The following lesson was created for older students. As students study the Bible lesson they will discover that how a believer lives their life reflects God’s character to those around them. This is only a guide to help teach your students. Please feel free to adapt to the needs of your class.
Bible Passage: 1 Samuel 2:12-3:21
Bible Story Title: Samuel-Israel’s Last Judge
Target Age Group: Ages 9-11 (3rd-5th Grade U.S.A.)
Target Time Frame: 60 Minutes
Original Teaching Context: Sunday School
Supply List: Bibles, activity pages, pencils/pens, index cards with daily choices questions written on them.
Learning Goal: Students will learn that how a believer lives will reflect God’s character to those who do not know Him.
Learning Activity #1: (This activity can be done at the end of the lesson.)On index cards have situations that occur in every day life. Examples: The cashier gives you more change back than you were supposed to receive. What do you do? You are at a friend’s house and everyone wants to watch a movie that you know would not be appropriate to watch. What do you do? When students respond to what they will do, ask if they can back their answer up according to God’s Truth? Our daily choices that are made according to God’s Word help us to be witnesses that reflect the Lord to those around us. When faced with difficult decisions the Holy Spirit will empower us to be bold and confident to trust and obey the Lord.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me. Isaiah 43:10
Bible Lesson: Samuel-Israel’s Last Judge
(Begin with prayer)
Recite the memory verse. What are witnesses? (A witness is someone who has seen, heard, or known by personal presence and perception)
God chose His people the Israelites to be His witnesses. What are some things that His people have witnessed that have shown He is God and there is no other? (Answers will vary-Rescued them from Egyptian slavery through plagues; crossing of Red Sea; manna from heaven etc.)
God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would live in the land that God promised. From a descendant of Abraham God would send the Savior. (Gen. 12:1-3; 15; 17; Rom. 4)
God’s people (Abraham’s descendants) were given His covenant promises and His laws to follow. When God’s people were living according to His ways they were proof (witnesses) to those around them who did not believe in the One True God that He did exist. (“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” Is. 42:6-7) When they were worshiping and obeying God they were bright lights for those in the nations around them who were living in darkness of sin. (Acts 26:18)
Unfortunately when God’s people were living in the land He promised to give them, they disobeyed and began to worship the false gods their enemies believed in. It was more difficult for God’s light to shine through their lives because they were distorting who He was by how they lived.
Have you ever been to a circus or carnival and walked by mirrors and you stopped and saw that you looked really short or really tall or some combination of the two? You are still you but when others see you in that mirror your image is distorted and does not reflect the real you. It is similar to what happens to God’s people who are supposed to live a life that reflects who He is. Our sin distorts who He really is. Sin that is not dealt with (confessed to God and repented from) causes the distortion to become worse.
Sin makes God’s people poor witnesses of His greatness to those who do not know Him. No matter how sinful God’s people are who are distorting a true reflection of the Lord, He will always be a light in the world. God is God and in Him is no darkness. (1 John 1:5)
Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 2:12. Read 2:12-17. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas are the priests (1 Sam. 1:3) serving at the tabernacle. Priests were given God’s requirements for worship and were to be His representatives to God’s people who came to worship and sacrifice at the tabernacle. What did we learn about Eli’s sons from these verses? (Worthless men, did not know the Lord, forcefully took meat offerings before they were cooked (God’s law required that the meat is cooked and the fat burned off. (Lev. 7:31) Anyone who eats the fat shall be cut off from his people. (Lev. 7:25) Eli knew of the sinful things his sons were doing but did not stop them from continuing in their wickedness. (1 Sam. 2:22-36, 1 Sam. 3:13)
Hophni and Phinehas were to be witnesses to the One True God. What kind of witnesses were they? (Poor reflections of who God is) It is hard to be a true reflection of the One True God if you don’t know Him. Eli’s sons did not know the Lord and the proof was in their actions. Their sin was great in God’s sight because they treated His offerings as though they were worthless.
The bad news is that every person is a sinner in God’s sight. The good news is that He always has a witness that reflects His greatness in the midst of the multitudes of those who are distorting who He is.
Read 1 Samuel 2:18-21. In the midst of a time when God’s people were doing what was right in their own eyes, a woman named Hannah believed in the Lord and prayed for a son. God gave her a son and she named him Samuel which means ‘asked for from the Lord’. She promised the Lord that if He gave her a son she would give him to the Lord to serve Him all of his days. While Eli’s sons are distorting a proper view of God to His people, what do we learn about Samuel? (He was ministering before the Lord, clothed with a linen ephod, his mother made him a little robe each year, and he grew in the presence of the Lord)
- It is possible to serve the Lord and grow in His presence even when it seems like we are all alone. God uses our lives to be His witness to reflect His light in great darkness.
Read 1 Samuel 3:1-7. What do we learn about Samuel from these verses? (Ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle, God called to him 3 times and 3 times he thought it was Eli) What do we learn about God’s communication with His people during this time? (The word of God was rare, no frequent vision) Why do you think God’s Word and His visions were rare during this time? (Responses will vary and it is a thinking question-not a right or wrong answer) God’s people had His laws and promises and they were not obeying them. Their hearts were in no condition to be able to recognize or receive any new information from the Lord.
- Obedience to what we already know prepares us to better understand God’s Word and receive His directions.
Read 1 Samuel 3:8-11a. How many times did Samuel run to Eli before he perceived that God was calling Samuel? (3) What did Eli tell Samuel to do? (Go, lie down, and if He calls say, “Speak, for your servant hears”) The fourth time, God called and Samuel responded. God began to speak to His servant Samuel.
Read 1 Samuel 3:11b-18. The message gave to Samuel was very bad news for Eli and his family. God must punish sin and He was about to punish Eli and his family for not stopping the wickedness of his sons. How did Samuel feel about telling Eli God’s message? (Afraid) Although Samuel was afraid he told Eli the message.
- As witnesses for Christ we all have very bad news for those who have not put their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Sometimes we are afraid to obey the Great Commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mat. 28:19) It is intimidating to have to tell others that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death (separation from God for all eternity). (Rom. 3:23, 6:23a) Even though it is very bad news that sin must be punished and without faith in Jesus for forgiveness of sins people will spend eternity in hell (2 Pet. 2:4, Mat. 25:41) we also have very Good News! The gift of God is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ! (Rom. 6:23b)
(1 Samuel 3:19-21) As Samuel grew, the Lord was with him. God’s people recognized that Samuel was a prophet of the Lord. During a time of increasing sin in the lives of God’s people He continues to show kindness and mercy to send a witness who reflects the One True God so that people will repent of their sins and turn back to God.
How will you choose to live in this sinful world? Will you follow Jesus and allow Him to make you a faithful witness shining brightly? As followers of Jesus we must stay close to Him every day. We read His word and pray so that our hearts and minds reflect who He is. When we sin we quickly confess and turn away from that sin and continue to walk with Jesus. His Holy Spirit living inside our hearts will empower us to be a faithful witness to those around us.
(Close in prayer)
- What is a witness? (Someone who has seen, heard, or known by personal presence and perception)
- From the memory verse Isaiah 43:10 why did God choose His people to be His witnesses and His servants? (that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He)
- What did you learn from this Bible lesson?
- What changes do you need to make this week so that you can be a brighter witness for Jesus?
- Who can you share the Good News with this week?
Don’t miss these other free ideas from our website:
- Bible Lesson: The Birth and Calling of Samuel (1 Sam 1-3)
- Bible Lesson: Israel rejects God and requests a king (1 Sam. 8-10)
- Bible Lesson: Samuel anoints the shepherd boy David
- Children’s Bible Lesson: Israel Asks For a King
- Teaching Skit: God Calls Samuel