ESL Lesson 17 – Israel Gets a King

Lesson 17

Israel Gets a King

1 Samuel 1, 8, 13, 15


Hannah didn’t have any children.  In Bible times if a woman didn’t have children, people looked down on her.  They thought God must be punishing her by not giving her children.   Hannah wanted a child so much.  But year after year went by and Hannah and her husband still didn’t have any children. 


One day Hannah prayed and asked God to give her a child.  She told God, “If you will give me a son I will give him back to You to serve You all the days of his life.”


Soon after that Hannah gave birth to a baby boy.  She named him Samuel.  When Samuel was still very young, Hannah took him to the temple and gave him to the priest.  She left Samuel there to serve the Lord the rest of his life. 


Every year when Hannah came to the temple, she brought clothes for Samuel and visited him.  She loved Samuel very much, but she kept her promise to God. 


Samuel grew up in the temple.  He learned to obey and help do things in the temple.  He learned to listen for God’s voice and do what God told him to do.


When Samuel grew up he became the last judge of Israel.  As a judge he helped people decide things they couldn’t agree on. He also helped the Jews know how God wanted them to fight their battles so that God would deliver them from their enemies. 


Samuel was not only the last judge, he was also the first main prophet of Israel.   When Samuel was alive, not much of the Bible had been written.  So when God wanted His people to know what to do, He would tell his prophet.  God would speak to the prophet in a voice he could hear.  Then the prophet would give the people God’s message.  In this way the people were ruled by God, with God’s prophet telling the people what to do.


The Jews did not want God to rule them.  They wanted a king like other nations had.  No one could see God.  The Jews wanted a leader they could see.  They wanted a king to lead them in battle.  So the Jews came to Samuel and asked him to give them a king.


This did not make Samuel happy.  God told the people what to do.  God helped the people win the battles.  They did not need a king.  Samuel asked God what he should do. 


God told Samuel, “The people are not rejecting you as their leader.  They are rejecting Me.  Give the people a king.  But first warn the people and tell them what a king will do to them.”

Samuel told the people, “If I give you a king, he will charge you high taxes.  He will take your children to work as his servants.  He will take the best of your land and livestock.  When that happens you will complain because of the trouble your king brings, but God will not listen to you.”


But the people told Samuel, “We want a king like other nations.”


God told Samuel, “Listen to the people and give them a king.  I will tell you which man to choose to be king.”


God told Samuel to choose a man named Saul to be Israel’s new king.  Saul was a big man, taller than anyone else in Israel.  When the Jews saw Saul, they were happy with their new king.










temple (n)

charge (v)

priest (n)

tax (n)

prophet (n)

complain (v)

reject (v)




1.  In Bible times why did people look down on women who didn’t have children?

2.  What did Hannah tell God she would do if He would give her a child?

3.  Do you think it was easy for Hannah to leave Samuel to live in the temple?

4.  Fill in the blanks.  Samuel was the last ___ and the first main ___ of Israel.

5.  Why did the Jews want a king?

6.  When the Jews said they wanted a king, who were they rejecting?

7.  What kind of trouble did Samuel tell the Jews a king would cause?


Saul was strong.  He knew how to fight battles.  But Saul did not love God the way he should.  When God told Saul how to rule the people or fight battles, Saul didn’t always obey God. 


One day Samuel told Saul, “Because you have not obeyed God, God has found another king to lead His people.  God wants a king who will love and obey Him.”


Soon God told Saul to go fight another battle.  God wanted to use the Jews to punish the enemy.  God told Saul to go attack these people and destroy them and everything they owned.

But Saul did not obey God.  Saul let the enemy king live.  Saul killed the animals that were weak and sick, but he did not kill the good animals.


God sent Samuel to talk to Saul.  “Why didn’t you obey God?” Samuel asked Saul.  “Why didn’t you kill all the animals?”


Saul knew he had not obeyed God but he did not want to admit that he was wrong.  So he made an excuse.  He said, “I saved the best animals so that I could sacrifice them to God.”  


Samuel told Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice.  Because you have rejected God, He has rejected you as king.”


Throughout the Bible we read about many people who disobeyed God and sinned in terrible ways.  God forgave every person who was sorry for what he had done and asked God to forgive him.  But Saul was not sorry for disobeying God.  He thought his way of fighting the battle was better than God’s way.  Then he sacrificed some animals to bribe God into forgetting about his disobedience.  But God would not accept Saul’s bribe.  God wanted a king who would love and obey Him.  Saul didn’t love God like he should.  He did not want to listen to God. 


Samuel left Saul that day and never saw him again.  Saul did not have God’s help in knowing what to do.  He continued to rule Israel after that, but he was not a good king. 



excuse (n)

disobedience (n)

bribe (v)




 8.  How did Saul disobey God during one battle?

 9.  What excuse did Saul make for not obeying God?

10.  What did Samuel say was better than sacrifice?

11.  Was Saul sorry that he had disobeyed?


To Think About

Every person has sinned and done things that have offended* God.  God says, “I want to forgive you.  But you must be sorry for your sins and believe that Jesus died in your place before I can forgive you.  Jesus is my plan for forgiveness.” 


God is holy. He cannot sin.  Because He is holy, He must punish sin.  He cannot forgive us unless* our sin has been punished.  Jesus died for us to take our punishment.  When we really believe that, God forgives us.


But many people today are like Saul.  They don’t want to do things God’s way*.  They do not think their sin is very bad.  They are not sorry for the wrong things they have done.  They don’t want to believe in Jesus.  They also don’t want God to punish them for their sin.  So they do many good things, hoping that God will forget about their sin.  But no matter how many good things they do, they can’t bribe God into forgiving them. God can’t forgive them if they will not believe in Jesus.


If a person disobeys the law and then pays the judge to let him off easy*, we call this a bribe.  What do you think about judges who accept bribes?  Is it right for a judge to accept bribes?  Why? 

                        Would you respect a judge who never punished people for disobeying the law?  Could you respect God if He allowed people to sin and never punished them?



unless (conj)

let him off easy

way (n)