Wednesday, June 30, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #26: King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #26: King Solomon: Man of Wisdom, Man of Foolishness
1 King 3, 5-11

Solomon Dedicates Temple

Solomon Slaughters His Enemies
With David growing old, conflict arose between his many sons as to who should replace him. The eldest living son, Adonijah, presumed it should be him. David never dissuaded Adonijah from this presumption. Joab, general of David’s armies, and Abiathar, one of David’s high priests (a descendant of Moses), supported Adonijah in his quest for kingship.

Solomon was supported by David’s other chief priest, Zadok, a descendant of Aaron, several military leaders, and Nathan the Prophet. As well, Bathsheba still held the attention of King David over his other wives. She went to him and encouraged him to accept Solomon as heir to the throne. Nathan followed her in, repeating the need to select Solomon. David agreed and had Zadok and Nathan anoint him king (1 King 1).

Upon David’s death, Solomon immediately went forth to destroy his enemies and competition. Joab was put to death for his betrayal and violent life. Adonijah and many others of David’s sons were slain. For the high priest Abiathar, Solomon commanded:
“Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields; for thou art worthy of death: but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted” (1 King 2:26).

In essence, Abiathar and the priests who were direct descendants of Moses were no longer allowed to serve in the Tabernacle, nor before the king. They were exiled in disgrace. Some scholars see this as the beginning of political rivalry between the sons of Aaron and of Moses. As the groups struggled for power in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, it is believed that the Old Testament’s writings were changed and even rewritten to reflect personal views. In a previous lesson, we discussed the various authors of the Old Testament (J, E, P, D, R) and how each had their personal beliefs/agenda to promote in the national history. An example of this comes in the Books of Chronicles, which are a second set of books to match the Books of Kings. However, in Chronicles, neither David nor Solomon are escoriated for their huge sins. In fact, Solomon remains praiseworthy throughout the entire Chronicles. It obviously was not written by Abiathar. Abiathar and his sons would be connected later to the northern Kingdom of Israel, who would disdain Solomon and his descendants. According to what is called the “Documentary Hypothesis”, some of their writings/beliefs would come forth later in the writings of “E”, which would honor Moses while excoriating David and Solomon. Some LDS scholars have suggested that the E source is none other than the Brass Plates of Laban, which praises Moses, while condemning David and Solomon for their promiscuity.

“And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar” (1 Kings 2:35).

Solomon’s Plural Marriages

We find incongruencies in 1 King regarding Solomon’s actions. After defeating his internal enemies, he establishes peaceful ties with surrounding nations. One of his first acts is to develop a connection with Pharaoh by marrying his daughter (1 Kings 3:1). While this made enormous sense politically, it was discouraged by the Mosaic Law (only marriage to Canaanite women was actually prohibited). Still, he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines (slave wives). Most of these wives were considered foreign princesses, meaning he focused his relationships around political necessity. His son and heir, Rehoboam was from his Ammonite wife.

Solomon Seeks Wisdom

Still, Solomon in his early years loved the Lord. He and the people sacrificed frequently to Jehovah in the high places - the only places available at the time to worship. Why? Because while there were two Tabernacles, the one in Jerusalem was probably meant mostly to contain the ark of the covenant, but not perform sacrifice. Meanwhile, the high places (Hebrew: Bamah) were temples in the wilderness. So sacrificed Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.

It is during one of his trips to Gibeon to sacrifice, where the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream. Solomon is offered anything he could desire: wealth, power, etc. Solomon chose wisdom to lead the nation.

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing” (1 Kings 3:9-10).

Solomon’s wisdom became renowned in Israel and abroad. Many came to hear the wisdom he espoused. This included the Queen of Sheba. Sheba or Saba was a nation that spanned a large area, including modern Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen. This would have included a large portion of the spice trade route through the Arabian Peninsula, providing her with means to bring many riches with her to Solomon on her trip. The Bible tells little of her sojourn in Israel, but there are ancient stories that expand upon it. Ethiopian tradition (Kebra Nagast), says that Sheba became his wife, and they bore a son. This son became Menelik I, first ruler of what would become the 2900 year reign of Ethiopia. This reign went almost continuous, with just a couple disruptions, until the royal line was overthrown in 1974. According to the tradition, Solomon made a copy of the ark of the covenant, which he placed in the Tabernacle, and gave the original to Sheba. Supposedly, the ark is still maintained in the land of Ethiopia to this day.

The Temple
1 Kings 5-9

Rendition of Solomon’s Temple

To fulfill his father David’s desire to build a house to the Lord, Solomon began plans to build the temple. He did this in conjunction with building his own palace, which many scholars believed was larger than the temple to Jehovah. The temple would begin in his fourth year as king, and would take seven years to accomplish, while his palace required thirteen years to build. These projects were accomplished in a short time because Solomon used slave labor from the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

Solomon contracted to King Hyram of Tyre for the wood and many other things to build the temple. Masons have a tradition of Hiram Abiff, a widow’s son (1 Kings 7:13-14), being killed for refusing to give up the secret passwords known by Masons, related to the temple of Solomon and the original Hiram of Tyre (also a widow’s son). The last name, Abiff, while not found in the Bible, could possibly be from the Hebrew word for “father” or “abi”. In the Nauvoo period, many Latter-day Saints became Masons. Some noted that Joseph Smith was also a temple builder, and (by that time) a widow’s son, perhaps a new Hiram Abiff for the last days.

Solomon’s temple was 40 cubits long, or about 60 feet. Cherubim (angel warriors) were placed in the Holy of Holies standing 15 feet tall and with 15 foot wingspans that touched the walls and each other in the middle. Under them would sit the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. This was God’s special room and throne. It would represent his throne in heaven, which was surrounded by concourses of angels worshiping him. It would also represent the ancient Divine Council, where archangels (governing angels) including the warrior angel Michael, would stand in council with God (see Isaiah 6).

Two giant pillars were built to set in front of the temple. These pillars were 18 cubits (27 feet) high. Their names were Boaz (Strength) and Jachin (Jah/Yahweh establishes). John the Revelator made a significant mention of these pillars and how they relate to the righteous:

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12).

A large brass basin of brass was also built and set upon twelve oxen representing the tribes of Israel. This basin would be used for cleansing rituals according to the Mosaic Law. The priests would wash in the basin in order to be clean prior to entering the temple, just as they did in the Tabernacle of Moses. Today, LDS also have a basin upon 12 oxen in their temples. These are used for proxy baptisms for ancestors who have died without the opportunity to receive baptism (1 Corinthians 15:29).

Upon finishing the temple, the ark of the covenant was placed under the cherubim.

“The priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
“For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above” (1 Kings 8:6-7).

Solomon dedicated the temple in prayer and with innumerable sacrifices. In a dream, the Lord told Solomon that he accepted the temple and that Israel would be blessed as long as they were faithful to God.

Solomon Falls From Grace
1 Kings 11

Sadly, Solomon’s many wives took a toll on him. Not only did he marry Egyptian princesses, but also many Canaanite princesses, as well.

“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” (1 Kings 11:1-2).

Not only did he cleave unto the women in love, but to keep them happy, he built temples for their gods, rather than convert them to worship Jehovah, which was expected of all those Israel married from outside the faith. In giving into them, he first gave other gods equal time, and ignored the injunction to “have no other gods before me.” Finally, he began giving much time to worshiping other gods, creating graven images of the many gods. Jehovah was competing for equal time in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

Solomon began to worship other gods, including Chemosh, Ashteroth (goddess), Milcom and even Molech. Molech was an exceptionally wicked god, who required that the children pass through/in fire. Those that did not die were considered blessed by the followers of Molech. Those children who died were a sacrifice to the god, who demanded a high price for his blessings. Why one would worship Molech rather than Jehovah really makes one wonder. Yet Solomon did.

The Curse

David’s throne was to last forever, according to some sections of the Old Testament. God could not take away that promise easily. So, he told Solomon that half the kingdom would be ripped from his hands and given to his servant. Because of God’s promise to David, it would not happen in Solomon’s lifetime, but in his son’s life. Doesn’t seem like much of a punishment to Solomon, does it? However, in addition to the curse, the Lord also stirred up enemies around Solomon. He had decades of peace while faithful to the Lord. Now the Lord would punish him and Israel for allowing such abominations to enter into the Promised Land.

We get a taste in Solomon’s day of how David’s line will lose Israel. Jeroboam, whom Solomon made ruler/chief captain over the tribe of Joseph, was ordained by the prophet Ahijah, to be king over 10 of the tribes. Upon learning of it, Solomon went the direction of Saul, seeking to slay Jeroboam through the rest of Solomon’s days.

Solomon would sleep with his father, David. But in the end, he left the kingdom divided because of his greed, hatred of internal enemies, and becoming more friendly with foreigners than with his own people.


“Who Wrote the Bible?”, Richard E. Friedman

Kevin Barney on the Documentary Hypothesis:

Links to previous lessons that discussed the Documentary Hypothesis:
Lesson 17:

Lesson 15 :

Lesson 6:

Lesson 3:

Hiram Abiff:

Solomon’s Temple:

3D walkthrough of Solomon’s Temple:

Hi-Res depiction of Solomon’s Temple:

Temple of Solomon videos at David Larsen’s blog:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #25 - Psalms

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #25, Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord

The Psalms are composed of temple/tabernacle hymns by David and some of the priests. I will not be discussing the contents established in the lesson plan for Sunday School, as it is available here in the teacher’s manual:

The Psalms covers so many concepts that not all can be easily done in one lesson. Sadly, when we try to cover the entire Old Testament in a single year, we miss out on some of the best poetry and teachings in the scriptures. And that is what we find in Psalms.

In Hebrew, Psalms is: Th'hilliym or Tehillim‎, תְהִלִּים. It simply means, “Praises.” When reading Psalms, it is important to focus on the location where these were anciently sung: in front of the Tabernacle and in holy settings. There are 150 songs or hymns in Psalms. Some are long, and often may be combined chants. The Psalms were meant to be sung or chanted, and some even have instrumentation and note the tune to be played. However, since none come with musical annotation, we do not know what the original music was like.

Muslims believe David received the Psalms in the same way that Moses received the Torah, or Mohammad received the Quran.

Poetry in Psalms

Ancient Hebrew poetry is very different than what we consider poetry today. They did not rhyme lines, nor did they begin with someone from Nantucket....

There are different ancient forms of poetry used in Psalms. One form is to use the holy language within itself. For example, in Psalms 145, we find an alphabetic acrostic. Every line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the first starting with “aleph” (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet) and so on.

Parallelism is another form of poetry in Psalms: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105). In this line, we find parallel concepts: “lamp to my feet” and “light for my path.” It emphasizes the concept the Psalmist wishes to impress upon us. Given in a song for worshipers to hear, it impresses the concept twice upon their minds and hearts.

In Psalms 15, we read:

1 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

Here we find parallels between those dwelling in the tabernacle and holy hill (Zion); walking uprightly, doing righteousness and speaking truth; and then the evil acts of backbiting with his tongue, doeth evil to his neighbour, taketh a reproach against his neighbor. Sung to a congregation, it would be hard for them to miss the concepts being impressed upon their minds through repetition.

Chiasmus also is a form of poetry found in Psalms. In this form of parallelism, we find nested levels of sameness or opposites. Some can be very intricate, while others more basic.

The form for a basic chiasmus structure is:

The aa lines match, bb lines match themselves, etc.

Here we find a chiasmus in Psalms 29 to consider. I have placed in parentheses marks to show which lines line up:

Psalm 29
(aa)1 Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. 2 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

(bb)3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.

(cc) 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

(dd)5 The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
(ee)7 The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

(dd)8 The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests:
(cc)and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

(bb)10 The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.

(aa) 11 The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.
Here we see parallels in the lines, working from both ends into the center. There are about 30 chiasmus in the various chapters of Psalms that I’m aware of.

The Psalms Scroll (11QPs)

Psalms Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Among the findings at Qumran in Israel are the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were initially discovered in 1947 and have exploded onto the scene of Hebrew scholarship since then. The Psalms Scroll was discovered in Cave 11 (so we get the scientific label: 11QPs - Cave 11, Qumran, Psalms).

In the Psalms Scroll there is actually an additional Psalm (151). This is also found in the Greek Septuagint, but was thought to be a later addition until it was also found at Qumran in Hebrew.
1. I was the smallest among my brothers,
and the youngest in my father’s household.
I used to take care of my father’s sheep.

2 My hands constructed a musical instrument;
my fingers tuned a harp.

3 Who will announce this to my Lord?
The Lord himself—he is listening.

4 He himself sent his messenger
and took me from my father’s sheep,
and anointed me with his anointing oil.

5 My brothers were handsome and big,
but the Lord did not approve of them.

6 I went out to meet the foreigner (Goliath);
he called down curses on me by his idols.

7 But I pulled out his own sword;
I beheaded him and thereby removed reproach from the Israelites.

Such a hymn may seem gruesome to sing in the Tabernacle, but the Psalms often denoted victory over one’s enemies. So important was this event in Israelite history that Goliath’s sword and armor were placed in the Tabernacle as part of the national treasures. The adult David would retrieve the sword later to use as he was being chased by Saul.

Modern Use

Modern Jews integrate Psalms into many of their feasts and festivals. Portions of Psalms are recited at virtually every Sabbath service. Many Jews will make it a point to read the entire Psalms weekly or monthly. Orthodox Jews will often plan on reading all of Psalms on the Sabbath prior to services each week. When a Jewish person dies, it is traditional for someone to continuously read Psalms over the body until burial occurs.

Early Christians used Psalms. Over 60 Psalms are referenced in the New Testament. Some Churches, such as the Reformed and Westminster Presbyterian Churches only sing the Psalms in their services.

Imagine introducing such poetry and imagery into our children’s lives, and making it a frequent event. Perhaps a section can be read as a family each Sunday, helping them to see the blessings of God, the proper form of Praise that is demonstrated within the Psalms, and the beauty of song in that praise. Chant them, don’t just read them. See how a sing-song form can bring out the poetry and power in each of these hymns.

A Few Beautiful Psalms

Let me finish by sharing a few touching praises from David’s Psalms:

Psalm 8
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the gods, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


Psalms in Wikipedia:

Psalms 151:

Examples of Poetic Parallelism:

List of Chiasmus in Psalms and the Bible:

Psalms Scroll from Dead Sea Scrolls:

Psalms quoted in New Testament:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson #24, Create in Me a Clean Heart

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson #24, Create in Me a Clean Heart
2 Samuel 11-12, Psalm 51

The Coronation of David

Background: Saul and Jonathan are killed in battle against the Philistines. Their bodies, decapitated and desecrated by their enemies, are recovered and given a proper burial.
For the first time in decades, Israel is without a king. The heir apparent, Jonathan, is dead. There is a leadership vacuum, one Israel never experienced when Jehovah was their king.

Civil War

With Saul and Jonathan dead, David's loyalty oaths to the royal lineage of Benjamin is ended. While Saul's one remaining son, Ishbosheth, is made king of most of Israel, the powerful tribe of Judah anointed David as king.

Civil war broke out between the two feudal lands and lasted for many years. Still, David and Judah continually gained ground, territory and power, while Ishbosheth's kingdom shrank.

Joab and Abner

Two powerful generals figure into the long and drawn out Civil War. Joab was chief captain of David's armies. He was a genius at strategy, but in personal matters often let his passions take precedence over his obedience to the king.

Abner was Ishbosheth's pragmatic, yet less strategic, general. During one intense battle, Israel was forced to flee from the battlefield. While Abner was in retreat, he was chased by Asahel, Joab's younger brother. Abner begged Asahel to chase someone else, but the young man envisioned the glory of killing Israel's general. Abner proved to be the better soldier and slew Asahel. Joab would not forget his brother's death.

Ishbosheth vs Abner

After years of several major defeats, King Ishbosheth insulted Abner by claiming he was distracted from the war by sleeping with one of his father's concubines. Incensed that an incompetent runt of a king would treat him so, Abner decided that a unified kingdom under David would be better for all of Israel.

David was ecstatic to have Abner's support. Preparations were made to have the tribal elders all give allegiance to David, abandoning Ishbosheth. However, Joab was incensed that David would embrace the ancient Robert E. Lee, whose efforts caused the war to last years. He also would not forget his brother's death by Abner's hand.

Joab's strategy was simple. Lure Abner back for a peace meeting, then kill him by stabbing him through the fifth rib, as Abner did to Asahel.

David Saves the Peace

With Abner dead by Joab's sword, the likelihood of winning the peace and tribal allegiance suddenly dimmed. David knew he only had one chance to win over the hearts of Israel's elders. He condemned Joab's action, though acknowledging his right of retribution under Mosaic Law. Still, David told Israel that the curse would be on Joab. Judah's king gave Abner a royal funeral, renting or tearing his clothing and fasting until sunset out of grief.

Israel was impressed with how David treated their war hero and favorite son. Israel gave its loyalty to David.

Assassination of Ishbosheth
2 Samuel 4

At this same time, two of Saul's former soldiers sneaked into Ishbosheth's room and assassinated him. Stabbing a person "under the fifth rib" was a choice strike zone for causing instant death. This is the same spot used by Abner to slay Asahel, and Joab to kill Abner. The soldiers brought Ishbosheth's head to David expecting a reward.

Instead, David reminded them of his response to Saul's murder, noting that Ishbosheth wasn't on the battlefield, but defenseless and asleep on his bed. The men were slain, while Ishbosheth's head was buried in Abner's sepulchre.

David, King of Judah & Israel
2 Samuel 5

With Ishbosheth dead and Abner buried with full honors, Israel knew its choices were limited. David showed them respect and they needed a king. Israel's elders came to David proclaiming, "we are thy bone and thy flesh" (2 Sam 5:1). They were ready to make David king of Israel.

It's important to note that David was king over two nations, not one. While David reached out to both Judah and Israel, their united front would remain fragile, virtually held together by charisma and duct tape. They were a united kingdom only as long as they had a worthy and righteous king that dealt fairly with everyone.

Jerusalem, City of David

To establish his kingdom further, David sought to move his chief city from the southern Judaean city of Hebron, to a city that did not belong to any tribe: Jerusalem. Jerusalem, then named Jebus, remained in the hands of the Jebusites, It was a fortress-city with high, thick stone walls that seemed impenetrable.
So impenetrable that when David invited them to join his kingdom, they scoffed at him.
David, however, found a way in. "Whoever getteth up to the gutter and smiteth the Jebusites" would be David's chief captain and main counsel (2 Sam 5:8). Archaeologists now believe the gutter to be a vertical water tunnel, now named Warren's Shaft after the explorer who discovered and climbed it in modern times.

Shall I Go Up to Battle?

The Philistines did not like the idea of Israel again having a king, so they invaded Israel's borders twice. Each time, David inquired of the Lord, "shall I go up?" The Lord gave David strategic counsel in sending him to war, guaranteeing the victory (2 Sam 5:22-25).

The Ark comes to Jerusalem
2 Samuel 6

With victories and security established, it was time for David to establish the Lord as Israel's God. He fetched the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, for it is the throne or mercy seat where God "sitteth between the cherubim" (6:2).

As the ark lumbered along the bumpy trail on a new cart, Uzzah set forth his hand to steady it. While his intentions were good, he was not authorized to touch the ark, or throne of God, and was smitten dead. David feared to move the ark to Jerusalem, thinking it could curse him as well. So he left it in the home and care of Obed-edom. For 3 months the ark rested there, blessing the home.

David returned to bring it to his city. This time it would be different. After the priests carried it 6 paces, David offered sacrifice. He danced before the ark the entire journey. Finally it arrived, where David placed it in a Tabernacle he had constructed for it. It was finally home.

A Temple for Jehovah?
2 Samuel 7

After years of war, David and Israel finally had peace. David desired to honor God by giving him and the ark of the covenant a permanent home. The Lord revealed to the prophet Nathan that the time was not right, nor was David the correct person to build it, as his life had been too violent. Instead, his son would build the temple during a period of peace.

In the meantime, Israel would have several locations for worshiping Jehovah: the original Tabernacle at Shiloh, the new Tabernacle with the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem, and a myriad of high places (Hebrew: bamoth) or altars established by Samuel and other judges and priests over the years as local outdoor temple/tabernacles to God.

David Obtains the Land of Promise
2 Samuel 8-10

The next few chapters focus on David’s military forays into the lands of the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Amalekites, Edomites (children of Ishmael), and others. Each became subjected to Israel, paying tribute to David and caused to pledge their loyalty to him and Israel. David built fortresses in many of these areas to ensure the people did not revolt. Still, we find that “David executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (2 Sam 8:15).

David discovered that Jonathan’s invalid son Mephibosheth still lived. He brought the young man into his own castle and cared for him. He also restored all of Saul’s personal lands to Mephibosheth.

King Nahash of Ammon had shown David much kindness in the years that David was on the run. Upon his death, David sent messengers to the funeral. However, David’s conquests were reknowned, and Nahash’s son Hanun suspected the messengers to be spies. He cut their beards half off, as well as their clothing, then sending them away in disgrace, especially since the Mosaic Law required the men to wear their beards and be modestly clothed.

David sent Joab and Abishai with their “mighty men” of war to fight Ammon. The Ammonites paid the Syrians to assist them, but David defeated both. The Syrians ended up paying tribute to David, and never assisted the Ammonites again.

David and Israel ruled the Promised Land.

David and Bathsheba
2 Samuel 11-12

(This is where the lesson in the Gospel Doctrine manual actually begins.)

David sent Joab out to war with his mighty men and they thrashed the Ammonites. But David neglected one thing. The king was expected to go out to war with the military. In previous times, when Israel was righteous, their king Jehovah went out with them to battle. The priests would carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle, showing that the true King of Israel was with the Israelites. Once human kings were set in place over Israel, it was expected that the mortal king wage the wars for Jehovah. Saul always went out to war as was expected of the king.

But David neglected his duty, and sent his mighty men of war out without him. Instead, he remained in Jerusalem and enjoyed his leisure. With his idle time came idle thoughts. He encountered Bathsheba bathing upon the roof of her house, which would easily be visible from the palace roof, which looked down one of the valleys of Jerusalem’s old city. This probably was not a one time glance, but he may likely have seen her atop her roof day after day, evening after evening. Regardless of the fact he had dozens of wives by this time, he allowed his mind to wander into dangerous territory.

He called for Bathsheba to see him. She obviously was aware of his watching her, because we do not see her put up any struggle when he called for her. They both thought they could have a quick fling and then go on their way, except for one problem: she became pregnant.

Uriah was a Hittite, a foreigner who had converted to Judaism. He was one of David’s “mighty men” of war, one of a select few out of the thousands of soldiers who was renowned for heroic efforts. He was like Hercules was to the Greeks, one who could do great things for the nation. Uriah, like David, was extremely devoted to God, Israel, and David. Uriah was also Bathsheba’s husband. During war time, the soldiers were expected to stay away from all women. To sleep with a woman would make the man unclean for a week, and unable to serve in war.

Uriah had not slept with Bathsheba due to being in battle. David sought to hide the adultery by inviting Uriah back from the war, where he could sleep with Bathsheba and would then think the child was his own. But Uriah would not make himself unclean, nor would he eat nor drink, while his soldiers were still in the field.

“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” (11:11).

Note that the ark of the covenant left Jerusalem to go out to battle, but David remained behind. Uriah swore by both David and his own life that he would not party while the army was in danger. David should have had such an attitude as well.

David sent Uriah back to the war. He gave Joab instructions to place Uriah in the most dangerous spot in the war, so that he would die in battle. David got his wish. Uriah died serving the king and Israel. After her period of mourning, Bathsheba was brought into David’s house and became his wife, bearing him a son.

David thought his actions were secret and would not be found out. Yet, the Lord sees in secret. Nathan the Prophet went to David to explain to him about a rich man who stole a poor man’s only and precious ewe.

David “said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
“And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
“And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
“Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife” (12:5-10).

Nathan said that David was guilty of breaking several of the 10 Commandments, including killing, adultery, coveting, and bearing false witness (lying). God was willing to do many things for David, if he were just to ask. Instead, David took without permission. David would live, but his life would be filled with violence and trials, brought on by his own family. The trial began with Bathsheba’s newborn son dying.

Why Reject Saul but Accept David?

Why did God reject Saul, but only chastised David severely? Isn’t adultery and murder worse than Saul’s making sacrifice to Jehovah?

The Ten Commandments are set up in a specific order. The first 4 commandments are laws regarding man’s relationship with God. The last 6 regard man’s relationship with one another. Saul rebelled against God, while David rebelled against his fellow man. Saul was rejected because his sacrifices and other choices went against Saul’s relationship with God. If Saul sacrificed in disobedience to God, what else would he do in disobedience and open rebellion against the Lord?

David’s sins were crimes of passion against his fellow men. While today we consider murder and sexual sins to be the worst sins besides denying the Holy Ghost (Alma 39:5), we need to consider a few things. First, Alma 39:5 warns us about the “shedding of innocent blood” which can be construed in many ways from simple murder to only the killing of the most innocent (children or Christ). Next, in ancient Israel the rebellion against God was a greater sin than anything against other people. The Mosaic Law included stoning people to death for breaking the Sabbath Day. In modern times, we can understand the death penalty for murder, but for going out for food on the Sabbath Day? We can see that we view things very differently now than they did then.

Bathsheba would bear another son, Solomon. He would be one of many of David’s sons. These sons would fight among each other, and Absalom would later war against David for a time, before Joab would slay him (2 Samuel 13-18).

Create In Me a Clean Heart
Psalms 51

The Psalms are songs that were prepared and sung primarily for holy worship in the Tabernacle/Temple. Many are believed to have been written by David, including this one, while others were written by priests in the Tabernacle, often under David’s direction.

David understood he was unclean. He was unable to enter the Tabernacle and offer sacrifice of any kind: including a sin or trespass offering. First, he had to become clean before the Lord. The Psalm goes as follows:
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Will David Burn in Hell Forever?

Thoughts on this and related Psalms. Some past LDS leaders and others have felt that David can never obtain more than the Telestial Kingdom because of his sins. However, I would note that he lived under the Mosaic Law, not the Celestial Law of Christ. He was chastised and punished severely for years for his sins, as God promised. But God also promised to accept David in the end. Verse 7 shows that David believed he could be purified of his sins, even through the trials and tribulations God placed him in, as long as he repented with a broken spirit and contrite heart (vs 17). David begs to not be cast away from God’s presence, meaning both his Tabernacle and His true glory.

What good is such a Psalm, if there is no hope for the sinner? Does Christ’s atonement atone for all those who truly repent, or just some? I cannot judge which kingdom David will end up in, but I truly hope that God and Christ’s power and grace is sufficient to save and exalt any and all of mankind on condition of repentance and obedience. David walked very circumspectly and obedient before God for the rest of his long life. He not only rent his clothes and laid in ashes, but he rent his heart and laid bare his soul to the Lord. I would hope that after all the chastising and great trials he went through, there is a better kingdom for David.

This is especially true since David is a symbol of the future and eternal King of Israel, Jesus Christ. That David could be Israel’s greatest mortal king and sin, only to be raised up and cleansed by the Eternal King of Israel will be a sight to see. For if David can be forgiven and saved after repenting of his sins, there is hope for all mankind if they but repent, and sacrifice a “broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.”

“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”(Psalms 16:10)

“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” (Psalms 86:13)

These leave open to speculation just where David will end up. Personally, I believe we should leave such judgment to a Just and Merciful God who has power to save all as He chooses.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #23 - The Lord Be Between Me and Thee Forever

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #23 - The Lord Be Between Me and Thee Forever
1 Samuel 18-24

David and Jonathan

Background: David has made a name for himself in Israel. As a youth, he defeated the giant Goliath. His skill with the lyre was equal to none, as his music often calmed the mentally disturbed King Saul.

But over a period of years, Saul’s anger over being rejected by Jehovah and the prophet Samuel, brought insanity to the monarch. No longer was he God’s chosen ruler upon the earth, a divine son of royalty, but he was a rejected scoundrel just abiding the time until God’s harsh judgment destroyed his entire family and replaced him on the throne.

As Saul’s glory diminished and David’s rose, it was obvious to Saul that David was the heir apparent of God. In his mind, his only recourse was to slay David, so that his own son Jonathan could rise to the throne. Once again, we will see how a man’s pride and lust for continual power can lead to madness and the belief that one can overcome a prophesy of God by attempting to thwart it.

David’s relationship with Saul’s family
1 Samuel 18

David had a varied relationship with Saul and his family. At one time, Saul thought highly of David: “And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house” (18:2). David would go on to marry Michal, one of Saul’s daughters, making him a part of the household. Saul could have adopted him as his royal son, and kept his sanity, but would choose his own blood and pride over losing the throne to a shepherd boy.

But the young man became too popular. “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (18:7). How could Saul remain the popular and powerful king, when David was taking all the headlines? He could see his power base being drained, while David rose higher. It wasn’t long before his insanity could not even be restrained by David’s smooth notes, rather it would incense Saul even more, and the king began throwing javelins at those who angered him, including David.

Saul would seek to destroy David by sending him off on dangerous missions, just as David would later send Uriah the Hittite to his death so David could obtain Bathsheba as wife. Power in the hands of a proud person can cause great terror for the righteous followers.

“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 first desired to give his oldest daughter Merab to David, in order to cause him to serve in a way to die. When David refused her, but showed interest in the younger daughter Michal, Saul was quick to encourage the relationship. Still, David understood his place and would not marry her without some appropriate dowry for the king. This was exactly what Saul wished for, and asked for the foreskins of 100 Philistines, figuring that David would die in battle. Why foreskins? Because the Philistines were uncircumcised, and Saul would be able to see that David had slain Philistines rather than Hebrews or their circumcised allies.

David returned with 200 foreskins. This did not please Saul, but drove him even further insane. “And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually” (18:29).


Even greater was the relationship David had with Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan was specially raised and prepared by Saul to be his successor. Yet Jonathan had found something more important than the divine kingship: loyalty to friends.

“1....the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul....
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.”

For Jonathan, his loving friendship with his spiritual brother David was more important than anything. Did Jonathan foresee David’s rise to the throne? Undoubtedly. Here Jonathan takes off his own robe and accouterments of divine royalty and placed them upon David. The covenant of friendship and brotherhood established between them would be found to be stronger than Jonathan’s blood relationship with Saul or any desire for kingship and power.

Saul Attempts to Slay David

A Short Reprieve and an Oath
1 Samuel 19

Saul conspired with his men to slay David. However, Jonathan again stood firm in his covenant with David and reasoned with Saul. David had saved Israel from the Philistines and had been circumspect in obeying the king’s commands. He had done nothing worthy of death.

Saul’s heart was temporarily softened, and he agreed with Jonathan. In fact, Saul made a very profound oath: “Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain. And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past” (19:6-7). When Jonathan explained it to David, everything was quickly resolved and relationships were restored. But why would it seem so easy for David to be convinced that he was safe?

In the story of Book of Mormon we find such an oath. Nephi and his brethren returned to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates of Laban. Disguised as Laban, Nephi has Zoram, the servant of Laban, carry the plates for him outside the gates of the city. Dr Hugh Nibley wrote what occurred upon returning to Nephi’s brothers:

“When Zoram, the servant, discovered that it was not his master with whom he had been discussing the highly secret doings of the elders as they walked to the outskirts of the city, he was seized with terror, as well he might be. In such a situation there was only one thing Nephi could possibly have done, both to spare Zoram and to avoid giving alarm—and no westerner could have guessed what it was. Nephi, a powerful fellow, held the terrified Zoram in a vice-like grip long enough to swear a solemn oath in his ear, "as the Lord liveth, and as I live" (1 Nephi 4:32), that he would not harm him if he would listen. Zoram immediately relaxed, and Nephi swore another oath to him that he would be a free man if he would join the party: "Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us" (1 Nephi 4:34). “ (Nibley, Lehi in the Desert,

Why? Because oaths in the ancient Middle East were taken very seriously, especially when based upon one’s life or on the life of God. Nephi and Saul both were swearing upon God’s life, meaning that if they lied, God could do whatsoever He would with the liar. Both Zoram and David could relax, because of the oath given.

Still David’s return to the royal palace was temporary. It wasn’t long until the evil spirit of insanity returned to Saul, and the king was again throwing javelins at David. David had no choice but to again flee. But Saul’s breaking of the oath would come back upon him later, as his life would be taken as he would now begin to seek David’s.

Samuel and David
1 Samuel 19:18-24

David fled to Samuel, who took him into hiding at Ramah. Upon finding out where David was hiding, Saul sent troops out three times to slay him. However, each time troops approached the town, they were filled with the Spirit and prophesied, no longer desiring to harm David. In this instance, prophesying may have more to do with intense praise and worship, rather than foretelling the future.

Finally, Saul went to Ramah. But upon approaching the place was also filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy with the sons of the prophets. He was incapable of anything else, but to sit naked day and night in such manner. Sadly, even with such an intense experience, Saul’s madness would return quickly to him.

Jonathan bids farewell to David

Behold the Arrows are Far Beyond Thee
1 Samuel 20

Jonathan could not believe it when David told him he was again in hiding because of Saul. After all, Jonathan had received Saul’s oath on God’s name that he would not harm David. Yet a 3 day test of Saul’s patience with David gone was all it took.

Saul figured that David did not come to dinner the first evening because he had become unclean, perhaps by touching a dead person. Yet, on the second night when David did not appear, he was agitated. Jonathan explained that David had gone to Bethlehem for a family religious ceremony.

“Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?
“For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.
“And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?
“And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David” (1 Sam 20:30-33).

Saul tried to explain to his son Jonathan that David was the enemy. As long as David lived, Jonathan would not rise to the throne. Still, Jonathan defended his friend, insisting that David should not die without a just cause. Saul, angry that his son would choose David over him, cast a javelin at him, proving to Jonathan that Saul was incensed upon slaying David.

Jonathan went out to the field the next day and shot arrows into the field. As the young lad with him set to fetch the arrows, Jonathan told him that the arrow had gone beyond him and to let it go. As the boy returned, Jonathan sent him off with his gear back to the palace. At this point, David came forth, the two wept, and David went into hiding.

David eats the Tabernacle’s Shewbread
1 Samuel 21

David and his men went into hiding. As they traveled, they approached the Tabernacle, seeking food. It was common for militias to offer protection to a town or a group in exchange for food and clothing.

However, Ahimelech the priest has nothing “common” to offer. Clearly this is a period when worship of Jehovah is at a low ebb, otherwise there should have been plenty of meat and food available from the priests of the Tabernacle. However, on this day, the only food available is the bread on the sacred table.

There were sacred religious and national treasures in the Tabernacle, as discussed previously when Moses created them. The table of shewbread was symbolized the manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness for 40 years. The bread was replaced daily to ensure fresh, hot bread was available for God to enjoy its smell at his pleasure. The shewbread later would also represent the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

In this instance, David explained to the priest that he and his men were clean or holy. They had not done anything, such as be intimate with their wives, in many days. David also explained:
“the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
“So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the Lord, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away” (1 Sam 21:5-6).

How can holy bread also be common? Because at the end of the day, the shewbread was replaced with new bread, and the high priest and his family would eat the old bread. Since David and his men were clean or holy, Ahimelech was able to provide it to them. Also, since they were now holy/clean, they became worthy vessels to hold the shewbread, even as the table was the worthy vessel earlier in the day.

David was also able to obtain the sword of Goliath from Ahimelech, who had kept the sword as a national treasure in the Tabernacle. Then, fleeing to Gath, a city of the Philistines, David found that the Philistines were concerned to have amongst them a man who had slain many of their own. As with Hamlet, David pretended to be insane, but was not allowed to remain as a harmless buffoon within the royal Philistine household.

David’s Years of Hiding
1 Samuel 22

David went forth from place to place, hiding in caves in the hills of Israel. Many of the people gathered to him, as they saw him as the true protector of the land. Saul had proved himself rash, no longer a servant of the people.

Saul went on a hunt for David and any that helped him. David was seen at the Tabernacle with Ahimelech, so Saul went to see him. Ahimelech denied being against Saul, insisting that while he fed David, he did not pray God to reveal to David how to defeat Saul. Saul’s madness would not allow him to believe Ahimelech was innocent. When none of his men would slay the priests of the Tabernacle, Saul turned to a non-Israelite servant, Doeg the Edomite. Doeg quickly complied, slaying the priests in the Tabernacle.

“And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.” (22:18-19).

Only Abiathar, one of Ahimelech’s sons escaped to David.

The Lord Judge Between Me and Thee
1 Samuel 23-24

Through chapter 23, Saul hunts David and nearly captures him, but is called away to fight an invading Philistine army.

On his return from the fight, Saul continues to seek David. At one point, Saul goes to sleep within a cave, where David is hiding. David’s servants encourage him to slay Saul, but David responds:

“The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Sam 24:6).

King Saul was still the anointed divine king of Israel. It was not David’s place to slay Saul, but only to replace him upon his death.

Instead, David cuts the skirting off of Saul’s robe as he slept. This would have included the fringe of the robe, which was commanded to be on the robes of all Israelites under Mosaic Law. As Saul departed a distance from the cave, David appeared and showed that while he could have slain Saul, he had not harmed the anointed king.

“The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee” (1 Sam 24:12).

What was David's concept behind this? Saul had continually sought his life, throwing javelins at him, heading armies against him throughout the land, etc. Yet David was able to forgive. Today, the Lord teaches us:

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
“And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds” (D&C 64:9-11).

Had David not forgiven Saul, the greater sin would have been with David. In fact, it would have caused David to be the murderer that Saul was in his heart. Since David acted justly, while Saul did not, the Lord later would judge between them. Saul would end up dying in battle against the Philistines, and David would ascend to the throne of Israel.

While Jonathan’s heart was forever knit with David’s, so that their covenant bound them with the Lord ("The Lord be between me and thee"), Saul’s hatred caused God to judge between the two, and Saul was found wanting.

The End Of the Judges and First King of Israel
1 Samuel 25-31

Samuel died and all Israel mourned him (25:1). From this time forth, prophets, not judges, would guide the kings and priests of Israel.

Nabal was a powerful and wealthy man, who was not a believer in Jehovah. Nor was he fond of David. David’s men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and flocks for months, not taking anything from them during their sojourn in the same area. However, the time of shearing was now upon them, and David thought it a good time to ask Nabal for some assistance. Nabal, however, railed on David’s messengers and insulted the entire group as a bunch of crooked vagabonds.

David was incensed, and prepared his men for war against Nabal. But Nabal’s wife, Abigail, heard of the event. She knew that Nabal owed his success to the protection David’s men gave him. She quickly prepared large amounts of food and sent them to David, not telling Nabal. She fell at David’s feet, begging forgiveness for her husband, who followed Belial (one of the 4 sons of the devil), and whose name literally meant ‘fool.”

As we’ve seen before, she begs David to covenant with her “as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth” (25:26), or on God’s and David’s lives, to spare them. She tells David that she hopes she can spare him from shedding the innocent blood of those who work for the fool, Nabal. David lifts her up, and covenants to withdraw with the gift she has offered, praising her for her wisdom and insight.

The next morning when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, his heart “turned to stone” and he died. Whether it was from too much partying the night before, he was poisoned, or the Lord smote him alone, we do not know. David communed with her and took Abigail the wise as his wife.

Over the next few chapters, David will again come close enough to the sleeping Saul to slay him, but will again spare his life. David then fled to dwell among the Philistines for 16 months. While his presence benefited Agash in the Philistine province where he dwelt, David’s forays against the other Philistines were kept secret from Agash. David would tell him he had successfully defeated a Hebrew town, when in fact he had smashed a Philistine outpost or town, instead.

Meanwhile, the Philistines gained great strength against Saul. Samuel was dead, and none of the prophets would speak with Saul. “when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets” (1 Sam 28:6). He went to a fortune teller and had her dredge up the ghost of Samuel, who told Saul what he feared most:
“Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
“And the Lord hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the Lord hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David:
“Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the Lord, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the Lord done this thing unto thee this day.
“Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam 28:16-19).

.The Philistines go on to defeating Israel in battle. Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, are slain in battle.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
“And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
“And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan” (1 Sam 31:8-10).

Israel retrieved the bodies, burned them, and gave the bones a proper burial under a tree in Jabesh. With this ended the reign of Saul and his sons, and the First Book of Samuel.


Saul’s actions caused the beginning of his rejection of the Lord. In being rejected as king, Saul had a choice. He could have chosen to gracefully accept it, even as Jonathan did, or go insane fighting God. Step by step, Saul went from small sins to murdering the priests of the Tabernacle, and seeking David’s death.

David struggled even at this time with temptation, but overcame it. His soldiers twice encouraged him to slay the sleeping and vulnerable Saul, but he rejected it. His anger sought to slay Nabal and all his people, but Abigail’s wisdom and haste prevented him from shedding so much blood on account of one foolish man.

In all of this, Jonathan was constant and pure. He knew David would one day be king of Israel, yet covenanted with David to always be there for him. He sought not power for himself, but only to serve Israel and God. He was fearless in battle, tender in his relationships, and true to those around him and to himself. Even though Jonathan often seems like a footnote in Biblical history, perhaps his story is the one we should study most as an example of one to follow.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Gospel Doctrine OT #22 - The Lord Looketh Upon the Heart

OT Gospel Doctrine Class #22 - The Lord Looketh Upon the Heart
1 Samuel 9-17

Saul Rejected by Samuel

Background: Samuel was the last of the Judges and the first of the prophets who would be a counter-balance to the kings of Israel. For the righteous kings, Samuel and the later prophets would be a great counsel. For wicked kings, they would be a thorn in the king’s side. The prophets would make and break kings and their desire to reign for generations. With the desire of Israel to have an earthly king, they have chosen to remove themselves further from God’s power and glory, just as they did when they refused to see God at Mt Sinai. Instead of having Moses and Judges as their go-between with God, Israel would add a new layer of bureaucracy with an earthly king, distancing themselves even more from God.

Who is Saul?
1 Sam 9-10

Israel wanted a king, just like all the nations around them. They were tired of the endless of cycle of invasion, servitude, God sending a Judge, deliverance, and then invasion again. They saw the value of having a king, who could build, train and maintain an army. No longer would Israel have to defend itself with shepherds and farmers against iron chariots. Other nations would fear Israel and its king, realizing they were no longer a band of loosely confederated tribes with no real earthly leader. A king would allow them to conquer their enemies, establish trade and peace treaties, and perhaps allow the nation to have a long period of peace and safety.

Because of an Israelite Civil War during the time of the Judges, the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out. There were but 600 men from the tribe of Benjamin who survived the war caused by their protection of those who followed Belial and supported rape and lawlessness. Saul came from this small tribe. (

We get an interesting description of Saul, “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2). This description could technically have both a literal and a figurative part. The term “goodly” seems to be tied to his physical stature. Why? Because a big and strong man seems more king-like than a short, squat one. What a great thing to literally have to look up to one’s king, because he is simply so tall.

While Saul in his early years was also humble, we find that one’s beginning does not mean they end up the same way. Saul searches lost animals, and in his journey comes across Samuel, who anoints him king and tells him he will come across strange events on the way home. These events include Saul prophesying with the “sons of the prophets” a group of young men who were in training for the calling. It is likely that this group followed Samuel, and perhaps were even started by him. It will be common in Israel’s history for groups of young men to follow a prophet in a “school”: Elisha and others following Elijah, John and Andrew following John the Baptist, Peter and the disciples following Jesus.

Saul is anointed Captain of the Host
1 Samuel 10

As Samuel anoints Saul with oil, he asks, “Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Sam 10:1). The Captain of God’s host is Jehovah, the Angel of God’s Presence. This Angel is the captain over the heavenly host, and Saul will now symbolically be the captain of God’s earthly host of Israel. In other word’s, the earthly king of Israel becomes the Son of God, a mortal version of the deity of Israel. In a previous lesson, I discussed how Elohim gave Israel to his divine Son Jehovah as his inheritance. Jehovah’s earthly inheritance is now given to Saul as his mortal counterpart.

The concept of earthly king symbolizing God, or even being viewed as God is a common motif in the ancient Middle East. For Egyptians, the Pharaoh represented Horus, the divine son of Osiris. Pharaoh was often viewed as the divine son standing before Osiris. In fact, in later Egyptian hieroglyphs, others were often portrayed standing before Osiris as if they were the son of Osiris! And in Facsimile 3 of the Joseph Smith Papyrus, Joseph interprets it as Abraham sitting on the throne teaching others - Abraham represent Osiris, or the chief God of the Judgment!

Facsimile 3: Is this Osiris or Abraham judging from the throne? Both are correct!

Samuel Rejects Saul
1 Samuel 11-14

Saul quickly is victorious in battle against his enemies. The people quickly learn to love their king. But Samuel does not sit back on his laurels and rest. He continues to warn the people and their king to follow the Lord and his commandments, or they will suffer for their disobedience.

In preparing to battle the Philistines, Saul divided his 3000 strong army between himself and his son, Jonathan. Saul awaited the arrival of Samuel, who would offer sacrifice to Jehovah prior to the battle.

The Philistines were strong, and settled in the valley below the Israelites. Samuel had not shown up yet, and Saul could see his army was in disarray with some deserting out of fear. Saul felt he could wait no longer, he had to move before his entire army ran out on him. He offered a burnt offering to God. Immediately, Samuel showed up.

Saul explained his reasoning to Samuel, “The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering“ (1 Sam 13:12).

At this point we will begin seeing two overlapping stories begin regarding the rejection of Saul and the choosing of David. Here, Samuel proclaimed that Saul was rejected and the kingdom would be given to another. Later, we’ll see Samuel proclaim it again, but the second time Saul’s reaction is clearly greater.

Saul and his son Jonathan continue to have much success in destroying the Philistines and others around them. It does not seem to Saul nor Israel that the Lord has rejected him as king.

This time Samuel Really Rejects Saul
1 Samuel 15

“Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord” (1 Sam 15:1). Suddenly, the rejection of Saul in chapter 13 seems forgotten. Saul is still God’s anointed king. This is evidence that portions of the Old Testament as we now have it were written by 2 authors (or more) who wrote differing versions, and then these were recombined into one story later on, perhaps by the great Redactor, Ezra.

The Lord wanted the Amalekites completely annhilated. “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (vs 3). They were not to leave alive anything, including men, women, children, nor animals. Israel went down to battle and slaughtered them.

Saul “took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
“But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly”.(vs 8-9).

Saul claimed that he saved the animals to sacrifice before God. Agag, the Amalekite king, was spared because that was a common act done in war, sparing the king alive and having him sit as a prisoner in one’s castle as a reminder of the victory.

Neither Jehovah nor Samuel were amused. Saul tried to explain that Israel’s purpose was honorable, and that Samuel should be pleased with his battle. But the prophet would have nothing to do with it.

“Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (vs 22-23).

Obedience requires a full commitment and exactness. If a little child was running into a busy street, would it be okay if when the parent shouted for the child to stop and return, the child were to delay a few moments to grab the ball in the street first? Saul was messing with Jehovah’s inheritance, not his own! The safety of the entire nation depended upon exact obedience, because Israel was surrounded by many enemies just waiting for Saul to slip up.

Saul was now, for the second time, rejected as king. This time, Saul took the news poorly. First he begged for another chance, and was turned down. As a witness of God’s rejection of Saul, Samuel hacked the Amalekite king Agag in pieces. As Agag was no longer king of Amalek, Saul would no longer be king of Israel. This is also foreshadowing Saul’s death.

Samuel calls David as King
1 Samuel 16

David Defeats Goliath

The Lord sends Samuel to the family of Jesse, to choose one of his sons as the new king of Israel. Samuel had to go in stealth, “How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me” (vs 2). The Lord has him go, pretending to offer sacrifices in the region, something that Samuel, as a traveling prophet/priest often did in various locations.

After seeing Jesse’s eldest son, Samuel is pleased and ponders whether he is the one. The Lord answered him by explaining, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (vs 7).

Saul was a “goodly” man, as in he was very tall and strong. He seemed to be the perfect person to be king, as he literally stood head and shoulders above everyone else. But God ended up rejecting Saul, because inwardly king Saul was not right with God. His heart was not completely in tune with God, but in doing things his own way.

It would require looking through all of Jesse’s sons, and then sending for the youngest tending the sheep, before the Lord saw the one with his heart in the right place: David. Samuel anointed David, “and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (vs 13).

Compare David’s heart and desires with Saul’s: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (vs 14). With wickedness, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, allowing an evil spirit to fill him instead. Each of us has such a struggle. We are either a Saul or a David, depending upon our absolute faithfulness and the desires of our heart. And this can change throughout our lives. Saul began as a king filled with the Spirit of the Lord, prophesying with the sons of the prophets. But now, due to his rebellions, found himself at odds with God. Saul wanted to be king for the wrong reasons. He eventually came to see it as his right, rather than as a holy anointing that he had to regard carefully and guard humbly. It was not his inheritance. It was the Lord’s inheritance, and he was anointed to be captain of Israel under Jehovah. In losing his way, he wandered among evil spirits, who enticed him to hang onto the power and the belief that he could remain king by his own skill and cunning. That is definitely a sign of insanity, when one attempts to defeat God at his own game. Satan also tried to do this, and still tries to this day to defeat God for the kingdom of Israel.

With the evil spirit of insanity hounding him. Saul seeks for relief. He sends his general to find a worthy young man who was skilled in playing the harp. David is found and is brought forth to dwell in the king’s palace and play for him. David carries the Spirit of God with him, and his playing chased the darkness away, bringing Saul peace.

David and Goliath
1 Samuel 17

Here is where we see another conflict in the story. We’ve just seen how David has been selected as part of the king’s household to play the harp and soothe the king’s troubles.

But now we find David living at home, and sent by his father Jesse to check up on his older brothers who have been drafted into Saul’s army! And there is a big problem. The Philistines have a champion or hero, named Goliath.

The average cubit is 18 inches, a span = 9 inches. This would make Goliath nine feet, 9 inches tall. He would tower over the average Israelite soldier, who was probably not much more than 5 1/2 feet tall. Goliath would come out frequently, issuing a challenge. Israel’s hero must come out and fight him, and the winner take all. No one dared answer his challenge.

David was amazed. How dare this Philistine challenge the Lord’s host? David was brought to Saul’s tent, where David proclaimed that God could help him defeat the giant. As David approaches the Philistine, the man laughs and mocks Israel for sending a boy:
“Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.....Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field” (vs 43-44).

But David was undaunted:
“Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
“This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
“And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands” (vs 44-46).

With a few chosen stones, David takes his sling and downs the giant. Then the boy picked up Goliath’s mighty sword and sliced off his head. The Philistines fled in panic, and Israel chased after them, defeating them soundly.

God would prove his power, not only against the Philistine gods, but also against the giants of the earth - even as in the days of Enoch (Moses 7:13-15). David became another Enoch, who could work God’s miracles to defeat the enemies and establish God’s Zion on earth. David also became a prototype of Christ, who would deliver Israel and the world out of the hands of the two giants, Death and Hell.


Angel of the Lord’s Presence discussed in detail in my previous lesson:

Israel as Jehovah’s inheritance: