Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
David: Facing the Danger
Lesson 1: A Good Shepherd
If there were a poll taken asking for favorite Bible heroes, nearly every list would include David, the shepherd boy who became a king. This week, we’re beginning a new series of lessons on this Bible hero who, time after time, stood bravely in the face of danger, trusting the Lord to deliver him.
We’ll begin this week at the beginning of David’s story, with David the shepherd boy, who gives us a lesson on what it means to be a good shepherd; and in doing so is a picture of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
Lesson 1 Handout
When I say the word “hero,” who comes to your mind? (allow the students to share their answers with the class) Is it some comic book or movie character like Superman or Spiderman? The Olympics were just held in London. Maybe one of your heroes is someone who won a gold medal, or several of them, at the Olympic games.
Sometimes we hear about stories in the news where someone does something very brave to save others. And for a time, they are considered heroes. With the recent hurricane hitting the city of New Orleans, in Louisiana (USA), many people who knew the storm was coming left their homes for safer places to wait out the storm. But not everyone left. Some thought they would be alright waiting the storm out at home. But as the rain continued to fall, and the wind continued to push the water, there were some whose homes were, indeed, flooded…and they had no way to escape. So they got up onto their rooftops, hoping to be rescued.
And God sent a rescuer, a hero, their way. A man who owned a boat braved the driving wind and rain to help the trapped victims escape from the flood. He put concerns for his own safety aside to rescue people he probably had never even met before. Now that’s a true hero!
Did you know God is looking for heroes, too? God gives us a description of precisely what He is looking for in a hero. Micah 6:8 says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” The man who rescued the people from their rooftops fit all of these characteristics. He did the right thing. He showed mercy to others. And he was humble, putting the needs of others ahead of his own.
Our Bible lesson today is about another one of God’s heroes; one we can find in His Word, the Bible. This hero started out as a shepherd boy. But God had much bigger plans for him, down the road. And that’s because God knew that despite what others may have thought of him, David had the heart of a hero.
It doesn’t really matter what the world sees when they look at a person. We may look at someone tall and strong, like those Olympic gold medalists, and think that they surely look like heroes. But that’s not at all how God judges a person. God judges by looking at the heart. So let’s learn our verse for today. Then we’ll get into our lesson, and find out what God saw in the heart of David that made him a true hero.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the examples of Your faithful servants that we find in Your Word, the Bible. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: David is a Good Shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34-37 and John 10:11-14 )
God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, had been ruled for many years by judges. These were wise men whom God had chosen to lead His people through times of war as well as prosperity. But the Israelites looked at the countries around them, and saw that they were ruled by kings. So they decided they wanted a king for themselves.
God had already chosen a king that He wanted to rule His nation, but it was not yet time. So as the people continued to complain, God gave them the king they thought they wanted. His name was Saul. And on the outside, he looked very kingly…like a hero. He was handsome and strong, and very tall. He was so tall that he stood out in a crowd, head and shoulders above everyone else. And the Israelites thought he made a fine king.
But is that how God judges people? By what they look like on the outside? We know from our memory verse that God doesn’t judge people by how they look on the outside. He chooses people to serve Him based on what He sees in their hearts. So while the Israelites were busy serving their new king, Saul, God was at work preparing another king...someone no one would suspect.
In a little town called Bethlehem there lived a man named Jesse. He had eight sons. And God had chosen one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king of Israel. So He sent His prophet, Samuel, to go to Bethlehem and anoint the new king. Only thing is, God didn’t tell Samuel, right up front, which of Jesse’s sons it would be. So Jesse had to bring each son before Samuel, so God could tell him if that was the one.
When Samuel saw the first of Jesse’s sons, the oldest, Samuel thought certain he must be the future king. But this is how the meeting went:
(1 Samuel 16)
1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
5 …And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
Did you recognize that verse? Yes, it’s our memory verse! God was speaking of the way Samuel was judging Jesse’s sons. And wanted him to understand that God had another method of choosing who would be king…looking at the heart. So Jesse brought in another son, then another, and another.
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
How many sons did Jesse bring to Samuel? Seven. How many sons did Jesse have? Eight. Why do you suppose Jesse didn’t bother to bring in his youngest son? Jesse probably assumed that if one of his sons was being chosen for some special position, surely it would be the oldest, or the biggest, or perhaps the smartest. It looks like it never occurred to him that it would be his youngest… the one who was out taking care of the sheep. Surely the Lord wouldn’t have much use for a simple shepherd-boy.
But Samuel told Jesse they would proceed no further until he had met every one of Jesse’s sons. And what do you suppose happened when David finally arrived from the field? Let’s read on, and find out.
12 And [Jesse] sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
Two very important, life-changing things happened to David in that moment. What were they? First, he was anointed to be the next king of Israel. And second, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. But the changes on the inside didn’t immediately change anything on the outside. It appears that once the anointing took place, Samuel went back to his home. And David went right back out to the field with his sheep.
God had already looked at the heart of David, and chosen him to be the future leader of His people. But the time wasn’t yet right. And David still had some important things to learn and do before he would take his place on the throne in Jerusalem. So with the Spirit of God now with him, David went humbly back to doing the job he’d been given. He went back to faithfully tending the sheep.
Do you think he could have looked at his father and brothers as now being less important than him? Do you think he could have decided that being a shepherd was beneath someone who was the future king? David could have done those things. He could have let pride take over his heart. But it appears he didn’t do any of those things. He just humbly resumed his place in the family, as an obedient son and brother.
Do you remember the verse that told us what makes a man a hero in God’s eyes? There were three things: to do justly (do the right thing), love mercy, and walk humbly. The last thing on God’s list was humility. And David certainly displayed a good deal of that as he went back to his simple life as a shepherd!
David also had a heart full of mercy. We’ll see that in a couple of weeks, when we learn about David and a dangerous encounter he had with King Saul.
But what about a desire to “do justly,” a desire to do the right thing, even in tough situations? Do you think David was the kind of young man who wanted to do the right thing? Yes, he was. And we can see that if we jump ahead in the book of 1 Samuel to a time when Israel was under a very serious threat from an enemy. And David wanted to jump right in to help.
A giant named Goliath was threatening the army of Israel, challenging them to come out and fight against him and the Philistine army. He was saying bad things about God, and how his gods were better. But everyone in Israel was afraid to stand up to this giant, for fear he would kill them, and then wipe out the whole army. They had all forgotten how strong and powerful their own God is. All, that is, except for one shepherd-boy who happened to be visiting his brothers at the battle front.
You see, David’s father had heard things weren’t going so well with the Philistines. So he asked David to go and check on his brothers. David arrived just in time to hear Goliath yelling out his daily challenge to the Israelite army. And he was stunned to see that no one was willing to step forward and fight this pagan enemy. After all, God was on their side, and surely He would help destroy any foe who stood, as Goliath did, cursing the God of Heaven.
We’re going to be looking at David’s encounter with Goliath next week. But for now, it’s important for us to know that when David heard the challenge from Goliath, he couldn’t just sit by and do nothing.
(1 Samuel 17)
26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
David knew in his heart that the right thing to do was to show this giant Who was really in charge. But when he spoke of defending the Name of the very God of Israel, even his own brother mocked him.
28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
Did you catch the little insult David’s brother had added? Not only did Eliab point out that David was simply a shepherd, but he tried to belittle him even more by saying that he was only responsible for “those few sheep.” But again, God isn’t concerned with outward appearances, like the number of sheep in David’s care. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that His servants who are faithful with little will be greatly rewarded. God is looking for how well we handle whatever task we are given to do. And He found, in David, a faithful shepherd.
Now, David could have used this opportunity to remind his older brother that one of them had been anointed the next king of Israel; and it wasn’t Eliab! Do you think you might have been tempted to say such a thing, and put your brother in his place? It would be very tempting for most people. But David’s humility won out, and he simply turned away from his brother to find an answer to why no one was taking Goliath’s challenge.
30 And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and
the people answered him again after the former manner.
31 And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.
32 And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
Who found out what David was saying about the challenge from Goliath? King Saul had heard about it, and asked to have David brought before him. And David was actually not a stranger to the king. In addition to being a shepherd, David was also skillful at playing the harp. And when King Saul needed someone to calm his spirit, David had been called in to play for him. So the king knew that David could play the harp. And he probably knew that he was a shepherd, back home. But when he looked at David, King Saul did not see a young man who could stand up to a giant in battle.
And that’s how we learn about David’s experience with doing the right thing, and being a good shepherd. When the king shared his concerns about how David would handle an enemy like Goliath, David recounted for the king some of the dangers he had faced while in the fields with his sheep.
32 And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
33 And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
37 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee.
Was Goliath the first dangerous enemy David had ever faced? No! What other dangers had David already faced and defeated? David had killed both a bear and a lion to defend his sheep. That’s what being a good shepherd is all about. David took his responsibility to care for his sheep very seriously.
What were David’s options when the lion and the bear came to take his sheep? He could have just looked the other way, figuring there was nothing he could do to stop them; and hoping they would not return for more of his sheep. He could have run away, to make sure the lion and bear did not hurt him. But what did he do, instead? He went after the bear and the lion, rescued the sheep they had taken, and killed the wild animals so they could not return to take any more of his sheep.
David did the right thing. He perfectly fit Jesus’ description of a good shepherd, found in John 10.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
How does Jesus describe a good shepherd? He says it’s someone who is willing to lay down their own life for their sheep. Was David willing to do that? Yes! When the lion and bear came, he was not like the hireling that Jesus described, who ran away from the danger. David cared for his sheep, and was willing to risk his own life for them.
And where did David find the courage to stand up in the face of danger? He clearly told King Saul that the same God that had helped him kill the bear and the lion could do the same thing with the cursing giant. David’s confidence was not in himself. Again, in his humility, David understood that his confidence had to be in the Lord. And his experience told him that the Lord would not let him down.
When God chose David to be the next king of His people, the Israelites, He knew He was choosing a man of faith, with the heart of a good shepherd. David would lead his people like he had led his sheep – wanting to meet their needs, and even putting his own life on the line for them. What a great choice for a king!
And what a great picture, too, of what Jesus would be like! In fact, Jesus is the greatest Shepherd of all! Like David, He was willing to sacrifice His own life for His sheep. And who are Jesus’ sheep? You and I are. Isaiah 53:6 tells us that we are all like sheep who have gone astray, and need a Shepherd to come and rescue us.
In the passage we were in earlier, in John 10, Jesus went on to tell His disciples that He is the Good Shepherd.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
David was willing to give his life to protect his sheep. But Jesus actually did it. He had to die on the cross to protect us from the penalty of our sins. But in order to receive that protection, we must be part of His flock. Jesus says in that same passage that His sheep know Him and recognize His voice, so He can lead them to safety.
So the question for you, today, is this: have you asked Jesus to be your Savior and Shepherd? Are you part of the flock that He has saved and brought into His sheepfold? If not, then you can become one of His sheep today. You must admit to Him that you’re one of those sheep who has gone astray, and that you know you need His forgiveness. Then ask Him to come into your life and be your Shepherd – the one who will lead you day by day just where He wants you to go. Jesus has already made the sacrifice, and is waiting for you to invite Him to be your Shepherd. Won’t you consider doing so, today?
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of David, and his faithful service as a good shepherd. And thank You for our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who laid His sacrificed His own life for us, so that we could become His sheep. If there’s anyone here, today, who has not invited Jesus to be their Shepherd, I pray that their hearts would be opened, so they would desire to do that, today; and have the joy in knowing that they have a Shepherd who’s there to lead, and guide, and help them every day. For I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Jesse guessed right away that David was the son Samuel was looking for. (false – he didn’t even call him in from the field till Samuel asked him to)
2. When David was a shepherd, God had helped him kill a bear and a lion. (true)
3. David assumed that God would help him if he fought against Goliath. (true)
4. A good shepherd stays with his sheep as long as everything is going well. (false – he stays with the sheep no matter what happens)
5. Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd.” (true)