1 Samuel 12–15

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 122


When Saul began his reign in Israel, he was humble and spiritual. Those qualities gave him the potential to do much good for Israel as their king and to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands. Unfortunately, after such a good beginning he became an example of what happens when power tempts a person to replace humility with pride.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Samuel 12–15. Pride often results in disobedience. It is trusting our own judgment more than God’s. (25–35 minutes)

To introduce 1 Samuel 12–15, read the introduction to 1 Samuel 13 in the student study guide (p. 95) and discuss the questions asked there. Tell students that those questions will be a major focus of today’s lesson about King Saul.

Ask students how the Lord and Samuel felt when Israel asked to have an earthly king (see 1 Samuel 8:6–7). Have them read 1 Samuel 12:1–13 and look for why Samuel was disappointed in his people for wanting a king. Ask them what miracle Samuel asked the Lord to show the people and why (see vv. 16–18).

Explain to students that even though the Lord disapproved of Israel’s desire for a king, He made promises to them if they and their king would continue to serve Him. Ask:

As a class, read the following sets of verses, pausing after each to discuss the accompanying questions.

  • 1 Samuel 13:1–4. How do you think the people felt about Saul at this time? How might Saul have felt about himself and his ability to lead Israel in battle?

  • 1 Samuel 13:5–7. How did the Philistines respond to their previous defeat? Compare the numbers in their army to the number Saul and Jonathan had with them (see the commentary for 1 Samuel 13:5 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, p. 273). How did the Israelites respond when they saw the Philistine army?

  • 1 Samuel 13:8–10. How late was Samuel in getting to Gilgal? (see 1 Samuel 10:8). What did Saul do when Samuel was late? Why? What was wrong with Saul offering the sacrifice? (see the commentary for 1 Samuel 13:5–14 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, pp. 273–74).

  • 1 Samuel 13:11–14. How did Saul try to justify his disobedience? What in these verses shows that Saul really trusted more in the army than in the Lord? What did Samuel say would be the consequences of Saul’s disobedience? Based on this story, what kind of a person is a “man after [the Lord’s] own heart”?

Discuss how we can apply this story of Saul by asking questions like the following:

  • What are some of the commandments we have been given that might require us to be patient?

  • What are we saying to the Lord when we do not “wait upon him,” but instead trust our own judgment and disobey His commandments?

  • How do people try to justify their actions, as Saul did, when they do not wait?

Psalm 37:34–40 contains some good thoughts about the principle of waiting upon the Lord. You may want to read and discuss it with your students.

Help students understand that part of our faith in God includes faith in His timing. He will give us an understanding of His commandments and blessings for our obedience because He knows what is best for us. In addition, with some commandments we only truly gain a testimony of them after we live them (see John 7:17; Ether 12:6).

You may want to briefly tell the story in 1 Samuel 14 as another example of how Saul’s pride affected his judgment.

1 Samuel 15. Disobedience, an unwillingness to admit we have sinned, and failure to repent are often the results of pride. (10–15 minutes)

In 1 Samuel 15 is another example of Saul’s disobedience. Have students read verses 1–3 and tell what Saul was commanded to do. Have them read verses 6–9 and explain what Saul did. Read verses 10–23 as a class and discuss the following questions:

  • What reasons did Saul give for not being obedient to the commandment the Lord’s prophet had given him?

  • What was the real reason? (see v. 24).

  • Why do you think Saul rationalized his sin instead of confessing it?

  • What does that say about the kind of man Saul was? (see D&C 58:43).

  • How did Samuel feel about having to correct Saul? (see v. 11).

  • What were the consequences of Saul’s continued disobedience? (see vv. 26–28).

  • According to Samuel, what attitude did Saul lack that led to his disobedience? (see v. 17).

Consider sharing the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity toward our brothers and sisters, esteeming them as ourselves, and lifting them as high or higher than we are (see D&C 38:24; 81:5; 84:106).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by receiving counsel and chastisement (see Jacob 4:10; Helaman 15:3; D&C 63:55; 101:4–5; 108:1; 124:61, 84; 136:31; Proverbs 9:8).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by forgiving those who have offended us (see 3 Nephi 13:11, 14; D&C 64:10).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by rendering selfless service (see Mosiah 2:16–17).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by going on missions and preaching the word that can humble others (see Alma 4:19; 31:5; 48:20).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by getting to the temple more frequently.

“We can choose to humble ourselves by confessing and forsaking our sins and being born of God (see D&C 58:43; Mosiah 27:25–26; Alma 5:7–14, 49).

“We can choose to humble ourselves by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives (see 3 Nephi 11:11; 13:33; Moroni 10:32).

“Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 6; or Ensign, May 1989, 6–7).

Discuss how we can cultivate the spirit of humility in our lives (see also Mosiah 3:19; Ether 12:27; D&C 3:4–8).