Old Testament Saul, David, and Solomon

I am a seminary teacher. Working with teens is an amazing privilege. Doing so in the wee hours of the morning each week day is a challenge. But it is all worth it.

As we’ve studied Saul, David, and Solomon, I’ve been led through sorrowful paths. Here are some of my thoughts I shared in an article recently over at the LDS portion of BellaOnline.com.

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SAUL

Contrast these two scriptures:

1 Samuel 9:2
“And [Kish] had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he:…”

Now here is Saul some years later:

1 Samuel 13:14
“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart,…because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded [him].”

Saul began as a man that was described as “there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he…”, yet with the passage of time the Lord removed the kingdom from Saul because he had “not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.”

Many today know of Biblical Saul. Not only did he decide to worship how, where and what he may (see 1 Samuel 13:8-14), but he continued to attempt to kill David (who was the Lord’s newly anointed servant and future king); Saul even tried to kill his own son, Jonathan, for speaking rationally about David (see 1 Samuel 20:29-33).

Saul’s choices perhaps made sense to him, but they were willful choices and selfish ones at best. No wonder he lost all that God had given him (the sad account in its entirety is found in 1 Samuel in the Old Testament).

DAVID

Contrast the following two scriptures. The first is David speaking as a youth. He is aghast and enraged that one such as Goliath would defile the God of Israel and His people. Note David’s honor and valor!

1 Samuel 17:45
“Then said David to the Philistine, 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 defiled.”

Flash forward years later. David requires that Bathsheba “lay with him.” She becomes pregnant. David wants to cover it up. He commands that Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, come home; his intent is to give Uriah a “weekend pass” with his wife.

Uriah honorably balks. He now is the one with honor. He cannot stomach forgetting his fellow soldiers fighting a vicious war. David’s response to this honest response? The next morning, David sends Uriah to the front lines of battle to have him killed. Now who has defiled whom?

2 Samuel 11:14-15
“And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.

“And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.”

SOLOMON

Contrast these two scriptures. The first is when Solomon is a new king. The Lord asks of Solomon whatever Solomon wills. Solomon requests wisdom, which immensely pleases the Lord:

1 Kings 3:11-12
“And God said unto him, Because thou has asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

“Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”

Now flash forward to Solomon years later in his old age:

1 Kings 11:5-8
“For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

“And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord,…

“Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.”

For those who are not familiar with ancient pagan gods, the Lord found pagan worship ceremonies more than repugnant. For example, worship of Molech and other ancient pagan systems utilized even infant sacrifice at times (see Samuel Fallows, Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. “Ashtoreth,” 1:168).

Not only did Solomon participate in worshipping ancient pagan gods during the end of his life, he actually built places of pagan worship as we can read above. According to Biblical verse and commentaries, these activities were reprehensible to God due to human sacrifice involved as well as the sexual orgies and the turning of hearts away from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Summary

What do Saul, David, and Solomon all have in common? A very disheartening and sorrowful fall from grace. What do their stories have for us? That we must watch ourselves in every manner to ensure that we do not follow lives of selfish abandonment.

The Lord watches His people. He gives prophets to teach us to also watch our own lives. As King Benjamin said in the Book of Mormon:

“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).

How urgent to learn from these ancient Biblical men; how important that we continue to “watch ourselves” so that we will be ready for the Savior’s coming when He actually is here. Truly a sobering thought.

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Now is a Great Time to Prepare!


“Now is a Great Time to Prepare!” is a line off the back cover of Emergency Essentials DVD, “Family Preparedness Plan.” I’d ordered the DVD with some other emergency prep items. It came this week and I sat down to watch the 30 minute video tonight.

Although the emergencies discussed in the video could overwhelm me, I’m choosing not to take that mental approach. The details in the video were great. It followed a simple outline:

  1. Self-Reliance
  2. Adaptability
  3. Step-By-Step Progress

While it was obvious that the video had been filmed some time ago (i.e. it referenced payphones), the information the DVD contained is excellent. I’ve ordered a copy for each distant family member.

It’s just like they said on the DVD: when you are prepared you “shall not fear.” I too want to be able to “sleep while the wind blows” (as per the story told in the film). And this little DVD is the perfect thing to help me do so.

I’ve still got areas to finish in my emergency preparations. How ’bout you?

On Down Days

Today was one of my low energy days. You might know the kind, where the fatigue is so great that you have to spend it in bed.

So I pulled out my scriptures and began reading, prowling from page to page in no certain order. I stumbled across (or perhaps was led to?) Doctrine and Covenants 101:38:

And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.

The word seek in the phrase seek the face of the Lord always caught my eye, and I began cross referencing similar verses. What I found helped me greatly, on this low energy day.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face,…then will I hear from heaven,…(2 Chronicles 7:14).

The cross-referencing also led me to Amos 5:6. Oh, how I love these Old Testament prophets. How diligently they sought to declare God’s words, to warn of pending judgments, and to witness of the Lord’s love for all. Here is a phrase that is repeated throughout Amos 5:

“Seek ye me, and ye shall live…” (Amos 5:4).

“Seek the Lord, and ye shall live;…” (vs 6).

“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live…” (vs 14).

“…love good, and establish judgment in the gate;… (vs 15).

“…let judgment runs down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (vs 24).

I realized after cross-referencing these scriptures (and more) that even though my physical body may fatigue at times, that when I seek the Lord through scripture study, my spiritual “body” can revive the physical through the grace of God, bringing life and joy.

So not a bad day after all – even though I needed to spend it in bed!

Experienced a Setback?

I had a new perspective today on setbacks that come in life. I was reading in the Bible in 1 Samuel about David’s struggles with King Saul. King Saul repeatedly attempted to murder David; David had several opportunities to kill Saul.

The difference between the two? David refused to hurt the Lord’s anointed.

The end result: David needed to stay on the run. At some point, David finally flees to the Philistines, the Israelite’s enemies. He stays because of the goodness of the Philistine king, Achish. David is a help to the king, so when the other princes complain about David’s desire to fight for them in a pending battle, Achish is frustrated yet has his hands tied.

As a result … David experiences a setback. He wants more than anything to aid the Philistines in their endeavors – for it was, after all, the Philistines who finally have given him peace. But the princes in their prejudice and mistrust of an Israelite, refuse David’s offer of help for their upcoming battle.

David pleads to Achish: “But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king (1 Sam 29:8)?”

Achish’s sorrowful response: “David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding, the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle” (vs 9).”

So much of the Biblical account records physical events, not “heart events.” David must leave. I wonder at his emotional response to being stymied in his fervent desires. But here’s the point, at least it was for me. When a setback occurs, I realized today that often the Lord’s hand is in it.

Unbeknownst to David, his two wives had been abducted back in Ziklag and the entire settlement burned to the ground. It was only after David returns home, that he discovers he was needed there! (See 1 Samuel 29 and 1 Samuel 30 to read the whole story.)

The “ah, ha” moment for me came quite strongly today as I pondered the meaning of this account. From the moment that David was forced to go home, to when he found a dying enemy soldier who led David and his men to the “bad guys,” the Lord’s hand was all over that! The timing was too important. David’s abducted wives needed him at home, as did the rest of the people.

In fact, we read in the next chapter (1 Samuel 30) in verse 18 that “David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking…neither sons nor daughters…nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered them all” (1 Sam 30:18-19).

Indeed, setbacks may very much be the Lord acting in mercy when we expect it least.