Posts Tagged 'Obedience'

2 Kings Chapter 12

While Jehu ruled in Israel, Joash began his reign in Judah. Joash, according to the header in this chapter, was also known as Jehoash. He was annointed to be the king, by the high priest Jehoiada. Jehoash made covenants with the Lord to be the ruler of the people of the Lord, and he began his rule in righteousness, at the age of seven. This chapter begins as follows:

1 In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba.
2 And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
3 But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.

Jehoash was king for forty years. He was a righteous leader, and did all the things that Jehoiada instructed him to do. Even so, the places where the people could worship other false gods, were not taken from the people. So, the people continued to use those places to worship with sacrifices and burnt incense.

4 And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the Lord, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of the Lord,
5 Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.
6 But it was so, that in the three and twentieth year of king Jehoash the priests had not repaired the breaches of the house.
7 Then king Jehoash called for Jehoiada the priest, and the other priests, and said unto them, Why repair ye not the breaches of the house? now therefore receive no more money of your acquaintance, but deliver it for the breaches of the house.
8 And the priests consented to receive no more money of the people, neither to repair the breaches of the house.
9 But Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side as one cometh into the house of the Lord: and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord.
10 And it was so, when they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe and the high priest came up, and they put up in bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the Lord.
11 And they gave the money, being told, into the hands of them that did the work, that had the oversight of the house of the Lord: and they laid it out to the carpenters and builders, that wrought upon the house of the Lord,
12 And to masons, and hewers of stone, and to buy timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord, and for all that was laid out for the house to repair it.
13 Howbeit there were not made for the house of the Lord bowls of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the Lord:
14 But they gave that to the workmen, and repaired therewith the house of the Lord.
15 Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully.
16 The trespass money and sin money was not brought into the house of the Lord: it was the priests’.

Jehoash commanded the priests of the temple, to use the offerings brought to them, to repair the breaches of the temple, instead of taking the offerings for themselves. This money was like the tithing of their day. In doing so, the temple walls would be strong again. The priests would not take money from the people to repair the walls, but Jehoiada took a chest and drilled a hole in the top of it. He put it to the side of the altar at the entrance of the temple. Those priests who welcomed people into the temple, were to put all the money from those who came into the temple, into the chest. The volunteer donations of the people of God, would go towards the repair of the temple. When the chest was full, they gathered the money and gave it to those who would do work on the temple, and it was given out to carpenters, builders, masons, stone workers, and others who would do this work. The priests were faithful with the donations, and anything brought as offereings specifically for trespass money or sin money, was given to the priests for their own.

17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.
18 And Jehoash king of Judah took all the hallowed things that Jehoshaphat, and Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his fathers, kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own hallowed things, and all the gold that was found in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and in the king’s house, and sent it to Hazael king of Syria: and he went away from Jerusalem.

Gath, which was a city that had been taken by the Israelites in the time of David, was taken by Hazael of Syria. Hazael prepared to go against Jerusalem. Jehoash gathered all the items that had been hallowed and set aside by the kings of Judah, his own consecrated items, as well as all the gold remaining in the treasuries, and he sent it to Hazael. Hazael went away from Jerusalem, and their safety was maintained. Jehoash had done what he could to protect the people and land from their enemies.

19 And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
20 And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.
21 For Jozachar the son of Shimeath, and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, smote him, and he died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead.

The servants of Joash conspired against him, and killed him in the house of Millo. His son Amaziah became king of Judah.

One of the things that this chapter leads me to think about, is the need to follow the Lord with exactness. It is not the main idea of this chapter, and I may be off in my interpretation of these verses, when reading the first few verses, I think about this. The king of Judah was a righteous leader himself, but he left the high places in the land. This is based on the use of the word “but” in verse 3. These places that were left would possibly be an opportunity for wickedness to continue in the land. I can think of a few reasons for doing this. First, is that he may have felt that the people were subject to the Lord and would not turn to other gods, or simply was not mindful of these places. Second, is that he may have wanted to give the people the ability to choose for themselves, if they would follow after the Lord. In ancient times, God commanded that all these other temples with their idols and groves and such, be destroyed out of the land and so leaving the temples was not the king’s best choice for his people. On the other hand, I do wonder if the places of worship that he left, were those that were still used to worship the Lord, just not with the level of commitment as was done at the temple. This is not entirely clear to me. In either case, it is important for us to be strict with our obedience to God. This is how we can stay safe from the traps that Satan will most certainly leave for us. In the case of ancient Israel, they needed to remove any temptation to worship in any other way than what the Lord had instructed them. That is the only way they could have remained the people of the Lord. The Lord had told the people to go to His temple, and to worship by making sacrifices and offerings there. There are many who choose for themselves their own way to worship God, rather than doing it in the manner that God has instructed us to do so. This does not mean that they will definitely be led astray, but it does give greater opportunity for the adversary to sneak in and lead good people away from God. Obedience with exactness provides the best ways for safety and success in this life.

1 Kings Chapter 6

Temple

In the previous chapter, King Solomon began preparations to build the temple of the Lord. Chapter 6 tells more about the process and experience.

1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord.
2 And the house which king Solomon built for the Lord, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.
3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.
4 And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.

480 years had passed since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt towards the promised land. Solomon began to build the temple four years after he became king over the land. A description of the size is given. I think that the temple was not only built for the Lord, but as the Lord would have it built. It is not stated specifically, but just as Solomon was inspired in his duties as the king, I think he was inspired to know how to build the temple.

5 And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:
6 The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.
7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
8 The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and out of the middle into the third.
9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.
10 And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.

In this part of the description, we learn that there was a center part of the building, with rooms around it. The temple was built of stones that were prepared by cutting and shaping them before they were laid at the site of the building of the temple. This was so that no man-made tool was used directly on the building. I don’t think that this was the standard way of building at the time, but it was much like the instruction given when they were preparing the tabernacle over 400 years earlier.

11 And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying,
12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:
13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it.
15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.
16 And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.
17 And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.
18 And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.
19 And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord.
20 And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.
21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.
22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.

The Lord made promises to Solomon. If Solomon and his people would keep the commandments and be obedient to the Lord, the Lord would dwell among them and he would not abandon them. Solomon finished the building of the temple and the size and ornamental materials and designs are described in these verses. Much was made of or covered in gold. The house of the Lord was prepared to hold the ark of the covenant.

23 And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.
24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits.
25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size.
26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub.
27 And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.
28 And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.
29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without.
30 And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without.

Large gold plated cherubims were made and placed inside the temple. Then the floor was overlaid with gold as well.

31 And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall.
32 The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees.
33 So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall.
34 And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.
35 And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.

Gold, cherub, and plant ornamentations were throughout the temple.

36 And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.

There was stone and cedar that made up the inner court.

37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Zif:
38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

The foundation of the temple was laid in the forth year of Solomon’s reign and then the temple was completed in the eleventh year. This was a seven year process to build the temple of the Lord, which was the greatest that had ever built.

It is so interesting to me, to read of just how beautifully built the temple of Solomon was. It was of great importance, that it be built in a manner that would please the Lord and show the great reverence to God. A year ago I went on a little trip where I visited 10 modern day temples. They were all grand and beautiful. I had the opportunity to serve in the Salt Lake Temple. I can’t help but think of the beauty of that temple in all the areas that I was able to be in. It is majestic and the ornamentation seems so much like the description of the temple built by Solomon. However, the beauty of the temple would not have been the greatest part of it, in my opinion. Even greater, was the promise that the presence of the Lord would be within his temple, if the Israelites would live worthy of it. He would not leave them. He would remain with them so long as they remained righteous. We have these same promises made with each temple that is built in modern times. I know this is true and have felt the spirit of God in each temple I have been able to attend. I am so grateful for the spirit that can be there as I serve and how it blesses my life both in the temple and when I leave it.

2 Samuel Chapter 6

David became the king of Israel, combining Judah and Israel into one kingdom again. David was the Lord’s anointed king of the people and thus far, he had continued to seek the guidance of the Lord in his leadership. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.
2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.
3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

David gathered 30,000 men of Israel and they brought the ark of the covenant out of the house of Abinadab, and many of the men played music as they moved the ark. In Doctrine and Covenants 136:28 we read, “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” Music is an important part of worshipping the Lord and David was traveling in the manner of worshipping God.

6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
8 And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perez-uzzah to this day.
9 And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?
10 So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
11 And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obed-edom, and all his household.

Uzzah saw that the ark was shaking, and so he put his hand on it to steady it. No person, who had not been given authority from God, was to touch the ark or do anything with it, for it was the seat of the Lord. So, Uzzah was smitten immediately and died. David was upset with the death of Uzzah, and wondered how they could move the ark any further, when he had intended on it being placed in the city of David. Instead the ark was placed in the house of Obed-edom, where it remained for three months. Obed-edom and his family were blessed by the Lord, while the ark remained in their home.

As mortals, we will not and cannot understand all the workings of the Lord. In Isaiah 55:8-9, we read, ” For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The instruction that had been given in the days of Moses, was that no man was to touch the ark, and only Levites were to be involved in moving it. Uzzah, in a moment of weakness, felt that he needed to steady the thing that represented the Lord’s presence on the Earth at that time. With such a sacred item, I am sure that he had been taught of how they were to handle the ark and also how strictly they needed to obey the instructions. Additionally, it had not been too long since people, I believe philistines, had looked into the ark and brought death and destruction to entire cities. However, sometimes we forget the greatness of God. His ways are higher. Sometimes we must learn that the Lord can do all for Himself. He could have kept the ark from falling if that is what was meant to happen. Even the best of us, have much to learn. A lot of these things cannot be mastered while we live in this fallen state of mortality.

12 And it was told king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the city of David with gladness.
13 And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
16 And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

David heard that Obed-deom had been blessed by the presence of the ark, so he decided to happily bring it into the city of David as he had planned. David had a sacrifice made and he danced before the Lord. There was great rejoicing among the house of Israel, and Michal saw king David dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod. She despised him for it.

17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts.
19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.

David had a tabernacle set up and the ark was placed in the midst of it. He blessed the people and had a feast with them. Then everyone returned to their homes.

20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!
21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.
22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.
23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

David returned home, and Michal greeted him with a comment about how he thought himself great, as he shamelessly uncovered himself in front of other women. The footnote for this verse describes it in this way, “In his joyful dancing, more of his body was exposed than she believed proper.” David told her that he did these things for the Lord, who had chosen him to be ruler of Israel. He felt that those who saw him, would honor him, but he would never have a child with her, which I think means that he would never bless her with children, because he would not be with her. Her pride and her judgement of David in how he should act as the king and as her husband, caused their relationship to be damaged from them on.

The main thing I take away from this chapter, is the importance of being strict in our obedience to God, especially with all things sacred. In Doctrine and Covenants 82 we read:

8 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you;
9 Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.
10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

Commandments help us to understand what God wants of His people, in order for us to return to live with Him and to receive great blessings from Him. The Israelites had been given commandments and had not remembered to adhere to them. The result was destructive and immediate, in order to teach of the importance of being obedient. Likewise, we are given commandments and when we are disobedient to the commandments, the results can bring destruction to our souls. We are weak and we will make mistakes, and thankfully, we can humble ourselves and repent when we do wrong. I am forever grateful for the Savior and His atonement, which makes this possible.

1 Samuel Chapter 15

Saul has been king of Israel for a couple of years at this point. In pride, he had tried to assume the duties of the priesthood, and his actions had been rejected by the Lord. As a result, the prophet Samuel, had told Saul that he would no longer reign with the Lord’s blessing upon his leadership. The Lord was still leading his people through direction given to the prophet. This chapter begins with Samuel speaking to King Saul.

1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord.
2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

Saul was reminded that his calling as the king, had been extended to him by the Lord, and Samuel was going to reveal the word of the Lord to Saul. Saul was given instruction, to attack the Amalakites. God had told Moses that the Israelites would continue to war with the men of Amalak, for generations after his time. At this point, Saul was told specifically to destroy all of the Amalakites, along with all of their flocks and herds. Saul began to follow the instructions by gathering 210,000 men to battle and then lying in wait in the valley near Amalek.

6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul allowed the Kenites to flee, so that they would not be destroyed along with the Amalekites. The Kenites were family to the wife of Moses, and Saul’s army were not going to harm them because they had been kind to the Israelites. Saul destroyed the Amalekites, but he took King Agag and the best of the flocks, herds, and their belongings, and he did not destroy them.

10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.
12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.
14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?
20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.
22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Samuel received a revelation from the Lord. The Lord had continued to allow Saul to lead, but Saul continued to be disobedient to the commandments given to him. (The Joseph Smith translation of verse 11 reads, “I have set up Saul to be a king, and he repenteth not that he hath sinned, for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.”) Saul felt sorrow for Saul, and he continued to pray to the Lord through the night. Samuel woke early to go out and meet Saul, but Saul had gone down to Gilgal. Samuel went down to meet him. Saul greeted him and told him he had done the things which the Lord had given him as a commandment. Samuel asked why he heard the noises of animals with him, which was the physical proof that Saul had not followed the commandment given to him. Saul told him that his men had kept the best animals, in order to make a sacrifice to the Lord.

Samuel caused that Saul should stay with him a while, so that he could tell him what the Lord had revealed to him. He talked of how Saul had been raised up by the Lord to be the king, when he was still young, and that the Lord had sent him on a journey to destroy all the Amalekites. Samuel asked Saul, why then, he had disobeyed and taken spoil of the Amalekites, which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Saul said that he had done what the Lord wanted, and had taken the king captive, but that the people had taken the spoil in order to give sacrifice. It sounds here, like Saul blamed the people for his disobedience. Samuel asked Saul if he thought it better to make sacrifice, then to be obedient to the Lord. Then Samuel told him, that it was better to obey then to make sacrifices, and that hearkening to the Lord was better than giving the fat of rams. His disobedience had led the people to rebellion against the commandments of the Lord, which was equal to witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry. As a result of his choice to reject the word of the Lord, the Lord now rejected Saul as the king.

24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28 And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God.
31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the Lord.

Saul realized that he had been too concerned with what the people thought, and had sinned against God. Saul asked for forgiveness, and wanted Samuel to return with him, so that he could worship the Lord. Samuel refused because Saul had been rejected by the Lord. Samuel left to leave, and rent his clothes, saying that the kingdom of Israel had been torn from Saul and given to another who was more worthy of it. Samuel had great sorrow for the choice that Saul had made. Saul acknowledged his sin and begged for Samuel to allow him to worship the Lord. I do not believe Saul’s sorrow for his sin, had reached the kind of godly sorrow necessary for true repentance, because his desire was to worship before men. Even still, Samuel allowed Saul to worship.

32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Samuel had Agag, the king of the Amalekites, brought to him. Agag was destroyed, just as he had destroyed many of the Israelites. Samuel needed to make right, what Saul had not done. In this, Saul, as well as all of Israel, would see that their leaders needed to obey God. Samuel stood firmly on the Lord’s side.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel left and went to Ramah. Saul returned to his home and was not visited by Samuel again, until the day he died. Samuel mourned for the loss of Saul.

God is no respecter of persons. He had extended a calling to a man, who could have chosen to live his life in harmony with the will of the Lord, and he would have been blessed. When he made choices based on the words and actions of his subjects, rather than following the strict instructions given by the Lord, he had placed his desires before the Lord. In effect, he had chosen to worship another before God. He forfeited the honor to be called of God. We cannot expect that the Lord will favor us in our own choices of disobedience. The Lord blesses those who follow his commandments with faith and trust in Him. He will not bless those who willfully choose to go against his commandments, whether they are a king or a beggar. How sad it must have been for Samuel to see the loss of the potential in Saul. I believe that God is a loving Father in Heaven, and It makes me wonder about the kind of mourning that God experiences when his children make foolish decisions and turn away from him. I think that as Samuel mourned, the Lord must have mourned as well.

The main lesson I think we are to learn from this chapter, is that it is better to be obedient than to make sacrifices. This was something that the Lord would try to teach the men during his mortal ministry as well. Often times the Israelites and those that would follow them, were overly concerned with living the letter of their laws. They focused so hard on it, that they began to make additions to it. Soon, there was no distinction between the original law of Moses in its purity, and the laws of men which had been added to it. Men became so focused on living their laws that they missed the purpose for those original laws. They strictly observed the part of the law regarding sacrifices, but they refused to be pure in heart. The problem with this, is that being obedient will change our hearts and draw us nearer to the Lord, while the simple act of sacrifice, is only an outward symbol. Without the right frame of mind and heart, it is only something done. With an obedient soul, sacrifice becomes a sign of true worship of the Lord.

We, likewise, need to remember that it is better to be obedient than to sacrifice. For example, we can go to church every Sabbath and partake of the sacrament, which is much like going to make sacrifices in ancient times. We sacrifice our time to worship the Lord through this ordinance. We show God, with this action, that we are doing what we have been told to do, but if we are not living a life of obedience, it means nothing. In fact, it makes us unworthy in our hearts, and we will be judged accordingly. Obedience to the Lord, and to the direction He gives us through our living prophets and apostles, will draw us nearer to God. Obedience is what will allow the spirit to work in our hearts, to cause us to change. Obedience is what allows Christ the opportunity to sanctify us through his atonement. Then, when we make the sacrifices that we are asked to make, of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we will be made clean and become more like our Savior. Alone, obedience is better than sacrifice. Together, obedience and sacrifice help us to become perfected through Christ.

Judges Chapter 6

The Israelites had peace in the land, so long as they were drawn to the Lord and kept his commandments. In the last chapter, they had been delivered from Canaanite bondage and had peace for forty years. Their peace would not last, as time passed. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.
3 And so it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east, even they came up against them;
4 And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.
5 For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6 And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord.

Again, the Israelites returned to wickedness. The Lord allowed them to fall into the hands of the Midianites, for seven years. Their enemies destroyed their crops, so they had nothing for themselves or their animals. Great numbers of Midianites entered the land and made the Israelites a poor people. They began again, to remember the Lord, and pray for deliverance.

7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites,
8 That the Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;
9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land;
10 And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.

A prophet was sent to Israel, by the Lord. He reminded the people that the Lord had been their deliverer in times past. He told them to obey the Lord and put away the gods of the Amorites.

11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abi-ezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.

An angel appeared to Gideon, as he worked to gather wheat in secret. The angel said that the Lord was with Gideon. Gideon asked why the Lord allowed them to suffer as they did. He was then called by the Lord to serve Him and deliver Israel from the Midianites. Gideon asked how this was possible, because he was so poor and not the strongest. The Lord promised that he would be with Gideon and he alone would be able to smite their enemy. Gideon asked for a sign that he had found the favor of the Lord. He asked the angel to stay so that he could bring a present out to him and the angel said he would remain there until he returned.

Gideon considered himself to be “least” in his house. The Lord does not strictly choose people for their outward appearance, physical strength or material belongings. In His perfect wisdom, he chooses those whom will show the strength, beauty, and goodness of the Lord. This is an example of what is more eternally significant to God, which is not the things that the world generally values in people. We may often feel that we are not qualified for the callings we receive in this life, but the Lord will strengthen the weak who choose to serve Him.

19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.

Gideon prepared meat, bread and broth for the angel. The angel had Gideon lay the meat and bread on a rock. I think this was meant to seem as a sacrifice being laid upon an altar.

21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.

The angel touched the meat and bread with his staff, and a fire consumed it. Then, the angel left. Gideon was amazed and possibly scared to have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. The Lord spoke peace to his heart. Gideon built and altar to the Lord.

25 And it came to pass the same night, that the Lord said unto him, Take thy father’s young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:
26 And build an altar unto the Lord thy God upon the top of this rock, in the ordered place, and take the second bullock, and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the grove which thou shalt cut down.
27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as the Lord had said unto him: and so it was, because he feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.

The Lord commanded Gideon to thrown down his father’s altar of Baal, and destroy his grove near it. He was instead to build an altar to the Lord and make a burnt offering with the wood from the grove. He was fearful of the consequences of this act, but he did it anyway, in the secret of night.

28 And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.
29 And they said one to another, Who hath done this thing? And when they inquired and asked, they said, Gideon the son of Joash hath done this thing.
30 Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it.
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
32 Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, Let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar.

The men of the city saw what had been done and discovered that Gideon had done it. They wanted to kill Gideon, so they asked his father to give him into their hands. Gideon’s father asked who would speak for Baal. Baal should speak for himself if he was truly a god. He called on Baal to call for Gideon himself, for destroying the altar.

33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over, and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; who also was gathered after him: and he sent messengers unto Asher, and unto Zebulun, and unto Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.

The enemies of Israel were gathered together. The spirit of the Lord rested upon Gideon. He blew a trumpet and sent messengers out into the land of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, to gather the people.

36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

Gideon asked for another sign, that God would indeed cause him to save Israel. He put a fleece on the floor and told God that if the land was dry and the fleece became wet with dew, he would know that the Lord would do this thing. When he rose in the morning, the dew had filled the fleece as he had asked. Then, he asked again, pleading that the Lord would not be angry with him, that the Lord would then make the ground wet with dew and the fleece dry. When he arose, the Lord had allowed the dew to fall on the ground, but the fleece was dry.

We should not ask for signs from God, without entirely pure motives to know and follow what God has in store for us. I think that the Lord knew the heart and intent of Gideon, which I believe was to completely follow the Lord and His commandments. For most of us, signs follow the act of faithful obedience and are for a confirmation or to build testimonies. Those who unrighteously ask God for signs, are asking for the anger of the Lord to be against them. We would not benefit from being shown signs before we are willing to do what God has asked of us, because it is our faith in those things we cannot see, that teaches us truths we will remember forever.

One of the additional things I gather from this chapter, is how easily the adversary lulls people into carnal security. Just a little peace and plenty, can lead us to believe that everything is well with us. In times, when God is allowing us to prove to him that we can be good stewards of the blessings he gives us, Satan convinces us that we can turn to things of the world for our enjoyment and pleasure. The Israelites felt this carnal security when they were at peace with the nations around them. It wasn’t until they had strayed far from the path of God, and their enemies oppressed them greatly, that they remembered the importance of following after the Lord. The same things happen to us today, and this is why we should be striving to keep our feet on the path the Lord wants for us, even when things are going well. Daily prayer, daily scripture study, attending church to partake of the sacrament, and serving in the temple, are some of the simple things that will keep us in remembrance of the Lord.

Judges Chapter 3

This chapter finishes the introduction portion of the book of Judges and begins the history of the twelve judges of Israel (see Bible Dictionary). The judges were established by the Lord for the people. According to the Bible Dictionary, “The judge was more than a civil officer. He was generally a military leader as well, and his right to lead rested on the fact that in the eyes of the people he was the strongest and best man for the purpose. Faith in God was always the secret of success; but as a rule the judge was more of a fighter than a preacher.” (see Bible Dictionary) I think that the Israelites would have recognized the judges right to lead, as long as they recognized that the judge was a leader chosen by the Lord to continue to lead His people. The chapter begins as follows:

1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;
2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof;
3 Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baal-hermon unto the entering in of Hamath.
4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

Many of the Canaanites were left among the Israelites to test their faithfulness to the Lord. They would have to fight them, as well as the enemy nations that were around Israel. If the Israelites would follow the commandments and keep their covenants, they would be blessed to succeed and live in peace, as the Lord had promised their fathers.

5 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites:
6 And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
7 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

The Israelites began to intermarry with the Canaanites and other nations, which had been forbidden by the Lord. They began to apostatize and turn to the gods of the other nations in rebellion against the Lord. The choice of worship they made, was evil in the sight of God.

Part of the law of Moses, was to keep Israelite marriages among the Israelites, who had made covenants and were God’s chosen people. I think that today, people will shy from saying that one should marry a member of their faith, for fear that they will offend another. I do believe, however, that this is still the best for any marriage. When we seek for a companion who believes in God the way we do, we will have the best chances for continuing to follow after the Him. When we marry, we should desire to become one with our spouse, in all things. Trying to live different faiths may cause a lot of difficulty in a relationship. I imagine that more often than not, one will begin to follow after the other. If we want to stay true to the Lord, we should seek to marry one who also follows after the Lord, so that we do not fall into apostasy like the people of Israel. As a latter-day saint, I believe that covenant people should marry worthy companions in one of the holy temples where they can be married and sealed by the authority of God that is only available there.

8 Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushan-rishathaim eight years.
9 And when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
10 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the Lord delivered Chushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushan-rishathaim.
11 And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

The Israelites were no longer protected by the Lord, and He allowed them to be sold into the service of Chushan-rishathaim, of Mesopotamia, for eight years. They were oppressed and cried unto the Lord. The nephew of Caleb, Othniel, was raised by the Lord, to deliver Israel from their oppression. With the spirit of the Lord, he became their judge and went to war against Chushan-rishathaim. The Lord delivered their enemy into his hand and Israel won. Then they were able to have forty years of rest under Othniel, until he passed away.

12 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord.
13 And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.
14 So the children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
16 But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.
17 And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man.
18 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.
19 But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.
20 And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
21 And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
22 And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
23 Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
24 When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.
25 And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
26 And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.
27 And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
28 And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the Lord hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.
29 And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.
30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

The Israelites turned to wickedness again, and because of this, the Lord allowed strength to come to their enemy, Eglon of Moab. They were defeated and served Moab for eighteen years. When the Israelites cried for deliverance, the Lord raised Ehud, who prepared a gift for the king. Then he made a two-edged dagger and hid it on his leg. He had the present carried to the king. They left the gift and as they went away, the others, who had carried the gift, were sent away and he said he had a secret errand, or message, for the king. Ehud was left alone, and went to the room where the king was. He told Eglon, that he had a message from the Lord. Then, when the king stood, Ehud grabbed the hidden dagger and stabbed him in the belly. Eglon was a fat man, and the blade and handle of the dagger got stuck in him. Ehud locked the doors behind him as he left the room. The guards saw that the door had been locked from the inside, so they left the king alone and went to do their own thing. When enough time had passed for them to wonder, they unlocked the door and saw that the king was dead. Ehud escaped to Seirath and blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim. The Israelites followed Ehud from the mount, because he told them the Lord had delivered the Moabites into their hands. They subdued the Moabites and were at peace for 80 years.

31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

The next man raised by the Lord, was Shamgar, who killed 600 Philistines, and delivered Israel from their enemy.

One of the typical cycles of the Israelites lives, was that they turned to the Lord in times of difficulties, but turned from the Lord when their was peace in the land. This is a cycle that we can read about in many parts of the scriptures. It takes a very short amount of time, for people to forget the Lord, and we are not immune to this temptation. A friend of mine recently said to me, “we are all only 3 weeks away from inactivity”. It really is that simple. It is so easy to become inactive, or disengaged from the gospel, especially when things seem to be going well for us. One choice can lead to a life of disobedience. But, just as it was with the Israelites, the Lord is always there for us. He will hear our cries in times of need, and when the time is right, he will answer and deliver us from our enemies. The trouble with a life of disobedience, is that the Lord will not be quick to answer our prayers, and we will suffer. We could avoid this self-inflicted suffering through choosing a life of obedience.

Joshua Chapter 12

Joshua led the Israelite army to victory in the land of Canaan, under the direction of the Lord. They destroyed several kings and their lands. This chapter is a review of all those whom they destroyed.

1 Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:
2 Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon;
3 And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Beth-jeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdoth-pisgah:

On the eastern side of the Jordan, they destroyed and took some of the land. The first mentioned here, was king Sihon.

4 And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei,
5 And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.
6 Them did Moses the servant of the Lord and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the Lord gave it for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.

The second king was Og. The land from these two kings, was given to the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh.

7 And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions;
8 In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:
9 The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Beth-el, one;
10 The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
11 The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;
12 The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;
13 The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;
14 The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;
15 The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;
16 The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Beth-el, one;
17 The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one;
18 The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one;
19 The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one;
20 The king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one;
21 The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;
22 The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one;
23 The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one;
24 The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.

On the western side of the Jordan River, the Israelites conquered 31 kings and their lands.

The Old Testament, is more than just a record of the laws of the lord. It is a record of the history of the people of God. In this record, we need to see just how powerful the Israelites were at this time. They had been promised by God, to have the power to destroy the enemies of their lands. This is showing that the Lord fulfilled this promise and made the Israelites a mighty nation. If the children of Israel had failed to follow the commandments of God, given to them at this time, they would not have received this blessing. If they had chosen to ignore the leadership of the prophets Moses and Joshua, they would have failed. It is also important to see how mighty they were at this point, because in their wickedness they would later have a great fall and be taken captive. We can also find hope in the promised blessings for our faithfulness to the commandments of God. If we are obedient, we too will be blessed. If we choose disobedience, we will not receive the blessings.

Joshua Chapter 8

The Israelites have begun to take over the promised land. They were part of the miracle of the walls of Jericho coming down, which allowed them the ability to take that city. They attempted to take over the people of Ai, but failed because the Lord was not with them at that time. They gained the support of the Lord again, by destroying the cause of the loss, which was a man and the forbidden items he took while in Jericho. At this point, they were once again ready to take the city of Ai.

1 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

Joshua was told by the Lord to take the army of Israel to fight against Ai. This time, the Lord told them they could take the spoil and cattle of the city for themselves. They were to ambush the city.

I notice that in the previous chapter, it does not say that the Lord told them to fight against Ai. As far as we can tell, there was no commandment given to the Israelites at that time. I think that if Joshua, as their leader, sought direction from the Lord before going straight into battle, the Lord may have instructed him to sanctify his people first. Perhaps the loss of several men, would have been avoided. In this chapter, it seems that Joshua waited upon the Lord for the instructions to go up to battle again. Because he waited, the army of Israel was prepared and instructed as to what strategy to use in order to be victorious. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:33, modern revelation teaches us, “And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.” It is important for the people of God, to have the Lord on their side in times of battle.

3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,
6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.
7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand.
8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

30,000 men of the Israelite army, were chosen to go lie in wait, behind the city, in the night. They were instructed to be ready, while the rest of Israel would go towards the other side of the city. When the people of Ai would come to fight against them and the Israelites flee from them, but would be followed from the city. Then the 30,000 would ambush the city of Ai and it would be delivered to them by the Lord. They were commanded to burn the city.

9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.
12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of the city.
13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

The men went in the night and prepared to ambush the city. Joshua and his people approached the city to fight.

14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.
15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.
17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
18 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.
19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.
21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.
28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

Not knowing of the ambush that awaited him, the king of Ai took his men out to fight against the Israelites. The men with Joshua, began to flee and were followed by the people of Ai. The city was left open for the taking. The Lord told Joshua to point his spear towards Ai. At that, the men ambushed the city and burned it. The men of Ai had nowhere to go, so the Israelites were able to go against them and destroy all of them. They brought the king to Joshua. The people and city were completely destroyed and they only took the spoil and cattle, as they had been instructed. The king was hung and his body left at the gate of the city on a pile of stones.

30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,
31 As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

Joshua gave thanks to God, by building an altar of whole stones in mount Ebal. The Israelites gave burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord.

32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

The blessings and cursings were given at mount Gerizim and Ebal, as they had been commanded by the Lord through the prophet Moses. In Deuteronomy 11:29, we read, “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.” (See also Deuteronomy 27).

Here, the Israelites are blessed for repenting of the wrong previously done, and being strictly obedient to the directions of the Lord. Joshua made a copy of the law of Moses, which was read to the people of Israel. We can see here the importance of keeping a record of the word of the Lord. They had been given the commandment to make and keep this record, while Moses was the prophet. Joshua understood the importance of this commandment, and followed through just as they had been instructed to do. The people of Israel would fall without the commandments in the teachings by the leaders. We also need the scriptures to teach us what is right and how to keep our lives focused on the true and living God. When we stop looking to the word of God, we stop living it and that leads to destruction physically and spiritually. I am so glad to have the scriptures in my life and the blessings keeping the commandments brings.

Joshua Chapter 6

As the story of the Bible continues, the Israelites were encamped in the land near Jericho. Jericho was a walled city, just West of the Jordan River. The prophet Joshua had previously sent spies into the city, which had learned that the people were greatly afraid of the Israelites and the power of God that was with them. The Lord continued to lead the Israelites in this chapter, which begins:

1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
2 And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

The gates of the city Jericho, were closed because of the Israelites. The Lord had delivered the city into the hands of the children of Israel. Jericho was told to have the men circle the city once a day for six days, with the ark among them. Seven priests were to carry trumpets and go before the ark. On the seventh day, the people were to go around the city seven times. When the trumpets sounded, the people were to shout loudly. At this, the walls of Jericho would fall down and the city could then be taken.

6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.
7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord.

So Joshua called the priests to bear the ark and seven priests to carry trumpets before the ark. He commanded the people to encompass the city, and the army of Israel were to go before the ark.

8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the Lord, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.

The priests did as they were instructed, and blew the trumpets before them.

9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
11 So the ark of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

The army of Israel went in front and the people were commanded to remain quiet until they were told to shout by Joshua. They went around one day and them camped for the night.

12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.
13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rearward came after the ark of the Lord, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.

They went through this process on each of six days. Then on the seventh day, they encompassed the city seven times, then Joshua commanded the people to shout.

17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.
25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

The people were told that the city was theirs to take, except for the place of Rahab, the harlot, who had hidden the spies previously (see Joshua 2). They were not to touch anything that was accursed, which were those things that were forbidden and to be sacrificed to the Lord. They were allowed, however, to take all the treasures to the Lord’s treasury. The people shouted as they had been commanded, and the walls of the city came down. The Israelites took possession of the city. Every person and animal in the city was destroyed except for Rahab’s family, who were taken out of the city and away from the camp of Israel. The city was then burned.

The fulfillment of the promise made to Rahab, made her faith in their word complete. She risked her own safety by hiding the spies, but it was not in vain. Her family was spared and her posterity continued to live in Israel. In Hebrews 11:31 we read, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” Her faith not only helped the Israelites, but led to her life being changed for the better. I am a firm believer in the importance of keeping our word both with God and with men. The promises we make are binding and we will be held accountable for them when we are someday judged for our works among men. When we make promises with the Lord, we are always blessed. In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we read, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The blessings of God are so much greater than anything we could gain from breaking a promise or covenant with Him.

26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
27 So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.

The people were told that they were not to rebuild the city of Jericho. The nations around them, heard of Joshua and what he had done.

I am sure that the Lord could have easily caused the walls to come down. However, the Israelites acted in faith and obediently encircled the city each day as they were commanded. They showed that they believed in the word of the Lord and that he was leading them to victory. Their faith proceeded the miracle and the power of the Lord was with them. Their actions alone, without faith and the power of the Lord, would not have brought the walls of the city down. This should be a lesson to us, that all things are possible with faithful obedience to the Lord. There will be times in life, when reason would tell us that something would not work. If, however, we have been given a commandment or the inspiration from God to do it, we should follow it. When we are faithfully obedient to the Lord, miracles can happen and we can overcome the challenges we face.

Joshua Chapter 1

The first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) are called the books of Moses. They tell the history of the prophets and people of God, from Adam and his family, down through Moses and the Israelites. The ending of these books, records that Moses was taken by the Lord and Joshua, who was previously called and set apart by Moses, becomes the new prophet and leader of the children of Israel. The book of Joshua begins with the following:

1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

The Lord speaks to his new prophet, Joshua. Joshua is commanded to take the people into the promised land. The Lord promised Joshua that no man would be able to stand before him, because the Lord would be with him for the rest of his life, just as he had been with Moses. The phrase “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” is quoted a lot, to show that the Lord does not desert those he has called to do his work. In modern revelation we read, “He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:83)” When we faithfully serve in our callings, the Lord sustains us and guides us.

The Lord tells Joshua to be strong and of good courage in his charge to give the people the land of their inheritance. He is told again to be strong and courageous in order to be strictly obedient to the law. It is not an easy thing, to keep the commandments of God in a world that seems to pull us every other direction. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to stand firm and remain faithful to the covenants made with the Lord. The faithful cannot be selective on the commandments they choose to obey, but must strive to keep all the commandments of the Lord. Joshua is also commanded to meditate on the law day and night. I think this is another way of saying that he needed to study it and then write it upon his heart, so that he would live the law with exactness. If he would do this, he would be successful and prosperous. When we, like Joshua, are strong in the faith and courageously do what is right, studying the scriptures and living the principles found in them, we will have no reason to fear either. The spirit of the Lord will strive with those who choose the right and do the will of the Lord.

10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying,
11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it.

Joshua began to prepare Israel to cross the Jordan into the land of their inheritance. He did this by giving commands to the tribe leaders, which they were then to give to all the people. They had three days to prepare themselves to travel again.

12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15 Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.

Joshua reminded the two and a half tribes who had already claimed their inheritances, that they promised Moses they would go with the rest of the host of Israel, to gain all the lands promised. After they served in the army of Israel, they would be able to return to their homes.

16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.
17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.

The men agreed to do follow the commands and leadership of Joshua, just as they had been willing to follow Moses, because they knew the Lord was with him. They also decided that those who were disobedient to Joshua, and therefore went against their earlier promise to Moses and the Lord, would be put to death.

“Be strong and of good courage”. There are many times in my life, when I have walked by faith alone and this is a motto that has been able to help me a great deal. Remembering that the Lord can be our strength during trials, is a huge help in these difficult times. I find great hope in the promised blessings of keeping the commandments, and cling to faith in Him and his help to overcome all that I face. We may not be going against men of great stature in battles or facing death, but our trials are our own for a reason and they are not easy. We can all grow from our trials when we face them with all the strength we can and with the courage to do what is right.


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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