Egermeier’s Bible Stories, Part Two.




THE WEDDING FEAST

 WHERE JESUS SHOWED HIS POWER


John 2:1-11


I N CANA, A LITTLE TOWN OF GALILEE, LIVED SOME DEAR FRIENDS OF JESUS AND HIS MOTHER. One day these friends invited Jesus, his mother, and his followers to attend a wedding in their home. They invited many other people also, and prepared a wedding feast for them.


Perhaps these people were poor; for they had not prepared enough wine for all the people who came to the wedding. And before the close of the feast the wine was all gone.


Mary, the mother of Jesus, saw that the wine had all been used, and she called Jesus aside to tell him about it. She knew of his wonderful power, and she then believed he could surely help in a time like this. Then she told the servants who waited at the tables to do whatever Jesus might command them; for she expected him to supply the need in some wonderful manner.


In every Jewish home there were large vessels, called water-pots, which the people kept filled with water to use daily in washing their hands and their feet. The Jews were very careful to keep themselves clean from dust and dirt, and because they walked about everywhere with only sandals on their feet they needed often to wash. In this home where the wedding-feast was being held, six large water-pots of stone were kept for this purpose.


Jesus called the servants and told them to fill the water-pots with fresh water. And remembering his mother’s instructions to them, the servants promptly drew fresh water and filled the vessels to the brim. Then Jesus told them to draw out from the vessels and fill their wine-pitchers again. When they obeyed they saw that wine flowed from the vessels they had just finished filling with water.


At these Jewish feasts one man was chosen to be the governor, or ruler of the feast. (The “Master of Ceremony”) he tasted the food and the wine before it was placed on the tables to serve the people. Jesus told the servants to take this wine to the governor and have him taste it, just as he had tasted the first wine that had been served to the guests.


Now the governor did not know what Jesus had done. He did not know that the other wine had all been used and there was no more to be had. When he tasted the wine which Jesus had made from water he was surprized because it was so much better than the first wine which had been served. Calling the young man who had just been married, the governor said, “At other wedding-feasts the best wine is served first, but you have kept the best until the last of the feast.’~


This was the first recorded miracle Jesus performed, and it showed his willingness to help people who are in real need. When the men who followed him saw what he had done they believed on him, for they knew that no man alive could change water into wine as he just did.


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HOW THE MIDIANITES WERE SURPRIZED AT MIDNIGHT


Judges 7:1—8:28



G IDEON’S MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL BROUGHT THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND MEN FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY TO HIS COMMAND: THEY PITCHED THEIR CAMP BESIDE A GREAT SPRING CALLED THE WELL OF HÂRÖD, ON MOUNT GILBOÁ. THE MIDIANITES WERE CAMPING IN THE BROAD VALLEY BELOW THEM.


When Gideon ‘s army had gathered together, God spoke to their brave leader and said ‘‘You have too many soldiers; for when the Mid’-I-ã-nites are defeated the people will think they have gained the victory in their own strength. I want them to know surely that I am leading them to the battle.’’ And God told Gideon to send home every man who was afraid to fight against the enemy.


Gideon obeyed God’s command, and more than two thirds of his soldiers left the camp and returned to their homes. They were cowards, and cowards never can act bravely when dangers come. No doubt Gideon and the ten thousand men who remained were glad because the cowards had gone away before the battle started.


Still God was not satisfied with the size of Gideon’s army. He wanted fewer men than these . So he commanded Gideon to take the army down to the water and divide them there. Those who laid aside their weapons and bowed down at the water’s edge to drink, God told Gideon to separate from those who held their weapons in one hand and drank water from the other hand. And all the men except three hundred threw their weapons on the grass and knelt down to drink. We know they were not very watchful of the enemy, or else they would not have very carelessly laid aside their weapons in a time of danger to satisfy their thirst . By the three hundred watchful men God wished to frighten the Mid’-i-à-nItes out of the land. He told Gideon to send the others back to the camp.


Now Gideon’s army looked very small. Indeed , it no longer looked like an army; for only a handful of men remained. But Gideon knew God had promised to help, and he was willing to obey every word God spoke to him.


When darkness came over the valleys and hills, God told Gideon that the time had come to go down and surprize the enemy’s camp . But first he told Gideon to take only one servant and steal quietly through the shadows to the edge of the camp and listen. There he would hear something that would make him braver and stronger for the attack.


Again Gideon carefully obeyed the Lord, and when he came near the MId’-I-á-njtes’ camp he heard one man telling another about a strange dream that he had dreamed. “In my dreams I saw a cake of barley bread come tumbling into our camp, and it overturned one of the tents.” The other man said, “Your dream means that Gideon, the son of Jö’-äsh, will come against us with his sword and drive us away; for his God has delivered us into his power.” When Gideon heard these words he thanked God and hurried back to his waiting men.


A busy time was now before them . First Gideon divided the men into three companies, with one hundred men in each company . Next he gave each man a trumpet on which to blow at the time of the attack. And last of all he told every man to carry an empty pitcher with a burning torch hidden inside the pitcher. So with trumpets in one hand and pitchers in the other hand Gideon and his three hundred brave soldiers marched quietly down the mountain-slope toward the enemy ‘s camp. Here they parted, and very quietly they took their places around the camp. Then they waited for Gideon’s signal.


Now the Mid’-I-à-nites, except their watchmen, were all sleeping soundly. At midnight Gideon gave his signal, and when his soldiers heard his trumpet they all blew a loud, long blast. Then they cried aloud on every side of the camp, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” And every one broke his pitcher at the same time. What a glare of light flamed up from the smoking torches around the camp!


The sleeping MId’-I-à-.nItes were awakened with a start. “What can this great excitement mean?” they wondered. Then they thought, “Gideon has come with a great army and has surprized us. He will kill every one of us if we do not run away at once.” So away they ran through the darkness, stumbling over each other, and falling upon each other’s swords. Many of them died from being trampled upon and wounded by their own people. Others hurried away toward the Jordan River, beyond which lay their own country.


Gideon and his brave men followed the fleeing Mid’-i-á-nItes, and other soldiers of Israel came hurrying out to help drive their enemies away. They killed the two kings of MId’-i-ñn and the princes, and many of their men . After this time the Mid’-i-ä -nites did not trouble Israel any more. And the people of Israel wished Gideon would become a king and rule over them . But Gideon said, ‘‘I will not rule over you, and neither shall my son rule over you; for God is your King.’’ And Gideon judged Israel at God’s word for forty years.


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 WHY SOLOMON RODE UPON THE KING’S MULE


I Kings 1:1-2:12


D AVID WAS NOW AN OLD MAN, AND HE COULD NO LONGER GO OUT AMONG HIS PEOPLE. Day after day he lay upon his bed in the beautiful palace at Jerusalem, waiting to die. He had ruled Israel for many years, and God had blessed him with much honor and with great riches. Now his people knew that soon be must die, and they were wondering who should be the next king to sit upon his throne.


One of Solomon’s elder brothers thought he would rule the people in his father’s place. Perhaps he knew that God had chosen Solomon to be the next king; but he was proud like Ab’-sá--lom, and he did not care to please God. He wished to become the king instead of Solomon. So he prepared chariots for himself and appointed fifty young men to run before him as he ‘rode through the streets of Jerusalem . People looking on would believe that he was a great ruler whom every one should respect, so he thought . Because David had always allowed him to do just as he pleased, Ad-O-ni’-jáh believed he could easily become king in his father’s stead.


One day Ad-ö-nI’-jãh called his friends together and made a great feast for them in a valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem. JO’-áb, the captain of David’s army, and A-bi’-á-thär, the high priest, were with Ad-ö-nI’-jàh. They planned to make him king of Israel after the feast should be ended, and they were rejoicing together and having a very good time indeed.


But Nathan, the prophet of God, was troubled. He knew God had chosen Solomon to sit upon David’s throne, and he feared that David did not know of Ad-O-ui’-jàh’ plan to take this place instead of Solomon. So Nathan came to Báth’-shé-bä, Solomon’s mother, and told her what was happening in the valley just outside the city wall.


Now David had promised Bäth’-she-bá that her son, Solomon, should be the king after him, and she, too, was troubled when she heard about Ad-O-ni’-jäh’ doings. She hurried to David’s bedside and asked if he had forgotten about his promise to make Solomon the next king of Israel. David said that he remembered the promise very well and that God had chosen Solomon for the throne. Then Bãth’-shè-bà told the old King that Ad-ö-nI’-jñh and his friends were planning to take the kingdom away from Solomon.


While Bäth’-sh&bä was speaking, Nathan called to see David. He asked if David had given permission to Ad-O-nI’-jáli to take the throne after him. Then he told about the feast which was being held in the valley that very day, and lie said , “The people are eating and drinking with your son Ad-ö-nI’-jàh, and they are calling him their king.”


David remembered the troubles that his wicked son Ab’-sá-lom had caused, and he feared that Ad-O-nI’-jáh would cause much trouble, too. So he thought that before his own death it would be wise to have the young Prince Solomon anointed as king. Lie told his servants to bring his own mule from the stable and place Solomon upon it, then to go with him to Gi’-hön, where the priest Zã’-dök should anoint Solomon with oil.


Then he commanded that all his servants should blow their trumpets and cry aloud, “God save King Solomon!” Afterwards they should bring him back to the city and place him on the throne.


Nathan called the priest and one of David’s brave soldiers and they quickly obeyed the King’s orders. And many people of the city saw Solomon riding on his father’s mule. with his father’s servants attending him, and they began to shout for joy, because they knew Solomon bad been made the king that day. The noise of their rejoicing was heard in the valley where Ad-ö-ni’-jãh and his friends were feasting.


Jö’-äb, the captain of David’s army, heard the sound of trumpets and he said ‘There is an uproar in the city.” Being a brave soldier, he wished to go at once to find out the cause of the excitement in Jerusalem. But while he was speaking a messenger came to tell what had taken place.


Ad-ó-nI’jäh was frightened when he heard that his father had made Solomon to be the king of Israel. His guests, too, were afraid, and they hurriedly left the scene of their feasting and returned to their own homes. But Ad-O-nI’-jãh was afraid to go home. He knew Solomon would hear what he had been doing, and he feared the new King would cause him to be killed. So he ran to the tabernacle and caught hold of the altar of God.


When Solomon heard that Ad-O-ni’-jãh had run to the tabernacle for safety, he sent for his brother at once. Solomon was a peace-loving man and did not intend to put any one to death. The servants told Ad-ö-ni’-jãh that the new King would deal kindly with him if he would behave himself rightly, and Ad-O-nI’-jäh promised to do just as Solomon had asked. Then Solomon permitted him to return safely to his own house.


David did not live very long after these things happened. Before he died he called Solomon to his bedside and urged him to obey God always. He spoke to him about many things that should be done, and urged Solomon to carry out his plans for the temple building in Jerusalem. In all, David had reigned as a king for forty years.


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HOW GOD SPOKE IN A DREAM TO SOLOMON


I Kings 3:3-15; 4:29-34; 10:1-13


God will help the ones who try In their work to please him well;

Others then will glorify Him, and of his goodness tell.



S OLOMON WAS NOT LIKE HIS ELDER BROTHERS, Ab’-sà-lom and Ad-ö-.nI’-.jäh. Instead of wishing to seem great in the eyes of every one, he felt that he was too much like a child to know how to rule wisely over his people. He remembered that God had helped his father, David, and he wanted God to help him, too.


One day soon after he became King, Solomon took one thousand burnt offerings to Gibeon, where a great altar stood, and there he sacrificed them to God. All day long he watched them burning; and he wished to go at once to find out the cause of the excitement in Jerusalem. But while he was speaking a messenger came to tell what had taken place.


Ad-ó-nI’jäh was frightened when he heard that his father had made Solomon to be the king of Israel. His guests, too, were afraid, and they hurriedly left the scene of their feasting and returned to their own homes. But Ad-O-nI’-jãh was afraid to go home. He knew Solomon would hear what he had been doing, and he feared the new King would cause him to be killed . So he ran to the tabernacle and caught hold of the altar of God.


When Solomon heard that Ad-O-ni’-jãh had run to the tabernacle for safety, he sent for his brother at once. Solomon was a peace-loving man and did not intend to put any one to death. The servants told Ad-ö-ni’-jãh that the new King would deal kindly with him if he would behave himself rightly, and Ad-O-nI’-jäh promised to do just as Solomon had asked. Then Solomon permitted him to return safely to his own house.


David did not live very long after these things happened. Before he died he called Solomon to his bedside and urged him to obey God always. He spoke to him about many things that should be done, and urged Solomon to carry out his plans for the temple building in Jerusalem. In all, David had reigned as a king for forty years.


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HOW DAVID KILLED THE GIANT GOLIATH


I Samuel 17:1-54


THE PHILISTINES BEGAN TO TROUBLE ISRAEL AGAIN and they prepared to fight against King Saul and his army. They marched into the land of Israel and pitched their tents along the side of a mountain. King Saul and his soldiers made their camp across the valley from the Philistines, on the side of another mountain.


But. the battle did not begin at once. The Philistines did not seem to be eager to fight’ They sent one of their soldiers out into the valley to talk to the men of Saul’s army. This soldier was a giant, and his name was Gö-li’-ãth. lIe called to the men of Israel and said, “Why have you come out to fight a battle with the Philistines? I am a Philistine. Now choose one of your men and send him to fight with me. If I kill him, then you shall become our servants; but if he kills me, then my people will become your servants.”


But the men of Israel were afraid of Go-li’-äth. None of them would dare to go out to fight against him. How frightful he looked as he stood in the valley before them, nearly twice as tall as an ordinary man! Even the tall King of Israel, who stood head and shoulders higher than any of his soldiers, would have looked small beside this mighty giant.


Every morning and every evening Go-li-áth would come out into the valley between the two camps, walking with long steps, and there he would call to the Israelite soldiers. And every moruing and every evening the men of Israel would tremble when they saw him coming. Forty days passed by, and still the Philistines waited for King Saul to send some one to fight against their champion.


While this was happening, David was busy at home caring for his father’s sheep, as he had been before he went to visit King Saul. One day while lie was watching them he saw a lion spring out of the woods and snatch a little lamb. He hurried after the lion and tried to save the lamb. Then the lion became angry and dropped the lamb, and turned to attack David . But God gave wonderful strength to the shepherd -boy, and he seized hold of the lion’s beard, and killed him. Another day a hungry bear came out of the woods and stole a lamb. Again I)avid ran fearlessly to rescue the lamb and God helped him to kill the thief.


Three of David ‘s brothers were soldiers in Saul ‘s army... Jesse, their old father, thought often of them and wondered how they were getting along. One day he called David from the field and told him to get ready to visit his brothers in the camp of Israel. ‘‘Take this parched grain and these ten loaves of bread to them,” lie said, “and take these cheeses to their captain. Learn for me how your brothers are getting along, and bring back the message which they send.” Jesse did not know that when he should send David away this time his son would never come back again to take care of his sheep.


Bright and early the next morning David started out on this errand to the camp of Israel. When he reached the place, the sun had risen in the sky, and the soldiers were forming a line for battle. The Philistines were also forniing a line, ready to begin the fight. David ran quickly to find his brothers, and to tell them about their father’s gift, which he had brought to them and to their captain.


While the brothers were talking together, suddenly the soldiers around them looked anxiously toward the enemy’s camp. Their faces grew pale with fright. As David turned about to see the cause for alarm, he wondered, ‘‘ What can this mean ? This is what he saw.


A tall giant, the giant Gó-li’-áth, dressed in clothes that were covered with pieces of brass so that no sword could touch his body, was coming toward the camp of Israel again. On his head he was wearing a helmet of brass that fitted closely, like a hood. Gö-li’-átb knew the soldiers of Israel were afraid of him, and he called loudly to them as he had been doing every morning and every evening for forty days.. And David heard his voice ring out like an angry peal of thunder, and he saw the soldiers of King Saul turn and run away like frightened sheep.



Whcn David saw these things, the Spirit of God stirred in his heart and filled him with courage. “ Why should this wicked Philistine trouble us?’’ he asked, bravely I will go out an(l kill him.’’ The soldiers who stood l near were surprized to hear I)avid ‘s words. They told him how Go-li-ath had been coming out for many days, and how frightened they were of him. But David was firm iii his beliet that God would give him strength to kill such a wicked man, and the soldiers ran to tell King Saul.


E-li-ab was much displeased when lie heard David talk thus with the soldiers, and he called his brother aside and asked, ‘ Why have you left those sheep in the field an(l come out here to see the battle?’’


But David answered, What have I done that yon should be angry with me?’’ Then a messenger came from K ing Saul, calling for David, and he hurried away to go speak with the King.


Saul had not seen David for some time. And he had never before seen him dressed in the clothes of a shepherd. Now he did not know him. How disappointed he felt when he saw a shepherd—boy come before him, with no weapons at all But David spoke bravely to him and said, ‘ Do not be afraid any longer of this giant. I will go out and kill him.’’


“You are only a youth,’’ answered Saul, ‘‘and on are not strong enough to fight against such a mighty soldier as this Philistine giant.


But David told him how he had killed both a lion and also a bear while caring for his father’s sheep, and he said, “This giant shall be as one of them, for he has dared to speak mockingly of God’s people, and God will give him over into my hands. ‘‘ Then Saul was ready to let David go to fight the giant ; for he saw that David had faith to believe God would help his people.


But David had no armor and no shield to protect his body from the giant’s sword. He had no soldier-clothes at all. So Saul took off his armor and dressed David with it, and put his helmet upon David’s head. Then he gave his sword to David, and the shepherd-boy looked like a grand soldier, dressed up in the clothes of a king.


“Now you are ready,” said Saul.



But David replied, “I can not go with these clothes and with this sword . I have ever used them before, and I am not prepared to fight with them.” So he took them off, and picked up his shepherd’s staff and ran down to the brook near by to find some smooth stones. These he put into his shepherd’s hag, and then he took out his old leather sling and started to meet the giant.


Gö-li-ath was much surprized when he saw David coming toward him with no weapons . He became very angry; for he thought the Israelites were making fun of him. He said, “Am I a dog, that you have come to fight against me with that staff?” And he cursed David by the gods of the Philistines, and cried out, “Come to me, and I will soon tear you in pieces and will give your flesh to the birds and to the wild beasts.’’


But David called hack, “You have come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which you have mocked. Today the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and the flesh of the soldiers of the Philistine will become meat for the birds and for the wild beasts, that all people who bear of this may know that there is a God in Israel. And all people will know that the true God does not save with swords and spears.”


Then David ran forward and took a stone from his hag and placed it in his sling and threw it fiercely at the giant. And the stone hit the giant in his forehead, stunning him so that he fell face downward upon the ground. What a crash rang through the valley as Gö-li’-äth ‘s heavy armor struck the earth! Then David hurried to the place where the giant lay.


The Phihistines did not wait to see what would happen next; for now they knew God was helping the men of Israel, and they turned to run back to their own land. They did not even wait to take down their tents and to gather their belongings together, but every one of them started out as fast as he could go. And Saul’s army chased after them, and followed them to their own country. When Saul and his men came back, they took everything that the Philistines had left in their tents. And there was great rejoicing that day among the men of Israel, for they knew God had delivered them from their strong enemies.


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