Bible Text: 1 Samuel 16–17; 18:10–16; 2 Samuel 2:1–7; 5:1–10; 7:1–17; Isaiah 9:6–7
Lesson Focus: God uses imperfect people to do amazing things.
Big Question: Do we have to have David-like courage and trust to be useful to God?
Key Words: CHOSEN, HUMBLE, TRUST
• The Bible has two versions of King David’s life, one in 1 Samuel 16–31; 2 Samuel; and 1 Kings 1–2; and one in 1 Chronicles.
• Even after being chosen by God to be king, David had to overcome several obstacles before being recognized as king of Israel.
• A brilliant strategist and mediator, King David united the nation, centralized power, and established a national capital at Jerusalem.
• In David and his descendants we see that God chooses and uses whom God will—raising up a lowly shepherd to be king and using a deeply flawed human being for God’s purposes.
• David reigned as king approximately from 1000 to 961 B.C.
• Jesus is descended from David.
• Our leaders are flawed human beings just like us. It’s important not to idealize leaders. It’s also important to consider what attributes are truly important in leaders.
The Bible portrays David as a brilliant strategist and mediator. We have two versions of King David’s life. One (1 Chronicles), likely composed in the fifth century B.C., celebrates David’s leadership in uniting north and south, establishing the national capital and spiritual center at Jerusalem, centralizing power, and focusing the people on praising God. An earlier version (1 Samuel 16–31; 2 Samuel; 1 Kings 1–2), likely composed during the exile in the sixth century B.C., is a more complex story of personal and political intrigue. David’s association with many of the psalms reflects his concern for worship of Yahweh (2 Samuel 23:1).
The New Testament attests that Jesus is descended from David. Almost invariably those who cry to Jesus for mercy do so calling him “Son of David” (see Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 20:30–21; Mark 10:47–48; Luke 17:13; 18:38–39). Old Testament prophecies reiterate the promise of Christ coming from the family of David (Isaiah 9:6–7).
Like many important biblical figures, David was of humble origins, the youngest son of “a Bethlehem farmer” (1 Samuel 16). With God’s help and David’s trust in God, David became Israel’s most powerful king and accomplished great things while yet a human being who made some terrible mistakes. David, through sin, crime, and repentance, still trusted and believed in God, and God repeatedly forgave him and remained with him.
In David and his descendants we see that God chooses and uses whom God will. David, like other important biblical figures, such as Mary and Joseph, was a lowly person raised up by God to become a person of great importance. God made a shepherd the patriarch of a dynasty.
David was the preeminent king among all ancient Israel’s kings and was chosen by God (1 Samuel 16:1–13), but he was nonetheless a deeply flawed human being. Having won King Saul’s affection, David subsequently became Saul’s rival, married Saul’s daughter, and established a separate power base from which David rose to become king following Saul’s death. David was a brilliant and trusted leader, for example, gathering to himself “everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented” and becoming “captain over them” (1 Samuel 22:2). But David was also abusive (2 Samuel 11–12), and his legacy of abuse was the terrible inheritance of his children (2 Samuel 13).
David’s reign is estimated to have been approximately from 1000 to 961 B.C. David’s kingship contrasts with that of Saul, who was the first king of ancient Israel, beginning a generation earlier. David’s reign transformed the feuding tribal confederacy under Saul into a more coherent—though not completely united—nation. Elapsed time and the change in political environment, notably the Philistine threat, helped make possible David’s consolidation and centralization of power (2 Samuel 21:15–22; 23:8–39). David was anointed twice, first as king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4) in the south and then as king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3) in the north. As a sign to unite the nation, David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the newly established capital of Jerusalem, located between north and south. David used the Ark—a sign of God’s sole sovereignty—to consolidate his own power as king over the nation.
What do we expect of our leaders? We fall into a trap when we think our leaders are not flawed human beings just like ourselves. Setting leaders on a pedestal can dangerously lead to unquestioning loyalty. At the same time, a leader must be a model to others. What is reasonable to expect of leaders? They must possess attributes that enable them to lead effectively. They must have the ability to listen, a character and personality that can hold people’s trust and respect, vision, the ability to see the big picture, organizational skills, and integrity. Is it important that a leader have a sense of humor about herself or himself? Is compassion important? Is physical health important? Or the ability to say no? What is the relationship between a leader’s public life and personal life? In what ways is a person’s personal life relevant or irrelevant to the person’s capacity to lead in society or in the church?
Do we have to have David-like courage and trust to be useful to God?
God uses imperfect people for God’s purposes. In their quest for independence, adolescents begin to see (and sometimes dwell on) the imperfections of their parents and other authority figures. Gone is the childlike awe for parents, grandparents, teachers, and other significant adults in their lives. Reality hits and youth can become disillusioned. Sometimes they stop saying, “My parents/teachers/coaches can do anything,” and start saying, “My parents/teacher/coaches can’t do anything!” Be honest with the students about your own strengths and weaknesses, and accept theirs as well. Your actions will go a long way to help them understand that even though nobody is perfect, God uses all of us to fulfill God’s purpose. No one has to slay a giant or be in charge of other people to be a person of worth and to be valued by God.
Welcome and Review
Help kids dive into the Key Words by asking for definitions and/or providing these definitions:
CHOSEN: a person or group of people selected for a special purpose. David was chosen by God to be a leader and to be the ancestor of Jesus.
HUMBLE: not arrogant, haughty, or overly assertive. A low, unpretentious ranking. David was a humble shepherd when God called him to do great things.
TRUST: to rely on someone or something; to place confidence and dependence in someone. Because David trusted in God’s word, guidance, and strength, he was blessed with the ability to lead the nation of Israel.
Guest Speaker Option: To Lead or Not to Lead
Look for a student in your class who has a leadership position at school, in a club, or at church. Invite the student to speak to the class. If no students are available to do this, be the guest speaker yourself. Share the duties, responsibilities, joys, and frustrations of being a leader
Debrief the presentation with these questions:
• Is there a lot of pressure to be a perfect leader who doesn’t make mistakes?
• Why would you choose to be a leader?
• What happens when leaders today make mistakes in judgment or make bad decisions? What’s your responsibility in that situation?
Leader: Lord God, thank you for gathering us together this day to learn about your servant David.
Group: (Silent reflection)
Leader: Thank you for the gifts of leadership, music, and worship that you gave to David.
Group: (Silent reflection)
Leader: Thank you for being with David even though he was an imperfect king.
Group: (Silent reflection)
Leader: Help us to know that you are with us even when we fall short.
Group: (Silent reflection)
Leader: Open our minds, hearts, ears, and eyes to learn more about the ways in which you bless the whole world.
Group: (Silent reflection)
My Faith Story
Ask kids to respond to the Big Question: Do we have to have David-like courage and trust to be useful to God?
Then share a part of your own faith story using the suggestion below or another way to share about your own leadership experiences.
The fact that you are leading a confirmation class indicates that you are a leader within your congregation. Talk about a time when you were called to do something but fell short. It may be a humorous story or something very serious. How did you feel when you messed up? How did others respond to your actions? Were they surprised that you, a leader, made a mistake? Where was God in all of this? If possible, use this story as a way to illustrate that God uses imperfect people to do amazing things.
Open the Bible
As Saul, the first king of Israel, continues to falter as a leader, God rejects him and is now ready to choose a new king. Read 1 Samuel 16:1–13 to see who was involved in selecting David as the new king. There wasn’t any fanfare or even a voting process; God did the choosing and Samuel made it official.
• What does God look at when choosing someone to serve God? (See verse 7.)
• Why would God choose the youngest candidate and a lowly shepherd boy to be king?
• How could David be a successful king with no leadership experience and probably no people skills since he was living with the sheep?
Have students turn in their Bibles to 1 Samuel 17. This is the familiar story of David and Goliath. Ask students to share what they already know about this story. Write all correct responses in chronological order on a large piece of poster board or a whiteboard. Then, using the story from chapter 17, ask the students to fill in the gaps. Mention that this was the first of many triumphs David had on the field of battle. Among other things, David was a renowned soldier and leader of men in battle. Once the main points of the story are in front of the class, ask some questions to stimulate discussion.
• If you were an Israelite, how would you have reacted when young David volunteered to challenge the giant Goliath?
• Why was it such a big deal that David killed Goliath?
• Why do you think the Philistine army fled once Goliath died?
• Would you follow David after witnessing this miracle?
When David first became king, it was of the small southern tribe of Judah. Read about that in 2 Samuel 2:1–7. Then have a student read 2 Samuel 5:1–10 aloud while others follow along. What’s happening in these verses? Indicate that this is the second time David has become king. This is the first time that people in the lands of both Judah (Southern Kingdom) and Israel (Northern Kingdom) have recognized the same leader. This shows not only how God’s people desired unity but also how well liked David was. In a shrewd political move, David makes the city of Jerusalem the capital of the united kingdom, making the city both the center of power for the nation and the religious center for the people of God.
• Who are some leaders today who strive for unity?
• Why is it important for the people of God to be unified?
With a new king of Israel, the nation experienced peace. God made a promise to David, telling him that someone from his family would always be king and that his son would be the one to build a temple for God. Read about this promise in 2 Samuel 7:1–17. This promise will be a lasting promise. Read Isaiah 9:6–7. God’s promise comes up again in these verses. This time it is the promise of a new king coming from the family of David, the promise of a Savior, the Prince of Peace.
1. David was named king after __________ ruled.
b. Saul (Correct)
2. David’s relatives included . . .
a. Jesus, Ruth, and Abraham. (Correct)
b. Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
c. Paul, Timothy, and Nathan.
c. Groucho, Harpo, and Chico.
3. David grew up as the son of . . .
a. a poor Bethlehem farmer. (Correct)
b. a wealthy landowner.
c. the king of Judah.
4. David became well-known early in his life because . . .
a. he was a man of large physical size and strength.
b. he killed the giant Goliath. (Correct)
c. he was an excellent weapons maker.
d. he was a great musician.
5. One of David’s friends was the prophet . . .
d. Nathan. (Correct)
6. David was king of . . .
c. both Judah and Israel. (Correct)
7. David felt it was important to bring __________ to Jerusalem.
a. the finest meat and bread
b. the weapons of the whole nation
c. the Ark of the Covenant (Correct)
d. Noah’s ark
8. The story of David reminds us that . . .
a. God only loves perfect people.
b. God has a hard time forgiving people when they mess up.
c. not everyone is cut out to be a leader.
d. God uses imperfect people to do amazing things. (Correct)
Select one of the options below to explore in your small group. Then finish with the Best/Worst activity and prayer.
Option 1: Song Option: You Picked Me
Play the song “You Picked Me” by A Fine Frenzy from One Cell in the Sea (Virgin Records America, Inc., 2007). Please preview this content to determine its appropriateness for your setting.
David was a lowly shepherd, but he was chosen by God to become a great, yet imperfect, King. This song by A Fine Frenzy describes how we feel when we are chosen by someone, becoming important and special in their eyes.
After listening to the song, discuss its connection to today’s lesson with these questions:
• How do you think David felt when he realized his destiny was to become king?
• Do you ever feel like an apple that is “difficult to see” and “hard to reach” as suggested in the song? Tell of a time when you felt like someone “picked” you.
• Are you more comfortable as a leader or as a follower?
Option 2: Interview Option: King David Live
Have students work in groups of three to prepare questions they might ask if they were interviewing a contemporary David today. When finished, collect the questions and choose the five to ten best for an interview with David (a student you have chosen to be David). At the end of the interview, you may want to throw some questions back at the class, such as the following:
• What giants have you taken on lately?
• If God used only perfect people to accomplish good things, what would get done?
• If a sinner like David can be a successful king, what does that tell us about God?
Best/Worst and Prayer
Go around the group and have each student share the best and worst thing from his or her week. Remind them to pay special attention to (for example) the person on their right, as they will be praying for that person in a moment. Alternate prayer partners from week to week.
Have prayer partners meet together to talk about a time when one of them realized that a leader (parent, teacher, mentor) had made a mistake. What was the situation and what happened? How did you react? Was an apology given? Did the situation change the way you felt about the leader? Have you ever been that leader? After a few minutes of conversation, draw everyone together for the following prayer.
Lord God, you have given us parents, teachers, and other leaders to care for us and to help us learn. Just like us, they are not perfect; and besides, living and working with us isn’t always easy. Help us deal with mistakes in a loving way so that we may always build up relationships instead of tearing them down. We ask that you stick with us and our leaders. Amen.
Pass out pencils and Student Sheets. Look at the front of the Student Sheet together. Pick a volunteer to read each bullet point aloud for the group. Talk about the points with students.
• What surprises you the most about David?
• What lessons do you think we should learn from the story of David?
• Are there times in your life when you find yourself in a leadership position (even if it’s taking care of a younger sibling)? Is there ever pressure to do the right things?
Turn to this week’s activity called “King David Word Search.” Let your kids pair up to work through the activity page together. After a few minutes, discuss the answers as a group.
Use the cartoon and questions on the Student Sheet to kick off a conversation.
• What’s the double meaning in the title of the cartoon?
The cartoon pictures David as a stand-up comedian, and his jokes are “slaying” the very large man and others in the audience, in a sense making them die with laughter. In the Bible story, David did physically slay the giant Goliath to win a battle for Israel against the Philistines.
• David had many skills besides stand-up comedy. What were some of them?
David was a shepherd, a warrior, a musician, a leader, a friend to many, an athlete, a peacemaker, and also a flawed man who committed adultery and murder. Through it all, he remained a believer who trusted God and repented of his sins.
• What qualities of leadership did David have?
David began as a military hero, an important quality of a leader in Israel’s history. But we also see that he was loving and compassionate and a befriender of people. He was a smart man, able to unify the two kingdoms and focus their worship in one place, Jerusalem. When David sinned, he did not make excuses for his actions. Rather, he admitted his sin, accepted his punishment, and continued to follow God’s direction.
Student Book Connection
Student Book page 205: Select seven students to read the seven steps in “How to Confess Your Sins and Receive Forgiveness.” Indicate that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God. It’s important to confess our sins and know that God forgives us. David was an imperfect person, but God was with him and forgave David when he confessed his sins. Ask your group if it’s hard for them to admit making mistakes.
Student Book page 36: Turn to “The Top 10 Bible Heroes.” Select someone to read the introduction and number 5, about David. Encourage students to look at the other people on this list of heroes. It seems that David is in pretty good company. Ask your group what David has in common with the other Bible heroes listed. Remind the class that David was a person with humble beginnings, but God used him to accomplish amazing things.
Student Book page 40: Select two people to read numbers 2 and 3 of “The Seven Funniest Bible Stories.” Both of these stories involve David. The first is humorous but also offers an important window into David’s character. He could have killed his enemy Saul, but he chose to spare his life. The second story shows how David took delight in bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and how he found many ways to worship God. Ask your group what they think the two stories reveal about David’s character.
Talk about last week’s Life Connection. Ask your group what they did this week to live out last week’s lesson. What did they learn? What might they do in the future to keep living out that Life Connection.
Discuss with the class the talents and abilities they have that might be useful in worship at your church. Come up with ways that members of the class can use their gifts to assist in a worship service. They could perform a skit, sing a song, play instrumental music, read the lessons, be ushers, serve food, greet people as they enter worship, or any number of things. Have students talk to the pastor or volunteer coordinator to get involved.
Kids this age have lots of questions about right and wrong, stories in the Bible, and faith and life. Provide time for them to ask questions. Remember, there isn’t always a right answer, but encouraging discussion is great! Questions help kids explore their faith. Help them explore on their path to confirmation.
After their questions, ask one or more of the following questions to connect your conversations with the Lesson Focus:
• What does the story of David teach us about how God works?
• What are ways that you can use the things that you enjoy doing to serve and praise God?
• How do you know that God forgives your sins?
• How is God working in your life this year?
Light a candle and have students focus their attention on it. (Before lighting candles, check your local fire codes and your congregation’s fire policies regarding the use of open flames.) Provide a few quiet moments for students to think of ways they have sinned against God and the people in their lives. Tell them they can confess these sins to God in the Closing Prayer.
God of grace, thank you for lifting up a humble, common person like David as an example of your faithfulness. Thank you for strengthening us with gifts and abilities that we can use to serve others. Help us to always use those gifts to give you glory. When we fall short of that, forgive us. We ask now in our own silent prayers for your forgiveness. (Allow time for individuals to offer their silent prayers. Then close the prayer.) Forgive us and help us to forgive others. In your name we pray. Amen.
Before students leave, be sure to give each of them the following blessing as you trace the cross on their foreheads.
May God bless you this week to be bold in sharing God’s love with others. May you know that God is with you. And may you never forget that God loves you and is merciful to you. In the name of the Father+, and of the Son+, and of the Holy Spirit+. Amen.