Bible Lesson: King Saul's Rebel Heart

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This lesson is a very familiar Bible story.  In this study students will discover that God delights in total obedience.  The lesson is prepared for older students and can be adapted to your ministry’s needs.

Bible Story: King Saul: A rebel heart.
Scripture: (1 Samuel 13:1-14; 14:18-48; 15:1-35)
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
Image Credits: Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media

Supply List: Bibles, activity pages, pens/pencils
Learning Goal:  Students will learn that God delights in our total obedience.
Learning Activity #1:  Activity pages for students to work on while waiting for others to arrive.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse:  Psalm 119:4 “You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.”

Bible Lesson:  King Saul-A rebel heart (1 Samuel 13:1-14; 14:18-48; 15:1-35)

(Give Bibles to students who may not have one.  Open in prayer.)
Whether a person is a follower of Christ or not, life is full of rules.  Why do you think people need rules? (Allow responses) Rules help protect us, keep order in our society, etc.
Let’s examine a couple of different situations with rules:
Lauren sings in her school choir.  She doesn’t like the tempo/pace or the notes for the song.  She decides to sing at the pace and pitch she thinks will make the song more enjoyable.  She even sings when the rest of her choir is obeying the rest that is on the music sheet.  Why would this not be an acceptable thing for Lauren or any person singing in a choir to do? (Lauren must follow the instructions of her conductor in order for the song to work and be pleasant to listen to for the audience.  The choir is a team and Lauren’s decision to do what she wants is selfish and not thinking about the entire choir and those listening to it.)
John is at the school’s crosswalk.  The crossing guard has not said it is ok to cross the street.  From where John is standing it appears that there are no cars coming.  He decides he doesn’t want to wait any longer and walks past the crossing guard.  A car slams on the brakes and stops a couple of feet from John. Why was it important for John to obey the crossing guard?  The crossing guard is in a position to keep the children safe and can see the entire roadway and knows when to let the children pass.
Can you think of a time when you chose to do what you thought was best instead of following instructions?  How did it turn out for you?
If you are a follower of Christ it is important to fully obey God’s Word.

Saul’s rebel heart is revealed in his impatience (1 Samuel 13)

Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Samuel 13.  If you were here last week can you refresh our memory about what Israel asked Samuel for? (A king) Why did Israel want a king? (To be like the other countries around them) Why was it wicked for them to ask for a king? (God was their king and they were rejecting Him for a human king) What was God’s plan for giving them a king? (One day He was going to send them a perfect king) Who is the perfect King? (Jesus)
When we were introduced to Saul last time what are some character traits that you remember? (He was responsible and looked for his father’s donkeys, considerate about his father worrying that something happened to them when days passed, humble about the news to be king)
Let’s read 1 Samuel 13:1-7. The Philistines had gathered to fight the Israelites after Jonathan attacked an outpost.  The sight of the Philistines frightened God’s people.
Samuel had told Saul to wait 7 days in Gilgal.  Samuel was going to meet Saul and make an offering to the Lord.  The seventh day wasn’t over and Saul’s men began to scatter in fear.  Saul decided to make the offering himself since Samuel hadn’t arrived.  After Saul made the offering Samuel arrived.
Read 1 Samuel 13:11-14.  What reason did Saul give Samuel for making the offering without Samuel? (His men were scattering, Samuel wasn’t there and he felt compelled to make the offering) Why did Samuel say Saul’s action was foolish? (He didn’t obey God’s commands-God gave priests the authority to make offerings according His commands) What was the consequence of Saul’s actions? (His kingdom would not last)
Our actions reveal what we believe about God.  From these verses what do you learn about Saul’s belief about God? He allowed his circumstances to cause him to be impatient and take things into his own hands.  Saul’s impatience revealed a rebel heart that didn’t trust God and obey His commands.
You and I might have done the same thing as Saul.  Sometimes we get fearful about our situation and think that God has forgotten us and we do what we feel is right even if we disobey God’s word in the process.  Every person has a rebel/sinful heart.  We all sin but how we respond when our sin is pointed out reveals a lot about us as well.  Did Saul ask forgiveness for offering the sacrifice? (It isn’t recorded that he did)

Saul’s rebel heart is revealed by his unwise oath 1 Samuel 14:18-48

This next passage reveals Saul’s lack of wisdom.  He has made an oath that anyone who ate food until evening would be cursed.  He and his men were in a battle with the Philistines.  Do you think a soldier can fight effectively if they are hungry?
One person was unaware of this oath.  Let’s read and find out who that person is in 1 Samuel 14:27-30. Who is Jonathan? (Saul’s son) What did he do that made his eyes brighten? (He ate some honey) How did Jonathan feel about his father’s oath? (It made trouble for his soldiers because they would have had a greater victory if they could eat)
By the end of the day Saul’s soldiers were so hungry that they began to eat meat that wasn’t fully cooked and still had blood in it.  God’s people were not allowed to eat meat with blood still in it.  (Leviticus 7:26-27; 17:11-14; 19:26) Someone went and told Saul about the sin of his soldiers.  Let’s read 1 Samuel 14:34.
Saul’s unwise oath led others to sin.  These men were so hungry that they sinned against God and ate meat with blood in it.
Saul decided to fight the Philistines during the night.  A priest told Saul they should ask God if that is what He wanted them to do.  Saul asked God and God didn’t respond. Read 1 Samuel 14:37-39.
Making an oath before God is a serious thing.  Saul said that anyone who ate before evening would be cursed. Jonathan was affected by his father’s unwise oath.  When Saul found out his son was the one who ate he was going to put him to death.  The men would not let Saul kill his son.  Read 1 Samuel 14:45.

  • Saul’s actions in this chapter reveal his rebel heart when he didn’t ask for God’s guidance or wisdom in this battle.  His poor choices led others to sin and almost cost Jonathan his life.
  • Followers of Christ must “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) Because we have rebel hearts that naturally sin against God we should always seek His wisdom (James 1:5). “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

Saul’s rebel heart is revealed by his disobedience (1 Samuel 15)

We are going to finish our lesson by looking at Saul’s life in 1 Samuel 15.  This may be a familiar story to some of you.  Read 1 Samuel 15:1-3.  Write God’s instructions Samuel gave to Saul on the board. (Attack the Amalekites, totally destroy EVERYTHING that belongs to them, do not spare them, put to death men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys)
These instructions seem pretty harsh.  The Amalekites were very wicked people.  God had allowed them over 400 years to turn away from their sin but they did not repent.  God is holy and must punish sin.  He is merciful and allows people the opportunity to turn from their wickedness.
Now let’s read verses 4-9. Let’s check off the instructions Saul obeyed. Attacked the Amalekites-check; totally destroy EVERYTHING-not so much (he spared the king and the best animals)
Read 1 Samuel 15:12-15. Saul’s rebel heart is revealed by the excuses he makes.  Who did he blame for not killing all the animals? (The soldiers) Why did they spare the animals? (To give as a sacrifice to the Lord)
Read 1 Samuel 15:16-19. When asked why he didn’t obey the Lord, Saul insists that he did obey the Lord.  Let’s read Samuel’s response to how God felt about Saul’s obedience in verses 22-23.
Saul admits he has sinned and begs Samuel to come back with him to worship the Lord.  Samuel told him he would not go with him.  “You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel.” When Samuel turned to leave, Saul held on to the hem of his robe and it tore. Read verses 27-29.

  • Let’s close our lesson by reading verses 34-35. Saul’s rebel heart was revealed in his disobedience to God.  Incomplete obedience is disobedience.
  • Followers of Christ have the power of the Holy Spirit living in our hearts.  In our own strength we cannot obey God.  When we choose to walk in obedience to God’s commands His Holy Spirit gives us power for total obedience.

Let’s close in prayer.  Pray for those who have not put their faith in Jesus-pray they will recognize that they are sinners and can place their faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to have eternal life.  Pray for believers to ask God to reveal areas in their life where they disobey, ask forgiveness and for the Holy Spirit’s power to fully obey God’s Word.
Review Questions:

  1. What did Saul do when Samuel had not arrived and his men were scattering? (Offered the sacrifice)
  2. Why was it sinful for Saul to offer the sacrifice? (That was a priest’s job and he was told to wait for Samuel)
  3. How did Saul’s oath affect his soldiers? (Caused Jonathan to sin and the men ate food with blood in it)
  4. What instructions did God give Saul regarding the Amalekites? (Destroy them completely)
  5. (T/F) Since Saul was going to offer the best animals to God as a sacrifice God was pleased with his choice. (False-To obey is better than sacrifice)
  6. (T/F) All people have a rebel heart. (True)
  7. (T/F) Partial obedience pleases God. (False-God delights in total obedience)
  8. (T/F) It is impossible for believers to fully obey God. (False-God’s Holy Spirit empowers believers to obey)
  9. Allow students to create true or false questions from the lesson.


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