(Genesis 1, 2)

In the beginning, long, long ago, God created this wonderful world
and all things in it. At first there was no earth, no sun, no moon or
stars, no grass or trees, no seas or sky. This great round ball, on
which we live, was nothing but a great cloud of mist without shape
or size. Everywhere there was great darkness. God was living in his
home in heaven, and he said, “Let there be light.” So light was the
first wonderful thing God made. Then God separated the sky mists from
the earth mists. He made the waters roll back into seas; and the
mountains, with great lakes between, appeared. When the sun and moon
and stars shone out more brightly, driving the mists and water away
from the dry land, God made grass and trees and flowers to spring up in
great beauty and abundance; and each tree and flower had little, tiny
seeds to send up little shoots to make others. Then great swarms of
living things appeared–strange fishes and sea-monsters to swim in the
waters, reptiles and creeping things to creep on the land, birds to fly
through the air, and all kinds of four-footed beasts to roam through
the forests. Still, there was no man nor woman, nor any little child
anywhere to enjoy what God had made. So God created a man and called
his name Adam. God placed him in a large garden called Eden, filled
with beautiful and useful things–rivers of water to water it, gold and
precious stones, trees good for food, animals, birds, and fishes. Adam
gave names to all the animals. But among them all there was not one to
talk with him. So God made a beautiful companion for Adam and called
her name Eve. This first man and woman lived together very happily
in this beautiful Garden of Eden, caring for the flowers and fruit,
watching the animals, loving each other, and talking with God, their
Creator and Friend.


(Genesis 3)

Adam and Eve were very happy in their beautiful garden-home in Eden. In
the cool of the day, when the sun went down, and the garden was quiet,
they knew that God was very, very near them, walking and talking with
them. All the animals and plants, all the beautiful trees were for
their use. But there was one tree with fruit that God, to teach them
to obey, told them not to eat. For a long time they thought of nothing
else but doing exactly what God told them. But one day Eve stopped in
front of the tree and looked at the fruit. How good it looked! She
wondered how it tasted. Then she turned to go away, for she knew that
God had said that whoever tasted it would die. Just then she heard a
voice. She looked, and the voice came from a bright, shining snake,
coiled close in front of the tree. The snake said, “Did God say you
shall not eat of any tree of this garden?” Eve said, “God said we shall
not eat of this tree, nor touch it, lest we die.” “You will be like
God if you eat it; you will know good and evil.” She listened to this
voice tempting her to do what was wrong. Then she looked at the tree
again. It looked so good to eat and so pretty, and as if it would make
one know a great deal, that she picked some of the fruit and ate it.
Then she ran and gave some to Adam, and he ate it too. That evening,
when the sun was going down, making long shadows upon the grass, and a
cool breeze was rustling the leaves, and the garden was all lonely and
still, Adam heard the sound of God in the garden. Instead of gladly
running to meet their heavenly Father and Friend, as they had always
done before when he came to talk with them, they were afraid, and ran
and hid themselves among the trees. God called to Adam, “Where art
thou?” Guilty and ashamed, Adam said, “I heard thy voice, and I was
afraid.” God said, “Hast thou eaten of the tree of which I commanded
thee not to eat?” Adam said, “Eve gave it to me and I ate.” Eve said,
“The snake tempted me, and I ate.” God told the snake he must crawl
always flat on the ground, and every animal and man would hate him
more than any other creature. He told Adam and Eve, because they had
disobeyed him, they must be driven out of the beautiful garden and must
dig and work hard in getting their food in desert lands among thistles
and thorns, stones and timber, and at last, he said, they must die. But
God still loved them, and gave them a beautiful promise of a loving
Saviour who would be so obedient and pure and strong that he would
prepare for them a beautiful city in the place of their garden-home,
which they had lost through disobedience.


(Genesis 4)

The first two brothers in the world were Cain and Abel. They were born
after their parents were driven out of their beautiful garden-home in
Eden. When these boys grew up, Cain, the elder, became a farmer, and
Abel became a shepherd. Their parents brought them up always to ask
God to forgive them when they did wrong, and to bring offerings to
him of what they had. One day when they came with their gifts, Abel,
with a loving heart, carried a lamb, the best of his flock, but Cain
brought some fruit in a careless way. God was well pleased with Abel’s
gift, because of the love that came with it; but not with Cain’s,
because Cain kept hatred to his brother in his heart. Cain was angry
and his face became dark and scowling. God said: “Why are you angry and
scowling? If you do well, will you not be happy? If you do not well,
hatred in your heart will crouch, like a lion, ready to spring at you.”

But Cain paid no attention to God’s loving word. One day he said to
Abel, “Come into the field with me.” When they were there alone, the
crouching lion of hatred in Cain’s heart sprang up, and Cain lifted
up his hand and slew his brother. Then Cain heard God’s voice saying,
“Where is thy brother?” He answered untruthfully, “I know not; am I my
brother’s keeper?” Then as Cain had done this wicked deed, God sent him
from his home and parents to become a wanderer on the earth, working
even harder than his father and his mother did. Cain’s suffering was
just what he had brought upon himself, yet he said, “My punishment is
greater than I can bear.” He was afraid wherever he went men would seek
to kill him, for he knew he deserved to be killed. But God gave him a
mark by which he could know that God was still watching over him and
would not let any one kill him. So Cain went away and built a city and
lived unhappily the rest of his life, away from his father and mother,
because he had allowed hatred instead of love to live in his heart, and
because he had not tried to please his loving Father in heaven.


(Genesis 6-8)

Once when God looked down on the people of the earth, he saw that
there was only one good man to be found anywhere. All the rest were
disobedient and very wicked. So God planned to save all who would be
obedient to him, but to destroy all the disobedient, in order that
such great wickedness should not increase over all the earth. God told
Noah, the one just and good man, his plan. He told him to build a large
ark, half boat and half house. It was to be five hundred feet long,
fifty feet high, and eighty-three feet wide–about the size of a big
ocean steamer to-day. There were to be three stories, many rooms, and
a window on the top. The one door was to be on the side. This great
houseboat was not to be for travel, but only to float on the water. In
the ark Noah, his wife and sons, and his sons’ wives, and all others
who would obey God, were to be saved. For one hundred long years
Noah and his sons worked away building this strange ship–hammering,
sawing, planing, and laying great beams hundreds of feet long. The
people laughed at Noah and mocked him. It was very hard for Noah to be
mocked, but he kept right on with his work, telling them of God and
his holiness and how their wickedness was grieving God. But they would
not listen, nor change their ways, nor believe any flood would come.
At last the great ark was finished. Then Noah gathered together two of
every kind of birds and animals, and they marched or flew into the ark,
and behind them Noah and his family went in, with food for all to last
for many months. And God shut the door. So they were safe because they
had obeyed God.

Then the rain began to fall. Thunder crashed and echoed from the
mountains and the wind dashed the rain against the ark. Torrents of
rain came down, until soon the ark began to float. Higher and higher
it rose, rocking and tossing, up above the treetops, above the hills,
above the mountains. The flood had come, and the wicked people were all
drowned. But Noah and his family were safe inside the ark. After forty
days the rain stopped, but the water flooded in from the sea. For one
hundred and fifty days the waters rose, and then began to go down. But
the ark rested on one of the high mountains. Noah opened the window
and sent forth a raven, and then a dove. The raven flew away, resting
on things floating in the water. The dove came back several times,
once bearing an olive-branch in her beak. At last she did not return,
by which Noah knew the dove had found land on which to rest, and that
the water was gone. Then Noah and all in the ark went out, after being
in it more than a year. The first thing Noah did was to thank God for
saving him and his family. Then Noah looked up in the clear, blue sky
and there was a wonderful rainbow, with every color in it, arching the
heavens. This was God’s sign and promise that he would never again
destroy the world with water. So every time they saw a rainbow after
that, they remembered that God was looking at it too, remembering this
promise of his: “During all the days of the earth, sowing and reaping,
and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The child is father to the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.


(Genesis 12-19)

Long, long after the flood, there lived a good man whose name was
Abram, “the friend of God.” He was the first Hebrew. At first he
lived in a large city on the river Euphrates. It was a beautiful city
with fine buildings, gardens, fountains, statuary, and other things
for comfort and pleasure. Abram and his people were rich. They had
everything to make them happy, excepting one thing. Abram saw that
in all that great city, in all that country, none worshiped God but
himself. There were many temples where the people worshiped the sun,
moon, stars, and many false gods. There were beautiful temples built,
and beautiful music sung to the Sun-god, but no thanks were given to
the great Creator of the sun and moon and man. A good deal of their
worship was very wicked and cruel, and often boys and girls were burned
to please the idols. Abram saw all this was false and wicked. One day
God told him to leave that land and take a long journey to another land
that God would show him. At last Abram reached a land so rich in vines,
fruit trees, and pastures for flocks and herds, that it was called “the
land flowing with milk and honey.” Here Abram and Lot, his brother’s
son, lived in tents. Both were very rich in cattle, goats, sheep,
servants, and silver and gold. But when the servants of Lot and Abram
kept quarreling over which should have the best pasture for feeding
their flocks, Abram said to Lot: “Let there be no quarrel between thee
and me, and between our servants, for we are brethren. Choose the land
you wish, and I will take what is left.” Abram was older than Lot, and
had always been kind and generous, like a father, to him. Lot should
have given his uncle the first choice. Instead of that, Lot greedily
chose the well-watered plain-lands near the river Jordan, leaving to
his uncle the hilly land. Abram generously let him keep them. Lot moved
close to the wicked city of Sodom. Soon after, in a battle, Lot and his
family and his servants were taken prisoners. Lot had not treated his
uncle well, but that made no difference to Abram. He was a true friend,
loving Lot even when he did not do right. So he rescued Lot and saved
all the property the kings had stolen. Lot went back to Sodom, making
his home this time inside the city, among its wicked people, and he
grew more forgetful of God.

One day, in Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities of the plain, a great fire
broke out which destroyed everything Lot had. Only for Abram’s prayer
to God, Lot would have been burned up too. But for Abram’s sake, two
angels came and led Lot and his wife and two daughters out of the city,
telling them not to look back nor stay in all the plain, but flee to
the mountains. Lot’s wife looked longingly back at the wicked cities,
and was changed into a pillar of salt in the very plain upon which she,
with Lot, had so much set her heart. Lot and his two daughters were
saved only by fleeing to the mountain land that Lot had despised and
Abram had taken. So, after all, the selfish nephew did not choose so
well as the unselfish uncle, “the friend of God.”

Yes, Faith, Life, Song, most meetly named him “Friend”;
All men’s he was and is, till time shall end.
And in the Christ-path he so closely trod
That all men saw he was “the Friend of God.”


(Genesis 24)

“Laughter” is a queer name for a boy. But “Laughter” is the name
Abraham gave his son. That is what Isaac means. When Isaac grew up
Abraham did not like the idea of his son marrying any of the young
women of that land because they all worshiped idols; so he called his
head servant and told him to go far away to the country where Abraham’s
own people lived, and there find a young woman who would be the right
sort of wife for Isaac. It was a long, long journey across the desert.
Abraham gave the servant ten camels, and servants, and tents, with gold
and silver, and precious stones and rich robes, to give as presents to
the young woman and her family. After many days of travel the servant
came to a city where some of Abraham’s people were still living.
Outside the city was a well with a trough for the camels to drink from.
He knew every evening young girls and women came with their pitchers
for drinking water to this well. He decided when they came he would
ask for a drink, and whoever gave him a drink and also offered to give
the camels a drink by filling the watering-trough, would prove the
wife for Isaac. He also prayed God to guide him. While he was praying
there came to the well a beautiful young girl carrying a pitcher on
her shoulder. When she had filled her pitcher the servant said, “Let
me drink, please.” She said, “Drink, my lord,” and quickly let down
her pitcher upon her hand and gave him a drink. Then seeing how tired
the camels looked, her kind heart made her say, “I will get water for
your camels too.” Camels drink a great deal of water, and there were
ten of them, but this obliging girl did not stop filling the large
watering-trough until every thirsty beast had drunk enough. Quietly the
servant watched her, and when he saw how friendly she was he gave her a
splendid gold earring and two beautiful bracelets of gold and asked her
name and whether there was room in her father’s house for him to stay
over night. She told him her name was Rebecca–a relative of Abraham’s
family–and said there was plenty of room for them to spend the night.
Then the servant thanked God, for he knew this kind, obliging girl was
just the one whom God wanted to become Isaac’s wife. When they came
to the house, the servant told his story to all, and gave still more
beautiful presents to Rebecca and to her sister and brothers. Early the
next morning the old servant wanted to start back at once, because God
had prospered his journey. They called Rebecca and said to her, “Wilt
thou go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.” So Rebecca’s queer
bridal party, herself and her old nurse, Deborah, and several maids,
mounted on camels and escorted by Abraham’s servants, began the long
march to Isaac’s home in Canaan where she and Isaac were married. They
loved each other dearly. And Abraham was glad that “Laughter” had found
so good and true a wife in the friendly girl at the well.


(Genesis 28)

Isaac and Rebecca had two boys, Esau and Jacob. Esau became a hunter,
and Jacob a shepherd. One day Esau came home from hunting very hungry.
He asked Jacob to give him some of the red broth that he had just
cooked. Jacob knew that Esau cared nothing for his birthright (that is,
all that he would receive as the eldest son). But Jacob wanted that
more than anything else in the world. So Jacob said, “Will you give me
your birthright if I do?” Esau said, “Yes, I am starving; give me the
broth for the blessing.” Jacob could not believe Esau meant it; but he
did mean it, and so sold his birthright for something to eat. Not long
after, Jacob received the birthright blessing from his father, Isaac.
Then Esau was sorry and angry, and hated his brother, and planned to
kill him. Rebecca told Jacob what Esau was planning to do, and sent him
to her brother’s home to save Jacob’s life.

So Jacob had to leave his father and mother and home and start alone
on a long journey with nothing but a long cloak to wrap about him at
night. When the sun went down, as he was thinking of the great wrong he
had done his brother, tired and sad at heart, he lay down to sleep on a
stony hillside, placing one of the stones under his head for a pillow.
At last he fell asleep, and in his dream he saw a ladder reaching from
earth to heaven. He saw beautiful shining angels coming down the ladder
and going back. At the top he saw God looking down on him, saying, “I
am the Lord, the God of Abraham and thy father Isaac.” God promised if
he would do what was right, that he would forgive all his wrong–be
with him in all his journey and give him the wonderful promises made to
Abraham and Isaac.

Early in the morning, when Jacob awoke, he knelt beside that stone,
promising God that he would be a better man. He lived to be an aged
man–one hundred and forty-seven years old–but he never forgot that
place which he called “The House of God,” from which he saw the ladder
that reached to heaven, showing him that God was near him.

From this story the beautiful lines of the hymn, which have been such
a comfort to many upon battlefields and in the hour of death, were

Though like a wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone,
Yet, in my dreams I’d be,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee.


(Genesis 37 to 47)

Jacob had twelve sons, and Joseph was next to the youngest. He was
the best loved of all, and his father showed how much he loved him by
giving him a coat of many colors. This made his older brothers jealous
and angry. When Joseph was sixteen years old he dreamed that he was
binding sheaves of grain in a field with his eleven brothers and his
father and mother, and all the other sheaves bowed down to his sheaf.
Another dream he had was that the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed
down to him. When Joseph awoke he told these queer dreams to his
brothers. No wonder they called him “the dreamer” and teasingly said,
“Shall we all, indeed, come to bow down to you?” Soon after this his
nine big brothers caught this boy out in a field and put him down into
a deep pit, and then sold him to camel-drivers as a slave for twenty
pieces of silver (about one hundred and twenty dollars). Then they
killed one of their own goats, dipped Joseph’s coat of many colors,
which they had taken off him, into the blood, and taking it home,
wickedly made their father think a wild beast had eaten Joseph. Jacob
mourned for him as dead, and the brothers thought the dreamer would
never tell any more of his dreams.

The camel-drivers sold Joseph as a slave in Egypt to a rich man who
promoted him to be the chief ruler of his great house. It was a fine
place for him. But one day some one told a very wicked lie about him,
and he was cast into prison. But Joseph was so cheerful and kind and
useful, even in prison, that he was soon placed over all the prisoners.
When the king heard that Joseph had power to tell people the meaning of
their dreams, he sent for him to tell the meaning of two dreams that
troubled him. Joseph told the king his dreams. So Joseph was removed
from prison to the king’s palace, and was dressed in fine clothes, with
a gold chain around his neck and a gold ring on his finger, and made
ruler over all the land, next to the king. Soon a great famine arose
(just as Joseph had told the king) in all lands except Egypt, because
Joseph had filled big barns with corn. Joseph’s ten brothers came from
Canaan to Egypt to buy food to keep their families from starving. They
were taken into the presence of the great ruler who sold the corn,
and they bowed down to the earth before him. So the dreamer’s dream
came true, though they did not know it then. Joseph knew them, and
treated them kindly without letting them know he was their brother.
He longed to see his youngest brother, Benjamin, and told the older
brothers to bring him down with them when they came again, or they
could have no more corn. When they brought him, and when Joseph looked
upon Benjamin’s face, this great Prince of Egypt burst into tears and
said, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt, but whom God
sent before you to preserve life.” Then they were afraid, but Joseph
lovingly put his arms about their necks and kissed them and cried with
them until they knew that he freely forgave them. So they went home
quickly and brought their old father, Jacob, the good news, “Joseph is
yet alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob could
scarcely believe them. But when they told him how he had forgiven their
wickedness, he said, “I will go and see him before I die.” So all
together they went to Egypt and lived in a beautiful house which Joseph
gave them. Then he took good care of them all, and lived near his dear
old father until the old man died, happily and peacefully, because he
was with his beloved Joseph, whom he had lost as a slave and had found
again as a prince.


(Exodus 2)

Long, long ago, a little boy was born in a Hebrew home, at a time when
a cruel king of Egypt ordered all Hebrew boys that were born, to be
thrown to the crocodiles in the great river Nile. But this little babe
was so beautiful that his mother hid him in the house and prayed God
to keep him safe. She hid him carefully for three months. Then, being
afraid some one might hear him, she went to the river and gathered
some long, strong grasses that grew there and braided them together,
making a small basket and shaping it like a boat. To make it warm and
dry inside, and to keep it from sinking when placed in the water, she
painted it with black paint inside and out. Early one morning, when
all was ready, the mother took her baby boy quietly sleeping in the
basket-boat, and went down to the river Nile, the little baby’s sister,
Miriam, following closely behind her. The mother hid the basket among
the tall grasses near the shore, and again prayed God to keep her
baby safe. Miriam was left hiding in the tall grass near-by to see
what would happen to her little brother in his new bed. Very soon the
princess, the daughter of the cruel king of Egypt, with her maids,
came down to the river to bathe. Quickly she spied the basket-boat and
cried, “What is that floating on the water among the tall grasses?
Bring it to me.” One of her maids ran and picked up the basket and
brought it to the princess. When she opened it, there was the most
beautiful baby boy she had ever seen! The child was wide awake, and
seeing the strange face, began to cry. “It is one of the Hebrew babies
that my father ordered drowned!” she said. “But I have found him,
and I will keep him as my own little baby boy. I will call his name

Miriam was watching from her hiding-place in the tall grasses. She ran
out and said, “Shall I bring a nurse for the baby?” “Yes,” said the
princess. Miriam ran home as fast as she could, and whom do you suppose
she brought? The baby’s own mother! And the princess told her to take
him home and nurse him and care for him for her, for she loved him as
her very own, and the king would not harm him.

So the prayer that Moses’ mother made to God to take care of her little
baby boy in the basket-boat was answered. And Moses grew up to be a
great and good man.


(Exodus 3)

When the boy Moses was old enough to leave his mother he went to live
with his new mother in the king’s palace.

Moses was a good boy. He studied his lessons so well in school that he
grew up to be one of the wisest and best young men in all the land.
But Moses never forgot his own Hebrew people. He was not careless of
the cruel way they were treated as slaves by the king’s officers. He
tried to improve their sad condition in his own hasty way, but he soon
saw that neither his own people nor their masters wanted a princess’s
son to interfere. They were both ready to kill him for trying to help.
So Moses had to flee for his life into the mountains where he became a
shepherd. One day as he was leading his sheep up the mountainside, he
saw a thorn-bush all aflame; and it kept on burning, but was not burned
up. Moses wondered to see so strange a sight. Leaving his sheep he
went near. Suddenly a Voice called out of the midst of the fire-bush,
“Moses! Moses!” Moses answered, “Here am I.” The Voice said, “Take
off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest
is holy ground,” It was God, in the form of an angel, speaking to him.
Moses at once took off his shoes and bowed reverently in the presence
of God. Then God told him a better way by which he could help his
downtrodden people and set them free from their cruel masters who were
beating them and making their life so hard. He told Moses he wanted him
to lead his people out of their bondage. At first Moses was afraid he
was not able to do what God wanted him to do, but God said, “Certainly,
Moses, I will be with thee.” Moses obeyed the Voice that spoke that
day to him out of the fire-bush, and he became one of the greatest of
leaders and lawgivers that this world ever saw. Men and boys take off
their hats in church to-day for the same reason that Moses removed his
shoes before the fire-bush–to show reverence in the presence of God
and respect for his wonderful way of speaking to men.


(1 Samuel 2, 3)

Once there was a little boy, about seven years old, who was taken by
his mother to a beautiful church and left there to be educated by the
minister, who lived in a room at the side of the church. The little
boy’s mother had promised God that if he would give her a little boy
she would give him back to him, and that all the days of his life
her boy should serve him. So as soon as he was old enough to leave
her she remembered her promise. A little room was fitted up for the
little fellow next to the minister’s room. Little Samuel learned to
trim the lamps, to open and close the church doors, and to be useful
in many little ways in helping the minister. Once a year his mother
came to see him, bringing for him a beautiful little, new, white coat,
which she had made for him. It was the same kind of white coat the
minister wore. One night as the little boy was lying asleep in his
room, suddenly a beautiful Voice rang through the chamber, calling,
“Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel thought it was the minister calling him. He
ran to the minister’s room, saying, “Here am I!” “I called not,” said
the minister; “lie down again.” So the boy went back to bed. Then again
the Voice called, “Samuel!” Again he ran to the minister who said, “I
called not; lie down again.” When all was quiet, the third time the
Voice called, “Samuel!” and again the boy sprang up and ran quickly
to the minister’s room. Then the minister knew God was calling him.
“Go lie down,” he said, “and if you hear the Voice again, it is God
calling you; say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.’” As soon as
Samuel lay down again, God called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and little Samuel
kneeling beside his bed said, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
Then God told him what he wished him to do for him when he grew older.
So the little boy who was obedient to God’s voice grew up to be a great
and good man, living always for the good of his people.


(Book of Ruth)

Far away in the strange land of Moab a poor widow started to return
to her own home in the land of Israel. Ruth and Orpah, her two
daughters-in-law, the wives of her sons who had just died, wished to
go with her, for they could not think of the poor, old, sad mother
returning all by herself on that long journey. But after they had gone
a little way, the old mother kissed them and said, “Go back to your
home and native land!” So Orpah kissed her good-bye and returned, but
Ruth clung to her mother-in-law and said: “Entreat me not to leave
thee and return from following after thee; for whither thou goest I
will go; and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God; where thou diest will I die, and there will
I be buried. Nothing but death shall part thee and me.” Ruth knew that
where Naomi was going she would be poor, and that they would have to
work hard, but she loved this old mother too much to leave her. Soon
they saw the hills and then the houses of Bethlehem, Naomi’s home. They
settled down in that little town, but were so poor they did not know
how to get even food enough to eat. The time of year had come when the
farmers were beginning to cut the barley–the harvest-time. It was
the custom in that land to allow poor people to go into the fields
and gather up the loose ears of barley that were left by the reapers;
and Ruth went to glean a little food for herself and her mother. She
happened to go into the field of a rich man named Boaz. By and by when
Boaz came to see how the reapers were getting on, he saw Ruth gleaning,
and asked his reapers who she was. They told him that she was Naomi’s
daughter-in-law, just come from Moab. Then Boaz called her to him and
told her that she was welcome to glean in his fields all through the
harvest. He said: “I have heard all about your goodness to Naomi. May
you be fully rewarded by Jehovah, the God of Israel, under whose wings
you have come to take refuge.” At dinnertime Boaz told her to sit down
with the reapers, who gave her food and drink. She ate all she wished,
and still she had some left, which in the evening she took home with
her, with the barley she had gleaned, to Naomi. At the end of the
barley harvest, this great and good rich man, Boaz, fell in love with
Ruth, and she became his wife. The old mother, Naomi, went to live
with them in their large and beautiful house, and she never was in want
again. When a little son came to them, Ruth called his name Obed, and
when he grew to be an old man, he was the grandfather of King David. So
Ruth, the gleaner, who was kind and loyal to her mother-in-law, became
the great-grandmother of the greatest King of Israel.



Far away on a hillside, one starry night, a shepherd-boy was watching
his father’s sheep. The little lambs were cuddled up close to their
mothers and all was quiet and peaceful in the moonlight when out of
the woods near-by came a dark animal. It was a big brown bear that had
come to steal a lamb. Nearer and nearer it came when the shepherd-boy,
who loved his sheep, quickly placed a large sharp stone in his sling
and slung it at the bear’s forehead. With a great cry of pain the bear
rolled over dead. So the lambs were saved from the bear. Another time,
a lion sprang out from behind a rock and, seizing a little baby lamb in
his mouth, started to run away with it. On the minute the shepherd-boy
was after him, slinging one of his sharp stones at the lion’s head. It
struck the lion without killing him, but, letting the baby lamb go, he
turned roaring and sprang at the boy. He caught him by the beard, and
with his shepherd’s staff struck at him until the great animal fell
back dead. So the lambs loved the shepherd still more, for he had saved
them from the lion too. Some time after, this same shepherd-boy went
out to the battlefield to take some corn and loaves of bread to his
soldier brothers. While he was talking to his brothers a great giant
came out and stood upon a high cliff and cried across the valley, “I
dare any man to come and fight me!” This giant was ten and a half feet
in height–so tall that a boy would not come as high as his knees. Upon
his head was a helmet of brass; his whole body was covered with armor
of brass; even on his legs were heavy plates of brass. In his hand he
held a long staff with a sharp spear-point at the end; by his side hung
a sword, and a man went before him carrying a shield. This was the
famous Philistine giant, “Goliath,” before whom all the Hebrew soldiers
trembled and ran away to their tents in fear. This young shepherd-boy
was surprised that none dared go out and fight him, especially when he
heard that King Saul had said whoever would kill this terrible giant
should receive great riches and have the king’s daughter for his wife.
This boy said, “I will go and fight him!” Some one told the king what
he said, and Saul sent for him and said: “Surely you are not able to
go and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighter from
the time he was a boy.” This shepherd-boy bravely replied: “When I was
smaller than I am now, I was watching my father’s sheep, and a bear and
a lion came to take a lamb out of the flock, and I smote both the lion
and the bear, and this giant shall be as one of them, because he has
defied the armies of the living God. My God, who delivered me out of
the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me
out of the hand of this boastful giant.” The king said, “My boy, go;
and may God be with you.” Then he offered the shepherd-boy his armor
of brass, his helmet, and sword. But the shepherd-boy said, “Please,
may I go without these? My shepherd’s sling and staff, with God, are
all I need.” Then he ran to the brook and selected five smooth stones
and put them in his shepherd’s bag and went forth to meet the giant
who came to meet him. When Goliath saw only a boy he said: “Am I a
dog that you come to me with a stick! Come to me, boy, and I’ll give
your flesh to the birds and beasts!” And he cursed him by his gods. The
brave shepherd-boy did not flinch, but replied: “You come to me with
a sword, and a spear, and a javelin. I come to you in the name of the
God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day God will
deliver you into my hands, and I will take your head from you and give
it to the birds and wild beasts, that all the earth may know that there
is a God in Israel, and that they may know that God saves not with
sword or spear; for this battle is God’s, and he will give you into our
hands.” The proud giant, clad in his brass armor, began walking toward
the boy, who quickly put his hand into his bag, took out a stone, slung
it with all his might at the giant’s forehead, and Goliath fell on his
face to the ground–dead. Quickly he ran, stood on the giant, took the
great sword of Goliath out of its sheath, and with one blow cut off
the giant’s head in the sight of the soldiers of both armies. When the
army of the giant saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran
away over the mountains and, with a shout of victory, Saul’s soldiers
ran after them and took them prisoners. So the shepherd-boy, with a
sling and a stone, and the help of God, won a great battle that day. He
became the king’s son-in-law, and when Saul died he became king, one of
the greatest and best kings Israel ever had–King David.


(1 Samuel 18 to 20)

The shepherd-boy who slew the giant was invited to live at the king’s
palace, and he became a great friend of the king’s son, Jonathan.
David and Jonathan soon loved each other greatly. All the people too
came to love David more than they did King Saul. This made the king
very jealous, and he resolved to kill this popular young soldier, whom
everybody praised so much; even the women and girls singing of him in
the streets:

Saul hath slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.

When Jonathan suspected his father’s evil intentions, he told David to
go away from the palace for three days. “After three days,” he said, “I
will come to your hiding-place and bring an arrow-boy with me, and I
will shoot three arrows. If I say to the boy, ‘Run and find the arrows
on this side of you, come back,’ you can come back to the palace in
safety; but if I say, ‘Haste, stay not,’ then there is danger, and you
must flee.” After two days Saul missed David at the dining-table, and
told Jonathan that if he found David he would surely kill him. And he
threw a javelin at Jonathan to kill him too, because he was the friend
of David. Quickly Jonathan went with the boy to the place appointed and
shot an arrow far beyond the mark and cried to the boy, “Haste, stay
not.” The boy ran and brought him the arrow and returned to the palace.
David came out from his hiding-place. The two friends kissed each other
and made promises of eternal friendship. And they saw each other only
once after that day. So the arrow-boy helped the two friends.


(2 Samuel 4: 4; 9: 1-13)

One afternoon, long ago, a little boy prince five years old, was
playing with his toys in his father’s palace, and his nurse was
watching him. Suddenly a messenger ran up to the house and rushed in,
bearing the sad news that a terrible battle had been fought between
the Hebrews and the Philistines in which King Saul and the little
prince’s father, Jonathan, David’s friend, had been slain. “Yes,” he
said, “Saul and Jonathan are dead! Flee for your lives!” The nurse
picked up the little boy in her arms to carry him away quickly, when,
in her haste and fright, she stumbled and fell. In the fall the little
boy’s ankles were broken, and ever after he was a helpless cripple.
The little lame prince was hidden away in a friend’s house so safely
that almost everybody supposed the Philistine soldiers must have slain
him too. A few years afterward, David said: “Is there yet any left
of the family of Saul that I may show the kindness of God to him for
Jonathan’s sake?” One of the servants said, “Jonathan hath yet a son
who is lame in both his feet.” “Bring him to me,” said David; and when
he was before the king, David said: “Fear not; for I will surely show
kindness to you for Jonathan, your father’s sake. I will give you his
farm lands; and you shall eat at my table as one of my own sons.” So
David’s friendship for Jonathan was shown to this lame prince who was
crippled in both his feet, and whose name was Mephibosheth.


(1 Kings 3)

One night a King was sleeping, and in his sleep he dreamed that God
came to him and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.” He said, “Give me a
wise heart to judge the people justly in all things.” God said to him:
“Because you have not asked for riches, or long life, or the death of
your enemies, but have asked for a heart of wisdom, I will give you a
wise heart, and riches, and long life if you will obey me.”

The young King awoke; and it was a dream. But he became one of the
richest and wisest of the kings of the earth to rule and to judge his
people. One day two mothers came to him, each bringing a baby boy,
but one was dead and one was alive. One mother said: “O king, judge my
case! We two mothers live in one house. One night this woman’s baby
boy died, and she came into my room and stole my little baby boy away,
and put her dead baby boy in its place while I was sleeping. In the
morning, there beside me in my bed was her dead baby.” The other woman
said, “No, no, the living is my son, and the dead is your son.” The
King said to his servants, “Go quickly, and bring me a sword!” They
brought a sword. The King said, “Divide the living baby in two, and
give half to one and half to the other.” The mother whose the living
child was cried out to the King, “O my lord, give her the living child;
do not slay it!” But the other said, “Yes, divide it.” Then the King
knew which was the real mother and said, “Give her the living child;
she is his mother.” All the people heard of this, and they said, “King
Solomon is the wisest man that ever lived to rule wisely and to judge


(2 Kings 11)

There were troublous times in a king’s palace when a little prince was
born. He was only two months old when his father, the king, was killed
in battle and this little baby boy had to be hidden away by his aunt in
a storeroom in the sacred temple to save his life. For seven years he
was hidden there and very few knew that the little boy, who should be
the king, was alive. His grandmother, a very wicked and cruel woman,
Athaliah, became queen. She first ordered all the royal children she
could find to be put to death and then she did many such cruel and evil
things so that her people became worse and worse. After seven long
years, one day a good man in the temple told five brave captains his
secret, and showed them the young king and asked their help to crown
him king in the place of the wicked, cruel grandmother. They promised.
Soon many other soldiers came to know the secret, and on a day they
decided upon, these men armed themselves with swords and spears and
shields, and gathered in the temple to crown the little boy king. His
granduncle, the high priest, brought him out from his hiding-place, set
him upon a high platform, put a little crown of gold upon his head,
while all the men clapped their hands and cried, “Long live the king!”
When the queen-grandmother heard the shouts she came to the temple and
looked in, and behold, there was the little boy king standing on the
platform with the crown upon his head and all the captains and guards
and trumpeters and people rejoicing and blowing trumpets. The queen
tore her clothes in anger and cried out, “Treason! Treason!” But all
her soldiers and people were sick and tired of her cruel reign. So the
captains seized her, led her out of the temple, and slew her near the
horse-gate of her palace. So this little boy only seven years old was
crowned king because he was of the family of King David and because God
took care of him in his hiding-place during all those seven long years.
He reigned as King of Judah many, many years, doing great good for God
and for his people. His name was Joash.


(1 Kings 17)

In a land where no rain had fallen for long months the grass and
flowers were withered, the fruit trees were dead, the grain-fields and
gardens were hardened and parched, and the streams were almost dried
up. In the time of this fearful famine a poor woman looked into her
jar of flour and cruse of oil, and saw that they were almost empty. She
said: “There is just enough flour to make one more little cake, and
just enough oil to mix it. I will go and gather a few sticks and bake
this little cake for my boy and myself, and we will eat it and die.”
She went out to gather the sticks, when she heard some one speak. She
looked up and saw a strange man standing near. He was tired and worn
and dusty, as though he had been walking many miles in the hot sun. He
said to her, “Fetch me, I pray you, a little water, that I may drink.”
She forgot for a moment how hungry and sad she was, and started at
once toward her house to get the water for him, when he called to her,
“Bring me, I pray you, a morsel of bread in your hand.” She turned back
with a sigh and said: “O sir, truly I have not a cake; I have only a
handful of meal in the jar, and a little oil in the cruse; and now I
am gathering two sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my boy
that we may eat it and die.” The man said: “Fear not; go and do as you
have said, but make me a little cake first, and bring it out here to
me, and afterward make a cake for yourself and your boy. For Jehovah,
the God of Israel says, ‘The jar of meal shall not be empty, neither
shall the little bottle of oil be empty, until it rains upon the

She stood and looked at this strange man with his strange request–to
share her very last piece of bread. She did not know who he was, nor
who the God was he spoke of; she only knew that this man with the tired
face was hungry too, and he had not even one piece of bread, and she
said to herself, “I will share what we have with him.” She went back
into her kitchen, kindled the fire with the sticks, scraped the last
bit of flour from the jar, and poured in the last drop of oil from the
cruse; but, when she had taken out enough for the little cake and
looked into the jar and cruse, there was just as much flour and oil as
before. She made the cake, took it to Elijah, God’s wonderful prophet,
and she, and he, and her son had plenty to eat from the jar of meal
that did not empty and the cruse of oil that did not fail all the days
of that famine. And it all came about because that good woman, though
hungry herself, was willing to share the little she had with another
who was in need.

Is thy cruse of comfort failing? Rise and share it with another,
And through all the years of famine it shall serve thee and thy brother.
Love divine will fill thy storehouse, or thy handful will renew;
Scanty fare for one will often make a royal feast for two.
For the heart grows rich in giving; all its wealth is living grain;
Seeds, which mildew in the garner, scattered, fill with gold the plain.
Is thy heart a living power? Self-entwined its strength sinks low;
It can only live by loving, and by serving love must grow.

–_Elizabeth Rundle Charles._


(2 Kings 5)

One day a sweet-faced little girl was playing in her home as happy
as any little girl could be, all unconscious that a cruel battle was
being fought. Suddenly some soldiers came and seized this little girl
and carried her away with other prisoners to a far-off land where she
was sold and became a slave-girl in the house of a great captain. She
had to do errands for his wife and wait upon her, and do anything she
asked. Often when this little girl was in her mistress’s room she saw
big tears run down her cheeks, and a sad look come upon her face. One
day she found out what made the tears. Captain Naaman was a leper.
That was a terrible disease in his flesh which no doctor could cure.
The little girl had often seen Captain Naaman. She thought he looked
so fine in his rich uniform as he rode away in a chariot with prancing
horses. She knew that the king of that land had made him captain over
all his soldiers because he was so brave. “But he is a leper, he has
leprosy–how sad!” she kept saying to herself; “how I wish I could help

One day a thought flashed into her mind that made her eyes sparkle
with joy. She knew in her own land there was a great and good man
named Elisha who had done many wonderful things in helping people. She
said, “I am sure he could make Captain Naaman well.” She could hardly
wait to be sent for to do another errand, she was so eager to tell her
mistress about Elisha. At last the call came, and as soon as she went
into her mistress’s room, she said, “There is a good man in my land,
Elisha, who could heal my master.” The mistress looked at her and said,
“Tell me, daughter, tell me what you mean! Who is Elisha?” And the
little girl told her all about the wonderful things the prophet had
done. When Captain Naaman came home his wife told him what the little
girl had said. The captain went to the palace and told the king, who
said, “I will send a letter to the King of Israel; get ready to go.”
So Captain Naaman started, riding in a beautiful chariot, drawn by
prancing horses, the king’s servants riding beside him, carrying gifts
of gold and silver and beautiful clothes which the king was sending as
presents to the King of Israel. Every one looked as they rode away.
The little girl was the most excited of all. At last Captain Naaman
and his soldiers and chariot stopped at the door of the little house
of Elisha, but the prophet did not even come out to see Naaman’s fine
things, but simply sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in
the river Jordan seven times and thy flesh shall come again to thee,
and thou shalt be clean.” Naaman was angry and started to go back home
as much a leper as he had come. But when his servants reasoned with
him and persuaded him to do what the prophet said, he went down to the
river Jordan, and dipped himself–once, twice, thrice, four times, five
times, six times, seven times–when lo! his rough, red skin became soft
and smooth as the skin of a little baby. Naaman was so pleased that he
hurried back to the little house of the prophet to reward him, but not
a thing would Elisha take from him. Then the captain hastened back to
his own land and home. His wife and the little girl saw him coming. Up
the street he rode and stopped in front of the beautiful house. “He is
well! He is well!” cried the little girl. Then she knew a little girl
can indeed be a great helper.


(Daniel 1)

Four boys, who were great friends, were taken from their homes and
carried far away into a great city in a foreign land to live among
strangers. One day the King ordered his officers to select from among
the Jewish captive boys four of the brightest, and these four boys were
chosen and brought into the King’s palace to be educated for three
years in the King’s college for royal service. Thinking it a great
honor to them, and that it would make them strong, the King ordered
that these boys should be given a daily supply of the rich food and
wine, such as he and all his military cadets received. But the very
first time the silver tray, with all of these dainties, was brought to
these four college boys, one of them, whose name was Daniel, said to
the officer who took charge of them, “Please let us not have this rich
food and wine, but have plainer food.” The officer laughed and said:
“I am afraid that if you do not eat this rich food your faces will
become thinner than those of the other college students, and then the
King will cut off my head!” But Daniel said: “Try us ten days. Give us
only vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then look at our faces and
the faces of the other boys that eat the King’s rich food and drink his
wine, and see.” The officer said he would try them for ten days. He did
so, and at the end of that time their faces were fatter and rosier,
their bodies plumper, and their minds clearer, stronger, and brighter
than all the other boys. At the end of the three college years, the
King sat upon a golden throne, and all the students were brought before
him, and he saw that these four were stronger than all the rest, and
that they knew ten times as much as the magicians and astrologers in
all his kingdom. So Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, these four
friends who were true to their principle, showed after all that they
kept their health and were stronger and better by going without the
rich food and the royal wine.


(Daniel 3)

It was a wonderful sight to see the King’s golden image which he had
set up in the great plain. The King was a worshiper of images of wood
and stone, and he sent forth his herald with a loud trumpet to cry
aloud “To you it is commanded, O people, nations and languages, that
when ye hear the sound of the instruments of music, ye shall fall down
and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar, the King, hath set
up; and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, shall the same hour be
cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.” From all the country
and provinces around people came to see this great image and to
worship, and at the sound of the instruments of music all fell down and
prayed to it, except three young men who stood upright looking before
them, without bowing their heads or knees to the golden image. These
were the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the friends of
Daniel, who must have been away on a journey at that time. When this
was told to the King he was very angry and ordered them at once to
worship his image or be cast into the furnace, which they saw in front
of them glowing with a terrible fire. They said to the King: “Our God
is able to save us from your fiery furnace, and he will save us. But
if he does not, be it known unto you, O King, we will not worship the
golden image you have set up, or serve your gods of gold.” The King was
more angry, and ordered his strong men to make the fiery furnace seven
times hotter and cast these three friends into the midst of it. But
they were not afraid though they were tied with ropes and cast into the
fire, which was so hot the flames leaped out and burned up the men who
threw them into it. The King was sitting where he could look right into
the furnace. A few moments after, he sprang up greatly astonished and
cried: “Look, look; did we not cast three friends into the furnace? Lo,
I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are
not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!” The King
ran to the mouth of the furnace, crying, “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego,
ye servants of the Most High God, come out!” And they came out of the
fire, and not a hair of their heads was singed, nor were their coats
scorched, nor was there even the smell of burning on them. And it all
came about because these three friends were loyal to the one true God,
who had sent the other Friend, “the form of the fourth,” to deliver
them out of the burning fiery furnace.


(Daniel 6)

Daniel was the man who dared to stand alone in work, in worship, and in
play. He could be trusted in everything. Because he was so industrious,
faithful, and thoughtful, the new King promoted him to be next to him
in rule over all the land. The other officers were jealous and set
plans for his downfall. They persuaded the King, Darius, to sign this
law: “Whosoever shall pray to any god or to man for thirty days, save
to thee, O King, he shall be cast into the den of lions.” The King was
delighted to think of every one in the city praying to him just as if
he were a great god, so he signed this wicked law. Daniel knew what
these evil men would do, but when the time came at noonday for him to
pray, he went straight to his home, opened wide his windows toward his
old home in Jerusalem, as he was accustomed to do, and knelt down and
prayed and gave thanks to his God. That night he did the same thing. He
could have waited until he was in bed where none could see him say his
prayers. Or he could have left his window closed. But he was not afraid
of the King or his officers. They were watching down the street, like
detectives peeking from behind the corners perhaps, and when they saw
Daniel pray they hurried to the King and told him. Darius loved Daniel
and was sorry he had signed the law, but as the laws of that land could
not be changed, he said that Daniel must die. So Daniel was brought to
the great cave of the hungry, roaring lions. The cage was opened at
the top and Daniel was thrown right down into the midst of the wild
animals. The King was sad and said, “Daniel, your God will deliver
you!” Then the King went back to his palace, but he was so sad he could
not eat nor hear music. All night long he thought of Daniel, how good
and useful he had been, and how cruelly treated. Early in the morning
he arose, hurried to the cave, looked in, and there was Daniel–alive
and well. The King cried out, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has
your God delivered you from the lions?” “Yes,” answered Daniel, “my
God has sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not
hurt me.” The King was glad. He called his servants to come and take
Daniel out of the den. When he was drawn out there was found not even a
scratch upon him. The King said, “Bring those mean and jealous men, who
tried to kill Daniel, and cast them into the den.” So they were caught
and cast into the den, and so hungry were the lions that before the
men reached the floor of the den the beasts had seized them and were
crunching their bones to pieces. Then the King made a new law that all
in his kingdom should pray to Daniel’s God, who had delivered him out
of the lions’ den, and who had given him the power to dare to stand and
to pray alone.


(Book of Esther)

Once a King gave a great feast in his Palace of the Lily to all his
people. They drank wine from cups of gold in the garden court of the
palace which was paved with red marble and mother of pearl. On the
seventh day of the feast, being drunk with wine, the King ordered his
officers to bring out Queen Vashti in her royal robes that the princes
and people might look at her, for she was very beautiful. She refused.
So the King said she should be cast out of the Palace of the Lily, and
another Queen chosen in her place–the most beautiful woman they could
find. One was chosen whose name was Esther, a captive in Persia. Her
father and mother were dead, and her cousin, Mordecai, had brought her
up as his own daughter. He was a proud old man who always did what was
right, and so he displeased many persons, among whom was Haman, the
ruler next to the King. Because Mordecai would not bow down to him,
Haman planned to kill the stern old man and with him all the Jews in
the land. He persuaded the King to give a command that on a certain day
all Jews, young and old, women and little children, should be slain.
There was great distress among the Jews, but Haman was happy with the
King, drinking wine and talking over his great decree. Esther did not
know what had happened until she saw her cousin weeping, and then he
told her that her life was in danger too, unless she went to the King
and pleaded for her people. She said: “Every one knows that whoever
goes before the King into the inner court, who is not called, is put to
death, unless the King holds out his golden scepter, and for the last
thirty days the King has not called me.”

Mordecai replied: “Do not think you will escape! No, if you fail us
now, safety will come by others, but you will perish; and who knows
whether you are not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Then Esther said: “Go, gather together all the Jews and pray three
days and three nights for me, and I will go before the King, and if
I perish, I perish!” At the end of three days she put on her royal
robes, went into the inner court, and stood opposite the King as he
sat on his throne. When he saw her he held out his golden scepter, and
said, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? Speak and you shall have it
to the half of my kingdom!” She said, “May it please the King to come
to-day with Haman to a banquet that I have prepared.” At the banquet
the King again asked her wish, and she said, “If it please the King,
come again to-morrow to a banquet with Haman.” Haman was delighted as
he went home and told his wife and friends about his good fortune; but
he said, “I am unhappy as long as Mordecai refuses to bow down to me!”
They said, “Build a gallows, and ask the King to let Mordecai be hanged
on it.” He did so. But that same night the King read in the book of
golden deeds how true Mordecai had been to a former King, and he knew
that this service had never been rewarded. When Haman came in the King
said, “What shall be done to the man whom the King delights to honor?”
Thinking it must be himself the King meant, he said: “Let royal apparel
be given him and a royal horse, and a royal crown, and bid him ride
through the city for the people to honor.” The King said, “Then make
haste and do all this for Mordecai.” This he had to do. And when he
went to the Queen’s banquet he was not happy. The King said: “What is
your wish, Queen Esther? Speak and I will give it, to the half of my
kingdom.” She said: “O King, let my life and my people’s life be given
me; for we are sold, I and my people, to be slain and to perish.” The
King said, “Who is he? where is he that dares to do so?” Esther pointed
to Haman, and said, “There he is, this wicked Haman!” Haman was afraid,
and pleaded with the Queen to ask the King to spare his life, but the
King said, “Hang him on the gallows that he built for Mordecai.” This
was done at once, and when Haman was dead Mordecai was put into his
place next to the king, and all the people rejoiced. So Queen Esther,
to whom the King extended the golden scepter in the Palace of the Lily,
saved all her people, the Jews, that day and they lived in peace and