Use this Samuel Sunday School lesson to teach students about the calling of Samuel, and how God calls each of us.
Needed: Bibles, a blindfold
Needed: Bibles, a blindfold
Lesson: (Note: Always allow students enough time to think about and answer the questions before clarifying the teaching.)
Ask students, What do your parents do when you do something bad? What kind of punishments do you get? (As the teacher, share some ways that your parents used to punish you.)
Would you like it if your parents never punished you, but just let you do whatever you wanted?
Last time, we learned about Hannah and about how she wanted to have a baby. She prayed and prayed to God and she said, “God, if you will give me a baby, I will give that baby back to You,” and finally, God gave Hannah a little boy. Does anyone remember what that little boy’s name was? (Samuel.)
And when Samuel was old enough, Hannah took Samuel to the priest, Eli, so that Samuel could live at the Tabernacle church and learn how to serve God.
Today, we’re going to learn about what happened next to Eli and Samuel.
(Read 1 Samuel 2:12-4:1 with your students or read the following story as a summary.)
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, were learning how to be priests, too, but they were very wicked men. When someone came to the Tabernacle church to sacrifice to God, Hophni and Phineas would take the best part of the person’s sacrifice even before the person had time to give it to God. They were basically stealing the offering from people, and stealing the offering from God.
The little boy Samuel was also learning how to be a priest. His parents, Hannah and Elkanah, would come see him once a year, and Eli the priest would pray for Hannah to have more children since she had given Samuel to God, but then Hannah and Elkanah would go home and Samuel would keep living with Eli.
Eli heard about the wrong things his sons, Hophni and Phineas, were doing and he told them to stop, but they didn’t stop, and Eli didn’t do anything else to make them stop.
What do you think Eli should have done to make his sons stop doing the bad things they were doing? (He could have punished them. He could have not let them be priests anymore.)
Finally, a prophet from God came to Eli the priest, and said, “God says, ‘Eli, I chose Aaron to be My priest when Moses and Aaron brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He was your great-great-grandfather, and so now I have chosen you to be My priest. But now you are disrespecting Me by not punishing your sons. You just let them keep doing whatever they want. So now you cannot be My priest anymore. I am going to choose a priest who will do the right things that I tell him to do. And I am going to kill your two sons, Hophni and Phineas, on the same day, and no one in your family will live long enough to be an old man.’”
A little while later, while Samuel was sleeping one night, God called to him. “Samuel.”
Samuel woke up, but he didn’t know it was God talking to him because God had never talked to him before. Instead, he thought it was Eli calling him. So he got up and ran to where Eli was sleeping and said, “Here I am. You called for me.”
But Eli woke up and said, “No, I didn’t. Go back to bed.”
Samuel went back to bed, but he heard God calling him again. “Samuel.”
Samuel got up and went to Eli again, thinking it was Eli who was calling him. “Here I am,” Samuel said. “You called for me.”
“No, I didn’t,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” This all happened one more time. Then Eli realized that God was trying to talk to Samuel. Eli said, “Samuel, go back to bed, and if you hear someone calling for you again, stay there and say, ‘I’m listening, Lord.’”
Samuel went back to bed, and this time, when God called him, Samuel said, “I’m listening, Lord.”
Then God told Samuel that he was going to punish Eli and Eli’s sons because of all the wrong things they were doing, and because Eli hadn’t punished them for it.
The next morning, Samuel didn’t want to tell Eli what God told him, but Eli made him tell. After that, God continued speaking to Samuel and Samuel became a great prophet of God for all the people.
Why did God say He was going to punish Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas? (Because they were doing wrong things.)
Why did God say He was going to punish Eli? (Because Eli was letting his sons do the bad things and wasn’t punishing them to make them stop.)
So God said Eli and his sons couldn’t be priests anymore. Instead, God chose Samuel to be the priest, and God started talking to Samuel and making him a prophet. Why do you think God let Samuel be a priest and a prophet when He wouldn’t let Eli and sons be priests anymore? (Because Samuel was willing to listen to God, and Samuel was doing the right things that God wanted him to do.)
Are you willing to listen to God and to do the right things that God wants you to? (Yes.)
Then God can use you to do big things for Him, just like He used Samuel.
Game: Listening to God – Pick one student to be Samuel. They wear the blindfold. Everyone else calls their name along with the teacher. “Samuel’s” job is to listen for the teacher’s voice and walk toward the teacher, blocking out all of the other voices. When the student makes it to the teacher, remove the blindfold and choose the next student to be “Samuel.” The first student is now the “voice of God”. Play as long as time allows or until everyone has had a chance to play both roles, the teacher ending as “Samuel”.
Find more Sunday School lesson ideas on our Free Children Sunday School Lesson Helps page.