man in church

In the days of King Solomon, it was a custom that people guilty of manslaughter could take refuge in the “Lord’s tent” at the “horns of the altar.” Joab, one of David’s mighty commanders, had committed two murders and was being disloyal to Solomon.  He fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar.  Benaiah went to bring Joab out to kill him, Joab said he would not go out, he would die right there.  And he did. Joab’s murders were intentional; he was seeking the altar for physical safety not spiritual forgiveness.  He was guilty and he paid for his crimes with his life.

I am recounting this story because it sets a stage for how people often want to seek solitude in the Lord’s temple, be it a tent or a cathedral.  Joab’s story indicates it is not a magical remedy for the criminal.  But it is a place of mercy and grace to the penitent heart, or to one who has sinned unintentionally.  And for those like Joab, there is forgiveness if it is sought.

In my background, it was not uncommon to hear about “taking hold of the horns of the altar” which meant to be in passionate, earnest prayer about something.  It referred to the altar that was in the tabernacle built by Moses.  The altar had horn-like projections on the top at all four corners.


Prompt from picture  Daily Post Blogging U, #everydayinspiration






About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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  1. dawnlizjones says:

    Great history lesson with modern day implications: the difference between being sorrow for being caught, and being repentant for being wrong.

    • oneta hayes says:

      True. Thanks for expressing the “take-away” from this post. There is also a difference between communicating in prayer always, which is wonderful and builds a powerful relationship with our Lord, and “taking hold of the horns of the altar” which is what Paul calls effective fervent prayer. In my life I have seen a decrease in the fervent prayer at the altar of God and a trend toward the casual conversational prayer of a person who knows his God. I love my ongoing abiding in the Lord, knowing his voice, talking to him, listening to him, singing songs about him. But the diligent call on him to move in lives, in our nation, heal our land, save our kids – the kind that manifests as groans that cannot be uttered – that kind, I think his church is very lax and lethargic about. That kind he did in Gethsemane.

  2. calensariel says:

    That’s an awesome piece, Oneta. I was born and raised in The Church of God, but I never heard that expression.

  3. oneta hayes says:

    I’m surprised that it is new to you. Have you heard the expression “praying through?” It meant someone had prayed until they believed their prayer had been heard, even if the answer was as yet unseen. Thanks for commenting.

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