Here’s a free small group Bible study lesson on 1 Samuel.
Topics include: Identity, Faith, Obedience and Perseverance
Bible: 1 Samuel 1:1-28, 3:1-21, 8:1-22; Ephesians 2:10
Enjoy the lesson!
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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YOUTH BIBLE STUDY ON IDENTITY, FAITH AND OBEDIENCE
Today we’re going to dive into the book of 1 Samuel.
1 Samuel is paired with the book of 2 Samuel, which is one whole story told in two parts.
What we see in this first part is the nation of Israel needing a king to help them live a better life that honors God.
From here, we see a few key characters emerge that most of us have heard of.
The first is the prophet Samuel. His story is told in the first few chapters, and then he is present throughout the rest of the book on the side of the other two characters, Saul and David.
Saul is the man that becomes the very first king of Israel.
David is the second king of Israel.
And yes, this is that same David from the David and Goliath story – we will get to that one later in the series.
So as we journey through the book of 1 Samuel together, I want you to begin thinking about the idea of finding true identity.
There are several reasons I want you to be thinking about that.
First off, the nation of Israel was a group of people without a ruler.
Remember that they were God’s chosen people that God wanted to use to show His power and glory to the world and guide others to follow and honor Him.
They found themselves struggling with their identity and wanted to place in into a person – a ruler.
Second, Samuel, Saul, and David each will wrestle with their own identity and deal with a few of their own failures and mistakes.
What is amazing, though, is watching God use them in a big way to still further His purposes.
And lastly, Israel transitions from tribal living to kingdom living.
God grants their request for a king and allows them to be established as a kingdom instead of being nomads wandering around the earth looking for a home.
However, God does this in a way that will help them see their need to stay dependent on Him as their true King, not in someone else who has their own flaws, struggles, and shortcomings.
So as we journey through this together, let’s discover how Israel’s inner battle with their identity and desires can be compared with how we find our true identity in God and not the world or our own ambitions and goals.
When was a recent time when you had an answer to prayer?
Maybe it was for someone who was sick and needed healing or for help in a tough situation.
Regardless of the circumstance, there are times in our lives when we go to God in prayer and hope that He answers.
In the beginning of the book of 1 Samuel, we will see two people who are asking God for help.
The first is a woman who wishes she was able to have a child.
The second is a group of people – the Israelites – who wish they had a leader to lead them and guide them in life.
As this opening scene is told, God answers both of these with the birth of Samuel.
Samuel plays a key role in the start of this story.
Not just as a new, young prophet, but also as the one who will appoint the first and second kings of Israel later in the story.
Before we get to that, let’s stick with the idea of answered prayer.
Let’s think about times in our lives when we have experienced an answer to prayer and how God has used that to help us know Him and draw closer to Him.
- Have you or someone close to you ever experienced an answer to a prayer? How did God answer that prayer?
- When you pray, how do you pray?
- What do you pray for?
- Do you think someone’s prayer life reveals their view of God? If so, how?
- Do your prayers sound the same or different when you are in need versus when you are not? How so?
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-20 – Samuel’s Birth
The first thing you can notice about this first passage in 1 Samuel is the idea of longing.
Hannah longs for a child and is unable to have one.
Interestingly, this is the first story we begin reading about in a bigger story of the nation of Israel that is also longing for something.
As we see, Hannah is grief-stricken by this. She feels unworthy in comparison to her husband’s other wife, who bears children.
You see, for a woman in this Biblical time period, bearing children and caring for them was one of the main roles that women held within society.
To not have this ability was to not feel like they were doing their job or their sole responsibility within a male-dominated culture.
Not being able to bear children was a huge issue for Hannah, especially because her husband’s other wife did have children.
So she prays to God and gives a vow to dedicate the child solely to God if He were to grant her a child.
- Why was having a son so important to Hannah? How does this contribute to her understanding of her own identity?
- When has God helped you or “remembered” you in a time of great need? What happened? How did God answer your prayer?
- Did your prayer request, like Hannah’s, relate to something you find part of your identity in? If yes, how so?
- How have you seen or experienced an answer to prayer paving the way for something bigger and much more amazing later on?
What’s incredible about this opening narrative is that Samuel later becomes instrumental in helping Israel step into its next phase of history, which becomes the establishment of the Davidic monarchy.
Through one woman’s grief and faith, a child is born that will help lead Israel into a better future that then paves the way for the Davidic line that ultimately leads to Jesus.
So as small or as minor as this story may seem, God has a way of bringing something good out of something that is hard, difficult, and full of pain, hurt, and sadness.
Let’s take a look at Samuel as he grows up, a bit, and see what we can learn from Samuel’s story.
Read 1 Samuel 3:1-21 – Samuel’s Calling
Now this section talks about another huge part of Samuel’s life.
This is where Samuel receives his calling from the Lord and becomes a prophet of God, delivering God’s messages to the people.
However, as this section begins, we see that Samuel doesn’t initially recognize God’s voice.
In fact, he believes it to be Eli – the temple priest that his mother gave him to to care and watch over him.
However, it wasn’t Eli’s voice. It was God speaking to Samuel.
It wasn’t until Samuel got help and assistance from Eli that he was able to understand who was talking to him and recognize the voice.
There are many ways that God can talk to us and there are many ways that we probably have not recognized God’s voice in our lives.
But once we do, we can begin to listen and hear and understand what God is wanting to tell us … and what He wants us to do.
And for Samuel, that includes God’s calling on his life.
Because when Samuel is able to recognize God’s voice, everything begins to fall into place.
God calls him to be a prophet and to speak His message boldly, not leaving anything out.
In this first instance, it was against Eli, the priest, and his house for his sons had not been acting appropriately.
This is a true test for Samuel to begin his calling and new identity as a prophet of God.
And it starts with recognizing God’s voice.
- GROUP ACTIVITY: How good are you with recognizing people’s voices? Try this! Have someone from your small group close their eyes and have the rest of the group, one at a time, say something and see if one person can recognize that person’s voice. Was it easy? Hard? Whose voice was the hardest to recognize? Why? [You can do this once with regular voices and then have each person disguise their voice.]
- Why do you think Samuel had a hard time recognizing God’s voice?
- When have you been able to recognize God’s voice, in your life? Did anyone have to have help from an “Eli”-type person to recognize God’s voice?
- After Samuel recognized God’s voice, God gave him a message to share, and it wasn’t a positive one. How do you think you have responded if you were Samuel?
- Like Samuel, being a Christ-follower means that we are called to do hard things. How have you been led by God to do something that was hard or difficult for you?
Samuel’s new identity is now found in God’s calling on his life as a prophet and a messenger.
Because of this, God will now call Samuel to do many things in His name.
And as Samuel finds out, sometimes living in that calling can be hard.
And other times it can be an amazing opportunity to help and guide others in the calling God has given them in their lives.
As a prophet, Samuel will have to endure some hard times with Israel, where they clearly are ignoring God’s voice in their life.
And God puts Samuel right there next to them to remind them to focus on doing the things that God has planned for them.
It reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 that says:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
The things God calls us to do are good!
And even though this was written by Paul much later than 1 Samuel, the principle is the same.
God wants His people to follow Him and not other things or other people.
God gives Samuel the task of helping the people of Israel to know what God is calling them to do – he becomes God’s messenger to help Israel recognize God’s true voice.
And it’s this voice that Israel will struggle to consistently recognize throughout the Old Testament.
But before we talk more about that and how that leads to their first king, let’s take a look at one more account from Samuel.
Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22 – Samuel’s Obedience
This new section talks about a time when Israel is desperately asking for a king.
Samuel relays God’s message of warning to the Israelites and plays mediator between them both.
This is a hard place to be.
Have you ever had to battle between two people that didn’t always see eye to eye?
Have you had to step into a situation, feeling like you know what they need but allowing them to still make their own decisions and hope they make it out okay?
This must have been how Samuel felt.
However, Samuel was still obedient to God and did what he was told, even when he felt like Israel was not making the best decision for themselves.
What we see here is Samuel’s obedience.
He could have come in like a true judge and scolded them for being ignorant to God’s kingship over them. He could have told them “no” and directed them to follow God or else.
However, God also told Samuel to give the people what they wanted, with a warning, and be there to support and guide them as he was able to.
This is such a test of faith and obedience for Samuel.
And one that Samuel will have to learn to navigate as the first king, Saul, begins to reign in both good ways and bad.
- When did your parents let you learn the hard way by letting you have or do something they knew was not good for you?
- What were the sins of Samuel’s sons? What do you think they placed their identity in?
- What reasons does Israel give in its request for a king?
- What was wrong with their willful intent to have a king? What were kings of “other nations” like then?
- Samuel was displeased with the request made by the Israelites for a king, but he still went to God for guidance. What does this teach us about how we should act?
- Samuel listens, delivers the message, and does what God tells him to do. How does Samuel’s obedience reflect his identity?
Samuel’s role in this book is pivotal to the future of Israel.
Even with Israel’s neglect of God’s kingship, desiring a human king over God, Samuel becomes a stable figure for Israel to lean on.
Samuel had a hard job of being a voice for God to the nation of Israel and an advocate for the Israelites before God.
Samuel was one perseverant referee.
While trying to find balance between God’s will and Israel’s humanity, Samuel helps lead the way for Israel to be shaped into a stable nation, which opens the door for God’s Son to be born into the world to bring hope, peace, joy and salvation.
So here’s something to remember from Samuel’s story.
Samuel’s identity was found in God and not in his wants or desires.
Once Samuel recognized God’s voice in his life, he learned to listen to it more than others.
And this is what makes him a good prophet that God used to help Israel.
- If you had to give yourself a grade for how well you find your identity in God instead of in other things, how would you grade yourself?
- What can we learn from Samuel that will help us be obedient to God as well?
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