Category Archives: Depression

The Judas Iscariot Psalm: The Treachery of a Friend (Psalm 109; Psalm 110)

Scripture reading – Psalm 109; Psalm 110

Today’s Scripture reading considers two psalms by David. Psalm 109, titled, “To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David,” was intended to be a song for worship, praise, and thanksgiving to the LORD. Psalm 110, was titled simply, “A Psalm of David.”

Both of the psalms are often referred to as Messianic psalms, each carrying an immediate and prophetic application. For instance, Psalm 109 is identified by some as the “Iscariot Psalm,” noting there is much in the psalm that gives us a prophetic picture of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ, the Messiah King. Our devotional will be taken from Psalm 109.

Psalm 109 – The “Iscariot Psalm”

Psalm 109 gives us an agonizing testimony of a king who had known the sorrow and disappointment of betrayals. Like Christ who suffered the betrayal of Judas, and the denials of Peter, David suffered many disloyalties in his lifetime. King Saul, provoked by jealousy, turned against David and would have killed him. Absalom led an insurrection against his father, and Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted advisors, betrayed him and cast in his lot with his son. Shimei, a Benjamite, cursed David, and hurled stones and accusations against the king as he fled his palace in Jerusalem. I will suggest a brief outline of Psalm 109.

A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies (109:1-5)

The psalm begins with David appealing to the LORD saying, “Hold not thy peace” (i.e., don’t be silent, 109:1). He then describes the sins of his enemies: slander, lies, deceit (109:2), and unprovoked hatred (109:3).

What was David’s response to the injustices he suffered? He prayed (109:4), and protested the cruelty of his enemies, saying, “they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (109:5).

A Prayer of Judgment Against One’s Enemies (109:6-20)

David, professed his virtue, and appealed to God to judge his enemies for their injustices. In the manner of an imprecatory prayer, David prayed: Let the wicked be judged by their own (109:6-7). Let his “days be few; and let another take his office” (109:8). After Judas betrayed Jesus, he hanged himself (Matthew 27:5), and fulfilled this prophecy. His days were few, and thus a believer named Matthias, took his apostleship (109:8; Acts 1:20-26).

The children and household of the wicked fall under the shadow of God’s judgment. David prayed, let the children of the wicked “be fatherless” and suffer loss (109:8-9). Let their estate fall victim to extortioners (109:11), and lineage be soon cut off (109:12-13). May the children of the wicked bear the curse, and judgment of their father’s sins (109:14-15).

What manner of men are the wicked? They lack compassion for the needy, and curse the innocent. They are resentful when others prosper (109:16-17). Predictably, they fall victim to their sinful ways, and their shame will be inevitably displayed for all to see (109:18-19).

A Prayer of Hope, Praise, and Thanksgiving (109:21-31)

Turning his focus from the wickedness of his enemies and the injustices he had suffered, David appealed to the LORD to make him the object of His mercy (109:21). Praying with a broken heart, David pled for compassion, and confessed his unworthiness, saying, “I am poor and needy; and my heart is wounded within me” (109:22). The king’s sorrows made him appreciate the brevity of life, and that it is like the passing of a shadow (109:23). Although he was king, he had become the object of scorn, and like those who mocked Christ when He was dying on the Cross, David’s enemies reproached him, and “[shook] their heads” (109:25).

Closing thoughts – David called on the LORD to be merciful, that His mercies might be a testimony to his enemies (109:26-27). He reasoned, he could accept the curses of his enemies, as long as he knew the LORD would bless him (109:28). The psalm closes with David resolving, though his enemies assailed him, he was confident the LORD would stand at his right hand (Hebrews 8:1; 10:12; 12:2), and save him from all who condemned him (109:30-31).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Cry of a Wounded Heart (Psalm 41)

Scripture reading – Psalm 41

Today’s devotional is taken from Psalm 41, and is believed to have been penned by David when he was at a low point in life. Some have suggested the king was recovering from sickness, and was physically and emotionally exhausted.

Blessed are the Compassionate (41:1-2)

Psalm 41:1-2 – “Blessed [Happy] is he that considereth [understands; comprehends] the poor [weak; sick; needy]: the LORD will deliver [save; rescue] him in time of trouble [injury; misery; misfortune].
2  The LORD will preserve [keep watch; guard] him, and keep him alive [revive; restore; sustain]; and he shall be blessed [prosperous; happy] upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver [abandon] him unto the will [desire] of his enemies [adversary; foe].

Rehearsing the LORD’s promise that He hears and heeds the cries of His people, especially those who have shown compassion to others (41:1), David reminded all who worship the LORD that He keeps watch over them. Not only does God “preserve” and sustain them, David promised they shall be blessed! (41:2). And, should an enemy seek advantage in one’s hour of weakness, David assured believers the LORD never abandons His own to the will of an adversary (41:2).

A Comfort to the Sick and Afflicted (41:3-4)

Psalm 41:3-43 The LORD will strengthen [support; uphold] him upon the bed [couch; canopy] of languishing [illness; sorrow]: thou wilt make [turn; i.e. describing the care of a nurse] all his bed in his sickness [disease; malady].
4  I said, LORD, be merciful [gracious; show favor] unto me: heal [cure; purify] my soul [life]; for I have sinned [committed sin; guilty] against thee.”

David had tossed and turned on his bed, as sorrow and disappointment washed over him.  He had spent sleepless nights praying, and waiting on the LORD to heal him (41:3).  He had searched his soul, confessed his sin, and believed God would show Him mercy and restore him (41:4).

The Cruelty of Hypocritical Friends (41:5-8)

Psalm 41:5-6 – Mine enemies speak [charge] evil [sin; wickedness] of me, When shall he die [be slain], and his name [fame; honor] perish [destroyed]?
6  And if he [enemy; adversary] come to see [look upon; behold] me, he speaketh [declare] vanity [deceit; lies]: his heart gathereth [collect; heap; take up] iniquity [sin; wickedness] to itself; when he goeth [go forth] abroad [in the streets], he telleth [speak; say; talk] it.

David did not identify his enemies, but he revealed they took pleasure in his illness. They were cruel, and desired his name would perish with his life. Those men were not enemies of another country, but friends, perhaps some of his inner circle. They were close enough to see his pain, pretend to pity him, only to go their way and gloat in his troubles.

Psalm 41:7-8 –  “All that hate me whisper [mumble] together [i.e. in chorus] against me: against me do they devise [imagine; fabricate] my hurt [misery; trouble].
8  An evil [wicked] disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth [lays down] he shall rise up no more.”

We expect cruelty in the world, but it was David’s friends who reveled in his sorrows. Rather than empathy, they took pleasure in adding to his miseries (41:7). Such is the way of embittered souls (41:8).

Betrayed by a Friend and Confidant (41:9)

Psalm 41:9 –  “Yea, mine own familiar [close] friend, in whom I trusted [a confidant], which did eat [devour; consume] of my bread [food; meal], hath lifted up his heel [foot] against me [magnified himself].

Psalm 41:9 gives us a glimpse into the personal nature of the betrayal that had befallen David. Ahithophel’s betrayal, a man whom the king would have counted as a “familiar friend” (41:9), would have been a bitter experience for David. He had been the king’s confidant, but was also Bathsheba’s grandfather. No doubt embittered by David’s sins against his household, Ahithophel had joined Absalom’s insurrection against the king (2 Samuel 16:23). In David’s words, such an adversary had “lifted up his heel” and sought to grind the king under his heel.

A Doxology of Praise (41:10-13)

Psalm 41:10-13 – “But thou, O LORD, be merciful [be gracious; show me favor] unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. [reward them for the evil his enemies had done]
11  By this I know that thou favourest [delight in] me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
12  And as for me, thou upholdest [support; give him justice] me in mine integrity [innocence], and settest me before thy face [presence] for ever.
13  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.”

Closing thoughtsPsalm 41 has given us a window into the heart of a broken man. There are many who can identify with David’s disappointments, and empathize with his sorrows; however, David did not stay there! When the king turned his thoughts from his sorrows to the LORD, his hope renewed. He was confident the LORD would show him grace, and mercy. Take a lesson from David’s life, and remember:

God favors those who put their trust in Him (41:11-13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Good morning, Father,” the words God loves to hear. (Psalm 5; Psalm 38)

Scripture reading – Psalm 5; Psalm 38

Departing from my narrative style of devotions, I am posting today’s Scripture readings with only my amplifications of word meanings in brackets and italicized. The Scriptures are in a bold font, and colored fonts are added to emphasize truths I invite you to ponder in your meditations.

Psalm 5 – An Introduction

How do you begin your mornings? I confess, I am the dreaded “morning person.” I generally wake up well before the alarm, and roll out of bed ready to start the day. How do you suppose David began his mornings? The answer: With prayer and meditation in God’s Word.

A Morning Prayer (5:1-3)

Psalm 5:1-3Give ear [hearken; listen] to my words [sayings; speech] , O LORD, consider [understand; regard; discern] my meditation [musings].
2  Hearken [hear; regard; be attentive] unto the voice [sound; noise] of my cry [i.e. cry for help], my King, and my God [i.e. might God]: for unto thee will I pray [make supplication; meditate].
3  My voice [lit. the sound of my voice] shalt thou hear in the morning [dawn; early morning], O LORD; in the morning will I direct [array; set in order; direct] my prayer unto thee, and will look up [behold; keep watch .

A Warning to the Wicked (5:4-6)

4  For thou art not a God that hath pleasure [desire; delight] in wickedness [iniquity; evil]: neither shall evil [wickedness] dwell [sojourn; gather together] with thee.
5  The foolish
[boasters] shall not stand [continue; remain; resort] in thy sight [presence; face]: thou hatest [set against; foe; detest] all workers [doers] of iniquity [wickedness; evil; unrighteousness].
6  Thou shalt destroy
[brake; annihilate] them that speak [say; talk] leasing [lies; deceit; falsehood]: the LORD will abhor [detest; loathe] the bloody [guilty; bloodthirsty] and deceitful [dishonest] man.

An Affirmation of Prayer and Worship (5:7-8)

7  But as for me, I will come into thy house [tabernacle; temple] in the multitude [abundance] of thy mercy [loving-kindness; goodness]: and in thy fear [reverence; i.e. fear of one superior] will I worship [bow down; reverence; prostrate] toward thy holy [consecrated; sanctified] temple.
8  Lead
[guide; bring] me, O LORD, in thy righteousness [justice] because of mine enemies [adversary; hostile foe]; make thy way [journey; road; course of life] straight [pleasing; direct; right; i.e. lawful] before my face.  

A Denunciation of the Wicked (5:9-10)

9  For there is no faithfulness [truth] in their mouth [word; speech]; their inward [heart] part is very wickedness [perverse; calamity; iniquity; destructive]; their throat [mouth] is an open [grave] sepulcher [grave; tomb]; they flatter [smooth] with their tongue [language; speech].
10  Destroy
[punish; make desolate] thou them, O God; let them fall [fall down; be cast down] by their own counsels [purpose; device; plan]; cast them out [drive out; banish; disperse] in the multitude [abundance; greatness] of their transgressions [sin; revolt; rebellion]; for they have rebelled [provoked; disobeyed; i.e. be contentious] against thee.  

An Assurance for the Righteous (5:11-12)

11  But let all those that put their trust [confide; i.e. make God their refuge; hope; flee to] in thee rejoice [be glad; joyful; i.e. make merry]: let them ever [evermore; perpetual; forever] shout for joy [sing; cry out; rejoice; i.e. be overcomers], because thou defendest [cover; i.e. put a hedge about] them: let them also that love thy name [i.e. embodying the person and character of God] be joyful [jump for joy; exult; triumph] in thee.
12  For thou, LORD, wilt bless
[adore; abundantly bless] the righteous [lawful; innocent; just]; with favour [delight; accept; pleasure] wilt thou compass [surround; encircle] him as with a shield [i.e. a prickly guard].

Psalm 38 – An Introduction

Psalm 38 does not indicate the time or circumstances that inspired this song of worship; however, its content indicates it was at a time of trial, sickness, and sorrow in David’s life.

David plead for mercy. (38:1-2)

Psalm 38:1 – O LORD, rebuke [reprove; correct; chasten] me not in thy wrath [anger; indignation; rage]: neither chasten [discipline; instruct; punish] me in thy hot displeasure [fury; wrath; indignation].
2  For thine arrows stick fast [sink; come down] in me, and thy hand presseth me sore [sink; come down].

David was physically weak and troubled. (38:3-8)

3  There is no soundness [wholesomeness] in my flesh [body] because of thine anger [fury; indignation]; neither is there any rest [peace; welfare; happiness] in my bones [body] because of my sin.
4  For mine iniquities
[sin; punishment; perversity; guilt] are gone over [passed over] mine head: as an heavy [grievous; difficult; great] burden [load] they are too heavy [burdensome] for me.
5  My wounds
[stripes; scourging] stink [abhor; loathsome; foul] and are corrupt [decay; consume; fester] because of my foolishness [folly; stupidity; silliness].
6  I am troubled
[bowed down; made crooked; twisted; distorted]; I am bowed down [cast down; depressed; humbled] greatly [exceedingly]; I go mourning [become dark] all the day [time] long.
7  For my loins
[trust; confidence; hope] are filled [overflow] with a loathsome [burning] disease: and there is no soundness  [completeness; wholesomeness] in my flesh [body].
8  I am feeble
[faint; weary; numb] and sore [exceedingly; greatly] broken [contrite]: I have roared [groaned; moaned] by reason of the disquietness [roaring; agitation; growling] of my heart [mind; seat of feelings and affections].
9  Lord [Master], all my desire [lust; greed; longing] is before thee; and my groaning  [sighs; mourning] is not hid [concealed; sheltered; secret] from thee.
10  My heart
[mind; seat of feelings and affections] panteth [throbs], my strength [power; might; ability] faileth[forsake; leave; abandon] me: as for the light [illumination; happiness] of mine eyes [sight], it also is gone [fails; incurable; nothing] from me.  

David had been deserted by his friends and family. (38:11)

11  My lovers [friends; those for whom he had an affection] and my friends [neighbor; companions; peers] stand [continue; remain] aloof from [against; counter to; in the sight of] my sore [wound; infective spot; i.e. leprous]; and my kinsmen [family; kindred] stand afar off [far from].  

David’s enemies sought advantage because of his weakness. (38:12)

12  They also that seek [search; require; desire] after my life [soul] lay snares [traps] for me: and they that seek [require] my hurt [calamity; distress] speak [say] mischievous things [wicked; perverse], and imagine [speak; declare; devise; plot] deceits [false; guile; treachery] all the day long.  

David refused to answer his enemies\critics. (38:13-14)

13  But I, as a deaf man, heard [hearken; obey] not; and I was as a dumb man [speechless; mute] that openeth not his mouth.
14  Thus I was as a man that heareth not
[hearken; obey], and in whose mouth are no reproofs [rebuke; arguments].  

David prayed earnestly for the LORD to intercede. (38:15-19)

15  For in thee, O LORD, do I hope [wait; tarry]: thou wilt hear [answer; reply], O Lord my God.
16  For I said
[speak; command; address], Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice [glad; joyful] over me: when my foot [walk; journey] slippeth [moved; fall], they magnify [praise; promote; advance] themselvesagainst me.
17  For I am ready
[prepared] to halt [limp; fall; stumble], and my sorrow [pain; grief] is continually [ever; perpetually; continually] before me.
18  For I will declare
[tell; shew; utter; confess] mine iniquity [fault; perversity; sin]; I will be sorry [afraid; anxious] for my sin.
19  But mine enemies are lively
[alive; living], and they are strong [mighty; increased]: and they that hate [detest; i.e. mine enemies] me wrongfully [lie; lying; deceit] are multiplied [many; increased].  

David’s enemies hated him, not for his sin, but for his righteousness. (38:20)

20  They also that render [reward; recompense; repay] evil [wickedness; hurt; trouble] for good [pleasant; pleasing; right; best] are mine adversaries [attackers; accusers]; because I follow [pursue; run after; chase] the thing that good is [pleasant; pleasing; right; best].  

David appealed to the LORD. (38:21-22)

21  Forsake [leave; relinquish; abandon] me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far [removed; recede; withdraw] from me.
22  Make haste
[hurry; be eager; hasten] to help [aid; assist; support] me, O Lord my salvation [deliverance; rescue; i.e. savior].

Copyright – 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Battle Wounds, and Broken Hearts (2 Samuel 19)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 19

Today’s devotional returns to the historical narrative in 2 Samuel 19. As a point of reference, remember David, his family, and servants were in Mahanaim in Gilead on the east side of the Jordan River, where he had fled during Absalom’s insurrection (17:27).

The news of Absalom’s death overwhelmed David’s heart. More than the heartaches and humiliation he had suffered, the news of his son’s death moved the king who physically trembled with grief (18:33). Absalom was dead, and David bewailed him in his bedchamber, crying, “would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (18:33).

Joab Challenged David’s Perspective (19:1-8)

Returning victorious from the battlefield where he had slain Absalom, Joab, one of three captains of David’s forces, received news: “Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom” (19:1). Those loyal to David returned from their victory, only to learn the king was grieving the death of his son (19:2). Ashamed to be gloating in their victory, when their king grieved the death of his son, we read, “the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. 3And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed [as though bearing the king’s displeasure] steal away when they flee in battle” (19:2-3).

Feeling David’s sorrow was unacceptable, and knowing the heartache Absalom had brought upon Israel, Joab reproved the king. His manner betrayed his contempt for the king (remember, Joab had been commanded by David to cover the murder of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, 11:14-17).

In appearance, David cared more for his enemies (Absalom and those who followed him), than his faithful servants (19:6). Rightfully, Joab urged the king to greet the soldiers returning from battle (19:7a). Should he fail to honor his servants, Joab threatened, every man in Israel would abandon the king (19:7b). Rising from his bed of sorrow, David sat in the gate of the city, and was present when the men passed before him (19:8).

David’s Patience (19:9-12)

Though there might have been cause for David and his army to pursue, and destroy those who had participated in Absalom’s insurrection, the king chose to wait on the people to invite him to return to Jerusalem as their king. Those who had supported the rebellion now found themselves at the mercy of David. They remembered the good David had done as king (19:9a). Israel, specifically the ten northern tribes, was divided concerning how they would deal with the division between themselves and the king (19:9). They questioned their elders, “why speak ye not a word of bringing the king back?” (19:10)

David had received word that the ten tribes were ready to pursue peace (19:11), and he commanded the priests to go to his own tribe, Judah, and say, “Why are ye the last to bring the king back to his house?” (19:11). The king appealed to the men of Judah, saying, “12Ye are my brethren, ye are my bones and my flesh: wherefore then are ye the last [the last of the tribes] to bring back the king?” (19:12)

Evidencing humility, and desiring to see the division of his kingdom healed, David began a series of encounters that revealed the godly character of the king. (19:13-30)

The king sent a message to Amasa, captain of Absalom’s soldiers (17:25), and appealed to him as a kinsman of Judah, saying, “Art thou not of my bone, and of my flesh?” (19:13) David’s invitation humbled the heart of every man in Judah, and the tribe sent him word saying to the king, “Return thou, and all thy servants” (19:14).

Shimei, the man who had hurled stones and curses at David when he fled Jerusalem (16:5-13; 19:18), was the first to meet the king when he returned to the west side of the Jordan River (19:16, 18-23). No doubt fearing for his life, Shimei admitted his wrong, and confessed his sin, saying, “I have sinned” (19:20). Now, Abishai who had wanted to slay Shimei before, was ready once again to kill Shimei for his betrayal (19:21). David, however, made the decision to spare the life of his adversary (19:22-23). The Scriptures, however, reveal that David did not trust Shimei (1 Kings 2:8), and Solomon would later deal with him (1 Kings 2:36-46).

Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son who had eaten at David’s table, sought to be restored to David. Evidencing the outward signs of distress and sorrow, we read, “Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace” (19:24). David questioned, why Mephibosheth had not escaped the city with him (19:25). He answered the king, and detailed how Ziba, his servant had betrayed his trust to court the king’s favor (19:26-28). Requesting nothing for himself, but to be restored to the king’s fellowship, David ordered the matter be concluded. That which had belonged to Mephibosheth was to be evenly divided with Ziba (19:29); sadly, Mephibosheth was slighted for no wrong, and Ziba’s deceit was rewarded.

David also remembered Barzillai the Gileadite, who had sustained him with hospitality when he fled Jerusalem. David desired to honor the eighty-year-old man (19:31-36); however, Barzillai declined the honor, and requested it be given to a man named Chimham. Chimham is not identified, but there is good cause to believe he was Barzillai’s son (19:37-39).

Closing thoughts – Notice there is a rift recorded in the last verses of today’s Scripture reading, between the tribe of Judah, and those identified as “all the men of Israel” (19:41). Judah was the royal tribe, and the kinsman of David, and the appearance that he favored that tribe above the other tribes, will become a cause of future conflicts (19:41-43).

Finally, we have observed a lot of heartache in David’s life, especially in the rebellion and death of his son Absalom. Thousands were lost in that civil war, and at the root of all the conflicts was the king’s adultery with Bathsheba, and his hand in having her husband Uriah killed.

Let us all remember: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Safe to the Rock that is Higher Than I (Psalm 61)

Scripture reading – Psalm 61

The title of Psalm 61 is, “To the chief Musician upon Neginah [a stringed instrument], A Psalm of David.” The setting of the psalm is unclear; however, the prayer indicates it was at a time the king faced grave danger. Perhaps, like preceding psalms, it was penned during the insurrection led by Absalom. Once again, the preserved Word of God makes us privy to David’s desperate cry to the LORD. I invite you to consider Psalm 61 in four parts. [* Use of brackets indicates the amplification of the author.]

A Prayer for Divine Intervention (61:1-2)

Assuming this psalm was inspired during the time the king fled from Jerusalem, and was living in exile, David prayed:

Psalm 61:1-21Hear [Listen] my cry [pleading], O God [Elohim; Mighty God]; Attend [Incline; Listen attentively] unto my prayer [petition; lament].
2From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart [mind; inner man; will] is overwhelmed [weak; faint]: Lead [Guide] me to the rock that is higher [exalted; lifted up] than I.

Writing far from home, “from the end of the earth,” and his heart “overwhelmed” by his troubles, David cried to the LORD: “Lead [Guide] me to the rock that is higher [exalted; lifted up] than I” (61:2). In a very real sense, the king prayed, Lord, take me higher, and to a safer place than I am able to go alone.

A Reflection on the Goodness and Faithfulness of the LORD in the Past (61:3-4)

Psalm 61:3-43For thou hast been a shelter [refuge] for me, and a strong [fortified; mighty] tower [watchtower] from the enemy.
4I will abide [dwell; gather] in thy tabernacle [i.e. tent; the abode of the Ark of God] for ever [all time]: I will trust [seek refuge] in the covert [covering; hiding place] of thy wings. Selah.

Verses 3-4 of Psalm 61 have inspired many great songs and hymns of faith over the centuries. David reflected on the goodness of God he had experienced in life, and was reminded that the LORD had “been a shelter [refuge]…and a strong [fortified; mighty] tower [watchtower] from the enemy” (61:3).

Think about that truth for a moment. In a time of trouble, you can take comfort in the assurance that the LORD is waiting to be your shelter, refuge, and strong tower. Knowing the faithfulness of the LORD, David resolved he would forever abide in His presence (61:4), and trust him to shelter, and cover him as a hen protects her chicks.

An Assurance that God Hears and Answers Prayer (61:5-7)

Psalm 61:5-75For thou, O God [Elohim; Mighty God], hast heard [listened to] my vows: Thou hast given [set; placed] me the heritage [inheritance; possession] of those that fear [revere] thy name [fame; reputation].
6Thou wilt prolong the king’s life [day; time]: And his years as many generations [i.e. generation after generation].
7He shall abide [dwell] before God for ever: O prepare [reckon; assign; count] mercy [favor; goodness; kindness] and truth [trustworthiness; faithfulness], which may preserve [guard; keep; watch] him.

What began as a solemn, and passionate petition for the LORD to hear the king’s prayer (61:1-2), continued with him being comforted that God hears and answers prayers! David reflected on his godly heritage, and that he was of a people who feared and revered the LORD (61:5b). No longer fearing for his life, David asserted with confidence, “6Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: And his years as many generations [i.e. generation after generation]” (61:6). He believed the LORD would, in His mercy and truth, keep watch over him (61:7).

A Renewed Consecration to Worship and Serve the LORD (61:8)

Psalm 61:88So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, That I may daily perform [fulfill; complete] my vows [promises].

David’s thoughts were no longer bound by his troubles, but were refocused on the LORD and His faithfulness. His spirit was renewed, and he resolved to forever sing praises to God, and to keep all he had vowed to do.

Closing thoughts – Do you find yourself in a troubled, difficult place? You might be in the midst of fears, and feel your “heart is overwhelmed” (61:2). Cry out to the LORD, confess your fears, and remember He is waiting to lead you to a “rock that is higher” than you will ever reach alone (61:2c). Feel like hiding? Seek the LORD; He is “a shelter… a strong tower” (61:3), and He wants to shelter you under His wings (61:4).

The Lord is our Rock, and a Shelter in the Time of Storm!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Got enemies? Feel depressed? Think on this! (Psalm 13; Psalm 28)

Scripture reading – Psalm 13; Psalm 28

The titles of today’s Scripture reading identify David as the author. Psalm 13 is titled, “To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David,” and Psalm 28 is simply titled, “A Psalm of David.” Both psalms deserve our focus; however, I must limit the devotional to Psalm 13. * Words in brackets are the amplifications of the author, for the purpose of giving a deeper insight into the text.

Psalm 13 – An Impassioned Cry for Help

The setting of Psalm 13 is not given, but it was certainly at a time when David was facing an enemy and circumstances that left him shaken and sorrowing daily. I have observed in prior devotionals that the insurrection led by Absalom, David’s third born son, led the king into an emotional valley fraught with loneliness. Psalm 13may be from that season of sorrow and humiliation.

David’s Protest: Feeling Abandoned (13:1-2)

Psalm 13:1-2 – “How long wilt thou forget [ignore; leave] me, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]? for ever? how long wilt thou hide [conceal] thy face [countenance; presence] from me?
2  How long shall I take [consider; set; place] counsel [plan; purpose; determine] in my soul [mind; life; person; heart], having sorrow [grief; affliction; anguish] in my heart [mind; understanding] daily? how long shall mine enemy [foe; adversary] be exalted  [lifted up; become proud] over me?”

David knew the LORD had not forsaken him; nevertheless, his thoughts, feelings, and emotions were running contrary to his faith. Four times he asked the LORD, “How long…How long…How long…How long?” (13:1-2) It seemed the LORD had forgotten him, and was refusing to look upon the man He had chosen to be king of Israel (13:1). Sorrows gripped the king’s heart; he felt there was no way forward (13:2a). Adding to his distresses was the knowledge that his enemies delighted in his humiliation (13:2b).

David’s Prayer (13:3-4)

Turning from protesting his loneliness, and feelings of abandonment, David appealed to the LORD to hear and answer his prayer (13:3-4).

Psalm 13:3-4 – “Consider [look; behold] and hear [respond] me, O LORD my God: lighten [illuminate; brighten; give light] mine eyes, lest I sleep [grow old or stale] the sleep of death [ruin];
4  Lest mine enemy [foe; adversary] say [declare], I have prevailed [overcome; to have one’s way] against him; andthose that trouble [distress; afflict] me rejoice [glad; delight] when I am moved [shaken; strength decay].”

We find in this passage what many today would label depression (described as melancholy in the 19th century). In his spiritual and emotional state, the king felt the light, and life had gone out of his eyes, and he prayed, “lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep of death” (13:3). David longed for the LORD to lift the engulfing darkness within his soul. He yearned to return to a season of joy and fellowship. The knowledge there were those who rejoiced in his troubles and sorrows, only added to his despair (13:4).

Two Choices: Give up, or Step Out in Faith (13:5-6)

What did David do next? He had already protested his loneliness, and feelings of abandonment. He had prayed for the LORD to lift him out of the darkness that bound his soul. What more could he do?

Psalm 13:5-6 “But I have trusted [confident; secure; hope; lean on; put trust] in thy mercy [loving-kindness; favor; grace]; my heart [mind; understanding] shall rejoice [glad; delight] in thy salvation [help; deliverance].
6  I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully [reward with good] with me.”

David’s circumstances had not changed. He was physically weary and emotionally drained. Yet, the king made the decision to get up, and declared his faith in the LORD, not only by word, but by his deeds: “I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 6  I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me”  (13:5-6).

Closing thoughts – What an inspiration you and I have in David’s testimony and example! His trials and troubles were not over, nor had his emotions suddenly become elated by a season of prayer. Nevertheless, in his prayer he had shifted his focus from his circumstances, to reflecting on the character of God. With that, he determined to face the day, and his enemies.

If you struggle with disappointments, and feelings of depression, you are not alone. We all face the temptation to wallow in sorrows, and indulge in “victimhood” – in fact, 21st century culture encourages it. Medical science, having no spiritual foundation, can do no more than make a diagnosis, and give a prescription that might temporarily mask the sorrow and loneliness of a deep struggle. What is the answer?

Be honest about where you are, and how you got there (13:1-2). Pray sincerely, knowing the LORD hears and answers prayer. Then, trust Him, turning your thoughts to Him (13:5; Romans 8:28-29). Finally, vow to the LORD, “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully [reward with good] with me.” (13:6).

Sing Unto the LORD!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 3; Psalm 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 51)

Scripture reading – Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness.

Biblical brokenness is contrition of heart, and always involves confession, seeks forgiveness, and offers a plea for restoration.

Psalm 51 introduces us to a man brought low by sin.  David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her conception of his son, and his failed attempt to conceal his sin had led to the death of Uriah the Hittite.  David’s sins were secret no more, and the prophet Nathan’s bold condemnation exposed his depravity before all in his court.

Lord Acton, the late 19th century British historian, made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Such is true of monarchs, politicians, leaders, teachers, and yes, pastors. The same, however, is also true of men and women who, in their own little fiefdoms, find themselves in roles that go unchecked. David found himself at the pinnacle of success and power, and accountable to no one. Though the words of the prophet, “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7) had humiliated him, they were the words that awakened in the king a godly sorrow to repentance.

Be forewarned: If given the right provocation, the potential of egregious wickedness lies within us all.

When David wrote, “I was shapen in inquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (51:5), he acknowledged the nature of sin that is present within us all. A millennium later, the apostle Paul wrote the same, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

David had maintained his cover of sin for nearly a year, and though in the throes of guilt, he proudly maintained a regal façade, passing judgment on other men’s sins.

One wonders how long David might have continued his charade if God had not commanded his prophet to confront the king.  Remembering oriental monarchs held absolute authority, and the power of life and death rested with them, we appreciate the tenuous position in which Nathan found himself.

The words, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7), echoed in the king’s hall, and resonated in David’s heart.  He cried to the Lord, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness… 2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). David acknowledged that only God can remove the guilt and stains of sin. He confessed his sins, praying, “3  For I acknowledge my transgressions…4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (51:3-4a). He was haunted by his guilt, and his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah paled in comparison to his sins against God.

A Petition for Forgiveness and Renewal (51:10-12)

David prayed, “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… 12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (51:10, 12a). He longed for that which God alone could give—not only to be forgiven, but to have his happiness and joy restored.

A Passion for Serving the LORD (51:13-17)

With his sins forgiven, David’s thoughts turned to teaching others the ways of a loving, merciful, just, and holy God (51:13). He prayed for that which only grace might impart: Deliverance from guilt (51:14a), a desire to praise God’s righteousness in song (51:14b), and for the LORD to bless the words of his mouth (51:15). He acknowledged, the LORD does not desire a multitude of sacrifices, but a “broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (51:16-17).

Closing thoughts – As king, David found himself insulated from accountability. He had neglected his duties (2 Samuel 11:1), and his moral failure occurred when was alone. He had been too proud to acknowledge, confess his sins, and accept the consequences of his moral failures (2 Samuel 11:6-22). God, however, loved the king, and sent his prophet to confront him, that David might be restored.

Truth – If you are concealing sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time before the consequences of sins catch up with you, and affect your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4). Won’t you humble yourself before God, confess your sins, knowing He has promised, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 53; Psalm 60

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

Psalm 53 – An Observation of the Human Condition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is just: He rewards faithfulness! (1 Chronicles 14-15)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 14-15

* For those following my two-year “Read through the Bible” schedule, you may notice the reading for today was limited to 1 Chronicles 14. Given the brevity of 1 Chronicles 14, and the fact it is also a parallel of an earlier study of the same events (2 Samuel 5) I am taking liberty to include 1 Chronicles 15 in today’s devotional commentary (which happens to be a parallel of 2 Samuel 6).

1 Chronicles 14 – The LORD Blessed David’s Reign

Having conquered and claimed Jerusalem as his capital city, it follows that David should build a palace in that historic city that would reflect his reign as king (14:1-2). The names of the sons of David that were born in Jerusalem are given, as is the mention that the king also had daughters, though they are not named in this passage (14:3-7).

As we noticed in 2 Samuel 5, the Philistines were the first to test David as the king of a united Israel, and they were soundly defeated (14:8-16). However, just as important as the battles, was David’s preparation for them.

We read, “David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand” (14:10). For the second battle, David inquired again of God” (14:14). Interestingly, the LORD’S strategy for the second battle was unlike the first (14:14b-15); however, because David sought the LORD’s will, God gave Israel the victory (14:16). More than the victories, was the fact that David had become an international figure in the ancient world. “The fame of David went out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations” (14:17).

1 Chronicles 15 – The Ark is Brought to Jerusalem

David’s first attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem had ended in tragedy. Failing to consult the method or means of transporting the Ark, had cost Uzza his life (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). Displeased, angry, and frustrated, David had complained to the LORD, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (13:12)

David’s second attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was a success. He had not only learned from his failure, but he had sought the mind and the will of God, therefore, he commanded the Levites to bring the Ark to his capital. The king confessed, “13For because ye [the Levites] did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach [sudden judgment] upon us, for that we sought him [the LORD] not after the due order [failed to seek the way of the LORD]” (15:13). Rather than a cart, David commanded the Levites bear the Ark upon their shoulders, using gold-gilded staves (poles) to carry it, “as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD” (15:14-15).

We have an important register of Levite families recorded in 1 Chronicles 15 (15:4-11). I especially invite you to consider the important role of singers, and musicians in worship (15:16-24). We have various classes of musicians named, including the principal composers, “Heman the son of Joel; and of his brethren, Asaph the son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari their brethren, Ethan the son of Kushaiah” (15:17).

The musicians were all from the tribe of Levi. The LORD had set apart the Levites to serve Him, and there were some who were not only skilled in singing, but also in various instruments that were employed in worship. Cymbals of brass, psalteries (lute), harps, and trumpets accompanied the choirs that lifted their voices in singing the psalms (15:19-24). In the midst were “doorkeepers” who acted as guards and gatekeepers (15:23-24).

Our study of 1 Chronicles 15 concludes with the national celebration that greeted the arrival of the Ark in Jerusalem (15:25-29). “A robe of linen” was the dress for the Levites, and the king draped himself in the same. Setting aside his royal apparel, David wore a simple “ephod of linen” (15:27). The arrival of the Ark in the capital city of Jerusalem was a cause for celebration, and David was ecstatic with joy (15:28-29).

Tragically, 1 Chronicles 15 concluded with a foreboding of sorrow. David’s first wife, “Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised [had contempt] him in her heart” (15:29; 2 Samuel 6:15-19).

Closing thoughts – 2 Samuel 6:15-19 amplifies Michal’s spirit toward her husband, the king.

Consider the moment: at the end of a day of celebration, David walked into the palace, still wearing his fine linen robe (15:27), and his heart filled with joy. Rather than delight in her husband’s triumph, Michal, the daughter of Saul, despised and condemned David (2 Samuel 6:20). David answered her contempt, and unashamedly identified himself as the man whom God had chosen to rule His people (2 Samuel 6:21).

As I look back over decades of ministry, I cannot remember a time that a moment of rejoicing was not threatened by an adversary. There will always be someone who is ready to dampen your enthusiasm to serve the LORD, and steal your joy. When those times occur, and they will, remember that God is just, and He rewards faithfulness, and punishes sin.

By the way, what became of Michal after she despised her husband? She went to her grave childless, for she “had no child unto the day of her death” (2 Samuel 6:23).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith