What?

Note to the Teacher

When somebody calls our name, we usually say, “What?” That’s probably short for “What is it?”, because, obviously, they have something to tell us. They might command us to “Guess what!” But they aren’t really expecting us to be able to guess. They’re just building anticipation of the “what.” The “what” can be good, exciting news. Alternatively, the “what” might be preceded with, “Listen, there’s something I have to tell you,” as they try to prepare us to receive bad news. In today’s story Samuel is surprised to hear from God, and may even be more shocked to hear God’s “what.” The “what” is bad news for Eli that Samuel will have to share with Eli. While Eli is not usually looked to as a good role model, there is something faithful in how Eli receives this “what.”

Time Description of Activity
10 min 

1. Ice Breaker: Guess What!

Start your time together with a few rounds of “Guess What!” It’s the classic “20 questions” game. You think of an object and your group works as a team to guess what it is. As you rotate through the group, each person asks a question about the object that can be answered with “yes” or “no.” After they ask their question, they can guess "what.” Others can offer suggestions, but they give their final answer. Each round continues until somebody guesses correctly or you reach 20 questions.

5 min

2.  Read Scripture 

It is a difficult time in Israel. The Philistines are mounting a real threat against them. Their spiritual leader is weak-willed and growing frail, and his sons are corrupt. He no longer has the respect of the people, and they have become distant from God.

Read 1 Samuel 3:1-20

15 min

3. Discussion

  • Who are the two people in today’s story, and what do we know about them?[1]
  • What did Samuel initially think when he heard God calling him? What did he do?
  • God called to Samuel, but Samuel thought he heard Eli. What do you find interesting about that?
  • How do you respond when somebody calls you? (Do you say, “What?”) Does it vary depending on who is calling?
  • How did Eli instruct Samuel to respond the next time he heard God calling?
  • What news did God have for Samuel?[2]
  • What do you think it means that this news would make people’s ears tingle?
  • What have you ever heard that “made your ears tingle?”
  • How was Samuel feeling about sharing this news with Eli? Why?
  • When have you ever had to share bad news with somebody?
  • How did Eli receive the news? How is that similar to or different from how you usually receive bad news?
  • What are the most important lessons for us to learn from today’s story?
 
[1] (1 Samuel 1) Samuel is the firstborn son of a woman named Hannah, who was grief-stricken because she was unable to conceive a child. She vowed that if God blessed her with a child, she would dedicate that child to God. Eli, the priest, heard what she was praying about and said, “May the God of Israel give you what you’ve asked from him.” (1 Samuel 1:17 CEB) Sure enough, Hannah conceived, and, true to her word, brought Samuel to Eli to be raised as a priest. Eli’s own sons had dishonored God and behaved inappropriately while working at the Tabernacle, and Eli’s lack of action made him complicit in his sons’ sinfulness. Samuel, however, grew up with virtue and found favor with God. (1 Samuel 2:12-26)
[2] God said that Eli and his sons were about to be punished. The sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were sinning against God while they were working in the Tabernacle, and Eli had done nothing to stop them. Therefore, God was going to restore reverence to the priesthood by removing all three men. God’s decision was final. (1 Samuel 2:27-36, 3:11-14)
20 min

4. 

Activity and Discussion - Samuel…. Samuel!.... SAMUEL!!!

Take this lesson to the next level by getting students' hands and imaginations doing a skit on the spot from the Youth Worker Collective.  Complete instructions on how to make this happen with this scripture are online at http://www.youthworkercollective.com/skits-on-the-spot-a-low-prep-way-to-explore-the-scripture

5 min  

5. Closing

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

55 min  

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