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What God sees

Samuel, David and Goliath

by An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools

Aims

To challenge the children’s perceptions of what is valuable and desirable.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need seven different chocolate bars and/or fizzy drinks and a £5.00 note screwed up in a paper towel. Place all eight items in a box or bag.

  • Arrange for seven children to sit near you during the assembly, one of them being tall and the others successively shorter. They are to join you in Step 4 of the assembly, while the story of Samuel is being told. You will also need a smaller child to represent David, sat separately from the seven.

  • Familiarize yourself with the story in 1 Samuel 16 and 17.

  • Note that this assembly could be developed to create two sessions – one dealing with Samuel choosing David and the next with David's triumph over Goliath. If you do this, introduce the second assembly by asking the children to recall which of Jesse's sons was chosen (you could line up the 'sons' again as a visual reminder of David being the least obvious choice for king), then lead into the Goliath story to show how David's real strength was revealed.

Assembly

  1. Begin by informing the children that, as you are feeling generous today, you have decided to give a present to one child. That one child, however, will have the difficult task of choosing only one present from the collection you have in your box or bag.

    Draw out each of the items in turn, making sure that the screwed-up paper towel is the last thing you take out. Tell the children that the paper towel must have fallen into the bag/box accidentally.

  2. Select a child to choose a present. Almost every child will choose either a fizzy drink or a chocolate bar. 

    Challenge the child's choice. Does he or she know what is in a fizzy drink or a chocolate bar? Read out the list of ingredients and talk about the harm sugar does to our teeth. 

    Is the child still sure about his or her choice? Would he or she prefer to have the old paper towel?

    Once the child has confirmed his or her choice, reveal the contents of the paper towel.

  3. Explain how looks can be deceptive. On the one hand, chocolate bars and fizzy drinks are packaged in a way that makes them attractive to children, but, when you look to see what's inside, you discover they're full of ingredients that aren't really good for you. On the other hand, something might look like a bit of rubbish, but inside it there may be hidden treasure.

  4. Two people in the Bible learnt this lesson, but one of them didn't survive to tell the tale. The first person was a man called Samuel.

    Since he had been a very young boy, Samuel had had a special relationship with God. God gave Samuel messages and special jobs to do. Once, when Samuel was grown up, God sent him to a little town called Bethlehem. There was a man living there called Jesse. God told Samuel that one of Jesse's sons would be the next king of Israel.

    When Samuel reached Bethlehem, he put on a huge feast and invited Jesse. He arrived with seven of his sons.

    Invite the seven children to join you at the front. Arrange them in a line, starting with the eldest and tallest.

    When Samuel saw Jesse's eldest son, he thought to himself, ‘Surely this man must be the next king – he is so tall, so strong and so handsome’ (direct these comments to the first child in the line), but God said to Samuel, Forget him. He isn't the one.’

    Samuel moved on to the second-eldest son. ‘Oh yes!’, said Samuel to himself. ‘This second son isn't as good looking, but he looks much cleverer than the first.’ God interrupted Samuel again. ‘Samuel, do not judge people by the way they look or how tall they are. Judge them on what they are like inside. That's what really counts. Forget this second son.’

    The same thing happened with Number Three son – and Number Four, Number Five, Number Six and Number Seven. Samuel thought each of them looked the part, but God rejected them all. 

    Send the seven children back to their places.

    Samuel was confused. ‘Excuse me,’ he said to Jesse, ‘but do you have any other sons?’

    Jesse thought for a while. ‘Oh yes,’ he remembered suddenly, ‘my youngest, David. I didn't think to bring him with me. He's out in the field looking after the sheep.’

    Jesse sent for David. 

    Signal for the small child to join you.

    When he arrived, Samuel saw that David was only a little boy. ‘He's the one’, God said. Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on the little boy's head, which was a sign to Jesse and his seven big, strong sons that their little David would grow up to be the next king of Israel. 

    Ask ‘David’ to return to his place.

  5. So. Samuel learnt not to be fooled by appearances. Unfortunately, another person in the Bible didn't learn this lesson until it was too late. That person's name was Goliath and, like the last story, the story of Goliath also features the little boy, David.

    It was a few years after Samuel had visited Bethlehem and the country of Israel was at war with its deadliest enemy, the Philistines. The greatest warrior among the Philistines was a giant of a man called Goliath. Every day he walked up and down in front of Israel's army, taunting the soldiers. ‘Send out your best man to fight against me. If he wins, we will all become your slaves’, but no one in Israel's army dared to fight Goliath.

    One day, when David was delivering packed lunches to his brothers, he heard Goliath shouting his daily challenge. He waited for one of the brothers to answer Goliath. None of them did, so David himself volunteered. ‘I will fight Goliath’, he said. 

    At first, the King of Israel thought David was joking. ‘But you're only a little boy’, he said. When he saw that David was determined, however, he had him dressed in armour and lent him his own sword. David tried walking around, but the armour didn't fit – he didn't feel at all right in it. Instead, David went out to face Goliath in his normal clothes, carrying not a sword but a slingshot, which he used to fire stones at the wolves that came to kill his sheep.

    When Goliath saw David, he sneered at him. ‘What do you think I am? A wolf that you can drive away with a few little sticks and stones? After I'm finished with you the wolves and the birds will strip your bones clean!’

    Goliath ran towards David, but, before he reached the middle of the battlefield, a stone from David's slingshot caught him right between the eyes and he fell down dead. Stone dead. 

Time for reflection

Prayer
Dear God,
Help us to be more like you and not judge people by the way they look.
Help us to treat people who are smaller or younger than us with respect.
Help us to not be frightened of people who are taller or older than us, even if they do shout a lot.
Amen. 

Song/music

Only a boy called David
He made Me 

Publication date: February 2014   (Vol.16 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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