Exploring Judges — Weekly Christian ed lesson

In this lesson, children will explore several Israelite judges and what it means to be a human leader who acts on God's behalf.

Deborah Praises Jael (Jud. 5:1-3,24-31), Doré's English Bible

Lesson background

This week a reading from the book of Judges (Judges 4:1-7) appears in the Revised Common Lectionary. Since this is the only passage from this part of the Old Testament in the Revised Common Lectionary, it serves as a great opportunity to introduce young disciples not only to the concept of an Israelite judge but also to provide them with a chance to consider what it means to be a human leader who acts on God’s behalf.

You will need

Starting out

Greet the children as they arrive.

Write judge at the top of a sheet of chart paper or on the whiteboard. Ask the children what words they associate with judge. Record their responses on the chart paper/whiteboard.

Tell the children in ancient Israel God chose human leaders to guide God’s people. They were called judges. The children will explore what it means to be a judge and what these stories tell us about being leaders.

Exploring the passage

Say a prayer.

Introduce children to biblical/Israelite judges:

  • Open the Bible and show the children the Book of Judges. Note that this portion of the Old Testament tells the stories of the time period when God called judges to lead the people of God in Israel.
  • Play “Book of Judges Summary” from 0:00-0:41.
  • After showing the video, write “Biblical Judge” on the chart paper or whiteboard in a different color marker than you used earlier. Ask the children to share what they learned about an Israelite judge from the video.
  • Then, ask the children to predict what these judges might be like.
    • What traits would a person have to have for God to call them to be a judge?
    • How would God want a judge to interact with God’s people?
  • Share that God called several judges over a long period of time to lead Israel. Note that the group will explore a few of those judges.


  • Read aloud Judges 4:1-7 to introduce the children to Deborah.
  • After reading, have the children wonder what Deborah was like and what she might have done during her leadership.
  • Play “Deborah’s Army: The Book of Judges”
  • After showing the video, ask:
    • How does Deborah show leadership in this story?
    • Does she reflect God’s love? Why or why not?
    • How do the people of God (Israelites) respond to her actions?
    • What do you think makes Deborah a good leader?
    • What flaws do you see in her leadership?

Other Judges

Relating the Bible to our lives

Hang a sheet of chart paper on the wall. Divide the sheet into three columns. At the top of the first column write Name. In the middle column, write But and in the third write Yes. Note that all of the judges God called to lead the people of God had flaws and God still called them because they had strengths that God believed could help their nation.

Write the names of the judges whose stories the group explored earlier in the Name column. Then ask the children to share the flaws that each person exhibited. Record these in the But column. Finally, ask the children to share the strengths that each judge demonstrated. Write these in the Yes column.

Hand each child a sheet of blank paper and a marker or crayon. Have them fold the sheet of paper in half. Ask them to write but at the top of the left column and yes at the top of the right column.

Give the children time to write or draw pictures of traits they think might be their flaws under but and strengths under yes. You may need to help them come up with words. Note that what we see as our flaws can sometimes be turned into strengths.

To conclude, ask the children to place their hands on their sheets. Offer a prayer of gratitude for God’s continued faith in us despite our faults and a prayer of guidance so that we might use our strengths to do God’s work on earth.

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