Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
David: Facing the Danger
Lesson 4: Meekness, Not Weakness
Author’s Notes: Today’s lesson will finish our series on David. We’ll finish up by learning about the word “meekness,” how it’s sometimes misunderstood, and how David was a perfect example. We’ll also be ending the series with a look at how each of our lessons on David were a picture of Jesus Christ, too.
Lesson 4 Handout
Lesson 4 Coloring Page
Have you ever heard the word “meek?” What other word does it sound like? (If you have a place to write it for the children, it might be helpful for them to see that it is, indeed, not the same word as “weak.”) “Meek” and “weak” may sound a lot alike. But their meanings are very different!
Weakness is a lack of physical strength. It means you’re not strong enough to do something. Meekness, on the other hand, has nothing to do with physical strength. Meekness is a choice to keep strength under control. It is a gentle strength. Have you ever met someone who is very big and strong, but acts like a sweet teddy bear? That is kind of what meekness looks like.
People show meekness when they are challenged by an enemy, and rather than fighting back (which they have the ability to do), they walk away, instead. Or sometimes they just choose to let the enemy do what they want to do. That’s what Jesus did, and we’ll talk about that a little more, later.
People who are meek know they could easily defend themselves; but they choose not to fight back, because sometimes fighting back is the wrong answer. There are times when we do need to defend ourselves from enemies. But there are other times when God wants us to show meekness, and not fight back.
David trusted God to help him through many difficult situations. Sometimes that meant trusting God to give him the strength and skill to fight, like when he faced Goliath, and the other Philistines. But other times, trusting God meant stepping back, and letting God take care of his enemies. That act of stepping back is showing meekness. And that’s what we’re going to see David do, today.
Our memory verse for today will be a good reminder for us that there are times when God will want us to act in meekness, too. There will be enemies that want to upset us. But God reminds us that when we step back and trust Him, that He will be there to fight for us. Let’s learn this promise, together.
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.)
“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”
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’s Meekness, not Weakness (1 Samuel 24)
If you’ve been with us for the past few weeks, and our others lessons on David, you may remember that David had become well-loved in the nation of Israel. After he killed the giant, Goliath, and went to battle against the Philistines, women were coming out into the streets to sing about how wonderful David was.
Everyone in Israel seemed to love David. Everyone, that is, except one person. Can anyone guess who that might be? We talked about it in our last lesson. That person was King Saul. As David became more and more popular with the people, Saul became more and more jealous. He was so jealous, in fact, that he tried more than once to kill David by throwing his javelin at him.
Then, when David escaped from the palace, Saul sent messengers to his home, to kill him. So David was forced to leave his home, to escape the anger and jealousy of Saul. And for years, Saul chased David through Israel, and the surrounding countryside; hoping to end the life of the one who continually overshadowed him. But God was with David, helping him to escape the reaches of Saul each time.
Then one day, the time came when David had an opportunity to end the running and hiding, forever. King Saul lay defenseless, and within David’s reach. All he would have to do was put a sword through him, to end the years of having to look over his shoulder to see if Saul was coming after him. What do you think happened? Let’s look at God’s Word, to see.
(1 Samuel 24)
1 And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.
2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.
3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
So Saul had been looking for David, but needed some time to rest. He found a cave, went inside, laid down, and fell asleep. But he didn’t realize that the cave was not empty. Someone else was already hiding in the cave. Who was already there, hiding in the shadows? David and his men were there!
They probably couldn’t believe their good fortune! Walking right there, into their cave, unprotected, was the enemy who wanted to kill them. Had the Lord delivered Saul right into their hands? What do you think the men wanted to do? Let’s find out.
4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee…
If you guessed that David’s men were ready to kill King Saul, right then and there as he slept, you were right! They felt like God had brought Saul right to them, so they could kill him, and be rid of all the trouble he had brought on them. But if you thought that David was thinking the same thing, you’ll need to guess, again. David’s heart was not caught up in the excitement of the moment. He was carefully listening to what God told him to do.
4 … Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.
5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.
6 And he said unto his men, The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.
Did David kill King Saul, while he had the chance? No! What did he do, instead? He cut a little piece from Saul’s robe. And he felt badly for even doing that. Why did David believe that it would be wrong for him to kill King Saul? He said it was wrong to do anything to harm the man that the Lord had anointed as King.
Do you remember anyone else who was anointed to be king? Yes. David, too, had been anointed as the next King of Israel. God sent his prophet Samuel to anoint David because Saul had begun disobeying God’s commands. So God planned to take the kingdom away from Saul, and his family.
But David recognized this truth that we can find in the Psalms: “But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psalm 75:7) According to this verse, who decides who is going to be the ruler of a country? God does. And who decides when that person should no longer rule? God does. It was not up to David to decide when God’s appointed ruler should be removed from that position. David knew it was God who put him there, and God must be the one to remove him.
This is a good lesson for us, too; when we find ourselves discouraged by people in authority over us. Do you have a teacher or other adult in your life who is hard to obey? Who has put them there? God has. So while we may not agree with them, or like what they are doing; we still are to show them respect, because God is the one who has put them there. And when the time is right, if necessary, it will be God who removes them. We must be careful not to try to do His job for Him.
7 So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
8 David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.
What happened when Saul woke up? He went out of the cave, not noticing the missing fabric on his robe. But once he got out of the cave, something sure caught his attention quickly. Who yelled after him, once he’d left? David did. Can you just imagine the look on Saul’s face as he turned around to see David and his men standing in the cave where he’d just been sleeping? What do you think Saul was thinking at that moment? How do you think he felt? (Give the students some time to think about these questions, and Saul’s response.)
Do you think Saul was happy to see David and his men? After all, they are just the men he’d been looking for. But it didn’t take Saul long to realize the danger he had just been in. And David certainly was not going to let him overlook it.
Now that he had Saul’s full attention, there were some things he wanted to say to him.
9 And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
10 Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the Lord's anointed.
11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
12 The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
13 As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
14 After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
15 The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
What had Saul been hearing from people around him? There were people telling him that David wanted to hurt him, maybe even take his kingdom from him. But David wanted King Saul to understand that it was clearly not true. David and his men could easily have killed Saul, if that had been David’s desire. But David wanted to do no such thing. He only wanted Saul to stop trying to kill him, and his men.
And the proof of David’s meekness was in his hand. David held up the piece of Saul’s robe that he had cut off, to prove to Saul that he meant him no harm. David had a reason to kill Saul. He had the opportunity to kill Saul. And he certainly had the ability to do so. But David knew it just wasn’t his place to take the king’s life. It just wouldn’t be right, and would be against God’s plan. Remember, meekness is having the strength to do something, but the gentleness and self-control to hold back from doing what would have been wrong. And Saul was immediately touched by an overwhelming realization of what could have happened; and what David had done.
Let’s listen to Saul’s reaction to David, and what he had done.
16 And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.
19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.
20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
21 Swear now therefore unto me by the Lord, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house.
Saul’s eyes were finally opened wide to the truth about David. He was not out to get him. And in his meekness, David was willing to return kindness and mercy for Saul’s evil. Saul also acknowledged that it was evident that God had chosen David to be Israel’s next king. That must have been very hard, and humbling for Saul to admit. Saul had learned a very hard lesson from David.
And in his moment of humility, what did Saul ask of David? He asked that David spare his family. You see, it would have been customary for a new king to eliminate all members of the previous king’s family, so there would be no one left to challenge him for the throne. But for David, this would actually be an easy promise to keep. Can anyone guess why? You may remember the answer from our last lesson.
David had already promised this very thing to someone else… his best friend Jonathan, who happened to be King Saul’s son. Jonathan also knew that God intended for David to be king, instead of him. So he asked David to promise the same thing. And David had done so, gladly, because of his love for his friend. So the promise Saul was looking for had already been made.
22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.
Now, it may sound like this is the end of the story of Saul pursuing David. But if that’s what you guessed, I’m afraid you would be wrong. Because, unfortunately, Saul still had a great deal of evil and jealousy in his heart. And before long, he was after David, again.
We won’t look at that account in great detail, since it turned out just about the same as this first time. But, again, David and his men had an open opportunity to kill Saul. He had been chasing them, once again. And when Saul and his men fell asleep, David and one of his men snuck into their camp, and took the spear that had been stuck in the ground, right next to Saul as he slept. In that moment, David could easily have killed Saul with his own spear. But instead, he took the spear with him, and confronted Saul with it, as he yelled to him from a safe distance.
Once again, can you imagine what must have gone through Saul’s mind: fear, at having come so close to death; anger, that his men had not better protected him; but perhaps mostly foolishness at having been caught off guard, once again…then spared, again, by the one he considered to be his enemy.
For once again, David had displayed meekness toward Saul. He could easily have killed him. But he kept himself under control, and did what he knew was right. And this time, Saul finally seemed to learn his lesson. Listen to what Saul said to David, as he saw his own spear in David’s hand:
“Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.” (1 Samuel 26:21)
David had been a man of meekness, not weakness. He was brave enough to sneak into Saul’s camp, to take his spear. But he was meek enough not to lay a hand on God’s chosen king. David knew that one day he would be king. But he also knew it would not be up to him to decide the time or way that would happen. He would leave that fight up to the Lord.
In fact, these were David’s words on the matter of Saul’s manner of death:
(1 Samuel 26)
9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?
10 David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
11 The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
And as we learned last week, King Saul did die only a short time after this, when he was wounded in battle against the Philistines. God would keep his promise to David that he would be king. But David would not have to fight that battle to bring it about. God took care of that, for him.
It takes meekness to be able to step back, as David did, not taking things into his own hands; but allowing God to fight some of his battles for him. And God invites us to do the very same thing. As our memory verse promises, there will be times in our lives when the right thing to do is just stand back, hold our peace, and let the Lord do the fighting for us. Hopefully when those times come, we can remember David’s meekness, and trust the Lord, as David did, to fight the battle for us.
There’s another very important person in our Bible who also showed great meekness. We can find His story in the New Testament. And His name is Jesus! Can you think of a time when Jesus’ could have destroyed all His enemies, but knew that was not His Father’s plan? He kept his power under control, and let His enemies do what they wanted, thinking it would bring them the victory. But it was all in the Father’s plan. These are Jesus’ words to Peter, as the soldiers arrested Him in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54)
Jesus had the power to call down thousands of angels to hold off the soldiers, if He chose to. But in His meekness, Jesus let the soldiers lead Him away, so He could die on the cross for our sins.
Meekness is not the only way thing that Jesus and David had in common. In fact, all of our lessons about David are pictures of what Jesus is like. Our first lesson was about David being a good shepherd. And listen to what Jesus said to His disciples: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
Then, our second lesson looked at David as the giant killer. One of the biggest giants Jesus faced was death. And one of the biggest giants we face is sin. Jesus was able to conquer both of these giants through His sinless life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. The apostle Paul said, “…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57)
And last week we learned that David was a faithful friend. Do you remember how we also noted that Jesus invites us to be His friends, too? He says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) So if we are living lives obedient to God, He considers us His friends. And as a faithful friend, He makes us this promise: “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
We can be thankful to God for the great heroes He has given us, in His Word, to look up to and learn from. David taught us many things about trusting the Lord to help him stand up to many dangers in his life. We have the very same Lord to lean on in our times of trouble. And with His help, we can stand up to whatever may come our way.
But even better than that is the fact that God Himself became a man, to be another true Hero for us. There’s no better example we can learn from than Jesus, Himself. Let’s try to remember, next time we’re facing a danger or temptation, what David or Jesus would do. That’s why their examples are in the Bible, so we can learn to be like Jesus.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of David, and how he meekly stood in the face of his enemy, trusting You to take care of him. Thank You for reminding us that You are always there to deliver us, and give us victory over the challenges we face, too. Help us, even this week, to remember how Jesus was a great example for us, too. For I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. David’s men wanted to kill Saul while he was sleeping in the cave. (true)
2. Saul acknowledged that his grudge against David was wrong. (true)
3. Saul reminded David that Jonathan was to be the next king. (false – he acknowledged that David would be the next king)
4. King Saul never chased after David and his men, again. (false – he did the same thing only a short time later)
5. David let Saul go, again, the second time he could have killed him. (true)