November 5, 2023 – 1 Samuel 16

Lesson Date: November 5, 2023

Focal Scripture Passage: 1 Samuel 16:1-23

AIM: To lead students to discover that God judges us by our heart rather than our outward appearance or behavior, and to ask God to help them see themselves as He sees them.


Before class: Read the notes on 1 Samuel 16 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write “X-Ray,” “CT,” and “MRI” on the board.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to “X-Ray,” “CT,” and “MRI” written on the board.  Ask: “Have you ever had any of those scans?” (probably most of them have).  Ask: “Why do doctors order such tests?” (to look for problems within our bodies that cannot be seen from the outside).

Ask: “Have you ever known anyone who appeared perfectly healthy on the outside, but it was later revealed that they had a major health problem?” (they probably have).  Tell the class that we sometimes hear of an apparently healthy person who suddenly dies from a major heart attack or is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Ask: “Why do such occurrences shock us?” (because the person appeared healthy on the outside).

Tell the students that just as doctors can’t discern everything about our health simply by looking at our outward appearance, we can’t always tell about a person’s character by how they appear.  Stress the fact that the same is true spiritually: we can’t easily tell from the outside if another person’s heart is right with God.  Tell the class that’s why the old expression says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is How’s Your Heart?  Tell them as we study 1 Samuel 16,  we will learn that God judges us by our hearts, not merely by our outward appearance.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Costly Disobedience; we discovered the cost of King Saul’s disobedience to God, and examined ourselves for signs of disobedience).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
  2. The Lord Told Samuel to Anoint a New King.
    • Read 1 Samuel 16:1.
    • Ask: “Why do you think Samuel mourned over Saul?” (he was sad that Saul had failed as king; 1 Sam. 15:34-35).
    • Ask: “What did God tell Samuel about Saul?” (He rejected Saul from being king of Israel).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord tell Samuel to do?” (fill his horn with oil and go to a man named Jesse in Bethlehem; locate Bethlehem on the Map).
    • Ask: “Why did God tell Samuel to do this?” (because He had chosen one of Jesse’s sons to be king).
    • Ask: “We studied the book of Ruth in September; what did we learn about Jesse?” (he was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz; Ruth 4:22).
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 16:2-3 to the class.
    • Explain that Samuel was afraid Saul would kill him for anointing a new king, but God told Samuel to take an animal with him to offer as a sacrifice.
    • Ask: “In verse 3, who did the Lord tell Samuel to call to the sacrifice?” (Jesse).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord promise to do?” (show Samuel which of Jesse’s sons he was to anoint as king).
    • Tell the class in verses 4-5, Samuel went to Bethlehem and followed God’s instructions.
    • Summarize: After rejecting Saul from being king, the Lord told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint a new king from among Jesse’s sons.
  3. The Lord Corrected Samuel’s Misconceptions.
    • Read 1 Samuel 16:6.
    • Ask: “What did Samuel think when he saw Jesse’s son Eliab?” (he thought that surely this was God’s choice to be the new king).
    • Explain that Eliab was tall and handsome (v. 7), so Samuel assumed he was the Lord’s choice to be the new king.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 16:7.
    • Ask: “What two things did the Lord tell Samuel not to look at?” (Eliab’s handsome appearance or his size: the very things that Saul was known for).
    • Ask: “Does God look at people the same way we do?” (no).
    • Ask: “What do we look at?” (we focus on outward appearance).
    • Ask: “Is that still true today?” (yes, our world idolizes beautiful and handsome people).
    • Ask: “What did God say He looks at?” (our heart: what’s on the inside).
    • Tell the students that we clean up and dress up to come to church, and that is good, but God is more concerned with what’s inside of us than with our outward
    • Read 1 Samuel 16:8-10.
    • Explain that Jesse brought a total of seven sons before Samuel, but none of them was the Lord’s choice to be Israel’s new king.
    • Summarize: Samuel highly valued the appearance of the future king, but the Lord corrected his misconception, explaining that He judges people by their hearts.
  4. The Lord Chose David to be Israel’s New King.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 16:11.
    • Ask: “Why do you think Jesse didn’t bring his youngest son before Samuel?” (he thought he was too young to be king).
    • Explain that birth order was very important in those days, and the oldest son was expected to have authority over his younger brothers; it was considered unnatural for a younger brother to rule over his older brothers (Gen. 37:8).
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 16:12-13.
    • Ask: “How is David described in verse 12?” (he was young, ruddy, and good-looking).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord tell Samuel to do?” (anoint David because he was God’s choice to be the new king).
    • Explain the following:
      • This situation illustrates the problem when we judge people by their appearance.
      • Samuel looked on those eight sons and picked the one that looked the most like a king.
      • God looked on those same eight sons and picked the one who would be the best king (“a man after His own heart” – 1 Sam. 13:14), even though he was the most insignificant looking one.
      • Samuel obeyed God and anointed David as king.
    • Ask: “According to verse 13, what happened to David?” (the Spirit of the Lord came upon him).
    • Remind the students that in Old Testament times the Holy Spirit came upon a person to empower him or her to do some special work for God, after which the Spirit left that person; today, however, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells all genuine believers.
    • Tell the class that after anointing David, Samuel went home.
    • Summarize: Since the Lord judges our heart and not our appearance, He chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, to be the next king of Israel.
  5. The Lord Departed From Saul.
    • Say: “David was now the newly-anointed king of Israel, but there was a problem. Remember Saul?  He was still reigning as king.”
    • Read 1 Samuel 16:14.
    • Ask: “What left Saul?” (the Spirit of the Lord).
    • Ask: “What came upon and troubled Saul?” (an evil spirit).
    • Explain the following:
      • God is sovereignly in charge of the entire universe, including the spirit realm.
      • All spirits, both evil (demons) and holy (angels), must ultimately obey God.
      • He can allow or send an evil spirit (demon) to trouble a person for a specific reason.
      • Job is one example of this: Satan could not trouble Job without God’s permission.
      • God had rejected Saul from being king, so He allowed an evil spirit to trouble Saul to lead him toward his ultimate destruction.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Samuel 16:15-18.
    • Explain the following:
      • Saul’s servants knew that godly music would drive away the evil spirit, so they suggested David come and play the harp for him.
      • This is an important truth: God-honoring Christian music has great power to dispel evil spirits, but worldly, fleshly music actually invites evil spirits.
    • Read 1 Samuel 16:19-23.
    • Ask: “How did Saul feel toward David?” (he loved him and made him his armor bearer).
    • Ask: “What happened when the evil spirit troubled Saul and David played his harp?” (the evil spirit departed from Saul).
    • Tell the class that God undoubtedly used this time with King Saul to prepare David for when he would become king of Israel.
    • Summarize: Since He had rejected Saul from being king, the Lord departed from Saul and allowed an evil spirit to trouble him. David’s godly music drove the spirit away.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct everyone’s attention once again to “X-Ray,” “CT,” and “MRI” written on the board.  Tell them that doctors must use scans and other tests to find out what’s going on inside our bodies, but the Lord knows all about our hearts, feelings, and thoughts.

Read 1 Samuel 16:7.  Tell the students that we look on one another’s outward appearance, but God looks at our hearts.

Ask: “Don’t answer out loud, but how much time do you spend each day on your appearance?  How much time do you spend bathing, fixing your hair, brushing your teeth, putting on makeup, choosing and putting on your clothes, etc.?”  Tell the students that as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), we ought to care about our appearance so it doesn’t detract from the Gospel.

Ask: “Don’t answer out loud, but how much time do you spend each day on your spiritual needs? How much time do you spend reading the Bible, praying, meditating on or memorizing God’s Word, and doing other things that feed your spirit?  Do you spend as much time on your spiritual needs as you do on your outward appearance?”

Remind the students that the title of today’s lesson is How’s Your Heart?  Ask: “What does God see in your heart?  Is your heart right with Him?  Are there secret sins or ungodly attitudes in your heart?”

Tell the class this is the most important question: “Do you want your heart to be right with God?”

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Tell them to ask God to show them what’s in their heart, and to confess any sins and ungodly attitudes He reveals to them.  Allow a moment for silent prayer, and then voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Samuel 16:7.  Tell them to ask God daily to let them see themselves as He sees them.  Tell them to confess their sins and strive to be people after God’s heart.

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