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David's Calling

Things aren't always what they seem

by Manon Ceridwen James

Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools


To show that we can learn from the story of David how things aren’t always what they seem.

Preparation and materials

  • Familiarize yourself with the Bible story in the passage 1 Samuel 16, which is about when Samuel chose Jesse's most unlikely son to be the future king of Israel, showing that God has different criteria from the ones humans can consider important when it comes to making good decisions.


  1. Explain to the children that the theme of today’s assembly is 'things aren’t always what they seem'.

  2. Ask for some volunteers to act out today’s story. You will need two older boys to play Samuel and Jesse, plus seven more children to play the other parts of the older sons, plus one younger boy to play David, the youngest son.

  3. Once you have everyone in place, start telling the story, pointing at each character as they are mentioned to prompt them to act out what you are describing.

    Samuel and David

    There was a man called Samuel (point at Samuel), who was sent by God to look for a new king of Israel.

    Get Samuel to stride from side to side and pretend to be looking around for something.

    He arrived at Jesse’s farm (introduce Samuel to Jesse) and Jesse was very worried (encourage Jesse to make a worried face). What did Samuel want? Samuel knew Jesse seemed scared and said, 'Don’t worry, I’ve come to invite you and your sons to a party, but first I want to see them all.'

    So Jesse went to find his first son, Eliab, and showed him to Samuel.

    Get Jesse to walk with Eliab in front of Samuel.

    Then Samuel shook his head. (Get Samuel to act out the actions you mention from now on.)

    Then Samuel found his second son, Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. (Do the same actions as for the first son.) Samuel shook his head.

    Then Jesse found Shammah and the same thing happened.

    This happened with each of the seven brothers. (Get each of the other five brothers to walk in front of Samuel in turn and Samuel to shake his head.) Not one of the boys was right. Samuel was very confused. God had brought him to this place and yet none of the sons seemed right, even though they were all big and strong and healthy.

    Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons. Jesse said, 'Yes, but only David and he’s too small. He’s not very strong. He’s out looking after our sheep.'

    Samuel wanted to see him anyway. 

    Call up the younger boy who is to be David and get Jesse to act out presenting him to Samuel. Get Samuel to give a thumbs up and look as delighted as possible!

    God told Samuel that David was the one. Even though David was the smallest, God had a special job for him to do - be the King of Israel. David went on to be brave and a great king, even though he didn’t look as though he could be a king at the beginning - especially compared to his big brothers.

  4. Finish by explaining that this is how Christians believe God looks at us. He sees our potential - he knows what we could become rather sees just what we are now. With God, things aren’t always what they seem.

Time for reflection

Reflect with the children on times when we have changed our minds or been shocked about something. Maybe when they had to read a book and didn’t like the look of it, then they read it and loved it. That is why there is the saying don’t judge a book by its cover.

God does this, looking at the inside of a person, not just the outside.

Ask the children to think of a time when something has surprised them. Maybe they've become friends with someone they didn’t like at first or went on holiday to somewhere they thought they would hate it but loved it in the end.

Things aren’t always what they seem! 

We thank you for surprises and how you look at our hearts and not what we look like.
Help us to see people not as they are now, but as they could be. 


‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Come and Praise, 95)

Publication date: November 2015   (Vol.17 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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