Lesson: The Birth and Calling of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-3)

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God called Samuel to his Service
God hears Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 1:9-20

This free Sunday School lesson helps students discover that in a world filled with sin’s darkness God’s light shines through the lives of people who love and obey Him.  This lesson was created for older elementary students but can be modified for any age group. We have an alternate lesson plan “When Hannah Prayed” written from preschoolers.

Bible Story:  The Birth and Calling of Samuel
Scripture:  1 Samuel 1-3
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
Image Credits:  Sweet Publishing

Supply List:  Bibles, 1 piece of black construction paper, 1 piece of white construction paper (used for darkness/light visual), activity pages, pens/pencils, costumes/props for re-enacting the lesson,

Learning Goal:  Students will learn that God’s light is seen in the lives of people who obey Him.

Learning Activity:  Re-enact the scene of God calling Samuel.

Optional Coloring Sheets1 Samuel Bible Coloring Page

Test: Review Questions

Memory Verse:  1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

Bible Lesson:  The Birth and Calling of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-3)

These past few weeks of studying God’s Word we are reminded of the sinfulness of all people.  Can anyone remember the continuous cycle we discovered in Judges?  (A-abandoned God, B-bondage to their enemies, C-cried out to God, D-deliverer, E-ease)


Sin is referred to in the Bible as darkness (John 3:19).  The world we are living is filled with people who disobey God and it sometimes feels very dark. (Show a piece of black construction paper with different size holes: pin size, small circle, med, and large) No matter how dark things in this world may seem because of sin God’s light is shining to lead people out of sin’s darkness. (Put a piece of white/yellow construction paper behind the black construction paper)  Jesus is the Light of the World and when we believe in Him we are rescued from our sin and now walk in His light.  (John 8:12; Matt. 5:14; Ephesians 4:17-18)

Today our Bible lesson is going to be from 1 Samuel 1-3.  Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 1.

During this time period, God’s people had judges that were leaders of the Israelites.  Can you remember any judges that we have learned about? (Ehud, Deborah, Gideon and Samson)

There was a man named Elkanah who had 2 wives Hannah and Peninnah.  It was never God’s plan for men to have more than one wife.  Ever since sin entered the world people have a choice to obey God’s ways or the ways of the world.  It was common practice in these days for men to have more than one wife.

Elkanah was devoted to worshiping the Lord and each year he took his family to the tabernacle in Shiloh to offer sacrifices.  Elkanah would prepare the sacrifice offerings and give meat to his wives.  He would give Hannah a double portion because he loved her and she had no children.

Every year that Elkanah’s family traveled to Shiloh, Peninnah would mock and ridicule Hannah because she had no children.  Every year she would irritate Hannah and make Hannah cry. She would be so upset that she couldn’t eat.


After everyone had finished eating Hannah stayed and began to pray in her heart to the Lord.  She was weeping and moving her mouth in prayer to God.  Let’s read her prayer in 1 Samuel 1:11.

Eli the priest at the tabernacle saw Hannah and was so accustomed to wicked things taking place at this place of worship that he accused her of being drunk.  Hannah assured Eli that she was not drunk but was pouring out her heart to the Lord. Eli blessed Hannah and told her to “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”

Hannah went home with her family and later becomes pregnant.  She gave birth to a boy and named him Samuel which means ‘asked of the Lord’.  Hannah kept her vow to the Lord and when Samuel had been weaned she took him to the tabernacle.  Weaned typically means when a child no longer needs to be nursed by his mother and it is possible that Samuel would have been 3 when he was weaned.  Another meaning of weaned could be ‘weaned from childish things’ (Matthew Henry) which means he could have been 8-10 years old.  (If there’s time ask the students which of these meanings do they think may be used towards Samuel was he 3 or closer to 8-10 and why?  Since we do not know his age it is an opportunity for the students to think and discuss with no right/wrong answer)

Hannah brought Samuel to the tabernacle and presented him to Eli.  Let’s read 1 Samuel 1:26-28.

Every year Hannah made a robe for Samuel and when her family came to offer sacrifices she gave Samuel the new robe she made.

Remember our illustration of the darkness of sin and God’s light?  As we are examining Hannah and Elkanah’s love and devotion to the Lord we get a glimpse of God’s light from their lives.

We are going to get an ugly glimpse of sin’s darkness as we discover how Eli the priest’s sons were behaving.

Priests were God’s instruments to point people to God.  They were to obey God’s laws regarding worship and sacrifices at the tabernacle. Levites were men who served God by serving at the tabernacle and helping the priests.  They were given instructions on how to properly worship the Lord and how to do their work.

Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were wicked men. (1 Samuel 2:12) God made provision for the Levites to eat.  When the priest put the meat on the fire as an offering they were to burn the fat and could take the breast and thigh of the animal to eat (Lev. 7:30-34) Hophni and Phinehas did not follow God’s instructions regarding the meat offerings. They wanted the meat with the fat still on it.  If people didn’t willingly give them the meat before burning the fat they threatened the worshipers to take the meat by force. Let’s read how the Lord felt about these men’s behavior in 1 Samuel 2:17.

The sins of Eli’s sons brought darkness to a place that was meant to shine brightly for the Lord.  Even though their sin was great in the midst of this darkness we see God’s light through Samuel.  Let’s read 1 Samuel 2:18,21. 

God sent a prophet with a message for Eli.  Eli knew God’s instructions for proper worship and he knew that his sons were not obeying.  Eli did not discipline his sons or remove them from their positions at the tabernacle.  God’s message to Eli was that He was going to punish his family for their wickedness.

Let’s read 1 Samuel 2:35. In the midst of the darkness of sin God promises to send a faithful priest one who will do God’s will. This verse refers to a human priest named Zadok (1 Kings 1:38-45) and human kings (David and his descendants).  This verse ultimately points to God’s faithful High Priest Jesus.  Jesus shed His blood on the cross and His death was the final sacrifice for all sins.   (Heb. 7:23-28).  After His death God raised Jesus from the dead He became our Great High priest.  He is seated at the right hand of God and always lives to make intercession for believers. (Heb. 7:25)

Let’s look at our final chapter in our lesson for today.  This may be a familiar story to many of you.  Samuel ministered to the Lord by serving Eli at the tabernacle.  One night Samuel was lying in his bed and he heard a voice say “Samuel”.  Samuel jumped out of bed and went to Eli’s room and said, “Here I am; you called me.”  Eli sent Samuel back to bed because he had not called him.

Samuel went back to bed.  A second time a voice said, “Samuel”.  Again, Samuel went to see what Eli needed.  Eli sent him back to bed because it was not him who had called his name.

A third time Samuel heard someone say, “Samuel” and he went back to Eli’s room and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Eli realized that it was the Lord that was speaking to Samuel and told him to go back to his room and when he heard his name called again to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel followed Eli’s instructions and went back to bed.  Let’s read 1 Samuel 3:10-14.  The next day Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the message God had given him.  Eli told Samuel to tell him all that the Lord had said.  Samuel told Eli everything that the Lord had said.

Let’s close our lesson by reading the final verses of 1 Samuel 3:19-21.

God answered Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son named Samuel.  How did God use Samuel?  (Let students respond) God used Samuel share His plan with His people the Israelites.

Whenever we learn from God’s Word we need to respond to Him.  Let’s ask ourselves this question?  How can God use me?

Every one of us here today has been created with a purpose.  God created us to glorify Him.  To glorify God is to honor Him and point others to Him.  It is impossible to truly glorify God when we are dead in our sins and walking in darkness. God sent Jesus to rescue us from the darkness of sin.  Jesus the sinless, Son of God died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried and the third day God raised Him from the dead.  All who believe in Jesus have their sins forgiven and have eternal life.  When you become a believer, God uses you to share His plan of salvation with others in your life.

Have a volunteer read 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” If you are a believer the answer to How can God use ___________(fill in the blank with your name) your answer is: God can use _____________ to declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Close in prayer.

1 Samuel 1-3 Review Questions:

  1. What were Elkanah’s wives names? (Peninnah and Hannah)
  2. Why did Peninnah irritate and mock Hannah? (She had no children)
  3. What did Hannah promise the Lord when she prayed? (If He gave her a son she would give him to the Lord to serve all his days)
  4. Why did Eli think Hannah was drunk? (She was weeping and moving her mouth)
  5. Who were Hophni and Phinehas?  (Eli’s sons) Were they righteous or evil? (Evil)
  6. What did the prophet tell Eli God was going to do? (Punish him and his family for his son’s wickedness)
  7. How many times did Samuel run to Eli’s room thinking he called his name? (3)
  8. What did Eli tell Samuel to say the next time he heard his name called? (Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening)
  9. Personal-Would others say your life reflects light/dark because you are obedient/disobedient to God?  What are you doing to point others to Jesus so they can be saved?   The more you obey God the brighter His light shines through you.

4 thoughts on “Lesson: The Birth and Calling of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-3)”

  1. Loved the lesson on Samuel. I couldn’t print the activity page(s). Look forward to visiting your site as we travel through the Old Testament and then move on to the New Testament next year. Great for my 3rd and 4th gradersl
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks for letting me know. It looks like it was an online activity sheet from another website, but it went offline and our site erased the link. I’ve updated the post and added our coloring sheet from 1 Samuel instead.

      Reply

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