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First King of Israel



Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:10-22; 9:1-6, 15-27; 10:1, 17-24; 11:14-15; 12:1-18

Memory verse: Proverbs 15:3
"The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."


For this object lesson prepare three cups with water in them. Put sugar in one, salt in another, and lemon in the third. Stir them so they all look alike.

In class place the cups of water on a table. Explain to the students that the cups will represent qualities of characteristics. Ask a student to come up, put his finger in one cup, taste it and tell the others what its quality is. He will say it is sweet, sour, or salty, depending on which he tastes. Explain that the characteristic of sugar is sweetness (if that’s what he tasted). Let two other students taste and describe the characteristics of sourness and saltiness.

Explain that people have characteristics also. Some people are describes as sweet or sour or bitter because of the way they act toward others. A sweet person shows qualities of kindness, gentleness, and concern. He says and does nice things for others. A sour person is always complaining about something or someone. A bitter person is unkind and selfish.

Ask the students to think about the qualities or characteristics they like in others. Suggest characteristics like patience, truthfulness, bad-tempered, laziness, unkindness and other qualities. Let several tell what kind of person they prefer. Explain that this week’s lesson is about a man chosen for a very important job because of the qualities he had developed. Encourage the students to listen carefully to find out what those qualities were.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “What does a king do?” (Encourage the students to respond.)

Duties of a King

A king rules over a country and its people. Some countries give their leaders different titles, such as president, king, or prime minister. But each of these jobs requires making important decisions about how a country should be managed.

The Israelites Want a Human King

At one time God was the only king over Israel. But the Israelites decided they would rather have a human king and be like the other nations around them. A group of Israel’s leaders went to Samuel the prophet with their request. When the people told Samuel they wanted a king, God knew they were rejecting Him as their ruler. They wanted a man, not God, to rule over them and tell them what was best for them. They were more concerned with being like the people around them than they were with pleasing God.

God warned the people of the results of having a king. (Ask students to read I Samuel 8:10-22.) Many of their sons and daughters would become the king’s servants. The people would have to work hard and give a lot of their money, land, and crops to the new king. But the people would not listen. They wanted to have their own way. Finally God let them have a king.

A King Is Chosen

About the time all this was happening, a man named Kish lost his donkeys. He sent his son Saul and a servant to look for them. Both men searched and searched but could not find the donkeys. Finally they came near the town where Samuel the prophet lived. “Let’s go see the man of God in the city,” the servant suggested. “Perhaps he can tell us where the donkeys are.” Saul thought that was a good idea. Together they made their way toward the city. The day before Saul arrived, God told Samuel someone from the land of Benjamin would be coming to see him the next day. God also told Samuel something else about Saul. What do you think it was? Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 9:16.

The next day, Saul arrived at Samuel’s house, just as God told Samuel he would do. When Samuel met Saul, he invited Saul to eat with him. He assured Saul that his father’s donkeys had been found.

Samuel took Saul to his home and had a great feast prepared for him. Saul and his servant were given seats of honour, and Saul was given a special portion of food that Samuel had reserved for him.

The next morning Saul prepared to leave for home. “Send your servant on ahead so I can tell you what God has said,” Samuel directed. When the servant left, Samuel anointed Saul by pouring some oil upon Saul’s head. In those days people were anointed to show they had been chosen for a special task. This happens in our churches today too. The oil represents the Holy Spirit resting upon a person to help him do a mighty work for God. After Saul was anointed, Samuel kissed Saul on the cheek and said, “The Lord has chosen you to be king of Israel.”

Saul Proclaimed King

After Samuel had anointed Saul king of Israel, he told all the people to gather at a place called Mizpeh. Then he asked all the tribes of Israel to present themselves to God. When he came to the tribe of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, Saul was not among the men. He was nowhere to be found. The people prayed and asked God where Saul was. God told them Saul was hiding behind some supplies. Even though Samuel had anointed him king, he didn’t feel worthy of the job. Saul was humble.

When Saul was found, Samuel presented him before the people. Saul stood head and shoulders taller than anyone else there. “Here is the man God has chosen,” Samuel announced. “Is there anyone like him among all the people?”

The people were pleased with their new king. “Long live the king,” they shouted. Later they gathered at Gilgal and officially made Saul king of Israel. There they offered sacrifices to God and praised Him for their new king.

Qualities of a Good Leader

One way Saul was a good leader was by being obedient. When Saul’s father asked him to look for their missing donkeys, Saul didn’t grumble or complain; he searched for the donkeys willingly.

Another good characteristic about Saul was that he stuck with a job until he finished it. He was persistent. When he didn’t find the donkeys the first day, he looked for them a second day.

A person who does his job well in ordinary tasks will do the same with greater jobs. If we are careless in our work at home or school, we can’t expect to be chosen as a leader. No one wants a leader who is careless about his work. Saul had a difficult job ahead of him. He couldn’t be the type to quit easily.

Saul was considerate of others too. (Ask a student to read 1 Samuel 9:5.) Saul became concerned when he was gone from home longer than he had expected to be. He suggested that he and the servant return home because he didn’t want his father to worry. Saul cared about his father. In order to be a good leader, a person must care about the feelings of others, rather than demanding his own way all the time.

There is one other important quality that Saul had. Saul was humble.

Ask: “What does it mean to be humble?” (Allow response.)

It means to be modest, not self-centred. Even though some wonderful things had happened to Saul, he didn’t let those honours change how he acted toward others. He didn’t expect to receive any special attention. This is shown when he hid among the supplies at Mizpeh.

Our memory verse tells us, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honour.” (Proverbs 15:33) God is not pleased when we have pride in our lives, but he will honour those who are humble. (Repeat the memory verse with the class.) Even though God was not pleased that Israel wanted a king, He gave them the best man available.    

A Serious Message

After the big ceremony of worship and praise at Gilgal, Samuel had a serious message to deliver to Israel. He reminded the Israelites of all God had done for them. Then he said, “God has given you your king. If you and your king will obey the laws and commandments of God, then God will be pleased. But if you fail to obey God’s laws and commandments, God will be angry and send punishment upon you.”

Even though the world today does not recognise God as their king, He is in command of the whole universe. One day, everyone will acknowledge that God is Lord. But more important than the universe, God wants to be the Lord of our lives. He wants to be King of your life and give you the strength and help you need to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. Is God King of your life?

Accepting God’s Word

Saul pleased God. Explain that the first thing we can do to please God is to receive the salvation He has offered through Jesus. This pleases God because He loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with each of us. Without forgiveness of sins, this relationship is not possible.

Afar Hospitality

A white arch spanned the paved road at the entrance into Afar territory in Djibouti. This region takes up the northern half of the country and is home to one-third of Djibouti's population. The country is dry and arid, with drinking water at a premium. Steel drums along the main road are filled periodically by government water trucks.

We entered an Afar village as guests of an Afar language teacher. She had worked with her students for over one year. The students and teacher became the best of friends. It was on the basis of their relationship that her aunt's village extended a warm welcome to us.

Our group was served tea in one of the village homes. The language teacher  graciously served us as we sat on blankets and mats. We had a delightful time. Afterward, the teacher guided us on a tour of the entire village. We stopped at almost every house, extending greetings and taking pictures. It was a pleasant introduction to Afar family life.


Pray for Afar Youth

1. Youth to meet a born-again believer in Christ Jesus, perhaps at their school.
2. A Bible portion or a Christian tract to be placed in their hands.
3. A born-again youth to find Afar youth on Facebook and become their friends.

Prayer Promise

"Ask and it will be given to you..." (Matthew 7:7).

Study 2 | God's Character/O.T. Kings | africaatts.org/go-teach


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