23: "The Lord Raised Up a Deliverer" (Judges 2–4; 6–8; 13–16)
Warfare, scandal, espionage—you’re going to need to buckle up for this week’s lesson in Judges 2–4, 6–8, and 13–16. We are entering a turbulent and wicked time among the Israelites, but also a time when great heroes and heroines rose up to meet the challenges of their day. Now, these men and women weren’t superheroes with magic powers; they were imperfect people who learned to accomplish great works through faith in God—something we can learn to do, too.
Book of Judges Background:
Name: “The book of Judges is named for the various rulers, called “judges” (Judges 2:16–19), who are the book’s central figures” (“Introduction to the Book of Judges,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Material, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Who Wrote It: “We do not know who wrote the book of Judges. One Jewish tradition states that Samuel wrote or compiled the book. However, the book reflects the perspective of a much later time, after the northern tribes of Israel had been conquered by Assyria around 721 B.C. (see Judges 18:30). This perspective suggests that the author or authors lived long after the time of Samuel” (“Introduction to the Book of Judges,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Material, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
(Footnote A of Judges 2:18: “The Hebrew root means “to be sorry,” “moved to pity,” or “have compassion)
Shofetim = Judges
Cubit = A unit of measurement roughly 18 inches long.
Bochim = Weepers
(A nail approximately the size of a tent stake for a large tent)
Deborah = Honeybee
Lapidoth = Fire or light
Jael = Mountain goat
Flavius Josephus wrote that the Canaanite army consisted of 3,000 chariots, 10,000 horsement, and 300,000 footmen (Antiquities of the Jews, 5.1).
(Doug and Robert with fleece blankets)
“I asked Elder Maxwell what lessons he had learned through his illness. I will remember always the precise and penetrating answer he gave. ‘Dave,’ he said, ‘I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.’
“His response to my inquiry was a principle with which he had gained extensive personal experience during his chemotherapy. In January 1997, on the day he was scheduled to begin his first round of treatment, Elder Maxwell looked at his wife, reached for her hand, breathed a deep sigh, and said, ‘I just don’t want to shrink.’
“In his October 1997 general conference message, Elder Maxwell taught with great authenticity:
‘As we confront our own … trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we ‘might not … shrink’—meaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus’” (Elder David A. Bednar, “Accepting the Lord’s Will and Timing, August 2016 Ensign). https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2016/08/accepting-the-lords-will-and-timing?lang=eng
Numbers 6 (Law of the Narazite)
Nazar = to dedicate to God
Shema = to hearken, to listen and obey
“But in process of time Samson's hair grew again. And there was a public festival among the Philistines, when the rulers, and those of the most eminent character, were feasting together; [now the room wherein they were had its roof supported by two pillars;] so they sent for Samson, and he was brought to their feast, that they might insult him in their cups” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 8.12).
Okay you guys, you had better settle in for this one. Today's episode is filled with tales of espionage, intrigue, torture, kidnapping, debauchery, warfare, scandal, and heroes—and it will blow your mind. Our discussion of the book of Judges is a sobering tale of the human condition. And it ultimately points out the need for a king, The King, and what He can and will do for his people.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the "Come, Follow Me" lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
If you're new to our study group, we want to make sure you know how to use this podcast. So follow the link in our description. It's going to explain how you can best use this podcast to enhance your "Come, Follow Me" study just like my friends, oh this is fun: Megan, Daniel, Nathan Knowlton, Sarah, Riley, Jacob, Michael and Hope Ferguson. Hi friends! They listen on their way to track and I think it's so great when they're going to track practice. So you guys, you're gonna love the stories today. It'll freak you out. So think about it when you're running.
Now here's my favorite thing about the study group is each week we're joined by two of my friends. So it's always a little bit different and today is different. We have now Robert Howarth. He's been on before. So welcome back, Robert! Hi!
Robert Howarth 1:20
And how excited are we to introduce Doug Farley. Hey, Doug!
Doug Farley 1:25
How's it going?
Oh, it's going good now. You know their wives, Hollee Howarth, and Robert's daughter is Ellery Howarth, who has been on. And then Doug's wife is Becky Farley, BFF, as we refer to her. So they've all been on, they've all heard the podcast. I want you guys to tell me how long have you known each other? You guys have been friends for a while, do you have any good stories?
Robert Howarth 1:43
Gosh, we've known each other for 22 years now. Doug, is that right? We moved into the ward at the same time. Never left, we tried. We had a going away party. I got transferred and my job was in Chicago. We bought a house out there and the Farley's actually had a going away party for us because we sold our house and everything. But you know the house sell fell through. And I never actually moved my family Chicago. And so the, you know, the party was for nothing. And they actually had this book that they made where everybody wrote these beautiful things about how much they loved us because we're very popular in the ward. And the Farley's will not give that book to us to this day.
I witnessed that. It is true. Give it up, Doug and Becky. I want them to read the note I wrote them.
Doug Farley 2:27
Now I've gotta go find where we put it.
Doug Farley 2:31
So I can read it and see what the mushy stuff we've put.
Robert Howarth 2:35
Oh, that's so funny. Doug, you got a good story about Robert?
Doug Farley 2:39
Yeah. So when we first moved in the ward, Robert was the Elders' Quorum instructor. And I'd never heard anyone teach in that style before. And I was like, "He's kind of weird." But then, by the end of the lesson, I was like, "That was the best lesson ever. It was fantastic." Little did I know, [we became] best friends right there, staring at me in the classroom. And it's been the best 22 years ever.
Amen. That was a good story. And I'm just gonna tell you right now, I love these men so much. I have known them for over 20 years. And I have been the benefactor of their example. I think God knew I needed them in my life before I got married because they were just a beautiful example of what husbands should look like and do, and thanks for joining me.
Robert Howarth 3:25
You bet. You bet, you're just giving me a big head, though. I don't know.
Doug Farley 3:28
I know. I know.
It's pretty big.
Okay, well, if you want to know more about my guests and read their bios and see their pictures, you can find them in our show notes which are found at ldsliving.com/sundayonmonday. All right you two, without giving away too much, what did you think about today's preparation and the topic of what we're gonna talk about?
Robert Howarth 3:49
I was lucky because I grew up in Dallas, the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. And you know, half of my friends' dads were literally preachers. And so they would always have these Bible studies at their houses and my mom and dad would let me go. So I probably know the Old Testament better than any other Latter-day Saint you've ever met.
So, you know, talking about Gideon and talking about Samson and Delilah, I was very excited about that. And that's why Doug probably thought that was weird because I'm there's flair in Texas. When you preach the gospel, you gotta have a little bit of flair, so jazz fingers and, you know, flair.
Doug Farley 4:26
Oh for sure.
That's great. What were your thoughts, Doug?
Doug Farley 4:29
See I'm on the other end of the stick. I didn't read my scriptures very much as a kid and reading was always very difficult for me. I'm dyslexic and it comes out in reading, so it was always really difficult for me to do. So I read Ehud's story for the first time.
For this today?
Doug Farley 4:48
Yep. I was like, "What the heck? No way!"
I'm so glad.
Doug Farley 4:55
It's juicy stuff, man.
Oh it's juicy. Okay, that is so awesome. Well, here's what I have to say about the book of Judges, I have been looking so forward to this episode all year long because whenever I go speak to teenagers, I always say, "Anyone who says scriptures are boring has never read the book of Judges." I mean, this is where it comes alive. It is awesome. I am so excited to share these stories. And I've asked Robert and Doug to help me share these stories. So friends, grab your scriptures, your scripture journal, and something to mark your scriptures with, and let's dig in.
So we're going to study the book of Judges. Now when you hear the word "judge," what do you immediately think of?
Doug Farley 5:29
A wooden hammer.
Yeah, a gavel, right? Hear ye, hear ye. Oh, yeah, for sure. That is not the kind of judge really we're talking about. So I'm going to give you some facts about the book of Judges that you're gonna want to know. And then we're gonna move into some stories.
So here's some fun facts. So last week, we came off the heels of Joshua dying, he and his people are instructed to keep the Book of the Law, and specifically Joshua, chapter three, verse 11, that says, take good heed and to love God. That's what they were reminded to do before Joshua left, just love God and follow Him and follow the commandments, read the scriptures, all that good stuff. Now, the name of the book of Judges is named for various rulers called judges, who are the books central figures. So in Hebrew, the name for this book is shofetim, which means judges, and there are 12 of them. If you want to mark that somewhere on your page, there are going to be 12 effective judges in the book of Judges. And they were regional, political, military leaders and fighters more than preachers of righteousness. So that's important to know. So this is not a guy who's in a black robe with a gavel.
Now we do not know who wrote the book of Judges. The what of the book of Judges, it recounts the history of the children of Israel, from the time that they settled in the land of Canaan, after Joshua's death until the birth of Samuel. So that's the timeframe it's going to cover for us.
Now, the why, why would we have the book of Judges especially in all of its craziness? Let's turn to Judges chapter two, just kind of bracket off verses 11 through 17. We're not gonna read all of them. But the specific why is verse 16. Robert, will you please read verse 16 for us?
Robert Howarth 7:06
16. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
Now spoiled does not mean a spoiled, rotten brat. What does spoiled mean there, in that context?
Doug Farley 7:20
It's their enemies that came in and then also took all their stuff, their spoils, like you would think of spoils of war, all their riches, and everything.
Oh, so perfect, that is an excellent answer. And the reason why people were coming in and taking their stuff is because they were making so many poor choices. What we have here is this classic four-step cycle of pride in the book of Judges. And here are the steps: number one, they did evil in the sight of the Lord. We're going to see that a lot. In fact, you'll see that in Judges, chapter two, verse 11, and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. Every time you see that, I want you to highlight it, mark it. So that's the first thing, they did evil in the side of the Lord. Then number two: they ended up in bondage. Then the third step in this cycle is they cried for deliverance. In fact, look at Judges chapter two, verse 18, it says, And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, all the days of the judge, highlight this, for it repented the Lord because of their groanings. And if you look at footnote a, in Hebrew, the root means to be sorry, move to pity or have compassion. And the Lord did, he had that for his people. So he delivered them, that's the fourth step, delivered them and they were free. And then we start over again, they did evil in the sight of the Lord. And they will do this, and I put this in my scriptures, they will do this over and over and over and over and over and over again, nonstop.
So before we begin with the book of Judges, let's go to how it ends. So turn to the very last chapter in the book of Judges. I want us to just look at this one verse to give us some crazy context. And, Doug, when we get there, will you please read Judges chapter 21, verse 25?
Doug Farley 9:02
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Boy, does that give you the chills? Ugh. So if that's how the book of Judges ended, let's find out how we got there. So in the next segment, we are going to begin our hour of stories that will both impress and leave you a little bit awestruck. And you guys, it really happened, and it's astonishing.
Segment 1 9:28
I want to know, who are my lefties out there? Are either one of you left-handed?
Robert Howarth 9:37
Doug Farley 9:38
Oh I have a son that's left-handed, though.
Okay, your son's left-handed. Robert, why did you say that way? No!
Robert Howarth 9:44
I just can't trust left-handed people, especially on the golf course.
Robert Howarth 9:48
Because it just doesn't look right. (laughter)
Do you remember growing up as a kid, if you were left-handed, that was weird.
Robert Howarth 9:55
One of my brothers is left-handed and he's definitely the black sheep family.
I mean, can you believe we actually believe that? My sister is left-handed but we forced her to be right-handed because you just weren't left-handed in the 70s, at all. Thank goodness we have definitely done a little repentance on that othering because, my southpaws out there, those of you who are left-handed, you're going to love this story today. I've asked Doug to tell us the story.
So I'm gonna give you a little history leading up to Doug's story. And here's what you need to know. In Judges chapter two, look at verse one. An angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to bohem. Bohem in Hebrew means the weepers. They are crying, and the reason why they're crying is because they are in bondage. And the angel comes to them and says in verse two, look, you are not supposed to make a league with the inhabitants of this land. And as a result, you're going to be overthrown. I can't help you. You know that. You've been told that by Joshua.
And yes, listen, I loved how Janiece Johnson framed this for us last week, she was very clear to help us understand that God is no respecter of persons. But He can only bless those who are married to Him, who make covenants with Jesus Christ through the Abrahamic covenant.
And so they're being reminded, look, you're breaking your covenants, I can't save you, I cannot help you. And so as a result, you are going to be in bondage. Life is not good for the children of Israel right now. And so as a result, they are in bondage. So we have the in verse 11 of Judges, chapter two, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So let's go to Judges chapter three. And we're going to read about one of these great stories about one of these judges. And we're going to start in Judges chapter three, verse 12, and I'm going to turn the time over to Doug to tell us this awesome story about this judge.
Doug Farley 11:38
Okay, so at this time, the Israelites are in bondage to Moab, and the king of Moab is a guy named Eglon. So here we have an example of the Lord loving his people and committed to His people that are way off track. And He knows how to bring them back. And so, same cycle, they get in bondage. They're saying help us. So God brings in Ehud, and Ehud makes himself a dagger. And he has his followers, his little group of guys and they send message to the king Eglon. That they've got a present for him, and they want to present him with this present. So they go in and he makes himself this dagger. The dagger is a cubit in length, and a cubit, for all those who don't know, is the length between the elbow and the tip of your middle finger, about 18 inches.
It specifically says how he was a left-handed man in verse 15. Robert, why don't you read chapter three, verse 15?
Robert Howarth 12:52
15 But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.
Oh there it is: lefty.
Doug Farley 13:16
Yeah, so he makes this dagger and takes his little group of guys and he goes to visit Eglon, king of Moab. And in 17, it tells us a little bit about this king in that it says that Eglon, king of Moab, and Elgon was a very fat man. So the plot thickens. So this guy is a big dude. And he has a summer palace so, Eglon, he dismisses the people from his court. So it's just him and Ehud and Ehud then dismisses all of the guys that are with him. So it's just the two guys in the court. And Ehud then tells him, and verse 20 says, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat, and he who puts forth his hand and took his dagger from his right thigh. Such important details, they change your life.
Why is that an important detail?
Doug Farley 14:23
I think it's just so funny that you hear such detail about these little things that don't really matter.
Well, I'll tell you why, though. This is so interesting because during this time of a warring people, when you would go in and you would meet someone, it was tradition to shake hands and you'd shake right hands. And if you're a right-handed swordsman, shaking the hand meant you came in peace because you didn't have a chance to grab your sword and stab the person. So Ehud would have come in and shaken the king's hand or kissed his hand with his right hand. And while he bowed to the king to kiss his hand, takes his left hand grabs the dagger on his right thigh, the king doesn't even see it coming, right? That's the best trickery of all time because Ehud's like, Oh, I'm here in peace. Shake, shake—and then stab, stab.
Doug Farley 15:08
And stab stab did he not stab. We read in verse 21, And Ehud put forth his left hand and took the dagger from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. And the haft, and we read halt is actually the hilt, the handle, also went in after the blade and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly, and the dirt came out. So I was laughing so hard when I read this, in fact, I then proceeded to tell my family about it, and everyone said no way. And they're like, let me see it. So then I'm like, Okay, right here, you know, we read it out loud. And we all just laughed is hilarious, but Ehud kills the king. There's nobody in the room because they send everybody away. Then he goes in, locks all the doors so they can't get in. And he escapes out and goes back to Israel. And they come in and attack and they free themselves out of bondage. And everybody adores Ehud they think he's the greatest guy on the planet, because he delivered him.
But the sad state of the Israelites is when you jump to actually chapter four, verse one, when it says that the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead. So he who lives out his life, they're all doing great. They love the Lord. He delivered. Then he who dies and they'll fall apart.
Exactly right. That was so good, Doug. That was so good. The scriptures are not boring. I mean, the dirt came out. Can you just imagine just the, blgh, like coming out of the king's belly? It's just so gross and so incredible, though.
Robert Howarth 17:05
It's a little Jabba the Hutt, though, on Star Wars.
That's what I thought of, yeah.
Doug Farley 17:10
Well, and not to get graphic, it's an 18-inch-long dagger, the whole thing disappears. Wow.
That's a ton. Like I'm looking at my arm right now. But 18 inches of a grown man. That's a long dagger. That's just the dagger not even the halt. Excellent job.
Now Ehud is dead, the children of Israel have done evil in the sight of the Lord. So in the next segment, we're gonna talk about who the next judge is.
Segment 2 17:36
I want you to describe to the listeners what I'm holding up.
Robert Howarth 17:42
An enormous nail.
Doug, tell me about this. Doug is a structural engineer. Tell us about like, how much strength would it take to pound this into the ground?
Doug Farley 17:52
Okay, so those nails are typically used in landscaping construction for nailing railroad ties together or the big landscape timbers. And a regular hammer, you can do it, but man, you're gonna wear yourself out. So you get a smaller sledgehammer to drive those in. And they give you a good workout. They're tough going in. To take them out, you can't. They're brutal. So they stick as they go in because they're driving such a big hole. I mean, think of your index fingers about that big around and, and pound that in. You need a crowbar, and oftentimes, to pull them out, those don't even work.
Okay. I can't wait to come back to everything you said when we connect the story in the scriptures to this nail. So let's go to Judges chapter four. Robert has the biggest smile on his face right now because he knows exactly what story this is.
Robert Howarth 18:41
I know it.
Oh, okay, you're gonna help me tell it both of you. So I'm going to tell the first part of the story because I just love it. So Judges, chapter four, we need a judge. We need someone who's going to help the children of Israel because, as Doug told us, they did evil in the sight of the Lord and Ehud is dead. So we have verse two, we have the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, the king of Canaan, and he reigned in Hazor and the captain of whose host was Sisera, highlight Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. So we've got this guy named Sisera. He's the captain of the host for the king of Canaan. And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, for he had 900 chariots of iron and 20 years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
Now, there is some debate about the 900 chariots of iron. I thought this was really interesting. Josephus actually says he had 300,000 footmen, 10,000 horsemen, and 3,000 chariots. So there's a lot of stuff that Sisera is in charge of. And the children of Israel have been oppressed for 20 years from this man. So here's our wonderful judge, verse four, and Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time, a woman. Three cheers for Deborah! By the way, Deborah her name in Hebrew means honeybee. How sweet is that? You like that play? Da da dun.
Now another thing about Deborah, verse four says that she is the wife of Lapidoth.. So this is so fascinating to me because Lapidoth in Hebrew means fire or light. And in Hebrew, the word for wife and woman, it's the same word. So some scholars believe that she may not have actually been married. But that verse for teachers, us, she is a woman of light. And I really like that. And as a prophetess, she is totally a woman of light.
So we have a male, a man by the name of Barak, let's go to verse six. And he is called to lead the children of Israel into war. And here's something interesting about this is he goes, and he talks with Deborah. And Deborah says, here's how you're going to go and fight. And she gives them all the instructions in verses six and seven, go draw toward the mount of Tabor and take with the 10,000 men. Here's who you're going to take all the different tribes and draw near unto the river. You're gonna go down and fight Sisera in the river. But then I like what Barak says in verse eight. Doug, will you please read verse eight?
Doug Farley 20:58
8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go.
Those are his conditions. I'm not going to fight unless you're with me. I like Deborah, because then she says, in verse nine, I will surely go with thee. You bet. I'll go, but then she prophesied something. In this verse, she says, notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah rose and went with Barak to Kedesh. Now you read that and you think, Oh, is it Deborah? She's the woman. How's this gonna play out?
So verse 11, though, this is kind of like a mini-series, like pretend you're watching this movie, you hear this story, and then we have a little side conversation that you need to know in this storyline, verse 11. Now Heber the Kenite, which was of the children of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, had severed himself from the Kenites, and pitched his tent unto the plain of Zaanaim, which is by Kedesh. And then we go back to the storyline.
Now, why do we need to know that verse? Because when it says he severed himself from the Kenites, what that means as he took his family or his clan, and just moved and started his own clan. But he comes from the father-in-law of Moses, which is Jethro, the great high priest of Midian. So this would kind of make them believers. So you just need to know that going into the story.
Okay, let's go back to the battle then. So here we go, Sisera in verse 13.
13 And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon.
14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him.
And then Robert, will you read verse 15?
Robert Howarth 22:48
15 And the Lord discomfited Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off his chariot, and fled away on his feet.
Some scholars believe when those chariots came down into the river, that the chariots got stuck in the mud. And so he lighted, he fell off, he got off that chariot. And when it says discomfort and looked down at the footnote, it says panicked, he started to freak out thinking, we're stuck, I gotta get out of here. I can't be stuck here. I'm going to die. So he flees, he runs as fast as he can. And as he goes, he sees a tent. In verse 17:
17 Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.
So Sisera knew Oh, I could be safe in this tent. So he runs into the tent, and there's this woman standing there, Jael. So I love this story. Oh my gosh, I love Judges. Here we go. Look at verse 18.
18 And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle.
Now remember, we talked about this at the very beginning of the year, when we talked about how this, the social structure is tents, and tribes, and that if you go up to the tent of the door, you ask the Lord of the tent to save you. To help you, and he can choose to let you enter and enter into a in-law pact. Does this sound familiar? We talked about at the very beginning of the year, this is what's happening. He comes to the tent door and Jael says, You may enter. She covers him with the mantel, covers his shoulders so he knows, oh, I'm welcome here. And she says, Come on into the tent. So he walks into the tent. And then in verse 19:
19 And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink;
Now, this would be the custom of hospitality. You could easily ask for something if you were in a safe tent. and I love what Jael does. She's like, You know what, I'm not even gonna give you water. He says I'm thirsty and she opens a bottle of milk and gives him to drink and covered him. I mean, she up’s the ante on this wonderful custom of hospitality.
And how cool is this? So the name Jael in Hebrew means a mountain goat, and some scholars believe that she gave him goat's milk, which actually acts as a mild sedative. So how cool is that? That's a fun fact. And verse 20.
20 Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and inquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.
Okay, so he thinks he's safe. So he falls asleep. And while he's asleep, verse 21. Robert, hit it.
Robert Howarth 25:29
21 Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died.
Doug Farley 25:50
She nailed him to the ground.
She nailed him to the ground. And then you look at this nail right here and everything you said, Doug, once it's in, it's hard to get out. That head is fastened to the ground. I mean, this is the biggest tent, this is the biggest nail I could find because I think this is what it looks like to nail these huge tents that these Bedouin tribes use. It's not a little nail. It's not, the tents spike is going to be pretty big to securely fastened these tents to the ground. And that's what she used. Whoa.
Doug Farley 26:19
Yeah, they actually use tent spikes like that big today in those big tents like Army tents and stuff like that. They're large. They have a big rope coming down and they got to hold up in the wind. They're big nails.
They are big nails. Okay, that is so cool. The prophecy was fulfilled, that Barak did not get any of the credit. It really was what Deborah had said that the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hands of a woman. It's in verse nine that it says that and I just drew an arrow right over there to verse 18, because there's the story. So you can connect those right there.
So we have this awesome story. Now we just have to tell you, though, I think Judges chapter five is so fascinating to me because I learned it's one of the oldest surviving pieces of Hebrew poetry. Judges, chapter five, is called The Song of Deborah, and Deborah is now singing a song about the whole war, the whole experience, and then she will sing the praises of Jael. Look at verse 24.
24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
Now it didn't say that earlier, but she gives us some more information.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
It's just this beautiful poetry singing this song, singing the praises of this woman. And, of course, I love this because there are so few scriptures written about women praising women, especially their heroic actions. And here we have two women who did that. So cheers to Deborah and Jael and their leadership.
Robert Howarth 28:13
Doug Farley 28:13
Here, here, yeah.
Strong women. You're married to two strong women.
Robert Howarth 28:17
Oh I'm definitely married to a Deborah. Well, no, she's more of a Jael. She'll take me out.
You think? I could totally see that. Farley. There's no way Farley could handle that. She could be a Deborah, though.
Doug Farley 28:29
She is totally a Deborah. Absolutely.
And going back to Deborah, we have to mark verse seven, which says that the inhabitants of Israel ceased. Now, what this means is that no one was free to come and go because they were in bondage. Until look at verse seven, Deborah says that I, Deborah, arose, a mother in Israel. Highlight that, underline it. This is where the term mother in Israel originates. And now it could mean that she was a literal mother. Or as a prophetess, and a woman of light, she was a proverbial mother in the house of Israel, taking care of the children of Israel at this time. So I think that's so cool. What were you going to say, Doug?
Doug Farley 29:11
Well, I just think it's interesting because it goes back the thoughts I had as you were reading that. I go back to your book, and a virtuous woman, and how everybody in the Church that makes a covenant is that bride to the bride groom. And here it outlines a few things too that as a disciple of Christ, we go a little extra mile. We put that extra edge on things because we're kind, because we're loving, because we want to be like our Savior. And that doesn't always come naturally. I mean, I'm like, I ain't gonna do that. But there's those times where you're like, Okay, when you draw close to the Lord in your life, it changes your outlook and who you are. Suddenly, you do things differently. Not always, like I said, there's plenty of times where I'm on the other end. But when I'm in a position in my life where I'm more humbled, and I'm looking to God, some of those things start to come out. And it's because that's what happens when you start to take on the Savior, and you start to do the things that He taught. And hopefully, we try to get that to happen more often. Me, it kind of, it's the other way around. It's, it's the rarity, you know, that it gets into the whole part with the nail and the hammer. But to me, that would be standing up to sin, receiving inspiration, to maybe go on the offensive for God, against Satan and his works and what he's doing in the world. And sometimes you have to stand up to that and say no more,
And do something different than you would have imagined. I like how you said that, and it might require more effort than you thought you could give. I don't know that I could really do what she did. Physically. I like how you're making this connection to our lives. Gosh, Doug, that's great. The story of actually being sin. And what are we willing to do? Robert, do you have any thoughts?
Robert Howarth 31:19
No, I mean, yeah, lots of them. That means we talk about what this really mean to me. The pride cycle we learn about in the Book of Mormon and everything. And you know, I think about, do people really change? You know, can you really change can change your stripes? Can you be better? And you know, what I've learned, you know, in my own life is yeah, of course, you can, yes. But it's hard. It's really easy to slide back into just old habits. And I think that's what we're talking about the Israelites, you know, it takes a real commitment to change your life and keep going that way. And I liked what Doug was saying. It's about conquering sin. I don't have to not rob banks, I don't do that. But I do have to be careful with how I spend my time. I got to be careful with how I talk to my wife. I need to be careful with how I do my business dealings. So there's a lot of different ways you can slip and fall and get into a rut.
Those are great comments. You just shifted my whole paradigm on this story. So thank you, both of you for applying it to our lives. That was incredible. Okay, so the problem we have then is Deborah is gone, Jael's gone, and look at chapter six, verse one, the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So we need another judge, and we're going to find out who that is in the next segment.
Segment 4 32:36
Okay, so before we recorded today, I drove to Robert's and Doug's house, and I dropped off a little gift that I wanted them to have for our discussion. So go ahead, men. Open up your present. And then tell everybody what it is that you have.
Doug Farley 32:50
This is like the present inside of the present.
I know open it up all the way.
Robert Howarth 32:55
All the way open.
Doug Farley 32:58
This is awesome
Robert Howarth 32:58
It's a fabulous blanket.
Doug Farley 33:00
Yeah. a fuzzy blanket.
Very good. You know what kind of material it is?
Robert Howarth 33:04
Yes. Okay. Now, all of you who are listening today, pause the podcast right now and go find a fleece blanket. Now if you don't have a fleece blanket, just get any kind of blanky. You're going to need a blanket for our discussion because a fleece blanket will play a very important role in the story about the next judge we're going to talk about we are in Judges, chapter six. And I asked Robert to tell us the story in verses one through 35. And then we will get to the fleece blanket. All right, Robert, hit it.
Robert Howarth 33:34
Well you know, I mean, like I said, I used to go to these Bible study things was a little. I mean, like when I was 6, 7, 8 years old. So I knew about Gideon before I knew about Moroni.
Robert Howarth 33:44
And so Gideon was my captain Moroni when I was young because he was a fearless leader, you know,
I didn't know that.
Robert Howarth 33:51
Yeah, that's what happens when you're a Baptist Mormon or a Baptist member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Robert Howarth 33:58
Or at least Church of Christ, maybe. But my friends were in those two congregations and their dads were preachers, but okay. I love Gideon. And so we learned about this, you know, Israel has been in bondage to the Midianites. And they've been in bondage because they're worshipping false gods. And so they've lost the Lord's protection. And these Midianites, they are mean, and they went and they destroyed all the crops, and they killed all the cattle. And you know, the Israelites didn't have any food. They were in a bad spot. And so what do they do? And if you mark verse six, you'll see what the Israelites do. And they cry unto the Lord. They're asking for help. And the Lord sent them a prophet. And the prophet reminds them, just like in the Book of Mormon, when they always talk about the Israelites walking across the Red Sea on dry ground. He reminds him of the exodus or reminds them that their God is more powerful than the god of the Emirates.
I don't know what really happened with the prophet. I don't think that it really spurred any change. But then Gideon gets called by an angel to deliver Israel. And Gideon means a lot to me. Because he had two things he said that made him unworthy to do, or unable to do this. In Judges, chapter six, verse 15, when he says, Behold, my family is poor and Manasseh. And I am the least in my father's house.
And I'm just going to tell you, Tammy, I am the seven out of eight children. I have three older brothers, I'm the youngest boy, if there's anyone that's the least of anything, that's me.
You are the least in your house.
Robert Howarth 35:31
However, my brothers and sisters, you know, they feel like my mom and dad became gazillionaires when they all left the house. So I have my own car and everything like that, and they've never let me live that down. But when I was young, I felt like Gideon, you know that I was poor. And, and I was at least in my father's house. But in verse 16, the Lord says Surely I will be with thee. And you know, that's an incredible verse to me, because so many times they think you're alone, you think that the Lord doesn't care, because you know, things aren't going the way that you want them to. So many times it's hard to have that faith.
And so what I liked about Gideon, though, he, was given assigned. If we look at verse 20, it says,
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
In verse 21:
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
And in verse 22.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
And I was really struck by this, because it's one thing to sit there and give him a task, say, hey, even though you're poor, and the least your family, you're going to do this. And then to have a sign like this, an angel. It just is an interesting thing to me. I think the Lord just knows us. Personally, I've got a friend who's, he works at BYU pathways. He's actually an old mission companion. He said that you got to believe that your life is a perfectly customized learning module for you. You know, Gideon needed this. He had doubts he had fears that he was not enough. But with the Lord, it doesn't matter, you are enough. And so I think that's something I got from this when I was young, too.
But you know, he's told to go and take down the altar of Baal. That's a big ask. It's a scary thing, because he's risking his life to do this. What I liked is that, you know, he didn't do it during broad daylight. He did it at night. But they went and he took some his friends, they knocked down the altar, they cut down a grove of trees, which is actually a shrine to a fertility goddess. And they built a new altar and made a new sacrifice. And so when people woke up in the morning they were like Oh, my goodness, what just happened? And they wanted to find out who had destroyed the altar of bail, and they went to his dad's house. And I liked that his dad stood up for him, and I liked what his dad said, and the men of the city sent him to Joash, in verse 30, bring out thy son that he may die, because he has cast down the altar of Baal, because he's cut down the grove that was by it. And in verse 31,
31 And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar.
I liked that he turned it around and says listen, my son just took down Baal's altar. I don't think Baal's as powerful as you'd think. And if he is, why don't you tell him to come take care of your own business?
I love the family dynamic here. I love his dad stood up for him. It got scary. You got a whole bunch of people saying, hey, send your son out here we're gonna kill him. I can't imagine what that'd be like. There's no way I'm giving him up. But I liked his logic there talking about let Baal save them. Let Baal kill him if that's such a big deal.
This was my first foray into the Old Testament with these kinds of stories and caring about you know, Gideon and really being able to take that person and relate to him. And I've been told to tear down the altar of Baal? Yeah, sure I have. You bet I have, you know, maybe I've not had my life at risk like that. But you know, there's all sorts of different things you need to do to tear down like the alter of Baal because the most important thing in your heart, can't be the alter of Baal.
My gosh, that was awesome. Robert, you did a perfect job of setting this scene and teaching us about who Gideon was.
Here's what I loved is when you said he's enough. We are all Gideons. We're all uncertain. We're all unsure. We need the miracle. We need the proof. Really? Do you really think I can do this? Because I don't think I can. And how your friend taught us that our life is perfectly crafted to teach us what we need to know. And we have this really weak Gideon.
Now, here comes the story about the blanket and why I'm asking everyone to hold blankets is because then Gideon needs another sign. He's still so uncertain. I don't know if I can do this. This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I just needed just one more sign. Let me know if this is really how it's supposed to play out. And it's in Judges, chapter six, verses 36 through 40. Verse 37, Gideon's like I just need one more sign. So he says, If I will put a fleece of wool, now that's why you have your fleece blanket. But really, in Hebrew, the translation is actually a wool blanket. Now is wool, can you get it wet? Is it hard to completely submerge and get wet?
You can get well wet, but what it's good at is that even when it's wet, it keeps you warm.
It does. And water can kind of roll off it much easier than any other material. So here's why Gideon says, okay, look, I'm going to here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna take this fleece wool, and I'm gonna put it on the floor. And if there's dew on the fleece in the morning, but the whole ground around it is dry, then I'm going to know you will save Israel by my hand. So he goes to bed, verse 38, he wakes up in the morning, and he looks at that fleece. And boy, lo and behold, he picks it up and he rings it out. It not only is wet, it is completely submerged. But look at the end of verse 38. How much water did he get?
Robert Howarth 41:37
A whole bowl.
Yeah, a bowl full of water. But Gideon is not going to stop there. So then he says, Okay, how about one more? Just one more sign that I'm good for this. Verse 39. He says, Let's do this, and I think it's interesting. He says, Let not thine anger be hot against me. I will speak but this once. Let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece. Now, let it be dry, but let all the ground be wet in the morning.
And so, verse 40.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Alright, okay, this is it. Now, knowing this about Gideon, and I wanted you to have these fleece blankets to remind you of the humanity, the humaneness in this story. Because I want to know, in your lifetime, has there ever been anything in our lives that we are responsible for or been given responsibility over that we felt less qualified for? And I'm not even talking about a Church calling. Just life in general, right?
Robert Howarth 42:33
Oh the hardest thing I've ever done is like have kids and try to raise them right.
Doug Farley 42:37
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think the thing that amazes me as I listened to just this little piece. He's asking for a sign. And we're told not to ask for signs. So why does this one work? I think it has to do with his heart. And that he is this humble guy, this smallest of the small. And he goes, he says I'll do it. And God knows he's gonna do it. But he knows he's scared. And we have fears. We all have fears. And we still go to the Lord and say, I'm kind of chicken here. And I need a little boost. And God gives that boost. Because he knows us and He loves us. And He wants us to become what He knows is inside of us. But sometimes we're we don't see that same vision. And so we're kind of a little scared and nervous.
Robert Howarth 43:30
You can have those kinds of signs given you every day, I think Korihor, it's not like that, you know. God knew his heart was not going to accept anything anyway. But you know, I think what Gideon was doing is not saying I need a sign to believe in you, Lord, but more, I need a sign to say that you believe in me. And I think we didn't have that every single day. It's kind of like manna from heaven every single day.
Okay, I'll tell you a quick story that I remember. There was one time I had a really tough time struggling with work and, you know, things were tight at home financially. And I was just like, God, do you care about me? I mean, it seemed like He never answered my prayers in months. This one morning, I was just praying and praying, Listen, just give me one thing today. Let me know that you know I exist. And this lady in our ward came over and she she'd always picked up our son and dropped him off from school. And that particular day, you know when she was coming home from school, she says, Hey, what is your dad like? And my son's like, "Sushi." So she stops at the store and buys me a thing of sushi and just drops it off to me. And it what it is an answer. I felt like Gideon that day because you know, I needed that reassurance that day. And He gave it to me. And He's done it every single time like that when I've got my heart in the right place and I'm asking the right thing. But Gideon was given these signs to let him know God knew about you and I understand you're scared. I'm gonna help you.
I like how you phrased it. I need the miracle not to believe in you, but to know that you still believe in me. That was beautiful. Robert, hold on. I gotta write that down.
Doug Farley 45:06
While you're writing, I just want to second that what Robert said He really does want to be a part of our lives. Just as we want to be a part of our kids’ lives. I've got three kids, I love them to death, and I want to be as much a part of their lives as I possibly can. And those moments are so beautiful, not only for the child, but also for the Father.
Yeah. And none of us are qualified. That's what makes this so great is that then God and Christ come in and make up the difference. That's grace. And they are going to help us all along the way. I like this conversation that you've said that Gideon was feeling fear, and it could almost stop him from doing what the Lord sent him here to do in this carefully crafted, I like how you taught us that Robert, carefully crafted experience for each one of us.
As I was preparing for this, I read this talk and it just struck me and I think I needed to hear it more than anything, but I'm gonna have you read it, Robert, because it's by Elder Bednar and he is speaking at the University of Texas. Hello, in Arlington, and this is on March 3, 2013. So Elder Bednar shared an experience how he was talking to Elder Neal A. Maxwell when he was alive. And Elder Bednar asked Elder Maxwell what he had learned through his illness when Elder Maxwell had cancer. And Elder Bednar said, "I will always remember the precise and penetrating answer that Elder Maxwell gave. He said, 'Dave, I have learned that not shrinking is more important than surviving.'" And then he says this. Go ahead, Robert.
Robert Howarth 46:31
"His response to my inquiry was a principle with which he had gained extensive personal experience during his chemotherapy. In January 1997, on the day he was scheduled to begin his first round of treatment, Elder Maxwell looked at his wife, reach for her hand, breathed a deep sigh and said, 'I just don't want to shrink.' In his October 1997 general conference message, Elder Maxwell taught with great authenticity, 'As we confront our own trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we might not shrink, meaning to retreat or to recoil. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18) Not shrinking is much more important than surviving. Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter, is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus."
Thank you. And I think of all these people who were so Ill qualified, it would have been easy for them to shrink. Like, I can't, there's no way this is too hard, what I'm being asked to do. And I think of our own lives and the experiences we're given, the experiences we go through, and how easy it might be for us just to shrink, like, I'm done, I'm out. Tell me some of your thoughts or what you're thinking.
Doug Farley 47:49
I actually had an opportunity in my career where I had a project that was a big project, I was going to meet with a bunch of executives, way out of my field. I did not know what I was doing. It was one of those things where I was stepping into the dark. And yet God was there every step of the way. It was very uncomfortable for me, and it turned out to be a beautiful event. And it really taught me a lot in my career. And it taught me a lot as a person and helped me to stretch myself into a different level.
And that could be anything in the Gospel, you know, we're always doing stuff that's hard. You know, we're always asked to stand up for right. We're always asked to do those things that you don't want to do. Talk to that person. No, I don't want to do that. And yet, you somehow muster up the strength to go, Hi. And then He kicks in, and everything goes. You're like, all I had to do is just say, Hi.
Okay, both of your comments are perfect and powerful, you guys. Okay, I just want us to take a minute. And if you did get a blanket, just hold it, and you two, hold your fleece blanket. And just take a moment to let it remind you of what we just discussed. Let your fleece moments increase your faith, when you want to shrink. It's okay to ask the Lord for like you said, Robert, not a miracle to believe in God, but to know that God believes in you. So thank you, men.
So in the next segment, we're going to find out if Gideon, who was the least in his father's house, as he called himself, he will not shrink. And what he's about to go through would probably cause any one of us to shrink, but his fleece increased his faith. And we're going to discuss that in the next segment.
Segment 5 49:37
All right, we're just gonna jump right into Judges chapter seven, and we are going to find out if Gideon delivered the children of Israel. This is one of the most fun stories ever. Because the first thing that Gideon needs is an army because look, he's going to be fighting. Turn to Judges chapter seven. Let's just look at verse 12. And Robert, read verse 12 so we can understand the size of the army that Gideon is going up against.
Robert Howarth 50:04
12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
Okay, how many soldiers you're going to want?
Robert Howarth 50:21
Well, more than a handful (laughter) I think you're going to need 100,000.
I'm gonna run the numbers. That's a big army he's going up against, he should be terrified. So let's go into Judges, chapter seven, and see how many soldiers the Lord gives to Gideon. We're going to start in Judges chapter seven, verses two through eight. And we're each going to take a turn reading a verse until we get verse eight because we just have to read the verses. It's such a good story. Alright, hit it, Robert.
Robert Howarth 50:51
2 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Isn't that interesting? There's too many people who are going to fight. I'm sure Gideon's like, wait, what? Doug, go ahead.
Doug Farley 51:09
3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
Twenty-and-two thousand, left, and now there remaining 10,000. All right, 10,000, maybe you could fight for that. But look what the Lord says in verse four.
4 And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
And I wonder if Gideon is like, now what are we talking about here? Like is there? What do you mean, they're not gonna go? They're gonna go. And so here's the test for this. Hit it, Robert.
Robert Howarth 51:58
5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
I mean, let's pause. What are you thinking right now about this?
Robert Howarth 52:17
I don't know. It's just weird that how you drink water is going to determine, you know, who's sticking around and who's going.
Right? There's no rhyme or reason to it. We're not even having a battle of strength, here. It's purely how you drink water?
Doug Farley 52:29
And it really paints a picture, lapping like a dog.
Oh, totally. So, Doug, read verse six.
Doug Farley 52:36
6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
7 And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
Robert Howarth 53:00
8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
I mean, if you are among the children of Israel, what are you thinking or saying to Gideon at this point?
Robert Howarth 53:20
I'm sure everyone thought he was a fool.
Right? Good luck, Gideon, 300?
Robert Howarth 53:26
Knock yourself out.
Doug Farley 53:28
Well, and they're like watching them go like, Oh, what are you doing?
Robert Howarth 53:34
I wish I would have gotten down and lapped like a dog.
Wait, what? Like oh geez. Why didn't someone tell me?
Doug Farley 53:44
Yeah, well, even that, those 300 of them are like, where are those guys going? The paranoia on their face.
That's a beautiful picture. The 300 are like, what? (laughter) That is awesome. That's such a good picture. Okay, so 300 men, let's go to war, and we're going to hope for the best. And you know what, I almost wonder if Gideon might have had that fleece blanket in his knapsack. Like rubbing it like, "Oh, I hope this works. I don't know." Wow, here we go.
So the story is in Judges, chapter seven, verses 16 through 25. Mark these verses. Here's the plan. And here's how they're gonna go in and take over. Verse 16, he divides the 300 men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand. This is the same trumpet, the shofar that you heard last week that was played for us, this big ram's horn and a loud sound. And they also have in their hand, in verse 16, empty pitchers, which is like a vessel, a drinking pitcher, and lamps within the pitchers.
And he said unto them, look on me and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that as I do, so shall you do. So he's like, do what I do. Verse 18:
18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
So they are encompassing this entire city. And verse 19, Gideon and the 100 men that were with him. So he has 100 men with him. There's 100 men on the other side and another 100 men. We got a markup verse 19
19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch;
That is about 10pm. So think about what you're doing as an army around 10pm. If you're not fighting, you're getting ready to do what?
Robert Howarth 55:29
Go to bed.
Yeah, you're tired, you got to save up your energy. So they're about to go to sleep. And then it says, and they had but newly set the watch:
That's what it means, like they just started the watch. They're about to go to sleep. And they blew the trumpets and break the pitchers that were in their hands.
And the three companies blew the trumpets and break the pitchers that held the lamps in their left hands. And the trumpets in their right hands to blow with all and they cried, highlight this, the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. And then verse 21, Robert read that for us.
Robert Howarth 56:00
21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
Thank you, Robert, for reading verse 21. Because they did, the host ran and cried and fled. I mean, this is a crazy way to win the war, but they eventually will, they're going to startle the Midianites. They're going to scare them. And then in chapters eight and nine, as we continue to read, they will win this war, and they will be able to overcome the Midianites and the children of Israel will be saved. And they'll come out from under bondage. And that full circle of that cycle will be completed.
But we have a major so what? here, because it's a nice story. But what does it mean to us? Like if you're teaching teenagers or, who are we kidding, adults? What does this have to do with us? And I asked Robert and Doug, to think about it for the last couple of weeks, I want us to list in our journals, the items that these warriors had, they had a trumpet, a vessel, a lamp and a sword. What are those things to us in our day, as we go into these battles that we're fighting?
Robert Howarth 56:55
Like I said, I grew up in Texas, and I know the story and I was taught, you know, a different way. But the way that they would teach it, and I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but truth is truth. The trumpet was the Word of God, and that the vessel is us, you know, as our body. And that the lamp is the treasure, which is the love of God the gift of the gospel. And then when they threw the down, they broke. You are broken. You know, again, it's kind of like let God prevail. Let Him put you back together again. But when you break the lamp, it's showing they see the fire, you know, the greatest gift of all. So that's the way that they taught it to us. Then Gideon and the sword represent Christ, the Savior, the atoning sacrifice of blood for us to be able to return to him again. So that's kind of the born again, version. I don't know if that works.
Truth is truth. That's awesome, Robert. Oh, good. Doug, what did you come up with?
Doug Farley 57:55
Well, I didn't come up with something quite that inspirational. But when I was first thinking about this, I was talking to my son about it. And to me, it just sounded, okay, this is nuts. That these three sets of 100 warriors, they go out there, and they blow their horn, and they break this vessel and lamp, and then they make this shout. And I'm like, that is the dumbest thing ever. Like, what the heck?
And so we started to think about it. I'm like, so what is it that God asks us to do? What inspiration do we get? And we're like, that is the dumbest thing. You want me to do what?
With how few people?
Doug Farley 58:40
It may not be dumb, though. It might just be simple. And basic, and experience that I've had that really came to mind with just this pandemic that we just came out of. This is very basic and simple. You know, it's not shattering, catch your attention, blow horns, but it was just a simple thing.
I was shopping, you know, getting some food. And I just had this thought, you know, pick up a little extra this, get a little extra toilet paper. So I got two, you know, and I got some rice and some beans. It was like, get some things, but I didn't think much of it until things started to unfold. We had our daughter and son-in-law, come home. My son came home. And there's Becky and I, so that's five out of our seven in our family living at home.
Now, just on a regular basis, you know, you go through a roll of toilet paper like couple, you know, a couple of days. We had those two packages last a year, when you could not get it. This was the parable of the toilet paper. (laughter) It never ran dry. We're like, man, that thing keeps rolling around that little rod. But we didn't know it at the time. We were like, What the heck? And after we've been into this thing for so long, you can't buy it. Because everybody's bought and everything in the stores, they're decimated. And yet we're like, we still got a whole 'nother pack. Total tender mercy. And it was just a basic small inspiration. Get this. Got it. And then in the end, we're like, that was amazing, because we watched a miracle unfold.
And you take that back here. They're gonna go blow their trumpets, that's gonna wake everybody up. I love what Robert said because they, when they broke the pitcher, they pulled the lamp out. That's the light inside shining. That's like your testimony following standing out and stepping up. I just thought it was beautiful. Because I think that so many times we have that opportunity. But how many times do we take it? And how many times do we not? Because we might think that's kind of dumb or little or easy? Or ridiculous?
Yeah. Oh my gosh. Okay, those were such great connections, spot on. I loved it. And that's what we want you to do with this. For those of you listening, have these conversations. Tell this just this crazy story. Like they shouldn't have won. There's no way. And it did seem so simple. Like, what, that's what we're gonna do? And yet it worked. And I love all the connections, Robert, that you had to what they mean to us in our day. And then, Doug, its simplicity. You're totally, both of you are absolutely right.
And there's beauty in this of what all these things could mean. Because we're living in a time that is so confusing. Life is hard, Christ is coming. It's crazy. And yet, what we're being asked to do is kind of simple by the prophet. Like last year, he said, just find time in your day to learn about God or connect with God. Something that simple. So thank you for helping me apply to our day, you guys, that was so great.
Now let's look at Judges chapter eight, turn there to verses 33 through 35, I just want to mark it. Here's the very end of the story, 33 through 35 says:
33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god.
The word whoring is really interesting here, it's a play on words that the Lord uses throughout scripture to represent infidelity to God. When you're not keeping your covenants, you're breaking your covenants, that means you are no longer committed to Him. So that's what that is right there.
So the children of Israel, they need to deliver, and we're going to find out who was chosen in the next segment.
Segment 6 1:02:34
All right, for those you're listening, this is the story of all stories, Samson and Delilah.
Now this story is found in Judges, chapters 13 through 16. Here's a real quick synopsis. It's about a judge named Samson, who is called a God, who is really, really strong, but only if he keeps his hair long. His downfall is a woman—and actually, plenty of other women in the story too. And Samson's ending, by some, is seen as tragic. But is it?
So I asked Doug and Robert to take what is a pretty well-known story and come prepared to discuss aspects of the story that they didn't know. So what did you do find?
Robert Howarth 1:03:13
I found it fascinating that Samson's mom was actually barren. She was visited by an angel who let her know that she was going to have a son. And not only that, that he'd be a Nazarite, and would have to live a different lifestyle of, you know, not drinking wine and not eating certain unclean foods, even while she had the baby in her womb.
Oh, that's so good. In fact, cross reference verse five with Numbers, chapter six. That's where you're going to read the law of the Nazarite. I'm so glad you brought that up, Robert. He will be raised in Nazarite. And this is a Hebrew word. And the root word of Nazarite is Nazar, which means to dedicate to God. Another example of a Nazarite, John the Baptist, so that was cool. Some people believe also Samuel may have been an Nazarite. But there's nothing contextually that will prove that. So. Very cool. Yes. So she's going to have him, from the womb, be raised as an Nazariteite, dedicated to God. What else did you guys find?
Robert Howarth 1:04:06
You know, what's interesting about it is that the husband, you know, his wife has this experience, and he's a little bit jealous. And he's anxious to have a similar one. And prays, in verse nine, you know,
9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
Yeah, he's like, now tell me what you said. I want to know. Yeah, so cool. Well, then I love the Hebrew word in verse nine, it says, And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah. And the word hearkened, right there, we've learned this year is, in Hebrew, it's shema, which is the same as obeyed. Isn't that interesting that God obeyed the voice of this mortal man. Like you bet, I'll give it to you.
Robert Howarth 1:05:06
Well, I mean, it just goes back to that, you know, every righteous prayer is answered. It might be No. No one likes that. But every righteous prayer is answered.
Doug Farley 1:05:17
I've had occasion where I wanted that same answer, but I didn't get it.
Yeah, the answer's no, Doug. (laugher)
Doug Farley 1:05:26
Yeah. Well, I just think that it's a beautiful thing. Because, I mean, it goes both ways. It's not just, it's one person receiving an answer. And then another person saying, Well, I'd like to have that same answer. And we find that with Nephi in the Book of Mormon. He wanted to have the same vision his dad had. And so he went before him, and we have this explanation of what Lehi saw. And it's beautiful, because without that, we'd be left to try to figure this stuff out. And sometimes it takes that second person so that we can understand.
That's so good, Doug, thanks for sharing that insight. Okay, let's keep going. What else in the story of Samson, what do you guys like?
Robert Howarth 1:06:07
Well, I mean, I think about his biggest problem is being selfish. You know, he just wanted it his way. I guess beyond that, what was really interesting, this guy, I mean, as a young boy, Samson was so cool. He did cool things. I mean, you know, he's tough. So strong. We talk about his shortcomings. But you know, I think one of the biggest things I take from it, as an adult now, is that I used to think, you know, if I'm not living the perfect life, then I'm not worthy of having God's presence with me. And certainly, Samson, you know, he dealt with anger issues, you know, he wanted revenge all the time. But it still didn't mean that he wasn't blessed with incredible strength. The Lord still was with Him. He had strength, he could do things.
And I think one of the most important things we have to remember is even though, you know, we may not be doing everything right in our lives, we still have the presence of God with us, you know, so long as we want it. And, you know, so many times you think I'm on my own. That's it. I've sinned, I'm done. I'm by myself now. And that's just not true. It's just not true. You know, anytime that you want to be with the Lord, if you have any desire, and that hard heart of yours, it can be there. And so that's one of the things that the story teaches me.
Doug Farley 1:07:21
I really appreciate that, Robert, because as I read it too, you see not only does he go against his covenants, he does these stupid things. And even when he's sinning and living with someone that's totally outside of his faith, the harlot, he's still being blessed with strength. Which tells me that God, even in our sinful state, loves us, cares for us, and pursues us. And that is the key because he loves his children, but those who make covenants with him, he becomes that kinsmen that takes care of them. Sometimes he comes after us. And sometimes he waits for us because he knows what's best for us. And we come back, and he's always there accepting us. And I see that in Samson, I see that in the pattern that you see in the story. And how even at the worst, when he's really just even gives up all of his secrets and says, This is what you do. How to do me in. He's still not forgotten.
Oh my gosh, we didn't even have a conversation about this. That is exactly my takeaway from the story of Samson and Delilah because I think one of the biggest fallacies, one of the worst things that we teach inappropriately in our culture is soon as you something bad, the Spirit leaves you. I just think it's sad. We teach that to little kids, like you think the spirits like, Well, I'm out of here. See you later. Like, no, no. Do we remove ourselves sometimes? Yes, we physically will remove ourselves by choices we make, but the Spirit doesn't run away and hide and say, you've got to get your act together if you want me to come back. I mean, this is a beautiful example of someone who, like you said, broke his covenants. The Spirit shouldn't have been with him if that really is true, what we teach, and he still had his strength.
And let's go to that end of that story, and turn to Judges, chapter 16. I mean, this is such good proof again of what Janiece taught us last week: who's God is stronger? Whose God will win? The God of Israel, He always will. And so here's how the story of Samson ends. He is finally caught because Delilah pressed him how many times for answers? Did you catch that?
Robert Howarth 1:09:36
Was it four times?
Yeah. She asked him four times, Okay, how are you going to lose your strength? And he makes up these lies the first three times and it doesn't work. He has all his strength. And finally, she presses him daily. Come on, how much did you love verse 16? Doug, read Judges 16, verse 16.
Doug Farley 1:09:52
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
I'm like, boy, she was a nag.
Robert Howarth 1:10:07
She must have been some incredible woman though. She could sit there and you know, he could tell her something she does it, you know, to try to kill him and it doesn't drive away.
I know. Come on, Samson.
Robert Howarth 1:10:21
A second time you gotta leave.
Doug Farley 1:10:24
Right? Samson, what the heck?
Robert Howarth 1:10:26
Like Hollee, one time at night, I woke up and she had this pillow over my face because I was snoring so loud. I realized that's one. But if she did that twice, I'm out of there. (laughter)
Yeah. That is so funny, Robert. Oh, my gosh, that's so funny. You're totally right, though. The fourth time he finally says, All right, well, here's the deal. I'm an Nazarite. If my hair's long, I have the strength.
And she's so thrilled. She goes to the Philistines and says, Hey, we just need to cut his hair. And she gets a lot of money for giving up that information. She shaves his head at night, the Philistines come in, and he cannot fight. And so verse 21 says the Philistines took him and put out his eyes. That was a torture device. That was what they did back then. In fact, oftentimes, and we're going to read this again in the Old Testament, oftentimes, what they would do is if you were a father with a family, they would kill your children in front of you, and then put out your eyes. So it's the last thing you see.
So they put out his eyes, they bring him down into Gaza, and they bind him with fetters of brass, and he did grind in the prison house. And then it's interesting because in verse 22:
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
Now, this is where we talk about I wish there was a time stamp. So we know how much time has passed between these verses. We just have to stop for a second here, because it doesn't say how much of his hair grew. And I'm just having this sort of moment where I'm like, was it just maybe a little bit of hair that he needed? Because sometimes all God needs from us is just a little bit of a desire, not a full-blown mane of hair. I don't know. Like, again, we don't know. Because not everything's written. But it's just an interesting thought. Because we've talked about that today. Like, sometimes just a little bit of effort is enough. And maybe he just needed enough of a buzzcut growth, or was it several years’ worth of growth? I don't know. It's kind of cool to think about.
So he's imprisoned. I mean, what are you doing when you're in prison? That's a lot of time to do what? Kind of think of things, right? And to regroup, maybe figure out all right, where am I? Which again, goes back to God doesn't care when you repent, as long as you repent.
And so his hair starts to grow out. And now this is interesting, because then the Philistines call him in and they say, We want to make sport with him. Look at verse 25.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
Now highlight that make us sport and made them sport. Here's what that means. According to Josephus, it actually is translated as that they might insult him over their wine. I mean, just they are awful. They're gonna say all sorts of mean things. His eyes are poked out. There he's standing. And then here's how the story goes. Robert, we read Judges chapter 16, verses 26, to 28.
Robert Howarth 1:13:08
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
And, Doug, will you read verse 29, and 30.
Doug Farley 1:13:45
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
That's the story. And I love what you both taught us that the spirit was with Samson, he still had God's strength. That is so powerful. I mean, just goes back to how we talked about it with Cain, even after Cain slew his brother, the Lord still came and talked to him.
Doug Farley 1:14:37
Yeah. And I love that he had enough fortitude of himself to go forward and say, help me. Give me one more shot. I'm going to do it right this time. And so many times I've heard this from so many people that feel like they've messed up and they can't be forgiven. And it's like, if you only knew, just put forth a little bit of energy, just raise your hand I just do one little thing. And the Lord just kicks in. And he kicks in with everything.
Everything. Thank you, Doug. Wow, that was awesome. That's it. That's the end of our episode you guys. So just take a minute now gather your thoughts and tell us what your takeaway was. What's something that you learned today, went through all your notes.
Robert Howarth 1:15:23
My biggest takeaway is going back to getting in the 300, talking about having the trumpet, the vessel, and the lamp and that's, you know, those are the worst weapons you could give them. But I think one of my takeaways is that oftentimes doing the right thing may not be intuitive, that, you know, the world might think, Oh, you need to wait to have children. Or the world might think, Oh, you need to get the most money you possibly can. If we do things that are counterintuitive to what the world says that the Lord's asking you to do, you will be blessed.
Doug Farley 1:15:54
I think about this cycle. And the biggest part about the cycle that kind of peaks out with Samson. And that is the God doesn't forget His kids. He loves them. He wants them to be with Him. He wants them to know that He's their father. And He doesn't give up on them. God is just patient and kind and He knows His people. He knows everything about them. And when Samson, he's doing these things, he does some of the stupidest things. And yet God loves him. And he still strengthens him, even in his lowest moments, whether he knows it or not, he still does it. And he pursues us as much as he listens when we come back to Him and say, I'm so sorry. That is so important today. And I tell that to my Sunday school kids all the time. And that is that. It doesn't matter what you do. We're here on this earth to mess up. That's why we're here, to sin and to figure it out. And don't stop trying to figure it out. Because that's what's important.
I mean, I just had the thought. I think Samson might be the most flawed character in the Old Testament, as far as covenant keepers go. And yet God's like, yeah, you're still good. I still love you. He's gonna help you out. Huh. I'm thinking about that.
Okay, my takeaway is both of you. So good. Robert, I loved it, when you said I need the miracle not to believe in you. But to know that you believe in me. That was profound. And then, Doug, oh, my gosh, when you just spun it on and turn me on my head when you gave us a story about Jael and how it's really about sin. And how much effort am I really willing to put in to hammer that nail into the head of whatever it is that's gonna hold me down or try to hold me down. That was great. I'd never considered that story that way. So, boy, I love you too. What a great night. That's a good episode.
I love you both. Thank you so much.
Robert Howarth 1:18:09
We love you. Tam.
Doug Farley 1:18:09
Yep. Love you, Tam.
Okay, you know what time it is. I want to know what your big takeaway was from this episode. So if you haven't joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram, don't be afraid. I know. We don't like social media a ton. But this is social media that's allowed. Go join so that you can read what people write throughout the week, you can ask questions, you can answer people's questions.
And then at the end of every week, on a Saturday, we do a post calling for your big takeaway. So comment on the post that relates to this lesson and let us know what you've learned. It is so much fun to see what people have to say and what connections they make.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on ldsliving.com/sundayonmonday, and if you go there, you can also get a complete transcript of this whole discussion as well as all the references that we use, so go check it out.
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall. And today our superb study group participants were Robert Howarth and Doug Farley. And you can find more information about my friends at ldsliving.com/sundayonmonday.
Our podcast is produced by Katie Lambert and me. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at 6 Studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week. And boy, after today, you better remember you are God's favorite