Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lesson - The Philistines Take The Ark of The Covenant

VERSES:   1 Samuel 4:1-22

MEMORY VERSE:   1 Samuel 4:17   "...and the ark of God is taken."

BOOK TO REMEMBER:   Review all 66 books of the Bible.  As a different kind of review, the Bible teacher may want to write each book on a good-sized piece of paper. The Bible teacher holds up a random book, and the students must name the book that comes AFTER that book. Too easy? Try a 'Challenge Test!' The students must name the book that comes BEFORE that book! 

PRAYER:   If God is on our side, we can do anything. May we always stay close to the LORD and His Word and obey Him, then God will be with us and help us in all that we do.

SPECIAL SONG:   God called Samuel (see March - Songs We Sing In Bible Class #4 on this blog). God Raised Up Fifteen Judges (see June - Lesson - Deborah, A Female Prophet on this blog).

VISUAL AID:   Whiteboard or Chalkboard Drawing of Activity (see Activity below)


  • God spoke to Samuel and Samuel would tell the people what God said. That is what a prophet is:  a spokesman for God or a messenger of God's Words.
  • The Philistines and Israel never did get along very well. They had many fights and battles. Sometimes the Philistines would win, and sometimes, when Israel was obedient to God, Israel would win.  In our lesson today, the Philistines were winning a battle against Israel, in fact, the Philistines had killed 4,000 Israelites. When the Israelites returned to their camp, the elders or leaders asked, "Why did the LORD let us be defeated by our enemy, the Philistines, today? " Then they had the idea of going to get the ark of the covenant or ark of God from Shiloh and keeping it in their camp. They thought that the ark of God would save them from their enemies, but they were mistaken. 
  • God never rewards disobedience. The Israelites were not obeying the LORD and were living very wickedly. Even the judge of Israel, Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were among the most wicked because they were causing Israel to sin (1 Samuel 2:23-25). When the people sent messengers to Shiloh and wanted the ark of the covenant brought to where the army was fighting, Hophni and Phineas were the ones who brought the ark of God to the battleground.  
  • When the ark of the covenant was brought into the camp, there was a shout from all of the soldiers of Israel because they thought that God would help them. The Israelites' shout was SO loud that the Philistine army heard them. They wondered what could have made the Israelites shout like they did and when they realized that the ark of God must have been brought into the camp, they were afraid. The Philistines said to one another, "How sad for us! Nothing like this has ever been done before! These are the Gods that brought all of those plagues to the Egyptians! We need to act like men and fight or the Israelites will be our masters if we fail!" So the Philistines fought the Israelites very hard and made all of the Israelites run to their own tents. The Philistines killed 30,000 soldiers of Israel and they killed both Hophni and Phineas. 
  • There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin that ran back to Shiloh with word that there was a great defeat of the Israelites and many, many soldiers had died. He had torn his clothes and put dirt on his head because he was very sad. When the man came into the city and told the people what had happened, everyone was crying. Eli was sitting by the wayside, and when Eli saw the man, his heart trembled because he thought something might have happened to the ark of the LORD. He asked the man, "What has happened? What has caused everyone to cry?" The man hurriedly came and told Eli what had happened.
  • Now, Eli was 98 years old and his eyes were almost blind and he was not a thin man. The man said that the Israelites had many soldiers killed and they had run away from their enemy. He said that his two sons were killed and that the ark of God had been taken by the Philistines. When the man mentioned the part about the ark of God being taken by the enemy, Eli fell backwards off his seat by the side of the gate and broke his neck and died. Eli was a very old man, was very heavy, and had judged Israel forty years.

"Older Student" Tips:

  • We remember that God had been with the children of Israel many times before this time and the Israelites had won their battles. What made this time different? (The children of Israel were not obeying the LORD and living wickedly.)

ACTIVITY:   God NEVER Rewards Disobedience
Materials needed:  12" x 18" white construction paper, crayons, marker.

  1. Hand out white construction paper.
  2. Fold paper in half.
  3. Fold paper in half again, so that there are four sections.
  4. Write "God NEVER Rewards Disobedience" and "1 Samuel 4" at the top of the paper.
  5. Number each section.
  6. In Section #1, draw a soldier and write the number "30,000." Make X's for eyes because the soldier has died.
  7. In Section #2, draw many circles, representing the faces of the children of Israel. Also, write "The ark of God is taken!" in a speech bubble.
  8. In Section #3, draw two men. Also, write "Hophni and Phineas killed." Make X's for eyes because they also died.
  9. In Section #4, draw heavy-set Eli sitting on a bench. Draw an arrow pointing the way he fell backwards and died.