Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saul's Obsession

Today I read 1 Samuel 23 where David is still fleeing Saul.  It's sad because I don't think Saul has a grateful bone in his body at this point.  He hears that David saved one of the cities from the Philistines and instead of being grateful that his people are safe, he rejoices because David is now trapped and will fall into his hand.  Saul almost seems incapable of rejoicing in the good anymore.

What kind of a man is that?  What is it like to be so obsessed that you lose sight of everything else?  To be so consumed with hatred like that?  Funnily enough, I watched a movie based on the novel "Moby Dick" last night and it reminds me of Captain Ahab.  Ahab was so consumed with hatred of Moby Dick, or the white dragon in this version, that nothing else mattered to him.  He lied to his crew, he killed those who did not share his vision, and in the end it destroyed him.  His own obsession was his downfall.  At least in the version last night, if he had not been so consumed with hate he could have been a very rich man and lived comfortably for the rest of his life, but he threw it all away for his hatred.

How much did Saul throw away for his hatred?  Did he stop enjoying life because of his obsession with killing David?  I am almost positive that he did.  I don't think someone that is that obsessed with something can take pleasure in almost anything.  I think they are so consumed that if it isn't their obsession then they take no pleasure in it, which is not how God wants us to live our lives.  Heavenly Father has told us that we are meant to have joy in this life.  True it needs to be joy in the proper way, but joy nonetheless.  We need to find joy and happiness in this life and take true pleasure in it.  At least that is how I view it and what I think.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saul Slays 85 Priests

Today I read 1 Samuel 22 and oh how the mighty have fallen!  Poor Saul is losing his mind to madness and power lust.  He heard that the priests showed kindness to David and gave him food and a sword.  When he inquired of the priest why he did that the priest gave him an honest answer and I for one love it!  The priest asked Saul who among his men and servants was as loyal as David?  Who performs their duty as well as David does?  How should the priest know that Saul was upset with him?

This answer must have infuriated Saul.  It was simple honest truth but it was no doubt the last thing that Saul wanted to hear.  This simple, honest answer must have laid Saul's soul bare and I will wager that he did not like what he saw one bit.  My evidence for such an assumption is that Saul commands his soldiers to slay all the priests.  Fortunately for the soldiers, they refuse.  However, unfortunately, in this world there is always someone willing to do evil for evil's sake.  Saul finds someone who is willing to do his dirty work for him and they slay 85 priests, for no other crime than speaking the truth and showing kindness to someone in need.

Of all Saul's crimes against God, I personally think that this one is among the most heinous.  Perhaps the worst in fact.  To slay 85 innocent men for your own pride, I shudder to think what kind of an answer he could have given Heavenly Father when asked why he did such a thing.  The horror of his crimes when laid bare before him must have been terrible indeed.  If Alma's experience is anything to go by, poor Saul probably wanted to cease to exist, but we all must stand before God and be judged for what we have done, good or bad.  That is why you never want to do anything that you wouldn't want repeated, because it WILL be repeated sooner or later.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

David Flees Saul to Gath

Today I read 1 Samuel 21 where David flees Saul's wrath and eats the hallowed bread.  I cannot even imagine what life must be like for David right now, to have to literally flee for your life and not knowing if anyone you meet will be trying to kill you or want to help you.  It honestly sounds like something out of a story book.  I also have to wonder about David lying to the priest.  He told the priest that Saul had sent him on a special assignment which is not the truth at all.  The commandments are very clear and don't say while you shouldn't lie, it's ok in certain circumstances.  I am not the judge for David or anyone thankfully, it's just interesting to me.

When I read this story of David fleeing Saul I often wonder why he doesn't just flee into the wilderness like Elijah did.  Why does he keep going to various cities where people might tell Saul where he ran off to?  Why not just go hide out until Saul dies?  That's what Elijah did and no one found him for several years.  I'm sure that David had his reasons, however, it just doesn't make sense to me.  I'm sure we'll be told one day.  I wonder if David had fun when he was pretending to be a madman in Gath?  It seems like that would be fairly enjoyable to play the madman and pretty much do what you want.  Although to be in fear of being caught and found out you are not insane, that must be pretty harrowing.  I hope I never have to find out.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Jonathan Protects David from Saul

Today I read 1 Samuel 20 where David and Jonathan make a pact with each other.  It must have been very hard on Jonathan.  I am sure he loved his father and yet he was watching the man become a blood thirsty monster.  That could not have been easy for him.  And to have his own father throw a javelin at him to slay him simply because he challenged Saul about killing David asking him what David had done to deserve death, truly terrible. 

Saul's big mistake was pride.  He was upset at the mistakes he had made and upset that he saw a better man in David.  He was proud to the point of blindness.  He was furious that David was a better man than him.  It is really sad that it happened to him because of becoming king.  As we have stated before now, Saul was a goodly man before he was made king and he could not handle the power of being king.  It is one of the reasons I do not desire authority at all.  Heavenly Father Himself said that almost all men abuse power when they get it, I do not want to be that man.  I do not wish to abuse authority or power or any kind so I avoid it when I can.  If I am called however, in a church calling I will of course serve.  But worldly power, I want nothing to do with it, not at all.  I don't want to end up like Saul, or even David.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saul Continues to try and Kill David

Today I read 1 Samuel 19 where Saul continues to try and kill David.  It always amazes me to see or hear about kings doing evil things and their servants and armies helping them do it.  Yes, they may be the king but what they are doing is wrong.  I wonder if it would be worse to help a king do something that is wrong like that and the sin be upon the head of the king because he commanded his servants to do it, or to disobey the king and try and dethrone him? 

The Twelfth article of Faith states that we believe in being subject to kings and governments, I'm paraphrasing of course.  So if one were to go against their mortal sovereign even though the commands that they were commanded to do were evil and against God, would it be worse to follow the command or go against the tyrant?  I know that in World War II Latter-day Saints were told to obey the Nazis if they were German, at least that is what I have been told.  I don't really have the answer but I would think that if ever I were in the position the thing to do would be to pray and ask God for direction and guidance.  I think that is all anyone can really do in such a situation.  Until tomorrow. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saul Tries to Kill David

Today I read 1 Samuel 18 where Saul starts to suspect, fear and eventually hate David.  It is sad when petty jealousy destroys a good friendship.  Jealousy is a nasty thing and is hard to control at times, but letting it get in the way of friendship is not a good thing.  This chapter always made me sad because it shows just how far Saul has fallen.  He gets upset and jealous of David because of the rhymes that the women make up about David and himself. 

He is so far gone with jealousy that he tries to kill David, even though he knows for a fact that one of his daughters and his son, Jonathan, love David.  At this point in Saul's life it would seem the Spirit of the Lord has left him completely.  And yet when Saul was chosen as king he was described as a goodly lad and well loved and full of the Spirit.  And yet he fell so far and so hard.  It is a good lesson to learn how badly power can hurt someone and corrupt them.  Once again I can't help but wonder if Saul had not been made king how he would have turned out?  Would he still have become such a tyrant?  Would he have remained a good person at heart instead of turning into this paranoid monster?  We will never know.  Perhaps that is a mercy too, not knowing.  It is a very good lesson however on just how dangerous earthly power can be.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

David Beats Goliath

Today I read 1 Samuel 17 which contains the famous story of David fighting Goliath.  This is one of those stories that depending what you need to learn you can pull out so many lessons from it.  For example, as a child I would always be in awe at the fact that David was able to beat such a big man as Goliath.  I was fascinated by the way David was able to overcome such a challenge.

As I have gotten older, I am intrighed by the faith in God that David had.  David had perfect faith that God would help him overcome the challenge, and David was right.  God did in fact help him win the battle.  David's faith was rewarded by God doing exactly as David had planned.  When we have perfect faith in God, faith as a grain of mustard seed as Jesus put it, we can move mountains, or defeat giants.  It is not easy to have that kind of faith but if you can achieve it, you can do anything.  The thing to remember however is if you have that kind of faith, you will not ask anything that is contrary to God's will.  That is what God told Nephi and someone with a correct understanding of God will know.  Because to have perfect faith, we have to have a correct understanding of God and His character.  And if we have that, we can have do anything!  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

God Looks Upon the Heart

Today I read 1 Samuel 16 where Samuel is told to go annoint a new king.  He is sent to Jesse's house to annoint one of his sons to be the future king.  Samuel is taught a valuable lesson while doing this.  He is so impressed with the physical appearance of the sons of Jesse that he thinks each of them should be king.  The Lord taught Samuel that the Lord does not look on the physical appearance of men but on their heart. 

Recently I watched a movie called Courageous which I highly recommend actually.  The point of the movie is several men decide to be better fathers.  At one point of the movie one of the men is talking about how God is a good judge.  The reason God is a good judge is because He looks on our hearts and judges us according to our intent as much as He does our actions.  Nothing is hidden from God.  Our entire lives are laid bare before Him.  What we can hide from other men, He sees perfectly.  I was always taught that we are never alone, because God is always watching us, so don't do anything you wouldn't want Him to see you do.  Would it change how you behave "in private" if you knew you were actually being watched?  Would you be a better person?  Because you are always being watched, even if you don't know it.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

Today I read 1 Samuel 15 where Saul is commanded to to destory the Amalekites completely.  He is commanded to destroy all the men, women, children, even the livestock.  However, Saul does not do this.  He destroys the men women and children however he captures the king of the Amalekites and some of the livestock so that he can make a sacrifice to the Lord.

The Lord comes to Samuel and tells him that He, the Lord, is sad that He made Saul the king.  He sends Samuel up to Saul's camp and to tell him that he has been replaced as the king.  When Samuel arrives Saul greets him with the pride of a conquerer.  Samuel quickly deflates him however by telling him that he knows he did not do as the Lord commanded him to do.  Samuel tells Saul that the Lord would rather have had Saul obey Him than have sacrifices offered up to Him.  The scriptures tell us in several places that Heavenly Father likes it when we obey Him.  Jesus taught the Israelites that if we love God we will follow His commandments. 

Our modern day prophets and Apostles have taught us that the only thing we can give Heavenly Father that is truly ours is our will.  When we surrender our will to Him and do as He asks of us, we have given Him all that we have to give.  We are here in this life to decide what we want out of eternity.  We only have a short time, relatively speaking, to decide.  And the thing is, not deciding, is still making a decision.  When we delay or put off the decision, we are unconsciously making a choice NOT to obey God.  The only way to really serve Him appropriately, is to consciously make the choice to serve Him.  If we don't do that, then we are like the Prodigal Son, squandering our inheritance and our time.  Just like Joshua said in days of old, choose you this day whom you will serve.  But as for me, and my family, I will serve the Lord!  Until tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Saul Tries to Kill His Son

Today I read 1 Samuel 14 where Saul decrees that no man of Israel shall eat any food that day while they prepared for battle against the Philistines.  Jonathan, his son, had not heard of the decree and ate some honey that he found while marching.  So Saul tried to kill him, his only son, but luckily the people protected Jonathan from Saul.

As I read these stories, it makes me wonder about Saul and how long it had been.  How long had it taken him to fall so far?  It is interesting to me that the Lord would choose Saul to be king when he was this type of a man.  Did choosing him to be king change him?  Would he have already been like this whether he was king or not?  We partially discussed this question earlier when it described Saul as good of heart.  One day we will know the truth.  I am not sure which is the answer but I do know that the way the scriptures are written, Saul had a lot of problems.  Definitely not the kind of person you want for a king!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saul Sacrifices to the Lord

Today I read 1 Samuel 13 where Saul and the Israelites go to war.  Saul asked Samuel to come and perform a sacrifice to the Lord to bless them so that they will be victorious.  However, when Samuel doesn't show up on time, Saul takes matters into his own hands and has his men perform the sacrifices themselves.  As always seems to be the case, Samuel showed up right as they were finishing the sacrifice. 

Yesterday I drove down to Florida with my family along with my father and mother.  At one point my dad and I were talking about a Sunday School discussion that took place recently.  He said that some people in the class felt it was ok when someone did the right thing for the wrong reasons.  He said that he had raised his hands and corrected them but most of the class still stated that they felt it was a good thing for the person to do the right thing no matter what the reason.  This chapter is a great example of doing the right or good thing for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way. 

Saul knew that to make a sacrifice to the Lord was a good and right thing to do.  However, he did not have the Priesthood, the authority, necessary to perform this ordinance.  Only Samuel did, that we know of.  Yet, he performed it anyway.  He did a righteous act in the wrong way.  And because of it, he was punished and eventually his kingdom was taken away from him.  The important thing to remember is that God looks on our motive just as much as the action.  Sometimes I think that perhaps God looks on the intent MORE than He does the action itself.  We need to make sure that we are doing the right things, for the right reasons, in the right place at the right time.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Samuel Lectures Israel

Today I read 1 Samuel 12 where Samuel talks to the people and tells them all that they have done and how despite all their many sins they have already committed, that asking for a king is just one more that is added on top of that.  He asks the people what liberties he has taken with them and how he has treated them and if it was poorly.  All Israel acknowledges that Samuel has been fair and never taken anything that didn't belong to him or abuse his power and position. 

Poor Samuel, I can imagine that he probably feels pretty angry at Israel and their desire for a king.  I wonder if he felt like he should have done more or could have done more for the people and if perhaps if he had been a better judge would they have desired a king as strongly?  Or maybe he understood perfectly well their unrighteous desire for a king.  Maybe he had righteous anger, like the Lord, at this request and that is why he called down a thunderstorm in the middle of their harvest to show the Lord's displeasure.  Like so many things we don't know and will find out one day I am sure.  One thing we know for certain, Samuel was in good standing with the Lord and was a righteous ruler, God would not have honored his request for a thunderstorm otherwise.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Saul Saves the People from the Ammonites

Today I read 1 Samuel 11 where the Ammonites were coming down to war against Israel and Saul rallied the people to the defense of those besieged by the Ammonites.  Saul wins the affections of his people and is recognized as the future king of Israel by the people.

My only concern with this, is it sounds much too like the idea of conversion by miracle.  When someone is converted to the Lord because they see something miraculous, it is very difficult for them to remain faithful to Heavenly Father throughout their life.  It is much easier for true conversion to have faith first and then receive the miracle.  The reason for this is because a miracle will not cause a testimony to spring into being, but it will strengthen one.  Honestly, I don't understand why a miracle will not cause someone to have a testimony, but God has said it and that is good enough for me.  Besides we have several examples in the latter-days of this truth if Heavenly Father's word is not good enough for some. 

Faith needs to precede the miracle.  We need to already believe that Heavenly Father is there for us that Jesus is the Christ for it to be lasting if we are blessed with a miracle.  Also, a miracle does not need to be something huge and miraculous like an angel flying out of the sky to talk to you.  It can be a healing of a sick child.  A car stopping with no explanation to avoid a collision.  Paying your tithing instead of the mortgage and having the money show up in your account to cover the mortgage anyway.  Heavenly Father is more than happy to bless the lives of His people.  We just need to live a good and faithful life and He will bless us.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saul is Presented as King

 Today I read 1 Samuel 10 where Saul is introduced to Israel as the new king.  I can't help but wonder what Saul thought of all of this and if he even wanted to be king.  The way the scriptures read is that he just shows up and Samuel anoints him king, no if ands or buts about it.  So did Saul balk at this calling?  Or was he excited?  I honestly think he was a bit scared because it says when the people came to find him, he was hiding from everyone. 

But just as a prophet is chosen and does not choose himself, Saul was chosen to be king.  He is presented to the tribes of Israel and they are excited to finally have a king.  Now they can be just like everyone else.  However, the scriptures state that not everyone was happy, the people who were worshiping Belial were unhappy with this turn of events.  But as I am fond of saying you can't please everyone and if you have to choose, wouldn't you rather please God than some worshipers of a false god?  Everyone must make their own choices in this life and whom you serve is one that carries eternal consequences!  Choose wisely.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saul Meets Samuel

Today I read 1 Samuel 9 where Saul meets Samuel for the first time.  Saul is described as an upstanding and goodly person.  This is very different from how he ends up at the end of his life.  Sadly it would seem that Saul is a good example of someone who is corrupted by power.  He could not handle the pressures of being king and having his ego inflated.  He exemplified what God warns against in Doctrine and Covenants 121 where He stated that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men that as soon as they get a little power as they suppose they immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

It reminds me of Mosiah when he was asking his people to choose a king, he mentioned that they had no right to destroy his son, Aaron.  Now he was meaning by choosing another in his place and causing a civil war, however, I think there might have been a deeper meaning too.  A king is a power unto himself and is not held in check like a judge is.  Perhaps Mosiah did not want Aaron to have that kind of power, fearing what it would do to his son.  I don't know, but we do know what happens to Saul and it is a sad journey indeed as we will read about.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Israel Demands a King

Today I read 1 Samuel 8 where the people of Israel request a king.  The crazy thing is, Samuel straight up tells them that they will pay taxes, that their fields will be levied and that their children will be drafted into the army or the bakeries.  And the people wholeheartedly state that is indeed their desire and what they want!  I mean, what is wrong with the children of Israel?  Even in the Book of Mormon all they ever want is a King.  It's so strange.

I guess people have a natural desire to be led.  They want someone in charge.  Perhaps it is a desire that if things go wrong they can blame someone, I really don't know.  But the fact of the matter is, how much interaction does the common man or woman, have with the leader of their society?  I have lived through 5 Presidents of the United States in my life and I have met exactly 1 of them.  And that was a brief handshake at an airport amidst hundreds of other people.  I have lived through 5 Prophets and have also met 1 of those.  That was a bit more intimate a setting which I have shared in the past.  My point is, both sets of leaders, while they make, or reveal from God, policy that effects me, I have no interaction with either of these men.  I can't imagine that Israel was any different in ancient times, so why were they so eager for a king?

The answer is because they wanted to be like everyone else.  Other cultures had a king, so they wanted a king too.  They did not want to be different.  And yet, Heavenly Father has always wanted His people to stand out and be different.  It's a wonder that the Israelites survived as long as they did as a people.  However, I am also assuming that every single man and woman was the same and clamoring for a king or going after false gods.  I am confident that is not the case.  I am sure that there were always righteous people admist the rough edges.  Because if they had been fully ripe, the Lord would have cast them off, as He always does with His people.  Remember, the Lord does not change, He is ever constant.  So it stands to reason that there were always righteous among the wicked, quietly living their lives and doing what is right.  Which is a comfort to think about, at least for me it is.  It gives me hope for our own time, that as long as Latter-day Saints remain faithful, things can't get TOO bad!  Until tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Samuel Judges Israel

Today I read 1 Samuel 7 where Samuel entreats the men of Israel to forsake false gods and serve Heavenly Father instead.  Samuel seems to have some success as it states that Israel put off the false gods and served Jesus Christ, or Jehovah as they called Him then.  I wonder if the prophets and judges ever felt like it was almost a futile effort to get Israel to serve their God?  However, when God tells you to do something, you do it!  After all, that's what got Jonah in trouble.

Samuel was quite the busy guy it seems.  According to the scriptures he would travel from city to city preaching the word of God and making sure that everyone was doing what was right.  He truly was fulfilling the scriptures when it tells us that we should be anxiously engaged in a good cause.  Jesus Himself stated that whosoever would lose his life for His sake would find it.  I have always felt that means if we were to spend our entire life, all of our energies on serving God and doing what He asks of us, it would not be a wasted life.  In fact if we believe Heavenly Father, and we should, it would be the best life we could possibly have here on earth.  Try it out and see.  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Lord Slays Those Who Look in the Ark

Today I read 1 Samuel 6 where the Philistines want to give the Ark back to the Israelites.  They called their diviners out and had them tell them what to do.  So the diviners told them how to return the Ark so that God would lift the plagues from off of them.  And so they follow the advice and give the Ark back.

I try to keep my posts spiritual but sometimes I can't help but throw in some fun asides.  This chapter is the basis for the scene in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark when the Nazis open the Ark.  Indiana remembers this chapter and that Heavenly Father slew 50,000 men for looking in the Ark.  So that is how he knew to keep his eyes closed.  But seriously, in the chapter we are not told why they looked in the Ark.  For all we know they could have just wanted to make sure that the Philistines did not defile it, their intentions could have been pure.  But it was not a thing for them to touch and so the Lord slew them.  I've got to admit that it sounds like a harsh thing to do and does not really jive with the loving Heavenly Father we were all taught about in primary.

I have often wondered if the Lord previously had told them that they should never look into it on pain of death and it is just is not recorded in the scriptures.  To my knowledge it is not in there, but I do not think for  a second we have every decree and word spoken by God through His prophets recorded in our modern day scriptures.  We will know the truth of it someday and I'm sure it will all make sense and be connected.  Heavenly Father does not delight in death and destruction and is not a bloodthirsty God.  We have to have faith that everything He does is either for the best or perhaps in fulfillment of something He has said.  That is what I believe.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

That Ark Plagues the Philistines

Today I read 1 Samuel 5 where the Ark of the Lord is taken to various cities of the Philistines.  Wherever the Ark rests, plagues torment the men of the Philistines.  It's interesting how quickly the Philistines pick up on this and demand that they send the Ark back to the Israelites.  And yet, despite their recognizing that the Ark is the source of their issues, they do not realize that God is what is causing it to be a holy object in need of return.

It is interesting to me how people can rationalize almost anything away.  If they have their mind set on something, then they can see only what they want to see.  They will not accept truth even if it is placed in front of their eyes.  I see it everyday in my work honestly.  It is very sad how people when they want to be right will go to any length almost to avoid the truth.  The natural man in me takes comfort that there is no escaping justice in this life, Heavenly Father WILL hold us accountable for our actions, if not in this life then in the next.  He is always watching us and will make sure that we are held accountable.  Don't do anything in this life that you don't want to be asked about by your Creator, because it will happen!  Until tomorrow. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Eli's Household Destroyed

Today I read 1 Samuel 4 where the Lord visits His wrath on the house of Eli for their unfaithfulness.  It's always interesting to me to see how things turn out, the Lord's word is ALWAYS fulfilled no matter what.  People, and this includes Satan, cannot frustrate the will of God.  Various cultures have their own version of how people's deeds catch up to them, from karma to reincarnation, but the fact of the matter is, God is a God of justice and He does not let the machinations of men get in His way when He decrees something.

The only person I feel sorry for in this particular chapter is the wife of Eli's son.  She dies in childbirth when she hears her father-in-law and her husband is dead.  We are not told that she did anything wrong in particular, although she might have, but she is killed anyway.  The scriptures make it clear why the sons of Eli were killed and why Eli himself was killed.  As we have said so many times already, we need to make sure that we fear God more than we fear man.  We have total control over it and God WILL hold us accountable to it if we choose incorrectly.  Best not to take the chance in my opinion.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Samuel Hears the Lord

Today I read 1 Samuel 3 where Samuel hears the voice of the Lord.  This story has always made me smile.  I can't help but think how I would react if I were Samuel getting up and going to Eli.  The first time I might believe him that he didn't call me and maybe I imagined it because I was asleep.  But the second time I'm not sure I could stop myself from saying something along the lines of  "Look you called my name, I heard it.  I did not imagine it.  Now what do you want so I can go back to sleep?"  But Samuel is probably more humble than I am.  However it played out, it took 3 times before Eli realized what was happening.

However, in my opinion, the important part is that Samuel was willing and listened.  He answered the Lord that he was there and he was listening.  I have shared the story of my friend when I was a teenager that would not heed my advice no matter how much she sought it out.  No one likes to be asked what to do and then flat out ignored.  Not you, not me and you can bet not Heavenly Father.  If we ask Him what He wants us to do, I would imagine we have about 2 maybe 3 chances to do as He says before He stops telling us.  If we want Heavenly Father involved in our life and helping us, then we need to listen to Him when He speaks to us.  He may speak through His Prophets and Apostles such as at General Conference, or He might speak to us through the Holy Ghost.  However He talks though, we need to listen.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eli Fears His Sons More Than God

Today I read 1 Samuel 2 where we find that after Hannah gave birth to Samuel she had 5 other children.  I remember being a teenager and reading that in seminary and I was so happy to find that she was able to have children after Samuel and was able to have the desire of her heart.  It is a very sad thing when couples who want to have a child is unable to.  So I am very happy that Hannah was able to have children beyond Samuel.

The rest of this chapter is not so happy.  Eli's children perverted the ways of the Lord.  Instead of taking their portion of the sacrifice after it had been offered to the Lord, they were taking their portion of meat before it was offered to the Lord.  They were also having sex with the women who were coming to offer sacrifice.  Eli, who was aware of this, did not do anything to stop his sons and their very inappropriate behavior.  I sometimes feel bad for Eli.  He obviously was a man who avoided confrontation and a weak willed man who could not stand up to his own sons.  And so he was cast off. 

This story sometimes makes me wonder about myself.  What things are in my life that I fear man more than God and so won't cut out?  Am I more afraid of what man thinks of me, or what God thinks of me?  I don't think that is a question that can be answered just once.  We go through stages in life and so about certain things we might fear man more than God for a time, but then we might flip flop.  The main thing to keep in mind though is to keep as the forefront of our thoughts, what would God have me do?  If we always keep pleasing God in our thoughts we will not go wrong.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hannah Gives Samuel to the Lord

Today I read 1 Samuel 1 where Hannah prays to get a child.  I know I have wondered about this before now, but I can't help but wonder at all the women who are barren in the scriptures.  I don't really think that it is anymore than we have in our own day, but it is just interesting that the few women who are mentioned in the scriptures are mostly barren.  I guess that is the trial they had to overcome in this life to grow.

It is very wonderful to see how Hannah keeps her promise to the Lord however and after Samuel is weaned she takes him to the temple and turns him over to Eli for the Lord.  It is frustrating however that so many women in the scriptures are so mean to others.  The scriptures state that the other women mocked Hannah for her barrenness so much so that Hannah would not even eat.  Why are we so mean to each other?  What do we gain from it?  It is pride that causes us to do this.  We do not become more by tearing others down, however pride makes us think that we are better if we tear others down.  It makes me sad and you can believe that it makes Heavenly Father sad also.  Someone once said that God counts the tears of children and wives.  I do not think this is true, but I do think we will be called to account for how we treated our wife and our children and how we treated everyone we came into contact with.  As I have said so often, you don't want to be on the receiving end of that!  Until tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boaz Marries Ruth

Today I read Ruth 4 where Boaz talks to their kinsman to see if he will do what is necessary to help Ruth and Naomi.  The kinsman states he is unable to do this because it will remove his own inheritance.  I am not sure how that works but the scriptures actually even state that this is how the inheritance worked in those days.  So, since the kinsman in question is not able to take care of Ruth and Naomi, Boaz himself takes up the torch as it were.

Boaz takes Ruth as his wife and raises up seed to his cousin, Ruth's first husband.  The son that Ruth bears is the a direct ancestor of David, who would slay Goliath.  Boaz knew the law and did his duty to his family members.  It is wonderful to see those who live the Gospel and as far as we can tell from the scriptures, love to live the Gospel.  Honestly I am not sure how I would function without the Gospel in this life.  I have two brothers who are inactive in the church and are good men, so I know I would also be a good man, but I don't know how I would handle raising my daughter or manage my relationship with my wife.  I need God in my life to help me and to help me help others.

This weekend was General Conference and as it so often is, I felt like I was trying to drink from a Spiritual fire hose!  So much wonderful counsel was given and so much we were urged to do.  As I have done for years, I will be making a CD for myself to listen to the talks over and over again as I drive to and from work and around town.  I urge everyone, LDS or not, to listen to these wonderful talks.  They teach sacred principles and would benefit everyone be they LDS or not if they will listen to them and take them into their lives and put them into practice.  Thank Heavenly Father for modern day Prophets and Apostles!  Until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Boaz promises to care for Ruth

Today I read Ruth 3 where Naomi instructs Ruth to lie down at the feet of Boaz.  She does this and promises to find Ruth a wife stating that there is another kinsman that is near than himself but if he will not do his duty then he himself would.

I wonder what Boaz thought of all of this.  I can't imagine that this was normal behavior for an Israelite woman.  But it seems that Boaz was not put off by this behavior but rather appears to have been intrigued by it.  If only all the world would do its duty the way that Boaz did towards Ruth.  Elder Oaks gave a very powerful talk yesterday about caring for children and the responsibility that adults have towards them.  It is really sad that so many children are neglected and abused in this day and age.  Children are such a precious gift and to be entrusted with one from Heavenly Father is a huge and sacred responsibility.  Sadly all too many people squander that opportunity.  Jesus Himself said in scriptures that it would have been better for such persons if they had never been born.  I don't see how anyone can really do such horrible things to children, but I guess there are all types of people on this earth.  It just saddens me is all.

Fortunately, my wife shares my ideas of what proper parenting is, that our daughter comes first, within reason.  We bend over backwards for her each and every day and do our best to teach her the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She loves to read the scriptures and loves to sing the primary songs.  I just hope we do a well enough job that she gains a testimony and keeps it her entire life.  Until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Boaz Shows Kindness to Ruth

Today I read Ruth 2 where Ruth meets Boaz.  It is always nice to read stories where the people are nice and good hearted individuals.  Form what I have read today, Boaz is a nice, wonderful man.  He comes down to inspect his fields and when he sees Ruth working in the fields he calls her over and gives her lunch and instructs his workers to leave some of the good grain for her to find.  All this because he had heard she left her home to come down and live with Naomi. 

It might be because I am a kindhearted individual myself, but I love to read about people being kind to one another.  Especially when the book is non-fiction such as the holy scriptures.  I have always wondered about people that are naturally mean to others.  There has to be something wrong with them I think.  Because we are all born with the light of Christ, the spark of the divine.  I watch my little daughter as she grows and gets older and how she loves to help and smiles so big when she can do something for her mother or for me.  She genuinely wants to be good and to help us.  I am sure that all children are born that way and if they change it is because of the environment in which they are in that has caused them to change.  I think many, far too many, people will be shocked when they stand before their creator and are called to account for the horrible job they did of creating a nurturing environment for their children.  I hope I am not in that situation and that I am doing a good job of helping my daughter grow properly in all forms and aspects.  Until tomorrow.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ruth Returns with Naomi

Today I read Ruth 1 where Naomi and her family go to live with the Moabites and one by one Naomi loses her family.  When she decides to return home to Israel after the famine has lifted, Ruth, her daughter-in-law, decides to go with her.  It is very interesting and unique that in a culture where women are almost never even mentioned in writings, to have an entire book devoted to one.

That is because of how remarkable Ruth is.  She is always held up as a model of faithfulness and family piety.  As she should be.  She is a remarkable woman and to be so faithful to her mother-in-law like she was, was not very common or heard of in those days I would imagine.  At times I have thoughts about how life would be if my wife were to pass away.  How would I handle my in-laws and make sure that they were able to be with their granddaughter.  I know I would not sever contact with them, far from it, I would want to make sure they were still part of my life and part of my daughter's life, but I would most certainly go back to my own family more often.  So it is interesting to me to see a story about someone that does the opposite and chooses their in-laws over their birth family.

I have often wondered if perhaps Ruth recognized the Lord in Naomi and realized that Naomi had something special that was worth pursuing.  Did she recognize what so many of the Israelites themselves couldn't see?  Perhaps so, because she tells Naomi that her Gods will be hers also.  We will know someday but one thing that all scholars agree on, Ruth was one special woman.  Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wives are Provided to the Tribe of Benjamin

Today I read Judges 21 where the tribe of Benjamin is suffering for a lack of women due to the war they just had with the rest of Israel.  So what the Israelites decide to do about this, because they don't want to give the tribe of Benjamin any of their own daughters to wife because of how Benjamin acted, they go to war and take all the virgins to give to Benjamin.  Later, some men of Benjamin lie in wait while some women are dancing and rush out and take the one they want so they can have a wife!  I don't know about you but in our day and age we call that kidnapping! 

It is just amazing to me how different the cultures are compared to our own.  I mean, could you even imagine today the outrage that would follow if something like this were to happen?  It happens on occasion unfortunately and the rage the country has over just one poor girl kidnapped and forced into a wife like relationship is palpable, I could not imagine what it would be like if this happened to multiple women at the same time.  But in that day and age it appears they did not think anything of it.  I suppose that is because the marriages were arranged back then and not for love.

I just personally can't even fathom living in such a culture.  It is so completely foreign to me that I cannot even wrap my mind around it.  I am glad that I live in this time period where we respect women and if one is kidnapped we don't just throw up our hands and let it happen.  Such an idea is really crazy to me.  Life was very crazy back then to my way of thinking and very barbaric in my opinion.  Thankfully things are a little better now in some regards, and a lot better in others.  Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Israel Destroys the City of Gilead for its Crimes

Today I read Judges 20 which is a continuation of the story from chapter 19.  The Levite whose concubine died cut her body up and sent it to all the tribes of Israel as a testimony against the city of Gilead.  They were so outraged that they gathered an army of over 400,000 men to destroy the city of Gilead.  Surprisingly though, when the tribe of Benjamin, whose men Gilead was, heard the reason why Israel was arrayed for war, they would not help but instead fought against Israel.

I just don't understand how anyone could defend such wickedness.  I mean, heaven forbid, but if one of my children raped another human being, I would be the first one to turn them in to the police.  I would not hide them or shield them from the law.  I cannot imagine anyone doing such a horrible thing!  I guess if you were unrighteous yourself then it would be no big deal for you to hide something that was done by a loved one that was unrighteous too. 

It is really nice to see that the rest of Israel were as outraged as I was when they learned about it.  I'm glad they did not stand idly by and just let such an outrage happen without doing anything.  They even went to the Lord to ensure they were right in attacking the tribe of Benjamin when they would not give up the town of Gilead.  The Lord assured them that He was with them and they were doing the right thing.  It is always good to seek the Lord's approval once you have made a decision.  It's good counsel even for our day still.  Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Barbarity of Men

Today I read Judges 19 which contains one of the most sickening stories in all the scriptures.  There is a Levite, which has to be one of the worst human beings ever to live on this earth, who has a concubine.  His concubine goes off to his father's house and he goes after her.  After finding her and staying with his father-in-law for five days, he takes his journey with his concubine back to his home.  On his journey they come to the town of Gibeah and he stays in the house of a man who sees them about to sleep on the street.

He invites them into his house and that night the men of the town come to the house and desire the Levite to come out so they can have sex with him.  When I read this my first immediate thought was how closely this resembled the story of the angels visiting Lot in the city of Sodom.  However, in this story, the owner of the house offers his daughter and the Levite's concubine to the men to placate them.  The men of the city of Gibeah take the concubine and proceed to rape and brutalize her all night long.  They let her go when the morning comes and she manages to make it to the doorway before dying.  The un-named Levite, having slept all night I assume as we are not told otherwise, orders her to get up, that it is time to move on.

I have never in my life witnessed such a complete lack of compassion for another human being, thankfully.  I cannot imagine a worse insult than to hand over the woman you supposedly love to a group of men, have her brutally raped for hours, and then when you find her collapsed on the door frame your only response is "Get up, it's time to go!".  This man is the worst kind of person imaginable.  I shudder to think what his day of judgment was like and am grateful that I did not sit in judgment for such a person.  I am not usually an advocate of rated "R" movies however in my younger days I watched quite a few of them and I must say that the best "reward" I can think of for such people comes from the movie the Crow.  If there was a way to capture that poor woman's memories of that night and force that man to relive them like the protagonist does to the antagonist in the movie "the Crow" that would only be justice. 

I just hope and pray that Heavenly Father was able to care for that poor woman when she passed on to the other side.  I know I should have more forgiveness in my heart for all mankind, but I just can't imagine much worse things to do another human being than what was done to this poor woman.  I can't say enough times I am glad I did not have to judge such men and I don't wish to dwell on it any longer.  Until tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dan Receives its Inheritance and Sets up Graven Images

Today I read Judges 18 which tells the story of the tribe of Dan, or at least part of them.  The chapter states that up to this point the tribe of Dan had yet to receive an inheritance.  Now I am unclear if that is the entire tribe of Dan or just part of them.  However, in their journeys they come across Micah and his graven images of silver from previous chapter.  However, instead of destroying the images, they took them with them and once they had a city they were established in, they set them up themselves in their new city.

For the life of me I cannot understand ancient Israel's fascination with graven images.  I know that in our day and age we have plenty of modern "graven images" that take us away from Heavenly Father, but physical graven images, really?  What is so great about a statue?  Why would you want them or desire them or actually bow down to worship them?  I just don't understand it.  I probably never will and maybe no one in this day and age does either.  Even modern religions like Buddhism only pray to a statue that represents their god.  And I understand that in ancient Israel the graven images were meant to represent gods, however, they had seen evidence with their own eyes that their God was real and took an active part in their lives.  What evidence did they have that those graven images did anything meaningful for them?  I will never understand it.  Until tomorrow.