Memory verse: James 5:16. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
What do you think would happen in your house if you had 1 dad and 2 Mum’s?
- What would be good about that? ( share the chores, if 1 sick the other still there to look after things
- What problems do you think there would be? ( jealousy & competition, complaining about each other
Well, back in time – over 1000 years BC which is over 3000 years ago, it was quite common for men to have more than 1 wife. And, the same as it would be for us today, there were problems then as well.
There was a man called Elkanah. He had 2 wives. One of them was called Peninnah and the other was ??? (ask girls) Yes, Hannah. The problem they had was Peninnah had some children – but Hannah had none. And this caused lots of problems in the family. Peninnah laughed and poked fun at Hannah because she had no children – that made Hannah dreadfully sad. But Elkanah – their husband – loved Hannah more than Peninnah and that made Peninnah jealous. Not a very happy home for them all was it?
Three times a year all the men in Israel were required to travel from their homes to the capital city of Shiloh (which is now called Jerusalem) to worship God. These were special celebration days. One of these trips each year Elkanah treated as a special holiday and so he all his family used to make the trip together. Elkanah lived fairly close to Shiloh, so they could all probably walk it in a day or part of a day. As part of the celebration of going to the temple, Elkanah would give special portions of meat to his family – 1 piece to Peninnah, 1 piece to each of her children and 2 pieces for Hannah. That was because he loved Hannah best – and maybe he was trying to make it up to her because she had no children.
Giving them all special portions of meat would be like Christmas for us where we get a gift. Peninnah got one gift and Hannah got 2. How would you feel if your brother or sister got 2 and you only got one? Maybe Peninnah felt like that too. But Peninnah was very mean with her words, saying things like “ Ha, ha, you can’t even have 1 child. What’s wrong with you. You’re not a proper woman at all if you can’t produce a son for Elkanah. He won’t love you for long.” Wow! Poor Hannah.
So, to try and make Hannah happier, Elkanah gave her the 2 pieces of meat (like 2 gifts) and said “I love you best. Cheer up. Aren’t I better than many sons?”
But it still didn’t help much even though Hannah really loved Elkanah a lot. Hannah just desperately wanted a child of her own.
One day, the family headed up to the temple for their special holiday. They probably sat outside and had a picnic lunch together. Then suddenly Hannah stood up. She went up the steps to the temple doorway where Eli the priest was sitting on a chair watching everyone. Hannah knelt down and started crying and praying to God. Her words to God were something like this… “God, look at how sad and miserable I am. Please don’t forget me, instead will you see my sadness and do something about it? Will you give me a baby boy please – if you do I will give him back to you and he can serve you for all of his life. I promise this.”
Meanwhile Eli the High priest was looking on. He couldn’t hear her prayer. He could only see her lips moving, because Hannah was praying silently to God. So guess what he thought – he thought she was drunk!
Eli was angry that a woman would come into the temple drunk, so he went over and said to her, “ why do you keep getting drunk? Get rid of your alcohol.”
Then Hannah looked up at him and said, “Oh, no, sir, I am not drunk. I am just so very sad. I was pouring out my sadness to God.”
Then Eli gently put his hand on her head and said, “Go in peace. And may God give you what you have asked for.” So Hannah went away a little happier. Elkanah, Hannah, Peninnah and her children all stayed the night at a hotel or inn, and then walked home the following day.
And guess what! Yes, Hannah became pregnant and 9 months later she gave birth to a baby boy. What did she name him? (Samuel.)
What lesson can we learn from this story of Samuel? ( We should pray – God wants to know how we feel. And He loves answering prayer. Words hurt – God wants us to say kind words….. )
So that’s our first part of the story of Samuel. Next week we will learn what happened about Hannah’s promise to God and what happened to Samuel.
Finding a king
Memory verse: 1 Samuel 10:19a
- You will need a whiteboard & pen OR blackboard & chalk OR sheet of paper & marker
- Get your members to sit in teams or small groups with a leader as you will need to do an activity together. Leaders will need pen and paper to write on.
Who leads our country? Who is it that decides what our country does, what laws we have and what we are allowed to do? (Parliament, Prime minister, King/queen, President)
For Israel it was God who was their leader – and he had prophets or judges that he spoke to and they relayed the messages to the people.
Samuel was what the Bible calls a judge over Israel. He was also called a prophet. I guess Samuel was a bit like our Prime Minister, but under God‟s leadership. He would tell the people what God was saying to them. If they did evil things Samuel told them God was angry. He helped people worship God, and he traveled all around the country helping settle arguments like our judges do in court. So Samuel really was the most important, the most famous and the most respected man in the whole of the country.
Up to now we have talked about Samuel as a baby and a young boy. Now in this story, Samuel is an old man. The leaders of Israel were becoming worried about who would rule them if anything happened to Samuel. So they came to him and said, “Samuel, you are old. We want you to choose a king to lead us. Just like the other countries around us, we want a king we can see. Not like God who we can‟t see.”
Well Samuel thought this was very wrong so he prayed to God. And God spoke back to Samuel and said, “Listen to the people. They are not rejecting you Samuel – they are rejecting me. They don‟t want me (God) as their king. They want a man they can see. So I will choose a king for them that they will like, but I want you to warn them as well, what this king will do.”
- this king will take some of your sons to be servants
- he will tax you all so he can have a great army and a lovely palace to live in
- he will make some of you train as soldiers
- he will take your daughters to be household servants
- he will take any of your possessions he fancies
But the people didn‟t want to know. They had decided they wanted a king and they wouldn‟t listen to any warnings from God.
So God said to Samuel, “Give them a king.”
Now, in your small groups, I want you to decide on 3 of the most important things you would look for if you were helping to choose someone to be a king. You have 2 minutes. (honesty, gentleness, looks, brains, money, speaking ability, Godliness, fame……… ????)
After I minute, ask for 1 thing from each group and list it on your board. Add any other suggestions that have been missed and add them too.
Comment: You have some great ideas here and these are very important character traits for anyone who is a king. But guess what the people of Israel were looking for…? Someone who looked impressive! (you may like to have „looked impressive‟ pre-written in large lettering to blu-tack to the board)
There was a man named Saul. The Bible tells us he was VERY handsome. He was young and physically strong and a whole head taller than anyone else in the whole of Israel. He may have been nearly 7 feet tall. (you may like to measure that against the wall and show how high 7ft is) One day Saul was out looking for some of his father‟s donkeys that had wandered away. He and his servant walked for 3 days through small towns and villages but they couldn‟t find the donkeys. They had decided to go back home in case his dad had started worrying that HE was lost!
“Hang on a minute,” said the servant, “There‟s a holy man in this town. Everything he says is true. Let‟s ask him where we can find our donkeys.”
So, off they set to try and find the holy man – who was, of course, Samuel. Some girls they met along the road said, “the holy man is just ahead of you. If you hurry you will catch him.” So off they hurried.
Now on the previous day, God had said to Samuel “Tomorrow about this time, I will send to you a young man. Anoint him as king over Israel. He will rescue Israel from her enemies.”
So when Samuel caught sight of Saul – this huge, tall and very handsome looking dude – God spoke to Samuel again and said, „This is the man I told you about.”
Saul came up to Samuel and asked, “Tell me please, where does the prophet of God live?” “I am the prophet” said Samuel. “Come with me to the feast I am attending. Tomorrow I will answer all of your questions. As for the donkeys – they have been found. Meanwhile, I tell you that you are the man all of Israel has been looking for to lead them.”
Well what a shock that was to Saul. And scary. But he followed Samuel to the place where about 30 people were seated ready for a meal. Saul was given the place of honour at the head of the table. Then, after the meal, Samuel took Saul off home to sleep. The next morning Samuel took Saul to the edge of town and there he poured oil over Saul‟s head and said to him, “God anoints you as ruler over his people Israel.” Then he sent Saul home.
Later, Samuel gathered all the leaders of the tribes of Israel together and brought Saul forward and presented him to them as their new king.
One special lesson we can learn from this story is that God wants to be our king.
But God allows us to make our own choices and often we want to do what is not pleasing to Him. If we don‟t want to let God lead us he may even let us have what we persist in having - even if it may not be good for us. But we have to accept the consequences. The best way is when we follow God.
Memory verse: 1 Samuel 15:22. Which does the Lord prefer, obedience or offerings and sacrifices? It is better to obey Him.
Samuel had anointed Saul as king of Israel. Saul was a very tall and strong man and he built a great army of men who fought under him in war. There were a lot of other countries around that wanted to come and raid Israel – but Saul and his army were victorious every time. There was a group of people called the Amalekites. They had regularly tried to destroy God chosen people Israel, and God told Saul they needed to be destroyed.
Remember when Samuel was a young boy and God had spoken to him? Well God often spoke to Samuel, and then Samuel spoke to the people to tell them what God said. This time God had a message for King Saul. So Samuel traveled to see the king to tell him what God had said.
“Saul,” said Samuel, “I am the one who anointed you king of Israel. Now I want to tell you what the Lord God says to you. God is going to punish the people of Amalek because of what they did. You are to go and attack them. But you must destroy everything they have. Don’t leave anything. ALL the people and ALL their animals and possessions – destroy them.”
Who knows what Chernobyl was about? (a city destroyed by nuclear meltdown in Russia). The people there died of radiation overdoses. Others had to leave their homes and possessions, but I guess some of them took some things with them. They should have left everything behind – because they were all contaminated with radiation. Even 1 bit of it can continue to destroy. And that is why many folk kept dying at an early age as they had the radiation in their bodies.
Maybe it was similar for Saul. If anything was left of the Amalekites it would continue to destroy. Maybe they were riddled with a disease – but whatever the reason, God told king Saul to destroy everything.
So, Saul called his army together. He inspected them all (210,000 of them). And then they set an ambush in a dry river bed. And that’s all we know except that they fought and king Saul won the war.
King Saul captured their King Agag and then killed everyone else. He also destroyed all the things that were useless and worthless. Did he do well? (N!)
Why not? (he was told to destroy everything – not just what was useless and worthless)
You know, king Saul was busy celebrating his victory with all his men when God spoke to Samuel again. And guess what God said…
“Samuel I am very sorry I made Saul king. He has turned away from me and disobeyed my commands. “
God told Samuel what Saul had done which made Samuel very sad and angry. So early next morning Samuel set off to find King Saul. It could have been many miles that
Samuel had to either walk or ride a donkey until he could find the army. When he found them Samuel went up to king Saul…
We will have 2 leaders acting out this part of the story now…. (2 leaders with scripts- you may like to use props - a crown for King Saul, a shawl over his head and a staff in his hand for Samuel)
Saul: Hey, here’s the prophet Samuel. The Lord bless you Samuel. I have obeyed God’s command.
Samuel: Well then, how come I hear sheep bleating and cows mooing.
Saul: Oh them. Well my men wanted to offer sacrifices to God so they kept the best of the animals and then destroyed the rest.
Samuel: Stop! I have heard enough! And now I will tell you what God said to me last night.
Saul: Oh yes. Please tell me.
Samuel: God anointed you as king of Israel. He sent you out to kill the wicked people of Amalek. God told you to destroy everyone and everything. Why did you not obey him?
Saul: But I did. I brought back king Agag and killed all the others. My men only kept the best of the sheep and cows to sacrifice to God and we killed all the others.
Samuel: And which do you think God prefers? Obedience or sacrifices? Let me tell you – It is better to obey God than to sacrifice even the best of sheep to him. Rebelling against God is as bad as witchcraft. And now, because you rejected God’s command, God has rejected you as king. He will give Israel to another man.
Saul: Oh, I’m so sorry. Yes, I have done wrong. I disobeyed God because I was afraid of my men. They wanted to keep the best of the loot. Please Samuel, come with me now to worship God and maybe all will be ok.
Samuel: No, I will not. You rejected God and now he has rejected you.
Thank the leaders…
Saul was pretty upset. He knew now that his disobedience to God meant he would lose all the benefits and privileges of being king – and maybe even his life. So he was rather scared. If only he could get Samuel to change his mind and help mend things with God….. so as Samuel turned away from him, king Saul grabbed at Samuels cloak and it ripped. Samuel turned around to king Saul and said, “As you ripped my cloak, so has God ripped away the kingdom from you and given it to someone else who is better than you.”
Saul did continue to reign as king for a while longer, but God had another person in mind for king now. And Samuel never saw Saul again.