Posts Tagged 'Righteousness'

2 Samuel Chapter 22

David was a man of faith. He was not perfect, none of us are, but we can see in his example that he tried to turn to God often. David was the king, chosen by the Lord, to lead the people of Israel. In the world, he was raised above others, reverenced and in a way, worshipped by his followers, and he could have been a man of great pride. Nevertheless, he remembered the Lord and had a humility that has not always been found in those who have ruled the nations. David was a writer of songs and psalms. In his youth, David had been brought to King Saul, to play for him in the hopes of raising Saul’s depressed spirit. This was a talent and gift, which he used throughout his life, and this chapter is noted as coming from him as well. In the header, it calls this a psalm of thanksgiving.

1 And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
2 And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

A key to humility is gratitude. In this psalm David expresses the Lord’s hand in the things of his life. In particular, David was grateful for the Lord’s power of deliverance in his life. He recognized that God had been the reason for his life being spared when others, specifically Saul, had tried to kill him. He uses words to describe the Lord, which show that he felt the Lord was strong. Words such as “rock” and “fortress”, which were things that were firm and steadfast, dependable and unmovable. David felt the protection of the Lord in his battles. Anyone who knows of David in the bible, knows of David’s trust of the Lord in his fights. This is the same man, who went when he was young and unskilled in battle, volunteered to fight Goliath. He knew the Lord would fight for him then, and he knew he would continue to fight for him when the cause was right.

4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
7 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

David recognized that he could depend on the Lord and ask for help through prayer. He knew that he had personal weaknesses, including fear. Yet, the Lord had heard his prayers for help and delivered him from those he feared. In our own distress, we can call upon God. When we have fear, sorrows, doubts, sadness, loneliness, frustrations, or any kind of distress to our soul, we can pray to God for help. The Lord wants us to have joy and be happy. In our humility, he will help us find our way.

20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
21 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

David knew that the Lord had blessed him for his righteousness. When he chose to do what was right, according to the laws and judgments of God, he was rewarded. As I initially read this, it seemed that this psalm was written before his decision with Bathsheba and Uriah, because he said that he had kept the ways of the Lord, and his actions at that time where not according to the laws and statutes of the Lord. Until that point of weakness, it seems that David had lived righteously and had been greatly blessed for his cleanliness. However, the companion manual in my current study states that these last few chapters of 2 Samuel, were praise offered at the end of David’s life. Perhaps, it is that David recognized what he had done, and had strived to repent and return to those things that were righteous. We are not characterized by the mistakes we make, when we choose to correct them, turn back from them, or move forward from them, especially when we do so with the help of the Lord. Although David had not lived a perfect life, he had tried in most things, to live in a manner that was pleasing to the Lord. He had suffered quite a bit for his choice, but his life as a whole had been greatly blessed for his righteousness.

26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

God extends mercy to those who are merciful and saves those who are afflicted, but He also causes those who are haughty, or lifted up in their own pride, to be brought down. There will come a day when it will not be pleasant for those who fill their lives with deceit and sin.

29 For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.
30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
32 For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?

God provides light to those in darkness, and makes all things possible. David teaches us that the ways of God are perfect. I like the phrase used here, “the word of the Lord is tried”, because I think it reminds us that we can test the word of God, and it will always be perfect and true. God is the Lord and a rock to those who trust in Him.

33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.
42 They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.
43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.
44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

God is strength and power. He has the strength to do anything, and he will be there for those who remember Him. God has the power to help us overcome enemies, especially when that enemy is our own weakness to temptation and sin. His power can make us closer to what He is, which is perfect. When we are striving to do what is right, God helps us to stay grounded, firm on the path that will raise us up rather than that which leads us down to misery. He will bless the righteous with the things that they stand in need of, which in David’s case, was to have the strength in battle to defeat those that were trying to destroy him. In doing so, God gave David the power to rule over strangers.

47 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
48 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,
49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

David reminds us that God lives. He praises God for his personal salvation and success against those that stand against him. David knew he and his posterity would be forever blessed by the mercy of the Lord.

It is so important for us to have gratitude in our hearts, and most especially for God who gives us blessings beyond our comprehension and understanding. I second the testimony of David, that we have a living God. He is good and loving, merciful and kind, strong and powerful. He will bless those that follow Him. He will give out just rewards when the time comes for all of us to be judged. He will welcome the faithful home, with open arms and blessings beyond measure, because He loves us beyond measure.

2 Samuel Chapter 4

David had become the king of Judah and was leading his men in a long war with the men of Israel. Israel was ruled by a man name Ish-bosheth, who was a son of Saul. Ish-bosheth had offended the captain of his army, Abner, and Abner had gone to help Judah against them. Abner had been killed by men in Judah, before he was able to help them to defeat Israel. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And when Saul’s son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.
2 And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands: the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, of the children of Benjamin: (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin:
3 And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.)
4 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.
5 And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ish-bosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.
6 And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.
7 For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.
8 And they brought the head of Ish-bosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.

Ish-bosheth learned that Abner was dead, and he and his people became worried about their situation. Judah had proven to be the stronger army in their fight against one another. Ish-bosheth had a captain named Baanah and Rechab of Benjamin, but their people fled to a place called Gittaim. Mephibosheth, Ish-bosheth’s lame nephew, had had an accident when they heard of the death of his father, Jonahthan, and grandfather, Saul. The captains came from Gittaim and went to the house of Ish-bosheth. They snuck in and killed him in the middle of the day. They beheaded him and then, they escaped. They took his head to David and said that the enemy of David had been killed to avenge David of his enemy.

9 And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As the Lord liveth, who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity,
10 When one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, who thought that I would have given him a reward for his tidings:
11 How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?
12 And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron.

David asked them who had brought him out of his adversity, knowing that when Saul had been killed the murderer was killed for it. Why would they had done the same thing, expecting a reward for killing Ish-bosheth. He accused them of being wicked men who had killed an innocent man in his own bed. He called for his servants to kill them and make an example of them to others. Then he had the head of Ish-bosheth buried with Abner.

This idea, that one can do whatever they want, even that which is wrong, in order to get the desired result, still exists today. There is a mindset, that as long as we are aiming for those things that would be right, it doesn’t matter how we get there. There are many things causing problems in the world today, but one of the lies of the adversary, is that we can sin or do things that are wrong in order to get there. These men knew that David had an enemy which he was fighting, but the man deserved to fight for himself in their battles on the field. He did not deserve to be killed in his sleep in his own home, because that was just simply cold-blooded or premeditated murder. This was strictly prohibited in the law of Moses. The punishment for this, was death, and they received their reward. It is good for each of us to examine our own lives and see if we are doing something like this. Do we make excuses for the things we are doing, because we will get the end result and will be doing what is right in the end? If so, we need to stop and turn instead to the support of the Lord in order to accomplish those things that are good and righteous. The Lord will lead us in the paths of righteousness and the results will be good for many, as opposed to good for those we think deserve it. God’s ways are better than our ways, but they will often time require more work and more sacrifice in order to get there. The righteous should be willing to wait on the Lord’s timing, just as David had done with Saul.

1 Samuel Chapter 26

David had been merciful to King Saul and had spared his life while in the area of En-gedi. After confronting Saul, David had convinced him to go his way in peace. Saul had returned to his home, abandoning his plans to kill David for that time. However, in the process of hunting for David, Saul had stirred up many of the people against David. This support could have been out of fear for their lives if they went against the king, which he had shown brought death, or out of loyalty to Saul as their king. Either way, Israelites were still looking for David. The story of Saul and David continues with the following:

1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?
2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
3 And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.
4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.

Ziphite men got word to Saul, that David was hiding in the hill of Hachilah, which was in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul took an army with him, to find David, and camped in the hill. David, who was in the wilderness, saw Saul coming and sent out spies to be sure it was Saul.

5 And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.
6 Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.
7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.
8 Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.
9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?
10 David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
11 The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.

David went to Saul’s camp, and saw where Saul was. Saul was in a trench or behind a barricade, surrounded by his men, along with Abner his captain. David asked a few of his men, who would go down into the camp with him. Abishai volunteered himself, so they snuck into the camp at night. Saul was sleeping, with his weapon propped up near his head, I think in preparation for battle. Abishai told David that Saul had been delivered into his hands again and he offered to kill Saul, which he could have done with one blow from the spear. David refused his offer, saying for a second time, that Saul had been anointed by the Lord. David knew that the Lord would smite Saul, or He would allow Saul to die in his own time or in battle. He was not meant to kill Saul, and it would have brought unwanted guilt upon him. Instead, David told Abishai to take the spear and water from Saul. They took it and snuck away without being seen, because the Lord had caused a deep sleep to be upon on the men.

13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:
14 And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?
15 And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
16 This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.
17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.
18 And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?
19 Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other gods.
20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.

David stood on top of a hill on the other side of the place where Saul was camped, leaving a large space between himself and the camp of Saul. David yelled out to them, and Abner asked who called out to king Saul. David told Abner that he knew he was a valiant man in Israel, but that he had not protected his king. He told Abner that someone had snuck in to kill the king, and that he was not worthy to live, because he could not protect his king. David asked him to look for the spear and container of water. Saul recognized David’s voice and asked him if it was David. David told him it was, and asked why Saul continued to pursue him and what he had done to deserve it. David said if the Lord had inspired Saul to do this, David would give an offering to the Lord, but if the reason was of men, they were cursed for what they tried to do. He told him not to try to kill him, because David was nothing to hunt after.

21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
22 And David answered and said, Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.
23 The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the Lord delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed.
24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the Lord, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.
25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Again, Saul realized he had done wrong. He told David that he would not harm him, because he had spared his life. Saul knew that David valued life, his life, and was a good man. David told Saul to have one of his men retrieve the spear, and let the Lord give everyone their reward for their righteousness and faithfulness. David knew Saul had been delivered into his hands again, but he showed him kindness and spared him. He would be blessed by the Lord for what he had done. David and Saul went their separate ways in peace.

I think that this situation was a lesson in humility for Saul. I don’t know that he learned the lesson, but it was there. This was the second time that he could have easily been killed by David, but David refused to kill him because he loved the Lord more than man. I don’t know that there would be many men, who would have the courage to do the things David did. David had a great trust in the Lord, that he would be blessed for his choice to spare a man who time and time again had sought to take his life. David was not a man of fear, but was a man of faith, who was living loyal to his principles. Those who follow after this example, will be blessed for their faith in the Lord. Those who choose to trust in men and their judgement, will not receive the blessings of the Lord.

Ponderizing – Week 12 Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel Chapter 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 4

Samuel was established as the prophet in Israel. Eli, the high priest serving in Shiloh where the tabernacle had been raised, had been promised some serious results for allowing unholy things to occur in the temple. Among the promises, was that two of his sons would die on the same day, and that his line would no longer serve or give sacrifices in the temple. In effect, they were going to be cut off from the Lord for their wickedness. This chapter begins:

1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Eben-ezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.

The word of the Lord went to Israel, from the prophet Samuel. The Philistines came against the people of Israel, and killed about 4,000 men of the Israelite army.

3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp.
7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

The Elders of Israel decided that they would bring the ark of the covenant out of the temple in Shiloh, to protect themselves against the Philistines. History had taught them that the ark, representing the presence of the Lord, had brought them protection and power in the past. Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were the ones with the ark when word was received from the Elders. They allowed the ark to be removed to the camp of Israel. When it arrived, the camp of Israel shouted in joy, because they believed they would then be spared through the power of God. The Philistines heard the shout and learned that the ark of the Israelites was in the camp. This brought fear to the Philistines, because they knew what the God of Israel had done for them in the past. The Philistines were determined to fight and prevent themselves from becoming slaves to the Hebrews, as the Hebrews had been slaves to them. So they gathered their courage for the fight.

10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

The Israelites were defeated and the ark was captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli who had departed with the ark of the covenant, were both killed that day.

12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

Eli, sat in Shiloh worrying about the ark of the covenant, when a man from the army came in mourning. The man told the people of Shiloh what had happened. When Eli heard that his sons had died in the battle, which the Israelites had lost, and that the ark of God was taken by the Philistines, Eli fell off his seat and died from a broken neck. Eli had been a judge in Israel, for forty years.

19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
21 And she named the child I-chabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Shortly after, the wife of Phinehas who was very pregnant at the time, learned of what had happened to the ark, her husband and her father-in-law, and she went into labor. She died during childbirth before she saw the son she had given birth to. The woman who had helped her named the baby boy I-chabod, meaning “where is the glory?” according to the footnote for verse 21, for it was a time when glory was removed from Israel. The words of the Lord against Eli and his family, had been fulfilled.

I don’t think that the sons of Eli had gone to the Lord to ask if taking the ark was the right thing to do. It does not tell us here, if even the Elders of Israel had sought the Lord’s permission to request this for the army. Whatever the case, the Lord, in his wisdom and foresight, knew that this would happen. It was because the sons of Eli had taken the ark to the fight, that they were both killed in one day by the Philistines. If they had remained with the ark in Shiloh, they would not have been where they would have been killed that day. This action had left Israel without the sacred ark of the covenant, which I am sure was a shock and a great defeat to their nation, both physically and spiritually. I wonder if the Lord had allowed this to happen in part, because the sons of Eli had defiled the temple in Shiloh with their actions. They had made light of all that was sacred there. Moreover, the Lord had established that He would speak with Samuel personally, even while he lied in bed, and Samuel did not need to go directly to the ark to receive instruction and revelation from God.

Wickedness will never bring true happiness. This is one of the eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This story of Eli and his family, can teach us this principle. The sons of Eli had turned from God even though they still were there in the temple where they could have serve Him and felt his spirit. They chose to seek after pleasure and gain, rather than the eternal happiness and treasure that God would have given them. This brought upon them the judgements of God and physical death. God has given man the plan, which if followed will be the source of true happiness. This plan of happiness is basically, that we follow after His Son, Jesus Christ. If we choose to live after the manner of happiness by striving to be righteous like Christ, fleeting pleasures and wickedness will not entice us, or give us the false impression that we can be happy if we seek them. In following Jesus Christ, we can find great strength, power, love, peace, and joy.

1 Samuel Chapter 2

Hannah, the barren wife of Elkanah, had prayed for a son with a promise to lend him to the Lord. She was blessed by the Lord to become the mother of Samuel, whom she gave to Eli, the priest. Eli gave Hannah and Elkanah a blessing. Their story continues as follows:

1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
6 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
7 The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.
9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
11 And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest.

Hannah praised the Lord in song. In her praises, she told of the strength and greatness of God. God has the power to do what cannot be done, and undo what has already been done. God will bless the saints and destroy the wicked adversaries of His righteousness. I believe that these are true things about the nature of God. He is all-powerful. He blesses the lives of his saints in ways that seem impossible by our understanding. I believe that one day, we will all stand before him to be judged, and the saints will be blessed for their righteousness, while His adversaries will be destroyed for their wickedness.

Elkanah (and Hannah, I believe) returned to his home, while Samuel remained with Eli and served the Lord.

12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.
13 And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;
14 And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither.
15 Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

Eli had sons, but they had become men who followed after the ways of the world. His sons should have served faithfully with him in the temple, but they did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests’ servants in the temple, was that they would claim the portion of the sacrifices, which would go to the priest for his service. But by adapted custom, this servant would also ask the person giving sacrifice for a portion of the raw meat for the priest. If the individual refused to allow it to be taken raw, as they would to follow the pattern the Lord had set forward, the servant would say that it could be given to them or taken from them by force. This was a sin of the servant, because it was not how it should be done.

The servants in the temple had not been following the proper ways to serve, with regard to the sacrifices and portions which should have gone to the priest. Perhaps, they desired to take more than their share, to profit from those who went to the temple to make sacrifices. Whatever their reasons, the ways of men were going against the ways of the Lord, corrupting them for their own purposes.

18 But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod.
19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

Samuel served the Lord in the temple, from his youth. The word but, causes me to think that because he was raised to serve the Lord in the temple, he was not out to gain from his service. I think that means, that Samuel did things according to the order that the Lord had established and not according to the customs of the men who had been serving there. He wore a temple garment, and Hannah would bring him a coat she made each year when she went to offer sacrifices with her husband.

20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord. And they went unto their own home.
21 And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.

Eli, with the authority of a priest, gave a blessing to Elkanah and Hannah, that they would be able to have more children, because they had lent Samuel to the Lord. Hannah was blessed to have three more sons and two daughters. Samuel remained and grew up serving the Lord in the temple.

All men who are called to serve as priests in the Lord’s kingdom, are given the authority to bless others. They have the power and authority to call down specific blessings from heaven. This power, which Eli had, has been restored in our modern days. My life has been blessed greatly by men who hold the priesthood and honor it. I know that the faith of Elkanah and Hannah, as well as Eli who gave the blessing, was the key to the priesthood blessing allowing them to have more children. This faith, is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they all served by the righteous work done in the temple.

22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress.
25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.
26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men.

Eli, in his old age, heard of wicked things his sons did, even to women who had come to be at the temple. He told them that he had heard that they were causing people to stray with their wickedness. They were probably directly influences some by what they did, as well as indirectly influencing others who would have been watching their example. They could have been influencing some to do what they were doing, as well as influencing others to falter in their faith. Moreover, Eli told his sons that they were not simply sinning against other people, but that they were sinning against God. The Lord would destroy them if they did not listen to Eli’s words. Samuel, on the other hand, grew in favor with God, as well as men.

27 And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house?
28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.

A man of God, an angel of the Lord, appeared to Eli with a message from the Lord. He reminded Eli that the house of his fathers had been chosen by the Lord, to serve as His priests in the tabernacle. They had been given the authority of His holy priesthood. All of the offerings made in the tabernacle (or temple) had been given to the priests. And yet, Eli was not taking these sacrifices seriously, and was allowing his sons to do what they wanted with them. Eli was profiting, or becoming fat off of, the choices which his sons were making. The Lord was no longer going to allow the family of Eli to dishonor the Him in this way. Eli was given a promise that his house would not continue to have the honor of serving in the house of the Lord. The Lord would no longer recognize the promises made to Eli’s ancestors, that his family would always serve there, but instead they would be cut off. The Lord, told Eli that He would give him a sign, that his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas would both die on a day. The Lord would raise up a priest who would serve Him faithfully. The family of that priest would be blessed for generations, while the house of Eli would not live to see old age, and would no longer have the Lord’s blessing. They would instead, become beggars of the worthy priest.

There is a cycle and pattern over time on this earth. The Lord establishes his people and gives them his laws and statutes. Then, the Lord takes a step back and allows men to use their agency to decide how they will live. At first, men remember the promised blessings, choose the right and prosper accordingly. Then as time passes, and men live in their prosperity, they begin to forget the strictness of the ways of the Lord. Sacred things become common place and pretty soon the Lord is mocked and forgotten. Each time this cycle comes to this point, the Lord steps in again to remind men that His ways are not to be treated lightly. Man has agency, and because so, they may choose if they will adhere to the commandments and directions given by the Lord, but they do not have the ability to choose what will happen as a result. The Lord will not allow men to continually disrespect Him. He will punish those who treat sacred things lightly. He will bless those who are faithful and righteous. We should remember this pattern, and determine if we are becoming casual with the sacred things in our lives. We need to take the Lord seriously and reverence those things that he has established to bless and exalt the righteous. If we choose righteousness, we will be blessed.

Moreover, this was the error of a father with regards to his sons. Parents have a duty to teach their children what is right. Parents are responsible for helping their children to know how to keep sacred things sacred, and how to treat the blessings of the Lord. If a parent knows how to live righteously, and fails to teach their child to follow those things, the sin is upon the parent. When a parent learns of the wickedness of a child, they are responsible for lovingly calling that child to repentance. When necessary, a parent should discipline a child who is willfully disobeying the Lord. Eli did not follow through with any discipline of his sons. As mentioned above, they have their agency, but they do not have the ability to choose the consequences of that agency. If a parent does not do all that they can, to help a child correct the wrong they do, the parent is as at much fault, if not more than the child. This places great responsibility upon us as parents. We should make it a point to understand and know what is right and true, and then we should do our best to teach these things to our children. Otherwise, ultimately, we will be judged accordingly and the outcome will be along the lines of Eli, whose posterity was no longer blessed with the priesthood and opportunities that go along with it.

Judges Chapter 4

The Israelites were living under the leadership of judges, whom the Lord had raised up to deliver His people. Ehud had delivered the people from the oppression of the Moabites when he killed their king, Eglon. This was possible because, while under oppression, the people had remembered the Lord. The cycle of rebellion against God, continues in this chapter, with the following:

1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.

Once Ehud, judge of Israel, had died, the Israelites returned to their ways of wickedness. The Lord allowed them to fall into the hands of king Jabin of Canaan. They were oppressed for twenty years and the Israelites remembered the Lord and prayed for deliverance. Each time the Israelites turned to worshipping false gods and doing evil, the Lord withdrew his blessing of protection from their enemies. In their weakness, the Israelites were oppressed by the nations surrounding them. They never seemed strong enough on their own, but needed the Lord on their side in order to prosper in the land.

4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?
7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.
8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
9 And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

A prophetess named Deborah, judged Israel. The Israelites went to her for leadership. She talked to a man named Barak, about leading ten thousand men of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun, to go up against their enemies. The Lord had promised to deliver Sisera, the captain of the Canaanites, and his army into their hands. Barak would only go if Deborah would go with him. She agreed and told him this would not be for his honor, but that Sisera would be sold into the hands of a woman by the Lord.

We are not always expected to do the things that we want to do. Sometimes it is easier to do hard things, when we have the support of others with us. In this case, Barak wanted the support of Deborah. I think that he trusted that with Deborah there, they could have the Lord’s strength and would win the fight.

10 And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father in law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh.
12 And they shewed Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to mount Tabor.
13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
15 And the Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
16 But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left.
17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.

They gathered their men and went towards their enemy. Deborah told Barak when he was to go, according to when the Lord had delivered Sisera into their hands. Sisera was delivered into their hands by the Lord. Sisera, himself, ran away, while his men were destroyed by the Israelites. Sisera took refuge with Jael the Kenite, who’s family was aligned with king Jabin of Canaan. She was the woman, who Deborah had foretold of taking Sisera.

18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
22 And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
23 So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.
24 And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.

Jael met Sisera and asked him to come unto her in her tent. He did and then asked for water to drink. She gave him milk, which I think caused him to fall asleep. He told her to stand watch and if anyone asked if a man had come to her, she was to say no. Then she snuck up to him while he slept and killed him with a nail from her tent, which she drove into the ground. When Barak arrived at her tent, looking for Sisera, she showed him what she had done. Jabin and the Canaanites, had been subdued by the Lord and the Isrealites were able to destroy them and prosper again.

This chapter focuses on the ability for women to be able to deliver the people, which was not common among the scriptures. These women were heroes for the Israelites. Jael had great courage to do what she did to Sisera. Deborah was indeed a prophetess of the Lord, because the things which she foretold came to pass. She was blessed with the ability to deliver the Isrealites and show them that the Lord was their God. Women can be great leaders of courage and faith today, as these were in ancient times. In order for us to stay strong, the world we live in now needs women to be more courageous, faithful, and righteous. I may not be required to lead an army to battle, but I am raising children who need a righteous and faithful mother in their home.

The Lord was the strength of Israel. Even when facing their enemy with chariots, which they could not fight alone as men, they were victorious. The Lord can be there for us in our battles, if we will heed the words of our modern prophets and leaders. If we will keep the commandments, He will strengthen us and help us to overcome the world.

Judges Chapter 2

This chapter continues the introduction into the book of Judges. It is good to note that the book of Judges is not in chronological order starting from the events in the book of Joshua. Before this point, at least, each of the tribes had received their inheritance in the promised land, except for the Levites, who were given the responsibility of serving the Lord in his tabernacle. With the settling of their own lands, the people of Israel would begin to succumb to temptations if they did not strictly obey the commandments and guidance they had been given.

1 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.

Israel is rebuked by an angel of the Lord, because they had not listened to the words of the Lord. They had not fully served the Lord, and had not done away with those things that would lead them to worship false gods. The host of Israel wept and made sacrifices to the Lord.

6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.
7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel.
8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.
10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

Joshua died when he was 110 years old. After Joshua and the generation that had inherited the land with him passed away, the newer generation did not know the Lord and the things He had done for Israel. If we do not strive to raise our own children with a knowledge of the Lord and His commandments, they will not know these things when we are gone. This is part of the reason that it is so important for us to remember to do the simpler things with our families each day. Praying, studying the scriptures, having family home evening, attending church and the temple regularly, will establish traditions of good in our homes. Hopefully, these things will carry over as good traditions, into the lives of our children and grandchildren.

11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:
12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger.
13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

This new generation forsook the Lord, and begin to serve Baal (Baalim) and Ashtaroth. This was a fulfillment of the warning that their fathers had been given.

14 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

The Lord allowed the Israelites to fall into the hands of their enemies because of their weaknesses. His promise had been, that if they did not worship Him alone, He would no longer protect them from their enemies. They failed to keep the laws and worship God, so they suffered at the hands of their enemies.

16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.
18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

The Lord raised up judges, to deliver the Israelites out of the hand of their enemies. The people would not listen to the judges, but continued to sin against the Lord. When the judges were righteous, the Lord was with the people in protecting them from their enemies. When the righteous judges died, the people would return to wickedness even more then previous generations.

20 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;
21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

The Lord promised that he would not drive out anymore of the Canaanites from the land, which had been there when Joshua first brought them into the land. He did this to test Israel and see if they could prove that they were able to keep the commandments of the Lord.

The book of Judges, shows a time when the Israelites had truth, guidance and direction from the Lord. They were blessed greatly and then in their time of peace they would forget the Lord and turn to the ways of the world around them. The Lord would be ever merciful and patient, allowing them many opportunities to return to Him. The Lord was long-suffering with the Israelites, just as he is with us. Our lives are not so different from the people of old. We can have blessings of peace and prosperity in times when we strive to do what is right. We are also vulnerable to the temptations of the world. If we allow ourselves to become ungrateful, apathetic, or comfortable with our standing with the Lord, we will also be at risk of falling into the ways of the world. Our choices will lead to the Lord chastening us, and then feelings of sorrow and sadness. On the other hand, if we are continually striving to do what is right, the Lord will be with us and protect us from the dangers of the world. We are here to be tested and to prove ourselves willing and able to follow the commandments of the Lord. I know that we can and will be greatly blessed for our efforts in living righteously. I know that greater blessings will come if we share what we learn and know with other, especially with our loved ones.

Joshua Chapter 23

The role of a prophet, in ancient times as well as today, has been to “act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will.” (see Bible Dictionary: Prophet) What we read of Joshua up to this point, includes the directions he gave from the Lord, to fight their enemies, and to settle the promised land. I am sure that along the way, Joshua was frequently delivering messages of doctrine to the Israelites as well, but those words would most likely be found in the laws and commandments given through the prophet Moses. In this chapter, I believe we receive the parting words of the prophet Joshua to the people. It reads as follows:

1 And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.
2 And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age:
3 And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you.
4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.
5 And the Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you.
6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:
8 But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day.
9 For the Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.
11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God.
12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
13 Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.
14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.
16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

I believe that the tradition of the time, was for a man to gather his family together before he passed away, to deliver a final message to his posterity, and oftentimes to leave them with a blessing. It seems that this same tradition occurred with the prophets to the people of the Lord as well. Joshua grew old when Israel had received rest in the promised land. In his age, he gathered the elders and leaders of Israel together. First, he reminds them of the blessings from the Lord. It was the Lord, who had given them this land by subduing their enemies and delivering them into the hands of Israel. They are reminded that the land had been divided and given to them for an inheritance, and also, that the Lord would continue to dispel their enemies so that they might continue to gain the land of promise. However, this is not without an expectation of the people of Israel.

Joshua gives and exhortation to the elders, that they lead the people in righteousness. He tells them to be courageous and keep the commandments. He tells them that they need to avoid being part of the other nations that still remained in the land. They should not mention or worship the gods of those other nations, but they should continue to love the Lord by cleaving to Him. He reminds them, that they have been promised that the Lord would fight for them and make them mighty and strong. No nation could stand against even one man with God on His side. They needed to love the Lord wholly, or else they would turn to the false gods of other nations. If they did this, they would begin to marry people of these other nations, even those that remained among them. If they chose that path, the Lord would no longer fight for them. Instead, the Lord would allow those nations to be a temptation in their lives, until the Israelites were removed from the land. Joshua reminded the elders, that God had fulfilled all that He had promised them. All the good that they had been promised, had been given to them. Because they knew this, they could know that everything bad that had been promised if they would be disobedient, would also be given to them.

It takes courage to keep the commandments of God, especially when the ways of the world are so far from them. It takes courage to follow the prophets called to lead us today. I believe as time passes and we draw nearer to the second coming of the Savior and the millennium, that it will take greater courage than ever before. We are preparing for the day when all the wicked will be done away, and the Lord will reign on this earth. Only those who can live in this world, but avoid becoming part of the world, will be able to stand at that day. This message for the ancient Israelites, is the message that all of us need to hear. If we desire to be called the people of the Lord, we must be willing to give up the pleasures of the world and give our whole hearts to the Lord. If we do not follow His commandments and love Him, He will allow us to experience greater temptations. I think that I have enough temptation in my life now, and hope to be able to have the courage to do what is right, so that the Lord will help me to fight my personal enemies.


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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