Posts Tagged 'Curses'

2 Kings Chapter 5

Elisha was a man of God. He had been blessed with a double portion of the same spirit that rested upon Elijah, and he had the power and authority given by the Lord, to perform mighty miracles. He had parted the Jordan waters, healed water that was not drinkable, filled empty vessels with oil, blessed an older woman to bear a child, raised that child from the dead, made bad (poisonous) food into good food again, and he multiplied food, among other things I am sure. This chapter continues his miracles with the following:

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

The captain over the Syrian host was named Naaman. He was a great, honorable, and mighty man, who, through the blessings of the Lord, had led the Syrians to be delivered from enemies. At this point, Naaman was a leper. When the Syrians had taken some of the Israelites captive, there was a woman who became a maid for Naaman’s wife. She told her mistress that she wished they were near the prophet in Samaria, because he would heal Naaman. Someone who had heard this, went and told Naaman what had been said. The king told Naaman to go to the prophet and that he would send a letter to the king of Israel along with him. Naaaman left with money and clothing, as gifts I believe, and with the letter from the king of Syria. The letter told the king of Israel, that Naaman had been sent there to be healed. When the king of Israel had read it, He tore His clothes for being asked to do something he did not have the power to do. The king felt like this would give the Syrians a reason to fight the Israelites.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Elisha heard that the king had rent his clothes and asked of him why he had done this. He told the king, to send Naaman to him, to show that there was a prophet in Israel. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s door with a chariot and horses, and a messenger was sent to him by Elisha. The messenger told him to go to the Jordan and wash seven times. If he would do this, then he would be clean from leprosy. Naaman was offended by Elisha for sending a servant to speak to him instead of going out to meet Naaman himself and also for not performing some great miracle by healing him. He said that the rivers in Damascus were better than the waters of Israel, as if it was beneath him to be told to wash in the Jordan. In anger, he left, but then his servant went to him and asked if he would have done it if he had been asked to do some greater task. Why wouldn’t he do this simple thing to be made clean? So, Naaman went to the Jordan and washed seven times, just as Elisha had told him. When he did this, a miracle occurred and his skin was as smooth as the skin of a child, and he was made clean.

15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’
burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord.
18 In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.
19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

Naaman went back to Elisha, honoring the Lord by recognizing He was the only God on earth. He offered a gift to Elisha, but Elisha refused the reward. Elisha was not being a prophet so that he could benefit from it. He was a true man of God. Naaman offered two mules to the servant of Elisha, or Naaman asked for two mules himself. Naaman would no longer offer sacrifice to any other god, but he asked for forgiveness for the times when he would need to go with his master into the place where his master worshipped his gods. He would expect that he would have to bow down with the command of his master. Elisha told him to go in peace. Naaman left and went from him just a little way.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

The servant of Elisha, Gehazi, was not satisfied with how the exchange between Elisha and Naaman had gone. He questioned Elisha’s choice to refuse the gift from Naaman. Gehazi decided that he would go after Naaman and take some of the gift that had been offered. Naaman saw Gehazi approaching him, and so he got down from his chariot and asked if everything was alright. Gehazi told him that everthing was indeed fine, and that he had been sent to him by Elisha to accept talents of silver and some of the garments that had been offered, to be given to two sons of the prophets that were supposedly on their way. Naaman gave freely to Gehazi and then left. Gehazi went before Elisha and was asked where he had been. Gehazi denied ever leaving, but Elisha knew this was not true. He asked him if it was the right time to receive gifts from Naaman, and knowing that Gehazi had done this thing, he cursed him and his posterity with the leprosy of Naaman. Gehazi left Elisha as a leper.

There are a couple of lessons I can think of when I read the story of Naaman. He was a man who was unwilling to do a simple task in order to receive a great blessing. I believe this was because he thought more of himself. His pride nearly caused him to live in the same state for the remainder of his days. It reminds me so much of the story of the brass serpent. In that story, the Israelites were plagued by poisonous snakes who blocked the way of travel for them. Many were dying and Moses, who was given direction by the Lord, gave them a way out. He made a serpent of brass and put it on a staff. If the Israelites would look to the serpent after being bitten, then by the power of God, they would be healed. If they chose not to look, they would die. Many thought the act of simply looking at the staff, was beneath them. Something so simple, could not save them.
Their pride caused them to die from the serpents’ bites. We live in a time of great spiritual death. Many are choosing to turn from God and separate themselves from him. In an effort to save us from this death, the Lord has given us several simple things to do that can strengthen us and keep us from turning away. Some of these simple things are prayer, scripture study, family home evenings, attending church regularly, partaking of the sacrament, and so on. If we let our pride stop us from believing in the power of something so simple as eating a bite of bread and drinking a small sip of water, we too will die in a spiritual sense. It is so important to put aside our pride and to believe that great things will come from small and simple acts.

Additionally, Naaman teaches me the lesson that I must act in faith for the miracles to happen. The Lord was not going to heal him just because he wanted to be healed, or even because he felt he should be healed. The Lord could have done this, but what would that have done for him? What would that do for us? Our physical, mortal trials and difficulties, are just that, physical and mortal. However, they are not without purpose.
They are part of this mortal existence for a reason. We came here for the opportunity to learn from experience. If the Lord simply healed us without effort on our part, we would never learn anything. We would not have opportunities to choose and to progress. Naaman needed to learn the attributes of humility and faith. The choice to act upon the direction given to him, was an act of humility and faith in words of the prophet. Naaman needed to learn for himself, that the Lord was the only true and living God able to do things that seemed impossible. He did learn that there was no other God “in all the earth”. Because he acted upon the direction with faith, even though it was very little faith, he was blessed by a great miracle. If we take even the tiniest steps of faith, we will be greatly blessed and eventually we will see the miracles of change in our own lives.

While Naaman had to experience humility and follow the words of the prophet, in order to be healed, Gehazi allowed himself to be overcome by his pride. He felt that he knew better than the prophet and took it upon himself to get what he felt was better. He added to that pride, lying and deciept, when he lied to Elisha about where he had been and hid those things which he had received from Naaman. In the end, he got what he deserved for the pride he demonstrated and he would be reminded of that every day for the rest of his life, I am sure. In this story, we can learn how much better off we will be if we put aside our pride and become a humble follower of the words of the prophets. I am grateful for this knowledge and the strong desire in me, to avoid the kind of spiritual disease that pride, lying and deceiving will bring upon me.

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1 Kings Chapter 17

Ahab was the wicked king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He married Jezebel who worshiped Baal, and together they led Israel in great wickedness. The Lord had caused prophets, such as Jehu, to curse the kings of Israel for practicing unrighteous dominion over the people of Israel. The Lord was prepared to humble the people. Chapter 17 begins with the following:

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah was a prophet, who went to Ahab and cursed the land with a drought and famine, which would only be ended by his word. I believe he was able to do this, because he held the sealing power from God, which allowed men the ability to close up the heavens by their word. Then, the Lord told Elijah to go into hiding, where the Lord would provide water from the brook Cherith and food from the ravens. Elijah, like so many other prophets, went into hiding and the ravens brought him bread and meat each day and he drank from the brook. However, because of the drought in the land, the brook eventually dried up.

The work of a prophet is to bring people unto the Lord, mainly by calling them to repentance. This is not meant to be words that are pleasing for the people to hear. People engrossed in sin, especially the great sins that were everywhere in the days of Elijah, are not going to take these words well. It is no surprise that Elijah would have a threat come upon him. The Lord had a work for Elijah to do, and because Elijah was faithful to His command to hide, Elijah was sustained with the necessities of life. Elijah had to be a man full of faith and hope. He had been willing to go to the king who was not living righteously and had the power to kill him, and speak of a curse. I am sure that he knew the people would feel that he, Elijah, had brought this curse upon them, rather than look to themselves and repent of their wicked ways. And then, in faith, trusting in the sustaining power of the Lord, he went into hiding.

8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where he would be sustained by a widow. Elijah followed the direction of the Lord, and found a widow gathering sticks at the entrance of the city. He asked her to get him some water to drink. As she went, he also asked her for some bread as well. She told Elijah that she did not have any bread, but that she had a small portion of meal (flour) and oil, that she was going to prepare for herself and her son to eat as their last meal. Elijah told her to faithfully do as she had said, but bring him a little first before making for herself and her son. He promised her that the Lord would provide meal and oil until the drought had ended with rain. She did what Elijah had commanded her to do, and the promise was fulfilled. Her flour and oil did not fail her by becoming empty. This was a huge blessing from acting with faith in a prophet and the promises of the Lord that he spoke.

Again, Elijah showed faith and trust in God, and the power to sustain him. He must have known that he was on the Lord’s errand because he had been helped to this point. As a man of God, I am sure Elijah was a man of compassion. I cannot imagine what it would have felt like, knowing his own hunger, to ask the widow to part with what she felt was her last meal and give it to him instead. I know he could not have asked it of her, unless he felt sure that the Lord would provide all that she needed to survive.

Greater faith would have been required by the widow in this story. She had not been sustained by the Lord during this season of famine. She was sure her death was soon at hand and she had such a simple desire to share a last meal with her son. To have a man come to her and command that she bring him food with that precious last meal, must have been a hard choice for her. This choice to sacrifice would have meant the difference between a few more days of living with her son. She trusted in the word of Elijah and had faith in his promises.

17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

After this miracle of provisions had taken place, the widows son was taken ill and died. She pleaded with Elijah, as the prophet, asking if he came to them to remind her of her own sins and then to take her son from her by death. Elijah commanded the widow to bring her son to him, which she did. He took her son to the place where Elijah slept, and laid him on the bed. Then, he prayed to God, stretching himself on the boy three times, asking that he would have his soul again. God answered the prayer of Elijah and allowed his soul to return to him. The boy was raised from the dead. Elijah took the boy to his mother.

24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

The woman testified that she knew then, that Elijah was a man of God or a prophet, and that his words were the true word of the Lord. This testimony must have given her hope in her own future, and greater faith in the Lord. When we experience the hand of God in our own lives, we should also recognize what that means to us, and be willing to testify of those things to others. When we do this, we are uplifted and others around us can be edified and strengthened by our words.

What a sweet miracle this woman received through her faith and diligence in following the words of the prophet. This was a time of suffering for the people in the land, and she was provided for because she put the Lord’s servant before herself when asked. Then, God blessed her with the continued companionship of her son, even after death had separated them. This should be an example to us, that as we diligently follow the commands of the prophets, which are the word of God, we can have miracles in our own lives. Moreover, we can have our own faith strengthened and be able to bear a mighty testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 Kings Chapter 13

Jeroboam had become the leader and king of ten of the tribes of Israel. He had been among those who revolted against Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Jeroboam had been told that he would rule, by a prophet. He had also been promised continual reign and support of the Lord, if he would remain faithful to God. However, early in his reign, he turned to the worship of false idols, in order to keep his people away from the temple in Jerusalem and from returning to Rehoboam. Jeroboam had quickly become a wicked leader to the people of Israel, leading them into apostasy from the Lord.

1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord unto Beth-el: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the Lord, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Beth-el, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.
6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
7 And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward.
8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
9 For so was it charged me by the word of the Lord, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
10 So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Beth-el.

A prophet came to Jeroboam from Judah. Jeroboam was an the altar of one of the temples. He prophesied that there would be a man called Josiah, of the house of David, who would offer or sacrifice priests and men upon the altar. The prophet said that the altar would be broken down and the ashes upon it would be scattered. Jeroboam heard what had been said, and with the direction of his hand, told his men to grab the prophet. When he did this, the hand he used became dried up and he could not pull it back toward himself. The altar was broken and the ashes were scattered. Jeroboam told the man to ask the Lord to restore his withered had. The prophet prayed and the hand of Jeroboam was restored. Jeroboam asked the prophet to go with him and be refreshed and rewarded. The prophet said that he would not go with him, even if he had been offered half of the king’s house. He refused even the slightest offering of bread or water as well. He told Jeroboam that the Lord had commanded him that he should not eat or drink there, or even go back the way that he came. Then, the prophet left another way, as he had been commanded.

11 Now there dwelt an old prophet in Beth-el; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Beth-el: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father.
12 And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah.
13 And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon,
14 And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am.
15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
17 For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.

In Bethel, where the prophet had come to deliver his message from God, there was an old prophet. This old man’s sons told him of the prophet from Judah, and directed their father as to which way he had gone. The old prophet rode after the prophet from Judah, finding him sitting under an oak tree. He asked him if he was the prophet from Judah and the other said that he was. He offered him bread, but the other refused him just as he had refused Jeroboam. The old prophet told him that he too was a prophet and had revelation from an angel that he was to offer him bread and water. Verse 18 says that this was a lie, which causes the thought that the old prophet was attempting to deceive him. However in the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse it reads, “Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water[, that I may prove him; and he lied not unto him]. This translation leads us to see that the Lord intended on testing the prophet from Judah, who gave in and went to his house to eat and drink. (see footnote 18b)

20 And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back:
21 And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee,
22 But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

As they ate, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet, and he told the prophet from Judah that because he did this thing and disobeyed the Lord, his dead body would not return to the resting place of his family.

23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
25 And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
26 And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake unto him.
27 And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him.
28 And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass.
29 And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him.
30 And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother!
31 And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones:
32 For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord against the altar in Beth-el, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.

After the prophet from Judah had finished eating and drinking there, he left and was met by a lion along his path. The lion killed the prophet and stood by the body of the man, along with the donkey he had ridden there. Men who passed by the body and lion, told the old prophet what they had seen. The old prophet went and found the body, which had not been disturbed by the lion. The lion had also not eaten the donkey. He took the body, laid it on the donkey, and went back to the city, where he buried the prophet from Judah in his own grave and mourned for him. He told his own sons to bury him along with this man when he died, because he knew the dead prophet’s prophecy would come to pass.

33 After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.
34 And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.

Jeroboam still did not repent of his wickedness, but continued to worship false gods. He continued to raise people to be priests, who were not of the line of Aaron. Because of this sin, Jeroboam and his line were cut off from the Lord and would eventually be destroyed.

When reading this story, one could focus on those things that happened with Jeroboam, as well as those that happened with the prophet from Judah. With either one, their is a lesson in the consequences that come from disobedience to the Lord. Jeroboam was cursed for his actions against the man of God, and eventually chose to be cut off because of sin. The prophet, who had done a portion of what he had been commanded, did not follow the commandments of God with strictness. He was then cursed for his choices as well, and served as an example to others in Israel. Both were given an opportunity to return through obedience to the word of the Lord, and both chose to follow their own path and find ultimate destruction. There is a verse in the book of Alma, that teaches an eternal principle relating to wickedness. In Alma 41:10 it reads, “wickedness never was happiness”. There will be no reward of happiness for those who choose to sin and wickedness. The consequences of sin may be immediate, as was the consequences to the prophet along his journey home. On the other hand, they might not come until we have lived a long life of wicked choices, basking in the glory of men and earthly treasures. The point is, that the consequences will come to the wicked and the reward will not be happiness, but eternal misery. I know that if more people realized just how small the time we have in our earthly life is when compared to the span of eternity, they would not choose to live for eternity in misery to have false happiness in this life. This is the reason for my hope in Christ. We all make mistakes. We all give into temptations of some kind. And we all will have the opportunity, to turn to Christ and receive forgiveness and mercy from Him who gave everything for us.

1 Kings Chapter 11

Solomon had been blessed to be given the kingdom of Israel to rule over. He had been visited by the Lord two times, in which the Lord had blessed him to be the wisest and wealthiest king of his time. He was well known by all nations, and greatly sought after for his wisdom. He had been blessed with these things, and with the promise that his family would continue to rule, if he would continue to remember the Lord and keep the commandments. This chapter begins with the following:

1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

Solomon was married to the daughter of Pharaoh, and also married many women who were strangers, or not Israelite women. His marriage to many women was not forbidden by the Lord. However, he married women who belonged to nations that the Lord had forbidden the Israelites to marry. They were from nations who followed after false gods. The Israelites had been forbidden to go to them, because they would lead them away from the Lord and to following after their false gods. Solomon loved these many women, and they led his heart away from the Lord, who had given him so much to be grateful for. He no longer lived the commandments, but turned to Ashtoreth (worshipped with Baal) and Milcom (fire god, known for sacrificing children by fire), false gods of the Zidonians and Ammonites. In fact, it says here that he turned his heart to them, which shows that they became of great importance to him. He also built a place of worship for Chemosh (human sacrifices) and Molech (also known as Milcom), who were the gods of the Moabites and the children of Ammon. He built them in the “high places”, just as places of worship had been built to the Lord, before Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.

I can see how someone who believed in the Lord and did so much to show his devotion, like building the grand temple to the Lord, would fall away like this. Solomon was exposed to all the great people of all the nations. They offered him the best they had as gifts, including their daughters and other women. He loved them. I can imagine him wanting them to be happy and feel of his love and acceptance. It may have started as simply allowing them to continue to worship as they wanted, but eventually he began to support them by giving them things in order to continue that worship. After time, his wives were able to lead him into following their beliefs instead of the beliefs he had been raised with by his father, David. This didn’t happen overnight, as it says he was old when he turned away. It took years. One of the tactics of the adversary, is to slowly lead away the righteous, so they don’t recognize that something is happening. This is why we must be continually on guard and follow commandments given. If Solomon had followed the commandment to stay away from marrying women of certain wicked nations, he would have been kept safe from this temptation and his own weakness with it.

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.

The anger of the Lord was upon King Solomon, because he turned his heart from Him and had broken the commandments. Since he had been privileged twice, to have a witness of the Lord, I am sure that the standard for King Solomon was set even higher than most people who have lived. Solomon was promised at this time, that his kingdom would be taken from his family and given to another, at the time his son was on the throne. Because of the promises given to David, the kingdom was not to be taken during Solomon’s reign, and one tribe would be left to their line, including Jerusalem.

14 And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.
15 For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom;
16 (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:)
17 That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.
18 And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.
19 And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.
20 And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s household among the sons of Pharaoh.
21 And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country.
22 Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.

The Lord allowed Hadad the Edomite, to be stirred up against Solomon. Hadad had been a refuge from Israel to Egypt, as a little child. He had been given land in Egypt, and eventually found favor with Pharaoh. Hadad had married the sister of the queen of Egypt, and his son lived among the sons of Pharaoh. When David and Joab had both died, Hadad asked Pharoah if he could return to his own land. Pharaoh asked him what he was lacking in Egypt, that would cause him to return to his own land, and Hadad asked to return anyway.

23 And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:
24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.
25 And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.

Likewise, Rezon of Zobah, became stirred up against Solomon and Israel, because David had killed those in Zobah. Rezon lived in Damascus and reigned over Syria. He and Hadad did mischief against Israel.

26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.
27 And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father.
28 And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.
29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:
30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:
31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:
32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)
33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.
34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:
35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.
37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.
38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.
40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

Additionally, the Lord allowed Jeroboam to be stirred up against Solomon. Jeroboam was of Zereda and a servant of Solomon. He was angry with Solomon because he had built up the defenses in Jerusalem and repaired the city of David. Jeroboam had been recognized as a mighty man, so he was placed in charge of the house of Joseph. One day, dressed in new clothing, he came upon the prophet Ahijah. Ahijah took his new clothes and tore them into twelve pieces. The prophet told Jeroboam to take ten of the pieces, because the Lord would take ten of the tribes of Israel and give them to Jeroboam, leaving the king with one tribe and Jerusalem. This was because the tribes had forsaken the Lord and turned to worshipped other gods, breaking the commandments and statutes that had been given to them. The footnote says that the Septuagint translation of the bible reads as two tribes. Considering Jeroboam was promised ten, and we know that the line of Joseph was split into two tribes, there would be one tribe missing. This seems to make more sense to me. Either way, Solomon the king, would be left a prince or ruler of this tribe, because of the promises to David. His son would rule over Jerusalem (Judah), which was the chosen city of the Lord and was the place of His temple. Solomon would not repent, as his father David had repented after falling into his own temptations (see footnote c of verse 33).

Jeroboam was told that the would be made king and rule over Israel, and would be allowed to rule as he desired. If Jeroboam would obey the commandments given to him by the Lord, the Lord would be with him and his kingdom would remain. He was promised that the seed of David would be afflicted, but not forever. This was a continuation of the curse placed on David for his transgression against God. After Jeroboam received this promise, Solomon went after him and he fled into Egypt, remaining there until Solomon died.

41 And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?
42 And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.
43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

This was all that was recorded in this book, regarding Solomon. There may have been more recorded in other books, but they have been lost to us since then. After forty years of being the king of Israel, ruling in Jerusalem, Solomon died. His son, Rehoboam, reigned in his stead.

Time and time again, the rulers of Israel, were punished for turning from the Lord. This is because the adversary has great power among men. We are not free from this in our day either. Satan uses tactics today, just as he did to those in biblical times. In fact, this tactic of slowly leading good people into carnal security, can be seen throughout the world today. Even the best can fall, if they are not watchful. This is why it is important for disciples of Christ, to do those things each day that will guard them against the traps and snares of the adversary. It is vital that good people continue to be good, by searching the scriptures daily, praying daily, following the commandments of God, and turning to the Lord continually to repent and find the strength to endure in these difficult times. If these things are not done, we can also turn from God. The results will be the same in our lives, as they were for Solomon. The Lord will allow our own enemies, even ourselves, to come against us. Our safety comes in following the Lord and keeping His commandments. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it helps me to remember the commandments and my covenants with God. It helps me to try harder to live more righteously, and gives me hope that I will be able to overcome the temptations of the adversary.

1 Kings Chapter 9

Solomon had been a good king for Israel so far to this point. He had reorganized his kingdom, wiping out those who would have brought strife from within. He had established peace with their neighboring nations. He had built the temple, as the Lord desired. And he was living as a righteous leader of the people, who trusted in God. He ruled with wisdom and desired to do right. This chapter continues the story of Solomon, after the building and dedication of the temple.

Temple

1 And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do,
2 That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.
3 And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
5 Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
6 But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?
9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.

The Lord appeared again to Solomon, as he did in a dream when He offered him wisdom. He told Solomon that he had heard his prayers and accepted the house built in His name. More specifically, in verse 3, the Lord told Solomon that he hallowed the temple. To hallow is to make holy, to consecrate, to purify or to sanctify. Without this act by the Lord, the temple could not have been a place where sacred rituals and promises could have been made by the children of Israel. It would have just been a beautiful building made by men. The Lord makes temples the places of holiness that they are, by the sanctifying power of his Holy Spirit.

The Lord promised Solomon that his kingdom would be established forever, if Solomon (and his people) would live righteously and keep the commandments. Likewise, if Solomon, or his descendants, turned from the Lord to other gods, Israel would be taken from the land of promise, and the temple would no longer be found acceptable to the Lord. Instead, Israel would be made an example to all the people, of consequences that happen when those who are blessed by the Lord, turn from Him to other gods.

10 And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king’s house,
11 (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
12 And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.
13 And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.
14 And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.

Solomon finished building the temple and the palace after twenty years. When he was done, he gave Hiram, king of Tyre, twenty cities in Galilee, for all the work he had done. Hiram did not find the cities acceptable, and they became known as the land of Cabul, which means something like dirty. He sent gold to Solomon. I don’t know why he sent gold, when he found the cities as undesirable as he did, but it seems he did not having anything against Solomon for this.

15 And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.
16 For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife.
17 And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether,
18 And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land,
19 And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
20 And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel,
21 Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.
22 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
23 These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.

Solomon had used a levy on those who were not Israelites, to build the temple, his palace, fortifications and the wall of Jerusalem, and to build and restore several cities, including Gezer. Gezer had previously been destroyed by fire when taken by Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh had given the land to his daughter, the wife of Solomon, as a gift. The levy was not something new, especially to those who lived among them when they could have been destroyed by the Israelites. They had previously been spared and allowed to remain, so long as they gave service to the Israelites. Cities were built by Solomon, to store and maintain all that he had, such as chariots and horses. The men of Israel, became his army, his servants, and rulers of the land. He had 550 men, who ruled over the people who served him.

24 But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.

Pharaoh’s daughter went to live in the house that Solomon built for her. Then, Solomon began work on the fortifications.

25 And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the house.

Three times a year, Solomon went to the temple and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

26 And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.
27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.
28 And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.

Solomon built a navy of ships, with some of the men of Hiram as shipmen along with the servants of Solomon. They brought Solomon gold from Ophir.

I think the important part of this chapter, is that the Lord made a covenant with Solomon, as he had with his father, David. This promise is often repeated in the scriptures, which is that the righteous followers of the Lord, will be blessed in the land, and those who choose to harden their hearts and turn away, will be cursed and cast off. I believe this promise holds true for all disciples of Christ today. If we are truly striving to come unto Christ and live as He would have us live, he will bless our lands, our places of worship, and our lives individually. I have a great hope in these promises, as the time we live in seems to be more and more wicked. I know that if more people could see the value in coming unto Christ, and try to turn away from worldly things, this world would be a better place. I also know that the scriptures teach us things will continue to get harder and more wicked as we grow closer to the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I pray that I may continue to love the word of God and strive to follow the teachings of the Lord, so that I will not be cut off from Him, but receive the blessings offered by my own covenants with the Lord.

2 Samuel Chapter 20

After their success in a difficult battle against the army of David’s son, Absalom, David and his followers were able to return to their homes in Jerusalem. They had done so by an escort, made of of mainly the tribe of Judah. The other leaders of Israel were offended by this, and because of the unstable nature of the kingdom, this pushed them to the brink of a civil war. This chapter begins:

1 And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.
2 So every man of Israel went up from after David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri: but the men of Judah clave unto their king, from Jordan even to Jerusalem.

A man named Sheba, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a follower of Belial, led Israel away from David, claiming that their people had no place in the kingdom of David. Israel followed after Sheba, and Judah remained loyal to David. It seems that this was a time when more of Israel followed after their own hearts, than the Lord, because Sheba was a man who followed after false gods and led people away by making the issues of the kingdom about a man, David, not the Lord.

3 And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood.

David returned to his home, but the women who had been left behind and taken by his sons, would no longer be treated as his wives. Instead they were cared for as needed, but treated as the widows of Absalom.

4 Then said the king to Amasa, Assemble me the men of Judah within three days, and be thou here present.
5 So Amasa went to assemble the men of Judah: but he tarried longer than the set time which he had appointed him.
6 And David said to Abishai, Now shall Sheba the son of Bichri do us more harm than did Absalom: take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us.
7 And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
8 When they were at the great stone which is in Gibeon, Amasa went before them. And Joab’s garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.
9 And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
10 But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab’s hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. So Joab and Abishai his brother pursued after Sheba the son of Bichri.
11 And one of Joab’s men stood by him, and said, He that favoureth Joab, and he that is for David, let him go after Joab.
12 And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway. And when the man saw that all the people stood still, he removed Amasa out of the highway into the field, and cast a cloth upon him, when he saw that every one that came by him stood still.
13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.

Amasa, who was now the captain of David’s armies and was the cousin of Joab, was commanded to gather the men of Judah. He took longer than he was told to perform this duty. David was concerned that Sheba would do worse to their people, than Absalom had done, so he sent his army after him. All their men went after Sheba, to stop him from making a defense for himself. Amasa, dressed in the garments of the captain, which had belonged to Joab, led the troops. As he went, his sword fell from the sheath. Joab took advantage of this moment and asked Amasa if he was alright. Joab tricked Amasa and stabbed him. Then, the brothers, Joab and Abishai, went after Sheba. The men of Joab followed after him, leaving Amasa dead behind them. No one would touch the body, so a man moved it out of the way and covered it with a cloth, while the rest of the army went after Sheba.

14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Beth-maachah, and all the Berites: and they were gathered together, and went also after him.
15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maachah, and they cast up a bank against the city, and it stood in the trench: and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.

Joab led them throughout the land of Israel, and found him in Abel. They went against the city and attempted to throw down its wall.

16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.
17 And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear.
18 Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter.
19 I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?
20 And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
21 The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.
22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.

A wise woman came out of the city to speak with Joab, and he listened to her. She told him that in times past, people had come to seek counsel in their city. This stopped the fight against the city, and she pled with him not to destroy her, as a faithful and peaceful woman of Israel. Joab did not desire to destroy innocent people, so he told her that Sheba had gone against the king and was hiding in her city. If she would deliver Sheba to him, they would leave the city in peace. She said that she would see to it that the head of Sheba would be cast over the wall. She returned to her people, and they found Sheba and cut off his head. It was sent over the wall to Joab, and the army left and returned to their homes in Jerusalem.

23 Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites:
24 And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder:
25 And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
26 And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.

Joab returned to being captain over the army of Israel, with Benaiah, Adoram, Jehoshapaht, Sheva, Zadok, Abiathar, and Ira serving for David in their own capacities, along with him. He had managed to return things back to the way they were prior to his seeing to the death of the king’s son. Joab was a sly man, who used the opportunity to take his own advantage and gain power. Amasa had not followed through on his duty in a timely manner, which made him a target for removal from his position as captain of the armies. However, I don’t think this should have ever made it acceptable for another man to kill him in cold-blood, the way that Joab did. Joab proved himself a worthy leader of the army, but at a cost that was awful and unnecessary, in my opinion. I cannot imagine that this choice was going to bring him the blessings of the Lord, or of the king whom he served. It amazes me, the things that people will do for power.

The Israelite nation continued to be broken from within. I think that if the people had been a more righteous people, willing to turn to the Lord instead of trying to live whatever way pleased them, they would have been united and strong. I know that blessings will come to people who remain faithful, and that the Lord will allow the wicked to suffer for their choices, even to the point of cursing them. I believe that we will see this for the people of Israel, in the coming chapters.

2 Samuel Chapter 15

Absalom was the son of David, whom he was reconciled with several years after Absalom had killed his other son. However, the promise and curse to David, was that his house would continue to see the sword from the time that he had planned the death of Uriah. I think that this would mean that he and his family would have great contentions among themselves. The curse from the Lord, goes on to say, “I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (see 2 Samuel 12:11). David’s future was not going to have peace and joy with his family. This chapter continues to describe the fulfillments of the promises from the Lord, to David and his house. It begins:

1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.
2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.
3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.
4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!
5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.
6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

Absalom begin to build himself an army. He made a place for himslef near the gates of the city. When people came to bring their complaints to the king, which was part of the course of everyday life for David, Absalom would stop them and ask them where they were from. He would tell them that they were right to come there, but no one was able to hear their case. Then he would say something like, “If only I was a judge over the land, when any man would come to me, I would give him justice.” He put on a show of love for all men of Israel. Because he did this, he began to steal away the hearts of the people.

7 And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord, in Hebron.
8 For thy servant vowed a vow while I abode at Geshur in Syria, saying, If the Lord shall bring me again indeed to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.
9 And the king said unto him, Go in peace. So he arose, and went to Hebron.

After time had past, Absalom asked David if he could leave and pay his vow in Hebron. He said that he had made a promise to the Lord, to serve him, if He would allow him to return to Jerusalem. David allowed Absalom to go to Hebron.

10 But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.
11 And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.
12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.

Absalom planned for the people to rise up with him in Jerusalem, at the sound of a trumpet. The people who supported Absalom, were to announce that Absalom reigned. He took two hundred men with him, without drawing attention to themselves. Absalom called for a man named Ahithophel, who was David’s counsellor. Absalom continued to grow in strength with the support of the people.

13 And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom.
14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.
15 And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.
16 And the king went forth, and all his household after him. And the king left ten women, which were concubines, to keep the house.
17 And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off.
18 And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king.

David learned that the hearts of the people had turned towards Absalom. He took his servants and all but ten concubines, and they fled the city of Jerusalem. Many others left with David.

19 Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile.
20 Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee.
21 And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.
22 And David said to Ittai, Go and pass over. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.
23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness.

David told Ittai of Gittite, that he and his people could return to their home, instead of going with David. But Ittai said that he would serve the king and remain with him wherever he was. So, Ittai and all the people with him, left with the king, and all of them escaped towards the wilderness.

24 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city.
25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation:
26 But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.
27 The king said also unto Zadok the priest, Art not thou a seer? return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz thy son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar.
28 See, I will tarry in the plain of the wilderness, until there come word from you to certify me.
29 Zadok therefore and Abiathar carried the ark of God again to Jerusalem: and they tarried there.

Zadok and the Levites that were with him, brought the ark out of the city, but David told them to take it back. He felt that if the Lord wanted him to regain the city, the Lord would bring him back to it. If he did not want him to go back to Jerusalem, David felt the Lord could do what he wanted with him. He told Zadok that he would remain in the wilderness and he would wait for word from Zadok, letting him know he could return. Zadok and his sons returned to Jerusalem, taking the ark with them.

30 And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

David left by way of Mount Olivet. He and all the people with him, went away crying and in an attitude of mourning.

31 And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.

One of his people, told David that his counselor, Ahithophel, had been among the consipirators. David prayed that the Lord would cause the man’s counsel to be foolishness for Absalom.

32 And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:
33 Unto whom David said, If thou passest on with me, then thou shalt be a burden unto me:
34 But if thou return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be thy servant, O king; as I have been thy father’s servant hitherto, so will I now also be thy servant: then mayest thou for me defeat the counsel of Ahithophel.
35 And hast thou not there with thee Zadok and Abiathar the priests? therefore it shall be, that what thing soever thou shalt hear out of the king’s house, thou shalt tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them ye shall send unto me every thing that ye can hear.
37 So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.

When David had reached the top of the mountain, he worshipped the Lord. An Archite man, named Husahi, came to him in mourning. David told him that he would be a burden to the king, if he stayed with him, but if he went instead and offered himself as a servant to Absalom, he could help by defeating the counsel of Ahithophel. He could be a spy for David, and pass on word to Zadok and Abiathar. They would pass along word to David through their own sons, Ahimaz and Jonathan. Hushai did as David asked and Absalom went into Jerusalem.

There is no reason given, for Absalom’s betrayal of his father. As far as the scriptures show, Absalom should have been grateful that his life was spared after he had killed his own brother. I wonder if David realized how this was a part of the fulfillment of the word of the Lord to him. He must have known that his reign was not going to be peaceful, and that sorrow would come through his own household. I imagine that this action would have made his heart heavy with sadness, and that he may have wondered how the remainder of the curse from the Lord, would play out in his life.

Through it all, David continued to be an example to me of a man who wanted to do what was right. He had made mistakes in his past, but he knew that Jerusalem was the better place for the ark and the priests to remain. He was not going to be a selfish king by taking the ark from the people while he had to hide away. He was using wisdom, by not assuming he knew where the ark should be, but that the Lord would help him to know where he should be in relation to the ark. Moreover, David continued to worship the Lord, even though he was going through hard trials. He did not blame God for the circumstance that he was in. It is clear to me, that David had not become prideful in his position as king, but rather he knew his place and wanted to be the leader God wanted him to be. David accepted this new trial humbly. I hope that I will be willing to accept more of the difficulties that come into my life with humility and trust in the Lord. I know that if we are faithful, God will bless us through our own trials.

2 Samuel Chapter 12

David had done a lot of good things for the kingdom of Israel, and had led the people to becoming a strong nation in his day. In the previous chapter, we learn of his selfish choice to take the wife of Uriah for himself because he had given into the temptation of sleeping with her. This choice was not acceptable to the Lord.

1 And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

The Lord called upon his prophet, Nathan, to go and speak to David. He told him a parable of two men, a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had been blessed with many animals in his flocks and herds, while the poor man had only been blessed with one ewe lamb. He loved the lamb and treated it as he would treat a daughter. A traveler visited the rich man, and the man wanted to prepare a lamb for his guest. He did not want to use one of his own flock, so he took the lamb of the poor man and prepared it for the visitor. Upon hearing this story, David was angry and he told Nathan, that because the man had done this thing, he should die. Additionally, he felt the man should make restitution four times over, for taking the lamb without a thought for the poor man. The law of restitution had been laid out by the Lord, in the law of Moses, specifically giving four sheep for each lamb taken.

7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

Nathan told David that this parable was about him. The Lord had blessed David to be king of Israel. He spared him from Saul, and had given him a great home and many wives. If that had not been enough, the Lord would have provided more for David, but it should have been enough. Instead, David had done evil in the sight of the Lord. He executed the plan to have Uriah killed by the hands of the children of Ammon, in order to have Bathsheba as his wife. The Lord cursed David, that the sword would never depart from his house, which I think means that his line would never have peace from fighting their enemies, or that he would never see the end of it in his own lifetime. In fact, the Lord cursed him, that he would have enemies in his own house and that his wives would be taken from him and given to his neighbor. While David kept his transgression secret from the people, the Lord would curse him for all of Israel to see.

David confessed his sin to Nathan, which was good, but he should not have waited to confess until he had been caught. David was not cursed to die right then, which could have been the expectation for his plot to murder Uriah had he been any common man in Israel. However, because of the effects of what he had done, the Lord cursed him and said the child of David and Bathsheba would die. The death of this child would stand as an example to the House of Israel forever. Moreover, David would not be allowed the eternal reward that the righteous hoped for, because of this choice. As mentioned in my previous post, we learn of the reward, or the outcome and the eternal consequence of this choice. It reads Doctrine and Covenants 132:39, “…in none of these things did [David] sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”, which in effect is a kind of eternal separation from God (spiritual death).

15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

After Nathan left, the child became very sick. David fasted and prayed, laying upon the ground. The elders in his household went to him and tried to pick him up from the floor, but he wouldn’t get up and he wouldn’t eat his meals as usual. On the seventh day of his child being sick, the child died. His servants were afraid to tell him that the child had died, because of how he might react to the news. David saw the servants whispering and asked if his son had died. They told him that he had. David got up, cleaned himself up and changed his clothes. Then he went to the house of the Lord and worshipped. After that, he went home and ate. The servants asked why he had fasted and prayed for the child while weeping, but was going about as usual after his son had died. David told them that he fasted and prayed because he didn’t know if the Lord would be gracious and allow the child to live. Since his child had died, he could not bring him back by fasting, because he was gone.

24 And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.
25 And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

David went to Bath-sheba and comforted her. She became pregnant again and had a son named Solomon, who was loved by the Lord. I think the verse 25 means that Nathan was called to bless the child, as was a tradition in ancient Israel. Nathan called the child Jedidiah.

26 And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.
27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.
28 Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.
29 And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.
30 And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.
31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.

David sent his men, under the leadership of Joab, to fight the children of Ammon in their royal city. Joab reported that they had nearly taken the city, but that David should gather the rest of his men and go against the city, so that the honor of taking the city would be his. David gathered men and took the city of the Ammonites. David took the crown of the king for himself, and brought a great amount of spoil out of their royal city. The Ammonites were taken from the city and killed, and after the cities of Ammon were emptied, the Israelites were able to return to Jerusalem.

Sin and transgression do not go unnoticed by the Lord. If necessary, God will inspire his chosen priesthood leaders to do and say things when others need correction, chastisement, or, as was the case of David, a greater consequence for the things done. I am sure that this was not something that Nathan enjoyed doing. No man wants to be the bearer of such sad news, especially the curse that came to David for his actions. His heart must have been heavy, but he knew he had to give the message of punishment to David, that God had sent him to give. I believe that this was not a punishment to the child of David and Bathsheba, because he had done no wrong and was innocent in all of this. Instead, I believe that the child received all the rewards available to those who are able to live a full life, including being able to live with God again.

It is sad to the story of David and Uriah. To see someone fall from favor with God, who had been blessed to become a great man and leader, is a heartbreaking thing. While David did make this mistake and make a horrible decision in order to cover up his sin, it is not recorded that he cursed God for what had happened. When the consequence came, he turned to God for help. When he did not receive the desired answer to his prayers, he again did not turn against God, but picked himself up and went back to doing the work that was expected of him. He continued to lead and protect the people of Israel, as he had been anointed to do. If we read Psalm 51 also, we can see that after this meeting with Nathan, David desired forgiveness from God, because he knew that he had done wrong. I think we live in a time, when more people blame God for the bad things that happen in their lives instead of looking at their own responsibility in their trials. It would be a completely different world, if more people would recognize their mistakes and faults and move on, instead of holding things against others, especially against God.

1 Samuel Chapter 5

In the previous chapter, the Philistines and the Israelites were engaged in battle. The Israelites were loosing and decided to bring the ark of the covenant out of Shiloh to help them win the battle. This was apparently not according to the wisdom of the Lord, and the Israelites were defeated. Along with the loss of many lives, the Israelites lost the ark, which was stolen by the Philistine army. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod.
2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.

The Philistines brought the ark into the house of their god, Dagon, which was in Ashdod.

3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
6 But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.

The image of the Dagon, had fallen down during the first night with the ark near it. The Philistines raised Dagon up again. The next night, the image fell again, but this time the head and hands were cut off of the statue. The Philistine priests decided they would not go passed the threshold in the house of Dagon. Ashdod, through to its borders, was plagued with emerods, or boils. This was a curse from the Lord. The Philistines recognized that the Israelite god was cursing them and their god, and so they decided that the ark would not remain with them. The leaders of the Philistines decided to move the ark to Gath. The Lord cursed the city of Gath, and all the people fell under the plague of emerods and were destroyed.

10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

They moved the ark again, to Ekron. The Ekronites feared because they knew what had happened in the places where the ark had been. The leaders of the Philistines were gathered together, and they decided they would send the ark away from them, because the city was again destroyed and the people were plagued with emerods.

The hand of the Lord is powerful unto the destruction of any people of the land. This is shown many times throughout the scriptures. We learn from this, that no one who stands in opposition to the Lord, can withstand his wrath. The ark of the covenant was sacred and the Philistines dared to place it beside a false idol. The Lord made it clear that He would not stand for this sacrilegious act on their part, and proved that by destroying all who were in the cities where the ark was placed. Things that are sacred, should not be treated lightly. If we knowingly disrespect those things that are sacred in our own lives, we might not experience plagues of boils, and we might not even receive consequences in this life, but their will come consequences at the time when we meet our maker and are judged for the works we did in this life.

Further still, this story is a witness of the living God of Israel. Their idol to Dagon, had no power to stop the power of the Lord from destroying it. The false idols the Philistines worshipped throughout their land, had no power against the plagues and destruction that came upon the people. The God of Israel, is the only true and living God on the face of the earth. He created all things on the earth. He created man. He gave us the gift of agency. He blesses the lives of those who are faithful and righteous and he withholds his blessings from those who choose wickedness. All people will one day come to know that He is the only living God, and in that day we all will be judged and receive our eternal rewards from Him.

Judges Chapter 9

After the death of Joshua, the prophet, the children of Israel lived in a period of judges. The judges were their leaders, chosen by the Lord. Gideon had been one of these judges and had led the Israelites into a time of peace. His leadership had not remained true to the Lord, and the people of Israel, with his influence, had returned to wickedness by the time of his death.

1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,
2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
3 And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

Jerubbaal, was another name for Gideon, which he received when he casted down the altars of Baal (see Judges 6:32). He had had many wives and at least one concubine, all of which bore him a total of 70 sons. One of those sons was Abimelech, born of the concubine Shechem. He decided to go to the family of Shechem, his mother, and told them to ask the people if they would be better ruled by the entire family of Gideon, or by only one of them, reminding them that he was family to them. They went to the rest of the people of Shechem and it was decided that it would be better to be led by Abimelech alone. They gave him money and he hired people to follow him. He went to the house of Jerubbaal, or Gideon, and killed all but one of his brothers. The youngest, Jotham, hid himself. The men of Shechem made Abimelech their king.

7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
18 And ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

Jotham stood on the mount and told a story of trees who chose a king, to the people of Shechem. In his story, the olive tree was asked to rule, but refused because he would not put himself give up what he had to put himself above the other trees. Next, they went to the fig tree, but he refused as well. Then, they asked the vine to rule over them, who also refused. Finally, they turned to the bramble, which is a prickly shrubbery. The bramble said he would rule if they showed their trust in his shadow. If they did not truly want him as the king, he would destroy the cedars with fire. Jotham called the men of Shechem out for how they had treated his family in making Abimelech their king. He cursed them saying, if they were right by what they did, they should rejoice that day, but if they had not done what was right, they would be destroyed by Abimelech and they would destroy Abimelech. Then, Jotham fled and hid from his brother Abimelech.

22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,
23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.
25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.
27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.
28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?
29 And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.

Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. God allowed the spirit of contention to come between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The Shechemites began to be treacherous with Abimelech, because it seems, they were afraid to be punished for their helping Abimelech kill his brothers. They became robbers of anyone who traveled in the mountains. Abimelech was told what was happening. The Shechemite men ruined the crops and cursed Abimelech in the face of Gaal of Ebed, who began to question why they should follow Abimelech of Shechem or their family. He called Abimelech to fight.

30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.
31 And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.
32 Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:
33 And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.

Zebul, who was master of the city, became angered and warned Abimelech the threats of Gaal. Zebul told him to surround the city in the night, and when morning came, to do with the men of Gaal as he wished.

34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.
35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.
37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.
38 Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.
39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.
40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.
41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
42 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
43 And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.
44 And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.
45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

Gaal saw the men of Abimelech, which surrounded the city. He told Zebul what he saw. Zebul spoke of Abimelech and his people, as a shadow of the mountains, much like the shadow of the bramble that Jotham spoke of earlier. He pointed out all of the companies that stood against Gaal, and told him to fight as he had threatened to before. It seems that Zebul may have been attempting to get the men out of the city to fight, so that he would be spared, seeing as how he knew Abimelech would come against them. Gaal fought Abimelech and fled. Many of the men were wounded, and the men of Gaal were cast out of Shechem by Zebul. Abimelech heard what was happening and when they were leaving the city, he killed them, and then turned against the city and killed the people there and destroyed the ground with salt.

46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.
47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
48 And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.
49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

The men of the tower in Shechem gathered together, once they had learned that Abimelech had destroyed the city. When Abimelech heard that they gathered, he took his men into the mountain and cut down a tree bough and carried it on his shoulders. He commanded his men to do the same. They took these branches and placed them on the hold in Shechem and set them on fire. The people, about 1,000 men and women in the gathering, died from the fire.

50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.
51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.
52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.
54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

Abimelech encamped in Thebez. He took control of the city, and when the people fled to the top of their tower. Abimelech tried to burn the tower, but a woman threw down a millstone and cracked his skull. He did not want to be shamed by being killed by a woman, so he commanded one of his men to kill him. Abimelech was killed by the man and seeing this, the men of Israel returned to their own homes.

56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:
57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

The curse of Jotham was fulfilled, as the men of Shechem and Abimelech destroyed one another.

Why is this story in the Bible? Perhaps, it is to teach us that good does not come from evil actions. Eventually, even if years may go by, the consequences of evil, will be destruction. Works of darkness and secret combinations set up to get gain, are results of weak men giving in to the temptations of the adversary. There is great power in the influence of our peers, as with the men of Shechem. One man can persuade many to do the wrong thing. One way to know if what a person wants you to do, is the right choice, is to learn of their motives. Abimelech wanted to have the power of ruling for himself, without the barrier of his brothers. He, much like the adversary does, convinced the people to help him, by telling them he had a better way. We should be continually watchful for those who would lead us astray, as the prickly bramble would lead the trees of the forest in the comfort of its shadow. If the works of those who would lead us, are not good works, we have the potential of destruction to our souls. It is so important for us to seek the kind of leaders who will strive to do good.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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