King Saul Disobeys Object lesson pic of lighter

King Saul Disobeys Object Lesson

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Why is obedience so important? Use this King Saul Disobeys object lesson to discuss how obedience is better than sacrifice and how Jesus is our example.

Scripture Focus: 1 Samuel 13:5-14; 15:9, 13-16, 19-22


  • Lighter

Geography: Gilgal; Israelite camp when they fought the Philistines and Amalekites

Background: Samuel has been prophet and priest over Israel for some time. Because the people desired a king like the nations around them, Samuel anointed Saul as king. Samuel warned the people that having an earthly king would come with consequences. And he urged the people to be sure that they did not turn from following God. Saul was only a few years into his reign when he gathered thousands of men to attack the Philistines.

Object Lesson for King Saul Disobeys:

[Hold up the lighter for the children to see. Flick it on and off a few times as you ask:]

  • What is this? [a lighter]
  • What do you do with this? [Possible answers: light candles, a fire, a grill, etc.]
  • Do you have any rules in your home about lighters? [Allow for answers]
  • What could happen if you do not follow the rules? [Possible answers: someone could get hurt, the house could catch fire, etc.]

Lighters can be used for many good things. But it is important to remember that lighters can be harmful if not used correctly. Because of this, you might have some rules about them. Maybe all lighters need to be stored up high so children cannot reach them. Perhaps you have a rule that only adults may use a lighter. Parents give important rules to their children because they love their children and want them to stay safe.

If those rules are disobeyed, then there could be a horrible consequence. Someone could get badly burned, or a fire might burn a house down.

Most rules have a purpose; and that purpose usually involves the safety of people or material things. 

Bible Lesson for King Saul Disobeys:

God has rules that serve a purpose as well. His rules are for our good because He loves us. When we decide to disobey those rules, then there are terrible consequences. Sometimes we see those consequences right away. Sometimes it takes time.

Saul had a consequence that took some time.

The people had asked Samuel to give them a king because they wanted a ruler like all the nations around them instead of God. King Saul was the first king of Israel. A few years into his reign, King Saul gathered soldiers together to fight the Philistines. 

[Read 1 Samuel 13:5-14. Ask:]

  • How long did Saul wait for Samuel? [7 days]
  • What were the soldiers doing? [Scattering and leaving Saul]
  • What did Saul do when Samuel did not come? [He chose to offer the burnt sacrifices himself.]
  • When Samuel arrived, how did he react? [What have you done?]
  • What was Saul’s excuse? [Samuel was late and the people were scattering. Saul felt compelled to sacrifice on his own power.]
  • How did Samuel respond to Saul’s excuses? [He called Saul foolish.]
  • What was Saul’s consequence? [God was going to take the kingdom away from him and find a new man to be king.]

King Saul wanted to be sure that God was going to be with him in battle. There is nothing wrong with that. Where he went wrong was offering the sacrifice himself. In the books of the law it was clear that only a priest of the One True God may offer sacrifices to Him. Because Saul chose to disobey God’s law, he was given a consequence. It sounds really harsh! Saul was going to lose the kingdom to someone else. But God knew Saul’s heart. 

Saul went to war against the Amalekites. God gave him specific instructions to do. He was to destroy the city including the king and the animals. Let’s see if King Saul learned his lesson from before.

[Read 1 Samuel 15:9, 13-16, 19-22. Ask:]

  • What did Saul do? [He spared the king and all of the sheep, oxen, and lambs; they kept what they thought was good and destroyed everything else.]
  • When Saul saw Samuel, what did he say? [That he had done what God asked of him.]
  • Did Samuel agree? [No]
  • What was Saul’s excuse this time? [The animals were saved to sacrifice to the Lord.]
  • What does God delight in? [Obedience to His voice]
  • What is obedience better than? [Sacrifice]

Partial obedience is still disobedience. King Saul did not obey God. Through his disobedience, Saul showed that he had rejected the voice of God. King Saul proved that he was arrogant and rebellious. Therefore, God would reject King Saul.

King Saul Disobeys Object lesson pic of lighter

Bible Application:

You can know all kinds of things about the Bible, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but if you do not OBEY what God says, then you are no better than King Saul.


  • How do you know what God says? [Go to church, read the Bible, pray, listen to church teachers and parents]

We need to know WHAT God says and then we need to DO what God says. In other words, we need to follow Jesus. Jesus is our example. What Jesus did was perfect and in total obedience to God. 

[Hold up the lighter.]

You can know in your head that a lighter can cause fires and hurt people if you aren’t careful. And you can know that your parents have a rule about where the lighter should go and who gets to use it. But you don’t show what you know until you ACT upon it by obedience. That means if the rule is only adults touch the lighter, the you do not touch the lighter. Obedience shows that you know what to do.

God’s words bring life. Jesus shows us what life with God looks like. It means putting aside our wants and desires and loving other people as we love ourselves. Serving others is great. Sacrifice is great. But DOING the message of the Lord with an obedient heart is best.

What is God saying through Samuel? God values an obedient heart and attitude above all else. Therefore, we should know God’s commandments so we can DO what He wants us to DO. 

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