The Ark of the Covenant is Captured


The Ark in the land of Philistines and the Temple of Dagon.

Scripture: I Samuel 4: 1 – 18, 5:1-7, 6:7-12, 7:2-4

Target Age Group:  1st through 6th grade

Welcome the children to the classroom and chat with them about their week as they gather around the table.

Pray and ask God to teach the children not just head knowledge, but also heart knowledge.


Bible Lesson:

Object Lesson Introduction: Show the children a rabbit’s foot, 4 leaf clover, (or other good luck charms), and a cross that is hung on a rear view mirror.  Ask them if they know what they are used for and explain to them that they are used for good luck and protection. Do you think that they really work? (No) Today’s lesson is about how Eli’s sons and the elders of Israel used something like a good luck charm.  Listen carefully to see if you can figure out what it was that they used…
Have the children open their Bibles to Samuel 4.

(Read the story to the children because at this age some of the children do not read smoothly, which hinders comprehension for the whole class.)


  • Did the Philistines come to attack Israel, or did Israel attack the Philistines?  Israel attacked the Philistines.
  • Which army won?  The Philistines.
  • What did the Israelites decide to do to win the next battle?  They brought the ark of the covenant to go into battle with them.
  • Did they ask God if this was what they should do?  No.
  • When the ark was brought into the camp, what did the Israelites do?  They shouted so loudly that the ground shook.
  • How did the Philistines react to this?  They were afraid because they had heard about what had happened to the Egyptians.  So, they encouraged each other to fight hard.
  • Who won the battle?  The Philistines.
  • How many Israelite soldiers were killed?  30,000
  • What happened to the ark of the covenant?  It was captured.
  • Why do you think that that happened?  The people were trusting in the ark of the covenant instead of asking God what to do and seeking his blessing.
  • Are we ever like the Israelites?  Sometimes we think that just because we go to church, or that we come from a Christian family that God will automatically bless us. Maybe we think that if we wear a cross necklace or have a Bible on the shelf it’s like a lucky charm.  But,  we should be seeking God himself in every situation – not using things as good luck charms.
  • What news did the messenger bring to Eli and the people of Shiloh?  That the battle had been lost, the ark had been captured, and Eli’s sons had been killed.
  • What happened to Eli when he head this news?  He fell off of his chair and broke his neck and died.
  • What did the Philistines do with the ark?  They put it beside their idol, Dagon.
  • What happened to the idol overnight?  It fell onto it’s face before the ark!
  • They set the idol back up, but what happened the next night?  The idol fell over again and it’s head and hands broke off.
  • What happened to the people?  They got sick with tumors
  • Did the Philistines understand the God had caused this?  Yes.
  • What did the Philistines decide to do then?  They decided to send the ark back on a cart pulled by milk cows.
  • Why do you think that they used milk cows?  It was a test.
  • Why would it have been a sign from God if the milk cows went to the Israelites?  Because normally they would have been looking for their calves and not heading off down the road.
  • Did God make the cows go back to Israel?  Yes.  “they did not turn  to the right or to the left.” (vs. 12)
  • What did Samuel tell the people to do?  to return to the Lord with all of their hearts, to get rid of any idols, and to commit themselves to serving Him only.
  • What did he say would happen then?  God would deliver them from the Philistines.
  • Did they obey?  Yes.
  • Let’s pray and ask God to help us to seek him in everything that we do…


During the remaining class time do activities that help to reinforce what the children have learned. Here are some suggestions…


Memorize the verse.

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”


Have the children use colors or pastels to draw their own vision of the story on a sketch pad page.  Or have them color a color page related to the story.  An excellent color page book is “Through-the-Bible Coloring Pages For Ages 4-8” by Janet Skiles.  The pages are reproducible.


Show the first part of this video to illustrate the story.


Have the children make this ark of the covenant craft from freesundayschoolcurriculum.


Here are some activity ideas from clavaryknoxville.


Have the children fill out these worksheets from Calvary Curriculum.


Have the children use Legos to act out the story.


Have helpers or the children themselves out this story.  Find a box and wrap it in gold Christmas wrapping paper. You might even cut out a pair of angles and attach them to the top.  Place the box in a wagon and have two helpers pull it. If you have a cow costumes from the Christmas play, have your helpers dress up. Dagon was a fish god, so a mermaid costume would work well on that player.

Here is a video of some kids acting out this story.


Evaluate what the children have learned.  While they are coloring or crafting ask each one what they learned today.

Send each child’s parent an e-mail (or a hard copy) of the  Parents’ Page.

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