Posts Tagged 'Promises of God'

2 Chronicles Chapter 9

As king of Israel, Solomon had built the temple and a palace for himself. He had also worked to build up cities, highways, and more. His success was known among the nations. He was truly blessed of the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
2 And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not.
3 And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built,
4 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.
5 And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom:
6 Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceedest the fame that I heard.
7 Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom.
8 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice.
9 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave king Solomon.
10 And the servants also of Huram, and the servants of Solomon, which brought gold from Ophir, brought algum trees and precious stones.
11 And the king made of the algum trees terraces to the house of the Lord, and to the king’s palace, and harps and psalteries for singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.
12 And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.

The Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon and wanted to test him. She visited him in Jerusalem and told him all that was in her heart. Solomon was able to answer her all the questions she had, with complete wisdom. Once the queen had seen this for herself, along with all the prosperity and success of his Kingdom, she was convinced of the truth to what she had heard of him. She told him this and that she couldn’t believe it until she saw for herself. She went so far as to say that what she had heard did not even come close to the level of his actual wisdom. She was impressed by the happiness of his men and servants. She praised the Lord who had given him the kingdom. She recognized that the God of Israel had loved his people so much that he blessed them with Solomon as their king and judge. She gave Solomon gifts of gold, spices and precious stones. Then, the servants of Huram along with his own servants, brought algum trees and precious stones, which Solomon used to make terraces for the temple and his palace, such as had not been seen in the land of Judah. Solomon gave gifts to the queen of Sheba of anything she asked of him. Then she and her servants returned to her own land.

13 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold;
14 Beside that which chapmen and merchants brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.

In addition to his amazing wisdom, he was prosperous beyond any other. In one year, he recieved over 600 talents of gold. All the kings and leaders around, brought him gifts of gold and silver.

15 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of beaten gold went to one target.
16 And three hundred shields made he of beaten gold: three hundred shekels of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.
17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold.
18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays:
19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom.

Solomon made shields of gold, which he put in the house of the forest of Lebanon (like an armory). He also had an ivory throne made, which was plaited in gold and raised on a gold platform with six steps leading up to it. On each side of the throne, there was a lion, as well as on both sides of each step of the platform.

20 And all the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: none were of silver; it was not any thing accounted of in the days of Solomon.
21 For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
22 And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.

Instruments, tools, cups and such things in his palace, were made of gold. He continued to receive gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks from his men who went to Tarshish with the men of Huram. He was by far, the most wise and wealthy king of all the world.

23 And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.
24 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

Many kings visited Solomon, to hear his wisdom. Each brought gifts of silver, gold, clothing, spices, horses and mules. Other nations must have recognized the power in the wisdom and strength of Solomon and Israel. In bringing gifts to Solomon, they paid him tribute and possible made an alliance with Israel. This would have meant greater peace for Israel during his reign. (see also 1 Kings 4)

25 And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; whom he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
26 And he reigned over all the kings from the river even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt.
27 And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the low plains in abundance.
28 And they brought unto Solomon horses out of Egypt, and out of all lands.

With the gift of so many horses and chariots, Solomon had 4,000 places made for them. He had 12,000 men as horsemen located in chariot cities and in Jerusalem. He ruled over Israel, as well as over the leaders of the nations bordering Israel. Solomon and Israel became very prosperous.

29 Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?
30 And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years.
31 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

Much of the history of Solomon was written in books and prophecies that are not contained in the Bible today, but were recorded by the prophet Nathan (prophet during reign of David as well as Solomon), Ahijah the Shilonite (prophet of Jeroboam’s time), and Iddo the seer. Solomon reigned for 40 years in Israel and then passed away. His son, Rehoboam, became the next king of Israel.

Solomon was a great king in Israel. His wisdom, wealth, and success were greater than any that lived at that time. As a result, Israel was a powerful and great nation in the eyes of the world. There has been no other ruler like him and Israel (I believe) has never been as prosperous or strong in the eyes of other nations since. All this was a blessing upon Solomon, for the good man he was at the beginning of his reign. The hand of God was with him and Israel during his reign. This story in the Bible reflects a gospel principle found throughout the Book of Mormon. In 1 Nephi 2:20, Nephi writes the words of the Lord, “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise…”. (see also 1 Nephi 4:14, 2 Nephi 1:9, 20, 2 Nephi 4:4, Jarom 1:9, and Mosiah 2:22, 31) The Lord blesses those who are faithful to him with things that are spiritual, such as the gift of wisdom, as well as things that are physical, like wealth and safety from enemies. Even nations have been blessed as Israel was, and will continue to receive the blessings of God if they are led by leaders who strive to do good according to their knowledge. This is because God loves all of us. We are His children and He desires to bless us with all that we stand in need of and desire for our good.

2 Chronicles Chapter 7

The temple of the Lord, which Solomon built, had been completed and dedicated. Many sacrifices and offerings had been prepared on the altars of the temple. The elders and priests of Israel were all gathered together in Jerusalem for this event, and the glory of the Lord was among them in a thick cloud that filled the temple. Chapter 7 begins as follows:

1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

At the conclusion of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the offerings and sacrifices that had been prepared. The glory of the Lord continued to fill the temple, so much so, that the priests were unable to enter. The Israelites that witnessed these things, bowed down and worshipped the Lord for his goodness and never-ending mercy. (see also 1 Kings 8)

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.
5 And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
7 Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.

Sacrifices were offered, including 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. The temple was thus dedicated, and the service of the priests began to be there. Everyone stood at the sound of the trumpets played by the musicians. Solomon dedicated the middle of the court, just in front of the temple, where sacrifices were offered by him. He had offered them there because the altar had not been sufficient to hold the offerings which had been given and prepared.

8 Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.
9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the Lord, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.

The feast associated with the dedication went on for seven days, in which a large number of the Israelites participated. On the eighth day, they held a solemn assembly. Then, the people were sent to their tents. They were happy and grateful for the goodness of the Lord shown toward King David, King Solomon, and the Israelite people. With that, the dedication and celebration were complete. Everything Solomon did for the temple and his own palace, prospered. (see also 1 Kings 9)

12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
17 And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments;
18 Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.
19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and unto this house?
22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.

Solomon was visited by the Lord in the night. The Lord told Solomon personally, that the temple was chosen by the Lord as a house of sacrifice. The Lord, who had power to bring drought, locusts or pestilences, promised Solomon that he would forgive those who humbly repented and sought him, and heal the land. He promised to hear the prayers of the faithful made in the temple. Additionally, he promised Solomon that his kingdom would be established in Israel continually, so long as Solomon remained faithful and obedient to commandments of the Lord. If, however, this was not the case, and Solomon turned away from the Lord, and was disobedient and forsook the instruction and commandments of the Lord, in effect seeking after other gods for worship, the Lord would remove them from the land of promise and cast the temple out as an example to all the world. The people would have a reminder from the temple, of the suffering brought to them by the Lord because they turned away from their God to worship other gods.

God will not continue to help and bless the life of anyone who forsakes him. I don’t believe this is simply because he does not like to be forsaken. God is a merciful Father, who honors our individual agency with perfection. He removes his blessing upon the people who do not remember Him and His commandments, because they would be held to a higher standard, in the day of judgment, if he continued to give them blessings that are reserved for the faithful. In Luke 12:48, Jesus taught, “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…”. Therefore, He allows men to suffer by the gods they choose to follow, in other words He allows them to suffer (or experience) from all that the world has to offer them, which is not eternally damning to their soul to the same degree. God does not want to punish us, He wants to bless us. He does not look for ways to help us fail even more. He does not want to put any of us in the position to be condemned further, but gives us the opportunities to choose to return to Him on our own. His love and mercy for His children, no matter if they choose to follow Him or not, is amazing beyond our understanding, and is the love and mercy of a perfect Father.

On the other hand, God gladly blesses men for faithfulness. We are blessed in many ways, including a happiness and peace in our lives. The people in Israel, who had gathered for the dedication and feast, left happy. They had experienced amazing things during the dedication. These experiences brought a response from the people, of gratitude to the Lord. In my own experience at temple dedications, there hasn’t been a visible cloud of the glory of the Lord, but I have felt full of the spirit. It is a feeling which is hard to describe other than to say it is like a burning in my heart and a feeling of joy and peace I wanted to last. Solomon must have felt true joy to have done this thing for the Lord. His experience did not end there, but he was then visited by the Lord, just as his father had been. This was a personal confirmation to Solomon, that he had followed the will of the Lord. He had done the things that were necessary to allow more of God’s children the blessings of the temple, because they could more fully keep the covenants they had made.

2 Chronicles Chapter 6

The presence of the glory of the Lord, was a manifestation of God’s acceptance of the temple that Solomon had built. The only thing remaining before the temple would be put to regular use, was to dedicate it to the Lord and His purposes. This chapter begins:

1 Then said Solomon, The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
2 But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.
3 And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood.
4 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying,
5 Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:
6 But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
7 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
8 But the Lord said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart:
9 Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.
10 The Lord therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
11 And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the children of Israel.

Solomon declared to God, that the temple was built as a house for God. Then, he blessed the congregation of Israel. He was grateful for the Lord’s help in fulfilling the commandment given to His father, David. The Lord had chosen Jerusalem to be the city where the temple would be built, after a very long time with the Israelites inhabiting the land of promise. David had been chosen by God, to rule over His people. David had desires to build the temple for the Lord, but it was given to David to build it. David was blessed for his desires and was told that his son would build the temple. Solomon spoke of the fulfillment of this through him. Solomon had placed the ark of the covenant in the temple, so that He could continue to keep the covenants made with the children of Israel by his presence being among them. (see also 1 Kings 8)

12 And he stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:
13 For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,
14 And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:
15 Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
16 Now therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.
17 Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David.
18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!
19 Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee:
20 That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.
21 Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.

After finishing this message to the people, Solomon stood upon a riser, before the altar and offered a dedicatory prayer. In the prayer, he recognized that God is unlike anything or anyone else in all the world or in heaven. God keeps His covenants perfectly and is a merciful God to the righteous who strive to walk with Him. Solomon said that God had fulfilled His words that day, with the completion of the temple. Solomon prayed that the promises made to his father, that the line of David would continue upon the throne in Israel, would continue to be fulfilled as well. Solomon recognized that God could not be contained by the temple built by men, but asked that the Lord would watch over the temple day and night. He asked that God would put his name upon the temple, as had been told to David, and that the prayer of Solomon would be heard and answered. Solomon prayed that the Lord would hear all the prayers offered toward the temple, and that the Lord would forgive.

22 If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;
23 Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.

Solomon prayed that their oaths would be recognized by the Lord judging and rewarding them justly according to their wickedness or righteousness.

24 And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;
25 Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers.

He prayed that when the Lord allowed their enemies to have power over them, the repentant sinners would be forgiven and brought back to the land of promise given to their ancestors.

26 When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them;
27 Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.

If they sinned and the consequence was drought, Solomon prayed for the Lord to forgive penitent Israel and bless them with rain upon the promised land.

28 If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be:
29 Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house:
30 Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)
31 That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.

Additionally, if there is any curse upon the land of any kind, he prayed that God would forgive those who repent and pray to the Lord, and they would receive forgiveness and blessings according to their good works. Solomon said that this was so that the people would reverence the Lord, following the commandments, because they would recognize that they received their blessings from God according to their faith.

God is all-knowing and therefore, He knows us. He knows are needs. He knows are dispositions. He knows our temptations. He knows our weaknesses as well as our strengths. He knows the things that we desire in the deepest parts of our hearts. He knows these things perfectly and in ways that we do not even know ourselves. He is waiting to bless us as our loving Father in Heaven, but he desires that we have every opportunity for growth in this life. Because of this, He expects us to repent and return to Him to ask for forgiveness, in order for us to receive those blessings. When the Israelites turned back to the temple, where the presence of the Lord was in their day, they could be forgiven by their all-knowing God, and through receiving promised blessings they would recognize the power, forgiveness, mercy and goodness of God.

32 Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;
33 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.
34 If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;
35 Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
36 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;
37 Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;
38 If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name:
39 Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.
40 Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
41 Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness.
42 O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.

Solomon prayed the the prayers of foreigners, made towards the temple, would also be heard and answered by the Lord. He prayed for this, because all men, everywhere, would be able to see the blessings and know the God of Israel. He asked for the blessings of the Lord, to be upon the host of Israel who prayed towards the temple as they went to defend the children of Israel from their enemies. If they would be captured by their enemies because they sinned against the Lord and remember and return to the Lord with all of their heart and soul, praying towards the temple from the land of their bondage, then Solomon asked that the Lord hear their prayers and forgive them. He prayed that every prayer be heard that was made in the temple. He then dedicated the temple to the Lord as His resting place, asking for blessing upon the priests who would serve there, that the saints might rejoice.

Why would it be important to know of this dedication? Isaiah 56:7 reads, “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” During His mortal ministry, Jesus said, “…It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Luke 19:46)” Again in more modern times, when talking of the temple, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer… (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119).” The temples of the Lord, modern and ancient, are houses of prayer. Temples have been dedicated to the Lord by prayer. Sacrifices made to the Lord in temples have been dedicated by prayer. Sacred covenants are made there by prayer. The faithful seek revelation, guidance and answers through prayer when within the walls of the temple. This is necessary, because God wants to communicate with His people. This is a main purpose for the building of temples around the world. He desires for His children to separate themselves from the world spiritually and physically, and speak to Him, commit to Him, and love Him. We should be a prayerful people. I am grateful for the experiences I have had in hearing dedicatory prayers for a few of the modern temples. I am sure that all those present in the days of Solomon’s dedication of the temple in Jerusalem, were greatly blessed by that experience as well.

1 Chronicles Chapter 13

At this point in the books of Chronicles, David was anointed as the King of Israel and the people of Israel recognized that he was the next leader of Israel chosen by God. David led in righteousness and felt the need for the ark to be moved to the tabernacle where it belonged. In the beginning of his reign, the ark was located in a place called Kirjath-jearim. It had come to be there, because the Philistines had stolen it when they defeated the Israelites in the time that Eli judged Israel (see 1 Samuel 4). Word of loosing the ark was so awful, that it had brought the death of Eli. The Philistines removed the ark to one of their temples, where it brought trouble on them. They decided to move it to Gath, where again, it brought destruction to the Philistines. They moved it then to Ekron, where the people begged for it to be sent back to the Israelites (see 1 Samuel 5). After about seven months of it being in the hands of the Philistines, they took it by cart to the border of Beth-shemesh in the land of the Israelites (see 1 Samuel 6). The Israelite men in Beth-shemesh were tempted to look into the ark, and had been cursed by the Lord, so they asked the men of Kirjath-jearim to retrieve the ark from them. The ark was finally moved to Kirjath-jearim until this time in David’s reign (see 1 Samuel 7). It had remained there for about 20 years.

1 And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader.
2 And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us:
3 And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul.
4 And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
5 So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim.
6 And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it.
7 And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.
8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

David called for the men of Israel to be gathered together and for the ark of the covenant to be brought from Kirjath-jearim (a city not too far from Jerusalem by today’s standards, about 7 1/2 miles). The congregation of Israel agreed that they should do this, so they gathered together and prepared to move the ark. David went to Kirjath-jearim and had it brought out by a cart driven by Uzza (Uzzah) and Ahio. The musicians played and sang for the Lord as they went.

Reading that David gathered the Israelites together to ask for their consent to move the ark to the tabernacle, is an example of his efforts to lead as the Lord wanted instead of by his own design. It is the way of the Lord, for there to be common consent among his people. If the voice of the people were to choose wickedness, the Lord would not force them otherwise. The voice of the people had chosen to be led by a king rather then judges as was prescribed by the Lord, and then the Lord allowed for a king to be their leader. When the voice of the people choose to sustain the Lord’s chosen leader and then follow that leaders inspired course, they will be blessed. This is true in these modern days as well as it was in ancient times.

9 And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.
11 And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day.
12 And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?
13 So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.
14 And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had.

In the area of Chidon, the oxen stumbled and Uzza tried to steady the ark. Uzza was smitten by the Lord and died (see also 2 Samuel 6:6-7). This was against strict commandment to the men of the priesthood, that no one (unauthorized by God) was to touch anything holy from the tabernacle, or they would die (see Numbers 4:15). David was concerned for how they could move the ark if this could happen to his men, so he decided to leave the ark there, at the house of Obed-edom, who was a Gittite or a levite of Gath-rimmon. The ark was left there for three months, and brought the blessings of the Lord to the house and family of Obed-edom. (see also 2 Samuel 6)

This story seems like such a strong act of God against one who thought he was doing something good, but it is more important to see that the Lord keeps His word with strictness. They had been given the commandment long before, and as men of the priesthood they knew these things. The promise had been death and the Lord had to keep that word or men would doubt the power and actions of God. The Lord would have protected the ark as needed and it was to be kept completely holy, but sometimes men use their own wisdom and act upon it instead of trusting completely in the Lord. I am sure we all do this at times, and there are always consequences of some type. The ways of men are not the ways of God, but if we can learn to place complete trust in Him, our ways can become more like His and we will see amazing blessings in our lives.

1 Chronicles Chapter 11

After the death of Saul and his sons, the path for David to become the king of the children of Israel was opened to him. Up to that point, David had honored the role of Saul as the king, even though Saul had sought to kill him for several years. David had waited upon the Lord and was not the cause of Saul’s demise, even though there had been moments when he could have taken Saul’s life himself. This chapter of Chronicles begins with the following:

1 Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh.
2 And moreover in time past, even when Saul was king, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the Lord thy God said unto thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be ruler over my people Israel.
3 Therefore came all the elders of Israel to the king to Hebron; and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the Lord; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the Lord by Samuel.

The elders of Israel recognized that David had been chosen by God to rule them. They knew it was David who had been a leader in Israel even during the reign of Saul. They gathered together where David ruled in Hebron, and David made a covenant with them and was anointed to be their king. (see also 2 Samuel 5) This was fulfillment of the prophecy of Samuel the prophet. (see 1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13)

4 And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land.
5 And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David.
6 And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain. So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.
7 And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the city of David.
8 And he built the city round about, even from Millo round about: and Joab repaired the rest of the city.
9 So David waxed greater and greater: for the Lord of hosts was with him.

David took the host of Israel to Jerusalem, which was know as Jebus at the time. The Jebusites, who had lived there since before the time of the Israelites entering the land, refused to let David into the land, but David took Zion, known afterwards as the city of David. He called upon his army to destroy the Jebusites and offered the role of chief and captain to whomever was willing to be the first to do it. Joab, David’s nephew through Zeruiah, led the people in the call and became the chief of the army of Israel. David lived in Jerusalem and built up the city around the castle or fort he lived in, with Joab’s assistance. David grew in greatness with the support of the Lord.

10 These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.
11 And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time.
12 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties.
13 He was with David at Pas-dammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines.
14 And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great deliverance.

David had men of might, who were leaders in Israel under King David and were strengthened because of the Lord. Among those that were with him, was Jashobeam (Adino), who killed 300 enemies at one time with his spear. Also, Eleazar, who served with David at Pas-dammim. They had put themselves in the middle of a field of barley, claiming it and killing the Philistines there with deliverance from the Lord. (see also 2 Samuel 23)

15 Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim.
16 And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Beth-lehem.
17 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Beth-lehem, that is at the gate!
18 And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord,
19 And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.

Three of David’s captains went to a cave where David was, while the Philistines camped in the valley of Rephaim (giants). The army of the Philistines were in Bethlehem. David was in a fortress and wished for a drink from the well in Bethlehem. The three went through the army of the Philistines and drew water from the well. When they brought it back to David, he refused it and poured it out with the words that he could not drink of the water that the men risked their lives to get for him. These were three of the mightiest men of David. (see also 2 Samuel 23:13-17)

20 And Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them, and had a name among the three.
21 Of the three, he was more honourable than the two; for he was their captain: howbeit he attained not to the first three.
22 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day.
23 And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear.
24 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among the three mighties.
25 Behold, he was honourable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard.

Of the three men, the leader was Abishai, the brother of Joab, who had killed three hundred with his spear and was the most honorable of them and therefore their captain. Next, was Benaiah, a descendant of Jehoiada and Kabzeel. Among the many things he had done, he had killed two fierce Moabites, as well as a lion. He killed a large Egyptian by using his staff to take the Egyptian’s spear from him and then slayed him with the spear. Benaiah was honorable among his men, so David made him the leader of his guard. (see also 2 Samuel 23:18-23)

26 Also the valiant men of the armies were, Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Beth-lehem,
27 Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite,
28 Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abi-ezer the Antothite,
29 Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite,
30 Maharai the Netophathite, Heled the son of Baanah the Netophathite,
31 Ithai the son of Ribai of Gibeah, that pertained to the children of Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite,
32 Hurai of the brooks of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite,
33 Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite,
34 The sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan the son of Shage the Hararite,
35 Ahiam the son of Sacar the Hararite, Eliphal the son of Ur,
36 Hepher the Mecherathite, Ahijah the Pelonite,
37 Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai the son of Ezbai,
38 Joel the brother of Nathan, Mibhar the son of Haggeri,
39 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armourbearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah,
40 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,
41 Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai,
42 Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a captain of the Reubenites, and thirty with him,
43 Hanan the son of Maachah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite,
44 Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jehiel the sons of Hothan the Aroerite,
45 Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother, the Tizite,
46 Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai, and Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite,
47 Eliel, and Obed, and Jasiel the Mesobaite.

Those among the guard and armies of David, who were valiant men, are listed here. Asahel (the other brother of Joab, who pursued after Abner, an enemy of David, and was killed by him and later avenged by Joab), Elhanan, Shammoth (Shammah), Helez, Ira, Abi-ezer, Sibbecai (Mebunnai), Ilai (Zalmon), Maharai, Heled (Heleb), Ithai (Ittai), Benaiah, Hurai (Hiddai), Abiel (Abi-albon), Azmaveth, Eliahba, the sons of Hashem, Jonathan, Ahiam, Eliphal, Hepher, Ahijah, Hezro (Hezrai), Naarai, Joel (the brother of Nathan, possibly the prophet Nathan who did things like rebuke David), Mibhar, Zelek, Naharai,the man who bore the armor of Joab, Ira, Gareb, Uriah (the husband of Bath-sheba, whom David planned to kill to hide his own transgressions and in doing so, sinned against God), Zabad, Adina, a Reubenite captain and 30 of his men, Hanan, Joshaphat, Uzzia, Shama and Jehiel, Jediael and Joha, Eliel, Jeribai, Joshaviah, the sons of Elnaam, Ithmah, Eliel, Obed, and Jasiel. (see also 2 Samuel 23:24-39 – other names listed there include Elika, Shammah, Eliphelet, Eliam, Paarai, Igal, and Bani)

This chapter is a second witness to the happenings found in the second book of Samuel. It is another witness that prophecy from the Lord to his prophets, will be fulfilled. It includes a list of mighty men who were there to protect and support David as he began his rule as king in Israel. Moreover, it is a second witness of the blessing of waiting upon the Lord, even when you know something is meant to happen. The Lord has His own timing and it is perfectly wise and will provide the greatest opportunities for growth for those effected. It can be one of the most difficult things in this life, to have patience for changes in our lives to come to us. The Lord will keep his promises to us in His time and when he does, it will be a far greater blessing than if we try to force these kind of things to happen by our own design. I have seen the Lord’s hand in my life and in hindsight I am always blessed to see how perfectly things work out. I am grateful for David’s example of this principle found in chapters such as this.

1 Chronicles Chapter 4

A Family Tree

A genealogy of the children of Israel, was started in 1 Chronicles chapter 2, with the sons of Jacob and a focus on the family of Judah. It continued to list this line through the kings of Judah in 1 Chronicles chapter 3. In this chapter, some of the families of Judah are listed, along with Simeon and others. (Note: These verses can seem a bit confusing as to who belongs to whom, and so this is my best understanding of what is recorded.) It begins:

1 The sons of Judah; Pharez, Hezron, and Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal.
2 And Reaiah the son of Shobal begat Jahath; and Jahath begat Ahumai, and Lahad. These are the families of the Zorathites.
3 And these were of the father of Etam; Jezreel, and Ishma, and Idbash: and the name of their sister was Hazelelponi:
4 And Penuel the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah. These are the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephratah (the ancient name for Bethlehem), the father of Beth-lehem.

As written in 1 Chronicles 2, included in the descendants of Judah were Pharez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. Shobal was the father of Reaiah, the father of Jahath, the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These made up the families of the Zorathites. The children of Etam, which may have been a location, included Jezreel, Ishma, Idbash, and Hazelelponi, his daughter. Penuel was the father of Gedor. Ezer was the father of Hushah. These are the families of Hur, who was the firstborn of Ephratah and the father of Beth-lehem.

5 And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.
6 And Naarah bare him Ahuzam, and Hepher, and Temeni, and Haahashtari. These were the sons of Naarah.
7 And the sons of Helah were, Zereth, and Jezoar, and Ethnan.
8 And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum.

Ashur was the father of Tekoa. Ashur had two wives named Helah and Naarah. With Naarah, he became the father of Ahuzam, Hepher, Temeni, and Haahashtari. With Helah, he became the father of Zereth, Jezoar, and Ethnan. Coz was the parent of Anub, Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel, who was the son of Harum.

9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

Jabez was an honourable man, more so than those in his generation, who prayed for blessings from God, that the borders of his land would be enlarged, that he would have the protecting hand of God with him and not against him. God, who had promised this to the children of Israel if they would keep the commandments, blessed him with the things he asked for in prayer.

11 And Chelub the brother of Shuah begat Mehir, which was the father of Eshton.
12 And Eshton begat Beth-rapha, and Paseah, and Tehinnah the father of Ir-nahash. These are the men of Rechah.
13 And the sons of Kenaz; Othniel, and Seraiah: and the sons of Othniel; Hathath.
14 And Meonothai begat Ophrah: and Seraiah begat Joab, the father of the valley of Charashim; for they were craftsmen.
15 And the sons of Caleb the son of Jephunneh; Iru, Elah, and Naam: and the sons of Elah, even Kenaz.
16 And the sons of Jehaleleel; Ziph, and Ziphah, Tiria, and Asareel.
17 And the sons of Ezra were, Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon: and she bare Miriam, and Shammai, and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa.
18 And his wife Jehudijah bare Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Socho, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. And these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, which Mered took.
19 And the sons of his wife Hodiah the sister of Naham, the father of Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite.
20 And the sons of Shimon were, Amnon, and Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon. And the sons of Ishi were, Zoheth, and Ben-zoheth.

If understanding these verses correctly, than Shuah had a brother named Chelub. He was the father of Mehir, who was the father of Eshton, the father of Beth-rapha, Paseah, and Tehinnah. Tehinnah was the fatherof Ir-nahash. These were the families of Rechah. Kenaz was the father of Othniel and Seraiah. Othniel was the father of Hathath. Meonothai was the father of Ophrah. Seraiah was the father of Joab, who was over the valley of Charashim, where they were craftsmen. Caleb was the son of Jephunneh of Judah. Caleb had been one of the men sent by Moses to spy on the promised land before the Children of Israel entered the land. He and Joshua had returned with a good report and faith to conquer with the Lord’s help, while others gave a report that caused fear and doubt in the Lord. Caleb and Joshua were the only people of their generation, that were allowed to live long enough to enter the promised land. Caleb was given the land of Hebron. He was the father of Iru, Elah, and Naam. Elah was the father of Kenaz. Jehaleleel was the father of Ziph, Ziphah, Tiria, and Asareel. Ezra was the father of Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. Jalon was the mother of Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah, who was the father of Eshtemoa. Ezra also had a wife named Jehudijah, and they had Jered, the father of Gedor; Heber the father of Socho; and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah. Mered has a wife named Hodiah, the sister of Naham, and they had Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite. Shimon was the father of Amnon, Rinnah, Ben-hanan, and Tilon. Ishi was the father of Zoheth and Ben-zoheth.

21 The sons of Shelah the son of Judah were, Er the father of Lecah, and Laadah the father of Mareshah, and the families of the house of them that wrought fine linen, of the house of Ashbea,
22 And Jokim, and the men of Chozeba, and Joash, and Saraph, who had the dominion in Moab, and Jashubi-lehem. And these are ancient things.
23 These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.

The sons and families of Judah, were Er, who was the father of Lecah; Laadah, who was the father of Mareshah; those who were makers of fine linens from the house of Ashbea; Jokim; the men of Chozeba; the men of Joash; the men of Saraph, who ruled in Moab; and the men of Jashubi-lehem. These families were potters and those who lived with plants, and were possibly the farmers who lived near the king and served him.

24 The sons of Simeon were, Nemuel, and Jamin, Jarib, Zerah, and Shaul:
25 Shallum his son, Mibsam his son, Mishma his son.
26 And the sons of Mishma; Hamuel his son, Zacchur his son, Shimei his son.
27 And Shimei had sixteen sons and six daughters; but his brethren had not many children, neither did all their family multiply, like to the children of Judah.
28 And they dwelt at Beer-sheba, and Moladah, and Hazar-shual,
29 And at Bilhah, and at Ezem, and at Tolad,
30 And at Bethuel, and at Hormah, and at Ziklag,
31 And at Beth-marcaboth, and Hazar-susim, and at Beth-birei, and at Shaaraim. These were their cities unto the reign of David.
32 And their villages were, Etam, and Ain, Rimmon, and Tochen, and Ashan, five cities:
33 And all their villages that were round about the same cities, unto Baal. These were their habitations, and their genealogy.
34 And Meshobab, and Jamlech, and Joshah the son of Amaziah,
35 And Joel, and Jehu the son of Josibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel,
36 And Elioenai, and Jaakobah, and Jeshohaiah, and Asaiah, and Adiel, and Jesimiel, and Benaiah,
37 And Ziza the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah;
38 These mentioned by their names were princes in their families: and the house of their fathers increased greatly.

Then, there were the families of Simeon, the second son of Jacob. His sons were Nemuel (Jemuel) the father of the Nemuelites, Jamin the father of the Jaminites, Jarib (possibly Ohad or Jachin, the father of the Jachinites), Zerah (Zohar) the father of the Zarhites, and Shaul, the son of a woman from Canaan and father of the Shaulites. (see Genesis 46, Exodus 6, and Numbers 26) Shaul was the father of Shallum, Mibsam, and Mishma. Mishma was the father of Humuel, Zacchur, and Shimei. Shimei was the father of sixteen sons and six daughters, while his brothers did not have many children. The family of Simeon did not multiply significantly and were nowhere near the size of the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Simeon lived in Beer-sheba (where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had lived), Moladah, Hazar-shual, Bilhah, Ezem, Tolad, Bethuel, Hormah, Ziklag (a city that was transferred from the tribe of Judah), Beth-marcaboth, Hazar-susim, Beth-birei, and Shaaraim. The lived in these placed until the reign of king David. They had five villages or cities: Etam, Ain, Rimmon (also originally of Judah), Tochen, and Ashan. They also had the land around those cities, which belonged to their families.

The princes of Simeon were Meshobab, Jamlech, and Joshah the son of Amaziah. Also, Joel, Jehu the Josibiah, the son of Seraiah, the son of Asiel, Elioenai, Jaakobah, Jeshohaiah, Asaiah, Adiel, Jesimiel, Benaiah, Ziza the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah. It is written to read that Jehu was the son of Josibiah who was the son of Seraiah who was the son of Asiel; and Ziza was the son of Shiphi, the son of Allon, the son of Jedaiah, the son of Shimri, the son of Shemaiah; but both of these lines seem unclear. In any case, these princes increased the house of their fathers greatly.

39 And they went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks.
40 And they found fat pasture and good, and the land was wide, and quiet, and peaceable; for they of Ham had dwelt there of old.
41 And these written by name came in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and smote their tents, and the habitations that were found there, and destroyed them utterly unto this day, and dwelt in their rooms: because there was pasture there for their flocks.
42 And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five hundred men, went to mount Seir, having for their captains Pelatiah, and Neariah, and Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi.
43 And they smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day.

The families of Simeon went to the entrance of Gedor, at the east side of the valley, in order to find pasture for their flocks. While there, they found good and fat plentiful pasture, where the land was wide and peaceful. It was where Ham had dwelt long before. In the days of Hezekiah of Judah, the families and their homes were destroyed for the pasture. Five hundred of the sons of Simeon, went to mount Seir. Their captains were Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah, Uzziel, who were the sons of Ishi. They destroyed the Amalekites there and made mount Seir their new home.

I love that, almost hidden in this chapter, there is a story of Jabez. It is a little story that shows us once again, that the Lord will keep his word when we are faithful. In Deuteronomy 19:7-9, the Lord gave instruction regarding the cities of refuge, which applies to the increase of the borders of the land. “Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee. And if the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers; If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three.” This was a promise of growth and in a sense prosperity, to those who kept the commandments of the Lord. This promise is ours as well, as it has been to all people throughout history. In Mosiah 2, we read the words of King Benjamin to his people. He said, “And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” We can follow the example of the honorable men of the scriptures, such as Jabez, by striving to keep the commandments and praying for the blessings of prosperity to be upon us and our families.

2 Kings Chapter 25

It was prophesied time and time again, that Jerusalem would be destroyed because of the wickedness of the king and people. The people of Judah had turned from the Lord towards false gods and wicked acts of worship. The destruction that was to come, was part of the prophecy which said that the tribes of Israel would eventually be scattered upon the earth. King Zedekiah was not a righteous king, but followed after the ways of the wicked kings before him. He had started his reign when many of the people of Jerusalem were captured and taken to Babylon. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, put Zedekiah into power with the expectation that the people of Jerusalem would pay tribute to him. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon, which of course would make Nebuchadnezzar angry with the people.

1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
3 And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land.

Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem with his army. They camped in forts around the city and besieged it. This eventually brought a famine to the city, and the people had no food to eat.

4 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain.
5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued after the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho: and all his army were scattered from him.
6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.

The city began to fall, and the army of Jerusalem fled in the night through a gate in the wall by the king’s garden. They headed to the plains, where the army of the Chaldeans, a Babylonian army, were also surrounding the city. The Chaldeans went after Zedekiah and his army, catching them in the area of Jericho. The army scattered from Zedekiah, and the Chaldeans captured him and took him to king Nebuchadnezzar to judge him. The sons of Zedekiah were also captured and then killed in front of him. Then, he was made blind, bound, and taken captive into Babylon.

8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem:
9 And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
11 Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carry away.
12 But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the Lord, and the bases, and the brasen sea that was in the house of the Lord, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
15 And the firepans, and the bowls, and such things as were of gold, in gold, and of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
16 The two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the chapiter upon it was brass: and the height of the chapiter three cubits; and the wreathen work, and pomegranates upon the chapiter round about, all of brass: and like unto these had the second pillar with wreathen work.

About a month after famine had come to Jerusalem because of being besieged by the army of Babylon, Nebuzar-adan, the Babylonian captain of the guard, came into the city and burned the temple, king’s house, and all the houses in the city. The Chaldean army broke down the wall around the city. The remnant of the people were carried away, except the poor, who were left to farm and work in the vineyards. All the brass of the temple, found in things such as the pillars and baptismal font, were broken down and taken back to Babylon. Any tools made of brass, gold or silver, were taken away.

18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door:
19 And out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war, and five men of them that were in the king’s presence, which were found in the city, and the principal scribe of the host, which mustered the people of the land, and threescore men of the people of the land that were found in the city:
20 And Nebuzar-adan captain of the guard took these, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah:
21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away out of their land.

The priests, Seraiah and Zephaniah, as well as those who served at the doors of the temple, an officer over the army of Jerusalem, five of the men who served the king personally, the scribe, and around 60 other men found in the city, were taken to the king. Nebuchadnezzar had them beaten and killed. This was the fulfillment of scattering of the tribe of Judah from the land of promise.

22 And as for the people that remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, even over them he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler.
23 And when all the captains of the armies, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor, there came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
24 And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.
25 But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldees that were with him at Mizpah.
26 And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Chaldees.

A man named Gedaliah, was left to be the ruler of the poor workers that were left in Judah. The captains of the armies, who had escaped the destruction, heard that he had been made ruler, and they took their men to him. Gedaliah told them not to fear being servants of the Chaldeans. He told them to give in and serve the king of Babylon, because then they would be allowed to live. One of the captains, Ishmael, who was of the royal line, killed Gedaliah and all of the Jews or Chaldeans that were with him in Mizpah. The remnant of the Jews, including the captains, fled to Egypt in fear of the Chaldeans.

27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
28 And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.

Jehoiachin, the previous king of Judah who had been carried captive into Babylon before Zedekiah was made king, was lifted up out of prison by the king of Babylon. He was treated kindly and raised above some of the other leaders in Babylon. He was shown favor in ways such as, being given food to eat continually, and given an allowance every day.

The time of the kings of Israel and Judah, reigning in the promised land, had come to an end. The Lord had allowed for the people to be scattered because they had turned from him. Prophecies were fulfilled regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Israel being taken captive into Babylon. All of these things were according to the wisdom of God, because of the purposes of God. God’s purpose is to have as many of his sons and daughters return to him as is possible. The greatest opportunities for this were going to be made possible through the scattering of Israel, or rather, through the eventual gathering of Israel, because they were scattered. We live in the time of the gathering of Israel, and the time now is not far from when we will be able to rejoice in the promises of God to his covenant people. The fulfillment of these promises is made possible because of this gathering.

2 Kings Chapter 24

Judah, which had been a land worthy of the temple of the Lord, and where the faithful would travel to worship and make sacrifices and offerings to the Lord, had become a wicked and idolatrous place. Unrighteous rulers, such as King Manasseh, had led the people to follow after their own wicked ways. Because of this, the people of Judah were promised to be removed from the land by other nations, just as the other tribes of Israel had been scattered. Jehoiakim, who had been raised to be the king of Judah by the Pharoah of Egypt, was not a righteous leader. The people became subject to Egypt, and Jehoiakim taxed them in order to pay the necessary tribute. The record of the people of Judah continues as follows:

1 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.
2 And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.

Jehoiakim, and his people, became servants to Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for three years, and then they rebelled against Babylon. After this, and because of the promises of the Lord, other nations came against Judah. Some of these nations included the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and the children of Ammon. Judah would be destroyed because of the grossly wicked acts committed there, such as the unforgivable shedding of innocent blood (see also 2 Kings 21:16).

5 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
6 So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead.
7 And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt.

Jehoiakim died and his son Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah) became king of Judah. Pharaoh of Egypt did not return to take Judah, because the king of Babylon had taken much of the land from Pharaoh.

8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.

King Jehoiachin became the ruler of Judah at the age of eighteen (the second book of Chronicles says that he ruled at the age of eight). He only reigned for three months, and he did so in wickedness.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.
11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.
12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign.
13 And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.
14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
15 And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon.
16 And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar’s servants besieged Jerusalem during the reign of Jehoiachin. Nebuchadnezzar came against the city and Jehoiachin and his family and servants went out to him. Nebuchadnezzar took them. Then, he removed all the treasures from the palace and the temple. Many of the people in Jerusalem were carried away captive, even as many as ten thousand people, with the exception of those who were the “poorest sort”. They included seven thousand mighty men, a thousand craftsmen and smiths, and anyone who was strong enough to fight. These were possibly taken to make their own army stronger, or to stop the people of Jerusalem from being strong enough to fight or have the skill to make weapons needed to fight Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Those who were left may have been considered the poorest because they were not fit for battle against their enemies. The captives were taken to Babylon.

17 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
18 Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
19 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
20 For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Mattaniah, the brother of Jehoiachin, was made the king of Judah. His name was changed to Zedekiah. Zedekiah ruled for eleven years, from the age of 21 to about 32. He was an evil king and ruled as Jehoiakim had ruled. Jerusalem and Judah did not have peace in this time, because of their wickedness. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon (see also 2 Chronicles 36 and Daniel 1).

As a side note, it is interesting to me, to see what had happened in the land of Judah, specifically in Jerusalem, at the time when the record of the book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon begins. I had assumed some things in all my times reading the verses of Nephi, which seem to have some differences if this chapter of 2 Kings is translated correctly. I had assumed that Lehi had left Jerusalem before any of the city had been taken. However, Lehi and his family were living in Jerusalem at this time when many of the people of Jerusalem were taken to Babylon. The record of Nephi begins in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, which means that Lehi’s family were of the people described here as the “poorest sort” left in Jerusalem. If being the “poorest” was regarding their wealth, they had not been among the wealthiest there before Jehoiachin was taken. Now that those people were gone, they may have been among the wealthier of those left. If not about their wealth, they were among those who were not physically the most strong, or did not have skills for making war. In which case, the Lord was looking out for Nephi, because he probably would have been taken, seeing as he was “large in stature“. But, the family of Lehi were not seen as any prominent or important family, so they were left there. This was a blessing for them, and for all of us today who benefit from the path that the Lord led them on shortly after these things happened.

Additionally, it would not have been unbelievable then, that all of Jerusalem could have been destroyed and taken, because these things had nearly happened to them and had happened for all the lands of Israel around them. When Lehi became a prophet, he was mocked for telling the people of Jerusalem of their wickedness, not for telling them what would happen to Jerusalem and it being unbelievable. For me, this shows even more, just how wickedly the people were living there, that they could have dealt with the effects of the Babylonian attack on them, and still denied that there was a need for repentance and returning to the Lord.

We read in the chapter a part of the fulfillment of the revelations of the prophets. There was such great wickedness in the promised land, that most of the people had been scattered into foreign lands. There were some who still remained in Jerusalem, with the promise that the prophecies would be fulfilled and destruction would come to all of Jerusalem. In our day, there are still prophecies of the scriptures that are not fulfilled. We have a choice (agency) as to how we will live and how that will effect us. The Savior will come again and the wicked will be destroyed while the righteous will be blessed with peace. If we choose to live in righteousness, as Josiah of Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 2223), we will have peace. If we choose to live in wickedness, as Zedekiah, we will have destruction brought upon us. We choose righteousness, when we choose to heed the warnings of our prophets, study the scriptures and pray, and choose to keep the commandments, following after the Savior, Jesus Christ.

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 17

Israel had a king named Pekah, who began his rule while Azariah was king in Judah. Shortly after Pekah became king, Jotham began to rule in Judah. This lasted well over a decade, when Jotham died and Ahaz became king of Judah. Then, a man named Hoshea conspired against Pekah, killed him, and became the king of Israel. This chapter begins at this point in the history of Israel.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

Ahaz had ruled in Judah for twelve years, when Hoshea became king of Israel. He only ruled for nine years. He was not a righteous leaders, but ruled in ways that went against the ways of the Lord. However, he was not as bad as some who had been kings before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.
4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

The Assyrians came against Israel, led by Shalmaneser. Hoshea allowed Israel to become servants to the Assyrians, and paid tribute to their king. Shalmaneser found out that Hoshea had sent messengers to Egypt, but had not brought tribute to him in Assyria as he had done each year, so Shalmaneser had Hoshea captured and put in prison.

5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Shalmaneser went throughout Israel and besieged the capital of Samaria for three years. Then, he captured it and carried the people of Samaria into Assyria, to places like Halah, Habor and the cities of the Medes.

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

The Israelites had sinned against God, even though He had saved them from the Egyptians. They chose to fear other gods, such as Baal, before they feared the Lord, becoming like those other nations who had been in the promised land before they lived there. The nations that their ancestors had worked hard to destroy from out of the land, under the direction of God. The Israelite people had done much wickedness in secret, and had built temples in each city, where they made sacrifices and offerings to their made-up gods. They built idols to worship and placed them all through the land. The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to do these wicked, idolatrous things.

13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

Many prophets and seers were raised in Israel, to testify the word of the Lord against them and against Judah. The Isarelites were called to repent and return to following the commandments of God. The people would not hearken to the prophets, and they rejected them. They would not believe their words, and many generations in turn, refused to turn away from wickedness. They became a vain people, following after the traditions of the other nations around them. The Israelites made idols to worship Baal, including two calves in one high place. They had done this, so that it was convenient for people, who were far away from the temple, to worship often. There they built a grove or a place to worship where many acts of evil were committed in the name of Baal. This included the act of sacrificing their own children. They also used divination and enchantments. All these things caused the Lord to be provoked to anger against them. Because of these things, the Lord had them removed from the land of promise, leaving only the tribe of Judah. This was the main part of the scattering of the ten tribes of Israel.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

Ahaz ruled in great wickedness, and when he died, his son, Hezekiah, became ruler of Judah. The people of Judah were then a wicked people, who created their own laws to live by. As a result, the Lord rejected them along with Israel. Over the course of time, and because they had allowed the influence of evil to cause them to walk in sin, the Israelite nation was left to the hands of enemy nations, and God allowed them, specifically the ten tribes, to be carried captive into Assyria.

24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

The Assyrian king placed men from several foreign cities, in Samaria and the land of the Isarelites. As a side note, I have studied some of the practices of ancient times and one of them was to take a conquered people and remove them from their own land to an unknown place. When the kings did this, some believed it would cause the people to become more loyal to them, since they would not have any comforts or anything familiar to fall back on. They would need to rely on the government to know what to do in their new life. This act would also lower the chances for rebellion, because a conquered people were not left to gather together and rise up against an unwanted leader. So, the Assyrian king removed the Israelites from their familiar lands and from the common society and they became servants of a new land and king. Then, the king took others from different places and put them together in Samaria, creating a new society of people who were more likely to be loyal to him and easier to manage or control.

The foreigners were not a god-fearing people, and were not acceptable to the Lord, so He sent lions into the land and some of the men were killed. The people told the king that those who were there did not know the ways of the God of the land, so they were being killed by lions. The king commanded that an Israelite priest be returned to Israel, or Samaria, to live there and teach the people about the Lord. They did as he commanded, and the priest lived in Beth-el.

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,
31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Nevertheless, these people were from many nations who had their own gods, so they used the high places to worship their gods. Each group of people followed after their own traditions of worship, even including human sacrifices. They learned to fear the Lord as well, but they did not worship Him alone, much like the people who had already been carried away from the land. Their manner of worship and their lifestyles became a mixture of all types and continued from generation to generation in a land where the Lord had made covenants with the people of Israel. They lived according to their own interpretations of what God wanted, and therefore were never fully committed to following the Lord. The Lord has given men strict commandments in order to provide safety and assurance of greater blessings to come. When we pick and choose which commandments we will keep, or begin to put our own interpretations into those commandments, we forfeit that safety and assurance in favor of our own wisdom and the consequences will follow.

Sadly, the people of the Lord had forgotten Him and turned to false gods and unholy acts in the name of those gods. Nonetheless, the Lord had not forgotten them and had given them chances time and time again, to repent and return to righteousness. They did not, and so the Lord allowed them to deal with the consequences of their choices. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered among foreign lands and another people were placed in the land that had been promised to the faithful people of the Lord. We are also given the opportunity to be the Lord’s people. Those who are faithful today, can receive promises of God by making covenants, just as the Israelites had done. If we have made covenants with God, we have a need to remember Him. We will face the same challenges of the temptation towards idolatry in our own lives, though we may not recognize the things we choose as gods. Anytime we willfully turn from the Lord in an effort to worship something else, or raise something else to a place above the Lord, we are in fact doing what the Israelites did in ancient times. The adversary knows this and is working hard to draw us away with all types of distractions and temptations. If we can remember the Lord, especially when faced with temptation, we will be blessed beyond anything we can imagine. If we make choices to turn from the Lord, without repentance, we will deal with the consequences of our choices, and be scattered. To keep the Lord in our remembrance, the modern prophets and apostles have taught us that we need to pray, study the scriptures, repent, attend church and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants with the Lord, and serve those in need. I am so grateful for the blessings of remembrance. I know that if we have a remembrance of the Lord and the things that He has done for us, especially that of the Atonement, we will not be put in bondage and scattered like the Israelites, but will have freedom and the blessings of eternity.


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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