OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 19
- The strength of righteous parents and the consequences of forsaking
- Deborah - the strength of a righteous friend.
- Gideon - the strength of faith in God.
- Samson - the strength of covenants and the consequences of breaking
A prayerful study of this lesson will encourage us to seek influences
that will strengthen us in living the gospel in a challenging world.
The Book of Judges
- Named after the 12 individuals who led Israel between the time of Joshua
What were these judges?
- Time frame: abt. 1250-1020 BC.
- They were not simple definers of the law or judicial officials.
- Judge = shophet in Hebrew. A shophet is a lawgiver or governor.
- These judges were champions or heroes vindicating Israel in war.
The Message of Judges
Overall message of Judges:
- Years ago the daily newspaper carried a comic frame entitled "Graffiti".
Each day the comic displayed a wall with some kind of humorous saying.
One particular day the wall contained the following writing, "History
repeats itself because no one listened the first time." This is
the story of Judges.
- No historical book of the Old Testament has such a clear philosophy
of history as the Book of Judges.
The Historical Cycle:
- APOSTASY - Part 1 of the Cycle.
BONDAGE & OPPRESSION - Part 2 of the Cycle.
- The writer of Judges begins each cycle of apostasy with the same words,
which he repeats 7 times in 13 chapters, "And the children of Israel
did evil in the sight of the Lord."
- READ JUDGES 2:10-13. Israel forsakes the Lord
& turns to other gods.
- WHO WERE THESE GODS?
- There were two which posed the greatest challenge to Israel.
- The supreme storm-god: controlled the winds, clouds, rain, lightning,
thunderings and elements of the atmosphere.
- Often depicted with a thunderbolt with his left hand and an uplifted
mace in his right hand.
- A helmet is shown on his head, adorned with the horns of a bull, the
symbol of fertility.
- An astral goddess of fertility who caused or increased the fruitfulness
of plants, animals, and man.
- Generally depicted as naked, her head adorned with horns.
- She was associated with sensuous love.
- WHY WAS ISRAEL ATTRACTED TO THE WORSHIP OF THESE FALSE GODS?
- Similarities between aspects of the two religions: Prophets, temples,
priests, sacrifices & burnt offerings, entreated with prayer.
- Visible, outward signs, with shows, pageants, and parades. These seem
to have an attraction to the natural heart, which often fails to perceive
the unseen spiritual realities.
- Consider some of the TV evangelists of today.
- While I was on my mission in Oklahoma, there was a country Pentecostal
church in the eastern part of the state that had a band play each Sunday
evening. The folks would flock out of town to listen to this lively group.
- Licentious revelries and obscene orgies with which the worship of these
idols or dieties was observed.
- "This worship, appealing to every sensual passion, joined with
the attractions of wealth and fashion and luxury, naturally was a great
temptation to a simple, restrained, agricultural people, whose worhip and
laws demanded the greatest purity of heart and of life." (Old
Testament Student Manual, p247)
HUMILITY & REPENTENCE - Part 3 of the Cycle.
- According to Judges the Lord allowed the neighboring nations to attack
and oppress Israel. The chart below shows the length of foreign domination.
DELIVERANCE BY THE JUDGES - Part 4 of the Cycle.
- HOW DID ISRAEL RESPOND?
- READ JUDGES 10:10,15-16. Israel cries unto the
- I find it interesting that the moral and spiritual decline of the children
of Israel was not arrested until they were punished.
HOW DOES THIS PATTERN COMPARE WITH THAT IN THE BOOK OF MORMON?
- The Lord seemed to be infinitely patient with Israel.
- The Lord raised up judges to deliver Israel from their foreign domination
and interceded with his power. These judges included: Samson, Deborah,
WHERE DO WE STAND? DO WE FALL INTO SIMILAR CYCLES?
- The pattern appears to be the same. The main difference seemed to be
that Old Testament Israel turned to the worship of false gods and Book
of Mormon Israel was caught up in its wealth & pride. The result was
the same = APOSTASY.
- Helaman 12:2-3: "Yea, and we may see at the very time when
he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their
flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of
precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering
them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies
that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing
all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the
time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God,
and do trample under their feet the Holy One--yea, and this because of
their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
"And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people
with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with
terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not
- If we are here today then we are striving to do the will of the Lord.
But the Book of Judges issues a solemn warning to people of all ages. History
repeats itself because no one listened the first time.
- Consider what Judges has to say about the rebellious youth of that
- "...and there arose another generation after them, which knew
not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel"
- "And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers...and followed
other gods" (2:12).
- "...but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves
unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked
- WHY DO CHILDREN SOMETIMES FORSAKE THE RIGHTEOUS TEACHING AND WAYS OF
- Agency is a fundamental consideration in any discussion of this question.
Heavenly Father had a third of his spirit children lured away. The scriptures
have many examples of children rebelling against their righteous parents.
Consider the story of Laman and Lemuel or Alma and the sons of Mosiah.
- The children are often lured away by the attractions of the world.
In ancient Israel, it was the heathen gods and the practices that surrounded
their worship. Today we find many attractions of the world luring our children
away from the paths of righteousness: the pursuit of success or learning,
possessions, the supposed easiness of following the ways of the world,
the modern culture as portrayed in the media.
- Sometimes parents are responsible for not teaching their children.
- HOW CAN PARENTS HELP THEIR CHILDREN BE FAITHFUL AND NOT ENTER INTO
THIS DEADLY CYCLE?
- Hugh B. Brown: "I think we older ones need to be reminded of
our duty! I think we need to be reminded that we who are older are in a
very large measure responsible for what might happen to those who are younger."
(The Abundant Life, p166)
- The example we set and the way we live our lives tells our children
if we really believe what we preach. Any parent knows that younger children
often mimic the actions of their parent. Children are observant and they
know hypocrisy when they see it.
- We need to be proactive in teaching our children the ways of righteousness.
- The Lord has provided the tool of family home evening for this purpose.
- Other opportunities present themselves for teaching and should be utilized.
As parents, we cannot allow other activities to take precedence over unique
- We can have personal interviews with our children.
- The thoughts and ideas that we implant in our children's minds will
come back to bless our children. President Hugh B. Brown talked of his
mother and how she taught him: "More than half a century ago, I
was standing on a little railway station platform in Cardston, Canada.
I was leaving for England on a mission. My saintly mother stood there with
me and held my hand. This is what she said. "Hugh, my son, do you
remember when you were a little boy you often had bad dreams, nightmares,
and you called out to me as I was sleeping in the next room: `Mother, Mother,
are you there?' Do you remember I always said, `Yes, my son, I'm here.
Just turn over and go to sleep. Everything is all right.'" She said,
"My boy, five thousand miles must now separate us, across a continent
and an ocean. You are not going to have bad dreams only at night, but many
times, in the daytime, you are going to want to call for help and comfort.
Son, when you are beset with difficulties, when you meet temptation, when
you are confused and don't know where to go, call out and say, `Father,
are you there?'" She said, "My boy, I promise you He will always
answer and you need not fear."
"...through the intervening years, countless occasions have arisen
where men could not help me much, when I felt alone, where I had a nightmare
with my eyes wide open. I have taken the advice of my mother and have said,
"Father, are you there?" Now He has not spoken to me audibly;
He has not appeared to me personally; but He has always answered me. There
has come into my heart a quiet peace which enabled me to know that I could,
figuratively, turn over nd go to sleep." (The Abundant Life, pp202-203)
- Never give up on our children. Once again, consider the story of Alma
the younger and his story of conversion. When the angel appeared to Alma
he said, "Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people,
and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has
prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to
the knowledge of the truth" (Mosiah 27:14).
- Orson F. Whitney: "You parents of the wilful and the wayward:
Don't give them up. Don't cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The
shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours--long
before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them
as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right,
and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings
the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful,
infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the
Everlasting gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite
minds can comprehend." (Conference Report, April 1929)
- HOW CAN WE RECOGNIZE THE EARLY SIGNS OF APOSTASY?
- HOW CAN AN INDIVIDUAL BREAK THE CYCLE OF APOSTASY?
- HOW MIGHT WE APPROPRIATELY HELP A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND WHO SEEMS
TO BE FALLING AWAY FROM THE TRUTH?
Deborah - The Strength Of A Righteous Friend
- "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of
the LORD" (Judges 4:1). As a consequence of their apostasy, "the
LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan" (Judges
4:2) and the were oppressed for twenty years.
- Deborah, a prophetess, judged Israel at this time.
- Deborah called upon Barak to take 10,000 men and go up against the
army of Jabin, led by Sisera.
READ JUDGES 4:13-16. Barak's army goes into battle
and defeats Sisera's army.
HOW WAS DEBORAH A TRUE FRIEND TO BARAK?
- WHAT CONDITION DID BARAK REQUIRE IF HE WAS TO TAKE ON THIS ASSIGNMENT?
- "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go" (Judges 4:8).
- WHY TO YOU SUPPOSE BARAK WAS WILLING TO FACE SISERA IF DEBORAH WOULD
GO WITH HIM?
- It always helps to have a prophet along when you go into battle against
- It helps to take on a challenge when you have the support of good friends
HOW HAVE FRIENDS AND/OR FAMILY MEMBERS HELPED YOU FACE DIFFICULT CHALLENGES
OR OBEY THE LORD'S COMMANDMENTS?
- She entrusted him with a difficult assignment.
- She had faith in him that he could be successful in carrying out this
- She didn't just send him, but was willing to go with him.
- She inspired him, "Up; for this is the day in which the LORD
hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before
- As a teenager, the friends I spent most of my time with, helped fashion
the direction of my life. We weren't perfect kids, but we did keep each
other on the straight and narrow. The goal for each of us was to serve
a mission and be married in the temple. Most of us did that. We encouraged
each other in our endeavors. True friends inspire us to be the best we
can be and to follow the commandments.
Gideon - The Strength Of Faith In God
- JUDGES 6:1: "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight
of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven
Israel cried unto the Lord because of the Midianites (6:7).
- The Midianites and Amalekites were a roving people of the desert.
- For seven years they invaded Israel during the harvest season, like
swarms of locusts, and carried away their grain and livestock.
- Israel adopted every means to conceal themselves. They even made caverns
to hide in.
READ 6:11-13. Angel appears to Gideon. Gideon
asks where are the miracles of the past.
- Through a prophet the Lord stated: "...ye have not obeyed my
Gideon called to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites (6:14-16).
READ 6:20-23. The power of the Lord confirmed
- HOW DID GIDEON RESPOND WHEN THE ANGEL ASSURED HIM THAT THE LORD WAS
- He asked: Why then has all this befallen us? Where are the miracles
of the past?
- DO WE SOMETIMES FEEL THIS WAY, THAT MIRACLES ARE A THING OF THE PAST?
- Consider the great miracles of modern Church history: Brigham transfigured
as Joseph in Nauvoo, spiritual experiences at Kirtland temple, deliverance
from the crickets.
- AS THE HISTORY OF OUR DAY IS WRITTEN AND CARRIED TO FUTURE GENERATIONS,
WHAT EVENTS WILL LIKELY TO BE HIGHLIGHTED? ARE THERE ANY?
- The opening of the nations of the world to the missionary work.
- The building and opening of so many temples.
- Our modern prophets.
- WHAT IS OUR ROLE IN THESE MIRACLES?
- READ MORONI 7:35-38. Faith.
- IF WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR SPECTACULAR MIRACLES, HOW MIGHT THAT AFFECT
OUR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE MORE QUIET ONES? HOW CAN WE LEARN TO RECOGNIZE
THE QUIET MIRACLES IN OUR LIVES?
Gideon sends out a call to four of the tribes for an army to cast out
the Midianites (6:35).
Gideon and his army make camp near the "host" of the Midianites.
- It appears that there may have been some doubt in the mind of Gideon
that this was in fact an angel of the Lord. In v17 Gideon had asked for
The Lord commands Gideon to prepare for the Midianites, for they are
delivered into his hand (7:9).
- READ 7:2. The Lord requires Gideon to reduce his
army so that the hand of the Lord would be recognized in Israel's success.
- Started with 32,000.
- Reduced to 10,000. The "fearful" & "afraid"
were asked to depart.
- The Lord wants the army reduced even further. Selection made by how
each man drank. Those that brought their hands to their mouth were chosen
to remain with the army.
- This reduced the army to 300.
- I think that if I were Gideon, I would have questioned the wisdom of
the Lord in reducing the army to less than 1% of its original size. The
fact that Gideon followed the instructions of the Lord is a testimony of
his faith and that he was convinced of the power of the Lord.
- THIS RAISES A QUESTION FOR US: DO WE SOMETIMES NOT PERCEIVE
THE HAND OF THE LORD IN OUR LIVES, BECAUSE IT APPEARS THAT WE HAVE THE
CAPABILITY TO HANDLE THE TASKS BEFORE US?
Gideon called upon by Israel to be king. People seem to love military
heroes and want them as their leader.
- The Midianites/Amalekites appeared to be a formidable army.
- They laid "along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude"
- The "camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side"
- The 300 divided into 3 companies. A trumpet was put into the had of
every man, along with a pitcher and a lamp to be placed in the empty pitcher.
- READ 7:20-22. The attack begins.
- I am reminded of the Utah War and how a few men were able to slow the
progress of Johnston's army.
- After this startling beginning, the host was then pursued. Those men
that had been previously dismissed now joined in the pursuit.
- 120,000 men of the east (Midianites and others) were destroyed.
The story of Gideon once again provides proof of Nephi's statement,
"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for
I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save
he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which
he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7).
- Gideon's noble response: "I will not rule over you, neither
shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you" (8:23).
- Gideon may well have understood that great Book of Mormon principle
regarding the potential difficulties that frequently arise from a monarchy.
- After Gideon's death, his son Abimelech, killed all but one of Gideon's
sons and became king of the Shechem and ruled over Israel wickedly. Eventually
he was destroyed.
- LeGrand Richards: "Over fifty years ago I heard Elder James
E. Talmage tell this story. It has remained with me all these years. He
told about a group of tourists or travelers in the Alps who were snowbound.
The Lord sent an angel to a monk and told him about these people, asking
him to go and rescue them. The answer was, "Why?" And the minute
he said "Why," the angel disappeared. He went to the second monk
and delivered the same message, and the answer was, "How?" And
the angel disappeared. He went to the third and delivered the same message,
and the monk said, "When?" And the angel remained and delivered
- "It shouldn't be for us to say, when the call of the Lord comes
or when we understand a command that is given to us through the prophets
of God, "How can we do it?" or "Why does he ask us to do
it?" but "When, oh, God the Eternal Father, as thy son or daughter,
wouldst thou have me do the thing that thou hast commanded?" (CR,
Samson - The Strength of Covenants & Consequences
Of Breaking Them
- Judges 13:1: "And the children of Israel did evil again in
the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the
Philistines forty years."
- An angel appears to the wife of Manoah, a Danite.
Samson goes down among the Philistines.
- READ JUDGES 13:3-5. She was to bear a son, a deliverer.
- A Nazarite was one who was consecrated to the Lord.
- Judges13:24: "And the woman bare a son, and called his name
Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him."
Samson marries a wife of the Philistines (see Chapter 14).
- Judges 14:5-6: "Then went Samson down, and his father and his
mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold,
a young lion roared against him. "And the Spirit of the LORD came
mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he
had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what
he had done."
- WHAT WAS THE SOURCE OF SAMSON'S POWER?
After Samson's father-in-law informed him that his wife had been given
to another, Samson caused that the corn fields of the Philistines be burned
(see Chapter 15).
- At the 7 day wedding feast Samson proposed a riddle.
- His wife revealed the answer to the 30 Philistine guests to save her
own life and Samson lost the wager.
- In his anger he went down to Ashkelon and slew 30 men and took their
spoils to pay his wager.
- In the mean time, Samson's father-in-law gave Samson's wife to his
best man at the wedding.
- This story begins to tell us a little about Samson. This was a man
who had been blessed with great power and destiny. Yet he married a Philistine,
interacted with them, and smothe them only when it suited his personal
Samson fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, Delilah (see
- When the Philistines discovered the cause of the burning they took
Samson's wife and her father and burned them.
- The Philistines then came and camped against Judah in search of Samson.
They bound him and turned him over to the Philistines.
- Judges 15:14-15: "And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines
shouted against him; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him,
and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with
fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone
of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men
The Philistines took and bound him, brought him to Gaza, "and
he did grind in the prison house" (16:21).
- The lords of the Philistines came to Delilah and asked her to find
the secret of Samson's strength. They offered her 1100 pieces of silver.
- Three times Delilah asked Samson the source of his strength and three
times he deceived her.
- READ JUDGES 16:15-17. Samson finally reveals the
source of his strength. Delilah causes his head to be shaven while he was
- "...and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from
- Verse 22 says that "the hair of his head began to grow again".
- The Philistines called Samson forth from the prison to make sport of
- READ 16:28. Samson calls upon the Lord for strength.
- Samson was placed between 2 pillars which supported the building. He
collapsed the pillars causing 3,000 to die, including himself.
Some Lessons To Be Learned From The Story of Samson
- WHAT WAS THE REAL CAUSE OF SAMSON'S DOWNFALL?
WHY, AFTER SAMSON KNEW THAT DELILAH HAD TRIED THREE TIMES TO BETRAY
HIM, DID HE TELL HER THE SECRET OF HIS STRENGTH?
- D&C 3:4: "For although a man may have many revelations,
and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength,
and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates
of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance
of a just God upon him."
DO WE HAVE PERSISTENT TEMPTATIONS?
- See Judges 16:15-17.
- "How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with
- "She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him".
- Contrast Samson's response to Delilah with Joseph's response to Potipher's
wife (see Gen. 39:7-12).
As we ponder this story, we should consider our Patriarchal Blessings.
Do we do things that lead us away from our intended destiny?
- DO WE EVER GIVE IN?
- WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE VIOLATE OUR COVENANTS?
- Like Samson, we lose our promised blessings.
- HOW CAN WE RESIST OR OVERCOME PERSISTENT TEMPTATIONS?
- In the case of Joseph, he removed himself from the scene.
- Samson might have been the greatest leader in Israel since Joshua,
but his selfish self-centered life led him down a far different path.
After claiming their inheritance under the leadership of Joshua, the
ancient Israelites fell into a cycle of apostasy. As modern Israelites,
we are also subject to that cycle unless we strive diligently to keep the
commandments. We can either be like Gideon who had great faith in the Lord
and trusted in his promises, or we can be like Samson who did not honor
his covenants and lost his destiny.
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