Judge, Priest, and Prophet ~ Samuel (1 Samuel 1-7 – Object Lesson)

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Materials: a “lucky” item, like a rabbit’s foot, or a ball cap


Geography: Israel

During the years of the judges, there was great sin and darkness. Once Joshua died there was no leadership, no king, and no government. Each tribe did it’s own thing. The people fell into gross idolatry and gross immorality to the point that “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” BUT God did not forget His promise to Abraham and He was at work through a young Moabite lady named Ruth. Through Ruth, God would bring about a king and THE King.

Main Events of 1 Samuel 1-7:
Elkannah and Hannah did not have any children. Elkannah’s other wife did, but not Hannah. When they went to the tabernacle, Hannah entered and prayed earnestly for a son. The priest, Eli, thought she was drunk and told her to leave. (This shows how depraved and far from the Lord the people of Israel were. The priest couldn’t recognize the difference between prayer and drunkenness.) Eli told Hannah that her prayer would be answered. She had a baby boy and dedicated him to the Lord when he was about three years old. Samuel was raised in the temple and served the Lord.


“The word of the Lord was rare in those days.” In fact, when Samuel heard the Lord’s voice, he thought it was Eli. After three times of going to Eli to ask what he wanted, Eli told Samuel that it must be the Lord speaking to him. Eli told Samuel to tell the voice, “Speak, for your servant hears.” It was at this point that Samuel received his first prophecy from the Lord. What is a prophecy? (a prediction about a future event; usually calls for people to repent) God told Samuel that He was going to take the priesthood away from the family of Eli because of the evil doings of Eli’s sons. The next morning Eli asked Samuel about what God had told him. Samuel told him. I cannot imagine how Samuel felt when he told Eli about the prophecy. But because of this, all of Israel considered Samuel a prophet. What is a prophet? (receives prophecies from God; a person who prays to God in order to save/spare the lives of others)

Does this prophecy come true?

[Hold up the “lucky” item.] If I take this item to a ballgame, that means my team will win, right? Or, if I forget to take it, then my team will lose. Is this right? (No) There is no power in objects. Keep this in mind as we discuss this next part of the story.

Israel and the Philistines went to war. Israel was defeated. The people could not understand why they had been defeated. So they went into the tabernacle and had some priests bring the ark of the covenant out of the Holy of Holies so they could take it to battle with them.

–Screetch– STOP! What is the ark of the covenant? (This needs to be its own lesson, but here’s the short explanation.) When the Israelites received the directions from God through Moses to build the tabernacle, there were also directions on what to put IN the tabernacle. Furniture, candles, curtains, etc. The ark of the covenant was to be built as the place where God would sit. The Mercy Seat. There were very specific rules as to who could carry the ark and how it was to be moved. The priests knew if anyone touched the ark, he would be killed. The ark was placed in the Holy of Holies and only the High Priest was to enter the room once per year.

Back to the story. The army of Israel took the ark of the covenant into battle with them hoping they would win, like maybe God was a good luck charm. It didn’t work. In fact, not only did the army lose, but the ark of the covenant was captured by the enemy! During the battle Eli’s two sons were killed. When Eli heard about his sons’ deaths and that the ark had been captured, the he fell backwards, broke his neck, and died. Therefore the prophecy of Samuel came true.

Life Application of 1 Samuel 1-7:

God is not someone to trifle with. He takes sin seriously. The Hebrew people were being defeated because they were disobedient to God. He was allowing them to have consequences for their actions. If everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes, then why should God help them? Relationships are formed between two persons. Our relationship with God is between us and God, you and Him. If we listen to God as Samuel did, then God will speak and bless. If we only consider God on our terms, then He’s not going to work “magic” for us.

What Truth did you learn from the lesson?

Thoughts? Please share!