A Covenant Promise for a Humble People (2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 136)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 136

The reign of Solomon was a glorious time in Israel’s history. With humility, Solomon had requested the LORD give him wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:10), and God had honored his request by promising him not only wisdom, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before,” neither would there be any succeeding Solomon. (1:12).

Having fulfilled his father’s desire to build a house for the LORD, Solomon dedicated the Temple and adorned it with furnishings reflecting the majesty of the LORD (2 Chronicles 2-5). The LORD visibly descended upon the Temple in a cloud that displayed His glory and presence among His people (2 Chronicles 5:13). In 2 Chronicles 6, the king had led Israel in worshipping the LORD, affirming to the people the hand and providence of God was upon them as His chosen people (6:1-11).  Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple was recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

The LORD, having heard the prayer of Solomon, responded with a confirmation that was magnificent to behold (7:1-22).

2 Chronicles 7:1 – “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”

So great was the presence of the LORD, that we read: “The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house”
(2 Chronicles 7:2).

2 Chronicles 7:3 – “And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he [the LORD] is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

The king led the people in giving offerings as they “dedicated the house of God” (7:5). The priests also began their ministries in the Temple and around the altar, as the Levites took up the instruments David had prepared for the occasion, and began to praise the LORD in music and with the sound of the trumpets (7:6-7). For fourteen days, the people were united, as they celebrated the dedication of the Temple (7:8-9).

The celebration being ended, Solomon “sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people” (7:10).

2 Chronicles 7:11 gives testimony of God’s grace, and blessings upon Solomon, for we read: “…all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected” (7:11).

The LORD responded to Solomon’s prayer, and confirmed He had heard his prayer, and chosen the Temple as His “house of sacrifice” (7:12). Affirming He would hear and answer the prayers of His people when they sinned, were assailed by troubles, and taken captive, the LORD promised:

2 Chronicles 7:13–1413If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turnfrom their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We find three promises in God’s covenant with Israel (7:14). When calamitous times would come upon that nation because they had sinned and broken covenant with Him  (7:13), if the people would: “Humblethemselves…PraySeek His face…and Turn” from their sins, the LORD would forgive the sins of His people and heal the land (7:14b).

Closing thoughts2 Chronicles 7:14 was God’s covenant with Israel; however, those same promises should reflect the longing in every believer’s heart for their own nation. The troubles and adversities a nation and people face should move believers to humble themselves before God, confess their sins and that of their nation, seek God’s forgiveness, and claim His promise that He will heal their land, families, churches, and nation.

I have no greater way to conclude today’s Scripture reading, than to commend to you the reading of Psalm 136 – “Give Thanks to the LORD!”

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Solomon’s Dedicatory Prayer for the Temple (2 Chronicles 6)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 6

Today’s Scripture reading continues the historical record when Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem. The text before us is nearly identical to that which we considered in 1 Kings 8.

As a reminder, 1 & 2 Chronicles are thought to have been penned by Ezra, the leader of the second remnant of Jews to return to Israel following the Babylonian captivity (Zerubbabel led the first remnant, and had rebuilt the Temple in 538 B.C.). When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem around 458 B.C., he found the Hebrew people had once again turned from the LORD, and His covenant with the nation (i.e., the Law and Commandments). For that reason, Ezra set forth a reminder of Israel’s history as a nation, and the glory of her golden years under the reigns of David and Solomon.

Having already detailed the furnishings of the Temple, and the sacrifices that hallowed the dedication of that house of worship, I invite you to consider Solomon’s posture and prayer of dedication.

With the Ark of the Covenant in its place beneath the outstretched wings of the cherubim in the Oracle (i.e., the Holy of Holies), the LORD descended upon the Temple in a cloud, and His presence had filled “the house of the LORD” (5:13-14). So great and awesome was the sight, that the priests dared not “stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (5:14).

2 Chronicles 6

The descent of the LORD in the cloud had confirmed for Solomon and the congregation of Israel, that God had blessed the Temple with His presence (6:1-2). We can imagine Solomon’s joy as he turned to the people and blessed them in the name of the LORD (6:3-4). Solomon recalled how the LORD had chosen David and his sons to be the lineage to rule Israel, and He had chosen the city of Jerusalem for His Temple and earthly-habitation (6:5-6). David had desired to build the Temple, but God had denied the king that privilege, and chose his son instead (6:7-9). All that the LORD had promised, He had fulfilled, and the presence of the LORD in the Temple was testimony to His blessing and presence (6:10-11).

Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication (6:12-21)

We have considered Solomon’s prayer in our study of 1 Kings 8:22-53, and it is again recorded for us in today’s Scripture. 2 Chronicles 6 gives us some detail regarding the king’s humble posture. We have seen how Solomon had humbled himself and prayed on his knees, but here we find he had knelt before the LORD and the people on a raised platform, with his hands uplifted toward heaven (6:12-13).

Solomon’s prayer acknowledged the greatness of the LORD, and that there was none other God like Him. He had kept covenant with His people, and promised mercy to those who would walk in obedience (6:14). The king acknowledged God’s faithfulness to His promises (6:15), and prayed the LORD would fulfill His promise for David’s lineage to rule as long as his children obeyed the law (6:16). Solomon longed for the perpetual presence of the LORD, and that every prayer of His people would be heard (6:17-21).

We have considered the specifics of Solomon’s prayers for God’s mercy upon Israel (6:22-27), and His request, should the people be driven out of the land and taken captive, the LORD would hear their cry and restore them to the land (6:28-31).

2 Chronicles 6:32-33 reminds us that the LORD’s presence in Israel was to be a testimony to non-Hebrews that the God of heaven hears and answers the prayers of those who call upon Him. Like Daniel, who prayed toward Jerusalem when he was in captivity, Solomon prayed the LORD would hear the prayers of His people from afar, and would “maintain their cause” (Israel’s national interests as a people, 6:34-35).

Acknowledging the universal sinfulness of humanity, Solomon prayed, “there is no man which sinneth not” (6:36). The king prayed God would show His mercy to the people when they confess their sins, repent, and turn to Him (6:37-39).

Solomon’s prayer closed with him asking the LORD to not only hear his prayer, but for His presence to rest upon the Temple, and to “remember the mercies of David thy servant” (6:42).

Closing thought – Our next Scripture reading, 2 Chronicles 7, will begin with the LORD making His presence known in the fire He sent from heaven to consume the offerings (7:1). What a glorious confirmation of God’s presence and blessing!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD Deserves Nothing Less Than Our Best (1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4

Because his reign was one of peace, Solomon was able to dedicate himself to many construction projects.

While the Temple required seven years to build (6:38), Solomon’s palace was under construction for thirteen years, the details of which are given in 1 Kings 7:1-12. Some scholars refer to the “the house of the forest of Lebanon” as a summer house or lodge for the king; however, I have come to believe it was a great house that was part of the palace complex (7:2-8). I believe it was so named because of the great amount of cedar pillars that supported its roof.

Solomon also built a house for his queen, who was “Pharaoh’s daughter” (7:8). I believe the queen’s house was attached to the palace complex.

The attention then turns from Solomon’s palace and grounds, to preparations for the Temple. A craftsman named Hiram, not the same Hiram who was king of Tyre, was enlisted to make intricate, elaborate pieces of brass, silver and gold for the Temple (7:13-51). Skilled as a metal artisan, he “was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass” (1 Kings 7:14).

The attention to detail and beauty is worth noting, even down to the utensils used in the Temple offerings. Tables overlaid with gold, golden lampstands, basins of gold, and golden lavers engraved with lilies added to the beauty and elegance of the house of worship (2 Chronicles 4:5). Doors of brass, and pillars engraved with wreaths and pomegranates (4:9, 12-13), all contributed to the intricate details adorning the Temple.

Why such attention to detail? Because Solomon was building a house for the LORD, and it was an outward testimony of the greatness of His God (2 Chronicles 2:5-6).

I close with a similar challenge for today’s believer. Why should we expect the worship of the LORD in our churches to be the best that we can offer and give? Why should we strive to give him music of our praise that aspires to the highest offerings? Why should we give attention to the beauty, appeal, and cleanliness of our places of worship?

Paul challenged the believers in Corinth: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The LORD deserves no less than our absolute best.

* Note from the author: For those who have followed me chronologically through the year, you might have noticed today’s Scripture reading was scheduled for Friday, November 26, 2021. Please accept my apology for the mix-up.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Dedication and a Celebration (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5

1 Kings 8 – Dedication of the Temple

We have followed the building of the Temple from its inception in the heart of King David, to its construction fulfilled during the reign of his son, Solomon. The Temple having been completed, and all the necessary implements and utensils readied, the day came for dedicating the house of the LORD.

After the furnishings were placed in the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was carried up by the priests from David’s palace complex (8:1-4). With sacrifices so great they could not be numbered, the Ark was placed in the oracle, meaning the inner sanctuary of the Temple we have identified as the “Holy of Holies” (8:5-6).  The Ark rested beneath the wings of the great cherubim that resided in the holy place (8:7-8). However, with the passing of centuries, all that would remain in the Ark were the treasured tablets upon which God had inscribed His Commandments (8:9).

We read, the glory of God so “filled the house of the LORD” that the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:10-11).  We would ask, why were the priests unable to minister in the Temple after the LORD’S glory filled His house?

Because the God of Heaven is a Holy, glorious God with whom mortal man dare not trifle.  His glory is “like devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17). He is “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). The LORD’S presence in His Temple was so powerful and convicting, the priests “could not stand to minister” (8:11a).

The dedication of the Temple continued with Solomon rehearsing how his father had longed to build the Temple, but was forbidden by God (2 Samuel 7:2, 12-13), and that privilege passed to Solomon, David’s son (8:12-21).  In the sight of all the people, Solomon prayed on his knees (8:54) and offered a prayer of thanksgiving, remembering God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises praying for the nation (8:22-30).

Knowing the justice of God, Solomon confessed the bent of man’s sinful heart was to depart from the Law and Commandments (8:31-32). The king prayed that when Israel sinned as a nation, the LORD would not forsake His people, but would hear their confession, and upon their repentance, would forgive their sin (8:33-36).

Knowing when the people disobeyed the LORD that troubles would befall the nation (famine, pestilence, and other afflictions arising from physical disasters and blights), Solomon petition the LORD to hear the prayers of every man (8:37-43).  Should the people go to war and fall captive, he prayed the LORD would hear the prayers of His people and restore them to their homeland (8:44-50).

Remembering the mercies of God in the past, Solomon concluded his prayer, reminding the LORD that He had chosen Israel, and had brought the people out of Egypt under Moses (8:51-53).

With the dedication of the Temple being ended, Solomon blessed the people, and led a celebration with sacrifices and offerings that continued fourteen days (8:54-66).

2 Chronicles 5 added an additional element to the celebration and dedication of the Temple, and that was the prominence of music in the worship of the LORD (5:12-13).

Closing thoughts – Though we will not see the visible presence of the LORD’S glory descending in a cloud upon today’s sanctuaries, we who love the LORD should revere and glorify Him in our private and public worship.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Temple, and the Veil of Separation (2 Chronicles 3)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 3

We continue our Scripture reading with 2 Chronicles 3, and an expanded record of Solomon building the Temple in Jerusalem. We find in today’s reading pertinent details regarding the place where the Temple was built (3:1), and the time of its construction (3:2). Once again, the dimensions of the “house of God,” and its front porch are recorded, along with a stunning fact: Solomon had “overlaid it within with pure gold” (3:3-4).

The Temple’s magnificence was embellished with engravings, while the beams of the ceiling, doors and frames, and walls, were all overlaid in pure gold. Precious stones also added to the beauty of the LORD’S house of worship (3:5-7).

Beginning with 2 Chronicles 3:8, and continuing through 2 Chronicles 5:1, the Temple’s furnishings are stated and described, including the Holy of Holies, called “the most holy house” (3:8). The ark of the covenant, with its mercy seat representing the throne of God in heaven, was shadowed by two cherubim, carved from wood and overlaid with gold (3:10-13; the same was described in 1 Kings 6:23-28). The wingspan of the two cherubim is stated as a total of 20 cubits, or roughly 30 feet (3:11-13). Lest they become an object of idol worship, the cherubim, like sentries, faced inward, toward the Ark (3:13).

Not mentioned in 1 Kings 6, but described in 2 Chronicles 3, was “the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon” (3:14). The vail in Solomon’s Temple was in color like the vail that had been present in the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:31), that separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies, where the Ark was set, from the outer chamber.

There were also two pillars that supported the front of the Temple, and were decorated with chains upon which were hung one hundred pomegranates (3:15-16). The pillars were named, but the meanings of the names are not known (3:17). A description of the furnishings will continue in our next devotional (2 Chronicles 4-5).

Closing thoughts – I conclude today’s devotional inviting you to consider the veil (i.e., vail) of the Temple (3:14). Though unmentioned in 1 Kings 6, the presence of the veil and its purpose was to serve as a divide, a curtain of separation that excluded all but the high priest from the holy place. None could enter the holy of holies and live, and only the high priest when he sprinkled the blood on the Day of Atonement on the mercy seat.

The veil was present in Herod’s Temple, until it was rent in two from the top to the bottom as Christ died upon the Cross (Matthew 27:50-51). Christ’s sacrificial death, and His resurrection from the dead, made the veil obsolete, and forever removed the curtain that separated sinners from the LORD. Christ’s death, and resurrection, made it possible for all who will repent, to approach God’s throne through the blood of Jesus Christ. In the words of the author of Hebrews:

Hebrews 4:15–1615For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Temple for the LORD (1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 2)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 2

Our study of God’s Word brings us to two parallel chapters in the Bible, 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 2 (We will conclude our readings of the Proverbs in a few days, but chronologically we are returning to the history of Israel in the time of King Solomon.)

You might remember both I and II Kings were written in the post-Davidic era, but before the Babylonian exile. The Chronicles (the first and second books) are believed to have been composed after Israel returned from exile. (Many scholars suggest they were the work of Ezra, inspired and preserved by God, 2 Peter 1:21). In an earlier devotion, I suggested the Book of the Kings gives us the human perspective on Israel’s history, while the Book of the Chronicles reflects God’s perspective on His chosen people.

Returning to our study of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, we find Solomon setting his heart to build the Temple as he had been commanded by God. As a nation, Israel was at peace with her neighbors, and the wealth of the kingdom was unprecedented. David had longed to build a house for the LORD, but because his hands were bloodied from war, God had denied him the opportunity to build His Temple. Thus, the closing years of David’s life had been spent preparing his son, Solomon to build the Temple, while he dedicated himself to setting in store the gold, silver, and brass implements that would be utilized in the daily Temple worship.

Having been blessed with the gift of wisdom excelling all men of the earth (1 Kings 4:29-34), Solomon set his heart to build the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5).

After ascending the throne of Israel, Hiram, king of Tyre (a coastal city to the north of Israel, and in an area known today as Lebanon), sent ambassadors to Solomon to congratulate his anointing as king (5:1). The king of Tyre had been a dear friend of David, and had supplied timber for the king’s palace in Jerusalem.

Solomon wasted no time in petitioning for timber and workmen from Hiram’s kingdom, and requested the king might send him his finest artisans to assist in preparing the wood and stones required for constructing the Temple (5:2-7). Hiram agreed to Solomon’s request, and the two kings set terms for the goods and materials he had requested (5:8-18).

1 Kings 6 gives us the time Solomon began to build the Temple (6:1, 37-38), its dimensions (6:2-3), and design, including its windows (6:4), rooms (6:5-10), walls, floors (6:15-18), and doors (6:31-35). The extraordinary beauty of the carvings in the walls and floors overlaid with gold are detailed (6:15, 18, 21-22). Within the “oracle” (the Holy of Holies where the “ark of the covenant of the LORD” rested), Solomon placed two carved cherubim (estimated at nearly fifteen feet in height), their wings outstretched, spanning the breadth of the hall, each gilded with gold (6:19-28). With the foundation of the Temple laid in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, the construction of the Temple was completed in the eleventh year (6:37-38).

You will notice that 2 Chronicles 2 gives similar details to the preparations and building of the Temple we have considered in 1 Kings 6. There were thousands employed in the construction (2:17-18).

Closing thoughts – Together, the accounts of the construction of the Temple remind us the central focus of Israel was the LORD, and the beauty and presence of His house was a perpetual reminder of God’s presence in the midst of His people. Care was taken to sanctify, and dedicate every step in the process of building the Temple. All the labor and preparation of the materials used in the construction were cut and prepared outside of the Temple Mount, and then transported to be placed intact without the need or the noise of a hammer or axe in the holy city (6:7;Proverbs 24:27).

It was the desire of the LORD to bless Israel; but we are reminded the fulfillment of His promises was conditioned upon the people obeying His Laws and keeping His commandments (6:12). If Israel would obey Him, the LORD promised He would never forsake them (6:13).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Even a Fool Can Father a Child, but a Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5

In addition to our Scripture reading in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 24), our chronological study of God’s Word returns to 1 Kings 5. This devotional will consider Proverbs 24:3-4.

“A Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Solomon, a master builder whom God trusted with the responsibility of building His Temple in Jerusalem, employed the analogy of building a house to emphasize the necessity of exercising godly wisdom when building one’s life and family (24:3-4). The king wrote:

Proverbs 24:3–43Through wisdom is an house builded; And by understanding it is established: 4And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

I have had opportunity to tear down a few old buildings in my lifetime. I have fond childhood memories of assisting my Dad when he tore down a couple of old weathered, clapboard-sided farmhouses and barns, and then recycled the wood to build barns on our property in the country.  Unlike a contractor who follows meticulously drawn blueprints when building a house, my Dad’s de-construction required little more than hammers, crowbars, ladders and raw physical strength!

Unfortunately, I fear many believers fail to follow God’s blueprint when building their family. In fact, the manner of some is as destructive as a man who tears down, rather than builds his home. Consider Solomon’s counsel to his son in the matter of building a house (i.e., a life or home), with my amplification of word meanings in brackets.

Proverbs 24:33Through [By] wisdom [godly wisdom and insight] is an house [life; family] builded [established]; and by understanding [insight; discernment] it is established [fixed; made ready]:

Forgive my frank, honest observation in the challenge of building a life and family. It is my opinion: Any fool can father a child and start a family; however, a man of godly wisdom knows to build a family requires commitment, wisdom, discernment, and understanding.

Sadly, the state of our society evidences that few have any concept of the personal discipline and sacrifice required to make a house a home!  There are few who turn to the LORD, the source of all wisdom, and ask Him for discernment (James 1:5).

For the sake of application, let’s consider the house in verse 3 as an allegory of one’s personal life and family, and ask: “How would wisdom and understanding have us to furnish this house?”  Proverbs 24:4 answers that question.

Proverbs 24:4 – “And by knowledge [i.e. wisdom and understanding, plus knowledge derived from life experiences] shall the chambers [rooms] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I confess, I lack my wife’s vision and motivation when it comes to decorating. Four walls, a roof that does not leak, and a comfortable chair, and I am content.  My wife, however, has an eye for style, furnishings, and placement. She is able to take a house [chambers], add a few furnishings, and make a house a comfortable, attractive home!

The house and chambers Solomon portrayed represented a life or family built by godly wisdom (24:3).  Spiritual understanding was the foundation of the home (24:3), and the knowledge of walking in the light of God’s Law was its furnishings (24:4). Where can a man attain such furnishings for himself and his family? The Word of God.

Paul urged Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Why should a father be a disciplined student of God’s Word? The Scriptures are inspired by God, and are His manual for life. The Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A disciplined study, and application of the nuggets of wisdom found in Proverbs is a great beginning!  Remember, however:

Any man can start a family, but a wise man follows God’s blueprint [the Scriptures] to build a home.

Copyright @ 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Spiritual Benefits of Biblical Discipline” (Proverbs 23)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 is today’s Scripture reading, and as you will see, it is rich in metaphors that illustrate spiritual principles for life and daily living. Solomon is training his son, the future king of Israel, and instilling in him life lessons. He cautions his son concerning the enticements of the rich and powerful (23:1-3), and the enslaving sin of covetousness (23:4-5). He admonished him to not fall into the company of “big bellies and booze” (23:19-21), and urged him to treasure truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding (23:23).

Today’s devotional will consider Proverbs 23:12-16 , and the subject is the spiritual benefits of Biblical discipline.

Remembering the Book of Proverbs is a compilation of a father’s loving instructions to his son, we feel Solomon’s passion for his son to respond to loving discipline with a humble, teachable spirit.

Proverbs 23:12 “Apply [take; set] thine heart [mind, thoughts; emotions] unto instruction [warning; discipline; reproof], and thine ears to the words [speech; sayings] of knowledge [i.e., knowledge of good and evil].”  

Proverbs 23:12 places the responsibility of a right response to correction and discipline upon the child. We live in a permissive society that absolves its youth of personal responsibility, and condemns parents who determine to balance loving instruction with authoritative discipline. It is that misguided, unbiblical approach to parenting that has encouraged an undisciplined, lawless spirit in the youth of this generation.

Solomon challenged his son to harmonize his heart, thoughts, and emotions with what he had been taught from a child. Because we sin by nature, it follows that the bent of every son and daughter is to sin. Temperaments differ, and the degree or choice of sin are not the same; however, the spiritual reality is: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Proverbs 23:13  “Withhold [keep back; deny; refrain] not correction [instruction; chastisement; discipline] from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; family scepter], he shall not die.” 

Solomon is not encouraging physical abuse, nor commending a parent who vents their anger and frustration on a child. Still, contrary to societal norms of the 21st century, the Word of God exhorts loving parents to recognize the bent of a child’s heart, and administer loving discipline.

Proverbs 23:14  “Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; save; preserve] his soul [life; being; spirit] from hell.” 

To avoid confusion: Solomon was not calling for, or suggesting physical abuse. He was stating a principle that is the desire of every parent who longs to see their child turn from sin and follow righteousness.

Truth–The temporal pain of physical discipline is not comparable to an unbridled, undisciplined spirit that may drive a child to an early grave, and send his soul to the punishment of eternal hell.

Proverbs 23:15-16  “My son, if thine heart [thoughts; feelings; emotions] be wise [sound; restrained from acting in an evil manner], my heart shall rejoice [be joyful; extremely happy; glad], even mine.    
16 Yea, my reins [figurative of the mind] shall rejoice [jump for joy; exult; shout], when thy lips [language; speech] speak [say; declare] right things [upright; honest].”

A wise son or daughter is a delight to a parent’s heart! When a child chooses good over evil, and speaks words that are true, honest and sincere, the heart of the father swells with joy and pride.

I close with a promise for every son and daughter that will embrace wisdom, and follow the path of a godly parent’s loving instructions:

Ephesians 6:1-3  – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Copyright© 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sovereign God, and A Lesson in Parenting (Proverbs 21-22)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 21; Proverbs 22

Proverbs 21

The Lord is Sovereign of His Creation (Proverbs 21:1-3)

We are once again reminded that God is Sovereign! He is the Ruler of His creation, and has all power and authority. He is involved in the affairs of man, and is working all things together according to His purpose, and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29). He does not approve of the sinful actions and decisions of men; however, He is sovereign and is able to direct choices contrary to His will, to the end of accomplishing His eternal purpose (notice Joseph’s affirmation of that truth in Genesis 50:20).

Proverbs 21:1-3 is an exposition of the Sovereignty of God, and the authority of man.

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart [mind; thoughts; will] is in the hand [under the authority and dominion] of the LORD, as the rivers [channels; canals; streams] of water: he turneth [bends; turns aside] it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor].”

All human authority is subservient to the authority of God. Men are not robots; however, they cannot act independent of God. God can, and does guide men’s choices to accomplish His plan and purpose. The LORD is sovereign, and like a farmer directs water through irrigation channels to his crops, He directs and channels the heart of a king where He wills (21:1b).  [Example of Pharoah in Exodus 10:1-2.]

Proverbs 21:2 – “Every way [road; journey; course of life] of a man is right in his own eyes [opinion]: but the LORD pondereth [weighs; measures] the hearts [mind; understanding].”

Proverbs 21:2 reminds us that God knows the heart, motives, and purpose in man. It is the bent of the human heart to perceive ourselves better than we are; however, God weighs and knows what lies within the hearts of men.

Finally, we are reminded that God’s focus is on the heart of man, and not his outward form or ritual (21:3).

Proverbs 21:3 – “To do [accomplish] justice and judgment [righteousness; conform to an ethical or moral standard] is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice [offerings].

Outward ritual, without inward devotion is hypocrisy. Though hypocrites offer sacrifices of money, service and outward conformity (1 Samuel 16:7), it is the heart of the righteous to obey the Lord.

Closing thoughts – God’s hand rests upon every human authority in your life. Look past the personalities, flaws, and failures of those in authority, and be confident: God is able to turn the hearts of men to accomplish His best for your life. Trust the Lord, and pray for those in authority! (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Proverbs 22

Parenting: A Lesson for the Fainthearted (Proverbs 22:6)

Proverbs 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Thousands of books and articles have been written on child rearing. Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counselors, pastors, neighbors, friends, and family, all have their opinions on how you should train and discipline your child. Yet, it has been my observation that most everyone is an expert on child training, until they have children of their own!

Proverbs 22:6 is one of the best known, and most quoted verses in Proverbs.  It has been the inspiration of godly parents, and a club of discouragement for parents wrestling with the will and path of a rebel. Allow me to amplify Solomon’s proverb with my own clarification in brackets.

Proverbs 22:6  “Train up [initiate; inaugurate; dedicate; consecrate] a child in the way [road; path; journey] he should go: and when he is old [aged; “hair on the chin”], he will not depart [turn aside; withdraw] from it.”

Many parents languish in the throes of discouragement when a child rebels, and turns from his parents. They might have embraced Proverbs 22:6, and believed it afforded them an absolute guarantee of a “happily ever-after ending.” Yet, when a son rejects his parents’ counsel, and goes his own way, godly parents often wrestle with guilt until they are driven to despair (too often heaped upon them by the judgments of others). Even the rebel might throw the responsibility of his wicked choices onto his parents, and other authorities in his life.

The problem: A proverb is a proverbial expression, a wise saying and a general truth. It is not a guarantee. In other words, Proverbs 22:6 is not a “parenting guarantee,” because it is subject to a child’s individual free will. Every child will choose to embrace, or reject parental instructions and commands. “Train up” carried in its original meaning, the practice of a mother chewing food for a suckling child, and then placing the chewed food on her child’s palate. Why? She was encouraging her child to develop a taste for solid food as he or she matures.

It is the prayer of godly parents that their children will have a taste, and desire for righteousness. Nevertheless, I remind you that Adam and Eve had a perfect Creator/Father, and He placed them in a perfect environment (the Garden of Eden). Yet, the first man and woman rebelled and chose to sin (Genesis 3:6-7).

Closing thought – The wicked influences of this sinful world, and its philosophies, are fighting for the heart of every child. There are no perfect parents; and every child has a will of their own. Nonetheless, I urge you to do all you can to set a godly example, teach your children the truths of God’s Word, expose them to godly influences, and insulate them from the ways and wiles of sin. Then, pray earnestly!

You may email the author at: HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Alcohol: “To Drink, or Not to Drink?” Is that the Question? (Proverbs 20)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 20

You will find that Proverbs 20 is a chapter rich in spiritual truths that seem to challenge nearly every aspect of life. From the admonition concerning wine and “strong drink” in verse 1, to the affirmation of biblical chastening described as “the blueness of a wound” in verse 30, spiritual principles abound. A daily devotional gives little opportunity to address the whole chapter, and so I have determined to tackle one that is being overlooked, if not rejected by some believers. Consider the first verse:

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Should you be willing to embrace this proverb as simply as it is stated, its truth and application are both simple and undeniable. Consider a restatement of that proverb with this author’s amplification of word meanings:

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating drink] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”

There are many in the 21st century Church who argue for tolerance in the matter of alcohol, and have embraced the imbibing of “strong drink” as a matter of liberty. Such an argument is a grave departure from the historical stance of Bible believers. Sadly, the silence of the pulpit in the matter has only perpetuated the acceptance of wine and alcohol. So, we ask the question, “To drink, or not to drink?” What do the Scriptures teach?

Paul challenged pastors to be sober [lit. temperate], “not given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:3). In the Epistle of Titus, Paul called on pastors (i.e., “bishops”) to be “blameless…not given to wine” (Titus 1:7). He also cautioned older women to be “not given to much wine” (Titus 2:3).

Modern societies enjoy the blessing of fresh, pure water; however, that was not the case in ancient times. There was a risk of unsanitary, unpurified water in Solomon’s day, and that of the apostles. To kill germs and bacteria in drinking water, wine would be mixed with the water making it safe to drink (the mix was 8 parts water, and 1 part wine).

Lacking modern refrigeration we enjoy, juices would ferment in the heat, making it necessary to water down the wine to slow down the fermenting process and sterilize the water. Today’s strong wine and alcohol go through a distilling process that was unknown in Bible times, with the purpose of elevating alcohol content. Unlike the wine in the Bible that was watered down, today’s strong drink is imbibed for its intoxicating properties.

What spiritual applications might we take from Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Concerning pastors: Because the Scriptures admonish pastors to be “not given to wine,” and understanding the wine of Bible times was not nearly as intoxicating as it is today, we can state unapologetically: A man who indulges in wine or alcohol is unfit for the pastorate. Old Testament priests were not to “drink wine nor strong drink” (Leviticus 10:9), and certainly God’s standard would be no less for his preachers.

Concerning believers: Solomon admonished his son to not drink wine or strong drink (20:1), nor keep company with drunkards. Solomon wrote, “20Be not among winebibbers; Among riotous eaters of flesh: 21For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:20–21). The virtuous wife and mother of Proverbs 31 (believed to have been Bathsheba), warned her son who was heir to the throne: “4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; Nor for princes strong drink: 5Lest they drink, and forget the law, And pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4–5).

Paul admonished believers to not risk causing another believer to stumble and fall, therefore, “It is good neither to eat flesh [i.e., meat offered to idols], nor to drink wine” (Romans 14:21).

Some might quote 1 Timothy 5:23 as grounds for taking liberty with wine and alcohol. We read, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). Timothy had some stomach ailments, and proving the young preacher was not in the habit of drinking wine, Paul urged him to take some wine for medicinal purposes (in the absence of medicines at our disposal today).

Closing thoughts – There are many verses, principles, and illustrations that support an absolute intolerance of wine and alcohol in the life of a believer (Hosea 4:11; Daniel 1:8, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition, our society abounds with examples of damages caused by alcohol use: Physical (cancer of the esophagus, mouth, pharynx, and larynx), gross immorality caused by the effect of lowering inhibitions, and spiritual failures.

1 Corinthians 6:9–109Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

You matter, and there is hope to escape the ravages of alcohol! You can reach this author at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith