Category Archives: Children

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

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 3-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Wise Man Knows and Does Not Forget the Character of His Enemies (1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94

The opening verse of 1 Kings sets the stage for a transition of leadership in Israel and marks the waning days of David: “Now king David was old and stricken in years” (1 Kings 1:1).

The mighty king whose youthful exploits were celebrated in song is now old, frail, and lying on his deathbed.  Though not culturally appropriate in our day, David’s attendants in a desperate attempt to provide physical warmth for the king’s failing body, suggested a young woman be sought who would share his bed (1:1-2). David succumbed to the counsel and a beautiful young woman named Abishag was brought to the king (1:3). While she attended to the king, the Scriptures make it clear that David did not violate her purity and “knew her not” (1:4).

Our study in 1 Chronicles 29 described the glorious coronation of Solomon as Israel’s king (29:1) and David’s prayer of intercession for his young son (29:19, 22-25). 1 Kings 1 gives us the tragic background that led to the king’s decision to leave no doubt that Solomon was God’s chosen king and David’s successor. The events recorded in 1 Kings 1-2 brings to memory the warning of the prophet Nathan that the sword would never depart from his household (2 Samuel 12:7-10).

Adonijah, the elder son of David and the brother of the late rebel Absalom, determined to plot and usurp the throne before David died (1 Kings 1:5-10). We have seen on more than one occasion that a weakness in David’s character was his failure to confront the sins of his own household. Such was the case once again with Adonijah when we read, “his father had not displeased him [Adonijah] at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” (1 Kings 1:6).

David’s failure to address his son’s usurpation gave others cause to follow Adonijah (1:7-8), thus setting the stage for not only a division in the king’s household, but also one that threatened to cause a civil war in Israel. There were even some men in David’s inner circle who, knowing the king was old and frail, were ready to seize the opportunity to be confederate with Adonijah and commandeer the throne of Israel.

Among the traitors who followed Adonijah was Joab (1 Kings 1:7), one of David’s “mighty men” who had disparaged the king’s will in the past and slain two of his generals (2 Samuel 3:27; 20:10).

Notice how rebels have a sense of those who are loyal to leadership and avoid their company.

Adonijah called several to anoint him as his father’s successor to the throne; however, “Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not” (1 Kings 1:10).  Adonijah knew his actions were contrary to the will of the LORD and he made sure those loyal to David would not be included in his plot.

Knowing Adonijah was setting in motion a plan to seize the throne, Nathan counseled Bathsheba to intercede with the king for her son Solomon and have him declared king (1 Kings 1:11-31).  David heeded the counsel of Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan and directed that Solomon be anointed king and declared his successor (1:32-40).

When news reached Adonijah that Solomon was king, all who had followed him in his rebellion fled for their lives (1:41-53).

A Lesson in Character

I have learned the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in a man’s character tend to be constant.

Consider the counsel David gave Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9). David prepared Solomon to reign in his stead and challenged his son to be “strong” and conduct himself according to God’s law, assuring him the LORD’s blessing would rest upon his lineage (2:1-4).

David cautioned Solomon, reminding him of the flaws and failures of certain men in positions of power and influence who had proven untrustworthy and wronged him in the past (2:5-9).  Joab’s disloyalty was a concern to David who urged his son to “let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (2:5-6).

There was also Shimei, the man who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom.  Shimei had begged for his life and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion, but David urged his son to execute Shimei and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (2:8-9).

After David died (2:10-11), Solomon moved to secure his kingdom and the first threat he faced was his own brother Adonijah (2:12-25).  Playing on the pity Bathsheba might have for his state, Adonijah petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him (2:13-18) that he might take Abishag (1:3-4), David’s young virgin concubine, for his wife. Solomon discerned Adonijah’s request to be a plot to legitimize his claim to the throne and had his brother put to death (2:19-25).

Following his father’s advice, Solomon dealt with each of his enemies in like fashion.  Abiathar, the priest who had supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne, was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he would be spared (2:26-27). Hearing Solomon was pursuing threats to his reign, Joab fled to the altar hoping to find grace, but was slain (2:28-35). Solomon remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and three years later had him slain (2:39-46).

I close encouraging you to reflect on the character of people with influence in your life. Apart from sincere repentance and genuine humility, I believe you will find the strengths and weaknesses of a man’s character tend to be consistent.

In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, faithful and trustworthy!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Broke the Mold When He Made You! (Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145)

YOU ARE UNIQUE ! message on the card shown by a man hand, vintage tone

Scripture Reading – Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six Psalms; however, this devotional commentary will limit its focus to Psalm 139.

Charles Darwin, the 19th century English naturalist, was a geologist and biologist by training. Called by many, the Father of Evolution, Darwin attained world-wide fame when he published his book, Origin of the Species (1859).

Though many (if not the majority) of his suppositions on the Theory of Evolution have been disproven and rejected by credible scientists, nevertheless evolution has continued to be taught in secular education as the explanation for life and the physical universe. The delusion of evolution has wreaked havoc in our world and has infected not only our outlook on life, but also the value we place on life itself.

Consider this statement: What you believe concerning the origin of life will dictate the answers to fundamental questions on life itself: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Where am I going?”

Psalm 139 is not only David’s declaration of his belief in His Creator, but also his revelation concerning God’s attributes.

God is Omniscient and knows all that is in your heart (Psalm 139:1-6).

He knows your fears, longing, thoughts, and desires (139:1a).  There is nothing you can hide from God.  He knows all about you (139:2).  He knows everything you think in secret and everything you say in public (139:2b).  He savors the noble and excellent qualities of your life (139:3-6).

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12).  He abides in every part and place of His creation and there is no place where God is not present (139:7-8).

Psalm 139:7-8 “Whither shall I go [walk; come; ] from thy spirit [God’s Spirit]? or whither shall I flee [i.e. be put to flight] from thy presence [face; countenance]? 8  If I ascend up [go up] into heaven [i.e. Heavens..the sky above; stars and planets], thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol; grave; pit; place of the souls of the dead], behold, thou art there.”

Knowing the LORD is omnipresent, you can be confident you are never beyond His protection, love, and compassion (139:9-10).  You can take flight, but you are never beyond His grasp.

Psalm 139:9-10  – “If I take [depart; carried away] the wings of the morning [dawn; first beams of morning light], and dwell [abide; remain; inhabit] in the uttermost parts [end; last] of the sea; 10  Even there [flight as fast as light or the depths of the sea] shall thy hand [power] lead [guide; bring] me, and thy right hand [i.e. considered to be the stronger side] shall hold [take hold; possess; handle; grasp] me.”

When the darkest hour of life is upon you, the light of the Lord is with you (139:11-12).

Psalm 139:11-12 – “If I say [speak], Surely the darkness [i.e. misery] shall cover [bruise; break; overwhelm] me; even the night shall be light [day; light] about me. 12  Yea, the darkness [i.e. misery] hideth [obscures] not from thee; but the night shineth [shines; enlightens; gives light]  as the day: the darkness [i.e. misery] and the light [luminous light] are both alike to thee.”

God is your Originator… your Creator, Designer and Architect (Psalm 139:13-16). He has Sovereignly determined your uniqueness. (139:13)

Psalm 139:13  For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; soul, seat of my desire and affections]: thou hast covered [knit; weave] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].

He has impressed on man’s soul a consciousness of his Creator’s hand and design. (139:14)

Psalm 139:14-15 – “I will praise [give thanks; confess God in public] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] and wonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deeds]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly]. 15  My substance [strength; physical frame; bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret [mother’s womb], and curiously wrought[woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth [out of human sight].

From the moment of your conception, your person and days were determined (139:16).

Psalm 139:16Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [body; frame; bones], yet beingunperfect [embryo; unformed mass in mother’s womb]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

My friend, you are special, unique, and one of a kind; there is no one like you. Modern science has proven just how unique you are.  Your ears are geometrically unique as is your body odor (secreting a combination of 44 compounds).  Your fingerprints and fingernails are unique with loops and swirls forming patterns unique to you.  Even the pores of your nose form a pattern like no other.

He created you as a free will agent. You are not a robot and every person has the privilege and responsibility of choice, individual actions, thought and will.

Romans 1:20 – “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Pour Themselves into Those Who Will Eventually Succeed Them (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study in 2 Samuel and is a parallel of the same events recorded in 1 Chronicles 21-22. (The record in the chronicles gives us additional details.)

2 Samuel 24

We find David as an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was only a memory. The king is now in the latter years of his life and reign as the king of Israel.

The opening verses of 2 Samuel 24 will no doubt challenge some to wonder why the LORD would be angry with Israel, move David to take a census of his army, and then turn about and be angry with David for doing so (24:1-10). Remember the LORD never tempts man to sin (James 1:13), but He does use the natural inclination of a man’s heart to providentially accomplish His will and purpose.

General Joab, the captain of David’s army, cautiously questioned the king’s motive, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command for a census was an act of pride that might prove to be a provocation of God’s judgment.

As soon as the sum of the fighting men of Israel was delivered, David’s heart was convicted, and he confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10). God is just, and the consequences of David’s sin would not be dismissed by the LORD. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11).

Gad was given a message that demanded the king choose one of three judgments that would come upon Israel because of David’s sin: seven years of famine, three months pf being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies than be pursued by an enemy (24:14).

2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

Seventy thousand were dead, but had the LORD not been restrained by His mercy, even Jerusalem would have suffered His wrath (24:16). David had prayed as the angel of the LORD approached Jerusalem and made intercession for his people praying, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house” (24:17).

Bearing the weight of his guilt and realizing the consequences of his sin had befallen the nation, David interceded and asked for God’s judgment to fall upon him and his household rather than His people (24:17).

The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD instructing David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18). [Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]

Seeing the king and hearing his desire to buy his threshingfloor, Araunah offered not only the land, but also his oxen and threshing instruments as a gift to David (24:20-23).

The king refused Araunah’s offer and confessed, “I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (24:24).

David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah, and sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had purchased. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign David’s offering was accepted and God’s wrath was satisfied (1 Chronicles 21:26).

You might wonder what became of the land David purchased. The threshingfloor of Araunah was the same place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). It would also be where Solomon will build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

1 Chronicles 22

David, knowing the years of his life were drawing to a close, devoted himself to preparing workmen and materials that would be required for Solomon to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-19). David instructed Solomon and imparted to his son his duty to embrace God’s promises and build the Temple in Jerusalem (22:6-16).

Leaving no doubt who should be his heir and the next king, David “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1) and set forward an organization of the priests and Levites who were to serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).

There are many lessons we can take from today’s study; however, I will leave you with one:

David had accepted that his earthly life would soon be passed, and not only  prepared his son to be king, but also charged Solomon with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6-11).

Psalm 90:10 – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength [i.e. pride] labour [toil; grief; misery] and sorrow [mourning]; for it is soon [i.e. hurry; too soon] cut off [passed], and we fly away [i.e. our years take flight].”

Wise men and women pour their lives into those who will eventually succeed them!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Absalom the Rebel is Dead” (2 Samuel 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 16-18

2 Samuel 16 – David’s Flight from Jerusalem

The rebel son of David named Absalom set in motion events that would not only usurp his father’s throne, but also end in his own death.

As David fled the capital city and began ascending the Mount of Olives, he was met by Ziba, a servant of Mephibosheth, the surviving son of his late friend Jonathon, and the grandson of King Saul (16:1-3). Ziba proposed to David that his many kindnesses to Mephibosheth had been rewarded with betrayal and his master was plotting to ascend the throne in the king’s absence (16:3-4).

[Note – 2 Samuel 19:24-30 indicates that Mephibosheth later asserted his loyalty to David and contended the king had been misinformed by his servant Ziba. Rather than sort out the matter, David deferred and ordered the division of Mephibosheth’s land and possessions between him and Ziba].

Crossing the Mount of Olives and beginning his descent on the eastern slope, David encountered a foolish man named Shimei, a relative of King Saul. Adding to the king’s humiliation and sorrow, Shimei hurled both stones and curses at David (16:5-14).

Absalom was surrounded by men who had participated in his uprising, and among them was Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted counselors (believed by some scholars to have been the grandfather of Bathsheba). Ahithophel, evidencing a bitter spirit toward David, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father by going into the king’s harem and lying with his concubines (16:15-22).

2 Samuel 17 – The Revolution Unravels

Now David had wisely planted Hushai, a trusted friend, in Absalom’s court. Hushai was tasked, not only to act as a spy in the usurper’s household (15:23-37), but also to counter the counsel of Ahithophel (17:1-14).

Ahithophel knew that all was lost when his counsel was rejected and Absalom failed to pursue the king. Rather than suffer the indignity of falling into David’s hands, Ahithophel went home, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself (17:22-23).

2 Samuel 18 – The Culmination and Bitter End of Absalom

Mustering his mighty men and thousands of others who were confederate with him, David divided his army in thirds and prepared them for battle against Absalom (2 Samuel 18).  David, in spite of the great harm Absalom had committed against him, pleaded with his generals, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom” (18:5).

David’s army would be victorious; however, the battle took the lives of twenty thousand Israelites (18:6-8). Realizing the overthrow of his father had failed, Absalom fled the battle, and in spite of the king’s orders that his son would be spared, was slain by Joab (18:9-17).

When news of the victory reached David (18:18-28), rather than inquire into the welfare of his generals and army, David requested news of Absalom’s welfare, saying, “Is the young man Absalom safe” (18:32-33)

When he learned his son was dead, David wept saying, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (18:33).

Ahithophel, possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba, was dead.  Absalom was dead. Both men suffered the indignity of hanging on a tree, a sign that a man was accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13).

David was inconsolable, his heart broken by the knowledge that his own sins had been the catalyst of the deaths of many, including his son.

What sorrows accompany familial sins! Let us all remember the sins and indiscretions of one sinner can prove calamitous to others, especially those whom we love and hold dearest.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Wonder, “What If Things Were Different?” (2 Samuel 13-15)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 13-15

We begin with some background to today’s Scripture reading. While we do not know the extent to which David’s adultery was known in the palace (2 Samuel 11), we do know his sin with Bathsheba was no secret. In fact, one of David’s servants questioned the king, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

That servant’s enquiry gave opportunity for David to reassess his mood, but the king was unwilling to entertain the servant’s probing suspicion. Dismissing the servant’s convicting question, the king refused to cease from his unlawful behavior.

There was someone else who had knowledge of David’s descent into wickedness. Joab, the commander of David’s army, received the king’s order to place Uriah in the heat of the battle and then withdraw leaving him exposed to the enemy (11:14-15).

Joab was no man’s fool. Though He obeyed David’s orders, he no doubt wondered the king’s motive for betraying Uriah (11:17-24). Joab was faithful to his king, but he did not forget David’s sin and would one day defy him when he chose Solomon to succeed him as king (1 Kings 2:28-29).

While having confessed and repented of his sins, David could not escape the consequences of his choices. Though his sins were forgiven, their effects would haunt him through the lives of his children.

2 Samuel 13 – Consequences of David’s Sin and the Fulfillment of Nathan’s Prophecy

Remembering Nathan’s prophecy as our context, “the sword shall never depart from thine house” (2 Samuel 12:10), we begin to see the far-reaching consequences of David’s sins. Death and sorrow would become the haunt of David’s family.

Remembering the sins of a father are suffered to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5), we find Amnon, the king’s firstborn son, dallying in sexual lusts. Tragically, the object of the prince’s depraved cravings was Tamar, his half-sister and the sister of Absalom (2 Samuel 13:1-2).

Consumed with sexual passions, Amnon confessed to Jonadab, a cunning friend and his cousin, his forbidden lusts for his half-sister (13:3-4). Rather than dissuade him, Jonadab encouraged Amnon with a plan to entrap Tamar and give him an opportunity to lie with her (13:5-14).

Tamar, a virgin daughter of the king, protested her brother’s attempts, but Amnon “would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her” (13:14).

Like all crimes of passion, Amnon’s “love” proved to be no more than vile, unbridled lust. After he had robbed Tamar of her purity, he rejected her, ordering his servants, “Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her” (13:17). Notice “woman” is in italics and was added by editors. In fact, Amnon said, “Put now this woman out from me” (13:17), treating Tamar with contempt.

Her innocence stolen by her brother and no longer named among the king’s virgin daughters, “Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours [royal robes worn by the king’s daughters]…and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying” (13:18-19).

Hearing the wickedness committed by Amnon against his half-sister, Absalom, David’s thirdborn son and Tamar’s brother, determined to seek revenge for the disgrace she had suffered (13:20, 22).

On a personal note, I believe David’s moral failures were the cause for his impotent response to the news of his daughter’s rape (13:21). When he realized Amnon would face no consequences for raping his sister, Absalom plotted to avenge her and ordered his servants to kill his half-brother, Amnon (13:28-29).

With Amnon dead, Absalom fled to Geshur, the realm ruled by his maternal grandfather (13:37). David mourned the death of Amnon and the heartbreak that had befallen his household (13:37). While Absalom lived in Geshur for three years, David longed for his son’s return (13:39).

I will pick up our study of the conflicts and sorrows in David’s household on a later date. I close will a brief highlight of the balance of today’s scripture.

2 Samuel 14-15 – Absalom Returns to Jerusalem, But is Snubbed By His Father, and Leads a Coup.

2 Samuel 14 concludes with David being persuaded to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem (14:1-14). Joab contrived a fictional tale of a woman that David discerned was meant to induce him to send for his son Absalom (14:15-20).

David made the fateful decision to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem; however, the king’s refusal to receive him embittered his son (14:24).

Bent on vengeance, Absalom encouraged and entertained the affections of the people (14:25-27), plotted the overthrow of his father’s throne (15:1-12), and eventually led a coup to become Israel’s king (15:13-37).

Several “What if’s” come to mind as I close today’s commentary:

What if David had heeded his servant’s probing question, “Is Bathsheba Uriah’s wife?”

What if David’s children had recognized the awful consequences of their father’s sins and chosen righteousness?

What if Amnon had a godly friend, instead of a crafty partner in sin? What if he had the kind of friend who would speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15)? The kind of friend who defines your sinful thoughts and affections for what they are, wicked and vile!

What if David had responded to the news of Tamar’s rape by not only becoming angry, but passing judgment on his son’s horrific, incestuous sin?

What if David had pursued Absalom and demanded justice for the murder of Amnon?

I wonder: Are there some “what if’s” that haunt your life? What if you humbled yourself and confessed your sins? What if you went to a loved one and asked forgiveness for your deceitful ways? What if you began to speak the truth in love and put away lies?

What if?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

How Far Will You Go? (2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20

2 Samuel 11 – “And it came to pass, after the year was expired”

The opening phrase of today’s Scripture (11:1) appears contradictory to the enormity of events that were about to unfold in David’s life. His choices and consequences would forever change his future.

“Came to pass” is an apt description of the passing of life. No one knows what a day may bring forth, but each day presents us with an array of choices and their consequences that inevitably leave their mark on our existence.

If it were possible, we would readily strike this tragic moment from David’s life. What sin! What sorrow! But 2 Samuel 11 is a startling reminder to each one of us, of who we might become if we fail to consciously abide in the presence of the LORD and remember He sees and knows all.

We have followed the king from his humble start as a youthful shepherd, rejoiced when he slew the Philistine giant, and sensed Israel’s great future when the prophet Samuel anointed him to be that nation’s next king.

We have been with David when he took to flight from King Saul and hid in the caves of the wilderness. We followed his transition from boyhood to manhood. We rejoiced with his string of victories in 2 Samuel 10 as the fugitive of Israel became that nation’s warrior king, for “the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b).

All Israel celebrated David’s conquests in 2 Samuel 10; however, 2 Samuel 11 introduces an observation that is sadly, a forewarning of tragedy about to befall David. We read, “at the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem” (11:1).

David is at least fifty years old and has faithfully served as king for twenty years.  His name has been a common household word in Israel since slaying Goliath, and his exploits on the battlefield inspired songs that celebrated his valor (1 Samuel 18:7). David, however, was but a man. We should take a lesson from his life that will serve as a warning to all:

Grave consequences inevitably befall the man who underestimates the sinful bent of his nature (Psalm 51:5).

Disobeying the law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17), David had given rein to the pleasures of the flesh and taken to himself “more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13). He had foolishly indulged in carnal pleasures and neglected his duty to the nation.

David was at the pinnacle of his success, enjoying God’s blessings, and Israel was strong and prosperous. However, we find David lounging on his bed when he should have been with his men on the battlefield (11:2).

The king’s idleness and lack of accountability became the catalyst for a tragic series of wicked decisions that would forever scar his life, family, and reign (2 Samuel 11:3-15).

How far will a “man after God’s own heart” fall?

Lust, adultery, deceit, guile and murder were sins that haunted David to his grave.  The consequences of his sins that passed to his family, servants and Israel were incalculable. Guilt, shame and eventually humiliation, would shadow David to his grave. We read:

“The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

David attempted to maintain a facade of routine for nearly a year as he sat on his throne conducting the affairs of state.  On the outside, things might have appeared as usual; however, David was conscious of God’s displeasure and would later write:

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  [4]For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

2 Samuel 12 – “The LORD sent Nathan unto David” (12:1a).

In His timing, God sent a man of courage and integrity to speak to the king. Evidencing both wisdom and caution, the prophet Nathan approached David with a story that contrasted a rich man’s abuse of a poor man (12:1-6). Intrigued by the story and incited to anger, David passed sentence against the rich man, proclaiming, “As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:5b-6).

Having pronounced sentence, David and his attendants fell silent when Nathan raised his voice and boldly confronted the king, saying, “Thou art the man” (12:7).

David’s heart was smitten with conviction for he was indeed the man: adulterer; murderer; hypocrite and a wretched, miserable soul (12:8-12). His heart was convicted, and his proud, hypocritical façade crushed (12:13). David realized the sorrow his sin would bring on his family (12:15-17).  The king prayed,

Psalm 51:3-4For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

I close inviting you to turn the spotlight of truth and focus it on your heart and life. 

First, a warning: Realize the danger of idleness and the tragedy when one trifles with sin and temptation. I challenge you, “Flee also youthful lusts” before it is too late (2 Timothy 2:22)!

Second, a reminder: Solomon warned his son, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a).  When it comes to sin, the question is not “if,” but “when” the consequences of secret sins will befall you.

Third, a blessed promise: “Whoso confesseth [sins] and forsaketh them [sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13b).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Mother’s Day Challenge

A Bonus Devotional Thought from Heart of a Shepherd.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement,” did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work].   However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our society.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminists have attacked and distorted God’s design for the roles of man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge;” the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel; rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church. The responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Long Live the King! (2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18

You will notice a parallel in today’s scripture readings from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 18 is a straightforward, unembellished record of David’s victories as king. 2 Samuel 8-9 gives us historical facts that paint a moving portrait of a godly king.

2 Samuel 8 – David’s Success and Victories as King

If a boy in Israel was looking for a hero, he would need to look no further than King David. David’s life is a testimony to what God will do with a young man when he loves the LORD and is fully yielded.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continued success. After God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), David accepted the rejection with humility and set about establishing himself as king and securing his rule over Israel.

Confident in God’s promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David conquered one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south (8:1). Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel or began paying tribute to the king.

The Moabites, descended from Lot and occupying land on the east side of the Jordan, were the next to be defeated (8:2). Other nations inhabiting lands north and east of Israel included King Hadadezer of Zobah whose kingdom occupied a portion of ancient Syria and reached to the river Euphrates (8:3). Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). Rather than leave the King of Zobah defenseless, David had his chariot horses “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again (8:4-5).

Continuing his conquest and securing Israel, the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14) accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observes that, “David gat him a name,” meaning he developed a reputation as a warrior king, when he defeated a Syrian army “in the valley of Salt (i.e. the Dead Sea area), being eighteen thousand men” (8:13).

What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Did the loyalty of his leaders or the size of his army make him victorious?

The secret to the king’s victories over his enemies is summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14).

David’s victories fulfilled God’s covenant promises with Israel that were made to Abraham, Moses and David (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21). From Egypt in the south to the Euphrates River in the east, the lands God promised Israel, David acquired for his kingdom.

2 Samuel 9 – A Compassionate, Merciful King

A moving, heart-touching story in 2 Samuel 9 paints for us a spiritual portrait of the manner of man King David was in Israel. He was strong enough to lead a nation and subdue his enemies, but also a compassionate and merciful king.

With his kingdom secure, David’s thoughts turned to extending grace and peace to the household of his predecessor, King Saul (9:1), and in particular the oath he had made with the friend of his youth, Jonathan, son of Saul.

David enquired if any of Saul’s household were alive. When he learned that Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, was alive (9:2-6), he immediately sent for him and invited him to take his place in the palace at the king’s table (9:6-8).  The Scriptures give us unique insight into David’s character.

David was a man of integrity, a promise keeper. As the grandson of Saul, Mephibosheth could have been viewed as a legitimate heir to the throne; nevertheless, David remembered his promise to show mercy to Jonathan’s household (1 Samuel 20:14-17).

David was also a man of compassion. Mephibosheth, a cripple and “lame on his feet” (9:3), was invited to dine at the king’s table. He had been injured in a fall when his nurse fled the palace with him after his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul died in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).

Ancient oriental kings would have had no tolerance for the infirmed in their midst, let alone eating at their tables. Such was not the heart of King David. Not only did David bequeath the royal lands of his grandfather, King Saul, to him as his inheritance (9:7-9), but we read, “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:13).

Unlike a fairy tale with a “happily ever after” ending, the kindness and grace David extended to Mephibosheth will later be betrayed when the king’s enemies lead a coup and attempt to make Jonathan’s son king (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30).

Compassionate, faithful and obedient-those are the qualities God cherishes and blesses. What manner of man or woman are you?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Royal Lineage and the Consequences of a Generational Sin (1 Chronicles 3-5)

Daily reading assignment – 1 Chronicles 3-5

1 Chronicles 3 – A Royal Lineage

The sons of King David and their descendants are recorded in 1 Chronicles 3:1-9. Solomon’s sons and their lineages are noted in 1 Chronicles 3:10-16.  1 Chronicles 3:17-24 chronicles the births of the royal lineage who were born during the Babylonian captivity (3:17-24).

1 Chronicles 4 – The Genealogical Records of Judah, the Royal Tribe, and the Tribe of Simeon.

Five sons of the lineage of Judah are noted in 1 Chronicles 4:1. Pharez, however, is the only son of Judah mentioned, and the others were most likely grandchildren or relatives whose lineages follow (4:2-23).

The lineage of Simeon, the second son of Jacob (i.e. Israel), is recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:24-43 and includes that tribe’s inheritance in the land as well as the cities and villages assigned to it (4:28-43).

1 Chronicles 5 – The Tribe of Reuben: The Generational Consequences of a Father’s Sin

The descendants of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had settled on the east side of the Jordan River, and at the threshold of Canaan. Their lineages are recorded in 1 Chronicles 5:1-17.

Reuben was the firstborn son of Israel (i.e. Jacob); however, he was disinherited as the principal successor of his father when he sinned in lying with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22; 49:3-4). The consequence of Reuben’s sin was that his inheritance passed to the sons of Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:1). The privilege of Reuben’s birthright as the firstborn of Jacob, passed to Judah (5:2).

The sons and descendants of Gad are named in 1 Chronicles 5:11-17.

The men of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh were distinguished in battle and described as “valiant men, men able to bear buckler (a small shield) and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skillful in war” (5:18). Their achievements in warring with their Gentile neighbors are detailed in 1 Chronicles 5:19-22.

Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, though distinguished in battle as “mighty men of valour, famous men,” (5:24), were the first tribes to be defeated and carried away captive by the Assyrians (5:23-26). They had “transgressed against the God of their fathers, went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land,” (5:25) and the LORD delivered them over to their adversaries.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith