Bible Lesson: Thankfulness of Biblical Heroes in the Old Testament

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This lesson uses inquiry to help middle schoolers find the meaning of thankfulness.  Many of the Old Testament heroes faced difficult challenges in their lives, such as Daniel’s captivity in a den of lions.  We know that God protected Daniel and brought him out of the den safely.  We will focus on the aspect of the story where Daniel thanks God.  He thanks God before he enters the den and continues to thank God until the end.  Middle schoolers will come away from this lesson understanding that God is always faithful and always worthy of our thanksgiving.
Lesson Title:   The Thankfulness of Biblical Heroes in the Old Testament
Bible Reference:  Psalm 9:1-2, Daniel 6, Genesis 8, 1 Samuel 17, Exodus 17,
Target Age Group: Preteeens or Older Elementary
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: One Hour
Image Credits: Sweet Publishing and Distant Shores Media
Memory Verse: “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2
Learning Aim: 

  1. God is always good and worthy of our praise, even when it seems like there is nothing good about our situation.
  2. We always have something for which to be thankful.

Basic Supply List:

  1. Bible
  2. List of passages and questions.
  3. Index Cards
  4. Pencils/Pens/Markers/Crayons
  5. Tape
  6. Chalk board or dry erase board

Note: In the teaching plan below the words in italics are meant to be read aloud. The regular text is simply directions for the teacher.
> > > > Basic Teaching Plan < < < <
Introduction: Greet each student as they arrive.  Begin by asking the class what it means to be thankful and give them some time to discuss this.  Then ask if they should be thankful all the time.  Read Psalm 9:1-2 as a class ask the class why they should always be thankful.  Lead the discussion in such a way that they come to understand that God is always good, always faithful, and always worthy of our praise.
Biblical Evidence:
When you are finished discussing these points, divide the class into groups of three or four.  Each group will be given one chapter to read from the Old Testament and two comprehension questions to answer based on the passage.  Each passage focuses on one Biblical hero and who they gave thanks to God in the midst of a great challenge.  Give the groups about 15 minutes to read the passage and answer the questions. Then, have each group give a summary of their chapter to the class and explain the questions that they were given and the answers that they found.  The passages to be read and the questions to be answered are listed below as well as possible answers.

  • Group 1: Read Daniel 6.

What happened as a result of Daniel regularly giving thanks?  Daniel grew strong in this faith and never even considered ceasing to praise God.  He was not afraid of the king’s decree and had the courage to continue praising God each day regardless of the consequences because he trusted God’s faithfulness to him over the king’s protection.  Then, when he was placed in the lion’s den God kept him safe.
What happened to those who did not thank God?  Those who did not follow God’s commands came to a unhappy end because they were thrown into the lion’s den and the lions did not have mercy on them.

  • Group 2: Read Genesis 8.

What specifically did Noah do to thank God? The first thing the Noah did to thank God was to precisely follow God’s orders, showing that his trust was in God.  The second thing that he did was to build an alter to God and offer him sacrifices as soon as they were able to leave the ark.  
What happened to those who were not faithful in following God’s commands and did not respect him?  They did not survive the flood because they didn’t understand that God is in control of everything and thank him for simply being God. 

  • Group 3: Read 1 Samuel 17.

How does David give his praises to God? In verse 37 David confirms to King Saul that he will fight and defeat Goliath because God is on his side.  This shows that David has faith in God and believes that he will save his people.  Then, in the midst of the battle David confirms that God will be the one to kill Goliath not David.
How do think that David could have known that he would be victorious in killing Goliath?  David was victorious because he called on God to kill Goliath and did not rely on his own skill.  He had enough faith to know that God would take care of him and help him defeat his enemy.

  • Group 4: Read Exodus 17.

How did God respond to the grumbling Israelites?  God continued to be faithful to them and helped them win the battle even if they didn’t deserve it.  There is a big difference in our faithfulness as humans and God’s faithfulness. God is always faithful. 
How did Moses thank God?  Moses thanked God by continually trusting God and by building an alter to him in remembrance of what he did to help the Israelites win the war against the Amalekites.
Give the groups about 15 minutes to read the passage and answer the questions.  Then give each group about 15 minutes to share their findings.
Bringing it Together:  Now ask the class to think about why all of these wonderful miracles happened?  What do the four Bible Heroes have in common?  Say, These four men of the Bible put all of their faith in God.  No matter what trial they faced they knew that God would take care of them.  They never doubted God for one second.  They were also thankful, regardless of the situation that they were placed in.  When facing Goliath, David boldly gave all the glory to God. He knew that God would deliver him because he understood that God is faithful and just and worthy of all of our praise.  What can these stories teach us about our own lives?  Say, From these stories we can learn that God is always good, always in control and always worthy of our praise.  When faced with terrible odds Noah, David, Daniel and Moses never stopped thanking God.  When we go through difficult things in our lives we have a tendency to stop trusting God, but we should not do that.  We should thank God for our difficult times in life because his goodness never ends.  Now challenge the kids to think of a time when they were in a seemingly helpless situation.  How did God help them in their time of need?  How did God prove his faithfulness in their lives?  What specifically can they be thankful for?
Thanksgiving Board: Have a package of colored index cards ready for the class to use.  Challenge the class to think of things that they can be thankful for and specifically for difficult situations during which God was faithful.  Put one thanks on each card and tape the cards to the wall like a collage.  When they are finished adding their thank you notes to the wall pray together giving thanks to God for his goodness.
Great is Thy Faithfulness: Lead the class to praise God through song.  Any song that expresses Thanksgiving to God will work.  I used the hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness.”  You can find the lyrics and music on youtube.
Erase a Word: Use this game to memorize the Bible verse.  Write the entire verse on the chalk/dry erase board.  Have the class repeat the verse once then erase one word.  Continue erasing one word at a time until the whole verse is gone.  Usually by this point they have memorized the verse.
Conclusion: Close the lesson by challenging the class to always be thankful in the midst of trouble.  God is always good and always faithful.  Pray as a class, thanking God for being who he is.    

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