Posts Tagged 'Faith'

2 Kings Chapter 20

Judah was the remnant of Israel in the promised land, when the rest were taken captive into other nations. Hezekiah was their king, and he led Jerusalem in righteousness. He had focused much of his leadership on removing the temptations of idolatry and strengthening the temple. Because of the faith of the people and Hezekiah, the Lord had delivered them from their enemies. This chapter begins as follows:

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,
3 I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

Hezekiah was nearing the end of his life, due to illness (see also Isaiah 38 and 2 Chronicles 32). The prophet Isaiah came to see him and told him that the Lord wanted him to set his life in order because he would soon die. Hezekiah turned and prayed to the Lord, pleading for the Lord to remember how he had lived in a manner that would please Him. He cried sorely. Isaiah had left his room, and was on his way into the middle court, when revelation from the Lord came to him. He was told by the Lord to return to Hezekiah and tell him his prayer was heard and his tears were seen. He would be healed. On the third day, Hezekiah was to go to the temple according to the commandment God. The Lord would extend his life for another fifteen years. He would also deliver them out of the hands of their enemy, the Assyrians. The Lord would defend the city for his own purposes and because of the promises given to king David. Isaiah told him these things and then told his servants to use a lump of figs to cure Hezekiah. They did and he recovered.

8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day?
9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

Hezekiah asked Isaiah how he would know that he would be healed and be able to go to the temple on the third day. It is normal to wonder how a miracle may happen, when everything we know says otherwise. To show him a sign, Isaiah asked Hezekiah if his shadow should move forward or backward by ten degrees. Hezekiah replied that the movement of his shadow to go down ten degrees was simple, because that was the natural course when the sun moved, so it should return ten degrees from where it was at that time. Isaiah prayed and the shadow was moved ten degrees back from where it had been on the sundial of Ahaz.

There is no other thing in nature or made by man, that can turn back the time, the way that the Lord did for Hezekiah. This event may have inspired a confidence in Hezekiah, that had been weak in his state. It may have even been the reason that his body was able to completely heal from this experience, because attitude is a large part of recovery from phyisical problems with the body. Faith in the Lord brought healing to Hezekiah.

12 At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

At some point after he was well, Beradach-baladan of Babylon sent gifts to Hezekiah thinking he was still ill. (see also Isaiah 39) Hezekiah received the gifts and then showed the Babylonians all the precious things and treasures of the kingdom. This seems to have been a moment of pride and boasting in his own greatness, which is not something that we should do. The faithful should praise the Lord and should not seek the glories and honors of men.

14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.
15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord.
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

Isaiah went to Hezekiah and asked what the men had said and where they were from. After Hezekiah told him, Isaiah asked what he had shown them in his house. Hezekiah told him that he had shown them everything. Then Isaiah prophesied that all that had been shown to them, would one day be carried away captive into Babylon. His sons would be carried away into Babylon and become servants or officers in the palace of the king. The word of the Lord was good, but in truth, the prophecy was not good for the people of Judah.

This must have been a hard prophecy to hear, knowing that Isaiah was a true prophet and his words had been fulfilled in the past. Hezekiah was personally aware of the fact that the Lord kept His word and that Isaiah was speaking the word of the Lord about the destruction of his people.

20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

Hezekiah did other things for Judah, like create an aqueduct or conduit system that brought water to the city. The other things that he did were kept in the record of the kings. Eventually he died and his son Manasseh reigned.

The story of Hezekiah being healed, is an example of the power of the prayer of the faithful. Hezekiah had lived a good life and he desired to continue it. He prayed in faith, and was blessed to be healed and live. This does not mean that every prayer of the faithful will result in a trial being removed or in something being healed, but it does mean the prayers of the faithful are heard. If it had been the will of God for Hezekiah to die at that time, being the thing that would be a greater blessing in the eternities, he would have been allowed to die. A sweet and tender message is given to us in this chapter. Not only does the Lord recognize the words of our prayers, but he sees our tears. He knows when we are sad or mourning. The Lord knows of the moments of deep sorrow, sadness, and sickness in our lives and they do not go unnoticed. We are not alone.

Another lesson learned from this chapter, is that it is always important to keep our pride in check. Pride is, in my opinion, the root of so many other sins. It creeps into our lives in ways that are hard to recognize and it sinks into our hearts so quickly. The only way to be sure to avoid this, is to keep living the gospel as best as we can, striving to keep the commandments at all times, and repenting as soon as we recognize our mistakes. The protecting guidance of the Spirit, is the only sure way to avoid pride and its dangerous consequences. Blessings come when we live faithfully and pay attention to our weaknesses with a willingness to become more.

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2 Kings Chapter 18

Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and king of Judah. His father Ahaz, had not been a righteous leader for Judah. He had made an agreement with the king of Assyria in exchange for protection from Judah’s enemies of Syria and Israel. Judah then began to pay tribute to Assyria. Then, Ahaz changed the temple altar and the sacrifices to be like those he had seen when he visited Assyria. This chapter tells of the reign of Hezekiah.

1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.

Hezekiah began to rule, while Hoshea was king of Israel. Hezekiah would rule from the age of 25 until he was about 54 years old. He ruled in righteousness in Judah.

4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
6 For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.
7 And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.
8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

King Hezekiah was the first in a long line of kings, to destroy the places of worship that had been built all over Jerusalem, that were not the temple of the Lord. The idols and groves of other gods, were broken down, including the brass serpent that Moses had made for the Israelites, Nehushtan, because it had become an idol to the people. He was a man and king who trusted in the Lord like no other king in Judah. He lived the law of Moses and as it says in verse 6, he clave to the Lord. The word clave, or cleave, in this case, is to hold fast and be strongly attatched to. This may mean that Hezekiah made binding covenants with the Lord and followed after the Law of Moses with strict obedience to keep those covenants. Since, he was a devout follower of the Lord, he received blessings of the presence of the Lord and prosperity. While, his father had made agreements to serve the king of Assyria, Hezekiah rebelled against it and no longer served him. He fought with the Philistines as well. He would not be bound to other nations and his motivation may have been that he was bound to God first.

9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.
10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.
11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:
12 Because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.

Four years into his reign, Shalmaneser of Assyria besieged Samaria in Israel. After three years, he captured Samaria and took the people captive into Assyria. This was done, because they were a wicked and rebellious people, who turned against the Lord and His commandments.

13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.
14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have
offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house.
16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Fourteen years into the reign of Hezekiah, the next king of Assyria, Sennacherib, captured the outer cities of Judah. Hezekiah sent word to Sennacherib in Lachish, saying that Hezekiah would give what he asked of him if he would abandon his quest to capture all of Judah. Sennacherib demanded three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold. Hezekiah gathered them from the temple and the king’s treasury, including the gold of the temple doors and pillars. He gave these treasures to the king of Assyria. Here would be a test of the character of Hezekiah. The question was, how far was he willing to go now that his life, city and people were being threatened. What would Hezekiah do in leading his people, and would he honor his integrity by turning to God?

17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rab-shakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.
18 And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.

Perhaps, the treasures were not enough, because Tartan, Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh, along with a great host of Assyria, were sent to challenge Hezekiah and Jerusalem. The stopped near the upper pool, and called for Hezekiah. Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah went out to meet them.

19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
20 Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?
21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.
22 But if ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?
23 Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
24 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
25 Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.

Rabshakeh told them what they should say to king Hezekiah. He spoke for King Sennacherib and asked them who they trusted so much to give them counsel and strength, that they were willing to rebel against the king of Assyria. Rabshakeh told them that trusting in the Pharaoh of Egypt was like depending on a reed that would hurt them as soon as they leaned on it. This was probably said, because Egypt was where the Jews had turned to in the past, or because it was the only other place they could turn to for help in the eyes of the Assyrians. Rabshakeh told them that they could not say they trusted in the Lord, when their king, Hezekiah, had removed all the high places of worship, leaving only the altar in Jerusalem. Of course Rabshakeh and the Assyrians did not know that the Lord would prefer that there be only one altar used to worship Him. Rabshakeh told them to give the pledges to the king of Assyria and trust in them, surrendering to Assyria rather then turn and trust in Egypt. He was ready to destroy Jerusalem, and felt he was inspired to do so.

26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rab-shakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
27 But Rab-shakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

The men of Hezekiah told him to speak to them in the language of the Syrians, which they understood, but would not be understood by the Jews that were nearby. Rabshakeh responded by saying that he had been sent by the king to speak to the men who were there, and that they all would be condemned to their destruction along with the men that Hezekiah had sent there to speak for him.

28 Then Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:
29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:
30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:
32 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.
33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?
35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?

Rabshakeh raised his voice and stood so more of the people would hear him. He spoke for the king of Assyria, telling them not to trust Hezekiah. He said that they would not be able to be saved by their king. He claimed that they should not let Hezekiah persuade them to trust in the Lord to deliver them and their city from the Assyrians. Instead, the king of Assyria offered them to join him with the promise to be free to remain in their own land and live their lives as normal, so long as they offered tribute to him. This was at least until the king would take them to a new land that he claimed would be like their land, where they would live under his leadership and live and not die. Then Rabshakeh boasted of his king, saying that the Lord had not delivered any land out of the hand of his master. They had taken many lands already, and none of their gods had been able to save them. He suggested that if others had not been delivered, the Lord would not use His power or perhaps even have the power to deliver them.

36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
37 Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rab-shakeh.

None of the Jews spoke to Rabshakeh, but followed the command of King Hezekiah, which was not to answer. The three men returned to Hezekiah with their clothing rent, and told Hezekiah the things that Rabshakeh had spoken. (Note: This story can also be found in Isaiah 36.)

Rabshakeh, who was representative of the Assyrians at this moment in time, spoke boldly in his words against Hezekiah, and more importantly, against the Lord. He was blasphemous in his words, assuming to know the Lord and what He would do. He tried to convince the people that they should not believe in the Lord, but the people of Jerusalem were obedient to their king. Hezekiah knew the history of their people. They were the covenant people of the Lord. The Lord had delivered His people time and time again, without the strength of men, but with the power of God. There is more to this story that we can read in 2 Chronicles 32. In verses 7 and 8 we read, “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” The next chapter will tell what Hezekiah chose to do once his servants had told him what had been said.

The message here, which can be found throughout the scriptures, is one of where we should place our trust. The world would have men put the trust in “the arm of the flesh”, or in the strength of men. It would have us depend on the wisdom of the world, because of things that we may have the ability to see and do not need to believe. It would have us feel secure in the physical strength of men to overcome our battles, over the unknown strength of some being who is unknown to world. The scriptures, however, teach us to always put our trust in the Lord. Even with all the good intents of mankind, there is no mortal who is perfect and no person who perfectly knows what specific thing will bring peace to our hearts or bring us individual happiness and joy. The only being who can be trusted perfectly is the Lord. Moreover, God is the only being with the power to overcome everything that we will ever face in this life. Men will fail, but the Lord will not ever fail. This is why we need to become people of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to remain people of faith, trusting in the arm of God.

2 Kings Chapter 6

Elisha was the prophet in Israel, and had been blessed with the power and authority of God to do many miracles among the people. He had the authority to receive revelation for Israel and to guide and protect the people according to the will of the Lord. He had with him several men who are called the sons of the prophets. I imagine that these were much like the men today, who serve with the prophet each day, to carry out the work of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.
2 Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.
3 And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.
4 So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.
5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
6 And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
7 Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.

The sons of the prophets were not able to continue living where they were because they were cramped in a narrow space, so they asked Elisha if they could go to Jordan, so that they could work together to make a new home for them. Elisha told them to go, and when they asked that he go along he said he would go. They cut wood near the Jordan and while doing this, one of the men dropped the head of the axe he was using. It fell into the water, and he was upset because he had borrowed it. It was not his ax to loose and moreover, in the law of Moses, which they followed, anything borrowed was to be returned and held a weight of responsibility to take care of that thing or great consequences would follow. Elisha asked where it had fallen. Elisha cut down a stick and threw it into the water where the axe head had gone down. Then the iron floated to the surface. Elisha told him to pick it up, which he did. This thing does not make logical sense, but it was another small miracle to be witnessed.

8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.
9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.
10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.
11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?
12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

The Syrians were prepared for war against Israel again, and their king counseled with his servants to decide where they would camp. Elisha sent word to the king of Israel, and warned him not to go to a certain part of the land, where the Syrians were coming down to fight. The king of Israel had reason to go to the place twice, but did not go because of the words of Elisha. The king of Syria worried about why his plan was not working, and asked his servants to reveal who had gone against them and told the Israelites where they would be. One of the servants told the king of Syria, that none of them had betrayed him, but that there was a prophet named Elisha who revealed the king’s secrets to the king of Israel.

13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

The servant of the Syrian king was told to find out where Elisha was so that he could be brought to the king. They told him that he was in Dothan. The king sent a large group of men with chariots and horses, and they encircled the city by night. When Elisha’s servant woke in the morning, he saw that they were surrounded by horses and chariots. He told Elisha and asked what they should do. Elisha told him not to fear, because they had more in number than those against them. Then Elisha prayed to God that the eyes of his servant might be opened to see what he meant. The servant’s eyes were opened by the Lord, and he saw that Elisha was surrounded by horses and chariots of fire. When the Syrians came down to take Elisha, he prayed that the Lord would cause them to be blind, and his prayer was answered by the Lord.

19 And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria.
20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
21 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?
22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
23 And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Elisha told the blind men that they were in the wrong place, and the man they sought was not there. He led the blind men to Samaria. Then Elisha prayed for the eyes of the host to see where they were, and the Lord opened their eyes. They saw that they were in Samaria. The king of Israel asked Elisha if they were to smite the Syrians, and he said they were not to smite them. They were like those who surrender to captivity in war, and Elisha told them instead to feed them and send them away to their master. They ate and left, and the Syrians bands did not come against Israel.

24 And it came to pass after this, that Ben-hadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria.
25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.
26 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.
27 And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?
28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.
29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son.

Ben-hadad gathered his army and besieged Samaria. A famine hit the land of Samaria, and things got so bad that the price of simple things became great. At one point, the king was walking when a woman cried to him for help. The king said he could not help if the Lord was not even there to help her. He asked what was wrong with her and she told him that a woman had come to her and begged her to sacrifice her son for food, and promised her that they would do the same to her own son the next day. The first woman sacrificed her son, but when they went to the woman the next day, she had hid her son.

30 And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.
31 Then he said, God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day.
32 But Elisha sat in his house, and the elders sat with him; and the king sent a man from before him: but ere the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, See ye how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head? look, when the messenger cometh, shut the door, and hold him fast at the door: is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him?
33 And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?

When the king heard her story, he tore his clothes in a sign of mourning and paraded himself in front of the people. The king wanted Elisha dead. Elisha was in his house when the king sent a messenger to him. Elisha told the elders that the king sent this man to take his head. He told them to shut the door when the man came, and hold onto the man at the door. The messenger came down and said that the famine was caused by the Lord, so why should they wait upon the Lord any more. He had no hope in the Lord and felt strongly that Elisha was to be blamed for this, or be held accountable for it.

Things learned from this chapter include that their are blessings in doing those things that the prophet asks of us, even if they don’t make sense to us, or may seem to go against those things that we believe because of our own learning and wisdom. Plus, I love that this thing was such a small thing and yet it is a story that we can read in the bible. There have been many times in my life, where I have broken or misplaced something and it seems such a little thing, of little or no importance to anyone else, but it means so much to me personally. The Lord knows this and if we ask in faith, He will help us because He loves us and wants us to have happiness. There is nothing of importance to us, that is too small or insignificant for the Lord.

Additionally, we all have an army around us, waiting to help us fight the good fight. When we are faced with great opposition, there are loved ones cheering for us and helping us from the ‘other side’. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:88, the Lord speaks to the faithful, saying, “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I am certain that if we, like the servant, had our own spiritual eyes opened to see, we would be overwhelmed by the things that are there to help us, but that we just can’t see with our mortal eyes. I believe that in our own times when the opposition is upon us, we can pray for our eyes to be opened to find the way to safety, and that they Lord will answer that prayer according to His will and our faith in the Savior.

Finally, even though the last part of this chapter is not a finished story at this point, it teaches that in our moments of desperation, we might turn to those things that are wrong and against all that is good. This story is a bit horrifying to me, as a mother who loves her children beyond what seems possible. I believe that in the deepest parts of our trials, the adversary may cause us to believe there is no hope and that the only way out is to give in to the darkest parts of the natural man within us, but there is always hope. I know that there is always a better way, and that way is to turn to the Lord and rely on Him. I know that the answer will not always be a miracle to be saved, but I believe that it will always be the way to a better, more amazing blessing. I believe that we can turn to the Lord in our trials and always, and eventually through these things, we will become like Him.

2 Kings Chapter 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Kings Chapter 4

Elisha was the prophet of the Lord, who followed after the prophet Elijah. As a prophet, He had performed miracles of parting the Jordan (see 2 Kings 2:13-14) and healing waters (see verses 21-22). He had prophesied of success to the host of Israel against the Moabites (2 Kings 3). He had been a witness that the Lord was the only true God, and many had seen that he had the power of God with him to do mighty things. Chapter four begins with the following:

1 Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
2 And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.
3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.
4 And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.
5 So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.
6 And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.
7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.

A widow came to Elisha and told him that her sons were going to be taken as bondmen, by the creditor to their family. Elisha asked her what he could do for her, followed by asking her what she already had in her house. She needed something that she could give for money to the creditor. She told him that the only thing she had was a pot of oil. Elisha told the woman to gather several empty vessels from her neighbors. When she came back, she was to close her door and then pour from her pot into each of the vessels, setting them aside as they were filled. The woman followed the instructions of Elisha and filled all the vessels brought to her. She went back to Elisha and told him what had happened. He told her to sell the oil to pay her debt, so that she and her children could live in peace.

8 And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread.
9 And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually.
10 Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
11 And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there.
12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him.
13 And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.
14 And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old.
15 And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door.
16 And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid.
17 And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.

There was also a woman whom Elisha would pass on his way. She would tell him to eat, so each time he passed her, he would eat. She told her husband that she thought Elisha was a holy man of God, and she wanted to make a room for him in their home, so that he would have a place to stay with a bed, table and chair. One day, Elisha went into the room to rest. He told his servant to bring the Shunammite woman to him. The servant was to ask her what could be done for her, since she had done so much to take care of Elisha. He asked if she wanted them to talk to the king about her, or the captain of the host, but she was fine where she was. Elisha asked his servant what he thought could be done for her and the response was that she did not have any children and her husband was old by this time. Elisha asked her to come to him. She came to the door and Elisha told her that in the time it takes to carry a child, she would have a son. The woman told Elisha not to fool her with lies, which seems like she could have been telling him that it was too good to be true. However, she had a son just as Elisha had said.

18 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.
19 And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.
20 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.
21 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.
22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.
23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
24 Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.
25 So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite:
26 Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.
27 And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me.
28 Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me?
29 Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.
30 And the mother of the child said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her.
31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.
32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.
34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
36 And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son.
37 Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out.

The child grew up and he went to his father as he worked in the fields. He started to complain about his head, so his father told him to be taken to his mother. The boy died while on his mother’s lap. The mother laid him on the bed of Elisha and left the room, closing the door behind her. She begged her husband for help to find Elisha. Her husband wondered how she would find him, but the woman had faith that all would be well. She left in a hurry to find him, telling her servant not to slow down unless she asked it of him. She found him in mount Carmel and Elisha sent his servant to talk to her. He went to her and asked her if everything was alright with herself and her family, to which she replied that all was well. When she got to Elisha, she fell at his feet and the servant of Elisha, Gehazi, pulled her away. Elisha told him to leave her alone, because he could see that she was distressed, but he did not know why. He recognized that only God was aware of the things on her mind that were causing her trouble. She said that she had desired a child and had told Elisha not to deceive her. Without telling him what had happened, Elisha quickly responded to her. Elisha told his servant to take Elisha’s staff and go place it on the child, without stopping to talk to anyone. He was been told to go without delay and to prepare the way for Elisha. Then, the woman vowed that she would not leave Elisha and Elisha left with her. The servant placed the staff on her son, but nothing happened. Elisha went to the house and found the child dead upon the bed. He went in and after closing the door, prayed to the Lord. After his prayer, he laid on the child, touching his hands to the child’s hands, his eyes to the child’s eyes, and so on. He made the skin of the child warm with his own warmth. He did this again, after walking around the house and the boy sneezed and opened his eyes. Elisha told his servant to tell the woman to come and take her son. She fell at the feet of Elisha and then left with her son.

I love that this story teaches us that Elisha prayed and then I am guessing his answer was to warm the child through touch. He followed the prompting of the spirit that was with him, and when he had faithfully done this, the boy was healed. We are able to have experiences like this in our own lives. We can pray for answers, and so long as we do this with real intent or the intention of doing whatever is expected of us, God will answer our prayers.

38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.
40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.

Elisha went to Gilgal, where there was a lack of food, or a famine. He told his servant to put stew out for the prophets. The servants went out to gather food and one brought in wild fruit and vegetables, and put them in the food. The men began to eat and found the food was poisonous. Elisha told the servants to bring him meal, which he put in the pot and told them to serve it to the prophets again. The food was made harmless.

42 And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.
43 And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.
44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.

On another occasion, a man brought Elisha bread, barley and corn for the people to eat. This was not uncommon, but it seems to have been a tradition in ancient times, to take a gift of things such as bread when going to see a man of God or a prophet. The gift he brought was not enough for then number of men they had, but Elisha told them to go ahead and give it to the people to eat, because the Lord said there would be enough for them to eat. The servant put the bread and grains in front of the people and they all were able to eat with food left over.

Why would it be important for us to have the stories of these miracles in our scriptures? They teach us things that can help us today. We can learn from Elisha, that God has the power to free us from bondage if we will humble ourselves and follow Him and his servants. It teaches us the importance of turning to our priesthood leaders and faithfully heeding the direction they give us. Who would imagine that being told to pour out the last of something you have, would been you would have more besides. It would have taken a lot of faith to follow through with that in a moment of being without. These stories teach us that we will be blessed for our service to those who serve us for the Lord. The woman was blessed with a child, even though it would have seemed that the time for bearing children had passed. There will be greater rewards after this life, for those who serve the servants of the Lord. These stories teach us of the healing power of the priesthood. If it is God’s will, we can see for these same blessings with our own trials and infirmities. We can ask for blessings upon ourselves or our loved ones, and God will bless us according to his will. God loves us and He will bless us according to our diligence and faith.

These miracles remind me of the stories of the Savior. The filling of the vessels reminds me of the story of the Savior turning water to wine. Both required the faith of those handling the vessels, in order to receive the miracle. The receivers had to gather the vessels together and believe that something would happen in doing so. Then, the raising of the child reminds me of the raising of Jairus’ daughter. In both, there was a parent who knew the power of the priesthood that could save their child. In both, that parent sought the man of God for help. Again, both required a great deal of faith in God, and belief in His servants on the earth and what they had the power to do. And finally, the story of multiplying the food reminds me of the story of the loaves and fishes. In both, all the food that was available, was placed before the people, and by the power of God, it was more than enough to provide for many. Both showed that the power of God can sustain people, even to the providing for physical needs. Those in the days of Elisha would not have realized that these stories made Elisha into a type of the Savior who was to come and save all mankind, but I am sure they recognized that the hand of God was in their lives. We can look at these stories and see that the power of God was made manifest. The miracles of Elisha point to the Savior and his power to make us more than we are, save us from all forms of death, and sustain us when it would seem that there is not enough in this world to do so.

1 Kings Chapter 19

Jezebel had married Ahab, who was the king of Israel. She was from Sidon and had brought with her the practice of worshipping Baal and other false gods. With Ahab, she had led the people of Israel into greater wickedness. She had sought out the prophets of the Lord, and killed many of them. Elijah had been in hiding and had been preserved by the Lord, until he was commanded to go to Ahab. The prophet challenged the wicked priests of Baal, and proved Baal to be a false god. Elijah had the wicked priests and prophets destroyed. This chapter continues the account with the following:

1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

Ahab returned to Jezebel and told her what had happened, including that Elijah had killed her prophets. Jezebel swore to kill Elijah, so he left and went into Judah, leaving his servant in Israel.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Elijah traveled for a day and sat under a tree in the desert wilderness. Elijah felt that he couldn’t do anymore to help the people. It seems like he felt as though he had failed and was the only righteous man living, and he was ready to die. An angel came to him as he slept, and touched him, telling him to wake and eat. When Elijah awoke, he saw a cake and water next to him, which he ate and drank. He went back to sleep, and the angel came again and told him the same thing, because he would need strength for his journey. He woke and ate and drank, and this food gave him strength for a long time, during which he fasted, as he traveled to Horeb. Horeb was the mount where the Lord had spoken to Moses a long time before Elijah lived.

9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Elijah arrived at a cave and stayed there, when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord asked him what he was doing there. Elijah said that he was upset with the wickedness of the people of Israel, and since they wanted to kill him, he had come to this place to hide. Then, Elijah was commanded to stand on the mount, before the Lord. As the Lord passed Elijah, there was a strong wind that split the mountain and rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, Elijah felt an earthquake, but the Lord was not there. After that, there was fire, but the Lord was not present in the fire. Finally, there was a still, small voice, and when Elijah heard it, he went to the cave entrance and heard the voice of the Lord. The voice of the Lord, the voice of the Spirit, is a still, small voice. This is how we can all expect the Lord to speak to our hearts and minds. Because it is this way, we have to separate ourselves from the world, just as Elijah did, and push away the distractions, so that we may be able to hear Him speak.

The Lord asked what Elijah was doing there. Elijah again repeated why he was there, that he had done much for the Lord because the people had lost their way, killing the prophets and leaving only him remaining. The Lord told him to return to Damascus and anoint Hazael to rule over Syria and Jehu to rule over Israel. Then, he was to anoint Elisha as the prophet to follow after him. The Lord revealed to Elijah, that anyone that escaped death from Hazael, was to be killed by Jehu, and anyone that escaped death from Jehu, would be killed by Elisha. He told him that there were 7,000 people in Israel, which did not worship Baal. With this, the Lord helped Elijah to know that he was not alone.

19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Elijah left and found Elisha working in the fields. When Elijah passed him, he threw his mantel on him as a sign that he was to go with him, I believe. The mantle of Elijah was a symbol of authority. Elisha left the field and asked to say goodbye to his parents before following Elijah. Elijah told him to go back. Elisha went, fed the people his oxen, and then left and followed Elijah.

Elisha is an example of a righteous man, who had the courage and faith to leave his family and work, to follow the prophet of the Lord. Today, very few are asked to leave everything they have, as Elisha was in that day, but we are all invited to leave behind the things of the world that have no lasting value, to follow those things that the prophet teaches and exhorts us to do. For most of us, this will take just as much courage and faith, if not a great deal more. I can imagine that for many of us, it would be easier to follow if we had the prophet come to us personally and extend a call to action, but most of us are required to believe and follow in faith without the prophet being in our presence. The blessings will be great for those who choose to follow the prophet, as Elisha chose to follow Elijah.

The Lord did not leave Elijah in his times of trial and depression. He gave him physical blessings to help him have strength to physically continue in the work. Moreover, he blessed him spiritually, with the spirit and with direction in his calling, which would help him to continue in his service to the Lord. He received these blessings, because he had a desire to do what was right, and to help others to know God. When we want to be righteous and bring others to Christ, we will have the help of the Lord as well. The spirit will be there, as a still, small voice, to bless and guide us. I know these things to be true, because I have felt the blessing of strength beyond my own, both physically and spiritually, when I have had moments where I have felt defeated and down in what I believe to be righteous endeavors of my own. God loves us and will not leave us comfortless.

1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

1 Kings Chapter 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel Chapter 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel Chapter 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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