Biblical Personality Profiles from external resources

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. - I Peter 2:9

NOTE: These are not mine own writings but it can be used for study reference. I personally urge to refer VINES EXPOSITORY for better word study, as for profile reference this article can be used. Benoted that this article will be updated when author decides to add new profiles.

Adam, whose name means “man,” was the first human being. Created out of dust, he was made in the imapge of God. Adam was given dominion over the rest of creation and was placed in the garden of Eden to care for it. God created Eve as a helper for Adam, and together they enjoyed perfect fellowship with their Creator. But Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, which brought sin and death into the world. Because of their sin, all humans are now born sinners and will someday die. The Bible tells the story of how God redeems his creation from the curse of Adam’s sin. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). (Genesis 2:7)

God created Eve, whose name means “life,” as a helper for Adam. Fashioned from one of Adam’s ribs, Eve became the mother (that is, the female ancestor) of all human beings. Though enjoying perfect fellowship with God, Eve was deceived by the serpent and disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve were driven from the paradise of Eden and began to experience great hardship. For Eve, that included pain in childbearing. Yet, as promised in Gen. 3:15, one of her offspring would defeat the serpent and bring salvation and eternal life to all who put their trust in him. (Genesis 2:23)

Noah was a righteous man who faithfully walked with God despite the wickedness of his generation. When God chose to destroy the earth because of its hopeless corruption, Noah alone found favor in his eyes. God instructed Noah to build an ark that would keep him and his family safe during the coming flood. Noah also took representative pairs of each kind of animal with him into the ark, to replenish the earth after the flood. God made a covenant with Noah, promising that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood. The NT calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). (Genesis 6:7–8)

God called Abraham to leave his native country for a land that he would show him. When Abraham arrived in Canaan, God promised to give the land to him and his descendants, who would become the nation of Israel. The Lord promised that the whole world would be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. Abraham faced the ultimate test of faith when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Because Abraham was willing to do so, God once again promised to bless him and to multiply his offspring. God spared Isaac from death by providing a substitute sacrifice, foreshadowing the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. (Genesis 15:5–6)

Melchizedek is among the most mysterious figures in Scripture. King of Salem, a city identified with Jerusalem, and “priest of God Most High,” Mel­chiz­edek’s name means “king of righteousness.” Following Abraham’s defeat of Chedorlaomer and his rescue of Lot, Melchizedek provided a meal of bread and wine for Abraham and his men. He then blessed Abraham, attributing Abraham’s victory over his enemies to God Most High. In response to Melchizedek’s blessing, Abraham gave the priest-king a tenth of everything he had. David mentions Melchizedek in the messianic Psalm 110, and the writer of Hebrews presents Melchizedek as a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, who is both priest and king. (Genesis 14:18–20)

Ishmael was Abraham’s eldest son. His mother was Hagar, the maidservant of Abraham’s wife Sarah. Ishmael was around 16 years old when his half-brother, Isaac, was born. Sarah overheard Ishmael mocking his younger brother, so she angrily expelled Hagar and Ishmael from her household and sent them to wander in the desert. God protected them, however, and promised that Ishmael would become a great nation. Ishmael grew to be strongly independent and, as the Lord had prophesied, he lived a life of hostility toward others. Ishmael settled in the wilderness of Paran, where he became an expert archer. Because Ishmael was Abraham’s son, God blessed him. He had 12 sons, who became princes of 12 tribes. (Genesis 16:11–12)

Sarah was Abraham’s wife and was also his half-sister. On two occasions, to save himself from possible danger, Abraham said that Sarah was his “sister,” failing to mention that she was also his wife. After many years of not being able to bear children, Sarah encouraged Abraham to start a family with her maidservant, Hagar. This plan backfired when, upon conceiving, Hagar became condescending toward Sarah. Later, God promised Abraham that he would give him a son through Sarah. Since she was 90 years old at the time, and Abraham himself was 100, Sarah’s initial response to the promise was laughter. However, one year later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the child of promise. She thus became an ancestor of Christ. (Genesis 17:15–16)

Abraham’s nephew Lot traveled with him to the promised land of Canaan. When the combined wealth of Abraham and Lot proved too much for one place, Abraham generously offered his nephew first choice of the land. Lot chose the fertile Jordan Valley, settling in Sodom. Later, Abraham rescued Lot when he was taken captive by invaders. When the wicked city of Sodom was destroyed, God allowed Lot’s family to escape. Lot’s wife disobeyed by looking back, however, and was turned into a pillar of salt. Filled with fear, Lot and his daughters hid in a cave. Both daughters, desperate to have children, tricked Lot into fathering a son with them. Despite his shortcomings, Lot is described in 2 Pet. 2:7–10 as a righteous man. (Genesis 19:15–16)

God had promised Abraham that the world would be blessed through his descendants. When Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah, it was the initial fulfillment of that promise. At God’s command, Isaac was almost sacrificed by his father, but his life was spared when God provided a ram to be sacrificed in his place. This prefigured the sacrifice of God’s own Son in the place of all who would believe in him. Isaac settled in Gerar, a Philistine city, where he became prosperous. He married Rebekah, who bore him twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Although Esau was his favorite son, Isaac was tricked by Jacob into giving him the blessing intended for his older brother. (Genesis 21:1–3)

Because he did not want Isaac to marry a Canaanite, Abraham sent his servant to Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son. The servant prayed for a sign to help him recognize the woman God had appointed for this purpose. Rebekah’s actions were the precise answer to the servant’s prayer. She was beautiful and hospitable, and in an act of faith she left her country and her family so that she could journey to Canaan and marry Isaac. Like Sarah, Rebekah was barren. Isaac prayed on her behalf, and God heard his prayer. Rebekah gave birth to Jacob and Esau. Favoring Jacob above his brother, Rebekah instructed him to trick his father into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. (Genesis 25:23)

Esau, whose name means “hairy,” was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the elder twin brother of Jacob. Esau was a skillful hunter and his father’s favorite son, but he brought misery upon his parents by marrying two Hittite women. Esau carelessly sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Jacob then tricked Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for his brother. In response, Esau tried to kill Jacob. Years later, however, Jacob and Esau were reconciled. Esau founded the nation of Edom, which became an enemy of Israel. Jacob the chosen one and Esau the one not chosen typify the age-long struggle between the people of God and their adversaries. (Genesis 27:36)

Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah. His name means “he grasps the heel” or “he cheats.” Jacob used deception to receive the blessing intended for his brother Esau. He then fled to the home of his uncle Laban. When Jacob asked permission to marry Laban’s daughter Rachel, Laban agreed but then tricked him into marrying her older sister Leah instead. However, Jacob was allowed to marry Rachel as well, and he eventually became the father of 12 sons and a daughter. As he was returning to Canaan, Jacob wrestled with an angel of the Lord. During this struggle he was given a new name, Israel, which means “struggles with God.” Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. (Genesis 32:27–28)

Rachel was the daughter of Laban, uncle of Jacob. She became Jacob’s wife. Since she was a shep­herdess, it is fitting that Rachel’s name means “ewe.” Rachel was a beautiful woman, and the Bible says that Jacob loved her immediately. So deep was his love for her that after being deceived into marrying her older sister Leah, Jacob promised to work an additional seven years for Laban so that he could marry Rachel as well. There was constant strife between the sisters because Jacob favored Rachel, and because Rachel was envious of Leah’s ability to have children. After many years of waiting, however, Rachel gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. Ruth 4:11 says that Rachel and Leah “together built up the house of Israel.” (Genesis 29:18, 20)

Joseph was the son of Jacob and his favored wife Rachel. Jacob therefore showed favoritism toward Joseph, which made his brothers despise him. Out of jealousy, they sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken to Egypt, where he was purchased by a royal official. Joseph was imprisoned on false charges but was released after interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh. Because the dreams had predicted seven years of famine, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of preparing for the famine. During the famine Joseph’s family unknowingly came to him for help, and Joseph forgave his brothers and rescued his family. Through Joseph, God used evil to work out his good purposes, foreshadowing the time when he would bring the supreme good of eternal salvation out of the wicked actions of those who crucified Jesus. (Genesis 50:19–20)

Moses’ life was spared when his mother hid him in a reed basket and set him adrift on the Nile. Rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a prince, Moses nonetheless recognized the Hebrews as his people. After killing an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses fled to Midian, where he married Zipporah. God spoke to him through a burning bush, instructing him to return to Egypt and rescue the Hebrews from slavery to the Egyptians. After performing powerful signs before Pharaoh, Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and brought them to Mount Sinai, where he received the Law and the Ten Commandments. He led the people of Israel for 40 years as they wandered in the wilderness. Through Moses God redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt, prefiguring Christ’s eternal redemption of his people from slavery to sin. (Exodus 33:17)

Aaron was Moses’ brother and his spokesperson before Israel and Pharaoh. When Pharaoh refused to release the Hebrews, Aaron stretched out his rod to bring plagues upon the Egyptians. He helped Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness. At Sinai, however, Aaron gave in to the Israelites’ sinful demand and designed a golden calf for them to worship. On another occasion, when the Lord miraculously provided water in the wilderness, both Moses and Aaron failed to give proper honor to the Lord, and as a result they were forbidden entry into the Promised Land. As a descendant of Levi, Aaron became Israel’s first high priest, and all future priests were his descendants. (Exodus 4:15)

Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron. It was probably Miriam who saw Pharaoh’s daughter rescue Moses from the water, and offered to call a Hebrew woman to nurse the child. As a result, Moses was nursed by his own mother, who was paid wages to care for him. Miriam was a prophetess. Following the exodus she led the women of Israel in song and dance to celebrate God’s deliverance. Along with Aaron, she criticized Moses for marrying a Cushite woman, thus challenging his authority. God punished Miriam by inflicting her with leprosy, though she was healed after Moses prayed for her. Micah 6:4 lists Miriam alongside her brothers as one whom God appointed to lead Israel. (Exodus 15:20–21)

Caleb was one of 12 tribal leaders sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan. Of the 12 spies, only Caleb and Joshua brought back an encouraging report. The other spies emphasized the strength of Canaan’s inhabitants and concluded that Israel would face certain defeat. However, Caleb and Joshua urged the people not to rebel against the Lord’s promise to give the land to them or to fear Canaan’s inhabitants. They reminded the people that the Lord would protect them and keep his promise if they obeyed. When the congregation responded with anger, the Lord punished their disbelief. He promised that the entire generation would die in the wilderness, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. When Caleb was 85 years old, he was given Hebron for an inheritance. (Numbers 14:24)

Korah, who was from the tribe of Levi, led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Dathan, Abiram, and 250 well-known chiefs of the congregation joined with him. Korah and his men accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above the people of Israel. They failed to recognize, however, that it is God who gives authority to whomever he chooses. As punishment for their rebellion, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, together with their households and possessions, were swallowed up by the earth in front of the people of Israel. God sent fire to consume the 250 chiefs. The people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron and remained sympathetic to the punished rebels, so God sent a plague as further punishment. (Numbers 16:31–35)

Balaam was a well-known non-Israelite prophet. Balak, the king of Moab, was terrified of the Israelites, and so he summoned Balaam to place a curse on them. God spoke to Balaam, however, and forbade him to curse Israel. He permitted Balaam to go to Balak on the condition that he speak only as the Lord instructed. God reinforced this condition in a grimly humorous episode involving a talking donkey. Balak tried many times to persuade Balaam to curse Israel, but his plan backfired. Balaam instead pronounced four blessings on the nation. Although Balaam was unable to curse the Israelites, he later advised Balak to send women to seduce Israel away from God and into idolatry (31:6). (Numbers 22:22–35)

Eleazar was the third son of Aaron. His older brothers, Nadab and Abihu, died after offering unauthorized fire before the Lord. Following their death, Eleazar and his younger brother, Ithamar, were placed in charge of the tent of meeting. Eleazar supervised those who guarded the sanctuary. After Aaron’s death, he became high priest of Israel. He assisted Moses in taking a census of Israel. This was to establish the size of the tribes so that each could be given an appropriate inheritance. Moses commissioned Joshua as his successor in the presence of Eleazar, who later helped Joshua divide the Promised Land among the tribes of Israel. Eleazar died soon after the death of Aaron. He had one son, Phinehas, and was an ancestor of Ezra the scribe. (Numbers 20:25–28)

Joshua was a spiritual and military leader of Israel. He accompanied Moses part of the way up Mount Sinai and also assisted him at the tent of meeting. He was one of the 12 spies sent to explore the land of Canaan. Upon their return, most of the spies said it would be impossible to conquer the land, but Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to trust the Lord for victory. Because of their obedience and faith, Joshua and Caleb were the only two men of their generation allowed to enter Canaan. The Lord appointed Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land. He was also put in charge of dividing the land among the tribes. (Numbers 27:18–23)

Rahab was a Gentile prostitute who lived in Jericho. When Joshua sent two spies to gather information about the city, she hid the men from the king. She also deceived the men who came looking for the spies. She convinced them to leave the city in pursuit of the spies, who were actually hidden on her roof. She demonstrated a remarkable awareness of Israel’s history and of the Lord’s intention to give Israel the land of Canaan. In response to her kindness, Joshua spared Rahab and her household when Israel destroyed Jericho. Rahab was Boaz’s mother and is one of four women listed in the genealogy of Jesus. She is commended in the NT for her faith and for her good works. (Joshua 2:10–11)

The story of Ehud begins by saying that he was “a left-handed man” (3:15), and in fact the Lord used Ehud’s left-handedness to defeat Israel’s enemy. Ehud led a delegation to pay tribute to Eglon, king of Moab, who was ruling over Israel. Because he was left-handed, Ehud was able to conceal a sword on his right thigh, where it would not be expected. He then pretended to have a secret message for the king. While he was alone with King Eglon, Ehud killed him, then managed to escape before the king’s servants realized what had happened. The graphic details in this account show the rough nature of this time in Israel’s history and the earthy character of many of its “heroes.” (Judges 3:28)

When the Canaanite king Jabin, with his 900 chariots of iron, oppressed Israel, the Lord raised up a woman to save them. Deborah, a prophetess, was called to lead the nation as a judge and deliverer. Since women did not usually go into battle, Deborah called upon Barak to lead the army against Jabin, but then Barak insisted that Deborah go into battle with him. Following the victory, Deborah and Barak sang a song of praise to the Lord. The defeat of Jabin ushered in a period of 40 years of peace for the people of Israel. Although many of the judges made poor choices during their rule, Deborah’s actions and words consistently pointed to God. (Judges 4:4–7)

Gideon was called by God to free the Israelites from oppression by the Midianites. After destroying an altar of Baal, he was given the name Jerubbaal, which means, “let Baal contend.” The name was a mocking challenge to this powerless false god. The God of Israel proved his own power by leading Gideon to choose his army in a very unusual way, reducing it from 32,000 to only 300 men. Those 300 men defeated the Midianites, not with the sword but with trumpets, torches, and pitchers! Gideon was viewed as a hero, and the people tried to make him king. He refused their request, rightly declaring that “the Lord will rule over you” (8:23). Sadly, however, Gideon went on to do things that suggested a heart filled with pride rather than humility. (Judges 6:36–40)

Gideon’s son Abimelech became king over the city of Shechem thanks to his family’s successful campaign to influence the city’s leaders. He then removed his strongest competition for leadership by ruthlessly killing 70 of his own brothers. Abim­elech’s youngest brother Jotham, who alone had escaped the murderous rampage, courageously condemned Abimelech and the leaders. He told a fable that predicted the judgment that would fall on Abimelech and the leaders for the deaths of Gideon’s sons. When the people of Shechem later turned against Abimelech, he successfully resisted their rebellion by killing many people and destroying their city. But then, as he tried to capture a nearby city, a woman dropped a millstone on his head, crushing his skull. This episode in Israel’s history shows some of the consequences of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord (8:33–34). (Judges 9:5–6)

Jephthah, one of the judges of Israel, was a mighty warrior from Gilead. Because he was the son of a prostitute, his half brothers rejected him. He fled to another town, where he associated with “worthless fellows” (11:3). This was probably a reflection on his own character as well. When enemies began oppressing the Israelites, they appointed Jephthah as their leader without seeking God’s approval. Before going into battle with the Ammon­ites, Jeph­thah made a foolish vow: that if he were victorious, he would sacrifice to the Lord the first thing to emerge from his house upon his return. When he did return victorious, he was greeted at the door by his daughter, his only child. Jephthah followed through on his irresponsible vow, even though the Mosaic law did not require him to do so. (Judges 11:5)

Samson was the twelfth and final judge of Israel. God raised him up to deliver Israel from the Philis­tines. Possessing great strength, he often battled the Philistines single-handedly. Samson was a life-long Nazirite, but he broke every one of his vows. He made particularly bad decisions regarding his relationships with women. This is most evident in his relationship with Delilah, to whom he revealed the secret of his strength. Paid by the Philistines to seduce Samson, Delilah cut off his hair while he slept. He was attacked and blinded by a group of Philistines lying in wait, and taken as their prisoner. His final feat of strength was to bring down a Philistine temple, killing about 3,000 Philistines along with himself. Despite Samson’s sinful life and continued unfaithfulness, God used him to save Israel. (Judges 15:14–17)

Naomi, along with her husband and two sons, moved from Israel to Moab to seek relief from a famine. In Moab, one of her sons married Ruth, a Moabite. When Naomi’s husband and sons died, she decided to return to her home in Bethlehem. Naomi urged Ruth to stay behind in her native land, but out of love for her mother-in-law, Ruth chose to return with her to Bethlehem and to serve the Lord. Following her mother-in-law’s daring plan, Ruth took courageous steps to provide a new family for herself and Naomi. She married Boaz, and they had a son, Obed, who became the grandfather of King David. This means that Ruth was included in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Ruth’s expression of love for her mother-in-law (1:16–17) has set a high standard for godly relationships down through the ages. (Ruth 1:16–17)

When Naomi and her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth came to Bethlehem as childless widows to start a new life, they encountered Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. He was a good man who allowed the poor to glean in his field, as God commanded in the Law. The report of Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi and to the Lord impressed him, and he protected Ruth while she worked in his field. By Israelite tradition, Boaz was among those who could rescue Naomi and Ruth from poverty. He could do so by redeeming Naomi’s ancestral land and by marrying Ruth, thus providing heirs for Naomi’s and Ruth’s deceased husbands. After Ruth revealed her interest in Boaz, he agreed to do all of this. As he and Ruth moved toward marriage, Boaz was very careful to make sure that everything was done in an orderly and honorable way. Boaz and Ruth became the parents of Obed, who became King David’s grandfather. (Ruth 4:9–10)

Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. Although his other wife, Peninnah, had children, Hannah did not. While at the temple in Shiloh, Hannah wept bitterly because of her inability to have a child. Deeply distressed, she prayed to the Lord. She vowed that if he gave her a son, she would dedicate the child to God. Eli the priest observed Hannah praying and thought that she was drunk. When he realized that her display of emotion was genuine, however, he blessed Hannah. God answered Hannah’s prayer, and she gave birth to Samuel. When the child was weaned, she took him to Eli at the temple in fulfillment of her vow. Hannah’s song, praising God for her new son, is very similar to the prayer of Mary in Luke 1:46–55 as she looked forward to the birth of her son Jesus. (1 Samuel 1:9–11)

Eli was a priest at Shiloh and a judge of Israel. He became Samuel’s guardian after Hannah brought her son to the temple. When God spoke to Samuel, it was Eli who realized the voice was the Lord’s, and he told Samuel how to respond. Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who also served as priests. Both of them were wicked and blasphemed God. Although Eli rebuked his sons, they did not listen. A messenger from God announced to Eli that his household had been rejected by the Lord. Eli died after receiving news that both of his sons had been killed in battle and the ark of the Lord had been captured. (1 Samuel 4:12–18)

Samuel’s birth was God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer for a son. Dedicated to the Lord as a small child, he lived and ministered at Shiloh. When he was a young man, the Lord spoke to him and established him as a prophet. Samuel called the people of Israel to repent and put aside idolatry. During Samuel’s lifetime, Israel changed from a collection of tribes ruled by various temporary “judges” to a nation ruled by a king. As the last judge of Israel, Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king. When Saul disobeyed God and was rejected as king, Samuel anointed David as his successor. Samuel acted as a faithful judge, prophet, and priest, foreshadowing the work of Christ as king, prophet, and priest (Heb. 1:1–3). (1 Samuel 3:19–21)

God chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. Soon after Samuel anointed him privately, the entire nation discovered by means of casting lots that he was to be their king. Saul was a gifted military leader who won the confidence of Israel by saving the city of Jabesh-gilead from the Ammonites. The Bible describes him as a tall, handsome man. Although Saul was chosen by God, he was not faithful to the Lord. He eventually grew proud and disobedient, and God rejected him as king. Tormented into paranoia by a harmful spirit, Saul became insanely jealous of David’s popularity and success and sought to kill him. He was wounded in a battle against the Philistines, and ultimately took his own life to avoid capture. (1 Samuel 11:15)

David was the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem. When Saul was rejected as king, God chose David as his successor. A handsome and gifted man, David played the lyre to soothe Saul, gaining his favor and eventually becoming his armor-bearer. On a mission to deliver food to his older brothers, David fought and killed the giant Goliath. He became Israel’s greatest king, and made Jerusalem the nation’s capital city. Although he was a godly man, David fell into sin with Bathsheba. God used him not because he was mighty or perfect, but because he found favor in God’s sight. The Lord promised David an eternal throne (2 Sam. 7:16), and through his lineage came Jesus Christ the Messiah. (2 Samuel 7:1–29)

Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son. He showed great trust in God at Michmash (14:6), where he led a daring raid that brought an Israelite victory over the Philistines. Jonathan became a close friend of David. The Bible says that he loved David “as his own soul” (18:1). When his father sought to kill David, Jonathan warned his friend and helped him escape. As Saul’s popular eldest son, Jonathan would have been easily accepted as Saul’s heir. He showed radical self-denial, however, in giving up any right to the throne of Israel. He gave his absolute support to David as the Lord’s choice to succeed Saul as king. Jonathan remained devoted to his father, dying alongside him at Mount Gilboa. (1 Samuel 18:1–4)

Abigail was the wife of Nabal, a wealthy but extremely foolish man. Nabal insulted David by refusing to care for and feed David and his men. His rudeness made David very angry, but Abigail wisely convinced David not to take vengeance. She sent food to David and spoke humbly and respectfully to him. Abigail calmed David’s anger and persuaded him not to kill her wicked husband and his household. Impressed by Abigail’s wisdom and discernment, David blessed Abigail and sent her home in peace. When she told Nabal what had happened, his “heart died within him” (25:37). A few days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died. Following his death, David married Abigail. (1 Samuel 25:32–35)

Abner was the commander of Saul’s army. When Saul died, Abner took the king’s son, Ish-bosheth, and made him king of Israel. During the Battle of Gibeon, Abner killed Asahel, one of David’s mighty men. This led to hostility between himself and Asahel’s brothers, Joab and Abishai. After a quarrel with Ish-bosheth, Abner convinced the elders of Israel that they should side with David. He was welcomed by David but was then murdered by Joab. David cursed Joab for killing Abner and held a public funeral for the murdered warrior. David called Abner “a prince and a great man” (3:38). (2 Samuel 3:38)

Saul’s daughter Michal loved David, and Saul hoped to use this to his advantage. Saul offered David the right to marry Michal, but he asked for a very unusual “bride-price” which he assumed would lead to David’s death (1 Sam. 18:20–25). The scheme didn’t work, and Michal became David’s wife. When Saul once again tried to kill David, Michal warned him and helped him escape. Saul then gave Michal to another man even though she was still married to David. After Saul’s death, David arranged for Michal to be returned to him. But the story of David and Michal had a sad ending. When David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, he celebrated by dancing before the Lord. This caused Michal to despise him, and she remained childless throughout her life. (2 Samuel 6:16–19)

Nathan was a prophet during the reigns of David and Solomon. When David desired to build a temple, he asked for Nathan’s counsel. At first, Nathan told him to go ahead, with the Lord’s blessing. But then, after hearing directly from the Lord, Nathan told David that one of his sons, rather than David himself, would be the one to build the temple. Through Nathan God also promised to establish the house and the kingdom of David forever. After David sinned with Bathsheba, God sent Nathan to rebuke him. To show David how wrong it was for him to take another man’s wife, Nathan told a parable about a rich man who took the only lamb belonging to a poor man. It was a powerful story, and David repented of his sin. (2 Samuel 12:1–15)

David’s son Absalom was a handsome man with the personality of a strong leader. When Absalom’s half brother Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, Absalom retaliated by killing Amnon. He then fled into exile. Three years later he returned to Jerusalem and was reconciled with David. But then he led a rebellion against David, and David himself was forced to flee the city. While battling David’s men, Absalom’s long hair became stuck in the branches of an oak tree, enabling David’s commander Joab to kill him. Absalom’s death allowed David to return to Jerusalem, but he mourned bitterly for his fallen son. Absalom’s betrayal of his father helped fulfill Nathan’s prophecy (12:10–12) that, because of his sin with Bathsheba, the “sword shall never depart” from David’s house. (2 Samuel 15:1–6)

Joab was the commander of David’s army. He was a complicated person, showing both strong faith and chilling ruthlessness in battle. In retaliation for the death of his brother Asahel, Joab murdered Abner, Saul’s general. He helped to bring about David’s reconciliation with Absalom. But later, after Absalom rebelled against David, Joab killed Absalom even though David had told him not to do so. Then, Joab rebuked David for mourning for his rebellious son rather than rejoicing with his victorious troops. As Joab so memorably expressed it, “you love those who hate you and hate those who love you” (19:6). Later, Joab supported Adonijah instead of Solomon as David’s successor. David advised Solomon to have Joab put to death. Joab was killed as he hid in the sanctuary. (2 Samuel 19:1–8)

Abishai was David’s nephew and became the commander of David’s “thirty men.” Like his brothers Joab and Asahel, Abishai was a loyal but ruthless warrior. He killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He urged David to allow him to kill Saul, but David refused to let him kill “the LORD’s anointed” (1 Sam. 26:8–9). He fought alongside his brothers at the Battle of Gibeon, where Abner killed Asahel. Abishai later helped Joab kill Abner in revenge. When Shimei cursed David, Abishai thought he should be put to death, but again David refused his request. He helped lead David’s troops against Absalom, and again fought for David when Sheba led a rebellion against him. Abishai also saved David’s life by killing the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob. (2 Samuel 23:18–19)

Bathsheba was the beautiful wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s warriors. While walking on his roof one afternoon, David saw Bathsheba bathing. He sent messengers to take her and bring her to him, and he committed adultery with her. Bathsheba became pregnant, and David desperately attempted to cover his sin. He first tried to make it appear that the child was Uriah’s, but when that failed, he plotted the murder of his faithful soldier. After Uriah’s death, David married Bathsheba. His sin brought evil upon his household, including the death of his and Bathsheba’s first child. God had mercy on David, who repented of his sin. Bathsheba bore him four sons, including Solomon. (1 Kings 1:15–21)

The son of David and Bathsheba, Solomon succeeded his father as king of Israel. Rather than ask God for riches or power, Solomon asked for wisdom. His request pleased God, who granted him not only what he asked for but also what he did not ask—riches and honor such as the world had never known. Among the king’s most significant building projects were the first temple in Jerusalem and a magnificent palace. But riches and wisdom were not the only things Solomon had in abundance—he also had over 700 wives! He was a great king when he obeyed God, but sadly his marriages to women outside the people of God proved to be his downfall. Solomon’s reign ended in tragedy when “his wives turned away his heart” (11:3) by influencing him to worship pagan gods. (1 Kings 3:10–14)

When word of Solomon’s extraordinary wisdom reached the ears of the queen of Sheba, she traveled from Arabia to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a remarkable entourage, including camels bearing spices and gold and precious stones. The queen was deeply impressed by Solomon’s wisdom and wealth. This Gentile queen recognized that Solomon’s greatness was from the true God of Israel, and that God himself had put Solomon on his throne. Although the queen gave Solomon a tremendous gift—about 9,000 pounds (4 kg) of gold—it paled in comparison to the riches that he presented to her. Solomon gave the queen all she desired and more, after which she returned to her own land. (1 Kings 10:1–13)

Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, was in charge of the forced labor doing construction work in Jerusalem. He was approached by the prophet Ahijah, who prophesied that he would one day be king over 10 of the tribes of Israel. This prophecy came true when, after Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam refused to lighten his father’s heavy tax burden on the people. The 10 northern tribes revolted. They broke away from the two southern tribes and made Jeroboam their king. To prevent his people from returning to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam built competing centers of worship in Bethel and Dan. By inventing his own system of worship, he led the people of Israel astray. (1 Kings 11:29–40)

Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of the OT, ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel. He prophesied against the wicked king Ahab, who along with his wife Jezebel promoted Baal worship throughout Israel and persecuted the prophets of the Lord. Elijah challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel. He instructed the prophets of Baal to call upon their gods to send down fire from heaven. In an almost humorous way, the Bible records the prophets’ utter failure to get a response from their false god. When Elijah called upon the Lord, however, he sent fire from heaven to consume his altar. Following their humiliating defeat, Elijah slaughtered all 450 of the prophets of Baal. Elijah did not die, but rather was carried into heaven by chariots and horses of fire, as his successor, Elisha, watched. (1 Kings 18:36–40)

Ahab, the son and successor of King Omri, reigned over Israel for 22 years. Ahab married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel, who persuaded her husband and all of Israel to worship Baal. Ahab even built a house and altar for Baal. He was confronted by the prophet Elijah, who challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a “contest” on Mount Carmel (18:20–40). The Lord repeatedly revealed himself to Ahab through prophets despite Ahab’s idolatry. When Elijah prophesied the destruction of Ahab’s family, Ahab briefly humbled himself before the Lord and found mercy, only to return to his old ways afterward. Ahab’s reign was marked by conflict with Ben-hadad of Syria, whom he defeated in battle twice. (1 Kings 21:25)

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab and the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. Because she was so wicked, her name, “Jezebel,” has become synonymous with evil (Rev. 2:20). As queen of Israel, Jezebel acted with power and influenced King Ahab. She promoted the worship of Baal and ruthlessly killed many prophets of God. When she learned of the defeat of her false god on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:20–40), she tried to kill Elijah, forcing him to flee into the wilderness. When Ahab sulked because Naboth would not sell his vineyard to him, Jezebel arranged the murder of Naboth. Jezebel met a gruesome end when she was thrown from a window by her own servants and was eaten by dogs, in fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy (2 Kings 9:30–37). (2 Kings 9:36–37)

Elisha was Elijah’s disciple and assistant and, eventually, his successor. He served as a prophet for 55 years and became famous for the many miracles he performed. Among these miracles was the healing of Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. Naaman was a leper and came to Israel seeking to be healed. Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. At first, Naaman felt insulted by these simple instructions, but when he finally obeyed, he was healed instantly. Elisha’s God-given power did not end at his death. When a fallen soldier was thrown into Elisha’s grave, the soldier came back to life as soon as his body came into contact with the prophet’s bones (13:20–21). (2 Kings 5:8–14)

Jehu was an army commander who became king of Israel. He was famous for his reckless driving (9:20) but also for his great zeal for the Lord. He set out to destroy every trace of Baal worship in Israel. He killed the kings of both Israel and Judah, and then the entire household of Ahab. He killed the wicked queen Jezebel and then all Ahab’s sons, royal officials, and priests. Jehu then brought together all the followers of Baal by pretending that he himself wanted to worship their false god. Once all the Baal worshipers had assembled, Jehu killed them all. He destroyed the temple of Baal, turning it into a latrine. Sadly, though God used Jehu to completely eradicate Baal worship in Israel, he continued to worship the golden calves that Jeroboam had set up. (2 Kings 10:28–31)

Joash (also spelled Jehoash) was just an infant when his father, King Ahaziah of Judah, was murdered. Following the king’s death, Joash’s wicked grandmother Athaliah tried to kill everyone in the royal family so that she could claim the throne. Joash was spared when his aunt, Jehosheba, hid him in the temple. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada, the chief priest, revealed that the young boy was alive. Joash was proclaimed king, and Athaliah was put to death. Joash was a good king as long as Jehoiada was there to guide him. Probably his greatest achievement was making some much-needed repairs to the temple. After Jehoiada died, however, Joash listened to ungodly advice and disobeyed the Lord. His life ended tragically as he was murdered by his own men. (2 Kings 12:1–3)

Hezekiah was king of the southern kingdom, Judah, at the time when the Assyrians defeated the northern kingdom of Israel. Hezekiah was a good king who followed God throughout his life. He began his reign by completely reforming Judean worship. He removed the high places and all the idols that previous kings had allowed. At one point Hezekiah became very sick and was at the point of death, so he prayed that the Lord would heal him. God honored his prayer, promising to give him another 15 years of life. He also delivered Hezekiah and Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Hezekiah resembled King David more closely than any other Davidic king thus far. He is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:9–10). (2 Kings 18:3–8)

Sennacherib became king of the powerful Assyrian Empire following the death of his father, Sargon II. After defeating Babylon, Sennacherib began attacking the area of Syria and Palestine. His official records claim that he captured 46 strong-walled cities in Israel. Following a major victory at Lachish, he laid siege to Jerusalem. Sennacherib forced Hezekiah to pay a huge tribute. He mocked God, urging Hezekiah to turn his back on the Lord. Instead, Hezekiah prayed for God’s deliverance. God answered the king’s prayer, and the siege of Jerusalem was broken when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night. Sennacherib withdrew and returned to Nineveh, only to be killed by his own sons as he worshiped in the temple of the false god Nisroch. (2 Kings 19:35–37)

Josiah was only eight years old when he became king of Judah. He had been ruling Judah for 18 years when Hilkiah, the high priest, found the Book of the Law. As soon as Josiah heard the commands of God, he tore his clothes in grief and despair. He launched a massive effort to abolish pagan worship throughout Judah and Israel. After organizing a covenant-renewal ceremony, he destroyed all the buildings associated with idol worship. Among his most significant deeds was restoring the celebration of the Passover, which had not been observed since the days of the judges. Josiah was more faithful to the Lord than even David and Hezekiah. He was like the ideal king described in Deut. 17:19–20. (2 Kings 23:25)

Following the death of King Solomon, the people of Israel gathered at Shechem to make Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, their king. The people made one request: that Rehoboam lighten the heavy tax burden that his father had forced upon them. Rather than honor their request, however, Rehoboam vowed to make life even harder for the people of Israel. Disregarding the wise advice of his older counselors, Rehoboam followed the younger men’s counsel and warned the people: “My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions” (10:14). His plan for more oppressive control backfired, however, when the 10 northern tribes revolted and set up Jeroboam as their king. The northern kingdom would now be known as Israel and the southern kingdom would be called Judah. (2 Chronicles 12:13–14)

Asa became king following the death of his father, Abijah. As a result of his faithful leadership, Judah lived at peace during the first 10 years of his reign. The prophet Azariah prophesied concerning Asa, “The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (15:2). Asa took the prophet’s words to heart and immediately set about making religious reforms, including repair of the altar in the temple. He gathered the people together to make a covenant, commanding that anyone who would not seek the Lord would be put to death. Sadly, the last five years of Asa’s reign were marked by spiritual and physical decline, as the king began to trust human alliances and ability rather than God. (2 Chronicles 15:8–19)

Like his father, Asa, King Jehoshaphat was faithful to the Lord and received God’s blessings. He strengthened his kingdom both spiritually and militarily, and appointed teachers to go throughout Judah and teach the people concerning the Book of the Law. Large armies served Jehoshaphat, and he built up fortresses and store cities in Judah. He had great riches and honor. Jehoshaphat is criticized, however, for his association with the ungodly northern kingdom, including a marriage alliance with King Ahab. Such alliances caused the king to “help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord” (19:2). Despite his shortcomings, Jehoshaphat is remembered primarily for his great faith and leadership and as one who did “what was right in the sight of the Lord” (20:32). (2 Chronicles 19:4)

Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king, following the assassination of his father, Amaziah. Like many kings before him, Uzziah’s reign began with a period of faithfulness and blessing: “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (26:5). But this was followed by a period of sin, leading to punishment from the Lord. Uzziah successfully battled the Philistines and demanded tribute from the Ammonites. His fame spread far and wide. Sadly, Uzziah’s success led to pride, and he began to desire spiritual as well as political authority over the people. Ignoring God’s law, he entered the temple to burn incense and was confronted by the priests. Rather than repent of his actions, Uzziah grew angry. The Lord immediately struck him with leprosy, forcing him to withdraw from his royal duties. (2 Chronicles 26:3–5)

Ahaz was a wicked king whose apostasy led Judah astray and brought the nation to ruin. Rather than worship the God of Israel, Ahaz made images of Baal. He even sacrificed his own children to the false god, a practice strongly condemned by the Lord. Because of his wickedness, God allowed both Syria and Israel to successfully attack Judah. Ahaz did not repent and turn to the Lord for help in his time of distress, but rather sought help from the king of Assyria. The plan backfired, however, when the Assyrians “came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him” (28:20). Even then, Ahaz still turned away from the Lord. Not only did he close the doors of the temple, but also “in every city of Judah he made high places to make offerings to other gods” (28:25). (2 Chronicles 28:22–27)

Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, ruled over Judah for 55 years. He was the longest reigning king in the nation’s history. Unlike his father, who honored the Lord, Manasseh was perhaps the worst of Judah’s kings. He actively pursued practices forbidden by God, and even built altars to false gods inside the temple. Manasseh burned his sons as child sacrifices, and practiced fortune-telling and sorcery. Unlike other evil kings, however, when Manasseh faced the judgment of the Lord for his actions, he repented. When he was taken as a captive to Babylon, he “entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (33:12). God heard Manasseh’s prayer, and restored him to his kingdom. (2 Chronicles 33:9–14)

King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon should return to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed temple. Zerubbabel, whom the prophet Haggai refers to as “governor of Judah” (Hag. 1:1), was one of the first exiles to return. Along with the priest Jeshua, he rebuilt the altar of the Lord so that sacrifices could once again be made. The following year, under the guidance and supervision of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, work began on the temple itself. The foundations of the temple were laid, but opposition from local governors prevented its completion for more than 20 years. With the support of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Jeshua resumed and completed the reconstruction of the temple during the reign of King Darius. (Ezra 5:2)

Ezra is described as “a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel” (7:11). Both a priest and scribe, Ezra was commissioned by King Artaxerxes of Persia to establish the Law of Moses in Jerusalem. The king also gave him money from the royal treasury to beautify the temple. Arriving in Jerusalem 57 years after the temple was rebuilt, Ezra appointed judges to administer the law. Seventy years of Babylo­nian exile had had a negative effect on the people’s relationship with the Lord. The Lord enabled Ezra to guide Israel as they sought once again to live according to the law. (Ezra 7:1–6)

As a Jewish captive in Babylon, Nehemiah held the distinguished position of cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. He was devastated to hear that the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem were in “great trouble and shame” (1:3). He expressed his concern to the king, and the king allowed him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s walls. Many of the non-Jewish people in Judah opposed the rebuilding effort, and the returned exiles soon became disheartened. Nehemiah encouraged the men, saying, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (4:14). Under his leadership, the walls were rebuilt despite the difficult circumstances. As governor of Judah, Nehemiah was used mightily by God to bring the Jews back into a life of covenant faithfulness. (Nehemiah 2:17–18)

Esther was a Jew living among the exiles in Persia, during the reign of King Ahasuerus. Following the death of her parents, Esther was raised by her cousin, Mordecai. Esther was a beautiful woman, and she won favor in the eyes of all who saw her. When the reigning queen was removed from power, a beauty contest was held to choose her replacement, and Esther was chosen. As queen of Persia, Esther risked her life to save the Jewish people from annihilation. She and Mordecai instituted the Feast of Purim to commemorate their deliverance. (Esther 4:14)

Mordecai was a Jew living in exile in Persia. When Mordecai’s cousin Esther became an orphan he took her as his own child. Eventually Esther became queen, and Mordecai became a royal official. One day, while serving King Ahasuerus, Mordecai discovered and reported a plot to kill the king, thus saving the king’s life. Later, when Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, who was second in command to the king, Haman persuaded the king to call for the death of all Jews. With the help of Queen Esther, Mordecai saved the Jews of Persia from this death sentence. Haman was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, and Mordecai replaced Haman as second in command to the king. (Esther 9:4)

Job was a wealthy man whom the Bible describes as “blameless and upright” (1:1). When God pointed out Job’s faithfulness, Satan responded that Job feared God only because the Lord had protected and blessed him. To test Job’s integrity, God allowed Satan to take away all of Job’s possessions and his children. In a single day Job lost everything, yet he responded faithfully (1:21). Next God gave Satan permission to attack Job’s health. He struck Job with painful sores (2:7). Job’s wife then urged him to “curse God and die” (2:9). Job’s friends wrongly concluded that his sins caused his suffering, but Job refused to accept this. Instead, Job asked God to explain why he was suffering. God eventually answered Job’s cries, and Job humbly submitted to God’s sovereignty. The Lord then restored Job’s fortune, giving him “twice as much as he had before” (42:10), and blessed him with more children. (Job 19:25)

After the Lord allowed Satan to afflict Job, three of his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to comfort him. However, all three wrongly assumed that Job’s suffering was the result of some hidden sin. Each man urged Job to repent so that God would have mercy on him. But Job insisted that he was innocent. Although it is true that some suffering is a result of sin, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar oversimplified this truth. They believed that all troubles are punishments for wrongdoing, which was not the case for Job. The wrong actions of Job’s three friends should remind believers today to be wise and sensitive when dealing with people in distress. The Lord rebuked Job’s three friends and instructed Job to pray for them. (Job 42:7–9)

Elihu rebuked both Job and his three friends. He was angry at Job for defending himself rather than God, and he was angry at Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for failing to provide an answer for Job. During his lengthy speech, Elihu shifted the focus away from Job to God as the only source of certainty and hope. At the same time, he seemed to overestimate his own understanding, even claiming to speak “on God’s behalf” (36:2). Actually, Elihu didn’t understand the reasons for Job’s suffering any more than the three friends did, and his statements were often similar to theirs. Although there was some truth in Elihu’s argument, his application of those truths and the conclusions he drew about Job were often incorrect. (Job 32:1–5)

The book of Isaiah reveals few details about the prophet himself. We know that he was the son of Amoz, that he was a husband and a father, and that at God’s command he used some rather unusual methods of getting his point across (20:2–6)! With the exception of a few details such as these, the Bible focuses exclusively on the prophet’s message. God called Isaiah to be a prophet in a time when the people of Judah were no longer faithful to the covenant. The nation’s disobedience meant that their prospects for the future involved God’s judgment rather than his blessing. Isaiah denounced the people’s hypocrisy, greed, and idolatry. The heart of his message, however, is found in the meaning of his name: “Yahweh is salvation.” Isaiah’s vision is ultimately a message of hope for sinners through the coming Messiah. (Isaiah 6:8–13)

Jeremiah was born in Anathoth, a small town outside of Jerusalem. Called by God as a young man, he served as a prophet for more than 40 years. Jeremiah had a difficult life. By God’s command, he never married, and he apparently had only two converts during his entire ministry. The nation of Judah did not respond favorably to his messages of repentance. He was scorned in his own hometown and even falsely imprisoned on charges that he was collaborating with the Babylonian invaders. Like many of the Lord’s prophets, Jeremiah suffered public mockery and physical abuse. Yet God used his faithful servant to deliver the good news that in future days God would make a new, unbreakable covenant with his people (31:31). Hebrews 8:8–12 quotes Jer. 31:31–34 as evidence that this new covenant has come through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Jeremiah 31:31–34)

Baruch, whose name means “blessed,” was Jere­miah’s friend, scribe, and disciple. Like Jeremiah, Baruch was a faithful servant of God. He helped Jeremiah purchase a field from one of the prophet’s relatives. The Lord would use this as a symbol of hope despite the disaster that was to befall Judah: since the field had been bought and paid for, they could be assured that, after the exile, some of the people would return to the land. Baruch also recorded Jeremiah’s prophecies on a scroll, and because Jeremiah had been barred from entering the temple, it was Baruch himself who read the words of the scroll. It was a warning from God to the nation of Judah. These prophecies angered the king so much that he burned the scroll. Baruch experienced serious persecution alongside Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 36:4–10)

Ezekiel ministered during the same troubled times as the prophet Jeremiah. He was among the thousands of Judeans exiled to Babylon, where he probably spent the remainder of his life. About five years into the exile, at the age of 30, Ezekiel was called as a prophet. God commanded him to speak the word of God fearlessly to the people, regardless of whether or not they listened. He was appointed as a “watchman” for Israel (3:17; 33:1–9), whose task it was to warn the people that God would punish them unless they repented. Courageous sermons, dramatic visions, and symbolic actions characterized Ezekiel’s ministry. God asked Ezekiel to enact difficult messages, often at a great personal cost. When his wife died, Ezekiel was commanded not to mourn for her, as a sign to Israel (24:15–27). Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel remained a faithful, humble servant despite his difficult life as a prophet. (Ezekiel 33:1–9)

Daniel was a young man from a noble family who was deported from Judah to Babylon by King Nebu­chadnezzar (605 b.c.). The Babylonians trained Daniel for three years in their language and culture. The Lord blessed Daniel with exceptional wisdom in these areas. He also gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams. When Daniel interpreted a dream for Nebuchadnezzar, the grateful king gave him an important position in the royal court. After the fall of the Babylonian Empire, Daniel served in a similar role in the Medo-Persian Empire that succeeded it (6:28). Daniel was a faithful servant of the Lord who consistently refused to disobey God. At the same time, he remained respectful to those in authority over him. Daniel, along with his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, did precisely what God had commanded the exiles to do in Jeremiah 29:7: they were a blessing to their captors while at the same time remaining true to their Lord amid extraordinary pressures. (Daniel 1:17–21)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were Jewish exiles and friends of Daniel in Babylon. As he did for Daniel, God gave them a remarkable understanding of Babylonian literature and culture. They, too, were given positions of great leadership in Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were always faithful to God and trusted him entirely. While they showed deep respect for King Nebuchadnezzar, they were unwilling to follow any orders that would mean compromising their faith. When commanded to worship a golden image, they refused to do so, even though it meant being cast into a fiery furnace. The three men assured Nebuchadnezzar that their God was able to save them from the furnace, but that even if he chose not to save them, they would still not deny him. (Daniel 3:16–18)

Nebuchadnezzar was the powerful King of Babylon who destroyed Jerusalem and deported a number of the city’s inhabitants to his own land. When the king had a dream that only Daniel could interpret, he acknowledged the power of Daniel’s God. The mighty king had to be brought very low, however, before he turned to the Lord. After failing to heed a warning from God, Nebuchadnezzar was forced to live in the wilderness, where he ate grass and lived like an animal. At the end of God’s appointed time of judgment, however, Nebuchadnezzar turned to the Lord and he regained his sanity. God restored his kingdom to him, demonstrating that the Lord is able to humble the proud and exalt the humble. The great and mighty persecutor of Israel, the destroyer of Jerusalem, was humbled by God’s grace and brought to confess God’s mercy. (Daniel 4:28–37)

Hosea ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel during the latter half of the eighth century b.c., the most difficult time the nation had ever faced. Israel had forsaken the Lord and was worshiping Baal instead. Hosea understood that this was why the Lord intended to judge the nation. God commanded Hosea to marry, but warned him that his wife would be unfaithful to him. Hosea married Gomer, who indeed became unfaithful to him. When Gomer left Hosea, God instructed him to reclaim her. This would be a sign to the people that, though their sins were shameful, the Lord still loved Israel, his spiritually unfaithful wife. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, her unfaithfulness, and their eventual restoration were thus a parable of the Lord’s relationship to Israel. (Hosea 3:1–5)

The name Joel means “Yahweh is God.” Little is known about the prophet, who was probably from Judah. It is likely that he ministered during a national calamity sometime after Judah returned from exile in Babylon. The primary theme in the book of Joel is the “day of the Lord”—a time when the presence of the Lord will bring both judgment and deliverance. Joel teaches that, while the day of the Lord will bring destruction on the nations, it will also be a time of salvation for God’s people. Judah will be the means through which God pours out his Spirit on all people (2:28–32), and he will preserve them against all who seek to destroy them. (Joel 2:11–14)

Amos was a shepherd from the Judean town of Tekoa, a “herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs” (7:14). He prophesied primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of political stability and great wealth. As they often did, the people of Israel saw this prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing. But God used Amos to tell them that this was not the case. Much of the nation’s wealth had been acquired by oppressing the poor, and so their insincere worship was disgusting to God. Israel had rejected its calling to be a place where God’s righteousness and justice was demonstrated to the world. Because of their unfaithfulness, the Israelites would be punished severely. God would remain faithful to his people, however, and would restore what had been destroyed. Peace and blessing would come to Israel—and the world—through the coming of the Messiah. (Amos 5:18–24)

The only thing known about the prophet Obadiah is his name, which means “one who serves Yahweh.” The book of Obadiah is an indictment against the nation of Edom, who took advantage of Judah during the Babylonian crisis. Rather than come to Judah’s aid, the Edomites gloated over the nation’s demise, looted valuables, and sold captives as slaves. Their actions were particularly shameful since the Edomites were descendants of Esau and thus brothers to the people of Judah. Edom is the target of Obadiah’s prophecy of doom because it is a shameful example of hostility toward God’s people. Even though Jerusalem’s fall was a result of the nation’s unfaithfulness—and Edom was one of God’s tools for bringing judgment—the Lord punished those who oppose his people. (Obadiah 10–11)

God called the prophet Jonah to travel to the city of Nineveh and to speak out against it. Nineveh was an Assyrian city, part of an empire known for its cruelty, that had long threatened Israel. The last thing Jonah wanted was for these particular people to experience the mercy and compassion of the God of Israel. Therefore he rejected the Lord’s call and tried to travel as far as he possibly could in the opposite direction from Nineveh! After three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish, however, Jonah repented and went to Nineveh. He delivered a prophetic message against the city, just as the Lord had commanded. Much to Jonah’s surprise, the people of Nineveh repented, and the Lord relented from his plans to destroy them. Jonah learned that God is ready to show mercy to all who will turn their hearts to him. (Jonah 3:6–10)

Rather than being identified by his father or family, Micah is identified by a location: he is called “Micah of Moresheth” (1:1). The town was 22 miles (35 km) southwest of Jerusalem. Micah’s call to prophetic ministry is not recorded, and he is never referred to as “prophet,” but he is said to be speaking according to the “Spirit of the Lord” (3:8). The name “Micah” means “Who is like Yahweh?” Similarly, at the end of the book, Micah asks, “Who is a God like you?” (7:18). Both Micah’s name and his writings emphasize the matchless character and actions of the Lord. Micah announces God’s judgment on Israel for its unfaithfulness, yet he also proclaims God’s promise of great blessing through a Messiah—a prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ (5:1–15; Eph. 1:3–14). (Micah 6:8)

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Obedience is a key principal for any believer and it is not an optional choice but compulsory, which should never be a burden for regenerated person but should always be blessing in scantification.

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