Yesterday I had a conversation with my son about Taylor Swift. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence as we’re both fans. What was surprising, though, was the very specific product recommendations I received on social media the next day. It was as if my phone was responding to each detail of our conversation with an aptly suggested item for me to purchase. And that is exactly what was happening! Smart technology is constantly listening to, monitoring, and responding to what we say, what we search for, and what we purchase. Sometimes it can feel as if we don’t even have private thoughts anymore — and that can be frightening.
Being monitored by technology or even other human beings is disconcerting. But being fully known by God is comforting. As Psalm 139 tells us, God knows everything about us, even before we know it and even before we existed. In this lesson, children will explore this psalm noticing God’s incredibly close relationship with humanity. Then, they will consider how being known by a loving, gracious God blesses us.
You will need:
- A Bible
- Index cards, pencils and a large bowl
- A large roll of paper, scissors, markers, old magazines and glue (optional)
- A sheet of chart paper, markers, 3-inch squares of paper in a variety of colors, and glue (optional)
- A computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and video “Theory of Knowledge Ways of Knowing Explained”
Greet the children as they arrive.
Hand each child an index card and a pencil. Ask them to write their name and their favorite color on the index card. Then, have them fold the index cards in half and place them in a large bowl.
Draw an index card and read the name written on the card. Ask the other children to guess that child’s favorite color. After the children have shared their responses, read what is written on the card. Repeat this until all of the cards have been drawn.
At the end of the activity, ask:
- How difficult was it to guess each person’s favorite color? Why?
- Raise your hand if you found it easy to figure out a particular person’s favorite color. Why were you easily able to guess what color this person loves?
Exploring the passage
Say a prayer.
Provide context for the lectionary reading (Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24):
- This reading comes from the Old Testament Book of Psalms.
- If the group has previously read psalms, ask them to share what they remember about this type of text. If the children are not familiar with a psalm, offer a brief introduction to this form of writing.
- Psalm 139 was written by King David. Several of the psalms included in the Bible were authored by David.
Read aloud Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24.
After reading, ask:
- According to this psalm, what does God know about us?
- How does it feel to know God knows us better than anyone else?
- Why do you think God knows us so well?
- Is it a good thing or a bad thing that God knows us so well? Why?
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect the scripture reading to their own lives through one or more of these activities.
- Who am I?: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a large roll of paper, scissors, markers, old magazines and glue. Divide the group into pairs. Provide each pair with two sections of roll paper that are slightly longer than each child’s height. Have the children lay one of the sheets of paper down on the floor. One child will lay on their back on the paper while the other child traces that child’s outline using a marker. Have each pair repeat this process for the second child. After tracing, ask each child to fill in their outline with images that represent who they are as a person. They can draw pictures using markers or can cut images or words from the magazines and glue them on their outlines. The images can depict their interests, personality traits, family or whatever they would like to include. When the children have finished, ask them to share their art. Note that God knows each of us as the people represented on the paper, as well as the people we will develop into as we grow up.
- Who we are and whose we are: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a sheet of chart paper, markers, 3-inch squares of paper in a variety of colors, and glue. Remind the children of the main message of Psalm 139: God knows us inside and out. Ask the children why they think God wants to know us this well. Note that God’s love for all creation leads God to want to know everything about it. We are God’s beloved, so God wants to know us completely. This is true not just for the people gathered in the room or even in the church. It is true for all people. Give each child several squares of paper and markers. Ask the children to write their names on squares of paper and then to write the names of other people they know. Encourage them to write the names of people who they consider family and friends, as well as those they may not enjoy being around. After the children have filled all the paper squares with names, draw a large heart on the sheet of chart paper. Tell the children this heart represents God’s love. Have them glue the name squares in the heart.
- How do you know what you know?: Gather the materials you’ll need for this activity: a computer with Internet access connected to a television or data projector and the video “Theory of Knowledge Ways of Knowing Explained.” Remind the children of one of the main messages of Psalm 139: God knows us totally and completely. Ask the children how they know things. How do they learn new information? Is there one right way to learn? Share that there is a theory of knowledge (sometimes called TOK for short) that claims we can come to know things in many ways. Show the video. After watching the video, discuss its ideas. Have the children share what they learned, what ways they often come to know the world, and what ways they value.