Posts Tagged 'Faith'

2 Chronicles Chapter 3

Once Solomon had the materials to build the temple, the construction of it started. The temple was to be of the finest workmanship and materials, including the best wood from fir trees and pure gold. This chapter describes some of these details of the temple and begins as follows:

1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
2 And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.

The house of the Lord was laid in Mount Moriah, within Jerusalem, during the fourth year of the reign of Solomon. This was a sacred place, because it was the site where King David had been when he saw the Lord. At that time, an angel of the Lord had destroyed 70,000 men for what David had done in numbering Israel. The angel had been by this threshing floor. The prophet Gad, under the direction of an angel of the Lord, had told David to build an altar there in order to repent of his sin. So David purchased the land from Ornan (Araunah), built an altar, and offered sacrifice. The Lord accepted of his sacrifice by heavenly fire and the angel no longer destroyed the people. David had chosen that location to make sacrifices and was intending to build the temple there. (See also 1 Kings 6, 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21)

3 Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.
4 And the porch that was in the front of the house, the length of it was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the height was an hundred and twenty: and he overlaid it within with pure gold.
5 And the greater house he ceiled with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains.
6 And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim.
7 He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on the walls.
8 And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents.
9 And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
10 And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold.

Solomon had been given specific instructions as to the building of the temple. It was to be 60 cubits in length and 20 cubits in width. (A cubit was about 18 inches, or the length from elbow to fingertip.) The entrance at the front, was to be 20 cubits by 20 cubits, with the height at 120 cubits. Solomon had the walls inside it, overlaid with gold. The rest of the temple had wooden ceilings overlaid with gold and decorated with palm trees and chains. The temple was ornamented with precious stones. All of the beams, posts, walls, doors and such, were overlaid with gold. There were engravings on the walls of cherubims. The inner holy house was about 20 by 20 cubits. It was also covered in six hundred talents worth of gold. Even the nails used, were gold. The upper chambers were covered in gold as well. Inside it, were two gold covered cherubim statues.

11 And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub.
12 And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub.
13 The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward.

The cherubim wings were each 5 cubits in length. One wing touched the wall of the temple, while the other touched the wing of the second cherub, which also had a wing reaching the opposing wall of the temple. The cherubim were standing with faces pointed inward.

14 And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.
15 Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits.
16 And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains.
17 And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.

The fine linen veil of the temple was blue, purple, and red. It also had cherubims on it. Two pillars were placed at the entrance of the temple, which were 35 cubits tall. Each had a top piece, or capital, that was 5 cubits. They were decorated with chains ornamented with pomegranates. These pillars were both extremely large and beautifully decorated in their description. Each pillar was given a name, which had been done with other pillars detailed in the bible. The right was called Jachin and the left was called Boaz. In the Bible Dictionary entry for these pillars, it states the meanings of their names as “He will establish” and “In Him is strength.”

Earlier in the Bible, men of God had experiences with sacred things, and followed these up by raising a pillar of some type in remembrance of what had occurred in that place. For example, when Jacob dreamt of the ladder reaching to heaven, he awoke and placed stone pillar in the place, consecrated it with oil and named the place Beth-el (House of God). Again, when Jacob spoke with God and made covenants with him, receiving the name Israel, he built a stone pillar and poured oil on it, calling the place Beth-el. Later, when Moses and the host of Israel made covenants with the Lord to keep the commandments, he made twelve pillars for the twelve tribes. (see Genesis 28, Genesis 35, and Exodus 24) Pillars therefore, were created for other reasons than to bear the weight of a structure, or to mark an entrance. God had made his presence known in that place, when David had been king. It was a sacred place to Solomon and likely to the faithful in Israel. The pillars of Solomon’s temple, were possibly a visual reminder of the covenants made between God and the children of Israel. They were given names that pointed to God. By entering the gate of the temple, where these pillars stood, they were showing God they had faith in Him and in the promises of his protection and power in their lives if they worshipped Him there.

This temple must have been beautiful to behold and unlike anything else ever built by the children of Israel. Solomon was dedicated to making the house of the Lord a place of magnificence. The parts of the temple dedicated to the most sacred things, such as the inner sanctuary, were not going to be seen by the general public. They were not for men’s eyes to behold, but they were made glorious for the Lord. Solomon built this temple to truly be the house of the Lord in his day. As I read this chapter, I cannot help but reflect on the beauty of each temple raised today by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are built with the finest craftsmanship and materials. They are magnificent to behold. The doors of the temple have the words “Holiness to the Lord” and “The House of the Lord”. They remind those who enter, that the temple is a place where we are made holy through making covenants with God. The temples are the houses of the Lord, for his purposes and for his Spirit to reside. When we enter the temples today, we show God that we, like the children of Israel, have faith in Him and the promises of his continued protection and power in our lives today.

1 Chronicles Chapter 29

The book of 1 Chronicles records the history of the people of God from the creation through the rule of King David. As the last chapter in this book, the words of David to his successor and his people are wrapped up. David had been a great leader for the children of Israel, even with his personal flaws and transgressions. He had fought the enemies of the land valiantly. As a result, the land of Israel had finally been made ready for a permanent house of the Lord, which Solomon was to build during his reign. This final chapter begins with the following:

1 Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the Lord God.
2 Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.
3 Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house,
4 Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal:
5 The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?

David, speaking to all the Israelites, said that the work given to Solomon was a huge task for a leader who was still young. The Lord has often called those who are young, to perform great tasks for Him. David himself, who had fought Goliath in his youth, had been chosen by God at a young age to become the king of Israel. In youth, people are more humble and teachable, and less hardened by life experiences. In humility, the Lord can bless the weak to become strong, because they rely on Him and have greater faith and trust in the Lord.

David, in his own sincere desire to have the house of the Lord built, had done all that he could to prepare for it. Since he could not build it himself, he had saved all the treasures and supplies, that he could. He had a good amount of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stones, which he had gathered. He had even given a great deal of his own treasures, and dedicated them to the house of the Lord. The Lord had given instruction regarding specific materials to use for specific purposes in the construction of the temple as well as the design of all the tools and vessels. David told the people that the the things he had gathered were for their specific items within the temple, to be crafted by skilled workers. He then called for all who were willing, to consecrate their service to this great work.

6 Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly,
7 And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.
8 And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.
9 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.

The leaders of the tribes of Israel gave willingly to the construction of the temple. They gathered gold, silver, brass, iron, and precious stones. Jehiel, the Gershonite (possibly mentioned in 1 Chronicles 23:8 as leader of the sons of Laadan, who were Levites who served at the temple, though there were others by this name listed), worked to gather and give these treasures to house of the Lord.

The Israelites rejoiced because they willingly gave this offering to the Lord. David rejoiced also for their offerings to the Lord. God does not need men to give him their treasures in order to be able to have a House built to his name, because he could provide a way for these things to be handled without them. However, this is a sacrifice and a consecration of means and time, which God asks of men in order to show commitment to Him. This sacrifice of the Israelites, was much like the tithing that God asks of His people today. All things are His and when we contribute willingly to the building up of His kingdom on Earth, we show that we recognize that we are willing to do our part for Him. This commitment is worthy of rejoicing and having a grateful heart, as it was to the Israelites.

10 Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
11 Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.
12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.
16 O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.
17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.
18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:
19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision.

David publicly praised the Lord as he dedicated all that had been offered to the Lord. He acknowledged that all things belonged to God, both in heaven and in the earth, and that all things were and are part of the Lord’s kingdom. He also recognized that God rules over all, just as the Savior did in what is known as the Lord’s prayer. Matthew 6:9-10 and 13 record he Savior’s words, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. …For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” These thoughts of both David and Jesus the Christ, are absolute truths related to God, the Father. They are eternal truths that should continue to be recognized today. People today can and should acknowledge God publicly and privately for His divine majesty.

Continuing, David acknowledged the power and might of God, and that God gives to men the ability to be great and strong. David thanked and praised God, adding that they were only able to give so freely of things because they belonged to the Lord and He made it possible. Again, this is an absolute truth and can and should be recognized by people today. All things, both in the earth and made by man, come of God. He has created all of it and it all belongs to Him. We are only here on earth, for a short time, with the permission granted to us to use all that He has created. When we give to the Lord in ways such as tithes and offerings, as the Israelites did, we are returning to the Lord what He has made possible for us to use. In this, we should be continually grateful, as David was.

David humbly recognized that the children of Israel were strangers and travelers as their ancestors had been. This idea again applies to all men. We are all strangers to this life. We were spiritually created first, and lived in Heaven with God. We spend our time in this earthly life, as strangers, needing the prevailing guidance of our Father. That time is ever-changing, short and never standing still, as a shadow changes each moment with the movement of the sun.

As he went on, David spoke of the ways of God to test the hearts of his people, and of His pleasure in finding uprightness in them. David had willingly given his offering out of his own uprightness of heart, or honesty and goodness, and he found joy in seeing the people give willingly as well. He prayed to the Lord, that the people would remember this and prepare their hearts for the Lord. Moreover, he prayed that the Lord would bless his son, Solomon, with a perfect heart. That Solomon would keep the commandments and statutes of God, and do all in his power to build the temple for which David had prepared greatly.

20 And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the Lord your God. And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king.
21 And they sacrificed sacrifices unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings unto the Lord, on the morrow after that day, even a thousand bullocks, a thousand rams, and a thousand lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel:
22 And did eat and drink before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto the Lord to be the chief governor, and Zadok to be priest.
23 Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.
24 And all the princes, and the mighty men, and all the sons likewise of king David, submitted themselves unto Solomon the king.
25 And the Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.

The gathered people were told to worship the Lord, which they did through prayer, sacrifices, and burnt offerings. Their worship continued as they feasted with great gladness. Solomon was anointed king by the people, with Zadok as the priest. Solomon took the throne and prospered. Israel became subject to him, including all the leaders who had served under David. Solomon was truly blessed by the Lord, in ways that had not been known to the Israelites before this time.

26 Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel.
27 And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
28 And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.
29 Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer,
30 With all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries.

David had been king in Hebron for 7 years and in Jerusalem for 33 years, making his total reign in Israel, 40 years. He died at a good age for his day, which was about 70 (his rule began when he was 30, according to 2 Samuel 5:4), having been blessed with wealth and honor. There are other accounts of David’s reign, which are not all had in the Bible and are lost writings, but his reign was great and established much for the nation of Israel.

David was a good example to the people of his time, as well as to all the world since that time, to praise God with gratitude. He had been a memorable leader for Israel, serving them and remembering God. He had his shortcomings and was not a perfect man, but he recognized this in himself and ended his days looking to God. As the successful king he was, he could have chosen to withhold his gratitude as many others do. However, David knew from his youth, that his successes and greatness came from the hand of the Lord. As we go through our lives today, it is important for us to remember this as well. We owe so much to God for all He does for us, and we will be blessed and become more, if we humbly look to God with a grateful heart and openly praise Him.

1 Chronicles Chapter 28

The book of 1 Chronicles continues in its record of the rule of King David. A fair amount of this information has been already recorded in the books of Kings (1 Samuel to 2 Kings). This chapter can be compared to 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Kings 2. It begins:

1 And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem.
2 Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:
3 But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.
4 Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel:
5 And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.
6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.
7 Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.
8 Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the Lord, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever.

David gathered the leaders of Israel, including the princes, captains of his men as well as the armies, stewards, his sons, and his mighty men (named in the previous chapters). They were called to Jerusalem where David told them that he had desired to build a house of the Lord, where they could place the ark of the covenant of the Lord. But when he asked the Lord, God told him he was not to build it because his duty had been as a man of war. David had been chosen and raised by the Lord to be a man of war. He battled Goliath as a boy and as he grew he was led to fight for Israel by the hand of God. The fact that he was a man of war was not a bad thing, but it had been his calling by God and raising the temple was not. Each person has an opportunity to accept the calling that God has for them and these callings are all different. For some, it is to lead, while for others it is to follow. For some, it is to become parents during this life, while for others it is to go without children for now and to be a light to children in other ways. We can learn what that calling is for us, by aligning ourselves with God and His will, through following the commandments he gives to us.

David continues to tell them that he had been chosen by the Lord, out of all of his brothers, to be king. Likewise, out of all of his many sons, the Lord had chosen Solomon to be the next king. The Lord told David that Solomon would be he one to build the temple of the Lord. He would bless Solomon, that his kingdom would be established forever, if he would remain faithful to God’s commandments. The Lord instructed Solomon and Israel, to keep and seek the commandments so that the land would remain their land from that time on, forever. This promise made to Solomon and the men gathered there, to have the inheritance of the land for keeping the commandments of God continually, is much like the promise to the family of Lehi found in 1 Nephi 2:20. It reads, “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.” The blessing of prosperity in the land of promise continues today for those who remain faithful.

9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
10 Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.

Solomon, who knew the things of God, was instructed to serve him with all his heart and with a willing mind. Because God knows the hearts of men, and understands all thoughts, He is there for those who seek him. If instead, He is forsaken, He casts men off forever. Solomon was counseled to be careful, because he had been chosen to build the temple and he needed to have the strength needed to do it. This task was one of a very sacred responsibility, which required God’s continued guidance at every step if it was to be accepted by Him for his holy purposes.

11 Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
12 And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:
13 Also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the Lord.
14 He gave of gold by weight for things of gold, for all instruments of all manner of service; silver also for all instruments of silver by weight, for all instruments of every kind of service:
15 Even the weight for the candlesticks of gold, and for their lamps of gold, by weight for every candlestick, and for the lamps thereof: and for the candlesticks of silver by weight, both for the candlestick, and also for the lamps thereof, according to the use of every candlestick.
16 And by weight he gave gold for the tables of shewbread, for every table; and likewise silver for the tables of silver:
17 Also pure gold for the fleshhooks, and the bowls, and the cups: and for the golden basins he gave gold by weight for every basin; and likewise silver by weight for every basin of silver:
18 And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
19 All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.
20 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.
21 And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.

Then, David instructed Solomon in the construction for the temple. He told him what the pattern of the temple was to be according to the spirit, or according to what he had been told by the spirit. He also instructed him in the work of the priests and Levites and their service in the temple. He told him of the use of all the vessels or instruments and how all these things were to be created by their weight in gold and silver. Additionally, he taught him how the tables and altars were to be made by weight in gold and silver. And instructions were given on the seat for the ark of the covenant, with its cherubim. These instructions were as those given by God to Moses when the tabernacle was first made. David told Solomon that he had come to know these things by the hand of the Lord. As the king, David had access to the records of Moses, which gave instruction as to the making of all things for the tabernacle. With the Lord’s spirit for understanding, all these things were made known to him and he could counsel Solomon in them as well.

David also gave Solomon counsel to be strong and courage. Solomon was instructed to fear not, because the Lord would be with him and God would not fail or forsake him. With the help of the Lord, Solomon could finish this sacred charge that he had been given with the temple. David left him with somewhat of a blessing, that all the help he would need from priests, Levites, skilled workmen, leaders of the tribes, and the host of Israel, would be given to him at his command.

The building of this temple, must have been somewhat of an overwhelming charge given to Solomon, let alone being called by God to be the next king of Israel. However, the Lord had all the plans laid out for him, as they had been laid for Moses and the children of Israel many years before this. Having direction from the Lord and the promise of his help to accomplish the task, must have been a great comfort for Solomon. David’s words of counsel to his son, remind me of the words of Nephi found in 1 Nephi 3:7, which reads, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” There is absolute truth in this verse, that can be a source of comfort and strength to the faithful. The Lord will not give any person a commandment, that He is not willing to help them accomplish. We simply need to have the faith to rely on Him. It is His work and He wants it to be done because that is how we will all be able to return to Him. David knew this because his life experiences had taught him this was true. Like David, we can learn to rely on the Lord, as we are faithful to the commandments he gives us, and we will be greatly blessed as we do.

1 Chronicles Chapter 18

David came into power in Israel, when the nation was fighting against many enemies in the nations around them. He was a strong man at this time, who had proven himself mighty in battle and as a strong leader. As the king of Israel, he had a responsibility to protect and build the nation, with the guidance and help of God. This chapter begins with the following:

1 Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.
2 And he smote Moab; and the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts.

David had thought to have his mind set on building a house to the Lord, or a temple, but now that he had been told that this was not to be his responsibility or privilege, he turned his attention to subduing the Philistines and the Moabites. Gath, birthplace of Goliath and a place that had been a refuge for David, was taken by Israel. The Moabites became servants to the Israelites, and paid tribute to David.

3 And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates.
4 And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: David also houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them an hundred chariots.
5 And when the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadarezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.
6 Then David put garrisons in Syria-damascus; and the Syrians became David’s servants, and brought gifts. Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.
7 And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadarezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.
8 Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer, brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brasen sea, and the pillars, and the vessels of brass.

David continued to fight against the ruler of Zobah, Hadarezer. He killed him and took chariots, horsemen and footmen. He rendered all of the chariot horses useless.
The Syrians had joined with Hadarezer, and David led his men to kill 22,000 of them. The Syrians lost to David and were compelled to pay tribute to him. This was all done by the hand of the Lord. David took treasures of the men and cities of Hadarezer, which would eventually be used to make parts of the temple built by Solomon.

9 Now when Tou king of Hamath heard how David had smitten all the host of Hadarezer king of Zobah;
10 He sent Hadoram his son to king David, to inquire of his welfare, and to congratulate him, because he had fought against Hadarezer, and smitten him; (for Hadarezer had war with Tou;) and with him all manner of vessels of gold and silver and brass.

Gifts of gold, silver and brass were sent to David by the king of Hamath, who had fought against Hadarezer himself. Tou became a friend to David.

11 Them also king David dedicated unto the Lord, with the silver and the gold that he brought from all these nations; from Edom, and from Moab, and from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines, and from Amalek.
12 Moreover Abishai the son of Zeruiah slew of the Edomites in the valley of salt eighteen thousand.

David took the gifts and dedicated them to the Lord, along with all the treasures taken from their enemies. Additionally, thousands of the Edomites were killed by Abishai.

13 And he put garrisons in Edom; and all the Edomites became David’s servants. Thus the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.

Soldiers were placed in Edom and the people there became the servants of David. By the hand of the Lord, David had victory over all his adversaries.

14 So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.
15 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, recorder.
16 And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Abimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Shavsha was scribe;
17 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief about the king.

David reigned with justice over the people of Israel. Joab, David’s nephew, was the leader of the armies of Israel. Jehoshaphat was the recorder (or keeper of the state chronicles according to the Bible Dictionary), Zadok and Abimelech were the priests, and Shavsha was the scribe. Benaiah was placed over the Cherethites and Pelethites. The sons of David were second in the leadership of the people.

The Lord had promised the Israelites that they would be a mighty nation who would be protected from their enemies, if they would be faithful to him. David was serving as a faithful king and was blessed for it. The Lord continually blesses those faithful to him and will deliver them from their enemies time and time again. We may not face physical enemies as great as entire nations, but we all face a common enemy to our spirits. The blessing for the faithful, is that the Lord will deliver us from the adversary and his host, which is a far greater gift to receive.

1 Chronicles Chapter 14

The reign of King David in Israel began with things such as attempting to relocate the ark of the covenant. It continued with those things found in this chapter. David had already made a well-known name for himself, by leading armies with great strength and having many victories over their enemies. Moreover, he had reigned in Judah for 7 1/2 years. Once he was anointed king of Israel, he and his family, including his two wives Ahinoam and Abigail, had relocated from Hebron to Jerusalem. This chapter begins with the following:

1 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and timber of cedars, with masons and carpenters, to build him an house.
2 And David perceived that the Lord had confirmed him king over Israel, for his kingdom was lifted up on high, because of his people Israel.

Workers from Tyre were sent along with messengers of the king, Hiram, who was a friend of King David. They brought cedar to build David a house in Jerusalem. David could tell that he was being blessed by the Lord and therefore knew his anointing as their king was confirmed by God.

3 And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters.
4 Now these are the names of his children which he had in Jerusalem; Shammua, and Shobab, Nathan, and Solomon,
5 And Ibhar, and Elishua, and Elpalet,
6 And Nogah, and Nepheg, and Japhia,
7 And Elishama, and Beeliada, and Eliphalet.

David married more wives while in Jerusalem, in addition to his two wives from before becoming king of Israel. These wives bore him children, including Shammua (Shimea, of Bathsheba), Shobab (of Bathsheba), Nathan (of Bathsheba), Solomon (of Bathsheba and successor of David), Ibhar, Elishua, Elpalet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Beeliada (Eliada), and Eliphalet (Eliphelet). (see also 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 3)

Modern revelation teaches that the wives were given to David in a manner acceptable by God, by a prophet of God called Nathan, except for the case of Bathsheba, who was the wife of Uriah (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:38-39). In our current times, this act of having multiple wives has, in His wisdom, not been considered acceptable to the Lord.

8 And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David. And David heard of it, and went out against them.
9 And the Philistines came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
10 And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.
11 So they came up to Baal-perazim; and David smote them there. Then David said, God hath broken in upon mine enemies by mine hand like the breaking forth of waters: therefore they called the name of that place Baal-perazim.
12 And when they had left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
13 And the Philistines yet again spread themselves abroad in the valley.
14 Therefore David inquired again of God; and God said unto him, Go not up after them; turn away from them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.
15 And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.
16 David therefore did as God commanded him: and they smote the host of the Philistines from Gibeon even to Gazer.
17 And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.

The Philistines heard of David’s anointing and decided to go after him. David went against them and found them spread about in the valley of Rephaim (the giants). David asked the Lord if he should fight the Philistines, and if he did, if the Lord would deliver them into his hands. This was something that had happened a number of times before, because David turned to the Lord for his strength. The Lord answered David and told him to go against them, because the Lord would deliver them into his hand. David led his men and they were victorious in Baal-perazim, recognizing that God had done this for him and his people (see also 2 Samuel 5:19-20). The idols that the Philistines had brought with them, were burned at David’s command. Once again, the Philistines were in the valley and David went to God again. However, this time, God told him not to go after them in that valley. Instead, he was to go to a place that had mulberry trees. Once he heard the sound of their going, or marching, from the tops of the trees, he was to take his army against them. This would be a sign that God had gone before them to destroy the Philistines. David followed the commandments of God, and they were able to defeat the Philistines (see also 2 Samuel 5:22-25). Then the fame of David spread to all the nations and others feared him.

The message of faith and trust in God rather than in the arm of the flesh, that is found in this story of David, is such a good example to us today. David had already shown that he was a skilled fighter and leader of armies. He had grown in these talents over the years and had been continually successful in it. However, he was meek in his own power and in humility, turned to the Lord for guidance, knowing that God would help him if it was the right thing to do. God blesses the meek and humble with the power to overcome their challenges. It may not happen in the timing or way that we would expect. I imagine that David’s wisdom would not have led him to listen from the trees before attacking the Philistines. I don’t imagine that this was how he had initially expected to have victory over his enemies. However, it was God’s wisdom and it proved successful. We will be greatly blessed if we can demonstrate a level of faith and trust in God compared with our own challenges in life.

1 Chronicles Chapter 8

Benjamin was the son of Jacob and his beloved wife Rachel. His mother died just after his birth. He was the brother of Joseph, and made a bargaining chip for Joseph before he revealed himself in Egypt. This chapter of Chronicles (which I have done my best to understand, but it may not be a perfect understanding) lists the sons of Benjamin and it begins with the following:

1 Now Benjamin begat Bela his firstborn, Ashbel the second, and Aharah the third,
2 Nohah the fourth, and Rapha the fifth.
3 And the sons of Bela were, Addar, and Gera, and Abihud,
4 And Abishua, and Naaman, and Ahoah,
5 And Gera, and Shephuphan, and Huram.
6 And these are the sons of Ehud: these are the heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Geba, and they removed them to Manahath:
7 And Naaman, and Ahiah, and Gera, he removed them, and begat Uzza, and Ahihud.
8 And Shaharaim begat children in the country of Moab, after he had sent them away; Hushim and Baara were his wives.
9 And he begat of Hodesh his wife, Jobab, and Zibia, and Mesha, and Malcham,
10 And Jeuz, and Shachia, and Mirma. These were his sons, heads of the fathers.
11 And of Hushim he begat Abitub, and Elpaal.

Benjamin had five sons named Bela, Ashbel, Aharah, Nohah, and Rapha. His firstborn, Bela, was the father of Addar, Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, Gera, Shephuphan, and Huram. Bela’s sons were the sons of Ehud, who lived in Geba. In the Bible Dictionary, it says that Ehud was the son of Gera. Ehud was raised up by the Lord, to deliver Israel. They had been oppressed by Eglon, king of Moab, for 18 years. Ehud took a present to Eglon, but when left alone after he delivered it, he killed the king and then escaped. He went on to lead Israel to subdue Moab and have peace for 80 years. (see Judges 3-4) The sons of Ehud were relocated to Manahath. Naaman, Ahiah, and Gera were removed, and he became the father of Uzza and Ahihud. After they were sent away, Shaharaim had children in Moab. He was married to Hushim and Baara. Shaharaim was the father of Jobab, Zibia, Mesha, Malcham, Jeuz, Shachia, and Mirma, by his wife Hodesh. By his wife Hushim, he was the father of Abitub and Elpaal.

12 The sons of Elpaal; Eber, and Misham, and Shamed, who built Ono, and Lod, with the towns thereof:
13 Beriah also, and Shema, who were heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath:
14 And Ahio, Shashak, and Jeremoth,
15 And Zebadiah, and Arad, and Ader,
16 And Michael, and Ispah, and Joha, the sons of Beriah;
17 And Zebadiah, and Meshullam, and Hezeki, and Heber,
18 Ishmerai also, and Jezliah, and Jobab, the sons of Elpaal;
19 And Jakim, and Zichri, and Zabdi,
20 And Elienai, and Zilthai, and Eliel,
21 And Adaiah, and Beraiah, and Shimrath, the sons of Shimhi;
22 And Ishpan, and Heber, and Eliel,
23 And Abdon, and Zichri, and Hanan,
24 And Hananiah, and Elam, and Antothijah,
25 And Iphedeiah, and Penuel, the sons of Shashak;
26 And Shamsherai, and Shehariah, and Athaliah,
27 And Jaresiah, and Eliah, and Zichri, the sons of Jeroham.
28 These were heads of the fathers, by their generations, chief men. These dwelt in Jerusalem.

Elpaal was the patriarch of Eber, Misham, Shamed (builder of Ono and Lod), Beriah and Shema (fathers of the people who lived in Aijalon, who drove away the people of Gath); Ahio, Shashak, Jeremoth, Zebadiah, Arad, Ader, Michael, Ispah, and Jona (sons of Beriah); Zebadiah, Meshullam, Hezeki, Heber, Ishmerai, Jezliah, and Jobab (sons of Elpaal); Jakim, Zichri, Zabdi, Elienai, Zilthai, Eliel, Adaiah, Beraiah, and Shimrath (sons of Shimhi); Ishpan, Heber, Eliel, Abdon, Zichri, Hanan, Hananiah, Elam, Antothijah, Iphedeiah, and Penuel (sons of Shashak); and Shamsherai, Shehariah, Athaliah, Jaresiah, Eliah, and Zichri (sons of Jeroham). These men were the chiefs of the tribe of Benjamin, and they lived in Jerusalem.

29 And at Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon; whose wife’s name was Maachah:
30 And his firstborn son Abdon, and Zur, and Kish, and Baal, and Nadab,
31 And Gedor, and Ahio, and Zacher.
32 And Mikloth begat Shimeah. And these also dwelt with their brethren in Jerusalem, over against them.

The father of Gibeon, who lived there, was married to Maachah. He was the father of Abdon, Zur, Kish, Baal, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, and Zacher. Mikloth was the father of Shimeah, and they lived in Jerusalem with their family.

33 And Ner begat Kish, and Kish begat Saul, and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchi-shua, and Abinadab, and Esh-baal.
34 And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal; and Merib-baal begat Micah.
35 And the sons of Micah were, Pithon, and Melech, and Tarea, and Ahaz.
36 And Ahaz begat Jehoadah; and Jehoadah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begat Moza,
37 And Moza begat Binea: Rapha was his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son:
38 And Azel had six sons, whose names are these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ishmael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan. All these were the sons of Azel.
39 And the sons of Eshek his brother were, Ulam his firstborn, Jehush the second, and Eliphelet the third.
40 And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these are of the sons of Benjamin.

Ner was the father of Kish, who was the father of Saul. (In 1 Samuel 9:1, we learn that Kish was the son of Abiel, who was the son of Zeror, who was the son of Bechorath, who was the son of Aphiah. Then in chapter 14, it says that Ner was the uncle of Saul, not the grandfather. This would make Ner the son of Abiel as well.) Saul was the first king of Israel, who was eventually rejected by the Lord for disobedience to counsel and was succeeded by David. Saul was the father of Jonathan, Malchishua, Abinadab, and Esh-baal. (In 1 Samuel 14:49, it says that Saul was the father of Jonathan, Ishui, and Melchi-shua.) Jonathan was the beloved friend of David. (see 1 Samuel 18:1) Jonathan was the father of Merib-baal (Mephibosheth), who was the father of Micah. Merib-baal was the surviving son after the death of Jonathan and his father Saul. (see 2 Samuel 4) Micah was the father of Pithon, Melech, Tarea, and Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Jehoadah, who was the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth, and Zimri. Zimri was the father of Moza, who was the father of Binea. Binea was the patriarch of Rapha, Eleasah, and Azel. Azel was the father of Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, and Hanan. Eshek, the brother of Azel, was the father of Ulam, Jehush, and Eliphelet. Ulam was the father of mighty men of valor. His sons and their sons totaled 150, and they were archers.

There were not a lot of men from Benjamin who were mentioned in the scriptures other than being named on this list, but the few of note were significant in the history of the children of Israel. Ehud, Saul and Jonathan were all men of valor, who led the people in battles and served to deliver Israel from their enemies. While, Saul’s personal ambitions and weaknesses led him down a path of self-destruction, he did lead for years as the Lord had intended him to do. It shows again, that leadership, strength, and courage came from more than just one tribe in Israel. The Lord continues to raise people from different families, groups, and nations to lead his people today. He is no respecter of persons, but looks within for those who have faith and courage to follow Him.

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.

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.


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.
Testimony

Testimony

I made an album with my dad in 2011. Check it out!

Testimony

NEW!!! Digital Downloads (mp3) available directly from the site.

Current Study

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

Learn More:

The Book of Mormon

You can order a free copy of the Book of Mormon here:

Book of Mormon Request

Archives

Follow me on Facebook:

My Wonderful Husband and Artist


%d bloggers like this: