Posts Tagged 'Peace'

1 Chronicles Chapter 19

David had been successful in subduing his enemies and bringing peace to his reign in Israel. He was a strong force in battle and the Lord was on his side. Among those nations, was the nation of the children of Ammon. When Saul had been king, fighting occurred between Israel and the Ammonites, and Saul had defeated them. Nahash, the king of the Ammonites, then had peace with Israel. This is the state of the matter, when David took over as king of Israel. The chapter begins:

1 Now it came to pass after this, that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead.
2 And David said, I will shew kindness unto Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father shewed kindness to me. And David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. So the servants of David came into the land of the children of Ammon to Hanun, to comfort him.
3 But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land?
4 Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved them, and cut off their garments in the midst hard by their buttocks, and sent them away.
5 Then there went certain, and told David how the men were served. And he sent to meet them: for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.

When Nahash died, his son Hanun became king of the children of Ammon. David determined to maintain peace with their nation, as he felt kindness had been shown to him by Nahash. David sent messengers to Hanun to comfort him while mourning the death of his father. The princes of Hanun convinced him that David was deceiving him and was actually sending spies to see how they could overthrow his kingdom. Rather then accepting the messengers of David with gratitude, Hanun abused them, shaved and shamed them, and sent them away. Others went and told David what had happened to his messengers, and David sent for them. They were ashamed of what had happened. As an Israelite, having beards was important to their faith. David told them to stay in Jericho until their hair had grown back, and then return to him.

6 And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves odious to David, Hanun and the children of Ammon sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah.
7 So they hired thirty and two thousand chariots, and the king of Maachah and his people; who came and pitched before Medeba. And the children of Ammon gathered themselves together from their cities, and came to battle.
8 And when David heard of it, he sent Joab, and all the host of the mighty men.
9 And the children of Ammon came out, and put the battle in array before the gate of the city: and the kings that were come were by themselves in the field.
10 Now when Joab saw that the battle was set against him before and behind, he chose out of all the choice of Israel, and put them in array against the Syrians.
11 And the rest of the people he delivered unto the hand of Abishai his brother, and they set themselves in array against the children of Ammon.
12 And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me: but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee.
13 Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.
14 So Joab and the people that were with him drew nigh before the Syrians unto the battle; and they fled before him.
15 And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they likewise fled before Abishai his brother, and entered into the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.

Knowing they were now repulsive to David, Hanun began to prepared for war against them near Medeba, hiring 32,000 chariots and horsemen, and gathering with king of the Syrian kingdom of Maachah, and his men. David sent Joab and the army of Israel’s mighty men to fight. The greatest were placed in fighting positions against the Syrians, while the rest of the men were placed under the charge of Abishai against the Ammonites. Joab made plans that if either was finding their enemies to be to strong, they were to be helped by the other. When Joab and his men were ready to fight, the Syrians fled. When the Ammonites saw them run away, they also fled from Abishai. Joab returned to Jerusalem.

16 And when the Syrians saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they sent messengers, and drew forth the Syrians that were beyond the river: and Shophach the captain of the host of Hadarezer went before them.
17 And it was told David; and he gathered all Israel, and passed over Jordan, and came upon them, and set the battle in array against them. So when David had put the battle in array against the Syrians, they fought with him.
18 But the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians seven thousand men which fought in chariots, and forty thousand footmen, and killed Shophach the captain of the host.
19 And when the servants of Hadarezer saw that they were put to the worse before Israel, they made peace with David, and became his servants: neither would the Syrians help the children of Ammon any more.

The Syrians saw their failures, they sent messengers to gather their armies with the armies of Hadarezer under captain Shophach. David was informed, so he gathered his armies and went against them. They fought, some of the Syrians fled, but David and the host of Israel killed 7,000 Syrains with chariots, 40,000 of the footment, as well as Shophach. The people of Hadarezer gave in to defeat and made peace with David. The men of Hadarezer became the servants of Israel and decided they were no longer going to fight along with the Ammonites.

The Israelites were truly blessed to have the Lord on their side when they were led by the faithful. David and his armies were able to bring peace to Israel with the strength of the Lord. A lesson from this is that our enemies can be stirred up against us at any time, even when we feel that we have peace in our lives. This happens especially when Satan tempts men with pride and power, as he did with Hanun and his princes. Our trust in God and His plan, expressed by our willingness to keep the commandments, will keep us worthy of his help with any adversity in our lives.

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2 Kings Chapter 23

Josiah was a righteous king of Judah. He had worked to repair the temple and in doing so, the book of the law had been found. He read the book and then mourned for the weakness of those who had come before and the future of his people because of their wickedness. He prayed about the book, and because of his faith, Josiah would be blessed with peace in his own life. This chapter continues to tell of how he led the people.

1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.

Josiah gathered the elders, the men of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem, including priests, prophets, and people of all walks of life. He read all the words of the book of the law, or the book of the covenant. This was the book that had been found in the temple, which had caused him to go to the Lord in mourning. The king could have read the words for himself and chosen to lead the people according to that, but he took it a step further when he invited the people of the land to share in coming to a knowledge of the word of the Lord. This was good, because it gave the people a chance to choose for themselves from their own understanding, whether they would want to follow the law or live as they had been living.

3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.

Then, Josiah made covenants to the Lord, to be faithful, obedient to the commandments with all the heart and soul, and to perform all the rites and ordinances of the covenants in the book. The people agreed to the covenants.

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el.
5 And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
6 And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.

Josiah commanded for all the items in the temple and around it, that were devoted to the worship of Baal and any other gods, to be removed from the temple. They were taken outside of Jerusalem to fields where they were burned. The ashes were then carried away to Bethel. The king, destroyed (or put down) the wicked or false priests, who had been ordained to serve in the idolatrous temples around the land of Judah, including those who served Baal and other gods. He removed the idol found in the temple and had it burned and ground into powder outside of Jerusalem. The powder was cast on the graves of their children, possibly all those who were sacrificed to that very idol. He destroyed the places where the sodomites were doing wicked acts, removed all the wicked priests in the land of Judah, and defiled their places of worship.

9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
11 And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
12 And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.
14 And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.

Those priests that were removed, did not go to the temple in Jerusalem, but returned to their own people, as was part of the law of Moses. Josiah destroyed Topheth, which was the place of burning, or where the people sacrificed their own children to false gods. This sacrificing of children with fire, was strictly forbidden in the law of Moses. He took the chariots away, that were used to worship the sun, and he burned them. He destroyed the altars in the kings house, or on the roofs of the houses, as well as those in the temple. He ground them down and tossed the dust into a brook. Then, he destroyed the places of worship around Jerusalem and destroyed the wicked men there.

15 Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove.
16 And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.
17 Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el.
18 And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.
19 And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el.
20 And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.

Josiah continued to destroy all things related to idolatry in Bethel, which had been built by Jeroboam because Jerusalem had been too far for them to go to comfortably for their worship. He burned the place of worship and its grove. He burned the bones of the dead, found in the sepulchres, upon the altar. He saw a specific sepulchre and asked who was buried there. The men of Bethel told him it was the sepulcre of the man of God from Judah, who had prophesied of the things that Josiah had done to the altar (see 1 Kings 13). The prophecy had been fulfilled. Josiah commanded the men to leave the bones of the prophet, so none of the men touched them. The places of worship in Samaria were taken away, just as the place in Bethel. All the wicked priests were destroyed as well. Then, Josiah returned to Jerusalem.

21 And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant.
22 Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;
23 But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was holden to the Lord in Jerusalem.

The king gave a commandment that the people were to observe the passover, as they were commanded in the law of Moses. There had not been one observed like this, in all the days since the first time of the judges in Israel. This passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign (see 2 Chronicles 35 for more on this observance of the passover).

24 Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.
25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.

Josiah continued to follow all the laws in the book of the law, by getting rid of any involved in witchcraft and sorcery that were discovered in all the land of Judah (see Deuteronomy 18). No other king in the land of Israel, had completely given himself to following after the law of Moses.

It is amazing to be described like this in the history of the kings of Israel. Josiah was like no other king because he was loyal to the Lord, trusted Him, and stood up for those things which he knew to be true. His choices to cleanse all of Judah, were bold and courageous. He is an example of “standing up and being all in“, not wavering in his faith, and being a force for good in the lives of those under his influence.

26 Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal.
27 And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.
28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

However, Manasseh had done such wickedness and the people with him, especially with sacrificing so many lives to his evil ways, that the Lord would still hold the people of Judah accountable for their actions. Judah would be scattered, just as Israel had been scattered, including all that were in the city of Jerusalem. The temple had been desecrated by wicked acts, and the Lord would no longer be among the people there.

29 In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
30 And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead.

Egypt came up against the Assyrains, and Josiah went against him. Josiah was killed in Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem and buried there (see also 2 Chronicles 35). Jehoahaz, the son of Josiah, was anointed king by the people.

31 Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
32 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.
33 And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
34 And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.

At the age of 23, Jehoahaz began his reign in Jerusalem. He only reigned in wickedness for three months, then Pharoah-nechoh took him captive and made the land of Judah subject to Egypt. Judah had to pay Egypt 100 silver talents and a talent of god. Pharoah made Eliakim the king instead and calld him Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken into Egypt and died there (see also 2 Chronicles 36). Jehoiakim paid tribute to Egypt by taxing the people.

36 Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
37 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem, from the age of 25 to about 36. He led the people in wickedness. Sadly, all the work that Josiah had done, to help the people return to righteousness, was quickly undone by two unrighteous kings that followed after him. This is a testimony and a witness to me, of the importance of heeding the warnings and preparing ourselves to withstand temptations in our own lives. The Lord had warned the children of Israel, that any amount of idolatry, would bring their entire nation down to destruction. Over a short amount of time, some of the people chose to allow other nations to influence them and turned to the wickedness of idolatry. Once the temptation had been allowed to be a part of the land, it was nearly impossible to go back to following strictly after the Lord. Josiah worked hard to bring as many back to following the commandments as possible, but even his own sons were not willing to continue in righteousness. There are warnings that have been given in our own time. We need to heed the warnings of modern-day prophets, so that we may avoid temptations, remain safe spiritually, and have the kind of peace that Josiah was able to have in his life. (A good talk on warnings in our time, as it relates to our children is “Watching with All Perseverance“.)

1 Kings Chapter 5

King Solomon had established his kingdom in peace. His father, David, had been given the promise that the time for a more permanent house to the Lord would be after his reign, and during the reign of his Son, when their was peace. Solomon was now going to be the one to build the temple. Up to this point, the Israelites had worshipped in the tabernacle as they had commanded by the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.
2 And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
3 Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.
4 But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
5 And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.
6 Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

Solomon asked Hiram of Tyre, to help him get the wood he needed, in order to build the temple. Hiram had loved King David as a good friend. He provided supplies for David to build his house years before, and sent his servants to Solomon when he heard he had become king. Solomon was able to begin preparations for building the temple, because the Israelites had peace with all of their neighbors. Solomon was prepared to have his servants work along side the servants of Tyre, and to pay them for their work, because he knew the best woodwork would come from the trees of Lebanon cut by the Sidonians.

7 And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the Lord this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.
8 And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
9 My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.
10 So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.
11 And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
12 And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.

Hiram agreed to help Solomon with the wood, in exchange for food for his household. The two continued in this agreement for years and had peace between them.

13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.
14 And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.
15 And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
16 Beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
18 And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

A group of 30,000 Israelites were sent to work in Lebanon with the men of Hiram, under the direction or payment of Adoniram, who was over the treasury. In groups of 10,000, they would alternate between spending a month working and then returning home for two months. The men cut stones and trees in the mountains, and carried them down for the building of the temple. I have heard of the early saints doing the same kind of things in order to build the temple. Many of the men would devote a certain number of days from their work-week, to the building of the temple. They would cut stones and trees in the mountains just as the Israelites of old. They did these things out of their devotion and love for the Lord. I am sure that the Israelites committed their time out of love for the Lord and for their king.

As I read this short chapter, I am reminded also of the detail given to the Israelites regarding the building of the Tabernacle, and just how much of that information has been recorded in the scriptures. It is evidence to me of the great importance of temples in the work of the Lord. So much of these writings are devoted to these descriptions, and they teach me that the Lord wants His people to have temples to worship and to serve. I am so grateful to live in a time, when the work of building temples continues under the direction of the Lord’s living prophets. I know that temples are the Lord’s holy houses and that the service and work done in temples is key to the work of the Lord. The salvation of all mankind, is made possible by the work done in the temples. I have the privilege of living near a temple that is under construction now. I look forward to its completion in 2017. I am sure that Solomon and his people, felt greatly blessed by the opportunity to build the temple, just as I feel it now.

1 Kings Chapter 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel Chapter 14

Absalom, was the son of David, who had killed his brother out of revenge. He had fled to Geshur, where he had family from his Mother’s side. David wanted to see his son, in fact the last verse of chapter 13, said that his soul longed to go to him. Joab, who led the king’s army and happened to be his nephew, was a faithful servant to David. This chapter tells the story of what Joab did to help the king.

1 Now Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was toward Absalom.
2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched thence a wise woman, and said unto her, I pray thee, feign thyself to be a mourner, and put on now mourning apparel, and anoint not thyself with oil, but be as a woman that had a long time mourned for the dead:
3 And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

Joab made a plan for a wise woman to go to king David disguised as a woman who mourned for a long time. He told her the words to speak to David.

4 And when the woman of Tekoah spake to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
5 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, I am indeed a widow woman, and mine husband is dead.
6 And thy handmaid had two sons, and they two strove together in the field, and there was none to part them, but the one smote the other, and slew him.
7 And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth.
8 And the king said unto the woman, Go to thine house, and I will give charge concerning thee.
9 And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father’s house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.
10 And the king said, Whosoever saith ought unto thee, bring him to me, and he shall not touch thee any more.
11 Then said she, I pray thee, let the king remember the Lord thy God, that thou wouldest not suffer the revengers of blood to destroy any more, lest they destroy my son. And he said, As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of thy son fall to the earth.
12 Then the woman said, Let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak one word unto my lord the king. And he said, Say on.
13 And the woman said, Wherefore then hast thou thought such a thing against the people of God? for the king doth speak this thing as one which is faulty, in that the king doth not fetch home again his banished.
14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him.
15 Now therefore that I am come to speak of this thing unto my lord the king, it is because the people have made me afraid: and thy handmaid said, I will now speak unto the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his handmaid.
16 For the king will hear, to deliver his handmaid out of the hand of the man that would destroy me and my son together out of the inheritance of God.
17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the Lord thy God will be with thee.
18 Then the king answered and said unto the woman, Hide not from me, I pray thee, the thing that I shall ask thee. And the woman said, Let my lord the king now speak.
19 And the king said, Is not the hand of Joab with thee in all this? And the woman answered and said, As thy soul liveth, my lord the king, none can turn to the right hand or to the left from ought that my lord the king hath spoken: for thy servant Joab, he bade me, and he put all these words in the mouth of thine handmaid:
20 To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

The woman pleaded for help from David. She told David a story about her problem. She said that she was a widow with two sons. Her sons had been together in a field and one killed the other. She said that her family was all against her at this time, because they wanted her to deliver up the son who had killed his brother, so that they could kill him for his crime. If they did this, they would take away the heir of her family, leaving her alone and she would be left with nothing. In the law of Moses, it was known that the family of one who had been killed by another, where allowed to seek revenge out of justice. The family would not have been in trouble for doing so according to the law. However, David told her to return to her home and he would take charge of her. She told him that the problem was for her and her family, but that the king was not responsible. David told her that anyone who spoke against her, could be sent to the king and she would be protected. She reminded the king that he would not allow anyone to kill her son by revenge, as she said her family planned to do. David promised that no one would be allowed to harm her son. The woman asked to speak further with the king and he allowed her. Then, she said, what she had really come to say. She said that the king himself did this thing, by not allowing his own banished son to return home. Everyone will die and no one is different in the eyes of God. But God works to bring home those that are banished from Him, because he is a merciful God. If the king was willing to hear her story and help her, she suggested that she reveal herself and the Lord would be with David in deciding what to do. David told her to reveal herself to him. He asked her if Joab had arranged this. She admitted that this was true and that David had been wise.

21 And the king said unto Joab, Behold now, I have done this thing: go therefore, bring the young man Absalom again.
22 And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
24 And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king’s face.

David recognized what he had done and told Joab to bring Absalom to him. Joab thanked David for it, honoring him with a blessing, and went to bring Absalom from Geshur. He told Joab to have Absalom go back to his home and not to come to the king at this point. According to the chapter header, this was about three years since he had left Jerusalem.

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.
26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight.
27 And unto Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter, whose name was Tamar: she was a woman of a fair countenance.

Absalom was described as a man of great beauty, without blemish, and long and heavy hair. He had three sons, and a beautiful daughter named Tamar. In returning, he would have been able to go back to his family again.

28 So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king’s face.
29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come.
30 Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?
32 And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king’s face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me.
33 So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom.

For two years, Absalom lived in Jerusalem, without seeing his father’s face. Absalom asked Joab to go to the king for him, but he would not do it. He asked again and was denied again. Absalom had his servants set Joab’s field on fire, in order to get his attention. Joab came to him and asked him why he had done this thing. Absalom said that he wanted Joab to go to the king and ask him why he had brought him from Geshur. He could have stayed there and it would have been good, as he was safe from harm there, but now he wanted to see the face of his father, the king. If the king felt there was any iniquity in Absalom, he could have him killed, according to the law. Joab went to the king and told him this, and Absalom was called for by David. He came to the king and bowed to the ground before him. David kissed his son to show that he was reconciled to him.

It could not have been easy for David to handle these situations within his own family. As the king, he would have had so much to do and think about for his people. Adding the difficulty that must have existed knowing Amnon had taken advantage of his daughter, would have been hard enough for any loving father. Then, having Amnon, his first born son, killed out of revenge for it, must have been heartbreaking. Finally, Absalom had fled to another land and was no longer in Jerusalem with the rest of his family. David’s heart must have been aching and struggling to know how to grieve, comfort, and forgive, while still remaining a strong and able king for Israel. Joab was kind to risk his standing with David, to show him that he needed to forgive and bring his son back into his life in order to have peace come to his heart. Sometimes, in order to give greater help to those we love, we have to take risks, or make decisions, that may hurt them. Sometimes these decisions might hurt us as well, but it is true charity, to care for the welfare of another soul in doing so. Though it is not exactly related, I can’t help but think of the example of the Savior. He made the decision to follow through with the atonement and crucifixion. He chose to hurt His closest friends by leaving them and allowing them to go on without Him, and then made the decision to suffer the greatest a man would ever suffer, with the intent to bring an infinitely greater help to those who knew Him in His life, as well as to all mankind. This was pure love. This was charity.

1 Samuel Chapter 27

King Saul had attempted to kill David time and time again, but the Lord had continued to protect David. David had refused to kill Saul two times when the opportunity had presented itself, because he knew that Saul had been anointed by the Lord, as ruler over Israel. Even though Saul had gone in peace from their last confrontation, David knew that this was not the end of Saul’s desire to destroy him. This chapter begins:

1 And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
2 And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
3 And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife.
4 And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.

David knew that he needed to flee from Israel, into the land of the Philistines, in order to be safe from Saul. He took 600 of his men, and feld to the land of Gath. This was where Achish, the son of the king of the land, was living. All of his men lived there with their families. David lived there with his wives, Ahinoam and Abigail. Saul learned of David’s flight and stopped looking for him.

5 And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee?
6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day.
7 And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months.

David asked Achish if he would allow them to live in the country, and Achish gave him the area of Ziklag. Ziklag became a land for kings of Judah from that point on. David and his men lived in Ziklag for 16 months.

8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.
9 And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.
10 And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.
11 And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.
12 And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.

David and his men fought the Geshurites, Gezrites and Amalekites, destroying them and taking the spoil of war back to Achish. David made sure to destroy all of the people that would have possibly went about saying that David would destroy the Philistines. Achish believed that David was making an enemy of himself to the people of Isreal, and that he would remain a servant to him because of it.

I don’t know of any gospel principle that we learn from this chapter, but it does continue to teach the story of David. Saul stopped his search for David, for the sixteen months that he lived among the Philistines. I am sure that he was inspired to escape there for a time. David fought for the Philistines during this time, building a relationship with them, though we learn from verse 11 that his purpose was to be able to remain there in peace, as opposed to having an uprising against him and his men.

Ponderizing – Week 12 Thoughts

The verse I have chosen to ponderize this week, is Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

The greatest blessings that can be ours, are peace and eternal life. The Lord promised this peace to his apostles during his ministry on the earth. We learn of this in John 14:27, when we read, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” God gives us peace. His peace, is a peace of mind. His peace keeps fear from our hearts. His peace is only available when we strive to live righteously. I believe that this is because, when we do works of righteousness, we invite the spirit into our lives. The spirit brings heavenly peace to our hearts and minds. The reward for doing right, is the companionship of the spirit and the peace we can feel in knowing we are going to be okay. This peace can encourage us to continue enduring whatever may happen in our lives. This peace can be a driving force in the choices we make, which will ultimately lead us to God and the gift of eternal life, which he offers to the righteous. This verse is a promise, that the best gifts will come to those who faithfully do good and bring the light of Christ to others through their actions.

With this verse in mind, I ask myself something like, what am I doing right now, to enable me to feel the peace that the Lord promises to me? What am I doing to ensure that eternal life will be my reward? Is this thing I am doing right now, leading me towards the peace of mind that I desire and the life in heaven that I hope for? If not, what do I need to do differently? If so, how can I continue on this path? I know that this principle is a true and eternal principle of life.

But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

In light of all the Christmas baking this week, my thoughts go to logic in the process of baking. I could not make bread if I did not add the right ingredients together in order to make dough. If bread is what I want, I need to add those things that are known to produce bread. Seven cups of flowers in my dough will result in a mess without any substance or shape. Likewise, works of unrighteousness added into my life, will not be able to result in a reward of righteousness. Do good to receive the greatest good.

1 Samuel Chapter 1

The books of Samuel cover a period of about 130 years, from the birth and life of Samuel through the life and death of David (see Bible Dictionary: Samuel, books of). In particular, the book of 1 Samuel covers time from Samuel’s birth to the death of Saul. According to the entry for chapter 1, this book is also known as “The First Book of the Kings”. It is the first of four books: first and second Samuel, followed by first and second Kings. According to the Bible Dictionary, “The books of Kings narrate the history from the rebellion of Adonijah to the final captivity of Judah, including the whole history of the northern kingdom from the separation till its disappearance in 721 B.C.” (See Bible Dictionary: Kings, books of) In looking at the Bible Chronology in the LDS edition of the King James Bible, it tells us that Samuel was the last of the judges, and so we can know that the information follows what can be read in the book of Judges.

This book begins, as mentioned before, with the birth of Samuel. His story begins with the following:

1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:
2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there.

Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah, and she had not had any children, because she was barren. Elkanah went to Shiloh every year, to worship and give sacrifice to the Lord. The priests serving there, were two sons of Eli.

4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:
5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb.
6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.
7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?

When Elkanah offered his sacrifice, he gave portions to his family. Despite being barren, Elkanah gave Hannah a good portion, because of his love for her. Hannah felt a great sadness because she had not been able to have children, to the point of feeling jealousy towards Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah. Hannah would not eat the offering Elkanah had given her. He asked Hannah why she was crying and refusing to eat, wondering if he was not enough for her.

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore.
11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.
13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.
15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.
17 Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.
18 And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

Eli, the priest, was sitting near the post of the temple. Hannah left her family to be alone. She cried as she prayed to God. She made a promise to the Lord, that if He would allow her the blessing of having a son, she would dedicate him to the work of the Lord with a vow, even the vow of a Nazarite. Eli watched her as she spoke in prayer, but words did not come out of her mouth and he thought she was drunk. He chastised Hannah. She told Eli, that she was not drunk as those who followed after wickedness, but was in sorrow and had been pouring out her soul to God, out of grief. Eli told her to go in peace, and promised her that God would give her the thing she had been praying for. She went back to her family, ate and was no longer sad. I can only imagine, but I think that the words and blessing of Eli must have given Hannah comfort to her spirit and peace to her mind.

Hannah did not allow her jealousy to increase to anger or bitterness towards God for not blessing her with children. Instead, she took her sadness to the Lord and prayed earnestly for His blessing to be upon her. Hannah was human, with weaknesses and trials just as we all have. It is important for us to learn from her, that we can and should pray to God for help to overcome our weaknesses and to heal our hearts. We may not always be blessed to receive the things we might ask for, but we can all be blessed with comfort and strength to endure our weaknesses and trials, just as the words of Eli were a comfort to Hannah.

I do not think that this vow made by Hannah would not have been completely unexpected, because Elkanah, her husband, was a son of Levi. The levites were to live their lives in service of the Lord, because they were the tribe in the house of Jacob, which had been given the priesthood authority, to act in the name of the Lord, in His holy temple. The exception to her promise, is that she vowed to give him up as a child, rather than when he was grown to the age of the expected service. This is not the only story of a woman desperate to have a child, who made a promise to allow her first born son live a life in service to the Lord. It is one of the few reasons women are mentioned in the scriptures, and I think the reason for this, is that the role of women as mothers, is an eternal role to be valued as such.

19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her.
20 Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord.
21 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.
22 But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever.
23 And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

The next day, they worshipped in the temple and then returned to their home. Hannah’s prayers were answered and she and Elkanah were blessed with a child. She named the baby Samuel. Hannah did not go with Elkanah to worship in the temple, as they did each year, because she felt she should keep Samuel with her until he was old enough to be given to the service of the Lord. Elkanah allowed her to do this, with the understanding that she was going to fulfill her promise to the Lord.

24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young.
25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli.
26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord.
27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:
28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.

Once Samuel was old enough, Hannah took him and her offerings to the temple. She made sacrifice and then took Samuel, as a young child, to Eli. She fulfilled her vow and lent her son to the Lord for the rest of her life. Samuel stayed there and worshipped the Lord.

I cannot begin to imagine the strength it would take to make this life-long sacrifice. Her desire just to have a child and become a mother, was so strong, that she was willing to part with him for almost his entire life. I have seen how hard it is for mothers to lend their children to the Lord for missions of only a few years, and that is when a child is grown and already capable of being away from home on their own. It is a hardship and at huge blessing at the same time. I am sure, that this sacrifice of her young son, to the service of God, blessed her greatly for the remainder of her days.

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 5

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

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

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

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


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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