Posts Tagged 'Temptation'

1 Chronicles Chapter 21

David had been chosen by the Lord and then prepared to become the king of Israel. The Lord had given rules and instruction to the kings, so that they could receive his blessing and continued guidance in leading the children of Israel. One of the instructions given, was that Israel was only to be numbered according to the commandment of the Lord. Numbering the people, was much like performing a census for today and it did things such as counting the number of men who would go to war for Israel. The kings of other nations would number the people whenever they desired. This chapter begins:

1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
3 And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

Satan tempted David to number Israel, which he did in his weakness. Joab and the rulers over the people were instructed to do it and report back to him. Joab, who knew the Lord would make so much more of the people then the number they were, asked why David would go against the Lord in this thing. Nonetheless, David’s command won out and Joab went and numbered the people as he had been told to do. When he was done, he returned to Jerusalem. (see also 2 Samuel 24)

5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.
7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

Joab reported to David and the men who could bear arms totaled something like 1,100,000 men in Israel and 470,000 men in Judah. (This number is different then listed in 2 Samuel 24.) Joab found his duties were abominable, so he did not include the count for Levi or Benjamin. As a result of the numbering, God smote Israel. David recognized his sin against God and begged to be forgiven by the Lord.

9 And the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,
10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee
12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

David had a seer named Gad, whom the Lord spoke to with a message for David. David was given a choice between three consequences for his sin. First, three years of famine (seven years according to 2 Samuel), second, three months of their enemies being allowed to over take them, or third, three days of fighting with the sword through all the land of Israel. Gad told David to think about it and tell him what he should tell the Lord. David knew he was in a difficult situation and he knew that the Lord could be merciful to him, so he asked to be dealt with by the Lord and not by the hands of men.

14 So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

The Lord allowed pestilence to effect the land of Israel, and they lost 70,000 of their men. An angel was sent by the Lord, to destroy Jerusalem, and when he saw that their was sincere repentance in Jerusalem, the angel was stopped. (see also Joseph Smith Translation 1 Chronicles 21) David saw the angel near the land of Ornan the Jebusite, with his sword prepared to destroy Jerusalem. (Side note: Jebus was the ancient name of Jerusalem, so a Jebusite was likely one who natively lived in Jerusalem.) David and the elders of Israel, who were in mourning, fell down upon their faces. David recognized that the sin was upon him, for his commandment to number the people, and he prayed for the Lord to punish him and his family, not the people of Israel.

18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord.
20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.
22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.
24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
26 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.
27 And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

The angel gave instruction to Gad, to tell David that he was set up an altar to the Lord in the land belonging to Ornan. David went as instructed. Ornan and his four sons were working on his threshingfloor. The sons saw the angel and hid, while Ornan had his back turned and was working with his wheat. Ornan saw David approaching and left his work to meet him. Ornan bowed to the ground. David requested the use of Ornan’s threshingfloor to build an altar to the Lord. He would buy it at full price and hopefully the Lord would then have mercy on the people of Isreal. Ornan offered the place to David as well as oxen for a burnt offering, tools to prepared the wood and wheat to go along with the meat offereing, without asking for a price. Daivd told him he would pay him full price for it, because it was to belong to the Lord and not to David himself. He paid Ornan and did as he had been instructed in building an altar. David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings as he prayed to the Lord. The Lord responded with fire upon the altar. In accepting the offering, the Lord commanded that the angel put away his sword against Israel. (As a side note: This location would be the future site of the temple built by Solomon – see 2 Chronicles 3:2.)

28 At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.
29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.
30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

David made a sacrifice upon the altar when he saw that his prayer had been answered. He did it at the threshingfloor of Ornan because the tabernacle of the Lord was quite a distance away in Gibeon (about five miles north of Jerusalem). David was not willing to go there, in the presence of the Lord, for fear of the destruction of the angel of the Lord.

The events of this chapter occurred after David had committed great sins against the Lord. It is likely that David was not living in a way that would have allowed for the spirit to be as strong of an influence to him. In this state, David had allowed himself to be tempted by the adversary to do those things that he knew were against the statutes of the Lord. He may have justified his need to know the number of men who would go to battle for Israel, but the army of Israel was not to be handled this way according to the ways of the Lord. After the consequences came upon the people of Israel, David recognized the error of his ways. David saw this and desired to take the punishment upon himself. When we make bad choices, the consequences often times effect the lives of those around us. This can be hard to witness when we finally step away from our own selfish desires, especially with those we love. It is far better for us to think of what may result from our choices before we do something we would regret. David sought the Lord’s forgiveness through his own repentance and sacrifices to the Lord. He was forgiven and the plague of destruction was stopped from being upon others in Jerusalem. No matter how far we turn from the Lord, He will always be there to accept us when we repent and return to him.

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1 Kings Chapter 11

Solomon had been blessed to be given the kingdom of Israel to rule over. He had been visited by the Lord two times, in which the Lord had blessed him to be the wisest and wealthiest king of his time. He was well known by all nations, and greatly sought after for his wisdom. He had been blessed with these things, and with the promise that his family would continue to rule, if he would continue to remember the Lord and keep the commandments. This chapter begins with the following:

1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
2 Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.
5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

Solomon was married to the daughter of Pharaoh, and also married many women who were strangers, or not Israelite women. His marriage to many women was not forbidden by the Lord. However, he married women who belonged to nations that the Lord had forbidden the Israelites to marry. They were from nations who followed after false gods. The Israelites had been forbidden to go to them, because they would lead them away from the Lord and to following after their false gods. Solomon loved these many women, and they led his heart away from the Lord, who had given him so much to be grateful for. He no longer lived the commandments, but turned to Ashtoreth (worshipped with Baal) and Milcom (fire god, known for sacrificing children by fire), false gods of the Zidonians and Ammonites. In fact, it says here that he turned his heart to them, which shows that they became of great importance to him. He also built a place of worship for Chemosh (human sacrifices) and Molech (also known as Milcom), who were the gods of the Moabites and the children of Ammon. He built them in the “high places”, just as places of worship had been built to the Lord, before Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.

I can see how someone who believed in the Lord and did so much to show his devotion, like building the grand temple to the Lord, would fall away like this. Solomon was exposed to all the great people of all the nations. They offered him the best they had as gifts, including their daughters and other women. He loved them. I can imagine him wanting them to be happy and feel of his love and acceptance. It may have started as simply allowing them to continue to worship as they wanted, but eventually he began to support them by giving them things in order to continue that worship. After time, his wives were able to lead him into following their beliefs instead of the beliefs he had been raised with by his father, David. This didn’t happen overnight, as it says he was old when he turned away. It took years. One of the tactics of the adversary, is to slowly lead away the righteous, so they don’t recognize that something is happening. This is why we must be continually on guard and follow commandments given. If Solomon had followed the commandment to stay away from marrying women of certain wicked nations, he would have been kept safe from this temptation and his own weakness with it.

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.
11 Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.

The anger of the Lord was upon King Solomon, because he turned his heart from Him and had broken the commandments. Since he had been privileged twice, to have a witness of the Lord, I am sure that the standard for King Solomon was set even higher than most people who have lived. Solomon was promised at this time, that his kingdom would be taken from his family and given to another, at the time his son was on the throne. Because of the promises given to David, the kingdom was not to be taken during Solomon’s reign, and one tribe would be left to their line, including Jerusalem.

14 And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom.
15 For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom;
16 (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:)
17 That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child.
18 And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.
19 And Hadad found great favour in the sight of Pharaoh, so that he gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.
20 And the sister of Tahpenes bare him Genubath his son, whom Tahpenes weaned in Pharaoh’s house: and Genubath was in Pharaoh’s household among the sons of Pharaoh.
21 And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country.
22 Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing: howbeit let me go in any wise.

The Lord allowed Hadad the Edomite, to be stirred up against Solomon. Hadad had been a refuge from Israel to Egypt, as a little child. He had been given land in Egypt, and eventually found favor with Pharaoh. Hadad had married the sister of the queen of Egypt, and his son lived among the sons of Pharaoh. When David and Joab had both died, Hadad asked Pharoah if he could return to his own land. Pharaoh asked him what he was lacking in Egypt, that would cause him to return to his own land, and Hadad asked to return anyway.

23 And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:
24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus.
25 And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.

Likewise, Rezon of Zobah, became stirred up against Solomon and Israel, because David had killed those in Zobah. Rezon lived in Damascus and reigned over Syria. He and Hadad did mischief against Israel.

26 And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.
27 And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father.
28 And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph.
29 And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:
30 And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:
31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:
32 (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)
33 Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.
34 Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:
35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.
36 And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.
37 And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel.
38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
39 And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever.
40 Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.

Additionally, the Lord allowed Jeroboam to be stirred up against Solomon. Jeroboam was of Zereda and a servant of Solomon. He was angry with Solomon because he had built up the defenses in Jerusalem and repaired the city of David. Jeroboam had been recognized as a mighty man, so he was placed in charge of the house of Joseph. One day, dressed in new clothing, he came upon the prophet Ahijah. Ahijah took his new clothes and tore them into twelve pieces. The prophet told Jeroboam to take ten of the pieces, because the Lord would take ten of the tribes of Israel and give them to Jeroboam, leaving the king with one tribe and Jerusalem. This was because the tribes had forsaken the Lord and turned to worshipped other gods, breaking the commandments and statutes that had been given to them. The footnote says that the Septuagint translation of the bible reads as two tribes. Considering Jeroboam was promised ten, and we know that the line of Joseph was split into two tribes, there would be one tribe missing. This seems to make more sense to me. Either way, Solomon the king, would be left a prince or ruler of this tribe, because of the promises to David. His son would rule over Jerusalem (Judah), which was the chosen city of the Lord and was the place of His temple. Solomon would not repent, as his father David had repented after falling into his own temptations (see footnote c of verse 33).

Jeroboam was told that the would be made king and rule over Israel, and would be allowed to rule as he desired. If Jeroboam would obey the commandments given to him by the Lord, the Lord would be with him and his kingdom would remain. He was promised that the seed of David would be afflicted, but not forever. This was a continuation of the curse placed on David for his transgression against God. After Jeroboam received this promise, Solomon went after him and he fled into Egypt, remaining there until Solomon died.

41 And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the book of the acts of Solomon?
42 And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel was forty years.
43 And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

This was all that was recorded in this book, regarding Solomon. There may have been more recorded in other books, but they have been lost to us since then. After forty years of being the king of Israel, ruling in Jerusalem, Solomon died. His son, Rehoboam, reigned in his stead.

Time and time again, the rulers of Israel, were punished for turning from the Lord. This is because the adversary has great power among men. We are not free from this in our day either. Satan uses tactics today, just as he did to those in biblical times. In fact, this tactic of slowly leading good people into carnal security, can be seen throughout the world today. Even the best can fall, if they are not watchful. This is why it is important for disciples of Christ, to do those things each day that will guard them against the traps and snares of the adversary. It is vital that good people continue to be good, by searching the scriptures daily, praying daily, following the commandments of God, and turning to the Lord continually to repent and find the strength to endure in these difficult times. If these things are not done, we can also turn from God. The results will be the same in our lives, as they were for Solomon. The Lord will allow our own enemies, even ourselves, to come against us. Our safety comes in following the Lord and keeping His commandments. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it helps me to remember the commandments and my covenants with God. It helps me to try harder to live more righteously, and gives me hope that I will be able to overcome the temptations of the adversary.

2 Samuel Chapter 16

Absalom, the son of King David, had conspired to take over Jerusalem. David and those who were loyal to him, had fled the city and Absalom had taken it for himself. David had stopped at the top of the mountain, to worship. David’s counselor, Ahithophel, had been in league with Absalom and was in the position to be a counselor to Absalom. David sent his loyal friend, Hushai, back into the city as a spy, to see that the counsel of Ahithophel was defeated. This chapter begins:

1 And when David was a little past the top of the hill, behold, Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth met him, with a couple of asses saddled, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, and an hundred bunches of raisins, and an hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine.
2 And the king said unto Ziba, What meanest thou by these? And Ziba said, The asses be for the king’s household to ride on; and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat; and the wine, that such as be faint in the wilderness may drink.
3 And the king said, And where is thy master’s son? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he abideth at Jerusalem: for he said, To day shall the house of Israel restore me the kingdom of my father.
4 Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.

Miphibosheth, the lame son of Saul, who David had shown kindness towards, had a servant called Ziba, who came to King David. David asked what was meant by this gift. The servant, Ziba, told him their were to help David and his people in the wilderness. David asked where the son of Miphibosheth was at that time, and the servant told him that he had gone to stay in Jerusalem, so that Mephibosheth could regain the kingdom. Ziba said that he sought grace in the sight of David. It does not say here if Ziba was truthful in his words to David, but it seems more like an attempt to place himself in the favor of David.

5 And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came.
6 And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
7 And thus said Shimei when he cursed, Come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial:
8 The Lord hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.

David traveled to Bahurim, where a man named Shimei came out of the house of the family of Saul. Shimei cursed David, casting stones at him and his household. He called David a man of Belial, and blaming the loss of David’s kingdom on taking the throne from the house of Saul. According to the footnote, calling him a man of a Belial was a “terrible insult” meaning a “man of worthlessness”.

9 Then said Abishai the son of Zeruiah unto the king, Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.
10 And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
11 And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him.
12 It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.
13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
14 And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed themselves there.

Abishai, son of Zeruiah, told David that he would kill the man for cursing him. David refused, feeling that the Lord allowed this man to curse him. David hoped that in not responding to the cursings, the Lord might bless David for it later. David knew that the Lord was going to allow him to suffer things like this, because of what he had done to the man Uriah. So, Shimei continued to curse and throw things at David and his people along their way.

15 And Absalom, and all the people the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him.
16 And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.
17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend? why wentest thou not with thy friend?
18 And Hushai said unto Absalom, Nay; but whom the Lord, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide.
19 And again, whom should I serve? should I not serve in the presence of his son? as I have served in thy father’s presence, so will I be in thy presence.

Meanwhile, Absalom had entered Jerusalem along with many men, including Ahithophel. Hushai went to Absalom honoring him as the king. Absalom, knowing this man was a friend of David, asked why he had not gone with him. Hushai told him that he had chosen to go with Absalom and serve him as he had his father.

20 Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do.
21 And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father’s concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong.
22 So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
23 And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

Ahithophel was asked to counsel Absalom. The council of Ahithophel was spoken as if he had received direction from God. He told Absalom to go and take the concubines of David, which he had left there to keep house. He suggested that when Israel had heard what he had done, he would be strengthened. Absalom followed this counsel, fulfilling yet another part of the curse upon David. In Samuel 12:11 it said, “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.” While, the people of Israel did not know about David’s sin, all of Israel would know what Absalom did to his father.

In doing this thing, Absalom was making assurance that he and his father, would never reconcile. Absalom found his strength in hurting the king this way, and showing Israel the kind of power he had. I know that there is no good that could come from this kind of act. This must have added to the heart ache that David would have already been feeling, both for his own life and for the life of his son, which was not heading towards God. It continues to be a lesson to me, that we cannot take the laws of God lightly. When we sin against God, there will eventually be a fitting consequence. We need to be aware of our own weaknesses, and do our best to avoid and withstand the temptations that the adversary will place before us, because we do not want to suffer from the consequences that will come from giving in to them.

2 Samuel Chapter 13

David had many wives and concubines during his life. His first wife named Michal, who was the daughter of Saul, was not able to have children with him, but with his other wives he had several sons, namely Amnon, Chilean, Absalom, Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, Eliphalet, and Solomon (See chapters 3, 5, and 12 of 2 Samuel). He had at least one daughter as well, but I cannot recall if she was not mentioned in the previous chapters. This chapter is about two of his sons who were born before he ruled in Israel, Amnon, his firstborn, and Absalom. These two were half-brothers, who only shared David as their father. The chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.
2 And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.
3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.
4 And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.
5 And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

Amnon loved the daughter of David, Tamar, who happened to be the fair virgin sister of Absalom. He desired to have her so much that he became sick over it. His friend and cousin, Jonadab, the nephew of David, saw that he was sick and possibly loosing weight, and asked why. Amnon told him his problem, and Jonadab, who is described as a subtil, or clever man, told him to lay in his bed sick. When his father would come to see him, he planned to ask him for his Tamar to bring food to his bedside, and then prepare it for him and feed him. I don’t think that the love Amnon felt for Tamar, was real love, but rather a physical attraction and a desire to be with her. He knew this was not right.

6 So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.
7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat.
8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.
9 And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.
10 And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.
11 And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.
12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.
13 And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.
14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.

Amnon went through with his plan, and when Tamar followed the instructions of her father, Amnon refused to eat the cakes she had made. Instead, he asked all the men to leave him and told Tamar to bring the food into his room. When she did, he took hold of her and told her to lie with him. She refused and told him not to force her because it would bring her shame, and he would look like a fool. It was strictly against the statutes of God, for a man to be with the daughter of his father. Tamar pleaded with him to ask their father, David, if he could have her, but Amnon would not listen and using his strength against her, forced Tamar to be with him.

15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
16 And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.
17 Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.
18 And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

After this, Amnon’s love turned into an even stronger hatred for her. He told her to leave him, and even though she told him sending her away was worse than he had already done to her, he forced her out. Amnon took a bad situation and made it worse by doing this.

19 And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.
20 And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.

Tamar mourned the unholy loss of her virginity. Her brother, Absalom, asked what had happened with Amnon, as she was crying over it. He told her not to regard this thing, because this was her brother. She stayed in Absalom’s house, and remained desoloate, or in a state of emptiness. Being a worthy and holy woman for your possible future husband, was mainly what a woman had to live for in the times of the bible. Amnon, had taken that from Tamar and then refused to keep her as his own. In effect, I think he made her feel worthless and likely very hopeless in her situation. Perhaps Absalom’s words were a way of saying that he would take care of things for her.

21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.
22 And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

King David heard what had happened and it made him angry. Not only had his son ruined the life of his daughter, but he had brought shame to his name as well. Absalom, hated his brother for doing this, and would not speak to him.

23 And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king’s sons.
24 And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant.
25 And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.
26 Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee?
27 But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.

Two years passed and Absalom invited all his brothers, the sons of king David, to the sheepshearers. Absalom went to David and told him of the sheepshearers, asking him to join them. David refused, saying they should not all go. After trying hard to persuade him, and David still refusing, he blessed him instead. Then, Absalom asked that Amnon go with them, but David did not want to allow it. Absalom asked again, for David to allow all of his sons to go along.

28 Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.
29 And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

Absalom had made a plan, which is probably why he had pressed the king so hard to allow Amnon to join his brothers. Absalom told his servants by his command, to kill Amnon when he was drunk. He told them to have courage and be valiant, when he himself was not being a man of courage. If he truly felt this was an act of courage, he should have been willing to do it with his own hand, but he asked others to do it instead. The servants obeyed, and when the sons of David got up, everyone fled. The reason may have been different, but I think that they may have felt that their own lives were in danger, so they hurried to get away from Absalom.

I don’t think that revenge and planned murder of another person, could ever be considered a courageous thing. I think it would have been more courageous for the servants to stand up for what was right and tell Absalom that this thing was not right, but that there were better ways to handle the situation. And yet, the servants were obedient to his command and followed through with his plan.

30 And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.
31 Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.
32 And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.
33 Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.
34 But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.
35 And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king’s sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.
36 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king’s sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.

David heard that all of his sons were dead at the hand of Absalom, and he mourned for his sons. Jonadab, David’s nephew, who had helped Amnon come up with his original idea to be with Tamar, told him that only Amnon was dead and that Absalom had had his heart set on this since Amnon had taken advantage of Tamar. Absalom had fled, and the king’s sons returned. David and his servants wept at their return, along with David’s sons.

37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.
38 So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.
39 And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.

Absalom fled to Geshur for three years. Geshur was where his mother was from, and Talmai was family to him. Meanwhile, David had received comfort over Amnon, and so he mourned for his son and desired to go to Absalom.

I think this may have been a beginning to the fulfillment of promises made to David through the prophet Nathan. He had said that the sword would never depart from his family (see chapter 12). Here we have fighting and death among his family members and also continued mourning for David.

There is, has been, and will continue to be, times of drama within families. We are all human and we will make mistakes, especially with those whom we love the most. That is the nature of families. Even our eternal family has a bit of drama in it, with a great war and an eternal separation between family members. In this life, the hope is that as individuals, we can rely more on help from the Lord. This applies especially when we have temptations, difficulties, sorrows and struggles. In this story, things would have been different for everyone if they had relied upon God rather than seek for solutions from men. Amnon had temptation and sickness that could have been healed by turning to the Lord, rather than listening to the plan of a friend. Tamar had pain that though hard and really not her fault, could have been healed by God. Absalom had anger and temptations that could have been calmed, had he turned to God, rather than to his own plan to kill another. It would not have been easy for them. It will not always be easy for us, and it is not meant to be, but relying on the Lord, can keep families whole and intact. I believe that families which are whole, are our greatest hope for having the strength to return to our Father in Heaven and receive the eternal rewards prepared for us there.

2 Samuel Chapter 11

As the king in Israel, David had led the army to victory against many nations. Because he had depended upon the Lord and not relied upon his own strength, the Israelites had been able to experience much peace and growth. However, we learn in this chapter, that even great men like David, who had been righteous and faithful, can experience temptation like everyone else. The Israelites continued to battle with other nations around them, and their borders grew in size. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.

At a time when tradition called for the king to go into battle, David sent Joab to lead the men of Israel. The Ammonites were destroyed and besieged, but David did not go with them. Instead he remained in Jerusalem.

2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

David was walking upon the roof of his home one evening, when he saw a beautiful woman bathing. David wanted to know who she was, and was told that she was Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah. David wanted her, and gave into his temptations and took her and lied or slept with Bath-sheba. She returned to her home and sent word to David that she had conceived a child.

6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David.
7 And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.
8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.
9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.
10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?
11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.
12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.
13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

David asked Joab to send her husband to him. Uriah went to David and David asked him how things were going with Joab and the battle. David told Uriah to return to his home with a meal as a gift, but Uriah stayed at the door of the king’s house and ate and slept there with the king’s servants. When David learned of this, he asked Uriah why he had not returned home. Uriah told him that others were staying in tents, and Joab and the other men were sleeping in the fields. He did not feel it was right to go to his house to eat, drink and be with his wife, while others were not allowed that same privilege. He refused to do it. It is interesting that Uriah would use this argument against going home, seeing as this was the humble attitude that David had taken when he wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Uriah seems to have been a good and loyal man who did not want to take advantage of this situation just because the king had allowed it. David told Uriah to stay for that day and the next, as he had with the servants, and he did not return to his home.

My guess is that David intended to cover up his transgression with Bath-sheba, and the resulting pregnancy, by having Uriah sleep with his wife and think that the baby was his own. When this didn’t work out as David had planned, he decided to do something even worse.

14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.
16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were.
17 And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

When the morning after came, David sent Uriah back to Joab with a letter. The letter commanded Joab to send Uriah into the front of the battle lines, so that he would die in battle. Joab did some of what was commanded by David, which resulted in the death of Uriah in the battle.

18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war;
19 And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king,
20 And if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?
21 Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.

Joab sent a messenger to tell David all that had happened in the war. Joab told him, that if David got mad about how close they allowed the battle to get to the city wall, the servant was to then tell David that Uriah had died also. Joab was supposed to set Uriah up front to fight, and then leave him there to die. Instead, he remained with Uriah along with other men, and more had died. It seems that Joab was afraid that David would be mad that others had died, and that more could have died, because Joab did not follow his commands to the letter. I don’t think that Joab felt it right to allow a man to die in battle in this way.

22 So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for.
23 And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate.
24 And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.
25 Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him.

The messenger did as he was told to do. David sent a message back to Joab, telling him that Joab did not need to be displeased with the news, but that he should fight stronger and overthrow the city. The messenger was given a charge to encourage Joab.

26 And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.
27 And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Bath-sheba learned of her husband’s death, and mourned for him. When the time of mourning was over, David brought her into his house and married her. She had a son. All this that David did, was not right in the sight of God.

David had been a great leader and king for Israel. This was the only time in our records, where he gave into a temptation. He would have lost the influence of the spirit by making this choice. It was bad enough with his sexual sin, because it is abominable to the Lord, but instead of repenting, David went even further by planning the death of Uriah and accomplishing his design. He made a bad choice and then it seems that he did all he could to try to cover up his sin. We cannot hide sins from the Lord. Sadly, we can read in the modern revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 132:39, that David lost out on his eternal reward because of what he did. It reads, “David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”

This is a reminder to me, that I must remain alert to the temptations of the adversary. As our current prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has said, “decisions determine destiny“. I think David’s first mistake in this may have been, that he made the decision to remain at home at a time when he was expected to fight with his men. The Lord had called and anointed him as their king, and he was not fulfilling his calling at that time. When we are in the right places at the times we should be, the Lord can help us avoid temptations. I have been given a calling in church, extended to me by priesthood authority from the Lord, and therefore I should be there to fulfill that calling. If I am doing the will of the Lord, there won’t be room for temptations to creep up on me. I have also been given a calling as a mother in my home. If I am there for my children, doing the things that the Lord expects me to do for them, I will be blessed with greater strength to avoid the temptations that may otherwise influence me. At any time, we can ask ourselves, “How is this decision shaping my destiny?” No one is immune to temptation, but there are ways to be strong in the face of it. Just as bad decisions brought bad eternal results to David, good decisions can result in good things for eternity. I hope that I can remain faithful to the Lord for the rest of my life, and I know that by following the commandments of the Lord found in the scriptures and teachings of modern prophets and apostles, I can have the strength to do it.

1 Samuel Chapter 18

David defended Israel and had fought and killed Goliath, the giant who fought as the champion for the Philistine army. Once Goliath had been slain, the Israelites were able to have victory over their enemy. Afterwards, King Saul had called for David to come and speak to him. This chapter begins after David had told Saul that he was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem. It starts as follows:

1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.
3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

Jonathan, was the son of Saul. Up to this point, Jonathan has shown he was a man of faith and courage. When David had finished speaking to Saul, Jonathan loved David. Jonathan being a good man, probably recognized the righteous spirit in David. Saul took David in as his own family, and did not allow him to return to his father’s home. Jonathan and David had a strong bond and made a covenant with one another. Jonathan gave David his robe, garments, sword, bow and girdle.

I love the word knit when used as a description for the love and heart between these two men. I can imagine two hearts, with the kind of love and unity that makes one unable to see where one ends and the other begins. Jonathan and David had the kind of friendship where their souls were united one with another and love abounded. I know this kind of friendship and love. It is stronger than any other and it sees beyond faults and appearances, to the spirit within. This would have been a true blessing in both of their lives. This kind of friendship is eternal and it reminds me a lot of the relationship that the Savior desires to have with each of us. The Savior taught of this friendship:

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

We can be knit together in love with the Savior, if we are willing to covenant with him to keep his commandments. He has already extended his loving friendship to us, by giving of his own life for us. His love for us, is eternally forgiving, and without a doubt it can look beyond our faults and appearances to the soul that we truly are.

5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

David followed the directions given to him by Saul, and did so with wisdom. Saul made him the leader of his armies, and all the people accepted him, including Saul’s servants. Women sang and danced to honor David and Saul for the success against the Philistines. They gave greater honor to David, and Saul became very jealous of David. Had Saul been a man of God, he would not have been more interested in the praising of the Lord, for his guiding hand in their battles, than in the greater praise going to David. But Saul was not a man of God, so he became wary of David and what might become of him, from that time forward. I am sure that somewhere inside, Saul remembered Samuel’s promise that the kingdom would not remain his. He was probably continually looking for who might be chosen to replace him, though he did not know that David had already been anointed to become the king.

10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.
11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

After this time, Saul had temptations of an evil spirit come upon him, giving him a prophecy. In the Joseph Smith Translation of verse 11, it reads, “that the evil spirit [which was not of God] came upon Saul…” In his prophecy, David played the harp, as he had many times before, and Saul had a javelin in his hand. Saul said he would kill David with the javelin, but David got away two times. I think that Saul was being persuaded by an evil spirit, to have a greater fear of David, which would drive his desire to want him dead.

12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.
13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
14 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.
15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

Saul was afraid of David, knowing that the Lord was with David, but not with him. Saul decided to send David away from his presence, by having him lead at the front of his army. David continued to do what he was told and continued to have the Lord with him. This made Saul afraid of him, but the people loved David because he protected them.

As a side note, it is interesting to see that there has been a shift in reference to the people. In the records of the bible, the people were referred to as Israelites, or the people of Israel. There has been a shift to referring to the people as Israel and Judah. Instead of being one nation, they were two groups of people associated because of God. Eventually, these two groups will be divided into two kingdoms.

17 And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord’s battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
18 And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?
19 But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.
20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

Saul wanted to be rid of David, but felt he could not kill him. He wanted instead, for David to die in battle against the Philistines. Saul offered his oldest daughter’s hand in marriage, if David would continue to fight valiantly for the Lord’s army. David thought this honor too much for someone of such a humble background as he was. So, when it was time for him to be married to Merab, Saul gave her to another man. Saul’s other daughter, Michal, loved David and she told Saul. Saul was happy with this, because he felt that she would be a snare to David. As the son-in-law to the king, it could bring the Philistines down upon him.

22 And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law.
23 And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?
24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.
25 And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired.
27 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

Saul told his servants to talk David into becoming his son-in-law. David wondered if the servants thought that being the son-in-law to the king was a simple or insignificant thing, but he was too lowly for this privilege. They went back to Saul and told him. Saul had them return and tell him he did not need to offer a dowry for marriage, but he could instead offer a sacrifice of part of 100 Philistines, so that Saul could be avenged of his enemies. Saul had an ulterior motive in this, and that was that he hoped David would be killed in battle. David was glad to hear what Saul asked of him, and he desired to marry his daughter. So, David took him men and killed 200 of the Philistines, bringing the offering back to Saul with the story of what had happened. Saul gave Michal to David.

28 And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.
29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.
30 Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.

This did not please Saul, because he knew that his daughter loved David and that the Lord continued to be with him. Saul grew in animosity towards David. David become the wisest among all of the servants of Saul, and became well-known and loved for his service.

One of the things that comes to mind as I ponder on this chapter, is that there is a need to be watchful of the choices we make and the influences in our lives. When we make choices that drive the spirit out of our lives, just as Saul had done in moments of fear and pride, we make a space in our lives for something else. Saul allowed that space to be filled with an evil spirit, which persuaded him into fear. This kind of spirit attaches itself to a person’s soul, bringing temptations to them to do wrong, and binding that person to wickedness. Pretty soon, all that that person is able to think about is their own selfish desires, as was the case with Saul. His greater desire became wanting to see David dead, instead of wanting to accept the honors that David was bringing to his king. Sadly, these feelings were never provoked by David himself, only by others who gave honor to him. David did not seek to make himself better than the king, in fact, he felt he was not even worthy of the honor of even becoming the king’s son-in-law.

It is sad to see the kind of effect this had on the relationship between Saul and David. When Saul first met David, he adored him. He took him in as if his own son, because he was a talented young man. Saul gave David honors by setting him over a portion of his army. While the relationship between Jonathan and David grew stronger out of love, the relationship between Saul and David became weakened out of envy and hatred. However, through all of this, David remained a loyal servant and son-in-law, because he was a good man who was faithful and blessed with the spirit. This causes me to consider my own life. What kind of friend am I? Do I allow feelings of self-doubt to creep in and bring along the partners of envy and jealousy? Or do I rejoice in the accomplishments of my friends and show greater gratitude to God for the things that he blesses others with? It is better to be humble, faithful, loyal and wise like David, rather than prideful, envious and yet, powerful like Saul.

Judges Chapter 16

Samson was a judge in Israel, who had been raised by his parents, as a Nazarite. He had made covenants with God, and had been blessed with mighty strength as a gift of the spirit. His strength had already brought Israel, the beginnings of deliverance from the bondage of the Philistines. However, Samson had broken most of his covenants with the unrighteous choices he had made. The story of Samson continues:

1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Samson saw a harlot in Gaza, and went to be with her. Again, his weaknesses got the better of him, and he went against his covenants by doing this. The people of Gaza learned that Samson was there, and encompassed him in the city, with the intent to kill him the next morning. Samson got up at midnight, and carried away the doors of the gate of Gaza, carrying them up the hill.

4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Samson came to love a woman named Delilah, and when the Philistine lords learned of it, they went to her and told her to entice him into telling them how he had his strength. They wanted to be able to take him, bind him and afflict him, which I’m guessing would have been to torture him. For her part, they were willing to pay Delilah 1,100 pieces of silver each.

6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

Delilah asked Samson straight out, what his weakness in his strength was, so that they could bind him. Samson lied and said that he would be weak if he was bound with seven green undried withs, or new cords. She told the Philistines and the lords brought her the withs to bind him. The men waited to grab him, and she told him that the Philistines were there to take him. He broke the bands, so they did not truly know where his strength was. Delilah asked again, and he lied again by saying that he would be weak if they used new ropes to bind him. She tied him with new ropes and told him the men were there to attack him. Once again, he broke the ropes without any difficulty. For a third time, she asked how he had his strength, and he lied again and told her he would be weak if sheave weaved a web, of the loom, into seven locks of his hair. She did it and once it was fastened, she told him the Philistines were there, and he left with his hair still fastened.

15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

Delilah enticed Samson by telling him if he loved her, he would tell her instead of not being honest with her. Finally, he gave in, just as he had with his first wife, and he told her that his strength would be gone if his head was shaved, because he was a Nazarite. She could tell that he was being honest with her this time. She told the Philistines and then made Samson fall asleep on her lap. As he slept, a man shaved seven locks of his hair. He became weak and she woke him with news of the Philistines again. He thought he would be able to escape them as he had before because he had not realized that his gift of strength had left him.

I get the impression that Samsom may have thought his strength had more to do with himself then strictly with the Lord and his covenant. It is as if he knew in his mind that he was to keep his hair for his covenant, but he did not understand in his heart, that his strength truly came from the Lord.

21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

The Philistines grabbed him and blinded him, then they took him to Gaza, bound him and put him in prison. His hair began to grow again. When the Philistines gathered together to sacrifice to their god and celebrate that Samson had been captured, they brought him out of the prison to mock him. They put him between the pillars. Samson asked the boy who brought him there, to allow him to feel the pillars of the house. The house was full of 3,000 Philistines there, including the lords. Samson prayed to the Lord, that he might be avenged for loosing his sight, by regaining his strength for just that one moment. He grabbed the two pillars, one in each hand and then pulled on them with all his might. The Lord gave him strength and the house fell on all who were inside, killing himself and 3,000 others. His family went down to gaza and took his body to bury him. He had judged Israel for 22 years.

This story is not far from reality for the life of anyone who would choose to make covenants with the Lord. Whether we choose to believe it or not, the moment we step foot on the path of discipleship, we begin to have an enemy who desires to bind us. There are many who lie in wait, for us to make a mistake. The army of the adversary encircles our homes and sends things in to entice us. They will never tire, but will be persistent in their attempts to reveal our weaknesses. We must remain strong, and when we make mistakes, we need to be quick to repent and rely on the strength of the Lord.

It is interesting to see that over the course of his adult life, Samson did several things to go against the covenant of a Nazarite, but it was not until he had gone against the entire covenant, that his strength was removed from him. He had been blessed with physical strength, but did not seem to be strong in character. I wonder, if he had been faithful to his covenants, would he have been a man of character strength as well? Samson’s weakness was not loosing his strength, but giving in to the temptations of his life, including finally, giving in to the enticements of Delilah, when I am sure he knew it might put him against the standards of the Lord. In Doctrine and Covenants 3:4, we read, “For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” The Lord blesses each of us with talents and gifts, just as He blessed Samson. If we live up to the promises and covenants we make with the Lord, we will be blessed with greater gifts as well. If we choose to live only a portion of our covenants, or if we choose not recognize the hand of the Lord in our ability to use those gifts, we will be missing out on the full measure of blessings that the Lord has in store for us. There will eventually come a time, when those who choose the path of disobedience, as Samson did, will indeed receive justice for their choices.

Judges Chapter 9

After the death of Joshua, the prophet, the children of Israel lived in a period of judges. The judges were their leaders, chosen by the Lord. Gideon had been one of these judges and had led the Israelites into a time of peace. His leadership had not remained true to the Lord, and the people of Israel, with his influence, had returned to wickedness by the time of his death.

1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,
2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
3 And his mother’s brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
5 And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

Jerubbaal, was another name for Gideon, which he received when he casted down the altars of Baal (see Judges 6:32). He had had many wives and at least one concubine, all of which bore him a total of 70 sons. One of those sons was Abimelech, born of the concubine Shechem. He decided to go to the family of Shechem, his mother, and told them to ask the people if they would be better ruled by the entire family of Gideon, or by only one of them, reminding them that he was family to them. They went to the rest of the people of Shechem and it was decided that it would be better to be led by Abimelech alone. They gave him money and he hired people to follow him. He went to the house of Jerubbaal, or Gideon, and killed all but one of his brothers. The youngest, Jotham, hid himself. The men of Shechem made Abimelech their king.

7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.
8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
18 And ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

Jotham stood on the mount and told a story of trees who chose a king, to the people of Shechem. In his story, the olive tree was asked to rule, but refused because he would not put himself give up what he had to put himself above the other trees. Next, they went to the fig tree, but he refused as well. Then, they asked the vine to rule over them, who also refused. Finally, they turned to the bramble, which is a prickly shrubbery. The bramble said he would rule if they showed their trust in his shadow. If they did not truly want him as the king, he would destroy the cedars with fire. Jotham called the men of Shechem out for how they had treated his family in making Abimelech their king. He cursed them saying, if they were right by what they did, they should rejoice that day, but if they had not done what was right, they would be destroyed by Abimelech and they would destroy Abimelech. Then, Jotham fled and hid from his brother Abimelech.

22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,
23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:
24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.
25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.
27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.
28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?
29 And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.

Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. God allowed the spirit of contention to come between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The Shechemites began to be treacherous with Abimelech, because it seems, they were afraid to be punished for their helping Abimelech kill his brothers. They became robbers of anyone who traveled in the mountains. Abimelech was told what was happening. The Shechemite men ruined the crops and cursed Abimelech in the face of Gaal of Ebed, who began to question why they should follow Abimelech of Shechem or their family. He called Abimelech to fight.

30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.
31 And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.
32 Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:
33 And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.

Zebul, who was master of the city, became angered and warned Abimelech the threats of Gaal. Zebul told him to surround the city in the night, and when morning came, to do with the men of Gaal as he wished.

34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.
35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.
37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.
38 Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.
39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.
40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.
41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
42 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
43 And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.
44 And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.
45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

Gaal saw the men of Abimelech, which surrounded the city. He told Zebul what he saw. Zebul spoke of Abimelech and his people, as a shadow of the mountains, much like the shadow of the bramble that Jotham spoke of earlier. He pointed out all of the companies that stood against Gaal, and told him to fight as he had threatened to before. It seems that Zebul may have been attempting to get the men out of the city to fight, so that he would be spared, seeing as how he knew Abimelech would come against them. Gaal fought Abimelech and fled. Many of the men were wounded, and the men of Gaal were cast out of Shechem by Zebul. Abimelech heard what was happening and when they were leaving the city, he killed them, and then turned against the city and killed the people there and destroyed the ground with salt.

46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.
47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
48 And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.
49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

The men of the tower in Shechem gathered together, once they had learned that Abimelech had destroyed the city. When Abimelech heard that they gathered, he took his men into the mountain and cut down a tree bough and carried it on his shoulders. He commanded his men to do the same. They took these branches and placed them on the hold in Shechem and set them on fire. The people, about 1,000 men and women in the gathering, died from the fire.

50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.
51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.
52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull.
54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

Abimelech encamped in Thebez. He took control of the city, and when the people fled to the top of their tower. Abimelech tried to burn the tower, but a woman threw down a millstone and cracked his skull. He did not want to be shamed by being killed by a woman, so he commanded one of his men to kill him. Abimelech was killed by the man and seeing this, the men of Israel returned to their own homes.

56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:
57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

The curse of Jotham was fulfilled, as the men of Shechem and Abimelech destroyed one another.

Why is this story in the Bible? Perhaps, it is to teach us that good does not come from evil actions. Eventually, even if years may go by, the consequences of evil, will be destruction. Works of darkness and secret combinations set up to get gain, are results of weak men giving in to the temptations of the adversary. There is great power in the influence of our peers, as with the men of Shechem. One man can persuade many to do the wrong thing. One way to know if what a person wants you to do, is the right choice, is to learn of their motives. Abimelech wanted to have the power of ruling for himself, without the barrier of his brothers. He, much like the adversary does, convinced the people to help him, by telling them he had a better way. We should be continually watchful for those who would lead us astray, as the prickly bramble would lead the trees of the forest in the comfort of its shadow. If the works of those who would lead us, are not good works, we have the potential of destruction to our souls. It is so important for us to seek the kind of leaders who will strive to do good.

Judges Chapter 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judges Chapter 1

When Moses was preparing the people for his death, the Lord called Joshua as the next prophet and leader of Isreal. Joshua had the duty of leading the people into the land of Canaan, and dividing the inheritances among the tribes, as well as reminding them of the laws God had given to them. As he neared his own death, the Lord did not call a new prophet to take his place as both a prophet and leader. In the bible dictionary, a description is given for the book of Judges, which reads, “This book and Ruth contain all the Jewish history that has been preserved to us of the times between the death of Joshua and the birth of Samuel.” (See Bible Dictionary) The first 3 chapters are described as an introduction. Chapter 1 begins as follows:

1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
3 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
4 And Judah went up; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.
5 And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites.
6 But Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
7 And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
8 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire.

The children of Israel asked the Lord, who should be the first to fight against the remaining Canaanites. Before his passing, Joshua had been promised that the host of Israel would continue to fight against the Canaanites, and that he was to divide the land because he was in his old age. If this was made known to the host of Israel, they knew that they needed to continue to fight after Joshua had died. The Lord told them, that the tribe of Judah was to fight, and that the land had been delivered to them by the Lord. The tribe of Judah asked for help from the tribe of Simeon, and they were able to destroy the people in Bezek, but the king fled. They caught him and took him to Jerusalem where he died. Jerusalem had been taken and set on fire.

9 And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley.
10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher:
12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.
13 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.
14 And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou?
15 And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

The tribe of Judah fought against those in the mountain, in the south, and in the valley. They destroyed the people there. Caleb promised the hand of his daughter, Achsah, to whomever took the land of Kirjath-sepher (later known as Debir). Caleb’s nephew, Othniel, took the land and received Achsah to wife. Achsah asked Caleb for a blessing, and he gave her the upper and nether springs. (see also Joshua 15)

16 And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.
17 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
20 And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.
21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

The tribe of Judah, who had the Lord with them, and the help of the tribe of Simeon, fought against their enemies in Zephath, Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron. The people in the mountains were expelled, but they were not able to drive out those who were in the valley because of their chariots. It seems that those who had chariots, had the upper hand in battles of that time. The Jebusites were not driven out of Jerusalem by the tribe of Benjamin, but remained in Jerusalem.

22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Beth-el: and the Lord was with them.
23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Beth-el. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.)
24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy.
25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family.
26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

The tribe of Joseph was also able to fight, with the help of the Lord. They sent spies to city of Beth-el, who learned where the entrance to the city was by offering mercy to a man and his family for telling them. They destroyed the city, and the man who had helped them founded the city of Luz in the Hittite land.

27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.
28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

The tribe of Manasseh did not drive out all of the Canaanites in their land, but allowed some to remain and pay tribute to Israel.

29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.

Some Canaanites among the tribe of Ephraim were also allowed to stay.

30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.

The tribe of Zebulun allowed some to stay as well, and they made them pay tribute.

31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.

Likewise, the tribe of Asher did not drive out all of the Canaanites in their land. Interestingly, it reads here that the tribe of Asher dwelt among the Canaanites, which sounds like there were greater number of the other nations, then of the tribe of Asher.

33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries unto them.
34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley:
35 But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.
36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.

The tribe of Naphtali were also unable to drive the Canaanites out of the land, and so their people lived among the Canaanites, but were able to make them pay tribute. The tribe of Dan could not take their land from the Canaanites, and were forced into the mountain. Because the house of Joseph, the Amorite people paid the Israelites tribute.

The commandment given to the Israelites, was to destroy the people of the land, because this was the land of promise. For one reason or another, they did not do this completely. The Israelites had been warned, and they would need to heed these warnings. In his parting words, Joshua gave them the message from the Lord, that they were not to join themselves with the nations that could possibly remain among them. They were not to mention or turn to their false gods or marry their people, because these choices would separate them from the Lord and eventually bring destruction upon the tribes of Israel. Joshua 23:13 reads, “Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.” I’m not sure why the Israelites were not able to drive all the nations out of the land, but in leaving so many other nations among themselves, they made their chances of eventual failure that much greater. The temptations to follow the ways of these other people, would have been great.

There are many things that we are warned about in our own day. It takes great courage, to truly remove the temptations from our lives, and I think that sometimes we leave just enough to tempt us and cause us to fall back into our old ways. I know that if we have the courage to remove the negative influences around us, the Lord will be there to help us overcome our temptations. He can truly make us strong and He will bless us for our courageous choices.


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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