Posts Tagged 'Gifts of the Spirit'

1 Kings Chapter 4

King Solomon had been blessed with wisdom and wealth by the hand of the Lord. Due to his wisdom, which had been shown as he judged the people, he was revered throughout the land. In this chapter, he continues the establishment of his kingdom. It begins:

1 So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
2 And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,
3 Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.
4 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
5 And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king’s friend:
6 And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.

The princes, scribes, recorder, captain of the army, priests, and other officers of Solomon and his kingdom were listed here. They included Azariah,Elihoreph, Ahiah, Jehoshaphat, Benaiah, Zadok, Abiathar, Azariah, Zabud, Ahishar, and Adoniram. Zabud is named not only as an officer, but the friend of Solomon. It seems that he may have been a man whom Solomon trusted to be by his side as he ruled.

7 And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.
8 And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:
9 The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Beth-shemesh, and Elon-beth-hanan:
10 The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:
11 The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
12 Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Beth-shean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam:
13 The son of Geber, in Ramoth-gilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars:
14 Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:
15 Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
16 Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
18 Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
19 Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.

Those who provided food for the king and those in his household, or who were in charge of the gathering and giving of food, were also listed. There were twelve of them, I believe for the different parts of Israel.

20 Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.
21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.

The number of people in the land, were numerous. They were a merry people, and they served Solomon and gave him gifts.

22 And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
23 Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.
24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.
25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.

He was blessed with prosperity and peace during his entire reign, which meant his people were also blessed with these things. Every man was able to be safe and secure in his own home. The kingdom of Solomon was great.

26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
27 And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.
28 Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.

He had a huge number of horses and chariots, and those who served him had all they needed, even with all that was necessary to take care of the king and all his household and belongings.

29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
33 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

Solomon was blessed with wisdom and understanding, just as the Lord had promised. Largeness of heart, seems to be something like great love for his people. His wisdom was so great, that it exceeded all men. He was famous in all the nations around them. He spoke in proverbs and songs, some of which are recorded in the scriptures, and he spoke of many things about nature and animals. People and leaders of all nations, went to hear him.

This chapter causes me to think about the amazing nature of gifts of the spirit. The scriptures teach us that everyone is born with a gift (see 1 Corinthians 7:7 and Doctrine and Covenants 46:11) and that we can seek for more gifts (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:8). In this case, Solomon sought after the gift of wisdom, so that he could be the leader that Israel needed. He is a great example of seeking after those gifts that would benefit those who we have a stewardship over. This is what the Lord wants us to desire and I believe that he desires to bless us with those things. Personally, I am a mother, and have a stewardship over 6 sweet children. I sometimes, and probably not often enough, think of my calling as a mother to children who belong to my Father in Heaven. They are not mine alone. They are His and He wants them to have the best earthly mother possible. He has blessed me with gifts that can help me in this calling, and it would be better for me, if I would seek after, and pray for, those gifts of the spirit, that would help me in this great work. God wants me to succeed in raising righteous, healthy, happy children that will be prepared to make good choices when they go out into the world on their own. Gifts of the spirit will give me the best tools for this success.

Solomon’s gift of wisdom, was grand and caused him to remain well-known throughout the world from his life to present day. We may not be known in the history books or even well-known in our time, because of the gifts that we have been given by God, but our gifts can be a legacy in our own lives is we use them for good. The scriptures teach us about gifts of the spirit and that the are to be used “for the benefit of the children of God“. If we hide our gifts or use them for things that are not uplifting and good, they will eventually be taken from us and given to another. I am so grateful for the gifts that God has given to me and I hope to be able to use them well, leaving a legacy for my posterity to learn from and to follow.

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1 Kings Chapter 3

After the death of King David, the kingdom had been established greatly under Solomon. He had rid his kingdom of those who he knew would have destroyed it with rebellion. Solomon’s reign began with peace and strength. Chapter 3 begins as follows:

1 And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
2 Only the people sacrificed in high places, because there was no house built unto the name of the Lord, until those days.
3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
4 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar.

Solomon made a marriage relationship with the Pharaoh, by taking Pharaoh’s daughter to wife. They lived in the city of David. Solomon built up the city of David, including a house for himself, for the Lord, and a wall around Jerusalem. Up until this time, a house to the Lord had not been built. David had wanted to build a house to the Lord, but the Lord had instructed him not to do so, because he would allow his posterity to build His house in the place He wanted it built. The people had made sacrifices in other places up until the reign of Solomon. Solomon was a righteous man, and loved the Lord and kept the commandments as his father had instructed him to do. Solomon went to Gibeon to make sacrifice to the Lord, which had been the location of a tabernacle to the Lord.

The Lord’s wisdom is far greater than our own. I am not sure why David had not been allowed to build the temple of the Lord, but that is how the Lord wanted it. Instead, the right timing and place would fall in the reign of Solomon, and it would be great.

5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7 And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8 And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, asking what Solomon desired of him. Solomon acknowledged the great blessings that had been given to his father by the Lord, including the opportunity for him to sit upon the throne. Solomon felt he was not up to the task of being king, which is a typical feeling of those who are given these great callings of the Lord. He felt insignificant among a great and chosen people, so he asked for the ability to discern between good and bad and to judge the people with an understanding heart. The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request, and blessed him with a wise and understanding heart, which he would be known for throughout history. His blessing of wisdom, was a blessing of the spirit and he was not simply wise to the things of the world, but spiritually wise, so that he could discern good from evil. He also blessed him with those worldly things that he had not asked for, even riches and honor. The Lord told him that he would be blessed with a long life, if he would keep the commandments like his father David. When Solomon woke up from the dream, he went to Jerusalem, offered sacrifices to the Lord and had a feast.

16 Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.
17 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
18 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
19 And this woman’s child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
20 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while thine handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
22 And the other woman said, Nay; but the living is my son, and the dead is thy son. And this said, No; but the dead is thy son, and the living is my son. Thus they spake before the king.
23 Then said the king, The one saith, This is my son that liveth, and thy son is the dead: and the other saith, Nay; but thy son is the dead, and my son is the living.
24 And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.
25 And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26 Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.
27 Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.
28 And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

Two harlots came before Solomon, to have a dispute resolved that had risen between them. The women lived together, the first who spoke had given birth and then three days later the second also had a child. They were the only two in the house. The first claimed that the second’s woman’s child died in the night when she laid on it, and that she got up and traded the children while the first slept. When she awoke to feed her baby, she saw that it was not her baby that was next to her. The first said that she confronted the other woman, who said that the living child was her own. Solomon heard the complaint. He repeated their problem back to them and then in his wisdom, Solomon commanded his servants to bring him a sword, which they did. He told the servants to divide the child, giving a half to each woman. The mother of the baby told Solomon to give the baby to the other woman so that the baby would not be killed, while the other woman said for the baby to be divided. This was evidence of the true mother of the child, and so King Solomon pronounced judgement, that the child was to be given to the first, who had not wanted the baby killed, because she was the child’s mother. This was a bold way to judge this complaint that had been brought before him, and as the people of Israel heard of it, they saw that he truly was a wise judge.

Solomon was starting out as a good king for the people of Israel. Rather than seek after the things of the world, he desired to be wise. I think he felt the weight of his calling and truly wanted to magnify it and be the king that God wanted him to be. He did not want to judge others unfairly, but wanted to be able to tell what of the issues brought before him were good or bad. Because of this strong desire in him, he was blessed with more than he had expected. But, it was not his wealth that caused him to become known. It was the greatness of his wisdom, which was displayed as he judged between the two women. God was with him and helped him discern the good between them. Solomon was inspired to know that a mother would not allow her child to be destroyed.

The blessing of wisdom is not reserved only for great kings, but we all can seek after it just as Solomon did. It would be so good if more people turned to God and asked for the ability to discern and judge righteously, for wisdom before wealth. When we are given callings of the Lord, especially as a parent, we should desire the wisdom we need to fulfill that calling. I know, as a parent especially, I could use divine assistance in knowing how to do all that is expected and required of me. Moreover, every person would be greatly blessed to desire to do their best first, before having the best. Disciples of Christ should seek to be better servants of God, and like Solomon, they will be blessed with more than just help to be better, even with the blessings of the things of this world. This is because God loves us. He is a loving Father in Heaven, who desires to give blessings to all His children, both spiritual and physical blessings.

1 Samuel Chapter 16

Saul, who had been the chosen leader of Israel, was called and sustained by the Lord. Then, the power he held began to get the better of him. He made some bad choices out of fear of the people, fear of his enemies, and his own pride. He was not faithful to the Lord. The Lord rejected Saul as the leader of his people. Saul remained the king, but no longer had the appointment from the Lord. Samuel remained the prophet during this time and continued to give the revelations and directions from the Lord. The Lord had revealed to Samuel, that he would call another to be the ruler of his people. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
2 And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.
3 And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.
4 And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Beth-lehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
5 And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.

Samuel continued to mourn over the things that had happened with Saul. The Lord spoke to Samuel and asked him why he did this, when he had been rejected. Instead, Samuel was to prepared himself to anoint a new king. The Lord directed Samuel to go to Jesse in Bethlehem where he would find the new king in one of Jesse’s sons. Samuel was worried that Saul would find out, and kill him. Samuel was told to go as if to make a sacrifice, calling Jesse to make sacrifice with him. Then, the Lord would help Samuel to know what to do next, in order to anoint a new king, whom the Lord had called. In faith, Samuel did as he was told by the Lord. The elders of Bethlehem, were afraid of his coming. Samuel told them he came in peace, to give sacrifice to the Lord. He told the elders to sanctify themselves and to prepare to make sacrifices. Jesse and his sons were among the men whom were sanctified, and Samuel called them to the sacrifice.

It is important to note, that this is the Jesse spoken of by the prophets who foretold the Savior’s mortal lineage. When speaking of the Lord, the book of Isaiah teaches, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). Jesus of Nazareth, was this specific descendant of Jesse of Bethlehem.

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the Lord chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Each of the sons came before Samuel in turn, and as they did, Samuel assumed that the eldest or strongest would be chosen by God. However, as he thought this, the Lord told Samuel to look at the men as the Lord would look at them. The worth of the men would not be found in their appearance or stature, but in their hearts. God does not look at us in the way that other people do. God knows our character better than any person, even ourselves. God can tell if our hearts are pure, if we are sincere, honest, and good. Likewise, God knows if our desires are to please men more than Him. In this experience, God would inspire Samuel to see these sons as He would see them, with spiritual eyes rather than the eyes of men.

Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and seven sons of Jesse were presented, but none were chosen by the Lord. Samuel asked Jesse if these were all of his sons. He told them that his youngest was keeping the sheep. Samuel asked Jesse to call for him, and when he was brought in, it was revealed to Samuel that he was the chosen son. David was a good-looking young man, but more importantly, the Lord knew he had a good heart. Samuel anointed David, the youngest son of Jesse, in front of those of his family who were there. I think the witnesses of his anointing were few in order to keep David safe from Saul, who may have killed David if he had been made aware. From that time forward, the Spirit was with David. In my mind’s eye, I can picture Samuel laying his hands upon the head of David, and giving him great blessings, which would prepare him for his calling to lead Israel. The most important blessing he could give to David, was the gift of the companionship of the Spirit, which he had from that day forward. Samuel left Bethlehem and went on to Ramah.

14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.
17 And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.

In contrast, the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from Saul, and his servants noticed an evil spirit about him. The footnote for verse 14 (see also verses 15, 16 and 23) explains that the Joseph Smith translation of this verse reads, “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit which was not of the Lord troubled him.” This is an important distinction, because the Lord does not give evil spirits to afflict the souls of men. He does, however, allow for men to be influenced by the spirits around them, good or bad, so that men may choose for themselves which to follow. Any evil spirit is from the devil, not God.

Saul’s servants suggested that he call a man who was a talented musician, to play the harp for him, that his spirit would no longer be troubled. If the servant’s of Saul had been men of God, I am sure they would known that the thing Saul truly needed was to be right with God. Saul needed to repent of the things he had done and put aside his pride, but he would not. Saul called for one who could play the harp well, and one of the servants suggested a son of Jesse of Bethlehem, who could play well and was a good, pleasant looking man whom had the Lord with him. I think also, that in saying he was prudent in matters, it was suggested that he was wise and possibly, that he also may have been able to discern when his services were needed for the king.

19 Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.
20 And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.
21 And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
22 And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight.
23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Messengers were sent to Jesse, which asked for David to be sent to the king. Jesse sent David along with bread, wine and a kid. David pleased Saul and he was chosen to bear Saul’s armor. Saul sent a message to Jesse, to ask that David stay with the king, because he had found favor in his sight. When Saul was troubled, David would play for him on his harp and Saul would be well again. Music is such a powerful influence in our lives. In this case, music was used to calm a troubled spirit. David used his talents to do good for the king. When we choose music to listen to, it is important to note if it is one that can calm our own troubled souls. There is a lot of music in the world today, which has the power to bring us down. We should seek to listen to those things that are inspiring, uplifting, and bring us peace.

In this chapter, we can see the hand of the Lord in preparing young David to become the ruler of the Israelites. I am sure the servants of Saul, felt inspired to suggest that the king ask for a man to come and help ease his mind. Likewise, I am sure that the suggestion that Daivd be asked, out of all the men of Israel. It is also possible that David had been blessed by the Lord, with the gift of the spirit, to be the best harpist in all the land. Whatever the path that led there, David was now in the position to become what the Lord wanted him to become, if he would continue to be a man of God.

Once again, we have a calling from the Lord, extended to the least likely of men. He was the youngest, with several older brothers, who may have been capable. However, the Lord will choose whomever has the qualifying characteristics for the work. Over and over again, we see that the Lord chooses those who are humble and teachable, faithful and trustworthy. These are qualities that we should seek after in our own lives.

I am grateful to know that the Lord is not going to bless me on my appearance or my physical strength, because these are not my greatest attributes. These are not bad attributes to have been blessed with, but they are not the attributes that will draw us nearer to God. It is a humbling thing to know that God knows my character so well, and this understanding gives me the desire to become a better person in Christ-like attributes, which are the attributes of God. Disciples of Christ, should seek to improve our character rather than focusing solely on our outer appearance. I know that a happy soul is one who strives to be Christ-like in body and spirit.

1 Samuel Chapter 10

The Lord gave a revelation to the prophet Samuel, that Saul was to be the king of Israel. Saul was told that he was the answer to the prayers of Israel, and was given honor at a meal with Samuel. As Samuel escorted Saul from the city the following day, he told Saul to remain so that Samuel could tell him the word of the Lord. This next chapter begins with the following:

1 Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
2 When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?
3 Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:
4 And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands.
5 After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
6 And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
7 And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.
8 And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do.

Samuel anointed Saul as the captain over the Lord’s inheritance. Saul was called by the Lord, and was anointed according to the ancient custom. I think anointing was possibly a way of dedicating the service of the king, to the Lord. Today, those who receive calls from the Lord to serve in his church, are set-apart by the authority of the priesthood and by the laying on of hands, and they then receive a blessing to help them in their service. Being set-apart is a way of dedicating one to the service of the Lord.

Samuel, in his role as a seer, told Saul that as he would be traveling, two men would approach him and tell him that his father’s donkeys had been found and that his father had begun to be concerned for him. Then as Saul continued on his way, he would come upon three men taking offerings to the place of worship. They would salute him and give him two of their loaves of bread. Then, Saul would go to the hill of God, where there were Philistine guards, and he would meet a company of prophets with musicians in front of them. They would prophecy and then Saul would receive the spirit of prophesy and appear as someone new. Theses things would be a sign to Saul, and he would know that the Lord was with him. Then Saul was to go to Gilgal and Samuel would go there to make offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. Saul was to stay there for seven days, until Samuel met him there.

In the course of this revelation, we can see that the Lord was looking out for Saul. First, he would have confirmation that the donkeys he had been searching for, had been found and he did not need to continue looking or worrying about them. Likewise, there would be those who could return to his father and tell him that Saul was alright. With that, Saul could continue on his way without concern that his father was worried about where he was. Next, we learned in the previous chapter, that Saul and his servant had nothing left to give when they had went looking for Samuel. When they headed to the high place, which Samuel was now referring to, they would want again to bring an offering. Along their way, they would meet three men who would give them bread which they could them take with them to the high place. The experience of being among prophets and prophesying with them, would show people, who already knew Saul, that he was not the same boy they had seen grow up. It could help some to support him in his calling as their king. In addition, these things would be able to give Saul courage and greater confidence to approach his calling, because he could know that the Lord was on his side.

9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day.
10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
11 And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?
12 And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?
13 And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place.

God blessed Saul with all the things that Samuel had prophesied for him. The Lord gave Saul a new heart. He was met by the prophets and he prophesied with them as he was given the spiritual gift to do so. The people who had known him, were surprised at what they witnessed. When he was done being among the prophets, he went to the high place, just as Samuel had instructed.

When the spirit touches men, it changes their hearts. The spirit has the power to help us become new people. The spirit is the power that brings conversion to the Lord. I’m not sure how much the heart of Saul was changed from the person he was before, but it had an effect on him, which I believe was intended to prepare him for becoming the king for the people. I believe also, that this change of heart came to Saul, because he acted in faith. He was given instruction by the prophet of the Lord, and he followed those instructions with faith. We can also experience a change of heart, that is powerful and will convert us into the person that God wants us to be. As with Saul, this will only come to us, if we listen to the words of the prophet, both ancient and modern, and follow with faith in the Lord.

14 And Saul’s uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that they were no where, we came to Samuel.
15 And Saul’s uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you.
16 And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not.

Saul’s uncle came to him and asked where he and his servant had gone. Saul told him what had happened as they searched for the donkeys. His uncle asked what Samuel had told him. The only part of it that Saul told his uncle, was that Samuel had told them the donkeys had been found.

17 And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh;
18 And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you:
19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands.
20 And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.
21 When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.
22 Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.
23 And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

In Mizpeh, which I am guessing is the high place referred to earlier in this chapter, Samuel called the people together. Samuel told them the word of the Lord, which was first a reminder of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and from all other oppressors. He told them that in that day, they had rejected God as their ruler and had desired a king to rule over them. He called the people to present themselves to the Lord by their tribes. Once they did this, Samuel called the tribe of Benjamin out from among them. Saul was called out from the tribe of Benjamin, but he was not found right away. They prayed to the Lord to know where he was, and they were told that Saul had hid himself. They found him and brought him in the midst of the people, where Samuel announced that Saul had been chosen by the Lord. The people recognized Saul as the king. Samuel gave the people instructions regarding the kingdom, which were recorded, as the scriptures were recorded. Then, the people were sent to their homes.

26 And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.
27 But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.

Saul returned to his homeland, with a band of men who had been inspired to go with him. Some people among the Israelites, who followed after the false gods, questioned the ability for Saul to save them from the Philistines and other enemies. The doubted his calling and they refused to honor him as their king, but Saul kept peace, or ignored them. There will be times, and have been many times, when people do not support the callings extended to certain individuals by the Lord. This is their choice. All we can do ourselves, is to allow individuals to voice their opinions or concerns and move forward in the work of the Lord as He has inspired us to do so. I believe that we grow so much more, and in the ways that God would have us grow, when we sustain and support those who have been called to lead us. I am grateful for the blessing of the spirit, which as I have followed in faith, has confirmed in my heart that those who lead our church today, are indeed men and women called of God.

Here we see, that when the desires of the people of the Lord are united, the Lord will give them what they want. In this case, they desired for a king. I believe the wisdom of the Lord was that the people of Israel would learn from this experience, even if it was not what the Lord desired for them. God did not place people here on this earth, to force us to do His will. We were blessed with agency and God wants us to learn from choices that we make, both the good and bad. If we draw near to Him, we will know what He desires for us and He will be able to bless us greatly for being obedient and loving children. However, if we reject God, as the Israelites did, we may get the things that we want in this life, but God will not be able to give us the blessings later. Our loving Father in Heaven, will allow us to choose for ourselves, so that we can receive the consequences of our choices, good or bad, and learn for ourselves those things that we should learn from this mortal experience.

Judges Chapter 16

Samson was a judge in Israel, who had been raised by his parents, as a Nazarite. He had made covenants with God, and had been blessed with mighty strength as a gift of the spirit. His strength had already brought Israel, the beginnings of deliverance from the bondage of the Philistines. However, Samson had broken most of his covenants with the unrighteous choices he had made. The story of Samson continues:

1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Samson saw a harlot in Gaza, and went to be with her. Again, his weaknesses got the better of him, and he went against his covenants by doing this. The people of Gaza learned that Samson was there, and encompassed him in the city, with the intent to kill him the next morning. Samson got up at midnight, and carried away the doors of the gate of Gaza, carrying them up the hill.

4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Samson came to love a woman named Delilah, and when the Philistine lords learned of it, they went to her and told her to entice him into telling them how he had his strength. They wanted to be able to take him, bind him and afflict him, which I’m guessing would have been to torture him. For her part, they were willing to pay Delilah 1,100 pieces of silver each.

6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

Delilah asked Samson straight out, what his weakness in his strength was, so that they could bind him. Samson lied and said that he would be weak if he was bound with seven green undried withs, or new cords. She told the Philistines and the lords brought her the withs to bind him. The men waited to grab him, and she told him that the Philistines were there to take him. He broke the bands, so they did not truly know where his strength was. Delilah asked again, and he lied again by saying that he would be weak if they used new ropes to bind him. She tied him with new ropes and told him the men were there to attack him. Once again, he broke the ropes without any difficulty. For a third time, she asked how he had his strength, and he lied again and told her he would be weak if sheave weaved a web, of the loom, into seven locks of his hair. She did it and once it was fastened, she told him the Philistines were there, and he left with his hair still fastened.

15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

Delilah enticed Samson by telling him if he loved her, he would tell her instead of not being honest with her. Finally, he gave in, just as he had with his first wife, and he told her that his strength would be gone if his head was shaved, because he was a Nazarite. She could tell that he was being honest with her this time. She told the Philistines and then made Samson fall asleep on her lap. As he slept, a man shaved seven locks of his hair. He became weak and she woke him with news of the Philistines again. He thought he would be able to escape them as he had before because he had not realized that his gift of strength had left him.

I get the impression that Samsom may have thought his strength had more to do with himself then strictly with the Lord and his covenant. It is as if he knew in his mind that he was to keep his hair for his covenant, but he did not understand in his heart, that his strength truly came from the Lord.

21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

The Philistines grabbed him and blinded him, then they took him to Gaza, bound him and put him in prison. His hair began to grow again. When the Philistines gathered together to sacrifice to their god and celebrate that Samson had been captured, they brought him out of the prison to mock him. They put him between the pillars. Samson asked the boy who brought him there, to allow him to feel the pillars of the house. The house was full of 3,000 Philistines there, including the lords. Samson prayed to the Lord, that he might be avenged for loosing his sight, by regaining his strength for just that one moment. He grabbed the two pillars, one in each hand and then pulled on them with all his might. The Lord gave him strength and the house fell on all who were inside, killing himself and 3,000 others. His family went down to gaza and took his body to bury him. He had judged Israel for 22 years.

This story is not far from reality for the life of anyone who would choose to make covenants with the Lord. Whether we choose to believe it or not, the moment we step foot on the path of discipleship, we begin to have an enemy who desires to bind us. There are many who lie in wait, for us to make a mistake. The army of the adversary encircles our homes and sends things in to entice us. They will never tire, but will be persistent in their attempts to reveal our weaknesses. We must remain strong, and when we make mistakes, we need to be quick to repent and rely on the strength of the Lord.

It is interesting to see that over the course of his adult life, Samson did several things to go against the covenant of a Nazarite, but it was not until he had gone against the entire covenant, that his strength was removed from him. He had been blessed with physical strength, but did not seem to be strong in character. I wonder, if he had been faithful to his covenants, would he have been a man of character strength as well? Samson’s weakness was not loosing his strength, but giving in to the temptations of his life, including finally, giving in to the enticements of Delilah, when I am sure he knew it might put him against the standards of the Lord. In Doctrine and Covenants 3:4, we read, “For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” The Lord blesses each of us with talents and gifts, just as He blessed Samson. If we live up to the promises and covenants we make with the Lord, we will be blessed with greater gifts as well. If we choose to live only a portion of our covenants, or if we choose not recognize the hand of the Lord in our ability to use those gifts, we will be missing out on the full measure of blessings that the Lord has in store for us. There will eventually come a time, when those who choose the path of disobedience, as Samson did, will indeed receive justice for their choices.

Judges Chapter 15

Samson had been raised as a Nazarite by his parents, with the hopes in helping to deliver Israel from bondage. This was the promise from the Lord, before he had been born, if he would remain faithful to his covenants. After he was married out of the covenant, he was deceived by his philistine wife, and had left her. His story continues:

1 But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.
2 And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.

Samson returned to his wife some time later, but her father had given her to the old companion of Samson. His father-in-law offered his younger daughter to Samson.

3 And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

Samson felt he could go against the Philistines, with reason, and would be blameless in his retribution. He burned the crops of the Philistines. I don’t think that he would have truly been blameless here. He was angry at what had been done to him, so he destroyed their property out of vengeance.

6 Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.

The Philistines worked out that Samson had burned their crops, because his father-in-law had given his wife away. They took the wife of Samson, and her father, or her father’s house, and burned them with fire.

7 And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
8 And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.

Samson declared to them that he would avenge them, and it sounds like he destroyed the Philistines who had killed his wife. Then he went to the rock Etam to dwell. I don’t think Samson was going to hold on to any additional grudges against the Philistines, but did what he thought was fair retribution for what was taken from him.

9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
10 And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.
11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.
12 And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.
13 And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.

The Philistines gathered in the land of Judah, to go against Samson for what he had done to their people. 3,000 men of Judah went to Samson in Etam, asking why he had gone against the Philistines who ruled over them. He told them that he had reason to, after what the Philistines had done to him. The men of Judah told Samson that they intended on taking him, bound, to the Philistines. Samson had the men swear that they would not attack him or kill him themselves. They agreed and took Samson down from Etam, bound with new cords.

14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
17 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi.

As he was brought into Lehi, where the Philistines waited, the Philistines shouted at him. The gift of strength from the Spirit of the Lord gave Samson the ability to loose himself from the bands. He found the jawbone of an ass and used it to kill a thousand Philistines. When he was done, he threw the jawbone away from himself. Considering his vow as a nazarite, which included not touching any carcass, I wonder about the choice in his weapon. Additionally, he was not told by the Lord to go and kill these Philistine men. Rather, he killed them for what had been done to him before. I think it might have been another case of not really living the covenant.

18 And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
19 But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.
20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Samson felt he would die from thirst, so he pleaded with the Lord to help him so that he would fall into the hands of his enemies. God split a hollow, or a basin as the footnote says, and water came out for Samson to drink. Then he was no longer weak from thirst. He became the judge of Israel for twenty years, during the time when the Philistines ruled over them.

Even with the many times that Samson had not lived up to a lot of the covenant of a nazarite, the Lord continued to allow him to have the gift of strength. The Lord is long-suffering with our choices of disobedience. He will give us the opportunities we need to repent and return to Him, but eventually there will come a time, when the Lord will have to let the consequences of our own actions determine the blessings we have. This time for Samson, would come in the next chapter.

Judges Chapter 14

Samson was born and raised as a Nazarite. He was a man of covenant with the Lord, who had been blessed with spiritual gifts in order to begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. The story of Samson continues in this chapter as follows:

1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

Samson had grown up and at one point traveled to Timnath, where he saw one of the Philistine women, who he wanted for a wife. His parents pleaded with him to choose a wife from the Israelites, who were the covenant people, but Samson wanted her. According to verse 4, the Lord had allowed Samson to become interested in the daughter of the Philistines, in order to use it against the Philistines. I think this verse could also be interpreted that Samson felt it was his duty to become closer to the Philistines which ruled over the Israelites, in order to fulfill the purposes of the Lord. Up to this point, there is nothing to go against the idea that Samson was living according to his covenants and that indeed, the spirit was persuading him to choose this woman for his wife because it would mean the eventual deliverance of Israel. The only issue, is that in seeking after a Philistine woman, he was preparing to go against his own covenants as a Nazarite.

5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.

Samson and his parents, traveled to Timnath, where a young lion came against Samson. Samson was blessed by the spirit, with great strength to kill the lion with his bare hands. He told his parents what had happened. Then, he went and talked to the woman whom he desired to marry.

I don’t think I have ever thought of physical strength as a gift of the spirit, but in this case it was. Gifts of the spirit can be either of a physical nature or a spiritual nature. For example, a physical gift of the spirit is a talent to play beautiful music, where a gift of the spirit would be something like the gift of discernment. His gift needed to be a physical strength, so that he would be able to help deliver Israel from a physical bondage.

8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

Some time passed, and he returned to Timnath to take her to be his wife. He went to see the carcass of the lion he had previously killed, and saw a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass. Samson ate of the honey and took some to his parents to eat. He did not tell his parents where the honey had come from. This was another example of Samson going against the covenants of a nazarite. They were not to touch any carcass, not even if it was a member of his own family. He broke his covenant with this choice.

10 So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

Manoah, the father of Samson, went to get the woman. Samson had a feast, which was the tradition. 30 men of the philistines, were brought to him, to be companions of Samson.

12 And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:
13 But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.
14 And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?
16 And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?
17 And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.
18 And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.

Samson told the men a riddle and challenged them, that if they could answer it correctly in seven days of the feast, he would give them garments. If they could not answer it, he told them they were to give him garments. I think this was like placing a bet with these men. He gave them his riddle and after three days they had not been able to answer it. By the seventh day, they went to Samson’s new wife and threatened her to use her power of persuasion with him to learn the answer, or they would burn her home and her father’s home. She went to Samsom and cried to him, that if he loved her he would have told her the answer to his riddle. Samson told her that he had told no one the answer, not even his own parents. She begged him for the remainder of the days of feasting, and he eventually gave in and told her the answer. She told the men the answer. Then just before the challenge was lost by the Philistines, they answered the riddle, and Samson knew it was because he had been deceived by his wife.

19 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.
20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.

Because he was deceived, Samson used the gift of strength that came upon him by the spirit, went to the placed called Ashkelon, and killed 30 Philistines, taking spoil from them. He gave the garments to those that had answered the riddle. He was angry and left to return to his father’s house. His wife was then given to his companion and friend.

Again, Samson broke his covenant as a Nazarite, by seeking revenge against those who had wronged him. He was not using his God-given gift of strength to do good. When we are blessed with gifts from the spirit, in the form of physical or spiritual gifts, we are being given the opportunity to do greater things. These gifts can help us to further the work of the Lord on the earth, if we choose to develop and use them in this way. Samson may have been blessed by God with his strength, but he was not following the counsel of the angel who visited his parents before they conceived him. His choices would not lead to good things for him. Likewise, if we fail to use our own gifts for good, they will not bring us blessings. If we use and develop them as God would want us to, we will be able to bless our own lives, as well as the lives of those around us.

Judges Chapter 13

During the time of judges in Israel, men were chosen and raised up to deliver the people and lead them in their battles with other nations. The Israelites repeatedly returned to idolatry and wickedness when these judges died. Consistently, the result was that the Lord allowed them to fall into the hands of their enemies. This cycle would eventually lead them to remember the Lord and repent of their wickedness. When they had repented and turned back to God, He would deliver them from their enemies by raising another judge. This cycle continues in this chapter, which begins:

1 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.

This time, the Israelites were in bondage to the Philistines for 40 years, because they returned to wickedness.

2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, could not have any children because his wife was barren. An angel came to his wife and told here that even though she could not have any children, she would be blessed to have a son. She was commanded to abstain from drinking wine or eating those things that were considered unclean. Then, when her son was born, she was to raise him wholly dedicated to the Lord. Her son was to be a Nazarite, or a consecrated man, who would never drink wine or cut his hair. The angel promised that her son would deliver Israel from the Philistines.

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

She told Manoah of the angel and what he had told her would happen to her.

8 Then Manoah entreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?
13 And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.
14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.

Manoah prayed to the Lord, that the man would come again to teach them how to raise the child they were to have. This showed his faith in the words of his wife, and his willingness to accept this calling from the Lord. The angel came again to his wife as she was in the field. She ran to get Manoah, and together they went to the angel. Manoah accepted the calling and asked what they should do for the child. The angel told them to do as his wife had already been commanded.

15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
16 And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord.
17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?
18 And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
21 But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.
22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
23 But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.

Manoah asked the man, not knowing he was an angel, to stay with them until he could prepare a meal for him, or possibly to make a sacrifice in his name. The angel told him that he would stay, but would not eat. He told him to make his offering to the Lord. Manoah asked the angel of his name, so that they could honor him when the promise to them was fulfilled. The angel would not tell them his name and told them it was secret. Manoah made the offering to the Lord, and as they watched the flame rise, the angel ascended in the flame. Then Manoah and his wife realized that he was more than man, but was an angel of the Lord, and they fell down to worship the Lord. Monoah expected that they should die for seeing the Lord, but his wife told him that the Lord had accepted their offering and made them these promises, so she knew they would not die for seeing what they had seen.

24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.
25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

The wife of Manoah had the child and called him Samson. He was blessed by the Lord and was moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord. The manual I am reading along with my study, says that this was a reference to spiritual gifts being given to Samson, not that he had the spirit with him. Gifts of the spirit are given to every man. In Doctrine and Covenants 46:11, we read, “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” At times, gifts of the spirit were bestowed upon Samson, which probably put him in a better position to become the man of strength which he would later need to be.

What a huge blessing it would have been for the wife of Manoah, to be allowed to have a child, knowing that she was not able to have any. This experience of being visited by an angel to deliver this message is beyond my imagination. While, I could not fully understand the glory of this experience, I think it should cause us to reflect on the story of the Savior, who like Samson, was to be conceived and raised as a child wholly dedicated to God, so that he could deliver others from bondage. While Samson was to begin the deliverance of Israel at that time, the Savior, Jesus the Christ, was to make possible the deliverance of all mankind, in all the history of the world. What a blessing it must have been to be the parents of Samson, who were privileged to raise a child that had the potential to be completely devoted to the Lord and become a great blessing for the house of Israel.

Exodus Chapter 37

Through Moses, the Israelites received the instructions, or blueprints, to the tabernacle of the Lord. Specific details as to the building and crafting of this structure, were given to Moses (see Exodus 25-30). In this chapter, we are seeing the work of the Israelites to complete these commandments of the Lord. Bezaleel, was a man of great skill, who had been called to craft the items for the temple and to teach others how to make things that were needed. This chapter starts as follows:

1 And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:
2 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
3 And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it.
4 And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.
5 And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.

Bezaleel crafted the ark of the testimony (or covenant) according to the design from the Lord.

6 And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
7 And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;
8 One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
9 And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

Next he made the mercy seat, which would sit on top of the ark. This was again made according to the instruction from the Lord.

10 And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof:
11 And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about.
12 Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about.
13 And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof.
14 Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table.
15 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table.
16 And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.

He made the table for the shewbread and all the dishes and utensils that belonged with it, just as the Lord commanded.

17 And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same:
18 And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof:
19 Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick.
20 And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers:
21 And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it.
22 Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold.
23 And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold.
24 Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.

He also made the golden candlestick, specific to the Lord’s design. It had seven lamps and all necessary accessories of pure gold.

25 And he made the incense altar of shittim wood: the length of it was a cubit, and the breadth of it a cubit; it was foursquare; and two cubits was the height of it; the horns thereof were of the same.
26 And he overlaid it with pure gold, both the top of it, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns of it: also he made unto it a crown of gold round about.
27 And he made two rings of gold for it under the crown thereof, by the two corners of it, upon the two sides thereof, to be places for the staves to bear it withal.
28 And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.

He made the golden altar for incense according to the design given to Moses.

29 And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.

Additionally, he made the holy anointing oil and incense, which were to be made solely for this sacred purpose.

I’m not exactly sure if he did this alone, of if he was the one overseeing the work. The Lord surely blessed this man with great talents or gifts of the spirit, in which he was able to craft beautiful and sacred items for the tabernacle. I think that someday we will learn how all thing are sacred to God. I believe that everything has its purpose, and therefore all our talents and gifts have purpose as well. How do we use these gifts from God? Do we treat them as sacred gifts? I am sure there will come a time when I will be held accountable for the things I did not do to develop and use gifts the Lord has given me. I know that it is important for us to search our hearts and find our own gifts. We are probably not going to be set apart to do some great thing as Bezaleel was for the Israelites, so we need to ask for the Lord to help us discover our gifts. I am grateful for the gifts I have been given, and I hope to discover and use them well and according to the design the Lord has for me.

Exodus Chapter 31

At this point in the book of Exodus, the Lord has given instruction, or commandments, to Moses regarding the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. This was to be their mobile temple, where sacred ordinances and covenants would be made and performed to the Lord. Priests had been called to serve in the temple, who were Aaron and his sons. The instruction to Moses continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4 To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5 And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
6 And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;
7 The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle,
8 And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
9 And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot,
10 And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office,
11 And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

A man named Bezaleel, had been given gifts or talents by the Lord, which would be useful for the building of the tabernacle. He was good in the art of metals and woods, which were needed for the structure of the tabernacle, as well as the things which would furnish it. Also, a man named Aholiab would be able to help. The Lord tells Moses that all those who have received gifts of the Lord, in wisdom, would be able to help him with building the tabernacle. I love that we learn how men from different tribes would be able to help build the temple and make the sacred clothing, showing that the work was to be shared among them and that the Lord had blessed many with the ability to make beautiful things and give service to build this wonderful witness of their devotion to the Lord.

We learned about gifts of the spirit in Sunday School this week. In 1 Corinthians 12 we read the following:

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

Gifts of the spirit and talents are given to all who are worthy of the spirit and as a body of faithful people in the church, we are given these gifts to help all progress and further the work of the Lord. The children of Israel were no exception to this. They were given many gifts, to bless all with a beautiful tabernacle where they could worship and serve the Lord. When first given a calling from the Lord, I look at how unqualified I am to perform in it, and yet when I look back after moving on, I can see how the Lord has always blessed me with some gift to be able to do that work. I may never have that gift again, but for that time I am just what the Lord needs because of the person he helps me to be.

12 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

Again, the Lord commands the Israelites to keep the Sabbath day holy. The sabbath was provided to sanctify the people of the Lord. It was so important, that those who did not keep it holy, were to be put to death. Even worse, the Lord promises that those who break the sabbath, would be cut off from his people leading to an even greater death of the spirit. The Lord establishes the Sabbath as a day of rest, free from the common labor of the rest of the week. The keeping of the Sabbath, was a covenant with the Lord. We are reminded here, that our weekly Sabbath is as the seventh day in the creation, when the Lord rested from his labors. I love that it says that the Lord was refreshed, because one of the greatest things for me about the Sabbath, is that I feel refreshed and renewed for my week ahead. The strength that comes from keeping the Sabbath day holy, is a blessing I cannot do without in my life.

The more I study the scriptures, the more I am noticing just how often we are reminded to keep the Sabbath day holy. This is clearly an important commandment and covenant with the Lord. I think that part of the reason for its repetition, is that this is one of the easiest ways for Satan to slip his way into our hearts. People fall away from the gospel so quickly by just creating one simple habit on the Sabbath that is not in line with what God would have us do. Then it becomes increasingly easier to add more to the Sabbath and before we know it, we are no longer attending church, renewing our covenants, or worshipping the Lord at all. The Sabbath can quickly become a day of recreation instead of a day of rest unto the Lord. As followers of the Lord, we cannot afford to rationalize things that cause us to break this commandment. Whatever our circumstances may be, we need to follow the guidance of the spirit and learn for ourselves how we can keep this day, a holy day of rest.

18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Then the Lord gave Moses the stone tablets which are so often portrayed in representation of the ten commandments from the Lord. On these tablets, the Lord wrote His words for the Israelites. We do not have the two tablets of stone to look at as a reminder, but we do have the law of God from the scriptures which we can reference often. Today, we are to keep these commandments written in our hearts rather than on tablets. In 2 Corinthians 3:3 we read, “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” If we have the commandments symbolically written in our hearts, we will live them day to day and they will become part of our personal character. Then, we will become like God as we draw nearer to Him.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

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