Samuel Anoints David


3 Samuel Annoints DavidScripture Reference: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Suggested Emphasis: We should not judge others by the way they look.

Memory Verse: “God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

Story Overview:

God told Samuel that he had chosen a new king for Israel. The new king was to be one of the sons of Jesse. When Samuel saw the sons he thought the Lord would want Jesse’s oldest son to be the king. Instead, the Lord chose the youngest son, David, who was out tending the sheep. Samuel anointed David as the new king but it would be many years before the time was right for David to take Saul’s place. The Lord chose David even though he did not look as big and handsome as his older brothers. The Lord does not judge by outward appearance but by the heart.

Background Study:

Samuel mourned for King Saul because Saul had sinned. Saul was no longer the humble man that hid behind the baggage rather than stand before a crowd (10:20-27). All of Saul’s accomplishments seem to have gone to his head. Samuel loved Saul but knew that God had rejected him as king. Saul was allowed to rule for as long as he lived but God planned to have another man ready to become king after Saul died. God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king.

The official way that a person was shown to be chosen by God was to be anointed. Samuel used a hollow horn of a cow to store the oil for his journey.

Since Saul’s whole attitude had changed, Samuel didn’t know how he might react to Samuel anointing someone else to be king. God advised Samuel to take a sacrifice to offer while he was in Bethlehem, and that would be the obvious reason for his journey.

When Samuel arrived in Bethlehem, the town elders met him in fear. Perhaps they were afraid that someone in their town had been accused of wrongdoing. But Samuel assured them that he had come in peace to offer a sacrifice to God. Then he invited these men to “consecrate” or “sanctify” themselves and come to the sacrifice, especially Jesse and his sons. To sanctify themselves probably meant to stop work, wash their clothes, and take a bath in preparation for a time of worship.

Jesse was old and had eight sons (1 Chronicles 2:13-15 and 1 Samuel 17:12): Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, Nathaniel, Raddai, Ozem, and David. One is unnamed, possibly because he did not live to maturity.

Eliab probably was Jesse’s oldest son. He was such a fine-looking young man that Samuel thought he must be the one God had chosen.

A well-known verse appears in this text (1 Samuel 16:7) “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” What God saw in David’s heart pleased Him, and He chose this young man to be the next king of Israel. Verse 12 indicates that David had a pleasing outward appearance as well.

Samuel anointed David in the presence of his family, but it is unclear whether Samuel explained to them what he had done. Perhaps the family understood his actions, or perhaps they thought he was anointing David to be a prophet. Samuel left immediately and went back home. David returned to tending his sheep, willing to wait for the Lord God to work out things in His own time. The difference in David was that the Spirit of the Lord was on him, starting then and lasting for the rest of his life (16:13).

Way to Introduce the Story:

Prepare two types of icing for biscuits. One type should be yummy and the other type should be made with lots of salt. Decorate some plain wine biscuits with both types of icing. Decorate the salty ones so they will look inviting but just put plain icing on the others. Give each child one of each type of biscuit. Let them taste them. Now discuss the fact that something can look good on the outside but be bad on the inside. Some things don’t look special on the outside but they are the best on the inside. People are like that too. God does not decide what we are like because of the way we look. He judges us by what is inside us – what is in our hearts.

The Story:

Samuel was very sad. Saul was the king of Israel and Saul was not obeying God. Samuel knew that Saul was not a good king. It made Samuel sad to see Saul disobey God.

God said to Samuel, “Saul does not want to obey me. I have chosen a new king and I want you to anoint him. He lives in the town of Bethlehem and he is the son of a man named Jesse. Get an empty horn that has been cut from a cow. Fill the horn with oil and go to Bethlehem.”

Samuel was afraid. King Saul would be very angry if he heard that Samuel was anointing a new king. What if he got mad at him and tried to kill him?

The Lord told Samuel not to be afraid. He told Samuel to take a special sacrifice to Bethlehem and everyone would just think he was making a normal trip. This sounded like a good idea to Samuel so he took his sacrifice and travelled to Bethlehem. No one knew that Samuel was going to anoint a new king.

When Samuel arrived in Bethlehem he told everyone that he would be making a special sacrifice to the Lord. He invited Jesse and his sons to come. Before they came, Jesse and his sons washed and got dressed up. All of the sons wanted to look their best.

When Samuel saw Jesse’s sons he was very happy. They were fine-looking men. Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, was very tall and handsome. Samuel thought that Eliab would be a good king.

But the Lord told Samuel, “This is not the one I want to be king. He is handsome and tall but the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

So if Eliab was not to be the king, then which of Jesse’s sons would be the next king of Israel? Jesse told his next son to come forward and stand in front of Samuel. His name was Abinadab. Maybe Abinadab would be the next king.

“No,” said Samuel, “the Lord has not chosen Abinadab.”

One by one all of Jesse’s sons stood before Samuel. The Lord had not chosen any of them to be the new king of Israel. Samuel did not understand. The Lord had told him that one of Jesse’s sons would be the new king.

“Jesse, are these all of your sons?” asked Samuel.

Jesse answered, “These are my seven oldest sons. I do have one more son. He is my youngest son and he is out in the pastures taking care of my sheep. His name is David.”

Samuel was surprised. Could God want a young shepherd to be the next king of Israel? Samuel told Jesse to send someone to get David.

When David arrived Samuel saw that he was healthy and handsome. But that was not all. The Lord told Samuel that this was the new king. And the Lord does not look just at the outside of a person. He looks at a person’s heart. The Lord knew that David had a good heart.

“Arise and anoint him,” the Lord said to Samuel. “He is the one.”

Samuel anointed David. He took the horn full of oil and poured some on David’s head. From this day on the Spirit of God came upon David. David loved God for the rest of his life.

Even though David was chosen as the new king, it was not time yet for him to take King Saul’s place. David went back to tending his father’s sheep. When the right time came for David to reign as the new king, then the Lord would tell him.

Ways to Tell the Story:

This story can be told using a variety of methods.  Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.

Click here to download these illustrations and slideshow. Be selective.  Each teacher is unique, so only use the illustrations that best relate to how YOU tell the story in THIS lesson. Too many illustrations can be confusing, so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson.

Review Questions:

  1. Why was Samuel sad about King Saul? Saul did not obey God
  2. Whose son would be the next king of Israel? Jesse’s
  3. Why did Samuel think Jesse’s oldest son would be the new king? He looked handsome and tall
  4. Man sees how people look on the outside. What does the Lord see? The heart
  5. David was not with his brothers. Where was he? In the pasture taking care of his father’s sheep

Song Suggestions:

Learning Activities and Crafts:

(How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation)


  • It would be great if you had a real cow’s horn. If not just bring a small container of water and let the children play like it is oil and act out Samuel anointing David.
  • Bring a number of books to class. These should have nothing on the cover or should all be similar. Discuss the saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
  • Draw a large crown and write “DAVID” on it. In the next few weeks write words on the crown that describe David (shepherd, youngest son, son of Jesse, etc.). Add to this each week.
  • Play a simple word game. Bible Wordz Game is an adaptable game, children form words from letter tiles. The words relate to words found in the Bible lesson.


  • Make any heart craft and talk about how God looks at our heart and not our appearance. You could also discuss sins that are committed in the heart even though they don’t “show” on the outside (hate, jealousy, coveting, etc.)
  • Make any sheep craft and talk about the fact that David was a shepherd.

Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.

Link to full list of printablesClick here for “Samuel Anoints David” printables to print on A4 size paper
Click here for “Samuel Anoints David” printables (Letter size-USA)


Other Online Resources:


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10 thoughts on “Samuel Anoints David

  1. This is a very helpful site, thank you. We’re using 5 David lessons at summer camp this year. One small point: the title of the lesson…. a single letter ‘n’ in the early part of ‘anoints’. It’s correct all through the lesson, only the first use in large letters needs correcting, please. (I’m of an age when spelling and grammar were important parts of schooling)

    1. Hello Mary

      I’m so glad you are able to use the lessons about David at your camp.

      Thank you for pointing out the typo. Please let me know if you notice any others. I don’t have a proofreader.

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