Lesson 4: The 39 Old Testament Books: 5 Divisions

Key Verse:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein …” Joshua 1:8 

Lesson Summary:  Understand that meditate in the verse means:  To dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.  For the next few lessons, we will “meditate” on how the Bible fits together.  Understand that by learning how God’s Word fits together, it will make it much easier for us to “observe to do according to all that is written therein”.

In this lesson, we are going to begin learning how the Old Testament is divided into sections.  These divisions will help us understand how the Bible fits together.  It will make it easier for us to find our favorite Bible stories, verses, and help us grow to become better Christians.  Begin to understand how simply the Bible is laid out for us to understand how it fits together.  This cannot be learned in one lesson.  This is just an overview of what we will be learning in the lessons to come.  Become familiar with the basic divisions of the Bible by using your Bible.  It will help to begin to memorize the books of the Old Testament.


Ideas for crafts or activities for children:

Display the poster of the books of the Old Testament and One Page Old Testament Overview. Files may be downloaded:

Old Testament Bookshelf

One Page Old Testament Overview

Optional worksheets that can be downloaded:

Lesson 4 – Volume 1 Children’s Worksheet 1

Lesson 4 – Volume 1 Children’s Reinforcement Worksheet

One could also make a set of 3 x 5 cards – a different color for each division – with the names of each Old Testament book.  These could be used to practice putting the books in the correct order, or even help with memorization of the 39 Old Testament books.

Younger children:  try teaching them the five divisions of the Old Testament by using their hands.  Have them trace their hand on a piece of paper.  Carefully write the 5 divisions of the Old Testament, one on each finger.  Use the thumb to begin with and end with the pinky finger.  After you finish, help them cut out their “hand” and glue it to a piece of construction paper.  Make one to keep in the room to hang on the wall by your Old Testament Bookshelf.

As you teach the lesson, use your fingers (and encourage them to hold up their hands to reinforce it with them.)  Point to your thumb and mention “Law.”  As you do, point to the Old Testament Bookshelf to help them understand you are talking about these books in their Bibles.  You can help them remember each division by briefly telling them (or having them tell you) a particular story they will be familiar with that is within that division:  i.e.

  1. “Law” – tell them God created the world, Noah’s ark, and Moses and the 10 commandments are all found here.
  2. “History” – tell them David and Goliath happens here
  3. “Personal” – tell them many of the Jews songs were recorded here, tell of the 23rd Psalm, or about Job.
  4. “Major Prophets” – tell them of Daniel and/or his three friends: Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego.
  5. “Minor Prophets” – tell them of Jonah

Mural suggestion for today: 

For this lesson, have them decorate a large puzzle piece with some pertinent facts about themselves it would be important for others to know, i.e.:  their favorite color, how many siblings they have, who their parents are, their favorite book, when they were saved, anything that tells all about them. Or, have them share how they would divide their personal life into divisions (write them on their puzzle piece).   Just as the books of the Bible are pieces of the Bible that tells us who Jesus is, let these puzzle pieces tell others who they are.  Encourage everyone to participate.

5 Division Hand Prints
39 OT Books Cards

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