This lesson continues the study of Israel’s kings. Click here to see the lesson index.
The focus of this lesson is David’s perseverance through difficulties during the period of time before he takes the throne. Believers can learn from David’s example to persevere during difficult times because one day they will receive their heavenly reward. Even with opposition and persecution from King Saul, young David trusted in God’s plan. This lesson was created for Sunday School and can be adapted for other teaching opportunities.
Bible Story: David’s Trials Before Taking the Throne
Scripture: The lesson is based on events taken from 1 Samuel 18-20
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Construction paper crowns for memory verse activity, Bibles,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that as believers face difficulties in this life they have the power to persevere and become more like Christ as they press on to receive eternal rewards.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions.
Learning Activity #1: To teach the memory verse write individual words for the verse on crown shaped construction paper. Make two sets of the verse. After going over the verse and discussing what it means, divide the class into two teams and have a relay race. Put the verse on one side of the room and have the students line up on the opposite side of the room. When the signal is given the students race to the verse and pick up one word and return. As soon as all the words have been retrieved the team can put the verse together. The team that finishes their verse first can help the other team finish getting their verse together. When both verses have been completed give each student a small prize. (In the Christian race we are to press on not to out-do other believers. We are called to help and encourage others to finish the race too. All Christians will receive the prize of heaven because of their faith in Jesus.)
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Teaching the verse: (The additional verses are for teacher preparation to teach the verse. If there is enough time students can turn to some of the references to search the Scriptures as well.)
- Who: Who is this verse talking about? (Believers-people who have believed that Jesus died on the cross for his/her sins, was buried and rose again the third day.)
- What: What is the goal? To be made into the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18,) What is the prize? Rewards for faithfully serving Jesus on this earth. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Matthew 5:11-12, Matthew 16:27, Ephesians 6:8, Colossians 3:24, Hebrews 11:6, Revelations 22:12)
- How: How do believers receive rewards? (1 Corinthians 9:25, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 3:11)
- When: When do we receive the prize? (1 Peter 5:4. Revelation 11:18) When God calls us from this life on earth to live with Him in Heaven.
Bible Lesson: David’s Trials Before Taking the Throne
(The following is a guide to teach this lesson. It has personal applications that may be helpful for your students. The Holy Spirit will lead you to illustrations and applications that are relevant to the students you teach.)
When we think of how our memory verse would apply to David’s life let’s review what we have learned so far about him. Who anointed David and told him that God had chosen him as the new king? (Samuel) Did David become the king immediately? (No) How did David live his life while he waited for God’s timing to become king? (He worked faithfully at whatever job he was given) What are some tasks David worked on as he waited for God’s timing? (He took care of his father’s sheep in Bethlehem and he played music for Saul) How did David defeat God’s enemy Goliath? (With God’s power)
Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Samuel 18. Choose volunteers to read 18:1-4. After David defeated Goliath, Saul’s son Jonathan became his close friend. God is faithful to give His children close friends.
At Saul’s request David didn’t return to Bethlehem. Whatever Saul asked David to do he did it well. (18:5) Saul saw that David did whatever he was told to do with excellence. Saul decided to give David a high position as a leader in his army. Saul’s decision for David to lead pleased all the people because they could see that David was faithful in all that he did.
As believers running in the race God has set before us one of the ways we reach for the prize is to do everything we have been given to do with excellence because whatever we do is for the Lord. (Colossians 1:10, Ecclesiastes 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17,23) What is your attitude about the little things such as chores, homework, etc.? If you can keep in your mind that whatever you are asked to do is to be done for Jesus it will help you to complete it with a good attitude. Others will see your example and you will be helping them to see Jesus more clearly in your life.
Things are looking pretty good for David right now. He is popular and whatever he does he does it successfully. One day as he returns from battle with his army he is greeted by crowds of women from every town in Israel. Let’s read how they greeted David in 1 Samuel 18:6-7.
Saul heard the women singing and it made him very angry. Why do you think their song made him angry? At this point in Saul’s life is he trusting and obeying God? No. His reaction is what a person who is not being controlled by the Holy Spirit would be. A person in their own power would naturally be jealous when someone else is getting attention. Saul reacted with his human strength. (Galatians 5:19-21)
What are some times children your age might get jealous? If you are a believer you do not have to allow your human nature to control you. As a believer God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of your heart and He will give you the ability to react with your new nature. (Galatians 5:16-17, 22-23; Ephesians 4:22-24)
David did not intentionally cause Saul to be jealous. Each time Saul sinned against God his behavior showed that he was not a man who loved and obeyed God’s commands. Samuel told Saul that because he hadn’t kept God’s commands God was going to replace him with a king that God had chosen. (1 Samuel 13:13-14) This news must have disappointed Saul greatly but instead of repenting of his sin and turning to God he kept going further away from God and his commands. He didn’t want to lose his power as king and must have kept a close watch on anyone that looked like he might be the next king.
When the women sang their song about David it must have caused Saul to realize that David may be the new king. That caused him to be jealous and angry. The jealousy and anger in his heart led him to continue to take more steps away from God when his actions turned murderous. Let’s read 1 Samuel 18:10-11.
Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:14 that believers are to shine as lights as we run this race on earth. As believers live a life that pleases God others will see Jesus clearly. When people see Jesus’ power in a believer’s life they will either want to know Him better or they will want to shield their eyes from the light and run away from Him as roly polies (pill bugs) scurry for darkness when the log they are under is removed and light shines on them.
David was letting his light shine before men. As his light was shining it caused God’s people to love David and it caused Saul to be afraid of him and want him dead.
David persevered and continued to live a life that pleased God despite Saul’s plans to have him killed. No matter what Saul tried to do to have David killed, God protected him and it caused Saul to fear David more. (1 Samuel 18:28-29)
How do you think David felt each time his life was in danger because of Saul? How do you think David was able to persevere (press on)? He remembered that God had chosen him to be the king of Israel. He needed to persevere and be faithful to God until it was God’s time for him to be seated on the throne.
In 1 Samuel 19 Saul tries to get his own son Jonathan to kill David. Jonathan was a good friend to David and warned him to go into hiding so he could talk to his father. Let’s read what Jonathan tells his father in 19:4-5. Saul listened to his son and promised he would not kill David.
Saul didn’t keep his promise for very long and once again tries to kill David. 1 Samuel 19:9-23.
David has done nothing to deserve Saul’s attempts to put him to death. David trusts and obeys God and yet he faces this very difficult situation.
Sometimes believers get discouraged when they try to live a life that pleases God and they face many difficulties. By David’s perseverance to run the race set before him pressing toward the goal of becoming king, he teaches us that we should persevere through difficulties because God uses them to make us more like Jesus and in God’s timing Jesus will come back and reign as King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:11-16)
As we finish our lesson for today we will see that God has given David a good friend in Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 20 we see how Jonathan cares for David and tries to do all that he can to keep him safe from his father’s anger and attempts of murder. If you have time this week you can read chapter 20 to learn more about their friendship.
An encouragement from Jonathan’s friendship is that as believers face difficulties, God puts other believers in our lives to be a source of comfort and help. David was facing very difficult and dangerous days and Jonathan’s friendship must have been a great encouragement to him.
As we run this race and press on God will put good friends in our lives to help us persevere so we can finish the race well and receive the eternal rewards that Jesus has for us in heaven.
If you have not believed in Jesus as your Savior, you are not a believer and although you will face difficulties in this life you won’t have the comfort and power of God’s Holy Spirit living in you to help you to get through those difficulties. If you would like to know more how you can become a believer please talk to us and we will show you in the Bible how you can be saved today.
Close in prayer.
- Who became close friends with David? (Jonathan)
- How does David work at each task he is given? (With excellence)
- What was Saul’s response to the song the women sang? (Anger and jealousy)
- Why did David have to hide from Saul? (He was trying to kill him)
- How did Jonathan help David during his time of difficulty? (Tried to talk to his Dad and stop his attempts to murder David and by being a friend to him)
- Which character in this lesson do you most admire? Why?
- Where can you go for help when you face difficulty? (God, Parents, other Christians)
Need More Ideas? Then browse our Sunday School craft ideas. We’ve also posted some tips for teaching Sunday School.