Use this Judges’ children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids what it means to be a holy follower of God.
Needed: a bunch of ordinary things and then something special (an example would be a handful of ordinary pencils and a decorative, sparkly pencil), a collection of riddles for children
Intro Activity: Riddles!
Tell students three or four riddles to get them thinking. Make sure the riddles are easy enough for your age group.
(Summarize Judges 13-15 with the following story, asking the included questions as you read.)
The people of Israel sinned against God again.
How do you feel when someone does something wrong to you? Does it make you mad? Does it make you sad when someone does something wrong to you?
It makes God feel sad and angry when we do wrong things.
So, because the Israelites sinned against God, God punished the Israelites by letting the Philistines conquer them for 40 years.
Now, during that time, an Israelite man named Manoah married an Israelite woman, but the woman couldn’t have any children. Her body couldn’t make babies.
Do you think it would be sad for the woman if she couldn’t have babies? (She was probably sad about it.)
Until one day, God sent an angel to come to talk to the woman. The angel said, “You could never have children before, but now, you will have a son, and he will grow up to defeat the Philistines who are ruling over Israel. Just make sure you don’t drink wine, or eat bad foods, or cut your son’s hair when he is born because your son is going to be a special follower of God. He’s going to be a Nazirite. He can never drink wine or alcohol. He can never eat bad foods or cut his hair.”
The angel said that the new baby was going to be a special follower of God. How was the baby going to be a special follower of God? What was he supposed to do to show that he was special? (He was supposed never to drink alcohol, never eat bad foods, and never cut his hair.)
Did you know that God wants us to be His special followers too?
God doesn’t care as much about what we eat or if we cut our hair or not, but we can do some things to show that we are God’s special followers. Can you think of some things we can do to be God’s special followers? (suggestions include to avoid sinning, do nice things for other people, read our Bibles, pray, go to church, etc.)
Those are all good things we can do to be God’s special followers. I want you to look at these pencils (show pencils). What do you notice about this group of pencils?
They’re all ordinary pencils except for one. One is special, isn’t it? You know, when God looks at all the people in the world, He loves everyone. But some people are special to God – not because He loves them any more than anyone else – but because they are the ones who follow God and do what He wants them to do. God sees the people who believe in Him and do what He wants as special. So, let’s all try to be special followers of God and do what He says, okay?
The baby that the woman had was named Samson. When he grew up, Samson went to a Philistine town and saw a Philistine woman that he wanted to marry.
Do you think Samson should marry a Philistine woman? Why or why not? (God told the Israelites not to marry any other type of people because they don’t believe in God.)
Samson’s parents said, “Samson, you shouldn’t marry a Philistine. They don’t believe in God. You should marry an Israelite woman who does believe in God.”
But Samson said, “No, I want to marry the Philistine woman.”
One day, when Samson was going back to the Philistine town to visit the woman, a lion jumped out and attacked him. But Samson was so strong that he tore the lion apart and killed it. When he went back to the Philistine town to marry the woman, he saw the lion’s dead body lying by the road and saw that some bees had made a beehive in the lion’s body. Since Samson knew that bees make honey, he went up to the beehive in the lion’s body and scooped out some honey to eat as he walked to the Philistine town.
When Samson arrived at the Philistine town, he threw a big party to celebrate that he was getting married, and 30 of the Philistine men came to the party. Then Samson said, “I have a riddle for you. If you can figure the riddle out in one week, I’ll give you each a new set of clothes. But if you can’t figure out the riddle in one week, then you each have to give me a new set of clothes.” The 30 Philistine men agreed to the challenge, so Samson told them the riddle he had made up. “Out of the eater, something to eat. Out of the strong, something sweet.”
(Write the riddle on the board for students to study it.) What do you think the riddle means?
Day after day, none of the Philistine men could figure out the riddle. They were getting angry and frustrated because they didn’t want to all have to buy Samson a new set of clothes. So, after a few days, the Philistine men said to the woman Samson wanted to marry, “You better tell us the answer to Samson’s riddle, or we’ll kill you and your whole family.”
The woman was afraid that the men really would kill her, so she went to Samson, crying, and said, “You don’t really love me, Samson! You won’t even tell me the answer to your riddle.”
“I haven’t told anyone the answer,” Samson said. But the woman kept bugging him for the whole rest of the week, so Samson finally gave in and told her the answer on the last day.
Then, the woman went and told the 30 men the answer to the riddle. They came and said, “Samson, we know the answer to your riddle. You said, ‘Out of the eater, something to eat. Out of the strong, something sweet.’ The eater is the lion, and you got something to eat out of him. The lion is strong, but you got some sweet honey from him. That is the answer to your riddle.” (Make sure students understand the riddle now.)
Samson was angry that they had answered the riddle and said, “You wouldn’t have known the right answer if my girlfriend hadn’t told you.” Then, he went to another Philistine town, killed 30 Philistine men, and brought their clothes back to the 30 men who had answered his riddle.
Do you think Samson should have killed 30 men to get their clothes? (It sounds like a very wrong thing to do, but remember, the Philistines were the Israelites’ enemies, and God had promised that He would use Samson to defeat them.)
Then, Samson was so angry with the woman for telling the men the answer to his riddle that he went back home to his parents’ house.
A few months later, Samson wasn’t angry anymore, so he went back to the Philistine town to see his girlfriend. But when he got there, the woman’s father said, “She’s not your girlfriend anymore. You were so mad at her for giving away the answer to your riddle that I told her to marry someone else.”
Samson was so angry then that he went out and caught 300 foxes. He took the foxes and tied their tails together in pairs. Then, he tied a torch to every pair of foxes’ tails, lit the torches on fire, and let the foxes loose, watching them run around on all the Philistine farms. Wherever the foxes ran, the torches on their tails started fires so that all the food the Philistine farmers were growing burnt up.
Do you think Samson should have burned up all the Philistines’ food? (It wasn’t very nice for Samson to do that, but remember, the Philistines were the Israelites’ enemy, and God had said that Samson would be the one to defeat the Philistines.)
When the Philistines heard that Samson had burned their food down because he was mad at the Philistine woman he wanted to marry, they went and burned down the Philistine woman’s house and killed her and her whole family in the fire.
Samson was so angry that the Philistines had killed his girlfriend that he attacked them and killed a bunch of them. Then, he went to hide in a cave.
Meanwhile, the Philistines took their army and went to Samson’s hometown. “Give us Samson,” they said, “or we’ll kill everyone in town.”
Then, 300 Israelite men went to Samson’s cave. They knew where he was hiding. “Samson,” they said, “we have to tie you up and give you to the Philistines or else they’re going to attack the town.”
Samson answered, “I’ll let you tie me up. Just promise that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
“We’ll just tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines,” they said.
The Israelites brought Samson to the Philistines, but then, God made Samson so strong that he broke out of the ropes he was tied with. He hurried up and picked up the jawbone from a dead donkey that he saw and killed a thousand Philistines with it.
Samson was the ruler of Israel for 20 years after that until he fell in love with another Philistine woman and got himself into even more trouble. But we’ll learn about that next week.
For now, I only want you to remember that Samson was so strong and he was able to defeat the Philistines like that because he was a special follower of God. He did what God told him to do and never drank alcohol or ate bad foods or cut his hair. And because Samson listened to God, God gave him the power to do all those amazing things.
God doesn’t care if we cut our hair or not, but if we listen to God’s rules and try to be one of His special followers, then God will give us the power to do some pretty amazing things too. Just listen to God and see what He can do!
Game: Samson Tag!
Divide students into two teams. Ask the group another riddle. The first team to get the right answer is Samson. They chase the other team, the Philistines, and win when they tag each of them. The game continues with the next riddle and an opportunity for the teams to reverse their roles.
Lord, help us to be Your special followers. Help us to do the things You ask us to and show that we’re followers of You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Judges and Ruth Children Sunday School Lessons.