Sunday, May 29, 2022

David the Outlaw (1 Samuel 18-20, 23-25) QUESTIONS

King Saul Turns on David

READ 18:6-9, 12

What causes King Saul to turn on David? 

 

READ 1 Samuel 18:1-5

How is it possible that two men, Saul and Jonathan, could respond so differently to the loss of the throne?

How is it possible that one man, David, could respond with the same loving attitude toward two men, Saul and Jonathan, who treated him so differently?

 

But from that time on, King Saul tries to have David killed; and eventually to hunt down and kill David himself.  David flees to the Judean wilderness along the border of the Dead Sea, where he gains the leadership of a group of outlaws.  Things escalate to the point that Saul gathers 3,000 men to hunt David and his outlaw band in the desert.  As luck may have it, Saul finds a large cave in which to spend the night - the same cave that David and his men use for their headquarters.

READ 1 Samuel 24:3-4

Why did David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe?

 

READ 1 Samuel 24:12

How does David really feel?

 

 

David and Abigail on the Road to Carmel

David escapes to the desert with his band.  While there, they protect the flocks of a wealthy man named Nabal from other outlaws and Bedouin tribesmen, in return for a future payment of food and some sheepskins for clothing.  But when David’s servants went to collect the payment at the end of the season, Nabal said “Who is David and who is the son of Jesse?  …Shall I then take my bread and my water and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be?”

READ 1 Samuel 25:12-13

Why is David’s response to Nabal’s fraud and personal slight different from his response to Saul’s murder attempt and banishment of David?

What is David’s intent for Nabal and his household?

Why is being mistreated the most important condition of mortality?

 

Nabal’s wife, Abigail, finds out about what Nabal had done to David.  Fearing that he would march on their home in the hill country of Carmel, she prepares all that is owed, and MORE, has it loaded on donkeys, and secretly rides out to head off David and his army of 400 angry men. 

READ 1 Samuel 25:25

Who is Abigail?

 

READ 1 Samuel 25:23-24, 28

What did Abigail do for Nabal?

 

READ 1 Samuel 25:32-33

What did Abigail do for David?

Who is the real “sinner” in this story?

Who committed the greater sin?

 

 

The Atonement of Christ

When Christ stands before the Father (and comes to us) to atone for the sins of another and seek our forgiveness, does He say “forgive them for they know not what they do” or does he say “forgive the trespass of thy servant?”

Neither Abigail nor Christ actually committed the sin, but their willingness to assume another’s sins illustrates who forgiveness is for; so who is forgiveness for?

Why must the victim forgive a legitimate offense?

Why does Christ/Abigail not haul the sinner forward and make them beg the victim for forgiveness (“say you’re sorry, and MEAN it this time!”)?

Should it matter to the victim if the sinner is really repentant or not?

 

It is as if, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord’s agony came in waves - a first wave for the sins that we commit against the Lord, each other and ourselves, with all of the regrets, shame and guilt that come with realizing truly what we have done - standing in the light of day with a full realization of all our guilt.  But then it is as if a second wave would follow and mirror the first, and in the second wave He suffered the pains endured by the victims of the acts committed by those in the first wave - now it was anger, bitterness, loss and resentment. 

Why might the second wave (the victim’s hurt) be harder to suffer than the sins of the first wave (the sinner)?

Why are we required to lay down any burden we may be carrying - including forgiving those that unjustly sin against us?

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Saul, David and Goliath (1 Samuel 9-17)

King Saul

READ 1 Samuel 9:2-13

What does it mean that there was not among Israel a “goodlier person” than Saul?

He was taller, stronger and better looking than the rest.

It doesn’t mean that he was more righteous.

What sort of relationship do the people have with this seer or prophet and what insights can you gain?

They revere him.

They pay him.

They will not worship God unless he presides and administers God to them.

This is a spiritual strongman model; it is not healthy for the people, and probably not healthy for the seer; however, it doesn’t mean that the seer isn’t truly spiritually gifted. 

 

READ 1 Samuel 9:14

How does the identity of who this spiritual strongman is change your opinion of him and the relationship between him and Israel?

It shouldn’t change it at all.

Samuel has become a “spiritual strongman”; whether he aspired to this or whether it was thrust upon him by the people (more likely, given they want a king…) doesn’t matter; it is not condoned by God either way.  God wants to know each of His people personally and having an intermediary will prevent that.

Samuel is a flawed human, as all mortal prophets are; whether there was more he could have done to prevent this relationship from occurring, we don’t know; but there is a lesson here for all who have a direct relationship with God - do whatever is in your power to teach true principles but to prevent reliance on you as an intermediary; refuse to be the strongman, even if it means withdrawing from the people for a time or making yourself unpopular by treating people rudely or by acting in ways they find offensive to their sensibilities of what they expect a prophet to be (this shouldn’t be too hard, as God’s ways are so different from ours – true prophets continually preach repentance, albeit with love, but that message is offensive to most, so that’s a start.  Another offensive message is that the prophet has actually seen God).

 

READ 1 Samuel 10:1-12 

Why did Samuel anoint Saul with oil?

It is an ordinance or invitation to accept the “real thing”.

Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit; Saul is being invited to receive the birth of the spirit or mighty change of heart.

However, the anointing (or in our day, the confirmation) alone will do nothing unless the terms are met for the covenant; Saul’s willingness to believe Samuel and act in accordance with his prophesy show Saul’s willing and open heart to God.

What does it mean that Saul shall be “turned into another man”?

He will be born of God and experience the mighty change of heart; he will no longer be the same man he was.

The proof that God enacted this mighty change or new heart upon Saul is the fact that he begins to experience spiritual gifts that he never had before; these gifts follow those that believe -they show God’s “finger prints” on the person and their change of heart.

Why are those who know Saul surprised that he is “also among the prophets”?

Because he had never shown an aptitude towards spiritual gifts before.

Because “goodlier” means “tall, dark and handsome” not “meek, loving and full of the Spirit”.

 

READ 1 Samuel 10:17-24 and 1 Samuel 11:12-15

Why does Saul not want to be king?

He knows that God has rejected Israel when they rejected God by wanting a king.

He doesn’t want to be the replacement for God, especially now that he has experienced the birth of the spirit.

He does not feel capable of being the king, despite his physical “kingly” attributes.

Why do the people want those who doubted that Saul should be crowned king, put to death?

Because they are loving the fact that Saul just won a great military victory over the Ammonites.

They see it as a vindication of their choice for a mortal king.

They do not realize that the Lord enabled the victory.

 

READ 1 Samuel 12:13-15, 20-25

What is the secret to the success and salvation of the people and their king?

Worship and serve the Lord; obey His commandments – it is the same as the promise to the inhabitants of America in the Book of Mormon: worship the God of the Land and be free and safe from all other nations.

Their success as a nation has nothing to do with the king, at all.

God will keep them safe through their king or despite their king, if they will love and serve Him.

Note: the question remains, if the king doesn’t matter, why is the Lord against Israel having a king?  Because a king can exert much more influence than a common man, and if that influence is evil, it will constrain or curtail the agency or at least the feasible options for righteousness that the people will have; and even if the king is righteous, many fallen men and women have a tendency to idolize the good king instead of worshipping the Lord and seeking a relationship with Him.

 

 

King Saul Offends the Lord

READ 1 Samuel 13:5-14

Why did the Lord reject Saul’s family line as kings, just because he offered his own sacrifices to God?

Unlike the kings of the surrounding nations, the Lord made it very clear to Saul and the people that if they were going to have a king, they had to remember that the Lord was still their God and that their king was not to be considered divine himself or even to enjoy the “divine right of kings” but was instead be a servant of God.

By not waiting for Samuel to officiate in his priestly office when he was late but taking the priestly duties upon himself, Saul was blurring the lines between king and priest; in addition, he was disobeying God’s commandments with regards to who should administer the priesthood rites.

Note, at this point, Saul himself had not lost the kingship, but his son Jonathan had, because of Saul’s actions.

 

READ 1 Samuel 15:1-3

Why would the Lord command King Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, including women, children and animals?

Israel were acting as agents of divine judgement.

They were to take nothing for themselves but were to destroy the nation as if they had fallen victim to a natural disaster or “act of God”.

Again, in a similar way to how the fullness of iniquity works in America, the nations living in Palestine had opportunities to embrace the God of the Land (Jehovah) but if they apostatized and continued in their wickedness to the fullness, they would be swept off the land.

 

READ 1 Samuel 15:8-9, 13-28

Why did Saul spare the king of the Amalakites and the best of their flocks but kill everyone else?

Opposing kings were a prized trophy of war; they showed how truly the victors now dominated the losing nation, especially because most Middle-eastern kings were also supposed to be divine; so it was kind of like saying “my God (-like King) can beat up your God (-like king)”.

By conducting this raid as if it were ordinary warfare that he was directing, Saul once again usurped divine prerogative and misrepresented the character of divine judgement (no respecter of persons) which doesn’t privilege the powerful but defeated king or his material possessions.

He said he wanted to sacrifice the best of the flocks to the Lord, but the whole idea of sacrifice is that you offer something great that you own and is yours to give; in this case, the flocks were not his to sacrifice as the Lord had commanded him to carry out His judgement on this people – the “sacrifice” the Lord wanted in this instance was the utter destruction of the Amalakites and all of their possessions.

How is obedience better than sacrifice if the Lord also commanded His people to offer sacrifices?

Sacrifices are rituals of worship, which the Lord commanded His people to perform up until the time of His own great and last sacrifice (see 3 Nephi 9:19-20), to symbolize the sacrifice of Himself in His atonement and death (see Alma 34:8-14).

However, a ritual or ceremony or ordinance is just that – an act of worship through symbols; it is better to actually obtain the will of the Lord through direct communication with Him – which is what all of the symbols and rituals point to – knowing God while in the flesh and becoming His trusted Son or Daughter – and then doing His will, as He has revealed it to you in the flesh (see 2 Nephi 32:5-7) – which is the definition of obedience.

Why did King Saul really allow the king and animals to be spared?

He was afraid of public opinion turning against him.

And he was no longer “little in (his) own sight” but was now a prideful king.

The king and the people had developed a symbiotic relationship: the king wanted to stay in power and enjoy the accolades and flattery that come with his high position, and the people wanted to do what they wanted to do, under the protection and authority of a king they could influence.

Why does Saul ask Samuel to forgive His sin?

He thinks repentance is easy – especially if he can get it from Samuel without going directly to the Lord.

He wants to pretend things were the way they were before.

Since Israel is supposed to be the Lord’s chosen people, Saul needs to continue the charade if the people are to feel comfortable about his leadership of their nation.

He doesn’t want to go to the Lord Himself – he is afraid of what the Lord might do (as He’s already stripped Saul’s line of the kingship – maybe Saul himself would be stripped of the kingdom).

 

 

David the Shepherd

READ 1 Samuel 16:1-7

What did Eliab look like, for Samuel the prophet to assume that he was to be the new king of Israel?

Like a prince.

Handsome, tall, strong, noble bearing – probably like Saul did.

Spiritual… in appearance, at least; Samuel would not have been taken in by a “kingly” appearance alone, Eliab must have looked and acted like he was the chosen of the Lord – spiritual and religious.

Why does the heart not manifest itself in one’s outward appearance?

While light manifests itself in one’s countenance (see Alma 5:14; 3 Nephi 19:25; 2 Corinthians 3:7), the observer has to be spiritually attuned to see it, as it is the spirit affecting the flesh of the body, so it is mainly (although not entirely) perceived spiritually, not directly or obviously seen.

Ultimately, in those who have obtained a great deal of light during a mortal probation, the light of the spirit changes the tabernacle (via an infusion of the Holy Spirit), in that the individual is translated and the physical body is changed to mirror more closely the light of the body; when this is the case, even the most fallen and carnal person can see the change in outward appearance, if the individual chose to reveal themselves in terrestrial glory (which they don’t have to do – and would rarely do, as it would scare the whatsit out of the unprepared, fallen individual).

What does it mean that the Lord looks upon the heart?

The heart is thought of as the place where one’s desires reside.

The heart is also the organ from where one’s love is thought to flow.

In the energy body tradition, the heart is both the connecting place in the spirit body between the grounding energies and the higher energies, it is also the place where we are all connected to each other.

The Lord looks into the soul and plainly sees your deepest desires and the amount of love you have within you; clearly this criterion is much more important to the Lord than we think it is.

What the Lord sees is the culmination of eternities worth of light gaining (or not) on the part of the soul – not just what has been gained here but what was also brought here.

 

READ 1 Samuel 16:11-13

What was David anointed for?

To be the future king of Israel.

To receive the birth of the spirit.

He was anointed to the Lord, being a “king” in His house (being adopted into His family as a Son and heir) which requires sharing the same mind as God or being one with God – which is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Note: being anointed to receive the birth of the spirit and actually receiving that gift are not the same thing; no one has the authority to command God or to violate the covenant terms required for any of God’s covenants; the anointing is like the confirmation in the modern Church – it is an admonition to go and receive what is offered by abiding by the terms; in this case, David’s heart was such that he already desired to live the terms, so he received the birth of the spirit from God that day.

 

READ 1 Samuel 16:14-23 (JST)

Why did the Spirit depart from Saul?

God is no respecter of persons - He desires all of His children to be saved, and the Holy Spirit is the light which proceeds from God to fill the immensity of space and is infinite, so the Spirit did not depart from Saul just so that David could have it – because God wants all to have it and the Holy Spirit is not a personage, anyway – it is the light of God (mind of God) which comes from Him and fills all of space – there is enough of it to go around.

Either it was a coincidence that David received the Spirit around the same time that Saul lost it, or perhaps the reason that the Lord rejected Saul as king (or his line as a kingly dynasty) was because he was grieving the Spirit through his behavior and thoughts, and the Lord wanted a king with whom the Spirit could dwell.

What happens when the Spirit of the Lord departs from someone?

As soon as the Spirit of the Lord departs from a person, other spirits vie to fill the void.

Satan is more effective when those spirits are subtle – so that the person who lost the Spirit of the Lord can’t really tell that much has changed, at first.

In this case, the new spirit “vexed” or bothered Saul; this could be because it was a more obviously evil spirit or because Saul was more spiritually attuned.

What affect does music have on spirituality?

Music clearly effects the emotions and can effect brain chemistry, energy and thinking.

To the degree that the spirits you allow to influence you are affected by your mood and thinking, and you can affect your mood and thinking through music, then listening to certain kinds of music may help you attract the Spirit of the Lord and screen yourself from other spirits – or do the opposite.

Is listening to David play the harp the best solution for Saul’s problem with evil spirits?

No, a more direct approach would be better: repent and seek the companionship of the Lord.

To the degree that meditation or communion with God can be aided by listening to music (for some people it can while for others it is very distracting), then David’s harp could help Saul where it really counts, but that doesn’t seem to be what Saul is using the music for, here.

Another possible reason why listening to David’s harp helped Saul is that it wasn’t the harp at all but proximity to David, himself; just as touching Christ’s and Paul’s garments had the ability to heal wounds or cast out demons and Peter did both just by his presence, proximity to light enables its transfer from one person to another, and from beyond the veil, through the “carrier” and to the person in need – this is the way that priesthood, which is an association with Gods and angels, works (see Luke 8:43-48; Acts 19:11-12; Acts 5:15-16).

 

 

David vs. Goliath the Philistine

READ 1 Samuel 17:1-11

While Goliath was a “giant” (probably 6’9” or taller), Saul was a “head” taller than anyone else in Israel (probably 6’ tall), so why is Saul so afraid to fight Goliath?

While on paper a 9” to 12” difference in height doesn’t sound like too much, it’s still a big difference and probably amounts to a significant difference in weight; if Saul was a thin 6’, he could weight 160 lbs., and if Goliath was a large 6’9”, he could weigh 300 lbs or more.

If Saul is 6 to 9 inches taller than the rest of the Israelite warriors (weighing somewhere between 112-155 lbs., on average), then Goliath really would have looked like a giant.

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:23-26

What is the true heart of the problem that is Goliath?

Saul and the armies of Israel are fighting their own battle; they have forgotten that they are the “armies of the living God”, so as a result, they are NOT the armies of the living God.  He sees Goliath as a purely physical problem, not a spiritual one, or not one that can be influenced via the spiritual realm because he is completely clueless regarding the direct cause and effect connections between the spiritual realm and the physical world.

Saul does not see the offense Goliath has given God; and he does not see himself as God’s assigned servant to deal with the offense; Saul has not prepared himself to receive the required level of insight and faith because he has not been sufficiently obedient to God’s commandments and lacks the light and knowledge to see things as they really are; he is not able to rend the veil and work as a tool in God’s hand on earth (see 1 Nephi 3:28-31; 1 Nephi 15:7-11) – in fact, the thought doesn’t enter his mind, which is telling.

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:32-37

How does David see the fight between Goliath and the armies of Israel?

David sees this as a battle between a mortal man and the living God – which is what it is.

He does not see it as a battle between two men.

The battle is the Lord’s to fight; and in this case, He requires a volunteer to be His tool in the mortal sphere – to be the one through which His power is manifested.

Why does David have such faith that he can defeat Goliath?

The Lord has given him two previous experiences with wild animals where he had to access the power of God to perform a miracle in a life-or-death situation.

He has proved the Lord as capable of intervening in mortality; and the Lord has proved David as being able to exercise sufficient faith to act, which enabled Him to intervene on earth without violating human agency.

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:38-40

Why did David take off Saul’s armor and only take with him his staff, sling and five stones into battle?

He had not “proved” the armor; he was not used to it, as he had never worn it before.

When he had fought the wild animals, he had not worn armor and had not needed it; in fact, the lack of armor and the agility he had without it may have been part of what the Lord used to help him elude and then kill the animals.

We must “take into battle” what we are comfortable using and have developed some skill with; the Lord will not use “fairy dust” to make us magically proficient in something that we are unskilled in, instead, he uses the skills we have already developed; while this might constrain the Lord’s options with us to some degree, He will work within the constraints we give Him through our past use of agency, to accomplish His objectives through us – with the Lord, nothing is impossible.

However, if you want to be a more capable tool in the hand of the Lord, you should practice the skills He wants you to learn – and many of those skills have less to do with armor and swords, and much more to do with an ability to reach through the veil and be a living conduit of light between the heavens and the earth, to enable you to command elements/energy and spirits to do the will of the Lord.

Prayer is a key “labor” or “practice” or “skill” to perfect, in this regard, as the spiritual realm dictates much of what happens in the physical realm, despite our blindness to both what is happening beyond the veil on this earth (or in heaven) and to the effect it has on our world.  The ability to influence the spiritual realm via a strong connection with God, will do much more to affect the physical world than we realize.

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:41-51

Who is this fight really between?

It is between Goliath and whoever comes to fight him.

In Saul’s case, it would have been a fight between two warriors – one a giant and the other a king.

In Goliath’s case, it was a fight between a trained, strong warrior and a boy without armor or experience in battle.

In David’s case, it was a fight between a mere mortal man and the living God.

It depends upon how the fight is perceived by the participants – because God will honor our agency.  If David didn’t see things as they really were, his fight would not have been between a man and the living God, it would have been between a giant warrior and a shepherd boy.

How does the way we perceive our challenges determine how we meet them?

If we see God as the overriding influence in our challenges, we can trust God to help us through them.

If we realize that all of these challenges are just here to give us experience and are actually for our good – which requires faith in God’s love, omniscience, and power, for us to believe – then we will exercise sufficient faith to allow God to intervene (or not) because we trust that He loves us and whatever He allows to happen to us or what He enables us to do or not do, is His will and will really be for our good (see D&C 122).

God wants us to realize that our challenges were given to us by Him for the express purpose of enabling us to trust Him – that He will walk beside us to see we succeed; you must be willing to see God as someone who has personal, direct and on-going involvement in your life – someone who cares enough about you to intervene on your behalf; no “Goliath” in your life will destroy you if you see things for what they really are – they are only opportunities for you to exercise (and thus, grow) your faith in God; you must push through the apparent imminent failure of faith – you must choose to persist in your faith in God, in the face of almost certain failure or maybe even actual failure; you must choose to love Him, to believe in Him, to trust Him, to keep His commandments, to keep walking the path back to His presence regardless of the “monster” that seems to stand in your way.

When the challenges no longer serve this purpose – when you see things as they really are, that all of your problems are really the Lord’s problems and that He is up to the task of overcoming them all – the challenges will fade away like the dreams of a night vision. 

It’s like Neo in the movie “The Matrix” – when he finally embraces the truth of the fact that everything he sees on his earth is a computer program, then he sees the truth - the actual computer code which makes up the “hard” elements of his world, and is able to bend it to his will instead of being determined by it; for us, it is the same, and the “code” we see is the veil being lifted from our eyes and we see what is really there on the other side of the veil and the way that it affects the physical realm we live in; this probationary state is much more like The Matrix than we realize – it is created from element that proceeds from God Himself and that He supports from moment to moment as the “observer” in quantum physics.

Why did David take five stones from the river if the Lord only needed one to kill Goliath?

David had enough faith to go to battle – that the Lord would kill Goliath through his stones – but he still had a tinge of doubt, either in the Lord (not that He couldn’t do it but would He do it or was it David’s time to die) or in himself as an effective tool in the Lord’s hand (which is both a true situation, as we constrain the Lord with our lack of “skills” and our lack of faith in Him; and it is also a false one, as the Lord can do all things regardless of the tools He has at His disposal; could He have enabled David to slay Goliath with the sword?  Yes.  But David’s lack of faith or comfort (really faith) was a legitimate constraint… for David, as nothing is impossible for the Lord!)

David had to face down his insecurities, so he took five stones, knowing that once he had crossed the stream and entered the battle plain, there was no going back for more – and also thinking that he probably had time for five shots at Goliath before the giant would be able to reach him and kill him – despite everything we’ve discussed, this was still a very real life battle for David.  The stone(s) had to be slung!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Saul, David and Goliath (1 Samuel 9-17) QUESTIONS

King Saul

READ 1 Samuel 9:2-13

What does it mean that there was not among Israel a “goodlier person” than Saul?

What sort of relationship do the people have with this seer or prophet and what insights can you gain?

 

READ 1 Samuel 9:14

How does the identity of who this spiritual strongman is change your opinion of him and the relationship between him and Israel?

 

READ 1 Samuel 10:1-12 

Why did Samuel anoint Saul with oil?

What does it mean that Saul shall be “turned into another man”?

Why are those who know Saul surprised that he is “also among the prophets”?

 

READ 1 Samuel 10:17-24 and 1 Samuel 11:12-15

Why does Saul not want to be king?

Why do the people want those who doubted that Saul should be crowned king, put to death?

 

READ 1 Samuel 12:13-15, 20-25

What is the secret to the success and salvation of the people and their king?

 

 

King Saul Offends the Lord

READ 1 Samuel 13:5-14

Why did the Lord reject Saul’s family line as kings, just because he offered his own sacrifices to God?

 

READ 1 Samuel 15:1-3

Why would the Lord command King Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, including women, children and animals?

 

READ 1 Samuel 15:8-9, 13-28

Why did Saul spare the king of the Amalakites and the best of their flocks but kill everyone else?

How is obedience better than sacrifice if the Lord also commanded His people to offer sacrifices?

Why did King Saul really allow the king and animals to be spared?

Why does Saul ask Samuel to forgive His sin?

 

 

David the Shepherd

READ 1 Samuel 16:1-7

What did Eliab look like, for Samuel the prophet to assume that he was to be the new king of Israel?

Why does the heart not manifest itself in one’s outward appearance?

What does it mean that the Lord looks upon the heart?

 

READ 1 Samuel 16:11-13

What was David anointed for?

 

READ 1 Samuel 16:14-23 (JST)

Why did the Spirit depart from Saul?

What happens when the Spirit of the Lord departs from someone?

What affect does music have on spirituality?

Is listening to David play the harp the best solution for Saul’s problem with evil spirits?

 

 

David vs. Goliath the Philistine

READ 1 Samuel 17:1-11

While Goliath was a “giant” (probably 6’9” or taller), Saul was a “head” taller than anyone else in Israel (probably 6’ tall), so why is Saul so afraid to fight Goliath?

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:23-26

What is the true heart of the problem that is Goliath?

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:32-37

How does David see the fight between Goliath and the armies of Israel?

Why does David have such faith that he can defeat Goliath?

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:38-40

Why did David take off Saul’s armor and only take with him his staff, sling and five stones into battle?

 

READ 1 Samuel 17:41-51

Who is this fight really between?

How does the way we perceive our challenges determine how we meet them?

Why did David take five stones from the river if the Lord only needed one to kill Goliath?

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 1-8)

Priest v. Prophet

Hannah has brought her young son, Samuel, up to the Temple to live his Nazarite vow and be apprenticed to the High Priest, Eli. 

READ 1 Samuel 2:11-17

What are the differences between Samuel and the sons of Eli the High Priest?

The sons of Eli are ordained priests while Samuel is not.

Samuel is righteous and the sons of Eli are not.

Samuel did minister UNTO THE LORD before Eli (he does not minister to Eli) while the sons of Eli administer religious rites to the people under the presiding authority of their father, with little thought about the Lord.

Eli’s sons (who are Priests), are stealing from the Lord by forcing the people who come to sacrifice to give them as much of their meat as they want - they are clearly “ministering” to themselves.

Samuel is there because of a Nazarite vow his mother made on his behalf – a humble sacrifice of her son to the Lord; but Samuel is not resentful – he has given his own heart to the Lord.

Eli’s sons are there because of their Levite lineage and their father being the High Priest (relationships: they “know someone” in power).

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:1-3

What does “ere the lamp of God went out in the temple” imply?

Eli and his sons are faithfully observing the religious requirement to burn the lamp in the temple.

What does the “word of the Lord was precious” mean?

While they had the ark of the covenant, the temple, the ordinances, the Law, the scriptures, and the priesthood, they have no connection to God - no revelation is being received by the leaders of the Church.

Although they are observing the ordinances of burning the lamp, which symbolizes the light of God, they lack the faith to call down revelation from heaven.

What happens when the priestly leaders (those given priesthood authority) do not connect with heaven?

The ordinances and observances become the focus as ends in and of themselves, instead of inviting and enabling people to actually connect with God.

AND/OR, scholars step in with their research, analysis and hypothesis, to fill the void - this is what will eventually happened in Israel by the time of Christ’s ministry.

What is the difference between a presiding “high priest” and a “prophet” (don’t think about today’s offices in the Church by the same name)?

The presiding High Priest holds authority to conduct the ordinances.

A prophet communes with heaven directly.

Can the presiding High Priest be a prophet?

Yes – Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Moses and Joseph Smith are examples.

Can a presiding High Priest not be a prophet?

Yes – Eli, Caiaphas and Amulon are examples, as were all of the Levite High Priests from the time of Josiah to the time of Christ’s mortal ministry

And if we believe the D&C (and what happened to the temple and saints in Nauvoo), each of the Church presidents since Joseph Smith are also examples (see D&C 124:27-28, 44-50).

Can a prophet not be a presiding High Priest?

Yes – Samuel, Abraham, Elijah, Jeremiah, Abinadi, and Samuel the Lamanite are all examples.

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:4-10

Did Samuel hear the voice of the Lord?

Yes.

Did Eli hear the voice of the Lord?

No.

But he discerned, in time, that the voice of the Lord was speaking to Samuel - he had scholarly knowledge but not experiential knowledge. He had studied and knew enough to recognize what must be happening to Samuel.

But… he did not DO or BELIEVE enough to warrant that same revelation to happen to him.

Perhaps Eli was not seeking after revelation like he should have - the Lord requires us to “seek, ask and knock”

 

READ TPJS 205:2 "All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself"

READ 3 Nephi 20:24

How does one “testify of Christ” as a prophet?

He/she will first encounter Christ then testify of what they now KNOW to be true from their own experiences: “He lives for I have seen him, felt the wounds and been ministered to”; “He has the power to save through the atonement because He has promised me that my sins are forgiven and I will be saved, as I abide in covenant and continue to follow His will”; “He’s ushered me into the presence of the Father where I actually was sealed up to eternal life and saved.”

Was Samuel of the Priestly class with authority – was he a Levite?

No.

He was serving in the temple because of the Nazarite vow of his mother.

Why did the Lord speak to Samuel and not to Eli (who was the presiding authority or High Priest)?

The Lord speaks to whoever the Lord wants to speak to (remember that He spoke to Cain, AFTER he had killed Abel).

The Lord is no respecter of persons - if you have the faith, seek to be filled with light by keeping the commandments, follow the promptings of the Spirit and ask, He will answer.

The Lord was not pleased with Eli but Samuel found grace in His sight.

The Lord is more likely to speak to the humble and righteous; He cares nothing for callings and priestly position, nor is He bound by them.

 

The power or authority or right or invitation to see God face to face is not effectively real if a person doesn’t actually go on to actually behold God face to face! 

READ 1 Samuel 3:11

What does it mean to say that the Lord’s revelation will cause their ears to “tingle”?

Tingle or itch - it will bother them or annoy them or trouble them.

Why do the revelations of the Lord do this?

The Lord will call people to repentance - which they do not like.

Revelation always involves a certain degree of inevitable risk and uncertainty, which leads to inconvenience and imposition.

There is always tension between the Spirit and human control - we like predictability and continuity - we do not like to be surprised!  So, the best way to avoid surprise is to impose limits on the Spirit.

Will the Lord honor the limits we impose on Him?

In almost all cases, yes – not because He is bound but because He honors our agency.

One in a while, He will give us another opportunity to embrace more truth and light.

That is what is happening through Samuel: the Lord is giving Israel another chance by sending a prophet (who, by definition receives revelation and can start to build Zion if Israel will come unto Christ or Jehovah).

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:19-21

What does “let none of His words fall to the ground” mean?

Seek after revelation and when you have received it, treasure it by writing it down and following it – so that not one of His words is “dropped” and lost.


When God has a people, revelation among them continues.  Whether there is a righteous leadership or a fallen one, the Lord remains committed to His people.  He does not forsake them until they utterly forsake Him.  Anytime anyone is willing to receive, He is willing to give.  As the giver of good gifts, He will never return a serpent to one asking for a fish. 

 

 

Losing the Ark: An Allegory of the Last Days

READ 1 Samuel 4:3-11

Whose idea was it to use the Ark to deliver a military/political victory?

The Elders of Israel.

Not the Lord.

Why did the Philistines “arm of the flesh” overcome the Israelites and the Ark?

The Israelites were also relying solely on the arm of the flesh.

The Ark was not theirs to use in that manner - it is up to the Lord, not to the “Elders of Israel”; God’s power cannot be used against His own will (a lesson the Nazi’s will later learn in the movie “Indiana Jones”…).

Why did the Lord allow the Ark of the Covenant, which represents His throne and presence on earth, to be taken by the Philistines?

To show Israel that they had lost His presence

To show the priests that they had lost their authority and power (“amen to the priesthood… of that man!”)

To afflict the Philistine gods… and show them all that He is the true and living God!

 

READ 1 Samuel 5:2,4,6

What happens to the Philistines now that they have the Ark?

Their gods are shown to be powerless

The people are afflicted (with bubonic plague) or destroyed

 

In Chapter 6, the Philistines come to believe in the God of Israel, they repent of their wrong doing, and take the Ark back to Israel. 

How is Israel’s losing and regaining the Ark from the Philistines an allegory for the last days?

Israel looks to the Messiah (ark) to deliver them a political/military victory (at the time of Christ).

The gospel (ark) is lost from Israel (the great apostasy of the historic Christian church).

The gospel (ark) overcomes the gods of the gentiles (Philistines).

The gentiles (Philistines) come to believe in the power of the God of Israel and repent.

The gentiles (Philistines) take the gospel (ark) back to Israel.

The Israelites repent and put away false gods.

The Israelites put their trust in the Lord when attacked by their enemies.

The Lord provides a military victory.

What happens next in the “last days” story?

Christ is established as the King over Israel and reigns on earth.

The Second Coming of Christ.

 

Read 1 Samuel 8:5 and 20

In response to the miraculous intercession by God, what happens next in Israel’s story?

They demand a king.

 

 

The King of Israel

READ Judges 21:25

What are the advantages and disadvantages for Israel in this condition?

No King to command or compel behavior but everyone did that which was right in their own eyes.

Freedom to choose (which is a pro and con, depending on how they choose).

Had Israel ever had a king?

No (not a mortal king); in fact, God’s people had NEVER had a king except Melchizedek.  This makes you think about what kind of king he was or what it means to be a “king” in heaven (see JST Genesis 14:33-36).

But they had a “strongman” in Moses, and were used to depending too much upon a man; it was comfortable to them.

Why did they want a king?

So they won’t be strange in the eyes of the world (“be like all the nations”).

So they won’t have to think for themselves and also won’t have to be responsible for their decisions and actions.

So that they might be protected from their enemies.

What is the irony in Israel’s current situation?

They’ve just been saved from the Philistines by the living God.

They don’t need an earthly king for protection; but if they give up their agency to a mortal king, they will lose the protection and saving relationship they have or could get from God; or it will be a lot harder if they are under oath and law to revere and pay homage to a mortal king who may or may not be aligned completely with God’s will.

How had Israel used its “freedom to choose”?

They had failed to keep their covenants.

Lost their connection to God.

Lost His protection and adopted the fear/respect of man (idol worship) and faith in the arm of the flesh to save them in God’s absence.

 

READ 1 Sam 8:6

What was Samuel’s response?

He was angry.

He prayed about the request.

 

READ 1 Sam 8:7 and 22

What was the Lord’s response?

They have rejected me as their King.

So, give them what they want.

What is the Lord really trying to teach Israel through the loss of the Ark?

That if they do not have Him for their King, and keep His commandments, and seek His face…

But instead trust in the arm of the flesh and choose a mortal king…

They will end up losing His presence and the gospel itself (which enables them to come into His presence).

 

READ 1 Samuel 9:16-17 and 1 Samuel 12:13-15

Was it the Lord’s will that Saul be their King?

No - He didn’t want them to have a mortal king but for God to be their heavenly King.

But He honored their agency and He chose Saul – so yes.

Why did the Lord select a mortal king for Israel?

Because they desired it.

What can we learn about the Lord and His dealings with us from this experience?

He gives us what we want - which is not necessarily what He wants; He honors our agency above all else.

In time, He turns the unwise desires we ask of Him to our ultimate good (King David as a type of Christ and ancestor of Him) if we will continue to follow His commandments and seek His face.

However, individuals (like Saul and David) may still lose their exaltation if they don’t individually come unto Christ and abide in the covenant. 

But that will not stop the Lord’s work with the rest who will listen and come.

 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 1-8) QUESTIONS

Priest v. Prophet

 

Hannah has brought her young son, Samuel, up to the Temple to live his Nazarite vow and be apprenticed to the High Priest, Eli. 

 

READ 1 Samuel 2:11-17

What are the differences between Samuel and the sons of Eli the High Priest?

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:1-3

What does “ere the lamp of God went out in the temple” imply?

What does the “word of the Lord was precious” mean?

What happens when the priestly leaders (those given priesthood authority) do not connect with heaven?

What is the difference between a presiding “high priest” and a “prophet” (don’t think about today’s offices in the Church by the same name)?

Can the presiding High Priest be a prophet?

Can a presiding High Priest not be a prophet?

Can a prophet not be a presiding High Priest?

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:4-10

Did Samuel hear the voice of the Lord?

Did Eli hear the voice of the Lord?

 

READ TPJS 205:2 "All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself"

READ 3 Nephi 20:24

How does one “testify of Christ” as a prophet?

Was Samuel of the Priestly class with authority – was he a Levite?

Why did the Lord speak to Samuel and not to Eli (who was the presiding authority or High Priest)?

 

The power or authority or right or invitation to see God face to face is not effectively real if a person doesn’t actually go on to truly behold God face to face! 

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:11

What does it mean to say that the Lord’s revelation will cause their ears to “tingle”?

Why do the revelations of the Lord do this?

Will the Lord honor the limits we impose on Him?

 

READ 1 Samuel 3:19-21

What does “let none of His words fall to the ground” mean?

 

When God has a people, revelation among them continues.  Whether there is a righteous leadership or a fallen one, the Lord remains committed to His people.  He does not forsake them until they utterly forsake Him.  Anytime anyone is willing to receive, He is willing to give.  As the giver of good gifts, He will never return a serpent to one asking for a fish. 

 

 

Losing the Ark: An Allegory of the Last Days

 

READ 1 Samuel 4:3-11

Whose idea was it to use the Ark to deliver a military/political victory?

Why did the Philistines “arm of the flesh” overcome the Israelites and the Ark?

Why did the Lord allow the Ark of the Covenant, which represents His throne and presence on earth, to be taken by the Philistines?

 

READ 1 Samuel 5:2,4,6

What happens to the Philistines now that they have the Ark?

 

In Chapter 6, the Philistines come to believe in the God of Israel, they repent of their wrong doing, and take the Ark back to Israel. 

How is Israel’s losing and regaining the Ark from the Philistines an allegory for the last days?

What happens next in the “last days” story?

 

Read 1 Samuel 8:5 and 20

In response to the miraculous intercession by God, what happens next in Israel’s story?

 

 

The King of Israel

 

READ Judges 21:25

What are the advantages and disadvantages for Israel in this condition?

Had Israel ever had a king?

Why did they want a king?

What is the irony in Israel’s current situation?

How had Israel used its “freedom to choose”?

 

READ 1 Sam 8:6

What was Samuel’s response?

 

READ 1 Sam 8:7 and 22

What was the Lord’s response?

What is the Lord really trying to teach Israel through the loss of the Ark?

 

READ 1 Samuel 9:16-17 and 1 Samuel 12:13-15

Was it the Lord’s will that Saul be their King?

Why did the Lord select a mortal king for Israel?

What can we learn about the Lord and His dealings with us from this experience?


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Deborah, Ruth & Hannah (Judges 4; Ruth; 1 Samuel 1)

Deborah the Prophetess

READ Judges 4:2-7

Who was Deborah?

A prophetess (see Exodus 15:20; 2 Kings 22:14-15; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:3; Judges 4:17-22; Judges 5:6-24; Luke 2:36-38; Ezekiel 24:16-18; Acts 21:9).

The Judge of Israel.

A wife and mother (see Judges 5:7).

 

READ Judges 4:8-9

Why did Barak the warrior tell Deborah that he would only go to war if she was going?

He was afraid.

He sensed that she had spiritual gifts/insight/power that he would need to be successful against the enemy.

She had obtained the will of the Lord and he needed her with him to be able to fulfill the Lord’s commands – implied that either he didn’t feel he could receive his own revelations or that he could not fulfill them without her or both.

 

READ Judges 4:13-15

Who received the revelation from the Lord regarding the battle plan?

Deborah.

Josephus describes in more detail how a sudden storm of rain and hail swept down upon General Sisera from Mount Tabor, the Israelite's rallying place, and broke over the Canaanite army. The aim of the archers was deflected, and the horses were terrified, breaking free of the iron chariots and running amok among the foot soldiers.

Is priesthood ordination a prerequisite for possessing the gift of prophesy?

Obviously not (see 1 Cor 12:10; D&C 46:22; Moroni 10:13).

 

 

Ruth

Naomi, her husband and two sons leave Bethlehem for Moab to escape a famine.  Her sons marry local Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth.  In time, her husband and both of her sons die, leaving the three widows to fend for themselves.  Naomi heard that the famine was over in Bethlehem and left for home, 30 miles away. 

If we lived in Bethlehem, we might be curious about Ruths ancestors, and our ears would prick up to the fact that Ruth was a Moabite. Immediately, wed think of the scandalous past of her people, and it would cast her story in a different light. Wed recall that when the weary Israelites were journeying to the Promised Land, the Moabites lured the Israelites into sexual immorality and idol worship (Numbers 25:1). From that time on, the Moabites were associated with sexual immorality.  To us in Israel, it was even more disgusting because it was how they worshipped their “gods.” Because of that sin, God declared that Moabites were barred from being a part of the assembly of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:3. Was their sin ever forgivable, wed wonder?  Then wed think back to the origins of the Moabites in Genesis 19:30-38. After Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, we read the not-so-nice story of how Lots daughters got their father drunk so that they could become pregnant by him, since their husbands had refused to leave the city and had both died. One of Lots daughters gave birth to a son named Moab, and he became the father of the Moabite people. So, that is why the Moabites are so immoral? If we believe that people are defined by their genes and ancestry, this might make complete sense to us...

READ Ruth 1:8-9, 14-17

Why did Orpah go back to Moab while Ruth begged Naomi to allow her to go to Bethlehem?

Ruth was converted to the Lord God of Israel while Orpah was not (although she likely practiced the same religion while married to Naomi’s other son).

Ruth showed her faith in the living God through her charity for and service to a doubting Naomi (see 1:13).

She truly loved her mother-in-law.

 

READ Ruth 1:18-21

How would you describe Naomi’s faith vs. Ruth’s?

Naomi is bitter with the Lord; she resents Ruth’s coming with her as now there are two dependent widows asking for help from family members, not just one; to her credit, she doesn’t expect anything from her daughters-in-law but releases them from obligation to care for her to try to better their own situations.

Ruth will sacrifice everything she grew up with to serve Naomi including her people, and her future prosperity (which was tied to heavily remarrying in this culture and age, and marrying locally in Moab was much more likely than remarrying in Bethlehem), all while grieving for her husband.  Ruth’s love for Naomi is very real but her faith in the living God is likely an even more important factor here – did she receive revelation from God to go with Naomi or did she believe that her best opportunity to come unto Jehovah was to relocate to a place where many more people worshiped Him?

 

To enable the poor to care for themselves, landowners were forbidden from harvesting the corners of their fields or to pick up what fell to the ground.  “Gleaners” would follow behind the hired servants picking up what grain they could - it was hard work but enabled people to survive without begging.

READ Ruth 2:3,7-12

What did Boaz see in Ruth, a Moabite foreigner?

Hard worker.

Full of charity.

Sacrificed all material things.

Convert to the living God of Israel.

One that is blessed of the Lord, as demonstrated by the fruits of the Spirit which she displayed.

 

READ Ruth 3:11

What is the significance of this statement, given Ruth is a Moabite?

It goes against the racist stereotype.

It demonstrates the depth of her conversion vis-a-vis the “chosen people” of Israel who should, given all their knowledge growing up in the faith, be just as virtuous or much more so.

It shows that when someone truly comes unto Christ, they 1) sacrifice ALL of the cultural baggage - good or bad - that they are carrying and 2) the Lord can make them into new creatures in His image, regardless of how lowly or lost they were.

 

Boaz ends up marrying Ruth; their grandson is Jesse and great-grandson is King David.  The scriptures repeatedly stress Ruth’s Moabite origins.  The Law expressly forbad Israelite men from marrying “foreign” women. 

What can we learn from the Story of Ruth?

The Lord is no respecter of persons - if you come unto Him in faith, keeping His commandments, you will receive the blessings.

The principle of adoption - if you make and keep the covenant, the Lord will MAKE you His, regardless of your starting point or bloodline.

The concern about foreign women was that they would influence their Israelite husbands to worship false gods; in this case, Ruth demonstrates tremendous faith in and faithfulness toward the God of Israel – so it’s not about being “foreign” as much as being “faithful” to the true and living God.

 

 

Hannah

A man, Elkanah, had two wives, Hannah who was barren, and Peninnah, who had children.  Peninnah taunted Hannah, and while her husband loved Hannah very much, he did not fully understand her desire for a child. 

READ 1 Samuel 1:10-11

What is Hannah’s response to her sorrow?

She prays to the Lord.

She vows to consecrate the child to the Lord - a Nazarite vow.

She does not ask for help with her tormentor, Peninnah.

 

Hannah is blessed to conceive and has a son, who she names Samuel.  When he is weaned (aged 2 or 3), Hannah takes baby Samuel to the Temple to live the Nazarite vow she had made on his behalf. 

READ Judges 13:4-5

What is a Nazarite?

Nazarites separate themselves from the world unto the Lord - consecrate the time unto the Lord - keep His commandments

One becomes a Nazarite by making a vow to God.  The Nazarite Vow includes several measurable, behavioral aspects including following God’s commandments, abstaining from wine/drink, not cutting hair, not becoming unclean through touching the dead, not profaning the Sabbath (see Numbers 6).

Think of Hannah, Samson’s mother and Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist; what is the relationship between these three barren women and the Nazarite vow they made on behalf of their sons?

God intervened directly in enabling these births - they would not have happened otherwise.

The mothers each made a covenant by sacrifice (actually two sacrifices: the possibility of death at the birth of the baby and then giving up the child to the Lord).

All three of their sons had missions to perform on behalf of their Lord.

 

Next week we will continue the story of Hannah and her son Samuel.

 

 

Veil Workers

READ John 2:18-21 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

What are the functions of a temple?

The function of a temple is that it is meant to be a house for the Godhead on earth.

It can serve as a connection or portal between heaven and earth.

It is a place to teach and invite people to come into God’s presence through the use of ceremony or rite.

How is the body a temple?

It is a place where the Spirit of the Lord dwells.

It is a place that can either be set apart (like the Nazarite vow) or defiled (see Mosiah 2:37; Alma 34:34-35; D&C 97:15-17).

 

READ Ether 2:6

What separates us from God?

A veil.

A dimensional boundary.

 

The temple is a place of veil work.  Individuals pass from one place to another, from one level of light to another or from one level of understanding to another, by going through veils or separating boundaries.   

How does this veil-work idea apply to Christ’s body being a temple?

Christ’s body is a temple because through His sacrifice of it, we pass from being fallen mortals to becoming redeemed immortals, if He will allow us through the veil (He is the keeper of the gate and employs no servant there).

How does veil-work apply to the idea that our mortal bodies are temples?

Our mortal bodies are “avatars” which enable a being of light (our spirits) to “come down” and interact in a probationary environment that we would not be able to experience otherwise.

We cross a boundary or veil when we enter and leave these mortal bodies (birth, death and spiritual transformation – i.e. spiritual birth and death).

The “veil of the flesh” also acts as a memory boundary, enabling the testing aspects of mortal life. 

How does the mantra “holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord” apply to our bodies as temples?

It is not just our spirits that can abide with us in the mortal body, because God’s spirit can also abide with us or animate/quicken us: take up a habitation with us.

We must keep ourselves unspotted and undefiled, if we are to have God visit the temple of our body.

Who does (or stewards) the work of “raising up” a mortal temple?

Women partner with the Lord (who will ultimately redeem these mortal bodies) to enable the “veil-work” of mortality to continue.

A women’s body is a temple in an additional sense because it is a gate through which immortal spirits pass through the veil into mortal bodies.

Women are veil workers.

 

The Return to Israel & the Second Temple (Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai) QUESTIONS

Returning to Israel Background: The temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC, when they sacked the city, killing or ta...