Wisdom’s Appeal to Sinners (Proverbs 7-9)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 7-9

We are continuing our daily reading in the Proverbs of Solomon with Proverbs 7-9 being the subject of today’s devotional commentary.

Proverbs 7 – The Calamity of Sexual Immorality

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Seventh Commandment, states clearly God’s plan for humanity’s sexuality and the posterity of the human race.  From the beginning, the companionship of one man and one woman for life has never been in doubt (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-25).

Human history, however, reveals not only a rejection of marriage, but also the tragic toll of sexual immorality. Crushed dreams, divided hearts, broken families, physical disease, and despair has been the haunt of all who reject the sanctity of marriage. The lesson is indisputable:

Give rein to lusts that cannot be righteously satisfied and you will be consumed by them.

Proverbs 7 serves as a graphic tale of a young man’s folly. Whether a personal observation of the sorrows that followed in the wake of his father’s adultery or a consequence of his own sinful choices, Solomon gives us a portrait that serves as a warning to all who reject godly wisdom and choose the path of immorality. The king warned his son, the house of an adulterer is “the way to hell” (7:27).

Proverbs 8 – Wisdom Anthropomorphized

My theme for Proverbs 8 is expressed in a word consisting of seventeen letters and five syllables. What is the definition of anthropomorphized? It means to take on human characteristics. Wisdom does that in Proverbs 8, and is in my interpretation, the embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Solomon introduces us to Wisdom in the first three verses of the chapter (8:1-3), and then she (Wisdom) begins to speak throughout the balance of the chapter (8:4-36). You will notice the personification of Wisdom expressed in personal pronouns throughout Proverbs 8.

Proverbs 8:4 – “Unto you, O men, I call.”

Proverbs 8:7 – “My mouth shall speak truth.”

Proverbs 8:12 – “I wisdom dwell with prudence.”

Proverbs 8:17 – “I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me.”

Proverbs 8:34 – “Blessed is the man that heareth me.”

Proverbs 8 concludes with wisdom’s invitation and warning:

Proverbs 8:35-36  For whoso findeth me [Wisdom personified in Jesus Christ] findeth life [spiritual and eternal life – 1 John 5:11], and shall obtain [get] favour [acceptance; good pleasure; goodwill] of the LORD. 36 But he that against me [Christ the Lord] wrongeth [violates] his own soul [life; person; mind; spirit]: all they that hate [to reject; are enemies or foes] me [wisdom] love death [pestilence; ruin; hades].”

Proverbs 9 – Wisdom’s Invitation

Solomon continues his personification of Wisdom in chapter 9 and we find her building a house described as having “seven pillars” (9:1). [In the Scriptures the number seven indicates completeness or wholeness.]

Consider this chapter as an offering of two spiritual scholarships to two opposing schools of thought and philosophy.

The first scholarship is to the University of Godly Wisdom (Proverbs 9:1-6) and the second to the School of Folly (Proverbs 9:13-18). You will notice that Proverbs 9:7-12 serve as transitional verses between the two schools.

As you read Proverbs 9, ponder this question: In what school of thought or philosophy are you enrolled?

Are you enrolled in the University of Godly Wisdom? Are you a student in the School of Folly where gullible, simple men dwell?  [The “simple” are those who lack godly wisdom, are slaves to sin, and follow a course of sorrow, destruction, and eventual death.]

It is not too late to become a student in the LORD’S University of Godly Wisdom by humbling yourself and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ taught His followers, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35, 37).

I invite you, enroll in the University of Godly Wisdom without delay by opening your heart to the Lord.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Parenting Failure: The Fundamental Cause for a Society’s Rejection of Law and Order” (Proverbs 4:10-12)

Scripture Reading – Proverb 4-6

Our Scripture reading covers three chapters and consists of eighty-five verses. For the sake of brevity, we will consider only one proverbial idiom (Proverbs 4:10-12). You are invited to visit my www.HeartofAShepherd.com blog for thirty-two expositions on today’s Scripture reading.

After exhorting “children” to embrace wisdom (Proverbs 4:7-9), Solomon challenged his son to hold his father’s instructions with humility (4:10-12).  Solomon writes:

Proverbs 4:10 – “Hear [obey, hearken], O my son, and receive [lay hold of, take, seize] my sayings [words; speeches; answer]; and the years of thy life shall be many [increase].”

Solomon challenged his son with a longing implanted in every human heart—long life!  The object of Solomon’s instruction to his son is the fifth commandment:

Exodus 20:12  “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

The Apostle Paul repeated the same promise in Ephesians 6:1-3.

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.”

Loving parents look past the difficult task of teaching and correcting their children and see its reward—a child who will enjoy a long fruitful life.  A child who obeys and honors his parents will generally enjoy a long life, while a son who rebels, refuses instruction, and rejects his father’s counsel will often die an early death.

In Proverbs 4:11-12, Solomon challenged his son to follow the path he was taught from his youth, promising he would experience God’s blessings and protection.

Proverbs 4:11-12 – “I have taught [instructed; pointed; directed] thee in the way [course; road] of wisdom [skill and knowledge to make right choices]; I have led [guided] thee in right paths [paths of righteousness]. 

12 When thou goest [depart; take a journey from home], thy steps shall not be straitened [distressed; filled with obstacles]; and when thou runnest [hasten], thou shalt not stumble [weak; tottering; feeble in one’s legs].”

What a beautiful promise!  How many parents will stand at a fresh grave and weep over a son or daughter that rebelled against godly instruction and died an early death?  How many parents live to regret they failed to instruct and correct their children when their hearts were young and tender?

I close with an observation that is becoming all too real—our nation is beginning to reap a whirlwind of trouble because parents have abdicated responsibility to teach, instruct and train their children to follow righteousness.  Our youth are filing through our courts in record numbers and the responsibility of this lawlessness belongs to the parents who failed to instruct their children, and a society that is delusional enough to think there is inherent goodness in man!  Every child is born a sinner and the bent of a sinner’s heart is to do evil (Romans 3:10, 23).

Rebellion has become symptomatic of youth in our day and the result is a spirit of lawlessness that plagues our homes, communities and nation—from the White House to the County Court House—our society has no respect for the rule of law and order.

Do you want to live a long life and be blessed? Honor your parents and heed the LORD Commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:40 – “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs: An Introduction (Proverbs 1-3)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 1-3

Continuing our study of the life and wisdom of King Solomon, our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chapters 1-3.

To author a brief devotional commentary on three chapters of Proverbs is not just a daunting task, it is impossible. In fact, you will find six hundred individual devotional commentaries on my HeartofAShepherd.com website that I have written and hope to one day publish in an electronic book format for personal and group Bible studies.

Rather than attempt the impossible, allow me to share a few introductory thoughts that I hope will prove useful as you read and apply the Proverbs of Solomon to your life.

An Introduction

Solomon, the son of David, reigned as King of Israel in the 10th century B.C.   According to 1 Kings 4:32, the king authored “three thousand proverbs” and his wisdom was so widely hailed “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  Cherished for their godly wisdom and divine inspiration, many of Solomon’s proverbs were collected and included in the canon of Old Testament Scriptures.

The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s instructions to his son, a prince of Israel, who would one day be that nation’s king.  Inherent in its pages are teachings, admonitions, exhortations, and general guidelines for conducting one’s life in a wise, God-fearing manner.

What is a proverb?

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary defines a proverb as a “wise utterance.”  Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon describes a proverb as a “brief terse sentence of popular sagacity.”  Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary states a proverb is “an old common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth.”

Proverbs are, in essence, trite sayings, rules, and common truths.  Some make the mistake of selectively choosing and applying individual proverbs as though they are universal promises when they are, in fact, simply stated principles that are general statements of truth (one such proverb oft quoted, but misapplied as an unassailable promise is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”).

Solomon’s proverbs often draw upon the agrarian culture of his day and are sometimes simple enough a child might grasp its meaning with little or no explanation.  Some proverbs are provocative in nature, the musings of a king all too aware of the temptations of the palace and the godless character of miscreants who haunted its courts in pursuit of lusts and carnal pleasures.

Like a loving father, twenty-three times the king arrests the attention of the young prince addressing him as “my son”.  With the fervor of a passionate preacher, Solomon’s proverbs “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2), sparing no words when describing the way of a fool and admonishing the tragic end of all who follow his path.

With pen in hand, I encourage you to take up your Bible and read Proverbs 1-3, underlining and noting in the margins the practical truths and their application to your life.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Is it Time to Put Honey Back into Your Honeymoon?

Scripture reading assignment – Song of Solomon

Today’s Scripture reading introduces the Song of Solomon.  As its name suggests, the author is Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba, and God’s chosen successor to his father’s throne.

In answer to his prayer, God blessed Solomon with wisdom that exceeded that of any man of his day. As a young king, he enjoyed wealth beyond imagination, and his fortunes grew with each successive year of his reign.

Following the custom of his day, Solomon formed alliances with heathen kings through marriage and took their daughters who brought the idols of their homelands into his palaces (1 Kings 11:1-2).  Recalling his harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines, we are disappointed, but not surprised when we read,

“When Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

The Song of Solomon is a book of romance, eight chapters long and written when he was a young king. There are various views on how the Song of Solomon should be interpreted.

Some suggest an Allegorical interpretation, stating the Song of Solomon describes God’s relationship with His people.  Some Jewish rabbis believed the Song of Solomon was an allegory [story or parable] describing God’s relationship with Israel.

Some scholars suggest a Typical interpretation and believe the Song of Solomon is a love poem written by the king to a young woman he loved.  Some scholars draw a parallel and suggest the book describes Christ’s love and relationship with the Church.

For the sake of our study, I suggest a Literal interpretation.  In other words, I believe the Song of Solomon is a story of romance.  A love story and a celebration of youthful love and romance between the king and a wife whom he loved and who adored him.

Time and space do not permit a full and detailed commentary on this book of romance; however, I trust today’s commentary will serve as a valuable outline for future studies.

Song of Solomon 1-2 – The Beginning of a Royal Courtship.

Song of Solomon 3-4 – A Portrait of Young Love

Song of Solomon 5-6 – Formula for a Happy Marriage: Two dedicated souls and a lifetime of patience and romance.

Song of Solomon 7-8 – “What Beautiful Feet You Have, My Love!”

I close with the apostle Paul’s exhortation to believers in Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:25, 33 – “ 25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it… 33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

If You Had One Wish…What Would It Be? (2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

We come today to a new history book in our chronological reading of the Old Testament Scriptures. Whereas 1 Chronicles was a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel; 2 Chronicles is a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of events written from man’s viewpoint.   In contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, covering the same age as the Book of Kings, are written from God’s perspective.

1 Chronicles concluded with King David’s exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and to support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25).  With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).

2 Chronicles 1 opens with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1).

Solomon began his reign by calling for Israel to join him in worshipping the LORD at Gibeon, the historic location of the Mosaic Tabernacle (1:2-3).  Remember that David had relocated the Ark of God to Jerusalem where he provided a new tent for the Ark until the Temple would be constructed (1:4). The ancient brazen altar from the days of Moses was at Gibeon (1:5-6) and Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).

In Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon “and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee” (1:7). 

What an incredible proposition!  “Solomon, ask what you will and I shall give thee!”

What would you request should God grant you the opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted?    Would you ask for riches?  Possessions?  Power?  Popularity?  Fame?  The answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are; your affections, priorities, and passions.

Solomon’s answer to God’s proposition no doubt puts us all to shame!  The young king did not request those things which are pursued by carnal, worldly-minded men.  Solomon’s petition revealed a heart of deep humility.

2 Chronicles 1:10 – “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

God commended Solomon for his request and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).

The closing verses of 2 Chronicles 1 reveal the vastness of Solomon’s wealth as the LORD blessed him as He had promised.

Psalms 72 is believed to be David’s prayer for God’s blessings on the reign of his son Solomon.

In its immediate application, Psalm 72 is indeed an invocation for God to bless the reign of Solomon; however, I believe in its broader application it is a prophetic psalm. The psalm describes a universal kingdom over which the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will reign when He returns and sets up His righteous kingdom on the earth (72:1-3, 7).

Solomon’s kingdom was a great kingdom; however, Christ’s future kingdom will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8).  His will be a compassionate kingdom, “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13).

What a glorious day when men will be redeemed “from deceit and violence” (72:14), and the name of the LORD “shall endure for ever…and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call him blessed” (72:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

It’s Time to Congregate! (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Good morning. As Tampa Bay returns to what many observe will be a “new normal” in a post Coronavirus world, I look forward to Hillsdale’s ministries getting back to our own “normal.” While virtual broadcasts have been a blessed opportunity for serving our church family and friends, nothing can (or should) replace congregational worship and fellowship.

The author of the Book of Hebrews wrote to the first century church: “And let us consider [be attentive to] one another to provoke [stir up; arouse] unto love and to good works [labors]: 25  Not forsaking [leaving; neglecting] the assembling [gathering; worship] of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:24-25). 

As we gather for worship this morning, we need to pray for our nation, our leaders, and our neighbors. Three months of economic stress approaching the depths of the Great Depression, coupled with a widespread distrust of politicians and undeniable corruption in our government is fueling unrest. Psychological and emotional distresses, and the tragic death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd who died in police custody this past week, has inflamed racial tensions and given criminals an opportunity to riot and plunder.

My heart is heavy for our nation. We need a Revival, not a Revolution!  However, I remind any who read this blog or listen to the attached video that revival does not begin in the White House or the Court House… Revival begins in the Church. Unless you are elderly or your health is compromised, it’s time to set aside fears that have been stoked by politicians and the media, and to come together for worship and prayer.

This Sunday is Hillsdale’s 4th Sunday of Public worship services. We will also broadcast on HillsdaleBaptist.org and from our Public Facebook Page.image001

9:45 AM – Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will bring the Family Bible Study as he continues his series in the Book of James. His title this Sunday is “Taming Our Twisted Tongues” part 2 (James 3:5-12).

The doors of our building will open at 10:15 AM for our 10:30 worship service. The Pastoral staff begins the service with a bright and encouraging song titled, “In the Same Wonderful Way.”

Pastor Smith is continuing his Coronavirus series, a study of Psalm 23:5 – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

With love and the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

pastorsmith@hillsdalebaptist.org

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

Solomon: The Pinnacle of Greatness (1 Kings 3-4)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 3-4

In 1 Kings 3-4, Solomon begins to come into his own as the King of Israel. We are given insight into the young king’s gift of administration, his skill as a builder, and his great intellect. While those traits are important in a leader, the most treasured qualities of all are those we find concerning his spiritual character. We read,

“Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (1 Kings 3:3).

There was as yet no Temple, and the observation that Solomon was offering sacrifices “in high places” was not a denunciation, but a testimony to his passion and dedication to the LORD.

Why did Solomon journey to Gibeon to offer sacrifice? (3:4)

You might remember how David had celebrated the Ark of the Covenant’s relocation to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 15 and how he had constructed a new Tabernacle for the Ark until the Temple was built. While the Ark was no longer in Gibeon (note 3:15), the ancient Mosaic Tabernacle was (2 Chronicles 1:3), and it was there Solomon offered sacrifices to the LORD (3:4).

1 Kings 3:5-15 – Solomon’s Petition for Wisdom

While worshiping at Gibeon, “the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (3:5). A pleasing petition follows where, unlike the bent of most men, Solomon evidenced a humility that is rare among leaders. Conscious of his youth and inexperience (3:7) and overwhelmed by the challenge of leading a great nation, Solomon prayed,

1 Kings 3:9 – Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

The LORD was pleased with Solomon’s demeanor and his request. God not only promised to answer the king’s prayer, but also to bless him with “riches, and honour” so that no king was be his equal in all the world (3:13).

Remembering His covenant with David, the LORD promised Solomon he would be blessed with a long life, if he would walk in the ways of the LORD, and obey His Laws and Commandments (3:14).

1 Kings 4 – Solomon’s Leadership, Wealth, and Wisdom

There is much to compliment Solomon as the King of Israel in this chapter. We find a record of his military leaders (4:1-6), the officers of his court, the territories to which they were assigned (4:7-19), and the breadth of the land that he ruled (4:20-22). Also outlined was the size of his royal court that is shown in the daily provisions that were required for his palace (4:22-28), as well as, his stables that comprised “forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen” (4:26).

The wisdom, intellect, and poetic skills of this great king are not left in doubt (4:29-33), for “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (4:34).

I close with a tragic observation that will soon be borne out as we follow Solomon’s life and reign.

Although he was a man of unparalleled wisdom in his youth, he died having departed from his love for the LORD, for when he was old “his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith