Posts Tagged 'Remembrance'

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.

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2 Kings Chapter 13

Jehu ruled in Israel during the reign of Joash in Judah. When Jehu died, his son, Jehoahaz, began to rule in Israel. Each of these ruled the nation, while Elisha was the prophet. Jehu had not ruled in the same wickedness of the kings before him, but he still worshipped other gods and did not follow after the ways of the Lord. This chapter continues the story of those who ruled in Israel in the days of Elisha.

1 In the three and twentieth year of Joash the son of Ahaziah king of Judah Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned seventeen years.
2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.

When Joash had ruled for twenty-three years, Jehoahaz became king of Israel. He was king for seventeen years, and ruled in wickedness. He continued to lead the people with idolatry, as the kings before him.

3 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael, all their days.
4 And Jehoahaz besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
5 (And the Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.
6 Nevertheless they departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who made Israel sin, but walked therein: and there remained the grove also in Samaria.)
7 Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing.

As promised, the Israelites were not protected in their wickedness, and the Lord allowed for them to fall into the hands of the Syrians under both Hazael and Ben-hadad, the kings. Then, when they were being destroyed by their enemies, Jehoahaz began to see what was happening to his people, and turned to the Lord and hearkened to Him. Israel was eventually delivered from the Syrians and returned to their normal lives, which included continuing to live with idolatry and the like. But at this time the Israelites were left with very little in order to protect themselves against their enemies, because of the oppression and destruction by the Syrians.

Sometimes men become so engrossed in their own wickedness, that God has a need to bring them down into humility. Then blessings can be given to them, as with Jehoahaz, who turned to the Lord when destruction was upon his people. In Alma 32:13, we read, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” But the book of Alma teaches us also, that it would be better to become humble on our own and not wait to be compelled by God. In that same chapter we read, “And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:14-16) Greater blessings come to those who seek God before the difficulties become too hard to bear.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria: and Joash his son reigned in his stead.

Jehoahaz died and his son, Joash began to rule in Israel.

10 In the thirty and seventh year of Joash king of Judah began Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz to reign over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.
11 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein.
12 And the rest of the acts of Joash, and all that he did, and his might wherewith he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?
13 And Joash slept with his fathers; and Jeroboam sat upon his throne: and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

Joash or Jehoash ruled for sixteen years. He continued the line of unrighteous leadership in Israel. During his reign, he fought against Amaziah of Judah. After sixteen years of being king, he died and his son Jeroboam became king of Israel.

14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands.
17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.

Elisha became sick and was near death. Joash of Israel, went to see him and cried over him. Elisha told Joash to get a bow and arrow. He did and Elisha told him to put his hand on the bow. Then Elisha put his hands on the hands of Joash as they held the bow. Elisha told him to open the east window. When he did, Elisha told him to shoot. He did this, and then Elisha prophesied that the people would be delivered from Syria by the hand of the Lord. Elisha told Joash to hit the ground, which he did three times and then stopped. Elisha told him that he should have done it five or six times, because now he would only be able to smite Syria three times. If he had hit the ground as many as five or six times, he would have been able to consume Syria.

20 And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.
21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Elisha died. The Moabites began to invade the land of Israel as the year ended. There was who had died. As he was being buried, a band of men were seen. Those who were burying the man, threw the body into the sepulchre of Elisha. When the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisha, he came back to life. That is a witness to the power of God that had been with Elisha, that even his dead body held the power to raise a man.

22 But Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.
23 And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
24 So Hazael king of Syria died; and Ben-hadad his son reigned in his stead.
25 And Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities, which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz his father by war. Three times did Joash beat him, and recovered the cities of Israel.

Hazael continued to oppress Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz, but the Lord continued to keep the Israelites from destruction, because of the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Hazael of Syria died. His son, Ben-hadad, became king, and Jehoash was able to regain the lands taken by the Syrians. Joash or Jehoash was able to beat Ben-hadad three times in order to get the Israelite cities back.

Again, it can be seen in this chapter, that unrighteous rulers lead their people in unrighteousness. Those who willing choose to be disobedient to the laws of God, are not blessed with His protection against their enemies. Rather, the disobedient are allowed to fall into the hands of their enemies. This is so that they might be brought back to a remembrance of God, and also because the blessing of protection is reserved for the faithful.

Ponderizing-Week 4 Thoughts

Jacob 2:18 is the verse that I have been ponderizing this week.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

What truly holds value to us, determines not only our character now, but what we will have and be after this life. I love the activity used in church to teach this principle. A teacher will place an empty jar in front of the class, along with three containers containing one of three items: sand, small pebbles, and larger rocks. The sand is representative of the things that likely have less true and lasting value, like the riches of our mortal world. The pebbles are those things that matter, but may not continue after this life. Finally, the rocks represent those things that will continue and will develop greater, lasting character, knowledge and happiness. For example, family relationships develop lasting happiness and joy. The teacher then shows the class what happens when a life is filled with the small stuff first. The sand will pile up, filling a good portion of the jar, followed by the pebbles. When the teacher attempts to place the rocks in last, they do not all fit. When we seek after the riches of the world first, we give little room for the things that truly matter. The teacher then removes the three items and begins again, placing the larger rocks in first, followed by the pebbles, and lastly pours the sand into the jar. It all will fit, because the sand will fill in the gaps left by the rocks and pebbles. The lesson is that if we seek for the things of God first, anything else we truly want in life, will not be left out, but will find its proper place.

Seeking after things of this world is not strictly bad, or even forbidden by the Lord. There are specific things that we should avoid, of course, because they are harmful or possibly addictive, but for the most part, the things of the world can be for our good. The point is, that when we use our agency, to seek after those things that will bring us closer to Christ, build meaningful relationships, develop our knowledge and talents, or cause us to serve and love others, anything else that may use our time and energy, will be done in wisdom and will be for our good.

One of the other thoughts that came to mind with this verse, is that it uses the word seek. Seek is a word of action. It requires effort, planning, and decisions. We should be active in our lives, choosing how we will live rather than allowing life to happen to us. We have the power to choose for ourselves, to what we will give our best efforts. I feel it is an eternal truth, that good choices require greater effort on our part. It is easy to choose those things that are not lasting and may not be for our good. Self-mastery is needed to choose to seek the things of God.

A simple example of this in my own life, is with scripture study. I have decided that study of the words of the prophets of old and modern prophets, is a priority in my life. I believe that it is extremely important to determining the kind of person I will be, and I know it is actively seeking for the kingdom of God. I have been asked many times about how I manage it with my already busy life. My answer always includes something about making the effort to put it ahead of other things, meaning putting it on my schedule. When I plan what my day will include, prayer and study are placed first. Because I have a life devoted to several small children who have places to be and things to do, I choose to sacrifice some additional sleep in the mornings to give a consistent place for study. It is never easy to do, but I know that God can bless me for the effort I am putting towards it. As I actively seek after the word of God, other priorities and desires seem to fall into place.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

President Thomas S. Monson has said that “decisions determine destiny”. I know this is true. What we choose this day can either lead us closer to God and His kingdom, or turn us from it. Sometimes even good choices can cause us to forget the Lord. Making the effort to seek after riches, or the things of the world, before seeking after the best things, will lead us down a path of temptation. I know that we can start each day with a decision to seek after the kingdom of God. Even making just one choice, will bless us greatly in this life. I have seen it in my own life and I know it will make a difference for eternity.

1 Samuel Chapter 12

The Israelites had been led by prophets and judges for many years. Samuel had been called to be their prophet and leader, but the people had desired to have a king as well. Under the direction of the Lord, Saul became their king, and with the help of the Lord, he started to deliver the people from their enemies. Samuel continued to be their prophet and this chapter includes his words to the people. It begins with these words:

1 And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.
2 And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
3 Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
4 And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.
5 And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.

Samuel was called to be the prophet in Israel while in his youth. His entire life, had been a life of example and leadership to the people. He had lived a life of service to the Lord and to the people of Israel. He was now growing old, and his life was a witness of his goodness to them. He had never done anything against any of them, but he asked them if he had, so that he would be right with them. They told him he had not done anything against them. He declared that God witnessed these things, to which the people agreed.

6 And Samuel said unto the people, It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, which he did to you and to your fathers.
8 When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
9 And when they forgat the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.
14 If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:
15 But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Samuel reminded the people that the Lord had given them Moses as their prophet and caused that Aaron should have been their high priest. It was the Lord who had delivered the people from Egypt. Samuel reviewed the blessings of the Lord which had led his people to be where they were that day, as was done many times by the prophets of old when they were nearing death. The Lord had delivered the Israelites from Egypt, but the people had become ungrateful and forgotten Him. Then the Lord allowed the people to be oppressed by other nations through their own choices. He heard their cries for deliverance and sent them judges to free them from oppression. After much peace, they desired to be like other nations and have an earthly king, even though the Lord was already their king. The Lord conceded and allowed them a king, which they now had in Saul. Samuel exhorted them to continue to fear the Lord and to serve Him and keep the commandments of God, so that they and their king would continue to follow after God. If they would not keep the commandments, the Lord would be against them, just as He had been against their ancestors in their wickedness.

16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes.
17 Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king.
18 So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

Samuel told the people to witness a sign of thunder and rain, because they had done wickedly in asking for an earthly king to rule over them. Samuel called upon God to give the sign. It was given and the people feared the Lord and the prophet. The people recognized their sin and pleaded with Samuel to pray for them because of this evil choice they had made.

20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
22 For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
23 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

Samuel told them not to fear, but to follow the Lord and serve him completely. He told them not to seek after the things of the world, which would not be lasting, but would be vain. Our limited perspective can sometimes make it hard to see that we have are choosing between things that would give us pleasure that will only last for a time on this earth, or things that would give us joy and peace for eternity. Those things that are strictly of this earth, are the vain things we should not be seeking after, because they will fade away and have no value. Samuel promised them that they would not be forsaken by the Lord, because they were His people. He also promised that he would continue to pray for them, because that was his duty in being their prophet. It was also his duty to teach them what was right and good, which was to truly serve the Lord and follow after Him, because they had been blessed greatly by the Lord. Again he promised destruction would come to them, as well as the king they had desired, if they turned to wickedness.

The gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in many nations throughout the world. The people of the Lord are everywhere. The specific temptations and weaknesses of His people, are diverse and numerous. Even though this is the case, the common thread when any follower of Christ follows after temptation, is the tendency to forget the Lord. If we can likewise, follow the counsel given by Samuel, we can avoid turning away from God. The promise remains that those who turn away from God and turn to wickedness, will find destruction to their souls. This idea is recorded several times throughout the scriptures. In Mosiah 7:29 we read, “For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.” Therefore, we would do well to continue to follow after the Lord, stay committed and loyal to Him, serve Him with all our hearts, seek after things of God, and keep His commandments. We should do these things, because we owe Him everything for the countless blessings He has given and will continue to give to us.

1 Samuel Chapter 7

After several months of plagues, death and destruction, the Philistine lords returned the ark of the covenant to the Israelites. It was returned to the land of Beth-shemesh. Many in the area were slain because they were disobedient to the instructions of the Lord, and looked into the ark. With great sorrow and mourning, the people of Beth-shemesh reached out to those in Kirjath-jearim, to take the ark out of their land. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the men of Kirjath-jearim came, and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Men of Kirjath-jearim took the ark to the house of Abinadab. Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, was sanctified in order that he might be the one to take care of the ark. It remained there for twenty years, while it seems, Israel lamented. It is likely, that Israel was turned from the Lord in many ways, while I am sure He waited for them to remember Him. His presence was probably not with the land of Israel, to protect them and bless them, especially in the face of their enemies. They sorrowed in knowing the spirit of the Lord was not with them.

3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.
5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.
6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

Samuel, the prophet, called the Israelites to repentance. They were worshipping false gods, but he told them deliverance from the Philistines would come if they turned back to the Lord and served Him. The Israelites listened to Samuel and stopped their idolatry of worshipping Baalim and Ashtaroth. They returned to worshipping the Lord. Samuel called them to gather in Mizpeh, so that he could pray for them. They gathered in fasting and prayer, confessing that they had sinned against the Lord. The Philistines learned of the gathering of Israel and decided to go against them. The Israelites were afraid. They asked that Samuel continue to pray for their deliverance.

9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.
10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

Samuel made an offering to the Lord, and prayed for Israel. The Lord heard and answered his prayer. The Philistines were getting closer to the Israelites, but the Lord thundered greatly on them, and they became uneasy or confused and were smitten. The men of Israel went after them and killed them. Samuel placed a memorial stone where the Lord had helped them.

13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
16 And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
17 And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the Lord.

The Philistines did not come against the Israelites any longer, and the Israelites had peace with them for the rest of the time while Samuel was a judge. The Lord had delivered the Israelites again. Israel was able to restore all the cities that the Philistines had taken from them. Samuel traveled throughout Israel as he was their judge.

Again we see that the blessings of the Lord will be with those who turn to Him in faith. In Helaman 13:11 we read, “… thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” This is an eternal principle with regards to the relationship of all men to God. We all sin, because we are human and none of us is perfect. When we repent and strive to keep His commandments, he is bound to bless us, but if we do not, it will not be good for us. The Israelites were blessed when they listened to the words of their prophet, and followed his council. We likewise, can be blessed to listen to and follow the words of our modern prophets.

1 Samuel Chapter 6

The ark of the covenant was lost to the Philistines during a battle in Eben-ezer. The Philistines had taken it as a spoil of the battle, but when then returned to Ashdod, and placed it next to the idol of their god, Dagon, the idol was destroyed and their people began to be afflicted with a plague and destruction. After this destruction was brought upon three different cities in which they had tried to place the ark, it was decided that they needed to get rid of it to save their people. This account continues with the following:

1 And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
8 And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.

The Philistines moved the ark away from their cities and into the country, where it stayed for seven months. They sought guidance from their priests and diviners to know where they should put the ark. They decided that they should return the ark, but if they were to send it to the Israelites, they needed to do it along with an offering to the Israelite god, so that the Philistine land could be saved of the curse placed upon them. They asked their priests what they should give as an offering, and they were told to give golden images of the plagues that had been placed upon them. This was in hopes that it would be a tribute to God, who would then lighten the curse.

The diviners told them not to be like pharaoh of Egypt, who did not do what was necessary once he saw relief from a curse from the Israelite God. I think that sometimes we can unwisely fall into this trap ourselves. When times are hard, it is easier to remember the Lord and turn to Him. Some of us may even make promises to God that we will make some kind of change to be free of our trials and adversity. Then, when we are blessed with relief from that difficulty, we do not feel the need to follow through on the promises we make, or continue as changed people. The Lord will hold us accountable for those choices and promises we make. We should not be like the pharaoh of Egypt, because once he went against his promise to Moses and the Israelites, God sent another, more difficult plague to afflict his people. Our consequences for breaking promises, or covenants, will be much greater than the trials we may have experienced in the first place.

The diviners and priests told the Philistines to place the ark on a new cart carried by two unburdened milking cows, along with the golden images they were to make. Then they were to let it go and see if it would return into the borders of Israel through Beth-shemesh. If if did not, they would take it as a sign that the plagues had been brought upon them by chance, not by the god of Israel. If it did go directly into the Israelite land, they would know that the god of Israel had brought these things upon them.

10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
11 And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh.
13 And they of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the Lord.
15 And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the Lord.
16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the Lord; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the Lord: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite.

The men did as they were told. The cows walked a straight path through the border of the city Beth-shemesh in Israel. A leader of the Philistines followed it as it went. Farmers in Beth-shemesh rejoiced to see the ark as it passed. The cows stopped in the field of a man named Joshua, and the Israelites took the cart and cows, and gave a burnt offering to the Lord. The Levites placed the ark and the gold offerings on a great stone in the field (the stone of Abel), and the people of the city gave offerings and sacrifices to the Lord that day. Once the Philistine lords witnessed this, they returned to Ekron.

19 And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.
20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

The Lord killed 50,070 men of the land of Beth-shemesh, because some had chosen to look into the ark of the Lord. The Israelites should have known better than to do this, because the Lord had established long before, that only those who were Levites, were to have anything to do with the sacred items used in the tabernacle. They had been given the priesthood authority to care for these things, especially the ark of the covenant. Had they been Levites, who knew how to perform their duties and were strict in their obedience, they would have known that no man was to look upon these things, because they represented the glory of the Lord. No man could stand in the presence of the glory of the Lord, and survive it, without becoming changed by the Lord. Without the expressed permission of the Lord, they brought death upon themselves. The people mourned and lamented their loss. They did not know who could stand before the Lord, meaning I think, who could move the ark, and they did not know where the ark was to go.

21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the Lord; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.

They sent messengers to Kirjath-Jearim, to ask that they come and take the ark from Beth-shemesh.

I feel as though the Lord was reestablishing the sacred nature of the ark of the covenant, to the Israelites and those among other nations who were aware of it. It had been a long time since the Israelites had fled Egypt into the wilderness, and since he had caused that they should make the ark along with all the other sacred parts of the tabernacle of the Lord. They learned early on, that no one was to touch the ark, for fear of death. They learned that the power of the Lord was upon it. But over time, it seems they had forgotten some of these things. It is clear that they felt the Lord would be with them if they had the ark among them, but they had forgotten who they were in relation to the Lord. Moses had learned that man is powerless in comparison to the Lord. In Moses 1:10 we read, “And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.” We are the reason for the plan of God, and yet, compared to God, we are nothing. This is a humbling lesson to learn, and I think that it is one of the lessons that this story of the ark is able to teach us if we are willing to recognize it.

Judges Chapter 10

This period in the Israelites history, was a time when judges were raised to lead Israel. The last judge was Gideon, who led the Israelites to peace from the enemies. Gideon mistakenly led the people to the path of idolatry, through the creation of some kind of idol. At his death, one of his sons desired to become ruler of Israel. Through secret combinations and persuasion, he was made king of Israel. He ruled in wickedness for around three years and then was killed in a fight with his own people. This chapter begins:

1 And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.
2 And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.

For 23 years, a man named Tola, judged Israel. Nothing more is said here, so it would seem that they lived in some amount of peace, at least from external enemies.

3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.
4 And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.

The next judge was Jair. He led them for 22 years. His 30 sons lived an elevated lifestyle among the Israelites in Gilead.

6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.
7 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
8 And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
9 Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.

Once again, the Israelites returned to the wickedness of idolatry. They turned from the Lord, which would teach us that during the time of the previous judge, Jair, they were living a life where they worshiped the Lord. The consequence for turning from the Lord, was that he allowed them to fall into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites. For 18 years, the eastern Israelites were oppressed by their enemies. Eventually, the Ammonites crossed over the Jordan, and began to fight the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim as well.

10 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
11 And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
12 The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.
13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

The Israelites remembered that the Lord had helped them in the past. They recognized that they had forsaken, or abandoned God and had served other gods. Because of their desire to worship the gods of other nations, the Lord was not quick to hear their cries and deliver them this time. Rather, they were also forsaken and told to ask the gods they worshipped to save them. They had been warned of this by prophets before this time.

15 And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
17 Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
18 And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

The Israelites recognized that they had sinned and pleaded that God would deliver them and give them punishment some other way. They repented, gave up their idolatry and began to serve the Lord once again. Their enemy, the Ammonites, gathered against them to fight. The Israelites in Gilead asked one another who would start the fight against the people of Ammon. Whoever did this, would be the leader in Gilead.

At this point, I think that the Israelites recognized that the Lord was not with them because of their wickedness. There may have been fear among them because of this, and they needed someone to stand forth with courage, if they were going to be successful in battle against the Ammonites.

Time and time again, the Lord was there waiting, while the people had forsaken Him and turned to false gods. God continued to deliver them every time they remembered him, which seemed to fall at times of trials and tribulation. There comes a point, when God must allow greater trials to come upon His people, in order to recommit them to living righteously. In Helaman 12:3 “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” The promises remain for us in our time as well. When we live righteously and strive to follow the commandments of God, he will bless us with deliverance from our enemies and the adversary. The Lord will bless us with prosperity and with an abundance of His spirit. But, if we turn from him until we are faced with adversity and trials, He may be slow to hear our own cries. We may need to be chastened through great difficulties and suffering, before He will fight our battles, so that we can learn true repentance and humility. As the doctrine of the gospel teaches us, it is better for us to choose to remember the Lord and live righteously, especially in the better times of our lives, so that the Lord will be there for us in the harder parts of life.

Judges Chapter 8

Gideon was called by the Lord, to lead Israel to victory against the army of the Midianites. He had shown his faith and reliance on the Lord, which led to their being able to frighten and destroy the enemy soldiers. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abi-ezer?
3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.

The armies of the tribe of Ephraim, were angry and wondered why they had not been called to fight when the army went against the Midianites. Gideon reminded them to be grateful that Lord had delivered the princes of Midian into their hands, and they had done well with that. They were no longer angry with him.

4 And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.

Gideon led his three hundred men to pursue the Midianites over the Jordan. He asked the people of Succoth, on that side of the Jordan, to give food to his men.

6 And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?
7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

The request was denied by the people of Succoth, and Gideon promised that after they had destroy the Midianites, they would destroy the people of Succoth for their refusal to assist them. It seems that the people of Succoth did not believe that the army of Gideon was going to be successful in their attempt.

8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.
9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.

Gideon went to the place of Penuel, also requesting aid for his men who needed food. They also refused, and Gidoen made another promise to them that when they returned in peace, they would actually bring down the tower of Penuel.

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.

15,000 men of the children of the east, were remaining in the army in Karkor.

11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure.
12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.

Gideon and his army approached the host of Midianites from the east and destroyed them. The kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, ran away and Gideon pursued after them and took them.

13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,
14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.
15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?
16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.

Gideon returned that day, to the people of Succoth, and found the leaders and destroyed them with thorns of the wilderness, just as he had promised. He made them an example to their people. Then he returned to Penuel and destroyed the tower and killed the men of the city.

18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.
19 And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.
20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.

Gideon asked the Midianite kings who they had killed at Tabor. They admitted to killing his family, and Gideon said that if they had left them living, he would not kill them. Gideon commanded his son Jether to kill the kings. He was a young man and afraid to kill them, but the kings recognized to their defeat and told him to go ahead and kill them. Gideon killed the kings of Midian.

22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you.

After receiving their freedom from the Midianites, the children of Israel desired for Gideon to become their king. He refused and would not have his family rule over them. He told them that the Lord would be their ruler.

24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
25 And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.
26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks.
27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

Gideon asked instead, for the golden earrings of their prey and made a garment or medallion of gold, which the people began to seek after. This was a temptation for the household of Gideon. The call for the people to bring their gold, was much like the people being told to bring their treasures for the work of building the tabernacle. I think it was customary in those days to pay this kind of tribute to those who were the rulers and leaders. However, it would have been the duty of Gideon to use it for good, which it seems he did not.

28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.

The Midianites had been subdued and they had peace for 40 years.

29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

Jerubbaal, which was another name for Gidoen (see Judges 7:1), went to his home. He had many wives, and 70 sons. One of his sons was named Abimelech, son of the concubine Shechem.

32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.
33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.
34 And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:
35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.

Gideon died, and the Israelites returned again to the worship of Baal, or idolatry. They forgot the Lord and his deliverance once again. They no longer showed any kindness towards the family of Jerubbaal (Gideon).

Gideon was truly led by the hand of the Lord, in delivering the Israelites from their enemies. Yet, once again, the people could not retain a remembrance of the power of the Lord if they would only follow His commandments. The ways of the world were once again, too strong for them them to avoid on their own. The treasures of their victory, were a temptation for the people of Gideon, and they returned to their wicked ways. This is yet another lesson to us, of how simple it is to forget the Lord and turn to those things that will bring us down into bondage. If we can remember to follow the commandments of the Lord, we will be blessed with the strength to avoid temptations in our lives.

Judges Chapter 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua Chapter 4

The Israelites had followed the instructions of the prophet, Joshua, and went behind the Ark of the Covenant to the shores of the Jordan River. They camped near the river. Twelve men, one from each tribe, were chosen from among the people. They followed the priests who bore the Ark, and when they entered the water, it was stopped in a heap, much like the parting of the Red Sea. The people began to walk across on the dry land. This chapter continues this story as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

After the people had crossed the river, the twelve men who had been chosen from the tribes, were to gather twelve stones from the ground where the priests stood, who had carried the ark. They were to take the stones with them to the place they camped for the night. Joshua teaches us that the reason for these stones, was to have a monument to be held in remembrance of this event. When their children, or their posterity, would ask what these stones meant, they would teach them that they were to remember when the Lord stopped the waters of the Jordan for the children of Israel. Twelve stones were placed in the middle of the Jordan River, where the ark of the covenant was carried by the priests.

10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.
11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.
12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:
13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

When all of this was accomplished, the priests who bore the ark carried it onto the other side of the river where the Israelites were. The men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, led the people, armed to fight, just as they had promised. There were 40,000 men prepared to battle in the Israelite army.

14 On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
15 And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying,
16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.
18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

The children of Israel, were able to witness for themselves, that Joshua had been magnified by the Lord, and was indeed the Lord’s prophet. Once the priests were commanded to come out of the Jordan River onto the shores of the other side, the river returned to it’s normal course.

19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever.

The Israelites camped in Gilgal, just outside of the land of Jericho. The twelve tribes set up the twelve stones as a memorial of what the Lord had done for the Israelites at this place.

I was pondering on the use of stones and the river in this story. Stones are a part of the land, which is what they were able to walk on without difficulty. These stones would have been large enough to remain there for generations, and they cause me to think about the rock of our salvation, who is always there for us. These stones were to stay unmovable and always be a reminder of the strength of the Lord for His people. The Lord is our rock, just as he was the rock of salvation for the Israelites. If we place our trust in Him, he will help us to cross the rivers of trials we deal with in our own lives, as if we are on dry land. The waters will not be able to drag us down, as the river would have done for this people.

Additionally, the Ark of the Covenant was not only a physical representation of the Lord among the people, but a container which held the words of the covenant the people of Israel had made with the Lord. It is a reminder to me, that we need to allow our covenants to lead our lives. If we are willing to put our covenants with the Lord first, to give us guidance and direction, we will be kept safe and find our way to our promised land. I am so grateful for my covenants and have felt the blessings of allowing the Lord to guide me through them.


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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