a king they could see and they would not be happy until they looked more like the cities with kings that lived around them.
How do you think the King felt when the people He had rescued didn’t want Him to be their King anymore? What do you think would happen to the Jewels when they no longer had their loving and powerful king ruling over them?
This was a made up story to prepare us for our first lesson about the kings written about in the Old Testament. Just like in our story about the Jewels, God had chosen the Israelites (Jews, Hebrews) to be His own special people. They were living in the land of Egypt and the ruler of the land turned them into his slaves. They worked hard and were not treated well. They lived as slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. God sent His messenger Moses to Egypt and delivered His people from slavery. God promised the Israelites that He was going to take them to a land where they would live as His people. God gave Moses laws for His people to follow so they could be protected from the evil that surrounded them. His laws made His people very unique to the other people living around them. Their differences would cause others to see God and all of His greatness.
God showed His people His love and power as He led them through Moses to their Promised Land. He promised His people if they obeyed His laws they would live a life of peace and would experience His blessings.
The Israelites settled into the land that God gave them and He gave them leaders who they could go to if they needed help with any difficulties they had. These leaders would ask God for wisdom and He would give the leader the right answer to the problem.
Whether God’s people realized it or not they had a mighty King who ruled over them and kept them safe from their enemies. They could not see Him but He was never far from them because He spoke to them through His messengers. The Israelites were a very special people and had everything they needed to be a people that showed others how great and awesome God is.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Samuel 8 and see how the Israelites feel about having God as their King. (Have volunteers read 1 Samuel 8:1-3.) At this time in the Israelites’ history God’s leader over His people was Samuel. Samuel obeyed God and led His people faithfully. Because Samuel was getting old he allowed his two sons to be judges or leaders over the people in Israel. Samuel was still the main leader and his sons helped him with leading the people. Samuel was a Godly man and made Godly decisions. Sadly, his two sons did not follow the example of their father Samuel. They were not fair when they led the people and allowed people to bribe them to make decisions. To bribe is to pay with money or some other offer to get a person to do what you want them to do.
Read 1 Samuel 8:4-5a. The Israelites saw that their leader Samuel was getting old and realized that one day he would die. Samuel’s sons were not the kind of leaders that the Israelites wanted to have over them.
Human leaders will never be perfect. Sin affects decisions he/she makes. As believers our responsibility is to obey God as our King and pray for the leaders He places over us and obey them as long as they are not commanding us to disobey God. (1 Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:1-5; Acts 5:27-30)
God’s people had been living in the Promise Land God gave them for many years. Over the many years they would look at how the other countries did things in their land. All the countries around them followed different rules than they did and they had a king that they could see. The kings in each of these countries were powerful. Having a king they could see must have made the people in those countries feel safe.
God’s people had everything they needed. They had a powerful King who loved them, protected them and took care of all their needs. The Israelites are sinners just like you and me. They looked at what others had and wanted what they thought looked better than what they had.
Read 1 Samuel 8:5. The elders that came to Samuel with this request were a group of men who represented all the people. How do you think this request made God feel? Did God fail as a King over His people? What was the reason these leaders asked for a king? (To be like all the other countries)
Let’s look at some different Scriptures of why God wanted His people to be different than the other people.
Set apart: Exodus 19:4-6; Leviticus 20:23-24, 26; Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18-19
God’s plan was to send a Savior into the world. He chose the Jewish people to be His people. From the Jewish people the Savior would be born. It was important for His people to be set apart or different than the other nations who did not love and fear God.
Today as believers we are similar to the Israelites. When we believed in the Lord Jesus, the Savior God promised to send, He set us apart from those around us who do not love and fear God. God’s purpose in setting us apart is so others can see His power and be drawn to His Son Jesus through our lives so they can be saved.
Scriptures that tell believers to be set apart: Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:9-12
Let’s turn back to 1 Samuel 8. When Samuel heard the request of these men his heart was broken. Although he was a man he loved God and tried to serve His people to the best of his ability. He felt rejected when these men asked for an earthly king. He went to the Lord and poured out his heart. Let’s read God’s answer to Samuel’s prayer in 1 Samuel 8:7-8. The people were not rejecting Samuel but were rejecting their very own King of Kings (1 Samuel 12:12). They had wicked, disobedient hearts and wanted to be like the unbelieving people that lived around them (1 Samuel 12:17).
James 4:4 says: “You adulterous peoples, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Men, women, boys and girls are sinners. God has given us everything we need to live a life that pleases Him (2 Peter 1:3) but when we allow our natural desires to control us we desire the things that do not please God.
The Israelites must have felt so different than the peoples around them. Instead of focusing on the privileges and protection they received when they were living in obedience to God’s laws they focused on wanting to look like the unbelieving people in other cities.
Do you ever feel like that? When are times that you are embarrassed to be different than others around you? (Allow students to respond) It’s not easy to be different but we honor God when we are obedient to Him. Our obedience to Him brings protection from evil and blessing in our lives. Our obedience to God causes others to see Jesus more clearly than acting like unbelievers.
God told Samuel to warn them of what life with an earthly king would be like. Samuel obeyed and 1Samuel 8:10-17 are things that God knew would happen to His people when an earthly king ruled over them. These were not things that God as their King did to them and He knew that one day they would realize the mistake they made in asking for an earthly king. Let’s read what God said the Israelites would do one day in 1 Samuel 8:18.
The people had been warned but their minds had been made up. Read 1 Samuel 8:19-20. They demanded a king and God told Samuel to listen to them and give them a king. Over the next weeks we will be learning about the different earthly kings that the Israelites had. We will discover that God’s ways for His people were better than what they thought was best for them.
God has given us His Word to teach us. What do you think God is trying to teach us from this lesson this morning? (Let God be the King of our lives, God’s ways are better than our ways, when we obey God others will see God’s power in our lives and will see Jesus clearly, when we try to be like others we are acting like God’s enemies etc.)
Salvation Message: Every person is a sinner. That means that his/her life is separated from God because they disobey God’s perfect laws. Being separated from God, sinners live in darkness and are slaves to sin. If sinners are not rescued from this sad condition they will spend eternity separated from God in a place called hell. God sees the horrible conditions of people living in darkness and being slaves of sin. He has provided a Rescuer to deliver sinners from this condition. His name is Jesus and He died on the cross in the place of our sins. He was buried and rose again on the third day. His death, burial and resurrection are God’s way for people to be saved and be forgiven and live forever with Him. Today if you have never been saved you can be. If you have any questions please talk to us and we can show you from the Bible how you can be saved from your sins.
As we close let’s pray and ask God to help us to obey what He taught us from our Bible study this morning.
Close in prayer.
- How were the Israelites different than other people living around them? (God was their King, they had His laws)
- Who was leading God’s people in our Bible lesson today? (Samuel)
- Why did the elders ask Samuel for a king? (because he was getting old and his sons were dishonest)
- How did Samuel feel when they asked for a king (rejected)
- Who did the Israelites really reject? (God)
- How did Samuel warn the people? (he told them what an earthly king would do to them)
- What did the people demand? (That they have a king)
- What was the main reason the Israelites wanted a king? (To be like the nations around them)