God Looks At the Heart (Children's Bible Lesson)

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This Bible lesson for children comes from 1 Samuel 16:1-13 where Samuel anoints a young shepherd boy named David as the next king of Israel. It teaches the truth that the Lord looks at the heart of people and not their outward appearance. This material will work as a Sunday School lesson or in Children’s Church. Please leave comments about this lesson plan in the form at the bottom of this page.
Curriculum text: 1 Samuel 16:1-3; Psalm 139
Time: 30 minutes
Learning Objectives: After this lesson…

  • Children express their knowledge of the key people and events in this passage by retelling the story to the children.
  • Children express what they understand about the way the Lord views them.
  • Children express their understanding about the Lord’s plan for their lives.

Curriculum Target Age: Kindergarten – 5th grade
Materials Needed:

  • Bible turned to 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 139. Prepare beforehand a copy with the important points highlighted to be sure to give specific explanation on them. See more biblical quotes about the heart.
  • Visual Aids: Pictures of Samuel, Jesse, David (as shepherd boy), and his older brothers (optional). Often a good story Bible contains decent pictures.
  • Pictures of children with birthmarks, cleft lips, Down syndrome, and other physical handicaps. (Obtain pictures with a search on the Internet or ask those in your church that have children with these conditions.)

Teaching Plan:
Establish the lesson by briefly explaining the key people in the story and displaying the pictures of Samuel, Jesse, and David as a young boy. Explain their role in the story and be sure to have the children repeat the names of each person.
Prior to reading the story, divide the group of children into two groups and ask one group to listen for the way that Samuel chose the man to be the next king. Ask the second group of children to listen to what they learn about the way the Lord chose the next king.
Read (and Recap) 1 Samuel 16:1-13. Use various voice inflections as you read and stop to involve the children in the story. Reinforce the lesson by asking questions. Does the Lord notice that Samuel is upset? Yes. Does the Lord allow Samuel remain upset? No. Does the Lord give instructions to Samuel? Yes. How many sons did Jesse have? Seven. Where was David? Tending the sheep. Say to the children, “If we are honest, it’s hard for us to decide what we think about a person by the way they look to us.”
When you’re finished reading the story, use the pictures to review the important people and events in the story.
Ask for a response from the children about their listening assignment. What did you learn about how Samuel chose the next king? What did you learn about the way the Lord chose the next king?
Select a volunteer to help demonstrate the main lesson from this story about the Lord not looking at the appearance of people. Show the different pictures of the children with various handicaps and talk about the fact that the Lord created them and that the Lord sees their hearts too. Point out that even if we look acceptable to the world, if our hearts are filled with sin and hurtful words toward others, the Lord cares about our heart more than what we look like. Reiterate the fact that the Lord knit us all together in our mother’s womb by reading Psalm 139. Have the children talk about how it feels when someone speaks unkind words to them about the way they look, talk, or do something different.
Lesson Evaluation:
Ask for volunteers to retell the story to the class with role-play. Assign the children the role of Samuel, Jesse, David, and his seven brothers. Ask the remaining children to take turns filling in portions of the story the volunteers struggle with remembering. Remember to prompt the children by asking, “What happened next?”
Ask for a volunteer to explain the Lord’s message about the way He sees people and doesn’t look at what they look like on the outside but the heart.
Give a list of possible lessons and ask the children to stand up if it was from the story.

  • Samuel grieved that the Lord rejected Saul as the king. Yes.
  • David protected his father’s sheep from a bear and lion. True, but not what He did in this story.
  • Saul as the first king of Israel. Yes, but not the emphasis of this story.
  • Samuel thought Jesse’s oldest son should be the next king. Yes.
  • The Lord selected Jesse’s youngest son as the next king. Yes.
  • The Lord cares about our hearts more than what we look like on the outside. Yes.

Need More Ideas? Browse our links to free Sunday School lessons online or find the right Bible craft to support this lesson.

1 thought on “God Looks At the Heart (Children's Bible Lesson)”

  1. Thank you for the wonderful lessons. I always struggle with lessons for my learners and these look really good.

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