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Bible passage: 1 Samuel 15:35b–16:13
Background: God’s people had been living as tribes ruled by judges until they asked God to give them a king. God chose Saul, who was anointed with oil (an ancient symbol of kingship) by the prophet Samuel. The Israelites are now one nation under Saul, and Samuel is widely respected as God’s prophet. However, Saul repeatedly disobeys God so God promises Israel a better king.
As the children arrive, invite them to chat about their week. Share an experience of being chosen and encourage them to talk about being picked for something they wanted (for example a team or a special treat), or for something they didn’t want (eg speaking in front of the class).
You will need: a pack of playing cards; a saucer with some olive oil poured onto cotton wool
Show the children the kings in the pack of cards. Then shuffle and spread the cards out face down. Invite the children to find a king, taking turns to reveal one card at a time. When the first king is found, declare that the finder is king.
Ask the children how you can show that this person is their king? After the group has given some suggestions, explain that around 1,000 years before Jesus was born God chose kings for his people. The king was marked by anointing, which means that oil was smeared on his forehead.
Dip your finger into the oily cotton wool and mark a stripe down the king’s forehead and nose. All shout: “Long live the king!” If you have time, get them to continue picking up cards to find the remaining three kings. Anoint each one in turn.
You will need: the saucer of olive oil from ‘Intro activity’; the following cards – jack of diamonds, jack of clubs, a queen of any suit (representing Israel’s judges), jack and king of hearts (Saul and his anointed kingship), a set of spades: jack, ten, nine, seven, six, five, four, two (Jesse’s sons, in descending order of apparent kingliness)
Put the two of spades (David) just out of reach. Use the cards and the oil to tell the following story:
This story happened more than 3,000 years ago when God’s people, the Israelites, were still working things out with God. They lived in tribes and were ruled by judges, who could be men or women.
Give out the jack of diamonds, jack of clubs and the queen.
But God’s people said: “We don’t want judges any more. Give us a king!”
God reluctantly agreed. Take back the judges’ cards. He chose a fine man from a good family, whose name was Saul.
Give out the jack of hearts to a volunteer Saul.
Saul was obviously the best! He was the tallest and most impressive man around. God sent his powerful prophet, Samuel, to anoint Saul as the first king of Israel.
Give the king of hearts to Saul to cover the jack. Invite another volunteer to anoint Saul. All shout: “Long live the king!”
But Saul was disobedient, so God said to Samuel: “Go to Bethlehem to meet Jesse. I have chosen one of his sons to be the next king.”
Samuel went, but how was he to know who God had chosen? What do you think a future king looks like?
Invite suggestions, then line up seven volunteers. Give them each a card as you introduce them.
First, Samuel met Jesse’s eldest son. Jack of spades. He was tall, strong and handsome.
Samuel said to himself: “This has to be the new king!”
But God said: “No! Don’t take any notice of his appearance. I’m looking at his heart, and he isn’t the one.”
Then Samuel met the second oldest. Ten. God told him to say: “Not him, either!” Then the next son. Nine. “Nor him!” And the next. Seven “Him neither!” and so on, down the line of sons. Invite six, five and four to come forward, then quickly dismiss them. Each one was smaller and younger than the last.
“None of these will be king!” said Samuel. “Isn’t there anyone else?”
There was only David, the youngest, who was out in the fields looking after the sheep. Give the two of spades to the youngest child.
God said: “It’s him!” so Samuel anointed David as king.
A volunteer anoints David.
God’s spirit left Saul and rushed into David, even though he was only a lad.
Take the king of hearts from Saul and give it to David. All shout: “Long live the king!”
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to contribute:
- Which part of this story did you like best?
- Why did God choose David to be king?
- Does this story make you think of any others in the Bible?
- Who would you like to be in this story, and why?
- What questions would you like to ask God about it?
You will need: A3 card; felt-tip pens; glue sticks; scissors; magazines and catalogues
Invite the children to draw a self-portrait showing not what they look like on the outside, but what is inside them: what God can see. They should draw a basic head silhouette (or you can do this for them) to begin with. Then they can write their thoughts and questions, draw their dreams, show ideas in thought bubbles and cut out pictures to stick on.
You will need: the saucer of olive oil from ‘Bible story’
Gather in a circle and say this prayer:
God knows us, inside and out, and he loves us. He chooses each one of us to love him.
Dip your finger in the oil, turn to the child beside you and make the sign of the cross on their open palm.
God loves you, just as you are, [Name].”
Pass the oil around and ask each child to anoint their neighbour, saying these words. Go around the circle until the last child anoints you. Say amen together.
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