Through an act of war, the Philistines take away the ark of the covenant from the nation of Israel. The text suggests that the Philistines believed the power of the ark would help them in battle. The ark serves as a reminder that gadgets work inasmuch as the person using it is righteous. I asked the question, “can you think of other times when the people of the Lord were given an object or gadget to use or to help them in some way?”
The students came up with several different examples:
The ark of the covenant
Moses’ staff raised in the wilderness to heal those bitten by snakes
The sword of Laban
The most common answer students came up with was the Liahona. The scriptures have this to say regarding the Liahona:
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written. And it came to pass that when my father beheld the things which were awritten upon the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly, and also my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and our wives. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the afaith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us aunderstanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by bsmall means the Lord can bring about great things. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the adirections which were given upon the ball. (1 Nephi 16:26-30)
In Alma we read the following:
And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it aLiahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it. And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness. And it did work for them according to their afaith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. 41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by asmall means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were bslothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey; Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did anot travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a ashadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the aword of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. And now I say, is there not a atype in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. (Alma 37:38-45)
Without doing things His way, we will not receive His help. I believe this in large part applied to Joseph Smith as he worked through the translation of the Book of Mormon as well. The Lord could have given Joseph Smith a translated version of the book, but part of Joseph’s experience was to work through the translation using the actual plates, the object, as a means of bringing about the Book of Mormon. As he worked on the translation, he learned the process by which revelation flows. His faith in Jesus Christ was increased.
The point of emphasis is that whether we are talking about the Liahona, the ark of the covenant, the scriptures, our patriarchal blessing, or any object that the Lord has given us to guide us in our journey here in mortality, these things will only help us inasmuch as we exercise faith in the Lord. We need to remember why we are doing what we are doing. Said another way, objects the Lord has given us help us to remember what we are working for – where we are going, and why we should have faith in Jesus Christ.
Another idea taught in 1 Samuel 4-9 is the idea that sacred things need to stay sacred. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas abuse their office and bring a negative feeling towards things of holiness and the temple. For this reason the Lord removes them from their place (see 1 Samuel 2:22-23, 30-35; 4:11). The ark also teaches this lesson as the Philistines are cursed by their possessing it (see 1 Samuel 5-6). How do youth need to keep sacred things sacred? What sacred things are the youth of the church entrusted with? This question helped us to relate the experience in 1 Samuel 5 and 6 to the lives of the youth.
The example set by both Eli and Samuel’s sons teach the importance of being an example. In both situations the actions of Eli’s and Samuel’s sons caused Israel to stray. The children of Israel used the bad example of Samuel’s sons to justify their desire to have a king. In prophetic manner Samuel urged the people not to desire a king. In his warning Samuel stated:
And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to aear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be aconfectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the atenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your aking which ye shall have bchosen you; and the Lord will not chear you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:10-18)
The response of the people is quite telling. Having been in the Land of Canaan for many years, they have come to be influenced by the surrounding nations and wanted to be like the nations they fought against. The children of Israel respond:
Nevertheless the people refused to aobey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the anations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
“Samuel called the people together and explained to them that the people of the Lord should be different, with higher standards. ‘We want to be like other peoples,’ they demanded. ‘We do not want to be different.’ . . .
“Not so different are we today! We want the glamor and frothiness of the world, not always realizing the penalties of our folly. . . . Others . . . indulge in their social drinking—‘we must also have a king like unto other nations!’
“Styles are created by the vulgar and money-mad and run from one extreme to the other to out-date present wardrobes and create business for merchants. We cannot be different. We would rather die than be ‘not up to date.’ If the dress is knee length we must go [a] little above the knee. If shorts are short we must have the shortest. . . . [I]f bathing suits are skimpy, we must have the skimpiest. ‘We must have a king like unto other nations!’
“The Lord says he will have a peculiar people but we do not wish to be peculiar. . . . If intimate fondling is the pattern of the crowd, we will fondle. ‘We must have a king like unto other nations!’ . . .
“Others have hollywood marriages with finery and glitter and ostentatious pomposity. We also must have candles, gowns, best men and ladies in waiting, often dangerously near immodestly dressed. ‘We must have a king like unto other nations!’
“The world has a queen in every industry, business, factory, school and social group. She must dress immodestly, display her figure and appear in public places to further the financial interests of business, entertainment and social groups. . . . Ours, also, must have a beautiful face, a little talent, and a well-formed body for public exhibition. We can do little else for ‘we must have a queen like unto other nations!’ . . .
“When, oh when, will our Latter-day Saints stand firm on their own feet, establish their own standards, follow proper patterns and live their own glorious lives in accordance with Gospel inspired patterns. . . . Certainly good times and happy lives and clean fun are not dependent upon the glamorous, the pompous, the extremes” (Elder Spencer W. Kimball, “Like All the Nations,” Church News 15 Oct. 1960, 14).
Reading Elder Kimball’s remarks and the previous verses in class opened up the discussion as to how the youth at our school are like the ancient Israelites in their desire to “be like all the nations”. The young people in our class responded with many examples. Fashion, language, entertainment – all of these came to the forefront of the discussion. One thing that each class mentioned the most was dating practices. We spent some time going over what proper dating practices need to be followed for the youth to be protected by prophetic counsel.
From the For the Strength of the Youth guidebook we read:
A date is a planned activity that allows a young man and a young woman to get to know each other better. In cultures where dating is acceptable, it can help you learn and practice social skills, develop friendships, have wholesome fun, and eventually find an eternal companion.
You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating, go with one or more additional couples. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Developing serious relationships too early in life can limit the number of other people you meet and can perhaps lead to immorality. Invite your parents to become acquainted with those you date.
Choose to date only those who have high moral standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards. Remember that a young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to protect each other’s honor and virtue.
Plan dating activities that are safe, positive, and inexpensive and that will help you get to know each other. Go only to places where you can maintain your standards and remain close to the Spirit. See: https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/dating
1 Samuel 4-9 reminds us to remember why we do what we do, to keep sacred things sacred, that our examples have lasting effects, and that being like everybody else does not always bring us the desired results.