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David and Goliath, and David as Psalmist

Drama: Readers' Theater, and/or Puppet Workshop


Summary of Lesson Activity:

Older students (third grade and up) will use "Readers' Theater" to dramatize David's battle with Goliath. Many of the Psalms attributed to David are featured in the script.


For younger students, have the older students record the reading (with pauses to allow time for movement and action) to be used as a sound track for a puppet show. 


Alternately, gather together a group of adults and record their performance the Reader's Theater for use by all students in a puppet show.



Scripture Reference:

1 Samuel 17



Workshop Objectives — After completing this Rotation, participants will be able to:

  • Locate the book of I Samuel in the Old Testament (using the table of contents) and identify it as part of the history of the Israelite nation.
  • Relate the story of David the shepherd and Goliath the giant.
  • Examine that with God's help, David defeated Goliath.
  • Recognize that David is said to have written many of the Psalms.



Leader Preparation:


Read Bible Background and scripture.


Background comments on the story: 


This story of the victory of an underdog is a familiar one in our culture, even to those not familiar with other Bible stories. Some scholars feel that this story may be a legend about David, especially since in 2 Samuel 21:19, Elhanan is credited with killing Goliath of Gath.


More giants from Gath were also killed in 1 Chronicles 20: 4-8. Furthermore, the chronology in 1 Samuel indicates that the story may have been inserted at a later time (in chapter 16 David serves King Saul as a harpist, but Saul does not recognize him in chapter 17).


Nonetheless, this story of a boy who does what trained soldiers did not dare do wonderfully exemplifies David's trust in the Lord and the Lord's faithfulness to his servants. It emphasizes the Old Testament theme that Yahweh is with the small nation of Israel and gives them victory over powerful enemies.



Materials List:

  • Books to share before class begins (optional)
  • Scripts for Readers' Theater: 13 copiesHat patterns book
  • Simple hats or headpieces to help identify characters or construction paper and patterns for making them (refer to the book listed in the resources) 
  • Smooth stones (from garden or home supply store) - one per student
  • Flip chart or chalkboard; appropriate marker
  • Tape measure
  • Audio recording equipment (optional)
  • For puppet option:
    • recording of the script
    • Bible-time puppets
    • sheep puppets (can be posterboard sheep covered with cotton balls attached to a paint stick)
    • lion puppet (or lion action can take place "off stage")
    • For Goliath puppet: pretend a regular puppet is big, or use a bigger puppet, or have Goliath be "off stage," or have a student dressed up in Bible-time clothes pretend to be Goliath.


Advanced Preparation Requirements:

  • For older students prepare the scripts by highlighting one reader's lines on each script.





Early arrival activities



  • Look at and feel a smooth stone and write down words to describe it on the flip chart or chalkboard headed with the statement "Write one word that describes this stone"
  • Make headpieces from the book Hat Patterns...
  • Read the script to become familiar with it.

Books to share before and after the lesson: 


There are many picture book versions of David and Goliath available in the public library. There are also a number of books about the Twenty-third Psalm, the Good Shepherd, and Psalms. Ask your librarian for help, or look for:


Eisler, Colin. David's Songs: His Psalms and Their Story. New York: Dial, 1992.
Fisher, Leonard Everett. David and Goliath. New York: Holiday House, 1993.
Miner, Julia (illustrator). The Shepherd's Song: The Twenty-third Psalm. New York: Dial,


Walker, Paul Robert. Giants!: Stories from Around the World. New York: Harcourt Brace

and Company, 1995.

Opening- Welcome and Lesson Introduction


Open with prayer.


Dig- Main Content and Reflection

Tell the story. (see The Lion Storyteller Bible for an excellent condensation of the story for reading or retelling).

Read the scripture: 1 Samuel 17: 31-51.



Who are the characters in the story? David, Jesse (father), King Saul, Eliab (oldest brother), Abinadab and Shammah (second and third oldest brothers), Goliath of Gath, Israelite army, Philistine army

Where did the story take place? Jesse's home and sheep fields, Israelite army's camp, battlefield

Do: Use the tape measure to show how tall Goliath was. Most Bibles say he was 6 cubits and 6 span (9 feet, 9 inches tall); the Dead Sea Scrolls (an older manuscript) indicate he was 4 cubits and 1 span, which is 6 feet, 9 inches -- still quite tall! (Walker, Giants!)

Look at the smooth stone word list.

Ask:  Did anyone put down a word having to do with weaponry or one that implies power?How would you feel if you were

David facing lions and bears
Jesse when David wanted to join brothers
Israelites when Goliath yelled at them
King Saul when David volunteered to fight Goliath
Goliath when he saw David
Philistine army when Goliath fell, Israelite army when Goliath fell?

Assign parts and read the story using the Readers' Theater script.


(David has the biggest part, so it should go to a good reader. The narrators should be confident readers, also.)


Explain that in some churches, Psalms are chanted by a cantor. Demonstrate, and suggest that David consider chanting the songs in the script.

Consider recording the performance to play it back for the group, or to play it for another class or program. If another class will be using the recording for a puppet show, be sure to leave pauses for the puppet action.

Discuss other things that can be added to the performance, and if time permits, do it again.

Variation: Puppet show:


Have a class of older students record their Readers' Theater reading with pauses for puppet action and movement. Play the tape once so the puppeteers are familiar with the plot and dialog. Play the tape again, with the puppets miming action and moving their mouths (if they are moving mouth puppets) in sync with the tape. You will want to do this several times so that everyone can learn their cues. It may be necessary for some of the action to take place "off stage" (such as the battle with the lion and Goliath being killed and beheaded).

Pulling it all together - Discussion:

Ask:  How do you thank God for His gift of love? (Belonging to God: a First Catechism (PCUSA) question # 5: I promise to love and trust God with all my heart.
Was David braver than all the soldiers? Why?
I wonder how David knew God was with him?
What sorts of ‘giants' do we have to face in our lives?

Is God with us? How do we know?


Quiet reflection/meditation:

Have everyone pick up a smooth stone.

Say slowly and quietly: Everyone, feel your stone. Rub it with your hands. Feel its weight. Feel its coolness. Close your eyes and think about where it may have come from.

Think about how it was formed.

Think about David, searching for just the right stones.

Try to imagine what was going through David's mind.


Take a few moments for silent prayer.
"And all God's children say --- Amen.



Close with one of David's Psalms, or sing one of the many hymns based on Psalms (such as "All People That on Earth Do Dwell," Presbyterian Hymnal # 220). The Presbyterian Hymnal (John Knox Press, 1990) has a section of hymns based on Psalms.

Readers' Theater Script

David: Shepherd, Psalmist, and Soldier

Based upon I Samuel 17 (adapted by Amy Crane from Today's English Version)


13 Parts (may be shared or split as needed)

Narrator 1
Narrator 2
Jesse (David's father)
Philistine soldier 1
Philistine soldier 2
Eliab (David's oldest brother)
Abinadab (David's second brother)
Shammah (David's third brother)
Israelite Soldier
King Saul



Narrator 1: Once there was a shepherd:

David:  It's so peaceful and quiet out here in the fields, watching over my father's sheep today. Sometimes, it is noisy and stormy. Sometimes, I hear lions roar and I hear bears growl -- it's frightening then. But I always remember that the Lord my God is with me protecting me, and then I am not lonely or afraid.

Narrator 2: This shepherd's name was David.

Narrator 1: David watched over the sheep carefully. He counted them frequently. He named all of the sheep.

Narrator 2: But he was not just a shepherd, he was also a musician. He loved to play his harp. The hills around Bethlehem were a beautiful place. David delighted in creating songs praising God for the glory of His creation.

David: Sometimes when I play the harp, it seems almost as if the sheep were dancing.
(Read in a singing or singsong voice; from Psalm 65: 1-2a, 9, 11-13)

O God, it is right for us to praise you in Zion and keep our promises to you,
because you answer prayers.
You show your care for the land by sending rain;
you make it rich and fertile.
You fill the streams with water;
you provide the earth with crops.
What a rich harvest your goodness provides!
Wherever you go there is plenty.
The pastures are filled with flocks;
the hillsides are full of joy.
The fields are covered with sheep;
the valleys are full of wheat.
Everything shouts and sings for joy.

Sheep: Baaa, baaa, aaaamen!

Narrator 1: But the hills around Bethlehem were also a dangerous place. Especially if you were a sheep. There were rocky valleys and thorny bushes where a sheep could be lost.

Narrator 2: And there were lions and bears. David never hesitated to put his own life at risk to save a lamb from a lion or bear.

Narrator 1: One quiet evening, David heard a sound that made his blood run cold -- a low growl from the bushes at the lower end of the pasture.

David: (whisper) It sounds like a lion!

Sheep: (panicked) Baaaaa!

Narrator 2: David was a brave young man. He had faced lions and bears before. But he also knew enough to be cautious and afraid.

Narrator 1: David prayed.

David: (prayerfully; from Psalm 16: 1-2, 5, 8-11)  

Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety.
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
all the good things I have come from you."
You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need;
my future is in your hands.
I am always aware of the Lord's presence;
He is near, and nothing can shake me.
And so I am thankful and glad,
and I feel completely secure, because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.
You will show me the path that leads to life;
your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.

Sheep: Baaa, baaa, aaaaamen!

Narrator 1: And David put down his harp and picked up his shepherd's staff and ran down the hill, shouting at the lion, which now had a lamb in its jaws.

David: Go! Leave it alone! Drop Abigail now!

Narrator 2: David went after that lion. He attacked it and rescued the lamb. The lamb ran off to find her mother.

Narrator 1: The lion turned on David. David grabbed the lion by the throat and beat it to death. He took the lion skin home to his father that night.

Narrator 2: David lived with his father Jesse.

David: Father, I have killed a lion.

Jesse: Good job son! Tell me about it.

David: God was with me.

Narrator 1: David was the youngest of eight sons. His three oldest brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah, had gone off to join King Saul in the battle against the Philistines.

Narrator 2: As much as David loved his time in the fields watching over the sheep and singing songs praising God, he wanted to be in the Elah Valley with Saul and the Israelite army.

David: Father, let me join my brothers Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah in service to King Saul.

Jesse: David, you know we have discussed this before, and my answer has not changed. No. You are too young. I don't want to hear any more about it.

David: Yes, Father.

Narrator 1: David was an obedient son. He did not bring up the subject again. But that does not mean he stopped thinking about going to battle for his God and his King.

Narrator 2: Then, one day, the unexpected happened.

Jesse: Son, it has been a while since we have had news of your brothers and King Saul's army. Take this grain and bread to your brothers in the camp. Take these cheeses to the commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and if they are well. And then come home with the news.

David: Yes, sir! Thank you!

Narrator 1: So David set off with joy in his heart and a song on his lips.

David: (in singing or singsong voice; from Psalm 8:1-4)

O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!
Your praise reaches up to the heavens;
it is sung by children and babies.
You are safe and secure from all your enemies;
you stop anyone who opposes you.
When I look at the sky, which you have made,
at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places --
what is man, that you think of him;
mere man, that you care for him?

Narrator 2: Meanwhile, in the Philistine army camp, overlooking the battlefield...

Philistine soldier 1: Can you believe we have been here forty days, and nothing has happened?

Philistine soldier 2: If only all wars were this safe and easy.

Philistine soldier 1: Yeah. Where did they find that big guy, anyway?

Philistine soldier 2: You mean Goliath? He's from Gath. I have never seen anyone that tall before. Do you know that he's over nine feet tall?!

Philistine soldier 1: Where in the world did he get his armor? It has to weigh more than I do. Plus he has that helmet and a javelin and a spear. He's not only big, but he's strong! I'm glad I'm not an Israelite.

Philistine soldier 2: The Israelite soldiers sure don't seem to be worth much. None of them has stepped forward to fight Goliath yet. It's been forty days! Their king, what's his name, Saul?

Philistine soldier 1: Yeah, King Saul, that's it. He's the first king they ever had.

Philistine soldier 2: Well that explains a lot. I don't know why he doesn't just order someone to fight Goliath and get it over with.

Philistine soldier 1: Maybe he's hoping that if he waits long enough, we'll forget about it and go home.

Philistine soldier 2: Or die of old age.

Philistine soldier 1: Yeah, maybe.

Narrator 1: And all is not quiet and restful in the Israelite's army camp, either. Let's listen in on some of David's brothers and their comrades at arms.

Eliab: Twice a day for forty days now.

Abinadab: It's been awful, hasn't it? I'm not sure I can bear to hear that monster shout at us again.

Shammah: It's almost enough to make me wish I were at home with David, watching the sheep.

Eliab: Shammah! How can you say such a thing! You know it is our duty, and a great honor, to serve in King Saul's army.

Abinadab: I'm not sure that I feel like I am serving any wonderful cause.

Eliab: Abinadab! Watch your tongue. You know we are here to ...

David: Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah! Hi! I brought some food from Dad. How are you doing?

Shammah: Shhhhh! Quiet! Here comes Goliath!

Goliath: I am Goliath, a Philistine. Choose one of your men to fight me. If he kills me and wins, all the Philistines will be your slaves. But if I kill your man and win, you Israelites will be our slaves. I challenge the Israelite army! I dare you to pick someone to fight me!

David: What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and frees Israel from this disgrace? Who is this man that he defies the army of the living God?

Israelite Soldier: King Saul has promised to give a big reward to the man who kills Goliath! The king will give his daughter in marriage. And the man's family will not have to pay taxes.

Eliab: David, what are you doing here? Who is taking care of those sheep of yours? You spoiled brat! You just came here to watch the fighting!

David: What have I done? Can't I just ask a question?

Narrator 2: Some of the soldiers heard what David was asking, and ran to tell King Saul.

Israelite soldier: King Saul! There is a young man here who sounds like he is willing to fight the giant!

King Saul: What are you waiting for? Bring him to me at once!

Narrator 1: David was led into the tent of King Saul. He bowed and spoke quickly.

David: Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine monster! I will go and fight him.

King Saul: No. How could you fight him? You are just an untrained boy. He has been a soldier all of his life.

David: Your Majesty, I take care of my father's sheep. Any time a lion or bear carries off a lamb, I go after it, attack it, and rescue the lamb. I have killed bears. Just this week I killed a lion. I will do the same thing to this Philistine, who has insulted the army of the living God. The Lord has saved me from lions and bears; He will save me from this Philistine.

King Saul: All right. Go, and the Lord be with you. Take my armor, too.

Narrator 2: David was dressed in King Saul's armor and helmet and was given his sword. He could barely stand up.

David: OOOFF! Ouch! I can't fight with this. I'm not used to it.

Narrator 1: So he took off the armor. And he picked up his shepherd's staff. As he headed toward the battlefield, he stopped by a stream. The Israelites watched as he paused, looked heavenward, and then bent and picked up something and put it in his bag. It looked like a stone. With his slingshot ready at his side, he went out to meet Goliath.

David: (Psalm 28: 1-2, 6-7) 

O Lord, my defender, I call to you.
Listen to my cry!
If you do not answer me,
I will be among those who go down to the world of the dead.

Hear me when I cry to you for help,
when I lift my hands toward your holy Temple.
Give praise to the Lord, he has heard my cry for help.
The Lord protects and defends me;
I trust in him.
He gives me help and makes me glad;
I praise him with joyful songs.

Goliath: Hey, look! They're finally sending someone out to fight me!

Narrator 2: Goliath started walking toward the center of the battlefield.

Goliath: It's just a boy! They are sending a boy to fight ME! What's that stick for, little boy? Do you think I am a dog? Come on and fight me, child. I will feed your body to the birds.

David: It is true that you come against me with mighty weapons. But I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite army, whom you have insulted. This very day the Lord will put you in my power and I will cut off your head. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a God. And everyone here will see that the Lord does not need swords or spears to save his people. He is victorious in battle. He will put all of you in our power.

Eliab: That's not our baby brother David out there, is it? What in the world is he doing?

Shammah: I can't bear to watch! You tell me!

Abinadab: He's running toward Goliath. Goliath is just standing there. Now David is reaching into his bag. He took something out.

Eliab: It's a stone. Can you believe it? Our brother the shepherd thinks Goliath is a bear he can scare off with a little stone.

Shammah: Oh, I can't watch. What's happening now. Is he dead yet? Father will be so unhappy with us.

Abinadab: Look! Look! He put the stone in his slingshot, and can you believe it? It hit Goliath -- smack -- right in the middle of his forehead.

Shammah: What was that crash? Is the world coming to an end? Oh, I can't stand it.

Eliab: Who does he think he is anyway? Look at the little showoff now, picking up Goliath's sword.

Abinadab: Look, look, he's cut off Goliath's head with Goliath's own sword. Our baby brother! Won't father be so proud! And look, all the Philistines are running away. Let's go after them!

David:  (from Psalm 18:1-3)

How I love you, Lord!

You are my defender.

The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress.

My God is my protection and with him I am safe.

He protects me like a shield;
he defends me and keeps me safe.
I call to the Lord,
and he saves me from my enemies.
Praise the Lord!

Narrator 1: And so, David faced Goliath and defeated him with God's help.

Narrator 2: David continued to serve King Saul, and eventually became King himself. But, that is another story.

Narrator 1: The end.





Cohen, Barbara. David: A Biography. New York: Clarion Books, 1995. Print.

 (Adds details to story using midrash, archaeology, history, psychology, Bible study, etc.)

Diebel, Anne. Hat Patterns to Help Teach Bible Stories. Paper Hat Tricks, 1994. Print.

Good News Bible in Today's English Version - Second Edition, Copyright © 1992 by

American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

Hartman, Bob. The Lion Storyteller Bible. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Lion Publishing,

1985. Print.

Mark, Jan. God's Story: How God Made Mankind. Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Candlewick, 1998. Print.

McCarter, P. Kyle. The Anchor Bible: I Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction

and Commentary. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980. Print.



Editor's Note: The book by Anne Diebel includes patterns for making "hats" out of paper. As of 2001 the info for ordering was to call  800-830-HATS, 810-349-2560 (this is a small family business -- leave a message and they will call you back). Though as of 2015 it is noted that this book can be procured on-line.




A lesson written in 2001 by Amy Crane from:
Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church
Tampa, FL, USA


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