David, a Youth Whose Heart Pleased God

David, a Youth Whose Heart Pleased God

  • a courageous boy willing to stand up for God, no matter how big the obstacle
  • a longsuffering young man content to wait on God and not take matters into his own hands

ancient Israel


The LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.—1 Samuel 16:7

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. —Matthew 19:26


As our story begins, a tall, strong, handsome, impressive-looking man named Saul reigns as King over Israel. But God is not pleased with this King. Saul has refused to follow God’s instructions. He has lied to Samuel, God’s high priest and prophet, by insisting that he did follow what God instructed him to do, when in fact he did not! He has been more concerned about pleasing others than pleasing God. He has made excuses and tried to blame others for his disobedience. He even built a monument in honor of himself (1 Samuel 15:10-12).

Pause for thought: What do you think God had to say about Saul’s actions? The answer can be found in 1 Samuel 15:10. Open your Bible and read what God said and how He felt about Saul’s behavior.

Saul’s continual rebellion and stubbornness caused God to reject him as King and to tell Samuel, “Fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king” (1 Samuel 16:1, NLT).

And Samuel obeyed God.


David is chosen and anointed

Samuel came to Bethlehem and prepared to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as King of Israel. And when he saw Eliab’s impressive appearance, Samuel thought for sure this son would be the one God would have him anoint. However, God quickly reminded Samuel that “people judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (verse 7, NLT).

Since Samuel could not see inside any of the young men’s hearts, he depended on God to guide him in selecting the one he was to anoint. One by one the bothers stood in front of Samuel, but God did not choose any of them. Finally, Samuel asked Jesse if all his sons were present, and when he learned there was another son out tending his father’s sheep, he instructed Jesse to send for him.

David tending his sheep

God saw in David’s young heart special qualities that greatly pleased Him.

As David, the youngest of the eight brothers, came near, Samuel noticed his bright eyes and ruddy skin. David was a good-looking boy! But there was more to David than met the eyes of Samuel. God saw in David’s young heart special qualities that greatly pleased Him, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” (verse 12).

“So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on” (verse 13, NLT).

Pause for thought: The Bible says nothing about the thoughts that must have gone through the older brothers’ heads when they found out their younger brother would be the future King of Israel. How would you have felt if you had been one of those brothers? Neither does the Bible say anything about what David was thinking when he went back to tend the sheep and wait for his turn to rule Israel. See if you can discover how David used his time while waiting. Look closely at the way David acts and reacts. See if you can uncover some godly qualities behind his actions.

David serves Saul

At this same time, the Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and he became so very fearful and troubled that he couldn’t sleep. Being concerned about the King, some of the servants asked if they could go and find a good musician who could play the harp. They told Saul that when the harp was played, this troubling spirit would leave him and he would be well. One servant spoke up and said that he knew a handsome shepherd who was skillful in playing the harp—just the person for the job.

Pause for thought: Open your Bible and read 1 Samuel 16:18-23 to find out who this person was and what Saul thought of him when he came. (Parents, be sure to involve the children in reading and discussing these verses.)

a harp playing music

When Saul heard the beautiful, soothing music of the harp, the distressing spirit left him and he felt “refreshed and well.”

Yes, it was David who came to play the harp, and it produced just the effect the servants had said it would. When Saul heard the beautiful, soothing music of the harp, the distressing spirit left him and he felt “refreshed and well” (verse 28). Saul was so pleased with David he made him his armorbearer and asked him to remain there and serve him.

Pause for thought: When Saul requested that David stay and serve him, he obviously did not know that David had been secretly anointed King. But as Paul would later record: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Being there close to the King gave David the opportunity to gain firsthand information about leading a nation. Can you dig a little deeper and find out how David reacted to being Saul’s servant? After all, he had been anointed as the future King of Israel.

David faces Goliath

A great war was being fought between the Israelites and the Philistines. King Saul and the Israelites lined up on one side of a long valley, and their enemy, the Philistines, lined up on the opposite side of the valley.

Every day Goliath, the approximately 9-foot champion of the Philistines, came down from the hill and made fun of the Israelites. And each day he called out to them, “Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us” (1 Samuel 17: 8-9). Forgetting that nothing and no one is too big for God, Israel’s strongest men of war trembled at the sight of Goliath.

Pause for thought: To further understand why these strong men of war were trembling, read through 1 Samuel 17:4-7 and visualize Goliath.

One day when David had returned home to feed his father’s sheep, Jesse packed food and told him to take it to his oldest sons and several others who were in the army of Israel. So David obeyed. Early the next morning David went to the camp and heard Goliath shouting across the valley, calling out insults to God and frightening all the men of Israel. Most of the soldiers saw only a giant, but David saw a mortal man defying Almighty God. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David asked (verse 26). But no one responded with action, only with contempt for his words.

a slingshot with three stones

David walked out to face Goliath, armed with nothing but a slingshot, a few small stones and a big trust in God.

David was young and inexperienced in battle, but he loved God. And he knew that with God to fight for him there was no reason to wait. He went to Saul and volunteered to fight the champion of the Philistines. After explaining to Saul how God had rescued him from a lion and a bear and assuring Saul that he did not need heavy armor, David walked out to face Goliath, armed with nothing but a slingshot, a few small stones and a big trust in God.

When Goliath saw David, he looked at him with scorn: “ ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods” (verses 42-43).

David replied, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand” (verses 45-46).

“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts.”

As Goliath came closer, David ran to meet him. He grabbed a stone from his bag and slinging it with perfect accuracy hit Goliath right in the forehead. This sent the powerful giant crashing to the ground. Goliath was defeated and the battle was won!


David knew and understood that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). With complete trust and faith in God, he told Goliath how the battle would end before it ever began. Remember he said, “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand.” And He did!

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

God looked at David’s heart and saw a boy willing to stand up for Him no matter how big the obstacle. And God accomplished, through him, what would have been impossible for David to accomplish on his own.


1. Knowledge

Who did God send to anoint David as the future King of Israel? What was the name of the King who reigned over Israel at that time?

2. Comprehension

Why was Saul rejected as King? Why was David accepted as the future King of Israel? Which of David’s actions and reactions demonstrated that:

  • He was a courageous boy willing to stand up for God, no matter how big the obstacle?
  • He was a longsuffering young man content to wait on God and not take matters into his own hands?

3. Connections

Think of another time in the Bible when Israelites stood in fear and refused to face “giants” even though God had promised that He would be with them and deliver them. Can you name the book of the Bible in which we find that story?

Can you think of another young person in the Bible that demonstrated great love for God and faith in God? How did he or she demonstrate faith in God? love for God?


1. Discuss with your children what it means to “face their giants.” Encourage family members to share a time when they had to stand up for God and depend on Him to deliver them. Ask the children to discuss times when they had to make a choice of either doing what God says is right or doing what others say is right.

2. On several slips of paper, write the names of people mentioned in this Bible study and place these on a table or the floor in front of the children. Ask each child to pick up one slip of paper and think about a valuable lesson (good or bad) that could be learned from this person. Discuss the lessons and how each could be applied in your family’s daily lives.

a sword


Conduct a Sword Drill

Introduce the sword:

In Ephesians 6:13 God instructs us to “take up the whole armor of God.” In verse 17 we are specifically told to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And Hebrews 4:12 tells us “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” This sword can guard and guide the minds and hearts of our children; however, in order for the Word of God to do this, our children must become familiar with it and learn to use it.

What is a sword drill?

A sword drill is an active, fun-filled way for children to learn to quickly and accurately locate books, chapters and verses in their Bibles. Sword drills provide a great way to review the Bible studies you have covered. Ask children to find the key verses and other verses that are referenced during the stories. Ask them to locate the book in which the study you just covered can be found. Each time you do this, God’s Word will be etched more and more deeply into the minds and hearts of your children.

The more often the children practice finding and reading verses, the more comfortable they will become with their Bibles.

How do I conduct a sword drill?

1. Have your child, the “soldier,” stand straight and tall with Bible held by his or her side (the spine of the Bible directed at the floor).

2. The parent says “Attention!” At this command the soldiers crisply place their Bibles in front of them with one hand under the Bible, one hand flat on top of the Bible. The front cover of the Bible faces the child.

3. The parent says “Draw swords!” At this command the soldier sandwiches the closed Bible between his hands (the spine of the Bible again directed at the floor).

4. The parent then gives the directive of where the soldier will go: “Ephesians 6:17,” for example. The soldier holds still even after the book, chapter and verse are stated. Then the parent says “Charge!” At that command, the soldier as quickly as possible finds the passage, and once his or her finger is on the exact scripture silently steps forward indicating completion of the task.

5. As each child steps forward, the parent quietly checks to see if he or she has found the correct scripture. When all children have stepped forward, the parent asks the first one who found the correct scripture to read it aloud.

(For younger children, the directive may be just to find a book of the Bible. When they are able, you might include a chapter, for example. Work at the ability level of your child.)

You can find further information on sword drills by turning to the “Methods” portion of the “Memorizing Scripture” section of the Manual.

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