1 Samuel 18–31

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 125–26


Saul had the potential to be a great king for Israel. Unfortunately, he did not live up to that potential. He began as a choice young man, spiritually reborn (see 1 Samuel 9:2; 10:9). However, because of pride, jealousy, and other sins, he lost the Spirit and his heart became the heart of a murderer who sought David’s life. As you study 1 Samuel 18–31, contrast Saul’s motives and behavior with David’s.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Samuel 18–20, 23, 25. True friends love, defend, protect, and help us do what is right. (20–40 minutes)

Ask students to write an ending to the following sentence: A true friend is one who. …

Have them share what they wrote and explain why they think it is important. Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:

“A friend is a person who will suggest and render the best for us regardless of the immediate consequences. …

“… A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am but who is willing and able to leave me better than he found me” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1972, 33, 35; or Ensign, Jan. 1973, 41, 43).

Tell students that today they are going to learn about two young men whose friendship fit Elder Ashton’s description. List the following references on the board and have students search them for ways and reasons Jonathan and David were friends:

Discuss what the students found. Invite them to tell why they think Jonathan acted as he did. Tell them that Jonathan, Saul’s son, was one of the most noble friends in ancient Israel. He could easily have seen David as a threat to his position as successor to the throne, as Saul did. But instead of being jealous, Jonathan loved David as a kindred spirit whose integrity and noble desires were like his own.

When Jonathan transferred his robe, garments, sword, and bow to David (see 1 Samuel 18:4), he was acknowledging the fact that David would be the next king (see 1 Samuel 23:17). He assisted David on many occasions to escape from Saul, even putting his own life in danger to protect David (see 1 Samuel 19:1–11; 20). David later showed his friendship by covenanting to treat Jonathan’s family with kindness. David honored this covenant by caring for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, after Jonathan’s death (see 2 Samuel 9:3, 7; 21:7).

You may also want students to read the story in 1 Samuel 25 where Abigail helped David and eventually became his wife. As they read the chapter, have them identify the ways this woman was a friend to David.

Invite students to think about their friends. Ask:

  • Are they the kind of friends who influence you to draw closer to God or turn away from Him?

  • Which kind of a friend do you think you are?

Have students list the people who could be considered their best friends, based on the definitions of friendship discussed in class. (Their list might include parents, Church leaders, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and teachers.) Read the Savior’s definition of friendship in John 15:13 and ask: According to that definition, who is our greatest friend? Read John 14:15 and note what we must do to be considered the Savior’s friends. Ask them what we can do to serve Jesus Christ and show our gratitude for His supreme act of friendship.

1 Samuel 18–26. We should honor those who are called to lead us, despite their human imperfections. (20–25 minutes)

Raise your right arm and ask the class what it means when we do that in Church meetings. (It means that we agree to sustain people in their Church callings by supporting, helping, praying for, and following them.) Discuss the following questions:

  • How many of you have had a calling or assignment in the Church?

  • Did you fulfill all of your responsibilities in that calling or assignment perfectly?

  • Do you expect your Church leaders to fulfill their callings perfectly?

  • How would you want other Church members to treat you if you made a mistake?

  • What can we do to sustain our leaders?

As a class, do activity A for 1 Samuel 25–26 in the student study guide (p. 98). Help students understand that David respected Saul’s calling as Israel’s king (see 1 Samuel 26:23). The difference between Saul’s depravity and David’s faithfulness becomes even more poignant when we learn that Saul had a whole community of priests killed for innocently helping David (see 1 Samuel 22:6–23).

Read the following statement by President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency. Ask your students to listen for what President Romney said was wrong with criticizing those the Lord has called to lead us.

“Some members assume that one can be in full harmony with the spirit of the gospel, enjoy full fellowship in the Church, and at the same time be out of harmony with the leaders of the Church and the counsel and direction they give. Such a position is wholly inconsistent, because the guidance of this Church comes not alone from the written word but also from continuous revelation, and the Lord gives that revelation to the Church through his chosen prophet. It follows, therefore, that those who profess to accept the gospel and who at the same time criticize and refuse to follow the counsel of the prophet are assuming an indefensible position. Such a spirit leads to apostasy” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 21; or Ensign, May 1983, 17).

Ask students if they think President Romney meant that we should blindly follow our leaders and not think about what we are asked to do. Read the following statement by Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“It is not alone sufficient for us as Latter-day Saints to follow our leaders and to accept their counsel, but we have the greater obligation to gain for ourselves the unshakable testimony of the divine appointment of these men and the witness that what they have told us is the will of our Heavenly Father” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, 130).

Ask students how we gain our testimonies of the counsel of our Church leaders. Have them read Moroni 10:4–5 and ask how that promise applies to our sustaining Church leaders.