God Looks At the Heart (Children’s Bible Lesson)

This Bible lesson for children comes from 1 Samuel 16:1-13 where Samuel anoints a young shepherd boy named David as the next king of Israel. It teaches the truth that the Lord looks at the heart of people and not their outward appearance. This material will work as a Sunday School lesson or in Children’s Church. Please leave comments about this lesson plan in the form at the bottom of this page.

Curriculum text: 1 Samuel 16:1-3; Psalm 139

Time: 30 minutes

Learning Objectives: After this lesson…

  • Children express their knowledge of the key people and events in this passage by retelling the story to the children.
  • Children express what they understand about the way the Lord views them.
  • Children express their understanding about the Lord’s plan for their lives.

Curriculum Target Age: Kindergarten – 5th grade

Materials Needed:

  • PRINT PRINT this lesson plan
  • Bible turned to 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 139. Prepare beforehand a copy with the important points highlighted to be sure to give specific explanation on them.
  • Visual Aids: Pictures of Samuel, Jesse, David (as shepherd boy), and his older brothers (optional). Often a good story Bible contains decent pictures.
  • Pictures of children with birthmarks, cleft lips, Down syndrome, and other physical handicaps. (Obtain pictures with a search on the Internet or ask those in your church that have children with these conditions.)

Teaching Plan:

Establish the lesson by briefly explaining the key people in the story and displaying the pictures of Samuel, Jesse, and David as a young boy. Explain their role in the story and be sure to have the children repeat the names of each person.

Prior to reading the story, divide the group of children into two groups and ask one group to listen for the way that Samuel chose the man to be the next king. Ask the second group of children to listen to what they learn about the way the Lord chose the next king.

Read (and Recap) 1 Samuel 16:1-13. Use various voice inflections as you read and stop to involve the children in the story. Reinforce the lesson by asking questions. Does the Lord notice that Samuel is upset? Yes. Does the Lord allow Samuel remain upset? No. Does the Lord give instructions to Samuel? Yes. How many sons did Jesse have? Seven. Where was David? Tending the sheep. Say to the children, “If we are honest, it’s hard for us to decide what we think about a person by the way they look to us.”

When you’re finished reading the story, use the pictures to review the important people and events in the story.

Ask for a response from the children about their listening assignment. What did you learn about how Samuel chose the next king? What did you learn about the way the Lord chose the next king?

Select a volunteer to help demonstrate the main lesson from this story about the Lord not looking at the appearance of people. Show the different pictures of the children with various handicaps and talk about the fact that the Lord created them and that the Lord sees their hearts too. Point out that even if we look acceptable to the world, if our hearts are filled with sin and hurtful words toward others, the Lord cares about our heart more than what we look like. Reiterate the fact that the Lord knit us all together in our mother’s womb by reading Psalm 139. Have the children talk about how it feels when someone speaks unkind words to them about the way they look, talk, or do something different.

Lesson Evaluation:

Ask for volunteers to retell the story to the class with role-play. Assign the children the role of Samuel, Jesse, David, and his seven brothers. Ask the remaining children to take turns filling in portions of the story the volunteers struggle with remembering. Remember to prompt the children by asking, “What happened next?”

Ask for a volunteer to explain the Lord’s message about the way He sees people and doesn’t look at what they look like on the outside but the heart.

Give a list of possible lessons and ask the children to stand up if it was from the story.

  • Samuel grieved that the Lord rejected Saul as the king. Yes.
  • David protected his father’s sheep from a bear and lion. True, but not what He did in this story.
  • Saul as the first king of Israel. Yes, but not the emphasis of this story.
  • Samuel thought Jesse’s oldest son should be the next king. Yes.
  • The Lord selected Jesse’s youngest son as the next king. Yes.
  • The Lord cares about our hearts more than what we look like on the outside. Yes.

Need More Ideas? Browse our links to free Sunday School lessons online or find the right Bible craft to support this lesson.


  1. Ricky says

    This was very helpful! Thank you for your ministry! God bless you!

  2. Christine Greene says

    These lessons were absolutely wonderful. As a teacher who has taught adult students for many many years, I was asked to teach our VBS. I found your site and was so excited because not only are they wonderful but they are free. Hardly anybody does anything for free anymore. Thank you so much. I used the lesson ideas about David, Joshua, Joseph, and Noah. I am so excited to see what God does in the hearts of our children during Bible Study time in VBS.

  3. Angie says

    I think this is a great way to avoid using pictures of children with disabilities. To me this implies to children that there is something wrong with these people on the outside by saying “The Lord sees their hearts too”. It’s unspoken but implied. I think its a little rude to ask people with children who have disabilities to use their children’s pictures as part of a lesson to point out how God sees their heart and not just the outside, as to imply the outside is not beautiful as well.

  4. Chua says

    very good lesson plan…as I was looking for ideas on how to address lying issue with one of my students. Thank you!

  5. fera pakpahan says

    I’ m really grateful having this page. Everything I need for my kids in Sunday school are here. God bless u..

  6. obehi says

    Fabulous. Thanks alot. And i also like the ”fruit can” illustration.

  7. priscilla says

    thanks they were very good, but I am looking for something for a group of christian women who meet once a month and we try to study the word form the bible. it would be good if u have a place which i can visit like this one is for kids do u have anything for adults? please let me know.
    thanks and god bless,


  8. Confot says


  9. Maris says

    Very helpful, I have not used these lessons yet, I will for the first time tonight, thank you for having these available, sometimes we just run out of things.

    If I may say that it would be wonderful to also have pictures here we could use for the visual aids.

    God bless :)

  10. emily says

    my kids LOVED this lesson.


    an object lesson… simple… but one i used to go with it.

    i got canned fruits and veggies and switched the labels and played it off like they were a snack. my kids were pumped about the yummy fruits but were appalled that i would think ANYONE would eat a can of peas or sourcrout. haha

    then, as i opened them the kids suddenly werent so interested in the so called “fruit cans” then i led into how God sees us for more than a label… God knows who we really are and truely deeply loves us that way… anyway… hope this is useful fr someone. :]

  11. says

    This truly a great lesson. I love stories that contrasts the thoughts of God vs. the human condition, because God really does see the heart of man, while man only sees whats on the outside.

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