Posts Tagged 'Destruction'

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.

1 Samuel Chapter 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel Chapter 2

Hannah, the barren wife of Elkanah, had prayed for a son with a promise to lend him to the Lord. She was blessed by the Lord to become the mother of Samuel, whom she gave to Eli, the priest. Eli gave Hannah and Elkanah a blessing. Their story continues as follows:

1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
6 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.
9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.

Hannah praised the Lord in song. In her praises, she told of the strength and greatness of God. God has the power to do what cannot be done, and undo what has already been done. God will bless the saints and destroy the wicked adversaries of His righteousness. I believe that these are true things about the nature of God. He is all-powerful. He blesses the lives of his saints in ways that seem impossible by our understanding. I believe that one day, we will all stand before him to be judged, and the saints will be blessed for their righteousness, while His adversaries will be destroyed for their wickedness.

Elkanah (and Hannah, I believe) returned to his home, while Samuel remained with Eli and served the Lord.

12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.
13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

Eli had sons, but they had become men who followed after the ways of the world. His sons should have served faithfully with him in the temple, but they did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests’ servants in the temple, was that they would claim the portion of the sacrifices, which would go to the priest for his service. But by adapted custom, this servant would also ask the person giving sacrifice for a portion of the raw meat for the priest. If the individual refused to allow it to be taken raw, as they would to follow the pattern the Lord had set forward, the servant would say that it could be given to them or taken from them by force. This was a sin of the servant, because it was not how it should be done.

The servants in the temple had not been following the proper ways to serve, with regard to the sacrifices and portions which should have gone to the priest. Perhaps, they desired to take more than their share, to profit from those who went to the temple to make sacrifices. Whatever their reasons, the ways of men were going against the ways of the Lord, corrupting them for their own purposes.

18 But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

Samuel served the Lord in the temple, from his youth. The word but, causes me to think that because he was raised to serve the Lord in the temple, he was not out to gain from his service. I think that means, that Samuel did things according to the order that the Lord had established and not according to the customs of the men who had been serving there. He wore a temple garment, and Hannah would bring him a coat she made each year when she went to offer sacrifices with her husband.

20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home.
21 And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.

Eli, with the authority of a priest, gave a blessing to Elkanah and Hannah, that they would be able to have more children, because they had lent Samuel to the Lord. Hannah was blessed to have three more sons and two daughters. Samuel remained and grew up serving the Lord in the temple.

All men who are called to serve as priests in the Lord’s kingdom, are given the authority to bless others. They have the power and authority to call down specific blessings from heaven. This power, which Eli had, has been restored in our modern days. My life has been blessed greatly by men who hold the priesthood and honor it. I know that the faith of Elkanah and Hannah, as well as Eli who gave the blessing, was the key to the priesthood blessing allowing them to have more children. This faith, is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they all served by the righteous work done in the temple.

22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress.
25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.
26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.

Eli, in his old age, heard of wicked things his sons did, even to women who had come to be at the temple. He told them that he had heard that they were causing people to stray with their wickedness. They were probably directly influences some by what they did, as well as indirectly influencing others who would have been watching their example. They could have been influencing some to do what they were doing, as well as influencing others to falter in their faith. Moreover, Eli told his sons that they were not simply sinning against other people, but that they were sinning against God. The Lord would destroy them if they did not listen to Eli’s words. Samuel, on the other hand, grew in favor with God, as well as men.

27 And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?
28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.

A man of God, an angel of the Lord, appeared to Eli with a message from the Lord. He reminded Eli that the house of his fathers had been chosen by the Lord, to serve as His priests in the tabernacle. They had been given the authority of His holy priesthood. All of the offerings made in the tabernacle (or temple) had been given to the priests. And yet, Eli was not taking these sacrifices seriously, and was allowing his sons to do what they wanted with them. Eli was profiting, or becoming fat off of, the choices which his sons were making. The Lord was no longer going to allow the family of Eli to dishonor the Him in this way. Eli was given a promise that his house would not continue to have the honor of serving in the house of the Lord. The Lord would no longer recognize the promises made to Eli’s ancestors, that his family would always serve there, but instead they would be cut off. The Lord, told Eli that He would give him a sign, that his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas would both die on a day. The Lord would raise up a priest who would serve Him faithfully. The family of that priest would be blessed for generations, while the house of Eli would not live to see old age, and would no longer have the Lord’s blessing. They would instead, become beggars of the worthy priest.

There is a cycle and pattern over time on this earth. The Lord establishes his people and gives them his laws and statutes. Then, the Lord takes a step back and allows men to use their agency to decide how they will live. At first, men remember the promised blessings, choose the right and prosper accordingly. Then as time passes, and men live in their prosperity, they begin to forget the strictness of the ways of the Lord. Sacred things become common place and pretty soon the Lord is mocked and forgotten. Each time this cycle comes to this point, the Lord steps in again to remind men that His ways are not to be treated lightly. Man has agency, and because so, they may choose if they will adhere to the commandments and directions given by the Lord, but they do not have the ability to choose what will happen as a result. The Lord will not allow men to continually disrespect Him. He will punish those who treat sacred things lightly. He will bless those who are faithful and righteous. We should remember this pattern, and determine if we are becoming casual with the sacred things in our lives. We need to take the Lord seriously and reverence those things that he has established to bless and exalt the righteous. If we choose righteousness, we will be blessed.

Moreover, this was the error of a father with regards to his sons. Parents have a duty to teach their children what is right. Parents are responsible for helping their children to know how to keep sacred things sacred, and how to treat the blessings of the Lord. If a parent knows how to live righteously, and fails to teach their child to follow those things, the sin is upon the parent. When a parent learns of the wickedness of a child, they are responsible for lovingly calling that child to repentance. When necessary, a parent should discipline a child who is willfully disobeying the Lord. Eli did not follow through with any discipline of his sons. As mentioned above, they have their agency, but they do not have the ability to choose the consequences of that agency. If a parent does not do all that they can, to help a child correct the wrong they do, the parent is as at much fault, if not more than the child. This places great responsibility upon us as parents. We should make it a point to understand and know what is right and true, and then we should do our best to teach these things to our children. Otherwise, ultimately, we will be judged accordingly and the outcome will be along the lines of Eli, whose posterity was no longer blessed with the priesthood and opportunities that go along with it.

Judges Chapter 21

At some point in the time of judges, the tribes of Israel had gathered together against the tribe of Benjamin, because of wickedness that had occurred among them. Benjamin put up a good fight, but because the Lord was with the Israelite host, the Benjamites were destroyed, along with all of their cities in the land. A handful of the army of Benjamin had escaped and hidden themselves during the destruction. This experience is referenced a number of times later in the scriptures, so I imagine it was a memorable loss to the Israelite nation, and something they spoke about as an example, for many years afterwards. This chapter begins:

1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
2 And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
3 And said, O Lord God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?
4 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
5 And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the Lord? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the Lord to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
6 And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
7 How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?

The men of the Israelite nation, made a covenant at the tabernacle, that they would not allow their daughters to marry any remaining man of Benjamin. The men of Benjamin had lived wickedly and were no longer living as covenant men of Israel. The Israelites gathered at the tabernacle and mourned the loss of one of their tribes, namely Benjamin. They made sacrifices to the Lord and denounced those remaining of the tribe of Benjamin, having been cut off from the Lord and from Israel. They also decided that they would destroy any who had not stood with them against Benjamin.

8 And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the Lord? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.
9 For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

The Israelites knew that no man of the area of Jabesh-gilead, had joined them to fight Benjamin. A portion of the army was sent to destroy the city and the people there, specifically the men and their wives. They found 400 virgins in the city, which were taken to Shiloh. Then, the Israelites sent men to peacefully speak to the remainder of the tribe of Benjamin, who had escaped the destruction and hidden themselves. The Israelites gave the virgins of Jabesh-gilead, to the remaining men of Benjamin. The Israelites were then at peace with the tribe of Benjamin, because the Lord provided a way for them to do so.

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
18 Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
19 Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the Lord in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
21 And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
22 And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
23 And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
24 And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

There were some men of the tribe of Benjamin, who remained without wives. The leaders of Israel did not know what to do for them, but they did not want to entirely lose a tribe of Israel. They knew they could not give their own daughters, because of the covenant they had made against the tribe. They told the men of Benjamin, of a yearly ritual in Shiloh, where the women would go out to dance. Shiloh was also where they had moved the virgins they had captured. The Benjamites were to go and hide themselves while they waited for this ritual. Then, they were to take their wives from the women of Shiloh. They were to return to the land of Benjamin and explain their situation to any who questioned them. The men of Benjamin went and, after taking wives, they returned to the land of Benjamin and repaired it. The host of Israel dispersed back to their own lands, and returned back to their separate lives.

The men of Benjamin were punished for standing against the host of Israel. They had defended wickedness and suffered greatly for it. Likewise, the people of Jabesh-gilead had chosen not to stand with the Lord in their fight, and were punished for it. The Lord has promised that wickedness will be destroyed, and that those who side with it, will also be destroyed. This promise is still a part of the Lord’s plan in our day. We have a choice to make. That choice is whether we will stand on the Lord’s side, or on the side of the world. If we choose the Lord, He will lead us and great blessings will follow. If we choose to side with the world, our eventual destruction will come. We, like the individual cities of Israel, might think that we can choose to sit out of the battle. If we actively stand aside and try to remain a neutral party, we are in effect choosing the world and wickedness. Blessings will only come to those who take courage and join the battle against the enemies of God.


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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Currently I am studying the The Old Testament. I will be studying from the LDS - King James Version of the Bible (see link below). I am studying along with the book, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: The Old Testament by Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen.

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