God’s word is filled with many characters – real people who lived in various times during the time of the Old Testament and New Testament days. But- teenagers in the Bible doing awesome works of God? Yes!
Many times we think of adults as being the primary subjects of the Bible stories. This is correct in many cases. However, so many times in our Bible studies and Bible reading we can overlook the roles that teenage boys or teenage girls had throughout the pages of our sacred scripture. We want to take a look at some teen boys and teen girls who are found within the pages of scripture. Teenagers in the Bible had some profound effects on the Biblical narrative.
In God’s wisdom, He chooses to use many different people of many ages to carry out His will as the good news of Jesus Christ is shared, and even in many more ways in this digital age. We will look at a few of the many times and many reasons that our Heavenly Father, through the Holy Spirit, used young people to carry out God’s plan for a specific situation.
God knows the best way that his plans can be carried out and there are times that he sees fit to use a young person in their teen years. We want to encourage the modern teenager of today that they have an incredible opportunity to have a world vision that will compel them to share the inspired word of God. Christian teens have made and are making a difference by sharing God’s love and passion at an early age.
Teenagers In the Bible
So, teenagers who seek the will of God and the knowledge of God can have a great impact in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Actually, some adults need to change their views of teenagers and realize how much impact they can have on the world by way of social media and the relationships they can build with young adults that older adults may have a harder time doing.
Now, let’s take a look specifically at some teenagers in the Bible. In most cases, the Bible does not specifically list the ages of the young people. However, scholars believe that the young people we will highlight here were more than likely in their teen years.
1- The Story of David
In this famous and familiar story of a young man destined to be King, we find one of the many Biblical heroes in the Bible. This story is thought of, especially by children, as one of the best Bible stories or at least one of the favorites.
David’s Early Life and Anointing
It’s important to point out, that David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, and when the prophet, Samuel, came to anoint the next king of Israel (1 Samuel). Jesse brought in all of his sons to be considered as the next king but had not brought young David in with his other brothers. As many would have, I’m sure Jesse assumed that David was too young and inexperienced.
However, the prophet, Samuel, asked to see any other boys that Jesse had. So, David was brought in. At that point, Samuel realized that the young David was God’s choice to be anointed King of Israel. God directed Samuel to anoint David, which emphasizes that God looks at the heart rather than outward appearance.
David and Goliath
Of course, the most famous story in the life of David is his battle with Goliath, the Philistine giant. At the time, David’s brothers were on the battlefield fighting the Philistines while young David was tending his father’s sheep.
David visited his brothers on the battlefront and brought them some food and provisions. The battle lines of the opposing armies were drawn and things were at a standstill as the massive giant, Goliath, came out and taunted the Israelites day after day. The Israelite army was paralyzed with fear by Goliath’s daily challenges to single combat.
As you know, when David, the teen son of his father, Jesse, showed up he decided that he had a different method to take down Goliath. David told King Saul that God had enabled him to defeat a lion and a bear while protecting his father’s sheep. He said that Goliath could be brought down just as well!
The reluctant King Saul agreed and they put his armor on the young David. Saul would have had the finest of armor and equipment. However, it just wasn’t what David needed. He needed very little but he power of God to be displayed through him!
As you know, David went to face Goliath and chose 5 smooth stones for his sling. However, he only needed one as he toppled the giant in the power of the Lord. Although we don’t know David’s exact age at the time, scholars and commentators have suggested that David might have been in his mid-to-late teens when he fought and killed Goliath in one shot! It’s quite an incredible and impressive feat for a teenager or any person for that matter!
As we look at teenagers in the Bible, this next one is certainly one that God chose for one of the most amazing events in history.
2- The Story of Mary, The Mother of Jesus
Well, how could there be a greater honor bestowed upon a young lady, a young girl – than to be chosen to be the mother of Christ Jesus, the Messiah!
We don’t know Mary’s exact age when this story began either. However, based on historical and cultural context, it’s commonly believed that Mary was quite young at the time that the angel came to tell her the news that she would bear a son, Jesus.
A Very Young Lady for a World-Changing Task
In ancient Jewish culture, girls were often betrothed somewhere around the ages of 12 to 14 and married shortly thereafter. Given this cultural practice, many scholars and historians estimate that Mary may have been around 12 to 14 years old when she was visited by the angel Gabriel.
We can hardly imagine what Mary had to go through as she was pregnant with a child, yet had not had sexual relations with anyone, but the child was conceived of the Holy Spirit. What an amazing reality that God chose a Godly teenage girl with a very pure heart to be the mother of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. It’s an extraordinary example of teenagers in the Bible!
3- The Story of Joseph
Joseph was still in his teenage years when he was sold into slavery. The Bible does give his age as 17 years old. His story, including his rise to prominence in Egypt, is one of the more detailed accounts of a teenager in the Bible. The jealous brother of Joseph sold him into slavery and he eventually found his way into Egypt as a slave but performed his duties so well that he found favor in the eyes of one of Pahroahs top officials, Potiphar.
Potiphar could see Joseph’s wisdom and that he could be trusted with the leadership of Potiphar’s house. So, Joseph was placed in a high position with much influence until a woman turned things upside down.
Joseph had done nothing wrong, but he refused Potiphar’s wife’s sexual advances toward him. Potiphar’s wife screamed and told the lie that Joseph had tried to sexually assault her. Potiphar was angered by the event and sent Joseph to prison,
Some scholars believe that Potiphar actually believed Joseph’s story but had to put him in prison for political purposes. The thought is that if he actually believed his wife, then Joseph’s punishment would have been much more severe than just prison.
Release From Prison
I hope you will take the time to read or re-read the details of Joseph’s imprisonment, but eventually, because of his ability to interpret dreams, he was summoned to interpret the dreams of Pharoah himself. When Joseph showed his gift of interpreting his dreams Pharoah was so impressed and taken with Joseph and his wisdom that he made Joseph the second most powerful man in Egypt.
As the story progresses be sure to read how Joseph was able to help his family during the time of famine, forgive his brothers, and reunite with his family. The story of Joseph might very well be the most in-depth story that we have about someone who was faced with such enormous challenges as a teenager but trusted God to provide a way out.
4- The Story of Daniel
Early Life and Captivity
Daniel is a story of the great things God can do in a life of a faithful young person. He can give them unexpected areas of opportunity that they couldn’t have imagined. Daniel was likely in his early teens when he was taken into Babylonian captivity.
King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief official to select young men without physical defect, handsome, and wise to be trained in the king’s palace (Daniel 1:3-4). Daniel, along with his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were among those chosen.
In spite of young Daniel being in a foreign land, he was committed to remaining faithful to God’s law. He requested that he and his friends be given vegetables and water instead of the royal food and wine. Then, after a ten-day trial period, they appeared healthier than those who ate the king’s food, and they were allowed to continue with their diet (Daniel 1:8-16).
Wisdom, Understanding, and Interpretation of Dreams
God gave Daniel knowledge and understanding of all kinds in many fields of learning, plus he also had the ability to interpret dreams and visions. Similar to the young Joseph, Daniel interpreted a troubling dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 2:1-49). This set him apart from the other wise men in Babylon who the King normally relied on.
The Big Setup of Daniel
Daniel was such an upright man and gained the favor of King Darius. It was so much that there were jealous officials to whom Daniel’s favor with the king was a threat. So, in reaction to that situation, they basically manipulated the King to sign a decree forbidding prayers to anyone but the King, himself, for 30 days.
Violation of this decree was to be punishable by death in a lion’s den. The jealous and deceptive officials who put the plan in place knew that Daniel would not stop his daily prayers to the one true God. So, in spite of the decree, Daniel continued to pray openly to God, leading to his arrest.
King Darius had been painted into a corner and reluctantly followed the decree as he believed he was bound by the law to do so. He admired Daniel and wished the best for him but he carried out the decree.
Daniel was placed in the lion’s den, but guess what? Yes, you remember. God sent angelic protection for Daniel and he was found unharmed the next morning. He had miraculously escaped the jaws of the lions! And, the jealous conspirators were, themselves, thrown into the lion’s den and killed.
When King Darius recognized this miraculous event, he issued a decree that the God of Daniel would be acknowledged throughout the kingdom as the supreme power.
Daniel’s Character and Integrity
Throughout his time in Babylon, Daniel displayed a tremendous amount of character and integrity. He was faithful to his God and his wisdom and ability to navigate the complex issues he sometimes faced.
Daniel’s life was marked by his faithfulness, wisdom, and his extraordinary relationship with God. His example as a young man is a powerful reminder that God can work through individuals of all ages who are committed to following Him.
5- The Story of Esther – “For Such a Time As This”
Early Life and Becoming Queen
Esther, who was originally named Hadassah, was very likely a teenager when she became a prominent figure in the Persian court. Esther was orphaned at a young age and she was raised by her uncle Mordecai. When Esther was young King Xerxes had a bit of a problem with his queen Vashti when she failed to obey an order to come and appear before the King’s guests. Well – King King Xerxes ultimately decided on getting a new queen.
Remember to read the entire story as it is amazing, but eventually, Esther was chosen to be the new queen for her beauty and grace. She was very young and inexperienced. However, she handled her new royal status excellently but kept her identity as a Jewish person a secret as Mordecai had advised. In spite of her youth and inexperience, she navigated her new royal status while keeping her Jewish identity a secret.
A Plot Against the Jews and Esther’s Courageous Response
The person who was basically second in command in the kingdom was a man named Haman. He demanded that everyone at the King’s gate bow down to him. Well, the faithful Mordecai, as a Jew, would not bow down to Haman. Well, it made the prideful Hamon so furious that he came up with an elaborate plot to not only have Mordecai killed, but all of the Jews in the kingdom.
Mordecai was devastated by the news and sent word to urge Queen Esther to use her position to intervene. He pleaded with her that perhaps she was in that position “for such a time as this” as the King James Version states it.
However, as queen, she was never to come before the King without first being summoned. Despite her fear and her young age, Esther recognized the gravity of the situation. She sought God’s guidance and asked that the Jews pray and fast about the situation.
Then, Esther made a courageous decision to approach the King uninvited which was a risk to her very life. It was a tremendously brave action for a young lady of her age. She cleverly invited the King and Haman to a banquet, where she revealed her own Jewish identity and Haman’s plot.
Haman’s Downfall and Victory for the Jews
The King’s response to Esther’s plea led to the Jewish people being saved from harm and the Jewish people became the victors over the ones who would have harmed them. Haman was executed on the very gallows that he had ordered built for Mordecai and Mordecai eventually became the second most powerful person under Kin Xerxes.
Esther’s bravery and wisdom, which was amazing for her young age, stopped the annihilation of the Jews and led to the establishment of the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Esther’s story is a powerful testament to how God can use young individuals, even teenagers, to accomplish His purposes. Her youth did not limit her. Instead, it was her faith, courage, and wisdom for God that defined her legacy. Her role in saving her people remains an inspiring example for all ages.
Teenagers in the Bible
Well, we wouldn’t have to stop there. We have other instances of very young people, probably teenagers called by God to do remarkable things for His kingdom. The teenagers in the Bible were amazing in the things that God called them to do!
Today in the very youth group or youth ministry of your church there may be wonderful, faithful, and called teenagers who will do extraordinary things to proclaim the name of Jesus. It’s happening all of the time in churches across the world.
Good church leaders and youth workers can be a light to Bible-engaged teens and encourage them in their walk with Jesus. Let’s pray that our youth today will hear God’s voice and carry out His call in their lives. God still works with young people and older people alike as He sees fit to carry out His marvelous will.