Category Archives: Anger

The Plight of the Human Race (Psalm 53; Psalm 60)

Scripture reading – Psalm 53; Psalm 60

Our Scripture reading is from two psalms of David, Psalm 53 and Psalm 60. Our devotional is taken from Psalm 53.

Psalm 53 – An Observation of the Human Condition

Notice that Psalm 53 is nearly a restatement of truths observed by David in Psalm 14. The title of Psalm 53provides us the title of the person to whom it was addressed, “the Chief Musician.” It also provides the instrument used to accompany the singer, Mahalath (probably a stringed instrument), as well as the name of the melody, Maschil, that accompanied the psalm. As already noted, David is identified as the author in the title.

I invite you to identify three major truths found in Psalm 53: The fact of universal wickedness (53:1-3); the wicked’s denial of the providence of God (53:4-5); and David’s prayer that the LORD would save Israel, and rejoicing and gladness would be restored.

The Fool and His Plight (53:1-3)

David’s observations concerning the condition of man is not only well known, but should be self-evident to an honest observer. The folly of the fool is that he is an atheist, in word and deed! We read, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Notice the phrase, “there is,” is in italics, indicating it was added by editors hoping to give clarity to the passage. I suggest, however, that the addition was unnecessary, for the folly of the fool is that he has not only denied God in his heart, but also in his deeds. David observed that the atheism of the fool carries him down a path of corruption, and destruction. Indeed, “there is none that doeth good” (53:1b).

The doctrine of God’s omniscience is stated in the next verse, where we read, “2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God” (53:2). Having denied God, the fool may be convinced his sins go unnoticed and unpunished. Yet, God’s gaze is perpetually upon man, and he sees and tries the hearts to see if any seek Him (53:2).

Consider also that the plight of man is universal, and without exception: “Every one of them [every man, woman, boy, and girl] is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (53:3). Universal rebellion; universal immorality; universal sin… “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (53:3).

Ponder that truth for a moment. There are no exceptions to the infection of sin. We are all infected by its curse, and the mass of humanity past, present, and future is born under the curse of sin (of course, the one exception was Jesus Christ who, though born of a woman, was not born of the seed of man, but of the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35).

The apostle Paul observed the universality of sin, writing: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the universal consequences of sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Wicked’s Denial of the Providence of God (53:4-5)

The fool has not only rejected God, but he has also denied the visible evidences of God’s essence and providences as seen in His creation every day (53:4a). David warned, God is jealous of His people, and the wicked will not go unpunished for their ill treatment of them (53:4b).

There is a sad irony in this psalm. On the one hand, men boast, “There is no God,” but there is coming a day a judgment when fear will take hold of the hearts of men, and those who set themselves against Him will be destroyed (53:5a). Indeed, the wicked will be put to shame, for the LORD will hold them in contempt (53:5b).

David’s Prayer and Intercession for Israel (53:6)

Psalm 53 concludes with David looking forward to the day when Israel will be saved. In that day, “Jacob shall rejoice” (the lineage of the Twelve Tribes), and “Israel shall be glad” (53:6). Whom would God send to answer David’s prayer for a Savior? His name would be Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Closing thoughts – Without exception; Every man or woman who rejects God, and refuses His offer of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son…is foolish. We might boast of our good works, but the prophet Isaiah declared, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). A sinner cannot be saved “by works of righteousness which [he has] done, but according to [God’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Right Motive, Wrong Method invites God’s Judgment (1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107

Our first Scripture reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 13, and records the tragic events that accompanied David’s failed attempt to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. Newly crowned as king (1 Chronicles 12), it was in his heart to honor the LORD, and bring the Ark to Jerusalem so that all the people might worship the LORD. With the affirmation of his leaders (13:1), David proclaimed to “all the congregation of Israel” his desire to “bring again the ark of our God to us” (13:2-3).

The Ark, a testimony of God’s presence in the midst of His people, and its mercy seat a symbol of His heavenly throne, had been forsaken for many years (13:3). After it had fallen into the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:4-17; 5:1-12), the Ark had been returned to Israel; however, when the men of Bethshemesh had touched the Ark and violated its holiness, they had been slain by the LORD (1 Samuel 6:19-21). Fearing the LORD’S judgment, the men of Kirjathjearim had retrieved the Ark, and placed it in the home of Abinadab, where it remained for the next twenty years (7:1-2).

David had admirable intentions for bringing the Ark to Jerusalem (13:4-6); however, he violated spiritual principles (13:7-10). 

The first, by reaching out and touching the Ark, Uzzah had treated as common what God had declared to be holy. He had lived in the home of Abinadab where the Ark had been kept, and he should have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but demanded (13:3). The Law of God was clear—the Ark was never to be touched (Numbers 4:15).

Though Uzzah’s motive was to steady the Ark, he violated God’s precepts, and regardless of his motive, his actions were unacceptable to God! The use of a cart to transport the Ark violated the method God had prescribed for its transport. It was to be carried by priests using staves overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:13-14).

From where did the notion of employing a “new cart” to transport the Ark arise?

It was the means the Philistines had used when they returned the Ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-8). David had employed a pagan method to accomplish a righteous end, and that was unacceptable to God. While his desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was “right in the eyes of all the people” (13:3-4), it was the means, not the motive God judged.

Consider David’s response to Uzza’s death.

He was “displeased,” meaning he was angry. Was he angry with God, or with himself for failing to seek the way of the LORD? His anger was soon displaced with fear, for “David was afraid of God…[and asked] how shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (13:12).

David did not continue bringing the Ark on its journey to Jerusalem, but entrusted it to “the house of Obededom the Gittite” (13:13). The LORD smiled upon the household of Obededom, “14And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had” (13:14).

My study of 1 Chronicles 13, has reminded me of a quote I often heard thundered from the pulpit of my Bible college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!” (Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.)

Psalm 107 – A Psalm of Celebration and Thanksgiving

I close with a brief introduction of Psalm 107, which does not bear a title, and we do not know the author or the date it was composed.

Given the celebratory nature of the psalm, and the call for those “Whom [the LORD] hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; 3And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south,” a good case can be made the psalm was composed after Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Fool’s Decree: “No God!” (Psalm 14 and Psalm 16)

Scripture reading – Psalm 14; Psalm 16

Our devotional will consider two psalms of David, Psalm 14 and Psalm 16. The occasion of these two psalms is not given; however, Psalm 14 was certainly penned when David was king, for it is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.”

Psalms 14

The Fool’s Decree, Depravity, and Dilemma (14:1-3)

Psalm 14 presents the universal definition of a fool: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They [fools] are corrupt, they have done abominable works, There is none that doeth good.”

We have the decree of the fool: He has “said in his heart, There is no God” (14:1b). “No God” is not merely something he said, but something that rises from within the man’s heart. He has rejected the Almighty, Supreme God, not only in his attitudes, and actions, but within his very heart, mind, and thoughts. He is not a fool because he is mentally deficient, or lacks academic accomplishments. No, he is a fool because in practice and principle, he has rejected God.

Notice the depravity of the fool is displayed in his wicked ways. Fools tend to be morally corrupt. Rejecting God, they have opened their hearts to all manner of wickedness. They are purveyors of abominable works. In Paul’s letter to believers in Rome, he described the abominations of those who reject God: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22-31). There is a universal commonality of all who reject God, and it is, “there is none that doeth good” (14:1).  Men may boast of their good deeds, but those who reject God, are fools.

Consider also the fool’s spiritual dilemma (14:2-3). Deny God at your peril, for your Creator is omniscient, and He knows all! Think of it: God ponders, and considers the hearts of all men, and asks: “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?” (14:4a). In other words, are they utterly void of understanding, and overwhelmingly stupid in their actions to continue in iniquity?

Psalm 14 is also an indictment of fools: They devour God’s people (14:4b). They have no fear of God. They provoke the LORD to wrath (14:5). They shame all who look to the LORD as their refuge (14:6).

The final verse of Psalm 14 expresses a Messianic aspiration (14:7); a longing that the LORD would rule in Israel, and restore the joy and prosperity He alone can give.

Psalm 14:7Oh that the salvation [help; deliverance] of Israel [descendants of Jacob] were come out of Zion [mountain of Jerusalem]! When the LORD bringeth back [restores] the captivity [exile] of his people, Jacob [the patriarch of Israel] shall rejoice [be glad; be joyful], and Israel shall be glad [brighten; rejoice].

Don’t despair! The LORD has promised He will return, and when He does He will right the wrongs, and establish a kingdom of peace for a millennium before His final judgment.

Psalms 16Don’t fret! God is a sure refuge for believers!

“Michtam of David,” is the title of Psalm 16. Some commentaries suggest the title is a “Golden Psalm of David.”

David wrote:Preserve [guard; protect] me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust [hope; confidence]. 2  O my soul, thou hast said [promised] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God], Thou art my Lord [Master; God]: my goodness [favor; pleasing] extendeth not to thee [a believer has no goodness apart from the LORD]” (16:1-2).

In a world overwhelmed with strife, threats of terror, and hopelessness, what a comfort it is to be assured the LORD never abandons His people! God is a watchman and refuge. I am not sure what circumstances moved David to express his “delight” in the LORD, but his joy was sustained by his confidence in Him. David took comfort knowing the LORD was faithful, and his grace was sufficient to cover his failings and shortcomings (16:2b).

Not only was the Lord David’s refuge, He was all the king needed. David writes, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup…the lines [measure; inheritance; portion] are fallen [divided; allotted] unto me in pleasant [delightful; lovely] places; Yea, I have a goodly [fair; pleasing] heritage [inheritance]” (16:5-6).

What a blessed place; to be where God is blessing! There are innumerable things for which we should be thankful; however, it is easy to allow the world to crowd out our joy with its sin and temptations.  I fear too many realize too late the blessings of the LORD.

Psalm 16 ends with a doxology of praise, and I encourage you to read and meditate on those verses. Notice especially Psalm 16:10, a Messianic promise of resurrection that was fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection from the dead: “10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption(16:10; Acts 2:25-28).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Times have changed,” but man has not. (2 Samuel 3)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 3

With the LORD’s guidance, David, his men, and their families relocated to Hebron, in Judah where he was crowned king of Judah (2:1-3).

Six Sons Born to David in Hebron (3:1-5)

“Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (3:1).

As was the custom of ancient monarchs, David had taken several wives, to whom were born six sons while he lived in Hebron (3:2-5). Of the six sons, I invite you to commit to memory the names of two: “Amnon, David’s firstborn son (3:2), and Absalom, his thirdborn son (3:3). Amnon and Absalom will become bitter rivals, as sin shadows David’s life, home, and throne in the years ahead.

The Provocation and Betrayal of Abner (3:6-11)

The ongoing war between Ishbosheth and “the house of Saul,” and “the house of David” (3:6), gave an opportunist like Abner a means to assert himself “strong for the house of Saul” (3:6). Riding on a wave of growing influence in Israel, Abner committed a grave offense against Ishbosheth, and took a woman of Saul’s harem (3:7), a concubine (a wife of lesser standing). Ishbosheth’s feeble response to the Abner’s offense, was no more than to question, “Wherefore hast thou gone in unto my father’s concubine?” (3:7).

Abner’s response to Ishbosheth revealed his disdain for the king, for he asked, “Am I a dog’s head, which against Judah do shew kindness this day unto the house of Saul thy father?” (3:8) In a word, Abner defied the king, and dared Ishbosheth to charge him “with a fault” (3:8). He then committed an offense that should have cost him his life; he threatened to betray Ishbosheth, and vow allegiance to David (3:9-10). Ishbosheth, failed to respond to Abner’s threats, “because he feared him” (3:11).

Abner Betrayed Ishbosheth (3:12-21)

Abner made good on his threat, and “sent messengers to David” (3:12), and offered to betray Ishbosheth if David would covenant with him and unite Israel (3:12). David agreed with Abner, but with one stipulation: that his first wife, “Michal Saul’s daughter,” would be restored to him (3:13-14; 1 Samuel 18:25, 27). David understood, having Saul’s daughter as his wife, strengthened his claim to Israel’s throne. When Ishbosheth received David’s demand for his wife to be restored to him, he obliged his enemy, and most likely sent Abner to convey Michal to David, though Saul had given her to another (3:15-16).

Abner made public his plans to betray Ishbosheth (3:17-18), and came to David with an entourage of twenty men. They sealed their agreement with a feast, and soon after Abner departed to betray Ishbosheth (3:19-21).

Joab’s Indignation, Deception, and Dishonorable Murder of Abner (3:22-27)

At the time of David and Abner’s meeting, Joab had been away with a raiding party. When he returned to David’s camp, he was furious to learn that David was in league with Abner, the man who had killed his brother (2:22-23). Joab dared to challenge David, and asked, “What hast thou done? behold, Abner came unto thee; why is it that thou hast sent him away, and he is quite gone?” (3:24)

Joab went on to accuse David of being naive, and asserted, “25Thou knowest Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest” (3:25). The Scriptures do not reveal David’s response to Joab’s enquiry; however, Joab was furious. He determined to deceive, ambush and kill Abner to avenge his brother’s death (3:26).

David Rebuked Joab, and Honored Abner, as a Fallen Champion (3:28-39)

When David learned that Joab had slain Abner, he was grieved and declared he was free of his blood (3:28), but pronounced a curse on Joab and his household (3:29). David understood his desire to unite Israel was imperiled by Joab’s evil actions, and he demanded the nation, and Joab and his men, would honor Abner by outward signs of mourning (3:30-31).

David publicly lamented the manner in which Abner had been betrayed, and cried out against it saying, “Died Abner as a fool dieth? 34Thy hands were not bound, Nor thy feet put into fetters: As a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou. And all the people wept again over him” (3:33-34).

David’s mourning moved Israel to judge that he had not betrayed Abner, for “all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner” (3:37). David confessed, “I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah [Zeruiah was David’s sister, 1 Chronicles 2:16] be too hard for me: the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness” (3:39). Joab would be a thorn for David the rest of his life, and when he was old and dying, he challenged Solomon to avenge Abner’s death (1 Kings 2:5).

Closing thoughts: When I read the Scriptures, I am reminded that “times have changed,” but man has not.

Jealousy, anger, bitterness, plots and plans for revenge, and murder are the way of the world, and sinful man. Weak men often become leaders, and are invariably in the company of evil men who seek their own advancement. It is true of kings, presidents, pastors, and employers! You would be wise to be a student of men’s character.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Out of Sorrows, A New Beginning (2 Samuel 1-2)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 1-2

Our study of 1 Samuel concluded with the deaths of King Saul, his sons, and a humiliating defeat for Israel when that nation’s soldiers fled the battlefield in disarray (1 Samuel 31:7). Three days later, news of Israel’s defeat, and the deaths of Saul and his sons reached David in Ziklag (2 Samuel 1:1).

2 Samuel 1 – The King is Dead: An Elegy

The news bearer was an Amalekite soldier. He had come to David with a fabricated claim that he had slain Saul in an act of mercy, sparing the king the indignity of falling into the hands of the Philistines (1:1-10). The truth was, as we read in 1 Samuel 31, Saul had fallen upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4). Nevertheless, to support his claim, the Amalekite had in his possession Saul’s crown, and a bracelet David would have recognized as the fallen king’s (1:10).

Saul had been an enemy of David for more than a decade, nevertheless the news of his death, and the death of Jonathan moved David to mourn, weep, and fast until that evening (1:11-12). Rather than rejoice in the death of his enemy, David mourned, and ordered the man who claimed to have slain the king to be put to death (1:11-16).

The Song of the Bow (1:17-27)

As the poet and musician, he was, David turned to poetry and expressed in an elegy his profound sorrow for the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan (1:17-27). To memorialize the household of Saul, David commanded the words of the elegy be taught to “the children of Judah” (1:18).

The concluding verses of 2 Samuel 1 expressed David’s grief at the loss of Jonathan, his friend and confidant (1:25-27).  There have been some who try to paint David’s lament as a twisted validation of sodomy, but it is not. Sodomy is condemned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-27), and we can be certain such a sin would not have been a subject put to music for children to sing.  David’s love for Jonathan was one of mutual affection and trust, and such a friend is rare indeed!

2 Samuel 2 – Two Kings and a Divided Nation

With the deaths of the king and his sons, David recalled he had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to succeed Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16). Being the spiritual man he was, David turned to the LORD for wisdom, and asked two questions: “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron” (2:1) With the LORD’s blessing, David, his two wives (2:2), and his men and their families moved to Hebron where he was crowned king by the men of the tribe of Judah (2:2-4).

David immediately faced opposition from Abner, Saul’s nephew (2:8) who moved to make Ishbosheth, Saul’s surviving son, king (2:9-10).  Abner’s opposition to David, coupled with Ishbosheth’s weak character, plunged the nation into a civil war that lasted over seven years (2:10-11).

Civil War (2:12-32; 3:1)

There were constant skirmishes between the men of Judah who served David as king, and those who served Ishbosheth, the son of Saul. Two strong generals incensed the conflict on both sides (2:12-17). Joab, David’s nephew by his sister Zeruiah (1 Chronicles 2:16), and Abner, the captain of Ishbosheth’s army, had become bitter enemies.

Coming upon a pool of water at Gibeon (2:12-13), Joab and Abner determined to set their soldiers in battle against one another (2:14-16). Abner was defeated, and fled the battle (2:17), with Joab, and his brothers, Abishai, and Asahel pursuing (2:18). Asahel, described as “light of foot as a wild roe” (2:18) pursued hard upon Abner intending to kill him (2:19-21).

Abner, desiring to spare Asahel for the respect he held for Joab, attempted to dissuade him, but “he refused to turn aside” (2:22-23). Abner then stabbed Ashael with the blunt end of his spear, and he died (2:23).

With Ashael dead, and Joab in pursuit, Abner fled to the “children of Benjamin,” who rallied to his side to face Joab (2:25). Abner persuaded Joab to turn back, lest he too die (2:26). Joab sounded the trumpet, and his men retired from the battle (2:27).

Joab and David’s men returned to their encampment victorious, having lost only nineteen men (2:30), while three hundred and sixty men of Benjamin had died (2:31). The victory, however, was a bitter one for Joab, who “took up [the body of his brother] Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem” (2:32a). As we will soon see, a vengeful spirit took hold of Joab, and would overshadow his relationship with David in the years ahead.

Closing observations: Though he would wait years to reign over a united Israel, the LORD, and time was on David’s side. He wisely sought the LORD for wisdom, and direction (2:1).

You and I would be wise to do the same…pray, and wait on the LORD.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Dead Man Walking; God’s Man Rejoicing (Psalm 63, 1 Samuel 28)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 28; Psalm 63

1 Samuel 28 – Dead Man Walking

One might feel a certain empathy for King Saul in the latter years of his reign and life. The king was old, the strength and vitality of his youth faded, and his spirit consumed by bitterness. In contrast, David had been a faithful servant to the king, but Saul’s jealousy had made his friend his enemy. Indeed, the champion of Israel, appeared to be in league with Achish, the Philistine king (28:1-2).

Saul was alone. He had disobeyed God’s command, and the LORD had withdrawn his Spirit from the king (16:14-15). With the prophet Samuel dead (28:3), and the Philistine army gathered against Israel (28:4), Samuel trembled at the sight of “the host of the Philistines” (28:5).

Paralyzed by a spirit of foreboding (28:5-6), and desperate for a word of reassurance, the king disguised himself, violated the Law (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31), and turned to a witch who consulted with spirits (28:7;Leviticus 20:27). Assuring the witch, she would not be punished, Saul demanded she call the prophet Samuel from the dead (28:11).

The LORD permitted Samuel to appear, and his appearance frightened the witch, who realized the man before her was Saul (28:12). With the king’s assurance that she would come to no harm, the woman revealed she had seen a man, “an old man…covered with a mantle” (28:14). Saul realized the apparition was that of Samuel, and the king “stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself” (28:14).

Samuel demanded, “Why hast thou disquieted me [awaken from rest or sleep], to bring me up [from Sheol, the place of the dead]?” (28:15). Trembling with fear, Saul declared how the Philistines had gathered against Israel, and God’s Spirit had departed from him (28:15). He confessed he had no prophet to answer him, and no man to interpret dreams (28:15).

Samuel then reminded Saul he was suffering the consequences of his disobedience (1 Samuel 15:23; 28:18). Not only had God’s Spirit departed from Saul, but the LORD had become his enemy (28:16). The LORD had “rent the kingdom out of [Saul’s] hand, and given it to [his] neighbour, even to David” (28:17).

Revealing the imminent deaths of Saul and his sons, and the defeat Israel would suffer the next day on the battlefield (28:19), Saul fell to the ground, “and there was no strength in him” (28:20). Overcome with emotion, and weak from fasting, the witch took pity on Saul and urged him to eat (28:22-24). When their supper was ended, Saul and his men “rose up, and went away that night” (28:25).

Closing thoughts: Rather than humble himself, and repent, Saul departed with his heart hardened, knowing he would not live to see another night. Because of his sin and disobedience, the king and his sons would die the next day, and his throne would be given to David.

He was a “dead man walking.”

Psalm 63

The title of Psalm 63 gives us the background for the song, for it was “when [David] was in the wilderness of Judah.” You will notice phrases and verses throughout the psalm that are beautiful and expressive.

In light of Saul’s despair in 1 Samuel 28, Psalm 63 affords us an encouraging contrast.  While Saul longed for a word from the LORD, but found his sins had made the LORD his enemy; David’s heart rejoiced in his God, and he confessed:

Psalm 63:11O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Surely, only a man who loved the LORD could find such joy, comfort, and cause for rejoicing in Him.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

“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

Caution: Revenge straight ahead! (1 Samuel 23-24)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 23-24

Envy, bitterness, and revenge, like conjoined triplets, have been the haunt of man since Cain slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4). Jealousy consumes, and bitterness festers, until revenge lifts its venomous head destroying lives, friendships, marriages, and families.

Today’s Scripture reading offers a contrast between the spirit of two men: Saul, the king of Israel whose envy consumed, and festered into a murderous rage; David, who practiced what Paul encouraged when he penned, “avenge not yourselves…for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord(Romans 12:19).

Background – David, and four hundred fighting men, had taken refuge in Judah among his brethren (22:5), while Saul’s desperation to kill him was frustrated in a tirade against his own tribesmen of Benjamin, and his son Jonathan. Adding to his wickedness, the king ordered the slaughter of the priests and families who had resided in Nob (22:16-19).

1 Samuel 23 – The Hunt to Kill David

David’s Victory over the Philistines at Keilah (23:1-6)

Encamped in the hills of Judah, David received news how the Philistines had raided Keilah, a city of Judah located on the border of Philistia, and it was during the time of harvest (23:1). Angered by the intrusion upon his people, David sought the will of the LORD, and asked, “Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah” (23:2).

With only four hundred men, David’s men resisted going to war against the Philistines whose numbers would have been far greater than their own (23:3-4). Nevertheless, David and his men went to Keilah, and God gave him a great victory over his enemy (23:5). Rather than applaud David for protecting Keilah, and securing Israel’s border, Saul took the occasion to call Israel to war against him and his men (23:7-8).

A Warning of Betrayal and a Friend’s Encouragement (23:9-18)

David, demonstrating the discernment of a man after the heart of God, called upon the LORD for direction (23:9-11), and He confirmed the men of Keilah would betray him into the hand of Saul (23:12). By this time, David’s four hundred men had become a small force of six hundred men, and they withdrew into “the wilderness of Ziph in a wood” (23:15), and there Jonathan sought him out (23:16), and with a humility that few men might have, he encouraged David saying, “Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth” (23:17). The two friends renewed their “covenant before the LORD,” and Jonathan returned to his house (23:18).

Betrayed by the Ziphites, and Pursued Around the Mountains (23:19-29)

David and his men sought refuge in “the wilderness of Ziph” (23:15), and soon after his meeting with Jonathan, the men of Ziph plotted to betray David to Saul (23:19-21). True to his evil character, the king disingenuously accused David of his own sin, saying, “he dealeth very subtilly” (23:22). Wisely, David continued on the move, staying ahead of Saul until he diverted his men to war against the Philistines (23:23-28). With Saul departed, David moved his band of men to a beautiful oasis known as En-gedi (23:29). Located in southern Israel and overlooking the western shore of the Dead Sea, Engedi made a perfect hiding place for David (23:29).

1 Samuel 24 – A Story of Two Natures

David and his band of six hundred men were hiding in the caves of En-gedi when King Saul received word that he was in the midst of the rocky crags of that oasis. Choosing three thousand handpicked fighters, Saul set out to find and destroy David once and for all (24:1-22).

With Saul and his army encamped in the valley, David and his men retreated into the darkness of a large cave overlooking Saul’s camp. There is no delicate way to state what occasioned Saul putting himself within David’s reach, other than to state simply, the king chose David’s hideout to relieve himself. With his guards stationed outside the cave, Saul was not aware he had retreated into his enemy’s lair.

David’s men urged him to strike a mortal blow to the king (24:4), and they were stunned when he refused (24:7). Indeed, his heart was so tender that the mere act of cutting off the hem of Saul’s robe troubled him (24:5).

1 Samuel 24:6 – “And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.”

I invite you to consider how David reflected humility, and honored the king in four ways (24:8-10).

First, he addressed the king with respect due his office saying, “My lord the king” (24:8). He also honored the king in his manner when he stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself” (24:8).  The third way he honored the king’s office was in how he entreated the king with a question, not an accusation, and asked“Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?” (24:9) Finally, he proved the evil reports the king had entertained about him were false, when he had opportunity to kill the king, he spared him (24:11).

Truth – If you want to know the character of a man, observe his actions when his enemy is most vulnerable. Rather than bitterness, David maintained a tender heart, and as long as Saul was king, he honored him as God’s anointed. Rather than revenge, David turned Saul over to the LORD to deal with him (24:12, 15).

Remember – Vengeance is God’s business.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith