Posts Tagged 'Pride'

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 20

Judah was the remnant of Israel in the promised land, when the rest were taken captive into other nations. Hezekiah was their king, and he led Jerusalem in righteousness. He had focused much of his leadership on removing the temptations of idolatry and strengthening the temple. Because of the faith of the people and Hezekiah, the Lord had delivered them from their enemies. This chapter begins as follows:

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,
3 I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

Hezekiah was nearing the end of his life, due to illness (see also Isaiah 38 and 2 Chronicles 32). The prophet Isaiah came to see him and told him that the Lord wanted him to set his life in order because he would soon die. Hezekiah turned and prayed to the Lord, pleading for the Lord to remember how he had lived in a manner that would please Him. He cried sorely. Isaiah had left his room, and was on his way into the middle court, when revelation from the Lord came to him. He was told by the Lord to return to Hezekiah and tell him his prayer was heard and his tears were seen. He would be healed. On the third day, Hezekiah was to go to the temple according to the commandment God. The Lord would extend his life for another fifteen years. He would also deliver them out of the hands of their enemy, the Assyrians. The Lord would defend the city for his own purposes and because of the promises given to king David. Isaiah told him these things and then told his servants to use a lump of figs to cure Hezekiah. They did and he recovered.

8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day?
9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

Hezekiah asked Isaiah how he would know that he would be healed and be able to go to the temple on the third day. It is normal to wonder how a miracle may happen, when everything we know says otherwise. To show him a sign, Isaiah asked Hezekiah if his shadow should move forward or backward by ten degrees. Hezekiah replied that the movement of his shadow to go down ten degrees was simple, because that was the natural course when the sun moved, so it should return ten degrees from where it was at that time. Isaiah prayed and the shadow was moved ten degrees back from where it had been on the sundial of Ahaz.

There is no other thing in nature or made by man, that can turn back the time, the way that the Lord did for Hezekiah. This event may have inspired a confidence in Hezekiah, that had been weak in his state. It may have even been the reason that his body was able to completely heal from this experience, because attitude is a large part of recovery from phyisical problems with the body. Faith in the Lord brought healing to Hezekiah.

12 At that time Berodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.
13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

At some point after he was well, Beradach-baladan of Babylon sent gifts to Hezekiah thinking he was still ill. (see also Isaiah 39) Hezekiah received the gifts and then showed the Babylonians all the precious things and treasures of the kingdom. This seems to have been a moment of pride and boasting in his own greatness, which is not something that we should do. The faithful should praise the Lord and should not seek the glories and honors of men.

14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.
15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord.
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

Isaiah went to Hezekiah and asked what the men had said and where they were from. After Hezekiah told him, Isaiah asked what he had shown them in his house. Hezekiah told him that he had shown them everything. Then Isaiah prophesied that all that had been shown to them, would one day be carried away captive into Babylon. His sons would be carried away into Babylon and become servants or officers in the palace of the king. The word of the Lord was good, but in truth, the prophecy was not good for the people of Judah.

This must have been a hard prophecy to hear, knowing that Isaiah was a true prophet and his words had been fulfilled in the past. Hezekiah was personally aware of the fact that the Lord kept His word and that Isaiah was speaking the word of the Lord about the destruction of his people.

20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

Hezekiah did other things for Judah, like create an aqueduct or conduit system that brought water to the city. The other things that he did were kept in the record of the kings. Eventually he died and his son Manasseh reigned.

The story of Hezekiah being healed, is an example of the power of the prayer of the faithful. Hezekiah had lived a good life and he desired to continue it. He prayed in faith, and was blessed to be healed and live. This does not mean that every prayer of the faithful will result in a trial being removed or in something being healed, but it does mean the prayers of the faithful are heard. If it had been the will of God for Hezekiah to die at that time, being the thing that would be a greater blessing in the eternities, he would have been allowed to die. A sweet and tender message is given to us in this chapter. Not only does the Lord recognize the words of our prayers, but he sees our tears. He knows when we are sad or mourning. The Lord knows of the moments of deep sorrow, sadness, and sickness in our lives and they do not go unnoticed. We are not alone.

Another lesson learned from this chapter, is that it is always important to keep our pride in check. Pride is, in my opinion, the root of so many other sins. It creeps into our lives in ways that are hard to recognize and it sinks into our hearts so quickly. The only way to be sure to avoid this, is to keep living the gospel as best as we can, striving to keep the commandments at all times, and repenting as soon as we recognize our mistakes. The protecting guidance of the Spirit, is the only sure way to avoid pride and its dangerous consequences. Blessings come when we live faithfully and pay attention to our weaknesses with a willingness to become more.

2 Kings Chapter 5

Elisha was a man of God. He had been blessed with a double portion of the same spirit that rested upon Elijah, and he had the power and authority given by the Lord, to perform mighty miracles. He had parted the Jordan waters, healed water that was not drinkable, filled empty vessels with oil, blessed an older woman to bear a child, raised that child from the dead, made bad (poisonous) food into good food again, and he multiplied food, among other things I am sure. This chapter continues his miracles with the following:

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

The captain over the Syrian host was named Naaman. He was a great, honorable, and mighty man, who, through the blessings of the Lord, had led the Syrians to be delivered from enemies. At this point, Naaman was a leper. When the Syrians had taken some of the Israelites captive, there was a woman who became a maid for Naaman’s wife. She told her mistress that she wished they were near the prophet in Samaria, because he would heal Naaman. Someone who had heard this, went and told Naaman what had been said. The king told Naaman to go to the prophet and that he would send a letter to the king of Israel along with him. Naaaman left with money and clothing, as gifts I believe, and with the letter from the king of Syria. The letter told the king of Israel, that Naaman had been sent there to be healed. When the king of Israel had read it, He tore His clothes for being asked to do something he did not have the power to do. The king felt like this would give the Syrians a reason to fight the Israelites.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Elisha heard that the king had rent his clothes and asked of him why he had done this. He told the king, to send Naaman to him, to show that there was a prophet in Israel. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s door with a chariot and horses, and a messenger was sent to him by Elisha. The messenger told him to go to the Jordan and wash seven times. If he would do this, then he would be clean from leprosy. Naaman was offended by Elisha for sending a servant to speak to him instead of going out to meet Naaman himself and also for not performing some great miracle by healing him. He said that the rivers in Damascus were better than the waters of Israel, as if it was beneath him to be told to wash in the Jordan. In anger, he left, but then his servant went to him and asked if he would have done it if he had been asked to do some greater task. Why wouldn’t he do this simple thing to be made clean? So, Naaman went to the Jordan and washed seven times, just as Elisha had told him. When he did this, a miracle occurred and his skin was as smooth as the skin of a child, and he was made clean.

15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17 And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’
burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord.
18 In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.
19 And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.

Naaman went back to Elisha, honoring the Lord by recognizing He was the only God on earth. He offered a gift to Elisha, but Elisha refused the reward. Elisha was not being a prophet so that he could benefit from it. He was a true man of God. Naaman offered two mules to the servant of Elisha, or Naaman asked for two mules himself. Naaman would no longer offer sacrifice to any other god, but he asked for forgiveness for the times when he would need to go with his master into the place where his master worshipped his gods. He would expect that he would have to bow down with the command of his master. Elisha told him to go in peace. Naaman left and went from him just a little way.

20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
21 So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
22 And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
23 And Naaman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
24 And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
25 But he went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Gehazi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
26 And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
27 The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

The servant of Elisha, Gehazi, was not satisfied with how the exchange between Elisha and Naaman had gone. He questioned Elisha’s choice to refuse the gift from Naaman. Gehazi decided that he would go after Naaman and take some of the gift that had been offered. Naaman saw Gehazi approaching him, and so he got down from his chariot and asked if everything was alright. Gehazi told him that everthing was indeed fine, and that he had been sent to him by Elisha to accept talents of silver and some of the garments that had been offered, to be given to two sons of the prophets that were supposedly on their way. Naaman gave freely to Gehazi and then left. Gehazi went before Elisha and was asked where he had been. Gehazi denied ever leaving, but Elisha knew this was not true. He asked him if it was the right time to receive gifts from Naaman, and knowing that Gehazi had done this thing, he cursed him and his posterity with the leprosy of Naaman. Gehazi left Elisha as a leper.

There are a couple of lessons I can think of when I read the story of Naaman. He was a man who was unwilling to do a simple task in order to receive a great blessing. I believe this was because he thought more of himself. His pride nearly caused him to live in the same state for the remainder of his days. It reminds me so much of the story of the brass serpent. In that story, the Israelites were plagued by poisonous snakes who blocked the way of travel for them. Many were dying and Moses, who was given direction by the Lord, gave them a way out. He made a serpent of brass and put it on a staff. If the Israelites would look to the serpent after being bitten, then by the power of God, they would be healed. If they chose not to look, they would die. Many thought the act of simply looking at the staff, was beneath them. Something so simple, could not save them.
Their pride caused them to die from the serpents’ bites. We live in a time of great spiritual death. Many are choosing to turn from God and separate themselves from him. In an effort to save us from this death, the Lord has given us several simple things to do that can strengthen us and keep us from turning away. Some of these simple things are prayer, scripture study, family home evenings, attending church regularly, partaking of the sacrament, and so on. If we let our pride stop us from believing in the power of something so simple as eating a bite of bread and drinking a small sip of water, we too will die in a spiritual sense. It is so important to put aside our pride and to believe that great things will come from small and simple acts.

Additionally, Naaman teaches me the lesson that I must act in faith for the miracles to happen. The Lord was not going to heal him just because he wanted to be healed, or even because he felt he should be healed. The Lord could have done this, but what would that have done for him? What would that do for us? Our physical, mortal trials and difficulties, are just that, physical and mortal. However, they are not without purpose.
They are part of this mortal existence for a reason. We came here for the opportunity to learn from experience. If the Lord simply healed us without effort on our part, we would never learn anything. We would not have opportunities to choose and to progress. Naaman needed to learn the attributes of humility and faith. The choice to act upon the direction given to him, was an act of humility and faith in words of the prophet. Naaman needed to learn for himself, that the Lord was the only true and living God able to do things that seemed impossible. He did learn that there was no other God “in all the earth”. Because he acted upon the direction with faith, even though it was very little faith, he was blessed by a great miracle. If we take even the tiniest steps of faith, we will be greatly blessed and eventually we will see the miracles of change in our own lives.

While Naaman had to experience humility and follow the words of the prophet, in order to be healed, Gehazi allowed himself to be overcome by his pride. He felt that he knew better than the prophet and took it upon himself to get what he felt was better. He added to that pride, lying and deciept, when he lied to Elisha about where he had been and hid those things which he had received from Naaman. In the end, he got what he deserved for the pride he demonstrated and he would be reminded of that every day for the rest of his life, I am sure. In this story, we can learn how much better off we will be if we put aside our pride and become a humble follower of the words of the prophets. I am grateful for this knowledge and the strong desire in me, to avoid the kind of spiritual disease that pride, lying and deceiving will bring upon me.

2 Samuel Chapter 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel Chapter 19

Joab was the captain of the armies of David. He had been serving in this capacity for quite some time at this point. He had seen to the death of Absalom, the son of David, who had made himself an enemy to the king. David had commanded his captains, to allow Absalom to live through their battle, but Joab had gone against this command. Upon learning of the death of his son, David went to his room and mourned.

1 And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom.
2 And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son.
3 And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
4 But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!
5 And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines;
6 In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well.
7 Now therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants: for I swear by the Lord, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.
8 Then the king arose, and sat in the gate. And they told unto all the people, saying, Behold, the king doth sit in the gate. And all the people came before the king: for Israel had fled every man to his tent.

Joab learned that David was mourning his son, and instead of celebrating their victory over the armies of Absalom, the people of David mourned. They secretly went back into the city, as if they had fled in battle. David continued to mourn for his son. Joab went to David and told him that he had brought shame to his servants who had fought for him and their people. Joab accused him of caring more for his enemy, than he did for those that had supported him and were his friends. Joab felt that if Absalom had been left alive, their people would have died, and David would have been okay with that. He told David to go and comfort his servants, be grateful to them for their service, or his people would not stay with him, and that would be the worse thing to happen to him since the days of his youth. David, got up and went to the gate of his house, where the people came to him from their own homes.

9 And all the people were at strife throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, The king saved us out of the hand of our enemies, and he delivered us out of the hand of the Philistines; and now he is fled out of the land for Absalom.
10 And Absalom, whom we anointed over us, is dead in battle. Now therefore why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?

There was a confusion and conflict in the land of Israel, because David had brought them peace from their enemies and then was forced to flee because of Absalom. Then, the king they had chosen, Absalom, was dead, and they were not sure if they were to bring David back as the king of Israel.

11 And king David sent to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, saying, Speak unto the elders of Judah, saying, Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house? seeing the speech of all Israel is come to the king, even to his house.
12 Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last to bring back the king?
13 And say ye to Amasa, Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if thou be not captain of the host before me continually in the room of Joab.
14 And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants.
15 So the king returned, and came to Jordan. And Judah came to Gilgal, to go to meet the king, to conduct the king over Jordan.

David sent a message to the elders of Judah, to ask why they had not asked for him to return to his home in Jerusalem. They were his people and yet, they did not bring him back. His messengers, Zadok and Abiathar, were to ask Amasa to be the new captain of his army, in place of Joab. Amasa was family to both Joab and David. I think that Amasa was the cousin to Joab and the nephew to David. The men of Judah were unified and asked David and his people to return to Jerusalem. David met the men of Judah at the Jordan River, be escort the king over the river.

16 And Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite, which was of Bahurim, hasted and came down with the men of Judah to meet king David.
17 And there were a thousand men of Benjamin with him, and Ziba the servant of the house of Saul, and his fifteen sons and his twenty servants with him; and they went over Jordan before the king.
18 And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king’s household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;
19 And said unto the king, Let not my lord impute iniquity unto me, neither do thou remember that which thy servant did perversely the day that my lord the king went out of Jerusalem, that the king should take it to his heart.
20 For thy servant doth know that I have sinned: therefore, behold, I am come the first this day of all the house of Joseph to go down to meet my lord the king.
21 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?
22 And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?
23 Therefore the king said unto Shimei, Thou shalt not die. And the king sware unto him.

A man of the tribe of Benjamin, Shimei, who had been the man to throw stones at David and his family as he had fled from Jerusalem, quickly went to the Jordan to meet the king, bringing a thousand of his men. Ziba and his family and sons, crossed over the Jordan before David, and a ferry was there to carry David and his household across the river. Shimei met the king and bowed down to him, begging to be forgiven for what he had done. Abishai advised David that Shimei should be put to death for cursing David, the Lord’s anointed king of Israel. In the laws given to Moses, the people had been commanded not to curse their leaders, or those that had been chosen by the Lord to lead them. However, David did not want to have any man put to death that day, so he pardoned Shemei for his actions against him. Many men in David’s position, would have followed the counsel of Abishai, but David was a more forgiving man. He has shown this quality as part of his character from his youth, especially with Saul. I am sure, that knowing his own need to be forgiven, David was more willing to forgive those who offended him.

24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.
25 And it came to pass, when he was come to Jerusalem to meet the king, that the king said unto him, Wherefore wentest not thou with me, Mephibosheth?
26 And he answered, My lord, O king, my servant deceived me: for thy servant said, I will saddle me an ass, that I may ride thereon, and go to the king; because thy servant is lame.
27 And he hath slandered thy servant unto my lord the king; but my lord the king is as an angel of God: do therefore what is good in thine eyes.
28 For all of my father’s house were but dead men before my lord the king: yet didst thou set thy servant among them that did eat at thine own table. What right therefore have I yet to cry any more unto the king?
29 And the king said unto him, Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land.
30 And Mephibosheth said unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch as my lord the king is come again in peace unto his own house.

Mephibosheth, who had been falsely accused by his servant, met David, having waited for this day when the king would return in peace. David asked why Mephibosheth had not gone with him, and he told him how his servant, Ziba, had deceived him and then lied to the king. He told David to do what he would with him, because he knew he had been blessed by David when he took him in as one of his own family. David told him that he didn’t need to beg anymore, because he had been promised to have the land divided between him and Ziba. Mephibosheth said that Ziba could have it all, because the king had returned in peace. The header for this chapter says that in these words, Mephibosheth pledged allegiance to David.

31 And Barzillai the Gileadite came down from Rogelim, and went over Jordan with the king, to conduct him over Jordan.
32 Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old: and he had provided the king of sustenance while he lay at Mahanaim; for he was a very great man.
33 And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.
34 And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem?
35 I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?
36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?
37 Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother. But behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee.
38 And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee: and whatsoever thou shalt require of me, that will I do for thee.
39 And all the people went over Jordan. And when the king was come over, the king kissed Barzillai, and blessed him; and he returned unto his own place.
40 Then the king went on to Gilgal, and Chimham went on with him: and all the people of Judah conducted the king, and also half the people of Israel.

David was escorted by an aged man named Barzillai, who had been one to give provisions to David in the wilderness. David told him to return with him to Jerusalem, but he did not want to be a burden to David, as an old man with not much of a life left to live. He planned to escort the king for a little while, but not to be repaid for it. He asked instead to be allowed to return to his home, where he could be buried with his family, and he offered Chimham as a servant to David. David accepted the offer and offered to do what he could for Barzillai. The people crossed the Jordan, and David said goodbye to Barzillai and blessed him. David took Chimham with him, to Gilgal, and the people of Judah and some of Israel, escorted them back to Jerusalem.

41 And, behold, all the men of Israel came to the king, and said unto the king, Why have our brethren the men of Judah stolen thee away, and have brought the king, and his household, and all David’s men with him, over Jordan?
42 And all the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, Because the king is near of kin to us: wherefore then be ye angry for this matter? have we eaten at all of the king’s cost? or hath he given us any gift?
43 And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.

The men of Israel wanted to know why the men of Judah had been the ones to escort the king. The men of Judah said that it was because King David was family to them. They felt the others had no reason to be upset with them, because the king had not given them any special treatment or reward for doing this thing. The men of Israel responded that they had more of a right to the honor, and that they should have been consulted before the king was brought back. This started contention between the men of Israel and Judah.

With all that had happened leading up to this decision in bringing King David back, it seems that the nation of Israel was a broken nation. Many were deceived into thinking that David was not supportive of them, through the works of his son. Since they had peace with their surrounding nations and enemies, they turned to finding opportunities to fight from within. It seems that at this point, the people were working themselves up to greater contentions in the land. This has been a tool that Satan uses to break down the strong. Often times throughout the scriptures, people unite together in the cause to protect their nation from outside influences. Then once their issues with others are resolved and they have peace, they begin to find ways to fight between themselves. It often seems to come from a place of pride, or in other words, one group feeling they are better or deserve more than another. Satan knows that if people can be divided from within, the fall will be greater than anything that could happen from without. A lesson in this for us personally, is that we need to look to ourselves and our families, and be watchful for this tactic of the adversary. Contention within the home will break down the strongest family. This is the most effective way for the adversary to break down the good, righteous influences of society, because the family is the most basic unit in society. Our families deserve our greatest efforts. We should be working to strengthen our families in all times and seasons of our lives. I am so grateful for the family that God has given to me. I hope that I can and will do all that I am able to protect it and keep it whole, so that my family will have a greater chance to stand strong in the face of any trials and difficulties that may come our way.

1 Samuel Chapter 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel Chapter 14

Saul was the king of Israel for two years, when he attacked some of the Philistines and provoked them to war. The Philistines brought countless soldiers along with many chariots and horses to the battle. Saul and his army of much fewer men, were unprepared to fight so great an army. Saul had also over-stepped his authority as the king, and in making his own burnt sacrifice to the Lord, had lost the support of God in his leadership. This chapter begins with the following:

1 Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
2 And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;
3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.

Saul’s son Jonathan, decided to go against the Philistines without telling his father. Meanwhile, Saul was with about 600 of his men in Gibeah and Ahiah the priest, who wore the ephod of the priesthood. They were all unaware of Jonathan’s decision.

4 And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
9 If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
10 But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
11 And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.
18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.

In the paths leading to the garrison, there was a place between two jagged rocks. This was the spot between their two armies. Jonathan put his trust in the Lord, who had promised to fight with the Israelites if they would put their faith in Him. Jonathan knew that in times past, the Lord had blessed small numbers of Israelites to have victory their enemy, no matter what the size of their army was. His armor-bearer faithfully stood by his side. Jonathan said they would allow themselves to be discovered by the Philistines. If the Philistines told them to stay where they were and allow the Philistines to come to them, they would stay. If the Philistines invited them to come to them, Jonathan would know it was a sign from God that He delivered the Philistines into their hands. In faith, they would go towards the Philistines. Jonathan and his armor-bearer went through with their plan. The Philistines discovered them and invited them to go to them and be shown something. Jonathan then knew that God had delivered them into his hands. Jonathan began to kill the soldiers in the garrison. He and his armor-bearer killed about twenty soldiers. The Philistines became scared and trembled. Even the earth began to tremble. Saul’s watchmen saw that the host of the Philistines began to melt away. Saul looked to see who had left his men to fight alone, and saw that it was his son and his armor-bearer. Then Saul called for the priest to bring the ark of the covenant to him.

19 And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.
20 And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.
22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
23 So the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.

As Saul was talking with the priest, the noise of the battle grew and so he changed his mind. Instead, Saul gathered with his men and they went to the battle and there was great confusion. The Israelites who had fled when the Philistines arrived, saw that the Philistines were beginning to flee, so they began to gather back together with the host of Israel. The Israelites fought hard and with the help of the Lord, Israel was saved.

24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.
29 Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.

Saul had told his people to go without food until the evening, so that he would be avenged of his enemies. This sounds like a command for the people to fast for their victory, but as far as we know, it was his own idea, not that of the Lord’s. As the host of Israel moved forward, they came to a wooded area with honey on the ground. No one would touch the honey because of the oath they had made to their king. Jonathan had not been with the people when Saul had made this oath. Because he had not known of the oath, he went ahead and ate some of the honey. He was strengthened by the food. One of the men told Jonathan of the oath they had made. Jonathan saw they the people were weak because they had not eaten. Jonathan felt his father had done wrong and he showed the people that he had been strengthened by the honey. He felt they should have been able to eat the spoils of the battle they had one. The people listened to the words of Jonathan and began to eat the animals in the land, against the oath they had made with Saul, and in a manner that would not have been acceptable to God.

33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.
34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
35 And Saul built an altar unto the Lord: the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord.

Saul was told what his people had done, and he chastised them for their transgression against him. He told them to bring the animals to be cooked and eaten in the way that God had commanded them to eat meat. He did not want his people to sin against the Lord. Saul built his first altar unto the Lord.

36 And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God.
37 And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
39 For, as the Lord liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.
40 Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.
41 Therefore Saul said unto the Lord God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.

Saul told the people they would destroy the Philistines during the night and the people were willing to follow him. The priests told Saul to draw near unto the Lord, so Saul asked the Lord if going down to attack the Philistines was the right thing to do. He did not receive an answer to his prayer. He felt that some sin of the people was the reason for not getting an answer. He called the leaders together, to find out who had sinned. He was willing to put the person to death, even if it was his own son, Jonathan. The people did not answer him. He decided to find out from the Lord who had sinned, so he separated Jonathan and himself from the people, and asked the Lord to select which group he was looking for. Jonathan and Saul were chosen, so Saul asked the Lord again, which person it was. Jonathan was chosen. Saul asked his son what he had done, and Jonathan told him that he had eaten during the time when Saul had an oath of fasting with the people. Jonathan recognized that he should die. Saul said that he would die, but the people together, made a plea for Jonathan because he had been the reason for their victory against the Philistines, and the Lord had been on his side. Because of the words of the people, Jonathan was not killed. Saul decided not to follow after the Philistines, probably because he had not received direction from the Lord to pursue them. Instead, he returned to his own place and allowed the Philistines to do the same.

47 So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
48 And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:
50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
51 And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
52 And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.

Saul gathered his armies and began to fight against all of their enemies. He fought the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, kings of Zobah and the Philistines. He attacked the Amalekites also. The Israelites fought long and hard against the Philistines, and any man who was strong or valiant, was gathered to Saul’s army. Saul had 3 sons, Jonathan, Ishui, and Melchi-shau, and 2 daughters, Merab and Michal. His wife was Ahinoam, and his cousin, Abner, was the captain of his army.

Once again, faith in the Lord brought victory to the Israelites. Jonathan was a great example of faith in the Lord. He knew the history of his people, and that the Lord had used few men to defeat great enemies. Jonathan gathered his courage and went without an amry of men, to fight the portion of the Philistines gathered near him. He did this because he trusted that the Lord was on his side and would fight the battle with him. When we do what is right, the Lord will be on our side. During our daily battles with the adversary and temptation, we can trust in the Lord and He will help us to have the strength to overcome, just as he helped Jonathan and the Israelites.

This part of the story of Saul, teaches us the importance of turning to the Lord for guidance, which we can do through prayer. In his own wisdom and pride, Saul was prepared to go against the Philistines in the night, but the leaders reminded him to council with the Lord first. When they did this, they learned that the Lord would not be with them in this fight, and they knew it would be better for them to wait. We can turn to the Lord in every decision in our life. The Lord will give us the answers we need. He will guide us to find the answers when it would be better for us to learn for ourselves. Sometimes he will not answer us immediately, and we can know that the timing is not right, just as it was not right for Saul and the armies of Israel. No matter what the outcome may be, it is always appropriate to council with the Lord on things of importance to our lives. When we humbly seek the Lord’s guidance, He will help us do what is right.

Deuteronomy Chapter 9

In this chapter, Moses continues his final sermons to the Israelites. They are being prepared and strengthened for the final part of the journey into the promised land. We read:

1 Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
2 A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
3 Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee.
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
6 Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.

In order to go into the promised land, the Israelites would need to cross the Jordan River. They were on the verge of this task, as well as going up against the inhabitants who are stronger and larger than they were, with cities that were fortified with great walls. Some of these people were the giants of their day, and most men feared them. They were reminded here, that the Lord would go before them. He would be their strength and deliver them to the Israelites, who would then be able to destroy them and drive them out of the land. These things were not done because of the great righteousness of the Israelites, but rather, because of the great wickedness of the other nations and to keep the promises that had been made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The children of Israel were a hard nation, who had not turned fully to the Lord and were quick to forget Him.

I think that they needed this reminder, so that they would not turn too quickly to boast of themselves in their accomplishments. We can learn from this, that sometimes we are blessed in life because of others, and not for our ourselves. In some cases, others loose their own blessings and they fall upon us. Sometimes others are righteous and we are blessed because they have been faithful. It would be great to recognize either of these causes in our own lives, because it can help to keep us more grateful and humble.

7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.
8 Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you.
9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
10 And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
11 And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
12 And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
13 Furthermore the Lord spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the Lord your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the Lord had commanded you.
17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.
18 And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.
20 And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.

Moses reminded the people that as a nation, they had been entirely too rebellious towards the God that blessed them at this time. He spoke of Horeb, or the area of Sinai, when Moses left them for a time to receive the law from the Lord. While he fasted and spoke with the Lord, they had turned back to their evil ways of idolatry. The Lord was angry for this rebellion and told Moses that he would destroy them and raise a mighty nation from Moses. Moses saw for himself, that the people had returned to worshipping a false god, and broke the stone tablets that contained the law of the Lord. Moses fasted and prayed to the Lord, that the anger of the Lord would be turned away from the people and Aaron, for their sin. Moses took the sin of the Israelites, the wicked idol which they had worshipped, and destroyed it.

22 And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, ye provoked the Lord to wrath.
23 Likewise when the Lord sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
24 Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
25 Thus I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the Lord had said he would destroy you.
26 I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
27 Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
28 Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.
29 Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

Moses also reminded them of other times of rebellion, when they had murmured for water and food, and when they had feared the strength of the nations in the land. At these times they had brought the wrath of the Lord upon themselves again. They had had great moments of weakness, doubt, and the fear of men – moments when they had not believed in God, and had been led them away from Him. Moses had fasted and prayed again for the people of Israel. Moses knew the promises of their fathers, and that this people were the Lord’s chosen people. Other nations were aware of them as well, and Moses had prayed that the Lord would spare them destruction, so that others would not think that God was not a God of great power, or that God hated His own people so he destroyed them. Moses had done so much for the people, through pleading for their lives, when they deserved the punishments of God. In effect, Moses, took the sin of Israel upon himself and paid the price along with those who had lost faith. We can look at this choice for Moses, and see an example of Christ. Christ has taken the sin of all the people upon himself, and paid the greater price so that we can live eternally with God. Just as we owe our lives and gratitude to the Savior, the Israelites owed much to their own mediator, Moses. This is the burden of the prophets. I wonder how much pleading is done by the modern prophets in behalf of the saints today. I hope that I can live my life with greater faith and trust in the Lord, and with a more grateful heart for the blessings I receive from Him, through the Atonement.

Deuteronomy Chapter 8

In this chapter, Moses continues his final sermons to the children of Israel. In preparation for his leaving and their gaining of the promised land, the Lord has commanded Moses to teach the people. In the last few chapters, it seems that he has focused on the importance of keeping the commandments and remembering the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

The promise given to the Israelites, was that if they would keep the commandments they had received, they would be blessed to live, grow in number, and inherit the land they were promised. One of the things that would help them to keep these commandments, was to remember how the Lord had guided them to this land. His purposes for doing this, was so that they would become more humble and prove themselves obedient to his commandments. The Lord had allowed trials to come upon them, to teach them that people need Him and His gospel. In particular, they experienced the trial of hunger, and the Lord provided manna for them. Moses teaches them, that this experience was to teach them that they could not live by just partaking of food for the body, but that they needed to hearken to the word of the Lord in order to live as well. Moses also says here, that their clothing did not “wax old” or their foot swell, which is the first time I can recall him mentioning this blessing. They had the protection and comfort that comes from clothing that does not wear out. I think of the pioneers, who suffered greatly because their shoes wore out and they did not have the clothing necessary to keep themselves protected from the harsh weather. For some, this lack of good clothing, led to their death. The Israelites were truly provided for all the many years that they wandered, and it was something to be especially grateful for.

There have been promises such as these given in modern days as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 93:20, the saints are promised, “For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.” This is a beautiful promise of blessings we will have for eternity, and they are dependent upon our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. Just as the Israelites were told that the Lord would humble them and prove them, He does the same for us. If we have an open heart, we can learn the lessons the Lord wants to teach us, through the trials and tests He allows us to experience. Part of the purpose of life on earth, is to be tested. We learn about this in Abraham 3:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Without this testing and our proving ourselves obedient, we cannot grow beyond what we are right now. I believe this life is designed for our progression now, as well as after this life.

I am just beginning to come to understand the lessons the Israelites were being taught about the bread of life. This lesson is so important, that we learn of it through the life of the Savior as well. When faced with the direct temptation of the adversary to turn stones into bread during his time of fasting, Jesus said, “Is is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (see Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4)” This teaching is also repeated in modern revelation. In Doctrine and Covenants 84 we read the following:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

Our souls are not only physical. We are a spiritual being as well, and as spiritual beings, we suffer spiritual hunger along with physical hunger. I have experienced the deep spiritual hunger that life can bring with all its difficulties. Over the past several years, as I have turned to the word of the Lord to deal with that hunger, I have found amazing blessings of feeling filled. Today, I cannot imagine my life without seeking for the knowledge, truth, understanding, comfort and love, that come from studying the gospel daily. If we can come to a knowledge, that we need the word of the Lord and bread of life in our lives, and then we actively live it, we will be better prepared when our tests and trials come.

5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
7 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

Moses teaches the Israelites, that the Lord will chasten His children. He will chasten us. He does this because He loves us. I think that this is a hard idea for many people to hear these days, but I believe it to be true. God, more than any soul that has lived upon the earth, wants what is the best for us. He knows that following after the ways of Satan are not what is best. He knows that only He can offer us the greatest gift of all, which is eternal life. He gives us reminders of the ways we can get there, as he chastens us. If we obey the commandments, follow the example of Jesus Christ, and love and respect our Father in Heaven, He will have no need to chasten us.

God does not wait to bless us for our righteousness. When we are obedient, we are blessed in this life and we will be blessed after this life as well, just as He blessed the Israelites with the goodness of the promised land. In all these things, they needed to be grateful for the blessings God gave them. Likewise, in all the things that we have in this life, we should be grateful to God for giving them to us.

11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

The people were warned again, that if they forgot God and all the things he had done for them, allowing their own pride to shut Him out and let in other gods to worship, they would perish just like the other nations they had and would destroy. This warning is for us as well. I love the verses we read in Helaman 12, which teach us this principle in more detail.

1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.

When we take for granted the hand of the Lord in our lives, and begin to think we are as great as we are because of ourselves alone, we no longer worship God. In this case, I think we begin to worship the work of our own hands. When we are righteous, we are promised prosperity and growth in many ways. If we begin to allow our own pride to cause us to forget that we are blessed by God in our property and growth, we will fall away after other gods, ultimately following the adversary and worshipping him, becoming an enemy to God. If we fall away, because of our disobedience and ingratitude towards God, our own eventual destruction will come and we will perish. If we hope to experience the blessings promised to the faithful, we need to remember the Lord, follow His word, and continue with thankful hearts to God.

Genesis Chapter 44

This is a continuation of the story of Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers many years before. He has had all his brothers in his house to dine with him, but he is still in disguise. His father, Jacob (Israel), has remained in Canaan and is concerned that he may loose Joseph’s brother Benjamin whom he loves. The story of Joseph and his family continues as follows:

1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.
2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
4 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
5 Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.

Joseph provided food for the brothers, but he did not take their money. In fact, he had his servant put their money back in the sacks, just as he had done the first time. Then, he also had his servant place his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack as well. He sent them off on their way in the morning. Then before they got to far, Joseph sent his steward after them to stop them and accuse them of being thieves for stealing his cup.

6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?
9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.
10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

They were stopped and accused, to which the brothers responded that they search their sacks and find the one who took the cup. Then he can be put to death and they would be the bondsmen of the Lord, Joseph. The steward said they would check the sack and take that man for a servant, while the others would be set free without blame. They all opened their sacks and found that the cup was in Benjamin’s sack, which was extremely disturbing for the brothers. They all returned to the city where Joseph was.

14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.
17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

Again the brothers fell down before Joseph in his house. Joseph asked them what caused them to do such a thing as steal from them. Judah spoke for the brothers and said basically that their was no way to excuse what had been done. He offered that they all remain as servants to him. Joseph said he could not do that, but that he would keep the thief and the rest would return to their father.

18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us.
27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;
31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.
33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Judah asked to speak alone with Joseph. He explained that they had brought Benjamin down, knowing it would grieve their father to death, if he should loose him as he did his older brother and mother. Judah said that surely his father would die if they returned without Benjamin. He offered to take Benjamin’s place as his servant, so that Benjamin could be returned to his father.

This goes to show that we all can change. Judah, who had been the one to suggest the brothers kill Joseph and then encouraged his sale to slavery, was now offering himself up as a slave to save his brother. He had gone from a selfish young man, to one willing to give his life for the life of his brother and father. I am sure that this thing was extremely touching to Joseph and that he could sense the change in his brother’s ways.

It is so interesting to me how selfish we can be in our youth. It is not until you get a little older, that you begin to realize how much teenagers and young adults tend to focus on themselves and what life has to offer them. For most of us, we grow out of this and mature into people willing to make great sacrifices for the benefit of others, usually those in our families. I think this is one of those lessons of life, that we all need to learn and it can be a lifelong lesson as well. The root of so much evil is selfishness and pride, which the brothers of Joseph were all full of before. This is part of why the atonement is so important for each of us. I am so grateful for repentance and forgiveness in my own life, which is helping me to be less selfish and less prideful each day.


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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