Story of the Old Testament - Lesson 9

By Glen Pemberton

Title: David: Becoming a Person After God’s Heart

Text: I Samuel 16 - I Kings 2

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. To help the student grasp the basic story line of the Old Testament as it develops in I Samuel 16 ? I Kings 2.
  2. To teach the student what it means to be a person “after the heart of God” and encourage the student to become this kind of person.
  3. To introduce the student to God’s covenant with David.


  1. A Bible for each student.
  2. A chalk board or marker board.
  3. Copies of Student Handout #9 (“David: Becoming a Person After God’s Heart”)


A major portion of the Story of the Old Testament focuses on David, the second (and greatest) king of Israel. David’s fame, however, is not only political but also spiritual. Scripture refers to David as “a man after God’s own heart.” This lesson will explore what it means to be a “person after God’s heart.” Most students will assume that this means living a perfect or near perfect life. Study of David’s story should overturn this assumption. Special Note to the Teacher: This class is a workshop on David’s life. Cover the introductory material. Then, if the class is large, divide the students into small groups and ask them to compile two lists: 1) “Good David” (instances in which David displays great faith or noble character) and 2) “Not so Good David” (instances in which David displays a lack of faith or questionable behavior). Students with some exposure to the life of David in previous Bible classes will not have much difficulty listing David’s great actions and at least some of his failures. Because not all classes may have such prior knowledge, two different worksheets have been provided for this lesson: One provides scripture references for the students to look up, the other does not. The teacher must decide which worksheet in most appropriate for the class. Bring the groups back together and compile master lists on the board. Summarize the key points of the stories as needed, and direct the student’s attention to various stories they may have missed (especially those in which David fails). Finally, use this data as a foundation to discuss what it does and does not mean to be a person after God’s heart.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class:

Introduction: (about 5 minutes)

  1. Welcome visitors. Make any necessary announcements.
  2. Spend time taking prayer requests & leading the class in prayer.

Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)

  1. Review and set the stage for today’s study.
    1. Briefly recap the Story of the Old Testament up to this point.
      1. God created a “very good” creation with wonderful relationships between all aspects of creation (Gen 1- 2).
      2. Human sin, a failure to trust God, wrecked creation and its relationships (Gen 3-11).
      3. God set a plan in motion to fix the problems created by sin and restore his relationship to the world. This plan chose one family (Abraham & Sarah) and made three key promises to them. Q. Does anyone remember the promises?
        1. Numerous people & great nation.
        2. The land of Canaan.
        3. Through you, God will bless the world.
      4. The rest of the Story of the Old Testament (and New Testament) is the story of how God kept these promises despite all threats and obstacles.
        1. God moved the family to Egypt and caused them to multiply while in Egypt. Then, when the family was enslaved in Egypt God rescued them.
        2. After bringing the people out of Egypt, God established a special relationship with them at Mt. Sinai and then brought them into the promised land.
        3. Finally, last week, we studied how God established a monarchy for Israel.
    2. Today, our focus will be on the second and most famous king of Israel ? a man named David.
  2. The Life of David: An Overview
    1. Turn and hold one finger in your Bible at I Samuel 16. Then turn to I Kings 2 and hold another finger at that point. Everything between these pages revolves around David. (In addition, the entire book of I Chronicles is about David!) An incredible amount of space is devoted to David
    2. David is the most praised king of Israel. He sets the standard by which all other kings will be measured.
      1. Read I Kgs 3:6. Q. What does Solomon say about his father?
      2. Read I Kgs 9:4. Q. What does God say about David?
      3. Read Acts 13:22 (a citation from I Sam 13). Q. What does the New Testament say about David? A. David was a “man after God’s own heart.”
    3. Today, rather than attempting to survey all of David’s life, we will focus on a single key idea and related issues: What does it mean when we say David was a “man after God’s own heart”?
  3. Workshop: The man after God’s own heart (See Special Notes to the Teacher)
    1. List #1: “Good David” ? instances in which David displays great faith or noble character.
      1. David kills Goliath (I Sam 17)
      2. David was successful in leading Saul’s army (I Sam 18:14)
      3. David plays the lyre to comfort Saul (I Sam 16:21)
      4. David was a devoted friend to Jonathan (I Sam 18:1-4)
      5. David refused to kill Saul, even when he had great opportunities (I Sam 24 and 26)
      6. David provides for his parents’ safety (I Sam 22:3-4)
      7. David saves the village of Keilah (I Sam 23:1-6)
      8. David puts to death the man who claims to have killed Saul (II Sam 1:13-16)
      9. David mourned the death of Jonathan and Saul (II Sam 1)
      10. David provides for Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth (II Sam 9)
      11. David becomes king over South Judah and then all of Israel (II Sam 5:1-5)
      12. As king, David conquers Jerusalem and defeats the Philistines (II Sam 5)
      13. David brings the “Ark of the Covenant” (God’s throne) to Jerusalem (II Sam 6)
      14. David wants to build a Temple for the Lord. The Lord stops him ? and then makes a special covenant (relationship & promise) with David. Special Note to the Teacher: Because of the importance of this covenant, pause to read & discuss II Sam 7.
        1. Read II Sam 7:1-11a
          1. Q. What does David plan to do? A. Build a temple for the Lord.
          2. Q. How does God respond? A. God stops him.
        2. Read II Sam 7:11b-17. God makes a special “covenant” with David
          1. Q. What does God promise David? A. God promises to build David’s house. Specifically, this means
            1. I (God) will establish the kingdom of your son and he will build my house.
            2. I will extend relationship to him. I will be his father and I will punish him, but I will not take away my love from him.
            3. This is a significant development in the Story of the Old Testament. God had promised to make them a great nation. Now God promises that a descendant of David will always be on the throne of this nation.
    2. List #2: “Not So Good David” ? instances in which David displays a lack of faith or questionable behavior.
      1. David has idols at home (I Sam 19:13-16)
      2. David lies to the priest at Nob (I Sam 21:1-6) which leads to a massacre of the entire village (22:22)
      3. David pretends to be insane (I Sam 21:12-13)
      4. David becomes the leader of a group of malc ontents (I Sam 22:1-2)
      5. David has a bad temper (read 25:21-22 in the KJV)
      6. David has multiple wives (I Sam 25:42-44) despite the clear instructions for the king in Deut 17.
      7. While in the land of the Philistines, David is a liar, bandit & murderer (I Sam 27:5-12)
      8. At one point, David is marching to war against Israel (I Sam 28:1-3)
      9. David has sex with Bathsheba and then has her husband killed (II Sam 11:1-5, 6-13 & 14-15, 22-25)
      10. David’s children are out of control (II Sam 13:21)
      11. David takes a military census (II Sam 24:1-25)
      12. David places his hopes for revenge against certain enemies in the hands of Solomon (II Kgs 2:5-9)
  4. In view of David’s life, what does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart?
    1. Q. What does it not mean? A. To be a person after God’s heart does not mean that a person never does anything really bad or is nearly perfect.
      1. David is not even close to perfect!
      2. David does a number of things that are really bad! (Would you want David as a next -door neighbor?)
    2. Q. So what does it mean to be “after God’s heart”? (Allow the students plenty of time to discuss this & arrive at their own conclusions.) At the very least, being a person after God’s heart means:
      1. David has a heart that breaks when he is confronted with his sin (II Sam 12:13; 24:10).
      2. David has a heart that turns to God after he fails and keeps striving to please God (II Sam 22:26-31).
      3. David, above all failures, has a heart (desire) for God.


(about 5 minutes; discuss one or more of the following topics)

  1. Do you know anyone that has “a heart after God’s own heart”? Describe this person. Does this person ever make mistakes? What are the key qualities of their life that make you think of them?
  2. How does a person grow to have a heart after God’s own heart? What are some practical steps a person can take to grow in this direction?
  3. How does David’s story fit into the larger Story of the Old Testament? Assignment: Read I Kings 5,8,10-12


Prayer that:

  1. Thanks God for David’s example and for the way God was faithful to David.
  2. Asks God to help us become people “after God’s own heart.”

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