Senior Youth: Obedience – David

Contributed by: Karen Spoelstra, Diocese of Auckland

Throughout David’s life, he demonstrated some key attributes of following God – being chosen, trust, worship, obedience and repentance. This study looks at how David demonstrated this trust in God through obedience. It is the fifth in a series for older teenagers, looking at the life of David – ‘a man after God’s own heart’.

Key Passages: 1 Samuel 24, Psalm 57

You will need: Bibles

Large Group Teaching: David’s Obedience

David’s obedience to God was one of the big reasons why he was chosen by God and why he was called ‘a man after God’s own heart.’ We’re going to explore a story from his life that is a great example of this.

Retell the story so far: Saul got really jealous of David and was determined to murder him, even though he had done nothing wrong. David was forced to run away and hide in the wilderness. Hundreds of men joined David, and God helped David to keep evading Saul. 1 Sam 22: 1-2 “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader.  About 400 men were with him.”

1 Samuel 23:13 “Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.”

It was really hard and difficult being on the run in the desert, and it would make sense for David to take revenge and destroy his enemy. One day he got the chance. Let’s read about what happened…

Read: Get someone to read 1 Samuel 24 v1-4a (NIV). Make sure you stop at the word “wish”.

Ask: What do you think David should do? (accept responses)

Read: 1 Samuel 24 v4b

Ask: (Get people to vote for answers, accept explanations)

  • What do you think? I think David:
    a. Missed a good chance
    b. Let his heart rule his head
    c. Showed amazing self-restraint
    d. Had an overactive conscience
    e. Made his point with Saul
  • Why did David cut off a piece of Saul’s cloak?
    a. To serve as a warning
    b. To save as a trophy
    He changed his mind about killing Saul
    d. He missed
  • Why didn’t David finish Saul off?
    a. He was talked out of it
    b. He felt sorry for Saul
    c. He lost his nerve
    d. He couldn’t harm God’s anointed
    e. He feared Saul’s men
    f. God would have been unhappy

Read or retell: 1 Samuel 24 v5-13


  • In what way(s) did David reflect God’s character in this story? a. fair b. wise c. direct d. merciful e. peaceful f. righteous
  • How do you think David made his decision not to kill Saul – despite all the sensible and strategic reasons for killing him?

David was motivated by a genuine devotion to God and to Israel’s king. He knew that the king is anointed by God and that it is forbidden to lift a hand against God’s anointed leader. Therefore, the idea of taking Saul’s life was unthinkable to him.  David spared Saul’s life, not because he felt generous toward him, but because it was more important to him that obeyed God… even if it made sense to others or not.

He refused to trust in the wisdom of his men and in his own ability to kill Saul. Rather he trusted in God to accomplish his purposes for his life.

Somewhere along life’s journey, David had been taught never to challenge God’s plan or God’s timing. He was willing to wait on God’s timing to become king, even though it meant taking the risk and prolonging the time during which Saul could attempt to end David’s life. He trusted that he didn’t need to take shortcuts – that God would honour his promises.

Psalm 57 was written by David about his time in the cave, and it gives us some insights into what David was thinking and why he was able to act the way that he did.

Read: Get everyone to look up Psalm 57. Get someone to read the Psalm out loud.

Particularly, highlight vv2-3: “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfils his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness.”

Obeying God


  • Think of a decision you made. What role did your friends play in helping you make that decision?
  • What role did God play?
  • Why is it important that we obey God?

Obedience is like a muscle – it needs to be exercised. Little acts of obedience mean you can make the big steps of obedience when you need to.

Tell this story to illustrate the point:

Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III is the American airline captain who in 2009 landed the US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan after the plane was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese immediately after takeoff; all 155 people aboard survived. He said this: “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”

Little acts of everyday obedience mean you can make the big steps of obedience. We need to train up our obedience muscles.

Ask: What are some small things that we need to be obedient to God in?

The world uses the rule that if it doesn’t hurt anybody then it is okay. Following Jesus goes deeper than that. Share examples e.g. watching porn – people think it “doesn’t hurt anyone”; going to youth group even when it is boring Youth Group vs. a night out in town; choices about who you hang out with at school.

We won’t get it right every time, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop trying.

We need to surround ourselves with encouraging Christians who will support us

Small Group Questions

  • What are some small things we can do to train up our ‘obedience muscles’?
  • Share a story about a time when you found it hard to be obedient to God or your parents.
  • What makes obedience challenging? (e.g. negative influence of friends, temptation, culture, thinking it doesn’t really matter)
  • What makes it easier? (e.g. support of Christian friends, prayer, Bible reading)
  • Think of something you are finding hard to be obedient with (e.g. swearing, stealing). Write down one thing you can do this week to build up your obedience muscles.

Finish in prayer for God’s help in being obedient to Him.


This study series includes a series of free printable A3 posters which you can print and display in your youth space, one for each theme. Download all five David posters.