Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about what happens when we die.
Needed: Bibles, soft balls or paper wads
Intro Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Give them a few minutes to think of their skit. Then, have each group act out what they think happens when someone dies.
So far, we’ve learned about how God told Samuel to make Saul the first king of Israel. But after Saul had been king of Israel for a long time, he started to do things that God didn’t want him to do. God told Saul that he couldn’t be king anymore and God told Samuel to choose David to be the next king.
Today, we’re going to learn about what happened next to Saul and David.
(Read 1 Samuel 28-2 Samuel 2 with your students, or read the following story as a summary.)
Again, the Philistine army attacked Israel. The Philistines were Israel’s worst enemy. King Saul was an old man by now, and he was especially afraid of the Philistines this time.
There was a law in Israel that no one should try to be a witch or talk to ghosts because it was against God’s rules to do that.
Why do you think God doesn’t want anyone to try to be a witch and use magic?
People can’t do real magic. When someone does magic, they’re either doing a trick to make you think they’re doing magic or the devil and his demons are making something happen to make it look like the person is doing magic. The devil and the demons can do some things, but God doesn’t want us to have anything to do with the devil. If we want something to happen, God wants us to ask Him. God can do miracles if He wants to, so He wants us to pray to Him instead of trying to use magic.
But even though it was against God’s rules, Saul went to go see a witch anyway. He wore different clothes so that the witch wouldn’t know he was the king and he went and asked her to bring Samuel’s ghost back from the grave so that he could talk to Samuel about the war with the Philistines.
Do you think the witch can bring Samuel’s ghost back from the grave? Are ghosts real?
Ghosts are real in a sense. We all have spirits. Another name for our spirit could be a ghost. But witches can’t bring ghosts back from the grave. When we die, our spirits go to Heaven or Hell and witches can’t make our spirits come back from Heaven or back from Hell. Our spirits stay where they are – either in Heaven or Hell – unless God moves them somewhere else.
We know that when Jesus comes back, He’ll bring our spirits back with Him and put them back into our new, resurrected bodies.
But this time, when the witch tried to bring Samuel’s ghost back from the grave, it came up! If the witch couldn’t make Samuel’s spirit come back, who did? (God.)
God let Samuel’s spirit come back to talk to Saul one more time.
Samuel’s spirit said, “Saul, why did you wake my spirit up from the grave?”
Saul said, “Samuel, I’m afraid of the Philistines. What should I do?”
Samuel answered, “You can’t do anything. I told you when I was alive that God wasn’t going to let you be king anymore because of the bad things you did. Now, the Philistines are going to defeat you, and someone else will be the king of Israel instead of you.”
When Saul heard this, he fell down on the ground because he was so afraid, and Samuel’s spirit went back into the ground.
The next day, the Israelites fought against the Philistines, but the Philistines won. David’s best friend and Saul’s son, Jonathan, died in the battle. Saul was shot with arrows, but he wasn’t dead yet. He told one of his soldiers to kill him because he knew he was going to die and because the arrows hurt him so bad.
Do you think the soldier should kill King Saul?
What could the soldier do instead of killing him? (He could try to help King Saul get better and not die.)
The soldier was too afraid to kill King Saul, so Saul took his own sword and stabbed himself with it. But he still wasn’t dead, so he asked another soldier to kill him, and this one did.
Three days later, that soldier went and found David and told him what happened. David asked why the soldier didn’t try to help King Saul instead of killing him. And David killed the soldier because he had done the wrong thing. The soldier should have tried to help King Saul get better instead of killing him.
Then, David became the king of Israel because God had chosen him to be the next king after Saul.
Why did God say that Saul couldn’t be king anymore? (Because Saul had done wrong things and wasn’t listening to God.)
Why did David kill the soldier who killed Saul? (Because it was wrong for the soldier to kill Saul even if Saul wanted him to. We’re not allowed to kill ourselves or ask other people to kill us. The soldier should have tried to help Saul get better instead.)
Game: Resurrection Tag!
Divide students into two teams and play a game of freeze tag. When students get tagged, they freeze in place. They are Dead. Every few seconds, the leader runs through the playing field, pretending to be Jesus. When Jesus runs through, the Dead are unfrozen.
Perform this action a few times and then, switch which team is chasing the other.
Game: Taking Our Place
Play a game of dodgeball with soft play balls or paper wads. When one team starts to accumulate a lot of players in the “Out” zone, run in and say that you’ll take their place being out. They can get back in the game. Do the same for the other team. Keep doing it as long as time allows.
Then, explain that just like you were taking the place of people who were out, Jesus took our place on the cross. He took our punishment so that we could be forgiven for our sins. He even took our place in Hell when He died and went there for three days so that when we die, we don’t have to go to Hell. Our spirits can go to Heaven instead.
An alternative is a game of two-team tag. Take the place of students who are tagged and out of the game.
Jesus, we thank You for coming to take our place on the cross and in Hell so that our spirits can go to Heaven when we die. Help us to trust in You all of our days. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Samuel and David: Children Sunday School Lessons on the Boy Prophet and the Shepherd King.