Posts Tagged 'Gratitude'

1 Chronicles Chapter 9

When the children of Israel entered the promised land under the direction of Joshua, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites. (One of the ancient names of the land was Jebus and those who lived there were Jebusites.) Because it was a stronghold in the land, they did not completely conquer it until David took it for his capital. Up to that that time, it remained an unclaimed area between Judah and Benjamin, though not without attempts from the Israelites to capture it. It became more than a stronghold and capital, when Solomon was instructed to build the temple there. The kings of Israel lived in Jerusalem until the kingdom divided, at which point it remained the capital of Judah. It was the last part of Israel that held strong in the days when the children of Israel were carried away captive into Babylon. This chapter includes some of those who lived in Jerusalem.

1 So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression.
2 Now the first inhabitants that dwelt in their possessions in their cities were, the Israelites, the priests, Levites, and the Nethinims.
3 And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim, and Manasseh;
4 Uthai the son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, of the children of Pharez the son of Judah.
5 And of the Shilonites; Asaiah the firstborn, and his sons.
6 And of the sons of Zerah; Jeuel, and their brethren, six hundred and ninety.
7 And of the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hasenuah,
8 And Ibneiah the son of Jeroham, and Elah the son of Uzzi, the son of Michri, and Meshullam the son of Shephathiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah;
9 And their brethren, according to their generations, nine hundred and fifty and six. All these men were chief of the fathers in the house of their fathers.

Genealogy records of the Israelites were kept in the books of the kings of Israel and Judah. Those who lived in the lands of Israel were the Israelites, the priests and Levites, and the Nethinims. The Nethinims were servants of the temple. In Jerusalem, there were those from different tribes. There were men from Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and Manasseh. The list begins with a line of Judah, through his son Pharez, who was the father of Bani, who was the father of Imri, who was the father of Omri, who was the father of Ammihud. The son of Ammihud was Uthai, who lived in Jerusalem. Also in Jerusalem, was Asaiah if the Shilonites, and his family. Jeuel and 690 of his family, the sons of Zerah, lived there. From the tribe of Benjamin, Sallu, who was the son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, theson of Hasenuah; Ibneiah, who was the son of Jeroham; Elah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Michri; and Meshullam, who was the son of Shephathiah, who was the son of Reuel, who was the son of Ibnijah. The men were 956 in number and were the leaders in their tribes.

10 And of the priests; Jedaiah, and Jehoiarib, and Jachin,
11 And Azariah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the ruler of the house of God;
12 And Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchijah, and Maasiai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer;
13 And their brethren, heads of the house of their fathers, a thousand and seven hundred and threescore; very able men for the work of the service of the house of God.

The priests were Jedaiah, Jehoiarib (Joiarib), Jachin, and Azariah, who was the son of Hilkiah, who was the son of Meshullam, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Meraioth, who was the son of Ahitub, the leader in the temple. Also, Adaiah who was of the line of Jeroham, Pashur, Malchijah (Malchiah), Maasiai, Adiel, Jahzerah, Meshullam, Meshillemith (Meshillemoth), and Immer. Along with these priests were their families and leaders of their tribe, including 1,760 men, who were capable of serving in the temple.

14 And of the Levites; Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari;
15 And Bakbakkar, Heresh, and Galal, and Mattaniah the son of Micah, the son of Zichri, the son of Asaph;
16 And Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah the son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, that dwelt in the villages of the Netophathites.

Among the Levites, were Shemaiah, who was the son of Hasshub (Hashub), who was the son of Azrikam, who was the son of Hashabiah, the son of Merari; Bakbakkar; Heresh; Galal; Mattaniah, who was the son of Micah, who was the son of Zichri (Zabdi), who was the son of Asaph; and Obadiah, who was the son of Shemaiah (Shammua), the son of Galal, who was the son of Jeduthun, who was the son of Berechiah, who was the son of Asa, who was the son of Elkanah. These were those who lived in the villages of the Netophathites (possibly those who lived in Neophah, a town in Judah).

17 And the porters were, Shallum, and Akkub, and Talmon, and Ahiman, and their brethren: Shallum was the chief;
18 Who hitherto waited in the king’s gate eastward: they were porters in the companies of the children of Levi.
19 And Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, of the house of his father, the Korahites, were over the work of the service, keepers of the gates of the tabernacle: and their fathers, being over the host of the Lord, were keepers of the entry.
20 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was the ruler over them in time past, and the Lord was with him.

One of the responsibilites of the Levites, was to be porters (a keeper of the port, or a gate keeper). This job was held by Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their families. Shallum was the leader. These men served in the king’s gate to the east, which was the entraced used by the king. A man named Shallum (Meshelemiah, Shelemiah), who was the son of Kore, who was of the line of Ebiasaph and Korah; and his family of the Korahites (Korhites), were the leaders of those who served and keepers of the tabernacle gates. Their fathers were keepers of the entry, as they were responsible for the host of the Lord when they were encamped near the tabernacle. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar (son of Aaron, and high priest in his day), had been their leader and was guided by the Lord (Phinehas was the high priest, and the grandson of Aaron).

21 And Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was porter of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
22 All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office.
23 So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards.
24 In four quarters were the porters, toward the east, west, north, and south.
25 And their brethren, which were in their villages, were to come after seven days from time to time with them.
26 For these Levites, the four chief porters, were in their set office, and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God.

Zechariah, who was the son of Meshelemiah, was the porter of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. He, along with the other porters who had been chosen to watch the gates, were 212 in number. David and Samuel, the seer, ordained them in their priesthood offices, and each were also counted in the genealogies of their villages. Their families held the offices which watched over the gates of the temple in four sections. These sections were the directional quarters of the house of the tabernacle, including east, west, north, and south. Each of their brethren from their villages, went to serve there for seven days on rotation. There were four chief porters, called to their office over the chambers and treasuries of the temple.

27 And they lodged round about the house of God, because the charge was upon them, and the opening thereof every morning pertained to them.
28 And certain of them had the charge of the ministering vessels, that they should bring them in and out by tale.
29 Some of them also were appointed to oversee the vessels, and all the instruments of the sanctuary, and the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, and the spices.
30 And some of the sons of the priests made the ointment of the spices.
31 And Mattithiah, one of the Levites, who was the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the set office over the things that were made in the pans.
32 And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.
33 And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.
34 These chief fathers of the Levites were chief throughout their generations; these dwelt at Jerusalem.

When serving, the Levites lived in the area around the temple, so that they could open the temple each morning. Some of them were in charge of the ministering vessels that were taken in and out in total. Some were placed in charge of the vessels, instruments of the sanctuary, flour, wine, oil, frankincense and spices. Some were given the responsibility to make the ointment of spices. Mattithiah, who was the firstborn son of Shallum (Meshelemiah or Shelemiah) the Korahite, was placed in charge of those things made in the pans. Men of the Kohathites were responsible for the preparation of the shewbread for the sabbath. There were also singers (those responsible for the service of song or the music of the Lord’s house), chief of the patriarchs, who stayed in the chambers and worked day and night. The long-time leaders of the Levites, lived in Jerusalem.

The duties of those responsible for the house of the Lord, were of great value to the children of Israel. Without those who served each day, the people would not have been able to continue with offerings and sacrifices that were acceptable to the Lord. They may not have done anything else of note for the children of Israel, but this was a service that is worthy of remembering.

35 And in Gibeon dwelt the father of Gibeon, Jehiel, whose wife’s name was Maachah:
36 And his firstborn son Abdon, then Zur, and Kish, and Baal, and Ner, and Nadab,
37 And Gedor, and Ahio, and Zechariah, and Mikloth.
38 And Mikloth begat Shimeam. And they also dwelt with their brethren at Jerusalem, over against their brethren.
39 And Ner begat Kish; and Kish begat Saul; and Saul begat Jonathan, and Malchi-shua, and Abinadab, and Esh-baal.
40 And the son of Jonathan was Merib-baal: and Merib-baal begat Micah.
41 And the sons of Micah were, Pithon, and Melech, and Tahrea, and Ahaz.
42 And Ahaz begat Jarah; and Jarah begat Alemeth, and Azmaveth, and Zimri; and Zimri begat Moza;
43 And Moza begat Binea; and Rephaiah his son, Eleasah his son, Azel his son.
44 And Azel had six sons, whose names are these, Azrikam, Bocheru, and Ishmael, and Sheariah, and Obadiah, and Hanan: these were the sons of Azel.

Just north of Jerusalem, was a city named Gibeon. The father of Gibeon was Jehiel. His wife was Maachah, and their sons were Abdon, Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, Gedor, Ahio, Zechariah, and Mikloth. Mikloth was the father of Shimeam. They lived in Jerusalem next to their brethren. Ner was the father of Kish, who was the father of Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul was the father of Jonathan (the dear friend of David), Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Esh-baal. Jonathan was the father of Merib-baal, who was the father of Micah. Micah was the father of Pithon, Melech, Tahrea, and Ahaz. Ahaz was the father of Jarah, who was the father of Alemeth, Azmaveth and Zimri. Zimri was the father of Moza, who was the father of Binea, Rephaiah, Eleasah, and Azel. Azel was the father of six sons named Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah and Hanan. This is the family of Saul.

It amazes me that we can have records of families from ancient times. The idea that some of these records were included as part of the book of kings, and that most of our scriptures include some portion of a genealogy, shows that a remembrance of those who have come before us has been important throughout the ages. I can only barely imagine what the full record of names would look like for the complete history of the earth, but I believe that record will exist and every person will be remembered for the role they played in this life. I know that keeping a record of our genealogies or doing our family history for this purpose is important, and on of the reasons is for remembering and having a love and gratitude for those who lived before us and gave us the life we have.

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2 Kings Chapter 22

Hezekiah had been a righteous leader in Judah. On the other hand, his son Manasseh, was extremely wicked, and brought the people of Judah along with him into great sin. Manasseh’s son, Amos, followed in the wickedness of his father and continued to lead the people in idolatry. All of these had died and at this point, Josiah, the son of Amos, had become king. This chapter begins with:

1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Boscath.
2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.

At the age of eight, Josiah became king of Judah. He ruled for 31 years, or until he was about 39 years old. He was not like his father Amos, but lived and ruled in righteousness like King David. (see also 2 Chronicles 34)

3 And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the Lord, saying,
4 Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people:
5 And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches of the house,
6 Unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house.
7 Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully.

After 18 years had passed, Josiah being about 26 at the time, he sent a servant, named Shaphan, to the temple priest, Hilkiah, to take total of the money gathered from the people for the work of repairing the temple. This money was the tithes and offerings of their day. The priests had been faithful and did not require a reckoning of the money they were given to have the work done, because they could be trusted.

Tithes and offerings are for the purposes of building up the kingdom of God on Earth. Today, this money goes to the building and maintaining of temples and other church buildings around the world. The churches and temples are sacred places, consecrated for the faithful to gather, teach and uplift one another, worship God, covenant and serve. In ancient times, the temple of the Lord served the same purposes. It is right, that a faithful and righteous leader would desire to use the offerings of the people to rededicate the house of the Lord. If you would like to see more about temples in the LDS faith, I just saw this great, simple video about them: Mormon Temples

Trust in the work of the Lord, is so important to the uplifting and edification of all those who serve. Trust in God, of course, is of greatest importance. Those who serve in His kingdom, need to trust that God will keep his promises and covenants, and that He will be there to help them when they ask for help. Trust in others is also needed. So much of the work of the Lord, is Priesthood leaders, such as the prophets and high priests, giving callings and assignments to others, such as these priests in the temple, and then trusting that they will do their part in the work. When the work is accomplished the one who delegates is able to continue His work, others are able to come and participate in worship and service to the Lord, and most of all, those who were trusted and followed through, have opportunities to learn; grow in testimony, wisdom and knowledge; and become more as individuals. Additionally, we each individually, need to have trust in ourselves, that we are strong enough to do the work of the Lord. In one of the greatest paradoxes of the gospel, we are strong enough, when we become completely humble and submissive to the will of the Lord, becoming, in a sense, our weakest, in order to grow the most. Trusting the Lord, others and ourselves, is the only way that we can truly further the work of the Lord and reach our greatest potential as individuals.

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.
10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
13 Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

The book of the law was found in the temple and given to Shaphan, who read it and returned to Josiah to give a report of what had happened. He told Josiah that the money of the temple had been gathered and given to workers. He also showed the king that the book of the law had been found. He read it to Josiah. Josiah responded by renting his clothes. He told the Shaphan, his son Ahikam, a man named Achbor, and his servant Asahiah, to ask the Lord about the words of the book of the law, in behalf of Josiah and the people of Judah. Josiah was concerned for the people because their ancestors had so often willingly disobeyed the words of the book. The men went to Huldah the prophetess, to her home in the northwest part of Jerusalem, and communed with her.

What a huge blessing it must have been, to have found the record of the law. This was their scriptures, even the record of the law of Moses. Nations who loose the records of their laws, forget what that law is and create their own laws in order to make civilization work. The lessons from the past, especially those found in our own scriptures, show that the nations who are strongest, both physically and spiritually, are those who know the law because they keep the records and use them. People who are raised up without the laws, are so much more likely to fall away from the traditions of the past. (This is one of the themes we can read about this throughout The Book of Mormon.) The laws of God, such as the law of Moses for the ancient Israelites, had not changed. This law was still in complete effect at the time the book was given to Josiah. Because it had not been preserved by the kings, as they had been commanded when first given to Moses and passed on to Joshua, it had been forgotten. Josiah did not know the fulness of the law, until he was able to read it. Our scriptures our precious, but only if we read them and apply them to our lives.

15 And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
18 But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard;
19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.
20 Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.

Huldah prophsied that evil would come to the people of Judah just as the book of the law had said it would, or rather all the evil and curses brought upon the wicked found in the record, because they had chosen to worship other gods of their own creation. The words of verse 17, sound as though the curses would come because the people deliberately turned to idolatry to upset the Lord. Their wickedness may have been more rebellion than being raised in ignorance of what was right. Their choice to practice wickedness would have strong consequences. However, to Josiah, the Lord had heard his humble weeping and she prophesied that he would die in peace and not be the one to see the destruction of his people. The men returned to Josiah and told him what she had spoken.

Josiah would be blessed for his choice to do what was right, once he had learned of it from the word of the Lord. Three things happened to him in order to receive these blessings. First, his heart was tender. This sounds like he had an open heart, softened to the word, sensitive to it and ready to receive it, because he was willing. Second, he humbled himself to the Lord. In Alma 32:14, Alma was teaching the Zoramites who were poor and brought to humility by their circumstances. He said, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” Greater blessings come to those who are humbled when they learn the gospel, just as Josiah had done. In his humility, Josiah was concerned for others who would be destroyed, and was mourning for their loss. This humility and care for others, was seen by the Lord and blessings were promised as a result. If we are compelled into a situation where we become humble and then turn to the Lord with greater commitment, we will be blessed, but the greatest blessings and the most growth to our souls, comes in actively studying the word of God, and choosing for ourselves to have faith in that word and live what is taught. And third, Josiah heard or read the words and heard the spirit’s influence and inspiration. The word of the Lord will do nothing for us, if we read them, but refuse to hear what they can teach us. The blessing that was his, and can be ours if we follow this example and pattern, is peace. Peace is something that men desire for their lives, and he was promised to have this, even knowing what would come of his people.

As I read this chapter, I think back on a time in my life, after having three of my six children, when the hard drive that held all my digital photos and videos, had stopped working. I had lost all of them and experienced a mourning for something non-living, that I had never known was possible. (It seems a given to mourn for the loss of something living.)
I was beside myself with grief for weeks, as we did all that we could to possibly get something back. I felt as though I would not be able to remember my children as babies, and memories are so important to me. After several weeks, we got word, that the majority of the files had been recovered. My joy was so full. I know now, just how much I could mourn for the loss of non-living things of great value to me. This taught me to have greater gratitude for these things. Likewise, I am so grateful for the scriptures. I love them more than other things of this world, much like family photos, because of the happiness I feel as I study them. I am so glad that there are so many ways to have the scriptures available to us, because if they were lost to me now, I would be heartbroken. I know I would mourn them, because my memory will not always hold on to the words I study. I would forget them and yearn for the peace they bring. Knowing that the scriptures have not always been as available to mankind, and reflecting on just how short a time anyone in the world has even known about the Book of Mormon, enlarges my gratitude for being able to live today and have them. Finding the scriptures in the temple, truly was a blessing for Josiah and the people of Israel.

2 Samuel Chapter 23

David ruled as the king of Israel for many years. He brought the nation into a time of considerable peace, and united them after a long while of separation between Israel and Judah. His success in due to his desire and attempts to follow after the laws of God, and to keep the Lord in remembrance. This chapter begins with a note that these were David’s parting words, at the end of his life.

1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
2 The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
5 Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.

David spoke the words of the Spirit, or with the power of the Holy Ghost. He said that the Lord, spoke to him and had made a covenant with him. David teaches us here, that rulers who follow the Lord, should be just and rule in the fear of God. David had done all he could to rule as such. I think that David desired righteous rulers for Israel, after his parting. I think that he truly cared for his people and he knew that righteous rulers could bring blessings to the nation.

One of the greatest blessings of our time, would be to have rulers that fulfilled their duties in righteousness and with the fear of God in them. Sadly, we live in a time when having that expectation is no longer something you can depend on. We have a duty, where possible, to nominate and elect those who are willing to lead justly. I do not doubt, that in this country, we would be much better off, if more of our leaders were God-fearing and just men and women.

6 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
7 But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

Men who followed after false gods were to be destroyed, and those who dealt with them, were not even to touch them with their hands, for fear of their own destruction.

8 These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
9 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:
10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the Lord wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.
11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.
12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the Lord wrought a great victory.
13 And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.
14 And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Beth-lehem.
15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, which is by the gate!
16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord.
17 And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
18 And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
19 Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
21 And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear.
22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.
23 He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Beth-lehem,
25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,
26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,
27 Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,
28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,
29 Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,
30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,
31 Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,
32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,
33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,
34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
35 Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,
36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,
37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,
38 Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,
39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.

David named his mighty men. Some had fought with great valor, for Israel and for the Lord. They had been men of courage, who stood strong when others had fled. They were true defenders of the nation and their king, who had been victorious in battle. There were men of honor among them. David listed 37 men and the deeds they had done. As a leader, he was an example of how good it is to recognize and be grateful for the works of others. David did not claim the success of the army as his own, but recognized both the had of God and the contributions of his loyal captains and soldiers.

David’s parting message, as inspired by the spirit, was in part, a message to follow after the Lord and not other gods. It was a message of the importance of leaders who did the same. This was the testimony of David, and he had been true to it throughout his entire life. It is a humble message of gratitude to the Lord and to those who served faithfully. I think that we will all end our lives with thoughts of those things that we should value the most. David is a great example to look to, if we want to focus now on those things. Great blessings will come to us now and in the eternities, if we follow after the Lord, have gratitude in our hearts, and seek the leadership and service of good, just, honorable, and god-fearing individuals.

2 Samuel Chapter 22

David was a man of faith. He was not perfect, none of us are, but we can see in his example that he tried to turn to God often. David was the king, chosen by the Lord, to lead the people of Israel. In the world, he was raised above others, reverenced and in a way, worshipped by his followers, and he could have been a man of great pride. Nevertheless, he remembered the Lord and had a humility that has not always been found in those who have ruled the nations. David was a writer of songs and psalms. In his youth, David had been brought to King Saul, to play for him in the hopes of raising Saul’s depressed spirit. This was a talent and gift, which he used throughout his life, and this chapter is noted as coming from him as well. In the header, it calls this a psalm of thanksgiving.

1 And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
2 And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

A key to humility is gratitude. In this psalm David expresses the Lord’s hand in the things of his life. In particular, David was grateful for the Lord’s power of deliverance in his life. He recognized that God had been the reason for his life being spared when others, specifically Saul, had tried to kill him. He uses words to describe the Lord, which show that he felt the Lord was strong. Words such as “rock” and “fortress”, which were things that were firm and steadfast, dependable and unmovable. David felt the protection of the Lord in his battles. Anyone who knows of David in the bible, knows of David’s trust of the Lord in his fights. This is the same man, who went when he was young and unskilled in battle, volunteered to fight Goliath. He knew the Lord would fight for him then, and he knew he would continue to fight for him when the cause was right.

4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
7 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

David recognized that he could depend on the Lord and ask for help through prayer. He knew that he had personal weaknesses, including fear. Yet, the Lord had heard his prayers for help and delivered him from those he feared. In our own distress, we can call upon God. When we have fear, sorrows, doubts, sadness, loneliness, frustrations, or any kind of distress to our soul, we can pray to God for help. The Lord wants us to have joy and be happy. In our humility, he will help us find our way.

20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
21 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

David knew that the Lord had blessed him for his righteousness. When he chose to do what was right, according to the laws and judgments of God, he was rewarded. As I initially read this, it seemed that this psalm was written before his decision with Bathsheba and Uriah, because he said that he had kept the ways of the Lord, and his actions at that time where not according to the laws and statutes of the Lord. Until that point of weakness, it seems that David had lived righteously and had been greatly blessed for his cleanliness. However, the companion manual in my current study states that these last few chapters of 2 Samuel, were praise offered at the end of David’s life. Perhaps, it is that David recognized what he had done, and had strived to repent and return to those things that were righteous. We are not characterized by the mistakes we make, when we choose to correct them, turn back from them, or move forward from them, especially when we do so with the help of the Lord. Although David had not lived a perfect life, he had tried in most things, to live in a manner that was pleasing to the Lord. He had suffered quite a bit for his choice, but his life as a whole had been greatly blessed for his righteousness.

26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

God extends mercy to those who are merciful and saves those who are afflicted, but He also causes those who are haughty, or lifted up in their own pride, to be brought down. There will come a day when it will not be pleasant for those who fill their lives with deceit and sin.

29 For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.
30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
32 For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?

God provides light to those in darkness, and makes all things possible. David teaches us that the ways of God are perfect. I like the phrase used here, “the word of the Lord is tried”, because I think it reminds us that we can test the word of God, and it will always be perfect and true. God is the Lord and a rock to those who trust in Him.

33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.
42 They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.
43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.
44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

God is strength and power. He has the strength to do anything, and he will be there for those who remember Him. God has the power to help us overcome enemies, especially when that enemy is our own weakness to temptation and sin. His power can make us closer to what He is, which is perfect. When we are striving to do what is right, God helps us to stay grounded, firm on the path that will raise us up rather than that which leads us down to misery. He will bless the righteous with the things that they stand in need of, which in David’s case, was to have the strength in battle to defeat those that were trying to destroy him. In doing so, God gave David the power to rule over strangers.

47 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
48 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,
49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

David reminds us that God lives. He praises God for his personal salvation and success against those that stand against him. David knew he and his posterity would be forever blessed by the mercy of the Lord.

It is so important for us to have gratitude in our hearts, and most especially for God who gives us blessings beyond our comprehension and understanding. I second the testimony of David, that we have a living God. He is good and loving, merciful and kind, strong and powerful. He will bless those that follow Him. He will give out just rewards when the time comes for all of us to be judged. He will welcome the faithful home, with open arms and blessings beyond measure, because He loves us beyond measure.

2 Samuel Chapter 7

David was established as the king over Israel. At some point after this, he had the ark of the covenant brought into the city of David, where he lived. David had desired to do the things that God had wanted him to do. With the Lord supporting him, David had helped Israel to defeat the Philistines and keep the land safe from their enemies. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;
2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.
3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.

David told the prophet, Nathan, that he felt the home he lived in was better than the home of the ark, which was made of curtains and not some kind of permanent structure. The ark had been moved from place to place and placed inside the tabernacle, which was like a large tent, as the Lord had commanded during the time of Moses. Nathan told him that he could go and do what he felt he should, and that the Lord was with David.

4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying,
5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
8 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
9 And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.

The Lord instructed Nathan, to tell David that the ark had gone all these many years without a house built for it. In all that time, the Lord had been able to give guidance and direction to Israel, but He never asked them to build a house for Him. Nathan was to tell David that He had blessed him to become the great king he had become, and that He had established Israel in this land and kept them safe from enemies. The Lord had built a house for David.

12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
17 According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.

Eventually, David would pass on and lie with his forefathers, and the Lord would set up a kingdom from the line of David. Then, the Lord would have a house built for him. He promised that a son in the lineage of David would have a kingdom established forever, and that he would have mercy with him. He would not be removed, as Saul had been. The kingdom of David would go on forever. Nathan went to David and told him all that the Lord spoke.

We can read later, of the literal son of David, Solomon, being established as the king, and then raising a temple of the Lord. The line of David would continue to rule in the kingdom of Israel. More importantly, through the lineage of David a Son full of mercy was born. He did not have a kingdom on earth in the time of His life, because of the circumstances of the land of Judah, but He has a kingdom that has been established forever. Jesus Christ was that son of David’s line.

Jesus-Portrait

18 Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
19 And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?
20 And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant.
21 For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.
22 Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
23 And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?
24 For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, Lord, art become their God.
25 And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.
26 And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
27 For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.
28 And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
29 Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

David prayed to God. David recognized that he was blessed by God to have his house established in Israel. He recognized that God knew him and had done these things according to His will. He prayed about the greatness of God and the good things God had done for the nation of Israel, to make them greater than other nations and to bless them to be His people, especially bringing them out from Egypt and from the influences there. No other being could do those things that God had done for them. David accepted the promises of the Lord towards his house, and prayed that his house would be before the Lord forever. He asked for a blessing upon his house.

David gives a good example of what prayer should be. He begins by acknowledging God’s hand in his life and the life of those around him, especially those he loves. He shows gratitude for these things in praise to God. He accepts the will of God in his life, offering himself to the will of God. And then he asks for the blessings he and his family need. These are parts to good communication with God, our Father in Heaven.

David’s desire to build a house for the ark, was a sincere desire to do what he could to show reverence and honor to the Lord. He did not want to be treated better than the Lord. His motives were pure, but it was not the will of God for David to be the one to do this. God would have his house built by someone of the line of David. God has His reasons for doing things, even righteous things, at different times and in different places than we may want or understand. He has wisdom far greater than any man and in his infinite wisdom and love, He will do those things that are best for all His children, when it is the right timing for it to be done.

What a blessing it was for David, to have a prophet and spokesman for the Lord, to help him to know what he should or should not do as the king of Israel. The Lord was not upset with David for having a desire to do good for Him, but instead blessed him with the knowledge that his family would be blessed forever. I can only imagine what an awesome feeling David must have had to hear these words from the prophet of the Lord. Then David, continued to be a great example to the world, in the importance of expressing gratitude to the Lord for his blessings.

When we have good intentions and are striving to do what is right, the Lord will direct us to do the good that He would have us do. The Lord has a plan for each of us in this life and we, like David, will be blessed greatly if we strive to follow that plan. Likewise, our blessings will be great, if we recognize God’s hand in our own lives and show gratitude through prayer and praise.

Ponderizing – Week 2 Thoughts

This past week I have been ponderizing the following verse found in John 1:3

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

I chose this verse because I have been thinking about how I should recognize the hand of God in my life more frequently. This verse teaches me that first, the Lord is the creator. Everything that we know to be made, as well as countless things that we are even unaware of, were created by the Lord. The origins of this world were shaped and molded by Him. Everything that lives and grows came from a beginning, which was made by the Lord.

He crafted the land we see around us, the animals, the heavens, and mankind. All of these things are amazing individually, and they make an amazing world for us to live in. I am truly happy, when I am thinking about the wonder of the creations of God. Thinking about the hand that created all that is around me, causes my heart to swell with gratitude. I owe Him all that I have and all that I am. I would not exist in this life without the creator. Life is joy because of all that He has made for us to experience while we are here.

I have enjoyed focusing on this throughout this week. One of my favorite things to look at is the clouds and sun in the sky. How they move, their shapes, and the way the light reflects and shines through clouds in so many ways. It is a beauty that reminds often of my Savior and the love He has for me. God made the sky, the beautiful clouds, the bright sun, and I have eyes to see and appreciate them because of my Father in Heaven.

I’ve thought about all the inventions and innovations that man has created since the beginning of time on this earth. It’s absolutely amazing what mankind has done, but underlying all of it, is inspiration and intellect. Inspiration which comes from God. Intellect which is given by God.

He gave us the first plants which created the first seeds and have continually filled the earth with so much beauty and much of the necessities of life. I really could down the list of creations forever.

Most of all, however, I have great gratitude for the creation of mankind itself. I am in awe of the human body and how it works. I often think about how amazing it is that God created each system with such detail and order. I see it myself, but I especially love looking at my children and watching how they use their bodies throughout the day. I have great joy in watching the way their minds are learning and growing. We are an amazing creation of a loving Father.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

There is indeed a God in heaven, and he created all things. This knowledge brings me great happiness and changes the way I choose to live my life each day. I thank God for the many creations that I enjoy in my life. I thank God for the people in my life. I thank God for my life.

Judges Chapter 5

The Israelites were blessed to have been delivered from the oppression of the Canaanites. Deborah, the prophetess, and Barak, the leader of their armies, recognized the hand of the Lord in their victory.

1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
2 Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.
4 Lord, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens dropped, the clouds also dropped water.
5 The mountains melted from before the Lord, even that Sinai from before the Lord God of Israel.
6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.
7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord.
10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the Lord made me have dominion over the mighty.
14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions of Reuben there were great thoughts of heart.
16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his breaches.
18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned answer to herself,
30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And the land had rest forty years.

They sang a song of praise to the Lord, for their deliverance from bondage. They recognized that in order for their deliverance, the people had to turn back to the Lord. Their idolatry had brought war upon them, but Deborah was chosen by the Lord to be the mother of Israel. They were under the great hand of oppression when Deborah was raised and Barak was chosen to lead Israel in battle. It sounds like some of the leaders had to be brought low, before the people could gather together to fight. Some gathered and some continued in their lives, but Zebulan and Naphtali went to fight their enemy. Meroz and its inhabitants, was cursed for not coming to the aid of Israel. With heaven’s aid, they fought against the army of Sisera. They sang a blessing to Jael, for her role in defending them. They spoke of the mother of Sisera, as she would question what was taking her son so long to return from the fighting, and that possibly his gathering spoils for the Caananites was keeping him. Then Deborah and Barak sang for continued protection of the Lord, for the righteous that loved the Lord, against their enemies. After this time, the Israelites had peace for forty years.

This song of praise, is a record of gratitude to the Lord. They had been delivered from a harsh life without freedom and peace. They were so grateful for the hand of the Lord in their battles. Gratitude is a sign of humility. The Israelites recognized that they could not be free without the help of the Lord. They needed His protection and peace. In our day, we fight many battles as well. Most, I believe, are personal battles with our own temptations and challenges. When we recognize our faults, repent of our sinful ways, and turn our hearts to God, He will deliver us and protect us as well. We need his help to overcome when we are in bondage. I have felt the peace that His deliverance can bring into my life and I am also so grateful for it. When these times of deliverance come in our lives, we can sing, like Deborah and Barak, songs of praise to the Lord. Our own gratitude, will keep us humble in the sight of God, and will bring us greater peace and happiness.

Deuteronomy Chapter 27

The children of Israel had heard the laws of God from the prophet Moses, and had made covenants with the Lord, that they would keep this law and God would in turn bless them and their families in the land of promise. At this time, they were still camped on the Eastern side of the Jordan, preparing to enter the land that had been promised to them through the blessings of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This chapter begins with the following:

1 And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.
2 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster:
3 And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee.
4 Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.
5 And there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.
6 Thou shalt build the altar of the Lord thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the Lord thy God:
7 And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the Lord thy God.
8 And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.

The Israelites were given the commandment to follow the law of Moses. As a memorial, they were commanded to establish a monument of stones just after they would cross the Jordan. These stones were to have the law written upon them. Then they would go into the land of inheritance and build and altar there. They were commanded that the altar was to be of stones that had not required the use of iron tools, but were whole. They were to use this unpolluted altar, to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. This ritual of giving of their offerings was a way of showing their gratitude to the Lord for allowing them to finally enter the land of promise. Likewise, when we give of our own offerings to the Lord, especially when prayers are answered and blessings received, we show gratitude to the Lord for all that He has done for us.

It is so important to build up our own monuments in our lives, in order to remember the Lord’s promises and blessings. This is another lesson for me, of the importance of putting things in my home that remind me of what is really important to the Lord, and what should be important to me. If we fill our homes with things that remind of us worldly things, or those things that are not really of any lasting value, those will be the things that we remember on a daily basis. It’s the difference between putting up a poster of our favorite sports celebrity or entertainer, and a picture of the temple where we want to make, or have made, sacred covenants with God. Not that a picture of temporal things is bad, but how much more are we focused on those things in comparison to the things of eternal importance. What will our mind think about throughout the day, if we choose to place reminders around us of our families, covenants, and the Lord? I am grateful for the reminders in my own life, which keep me in remembrance of those things that I know are of the greatest importance.

9 And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God.
10 Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.

As covenant people of the Lord, the Israelites were the Lord’s people. As such, the Israelites were held to the higher standard and expected to keep all the commandments of the law. When we make covenants with the Lord, we become His people as well, and therefore are also held to the standard of keeping His commandments.

11 And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,
12 These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:
13 And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

Those who were representatives of all of the tribes of Israel, I am guessing the Elders of the tribes, were charged with what I think was consecrating the land and the people of the land. They were to proclaim a blessing from mount Gerizim and a curse from mount Ebal.

14 And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
16 Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
18 Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.
19 Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.
24 Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.
25 Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.
26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

After the blessing and the curse were proclaimed upon the people and the land, the Levites were to proclaim a cursing upon all those who did wickedly in the land. With each declaration of wickedness, the people were to answer the priests with Amen, I believe as they made covenants to abstain from these evil things. Among the acts of wickedness, were making secret idols, disgracing or dishonoring parents, changing their neighbors inherited property borders, being a stumbling block to the blind, perverting the just acts with regard to strangers, fatherless and widows, committing adultery with their mothers or sisters, performing sexual acts with animals, murdering their neighbors, or being paid to kill another. In other words, these were the people of God, and any who ever did wickedly and went against the law, were to be cursed by this proclamation given by the priests.

It is a good thing to dedicate lands to the Lord and His holiness and purposes. Likewise, it is good for places of worship to also be dedicated. Our homes should also be places dedicated to the Lord and His work. Dedication of these places, is our promise to use them in the way the Lord intended, and it invites and allows the spirit of the Lord to dwell among us, so long as we are faithful to the commandments of the Lord. Moreover, we can make covenants in order to dedicate ourselves to the Lord and His work. When we do this, we too are able to have the spirit of the Lord dwell with us all the time, if we remain faithful to the commandments of God.

Deuteronomy Chapter 16

Moses was commanded to teach the people of Israel, all the things that God had commanded when they were encamped in the wilderness of Sinai. That had been at a time, when those who had lived in Egypt, were still alive. At this point in Deuteronomy, however, all of those adults were gone from among them (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb), and Moses was teaching these things to the new generations of the children of Israel. One of the things established in the law of Moses, was the observance of feasts. I’m not sure if they had been able to participate in these feasts fully as they wandered in the wilderness, but they were to be observed as they settled in the promised land. This chapter begins:

1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.
3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.
4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.
5 Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee:
6 But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.
7 And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.
8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

The Lord had established the Passover, and the Israelites were to keep it in remembrance every year at the time when the Lord had delivered them from Egypt. Passover was to be observed by sacrifice in the holy place named by the Lord. For seven days they were not to eat leavened bread. After the Passover Feast, they were to return to their own tents. The seventh day of unleavened bread, following Passover, they were to gather for a solemn assembly and leave all their work alone for that day. I believe this was the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

I was thinking today about the part of the Passover feast, which required that nothing of the sacrifice from that first night, be left until the morning. My thoughts went to the sacrifice of the Savior, and how after his death, when the women returned to the tomb with the burial preparations, His body was gone. Furthermore, it makes me think of how all of the sacrificial meat was to be partaken of that first night of the passover, fulfilling its purposes to the Israelites. Likewise, when the Savior was sacrificed for mankind, he gave all of himself, wholly and perfectly, so that we could all partake of the Atonement. Nothing of himself was used for any other purpose, than to save mankind, that being the work and glory of His Father.

9 Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.
10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee:
11 And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there.
12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

Seven weeks after they began to reap from their fields, they were to observe the Feast of Weeks. It was about given a freewill offering to the Lord. I think they did this, in order to be reminded that all that they were blessed with, came from the Lord.

13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:
14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

After the harvest was completed, the Israelites were to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. This was to be a time of rejoicing over the many blessings of the Lord.

16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty:
17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.

All the men of Israel, were to go to the holy place of the Lord at least three times a year, during the feasts of unleavened bread, weeks and tabernacles. Each time, they were to bring an offering to the Lord, according to what they had been blessed with by the Lord.

18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

In each city or land of Israel, they were to establish judges and officers, or elders, to justly judge and govern the people. They were not to show any kind of favoritism for individuals, or take any kind of bribes for their work. The Lord teaches us here, that bribery or the giving of gifts for work done, leads to spiritual blindness, and a perverting of those things that are righteous. If they were to continue to keep the land of inheritance, their judges had to be just to all and true to the word of God.

21 Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God, which thou shalt make thee.
22 Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the Lord thy God hateth.

Again, they are reminded to refrain from worshiping in the manner of other nations. One of the things that was commonly done, was that “groves” were built up near altars to false gods. These were typically places where fertility gods were worshipped and unholy practices were carried out, in the name of their false gods. If they altogether avoided the creating of these places, they would be better protected from the temptation to follow after these other gods and pervert those things which were holy and sacred.

As I study these words, I am often reminded of the importance of keeping a remembrance of God. The Israelites were warned frequently of ways that would lead them after false gods and traditions of their day. They were also reminded often of just how important it was to stay close to the Lord. One of the ways that they were taught to stay close to the Lord, was to remember that their many blessings came from Him. He had delivered them from bondage, He had led them to the promised land, and He would continue to bless the righteous with great blessings as they lived there. We have been given warnings of things that lead us away from the Lord, mostly things in the form of worldly temptations that cause the spirit to withdraw from our lives. If we can strive to follow the commandments and keep a remembrance of the Lord often, we will be greatly blessed. When we are grateful for the hand of the Lord in our personal lives and the lives of our families, we draw nearer to God. I know that peace and happiness is found in a life of devotion and gratitude to the Lord.

Deuteronomy Chapter 15

In this chapter, Moses continues to remind the children of Israel of the laws of the Lord, in preparation for their entering the promised land. It begins:

1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release.
3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;
4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
5 Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
6 For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.

The Israelites were to remember a sabbatical year, every seven years. At that time, they were to release one another of their debts, or cancel them, in the name of the Lord. The purpose of this, was so that there would be no poor among them because of the surplus of blessings from the Lord. They would be greatly blessed as a result of being obedient to the Lord’s commandments. Their blessings would be so great, that they would be able to help other nations and not become dependent on others to help them or rule over them. What an amazing blessing it would have been, to be a self-sufficient nation, free of debts. This was during a time, when nations were being ruled by others nations, who had helped them out of their own financial difficulties or helped them to win battles. The Lord was promising them that he give them all the strength they needed to be free and happy.

7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

They were commanded to provide for the poor among them, giving all that was sufficient for their needs. They were warned against withholding from the poor during the seventh year sabbatical, which was a sin. The Israelites needed to give in the right spirit, knowing that they gave to the poor because the Lord had blessed them greatly and would continue to bless them for giving. We are not free from the duty of giving to the poor among us. When we have enough to provide for our needs, we should have a willing and generous heart and give to others who are less fortunate than we are.

12 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.
13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.
15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
16 And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;
17 Then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.
18 It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.

During the seventh year of sabbatical, any Hebrew servants were to be set free, being six years after they had been sold to them. He was not to go empty-handed, but with blessings of flocks, food and drink, and such. This was to help them remember that they had once been slaves in Egypt and were set free by the Lord and not sent away empty-handed. If the servant did not want to leave, they were to make a permanent agreement between the master and servant. When any servant was freed from his service, it was not to be seen as a difficulty to the master. If they did these things, the Lord would continue to bless them.

19 All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.
20 Thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, thou and thy household.
21 And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the Lord thy God.
22 Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart.
23 Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.

All firstling males of their herds and flocks were the Lord’s. The Israelites were not to treat them as they did the rest of the flocks, by driving them or shearing them. Instead, they were to remember to dedicate the firstling males to the Lord in their yearly offerings. If the firstling had any blemishes, they were not to use it as a sacrifice for the Lord, but were to eat it in their own homes. They were still to refrain from eating blood, which was a commandment they had already received from the Lord.

These commandments were a reminder to the Israelites, of the Lord. As they were preparing to become settled in their lives, they needed to remember that they were once a needy people, in bondage and servitude to the Egyptian nation. They had no freedoms at that time, and were made to support the lifestyles of others continually. They had suffered greatly at the hand of the Pharaoh of Moses’ day. In their greatest need, the Lord had shown his mercy and delivered them, blessing them beyond anything I think they could have imagined. They had all that they did at this time, because of the hand of the Lord in their lives. In addition, this reminder of the commandment to dedicate all the first born to the Lord, should have been something that would cause them to regularly look forward to the day when the Lord would come, perfectly and without blemish, and save the people from their transgressions.

It is important for us to remember both of these things as well. Without the Lord, we would be nothing. He blesses us greatly, in ways we cannot even being to understand. When we turn to Him, he guides us out of our own bondage and gives generously so that our physical and spiritual needs may be met. When we remember to give our own sacrifices and offerings to the Lord, we should do it with a grateful heart. We need to remember that He has come, in His perfection and free of blemish, and given all for us. We will be saved from our own transgressions, if we will remember to keep his commandments and strive to live worthy of His sacrifice for us.


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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