This was an easy week of lessons. I think I mentioned earlier that I am treating this section in Judges and Ruth like a biographical examination of some of the heroes (and losers) found in these passages of scripture. I am hoping these kids will see characteristics they want to emulate and avoid by studying these stories from people's lives.
We started out by looking at the maps section of the Bible. (Maps 2, 3). I talked about the Exodus (Map 2) and showed them on the map Kadeth-barnea. Then we talked about now (in Judges), the people have split up the land like in Map 3. Joshua is dead, and the people are being wicked again.
We read the Bible Dictionary sections titled "The Book of the Judges" and "Judges". This helped set the stage about the tribal/wild west style of activity we were going to read about.
Then we read Judges 1:27-33 aloud. This was not part of their assigned reading. I pointed out that the people did not follow God's instructions to exterminate everyone from the land. Instead, they left the people as vassals and exacted tribute. The Israelites wanted money.
I told the story using Chapter 2 verses 7, 10, 12, 14, and 15. I know this probably isn't helpful to you to read about, but when I teach a story, I summarize while directing the kids to the scripture passage. I want them looking at the scriptures as much as I possibly can. Sometimes we read out the verses as we summarize. Sometimes not. Sometimes they have questions about phrasing or the story. It's sort of like a guided narrative, I suppose.
The Lord raised up Judges (v16) but when the judges died, the people were even worse (v19). In vv20-23, the people wer afflicted, and god did not run out the people who were left in the land so that they would "prove" Israel.
The kids cut and pasted the Modern and Ancient Israel chart while I let one of my better entertainers summarize the story of Ehud and King Eglon. That was worthy of a few laughs. We talked about what we can learn from these stories.
One kid mentioned at the end that she was aggravated at the Israelites for constantly falling away once their leaders died. I asked the kids if they knew why. Some discussion ensued. I directed them to Judges 2:10, which talks about the new generation did not know the Lord, or in other words, they had not developed testimonies for themselves. I said something about how the kids in our class have strong parents, but do they know the Book of Mormon is true? Do they know Joseph Smith was a prophet? Do they know God lives and loves them? I could tell this little point hit home, and it ended up being a bit of a theme throughout the next lesson as well. While the rest of the lesson was very good from an informational standpoint, this short 2-3 minute discussion made the most impact. I love it when that happens.
We started by everyone listing a trait that we admired in Gideon and wrote it on the handout.
My lesson objective was that the "kids will see that Gideon overcame obstacles in life and feelings of inadequacy to become a great, faithful leader". I try to write lesson objectives so that I stay focused. I find they really make improve the quality of my lessons.
We basically summarized the story as a group. I directed them to the following points, but I let them tell the story and make observations:
- There were 200 against many (blessing on Mount Gerizim)
- they had no weapons
- Midianites recognized Gideon as a great leader. His own people didn't at first (Judge 7:30) God was with him
- He was full of faith and put his faith into action
- He asked why me
I also pointed out in Judges 8:22-23 where the people wanted Gideon to be their king and his response. I felt like this made the most important point about his character in the whole section.
Read the James E Faust quote on the handout (from the manual).
This was another good lesson.
Today was Samson. Today's lesson objective was that students will learn from the mistakes of Samson what to avoid. They will learn that simple things help us stick to righteous choices.
That was a horribly worded objective, but you get the idea.
We read aloud D&C 3:4 and then students briefly summarized the story of Samson. I let kids start off and then I prompt them to keep the dialog going until we get to the end. In this case, some of the kids didn't read the word "bowed" correctly, and so I was able to sort of demonstrate what it meant while pushing on my super annoying in-the-middle-of-the-room support pole. Who knew that would actually be useful?
I used the Samson handout I made, and had the kids fill it out. We discussed their answers.
I had them first work to the table (What Samson did and Why) and then had the girls take two passages and the boys take the other two. Then the class continued on to complete the worksheet.
This was another surprisingly good discussion. I must say that the kids are growing accustomed to taking material and analyzing and applying it. They're getting very good, in fact. I'm starting to consider upping my game and teaching them how to take these applications and make them into short lessons or talks.
The final question, "What precautions can you take to avoid the problems Samson experienced," resulted in different answers than I was expecting. I pointed out that simple things, like reading scriptures, temple attendance, etc, help us keep our covenants.
One other point we made is that Samson didn't derive his power from his long hair. His power came from his covenant with the Lord. We talked again about how having righteous parents or even making wise choices in the past isn't a guarantee that you'll make wise choices in the present. I brought it back again to the importance of having a personal testimony of the Gospel.
This was an easy read for them even though reading a whole book sounds intimidating. Ruth is more narrative, and it's only 5 pages. This was going to be a short lesson, and I felt what I had planned would work better if the boys got to work their part separately. I have some girls that think it's their duty to lecture the boys on the way they should behave or choices they should make in the future, and I didn't want this to degrade into a boys vs girls talk.
So I asked my husband to take the boys while I took the girls and we answered the question on the Ruth and Gideon handout. They wrote down the qualities that Ruth and Boaz had that would make them good spouses. The boys analyzed Boaz, and the girls took Ruth.
I had written down the following points from my reading to help us guide the discussion with our respective groups. During the discussion, as the kids would raise a point, I would point them to these verses (as did Jared). The kids were impressed enough with these two Bible personalities to mark several verses without being prompted. Yes!
The objective was to identify positive characteristics in Ruth and Boaz the students want to include in their lives or find in a spouse.
- loyal (Ruth 1:16-17)
- took care of mother-in-law (Ruth 2:2)
- truly converted, took on customs of her husbands people (Ruth 1:4; 2:11-12)
- hard worker (Ruth 2:2)
- obedient (Ruth 3:5)
- patient (Ruth 3:18)
- better than 7 sons to her mother-in-law (Ruth 4:15)
- financially stable (Ruth 2:1)
- kind to poor/suffering (Ruth 2:8-10,13)
- noticed other's goodness and seeks to reward them (Ruth 2:12)
- didn't take advantage of Ruth although he had opportunity (Ruth 3:11)
- obedient in following the law perfectly (Ruth 3:12-13; 4:1-13)
- protected Ruth's virtue (Ruth 3:14)
- took care of Ruth physically (Ruth 3:15)
- took care of Ruth's family (Ruth 3:17)
- respected/blessed by community/church elders (Ruth 4:11-12)
- respectful of the law and Ruth's previous covenants and responsibilities (Ruth 4:10)
I wish now that I had included a spot on the handout for the kids to choose one characteristic in Ruth or Boaz they wanted to develop in anticipation of their own future marriage, but I didn't. :(
But the discussion went really well. With my girls I had to explain to them that Ruth went to Boaz not because she loved him (though she may have), but because it was a law that the near kinsmen could be called on to raise us seed to a deceased man. This isn't really a romance story, but a story of how obedience to the law begats happiness. Our discussion was very good. I don't think that there was a single positive characteristic about Ruth that the girls didn't pick out themselves. We had a very good discussion. I had to explain about Judah and his sons and Tamor again to make the point that this was a long-standing tradition. (It's still practiced today in some Jewish communities, in fact, but I didn't bring that up.)
I could tell that the discussion was going well with the boys as well. When we came together at the end of the lesson to report, the boys were calling him "Bo-abs" because of his awesomeness. :)
While researching this, I had looked up the phrase about Ruth uncovering Boaz' feet to see if there was any special idiom. Ewww. There are some sick people in this world. People who say that was an invitation to an immoral act are mistaken. Read on to Ruth 3 and 4 and see how protective Boaz is. He could have taken Ruth right then, however, he fulfilled the requirements of the law and went to the closer relative first. People are so horrible. This kind of crap gets spread around because people like to hear about the scriptures instead of reading them for themselves. If you read the entire book of Ruth, it's clear what's going on isn't illicit in any way.
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