Category Archives: Children

Chickens Coming Home to Roost (Psalm 55; 2 Samuel 16)

Scripture reading – Psalm 55; 2 Samuel 16

Our daily Scripture readings continue to focus on the life and reign of David, king of Israel. 2 Samuel 16 continues the narrative with David’s hasty flight from Jerusalem, as Absalom, his thirdborn son, had stolen the hearts of the people and led an insurrection against his father. Psalm 55, the second half of today’s Scripture reading, is believed to have been written by David during this heart wrenching time in the king’s life. Today’s devotional will focus upon 2 Samuel 16.

2 Samuel 16

David’s heart was grieved when he learned Ahithophel, a trusted counselor and the grandfather of Bathsheba, had joined Absalom’s rebellion (15:30-31). To counter Ahithophel’s counsel, David commanded Hushai the Archite, a faithful friend and servant, to return to Jerusalem and join himself to Absalom and serve in his court as a spy (15:32-34, 37).

An Act of Deceit (16:1-4)

As David, his family, and entourage of warriors fled Jerusalem, they encountered “Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth” (16:1). You might remember that Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, and the grandson of king Saul. Though Mephibosheth had cause for a legal claim to the throne, he had recognized David as king, and he had extended to him the lands and properties that would have been his as Jonathan’s heir (2 Samuel 9:1-13). Ziba had been commanded by the king to serve Mephibosheth as the caretaker of his master’s estate (9:9-13).

Coming alone, and bearing a large amount of food and wine, seemed suspicious to David, who asked Ziba, “where is thy master’s son?” (16:3) Ziba went on to betray his master, suggesting Mephibosheth had planned to use Absalom’s insurrection as an occasion for him to usurp the throne (16:3). Hasty in his response, and failing to investigate the sincerity of Ziba’s answer, David bequeathed to him the lands and properties of Mephibosheth (16:4). We will see that the king would later reverse his decision when he heard Mephibosheth’s account (2 Samuel 19:24-30).

The Insanity of a Bitter Spirit (16:5-9)

Time and space do not permit a full exploration of the deplorable scene when Shimei, a man kin to Saul and a Benjamite, confronted David at one of the lowest points of the king’s life (16:5-14). Hurling curses at David, and casting stones from a safe distance at him and his entourage, Shimei called the king a murderer, and a worthless man (16:7). Shimei contended the humiliation David had suffered was the justice he rightly deserved (16:8). While David suffered the insults in silence, Abishai the son of Zeruiah, and brother of Joab, required the king’s blessing to defend his honor: “let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head” (16:9).

David’s Gracious and Humble Response (16:10-14).

Trusting in God’s sovereignty, David refused to seek revenge, and accepted Shimei’s abuse as from the LORD (16:10). In his sorrow, he reflected on his shame and saying to Abishai, “Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him” (16:11).

David determined to accept his humiliation, saying, “12It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day” (16:12). Only when the king crossed the Jordan River did he, “and all the people that were with him…[refresh] themselves” (16:14; 17:22).

Absalom’s Seizes His Father’s Throne, and His Gross Wickedness (16:15-23)

Absalom wasted no time in crowning himself king, and it seemed all Israel came to honor him (16:15), among whom was Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather (16:15). Hushai, David’s friend and spy, presented himself to Absalom saying, “God save the king, God save the king” (16:16). Flattering the youthful impudence of Absalom, Hushai convinced him that he had taken leave of David to serve him (16:17-19).

Ahithophel, desiring to heap greater sorrow and shame upon David and bearing bitterness for the king’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father further (16:20-21). Ahithophel suggested Absalom would endear himself to Israel, by the young man entering his father’s harem, and committing incest with the king’s concubines (16:20-21). Heeding the detestable counsel of Ahithophel, Absalom went into his father’s harem “in the sight of all Israel” (16:22).

Closing thoughts – For a season, it seemed Ahithophel’s counsel “was as if a man had inquired at the oracle [sanctuary; the holy place] of God” (16:23). The old counselor was indeed wise, but his counsel would soon be spurned by Absalom (17:14). Ahithophel was a wise man, but bitterness had poisoned his soul. His days were numbered, and knowing he had committed treason against God’s anointed, he would commit suicide, rather than face the consequences of his treason (17:23).

In conclusion, consider David’s response to Shimei’s curses and abuse (16:11-12). Though he was king, he accepted with humility that there was truth in Shimei’s accusations. He was a “bloody man” (16:7), and his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah. As none other, he understood the sorrows, and humiliations he had suffered were the consequence of his own wickedness, and a fulfillment of God’s judgment (2 Samuel 12:7-12). He had committed sins in secret, but they were now the catalyst for public sorrow and shame.

In the words of a poet, “the chickens had come home to roost.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Political Correctness is a Moral Cancer (Psalm 12)

Scripture reading – Psalm 12

Make no mistake, “political correctness” is neither new, nor correct.  Psalm 12:1-8 exposes “political correctness” for what it is—a vehicle for attacking Truth and silencing those who believe God’s Word and accept its morality as just and right.

Psalm 12 is titled, “A Psalm of David,” and is the cry of a king who witnessed the retreat of a godly remnant, and in the king’s words, were all but extinct. David lamented:

Psalm 12:1 – “Help [deliver; save; avenge], LORD; for the godly man [saint] ceaseth [come to an end]; for the faithful [true; people of faith; believers] fail [disperse; disappear] from among the children of men.”

The date and setting that inspired Psalm 12 is not given, but the time of Absalom’s insurrection would certainly stir the sentiments we find in this passage. David cried out to the LORD to save the faithful, and avenge those who obey His law and revere Him (12:1).

Psalm 12:2-4 – “They speak [say; declare] vanity [deceit; evil] every one with his neighbor [friend; companion]: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
3  The LORD shall cut off all flattering
[smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify] things:
4  Who have said
[declared; tell], With our tongue will we prevail [strengthen; act insolently]; our lips are our own: who is lord [master; sovereign; owner] over us?

Remembering the manipulative ways of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-2), and the way he won the heart of the people by self-promotion at the expense of the king’s reputation (2 Samuel 15:3-5), we can identify David’s description of the smooth lips and double-tongued nature of the wicked (12:2).  With a “double heart,” and insolent “flattering lips” the wicked assail the godly, rejecting the authorities in their lives (12:4).

The believers of our day would do well to take a page out of David’s “playbook” and realize the nature of man has not changed!  The wicked are emboldened by their peers (12:2), and should they go unchallenged by the righteous, they will prevail against those in authority (12:4b).

Though the wicked revel in their lies, and boast with their lips, David assured the godly, “The LORD shall cut off all flattering [smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify]things” (12:3). Believer, take solace in this; The LORD will “cut off,” expose, and take vengeance against those who deny Him and rail against His people.

Psalm 12:5 – “For the oppression [spoil; destruction] of the poor [afflicted; depressed; needy], for the sighing [groaning; cries] of the needy [beggar; destitute], now will I arise [stand up], saith the LORD; I will set [array; appoint] him in safety [salvation; safety; liberty; prosper] from him that puffeth [scoffs; kindles as a fire] at him.”

David reminded his faithful followers that God is patient, longsuffering, and merciful toward sinners. However, He is just, and He will avenge the wicked who oppress the poor and needy. In this instance, the “poor and needy” are not necessarily financially challenged or destitute, but are afflicted and oppressed by the actions of the wicked.

The wicked boast, and oppress others, not understanding that the LORD is longsuffering, and extends liberty to sinners for a season. However, He declares He will rise up against the wicked, and pour out His wrath on those who “puffeth” and scoff at the poor and afflicted (12:5).

Psalm 12:6-7 – “6  The words [speech; commands] of the LORD are pure [clean; fair; no falsehood] words: assilver tried [refined] in a furnace of earth, purified [purged; refined] seven times.
7  Thou shalt keep
[preserve; guard; protect] them [the poor and needy of vs. 5] , O LORD, thou shalt preserve [guard; protect] them from this generation [age] for ever.”

Unlike the speech of the wicked (12:2-4), the words of the LORD (His Laws and Commandments) are pure, like refined silver that has passed through the furnace seven times (12:6).  The words of the wicked are full of vain promises; however, the Word of the LORD is faithful and true from generation to generation (12:7).

Psalm 12:8 – “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened].”

You need only read Psalm 12:8 to understand what has become of our world! Citizens of this world have invited the wrath of God by promoting the vilest of men and women to rule over them. God’s people should not be surprised, nor wonder why lawlessness abounds in the 21st century. David states the principle cause for pervasive wickedness: “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened]” (12:8).

Closing thoughts – My own country has “exalted…the vilest men,” prompting lawlessness as wickedness runs unchecked in our communities. A spirit of rebellion, promoted as a demand for rights, has seized upon the spiritual vacuum in our youth, while fanning the flames of anarchy in the hearts of our children. When the godly are silent, the wicked are strengthened, and will “walk on every side.” Continue to elect the “vilest men,” and lawlessness will prevail.

In spite of how “badly” things might go in society, God’s people should never forget the LORD’S promises are forever true. King David aptly stated: God’s words are “pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of wrath, purified seven times (12:6). Those who trust in the LORD, He will “keep…and preserve” (12:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Surviving and Thriving in a Dark Hour (Psalm 3; Psalm 4)

Scripture reading – Psalm 3; Psalm 4

Our recent Scripture readings (2 Samuel 11-14) have considered the tragic events that shadowed David’s adultery, and subsequent murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. Following in their father’s sins, Amnon, David’s eldest son, raped Absalom’s sister Tamar. David’s failure to exercise justice toward that son, became the provocation for Absalom to plot vengeance, and eventually murder his brother Amnon. Absalom then fled Israel and lived in exile three years, and only when he was pressed, did David invite Absalom to return to Jerusalem. The king, however, then refused to see Absalom, and further inflamed his son’s passions until his bitterness led to an insurrection against his father.

What was David feeling and thinking during this time of grief? Indeed, what sorrows, and anxiety might any parent bear when a child breaks one’s heart? Psalm 3 and Psalm 4 instruct us in a righteous response…turn to the LORD, pray, and trust Him. This devotional focuses on spiritual lessons found in Psalm 3. * The following verses contain brackets that are the amplifications of this author.

Psalm 3:1-8 – The Grief and Prayer of a Heartbroken Father

Psalm 3:1-4  – “LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], how are they increased [multiplied] that trouble [cause distress; afflict] me! many are they that rise up [stand up as a foe] against me.
2  Many there be which say [speak; tell] of my soul [life; person; being], There is no help [deliverer] for him in God. Selah.
3  But thou, O LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], art a shield [buckler; defense] for me; my glory [honor; splendor], and the lifter up [exaltation; to move in a higher direction] of mine head.
4  I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

David finds himself surrounded by enemies, and in particular his son Absalom.  The loneliness of the king, and his desperate cry to the LORD rouses the heart of all who are fathers, or have been in leadership and felt the blow and sorrow of betrayal. The king’s flight from Jerusalem bolstered his enemies to deride, “There is no help [deliverer]for him in God” (Psalm 3:2b).

David, however, took solace in the character and promises of God (3:3). His reflections on the character of God strengthened his soul, and he remembered the God of eternity was his “shield”, defender and the sovereign of creation. Though driven from his throne by enemies, David was confident God would exact vengeance, and justice would prevail. Alone, afraid, humiliated, but not defeated, David was certain the LORD saw his plight, and heard his cry. The king summed up his trust and faith when he wrote,

Psalm 3:4 – “I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

Got problems? I have a promise! (3:5-8)

It is difficult to grasp how a rebel like Absalom could be the son of David, a man after the heart of God (1 Samuel 13:14).  Sadly, the heartache borne by the king is all too familiar to parents of sons and daughters who reject God. In spite of their parents’ love, sacrifices, and the spiritual lessons that have been engrained in them from their youth, many parents face their own Absalom. Giving full rein to their lusts, and embracing the lies of the world, prodigal sons and daughters heap indescribable heartache and sorrows on their parents (Luke 15:11-21).

For David, all was not lost, for when he looked past his sorrows and reflected on the LORD, his hope was renewed and the king found solace in the LORD and slept (3:5).

Psalm 3:5 – “I laid me down [took rest] and slept [i.e. long sleep; fell asleep]; I awaked [i.e. arise]; for the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] sustained [to prop; braced; held up] me.

Sweet sleep; a quietness of heart and thoughts God gives believers who find solace in Him. Perhaps it was David’s prayer that inspired the childhood prayer:  “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.”  Awaking from a much-needed rest, David was refreshed, and though his circumstances had not changed, he was confident the LORD was with him (3:5b).

Psalm 3:6-7 –  I will not be afraid [fear; tremble; frighten] of ten thousands of people, that have set [made; lay; fixed] themselves against me round about [on every side; surround]. 7  Arise [Rise up; stand; perform], O LORD; save [deliver; help; rescue; avenge] me, O my God [Elohim; Mighty God]: for thou hast smitten [slay; kill; beat; strike]all mine enemies [foes; adversaries] upon the cheek bone [i.e. or jaw bone]; thou hast broken [shattered; crushed]the teeth of the ungodly [wicked].

Betrayed by his son, and threatened by an enemy who desired to humiliate and destroy him, David asserted his confidence (3:8).

Psalm 3:8 –  Salvation [help; deliverance] belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing [prosperity; generosity] is upon thy people [tribe; flock]. Selah [pause].”

Closing thoughts – We live in a world that has imparted to its children a spirit of entitlement that is deluded and wicked. The “X-Generation” and the “Millenniums” that followed them are like David’s son Absalom—self-consumed, and filled with pride (Romans 1:30-31). They are consumed with the delusion of rights and privileges they have not earned, nor deserved.  They are the epitome of a nation that has denied God.  They boast, having accomplished nothing and are a grief to their parents.

There may be fathers and mothers reading today’s devotional who, in their own circumstance, identify with David’s sorrow.  To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your own son or daughter, mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart. I do not know the struggles you are facing, but if you know the LORD you can rest in this…He is with you, and answers prayer! The LORD Jehovah, Eternal, Self-Existent, and Mighty God is on your side!

Cry to the LORD, and lay down and sleep, for He will sustain you (3:4-5).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (2 Samuel 13)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 13

The prophet Nathan had admonished David for his adultery, and warned him that his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 12:7-9) saying, “10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (2 Samuel 12:10-11). David repented of his sins, but only after he was publicly exposed (2 Samuel 12:13). Though the law demanded an adulterer’s death (Leviticus 20:10), the grace of God spared the king’s life (12:13b). Nevertheless, the consequences of David’s sins followed him to his grave.

Nathan had foretold, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (12:14). The immediate consequence of David’s sin was the death of the child borne by Bathsheba (12:14-15,18a); however, that was but the beginning of the sorrows David would face within his own household.

2 Samuel 13 begins with a familiar expression: “And it came to pass” (13:1).

What God declares will inevitably “come to pass,” and the king would not be able to escape the guilt that his own sins had become a pattern his sons would follow.

Tragic is an apt description of events that are recorded in 2 Samuel 13. We find here incest (Amnon, the eldest son of David entrapped and raped Tamar, his half-sister, who was the sister of Absalom, (13:1-14); murder (for Absalom sought revenge against Amnon, and ordered his servants to kill his brother (13:15-29); and irreconcilable sorrows (for not only was Amnon killed, but Absalom fled from Israel, leaving David to mourn not only the death of his eldest son, but also the loss of Absalom (13:31-39).

Closing thoughts from 2 Samuel 13

Many spiritual lessons are found in today’s Scripture reading. Amnon’s friendship with a crafty man provoked him to inconceivable wickedness. He had failed to put away wicked lusts (for incest is a grievous sin forbidden by the Law, Leviticus 18:9). When he was questioned by his cousin Jonadab, a man described as “a very subtil [crafty]man” (13:3), Amnon verbalized the wickedness in his heart, and thus breached a moral barrier to sin (13:4). You see, it is one thing to regard sin in your thoughts, but another to speak of it. Rather than reprove Amnon, Jonadab enticed him with a wicked plot, that would inevitably defile the virgin, Tamar. When she protested, Amnon raped her, and then “hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone” (13:15). Amnon’s infatuation with his sister was not love, but wicked lust, and her rape was an act of physical violence! There was no remorse in Amnon’s heart, and after stealing his sister’s purtiy, he humiliated her, and had his servants cast her out of his home (13:11-17).

We must not overlook a sad pattern of failure that emerges in David’s life. The king had failed to confront the sins of his household, and I suggest his weakness was a result of his own moral failures. He had sacrificed his moral authority, and was made weaker in his administration of justice.

When he learned that Amnon, his eldest son, had raped his sister, he was furious…but did nothing! (13:21) His failure to act as a loving, caring father, and a righteous judge (for so was his role as king), provoked his son Absalom, to avenge his sister’s honor (13:18-20, 22-29). Two years passed (13:23), and Absalom plotted to slay his brother. Oh what weeping, and sorrow came over David when he learned Amnon was dead (13:31, 36). David’s failure cost him two sons: Amnon was dead, and Absalom was departed (13:37-39).

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (Numbers 32:23)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Genealogy of King Saul (1 Chronicles 8)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 8

1 Chronicles 8 concludes our study of the genealogies of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and returns to the lineage of Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth born son. Benjamin was also the brother of Joseph, born to Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife.

I am uncertain why the historian returned to the tribe of Benjamin, whose lineage was partially recorded in 1 Chronicles 7:6-11. I suspect the purpose was to give a thorough record of the lineage of Saul, the first king of Israel (8:29-40). Saul and his sons are named in 1 Chronicles 8:33, and the lineage of his son Jonathan follows beginning in 1 Chronicles 8:34. (The son of Jonathan named Meribbaal (8:34), is believed to be Mephibosheth who was lame after his nurse dropped him when fleeing the palace, 2 Samuel 4:4).

The lineage of Benjamin concludes with an observation by the historian that the Benjaminites were known for their skill in war. They “were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these are of the sons of Benjamin” (8:40; Judges 20:16).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

“They forgot!” (1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy chapters. 1 Chronicles 6 continues our study of the genealogy of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that began with 1 Chronicles 1 and will conclude with 1 Chronicles 8. Psalm 78continues our study in the Book of Psalms.

1 Chronicles 6 – The Genealogy of the Tribe of Levi

1 Chronicles 6 gives the ancestral record of the priestly tribe of Levi. Prominent at the outset are “the children of Amram; Aaron (the first high priest), and Moses (the prophet who led Israel out of Egypt), and Miriam (the sister of Aaron and Moses). The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (6:3).

Eleazar, the son of Aaron, succeeded his father as high priest. 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 records the line of high priests to the time of the Babylonian captivity. Other Levite families are noted (6:16-30), for they assisted the high priests in their duties, especially in the care of the Tabernacle and its implements.

Musicians had a prominent role in Israel’s worship, and the lineage of singers, composers, and those who led in congregational worship is recorded (6:31-47). Three notable musicians and their lineage are indicated:Heman, who penned Psalm 88, and was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (6:33-38; 1 Samuel 8:2,3). Asaph, whose name we have noted on several occasions in the psalms (6:39-43). Also, 2 Chronicles 29:30 identified Asaph as a “seer,” a prophet. Finally, there was also Ethan, who was the author of Psalms 89.

While the priests were charged with handling the sacrificial offerings, and only the high priests were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (6:49; Hebrews 9), there were Levites who assisted the priests in what is described as “all manner of service of the Tabernacle of the house of God” (6:48). Though their tasks may be considered menial, nevertheless, they were necessary for the service of the LORD, and the worship of His people (6:48). They would have assisted the priests in killing, flaying, and boiling sacrifices, providing water and wood, and carrying away the ashes.

1 Chronicles 6:54-81 accounts the names of Levite cities. Unlike the other tribes, the Levites did not receive a territorial inheritance; however, forty-eight cities in the midst of the tribes of Israel were designated to them, including six cities of refuge (Numbers 18:20; Joshua 20:1-9; 21:1-42).

Psalm 78A Challenge to Heed the Lessons of the Past

Psalm 78 is titled, “Maschil of Asaph,” meaning a psalm of instruction, and is a study in the history of Israel, and God’s faithful, providential dealings with His people. I suggest Psalm 78 can be summed up in two words, “They forgot.”

Philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s reflection is certainly evidenced in Psalm 78.  The psalmist presents in seventy verses a panorama of Israel’s history, marked by the tragic failure to hear, remember, and heed the spiritual lessons of God’s providences and dealings with His people. God had chosen Israel to be the custodians of His Law, and Commandments. He had blessed, and entrusted the Hebrews with His Word.  Each generation was challenged with “shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, And his wonderful works that he hath done” (78:4).

Fathers and mothers were charged with the responsibility of not only remembering, but also teaching their children. In turn, each generation was to teach every successive generation not only that nation’s history, but God’s providential care of His people (78:3-8).

Tragically, Israel forgot! They broke their covenant with the LORD (78:10), and forgot His works, miracles, and all that He had done for Israel when He brought them out of Egypt (78:11-12). They forgot how He divided the Red Sea (78:13), and led them through the wilderness (78:14). They forgot that He had provided them water, manna, and meat (78:15-28). They forgot how they murmured against the LORD, and made a pretense of repentance only to turn back to their sinful ways (78:29-39).

They had forgotten how the LORD had delivered them out of slavery, and sent the plagues upon Egypt (78:43-55). They forgot how He brought them to the Promised Land, but they had rebelled, failed to trust God, and turned back to wander in the wilderness until that generation was dead, except for Joshua and Caleb (78:53-58). They forgot how they provoked Him to anger by their wickedness, and when the Ark had fallen into the hand of the Philistines, their priests, Hophni and Phineas, were slain (78:58-64).

Nevertheless, when the time came, God remembered His people, and He “chose the tribe of Judah,” and Mount Zion for his presence in Israel (78:67-69). The LORD also chose David to be king, and to shepherd His people (78:70-72).

A closing thought: Israel forgot the LORD, but the LORD never forgot, nor forsook His people!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Foresee the Dangers of Compromise (1 Chronicles 5)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 5

The genealogical record of the Twelve Tribes of Israel continues in today’s Scripture reading (1 Chronicles 5), beginning with the two-and- one-half tribes that had settled on the east side of the Jordan River (I will identify them as the “Trans-Jordan Tribes”).

The Tribe of Reuben (5:1-10)

The introductory verses of 1 Chronicles 5 explain how Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob (Genesis 29:31-32), suffered the loss of his inheritance (5:1-2). As the firstborn son, it should have been Reuben’s lot to be the leader of the clan, and receive an ample inheritance that he would pass down to his sons. Such, however, was not the case.

Reuben committed a great sin against his father, by lying with his father’s concubine (a lesser wife, but nevertheless his father’s wife, Genesis 35:22). Reuben’s sin brought generational consequences for himself, and his family. He forfeited his inheritance and distinction as a tribe (Genesis 49:3-4), and Joseph’s sons became distinct tribes in Israel (5:1). Furthermore, the leadership of the Twelve Tribes of Israel fell to the tribe of Judah whose lineage emerged to become superior to his brethren, and David “the chief ruler” (5:2).

The great land mass occupied by Reuben on the east side of the Jordan River is described in 1 Chronicles 5:9, including their victory over the Hagarites (5:10).

The Tribe of Gad (5:11-17)

Gad was the seventh born son of Jacob, whose mother was Zilpah, Jacob’s concubine. Like the tribe of Reuben, the sons of Gad had settled on the east side of the Jordan, and occupied land extending north to Gilead. Some of the prominent names of the Gadites are listed (5:12-17).

The Defeat of a Confederacy of Heathen Nations (5:18-22).

The genealogical record is interrupted by a historical event, for the “sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh” (5:18) “made war against the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab” (5:19). They were “valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war” (5:18). The catalyst for the war with their neighbors was not given, but I suspect it was for the possession of fertile pastures.

The Trans-Jordan tribes experienced a glorious victory over their enemies; however, it was not their military skill that won the battle. We read, Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh “were helped against them [their enemies], and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him” (5:20). Though not stated, I believe the Hagariteswere descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and the Egyptian concubine Hagar (Genesis 16:15; 17:20; 25:12-17), which would make them the ancient ancestors of today’s Arabic nations.

Half-Tribe of Manasseh (5:23-24)

A portion of the genealogical record of the half-tribe of Manasseh is given, including the names of seven “mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers” (5:24).

The Record of a Tragic Failure (5:25-26).

We have seen that the Trans-Jordan tribes were mighty men of war, and God prospered them. Tragically, the prosperity of those tribes would come to a tragic end for “they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them” (5:25). They had chosen the lands outside the Promised Land, and it was their proximity to the heathen nations that was their undoing. The influence of the ungodly inevitably drew away their children from worshiping the God of Israel. They had broken covenant with the LORD, and He stirred the hearts of Assyrian kings, who invaded the lands of the two-and-one-half tribes, and took their children away into captivity (5:26).

Closing thoughts: Though their history was marked by victories, and the spoils taken in war had enriched them, it was the compromise of the Trans-Jordan tribes with the heathen that enslaved the hearts of their children to serve their gods (5:26).

Be diligent to establish standards and boundaries, and protect your children from the influence of the world and its sinful ways (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

From Generation to Generation (Psalm 44)

Scripture reading – Psalm 44

The author of Psalm 44 is not given; however, the circumstances of its writing are without question a time of trials and troubles. The scribe of the psalm certainly had a knowledge of history (44:1-3), and in its verses recalled with fondness the stories the ancients had passed down to him by word of mouth, and written history.

Glory Past (44:1-8)

The psalmist writes, “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work [acts; deeds] thou [God] didst in their days, in the times of old [ancient times]. 2  How thou [the LORD] didst drive out the heathen [nations] with thy hand [power], and plantedst [struck] them; how thou didst afflict [hurt; afflict] the people [nations], and cast them out. 3  For they [the people of Israel] got not the land [Canaan; the Promised Land] in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm [might; strength] save [deliver; preserve] them: but thy right hand [typically the stronger hand], and thine arm [might; strength], and the light of thy countenance [face; presence], because thou hadst a favour [took pleasure] unto them.”

The opening verses of Psalm 44 should give parents and grandparents pause to ask themselves, “What have I taught my children?” Can your children recite Bible stories, and recall God’s works and providences?  Have you shared your faith with them and relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you teaching spiritual truths?

It is not enough to know history, for the sons and daughters of every generation must come to know the LORD personally. The psalmist knew the testimony of the LORD in history past, but he also asserted his personal faith in the LORD (44:4-8). He wrote, “I will not trust [be confident] in my bow [strength of the bow], neither shall my sword save me. 7  But thou [LORD] hast saved [delivered] us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame [confounded; confused] that hated us. 8  In God we boast [glory; praise; celebrate] all the day long [continually], and praise [confess; give thanks] thy name [fame; renown; reputation] for ever [perpetual; everlasting]. Selah.”

Faded Glory (44:9-16)

The psalmist had faith that God was able to deliver Israel out of her present troubles, but that did not keep him from objecting that he felt God had forsaken them (44:9). He rehearsed with the LORD how he felt abandoned, Israel had suffered defeat, and fallen victim to an enemy that scorned, and derided them (44:10-16).

A Protest of Fidelity (44:17-21)

Have you faced a trial, and felt there was no justice? Did you examine your heart, question your motives, and felt the LORD had forsaken you?

The psalmist was cast down, and heavy-hearted, and reasoned with God that he and Israel had not forgotten the LORD, nor broken covenant with Him (44:17). He moaned that the people had not backslidden (44:18), and reasoned, “21Shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (44:21).

A Petition for Grace (44:22-26)

Where do you turn when you feel there is no place to turn?

Israel was facing overwhelming sorrows, and an enemy that “counted [them] as sheep for the slaughter” (44:22). The author recalled the glories of Israel’s past (44:1-3), and the testimonies of how the LORD had gone before His people and given them victories (44:4-8), and he longed to see the same in his day. He prayed as though God were asleep, and had forgotten to guard and keep watch over Israel: 23Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, cast us not off for ever, 24Wherefore hidest thou thy face, And forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” (44:23-24).

Desperate and longing for help, the psalmist acknowledged he had come to a low place. He confessed, “Our soul is bowed down to the dust: Our belly cleaveth unto the earth” (44:25). He called on the LORD for help, not based on his own merit, but in light of the mercies of the LORD: “Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake”(44:26).

Closing thoughts: I close inviting you to become a student of God’s Word, and human history! As an American, I know the founding fathers of this nation were not perfect; however, they were conscious that a Sovereign God was directing the course of history. In his farewell letter to the governors of the thirteen states, George Washington, the first president of the United States, wrote the following prayer:

“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another…that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Oh, that the LORD would raise up men of integrity, and godly character to lead our nation once again.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Home Sweet Home: A Family Portrait (Psalms 128)

Scripture reading Psalms 128

Psalm 128 continues our study of the Psalms titled, “A Song of Degrees” (Psalms 120-134), and is a song of rejoicing for the LORD’S blessings.  The central focus of the psalm is the promise of the LORD’S blessings on the household of the man who fears the LORD, and walks in His ways.

Notice the promise of happiness found in the first two verses of Psalm 128.

Psalm 128:1–21Blessed [Happy] is every one that feareth [reveres; worships] the Lord; That walketh in his ways. 2For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well [pleasant] with thee.

Is there anyone who does not desire, and long for happiness? Some look for affirmation as a way to happiness, but trophies, medals, and applause never gratify. Some climb the ladder to success, pursue wealth and acquire possessions, but find happiness just isn’t there. Sadly, the happiness the world promises is temporal, and never satisfies!

To whom does the psalmist promise happiness? To those who fear the LORD, and walk in His ways (obeying His Laws, and Commandments). Such a man will be happy and satisfied, and has the promise he will enjoy the fruit of his labor. (128:2). The man who loves and serves the Lord is physically blessed through his seed.  His wife is compared to a fruitful vine, and in Scripture vines symbolize a life-giving force.

The psalm continues with how the blessing was given: “The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion [the mountain upon which the Temple was built]: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life” (Psalm 128:5).The Temple was a majestic symbol of God himself.  It represented life, and Israel’s prosperity.

We have observed two family portraits in our study of Psalm 128. The first was of a man and his wife who, under the shadow of her husband’s love and piety (128:1-3a), was like “a fruitful vine,” and a source of joy to her husband. The second portrait was of the couple’s children, sitting around the table. The children had not grown up to become wild weeds, but were like olive plants; trained and cultivated. They were growing up to be a blessing (128:3).

The third family portrait was one of contentment (128:5-6), and the concluding verses of Psalm 128 served as a benediction.

The man that had feared the LORD (128:1) was now old, and stooped in age. His body was weak, but his spirit was strong as he aspired to see God’s blessings on his nation (128:5). Because the LORD is the rewarder of them who love and fear Him, the old man was promised, “6  Yea, thou shalt see [look; discern] thy children’s children[grandchildren], and peace [Shalom; prosperity] upon Israel” (128:6).

Closing thoughts: There are some reading this devotional who long for their family to be a picture of happiness and joy. You long for the LORD to pour out His blessings on your marriage, and to see your “children’s children” living in a nation that enjoys “Shalom,” the peace and prosperity of the LORD (128:6).

Those are admirable desires; however, they are promised only to them who fear the LORD, and walk in His ways (128:1).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Speak, For Thy Servant Heareth” (1 Samuel 2-3)

“Speak, For Thy Servant Heareth” (1 Samuel 2-3)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 2-3

Before she conceived, Hannah promised the LORD she would give Him her first born son. Her prayers were answered, and she gave birth to a son, “and called his name Samuel” (1:20). Hannah did not forget her vow, and when Samuel was no longer nursing (1:22-23), she took him to Shiloh, and presented him to the high priest (1:24-27). There she confessed, “I have lent [given, offered] him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (1:28).

1 Samuel 2  – Hannah’s Prayer of Thanksgiving and Praise (2:1-11)

After dedicating her only son to the LORD, Hannah prayed with a overflowing joy and thanksgiving. Her prayer was full of imagery, revealing a knowledge of the LORD that was both personal, and perceptive. The LORD had answered her prayers, and she exulted that He was her strength (“mine horn”), and salvation (2:1). She declared, the LORD is holy, and there is none like Him; He is a Rock, strong and mighty (2:2).

Though she had been mocked, and scorned by Elkanah’s other wife, she took comfort knowing the LORD was wise, and sovereign (2:3). He is to be praised, for by Him strong men are made weak, and the weak are made strong (2:4). He is sovereign over death, and life, and chooses whom He will bless, and who will be abased (2:6-8a). The LORD is the Creator, and Sustainer, and “the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (2:8).

When Hannah’s prayer of praise concluded, Elkanah, and his family went home to Ramah, leaving Samuel at Shiloh where he “did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest” (2:11). He had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he could speak (Deuteronomy 6), and though a child, he exhibited his parent’s love, and passion for the LORD.

Year after year, Hannah returned to Shiloh, and there she found Samuel ministering “before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod” (2:18). As his loving mother, she “made [Samuel] a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” (2:19). Eli prayed Hannah would be blessed, for her sacrifice, and rewarded for giving her son to the LORD.  “The Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord” (2:21), “and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men” (2:26),

The Wickedness of Eli’s Sons (2:12-17)

Amid the backdrop of Samuel’s innocence, and service to the LORD, we are introduced to the sons of Eli the high priest, and read of them: “12Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” (2:12).

How could this be? They were not only the sons of the high priest; they were by birth of the priestly order. Tragically, they were illustrative of “the sons of Belial,” godless, wicked, and immoral (2:12), and “they knew not the LORD” (2:12).

It has been observed that, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and surely it did for the sons of Eli. They grew up in the cloistered life of the priesthood, and did not fear, and obey the LORD’S Law and Commandments. They profaned the sacrifices and demanded for themselves, the choice portions of burnt offerings. They lacked restraint, taking portions of fat, which was forbidden in the Law (2:13-16). Their disdain for the LORD, and the sacrifices gave cause for men to abhor “the offering of the LORD” (2:17).

A Father’s Failure, and a Tragic Prophecy (2:22-36)

The Scriptures do not reveal how many years passed from the time Samuel began service in the Tabernacle, and the blatant wickedness perpetuated by the sons of Eli in the priesthood. Old and weakened, Eli heard of the wicked, immoral acts committed by his sons, but he did nothing to restrain them (2:22-24). His feeble attempt to reason with his sons fell woefully short (2:25), for they demonstrated calloused hearts with no respect for him as father, nor fear of the LORD. So great was their wickedness, the LORD determined He “would slay them” (2:25).

The LORD sent “a man of God,” a prophet to Eli, who foretold the imminent judgment that would befall his sons (2:27-28). The LORD rebuked Eli, admonishing him for putting his sons above His God (2:29). Eli’s lineage would be cut off, and die in their youth (2:31-33). “Hophni and Phinehas [Eli’s sons]; [would] in one day die both of them” (2:34).

1 Samuel 3 – The LORD Calls Samuel

The LORD never leaves His people without His Word, and though Eli’s sons had disgraced the priesthood, and caused the people to abhor the offerings of the LORD (2:17), He was preparing Samuel to be His servant, and prophet (1 Samuel 3).

It was a tragic time in Israel, for “the word of the Lord was precious [rare] in those days; there was no open vision [no prophet]” (3:1), and the “lamp of God” in the Tabernacle was neglected, and “went out…where the ark of God was” (3:3).

Although he was a child, the LORD was ready to speak directly to Samuel (3:2-6, 3:7). Three times the LORD called to Samuel while he slept, but Samuel did not know it was the voice of the LORD. Eli comprehended the LORD was calling upon the young boy, and instructed him, “Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (3:9).

When the LORD called upon Samuel the fourth time, he answered as he had been instructed, and the LORD revealed the tragedy that would soon befall the house of Eli, and his sons (3:11-14). Samuel was stunned by the revelation the LORD had given him, and “feared to show Eli the vision” (3:15). Eli, however, demanded he reveal all the LORD had shown him, and Samuel told him everything, “and hid nothing from him” (3:18a).

Samuel’s reputation grew throughout Israel, and the people realized there was a prophet among them, and “the LORD was with him… all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord” (3:19-20).

Though Eli, and his sons had failed the LORD, Israel knew there was a prophet in the land, for “the Lordappeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (3:21).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith