Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about David to teach children about how God judges us for who we are on the inside.
Needed: Bibles, gift bags or wrapped boxes with dirt in them and one plain bag or box with a snack or prize to share
Intro Game: Looks Can Be Deceiving part 1
Set out a series of decorative bags or boxes on a table. These bags all have dirt in them. Set one plain bag or box in a visible but inconspicuous location elsewhere in your room. This plain bag or box has a snack or prize to share with the group.
Tell students that there’s a snack or prize in one of the boxes. Then, ask for one volunteer at a time to come up and choose one of the bags or boxes. They open it to reveal dirt. One student might spot the plain bag or box. If they do, they can choose to open it instead of the more decorative options.
If no students choose the plain bag or box, tell them that there must be one more option somewhere in the room. The first one to spot it gets to open it.
Then, explain that looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks nice on the outside doesn’t mean that it has something good on the inside. And sometimes, what doesn’t look very special on the outside does have something wonderful inside.
God always judges by what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. He judges our hearts, not what we look like.
Last time, we learned about how the people of Israel asked Samuel to make one of them king. God said that He would choose someone and make them king, but He also warned the people that sometimes the king would not be a good king and that he would do wrong things. Then God chose the first king of Israel. Does anyone remember who the first king of Israel was? (Saul.)
(Read 1 Samuel 13-16:13 with your students, or read the following story as a summary.)
The Bible tells us that Saul was 30 years old when he became king, and he ruled over Israel for 42 years. That’s a long time, isn’t it?
And Saul was a good king for most of that time, but King Saul made some mistakes during his kingship. One time, when he and his army were fighting against the Philistines, he asked Samuel to come to make a sacrifice to God for him. But when Samuel didn’t come in time, and the Philistines started to win the battle, King Saul made the sacrifice himself.
When Samuel got there, he told Saul that he shouldn’t have done that because only priests were allowed to make the sacrifices and no one else, not even the king.
Another time, God told Saul to take his army and to attack the Amalekites. And God said, “Usually, when you attack someone, I let you take their things too. But this time, when you attack the Amalekites, I don’t want you to take anything because I am punishing the Amalekites by having you attack them. I want you to kill all of them as a punishment.”
But when Saul and the army attacked the Amalekites, they didn’t listen to God. They let the king of the Amalekites live, and they took all the Amalekites’ sheep and cows for themselves.
Because of this, God told Samuel, “I’m sorry that I made Saul king. He doesn’t listen to Me. I am going to make someone else king who will listen to Me and do what I tell them.”
When Samuel went to see King Saul, Saul said, “Samuel, I did everything God told me to do.”
But Samuel asked, “Then, why do you have so many new cows and sheep?”
Saul said, “We took them from the Amalekites so that we could sacrifice them to God. We weren’t going to keep them.”
But Samuel said, “Enough! God told you to kill all of the Amalekites and not to take any of their things. But you let their king live and took all these sheep and cows. God didn’t tell you to bring them here to sacrifice. He told you to leave them there. Now, because you have disobeyed God, He is going to choose someone else to be king.”
Then Samuel said, “Bring the king of the Amalekites to me.” They brought him to Samuel, and Samuel killed the king of the Amalekites himself.
Let’s stop our story there for a second. King Saul was getting in trouble because he wasn’t listening to God, wasn’t he? We have to be careful to listen to what God says exactly and do what He says exactly. We can’t add anything to what God says or take away anything from what God says.
We’re going to play a game to help us remember that we have to listen to God exactly.
Have students sit in a line or in a circle. You’ll whisper a message to the first student, and they’ll pass it on. See how close the message is to what you said when it gets to the end. The goal is to have the message stay as close to the original all the way through.
A little while later, God said, “Samuel, I want you to go see a man named Jesse. I have chosen one of his sons to be the new king.”
Samuel was afraid to go. He said, “God, if I go make someone else king, King Saul will be jealous, and he will kill me.”
So, God said, “Don’t tell anyone that you’re going to make someone else king. Do it in secret.”
Samuel went to Bethlehem…
Does anyone remember what else happened in the town of Bethlehem? (The birth of Jesus!)
Samuel went to Bethlehem, the town where Jesse lived, and invited Jesse and his family to have a feast with him. Then, when Jesse’s oldest son came in, Samuel thought, “This must be the one who God has chosen to be king. He’s so tall and handsome.”
But God said, “He is not the one. People look at a person’s looks, but I look at a person’s heart. I look to see if they love Me and if they do the right things.”
Seven of Jesse’s sons came to the feast, but God said, “I have not chosen any of these to be the new king.”
So, Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all of your sons?”
“No,” Jesse said. “There is still one more taking care of the sheep. He’s the youngest.”
Samuel said, “Call for him to come to the feast. We won’t start until he gets here.”
A little while later, Jesse’s youngest son came in. His name was David. God told Samuel, “He is the one I have chosen to be king.”
So, Samuel went over to David and poured olive oil on his head. Samuel said, “God has chosen you to be the next king.” And God’s Holy Spirit came down on David.
Why did God say that Saul couldn’t be king anymore? (Because Saul wasn’t listening to God. He was doing wrong things.)
When God chose David to be king, He told Samuel that God doesn’t look a person’s looks, but at a person’s what? (Heart.)
God looks to see if we love Him and if we will do the right things. If we love God and do the right things that He wants us to, then God will be happy with us, just like He was happy with David and made him the new king.
Game: Looks Can Be Deceiving part 2
For the second part of this demonstration, you’ll play an active game. It can be almost anything that kids know the rules for. The trick is that you’ll change one of the normal rules. If you’re playing soccer, for instance, set up a goal as usual but also set up a cone to mark the boundaries of the play area. Without telling students, you’ll decide that a team gets a point whenever they kick the ball “out of bounds,” not when they get a goal.
Let the kids figure out the new rule. Then, explain that it looked like the point of the game was to kick the ball into the goal, but looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks how it should be doesn’t mean that it’s right. God looks past how something looks, and so should we.
Once kids figure out the new rule and you give them the explanation, you can continue playing by the new rule or revert back to normal rules, whichever is easier.
Father God, we know that you look at our hearts, not how we look. So, we pray that You will help us to keep our hearts pure and clean for you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Samuel and David: Children Sunday School Lessons on the Boy Prophet and the Shepherd King.