Posts Tagged 'Destruction'

2 Kings Chapter 14

Joash had been raised to be the king of Judah, through the words of the high priest, Jehoiada. He had ruled in righteousness and had also made repairs the temple. When his servants killed him, his son, Amaziah became the king. This chapter begins with the rule of Amaziah.

1 In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah.
2 He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did.
4 Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.

While Joash was king in Israel, Amaziah began to rule in Judah. He reigned for twenty-nine years, or until he was almost fifty-five years old. Like his father, he did those things that were right by the Lord. However, he continued to allow the people of Judah to make sacrifices and offerings in the high places.

5 And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father.
6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
7 He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war, and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.

When Amaziah became king, he immediately killed the servants who had killed his father. This was not against the law of Moses, which taught that those who murdered another, were to be sentenced to death by the family of the victim. And seeing as the law of Moses, does not call for the children of murderers to be killed for the crime of their fathers, Amaziah did nothing to their children. While we generally do not judge who is worthy of being sentenced to death, those of the LDS faith, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do believe in living by this second principle. In Article of Faith 1:2, it reads, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” No one should punish a child for the sins of their father. Likewise, no parent should be punished for the sin of their child. We all will be judged independent of one another.

Amaziah went to war with Edom and took Selah, the capital city, renaming it Joktheel. Edom was the land of the children of Esau, or the kindred of the Israelites. Since, there is no record here of a reason for the fight, this may not have been a victory for Judah, that looked good in the eyes of the people of Israel, even though their had been times of fighting with them in the past.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face.
9 And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.
10 Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home: for why shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even thou, and Judah with thee?
11 But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Beth-shemesh, which belongeth to Judah.
12 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents.
13 And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits.
14 And he took all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and hostages, and returned to Samaria.

Amaziah sent messengers to the king of Israel, Jehoash, to tell him that they meet one another. This seems to have been a call to fight him. The reply of Jehoash, was that Amaziah had fought with Edom and gloried in hurting them. He felt that Amaziah was taking unnecessary pride in his victory. Furthermore, he said that he should stay in Judah, so that no harm would come to him and therefore bring the destruction of Judah. Amaziah did not want to listen to the words of Jehoash, so Jehoash went to Beth-shemesh in Judah. Jehoash made war against Judah, and the men of Judah fled. Jehoash took Amaziah to Jerusalem, broke down the walls, took the treasures found in the temple and the king’s house, took hostages, and then went back to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash which he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead.

After much fighting with Amaziah, Jehoash died and his son, Jeroboam ruled in Israel.

17 And Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah lived after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel fifteen years.
18 And the rest of the acts of Amaziah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
19 Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.
20 And they brought him on horses: and he was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

Amaziah outlived Jehoash, for another fifteen years, even with the loss that had come to Judah. A conspiracy was led against him in Jerusalem, so he feld. Men followed after him and killed him in Lachish.

21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, which was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.
22 He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers.

Azariah, the sixteen-year-old son of Amaziah, became the king of Judah. After the king had died, Azariah restored to Judah a town in Edom called Elath.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.
26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.
27 And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Jeroboam was king for forty-one years in Israel. He was not a righteous king, but did evil and was idolatrous, as the kings before him had been. He regained the borders of Israel according to prophecies by Jonah, the prophet. Israel stood alone, but the Lord would not let them be completely destroyed. Rather, the Lord allowed them to be saved by Jeroboam.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred, and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel; and Zachariah his son reigned in his stead.

Jeroboam did things like recovering Damascus and Hamath. He was mighty and fought wars. After forty-one years, he died and his son Zachariah became king of Israel.

This chapter does not include much in the way of positive experiences for the people of Israel or Judah. The continuous blessings of peace and prosperity were not found, because they were not consistently following after good men or righteous leaders. The Israelite people were becoming ripe for destruction. The Lord had promised that the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would continue and would bless the earth, so complete and utter destruction was not coming to them. There would be times of being saved, even when their hearts were not completely turned to Him. But much destruction would come. We will come to see that the promises to their fathers did not mean they would be blessed with lives that were free from war, destruction, and bondage. Likewise, we may have moments of being saved and preserved, even blessed by God, in our lives, but if we do not follow after those things that are good and lead us to Christ, we will be setting ourselves up for our own failure and destruction in ways both physical and spiritual.

2 Kings Chapter 10

Jehu had been anointed king of Israel, by the direction of the Lord to Elisha, the prophet. This resulted in a rising up against the existing kings, Joram of Israel and Ahijah of Judah, as well as the wicked Jezebel, wife of King Ahab. All three of these wicked leaders, were killed, in fulfillment of earlier prophecies made by Elijah. One of the prophecies included the destruction of the entire house of Ahab. The fulfillment of this prophecy continues in this chapter, with the following:

1 And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and sent to Samaria, unto the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to them that brought up Ahab’s children, saying,
2 Now as soon as this letter cometh to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, a fenced city also, and armour;
3 Look even out the best and meetest of your master’s sons, and set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.
4 But they were exceedingly afraid, and said, Behold, two kings stood not before him: how then shall we stand?
5 And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us; we will not make any king: do thou that which is good in thine eyes.
6 Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master’s sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king’s sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up.
7 And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel.

Ahab had fathered seventy sons, who were in Samaria. Jehu wrote to those who had been raising and leading them, to call them to action. He told them to choose out the best of the sons, to take the throne. These people were afraid to do it, because the two sons who had held the throne already, had been unable to remain there. They doubted any others sons would be able to do it, either. Those who had received Jehu’s letter, replied that they would do his bidding and would not raise up another king. They trusted him to do what he seemed was the right thing. He told them to kill the sons of the king. These men were great men and they went in to the seventy sons and killed them all, sending baskets containing the heads of the seventy, to Jezereel.

8 And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.
9 And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?
10 Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord hath done that which he spake by his servant Elijah.
11 So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining.

Jehu received word by messenger, that they had sent the heads. He told the messenger to put the baskets in two piles by the entrance gate of the city. In the morning, Jehu went out to where the baskets were, and spoke to the people of the city. He admitted that he had stood against their king and killed him. He used the piles as a witness to the fulfillment of the words of Elijah, and told them that all of the words of the Lord would come to pass. He destroyed the house of Ahab and all those who had served them, including the priests.

12 And he arose and departed, and came to Samaria. And as he was at the shearing house in the way,
13 Jehu met with the brethren of Ahaziah king of Judah, and said, Who are ye? And they answered, We are the brethren of Ahaziah; and we go down to salute the children of the king and the children of the queen.
14 And he said, Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.

He left Jezereel and went to Samaria. On the way he met the people of Ahaziah. They were on their way to see the children of the King. Jehu commanded his men to capture the people of Ahaziah, and had them all killed.

15 And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart? And Jehonadab answered, It is. If it be, give me thine hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.
16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot.
17 And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah.

Then, Jehu left again for Samaria, and met a man named Jehonadab, who asked if he was alright. Jehu told him he was and that he wanted to show him what he had done for the Lord. He asked Jehonadab to join him in his chariot. Jehu went into the city of Samaria and destroyed the remainder of the house of Ahab in Samaria in fulfillment of the word of the Lord to Elijah.

18 And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.
19 Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.
20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.
21 And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.
22 And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.
23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only.
24 And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.
25 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.
26 And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.
27 And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.
28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

Jehu gathered the people of Samaria, and told them that he would serve Baal more than Ahab had served him. He called for all those who served Baal, claiming that he would give a great sacrifice and none of the followers of Baal should miss it. He said that those who chose not to be there, would be killed. This he did in order to trick them and destroy them. A proclamation went out to all of Israel for all to gather to worship Baal. All the worshipers of Baal joined him in Samaria and the house of Baal, or the temple built to him, was completely full. He commanded that the people be given the ceremonial robes specific for their worship. He went in to the temple of Baal and told the people to notice that there were no worshippers of the Lord among them, or he asked them to verify that it was only worshippers of Baal among them. He led the people in to offer their sacrifices and burnt offering, meanwhile, he had commanded eighty of his own men to guard the temple from the outside. None were allowed to escape and if they did the guard would give his own life. When the offerings were finished, Jehu told his men to go into the temple and kill all the people there. They did this, and they removed the idols and burned them and broke them down. They destroyed the temple of Baal. Jehu had destroyed all the worshippers of Baal in Israel.

29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Beth-el, and that were in Dan.
30 And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.

Jehu was given a promise of the Lord, that his seed would continue on the throne of Israel for four generations, because he had done the Lord’s will by destroying the house of Ahab. But, Jehu did not fully turn to worshipping the Lord himself. He followed after Jeroboam, and kept the golden calves in Beth-el and Dan for worship. He did not keep the commandments of God and caused Israel to continue to sin in idolatry.

32 In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;
33 From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.
34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu, and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
35 And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his stead.
36 And the time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty and eight years.

The Lord began to bring an end to Israel in those days. Hazael, of Syria, destroyed them in all the borders of the land. Jehu died after reigning for twenty-eight years. Then, after his death, his son Jehoahaz reigned in Israel.

This chapter is a record of the fulfillment of multiple revelations given to the prophets Elijah, Elisha, and the son of the prophet who served with Elisha. Jehu had been made a king through revelation, and had destroyed the house of Ahab. Likewise, Hazael, who had been made a king by revelation, began the destruction of Israel which had been prophesied. Each of these prophesies came to the people of Israel, because they had turned from the Lord and followed after other gods. Great numbers of people were led away by unrighteous leaders, into great wickedness. If they had returned to follow after the Lord, when they had recognized they had been blessed by him, they would have been spared from the consequences of their disobedience.

2 Kings Chapter 3

The Moabites were one of the neighboring nations of Israel. They were the descendants of Lot and had been in continual conflict with the Israelites since their arrival in the promised land. When David was the king, he had subdued the Moabites and they had become servants to Israel, paying tribute to David. Israel was under the rule of Ahaziah, son of Ahab, when the Moabites rebelled against them. Ahaziah died from injuries resulting from a fall, and his brother, Jehoram began to rule in his place. This was during the reign of Johoshaphat in Judah. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.
2 And he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made.
3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

Jehoram reigned for twelve years in Israel. He did not rule in righteousness, but he also did not follow after Baal like his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. He led his people in wickedness in his own way.

4 And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool.
5 But it came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.

As tribute to Israel, the Moabite king, Mesha, had regularly given 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams, but when Ahab had died, he rebelled decided to stop paying tribute to Israel. The death of a king, and the establishment of a new ruler, is a change and a time when leadership seems weaker, or at least unprepared, and rebellions are more common. The Moabites took this opportunity to attempt to be free of their situation and to possibly place them in a position of power over the Israelites.

6 And king Jehoram went out of Samaria the same time, and numbered all Israel.
7 And he went and sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, The king of Moab hath rebelled against me: wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses.
8 And he said, Which way shall we go up? And he answered, The way through the wilderness of Edom.
9 So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom: and they fetched a compass of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them.
10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!
11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.
12 And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the Lord is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
14 And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.
15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.
17 For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.
18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
19 And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.
20 And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.

Jehoram gathered the army of Israel and went to Jehoshaphat of Judah, to ask for his help to fight against the rebellious Moabites. Jehoshaphat, who knew they were brothers and a kindred nation, joined forces with the army of Israel. They decided they would travel through the wilderness of Edom. The leader of Edom, who were a people that were also subject to the Israelites, joined with them and they traveled for seven days. They had no water for themselves or their cattle. Jehoram felt that this was the Lord’s way of delivering them to the Moabites. Jehoshaphat asked if there was a prophet they could ask, and a servant told him of Elisha, who had served Elijah. The kings went to Elisha. Elisha, who knew that the Lord was not worshipped as God by Jehoram, told him to go ask his own prophets, but Jehoram said no, because he felt they had been brought together to be delivered into the hands of the Moabites. Elisha knew that the king could not receive help from the false gods that he worshipped. Only the true and living God could assist them.

Elisha said that he would not give him help if it had not been for Jehoshaphat being there with him. Elisha told them to have a musician come, which they did. The spirit came upon the man and, possibly through his performance, he said that they were to make ditches in the valley. (At first, I thought that the minstrel spoke here, but I think that this could also be describing Elisha prophesying as the man played by the spirit.)
The men would not see where the water came from, because they wouldn’t see any wind or rain, but that they valley would be filled with water for all their hosts and their herds of animals. But that was not all, the Lord would deliver the Moabites, and the combined host of Israel would be able to destroy them and their land. God has the power to give and take every blessing or curse men would experience. The idea that God would deliver a nation, was a regular thing to the Israelite people, while there is nothing simple about it. It is a testimony that God is a God of miracles. The next morning, the Israelites made the meat offering according to the law of Moses, and water came and filled the valley, just as Elisha had prophesied.

21 And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border.
22 And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:
23 And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil.
24 And when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.
25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.

The Moabites heard that the kings were coming against them, so they gathered together to the border or their land. The Moabites got up in the morning and saw the sun shining on the water. The water on the other side, looked like blood. They thought that the men who came against them had been killed by one another, so they went forward to gather the spoil left behind. When they got to the Israelite camp, the host of Israel surprised them, rose up and killed the Moabites. The men of Moab fled, but the Israelites pursued them into their country, destroying them and the land just as they had been told they would.

26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.
27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to their own land.

The Moabite king saw that they were loosing the battle, so he took 700 swordsmen with him to try to break through the line of the men of Edom, but he was not successful. Then, King Mesha sacrificed his son who was meant to be his successor. The Moabites had been defeated, and the Israelites returned to their lands.

God blessed the Israelites with the water they needed after their march in such a miraculous way. I am sure that this would have renewed some of the much needed faith in the men who were fighting for Israel. Then, the delivering of the Moabites was also a great miracle for the people. It would have been such a testimony of the power of God to save people, if they turn to Him. Moreover, this would have been another witness that Elisha was a true prophet of God. The people of Israel had so many witnesses of God’s majesty and power.

1 Kings Chapter 20

The Israelite nation had seen peace in the days of Solomon, when he ruled in wisdom. Then, he fell away from righteousness and the Lord, bringing the threat of other nations upon his people. When the nation split into two kingdoms, the people of Israel were led further away from the Lord, through idolatry and wickedness. The Lord’s protecting hand could not be over the people because of their choices. They had suffered greatly through drought and famine, and in this chapter it tells us of the struggle they would have with other nations.

1 And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.
2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad,
3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.
4 And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.
5 And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;
6 Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.
7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.
8 And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.
9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.
10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me.
11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
12 And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.

The host of Syria surrounded the city of Samaria, which was the capital of Israel. The leader of the Syrians, Ben-hadad, sent a message in to Ahab, claiming all the treasures that belonged to Ahab, as well as his wives and children. Ahab responded with submission to the claim. Ben-hadad then threatened Ahab by saying that he would also send his servants to search and find anything with value to take away. Ahab told the elders of Israel that he had given all that the Syrians had asked from him, and their king was still trying to get more. The elders told Ahab that he should not hearken to him or give into the demands. Ahab followed their council and sent a reply to Ben-hadad, which said that he would hold up to the first agreement, but he would not allow the servants to search and take anything else. Their exchange continued with a threat from Ben-hadad to take the dust of Samaria for his people, and after Ahab said a man should not boast as much in putting on his armor as the man who causes it to come off of that man. Ben-hadad ended their exchange by commanding his servants to go against the city.

13 And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord.
14 And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.
15 Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
16 And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.
17 And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.
18 And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.
19 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.
20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.
21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.

A prophet went to Ahab with the word of the Lord. The Lord said that he would deliver the host of Syria into Ahab’s hands and Ahab would have a witness that He was the Lord. Ahab asked who would be able to do this, and the Lord said young men would fight. Ahab asked who was to start the battle, and the Lord said that Ahab was to start it. Ahab gathered 232 young men, who would lead the fight, with an army of 7,000 Israelites. The army went out while Ben-hadad was drunk along with 32 kings he had gathered to his side. Ben-hadad commanded his men to take the Israelites alive, whether they came out in peace or to make war. The Israelites fought, killing the Syrians, who began to flee. The army of Israel went after them, Ben-hadad escaped, and Ahab destroyed the horses and chariots, and killed a great number of Syrians.

22 And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.
23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
24 And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:
25 And number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot: and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.
26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Ben-hadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
27 And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.

The prophet told Ahab, to take the time to gain strength and prepare for what he should do, because the Syrians would return in a year. The servants of Ben-hadad told him the Isrealites had strength because their gods were the gods of the hills, but if they fought them in the plains, the Syrians would be stronger than them. The Syrian servants suggested that he replace the kings he had gathered, with captains. Then, they suggested that he gather an army of the same size they had fought with the first time, even to the horse and chariot. They thought that they would then be stronger, if they took the fight to the plains. Ben-hadad listened to the council of his servants. When the year came again, he took his army to Aphek, to fight against the host of Israel. Israel went against them with a host that was much smaller than the Syrians.

28 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
29 And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
30 But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.

A prophet came to Ahab again, saying that the Syrians said the Israelite God was God of the hills, but not the valleys or plains, so the Lord would deliver them into his hands and show Ahab that He was the Lord. The armies camped for seven days, and on the seventh day, the battle began. The Israelites destroyed 100,000 footmen in one day, and the rest of the Syrians fled towards the city of Aphek. A wall of the city fell on 27,000 of the Syrians and Ben-hadad fled into an inner chamber of the city.

31 And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.
32 So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.
33 Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
34 And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

The servants of Ben-hadad told him, that they heard of the mercy of the kings of Israel, so they would go to him in humility, begging to save the life of their king. They did this and asked that Ahab spare his life. Ahab called Ben-hadad his brother and told the servants to bring him. They brought Ben-hadad forth, and Ahab had him come into the chariot. Ben-hadad promised to return cities to Ahab, which had been taken by his father. Ahab made a covenant with Ben-hadad and let him go free, even though the Lord had delivered the king into his hands.

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
37 Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
38 So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
39 And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.
40 And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
41 And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.
42 And he said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.
43 And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.

A man, who was one of the prophets, told another to strike him. The other refused. The prophet said to the other, that because he had not listened, he would be killed by a lion once the prophet had left him. As he left, a lion found the man and killed him. Again, the prophet found a man and told him to hit him, which the man did and wounded him. He left wounded and waited for Ahab on the side of the road, in disguise. When Ahab went by, he cried out to him that he was a servant who had gone into the middle of battle. The prophet told Ahab that a man turned to him and brought another man to him, telling him to keep the man with him. If the man went missing, his life would be taken for the other, or he would have to pay a talent of silver. He said that as he was going here and there, the other man was gone. Ahab told the disguised prophet that he would have to fulfill his agreement with that other man, because he had made that choice. The prophet quickly took the disguise off of his face, and Ahab recognized the man. The prophet told him, that because he let the king of Syria go free, when the Lord had appointed him to destruction, his life would be taken for the life of Ben-hadad, and the people of Israel for the Syrian people. Ahab returned to him home with a heavy heart.

Ahab was a king who wanted to have it both ways. He wanted to rule in wickedness, causing that his people should turn away from the Lord. At the same time, he wanted to be a blessed king, ruling over a strong, and wealthy nation. He followed the council of the prophet and elders, only to let the enemy go when he should have destroyed him. This, because the enemy offered him the things he wanted. He was not expecting to be told that this had brought the promise of destruction upon himself and his people. We likewise, cannot choose to live a life away from the Lord and his promises, expecting to have all the blessings of heaven to come to us.

The Lord continued to look after his people. He gave them an opportunity to listen to His council, witness His power, and return to Him. He will give all of His children, many opportunities to turn to Him. We can use our agency to follow the council given by his prophets, or follow after our own desires. On the one hand, we can have the blessings attached to obedience and coming unto Christ. While on the other hand, we can be promised eventual destruction to our souls, should we choose to make covenants with the enemy. This weekend is general conference again, and the perfect opportunity to hear the council of the Lord’s chosen servants. I am looking forward to hearing their words and I hope that I can be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, by applying the teachings to my life.

1 Kings Chapter 14

Jeroboam was the idolatrous leader of the ten tribes of Israel after the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms. Ahijah was a prophet of the Lord, who had prophesied that Jeroboam would become the king of the ten tribes. The prophesy also contained the promise of maintaining the kingdom, if Jeroboam was faithful to the Lord, but he had not been faithful. When the threat of loosing subjects was a possibility, he turned to false gods. Another prophet had told of death and destruction that would come at the altar of a temple of Jeroboam, to which Jeroboam was offended. The Lord had cursed him for trying to stop that prophet, and he still did not repent of his wicked ways. In the southern kingdom, Rehoboam ruled. Rehoboam had been the ruler of all of Israel, but in his pride and foolishness, he had tried to place greater burdens upon the people. His people had revolted and he had the majority of his kingdom taken from him. Rehoboam was left to rule over Judah. He did not rule in righteousness. This chapter begins a follows:

1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick.
2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people.
3 And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child.
4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age.

The son of Jeroboam became sick, so he sent his wife in disguise, to the prophet Ahijah. He sent her with a gift offering of bread and honey, and she was to ask what would happen to their son, Abijah. She went to Ahijah, but he was blind in his old age.

5 And the Lord said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman.
6 And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings.
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,
8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the Lord hath spoken it.
12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die.
13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
14 Moreover the Lord shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now.
15 For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger.
16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

The Lord revealed to the prophet, that the wife of Jeroboam was coming to ask about her child, but that she would be in disguise. He was told to tell her he knew who she was. So when he heard her footsteps, he said to come in, announcing her as the wife of Jeroboam, then asked her why she hid her true identity, as he was a prophet who had heavy tidings to tell her. She must have recognized this was a man of God, since he was able to know who she was even though he could not see her and she was in a disguise. Ahijah told her to tell Jeroboam that God had chosen him to rule over his people, but instead of following after the Lord, he had made false idols. Since he had been an unrighteous leader, the house of Jeroboam was cursed to be cut off and taken away from Israel, or rather, destroyed completely. He was promised that the dead of his family would be eaten by the animals, possibly as a curse that showed they would have no respect given to their dead. The wife was told to return home, and as she did, her child would die. Also, that the people of Israel would mourn and bury him. This child would be the only one, or the last one of their family to be buried in a grave, because there was good in him. The prophecy continued, saying that a new king would rise up and cut off the house of Jeroboam, and the Lord would smite Israel and scatter them from the promised land, because they had done evil with their false gods and places of worship. The Lord would do these things to Israel, because Jeroboam had been a wicked ruler who led his people into this great sin.

17 And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died;
18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.
19 And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.
20 And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.

So, the wife of Jeroboam went home and as she entered the threshold, her child died. Then, just as was foretold, he was buried and all of Israel mourned for him. Here it says that any more about Jeroboam is told in other records. He ruled for 22 years and then died, leaving his son, Nadab, to rule in his place.

21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess.
22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.
23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.
24 And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.

Rehoboam was king of Judah, the southern kingdom, for 17 years. The people of Judah were not righteous, but were worse in sins then any of their ancestors. The land was full of idols and places for worship of their false gods. They had also been influenced by wicked nations and all the gross sins, including prostitution, that existed in the land before it was cleansed for the Israelites, had returned through this generation.

25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house.
28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.

Solomon had built a grand and glorious temple and palace in Jerusalem. It was likely a tempting place for any other nation to attack. The Egyptians, under king Shishak, came against Judah, and took all the treasures of the temple and the king’s house. He took all of the golden armor that Solomon had made during his reign. So, Rehoboam made brass sheilds and gave them to the guards of the palace. They used them to protect the king.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.
31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.

Again, these verses say that the rest of the actions of Rehoboam were recorded in the chronicles of the kings. In short, Rehoboam and Jeroboam fought one another for the rest of their days. Rehoboam died and was buried in the city of David, where his fathers were laid to rest. His son, Abijam, reigned after him.

This is such a depressing chapter to me. Two men who loved wickedness more than God, led their people into great wickedness. The entire land of promise, was full of wickedness and becoming ripe for destruction. The once strong and prosperous land of Israel, was divided and falling into the hands of other nations. Prophecies were made against the people, which were of destruction and death, and these prophecies were being fulfilled as the Lord withdrew his protecting hand from his people. The promise given to the children of the Lord was that they would prosper in the land so long as they worshipped the Lord and turned not from Him and His ways. Additionally, they had been promised that if they turned away, the Lord would allow others to remove them from the land of promise. There are similar promises made to the disciples of the Lord today. If we choose to follow the example of Christ, we will be blessed to prosper in our own promised land, and if we fall away into temptation, God will allow us to have the blessings removed from us. Greater things come to those who choose to turn their hearts towards the Lord.

2 Samuel Chapter 6

David became the king of Israel, combining Judah and Israel into one kingdom again. David was the Lord’s anointed king of the people and thus far, he had continued to seek the guidance of the Lord in his leadership. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.
2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.
3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

David gathered 30,000 men of Israel and they brought the ark of the covenant out of the house of Abinadab, and many of the men played music as they moved the ark. In Doctrine and Covenants 136:28 we read, “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” Music is an important part of worshipping the Lord and David was traveling in the manner of worshipping God.

6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
8 And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perez-uzzah to this day.
9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?
10 So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
11 And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his household.

Uzzah saw that the ark was shaking, and so he put his hand on it to steady it. No person, who had not been given authority from God, was to touch the ark or do anything with it, for it was the seat of the Lord. So, Uzzah was smitten immediately and died. David was upset with the death of Uzzah, and wondered how they could move the ark any further, when he had intended on it being placed in the city of David. Instead the ark was placed in the house of Obed-edom, where it remained for three months. Obed-edom and his family were blessed by the Lord, while the ark remained in their home.

As mortals, we will not and cannot understand all the workings of the Lord. In Isaiah 55:8-9, we read, ” For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The instruction that had been given in the days of Moses, was that no man was to touch the ark, and only Levites were to be involved in moving it. Uzzah, in a moment of weakness, felt that he needed to steady the thing that represented the Lord’s presence on the Earth at that time. With such a sacred item, I am sure that he had been taught of how they were to handle the ark and also how strictly they needed to obey the instructions. Additionally, it had not been too long since people, I believe philistines, had looked into the ark and brought death and destruction to entire cities. However, sometimes we forget the greatness of God. His ways are higher. Sometimes we must learn that the Lord can do all for Himself. He could have kept the ark from falling if that is what was meant to happen. Even the best of us, have much to learn. A lot of these things cannot be mastered while we live in this fallen state of mortality.

12 And it was told king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.
13 And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

David heard that Obed-deom had been blessed by the presence of the ark, so he decided to happily bring it into the city of David as he had planned. David had a sacrifice made and he danced before the Lord. There was great rejoicing among the house of Israel, and Michal saw king David dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod. She despised him for it.

17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts.
19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.

David had a tabernacle set up and the ark was placed in the midst of it. He blessed the people and had a feast with them. Then everyone returned to their homes.

20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.
22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

David returned home, and Michal greeted him with a comment about how he thought himself great, as he shamelessly uncovered himself in front of other women. The footnote for this verse describes it in this way, “In his joyful dancing, more of his body was exposed than she believed proper.” David told her that he did these things for the Lord, who had chosen him to be ruler of Israel. He felt that those who saw him, would honor him, but he would never have a child with her, which I think means that he would never bless her with children, because he would not be with her. Her pride and her judgement of David in how he should act as the king and as her husband, caused their relationship to be damaged from them on.

The main thing I take away from this chapter, is the importance of being strict in our obedience to God, especially with all things sacred. In Doctrine and Covenants 82 we read:

8 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you;
9 Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.
10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

Commandments help us to understand what God wants of His people, in order for us to return to live with Him and to receive great blessings from Him. The Israelites had been given commandments and had not remembered to adhere to them. The result was destructive and immediate, in order to teach of the importance of being obedient. Likewise, we are given commandments and when we are disobedient to the commandments, the results can bring destruction to our souls. We are weak and we will make mistakes, and thankfully, we can humble ourselves and repent when we do wrong. I am forever grateful for the Savior and His atonement, which makes this possible.

1 Samuel Chapter 28

King Saul was not living as a righteous man at this point in the Bible. He had originally been chosen and anointed by the Lord, but through selfish choices, he had lost favor with God. In his role as king, Saul had spent much of his time seeking after his own selfish pursuits, in particular, he had spent several years seeking to destroy David. This desire came from a great amount of jealousy he had towards David, and his feelings that he, King Saul, deserved to be held to a higher esteem than his servant, David. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.
2 And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

The Philistines prepared for battle against the Israelites, and Achish called David to fight with the Philistines. David asked him if he knew the things that David could do for him, and Achish said he would make him “keeper” of his head, which I think means that he would have his as the captain of his personal guard.

3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

Since the prophet Samuel had died, Saul had sent all people who were wizards and witches out of the land. Banishing these people, and I think even stoning them, was part of the law of Moses. The Philistines gathered against Saul, and he gathered his armies together as well, but he was afraid when he saw the host of Philistines they stood up against. He tried to ask the Lord what to do, but the Lord did not speak to him directly or by means of his dreams or to any prophets who could speak to him.

7 Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor.
8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
10 And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

Saul, is his desperation, asked his servants to find a witch from which he would be able to find answers. They told him there was a witch in En-dor. Saul put on a disguise and secretly went to talk to her in the night. The woman knew that the king had had all the witches and wizards sent out of the land. She did not know who Saul was when he came to her, but she thought he was trying to trap her and have her killed. Saul made an oath that no harm would come to her. He asked her to call upon the spirit of Samuel. When the witch saw Samuel, she was afraid and realized that she was speaking to Saul. He told her not to be afraid, and asked her what she had seen. She saw gods ascending from earth, and that there was an old man with a mantle, whom Saul knew to be Samuel. Saul bowed himself to the earth.

Interesting to note, the footnote in verse 14, says that this spirit was not brought about from God, but was purely a result of the work of the woman.

15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
17 And the Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:
18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day.
19 Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.

Samuel, or the image of Samuel through the work of the woman, asked why he had been brought out by Saul. Saul told him that the Philistines were prepared to fight them and that without the support of God, he needed help to know what he should do. Samuel asked why he would ask him, since the presence of the Lord had departed from Saul. Samuel told him that the Lord had fulfilled his earlier promise, which had been made by revelation to Samuel. The promise was that the kingdom would be taken from Saul and given to David, because Saul had not been obedient to the Lord. Samuel told him that the Lord would Saul and his kingdom of Israel, into the hands of the Philistines. He also told him that Saul and his sons would die, and his host would fall into the hands of the Philistines. When Saul heard this, he fell to the earth, or collapsed in fear, weak from a lack of food, possibly from fasting for hopes of revelations.

In keeping with the thought that this was not a message from God, there is evidence to this in the message given to Saul. God would not produce a spirit whose purpose was to destroy the hope of that individual. When we see visions from God, even those that teach of destruction and tribulations, there is always evidence of the hope of God through repentance or through believing in the power of the atonement of the Lord, Jesus Christ. God desires his children to return to Him, not to feel that they have no hope. Those feelings only come from once source, and that is the adversary. Saul had allowed an evil spirit to influence him a lot over the course of his role as king, and this message to Saul was surely one of despair rather than hope.

21 And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled, and said unto him, Behold, thine handmaid hath obeyed thy voice, and I have put my life in my hand, and have hearkened unto thy words which thou spakest unto me.
22 Now therefore, I pray thee, hearken thou also unto the voice of thine handmaid, and let me set a morsel of bread before thee; and eat, that thou mayest have strength, when thou goest on thy way.
23 But he refused, and said, I will not eat. But his servants, together with the woman, compelled him; and he hearkened unto their voice. So he arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed.
24 And the woman had a fat calf in the house; and she hasted, and killed it, and took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened bread thereof:
25 And she brought it before Saul, and before his servants; and they did eat. Then they rose up, and went away that night.

The woman saw that Saul was troubled, and she said to him that she trusted him with her life and did all that he had asked of her. She offered him something to eat, so that he would have the strength to go on his way. He refused to eat, but his servants helped the woman to convince him. She prepared a meal for Saul while he rested on her bed, then she brought it to him. Saul was able to eat and leave that night.

This is an interesting story in the life of Saul. I wonder if part of the fear which Saul had when he first faced the host of Philistines, was the knowledge that David was likely to be somewhere among them. He knew that the prophesies of the Lord through Samuel would one day happen, and he feared loosing everything to David some day. Even knowing this, he sought for answers from the Lord. I think he may have felt that the Lord would be on his side, because he was fighting for Israel, but Saul had made himself an enemy to God. The Lord will not support those who rebel against him. The Lord does not answer the prayers of those who are willingly disobedient to his commandments. He does answer the prayers of those who want to keep his commandments and will follow the inspiration they receive as answers. The Lord is always there, and is ready and willing to bless those who repent and return to Him, but He cannot bless the wicked for their wickedness and remain the perfectly just God that He must be.

Throughout the scriptures there is an idea about the Lord being slow to hear the prayers of the wicked. It seems that often times, those who are wicked and yet know of God and his ways, will not listen to the councils of the Lord when they are doing fine on their own. Then, when life gets hard, they plead for the Lord to listen to them and help them out of their troubles. If this is the way the Lord worked with us, He’d have a world full of spoiled children who never learn the hard lessons of life. God knows that it is better to allow us to learn from our choices than to bail us out at every turn, when we have willingly done things that were wrong. Even the best of us, should remember this principle. We need to be willing to follow the council of the Lord in all seasons of our lives, because if we choose only to listen when we have troubles, God will not be as quick to give us the answers and deliverance we seek.

1 Samuel Chapter 22

David fled from king Saul, who wanted to kill him. He had gone to a place called Nob and received help from the priest, Ahimelech. After that, David had fled to Gath, where he was recognized by the ruler’s servants. He decided to pretend to be mad, and the ruler of Gath decided he did not want him there. This chapter continued to tell the places that David went to while hiding from Saul. It begins:

1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

David left Gath and hid in a cave called Adullam. His family heard he was there, so they went down to him. People began to gather to him, because they were in debt or in distress. He became their captain. In all, he had gained about 400 men to follow him.

3 And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
4 And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.

He left Adullam and went to a place in Moab, called Mizpeh. He asked that his family be allowed to say with the king of Moab, until David could figure out what was going to happen to him. They remained with the king of Moab, while David hid in the hold.

5 And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.

Gad, the prophet, told David that he should go to the land of Judah. David left and went to the forest of Hareth.

6 When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)
7 Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;
8 That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?

Saul heard that David had been found, and that he had men who followed him. Saul was in Gibeah, prepared to fight, with all his servants around him. Saul asked his servants if they had made some kind of deal with David, because none of them had told him David and his son, Jonathan, had been in league with one another. He questioned their motives, I think, in hopes of getting more information out of them.

9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.
10 And he inquired of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
11 Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.
12 And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord.
13 And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?
15 Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
16 And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father’s house.

The servant of Saul, Doeg, who had been in Nob when David was there, told Saul that he had seen him going to the priest, Ahimelech. Doeg told him that the priest had fed him, given him the sword of Goliath, and prayed for him. Ahimelech and his family were called to come to the king. He called for the priest, who answered. Saul asked him why he conspired against him with David by doing these things, so that David was prepared to fight against the king. Ahimelech answered by saying that David was a faithful servant of Saul, and his son-in-law, who had been allowed to go about doing as he pleased. He had no reason not to do as David asked. He only did what he thought was right. Saul told Ahimelech that he and all his family would die.

17 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the Lord; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the Lord.
18 And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.
19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

Then Saul turned to his soldiers and commanded them to kill the priest and his family, because they had helped David and had not made Saul aware of where David was. The servants refused to kill them. Saul commanded Doeg to kill them, and he turned and killed 84 priests, who wore the garments of the holy priesthood. Then Saul had the city of Nob destroyed, including all the people and animals there.

20 And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
21 And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the Lord’s priests.
22 And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house.
23 Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.

One son of Ahimelech was able to get away, and went looking for David. When he found him, he told him what Saul had done. David told him that he had thought Doeg would tell Saul, when he had seen him in Nob. He felt he had brought this death of Abiathar’s family upon him. He asked Abiathar to stay with him, because Saul was after both of them, and David would do what he could to keep him safe.

The priest had only done what he felt was expected of him, and I believe he and his family were in no way deserving of the death they received. Likewise, the destruction of a city of innocent people because they were associated with the priests, was evil. Saul had truly allowed an evil spirit to influence his feelings, stirring his heart to anger against David and anyone who had anything to do with him. Throughout the history of the world, Satan has had this kind of influence over the hearts of men, who turn away from good. It was nothing new then, and it continues even today. It doesn’t take much or even too long, for this kind of change to take place in people if they allow it. Studying this story of Saul, causes me to reflect on the choices I am making in my own life. A few weeks ago, a gospel teacher asked the class I was attending, if we could part with our favorite sin. It was an interesting question, and one I have thought about a bit since that time. Saul’s favorite sin seems to have been jealousy or anger. I wonder what thing I hang on to, my favorite sin, which I know God would not want me to do? Would I be willing to let it go for Him? If not, how far away am I from allowing Satan and his many followers to influence my heart and mind? I hope as I reflect more on these things, that I can have the courage to allow the Lord to change my heart through His influence, and give up my own favorite sin.

1 Samuel Chapter 12

The Israelites had been led by prophets and judges for many years. Samuel had been called to be their prophet and leader, but the people had desired to have a king as well. Under the direction of the Lord, Saul became their king, and with the help of the Lord, he started to deliver the people from their enemies. Samuel continued to be their prophet and this chapter includes his words to the people. It begins with these words:

1 And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.
2 And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
3 Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
4 And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.
5 And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.

Samuel was called to be the prophet in Israel while in his youth. His entire life, had been a life of example and leadership to the people. He had lived a life of service to the Lord and to the people of Israel. He was now growing old, and his life was a witness of his goodness to them. He had never done anything against any of them, but he asked them if he had, so that he would be right with them. They told him he had not done anything against them. He declared that God witnessed these things, to which the people agreed.

6 And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers.
8 When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
9 And when they forgat the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.
14 If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:
15 But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Samuel reminded the people that the Lord had given them Moses as their prophet and caused that Aaron should have been their high priest. It was the Lord who had delivered the people from Egypt. Samuel reviewed the blessings of the Lord which had led his people to be where they were that day, as was done many times by the prophets of old when they were nearing death. The Lord had delivered the Israelites from Egypt, but the people had become ungrateful and forgotten Him. Then the Lord allowed the people to be oppressed by other nations through their own choices. He heard their cries for deliverance and sent them judges to free them from oppression. After much peace, they desired to be like other nations and have an earthly king, even though the Lord was already their king. The Lord conceded and allowed them a king, which they now had in Saul. Samuel exhorted them to continue to fear the Lord and to serve Him and keep the commandments of God, so that they and their king would continue to follow after God. If they would not keep the commandments, the Lord would be against them, just as He had been against their ancestors in their wickedness.

16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes.
17 Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.
18 So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

Samuel told the people to witness a sign of thunder and rain, because they had done wickedly in asking for an earthly king to rule over them. Samuel called upon God to give the sign. It was given and the people feared the Lord and the prophet. The people recognized their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them because of this evil choice they had made.

20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Samuel told them not to fear, but to follow the Lord and serve him completely. He told them not to seek after the things of the world, which would not be lasting, but would be vain. Our limited perspective can sometimes make it hard to see that we have are choosing between things that would give us pleasure that will only last for a time on this earth, or things that would give us joy and peace for eternity. Those things that are strictly of this earth, are the vain things we should not be seeking after, because they will fade away and have no value. Samuel promised them that they would not be forsaken by the Lord, because they were His people. He also promised that he would continue to pray for them, because that was his duty in being their prophet. It was also his duty to teach them what was right and good, which was to truly serve the Lord and follow after Him, because they had been blessed greatly by the Lord. Again he promised destruction would come to them, as well as the king they had desired, if they turned to wickedness.

The gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in many nations throughout the world. The people of the Lord are everywhere. The specific temptations and weaknesses of His people, are diverse and numerous. Even though this is the case, the common thread when any follower of Christ follows after temptation, is the tendency to forget the Lord. If we can likewise, follow the counsel given by Samuel, we can avoid turning away from God. The promise remains that those who turn away from God and turn to wickedness, will find destruction to their souls. This idea is recorded several times throughout the scriptures. In Mosiah 7:29 we read, “For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.” Therefore, we would do well to continue to follow after the Lord, stay committed and loyal to Him, serve Him with all our hearts, seek after things of God, and keep His commandments. We should do these things, because we owe Him everything for the countless blessings He has given and will continue to give to us.

1 Samuel Chapter 6

The ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistines during a battle in Eben-ezer. The Philistines had taken it as a spoil of the battle, but when then returned to Ashdod, and placed it next to the idol of their god, Dagon, the idol was destroyed and their people began to be afflicted with a plague and destruction. After this destruction was brought upon three different cities in which they had tried to place the ark, it was decided that they needed to get rid of it to save their people. This account continues with the following:

1 And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
8 And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.

The Philistines moved the ark away from their cities and into the country, where it stayed for seven months. They sought guidance from their priests and diviners to know where they should put the ark. They decided that they should return the ark, but if they were to send it to the Israelites, they needed to do it along with an offering to the Israelite god, so that the Philistine land could be saved of the curse placed upon them. They asked their priests what they should give as an offering, and they were told to give golden images of the plagues that had been placed upon them. This was in hopes that it would be a tribute to God, who would then lighten the curse.

The diviners told them not to be like pharaoh of Egypt, who did not do what was necessary once he saw relief from a curse from the Israelite God. I think that sometimes we can unwisely fall into this trap ourselves. When times are hard, it is easier to remember the Lord and turn to Him. Some of us may even make promises to God that we will make some kind of change to be free of our trials and adversity. Then, when we are blessed with relief from that difficulty, we do not feel the need to follow through on the promises we make, or continue as changed people. The Lord will hold us accountable for those choices and promises we make. We should not be like the pharaoh of Egypt, because once he went against his promise to Moses and the Israelites, God sent another, more difficult plague to afflict his people. Our consequences for breaking promises, or covenants, will be much greater than the trials we may have experienced in the first place.

The diviners and priests told the Philistines to place the ark on a new cart carried by two unburdened milking cows, along with the golden images they were to make. Then they were to let it go and see if it would return into the borders of Israel through Beth-shemesh. If if did not, they would take it as a sign that the plagues had been brought upon them by chance, not by the god of Israel. If it did go directly into the Israelite land, they would know that the god of Israel had brought these things upon them.

10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
11 And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh.
13 And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the Lord.
15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord.
16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the Lord; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite.

The men did as they were told. The cows walked a straight path through the border of the city Beth-shemesh in Israel. A leader of the Philistines followed it as it went. Farmers in Beth-shemesh rejoiced to see the ark as it passed. The cows stopped in the field of a man named Joshua, and the Israelites took the cart and cows, and gave a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites placed the ark and the gold offerings on a great stone in the field (the stone of Abel), and the people of the city gave offerings and sacrifices to the Lord that day. Once the Philistine lords witnessed this, they returned to Ekron.

19 And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

The Lord killed 50,070 men of the land of Beth-shemesh, because some had chosen to look into the ark of the Lord. The Israelites should have known better than to do this, because the Lord had established long before, that only those who were Levites, were to have anything to do with the sacred items used in the tabernacle. They had been given the priesthood authority to care for these things, especially the ark of the covenant. Had they been Levites, who knew how to perform their duties and were strict in their obedience, they would have known that no man was to look upon these things, because they represented the glory of the Lord. No man could stand in the presence of the glory of the Lord, and survive it, without becoming changed by the Lord. Without the expressed permission of the Lord, they brought death upon themselves. The people mourned and lamented their loss. They did not know who could stand before the Lord, meaning I think, who could move the ark, and they did not know where the ark was to go.

21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

They sent messengers to Kirjath-Jearim, to ask that they come and take the ark from Beth-shemesh.

I feel as though the Lord was reestablishing the sacred nature of the ark of the covenant, to the Israelites and those among other nations who were aware of it. It had been a long time since the Israelites had fled Egypt into the wilderness, and since he had caused that they should make the ark along with all the other sacred parts of the tabernacle of the Lord. They learned early on, that no one was to touch the ark, for fear of death. They learned that the power of the Lord was upon it. But over time, it seems they had forgotten some of these things. It is clear that they felt the Lord would be with them if they had the ark among them, but they had forgotten who they were in relation to the Lord. Moses had learned that man is powerless in comparison to the Lord. In Moses 1:10 we read, “And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” We are the reason for the plan of God, and yet, compared to God, we are nothing. This is a humbling lesson to learn, and I think that it is one of the lessons that this story of the ark is able to teach us if we are willing to recognize it.


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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