Category Archives: Depression

Count Your Days, and Your Blessings! (Psalm 90)

Scripture reading – Psalm 90

We depart from the Book of Numbers, to consider Psalm 90 for today’s Scripture reading. Psalm 90 is a prayer of intercession, and a song of praise that was authored by Moses, and is therefore the oldest of the Psalms. Certainly, it would have been one of the psalms heard in the Temple, and sung by the people when they assembled in the wilderness before the Tabernacle.

Scholars generally place Psalm 90 about the time Israel rebelled, and turned back from the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). The context is most likely when the people began murmuring against the LORD, and He threatened to “smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them” (Numbers 14:11-12). Moses implored the LORD to spare the congregation (Numbers 14:13-19), and I believe Psalm 90 memorialized that occasion.

Psalm 90 – Great is the LORD!

The Lord had proven He was the refuge for Israel (90:1), the Creator (90:2a) who set the foundations of the mountains, and “formed the earth and the world” (90:2). He is the God of eternity (90:2b), and the absolute Sovereign of Creation (90:2). What is man? He is temporal, and dust (90:3).

When I was young, I could not fully grasp the meaning of Psalm 90:4. Moses wrote, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (90:4). I have come to know all to well the fleeting of time, and life itself. A lifetime, or even a generation passes, and it seems “as a watch in the night” (90:4), and our lives are “soon cut off, and we fly away” (90:10).

Lest one be tempted to wallow in self-pity, and sorrow for the years that are past and cannot be reclaimed, Moses states a principle that should guide believers: So teach us to number our days [to make them count], that we may apply [give; attain] our hearts [understanding; i.e. thoughts] unto wisdom (90:12).

How different your life would be, if you knew the year, day, the hour, God has appointed for your death (Hebrews 9:27)! Many things that consume your thoughts, and your time would suddenly prove trivial. Moments to which you give little thought, and opportunities that seem routine, might suddenly be savored, if not treasured. Every day is a gift of God’s loving grace, and should be numbered and treasured.

Set aside pettiness, and be grateful for the day God has given you. Pray with Moses: “Let the beauty [grace, and favor] of the Lord our God be upon us: And establish thou [LORD] the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (90:17)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Lord Heard It! (Numbers 11-12)

The Lord Heard It! (Numbers 11-12)

Scripture reading – Numbers 11-12

Israel’s journey to the Promised Land began, and the people “departed from the mount of the Lord [Mount Sinai where they had received the Law and Commandments] three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord [a symbol of God’s throne] went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them. 34 And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.” (10:33-34)

Numbers 11 – The Complainers, and God’s Judgment

Israel, having accepted the terms of their covenant with God, had observed the Passover, and set out on their journey in the manner the LORD had ordained. After only three days, the people began to complain, and “it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts [outskirts] of the camp” (11:1).

How swift the judgment of the LORD fell upon the people! Why? What did their complaints reveal that the LORD’S “anger was kindled?” (11:1) Their complaints revealed their disloyalty to the LORD, and ingratitude for all He had provided (Psalm 106:6-14). The people cried out to Moses, and he “prayed unto the Lord, [and] the fire was quenched” (11:2).

Notice where the fire of God’s judgment began: “in the uttermost parts [outskirts] of the camp” (11:1). Those people were as far away from the Tabernacle, and the Ark as possible. Numbers 11:4 reveals the nature and character of those upon whom the fire fell: “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (11:4)

This “mixt multitude” were those who left Egypt with Israel, but they were not numbered or named among the Hebrews (11:4). They had taken opportunity to escape Egypt, but they had no inheritance with God’s people.

They had introduced a contentious spirit in the camp. They asked, “Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (11:4), and lusted for the foods of Egypt (11:5). They had come to despise the manna God provided, and in so doing rejected not only the provision, but the provider Himself (11:7-9, 20).

Hearing the complaints, and the people weeping (11:10), Moses moaned to the LORD in a series of self-focused questions (11:11-13). Exasperated, overwhelmed, and despairing, he cried to the LORD, 14I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me” (11:14).

With loving compassion, the LORD directed Moses to choose seventy leaders from among the Twelve Tribes who would share his burdens (11:16). The LORD “came down in a cloud, and spake unto [Moses], and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders” (11:25a).

Provoked by bitter complaints, the LORD determined to give the people the meat they demanded (11:18-23). On the next day, He took away the manna, and for thirty days they had nothing but meat to eat (11:18-21). In their lust for meat, they gorged themselves and became sick, and “the LORD smote [them] with a very great plague” (11:31-33).

Numbers 12A Leader’s Response to Criticism

While the complaints in Numbers 11 caused Moses to despair of life (11:11-15), the criticism in Numbers 12was the most grievous of all. Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ own sister and brother, spoke against their brother (12:1). Miriam was the eldest, and she appeared to be the principal antagonist, since she bore the consequences of murmuring against God’s leader (12:10).

I have learned that minor disputes are often the cover for deeper sins, and this was especially true with Miriam and Aaron. The initial challenge was concerning an Ethiopian woman whom Moses married (12:1). We do not know why they objected to the Ethiopian woman [although it was a violation of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, Genesis 2:24].

In the next verse we discover the core issue of their reproach of Moses when they ask, “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” (12:2). They were jealous of their brother’s position, and challenged his authority, but “the Lord heard it” (12:2c).

Moses was “very meek [not weak, but a strength under control], above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (12:3); however, the LORD did not allow their complaint to go unchecked. Suddenly the LORD spoke “unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation” (12:4).

Imagine that moment! Summoned by the voice of the LORD who “came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth” (12:5). Leaving no doubt who His prophet was, the LORD fortified Moses (12:7), and His anger “was kindled against them” (12:9). As the LORD departed, He struck Miriam with leprosy (12:10) as a visible sign of His displeasure, and she “became leprous, white as snow” (12:10). Aaron cried out to Moses for his sister (12:11), and Moses “cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee” (12:13).

The LORD heard Moses’ plea, but He reasoned that Miriam’s sin was a cause for shame, and she would bear the reproach of leprosy for seven days, outside the camp (12:14). Seven days passed, “and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again” and was restored to the fellowship (12:15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

What Do You Call A Divine Appointment? – “Providence” (Genesis 40-41)

Scripture reading – Genesis 40-41

We concluded our study of Genesis 39, and left Joseph imprisoned for a false charge made by Potiphar’s wife (39:11-20). Remembering that Potiphar was “an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard” (39:1), I am of the opinion that he did not fully trust his wife’s word, for surely her charge of attempted rape would have been a capital offense (some scholars believe Potiphar might have served as the executioner).

Rather than a sentence of death, Joseph found himself in prison. Characteristic of the man of faith he was, he did not allow his circumstances to dictate his outlook. In fact, we read, “the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (39:23). Joseph understood what the psalmist observed when he wrote, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). The truths he had learned of the LORD from his father, and the dreams and visions he had been given in his youth (Genesis 37), continued to resonate in his soul.

Genesis 40 – No Time for Prison Blues

Having been charged with the responsibility of “all the prisoners that were in the prison” (39:22), Joseph was serving when two prominent servants of Pharaoh’s house, “the chief of the butlers [and] the chief of the bakers” were conveyed to the prison (40:1-2). The nature of the offense those men had committed against Pharaoh is not revealed, but in the providence of God, Joseph was charged by the captain of the guard to serve them (40:4).

The chief butler (most likely a cup bearer, and therefore the most trusted of Pharaoh’s servants), and the chief baker, both “dreamed a dream” (40:5-11), and were greatly disturbed by what their dreams might forebode. Neither time, nor space permits an exhaustive study of the dreams; however, Joseph’s interpretation of them (40:12-23) left the chief butler optimistic that he would be restored to his post in three days (40:12-13). Joseph requested that the butler remember him, and appeal to Pharaoh on his behalf (40:14-15). The interpretation of the chief baker’s dream was that in three days, he would be hanged “on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee” (40:18-19).

Three days passed, and the chief butler was restored, while the baker was executed according to Joseph’s interpretation of his dream (40:20-22). Joseph’s desire to be remembered by Pharaoh’s butler; however, appeared to end in disappointment when we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (40:23).

Genesis 41 – Forgotten by Man, But Not by God

Two years passed before the butler gave any thought of the man who had interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a). That would have been demoralizing for most men; however, there is no hint that it affected Joseph’s service. In fact, he was faithful to his task, until God was ready to promote him.

In the providence of God, “Pharaoh dreamed” (41:1), and the dreams were so disturbing that the king “was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh” (41:8).

Thus the stage was set for Joseph, and the butler confessed to Pharaoh, “I do remember my faults this day” (41:9). Giving credibility for his recommendation, the butler recalled how his and the baker’s dreams were interpreted, and came to pass as Joseph had prophesied (41:10-13).

Anxious to know the interpretation of his dreams, Pharaoh commanded that Joseph be brought from prison and to his throne (41:14). Imagine what a glorious moment that was in Joseph’s life! In an instance, at a time providentially appointed by the LORD, Joseph hastened to prepare himself to stand in the presence of the most powerful figure in the world (41:14). “15And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it” (41:15).

Genesis 41:16-57 – From a Slave in Egypt, to the Savior of Egypt

Deflecting any praise for himself, “Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (41:16). Pharaoh then shared his dreams of seven emaciated cows devouring seven healthy cows (41:17-21), and seven blighted ears of grain devouring seven healthy ears (41:22-24). The king confessed, “I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me” (41:24).

God sovereignly revealed the significance of Pharaoh’s dreams to Joseph, who then gave the interpretation to the king, and advised him to “look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt” (41:33). Joseph went on to suggest the administration that would be necessary to implement a storage of grain, not only to save Egypt, but also her neighbors from starving when the famine persisted for seven years (41:34-37).

Pharaoh, recognizing in Joseph not only wisdom, but that he was “a man in whom the Spirit of God is” (41:38), appointed him to serve Egypt, as second only to himself (41:33-44).  Only thirty years old when he was promoted (41:46), Joseph was entrusted with the granaries of Egypt as that nation prepared for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of plenty (41:45-57).

Genesis 41 closes with a revelation: “All countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

The stage is set for a family reunion that would fulfill Joseph’s dreams.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Twelve Sons, Less One (Genesis 30-31), part 1

Scripture reading – Genesis 30

Today’s devotional will be published in two parts. The first will focus solely on Genesis 30. A second devotional will be published for Genesis 31.

Our study in Genesis 29 concluded with God blessing Leah, the least favored wife of Jacob, and she conceived sons by her husband (29:31-35). The LORD, ever compassionate, “saw that Leah was hated (despised or shamefully treated)”, and “opened [Leah’s] womb: but Rachel was barren” (29:31).

Twelve sons were born of Jacob, and they would become the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Leah, Laban’s oldest daughter, became the mother of Jacob’s first four sons: Reuben (29:32), Simeon (29:33), Levi(29:34), and Judah (29:35).

Genesis 30 – Jacob’s Family: Twelve Sons, Less One

Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, was barren (a cultural stigma in those days), and jealous of her sister who had borne her husband four sons (30:1a). Provoked by jealousy, Rachel had demanded that Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (30:1b). Betraying his frustration of living in a home with two unhappy wives, Jacob answered Rachel in anger and said, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” (30:2).

Rather than trusting the LORD to bless her with a son, Rachel followed the cultural norms of her time, and demanded that Jacob give her children through her maid Bilhah. Rather than honor God, and the sanctity of marriage (2:23-24), he complied with Rachel’s insistence, and further complicated the spiritual, and emotional dynamics of his home.  Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, conceived and gave birth to the fifth and sixth sons of Jacob, Dan(30:1-6) and Naphtali (30:7-8).

Fearing she might no longer conceive sons by Jacob (30:9), Leah insisted that he would raise up children by her maid Zilpah. Zilpah, conceived and gave birth to Jacob’s seventh and eighth sons, Gad and Asher (30:9-13).

God once again blessed Leah, and she conceived Jacob’s ninth and tenth sons, Issachar and Zebulun (30:17-20), and a daughter she named Dinah (30:21). Although she was mother of six sons, Leah longed for something she would never have: to be first in her husband’s affections (30:20).

What were the dynamics in a home that had disregarded God’s plan for marriage to be the union of “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, one man, and one woman)?

There was a perpetual spirit of jealousy, disappointment, bitterness, and sorrow. Rachel, rather than calling upon, and waiting on the LORD to hear and answer her longing for a son, turned to bartering for mandrakes (a fruit that purportedly contained fertility properties, 30:14-16). She continued to be barren, until we read, “God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24And she called his name Joseph [Jacob’s eleventh son]; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son” (30:22-24). In a later study, Rachel will die giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, whom he will name Benjamin (35:16-19).

With the birth of Joseph, his eleventh son, Jacob’s obligation of servitude to uncle Laban was fulfilled (fourteen years, for his marriage to Laban’s daughters; 29:20, 30), and he made known his intention to return to his family in Canaan (30:25-26).

Laban, ever the sly one, had become a wealthy man, and realized God’s special blessing rested on Jacob. He was determined to bind Jacob to himself, and continue to profit from his presence and labor (30:27-30a). Jacob, now the father of eleven sons, reasoned, “the Lord hath blessed [Laban] since [his] coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?” (30:30)

Nonetheless, Laban constrained Jacob to remain in his household, and asked, “What shall I give thee?” (30:31) Jacob, wise to the ways of a deceiver, was unwilling to be indebted to Laban, and said, “Thou shalt not give me any thing” (30:31b).

Evidencing wisdom and discernment into husbandry and genetics, Jacob suggested that distinctive physical markings on the sheep, goats, and cattle, would providentially mark them as his personal property, and serve as his wages (30:31-32).

Laban agreed, and Jacob continued to care for his flocks, even as God blessed, and made him rich man. We read, he “increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (30:43).

In six years, God took Jacob from Laban’s poor hireling shepherd, to a man of great wealth.

This concludes our study in Genesis 30. A second devotional will be published for Genesis 31.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

THE END: “Job Died Old, and Full of Days” (Job 42)

Scripture reading – Job 42

Job had remained silent since he had confessed, “I am vile” (40:4), and being reminded of the majesty of God, he “answered the Lord, and said, 2I know that thou canst do every thing, And that no thought can be withholden from thee” (42:1-2). He had complained, but now he resigned himself to God’s sovereignty. He acknowledged he had spoken in ignorance (42:3), and accepted that the LORD was not obligated to answer his questions.

We find a wonderful expression of Job’s humility when he confessed, 5I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: But now mine eye seeth thee(42:5). Though dreadful to have experienced the afflictions, the experience had moved Job from a theoretical knowledge (“hearing of the ear”), to a personal and practical knowledge (“now mine eye seeth thee”) of his God and Creator. Job confessed, 6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (42:6).

Job 42:7-10God Rewards Faithfulness

After accepting Job’s repentance, the LORD turned His focus to his foolish “friends” (42:7-9). “Eliphaz the Temanite” had been the first to challenge Job, and “the Lord said to [him], My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (42:7).

God commanded Eliphaz and his peers to “take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job” (42:8).

What an astonishing turn of events! Job had been the object of his friends’ scorn and judgments. It was their unkindness, and false arguments that had so provoked the LORD that He commanded them to humble themselves, and appeal to Job to intercede for them.

Job, evidencing the grace of a humble man, “prayed for his friends,” and the LORD rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10). 

Closing Thoughts

We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job, and with the exception of his wife who had suggested he curse God and die, and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, Job’s acquaintances have been strangely absent.

With the hard times past, and Job enjoying God’s blessings and financial prosperity, we read: Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials]” (42:11).

Where were these “brethren” and “sisters” when Job lost everything?  Where were his acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings? After all, he had need of nothing (42:12-15)!

We conclude our study of the Book of Job, and my heart rejoices when I read that God had prospered him, and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Job had suffered much, and his afflictions were as severe as any we might imagine. He had borne the sorrow of his sons and daughters’ deaths. He had lost his house, possessions, and servants. Finally, he lost his health, and was afflicted from head to foot with painful sores. His friends had condemned him, and his family and neighbors had forsaken him, but God remembered him! When Job humbled himself before God, he was restored to His favor, and died very old, and content with his life (42:17).

Is that not what we all want? To not only live a long life, but be content, and satisfied when we draw our last breath!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

What is Man? (Job 40-41)

Scripture reading – Job 40-41

The LORD continued interrogating Job in today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41), giving that man an opportunity to respond to the question:

2Shall he that contendeth [strives with; complains] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct [find fault; rebuke] Him? He that reproveth [rebuke; corrects] God, let him answer it (40:2).

God challenged Job, Will you dare instruct your Shaddai? Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job replied:

Behold, I am vile [cursed; despised]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [i.e. silent; have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled, Job began to yield to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

The LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute; challenge] my judgment [justice]? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e. appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare question the ways of the LORD as less than just (40:6-14)? Will you challenge God’s majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God illustrated His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

Job 40:15-24 – The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The exact identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is that the behemoth was either the hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am of the opinion the behemoth might be an extinct beast, perhaps a dinosaur that might have roamed the earth or the seas following the flood.

The Scriptures reveal some physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24). It was a vegetarian, for “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The behemoth also moved “his tail like a cedar” (40:17a). Perhaps the movement of his tail was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continues (40:18-24), describing his bones like brass and iron (40:18), and his voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and water which is said to “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” yet the Creator had power over him (“can make his sword to approach unto him,” 40:19).

What did this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The second great beast that LORD invited Job to consider was the “leviathan” (41:1). The identity of this great creature is uncertain; however, some scholars suggest it to be a giant saltwater crocodile, perhaps one that is extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy was meant to draw Job to conclude that he was foolish to question his Creator when he paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan that God had created (41:1-9).

Job was asked, if man cannot tame the “leviathan,” what right does he have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  The leviathan “beholdeth [considers; sees] all high things [no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [he withdraws from none](41:34). Having considered the beauty and majesty of creation, and the great creatures over which God reigns supreme, “What is man?” 

Job 7:1717  What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:1414  What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “4  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “3  LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

What is man?

We are eternal souls, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). We are physically feeble, born sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and the curse of sin is upon us (Romans 6:23). In spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God, our Creator, is majestic in His glory, sovereign of creation, omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving; He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is Just, Merciful, Gracious, and Good (Job 35-36)

Scripture reading – Job 35-36

Job 35 – Elihu’s criticism of Job continues as that angry young man charges him with three improper statements.

The first, that Job had misrepresented religion as unprofitable (35:1-8). Elihu suggested that Job had implied that his “righteousness [was] more than God’s” (35:2). Of course, Job had not verbalized such an outrageous statement, but Elihu had supposed that was the implication of his testimony of innocence (35:3-8).

Job had prayed, and cried out to God because of his afflictions; however, Elihu suggests he was not interested in drawing closer to God, but merely seeking relief from his sorrows (35:9-13).

Job had complained of not understanding the cause of his plight, and despaired of ever again enjoying God’s favor (35:14). Elihu suggested the delay in Job’s deliverance from suffering was because he had opened “his mouth in vain; He multiplieth words without knowledge” (35:15-16). Stated simply, Job had said a lot, but he had failed to humble himself before God.

Job 36 – Elihu’s Proposal to “Speak on God’s Behalf” (36:2)

Evidencing youthful pride, Elihu proposed to “speak on God’s behalf” (36:2), and to impart uncommon “knowledge” (36:3). He promised his words would be true (36:4a), and that which God Who “is perfect in knowledge” would have him to speak (36:4b).

Elihu returned to the rationale that had been espoused by Job’s friends, and that is that God is just and always rewards men according their works (36:5-15).

Elihu declared that “God is mighty…mighty in strength and wisdom” (36:5). It was Elihu’s conclusion that was untrue. He implied that God always rewards men according to their works, and declared that the Lord “preserveth [prolongs] not the life of the wicked: But giveth right [justice] to the poor” (36:6).

Elihu’s assertion failed the reality that God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Not only does the LORD prolong the life of the wicked, providing them opportunity to repent of their sins, but the poor do not always receive the justice they are due in this earthly life (36:6b).

Another error proposed by Elihu was that, hypocrites in heart heap up wrath…They die in their youth” (36:13-14a). In a perfect, sinless world that statement would stand as just, and there are many instances where wicked men die young. However, it is also true that God is patient, and his grace is offered to the worst of sinners.

Elihu suggested that Job’s sorrows were due to his pride, and had he humbled himself and repented, God would have given him a “table…full of fatness [rich foods]” (36:16). Elihu continued, because Job had refused to repent, the “judgment of the wicked” had befallen him (36:17), and no amount of riches could deliver him (36:18-19).

Job 36 concludes with Elihu attempting to inspire Job to concede the sovereignty and omnipotence of God (36:22-33).

God is supreme, and He “exalteth” and sets up whom He pleases (36:22a). He is omniscient, and no man can teach Him (36:22b). He is perfect, and cannot be accused of “iniquity” or wrong doing (36:23b).

God’s greatness is displayed in His creation (36:24-25), for the “heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). He is eternal, and “the number of His years [cannot] be searched out” (36:26b).

God’s power and wisdom sustains His creation, and He determines where the clouds drop their water (36:27-28), and they act as a canopy, sheltering us from the rays and heat of the sun (36:29-30). The same clouds that brought judgment on the earth in the flood, also bear life-giving water by which He “giveth meat [food] in abundance” (36:31).

Contrary to Elihu’s reasonings, and the assertions of Job’s friends, God is not only just, He is gracious, merciful, and kind.

Matthew 5:4545That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Religious Zeal without Knowledge is a Travesty (Job 33-34)

Scripture reading – Job 33-34

We were introduced to Elihu in the previous devotional (Job 32). Understanding Job and his friends were his elders, he had remained silent and observed the debate between those men. Having failed to convince Job of his error, “the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). Provoked by the failure of Job’s friends, and incensed by his protests of innocence (32:2-3), Elihu had confessed he was “ready to burst” with his own opinion (32:17) like wine that had fermented in wine skins and having no vent (32:18-20).

Job 33 – Elihu’s Denigration of Job

Elihu began with a façade of humility, conceding he was no better than Job, for he too was “formed out of the clay” (33:6). His humility soon gave way to arrogance as he accused Job of daring to accuse God of treating him as an enemy (33:7-10).

Attempting to convict Job of folly, Elihu reminded him that he was not “just” (i.e. righteous), and God is Sovereign, and does not give “account of any of His matters” (33:12-13). God is altogether righteous in His ways, and good in His dealings with man (33:14-18).

Job’s friends had argued that his afflictions were God’s punishment for some wickedness, and he had confessed he believed his suffering was a token of God’s wrath (33:19).

Elihu believed that God uses pain and afflictions for His purpose, and to protect men from pride (33:17-23). Job’s sorrows, he argued, could be used by God to purge his passion for “bread…and dainty [rich] meat” (33:19-20), and “deliver [redeem] him from going down to the pit [grave]” (33:24, 28).

Job 34 – The Majesty of God’s Character, and Elihu’s Defamation of Job’s

Elihu challenged Job and his friends to listen to his indictment of the man (34:1-4), and accused him of entertaining high ideas of himself, and a false view of God (34:5-9). He alleged that Job was self-righteous, and that he had accused God of injustice (34:5). He insinuated that Job believed he had been wounded “without transgression” (i.e. unfairly, 34:6), and that he had declared he might as well run with the wicked, for pleasing God “profiteth a man nothing” (34:7-9).

Although he had mistaken the cause of Job’s sorrows, Elihu nevertheless stated some great insights into the attributes of God (34:10-30).

He declared God is Just (34:10-12, 17, 19, 23), Sovereign (34:13-15), and Almighty (34:20, 24). He is Omniscient, “21For his eyes are upon the ways of man, And he seeth all his goings. 22There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves…He knoweth their works” (34:21-22, 25). He is Judge of the wicked (34:26-28).

Job 34 concluded with Elihu sharply rebuking Job, and demanding, “speak what thou knowest” (34:33b), or say what you think! He reproved him, and accused him of speaking “without knowledge [thinking]…[and] without wisdom [discernment]” (34:35). He cruelly declared his desire that “Job may be tried unto the end [forever]because of his answers for wicked men [i.e. he answers like wicked men]” (34:36), and “addeth rebellion unto his sin…and multiplieth [murmurs or complains] his words against God” (34:37).

A closing thought: Elihu had defamed, cruelly past judgment, and condemned Job without cause. He had arrogantly demanded that others hear and agree with his conclusion (34:34). Rather than a friend, Elihu’s words, and actions had proved he was Job’s enemy. He desired to destroy the man God pronounced as “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:1, 8).

Warning: Elihu’s are ever present, and we should be vigilant and oppose those who are swift to libel and slander others.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Singing the Desert Blues (Job 30-31)

Scripture reading – Job 30-31

Our previous devotional (Job 29) found Job remembering the way life used to be. He had enjoyed the blessings of God’s favor, and had been esteemed by his family, friends, and fellow citizens. Young men had shied from his company, and elders stood in his presence (29:8). He had been valued for his counsel (29:7-17), and had believed he would enjoy God’s favor forever (29:18-23). Of course, those were the “good old days,” before he had experienced catastrophic losses and afflictions.

Job 30 – The Reality of Present Sorrows

Job’s situation had changed, and he found himself mocked by lesser men (30:1-14). Young men, whose lineage Job would not have entrusted the care of sheep dogs, held him in disdain (30:1). They were the sons of a line of men who were like wild dogs. They were slothful, and he loathed their company (30:2-4). They were the “children of fools” (30:8), and sang ballads mocking his afflictions (30:9). They spat in his face (30:10), and the sorrows God had permitted in his life (30:11) had given them cause to treat him spitefully (30:12-13).

Job’s body was wrecked by disease (30:16-18).

Grief had taken hold deep within (30:16), and the toll of his afflictions pierced him to the bone (30:17a). His muscles ached (“my sinews take no rest”), and open sores had caused his clothes to cling to his flesh (30:17b-18). Job had come to feel that God was opposed to him, and refused to hear his cry for pity or compassion (30:19-20). He had accused God of being cruel (30:21); he felt abandoned (30:22-24).

Job complained that all the good he had done had been forgotten, and he had been rewarded evil for good (30:25-26). He moaned and groaned (30:27-30), and in the words of the late preacher J. Vernon McGee, he began to sing “The Desert Blues” (30:31).

Job 31 – Job’s Final Response, and His Defense

Job’s concluding deposition of his righteousness, and his assertion of innocence has been recorded in Job 31. Consider briefly eleven virtues he claimed in his summary defense.

Personal chastity was the first virtue Job claimed. Declaring he was not guilty of lust, he stated, “1I made a covenant [vow; agreement] with mine eyes; Why then should I think [i.e. lust after] upon a maid?” (31:1) Though accused of lies and deceit by his friends, Job declared that he was innocent, and desired to be “weighed in an even balance,” for he was certain that God knew he was a man of integrity (31:5-6). Thirdly, Job asserted he had committed himself to purity and uprightness; his hands were clean of wrongdoing, and there was no stain on his life and character (31:7-8).

The fourth virtue Job claimed was marital fidelity. He declared he was innocent of adultery (31:9-12). He had been a “one woman kind of man” throughout his life. He had also been a faithful master, and a kind employer, to those who served him. He believed himself no better than his servants, for he understood God was Creator of them both (31:13-15).

Though he had been accused of abusing those less fortunate, Job declared he had been charitable to the poor, widows, and fatherless (31:16-20). He wished his arm would fall off, if he had taken advantage of others (31:21-22).

Though he lived in the midst of an idolatrous people, Job declared he was innocent of idolatry, for his trust and faith were in God alone (31:23-28). He had been kind to his enemies, and never took satisfaction in their misfortune (31:29-30). Job had been a man given to hospitality, and had been generous to strangers (31:31-32). Unlike Adam who sinned, and then sought to hide his transgressions from God (31:33), he was innocent of hypocrisy, hiding no secret sins (31:33-37).

Lastly, Job declared he had been honest in business (31:38-40). For example, he had not leased another man’s field, and failed to pay what was owed when harvest time came.

Job 31:40 concludes Job’s longest speech. Sadly, what is true of us was also true of Job. Though he could boast of many great virtues, he was blinded by pride, and was unwilling to see his flaws.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s parable, his answer to Bildad (Job 25), continues in today’s Scripture reading. Having found no relief from his afflictions, and bearing the disappointment of friends who treated him as adversaries, Job reflected and remembered. He remembered better days, and happier times. Job 29 is his recollection of the way things used to be.

Job 29:1–2 – “1Moreover Job continued his parable [wise sayings], and said, 2Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him].”

Job had stated throughout our study his feeling of abandonment by God. Indeed, he had felt as though God had turned against him. Afflicted by his friends’ assertions that he was being punished for some wrongdoing he was unwilling to confess; Job bemoaned his deplorable state and the advantage it had given to others to mock and scorn him.

Job remembered the security and sweet communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). When he was a young man, the light of God’s favor shined upon him (29:3), and the “secret of God,” literally his friendship and fellowship, was upon his household (29:4). He had been comforted by the presence of “the Almighty,” and enjoyed the company of his children (29:5).

He had been esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered among the respected elders and judges of the city (29:7), and when he passed by, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, all men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). In former days, he had been beloved for his charity and compassion on those less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job had been hailed for his righteous character, and good deeds (29:14-17).

He had distinguished himself as a righteous judge (29:14), and had been charitable to those in want (29:15-16). He had served as the eyes for the blind, and feet to those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he demonstrated a father’s concern (29:16), and he had been a foe of the wicked, when men sought justice (29:17).

Job had believed his prosperity would last forever (29:18-23).

No doubt, Job believed God would favor him for his righteous deeds (29:18-19). He was admired for his glory (i.e. strength), and his counsel was valued by men (29:20-21). Lesser men were silent when he spoke, and they waited on his counsel, like dry soil waits on the rain (29:22-23).

Job had been beloved by all men; rich and poor, strong and weak, all found him amiable (29:24-25).

Though he had been great in his possessions and person, the people had found him a friend, and not the proud, haughty man his friends had accused him of being (29:24). He was the chief, the sovereign in his realm, but he easily moved from leading men, to comforting those who were overcome with sorrows.

A Closing Challenge

Enjoy the good times, and remember those less favored. Be assured, there may come a day when you will find yourself in the midst of trials, and the memories of God’s grace and favor will sustain you, and give you hope of better times to come.

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith