1 Samuel 3
Samuel was a great prophet and the last judge of Israel, but he started out as a boy serving Eli the Priest in the temple. One night, while he was a boy, God spoke to him while he was lying in bed. At first he didn’t realise that it was God speaking to him but when he got to know God, it set him off on a life devoted to serving the LORD!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
– Colossians 3:23a (NIV)
Remind the kids that we just finished a series of lessons out of the book of Judges. The judges were leaders of Israel who were supposed to help guide the people of Israel to follow God’s law now that they were living in the Promised Land. Today’s lesson is from the book of First Samuel. Samuel was the last judge of Israel, and he was also a great prophet! But before he was a great leader, he was just a boy living and serving in the temple.
Whoa! Hold on a second! Why was he living in the temple? Well, before Samuel was born his mom Hannah was barren. That means she couldn’t have a baby. One day she went to the temple and she started praying to God because she really wanted to have a baby. She told God that if she had a baby she would give him back to God. Now, there was a priest named Eli in the temple and when he heard her prayer he told her to go in peace. And guess what? Pretty soon she had a baby, and she named him Samuel, and when he was a little bit older she brought him to the temple to live there and serve in the LORD’s presence, because that’s what she had promised!
Samuel hears God’s voice
Props you could use: sleeping bag, flashlight, pajamas.
Tell the story from 1 Samuel 3 – you could dress someone as Samuel and have them act it out with props. Alternatively, you could have all of the kids be Samuel (forget the props in that case). Every time God calls Samuel, have them all stand and say “Here I am, for you called me!”
Here are some notes on the story that you might want to explain.
Verse 2: Eli was very old, which is why he was going blind.
Verse 3: The ark of the God was a box that God told the Israelites to make, and it stayed in the temple. It was where the presence of God was said to dwell. The lamp of God burnt in the tabernacle from evening until morning, so it was probably very early in the morning.
Verse 7: Up to this point Samuel knew about God, but he didn’t yet know God in a personal way.
Verses 11-15: God explained to Samuel that Eli and his sons had not been faithful priests. Serving the LORD was an important task and God would take it away from them and give the job to Samuel instead.
Can you imagine God came to you at night and gave you a special message and told you that he was going to give you an important job to do? Well, did you know that in some way God actually has done that?
When Jesus died and rose again he made it possible for all of us to be God’s children! The Bible says that everyone who believes in God––who has a personal relationship with him––is part of God’s royal priesthood. That means that, just like Samuel, you are given the special task of serving God in everything that you do! Colossians 3:23a says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”.
Samuel’s life of service began with him hearing and talking to God. That’s a good place for us to start as well! Because Jesus has forgiven our sins, and washed us clean, we can come into God’s presence and talk to him. One of the ways that God speaks to us is through his word. Reading the Bible on a regular basis helps us to know who God is, and how he wants us to live, and through Jesus we learn to express God’s love to the world!
This would be a good opportunity to speak to the older kids about what a quiet time is. Setting aside time in the day to intentionally speak to God, read the Bible and hear from him is a good discipline. Perhaps you could share a testimony of what that looks like for you, or let the children share their own experiences.
Prayer: Thank God that each one of us can hear from him, that he knows each one of our names, and that he talks to us! Pray that the children would continue to grow in their faith in Jesus, and that their lives would be devoted to serving God in everything they do, just like Samuel!
- Why was Samuel living in the temple?
- What was Samuel doing when he heard someone call him?
- How did he discover that it was God speaking to him?
- What was God’s message to him?
- Do we need to live in the temple to speak to God?
- What does it mean to know God?
The goal of this game is for teams to find each other based on careful listening.
How to Play: Have the kids stand in a large circle. Go around the circle and quietly whisper to each of the kids whether they are a duck, pig, dog, or a sheep. When you say “go!” the kids need to get into groups with their fellow animals. They’re only allowed to make the sound of the animal though, and they have to listen carefully to know who to group up with! The first group to get together is the winner.
Image Credit: 1645 painting by Jan Victors of Hannah presenting her son Samuel to Eli