Posts Tagged 'Loyalty'

2 Samuel Chapter 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel Chapter 30

David and his army were sent away from the Philistine army, as they went to fight the Israelites under King Saul. The Philistine princes had been worried that David would turn on them during the fight, and the strength of David was known throughout the land. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
2 And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

Ziklag was the area where David and his men had lived among the Philistines for a long time at this point. It was a land that had previously belonged to the tribe of Judah, but had become part of the Philistine land. Achish had given the land to David while as he served him. When they arrived at their home, David learned that the Amalekites had invaded, burned Ziklag, and taken their women captive.

3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
7 And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.
8 And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
9 So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.
10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

David and his men saw that their families were taken and the city was destroyed, and it brought them to tears. David’s wives, Ahinoam and Abigail, had been taken. The men were so upset that the talked of stoning David because their families were not protected. David turned to the Lord and was encouraged or strengthened in spirit. He trusted in the Lord and asked the priest to bring him the ephod, or holy garment. David prayed to the Lord and asked if he should go after the Amalekites. The Lord answered that he should pursue them and that they would be able to rescue all of their families. David left two hundred of his men behind at the brook Besor, because they were too faint to continue, and he and four hundred men went to pursue the Amalekites.

11 And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.
13 And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.
14 We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.
15 And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.

As they journeyed, David’s men found an Egyptian in the field. After giving him food and water, David went to him. He asked who he belonged to, or who was his master. The man said he was the servant of an Amalekite. He had gotten sick and his master had left him behind three days before they met him. He told them that they had attacked Ziklag, as well as the borders of Judah. David asked the man to bring him to the Amalekite company. The man swore that if they would let him live and promise not to return him to his master, he would take them.

16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.
17 And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.
18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.
19 And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
20 And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.

They agreed and he took them to the army of Amalekites. The Amalekites were celebrating their victories with drinking and dancing, when David and his men attacked them. He fought them from about a day and killed all but four hundred men who had been on camels and escaped. David regained all the spoils that the Amalekites had taken, including his wives. All of the men had their families and belongings returned to them. David took the flocks and herds of the Amalekites as his spoil.

21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.
22 Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart.
23 Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand.
24 For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
25 And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

David returned to his two hundred men who had been left behind and when they came to meet him, the men among the four hundred who were unrighteous and selfish men, said they would not share the spoil with these men. They wanted only to give them their families and tell them to leave. David told them they could not do this with the things that the Lord had helped them to gain, by delivering the Amalekites into their hands. David made a decree that all those who remained and watched over what was left behind, would receive the same from the spoils as those who went to fight in the battle. They would split all things equally. This rule became an ordinance for David from then on, and because of that, it became a rule for Israel.

26 And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord;
27 To them which were in Beth-el, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,
28 And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,
29 And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites,
30 And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chor-ashan, and to them which were in Athach,
31 And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.

David sent spoils from the fight, to the elders of Judah as a gift, and to the people of all the areas where David and his men would often stay. Again, David was able to show that he was loyal to Israel, because he was loyal to the Lord.

One of the things I learn from this chapter, is the kindness of David when he followed the Lord. In this chapter, David proved again that he was a leader of great strength. Once again, he fought and won, so much so that not one thing had been lost to himself or to his men. His enemies were no match for him, and their only victory had come when he and his men were not present. Other leaders of his day, would have likely taken the spoils and such for themselves. After all, they did the work, they deserved the prize. The pride of leaders like that, would lead them to see those who had been too weak to fight and then give them only what the fairness of men felt they deserved. David was not like this. He knew that all should be blessed by the strength of their army. David knew that they had only been able to be victorious, because the Lord had guided their path and allowed that they would find one sickly, Egyptian servant who had nothing to loose in helping them. He knew that the Lord had blessed them, and it was not their place to determine who was worthy of the rewards. I think that this can be a lesson to us in our own lives as well. If we want to be kind and charitable disciples of Christ, and loyal sons and daughters of God, we should follow his example. When we are blessed, we should turn and bless the lives of others, instead of selfishly keeping these things to ourselves. The Lord blesses the faithful, so that they can care for themselves, for their families, and then be able to give to those around them. He blesses the faithful with the ability to also bless the poor and needy, the widows and fatherless, and those who are unable to care for themselves. In this way, we have opportunities to grow spiritually from experiences where we are His hands. Through these actions, our testimonies can be strengthened and we can come closer to Christ.

1 Samuel Chapter 29

In the previous chapter, the Philistines gathered together to go to war against the Israelites. Saul, in his fear, desired to know what to do, but God was slow to answer him, so he turned to the help of a witch. She foretold his death, the death of his son, and the Israelite defeat in battle against the Philistines. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.
2 And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rearward with Achish.
3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?
4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?
5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?

David had become the captain of the guard to Achish, who was the king of Gath. He was gathered with the Philistines, and was in the rear of the host with Achish. As they traveled, the princes of the Philistines questioned why David was among their troops, but Achish spoke for David saying that David had been a good servant to him. The princes were angry and they were worried that David would turn against them in battle. They wanted David to be sent back to his home, just in case he would join with Saul and defeat them. They had heard of David’s strength in battle.

6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the Lord liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.
7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.

Achish told David that he felt that he had been a good and loyal servant to him, but that the princes of the Philistines did not favor him. He told David to go in peace, rather then make the princes displeased.

8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?
9 And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
10 Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

David asked what he had done, considering he had been loyal. He wanted to fight for his lord, Achish. Achish told him that he knew he had been good to him, and it sounds like he was saying that he trusted David, but they princes had told him that David was to be sent away. Achish told him to leave first thing in the morning, so that is what David did, while the Philistines went to Jezreel.

It was good for David to show that he would have been loyal to the Philistines, who had allowed him to live among them during a time when his life was threatened by Saul. I wonder if the Lord had allowed feelings of unease to effect the princes, so that David would not be blamed later, for an Israelite defeat. With this choice to send him away, David was not questioned in his loyalty to Achish, and he would not be held accountable for fighting against Israelites either. This would probably work out for his good in the future. Sometimes things in our lives do not go as we expect them to, but if we are doing what is right, the Lord will allow all things to be for our good. Just like the Lord told the prophet Joseph Smith, during a difficult time in his life, “if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (see Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).” I am grateful to know this principle when I deal with my own daily life, difficulties and trials, because it can be a source of great comfort and strength to know that something good can come from all of it in the end.

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.

How Do We Show Our Devotion to Jesus Christ?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar.

My next question in this series is, how do we show our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. Devotion is defined for some as love or strong affection, loyalty, dedication, worship, a willingness to serve, zeal, veneration, respect, or reverence (see online definitions). Devotion is love. The scriptures teach us ways that the Lord has taught us, to show our love to him. The first one that comes to mind is in John 14:15, which reads, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 takes that one step further and says, “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.” We show our love and devotion to Jesus Christ, by keeping his commandments and serving him. In Psalms 97:10 it says, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil . . .”. This teaches us that to show our love and devotion to Jesus Christ, we must hate all that is evil. This must be the case, because anything that is evil is not acceptable to God. This tells me also, that if we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we must repent, because part of repentance is turning away from that which is evil.

The Savior taught his disciples what to do to show our love and devotion to him. In John 21 we read the following:

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

If we love the Lord, we must also feed his sheep. This means that we are to serve others and bring them to Christ by sharing the gospel with them. 1 John 4:21 continues this sentiment, “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” We need to be loving, kind, and caring towards others if we are going to truly show our devotion for our Savior.

Devotion is to have loyalty. There are many examples in the scriptures of those who have been loyal to Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and made sacrifices to the Lord with devotion. In Moses 5:6 we read, “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” One of my favorite scriptures is one of devotion and loyalty. In 1 Nephi 3:7 we read, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” The Lord taught us about loyalty as well. In Matthew 6:24 we read, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” This idea is also taught in the book of Joshua 24:15, which reads “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Devotion to the Savior is to choose to fully follow Him and do the things that he has commanded. It means to jump into His service with both feet, totally committed, and not just occasionally do what he asks of us. It means that even though we may be faced with great opposition, we will stand firm in support of Jesus Christ, just as Joseph Smith did in his life. He knew he has seen Christ and had been commanded to do great things for the Lord. He showed his devotion, by remaining firm in his testimony when he said, “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it . . .” (see Joseph Smith-History 1:25).

Dedication is a form of devotion. To be dedicated to Jesus Christ is to make Him a priority in our lives. In Matthew 6:33 we read, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Throughout the scriptures there are many verses which tell us to be devoted by giving all that we’ve got to give. Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 reads, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” Likewise, in Doctrine and Covenants 11:20 we read, “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.” To be dedicated to Jesus Christ, is to put aside our pride and allow Him to perfect us through the power of the atonement. In Moroni 10:32 we read, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ . . .”.

When I think of the word dedication, I think of the way that the leaders of the church dedicate churches, temples and other buildings to the work of the Lord. These places are built, designed, and intended for the work of the Lord and nothing else. They are places that are to be kept holy and worthy so that the Lord can fulfill his purposes for us. When we show our devotion through dedication, we give ourselves (our bodies, minds, talents, passions, time and so on) to the Lord for his work and purposes.

Devotion is worship. In Psalms 95:6 we read, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” To worship the Lord, we honor Him and give thanks for all that we have been given. I think of the wise men, who learned of the birth of the Savior. Matthew 2:2 reads, “. . . Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” They adored him on bended knee showing reverence, respect, and adoration to him as their king. We worship in our devotion to Jesus Christ, by believing in Him and recognizing his divinity and glory. We worship Jesus Christ specifically on the sabbath day, when we go to his house and partake of the sacrament. In Alma 15:17 we read, “Therefore, after Alma having established the church . . . seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction—”. Our taking of the sacrament, is a formal expression of our reverence and gratitude for Him. We are devoted, if we have the same attitude as the Nephites who saw the Savior in person. In 3 Nephi 11 we read the following:

16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.

Being devoted to Jesus Christ, is also having a willingness to serve. As women in the gospel, we are asked to have charity and to do all that we can to serve. Sometimes this service comes in magnifying the callings that we are given. Other times it is when we go out of our way to meet the needs of others both inside and outside of the church. A really good scripture that relates to this is Mosiah 2:17 which reads, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

Having zeal towards Jesus Christ, is to be devoted. I think that being zealous requires being actively willing and ready to do what the Lord wants you to. It’s the fire that you can see in a new convert to the gospel. Zeal is the energy and enthusiasm to seek for His light and then share it with others. In Alma 27:27 we read of the members of the church who had been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It says, “And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.” Paul, who was a great disciple of Christ, and who wrote a lot of the scriptures we have in the new testament was a great example of being devoted and zealous. In Acts 22:3 we read, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, . . . taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” The Savior taught us to have zeal towards him. In Revelation 3:19 we read, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” When we are willing to humble ourselves, recognize our imperfections and need to be better, and actively repent, we are zealous towards Jesus Christ. Also, Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 reads, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;”. The phrase “anxiously engaged in a good cause” equates to a person of devotion. A devoted person looks for the good they can do and does not wait to be called upon by another.

Finally, devotion to Jesus Christ is to have veneration, respect and reverence towards him. I think that most of all, reverence towards the Lord is shown through our desire to pray and communicate with Him. We also reverence him and respect him when we do not take sacred things lightly. To be devoted is to recognize that there are solemn things that He has given us that we should honor and value above the things of this world. In Doctrine and Covenants 76 we read the following:

92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

Things of an eternal nature are to be treated as such. When we follow this, and recognize that it is through Him that all things are, we show our devotion to Jesus Christ.

As a member of the gospel and of the Relief Society, I am devoted to Jesus Christ, my Savior and Exemplar. I know that I am a work in progress and I am not perfect in this, but I am united with other women all over the world, who are striving to show their own devotion to Him. I have really enjoyed studying this topic this week. This feeds the flame in my soul, to be better and more firm in my faith. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He has made great and wonderful things possible for us. I am completely in debt to Him and I desire to give all that I can through my devotion to be worthy of the blessings that he has made possible.

D&C Section 124 (Part 1)

In 1838, the extermination order (which was upheld until the 1970’s) was put in place by Governor Boggs of Missouri. All the saints were forced to leave. This revelation was received in the early part of 1841, when the prophet, Joseph Smith, had moved on to Nauvoo, Illinois with many of the saints. At this time, they were having a short period of peace and rest from the persecution of others, and the church was growing through great missionary efforts.

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made; for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth.
2 Your prayers are acceptable before me; and in answer to them I say unto you, that you are now called immediately to make a solemn proclamation of my gospel, and of this stake which I have planted to be a cornerstone of Zion, which shall be polished with the refinement which is after the similitude of a palace.
3 This proclamation shall be made to all the kings of the world, to the four corners thereof, to the honorable president-elect, and the high-minded governors of the nation in which you live, and to all the nations of the earth scattered abroad.
4 Let it be written in the spirit of meekness and by the power of the Holy Ghost, which shall be in you at the time of the writing of the same;
5 For it shall be given you by the Holy Ghost to know my will concerning those kings and authorities, even what shall befall them in a time to come.
6 For, behold, I am about to call upon them to give heed to the light and glory of Zion, for the set time has come to favor her.
7 Call ye, therefore, upon them with loud proclamation, and with your testimony, fearing them not, for they are as grass, and all their glory as the flower thereof which soon falleth, that they may be left also without excuse—
8 And that I may visit them in the day of visitation, when I shall unveil the face of my covering, to appoint the portion of the oppressor among hypocrites, where there is gnashing of teeth, if they reject my servants and my testimony which I have revealed unto them.
9 And again, I will visit and soften their hearts, many of them for your good, that ye may find grace in their eyes, that they may come to the light of truth, and the Gentiles to the exaltation or lifting up of Zion.
10 For the day of my visitation cometh speedily, in an hour when ye think not of; and where shall be the safety of my people, and refuge for those who shall be left of them?
11 Awake, O kings of the earth! Come ye, O, come ye, with your gold and your silver, to the help of my people, to the house of the daughters of Zion.
12 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him, and that he should be with you;
13 Let him, therefore, hearken to your counsel, and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes;
14 But let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands.

The prophet had been prepared for this calling, because he was not the strongest of men at the time, but he was strong in spirit. From his weakness, in the view of the world, his was transformed into a man of great strength. His growth in strength came from the power and authority of God, which is the priesthood and the keys of the priesthood that he held. He had magnified his calling, and the Lord was pleased with his efforts. I am sure that this knowledge continued to be a source of strength to the prophet.

Likewise, we can have this same blessing given to us. If we faithfully magnify our own callings, whatever they may be, the Lord will make our weaknesses into strengths. I know that this is true. Personally, I have a horrible time remembering names. I am much better at remember what someone looks like and conversations that we have, then names. I have found that as I try hard to magnify my calling as a member of our ward’s Relief Society presidency, I know many more names than I would have been able to remember otherwise. Others will come to me to find out who someone is now, which I am so much better at now. This is just a small example of this principle. I am grateful that God will help me to be better at things if I show him that I am willing to do His will.

It would seem that the prophet prayed to be sure that the placement of the saints in Nauvoo, was the right thing. The Lord answered his prayers by revealing that they were to establish the stake of Zion there in Nauvoo. Also that there was to be a proclamation to all nations and their leaders. He was told not to have fear for what the leaders of governments and nations would think about this proclamation, because their power and standing was not meant to last. The power of God, however, would last forever. Meaning that the priesthood and the gospel would last forever. This proclamation was to stand as a testimony against all who rejected it and those who he called to deliver its message. Brother Thompson was called to assist in this work, but I read that he actually died before he was able to participate. The proclamation was eventually made in 1845, by the Quorum of the Twelve. (View the proclamation here: 1845 Proclamation)

15 And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord.
16 Again, let my servant John C. Bennett help you in your labor in sending my word to the kings and people of the earth, and stand by you, even you my servant Joseph Smith, in the hour of affliction; and his reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.
17 And for his love he shall be great, for he shall be mine if he do this, saith the Lord. I have seen the work which he hath done, which I accept if he continue, and will crown him with blessings and great glory.
18 And again, I say unto you that it is my will that my servant Lyman Wight should continue in preaching for Zion, in the spirit of meekness, confessing me before the world; and I will bear him up as on eagles’ wings; and he shall beget glory and honor to himself and unto my name.
19 That when he shall finish his work I may receive him unto myself, even as I did my servant David Patten, who is with me at this time, and also my servant Edward Partridge, and also my aged servant Joseph Smith, Sen., who sitteth with Abraham at his right hand, and blessed and holy is he, for he is mine.
20 And again, verily I say unto you, my servant George Miller is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart; and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him.
21 I therefore say unto you, I seal upon his head the office of a bishopric, like unto my servant Edward Partridge, that he may receive the consecrations of mine house, that he may administer blessings upon the heads of the poor of my people, saith the Lord. Let no man despise my servant George, for he shall honor me.

I have always read and heard of great things about the prophet’s brother, Hyrum Smith. He loved and served his brother until the day he died. That loyalty and love is so great and it causes me to reflect on the amount of love that I show towards my own siblings. When is seems as though most others were standing against the church and doubting the word of God from Joseph, Hyrum was a constant companion and ever faithful to the church and the will of God. He was a man of great character and great faith. What a wonderful example to pattern our own lives after.

Brother John C. Bennett was told that if he would receive counsel and if he would continue to do the work of the Lord, he would be blessed and accepted of the Lord. At this time, he was a very faithful and prominent member of the church. The manual I am studying brought up a question about why Heavenly Father, knowing if we will continue faithful or not, would allow men that would eventually fall away to become prominent leaders and be mentioned throughout these scriptures. If they were never mentioned, we would not have examples of what not to do. I think that if we only read about faithful men who continued in faithfulness, we would not see that we must always be watchful of the temptations of Satan. He works in sneaky and cunning ways, to pull us away from what is right a little at a time. We can be really good and then without realizing it, our pride gets in the way of us listening to the prophet, just as it did for this man. When we need to learn a lesson, it is important to understand that our blessings are conditional and based on our righteousness.

Three men are mentioned as having been faithful and good men, who were now being blessed by God for their righteousness. David Patten, Edward Partridge, and Joseph Smith, Sr., had all been faithful and followed the prophet. I am sure that their families were so pleased to know that these men were favored and blessed after this life.

This section is to be continued.


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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