Posts Tagged 'Sacrifice'

1 Kings Chapter 18

The prophet Elijah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab was king. Ahab had married Jezebel, and he and his wife led the people of Israel in the worship of Baal. The worship of Baal was a wicked practice and led to great evil among the Israelites. Elijah had the sealing power and had closed the heavens in the land, meaning the people were suffering in a time of drought and famine. During this time, he had been blessed and preserved at the hand of the Lord. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:
4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Elijah was commanded to return to Ahab, and then the Lord would allow rain to fall upon the earth again. So, Elijah went to Ahab in Samaria, where the famine had become very sore. Ahab called for his governor Obadiah. Obadiah had secretly saved a hundred prophets who were going to be killed by Jezebel, hiding them in caves and giving them food and water. Ahab sent Obadiah to find a place with water in the land, where they could save the animals they had left. Obadiah and Ahab parted ways.

7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.
13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
15 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah met Elijah on the way, and recognizing him, fell down and honored him, asking if he was, in fact, Elijah. Elijah confirmed this and told Obadiah to tell Ahab that he was there. Obadiah was afraid that he would be harmed by Ahab if he returned to him saying that he knew where Elijah was. This was because Ahab had been hunting for Elijah the whole time he was in hiding, causing his people to make oaths promising that they did not know where Elijah was. If he returned saying he knew, Obadiah was worried that Elijah would not remain there, and then Ahab would kill him for it. Obadiah told Elijah that he had saved the prophets and that he feared the Lord, and he begged that Obadiah would not send him to do this. Elijah made a promise to him, assuring Obadiah that he would reveal himself to Ahab that very day, so Obadiah returned to Ahab and told him. Then, Ahab went to find Elijah.

Obadiah honored Elijah by falling on his face in a manner that showed great respect in their day. I wonder what it must have been like to be Obadiah in that moment. Clearly he had a love from the prophets of the Lord. He recognized Elijah and must have felt some awesome feelings at their meeting. In my own experience, I have had the opportunity to meet one who I believe to be a man of God. At the time, he was a member of the Seventy, and he came to our stake to call a new president. I attended a few meetings where he was present and the spirit he brought with him, was amazing. As the first meeting came to a close, I found myself having the desire to stay there and hold onto that spirit as long as I possibly could. Later, I had the opportunity to meet him personally and have a short conversation with him. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of respect and honor I had towards this man. I am sure that Obadiah felt some of these same feelings towards Elijah.

Obadiah’s role in this chapter, is a good example of trust in the Lord’s servants. Obadiah was able to put aside his fears of what the king might do to him, and trust in the promise from Elijah that he would remain to meet Ahab. He followed in faith, and although we don’t learn of anything more about him in this chapter, I am sure that he was blessed for his faithfulness.

17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Ahab saw Elijah, but did not honor him. Instead he blamed him for the troubles of Israel. Those who do not live as God would have them live, cannot recognize the blessings of God around them. Elijah’s presence there, was a blessing to Ahab, though he did not see it yet. Elijah said that the troubles they had were because of Ahab and his family, who had turned from the Lord and His commandments, and worshipped Baal instead. When people have come to know the Lord, and then reject Him and follow after their own heart, they bring troubles upon themselves. Elijah called for a gathering of Israel at mount Carmel, along with all the priests of Baal. Ahab obliged and a gathering was called. Elijah asked the people how they could continue to try to follow after both God and Baal, saying if they believed God was their God, they should follow after Him, but if they believed Baal to be their god, they should follow him. There was no response from the people. This is an eternal principle. There is no way to be devoted to God completely, and then do likewise towards anything else, because God expects all who serve Him, to put Him first in their worship, trust and faith. The people must have known that choosing to worship anything else, was pinning themselves against God. Over time, it would grow harder to try to split allegiance between the two and one would have to give out.

Elijah called their attention to the fact that he was the lone prophet of God there, while there were hundreds of their prophets of Baal. So with that he challenged them, to choose two bulls for sacrifice. They could choose one for themselves and he would take the other. They would both prepare their sacrifice upon the altars, with the exception of any fire. Then both would call upon their respective gods, Elijah to the Lord and the priests to their gods, to answer with fire from heaven for the sacrifice. The people agreed to this challenge. The priests prepared their sacrifice and proceeded to call out to their gods for hours with no response. It says here that as a result, they leaped upon the altars themselves. Elijah mocked them saying things like, their god must have sleeping or on a journey somewhere. The priests cried and cut themselves, which was a custom forbidden by the Lord. They continued to do this and their prophesying all day, until the time of the evening sacrifice, and their was still no answer.

30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

So, Elijah gathered the people to him, repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been broken, by adding twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He made a trench around it, prepared the sacrifice with wood, and then called for it to be covered in water. He had them pour water on the sacrifice and wood three times, and then cover the surrounding ground and fill the trench with water as well. Then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, he prayed to the Lord that he would be heard, so that the people would know that He was the God of this people. Elijah pleaded with the Lord, that there would be an opportunity for the hearts of the people to return to God. The Lord answered his prayer, and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and all that was at the altar, including the water. The people witnessed this and fell down to worship the Lord. Elijah commanded that all the prophets of Baal be killed.

41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah told Ahab to go eat and drink, perhaps this was much like telling him to go about his day, and then the rain would come. As Ahab did just that, Elijah went to the top of mount Carmel and threw himself on the ground, much like a manner of worship. He told his servant to go look towards the sea, but the servant saw nothing. Elijah told him to return to look seven times. On the seventh time, the servant said that a little cloud of the sea arose. The servant was commanded to go to Ahab and tell him to prepare his chariot, go down and not to stop even because of the rain. While this was done, a great storm came. Ahab rode to Jezreel. Elijah started to run, and by the hand of Lord, reached the entrance of Jezreel before Ahab.

Ahab was in a position, where he would do anything possible to bring water to the land. He had hunted for Elijah to take the drought away. I think that the Lord’s timing was perfect and not only allowed for Ahab to be in a state of humility because of their troubles, but meant that Elijah’s life would be spared. I think that if the time had been any sooner, Elijah may have been killed as the prophets before him. However, just as Ahab was trying to save the last animals from starvation and thirst, he was able to find the man he felt had brought this upon him and his people. Then, Elijah was able to prove to Ahab and the people of Israel, that there is no other God save the Lord.

This was quite a miracle to witness. The priests of Baal were given every opportunity in a full day’s time to pray, but their answer did not come. Their worship of objects, could not provide relief to their suffering, because their gods were not real. Elijah on the other hand, did all that he could to show that the Lord was true. This was a much needed witness to the people of Israel. They had been in a spiritual drought and famine without seeing it for what it was. In recognizing that they were trusting in false gods, the people had the opportunity to have their spirits fed and renewed.

Likewise, opening the heavens was a miracle. It showed that the Lord was in fact able to take away and give to men, and that He would do great things through the voice of His prophets. This was a miracle that more of Israel would have recognized as a blessing, because their very lives depended on having water to drink and food to eat. The people of Israel were greatly blessed at this time, to have both their physical and spiritual beings saved by the Lord. Now would have been the time for them to repent and return to the Lord.

The miracles performed in this chapter, cause me to reflect on my own life experiences. I have not witnessed the fire of the Lord, or the heavens open quite so literally, but I know that I have experienced many small miracles from God. These small miracles should stand as a witness to me, that the Lord is the only true and living God. There is nothing in this life that should be placed before Him in my worship. The Lord is the source of all that I need to succeed and survive. I know that in my life, I have been sustained as Elijah was, and the heavens have opened to give me all that I have truly needed, when I have been willing to recognize God, listen to his chosen servants, and strive to keep His commandments.

1 Kings Chapter 17

Ahab was the wicked king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He married Jezebel who worshiped Baal, and together they led Israel in great wickedness. The Lord had caused prophets, such as Jehu, to curse the kings of Israel for practicing unrighteous dominion over the people of Israel. The Lord was prepared to humble the people. Chapter 17 begins with the following:

1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah was a prophet, who went to Ahab and cursed the land with a drought and famine, which would only be ended by his word. I believe he was able to do this, because he held the sealing power from God, which allowed men the ability to close up the heavens by their word. Then, the Lord told Elijah to go into hiding, where the Lord would provide water from the brook Cherith and food from the ravens. Elijah, like so many other prophets, went into hiding and the ravens brought him bread and meat each day and he drank from the brook. However, because of the drought in the land, the brook eventually dried up.

The work of a prophet is to bring people unto the Lord, mainly by calling them to repentance. This is not meant to be words that are pleasing for the people to hear. People engrossed in sin, especially the great sins that were everywhere in the days of Elijah, are not going to take these words well. It is no surprise that Elijah would have a threat come upon him. The Lord had a work for Elijah to do, and because Elijah was faithful to His command to hide, Elijah was sustained with the necessities of life. Elijah had to be a man full of faith and hope. He had been willing to go to the king who was not living righteously and had the power to kill him, and speak of a curse. I am sure that he knew the people would feel that he, Elijah, had brought this curse upon them, rather than look to themselves and repent of their wicked ways. And then, in faith, trusting in the sustaining power of the Lord, he went into hiding.

8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

The Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where he would be sustained by a widow. Elijah followed the direction of the Lord, and found a widow gathering sticks at the entrance of the city. He asked her to get him some water to drink. As she went, he also asked her for some bread as well. She told Elijah that she did not have any bread, but that she had a small portion of meal (flour) and oil, that she was going to prepare for herself and her son to eat as their last meal. Elijah told her to faithfully do as she had said, but bring him a little first before making for herself and her son. He promised her that the Lord would provide meal and oil until the drought had ended with rain. She did what Elijah had commanded her to do, and the promise was fulfilled. Her flour and oil did not fail her by becoming empty. This was a huge blessing from acting with faith in a prophet and the promises of the Lord that he spoke.

Again, Elijah showed faith and trust in God, and the power to sustain him. He must have known that he was on the Lord’s errand because he had been helped to this point. As a man of God, I am sure Elijah was a man of compassion. I cannot imagine what it would have felt like, knowing his own hunger, to ask the widow to part with what she felt was her last meal and give it to him instead. I know he could not have asked it of her, unless he felt sure that the Lord would provide all that she needed to survive.

Greater faith would have been required by the widow in this story. She had not been sustained by the Lord during this season of famine. She was sure her death was soon at hand and she had such a simple desire to share a last meal with her son. To have a man come to her and command that she bring him food with that precious last meal, must have been a hard choice for her. This choice to sacrifice would have meant the difference between a few more days of living with her son. She trusted in the word of Elijah and had faith in his promises.

17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.

After this miracle of provisions had taken place, the widows son was taken ill and died. She pleaded with Elijah, as the prophet, asking if he came to them to remind her of her own sins and then to take her son from her by death. Elijah commanded the widow to bring her son to him, which she did. He took her son to the place where Elijah slept, and laid him on the bed. Then, he prayed to God, stretching himself on the boy three times, asking that he would have his soul again. God answered the prayer of Elijah and allowed his soul to return to him. The boy was raised from the dead. Elijah took the boy to his mother.

24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

The woman testified that she knew then, that Elijah was a man of God or a prophet, and that his words were the true word of the Lord. This testimony must have given her hope in her own future, and greater faith in the Lord. When we experience the hand of God in our own lives, we should also recognize what that means to us, and be willing to testify of those things to others. When we do this, we are uplifted and others around us can be edified and strengthened by our words.

What a sweet miracle this woman received through her faith and diligence in following the words of the prophet. This was a time of suffering for the people in the land, and she was provided for because she put the Lord’s servant before herself when asked. Then, God blessed her with the continued companionship of her son, even after death had separated them. This should be an example to us, that as we diligently follow the commands of the prophets, which are the word of God, we can have miracles in our own lives. Moreover, we can have our own faith strengthened and be able to bear a mighty testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

2 Samuel Chapter 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Samuel Chapter 25

In the last chapter, David and his men were living in the strong-holds of En-gedi. Saul had been hunting David in hopes of destroying him, and so David and his men were hiding in a cave. Saul took a rest in the same cave, and David spared his life when the opportunity came to kill Saul. After David confronted him, Saul realized that David would one day rule Israel, and he abandoned his personal mission to kill David. David returned to the strong-holds and his story continues:

1 And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
2 And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.
3 Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.

Samuel was the prophet, who had anointed Saul as the king of Israel and also David to be the next king when Saul had turned from the Lord. During his flight from Saul, David had sought refuge with Samuel and the prophets. That was the last that we read of Samuel. After a full life of devotion to the Lord, Samuel died. The people of Israel mourned his death. David went to wilderness of Paran. Near there, in Carmel, was a man named Nabal. Nabal was a wealthy man, who was married to a beautiful and understanding woman, named Abigail. Nabal was not a righteous man, but was rude and rough.

4 And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep.
5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name:
6 And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast.
7 And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel.
8 Ask thy young men, and they will shew thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.
9 And when David’s young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased.

David heard that Nabal was in Carmel and he sent some of his young men to speak with Nabal. He wanted to find favor with Nabal, and ask for food and other provisions. Some of the men who had been around David, were the servants of Nabal, and he felt they should tell of David’s kindness. The young men did as David asked them to do.

10 And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
12 So David’s young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings.
13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff.

Nabal questioned why servants would leave their master, and why he should give to these men whom he did not know. The men went back to David and told him that Nabal had refused to help him. David was angry and called his men to take arms and they followed him towards Nabal.

14 But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them.
15 But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:
16 They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.
17 Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.

One of the young men, who was a servant to Nabal, went to Abigail and told her what had happened in the exchange between the men of David and her husband. He also told her that David and his men had done nothing against the servants of Nabal, but rather had been added security for them while they tended the flocks. He told her that she needed to decide what to do, because David was coming against Nabal and his household.

18 Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
19 And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
20 And it was so, as she rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them.
21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.
22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
23 And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground,
24 And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
25 Let not my lord, I pray thee, regard this man of Belial, even Nabal: for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him: but I thine handmaid saw not the young men of my lord, whom thou didst send.
26 Now therefore, my lord, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, seeing the Lord hath withholden thee from coming to shed blood, and from avenging thyself with thine own hand, now let thine enemies, and they that seek evil to my lord, be as Nabal.
27 And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.
28 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days.
29 Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling.
30 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel;
31 That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.

Abigail quickly burdened animals with enough food to provide for David and his men. She did not tell her husband about it, but had her servants start with the provisions and told them she would follow them. She met David and his men, down the hill. David had felt that he and his men shown kindness to the servants of Nabal, but Nabal had treated them unkindly in return, making himself an enemy to David. When Abigail saw David, she got down from her mule and bowed herself to the ground before David. She begged for him to allow her to speak to him. She begged David not to go against her household, because while her husband had been foolish, she had not seen the young men when they had first come to ask for help. She asked David not to be the reason for the shedding of blood, but instead I think that she said to let the enemies of her husband and those of David be as foolish as Nabal had been. She offered the food that she had brought with her for forgiveness. She acknowledged the goodness of David. She said a man was in pursuit of him, but her lord would stand against the enemies of David. She said that once David became ruler of Israel, she hoped this would not still be an offense, because he had either shed blood for no reason, or had been avenged. Rather, she hoped that in the end, David would remember her.

32 And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me:
33 And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
34 For in very deed, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, which hath kept me back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
35 So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person.

David blessed the Lord, and thanked her for her words to him, which stopped him from shedding blood. David recognized that if she had not come, he would have destroyed all of Nabal’s household. He took the gift of provisions that she had brought, told her to go in peace and to remember that he listened to her.

36 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.
37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.
38 And it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died.

Abigail returned to her husband and saw that he held a grand feast and was drunk, so she decided she would tell him what happened in the morning. When morning came, and Nabal was sober, she told him what had happened, and his heart failed him. About ten days later, he died.

39 And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the Lord, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.
40 And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife.
41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.
42 And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.
43 David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives.

David heard the news of Nabal’s death and blessed the Lord for interceding before he had killed Nabal himself. He recognized that the Lord had dealt with Nabal in his own way. David decided to offer marriage to Abigail. His servants went to Carmel and told her that David asked to take her to wife. She bowed herself to the earth and offered herself as his servant. She quickly left and took five ladies with her, following the servants of David. She became his wife, along with Ahinoam.

44 But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.

Michal, David’s first wife and daughter of Saul, who had loved him and saved him, had been given to another man named Phalti.

This chapter is part of the ongoing narrative of the life of David, before he became king of Israel. It seems that David was responding in anger against Nabal, and that it would have been an unnecessary loss of many lives. The Lord continued to be an influence in David’s life, through the actions of Abigail. She was inspired to offer what had been denied to David and his men, and to intercede for her husband without his knowledge. Because she had the courage to do this, her household was spared. Moreover, the Lord did not leave Nabal without consequences for refusing to return kindness to David and his men, but rather allowed his body to fail him when he was shocked to learn what his wife had done without his knowledge. David did not do anything that would have caused the Lord to withdraw his influence, which was a great blessing for his future.

Abigail is an example of one who was willing to sacrifice themselves in order to spare others. She was a peacemaker. Even though her husband was not a kind man, he and his household were not deserving of destruction by David’s men. I am sure that approaching men armed for battle, was a dangerous thing. She very likely could have been killed as she met them, but she still went forward with a heart full of courage. She became the mediator between David and Nabal, even without Nabal’s knowledge, and was able to talk David into leaving in peace. Abigail was blessed for her courage and desire to do what felt right.

Sometimes we, like David and his men, are wronged by another. It may feel like the only fair thing to do, is to retaliate, but this is not what God would want of us. The right thing to do, is to forgive others of those offenses and move on, trusting that the Lord will make all things right. At other times, we have the opportunity to be like Abigail, who decided to put others before herself. She took on the role of mediator, much like the Savior does with each of us. She interceded and pleaded for the forgiveness of another. If we can choose to be like Abigail, being Christ-like in our character, we can not only help others to be spared of excessive responses, but also help stop those who took the offense, so that they might not do something they will later regret. In thinking about these possible roles for ourselves, we should look to the Savior. We should remember that He is the one who intercedes for us. He will not only persuade us to stop before making additional mistakes when we have been wronged, but will plead for our forgiveness in the day of judgement. He, like Abigail, knows that we can be foolish, but that we deserve a chance at forgiveness. He alone can plead for us, when we eventually stand in front of God, and He has the ability to offer us the gift of Eternal Life.

Jesus-Portrait

1 Samuel Chapter 23

King Saul continued to seek for the life of David. David fled from him, going from place to place. At this point, David had gone to the forest of Hareth, which was in Judah. In his anger, Saul had killed a priest who had helped David. Saul made an example of the priest as well, by destroying his family and the entire city of Nob, where David had hidden. Still, David had gained followers as he went. His story continues:

1 Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.
2 Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.
3 And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?
4 Then David inquired of the Lord yet again. And the Lord answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
5 So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
6 And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

David learned that their enemies, the Philistines, were robbing the Israelites in Keilah, which was a city in the land of Judah. David prayed to the Lord to know if he should go and fight the Philistines. The Lord told David to go and save the people of Keilah. Those who had gathered with David, were afraid to go and fight the Philistines. David prayed again, and the Lord gave him the command to go, with the promise that the Philistines would be delivered into his hand. With faith in the Lord, David took his men and they saved Keilah. Abiathar, who had also escaped the hand of Saul, and was the son of the priest who had helped David, went with David to Keilah. He was prepared with a ephod of the priesthood.

7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.
8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

Saul learned that David was in Keilah, and he was pleased. He felt that David had been delivered to him, because the town was closed off and could be besieged by the king and his men. Saul commanded his men to war against Keilah and David.

9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.
10 Then said David, O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, He will come down.
12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.

David knew the desires of Saul. He asked Abiathar to bring the ephod to him, which I think means that he wanted the priest to perform the duties of the priesthood in his behalf. David prayed to the Lord because he knew the town of Keilah was in danger because he was there. He asked if they would deliver him into the hand of Saul. The Lord told David that Saul would come to the town. Then David asked if the people there would turn him over to Saul, and the Lord told him that they would.

13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.
14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.

David took his men and left Keilah, going anywhere just to get away. Meanwhile, Saul learned that David had escaped, so he decided not to go to Keilah. David stayed in the strong holds of Ziph. Saul hunted for him, but God protected David and Saul was not able to find him. David knew that Saul was looking for him. He hid in the woods of Ziph.

16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
18 And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, met with David in the woods, and strengthened him. Jonathan gave David comfort by telling him that his father would not be able to find him, and David would be the king of Israel. He told David, that his father knew that Jonathan would be there to support David. The renewed their covenant of friendship with one another and then Jonathan returned home. David stayed hidden in the woods.

19 Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?
20 Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.
21 And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the Lord; for ye have compassion on me.
22 Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly.
23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.
24 And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.
25 Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.
26 And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.

David was hiding in the woods of Ziph, and men of the area went to Saul in Gibeah and told the king that David was hinding there, in the hill Hachilah. The men of Ziph told Saul that they would deliver David into their hands, if he desired to come to them. Saul was glad and told them to prepare for this by searching him out and finding exactly where he was staying at the time. Then, they were to tell him once they knew with certainty, and he would go with them until he found David. The men went to Ziph, while David was in the wilderness of Maon. When David heard that Saul was looking for him, he had left the woods of Ziph and went to Maon. Saul heard and went looking for him there. Saul and David were on opposite sides of a mountain. David wanted to get away from Saul and his men because they were preparing to take David and his men.

27 But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.
28 Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth.

When they were very close to capturing David, Saul received word that the Philistines had invaded the land. He left his plan to pursue David and turned his attention against the Philistines. The mountain between them, became known for this near battle between Saul and David.

29 And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at En-gedi.

David escaped again, to the strong-holds of En-gedi.

I cannot truly imagine what a life on the run would have been like for David. I can guess that it was not easy being forced to flee and hide so many times. And yet, David was still willing to devote his talents to helping those in need if the Lord wanted him to do it. Knowing that word of his helping would reach the king, David still fought for others. The Lord had blessed him with strength and wisdom, and he was committed to being an instrument for the Lord. Something I learn from this chapter, is the importance for us to sacrifice for the Lord. We are all blessed with talents. Some have a few and some are blessed with many talents. If we are doing what is right, we can know how to use our talents, just as David was able to know these things. When we have a willing heart, the Lord will not only allow us opportunities to use our talents, but he will also bless us greatly in other areas of our lives. I cannot help but think that the Lord continued to watch over David as he fled from one place to another, even possibly allowing the Philistines to come into the land, just so that David could once again flee from Saul and his men. I am so grateful for talents and I believe in the need for us to use them to further the work of the Lord, to uplift others, and to do good continually.

1 Samuel Chapter 15

Saul has been king of Israel for a couple of years at this point. In pride, he had tried to assume the duties of the priesthood, and his actions had been rejected by the Lord. As a result, the prophet Samuel, had told Saul that he would no longer reign with the Lord’s blessing upon his leadership. The Lord was still leading his people through direction given to the prophet. This chapter begins with Samuel speaking to King Saul.

1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord.
2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
4 And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
5 And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

Saul was reminded that his calling as the king, had been extended to him by the Lord, and Samuel was going to reveal the word of the Lord to Saul. Saul was given instruction, to attack the Amalakites. God had told Moses that the Israelites would continue to war with the men of Amalak, for generations after his time. At this point, Saul was told specifically to destroy all of the Amalakites, along with all of their flocks and herds. Saul began to follow the instructions by gathering 210,000 men to battle and then lying in wait in the valley near Amalek.

6 And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul allowed the Kenites to flee, so that they would not be destroyed along with the Amalekites. The Kenites were family to the wife of Moses, and Saul’s army were not going to harm them because they had been kind to the Israelites. Saul destroyed the Amalekites, but he took King Agag and the best of the flocks, herds, and their belongings, and he did not destroy them.

10 Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying,
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.
12 And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.
14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
16 Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
18 And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?
20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.
22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Samuel received a revelation from the Lord. The Lord had continued to allow Saul to lead, but Saul continued to be disobedient to the commandments given to him. (The Joseph Smith translation of verse 11 reads, “I have set up Saul to be a king, and he repenteth not that he hath sinned, for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.”) Saul felt sorrow for Saul, and he continued to pray to the Lord through the night. Samuel woke early to go out and meet Saul, but Saul had gone down to Gilgal. Samuel went down to meet him. Saul greeted him and told him he had done the things which the Lord had given him as a commandment. Samuel asked why he heard the noises of animals with him, which was the physical proof that Saul had not followed the commandment given to him. Saul told him that his men had kept the best animals, in order to make a sacrifice to the Lord.

Samuel caused that Saul should stay with him a while, so that he could tell him what the Lord had revealed to him. He talked of how Saul had been raised up by the Lord to be the king, when he was still young, and that the Lord had sent him on a journey to destroy all the Amalekites. Samuel asked Saul, why then, he had disobeyed and taken spoil of the Amalekites, which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Saul said that he had done what the Lord wanted, and had taken the king captive, but that the people had taken the spoil in order to give sacrifice. It sounds here, like Saul blamed the people for his disobedience. Samuel asked Saul if he thought it better to make sacrifice, then to be obedient to the Lord. Then Samuel told him, that it was better to obey then to make sacrifices, and that hearkening to the Lord was better than giving the fat of rams. His disobedience had led the people to rebellion against the commandments of the Lord, which was equal to witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry. As a result of his choice to reject the word of the Lord, the Lord now rejected Saul as the king.

24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28 And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
30 Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God.
31 So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the Lord.

Saul realized that he had been too concerned with what the people thought, and had sinned against God. Saul asked for forgiveness, and wanted Samuel to return with him, so that he could worship the Lord. Samuel refused because Saul had been rejected by the Lord. Samuel left to leave, and rent his clothes, saying that the kingdom of Israel had been torn from Saul and given to another who was more worthy of it. Samuel had great sorrow for the choice that Saul had made. Saul acknowledged his sin and begged for Samuel to allow him to worship the Lord. I do not believe Saul’s sorrow for his sin, had reached the kind of godly sorrow necessary for true repentance, because his desire was to worship before men. Even still, Samuel allowed Saul to worship.

32 Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.
33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

Samuel had Agag, the king of the Amalekites, brought to him. Agag was destroyed, just as he had destroyed many of the Israelites. Samuel needed to make right, what Saul had not done. In this, Saul, as well as all of Israel, would see that their leaders needed to obey God. Samuel stood firmly on the Lord’s side.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel left and went to Ramah. Saul returned to his home and was not visited by Samuel again, until the day he died. Samuel mourned for the loss of Saul.

God is no respecter of persons. He had extended a calling to a man, who could have chosen to live his life in harmony with the will of the Lord, and he would have been blessed. When he made choices based on the words and actions of his subjects, rather than following the strict instructions given by the Lord, he had placed his desires before the Lord. In effect, he had chosen to worship another before God. He forfeited the honor to be called of God. We cannot expect that the Lord will favor us in our own choices of disobedience. The Lord blesses those who follow his commandments with faith and trust in Him. He will not bless those who willfully choose to go against his commandments, whether they are a king or a beggar. How sad it must have been for Samuel to see the loss of the potential in Saul. I believe that God is a loving Father in Heaven, and It makes me wonder about the kind of mourning that God experiences when his children make foolish decisions and turn away from him. I think that as Samuel mourned, the Lord must have mourned as well.

The main lesson I think we are to learn from this chapter, is that it is better to be obedient than to make sacrifices. This was something that the Lord would try to teach the men during his mortal ministry as well. Often times the Israelites and those that would follow them, were overly concerned with living the letter of their laws. They focused so hard on it, that they began to make additions to it. Soon, there was no distinction between the original law of Moses in its purity, and the laws of men which had been added to it. Men became so focused on living their laws that they missed the purpose for those original laws. They strictly observed the part of the law regarding sacrifices, but they refused to be pure in heart. The problem with this, is that being obedient will change our hearts and draw us nearer to the Lord, while the simple act of sacrifice, is only an outward symbol. Without the right frame of mind and heart, it is only something done. With an obedient soul, sacrifice becomes a sign of true worship of the Lord.

We, likewise, need to remember that it is better to be obedient than to sacrifice. For example, we can go to church every Sabbath and partake of the sacrament, which is much like going to make sacrifices in ancient times. We sacrifice our time to worship the Lord through this ordinance. We show God, with this action, that we are doing what we have been told to do, but if we are not living a life of obedience, it means nothing. In fact, it makes us unworthy in our hearts, and we will be judged accordingly. Obedience to the Lord, and to the direction He gives us through our living prophets and apostles, will draw us nearer to God. Obedience is what will allow the spirit to work in our hearts, to cause us to change. Obedience is what allows Christ the opportunity to sanctify us through his atonement. Then, when we make the sacrifices that we are asked to make, of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we will be made clean and become more like our Savior. Alone, obedience is better than sacrifice. Together, obedience and sacrifice help us to become perfected through Christ.

1 Samuel Chapter 13

Saul had been called by the Lord, to be the king of the Israelite people. He lived in a time when the Israelites were largely following after their own wisdom and not living according to the will of the Lord. In the beginning of his rule, Saul had delivered the people from the hands of the Ammonites. He had not boasted of himself, but had done what he could to remind the people that their deliverance had come the Lord. This chapter begins:

1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
2 Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
3 And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
4 And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.

Saul had been the king for two years, when he chose 3,000 men as soldiers. The rest of the army were allowed to return to their homes. Jonathan, his son, was over 1,000 of the soldiers in Gibeah. They smote the Philistine soldiers that had been in Geba. The Philistines got word of this. Saul made the sound of the trumpet heard in all the land, that they would know that a garrison of the Philistines had been smitten. The people were called to gather in Gilgal.

5 And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
7 And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

A Philistine army gathered in Michmash, with 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and a host of men to fight. The Israelites were worried. Those in or near that area hid themselves or fled to Gilead in the land of Gad. Saul remained in Gilgal, but the people with him were scared.

8 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
9 And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
10 And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

He waited for Samuel for seven days, which was when they had planned to meet there. I think that this was probably a yearly ritual and sacrifice, which they went through in order to follow the law of Moses. It may have been close to the anniversary of his becoming king over Israel. Samuel did not come. The people began to leave him, so Saul decided to make a burnt offering himself instead of waiting for Samuel any longer. He was the king, and could probably make demands that things be done his own way, rather than strictly following the tradition of sacrifices which had been followed for many years. After making the sacrifice, Samuel arrived, and Saul went to meet him.

11 And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.
15 And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.
16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

Samuel asked Saul what he had done. Saul explained his reasons for making an offering to the Lord, including worry that he would not have been able to perform sacrifices before being attacked by the Philistines. Saul told Samuel that he had taken it upon himself to make the offering, as if he could give himself the priesthood authority to do so. Samuel told him that he made a poor decision when he did this, and that it went against the commandment of the Lord. If he had been faithful in the commandments, the Lord would have been with him in his continued leadership in Israel. But now, Saul was given the promise that his kingdom would not continue and that the Lord would call another to lead Israel. Saul was left with 600 of the men, including Jonathan, when he left Gilgal and went to Gibeah. Meanwhile, the Philistines were still camped against them.

17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:
18 And another company turned the way to Beth-horon: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

The Philistines sent companies of men toward Ophrah, Beth-horon, and the border towards Zeboim.

19 Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:
20 But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
21 Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.
22 So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.

While under the oppression of the Philistines, the Israelites were not allowed to have any blacksmith. This was to prevent them from making any swords or spears. Instead they would have to go into the land of the Philistines to have their tools made and sharpened. Therefore, when the battle was upon them, the army of Saul did not have any swords or spears with them. As this chapter ends, the Philistines were prepared to fight them.

One thing I learn from this chapter, is that Saul had a good intention with his desire to sacrifice to the Lord. I believe it was so that they would have the Lord on their side during the upcoming battle against their enemy. However, he made the sacrifice and offering in a manner that was not authorized by God. Even though his desires were not entirely bad, he went against the strict rules given to them regarding who was to make sacrifices. Without the authority of the priesthood in the ritual of sacrifice, it was not only incorrect, but evil in the sight of God. This reminds me of the first mortal conflict we learn of in the bible. In the story of Cain and Able, the people had been commanded to make sacrifices. Even at that point there were guidelines to adhere to, and Cain had the good desire to give a sacrifice. But in his choices regarding that sacrifice to God, he did not follow the instructions for an acceptable offering. Therefore, his sacrifice was not accepted by God and consequences followed. We are not immune to making the same kinds of mistakes in our own lives. There are many opportunities when one might desire to do something good, but like Cain and Saul, should not change the established pattern or take the responsibility on themselves. God is a god of order, and He has asked that his ordinances and laws be followed strictly, in part, so that they are done correctly and completely. This allows us the opportunity to take full advantage of the blessings that should come as a result, rather than for us to be held accountable for the covenants we make, without the fullness of His blessings upon us.

I knew a group of girls once, who innocently did something a lot like this story of Saul. It was a group of young LDS (Latter-day Saints) girls who were on a school trip away from home. It was on a Sunday, and they were unable to attend church. They decided that they would have their own sacrament meeting where they were staying and the group of them took it upon themselves to bless and administer the sacrament. These girls were young and did not have the knowledge and understanding for this to be considered evil, but it was incorrect. They did not have the priesthood. Without the priesthood authority they did not have the ability to follow after the pattern that the Lord has established for the ordinance of the Sacrament. The intention was good, but it was not a good choice. I don’t know the outcome, but I am sure there was a lesson to be learned about the ordinances of the priesthood. This is an simple example of how these things can happen in our own lives.

With regard to the priesthood, modern revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 121:39, teaches us, “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” How does this apply to Saul? He was the ruler of Israel. He had dominion over the people and was an example of how they should live. He would have been taught the proper order of the ordinances and statutes related to offerings and sacrifices. It is very possible he knew of the ancient story of Cain as well. Saul knew that he was stepping outside of his authority, and yet he did so in order to get his personal desired result. In doing this, he forfeited the blessings of God upon his leadership. In a way Saul was putting his own judgement and wisdom before God. How does this apply to us? We forfeit the blessings promised to us, when we put our own wisdom before the wisdom of the Lord. When we participate in the ordinances and covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must do it in the manner which the Lord has established. When we follow the pattern established by the Lord, we can receive the fullness of His blessings in our lives.

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.

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.

1 Samuel Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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