Author Archives: pastortravissmith

About pastortravissmith

Senior Pastor - Hillsdale Baptist Church Tampa, FL 33625

When Life is Not Fair (Psalm 35, 54)

Scripture reading – Psalm 35, 54

Today’s Scripture reading continues David’s plea for the LORD to save him from the plots, and traps his enemies had set for him. The title of Psalm 35 is simply, “A Psalm of David.”

Psalm 35

When David penned Psalm 35 is not known; however, his plea for the LORD to render him justice, and save him from his enemies is a familiar theme. Pursued by an army vastly larger than his troop of six hundred men, David found himself in a desperate place. Three times he maintained his innocence with the phrase, “without cause,”and reminded the LORD the injustices he had suffered.

David wrote, “7For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul” (35:7). David beseeched the LORD, “19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause” (35:19).

Friend, it is one thing to face trouble, and suffer for one’s wrongdoing; however, it is quite another when we have done no wrong, and someone desires to destroy us. Unfortunately, you will learn there are times when those whom you trust and love as friends, are often the ones who will betray you.

David asserted, “12They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling [sorrow] of my soul” (35:12). David had wallowed briefly in a “pity pit” when he reflected on the injustices he had suffered (35:13-16). He remembered mourning for his enemy when he was sick, and how he had fasted and prayed for him (35:13). He had sorrowed for the man who had become his enemy, in the way one would love and mourn for a mother (35:14). Yet, his enemy had rewarded him evil for good (35:12), and rejoiced in his sorrows. He had gathered others against him as a pack of wild animals would hunt, and ravage their prey (35:15-16).

How do you respond to injustices?

It is tempting to wallow in self-pity, and allow anger and bitterness to take hold of your soul. David wrestled with the injustices; however, he turned his focus to the LORD, and called on Him to save him (35:1-3, 17-28). He realized there was nothing he could do to appease his enemies, for they had no desire for peace (35:20).

David had searched his heart for wrongdoing, and then he turned to the LORD knowing He is a faithful, and true Judge, and said, “24Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me” (35:24).

Trusting the LORD would hear and answer his prayer, David remembered there were some who had not betrayed him. Looking beyond his sorrows, he looked forward to the day he would be delivered from his enemy, and his friends would “shout for joy, and be glad” (35:27). He was not yet free from his troubles, but he promised the LORD he would boldly speak of His righteousness, and “praise [Him] all the day long” (35:28).

Psalm 54

The title of Psalm 54 states not only the recipient, “the chief musician,” but also the stringed instrument, “Neginoth,” that was to accompany the psalm. Psalm 54 was a reflection on the sorrow and disappointment David suffered when the Ziphites, men of the tribe of Judah, betrayed him to Saul, and said to the king, “Doth not David hide himself with us?” (1 Samuel 26)

Psalm 54 is a fitting conclusion to today’s devotional, for it closes with David declaring, 4Behold [Look, and see], God is mine helper7For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: And mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies” (54:4, 7).

If you are in the throes of a conflict with someone who has no desire for peace, turn to the LORD. Yes, life is not fair, but you can be assured that God is just. Don’t fall into a “pity trap,” and despair. Call on the LORD, for He is waiting to help, and He is always good, and just.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Treasures of the Wicked are Fleeting, But the Righteous Will Behold the Face of God (Psalm 17)

Scripture reading – Psalm 17

Psalm 17 is titled, “A Prayer of David.” We cannot be certain what occasion served as the background for the psalm; however, the fervency of the prayer leaves no doubt its inspiration came from a time of grave danger in David’s life. The previous Scripture reading, 1 Samuel 26-27, could serve as a fitting setting for the prayer. Consider the following outline for Psalm 17.

A plea for justice (17:1-4) – David asserted his rightness before the LORD, and his desire for Him to hear his cry for help. His enemies had accused him of wrongdoing, and deceiving the king, Saul’s heart had turned against him. Although he was falsely accused, David took comfort knowing the LORD is omniscient (17:2). His concern was not the judgment of men, but the justice of God (17:3). With humility, he declared the LORD had tested and tried his heart, and found nothing! As a man of integrity, he had determined in his heart that he would “not transgress” in word, or action (17:4).

A prayer for grace (17:5-6) – Though his enemies plotted to destroy him, it was David’s prayer that the LORD would grant him grace and favor, and keep his feet on the right path (17:5; 37:23). With faith in the LORD, he asserted, “6I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God” (17:6).

An entreaty for protection (17:7-12) – Desiring to be an object of God’s goodness (17:7a), and to be saved from his enemies (17:7b), David prayed, 8Keep me as the apple [pupil] of the eye… hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (17:8b). Recounting the malicious intent of his enemy (17:9-11; 1 Samuel 26), David described the king as “a lion that is greedy of his prey, [and] a young lion lurking in secret places” (17:12).

A petition for vindication (17:13-14) – With righteous indignation, David called upon the LORD to exact His justice on the wicked (17:13), reminding him that all men, even the wicked are in the hand of God to do as He will. He considered how the wicked are “men of the world, which have their portion in this life” (17:14). Their treasures are earthly, and when they are dead, they “leave the rest of their substance to their babes” (17:14).

A recitation of hope and thanksgiving – “15As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (17:15).

David looked beyond the grave, and with eyes of faith, declared with confidence, the righteous will “awake” and behold the face of God (17:15). The word “awake,” describes the resurrection of believers from the dead. When Jesus announced He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He said, “I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). Paul encouraged believers whose loved ones had died, “14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

For believers, physical death is a “shadow” (Psalm 23:4), a veil through which we will pass, comforted by the presence of the LORD. For the lost, death is the dreadful beginning of perpetual darkness, and eternal suffering. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Faltering Faith (1 Samuel 27)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 27

Saul had spoken words of affirmation to David, saying, “Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail” (26:25). Yet, David knew the unrelenting, evil character of the king, and had “said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul” (27:1). Fearing for his life, he determined to quickly “escape into the land of the Philistines,” for he believed the king would not desist until he was dead (27:1).

With his wives, and six hundred men, David retreated to the territory of Achish, the Philistine king of Gath (27:2-4), and when Saul learned he was departed from Israel, “he sought no more again for him” (27:4).

David appealed to his old foe, and King Achish gave him, his men, and their families sanctuary in Gath (the home of the slain giant Goliath). Desiring to remove himself from the king’s royal city, David requested a city where he and his families could dwell, and was given Ziklag, a city in southern Judah (27:5-6).

David dwelled among the Philistines for sixteen months (27:7), and acquired possessions, by invading and raiding the lands and cities of Israel’s enemies, “the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites” (27:8). He made sure there were no survivors of the raids, and deceived the Philistine king, who believed he was raiding Israel (27:10-11). “And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him;therefore he shall be my servant for ever” (27:12).

Closing thoughts:

I can find no leading of the LORD in David’s decision to depart from Israel, and settle in the Philistine territories. David made that decision when he despaired of life. While he escaped Saul, his immediate enemy, he put himself, his men, and their families in the midst of the Philistines, another enemy. I also cannot offer a defense for David’s decision to lie, and deceive King Achish, other than he had fallen into a state where his fears were greater than his faith. Solomon, David’s son and heir, would write, “25The fear of man bringeth a snare: But whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

Trials and temptations present us with two choices: We can walk through life, living by our wits, and often driven by fear; or we can look at trials through the eyes of faith, and trust, and obey the LORD.

What is your guide?

Proverbs 3:5–65Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Integrity is a Rare Virtue (1 Samuel 26)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 26

1 Samuel 26 presented David with a second opportunity to kill his enemy, and in spite of the appeal of his servant to take King’s Saul’s life, he refused, reasoning it would be a serious sin if he stretched “forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed” (26:9-24).

The Occasion (26:1-19)

David had come to Judah to seek safety among his kinsman; however, for a second time, the Ziphites, a family of the tribe of Judah, betrayed his hiding place to Saul (26:1). Whether out of fearing Saul, or seeking his favor, the treachery of one’s own was especially egregious. Saul, breaking his covenant with David (24:17-22), mobilized three thousand soldiers to pursue and kill David (26:2-5).  When David confirmed Saul’s encampment, he sought for a companion who would accompany him to the camp of his enemy (26:4-6).

While the king slept, David and Abishai slipped in and out of the king’s encampment, taking away Saul’s spear and his cruse of water (26:12). Ascending to a hill overlooking Israel’s encampment, David cried out, and awakening the army, taunted Abner, the king’s general, for his failure to protect Saul from harm (26:13-16).

Recognizing David’s voice, Saul disingenuously asked, “Is this thy voice, my son David?” (26:17)

Though he was his enemy, David honored the king, saying, “It is my voice, my lord, O king” (26:17). Rather than accuse the king, David asked, “Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?” (26:17-18) Appealing to the king’s spirit, David challenged the evil reports of other men, who had turned the heart of the king against him (26:19).

Saul’s Confession (26:21-25)

Saul confessed, he had “played the fool, and [had] erred exceedingly” (26:21). David then presented Saul’s spear, and proved he could have taken the king’s life (26:22), but had instead determined he “would not stretch forth [his] hand against the Lord’s anointed” (26:23). David had demonstrated integrity toward the king, and Saul acknowledged his testimony saying, “Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail” (26:25).

Though he had opportunity to kill his enemy, David had chosen to appeal to the king (26:18), and with humility requested,  “Let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains” (26:20). The two men parted, and “David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place” (26:25).

Integrity is a rare virtue in our day, and there are few men whose lives are guided by immutable principles. David was such a man, and he was in the LORD’s words, “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was not a perfect man (as we will see in 1 Samuel 27); however, He loved the LORD. From His youth, he was an honorable son, a loyal friend, and a faithful servant.

Heroic in his deeds, humble in his walk, David was a man of integrity.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Loneliness: No Man Cared for My Soul (Psalm 142)

Scripture reading – Psalm 142

At what time David penned Psalm 142 is uncertain; however, the title of the psalm gives us an occasion: “Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.” Our study in 1 Samuel placed David in a cave on two occasions. When he first grasped Saul’s intent to kill him, he sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), where he was joined by his family. Later, when he retreated to “the wilderness of Engedi” (1 Samuel 24:1), David and six hundred men, hid in a cave overlooking Saul’s encampment (24:2-4). Providentially, it was the same cavern where Saul retreated for privacy (24:2-4).

Before we consider 1 Samuel 25, I invite you to read Psalm 142, for I believe it reflects David’s state of heart when he received the news that the prophet Samuel had died (25:1).

Perhaps it was the loss of that spiritual leader, the man who had anointed him to succeed Saul as king (1 Samuel 13:14, 16:11-13), that moved David to express in Psalm 142:4, 4I looked [beheld; gazed intently] on my right hand, and beheld, But there was no man that would know me [no one took notice]: Refuge failed me; No man cared [sought for; inquired after] for my soul.”

Someone reading today’s devotional might reflect that sentiment, for we are social creatures by nature, and loneliness is a haunt of us all at some point in life. Before God created Eve, He observed in Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Trying circumstances can leave us feeling lonely, and abandoned. Disappointments, failure, sickness, or the death of a loved one intensifies a sense of isolation, and a feeling no one cares.

Where do you turn, when you struggle with thoughts, and feelings of abandonment?

David models the answer to that question, writing: “1I cried unto the Lord with my voice; With my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. 2I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (142:1-2).

David attested, “I cried [out loud]…I [made] my supplication [I asked for His favor, and mercy]. I poured out my complaint [telling the LORD all his anxieties]” (141:1-2), and “I shew before him my trouble” (141:2b). The LORD knew David’s troubles, but it was freeing for him to acknowledge, and state them specifically in his prayer. He confessed, “my spirit was overwhelmed within me,” and admitted he did not see a way forward (141:3a). Though it did not lift the cloud that shadowed him, David took comfort knowing the LORD realized the hard place where he found himself (141:3b).

In his despair, David looked, and hoped there was someone who might come to encourage him (141:4), but he found no man to offer strength, or comfort (141:4). Tragically, he felt there were none who seemed to care, or take notice of his despair (141:4b).

Having exhausted every hope of comfort or rescue, David cried to the LORD, and said, “Thou [the LORD] art my refuge [shelter] and my portion [share] in the land of the living” (142:5). He had come to realize there was no one who could rescue him. No one who could save him from “persecutors” that were stronger than he (142:6).

With boldness of faith, and believing the LORD would hear and answer his prayer, David petitioned, “Bring my soul out of prison” (142:7a), the spiritually gloomy place he found himself. Renewing his trust in God, he promised to use his deliverance as an occasion to praise the LORD’S name, and to declare His goodness to the righteous (142:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“A Fool, A Beauty, and Matchless Grace” (1 Samuel 25)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 25

Samuel died” (25:1), and with that brief epitaph, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, and a transitional figure in Israel from the era of the Judges, and that of the Kings was gone. Samuel was the last of the judges in Israel, and though he had felt the rejection of the nation, the LORD had assured him, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them… they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee” (1 Samuel 8:7-8).

A time of national mourning followed Samuel’s death, for “all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah” (25:1b). The news of the prophet’s death moved David to go “down to the wilderness of Paran” (25:1c). Though accompanied by six hundred men of war, Samuel’s death may have left David feeling abandoned, struggling with loneliness, and possibly inspired Psalm 142. [I invite you to consider today’s bonus devotional from Psalm 142.]

Consider with me three major characters in our study of 1 Samuel 25. The first, Nabal, a man of great wealth whose wicked character is summed up in the meaning of his name – “Fool” (25:2-3). Abigail, the wife of Nabal, a woman of wisdom and beauty (25:3), and David, the principle character of our study who was God’s anointed to be king.

David’s Encounter with a Fool Named Nabal (1 Samuel 25:2-11)

So focused on his desire to kill David, King Saul had neglected to secure the borders of Israel, and the enemies of the nation were a constant threat to the people, and their possessions. David had offered to protect the people, and among them was a wealthy man named Nabal. (25:2). Having received news that Nabal was “shearing his sheep in Carmel” (25:2), David sent his men to collect their due for protecting him and his possessions; however, that “churlish and evil” man (25:3) lived up to his name and insulted David saying, “Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. 11Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?” (25:10-11) When David’s men communicated Nabal’s insults, he set out to his exact revenge upon him and his household (25:12-13).

When Abigail, Nabal’s wife, learned her husband had railed on David’s men, she realized the imminent danger to her household, and hastily gathered supplies to appease him (25:14-18). Knowing the evil character of her husband, Abigail did not tell him she was intervening (25:19), and she set out to meet David (25:20).

There are several qualities seen in Abigail that are worth noting when we face the challenge of encountering an angry man. The first, she took the initiative, and prepared an “offering” to appease David (25:18-19).  With humility, she interceded for her household, and “fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, 24And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid” (25:23-24). She became the mediator for her husband’s sins, even as Christ is the repentant sinner’s Mediator before God (25:28-31; 1 Timothy 2:5).

Abigail’s plea had the desired effect on David, and his heart was softened, and his wrath was appeased (25:32-35). He acknowledged the wise counsel of her words, and thanked her for sparing him from an act that would have blotted his reputation in Israel (25:33-34).

Abigail returned to her home, and the next day she told Nabal those things that had transpired with David, and “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone” (25:37). Whether stricken by a stroke, or a heart attack, “it came to pass about ten days after, that the Lord smote Nabal, that he died” (25:38). When David received news that Nabal was dead, he sent a messenger, who communicated his desire to take her as his wife (25:39-42).

I close, observing that Nabal serves as a picture of a foolish, unrepentant sinner. He was oblivious to the destruction his sin had invited upon himself, and his household (25:36-38). Though of a noble lineage, for “he was of the house of Caleb,” Nabal was nevertheless a fool! (Caleb being one of two men who had spied out the land, and believed the LORD would give Israel the land as He had promised, Numbers 13:30; 14:24, 30; Judges 14:10-13),

In contrast, Abigail is a portrait of the object of God’s grace, and mercy that is extended to sinners who turn from their sin to the redemption found only in Christ (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

My Enemy, and My Mouth (Psalm 141)

Scripture reading – Psalm 141

The title of Psalm 141 is simply stated, “A Psalm of David.” Knowing the author, but not knowing the time or place it was composed, we are left to our own opinion regarding the circumstances that inspired the psalm. It was certainly at a time of peril, and most likely composed when David fled into the wilderness from Saul (1 Samuel 20-22).

I suggest we consider the psalm in five parts. The first, David’s cry for the LORD’S favor (141:1-2). He prayed the LORD would “make haste unto [him]; give ear unto [his] voice” (141:1). Like a frightened child who screams, and the mother hastens to bring comfort, David trusted the LORD would hear his cry for help. He sought the LORD’S attention, and asked that his prayer be as sweet in God’s sight “as incense; and…the evening sacrifice” (141:2).

David desired to not only be the object of the LORD’S favor, but that he would be kept from sinning with his mouth (141:3-4). He prayed, 3Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips” (141:3). Certainly, that is a prayer we should pray! Centuries later, James warned, “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6). David not only prayed for the LORD to bridle his tongue, but to keep him from following in the ways of wicked men (141:4).

He prayed the LORD would find in him the humility to heed wise counsel, and the meekness to accept rebuke as “an excellent oil” (141:5).

David had been the object of lies, and deceptions, but he prayed he would one day be vindicated, and his judges, his persecutors, would “hear [his] words” (141:6). Like bones scattered with no grave, David was in a desperate, hopeless place (141:7).

Fifthly, David committed to keep his eyes on God (141:8), and to trust the LORD would not abandon, and leave him alone (141:8). Praying for protection, and vindication, he commended himself to the LORD, and prayed his enemies would fall into the very snares they had laid for his own demise (141:9-10).

Of the five parts we observed in David’s prayer, perhaps the matter of the mouth should resonate in us all. What humility, we have noticed in David! Though he was a man on the run, and unjustly pursued by an enemy, he was nonetheless sensitive that he not be like his enemy, therefore he prayed, 3Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips” (141:3).

David found it necessary to ask the LORD to help him watch his mouth, and be the doorkeeper of his lips. Should we not pray the same?

1 Peter 3:10 – “10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Minimizing the Evil Character of an Enemy is Foolish, and Dangerous. (Psalm 140)

Scripture reading – (Psalm 140)

The title of Psalm 140 identifies David as the author, and its occasion was most likely when he fled from Saul, and became a fugitive in the wilderness. The focus of today’s devotional will be primarily the first five verses of David’s prayer. The first verse identifies the prompting of the prayer.

Let’s take a lesson from David’s supplication, and reflect on his depiction of the wicked (140:1-5).

Psalm 140:1 – Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man [wicked; immoral]: preserve me from the violent man [unjust; cruel; malicious];
Which imagine [devise; plot; purpose] mischiefs [evil; wickedness] in their heart; continually [always; daily] are they gathered together [assembled] for war [battle; fighting].
3 They have sharpened [pierced] their tongues [talk; speech] like a serpent; adders’ [viper] poison [fury; wrath; rage; indignation] is under their lips. Selah.
4 Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed [devised; plotted] to overthrow [cast down; i.e. with intent to harm; to drive away] my goings [steps].
5 The proud [arrogant] have hid a snare [trap] for me, and cords [a noose]; they have spread a net [i.e. a trap for catching animals] by the wayside; they have set gins [traps] for me. Selah.

David understood the sinful character of his enemy (“evil, violent, wicked, and proud”), and he did not underestimate his malicious ways, or his evil intent. He realized the wicked “imagine mischiefs” (plotting, and planning evil). They threaten, and their tongues are like the poison of a viper (140:3). They plot to cast down good men (140:4), and in their pride set traps to ensnare the righteous (140:5).

I am confident David’s characterization of his enemy might shock the sensibilities of some. When we are wise and discerning, we will not be oblivious to the ways of the world, or the character of the wicked. In fact, dismissing or minimizing the character of an enemy is not only foolish, it is dangerous.

David affirmed the LORD was his God, and petitioned Him to “hear the voice of [his] supplications [pleads]” (140:6). He did not minimize his foe’s desire to destroy him (140:8), and he prayed they would fall victim to their own lips, and snares (140:9-11). David had borne the sorrows of betrayal, but he remained confident the LORD was just, and is the protector of those who trust in Him (140:12).

A closing observation: Living in a culture that embraces “political correctness” over principle, I find a growing reticence to confront the wickedness of society among those who should be bold to speak the truth. It is not enough to identify the enemies of Christ and His people. It is not enough to define what manner of people the enemy is…evil, wicked, violent, and proud.  We must accept Paul’s challenge to Timothy as our call to spiritual battle:

2 Timothy 4:2, 5 – Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I am for Peace; They are for War” (Psalm 120)

Scripture reading – Psalm 120

Psalm 120A Song of Degrees

The title of Psalm 120, “A Song of degrees,” is the first of fifteen psalms with that title (Psalms 120-134). To clarify the meaning of “degrees,” and there are several different views and explanations suggested by scholars, I will state one of the most probable. Each year the children of Israel went up to Jerusalem for two feasts.  To maintain their focus on the Lord, they recited psalms as they drew near to Jerusalem.  The fifteen psalms were most likely those that they would have recited on their ascent to Jerusalem.

Psalm 120 is generally accepted as David’s reflection on the news that Doeg the Edomite had betrayed him to King Saul, and then massacred Ahimelech the priest, and the other priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:9-23).

David suffered slander, and had been hunted by an unrelenting enemy determined to kill him. He had fled from Saul, and passed through the priestly town of Nob where he received bread, and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:1-9). When he received news how eighty-five priests and their families were slain because of Doeg’s lies (1 Samuel 22:9-10), David was overcome with grief. He “cried unto the Lord,” and later wrote: The LORD “heard me” (120:1).

What are we to do when we fall victim to “lying lips, [and]… a deceitful tongue?” (120:2) The answer, pray to the LORD to deliver you, knowing He hears, and answers prayer! David remembered his flight into the wilderness, and the wagging tongues of the wicked that were like “sharp arrows” (120:3-5). His enemy hated peace, and had no interest in resolving conflict; however, David confessed what should be our longing: “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (120:7).

Take a moment to reflect on that last statement: “I am for peace” (120:7a). We should be a peace loving, peace seeking people. We don’t clamor for quarrels, nor do we relish conflicts. However, we cannot sacrifice biblical principles, and have spiritual integrity with the LORD.

David learned what those who seek the Lord should accept. While we might seek peace, the wicked “are for war” (120:7b). The enemies of God, and His people have no interest in peace. They are for war, and strife, and conflict is their way.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I know God is for me!” (Psalm 56)

Scripture reading – Psalm 56

As we consider Psalm 56, remember that the psalms began as an integral part of worship in ancient Israel’s history, and continue even until our present day (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

The title of the psalm states the occasion that inspired it, for it was when David fled from King Saul, and sought refuge in Gath. When he was identified, and taken prisoner, David feared for his life, and made a pretense of insanity before King Achish (1 Samuel 21:10-15). I believe Psalm 56 was composed many years later when David was king. After composing the verses, the king sent the song to the chief musician of the Levites. Psalm 56 records David’s meditations, and the words were inspired by the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Recalling the desperation, when he was taken by the Philistines, David had prayed: “1Be merciful [be gracious] unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up [trample; crush]; He fighting daily oppresseth [torments] me.2Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: For they be many that fight [attack] against me, O thou most High. 3What time I am afraid, I will trust [be confident] in thee” (56:1-3).

Trusting in God’s favor, David faced his enemies (56:1). They threatened his life with malicious words, and tormented him daily (56:2). Though he did not deny his fears, he determined to trust that the LORD would protect him (56:3), and declared, “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (56:4). Wicked men will slander your testimony, and may threaten your life, but no man can threaten your soul! (Matthew 10:28)!

David’s enemies came upon him like ravenous wolves; they twisted his words, and waited for him to stumble (56:5-6).  He sometimes questioned, “Shall they escape by iniquity?” (56:7). Will they escape the consequences of their sinful ways?

He prayed the wicked would be punished, and took comfort knowing the LORD considered his sorrows, and his tears (56:8). Referencing a practice of ancient monarchs whose tears were collected in a bottle as a memorial to their sorrows, David prayed, “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: Are they not in thy book?” (56:8) He was confident the LORD would answer his prayers, and he made a wonderful statement concerning divine character: “This I know; for God is for me” (56:9b).

What a wonderful truth! You may be facing trials, and you feel abandoned. An enemy may be plotting to injure, or even destroy you. However, by faith you can claim David’s assertion and say, “I know, God is for me!”

Having stated his confidence in the LORD, David declared, “10In God will I praise his word: In the Lord will I praise his word. 11In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (56:10-11).

I have learned that my heart is comforted, and my spirit emboldened when I write, and speak what I believe. When David determined to praise God for His Word and promises, he was no longer a prisoner of fear. He had no cause to fear “what man can do” (56:11b).

The closing verses of Psalm 56 are a doxology of praise to the LORD (56:12-13). Trusting the words, and vows [promises] of the LORD, David praised the LORD at the prospects of his deliverance from his enemy.

Closing thoughts: Even the man after the heart of God went through seasons when he feared what tomorrow would bring, and struggled with the fear of man. It is natural to fear criticism, rejection, and those who gloat in our struggles. When those times come, and they will, take a lesson from David and determine to write, and sing praises to the LORD. Meditate in His Word, claim His promises, and declare, “I know, God is for me… I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (56:9, 11).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith