Discovery for Teachers



1 Samuel 16:1 through 31:13

“And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:14)


Because of Saul’s disobedience to God’s clear commandments, and his subsequent lying about what he had done, God had rejected him from being king. Saul was still on the throne, but yet was unfit to lead the nation. For this reason, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king in Saul’s place.

Chapter 16 begins with Samuel anointing David to the throne. The narrative stresses that both Samuel and Jesse, David’s father, assumed that one of David’s older brothers would be chosen. However, the selection fell outside of human expectations. The Lord had chosen David in advance, and then confirmed His choice by sending His Spirit on David.

David’s confidence in God is apparent in his contest with the Philistine giant, Goliath. Armies of that day commonly pitted their strongest warriors against each other in order to avoid the high cost of a full-scale battle. After a forty-day standoff, in which no Israelite soldier dared to confront the champion of the Philistines, the youthful shepherd volunteered to face Goliath in a battle to the death. Fully trusting in God for victory, he faced the giant and felled him with a single stone. Realizing that their hero was dead, the Philistine forces retreated, followed in close pursuit by the Israelites, and a great victory was won.

As David rose in popularity as a hero among the people, Saul’s fits of insane jealousy produced a hatred for David that consumed him. Saul sought to put David deliberately in a position where he would be killed in battle, but those attempts failed. David ended up marrying the king’s daughter, Michal, and developing a deep bond of friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan — in spite of the fact that Jonathan would have been the natural heir to the throne. Saul’s initial assassination attempts having been thwarted, the erring king took more overt measures and attempted to use his slaves, his oldest son, his soldiers, and his own efforts to kill David. However, God repeatedly and miraculously intervened to protect His chosen leader.

Chapters 21 and 22 record the beginning of David’s life as a fugitive. A group of Israelite men joined him, and God repeatedly helped David escape Saul’s men. Twice, when opportunity arose for David to kill Saul, he refused to do so because Saul was God’s anointed leader over Israel. At last, convinced that David had no intentions of killing him, King Saul acknowledged his own wrongdoing and ceased his attempts to kill David.

When the Philistine troops gathered to fight against Israel, Saul responded by leading his army toward the battle. However, he sought insight from a witch regarding the battle — a practice strictly forbidden in God’s law. In the end, Saul’s sin drove him to suicide, and his sons were killed in battle.

The events in this text block cover a period of at least ten years, for David was not quite old enough to go to war when he was anointed by Samuel, and he was thirty when he ascended the throne of Judah (see 2 Samuel 5:4).


  1. The Lord commanded Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be Israel’s next king (1 Samuel 16). What characteristics did Samuel use to evaluate Jesse’s sons? What did the Lord use?

    Samuel was considering the outward appearance of Jesse’s sons, wondering which one of these handsome, tall men the Lord would choose. In that culture, the eldest son was almost always given the position of leadership in the clan, and therefore, Samuel’s eyes most naturally fell on Eliab. But the Lord let him know that He was looking for the inward character of the heart. Discuss with your class what we can learn from this about how we evaluate others. What are the dangers of judging by outward appearances?
  2. What kind of a person was David? Look up the following Scriptures and write a brief review on the character of David.

    Your students’ review of these verses should bring out the following characteristics of David.

    1 Samuel 16:18 – Mighty, valiant, prudent, and possessed the Spirit of the Lord

    1 Samuel 17:20, 26, 32-37, 45-47– Obedient, zealous for Israel, trusted God in frighteningsituations, brave

    1 Samuel 18:14, 22-23 – Wise, humble

    1 Samuel 23:1-5 – Prayed and obeyed

    1 Samuel 24:1-11; 26:6-12 – Honored God’schosen leader

    1 Samuel 29:3 – Faultless
  3. Using the Scriptures in the previous question, along with the description of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:4-10,42-44, contrast David and Goliath.

    Goliath had been trained in matters of war from his youth; David had no military training whatsoever. Goliath was outfitted with a coat of mail, bronze armor, and powerful weapons; David wore only his simple shepherd’s garments and carried a sling. Goliath was proud and self-reliant, confident that he could not be defeated; David was humble and God-reliant, willing to face danger in order to defend the Name of God, which Goliath had blasphemed.
  4. What was the secret of David’s success in battle (1 Samuel 23:1-5)? How can we, as Christians, possess the same kind of confidence and courage?

    The secret of David’s success was his faith in God, brought about by continued contact through prayer and worship. David left nothing to chance. He consulted the Lord earnestly and often, always endeavoring to do the Lord’s will and not what seemed right.

    Your students’ response to the second question should center on the fact that if we want to have confidence and courage like David had, we must commune with God as David did. There are no shortcuts to a close walk with God.
  5. Jonathan, next in line for the throne of Israel, acknowledged David’s divine appointment when he gave David his royal robes and weapons. What qualities stand out in Jonathan’s character? 1 Samuel 19:2-7; 20:1-42

    Class discussion should bring out that Jonathan was faithful and loyal; he stood by his best friend, David, and helped and comforted him despite opposition. He was amazingly selfless. He was obedient to God, trusting that the Lord knew what He was doing in taking the future kingship from him and giving it to David. Jonathan could have made a move to become the next king by killing his rival, but he did not do so because of his love for both God and David.

    Using Jonathan’s example, lead your group in a discussion of some things we can do to build new friendships or strengthen existing ones with other believers. Bring out that Jonathan’s selflessness, his loyalty, and his commitment to his friend were qualities that built the strong and enduring bond between these two men.
  6. Jonathan secretly communicated Saul’s murderous designs to David, and as a result, he suffered the wrath of his insanely jealous father. What are some possible results when we take a stand for what is right?

    Initially, your class discussion will likely bring out that taking a stand for the right could result in the loss of a friendship, ridicule, or harassment. In some parts of the world, such a stand may even result in loss of employment, persecution, or even physical harm and death. Once these possibilities are explored, bring out that good can also result from taking a stand for the right. Others may be impacted by our courage. In Jonathan’s case, his stand for right preserved the life of God’s anointed King.
  7. David had several opportunities to take matters into his own hands (chapters 24-26). How did David “behave himself wisely?”

    Although King Saul was disobedient and unfit to rule, and David had been anointed king by Samuel, David trusted the Lord, waited on Him, and did what was right. Focus on the great respect David had for Saul’s position as the Lord’s anointed, indicated by the fact that he refused to yield to the temptation to kill Saul. Ask your class: When the enemy places a tempting situation before you, how should you respond?
  8. How did David demonstrate his faith and trust in God? 1 Samuel 22:5; 23:2

    David demonstrated his trust and reliance upon God by asking advice from the prophet Gad and following that advice, and by praying earnestly and often. He would not proceed with battle plans until he had received permission from the Lord. Ask your class: In what ways are ongoing prayer and submission to the Lord’s will the marks of a true Christian?
  9. What was David’s attitude when Abigail confronted him and prevented him from acting rashly and unwisely (1 Samuel 25)? Name three things we can learn from his response.

    David listened to what Abigail said and quickly acknowledged his error. As your students offer their list of things we can learn, the following points could be covered: It is very important that we acknowledge any error and accept correction. We should always think before we react. We should not attempt to take vengeance into our own hands. We should accept rebuke with a humble spirit.

    Because of his humility, David appreciated Abigail’s rebuke and was thankful that she had interceded to prevent him from doing something wrong. Likewise, if we cultivate a spirit of humility, we will be able to accept correction and advice from others, which is intended to help and guide us.


Despite the trials and difficulties brought on by Saul’s persecution, David behaved himself wisely and trusted the Lord. Let us follow his example and trust the Lord in every circumstance, seek His guidance, and behave ourselves wisely in this present, evil world.