Category Archives: Creation

“Saying Grace” – A Prayer of Thanksgiving (Psalm 65-66)

Scripture reading – Psalm 65; Psalm 66

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms, Psalm 65 and Psalm 66. This devotional is focused on Psalm 65.

Psalm 65 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Psalm 65 is a beautiful psalm of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I am not sure why this particular psalm is titled “A Psalm and Song of David” (because all the psalms are songs of worship); however, the king of Israel was the author and it was dispatched to “the chief musician” of the tabernacle (for the Temple would not be built until the time of Solomon, the son of David). I suggest you consider Psalm 65 in three applications.

Praise is Due the LORD (65:1-4)

David’s introduction to the psalm acknowledged the LORD is worthy of praise. The vow is in reference to the covenant of promise God made to Israel. His people were to remember the stipulation of the covenant and perform them (65:1). David confessed the weight of sin upon man, and realized all flesh would one day come before God. Yet, David rejoiced in the LORD’S forgiveness, and deliverance (65:3). Such a man is blessed, for he can approach the presence of the LORD, dwell in the courts of His sanctuary, and experience His goodness and blessings (65:3b-4).

Those who worship God should remember the vows they have made to Him, and fulfill them The LORD not only hears the prayers of His people, He answers them (65:2)!

Praise the LORD for His Power (65:5-8)

Reflecting on God’s sovereignty (65:5-8), David praised Him not only for answering prayers, but for His salvation. The king observed that the presence of the LORD reaches “all the ends of the earth,” even to them who are “afar off upon the sea” (65:5). Psalm 65:6-8 reminds us of God’s power and sovereignty, for He is the Almighty One, the Sovereign of creation. He is the Creator, and fixed the mountains in their places (65:6), quiets the raging storms of the seas (65:7), and can silence the fury of the sea of humanity (65:7b).

David writes of men, “8They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens” (65:8a). What are the tokens of the LORD that cause the bravest of men to tremble? Think of the menacing power of a thunder storm with its blinding flashes of light, or the roar and tempest of a hurricane. Think also of the destructive path of a tornado, or perhaps the rumble and upheaval of an earthquake. All are tokens of the Creator.

Praise God for His Blessings (65:9-13)

Perhaps recalling his years as a shepherd, David remembered with welcome the relief of rains that produced much needed streams in that dry land.  As a shepherd he would have known firsthand how important water was to the earth. He acknowledged to God, “9Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: Thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. 10Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: Thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof” (65:9-10).

We should be thankful for the rains God sends our way, and the streams of water that quench the thirst of nature, and provide green pastures and grains so that all nature rejoices (65:9-13). I live in Florida and am surrounded by water. However, in centuries past when family farms were indispensable for the famer and his neighbors, rain was not an inconvenience, it was essential and celebrated. I fear we fail to pray, and thank the LORD for replenishing the earth with rain.

Closing thoughts“Who would like to say grace?” I have not heard that phrase in years, but I remember the old folks of my youth asking, “Who would like to say the blessing?”  To “Say Grace” or offer a “blessing,” was a prayer of thanksgiving for the bounty of God’s blessings, and in particular, the meal we were about to consume.

If “saying grace” is not a practice in your home, it should be. Every meal should begin with you bowing your head, and thanking God for His “GRACE.” When we pray at mealtimes, we acknowledge the LORD is the provider and source of all blessings.

Remember, the sun, wind, and rain all come from Him!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

The Majesty of God, the Eternal Judge (1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50

Today’s Scripture reading comprises Psalm 50, and 1 Chronicles 18. You should be familiar with the narrative of the latter, for it chronicles events we considered in a prior study of 2 Samuel 8. Psalm 50, therefore, is the focus of today’s devotional.

Psalm 50

The title of Psalm 50, “A Psalm of Asaph,” introduces a song writer who was a chief musician during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 16:7). This is one of twelve psalms attributed to Asaph. The occasion for the writing of the psalm is not given; however, it rejoices in the LORD as a righteous judge (50:1-6), encourages the saints of God in their worship (50:7-15), and admonishes the wicked for their sin (50:16-21).

God, the Righteous Judge (50:1-6)

Knowing the names of God define His character, consider what we can learn of Him in the introductory verse: The mighty God [El Elohim – Mighty Ruler; Great God; Supreme], even the Lord [Yahweh; SELF-EXISTENT ONE], hath spoken, and called [summoned] the earth [all inhabitants] from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof” (50:1).

Psalm 50:2 declares the majesty of God: “2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined;” while Psalm 50:3 announces He is coming: “3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: A fire shall devour before him, And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.”

I believe it is the Second Coming of Christ that is described here, for the LORD is pictured as one coming in judgment [like a fire], and mankind is admonished to prepare for His judgment (50:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:27).  The saints of God will be gathered, and the judgment of God will be righteous (50:5-6).

God’s Message to the Saints of Israel (50:7-15)

I notice three major truths regarding the LORD summoning His people to come before Him. The first, He is God, and therefore He has the right to judge Israel (50:7). God is pictured as pondering His judgment of the people, and acknowledges they had brought before Him sacrifices and burnt offerings continually (50:8). Nevertheless, the people were reminded that in offering bullocks and goats to the LORD, they were giving only that which was His (50:9). All that has life, and breath is the LORD’S (50:10-11).

In a wonderful reminder of God’s Sovereignty as Creator and LORD, He challenged the people, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (50:12).

Stop for a moment, and consider that last statement! There is nothing you and I can give the LORD, that is not already His, for all the world is His! We own nothing, but we are chosen to be stewards of possessions that are the LORD’S. Not only what we possess, but our very being is the LORD’S. In this, God has the right and authority to command us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Lesson – How might we honor and glorify the LORD? By giving ourselves to Him out of a heart of gratitude, and present to Him all that is due (50:14). When we come to the LORD with a heart of gratitude, He promises: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (50:15).

God’s Message to the Wicked (50:16-21)

The focus of Psalm 50 then turns from the saints, to God’s judgment of the wicked (50:16). Consider the hypocrisy of the wicked: Externally they acknowledge the statutes of the LORD (His Law and Commandments), and worship Him with sacrifices and offerings; however, God knows their hearts. He admonished the wicked, for they hated to be instructed in the way of righteousness, and had contempt for the Word of God (50:17). They violate His commandments, and fail to rebuke the thief (50:18a; Exodus 20:15). They observe the adulterer, but fail to condemn his adultery (50:18b; Exodus 20:14). The wicked lie and slander others (50:19-20; Exodus 20:16).

Notice in Psalm 50:21 how the threat of God’s judgment rose to a crescendo (50:21a), as He warned the wicked that they had abused His silence, His patience, and their day of judgment was coming (50:21b).

Conclusion: A Warning and a Promise (50:22-23)

The Warning: Fail to obey the LORD, and express gratitude of His blessings and longsuffering, and He will “tear you in pieces” and none can deliver you out of His fury (50:22).

The Promise: It is a heart of praise and thanksgiving that glorifies the LORD (50:23). When a sinner sincerely seeks the LORD, He promises to show him the way of “the salvation of God.” What is the way of salvation, and the forgiveness of sin?

Ephesians 2:8–108For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Primer in Congregational Worship (Psalm 33; Psalm 36)

Scripture reading – Psalm 33; Psalm 36

Worship in the 21st century Church is far from the reverential worship you would have known and experienced had you worshiped the LORD in the courtyard of the Tabernacle or at the Temple in Solomon’s day. Like all of the psalms, Psalm 33 has the LORD as its central focus, and its theme is a contemplation of God’s majesty as Creator, Almighty, Jehovah, Eternal God. * Today’s devotional will be taken from Psalm 33. As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

A Study in Congregational Worship (33:1-5)

Psalm 33:1 – “Rejoice [sing; shout for joy] in the LORD, O ye righteous [just; lawful; innocent; blameless]: for praise is comely [beautiful; suitable; fitting] for the upright [righteous; right].

Psalm 33:1 emphasizes the DUTY of believers (the righteous and the upright) to worship the LORD. Old Testament saints understood to be righteous in the sight of the LORD, required obedience to His laws and commandments in both spirit and practice. The righteous have both cause and duty to “Rejoice in the LORD” and praise Him (33:1).

Psalm 33:2-3Praise [give thanks] the LORD with harp [lyre]: sing [sing praise] unto him with the psaltery [lute] and an instrument of ten strings [ten string instrument]3 Sing unto him a new song; play [make music]skillfully [well; good; pleasing; beautiful] with a loud noise [shout; i.e. like the sound of a trumpet].

The Father also desires His people to worship Him out of a heart of DEVOTION. With both instrument and voice, the righteous are able to express their love and devotion in congregational music and song (33:2). The psalmist called upon the congregation to sing a “new song” (33:3a), and “play skillfully with a loud noise” (33:3b).

While “a loud noise” might be an apt description of some 21st century “praise music,” it falls short of the message portrayed by the psalmist. As an explanation: Often overlooked in the phrase is the word “skillfully,” meaning beautiful and well-pleasing; and something that cannot be achieved apart from years of disciplined practice. The “loud noise” implies the sound of wind instruments, such as a trumpet.

DECLARATION is another word that describes congregational worship. Believers are to declare in their music and song the majesty of the LORD who is worthy of praise and worship (33:4-5).

Psalm 33:4-54 For the word [spoken word; discourse] of the LORD is right [righteous; just]; and all his works [acts; deeds] are done in truth [faith; faithfulness]. 5 He [the LORD] loveth righteousness [justice] and judgment [right]: the earth [land] is full [filled; overflow] of the goodness [mercy; kindness] of the LORD.

God’s glory is also revealed in His Word and works. His Word is right, and His works are honest and true (33:4). He is holy, just, loving, faithful and good (33:4-5), and if we look, we can see the LORD’S loving and faithful hand in the world around us, and hopefully reflected in us.

An Affirmation of the Character of the LORD (33:5-19)

Remembering Psalm 33 is a song, notice the focus of the verses is upon the divine character and attributes of the LORD (33:5-19). The LORD is righteous (33:5a), good (33:5b), omnipotent (33:6-9), omniscient (33:10), and His counsel (Word) is eternal and immutable (33:11).

The LORD is vigilant, and He “looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men” (33:13). He knows what lies within the hearts of men, and “He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works” (33:15). The LORD is sovereign over all nations (33:16-17), and He is the protector and provider for them who fear and revere Him (33:18-19).

Three Benefits That Come to Those Who Worship the LORD (33:20-22)

Psalm 33 concludes with a doxology, that boasts of the LORD’s care for His children, and the benefits that come to them when they worship the LORD. When worship, and song focuses on the character of the LORD, believers who worship Him in Truth acquire three virtues: They learn patience, for they “waiteth for the LORD” (33:20). Their faith is increased, for they “have trusted in His holy name” (33:21). Finally, because they know the LORD is merciful, they are never without hope, for they “hope in [the LORD]” (33:22).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Praise, Prayers, Promises, and Peace (Psalm 29)

Scripture reading – Psalm 29

What can you give someone who has everything?  What can you and I, mere mortals with failings and shortcomings, give to God Who is the Creator and Sovereign of the universe? *As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

Give That Which God Requires (Psalm 29:1-2)

Psalm 29:1-2 1Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD [Jehovah; Self-Existent, Eternal God], O ye mighty [strong; mighty ones], give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD glory [honor] and strength [acknowledge His power; might].
2Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD the glory [honor] due unto his name [character; reputation]; worship [bow; do reverence; prostrate] the LORD in the beauty [honor; glory; splendor] of holiness [hallowed; consecrated; sacredness].”

To “give” is to bring, ascribe, or assign to the LORD that which is rightfully due Him.  The “mighty,” perhaps the mightiest among mankind, or the angels of heaven (i.e., the sons of God, Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), owe their being to the LORD. The angels, like man, were created to glorify and serve the LORD. God is due our praise!

Worship and adoration are “due unto His name,” for His names define His divine character and attributes (29:2).  When we worship the LORD, we acknowledge He is Creator, Jehovah, Eternal, and Self-Existent God.

The Power and Presence of the LORD in the Storm (29:3-9)

The presence and majesty of the LORD in His creation is explained in Psalm 29:3-9. Rather than a prolonged commentary, I will permit my word amplifications to reflect the beauty and the revelation of God in the midst of a powerful sweeping storm over the mountains of Canaan. Imagine the loudest, most powerful storm you have ever experienced, and how the thunder was loud enough it shook the house, and the lighting so bright it was blinding.

Psalm 29:3-9 – The voice [sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory [honor]thundereth [roars]: the LORD is upon many [great] waters.
4  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is powerful [mighty; strength]; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty [glory; honor].
5  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD breaketh [destroys; crushes; abolishes] the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh [destroy; crush; abolish] the cedars of Lebanon [known for their beauty and strength] .
6  He
[the LORD] maketh them also to skip like a calf [leap or frolic like a young calf]; Lebanon and Sirion [a mountain peak in Lebanon] like a young unicorn [perhaps a one-horned antelope].
7  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD divideth [cut in pieces; engraved] the flames of fire.
8  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD shaketh [be pained; tremble] the wilderness [desert place]; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh [southern Palestine].
9  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD maketh the hinds [doe or female deer] to calve [give birth], and discovereth [make bare; uncover] the forests: and in his temple [palace; sanctuary] doth every one speak [command] of his glory [honor; great reputation].

The LORD is Sovereign of Creation (29:10-11)

Psalm 29:10-1110 The LORD sitteth [dwells; abides] upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth [dwells; abides]King for ever [everlasting].
11 The LORD will give
[grant; put; deliver] strength [power; might] unto his people [nation]; the LORD will bless his people with peace [shalom; health; prosperity].”

The psalm concludes with an assurance that when storms are raging, we can take comfort remembering the LORD is sovereign over Creation.  To Him, the floodwaters, though powerful and frightening, are His footstool, and He is the everlasting King (29:10). The LORD is the source of strength and peace for His people!

Closing thought – Storms come in various forms. Some are natural occurrences like the thunderstorm described in Psalm 29. Other storms are deeply personal and bring emotional upheavals, physical sufferings, and paralyzing fears. Those storms can come in waves, rushing in upon our lives and reminding us even the strongest are vulnerable. Yet, storms can also remind us to look to the God of heaven, for “the LORD sitteth King for ever…[and]will bless His people with peace” (29:11).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sing Unto the LORD! (Psalm 89; Psalm 96)

Scripture reading – Psalm 89; Psalm 96

Music has always been a central part of worshipping the LORD.  Had you been privileged to visit the Temple, you would have heard singers and musicians leading the congregation of Israel in worship. Their lives were dedicated to singing, playing, and composing songs of praise. Reading the psalms, you come to realize the deep, personal relationship the writers had with their subject…the LORD! Psalm 89 and Psalm 96 call upon the congregation to sing, sing unto the LORD!

Psalm 89 – The Person and Attributes of God

Psalm 89 was composed by “Ethan the Ezrahite,” and some scholars suggest he was also known as Jeduthun, a musician of David’s era. We can be certain he was a Levite, and his composition would have been sung in worship in the Temple. Time and space do not permit a thorough study of Psalm 89; however, I invite you to consider a few of God’s attributes detailed in the psalm.

A Call to Worship the LORD (Psalm 89:1-4)

God is merciful and faithful (89:1-2), and His promises never fail (89:3).

Divine Attributes (Psalm 89:5-18)

God is incomparable (Psalm 89:6-8), and He is to be feared and revered (89:7). He is strong and faithful (89:8). He is the Sovereign in nature, and the seas obey His will (89:9; Matthew 8:24-27). He is Sovereign of the nations, and He rules the “sea” of nations (89:10).

God is the Creator, and the mountains rejoice at His name (89:11-12). He is just, merciful, and to be trusted (89:14). He is righteous (89:16), and our protector (89:18). The LORD is “the Holy One of Israel, [and He] is our King (89:18).

God is Faithful, and No Promise of His Ever Fails. (89:19-52)

The LORD keeps covenant with His people, and He never forgets His promises (89:19-25). He is “my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (89:26). He is merciful (89:28), and just; and those who break His Covenant will not go unpunished (89:26-32). He is holy, and cannot lie (89:35). He is a righteous Judge, and sin will not go unpunished (89:38-45). He is just, and in Him is life, purpose, mercy, and forgiveness (89:46-51). He is worthy of praise, for He is “LORD for evermore” – eternal, perpetual, everlasting God (89:52).

Psalms 96 – “O SING unto the LORD a New Song!”

Psalm 96 is an evangelistic psalm of praise, a universal invitation to “all the earth” to worship and sing praises unto the LORD (96:1). Three times the psalmist invites worshippers to sing:  “1O sing unto the Lord a new song: Sing unto the Lord, all the earth. 2Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; Shew forth his salvation from day to day” (96:1-2).

What was this “new song?”  (96:1-2)

I believe it was a song of salvation, a song of redemption; and an invitation to all who worship the LORD to “shew forth His salvation” (96:2). The psalmist invites God’s people to, “Declare His glory among the heathen [all non-Hebrew people]” (96:3).

Not only are we to “sing unto the LORD,” we are also exhorted to “Give unto the LORD” (96:7-8). The psalm opened with a trifecta invitation to “Sing,” and now there is a triplicate invitation to Give: Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 8Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come into his courts” (96:7–8).

The evangelistic thrust of Psalm 96 continued with an invitation to “worship the LORD” (96:9). Sincere worship acknowledges the holiness of God, and those who worship Him, fear and revere Him (96:9). We who worship the LORD are to declare to “the heathen that the Lord reigneth…and He shall judge the people righteously” (96:10).

Psalm 96 concludes with a doxology, reminding us the sin Adam thrust upon the world, the curse of sin, and its effect upon nature has been “that the whole creation groaneth [sorrows] and travaileth [agonizes] in pain [i.e. pangs of death]” (Romans 8:22).

However, the psalmist foresaw a day when there would be rejoicing in nature: “the heavens…the earth…the sea…the field… [and] the trees of the wood [will] rejoice (96:11-12). What was the cause for rejoicing in nature? When the LORD comes to “judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the people with his truth” (96:13).

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Creator, and King of Glory, Is He Your Lord? (Psalm 24)

Scripture reading – Psalm 24

Psalm 24 was written by David. Consisting of only ten verses, it has inspired many great hymns and anthems. [The brackets within the verses contain amplifications by this author.]

God is the Sovereign of His Creation (24:1-2)

Stated emphatically, and with no ambiguity in the opening verses of Psalm 24, is the truth that God is Creator, possessor, sovereign, and sustainer of His creation.

Psalm 24:1-2 – “The earth is the LORD’S [Jehovah; Eternal God], and the fulness [all it contains] thereof; the world [inhabitants], and they that dwell [inhabit; abide] therein. 2  For he [the LORD] hath founded [laid the foundation] it upon the seas, and established [prepared; erected] it upon the floods [waters; streams].”

The LORD is Eternal God, and the Creator of all things, and “without Him was not anything, made that was made” (John 1:3). As Creator, He is owner of the earth’s resources, and all that inhabits it. He has set the boundaries of the sea and the dry land (24:2). He is the Sustainer. Because the LORD is Sovereign, David asked:

What Manner of Man Might Draw Nigh unto the God of Heaven? (24:3)

Psalm 24:3 – “Who shall ascend [come up; scale] into the hill [mountain] of the LORD? or who shall stand [arise; rise] in his holy [hallowed; sacred] place?”

Can anyone merit the favor of God, or be worthy to enter into His presence? Might a rich man earn good standing with God by donating to charity, and giving his riches to help the poor? Does fasting, praying, worshipping, or showing kindness to another give one entrance into the presence of the LORD?

David listed four characteristics of the man who may enter the presence of the LORD.  (24:4)

Psalm 24:4 – “He that hath clean [innocent; guiltless; blameless] hands, and a pure [clear; innocent] heart [mind]; who hath not lifted up [removed] his soul [life; person] unto vanity [lying; deceit], nor sworn [taken an oath] deceitfully [fraud; i.e. lacking integrity].”

A man must have “clean hands” to enter into the LORD’S presence (24:4a). How might a man acquire “clean hands,” before a holy God? A comparable question was asked and answered in Psalm 119:9, where we read: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” 1 John 1:9reminds us the way to be cleansed is to “confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For a man to have “clean hands,” he must heed God’s Word, and confess his sins.

No man enters into the LORD’S holy place unless he has a “pure heart(pure in heart, thoughts, and motives, 24:4b). The man who enters the “holy place” cannot be like the Pharisees, who thought by portraying outward piety, their prayers would be heard, and answered (Matthew 23:25-28). The LORD, knowing the hearts of men, condemned the Pharisees saying, “Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28).

The man who enters God’s presence must also guard his soul from the “vanity” of the world (24:4c). What is the “vanity” of the world? It is the pleasures, sins, and philosophy of the world that promises much, but never satisfies the heart. The rich man boasted to himself that bigger barns and more goods would satisfy his soul (Luke 12:16-18). Beguiled by riches, he had failed to plan for God’s judgment, and “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20).

A man who enters the presence of the LORD must also have integrity, and he will not swear deceitfully (24:4d). The saints of God are honest and truthful. They are conscious of the Lord’s presence, and they will not cheat, lie, or swear falsely. They are not bound by a contract, but by a consciousness of God’s holiness.

David promised a twofold reward to them who seek the LORD. (24:5-6)

Psalm 24:5 – “He shall receive [accept] the blessing [prosperity] from the LORD, and righteousness [rightness; justice] from the God [i.e. Almighty God] of his salvation.”

When a man seeks the LORD with “clean hands,” a “pure heart,” guards his heart from vanity, and walks with integrity, he is promised “the blessing from the LORD” (24:5a), and declared righteous and just in His sight. David declared on behalf of all Israel, “This is the generation [age; people] of them that seek [follow; worship] him[the LORD], that seek [seek out; require; desire] thy face [the LORD’S countenance and face]  O Jacob [Tribes of Israel]. Selah [pause]” (24:6).

Hail to the King of Glory! (24:7-10)

The coming Messiah, the “King of glory,” is the subject of Psalm 24:7-10. Five times the LORD is identified as the “King of glory.” Who is this “King of glory?” He is the LORD, the “LORD of hosts” (24:8, 10).

In ancient times, the city gates were where private and governmental business was transacted.  The elders, and the king’s ambassadors, sat in judgment at the gates. Beginning with the elders, and chief leaders of the city, David commanded the people to hail the coming of the “King of glory” (24:7).

Psalm 24:7 – “Lift up [hold up] your heads, O ye gates [gates of the city of Jerusalem]; and be ye lift up [men who sat in the gates], ye everlasting [perpetual; ancient] doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

Who was this “King of glory?” He was “the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal God] strong [mighty; powerful]and mighty [heroic; warrior], the LORD mighty in battle [war; combat; warfare]” (24:8). A thousand years after Psalm 24 was composed, Jerusalem celebrated Jesus’ entrance into the city, and identified Him as the “the Son of David,” and therefore heir to the throne. Within that same week, those same voices cried against Jesus, “Let Him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-23; 1 Corinthians 2:8).

Closing thoughts – Perhaps that is the reason David announced, not once, but twice for the “gates” (24:7, 9) to lift up their heads and hail the coming of the “King of glory” (24:9-10). The world rejected Jesus when He came the first time; however, all nations will be forced to hail His Second Coming.

Psalm 24:9–109Lift up your heads, O ye gates; Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in. 10Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Hail to the King, the LORD of heaven’s armies, for He is the King of glory!

Revelation 1:77Behold, he [Christ] cometh with [in the] clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him [on the Cross]: and all kindreds [people and nations] of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Are you ready for His coming?

With the heart of a shepherd,

HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Let All the Earth Praise the LORD! (1 Chronicles 16)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 16

The celebration of the arrival of the Ark of God in Jerusalem continued in 1 Chronicles 16. David had prepared a new tent for the Ark, while the original tabernacle from the days of Moses remained in Gibeon, a city north of Jerusalem, and located in the midst of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.

The Ark’s return, and the restoration of sacrificial offerings (16:1-2) was cause for a national celebration. David did not usurp the role of the Levites; however, as king he placed himself at the forefront of the celebration. After blessing the people in the name of the Lord” (16:2), we read that “every man and woman [was given] a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh [possibly a serving of meat], and a flagon [clay jar] of wine” (16:3).

David had re-established, and set in order the service of the Levites and priests (16:4). He appointed singers and musicians to lead in daily worship (16:4-6), thus reminding us of the prominent role music and singing has always held when believers worship the God of heaven. A poet and musician himself, David had prepared a special psalm of thanksgiving for the occasion (16:7-36), and entrusted it to Asaph, one of three chief musicians (16:7).

A Festive Song, A Psalm of Thanksgiving (16:8-36)

David’s psalm heralded a new day, and a new beginning for the people. Calling upon all Israel to worship and give thanks to the LORD, David invited the congregation to sing: “9Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, Talk ye of all his wondrous works” (16:9). Boast of the LORD, and “10Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord” (16:10).

Three times the song called upon the people to “seek the LORD” (16:10-11). What did it mean to “seek the LORD?” It meant to diligently seek Him; call upon Him as one wholly dependent on Him (16:10).

Not only were the people to glory in the LORD, and seek Him, but they were to remember all He had done for them as a nation (16:12). Abraham, and Jacob were dead, but the covenant promises of the LORD had not failed (16:13-17). All He had promised He had fulfilled, for He had given Israel “the land of Canaan” for their inheritance (16:18). Though Israel had been small among the nations of the world, the LORD had protected His people from the heathen. He had warned the kings of the earth, “touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (16:22).

The focus of the song turned to rejoicing as the people were reminded that the LORD is King and Sovereign of the earth (16:23-33). All the world was encouraged to “sing unto the LORD,” for every day declares His salvation, and His glory is not hid from the eyes of the heathen” (16:23-24). Fools look to the heavens and declare, “No God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1), but the heavens themselves declare the glory of their Creator (16:25). He is great, and “is to be feared above all gods. 26For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens” (16:25-26).

How should believers respond when they realize the glory and majesty of the LORD? With hearts of thanksgiving and rejoicing, we are to bring to the LORD our offerings, and worship Him who is holy (16:27-29). Though all about us seems in turmoil, we should not forget that God sustains the earth, and “the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved” (16:30).

All nature should rejoice, for “The LORD reigneth” (16:31). 32Let the sea roar…let the fields rejoice…the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord” (16:32-33a). Why all this rejoicing? For David, like all the faithful saints of the Old Testament, was looking for the coming of the LORD. The psalm declares, the LORD “cometh to judge the earth” (16:33b).

A Doxology of Praise (16:34-36)

David’s psalm concluded with a prayer for deliverance, and a doxology of thanksgiving. I can hear the crescendo of voices and instruments, as the people sang, “34O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (16:34). Acknowledging that salvation is from God (16:35), the song fell silent with the last refrain: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever” (16:36). The voices of the people thundered in response, “Amen, and praised the Lord” (16:36).

1 Chronicles 16 concluded with a register of Levites that had been assigned to minister before the Ark in Jerusalem (16:37-38), and the names of men assigned to attend the altar and sacrifices in Gibeon, where the tabernacle of Moses remained (16:39-40). As in Jerusalem, so it was in Gibeon, that musicians accompanied the worship of the LORD (16:41-42).

Closing thoughts – With the celebration ended, David and all Israel returned to their houses (16:43). Though the episode with Michal, the daughter of Saul, and the first wife of David was unwarranted and disheartening (15:29), the past was the past and David and the nation looked forward to the blessings of the LORD (1 Chronicles 17).

I encourage you to do the same! Be willing to forgive, and leave the past in the past. We too often stumble over trifles, make minor issues major, and fail to recognize the blessings of the LORD. Take a moment and count your blessings, and then pause and meditate on the greatness of God displayed in His Creation, and in your salvation.

Let all the earth rejoice, and praise the LORD.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD, My Creator and my God (Psalm 104) – Part 2

Scripture reading – Psalm 103; Psalm 104

The author of Psalm 104 though unknown, he continues the spirit of worship and praise, focusing upon God as the Creator, provider, and sustainer of creation.

This devotional is the second of two devotionals for today. The first focused on Psalm 103. This devotional will consider Psalm 104.

Psalm 104 – Creation is God’s Glory on Display

Psalm 104 needs little explanation or commentary. Its simplicity, and beauty can inspire saint and sinner to contemplate the earth, sun, stars, and planets, and understand that all creation is a testimony of God’s person and existence. The pen of the author sings the praises of the LORD, saying, “1Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honour and majesty” (104:1).

Psalm 104 unfolds much like the timeline of the first five days of creation (Genesis 1).

The first day of creation, God’s light, His shekinah glory stretched across the heavens (104:2), and He made the heavens His abode (104:3; Genesis 1:1-5). (Take time to look up into the sky, and ponder the majesty of God). In the words of the psalmist, “[He] maketh the clouds his chariot: Who walketh upon the wings of the wind” (104:3).

The second day of creation is described as the day the LORD “laid the foundations of the earth” (104:5; Genesis 1:6-8; Job 38:4). How did this ancient psalmist know “the waters stood above the mountains” in the beginning? God revealed to him that He had spoken in the beginning, and the waters were separated from the dry land (104:6-9). In case you have ever wondered how the vast waters of the ocean are held in place by the sands on the seashore, the Creator “hast set a bound that they [waters] may not pass over; That they turn not again to cover the earth” (104:9).

On the third day of creation, God sent fresh waters throughout the earth, where the thirst of beasts might be quenched (104:10-11), and to water the grasses, vegetables, and trees of the earth (104:10-18). Then, on the fourth day of creation, God set the stars, the sun, and moon in place, and by them the days, and season were set (104:19-23).

Pondering the creation of the fifth day, the psalmist exclaimed, “24O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: The earth is full of thy riches” (104:24). God created the teeming creatures of the seas on the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23), and made provision for their food (104:24-30). The psalmist observed, it is the LORD who gives, and takes life (104:29), and He has made provision to renew the earth (104:30).

The subject of creation concludes in Psalm 104 with the fifth day.

The psalmist did not detail the events of the sixth day when God created life on dry land (Genesis 1:24-25), and made man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27); nor did he consider the seventh day when God rested (Genesis 2:1-3).

Rather than consider man, the height of God’s creation, the focus of the psalm turned to contemplating the glory of God displayed in His creation: “31The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: The Lord shall rejoice in his works” (104:31).

Closing thoughts: Having considered all God had created, the psalmist burst out with song: “33I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (104:33-34).

Take a few moments, and ponder the glory of creation, and remember, it is a display of your Creator’s glory. Let us join with the psalmist, and lift up our voices and say,

“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (103:34).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Count Your Blessings! (Psalm 103) – Part 1 of 2 devotionals.

Scripture reading – Psalm 103; Psalm 104

Today’s Scripture reading is like refreshing waters from a mountain stream! While recent Scripture readings have given voice to men in the midst of sorrows and afflictions (reminding us we live in a fallen, sinful world),Psalms 103-104 turns our focus to the LORD, with songs of praise, and rejoicing. King David, the author of Psalm 103, reminds us that we are to give thanks to the LORD, and praise His name. This devotional is the first of two for today.

Psalm 103

Psalm 103 may be divided into three sections. The first is a call or summons for thanksgiving. David’s soul was stirred to praise the LORD, to praise “his holy name,” and to stir himself to never forget “all his benefits [all that the LORD has done]” (103:1-2).

Psalm 103 lists the many reasons we should give thanks to the LORD (103:3-6).

God’s people are to be thankful, for He forgives our sins (103:3a), and restores our health (103:3b). Be thankful, for the LORD is our protector, and He encircles us with His love and “tender mercies” (103:4). He satisfies and strengthens us (103:5), and is our intercessor; He is just, making right where we have been wronged (103:6).

David’s song celebrates God’s revelation of His divine character. (103:7-16)

He is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and compassionate (103:7-8). He is like a father, He takes pity on us in spite of our failings (103:9). His mercies are inexhaustible, “for as the heaven is high above the earth, So great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (103:11). When He forgives sin, He never again holds them against us, for “as far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (103:12). The LORD loves us like a father (103:13), and though He is Almighty God, He never forgets “we are dust” (103:14). We are temporal, as grass, and “as a flower of the field” (103:15), and as the wind passes and is soon forgotten, we perish, and are no more (103:16).

The Character of the Children of God (103:17-18)

In spite of our frailty and failings, God loves us! His mercy is extended to those who fear Him and “is from everlasting to everlasting …and his righteousness unto children’s children” (103:17). What is the character of God’s children? They “keep his covenant, and…remember His commandments to do them” (103:18).

Closing thoughts: David concluded Psalm 103 by reminding all who worship the LORD that He is the sovereign of “the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (103:19). Four times the king summoned all Creation to praise and worship the LORD: “Bless the LORD, ye his angels…Bless ye the LORD, all ye hosts [armies of heaven]; Ye ministers [servants] of his, that do his pleasure. 22Bless the Lord, all his works [creation] in all places of his dominion: Bless the Lord, O my soul” (103:20-22).

Take a moment, count your blessings, worship and praise the LORD. He alone is worthy of your praise!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Don’t Worry; The LORD is Mightier Than Your Troubles! (Psalm 93; 1 Chronicles 7)

Scripture reading – Psalm 93; 1 Chronicles 7

1 Chronicles 7 – Six Tribal Genealogies

I encourage my readers to avoid the danger of becoming bogged down with the many unfamiliar names found in 1 Chronicles 7. While there are a few significant names, the majority simply establish the genealogical line of some prominent families within the tribes.

1 Chronicles 7 presents six brief genealogies. We have the tribes of Issachar (7:1-5), Benjamin (7:6-11), Naphtali(7:13), the half tribe of Manasseh (7:14-19), Ephraim (he and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph, whom Jacob adopted as his sons and were the fathers of tribes bearing their names, 7:20-29), and Asher (7:30-40).

Psalm 93 – The Sovereignty and Omnipotence of God

Neither the author, nor the occasion for the writing of Psalm 93 are given. Some scholars believe it was written after the Babylonian captivity when the Jews returned from exile (Ezra 1). Think about it: In a matter of 70 years, the nation of Israel had witnessed the implosion of Babylon, arguably the first great world empire. Unlike other nations that were resettled, and assimilated into the Chaldean culture, the Jews had maintained their identity as God’s chosen people, and were distinguished by His Law and Commandments. With their return to their homeland, and the rebuilding the Temple and the city of Jerusalem, the author had cause to ponder three great doctrinal truths regarding the God of Israel.

God is Sovereign, and His Rule is Forever. (93:1-2)

Psalm 93:1-2 – The LORD [Jehovah; the Eternal, Self-Existent God] reigneth [as King], he is clothed with majesty [exalted]; the LORD is clothed with strength [power; might], wherewith he hath girded [encircled; clothed] himself: the world also is stablished [anchored; immovable; firm], that it cannot be moved [brought down]. 2 Thy throne is established [anchored; immovable; firm] of old [since time began]: thou art from everlasting [eternal; forever].

A study of history yields the reality that even the greatest nations rise and fall. Every nation that has taken its place on the stage of human history inevitably evidences corruption, and the decay of character and morality (nations of our day are no exception). Such is not the case with the LORD, Who is sovereign over His creation, for He is majestic, all powerful, and unwavering (93:1). Though nations rise and nations fall, and kings rule and presidents preside, the reign of the LORD is everlasting (93:2).

God is Greater than My Circumstances. (93:3-4)

Psalm 93:3-4 – The floods [rivers; streams] have lifted up [taken or carried away], O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice [noise; sound; thunder]; the floods lift up their waves [i.e. pounding, crashing waves]. 4 The LORD on high [above; i.e. sits in the highest place] is mightier [glorious; majestic] than the noise [sound; thunder] of many [great; much]waters, yea, than the mighty [glorious; majestic] waves [breaking, pounding waves] of the sea.

The recent pandemic has brought home to many the reality of trials, and troubles that rush into our lives like the waves of the mighty ocean crashing upon the ever-present seashore. Cancer, sickness, or the stress of family problems can sweep over us like floodwaters (93:3). The psalmist, however, reminded his readers that, “The LORD on high is mightier” (93:4).   He is mightier than the pounding waves of the sea.  He is mightier than the circumstances that seem ready to overwhelm us.  He is mightier than the sorrows and disappointments that threaten to bring us low.

God is Faithful: His Word, Testimonies and Promises are Sure. (93:5)

Psalm 93:5 – Thy testimonies [witness] are very sure [established; firm; faithful; enduring]: holiness [sacredness] becometh [befits] thine house [temple; residence], O LORD, for ever [continually].

I am certain there were times during the Babylonian captivity when God’s people felt forsaken, and forgotten. Their last glimpse of Jerusalem when they were led away, was seeing the Temple in flames, and the walls of the city a pile of rubble. What hope could Israel have of ever returning? Seventy years would pass, then the LORD moved on the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, and he made a proclamation saying, “The Lord God of heaven hath…charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem…3Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel” (Ezra 1:2-3). The LORD had promised He would never forsake Israel, and He remembered people!

Take heart friend, for God’s promises are enduring (93:5a). Because He is immutable, you can be certain the LORD is the same yesterday, and forever (93:5b).

Whatever storm you might be facing, rest assured, “The LORD on high is mightier!” (93:4)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith