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This lesson is accompanied with a craft: "Handprints" and a Bible Game: "Search Me...Know Me," and is formatted to cover two one-hour class sessions. Both activities are printed below.
Session 1: Sing songs*. Present the lesson and memory verse. Make the craft.
Session 2: Sing songs. Review the lesson and memory verse. Play the Bible game. (When I review a lesson I give the children an opportunity to tell me one thing they remember. If they're able to recall one idea, and not repeat someone else's answer, I reward them with a piece of candy. I know this method of rewarding is considered controversial by some, but I find it very effective in keeping the children focused during review time.)
* Songs to sing with this lesson are, "Create In Me A Clean Heart", "I Will Sing Of the Mercies of the LORD", and "The LORD Is My Shepherd".
Object Lesson: God knows you and loves you.
(You'll need a magnifying glass, and a sheet of paper with a small circle drawn at the center of it, approximately 1/4" in diameter. Inside the circle type or write "God Knows You" using the smallest text possible. Tape the paper to a wall opposite of where you'll present the lesson. If possible, give each child a small plastic magnifying glass to keep as a lesson reminder.)
The Psalms are a collection of prayer and praise songs written mostly by David*, the King of ancient Israel, and were used during worship services to sing praises to God. Even today, many of our modern praise songs use portions of the Psalms in their lyrics.
In today's lesson we will learn that God knows us and loves us. (As you say the Bible point, have children use these motions: Knows: Point to your temple. Loves: Hug yourself.)
What does it mean to examine? (Listen for answers) Examine means to inspect, or to look closely at something. (Direct the children to look across the room at the paper. Ask them, "What is on that paper? It appears to be a black dot. But if you look closely at it you'll find a message written on it for you." Allow the children to use the magnifying glass to look at the dot.
By examining that dot, by looking closely at it, we read a very important message. Psalm 139 is a Prayer-Psalm which asks God to examine, or look closely at, our hearts, that is our thoughts, our words, and our actions. This Psalm also asks God to look closely at our loyalties, those things which are important to us. It tells us that God knew us even before we were born, when we were in our Mother's womb! This Psalm says that God knows us even better than we know ourselves!
Psalm 139 ends with a request to God to change our hearts, and to lead us in his way of doing things: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." We want to ask God this because our offenses, our sins, keep us from enjoying a right relationship with him. He is holy, therefore sin cannot be in his presence. We want God to show us our sins so we can confess them, receive God's forgiveness, and live in his ways for eternity. (Confess means to admit that you have done wrong)
Memory Verse: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24
Optional: Include motions to Psalm 139:23-24. (Allow the children to help create and agree on the motions. Example: offensive, pinch your nose with your fingers as if smelling something bad.)
* Your students may be interested to know that King David was the same brave boy that slew Goliath and helped Israel to defeat the Philistines.
Read Psalm 139: 1-18, 23-24
Enrichment Idea: Before reading the Psalm, decide on actions the children can make when you read the bolded words. (Ex. "flee", have the children run in place. Or, "where" shrug shoulders with hands lifted up, as if questioning) Another option is to read the Psalm slowly, and allow the children to act out the verse as you read. If you have a mix of older and younger children, choose a few older children to act it out and have the younger children follow their lead.
"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith
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Craft Idea: Handprints
Verse 10 of Psalm 139 speaks of God's hand guiding his children and holding them fast: "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." This means that when you are his child, you cannot escape his power and love. Even if you try and wander away, God will not wander away from you. He knows you, loves you, and will never give up on you! He will always take care of you. Have you ever watched a mom or dad holding the hand of their child as they are walking? (Demonstrate this with a small child. Have the child pretend to stumble and fall at the appropriate time.)
What happens if the child stumbles and the parent isn't holding their child's hand tightly? Yes, the child will fall. But if the parent
has a firm grip on their child's hand, the child will be kept from falling and being hurt. This is what is meant by God holding you fast. When you are God's child, he may allow you to have difficulties and troubles. But your soul, the real you, will always be kept
safe and in his grip! He has promised to never ever leave you. He knows what is happening to you and will always be there for you. In fact, he loves you so much that he died for you and wants to be your Savior and Forever Friend!
To remember this Psalm, have children paint multiple colored handprints using acrylic paint applied to various surfaces such as t-shirts, wall banners, aprons, canvas bags, etc. To avoid wasting paint, use a paint brush to apply the paint to the children's hands, then press onto desired surface. Next to each child's handprint write: "Your hand will hold me." Psalm 139:10
Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith
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Game Idea: Search Me . . . Know Me
Set Up: For indoors or outdoors. A large playing area is best. Have children hold hands to make a large circle. If you do not have enough kids to make a large circle, have the kids hold scarves or ropes between each other to enlarge the circle area. (Some kids may prefer this anyway so they don't have to touch.) Blindfold one child and place him or her at the center of the circle. Choose one child standing on the edge of the circle to be "It."
How to Play: To begin, the blindfolded child must yell, "Search Me!" and "It" must respond by yelling, "Know Me!" (Similar to Marco-Polo game.) The blindfolded player then seeks to find "It". He or she may say, "Search Me" as often as he or she wishes. "It" must respond each time by saying, "Know Me". While the search is underway, the circle of players may move clockwise or counter-clockwise. Once "It" is tagged, the blindfolded player switches places with "It". Continuing playing as before, hopefully giving everyone a turn at being blindfolded, or as long as time allows.
After the Game Discussion: This game was a fun way to remind us that when we ask "God to search our hearts and know us" he will show us our sins, those things we do to offend him, so we can ask him for forgiveness and live more like him with our words, our thoughts, and our actions. God is pleased with the child, or the adult, who has a heart and mind that wants this kind of relationship with him. It is also wonderful to know that we can never run away from God; he'll never let us go. He will guide his children and hold them fast, just as Psalm 139:10 says, "Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
It is important to note that this Prayer-Psalm is not for everyone. It is only for God's children. Are you his child? Have you asked Jesus to be your Savior and Forever Friend? If not, you can do so right now in prayer.
Suggested Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you that you died for me and have forgiven me of my sins. I want you to be my Savior and Forever Friend. Thank you for promising to guide me and hold me fast. Search me and know me, and keep me from sin. Help me to follow you always. Amen.
Optional Game: Search Me...Know Me
Set Up: Players pair up into teams of two. One player on each team is blindfolded.
How To Play: The seeing players must lead their blindfolded partners from a starting point to an end point without touching them. The seeing players must say, "Search Me," and the blindfolded players must respond by saying, "Know Me," then move toward the voice of their partners. Play again, allowing children to switch places. The first team to reach the end point is the winning team.
Copyright 2002 Sarah Keith
Get Psalms lesson 2: God Forgives You,
Psalms lesson 3: God Makes You Grow.
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