Children's Bible Lesson: King Saul's Good Start

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The kings of israel Sunday School Bible Lessons for children This lesson is the second in the series of Israel’s Kings. This lesson covers the anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king. Click here to see the lesson index.
Although Saul begins his reign humbly his rebellion towards God causes him to lose his position as king.  The study of Saul will be in two parts. This first lesson focuses on Saul’s humble beginnings.  The students will learn from this lesson that God’s servants must be humble. This lesson can be used for Children’s Church or simplified for preschoolers.

Bible Story: King Saul’s Humble Beginnings
Scripture: 1 Samuel 9
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Learning Goal: Students will learn that God’s servants must be humble.  By participating in the role playing activity students will recognize how they can respond in similar circumstances.
Learning Indicator: Children will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions and by reenacting the story.
Learning Activity #1: Role playing:  Have cards with different circumstances that students would have opportunities to respond in humility or with pride.  Put the cards in a bag and allow students to draw the card and decide a possible response (prideful or humble) to that circumstance.  Ask the class if the response was a prideful one or a humble response.
Learning Activity #2: After the lesson allow students to reenact the story.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Proverbs 15:33 (NIV) “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
Memory Verse Activity: As students recite the verse begin on tippy toes and after each word have them go lower and lower until they are as low as they can go.

Bible Lesson: King Saul’s Humble Beginnings

(The following is only a guide for teaching the lesson.  Adapt and modify for the learning styles of your students.  The lesson uses the NIV Scriptures but can be adapted to use the Version that your class learns from.)
(Give Bibles to students who need one.)
As followers of Jesus, God has a purpose for our lives.  Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  As children God uses the circumstances in your daily life to prepare you for the work He has planned for you.  When you use each day to serve God faithfully in the tasks He has given you whether it’s obeying your parents, being kind to an enemy, or helping someone in need, He is training you and preparing you for future service.
What do you think you want to be when you grow up?  (Allow several students to respond) Sometimes people want to skip over the ‘small tasks’ and get right to the ‘big work’ they want to do for God.  God knows what is best for each of our lives and we need to be humble and obedient to whatever he asks us to do.  Our daily ‘small tasks’ are preparation for the future work that God has for us.  When you are faithful with the small, every day tasks, He gives you more tasks to serve Him.  (Matthew 25:21) Today we are going to meet a man who was obedient to do the ‘small tasks’ and had no idea the ‘big work’ he was about to begin.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to 1 Samuel 9.  If you were here for our lesson last time we learned that when God’s people asked for a king they were rejecting God as their King.  They wanted to be like the people living in the countries around them.  God was not surprised by His people’s rejection.  He knew in advance that one day they would ask for a king and He gave Moses instructions for the people when that time came. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)
God answered Israel’s request and gave them what they asked for.  He knew the hearts of his people.  He knew that their request was to be like other nations.  Their request revealed their rejection of having God be their King (1 Samuel 12:12-17).
In chapter nine we are introduced to a man named Saul.  1 Samuel 9:2 describes what Saul looked like.  What do you find from this verse about the way Saul looked?
Saul’s father owned some donkeys that had wandered off his farm.  Saul’s father asked him to take a servant and look for his donkeys.  What do you learn about Saul’s character when we read 1 Samuel 9:3-4 (Saul was obedient to his father)?
Saul and his servant looked many places for the donkeys but they could not find them.  We see more of Saul’s character in 1 Samuel 9:5.  What character trait do you see in Saul from this verse?  (He is concerned about his father) When you are at a friend’s house and you have lost track of time and know you will be late getting home, do you call your mom or dad and let them know so they don’t worry about you?
Saul’s servant suggests that they visit Samuel who may be able to help them find the donkeys.  Saul follows the servant’s advice and tries to find Samuel. Saul recognized good advice even if it came from a servant.  This is another example of Saul’s humility.  Can you recognize good advice and are you humble to follow advice from others?
Meanwhile, God has prepared Samuel for Saul’s visit.  Let’s read 1 Samuel 9:15-17.  God told Samuel that this man was going to be Israel’s king.
Saul showed humility when Samuel said, “And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family?” (1 Samuel 8:22)  Saul wasn’t expecting the events of that day.  What started out as a donkey search ended with him being anointed by Samuel as the king of Israel. Saul was being obedient to the ‘small tasks’ of his day and it led him on the path to meet Samuel who would anoint him as king over Israel.
Later Samuel told the Israelites to gather at Mizpah (show on a map if you have one). As the twelve tribes of Israel gathered in Mizpah, Samuel began a process to show the man God had chosen to be their king.  He called all the men from the tribe of Benjamin forward.  Out of all the men from the tribe of Benjamin Samuel called the family of Matri forward.  Finally Samuel called for Saul the son of Kish forward.  As all the people of Israel watched for Saul to come forward, no one moved.  The crowd must have been silent as they waited for this man that was called out to come forward.  The people from the tribe of Benjamin must have wondered where Saul would be.  They looked around for him.  They asked the Lord, “Has Saul even arrived here yet?”  The Lord answered them and told them where they could find Saul.  Let’s read the last part of 1 Samuel 10:22.  Why do you think Saul was hiding among the baggage? (Allow students to respond)  It is possible that Saul was feeling like someone else should be the king and if he hid maybe God would choose someone else.  We don’t really know why Saul hid but God had called him to be the king. God had called him to be the king over His people.  He would give Saul everything he needed to serve as king if he honored and obeyed God.
Some men ran and found Saul and brought him out of hiding and had him stand before all the people.  When the people saw this enormously tall man standing among them they knew this was the king for them.  They were pleased with the man God had chosen to be their king.  They shouted, “Long live the king!”
Samuel reminded the people of the rules for having a king.  He wrote it down on a scroll so the people wouldn’t forget.  After the ceremony was finished Samuel sent everyone back to their own homes.
All the people returned to their homes and Saul went to his home in Gibeah.   As he travelled to his home some valiant (courageous) men went home with him.
While most of the people were pleased with their new king there were some people who were not pleased.  Let’s read our final verse from this lesson from 1 Samuel 10:27.
Saul’s response to these troublemakers is another example to us.  He was now the king and he could have had these people sentenced to death for their attitudes toward him.  He did not do that.  Instead he kept silent.
Sometimes people are unkind to us.  As God’s children we are called to serve Him and do the things He asks us to do.  Not everyone will like us and some will say unkind things about us or to us.  A good verse to help us when we want to say something back to them is found in 1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered He made no threats.  Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”
Following Christ is like being in a race.  We start the race the moment we believe in Jesus as our Savior.  As we learn from His Word and obey Him we continue stay on the track He has before us.  On a daily basis we need to continue to trust God, obey Him and remain faithful to serve Him.  As believers we run the race until we cross the finish line.  The finish line is the day that God calls us home to be with Him forever.  It’s important to start the race well and it is just as important to finish the race well so we can hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Next week we will continue to learn about Saul and his race before God.  Will he continue to run the race by obeying God and being a faithful king?  Will he continue to be an example for us to follow as we serve Jesus our King?  If you would like to read more about Saul you can read this week in 1 Samuel 13 and 15 to prepare you for next time.
As we close in prayer let’s allow God to examine our hearts so if there is an attitude in our heart that doesn’t please Him, we can ask Him to forgive us and change us so we can serve Him with a pure and humble heart.
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. What has God prepared in advance for each of His children?  (Good works)
  2. Why is it important to be faithful in the small things God asks you to do?  (Because He uses everything to prepare you for serving Him)
  3. What did Saul look like? (Impressive, a head taller than everyone else)
  4. How did Saul show honor and obedience to his father?  (Went with a servant to look for lost donkeys)
  5. Why did Saul look for Samuel?  (His servant suggested he may be able to say where the donkeys were)
  6. Who prepared Samuel for Saul’s visit?  (God)
  7. What did Samuel do to Saul before he sent him back to his home?  (Anointed him king)
  8. Where was Saul hiding when Samuel called for him to come before the people?  (Hiding amongst the baggage)
  9. How did Saul respond when a group of people despised him?  (He kept silent)
  10. What attitude will you ask God to change in you this week so you can serve Him humbly and faithfully?

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