Posts Tagged 'Humility'

1 Kings Chapter 21

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, and queen of the northern kingdom of Israel. She was a follower of Baal and had led many away from the Lord. She hated the prophets, and had sought to kill Elijah after her priests had been destroyed. She was a wicked ruler and had brought a lot of trouble to the land and people of Israel. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

There was a vineyard near the palace of Ahab in Jezreel. It was owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab wanted to have the vineyard for a garden, so he asked that Naboth give it to him and offered to give him a better vineyard, or to pay him for the land. Naboth declined because this had been the inheritance of land given to his family. Ahab returned home upset, laid down and would not eat anything.

In biblical times, an inheritance meant a great deal. The Lord had inspired the division of land, and each family had been given a portion. Despite all the personal apostasy and wickedness that had taken over among the people, they still held fast to the idea of a promised land of inheritance. It is unknown to us, what kind of a man Naboth had been, but it seems like he was trying to be a good man. A man who recognized that the land he had was a gift from God, which he should not give up for any man, even the king of Israel.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Jezebel asked Ahab what was wrong because she noticed he was sad and not eating. Ahab told her what had happen. Jezebel asked him if he was not the king of Israel. She told him to get up, eat and be happy, because she would give him the vineyard he wanted. Jezebel sent letters to the elders and nobels of Jezreel, as if they were from Ahab. She wrote that the men were to fast and put Naboth in front of the people, with false witnesses to say that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king. She wrote that they were to stone him to death. The men followed the orders and stoned Naboth. Then they sent word to Jezebel, that Naboth was dead.

15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Jezebel told Ahab that Naboth was dead and that Ahab could claim the vineyard in Jezreel. So, Ahab went down to the vineyard and took it for his own.

17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

Elijah received revelation from the Lord, and was commanded to go to Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth, and prophesy to him. The Lord commanded him to ask if he had killed and taken possession of the land, and then he was to prophesy to Ahab that he would die where Naboth had been killed. When Elijah had done this, Ahab asked how he had found him there, and Elijah told him he found him because he had sold his soul to do evil. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and his posterity would be destroyed and cut off from Israel. He would be destroyed just as those who had done evil before him. He prophesied that Jezebel would die by the wall of Jezreel, and that all who died from their house, would be eaten by wild animals.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Ahab had been more wicked then any other king in Israel because his wife had led him away, but when he heard the prophecy against his family, he mourned and fasted. The Lord told Elijah that Ahab humbled himself, and because of this he would not destroy him, but that his posterity would be destroyed in the days of his son.

Ahab was a selfish man, who had a fit over not getting his way. He refused to eat when he was denied what he wanted. His enabling and wicked wife, was willing to do all that she could to give him what he wanted, even if it meant killing someone. This was done for ownership of a piece of land, which was most likely not truly needed by the king. I find it interesting to read of Ahab’s reaction after the prophecy from Elijah. Even though he had become a grossly wicked man, he sincerely humbled himself, when he realized what he would be done to himself and his family. Because of his humility, he was not going to be destroyed, but there were still consequences because a man was killed for him. It says nothing specifically of the prophesy against Jezebel here, but she had not humbled herself. She had planned the death of a man, and even though she did not carry it out herself, she had killed him. Her wickedness would bring her eventual destruction and the prophesy of her death would be fulfilled.

A lesson from this chapter, is that God knows if we are truly humbled. He is merciful, and will extend that mercy to those who are humble. None of us is perfect. We may not live as wickedly as Ahab did, but we do make choices that separate us from God. We need the mercy of the Lord. All men need to be humble and repent of those things that they know they have done against God, if they do not want to realize the promise of their own personal destruction. I am so grateful for God’s love and mercy. I am grateful that He knows me perfectly and will help me to become a better person.

2 Samuel Chapter 24

King David had specific duties as the leader of Israel, in particular, the Lord had given specific direction for how one was to rule His people. At times, the Lord would do something to remind his people of the duties they were not following. This chapter deals with one of those times. It begins:

1 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
3 And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
4 Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

At David’s command, the people of Israel were to be numbered. It reads here, that David was instructed by the Lord to number Israel and Judah, so he sent Joab out to number them. In the footnotes it references 1 Corinthians, which says instead, that Satan provoked David to number Israel (see 1 Cor. 21:1). Joab questioned the king’s command, however he took the captains and numbered the people. The idea that Satan influenced David, makes it so I can see why the Lord would have his anger kindled against Israel. I am not sure what was involved in the numbering of the people, but it reads as if it was hard on the people and should not have been performed simply in order to please the king.

5 And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
6 Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtim-hodshi; and they came to Dan-jaan, and about to Zidon,
7 And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beer-sheba.
8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

Several months later, they returned to Jerusalem and told him that the king had 800,000 men of war in Israel, and 500,000 in Judah.

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,
12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

David’s heart was smitten. I think that this is another way of saying that his conscience got to him, and he felt guilt in his heart over what he had chosen to do. He went to the Lord and confessed his sin in numbering the people of Israel and Judah. He asked for forgiveness. The prophet, Gad, received word from the Lord, that he was to go speak to David. Gad told David that the Lord offered a choice of three things to him. First, seven years of famine to the land, second, enemies who would pursue him for three months as he fled from them, or third, three days of pestilence in the land. David, pled with the prophet, that he and the people be at the mercy of God and not fall into the hands of other men.

It is interesting to me, that the Lord would offer David a choice in his punishment for sinning against him. The people of David would suffer for his choice, but I think that having to choose the punishment, was to be a reminder to David of what he, as their leader, had done wrong.

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men.
16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.

The Lord fulfilled his promise of pestilence for three days, and 70,000 men died. An angel was given the responsibility of bringing the destruction upon Israel. David saw the angel, near the farm of a man named Araunah, and pled with the Lord, that the plague would be stopped, and that he and his family would take the consequences instead of the people, because they had not been the ones who had done wrong in this thing.

The Joseph Smith Translation of verse 16 reads, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, [the Lord said unto him, Stay now thine hand, it is enough; for the people repented, and the Lord stayed the hand of the angel, that he destroyed not the people]. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.” The Lord stopped the plague, because the people had been humbled to repentance.

18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded.
20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.
24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

The prophet returned to David and told him to make an altar where he had seen the angel. David went to the place, as he had been commanded. When Araunah saw him coming, he greeted him and asked why he had come. David offered to buy his threshingfloor, so that he could build an altar and make sacrifice to stop the plague. Araunah offered his threshingfloor to the king, as well as anything he had that could be used for the offering, including oxen and tools. David would not take it without price. I think he did this because he knew his choice needed to be more of a sacrifice on his part. David bought the threshingfloor and other items from Araunah, built and altar, and offered sacrifice and peace offerings to the Lord. The plague against Israel, was then stopped by the Lord.

We all make mistakes in life. There are going to be those moments when we think of our own wants and desires before others. For a moment, David’s pride led him to make the decision to number the people, which he should not have done. After it was done, he felt the guilt that we so often feel when we have done something we know we should not have done. This guilt, when applied correctly can move us towards repentance and drawing closer to God. David and his people, suffered the consequence of his choice, and then from his guilt, he turned to repentance. Something I am learning more as I get older, is the importance of sacrifice and service in order to make the repentance process complete. David gives us a good example of this. He recognized that he had to personally sacrifice in order to really humble himself towards the Lord. Then, I believe, in more than an attempt to stop the plague, he served the Lord through giving sacrifices and offerings at the altar he had built. Likewise, in the repentance process in our own lives, we will have to sacrifice and serve to have the forgiveness needed for us to change and become better or more like our Father in Heaven. Sacrifice and service are two actions that humble the soul. When we are humble, we are willing to let the Lord help us with His infinite atonement. That is the only way that we will have a lasting change of any kind. I am grateful for the repentance process and for the knowledge that forgiveness is real. The atonement is real and it can free us of the plagues and guilt we bring upon ourselves. This is a blessing that I am eternally grateful for.

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 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel Chapter 8

David was the king of Israel, and had been promised to defeat their enemies and have peace in the land. This promise was only made possible through his obedience to the commandments of the Lord. He, as the leader of Israel, needed to be righteous, in order to have the Lord as his support in the kingdom. This chapter begins:

1 And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.
2 And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts.

David led the Israelites to bring peace with the Philistines and after destroying the larger, he caused the smaller, and likely weaker, Moabites to serve them and bring tribute.

3 David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.
4 And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.
5 And when the Syrians of Damascus came to succour Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men.
6 Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.
7 And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.
8 And from Betah, and from Berothai, cities of Hadadezer, king David took exceeding much brass.

He continued to stand against the nations at their borders. He defeated the men of Zobah and Damascus, making a portion of the Syrians (known then as the Arameans) subjects to him. He took a lot of spoil from their battles. He was able to do these things because he had the help of the Lord.

9 When Toi king of Hamath heard that David had smitten all the host of Hadadezer,
10 Then Toi sent Joram his son unto king David, to salute him, and to bless him, because he had fought against Hadadezer, and smitten him: for Hadadezer had wars with Toi. And Joram brought with him vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and vessels of brass:
11 Which also king David did dedicate unto the Lord, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;
12 Of Syria, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines, and of Amalek, and of the spoil of Hadadezer, son of Rehob, king of Zobah.
13 And David gat him a name when he returned from smiting of the Syrians in the valley of salt, being eighteen thousand men.

Since other nations benefitted from his victories, he began to receive gifts from others, such as the king of Hamath. David dedicated these gifts to the Lord. David had subdued the Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Amalekites, and the men of Hadadezer.

14 And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David’s servants. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.
15 And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
16 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder;
17 And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe;
18 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.

David caused that the people of Edom would be servants of Israel. He executed judgement and justice to all his people. Those who served directly with David, were Joab as captain of his hosts, Jehoshaphat as recorder, Zadok as a priest, Ahimelech aslo as a priest, Seraiah as scribe, Benaiah as ruler of the Cherethites and Pelethites, and finally, his sons were chief rulers in the land of Israel.

I love that twice in this chapter, it is mentioned that David did these things with the Lord. His success came from depending on the strength of the Lord in their battles. David knew that the Lord was with him and he recognized that the people of Israel, especially the host that went to fight, needed the Lord in order to be victorious. We can learn from his example, as we recognize that our blessings come to us from the Lord. When we are asked to serve, it is the work of the Lord and He will be there to be our strength as well. Likewise, we should recognize that we are nothing without the Lord. He can do all things and we have an amazing opportunity to learn and grow by standing with Him.

1 Samuel Chapter 26

David had been merciful to King Saul and had spared his life while in the area of En-gedi. After confronting Saul, David had convinced him to go his way in peace. Saul had returned to his home, abandoning his plans to kill David for that time. However, in the process of hunting for David, Saul had stirred up many of the people against David. This support could have been out of fear for their lives if they went against the king, which he had shown brought death, or out of loyalty to Saul as their king. Either way, Israelites were still looking for David. The story of Saul and David continues with the following:

1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?
2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
3 And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.
4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.

Ziphite men got word to Saul, that David was hiding in the hill of Hachilah, which was in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul took an army with him, to find David, and camped in the hill. David, who was in the wilderness, saw Saul coming and sent out spies to be sure it was Saul.

5 And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.
6 Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.
7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.
8 Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.
9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?
10 David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
11 The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.

David went to Saul’s camp, and saw where Saul was. Saul was in a trench or behind a barricade, surrounded by his men, along with Abner his captain. David asked a few of his men, who would go down into the camp with him. Abishai volunteered himself, so they snuck into the camp at night. Saul was sleeping, with his weapon propped up near his head, I think in preparation for battle. Abishai told David that Saul had been delivered into his hands again and he offered to kill Saul, which he could have done with one blow from the spear. David refused his offer, saying for a second time, that Saul had been anointed by the Lord. David knew that the Lord would smite Saul, or He would allow Saul to die in his own time or in battle. He was not meant to kill Saul, and it would have brought unwanted guilt upon him. Instead, David told Abishai to take the spear and water from Saul. They took it and snuck away without being seen, because the Lord had caused a deep sleep to be upon on the men.

13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:
14 And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?
15 And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
16 This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.
17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.
18 And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?
19 Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other gods.
20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.

David stood on top of a hill on the other side of the place where Saul was camped, leaving a large space between himself and the camp of Saul. David yelled out to them, and Abner asked who called out to king Saul. David told Abner that he knew he was a valiant man in Israel, but that he had not protected his king. He told Abner that someone had snuck in to kill the king, and that he was not worthy to live, because he could not protect his king. David asked him to look for the spear and container of water. Saul recognized David’s voice and asked him if it was David. David told him it was, and asked why Saul continued to pursue him and what he had done to deserve it. David said if the Lord had inspired Saul to do this, David would give an offering to the Lord, but if the reason was of men, they were cursed for what they tried to do. He told him not to try to kill him, because David was nothing to hunt after.

21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
22 And David answered and said, Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.
23 The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the Lord delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed.
24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the Lord, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.
25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Again, Saul realized he had done wrong. He told David that he would not harm him, because he had spared his life. Saul knew that David valued life, his life, and was a good man. David told Saul to have one of his men retrieve the spear, and let the Lord give everyone their reward for their righteousness and faithfulness. David knew Saul had been delivered into his hands again, but he showed him kindness and spared him. He would be blessed by the Lord for what he had done. David and Saul went their separate ways in peace.

I think that this situation was a lesson in humility for Saul. I don’t know that he learned the lesson, but it was there. This was the second time that he could have easily been killed by David, but David refused to kill him because he loved the Lord more than man. I don’t know that there would be many men, who would have the courage to do the things David did. David had a great trust in the Lord, that he would be blessed for his choice to spare a man who time and time again had sought to take his life. David was not a man of fear, but was a man of faith, who was living loyal to his principles. Those who follow after this example, will be blessed for their faith in the Lord. Those who choose to trust in men and their judgement, will not receive the blessings of the Lord.

Ponderizing – Week 6 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is
Ether 12:27.

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Everyone on this earth has weaknesses. Growth and progression are eternal principles, and one cannot achieve either, without weaknesses. As part of the plan of mortality, God has allowed us to have these weaknesses, so that we will desire to become more through the atonement and grace of God. As mortal beings, we tend to become prideful and assume that we alone can do or become anything we want. It takes courage to look at ourselves and realize that we are not able to become the best version of us, without help from God. This help comes only when we can put aside our pride and humble ourselves. Then, we must go forward with faith in Christ, doing all that he asks of us. Then as we act upon the impressions we receive and answers to prayers, His grace becomes part of our lives. It is at this point, that God strengthens us and we can then overcome our weaknesses. In overcoming weakness, the things that may have once held us back, can become our strengths. This principle applies to all men on earth, because His grace is sufficient for us all.

As a simple example, years ago, I was totally afraid to prepare talks or lessons for church. The idea that I could give a message that had anything of value, was beyond me. When asked to speak, I would accept and then spend the days in fear until it was done. There would always come a time in the preparation, where I would become completely overwhelmed and break down tears. I felt so inadequate and so afraid that what I said would not be right. I wanted to be asked to sing instead, because that was completely comfortable to me. I begged. When we moved into new wards, my husband would tell the Bishopric that I could not speak because of my anxiety. This was a weakness. Then, the Lord extended a calling to me, that would change everything. I was called to be a leader in the women’s organization, the Relief Society. As part of that calling, I would need to prepare lessons to teach several times during the year. I was humbled by my new responsibility. I felt so weak and turned to the Lord for help. It came in the form of inspiration to study the scriptures consistently rather than read them occasionally. In faith, I followed the inspiration I received, and as I did I found myself becoming more willing to share the things I learned with those I taught. I was gaining confidence in my knowledge. I was given several opportunities to speak in front of the Relief Society, and then in front of the congregation in our Sacrament meetings. I was still nervous, but I was no longer afraid. I knew I was then able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord, because he was transforming my weakness into a strength.

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

If we have a desire to become strong physically, mentally, or spiritually, the Lord can help us. We all have the capability of becoming people of great strength. I know that we can gain strength by allowing God to show us our weaknesses. When we recognize our weaknesses, and then humbly live the gospel of Jesus Christ, He will give us what we need to become stronger. I am grateful for my weaknesses, because they help me to remember that I am not perfect and they help me remember that I need God in my life. I know that I have been blessed greatly and will continued to be blessed by God, if I follow these principles.

1 Samuel Chapter 11

Saul was anointed and made king over the Israelite people, because of their wish for a king to rule them. Part of his role as their king, was to lead them in their interactions with other nations, especially to deliver them from enemies, but he had yet to assume this role. This chapter begins to tell us what happened with the Israelites as Saul began to rule.

1 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee.
2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.
3 And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days’ respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee.

The Ammonites, under Nahash, encamped against the people of Jabesh. Jabesh desired to make an agreement with the Ammonites, so that they would not be destroyed. They told Nahash, that they would serve the Ammonites. Nahash said they would agree on the condition that he remove the right eye of all of them, so that this would stand as an example to all of Israel. This was not going to be the kind of agreement that Jabesh wanted to make. They asked for a week of time to prepare themselves with either help from others in Israel, or they would fight against the Ammonites on their own.

4 Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.
5 And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What aileth the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.
6 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.
7 And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
8 And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.
9 And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.
10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you.
11 And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together.

Messengers were sent to Saul and they pleaded for his help to save them. Saul was angry upon hearing what had happened. He killed an oxen, cut it, and sent portions to all the parts of the land of Israel, calling for men to join him against the Ammonites. Saul’s call came with a threat that those who did not join him and the prophet Samuel, would have their own oxen destroyed. The men of Israel gathered together to fight against the Ammonites. 300,000 men of Israel, with 30,000 of Judah, prepared to fight. The messengers were given a message that they would have help, which they took back to the men of Jabesh. When Israel came to fight the next day, led by Saul, they destroyed the Ammonites and those that remained were scattered.

12 And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death.
13 And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel.
14 Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.
15 And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

Some of the Israelites wanted to kill those who had doubted Saul’s leadership, but Saul refused to allow it. Instead he put the emphasis and glory of their victory on the Lord. Samuel called the people to go to Gilgal, where the kingdom would be renewed. In Gilgal, Saul was made king, sacrifices and offering were given to the Lord, and the people rejoiced. This victory brought greater confidence in Saul as the king of Israel.

Early in his role as the king of Israel, Saul trusted in the Lord and gave God the glory for protecting Israel. I think that he recognized very much, the hand of the Lord in his life. Not too long before this, he was simply a man doing his duty for his family. He had been raised to his position in humility, and recognized that he could not have done this on his own. I believe that we see later, that this was not always the case for Saul. However, we can learn from this story, to follow his example of giving the glory and credit to the Lord, for the good we do in our callings. We can also have a reminder of the blessings that come from going forward in our duty and calling, with faith in God’s plan for us. Saul was not raised by his family to be a leader of armies, but when the gifts of the spirit were given to him as he accepted his new calling, he was able to do it. He trusted the calling from the Lord, and the Lord blessed him to lead the people to a victory.

Ruth Chapter 3

Ruth was a young Moabite widow, who had left her family and home, to care for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. In caring for her, she had gone out to glean from the harvest in the field of a man named Boaz. He had shown kindness to her as she worked in his fields. Boaz was family to Naomi and had the power to redeem them, and so Ruth had been encouraged by Naomi to continue working in his fields.

1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

In an attempt to allow Ruth to have a better life than that of a poor widow, Naomi came up with a plan of marriage for Ruth. She told Ruth, that Boaz would work with the barley that evening. Naomi told her to prepare herself and secretly go to the threshing floor. When he had lied down for the night, she was to uncover his feet and lay at them, until he told her what she should do. Ruth agreed to do as Naomi had instructed her. Ruth honored her mother-in-law, by her service and her willingness to do all that Naomi asked of her.

6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

Ruth did as she had been told. I think the reason for laying at his feet, was possibly to make a symbolic gesture of service. I’m not sure if this was an Israelite custom, but I believe that any time one placed themselves at the feet of another, it was a sign of their humility. A servant or even a follower, would place themselves at the feet of their master, to show they were willing to serve or follow them. Ruth, was in a humble position at this time. She was bound to her position in Israel, because of the death of her husband and father-in-law. This seems like a plea to Boaz, to care for her, as a master would care for those willing to serve him. Had she done it publicly, there may have been some other outcome, especially seeing as she was a foreigner. Instead, Naomi suggested to do it privately, and the only way to do this, was to do it secretly in the night.

8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.

Boaz was startled by her, and when he saw that a woman was there, he asked who it was. She told him and asked that he provide for her as her near kinsman, meaning I think, that she asked him to offer her marriage. He called her blessed of the Lord, for her kindness. He told her that he would do all he could for her, because it was known that she was a virtuous woman. He was her near kinsman, but he knew of one who was closer in relation, and he wanted to allow that man the opportunity to do the service of a kinsman to her. If, in the morning, Boaz went to the man and he did not want the responsibility, then Boaz would take care of her as her husband.

14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
15 Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.
17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

Ruth remained with Boaz that night, and she woke early. Boaz asked that she keep her visit to him a secret. He gave her plenty of his harvest of barley and she left with it, to return to Naomi. Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Naomi told her to patiently wait, because Boaz would not rest until he had done what he had promised her.

Boaz continued to show kindness to Ruth. He gave her a kind compliment, when he said that she was known as a virtuous woman. She was known for her standards or values, even being a foreigner in the Israelite land. I think that he was saying to her, that he would be honored to have her as his wife. Ruth and Boaz are examples of kindness, charity, selflessness, service and loyalty. I am grateful for examples such as these, because it shows that while Israel as a whole, may have been repeatedly turning from righteousness and living unworthy of the blessings of the Lord, there were good individuals among them, who were still striving to do good and live righteously. We may live in a time of great wickedness as well, but there is hope for continued blessings from the Lord, because there are still good, righteous people, who are striving to do what is right.

Judges Chapter 10

This period in the Israelites history, was a time when judges were raised to lead Israel. The last judge was Gideon, who led the Israelites to peace from the enemies. Gideon mistakenly led the people to the path of idolatry, through the creation of some kind of idol. At his death, one of his sons desired to become ruler of Israel. Through secret combinations and persuasion, he was made king of Israel. He ruled in wickedness for around three years and then was killed in a fight with his own people. This chapter begins:

1 And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.
2 And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.

For 23 years, a man named Tola, judged Israel. Nothing more is said here, so it would seem that they lived in some amount of peace, at least from external enemies.

3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.
4 And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.

The next judge was Jair. He led them for 22 years. His 30 sons lived an elevated lifestyle among the Israelites in Gilead.

6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.
7 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

Once again, the Israelites returned to the wickedness of idolatry. They turned from the Lord, which would teach us that during the time of the previous judge, Jair, they were living a life where they worshiped the Lord. The consequence for turning from the Lord, was that he allowed them to fall into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites. For 18 years, the eastern Israelites were oppressed by their enemies. Eventually, the Ammonites crossed over the Jordan, and began to fight the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim as well.

10 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
11 And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
12 The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.
13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

The Israelites remembered that the Lord had helped them in the past. They recognized that they had forsaken, or abandoned God and had served other gods. Because of their desire to worship the gods of other nations, the Lord was not quick to hear their cries and deliver them this time. Rather, they were also forsaken and told to ask the gods they worshipped to save them. They had been warned of this by prophets before this time.

15 And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
17 Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
18 And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

The Israelites recognized that they had sinned and pleaded that God would deliver them and give them punishment some other way. They repented, gave up their idolatry and began to serve the Lord once again. Their enemy, the Ammonites, gathered against them to fight. The Israelites in Gilead asked one another who would start the fight against the people of Ammon. Whoever did this, would be the leader in Gilead.

At this point, I think that the Israelites recognized that the Lord was not with them because of their wickedness. There may have been fear among them because of this, and they needed someone to stand forth with courage, if they were going to be successful in battle against the Ammonites.

Time and time again, the Lord was there waiting, while the people had forsaken Him and turned to false gods. God continued to deliver them every time they remembered him, which seemed to fall at times of trials and tribulation. There comes a point, when God must allow greater trials to come upon His people, in order to recommit them to living righteously. In Helaman 12:3 “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” The promises remain for us in our time as well. When we live righteously and strive to follow the commandments of God, he will bless us with deliverance from our enemies and the adversary. The Lord will bless us with prosperity and with an abundance of His spirit. But, if we turn from him until we are faced with adversity and trials, He may be slow to hear our own cries. We may need to be chastened through great difficulties and suffering, before He will fight our battles, so that we can learn true repentance and humility. As the doctrine of the gospel teaches us, it is better for us to choose to remember the Lord and live righteously, especially in the better times of our lives, so that the Lord will be there for us in the harder parts of life.


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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