Category Archives: Church

The LORD is Great! (Psalm 145; 1 Chronicles 26)

Scripture reading – Psalm 145; 1 Chronicles 26

1 Chronicles 26 – Porters, Guards, and Administrators

David’s census of the Levites continues in 1 Chronicles 26 with the assignment of men and families who would serve as “the porters” of the Temple (26:1-19). The “porters” were in fact gatekeepers, and the ancient equivalent of what churches today would describe as a security team.

How important were the porters? They were of the tribe of Levi, and chosen by the LORD to serve Him on behalf of Israel. It was their task to guard the entrances to the Temple, and be alert to thieves and enemies. They were extraordinary men, and were as serious about their tasks as the priests were theirs. The porters were described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6), “strong men” (26:7), and “able men” (26:8). They were assigned by families to gates (26:13-19), and there were twenty-four companies in all.

In addition to guarding the Temple, some Levite households were keepers of the Temple treasuries (26:20-28). These families were entrusted with securing the “treasures of the house of God, and [watched] over the dedicated things” (26:20). It was their task to secure the gifts offered by the people, and the “spoils won in battles” (26:20). The treasuries of the Temple were dedicated to the maintenance of “the house of the LORD” (26:27).

A third group of Levite families oversaw “the outward business over Israel, and were officers and judges” (26:29). By “outward business,” we are to understand it was the governing of the land outside the Temple. They were the counselors of the law to the king and his officers. They were “men of valour…in the service of the king” (26:30). Some were assigned to the tribes west of the Jordan River (26:30), while others were assigned to the tribes on the east side of the Jordan (26:32). Theirs was a sacred trust, “for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king” (26:32).

Psalm 145 – A Psalm of Praise

Unlike many of the psalms of David we have studied, Psalm 145 is a triumphant psalm of praise, and its central focus is God’s character, and attributes. The psalm begins with David promising to praise the LORD every day, and forever (145:1-2).

Why should the LORD be praised? (145:3-20)

You will notice the balance of the psalm answers that question (145:3-20). We should praise the LORD because He is great (145:3), strong (145:4), gracious and compassionate. He is patient and merciful (145:8). He supports the weak (145:14), sustains all who look to Him for help (145:15), and provides for every living thing (145:16). The LORD is righteous, and holy (145:17). When you call upon Him, He is near (145:18). He answers prayer (145:19), and preserves all who love Him (145:20).

Closing thoughts – No wonder David ended the psalm, resolving, 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (145:21).

David modeled for believers the manner in which we should worship the LORD. We should not mindlessly “go through the motions,” giving little thought to the words of our prayers, or the songs of our praise. We should consciously meditate upon the great truths God has revealed about His character, and attributes, allowing who He is to passionately, and energetically prompt us to praise His name.

The LORD is great, and worthy of our praise!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Broke the Mold When He Made You! (Psalm 139)

Scripture reading – Psalm 139

Psalm 139 is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David,” and in my opinion, is one of the most profound of all the psalms. Some of the foundational doctrines of our faith are declared here, including the revelation that God is Omniscient (139:1-6), Omnipresent (139:7-12), and He is mankind’s Originator, meaning our Creator (139:13-16).

How important are those doctrines? They are essential, fundamental principles to the faith of all Bible believers. You see, what we believe concerning God’s attributes will dictate the answer to critical life questions: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Where am I going?” There is, within the heart of man, a longing for purpose, and a desire to find answers to those questions.

In the 19th century, Charles Darwin, a man who had rejected God as Creator, traveled the world seeking an alternative explanation for life, and the physical universe. The result was a book he titled, “Origin of Species” (1859), and a proposition that the world and life as we know it is the result of evolution. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, though rejected as impossible by many credible scientists, has continued to be taught as “science” in secular education institutions. Tragically, several generations of students have grown up under the influence of Darwinian evolution, and failed to grasp it is an unsubstantiated theory that demands blind faith. To date, not one proof of a species evolving to a different species has ever been discovered (nor ever will)!

What does the Bible reveal in this matter of God, and man?

God is Omniscient, and He knows all that is in the heart of man (139:1-6).

The LORD knows our fears, longings, thoughts, and desires (139:1a). There is nothing concealed from Him (139:2).  He knows our secrets, our ways, and every word we have ever uttered (139:2b-4).  He also savors the noble qualities of our life (139:5-6).

God is Omnipresent (139:7-12).  He abides in every part of his creation, and there is not a 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 into heaven [i.e., the sky above; the 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.”

Because He is omnipresent, we are never beyond the LORD’S protection, love, or mercies (139:9-10).  We can take flight, but we will never be beyond His grasp.

Psalm 139:9-10  – “If I take [depart; carried away on] 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 not only Omniscient and Omnipresent; He is also our Originator… Creator, Designer, Engineer, and Architect (139:13-16).

Psalm 139:13-16 reinforces one of the great “Right-to-Life” principles against abortion in the Scriptures. When we accept that God is Creator (Genesis 1:27), and the Giver of life (Genesis 2:7), and man is created in His image (a spiritual, eternal being), we must believe human life is sacred. Abortion is, therefore, an unconscionable evil; a sin against God and humanity.

God has sovereignly determined our 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].

Every man, woman, boy, and girl is unique. You are one of a kind, and there is none other like you. Modern science has proven just how unique you are.  Did you know, your ears are geometrically unique to you, as is your body odor (secreting a combination of 44 compounds).  Your fingerprints, and fingernails are unique with loops and swirls that form patterns that are distinctive to you.  In fact, even the pores of your nose form a pattern like none other!

God has impressed on man’s soul a consciousness of his Creator’s hand and design. (139:14-15)

Psalm 139:14-15 – “I will praise [give thanks] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly] 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].

Just think about it, from the moment your were conceived, your person and days were determined (139:16).

Psalm 139:16 – Thine 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].”

Closing thoughts – You are God’s unique creation and He knows you.  He created you as a free will agent, and like Charles Darwin, you have the privilege and responsibility of your choices. Be forewarned: The ability to choose brings with it the consequences of that choice.

Remember: “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.” (Romans 1:20)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Worship Music and the Character of Worship Leaders (1 Chronicles 25)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 25

Twenty-four Orders of Levite Musicians

Continuing the census and organization of the men of the tribe of Levi that began in 1 Chronicles 23, “David and the captains of the host” arranged the musicians who would minister in the worship of the Temple. David was intimately involved in the music of the Tabernacle, and the organization of the music ministry in the Temple. As both a poet and musician, the king understood the important role music would have in worshipping the LORD.

Three primary Levitical families are identified (25:1): “the sons of Asaph (25:2), and of Heman (25:4-5), and of Jeduthun (25:3).” The sons of those families were described as “separated to the service…who should prophesy [i.e., inspire by song] with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (25:1).

David appointed the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to serve in the ministry of music (25:1). Heman stands out not only as a chief musician, but “God gave to [him] fourteen sons and three daughters” (25:5). Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, evidently were excellent musicians, passing their skills to their children who served under their father’s direction “in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God” (25:6). Altogether, there were 288 musicians who were described as “instructed [taught] in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning [skilled]” (25:7).

Of course, as noted earlier, there were 4000 singers and musicians whom David appointed to “offer praises to the LORD (23:5). These were divided by lot into twenty-four companies who ministered in the Temple in the morning and evening (25:8-31)

Closing thoughtsWorshipping the LORD was central to Israel as a nation, and the music ministry had an essential role. The orchestra and choir consisted of Levites whose lives were dedicated to ministering daily in the Temple.

The 21st century church would be wise to return to that standard, and remember the responsibility of those who minister in music was to “prophesy,” literally to inspire by word and song.

Godly character and musicianship were essential for those who ministered in music before the LORD and His people.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

Does God Repent? (2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21

Today’s Scripture readings are parallel accounts of the same tragic event. David commanded a census be taken, numbering the warriors in Israel. Because 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 are essentially mirror images of the same events, I will take today’s devotional from each.

David was an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was a long past memory. Now in the latter years of his life and reign, the king made a proud, foolish decision and commanded, “Go, number Israel and Judah,” and in doing so provoked the “anger of the LORD…against Israel” (24:1). From where, or whom, did this provocation arise? The writer of 2 Samuel states, “he moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah” (24:1).

Who was “he?” The historian of 1 Chronicles revealed the inspiration for numbering the people was the Satan. We read, “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). How did this happen? Why would a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), find it his heart to do that which was contrary to the will of God? Various explanations might be put forward, but I suggest the central one is PRIDE. Satan targeted a “dead ringer,” a common area of weakness for most men, and provoked the natural inclination of the proud king’s heart.

Satan had provoked the natural inclination of a proud king’s heart.

“Joab, the captain of the host (i.e. army),” questioned the king’s motive for the census (24:3; 1 Chronicles 21:3), appealing to him with gracious words, saying, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command was a provocation of God’s judgment, and suggested, “The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be…why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:3; 2 Samuel 24:3).

The census lasted nine months and twenty days, and when the number was given, David’s heart was convicted, and he prayed, “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).

Though the king confessed numbering the people was a great sin, nevertheless, God’s nature would not dismiss the consequences of his sin. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11). David was mercifully given the opportunity to choose which of three judgments would befall him and Israel (21:10-12): Seven years of famine, three months of being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days of pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies, than fall into the hand of 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.”

The angel’s path of death and destruction spanned Israel, slaying 70,000 men, but as he neared Jerusalem, “the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (1 Chronicles 21:15).

God did not repent of wrong doing, but in His mercy He changed His mind, and halted His judgment for David’s sin. David and the elders of Israel had called upon the LORD, and as the shepherd king of Israel, he prayed, “Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued” (1 Chronicles 21:17).

The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD, and instructed 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.]

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

Closing thoughts – What became of the land David purchased? Let us take a moment for a brief lesson from history:

The threshingfloor of Araunah had been the place God had tried Abraham, and he had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This was also the place the LORD promised Jacob, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). When Jacob awakened, “he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17). This same place would later be the site Solomon would build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

Of course, it was not far from a place that would one day be beloved as Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified, suffered, and died for our sins, and the sins of the world.

“O how marvelous! O how wonderful!  Is my Savior’s love for me!”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Joy to the World, the LORD is Come!” (Psalm 97; Psalm 98)

Scripture reading – Psalm 97; Psalm 98

Today’s Scripture readings, Psalm 97 and Psalm 98, have a prophetic application. I suggest that both of the psalms are depictions of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 97 – The LORD on His Throne (97:1-6)

Psalm 97 opens with the LORD reigning as King, and the inhabitants of the earth rejoicing (97:1). Christ is presented in His majesty, and His judgment is described as one of righteousness and judgment (97:2).  He is  just, and holy, for “fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (97:3). The earth trembles, and nothing can stand in His “presence” (literally, the person), for God is holy (97:4-5). Indeed, “the heavens declare [God’s] righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (97:6).

The Shame and Confusion of the Heathen (97:7)

When Christ reigns, the heathen who have worshipped and served “graven images” will find their idols are not gods at all. They are, in the words of the psalmist, “The work of men’s hands. 16They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; 17They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:15-17).

The Rejoicing of the Saints of God (97:8-9)

When the people of Zion (i.e., Jerusalem), hear how the heathen have been confounded and put to shame, they will be glad and Judah will rejoice (97:8). There is none like the LORD, for He is exalted, “high above all the earth… [and] above all gods” (97:9).

The Righteous and God’s Blessings (97:10-12)

How do the righteous prove their love for the LORD? They “hate evil” (97:10a), the evil way, and the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). They love the LORD, and keep their feet far from wickedness.

Because God loves the righteous, He preserves them (guards; watches over). Though the righteous find themselves hated, and even persecuted, the LORD will in the end save the righteous “out of the hand of the wicked” (97:10). To the righteous, the LORD gives light, and He rejoices the heart (97:11-12).

Psalm 98 – “Sing unto the LORD a New Song”

Psalm 98, like Psalm 97, is a reflection on the Second Coming of Christ, and inspired Isaac Watts’ memorable hymn, “Joy to the World” (although sung at services reflecting on Christ’s birth, it is in fact a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming). Psalm 98 is an invitation to believers to worship the LORD in song, and rejoice in His salvation and righteousness (98:2).

First Stanza: “Sing unto the LORD a new song” (98:1-3)

What is this “new song?” It is a song of victory, and praise to the LORD for His strength and power (98:1-2a). It is a song of redemption, and a praise to God for His grace (98:2b). It is a song of rejoicing that the LORD is faithful, and He had not forgotten Israel (98:3).

Second Stanza: A Call to all Nations to Worship the LORD (98:4-6)

The musicians in the Temple were Levites, and were trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise (98:4), but an energetic expression in music and song. The “joyful noise” and the “loud noise” was a “shout,” or cry or triumph (98:4, 6).

The music of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, was not meant to entertain the congregation. The focus of the music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both the message (words) and the music. Accompanied on string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6), the focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (98:6).

Third and Final Stanza: A Call to Creation to Worship the LORD (98:7-9)

Only when creation is freed from the curse of sin, and the LORD ushers in His millennial kingdom, will all creation rejoice (98:7-8). Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect man’s sin has had upon creation, and the world will not be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) until the Second Coming of Christ.

Closing thoughts – Violent storms, earthquakes, and yes, pandemics, remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22). When Christ comes again, He will right the wrongs, and judge the earth in His righteousness (98:9). Think about that the next time you sing:

“Joy to the World, the LORD is Come!”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Why Worship the LORD? (Psalm 95)

Psalm 95.

Scripture reading – Psalm 95

Psalm 95 does not identify David as the author; however, the stamp of his life and testimony are, in my opinion, undeniable. There is; however, a far greater authority that identifies the king as the writer of the psalm. The author of the Book of Hebrews quotes a portion of Psalm 95:7, writing, “Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in DavidTo day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7).

I believe Psalm 95 would have been sung by the choirs and congregation of Israel during the Feast of the Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-44). Psalm 95:8-11 references Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness, of which the Feast of the Tabernacles was a reminder of the sovereignty and providence of God.

Psalm 95 – A Psalm of Praise and Worship

In the exercise of praise and worship, notice how God’s people are to praise the LORD (95:1-2). We are to “sing unto the LORD” with a spirit of rejoicing. We are to “make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” (95:1b). Remembering the singing of this psalm would have occurred when the priests entered the Tabernacle, we read, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (95:2).

Why should we worship the LORD? (95:3-7)

The God of Israel is not a god among many gods; He is the LORD, the sovereign of creation. He “is a great [strong; mighty] God, And a great King above all gods” (95:3). He is the Creator, and “in his hand are the deep places of the earth: The strength of the hills is his also. 5The sea is his, and he made it: And his hands formed the dry land” (95:4-5).

The LORD is our Shepherd, and we should “worship and bow down…[and] kneel before the Lord our maker” (95:6). “He is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (95:7). We are his “people,” and He protects and feeds us. We are “the sheep of his hands,” and He is our guide (95:7).

An Admonition: Do Not Provoke the Wrath of God (95:7b-11)

David, wrote, “To day if ye will hear his voice” (95:7b). The conjunction “if” introduces a condition, a possibility, a stipulation. God created man a “free will agent,” and each man and woman has the capacity to choose how they respond to the “voice,” the Word and Law of God (95:7b). Each of us has the capacity of hearing and heeding the “voice” of the LORD, or rejecting Him and hardening our hearts (95:8a).

David reminded Israel how their fathers had provoked God’s wrath when they murmured against Moses in the wilderness, and threatened to stone him and turn back to Egypt (95:8-9; Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13; Hebrews 3:7-19). David observed, for “forty years” that generation had grieved the heart of God and He did loath them. God said, “It is a people that do err [wander; stray] in their heart, and they have not known my ways” (95:10). The people had not learned the ways of the LORD, and He vowed in His wrath, “that they should not enter into [His] rest” (95:11).

What was the “rest” the LORD withheld from that generation because of their sin and rebellion? It was Canaan, the long-awaited Promised Land (Numbers 14:21-33; Deuteronomy 1:34-35). Because they had rebelled, the children of that unfaithful generation were burdened with burying their fathers and mothers in the wilderness.

What a powerful lesson, and warning to all! We all bear the responsibility of a “free will,” and have the capacity of turning to the LORD, from sin, or rejecting Him and facing the inevitable judgment of God.

Revelation 20:11, 1511And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them…15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Whom will you choose to worship, and serve?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Ministering to a “Woke” Culture (A Biblical Perspective)

* The following article, though addressing a “hot topic,” is not written to make a political statement. I am a spiritual shepherd, and it is my desire to guide people through a maze of moral dilemmas, and to spiritual truths. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Shaming has become a perpetual practice of the political left in the 21st century. With little regard for historical fact or context, militant agitators have been fomenting unrest in our society, and trumpeting a narrative of cultural and generational guilt. Politicians, educators, news organizations, religious leaders, corporations, and social media moguls are in lockstep pushing a “Woke” agenda. Driven by a socialist political agenda, they are demanding “justice,” and reparations for the poor and disenfranchised.

What is the “Woke” doctrine?

Risking being accused of over simplification, the adherents of “Woke” doctrine place on one generation or people (i.e., countries of origin, race, religion, et al), the burden of bearing responsibility for the sins and failures of earlier generations.

“Woke” doctrine is being taught in schools, adopted by corporations, and demanded by human rights movements. “Woke” is the ideology of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and its demand for reparations. “Woke idealists” condemn the United States as an imperialist nation, and accuse the USA of egregious crimes against humanity, and of oppressing the less fortunate people and nations of the world. [An elementary knowledge of United States history, particularly that of the 20th century, reveals the USA is the lone super power that, though not perfect, has been a rebuilder, not an occupier of the conquered and the downtrodden.]

Militant “Woke” liberals are demanding that the United States and its citizens must right our wrongs, even if that means punishing this generation for the alleged sins of past generations.

Must a nation and people pay for the sins and failures of previous generations?  Must “We the people” be impoverish to amend for what others contend are our national sins? Does a massive transfer of wealth to impoverished nations and people “fix” the failures of the past?

What does the Bible say?

Is there a spiritual principle to answer a “Woke” culture? Can one generation bear the guilt for the sins of past generations? Do sons and daughters have a moral obligation to compensate for the failures of their fathers who went before them?

The Word of God does have an answer to this controversy, and it is stated simply:

Ezekiel 18:20 – 20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

What is the spiritual response to the “Woke” doctrine of “love and reparations?”

It is that every generation bears responsibility for its choices, whether they are lawful or lawless, righteous or wicked (Ezekiel 18:20). When a generation chooses righteousness, they enjoy God’s favor. When sons and daughters choose wickedness, they bear God’s judgment, and will suffer the punishment of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:20d).

Are the sins of past generations the burden of sons and daughters?

Absolutely. We read in Lamentations 5:7, “7Our fathers have sinned, and are not; And we have borne their iniquities.”

While sons and daughter bear the burden and influence of the sins of their fathers, they cannot be lawfully punished for the failures of a former generation. Such a demand is not only unjust, but violates the Scriptures and God’s righteous judgment (Deuteronomy 24:16).

Should the Church and its members look upon human history, and acknowledge “human rights” violations? Do we concede the failures of generations that have gone before us? Absolutely!

However, it is God, not man that is judge. He does not condemn one generation for the failures of another.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith
* All rights reserved. May not be republished without acknowledgement, and the permission of the author.

SOS: A Cry for Help (Psalm 70)

Scripture reading – Psalm 70

Our Scripture reading is from Psalm 70, and is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.” The occasion that inspired the psalm is not stated, but the tone of the song indicates it was during a time of crisis in David’s life, if not perhaps within Israel itself. I invite you to consider the psalm in four spiritual thoughts. * Note the brackets are those of the author and are meant to amplify word meanings.

A Cry for Help (70:1)

Psalm 70:11Make haste, O God [Elohim, Mighty God], to deliver [save; rescue] me; Make haste to help me, O Lord [Yahweh].

David prayed for the LORD to help, to come to his aid, and to make haste. We do not know the circumstances that prompted the king’s cry; however, there was a crisis and he was anxious for the LORD to come before it was too late.

A Cry for Vindication (70:2-3)

Psalm 70:22Let them be ashamed [put to shame; humiliated] and confounded [disgraced; dismayed] that seek after my soul [life; being]: Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion [humiliated; disgraced], that desire [take delight in] my hurt [misery; trouble; hurt].

Anyone in leadership can identify with the king’s anguish in this verse, for there are always those waiting for an opportunity to bring down a righteous man. David does not name his adversaries, but there were many who sought his ruin. He not only desired vindication, but longed that his enemies might be exposed, filled with shame, frustrated, and humiliated.

Psalm 70:33Let them be turned back for a reward [consequence; because] of their shame that say, Aha, aha. [the scorn of an enemy]

No one likes to hear, “I told you so.”  David especially did not want his enemies to have one word of reproach toward him or any of God’s people. He prayed that his enemies might not only suffer the shame and consequences of their sins, but also be frustrated in their efforts.

A Prayer for Those Who Seek the LORD (70:4)

Psalm 70:44Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad [merry] in thee: And let such as love thy salvation [deliverance; acts of salvation] say continually [continuously], Let God be magnified [be great; be strong].

Though hurting from the threats and attacks of those who sought his ruin, David did not allow his enemies to dominate his thoughts. His prayer turned from focusing on his adversaries, to praying for the saints. David prayed that those who seek the LORD might rejoice in Him, and delight in His salvation.

Contrast the scoffing of the wicked, “Aha, aha” (70:3), with the believer’s cry, “Let God be magnified” (70:4). Therein is the heart of people of faith! Let God be glorified, magnified, and lifted up!

David’s Humility and Confession (70:5)

Psalm 70:55But I am poor [wretched; humble; afflicted] and needy [in want]: make haste unto me, O God: Thou art my help [strength] and my deliverer [escape]; O Lord, make no tarrying [do not linger; do not delay].

David was king, and his outward man was far from “poor and needy,” but it was his inner man, his soul, that felt the sorrow and anxiety from the assaults of those who desired his ruin. The prayer (psalm) concludes as it began, with a cry for God to quickly respond, and a confession that the LORD alone was his “help” (strength), and “deliverer.

Closing thought – Where do you turn in times of distress and trouble? I fear many believers turn to their own wiles, and ways. Some are overcome with anxiety, and depression. Some may take their own lives in a desperate attempt to escape their sorrows.

Where should you turn? Follow David’s example, turn to the LORD, and He will be your help and deliverer.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Song of Thanksgiving (Psalm 67; Psalm 69)

Scripture reading – Psalm 67; Psalm 69

Our study of the Psalms continues with two songs of worship. According to its title, Psalm 67 was addressed to, “The Chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song” (it is believed that “Neginoth” was a stringed instrument). Psalm 69 is titled, “To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim,” and describes it as, “A Psalm of David.) The focus of today’s devotional is Psalm 67.

A Prayer for God’s Grace and Mercy (67:1)

Like other psalms of thanksgiving we have considered, this brief, but beautiful song as a petition to the God of Israel to be “merciful” and gracious to His people. The psalm continues, “bless us; and cause his [God’s] face to shine upon us” (67:1). Literally, shine your favor upon us, O Lord!

We might ask, “Why should the LORD bless His people?” The answer: “That thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations. 3Let the people praise thee, O God; Let all the people praise thee” (67:2-3).

The motivation for asking for the LORD’s blessings was not a selfish desire for success or material possessions, but as a testimony of God’s favor upon His people before all the nations of the earth (67:2-3).

A Petition for Universal Praise and Thanksgiving (67:4-5)

4O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: For thou shalt judge the people righteously, And govern the nations upon earth. Selah.”

The psalmist longed for that which should be the desired of all believers: that the nations of the world would turn to the LORD and “be glad and sing for joy” (67:4a).

What part might believers have in seeing the nations of the world turn to God? Jesus Christ answered that question with His Great Commission: “19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Unlike the scales of man’s justice, God’s judgment is perfectly righteous, and altogether just (67:4b). He is a just, and holy God; He is kind, and compassionate. What a great cause for rejoicing! “5Let the people praise thee, O God; Let all the people praise thee” (67:5).

God’s Response to Praise and Thanksgiving (67:6-7)

The psalmist observed, when a nation praises the LORD, He in turn blesses the earth. The psalmist writes, “6Then shall the earth yield her increase” (67:6a). Unless you grew up on a farm, or have had a family garden, you might not grasp the beauty of that promise. A man who praises the LORD in his labor, enjoys the blessings of God, and the fruit of his labor.

Twice we read, “And God, even our own God, shall bless us. 7God shall bless us” (67:6b-7a). What an inspiring thought! When our hearts and thoughts are upon the LORD, and we offer Him our prayers of thanksgiving, He blesses us twofold!

Psalm 67 concludes with the assurance, “all the ends of the earth shall fear him” (67:7b, 22:27). All people, everywhere, will have cause to fear, revere, and worship the LORD.

Closing thought: Take a few moments and count your blessings. Offer to the LORD a prayer of thanksgiving for the multitude of His blessings.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be A Prayer Warrior For Your Nation (Psalm 20)

Scripture reading – Psalm 20

Psalm 20 has been described by some as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. It is an intercessory prayer, an exhortation to pray and call to the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. * As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of the author.

Psalm 20:1-2 – “The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support;; sustain] thee out of Zion [site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired this psalm are not stated, but because its author was David, I believe it was the king appealing to his people to call unto the LORD (20:1). Israel was facing an enemy, and the king dare not go to war without the confidence that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. pause; or pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, the people worshipped Him, and prayed He would accept their sacrifices, hear, and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; standard]: the LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people believed the LORD would give their king victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy, and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners. (The flags carried into battle identified national pride). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers, and answer their petitions (20:5b).

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face the enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people, and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty, and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save him in the battle.

Psalm 20:77Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Men and nations go into battle with little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Their faith is in their weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). We have observed in earlier devotions that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes. The LORD is holy, just, powerful, omniscient, compassionate, and sovereign. He will do as it pleases Him.

Psalm 20:8-98They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts – I invite you to consider three spiritual lessons from Psalm 20:

The LORD hears and answers prayer. Israel prayed the LORD would hear the prayer of the king, and His people, and go before them into battle (20:1-2). Oh, that the leaders of this world would call upon the LORD, and not put their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

We should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers (20:3-4). Israel assured the king they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom, and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD, and whose people uphold them in prayer.

God’s people should put their faith in the grace and blessings of God.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory, They were confident God heard, and would answer their prayers.

I close with a story conveyed by a farmer during the American Revolution.  The farmer was walking through the woods toward the encampment at Valley Forge, when he heard a voice. Drawing near, he found General George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home, and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

1 Timothy 2:1-21 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith