Category Archives: Doctrine

PRAYER: God’s Prescription for Troubles (Psalm 143; Psalm 144)

Scripture reading – Psalm 143; Psalm 144

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms, and the titles of both Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 credit David as the author. Psalm 144 is a psalm of worship and praise, while Psalm 143 is a penitent, mournful psalm. Today’s devotional will be taken from the latter.

We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life.  When he was assailed by enemies, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; 61:3).  When trials came and troubles threatened to engulf him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1).  When he faced the scourge of the consequences of his sins, he called upon the Lord, confident He would hear, and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).

Psalm 143 continues David’s practice of prayer and opens with the king calling upon the LORD for grace. He implored God, “Give ear to my supplications [plea for mercy]: In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness [remembering God is altogether righteous, and will only do that which is right and good]” (143:1).

Notice, David did not pray for justice, but for mercy. Why? Because no man or woman can be justified in the sight of a holy, just God. David intreated the LORD, “enter not into judgment with thy servant: For in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (143:2).

David did not identify the enemy who had caused him such consternation; however, he was certainly at a low place in life. The king enumerated the wickedness of his adversary, declaring he had been “persecuted…smitten…[and made to] dwell in darkness” (143:3). David confessed he was “overwhelmed…[and his] heart…desolate” (143:4).

Where do you turn when you feel overwhelmed, and depressed?

David prayed (143:1-4), and then he remembered “the days of old” (or we might say, “the good old days,” 143:5). He remembered better days, and as he meditated on the providences of God past (His ways and works), the king’s spirit was stirred, and he literally and figuratively, reached out to God and confessed, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah” (143:6). The LORD wants believers to have that same passion and longing, and to realize only He can satisfy the longing of a thirsty soul.

Eight Intimate Petitions (143:7-11)

Notice the personal nature of David’s prayer to the LORD: “Hear me speedily (143:7)…Open my hearing to “thy lovingkindness” (143:8)…Reveal to me “the way wherein I should walk” (143:8)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teachme to do thy will” (143:10)…Lead me into the land of uprightness” (143:10)…”Quicken [revive] me” (143:11)…and Save me “out of trouble” (143:11). We do not know what “trouble” David was facing; however, he was in a place that only the LORD could deliver his soul from sorrows (143:11b).

Closing thoughts – Because you live in a sin-cursed world, it is inevitable that you will cross paths with an adversary; one who savors your sorrow, and is a trouble to your soul.

Where do you turn when troubles come? Many allow troubles to mount up until they resort to counselors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements.

What did David do? He turned to the LORD, cried for mercy (143:1-2), assessed his circumstances (143:3-4), and then he remembered. He remembered better days, and the ways and works of God (143:5). He reminded the LORD, “I am thy servant” (143:12), for he remembered the LORD is jealous for His servants’ sake (143:12).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Faith is the Victory! (Psalm 108)

Scripture reading – Psalm 108

Psalm 108, is “A Song or Psalm of David,” as stated in its title, and is an unusual psalm. While the themes contained in the psalm are like many we have studied (praise and thanksgiving), it is actually a combination of portions from two other psalms. Psalm 108:1-5 is practically a reiteration of Psalm 57:7-11, and Psalm 108:6-13 is nearly identical to Psalm 60:5-12. It would be speculation on my part to ascertain the purpose for the repetition. I am satisfied the verses are repeated because its message was dear to the heart of the king, and fulfilled the LORD’s purpose.

A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving (108:1-5)

David declared, “O God, my heart is fixed” (108:1). The “heart” of man in Scripture is more than a physical organ; in its broadest sense, the “heart” refers to the mind, thoughts, and the seat of emotions within man.

Upon what was David’s heart fixed? He had determined his heart and affections would not waver from his purpose to “sing and give praise, even with my glory [honor; riches]” (108:1). Not only would he praise the LORD with his voice, but also on musical instruments: “2Awake [stir up], psaltery [lute; i.e., guitar] and harp: I myself will awake early [at dawn]” (108:2). He would unashamedly praise the LORD among his people, and “sing praises unto [God] among the nations” (108:3).

What had stirred David to passionately praise the LORD? It was the knowledge that the LORD’S mercy (lovingkindness and favor) was boundless; His truth, and faithfulness reached “unto [and beyond] the clouds” (108:4). Unable to contain his enthusiasm for the LORD, David exclaimed, “5Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: And thy glory above all the earth” (108:5).

Prayer for Deliverance and Restoration (108:6-8)

Praying for Israel, David implored the LORD, “6That thy beloved [Israel] may be delivered [rescued]: save [Help] with thy right hand, and answer me” (108:6).

I am unsure what occasioned the king’s prayer, and who was a threat to the people, but David found courage in the LORD, writing: “7God hath spoken in his holiness [sacredness; i.e., sanctuary]; I will rejoice [triumph; be jubilant]” (108:7). Even before his prayer had been answered, he was confident the LORD would give him victory.

He planned as though his prayer had been fulfilled, saying, “I will divide Shechem [border town of Manasseh and Ephraim], and mete out the valley of Succoth [city on the east side of Jordan]. 8Gilead is mine [land east of Jordan, known for pastures]; Manasseh is mine [son of Joseph, and the tribe divided on the east and the west of Jordan]; Ephraim [youngest son of Joseph; land east of Jordan] also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver [royal tribe of David]” (108:7b-8).

David Foresaw the Heathen Would be Subject to His Reign. (108:9-10)

“Moab is my washpot [son of Lot; land was east of Dead Sea]; Over Edom [i.e., Esau’s lineage; land south of Dead Sea] will I cast out my shoe; Over Philistia will I triumph [south of Palestine on Mediterranean Sea]. 10Who will bring me into the strong city [fortified, walled city]? Who will lead me into Edom [land south of Dead Sea]?” (108:9-10)

Moab, Edom, and the Philistines had been enemies of Israel. David, by faith, believed the LORD would bless Israel, and their adversaries would become subservient to his rule. Moab would become so vanquished, they would be like a washpot for washing one’s feet. Edom, would suffer the indignity of shame and defeat. Philistia, against whom David had waged war from his youth, would fall to Israel, and no walled city could stand with the LORD on his side.

David Appealed to the LORD to Be with Him (108:11-13)

11Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off [reject; expel]? And wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts [army on military campaign]?” (108:11) David was confident the LORD was his only source for help, and confessed he dare not place his faith in man:

12Give us help from trouble [enemy; attack]: For vain [worthless; futile] is the help of man.” David asserted his confidence in the LORD, saying, “13Through [with] God we shall do valiantly [power; strength; courage]: For he it is that shall tread down [trample] our enemies” (108:13).

Closing thoughts –You may not be facing a mortal enemy who desires to destroy you, but all believers face trials that challenge them to determine where they will turn, and whom they will trust. Some turn to fear, and flee. Some trust in men, only to find they are unable or unwilling to help.

David, gave us a model of overcoming faith. He fixed his heart on God, determined to sing and praise Him (108:1-4), and believed the LORD would give him victory (108:13).

Faith is the Victory!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 97; Psalm 98

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Joy to the World, the LORD is Come!”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Why Worship the LORD? (Psalm 95)

Psalm 95.

Scripture reading – Psalm 95

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

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

Psalm 95 – A Psalm of Praise and Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whom will you choose to worship, and serve?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Last Will and Testament of King David (2 Samuel 23; Psalm 57)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 23; Psalm 57

Our Scripture reading comprises the historical narrative of David’s life in 2 Samuel 23, and Psalm 57.

Psalm 57 – God is Our Refuge

The occasion of Psalm 57 is identified in its title: “To the chief Musician, Al-taschith [meaning, “do not destroy”], Michtam [a type of poem] of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave (1 Samuel 22:1; 24:1-3).

Perhaps penned in the latter years of his reign, Psalm 57 was a record of God’s mercies through the years. David, remembered he had been a fugitive from King Saul who had sought to kill him out of jealousy. Hiding in the wilderness, and finding shelter in caves, David cried to the LORD,  “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee” (57:1).  He recalled his enemies, like savage lions, that had ravaged him with their words (57:4). They had schemed to entrap him, only to perish in their own wicked devices (57:6).

In spite of the sorrows and humiliations he had suffered, David’s foremost desire in those years of exile was that God would be exalted and glorified “above all the earth” (57:5). The closing verses of Psalm 57 are the king’s affirmation of his faith in God. David testified, “My heart is fixed [set; ready], O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (57:7). The king’s heart was full of praise, and thanksgiving. He not only wanted his people to know the mercies of the Lord, he promised, “I will sing unto thee among the nations” (57:9).

2 Samuel 23 – The Last Words and Testament of King David

Our study of David’s life is in its finale, as we turn in the Scriptures to 2 Samuel 23. The first sentence of chapter 23 moves me emotionally when I read, Now these be the last words of David” (23:1a).

We have been privileged to examine the soul of the man whom God declared, “a man after [His] own heart” (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14). David was far from being a perfect man; however, his tenderness toward the LORD, and his love for God’s Word and Law, are an inspiration to all sincere believers.

Ministering as a pastor, I have been an honored guest at the bedside of many dying saints. I have observed how the proximity of death stirs in a soul a reflection on things that genuinely matter in the light of eternity. The presence of the shadow of death will tend to cut away those things that once held our affections. Accomplishments, honors, and plaques on the wall, have no value when death is near.

For all his achievements, David’s life was not summed up as the giant slayer or victor over the Philistines, but as “the son of Jesse…the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel” (23:1). Though honored to have served as the king of Israel, David drew his joy from being the man to whom the “Spirit of the Lord spake…[and whose] word was in [his] tongue” (23:2)

As with many of the psalms, 2 Samuel 23:3-4, imparted words of wisdom and adoration. Identifying the LORD as, “The Rock of Israel,” David recalled God’s exhortation, “He that ruleth over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God” (23:3). Simple, but profound! Imagine how different our world would be if men desired to have ruling over them, those who were “just” (righteous in their rulings according to God’s Law), and ruled “in the fear of God.” Such a leader would “be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth” (23:4a).

Time and space restrain an exhaustive study of the balance of 2 Samuel 23, but it is worth noting that David took time to acknowledge those men who had been his “mighty men” (23:9-39). 2 Samuel 23:13 gives the number of great warriors as “thirty,” and yet, the chapter ends stating that they were “thirty and seven in all” (23:39). How might that be? Was the number thirty, or thirty-seven an error? Also, there are a total of thirty-six men named, and not thirty-seven.

Some might disagree with my assessment of the dilemma in the number of David’s mighty men; however, I believe I have an acceptable explanation: When some of David’s mighty men perished in battle (for instance, Uriah the Hittite, 23:39), he would have chosen other men to take their place. I suggest the thirty-seventh man, and the one not named, was Joab, the brother of Abishai, whom I believe was in a league of his own.

Thirty-seven mighty men, from different backgrounds, but all had dedicated their lives to serve David, the great warrior king. David was content to be remembered as the man with whom God had established “an everlasting covenant” (23:5).

Perfect man? No, but that is the kind of leader God uses (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

What is the “Woke” doctrine?

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

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

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

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

What does the Bible say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cry of a Thirsty Soul: Hope Thou in God! (Psalm 42; 2 Samuel 22)

Scripture reading – Psalm 42; 2 Samuel 22

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms, but only one of the two is found in the Book of Psalms. 2 Samuel 22 continues our study of the life of David, but the chapter itself is in fact a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. Not desiring to exhaust you with both a long devotional, and a lengthy Scripture reading, I will abbreviate my observations. [* Words in brackets are the amplification of the author.]

2 Samuel 22“Who is the LORD?”

David identified the LORD as his Rock, Fortress, Deliverer (22:2), Shield, “Horn (or strength) of my salvation,”High Tower, Refuge, Savior (22:3), and the One to be Praised (22:4). Wow! What a glorious God we serve!

David testified, when he was assailed by enemies, God was his Deliverer. When he called upon the LORD in his troubles, He heard his “voice out of his temple, and [his] cry did enter into his ears” (22:7).

Ponder that thought! When a believer cries to the LORD in distress, the God of heaven is moved! (22:8) He moves to right the wrongs committed by the wicked, and the earth trembles, and heaven is moved by His wrath (22:8).

2 Samuel 22:9-20 draws for us a moving portrait of the LORD and His response to David’s cry. Writing figuratively, God comes breathing out fire and smoke (22:9), and flying “upon the wings of the wind” (22:9-11). His voice sounds like thunder (22:14), and He sends lightning like arrows that frighten men (22:15).

The LORD is the Rescuer (22:17-20), and Rewarder of all who follow after righteousness and keep His laws (22:21-25). He is a JUST God, and rewards men according to their ways and works (22:26-28).

Reflecting over his years in exile, David remembered the LORD’s presence and faithfulness (22:29-43).  In the midst of his hardships, the king had found the LORD to be his Light in darkness (22:29), and his Strength when he faced adversaries stronger than himself (22:38-43).

Consider David’s assertions regarding the character of God (22:31-33). David writes,

2 Samuel 22:31-33 – “As for God, his way [path] is perfect [upright; complete]; the word [commandment] of the LORD is tried [pure; refined]: he is a buckler [shield] to all them that trust [confide; seek refuge] in him.
32  For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?
33  God is my strength [fortress; rock] and power: and he maketh my way perfect [upright; complete].”

Closing thoughts – What a comfort! God’s way is always perfect, and always best (22:31). His Word is pure, and you can trust Him! And, when you feel weak, remember, “God is [your] strength and power” (22:33).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Psalm 42 – The Cry of a Thirsty Soul

Psalm 42 is a beautiful psalm of worship, and its words and emotions have made it a favorite of believers down through the centuries. [* Words in brackets are the amplification of the author.]

David’s Zeal for Worshipping the LORD (42:1-3)

Psalm 42:1-3 – “As the hart [stag or male deer] panteth [cry; long for] after the water [spring; i.e. fresh water] brooks, so panteth [long for] my soul [life; inner man; heart] after thee, O God [i.e. Elohim; Creator God; Sovereign God].
2  My soul thirsteth [i.e. an intense longing] for God, for the living God [El; Almighty God]: when shall I come and appear [look; behold] before [face; countenance] God?
3  My tears [weeping; i.e. mourning] have been my meat [bread; food] day and night, while they [David’s enemies]continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

David Remembered Happier Times (42:4)

Psalm 42:44  When I remember [recollect; bring to memory] these things, I pour out [spill forth; gush out] my soul in me: for I had gone [pass on; go before] with the multitude, I went [i.e., lead in a procession] with them to the house [household; tabernacle] of God, with the voice of joy [singing; gladness] and praise [hymns of thanksgiving], with a multitude that kept holyday [feast day; celebrate a solemn feast].

David Confessed Discouragement (42:5-7)

Psalm 42:5-75  Why art thou cast down [depressed], O my soul? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; disturbed]in me? hope [wait; tarry; trust; i.e. be patient] thou in God: for I shall yet praise [give thanks] him for the help [salvation; deliverance] of his countenance [face; presence].”
6  O my God, my soul is cast down [depressed; stooped] within me: therefore will I remember [i.e. call to mind; be mindful] thee from the land [country] of Jordan [i.e. the Jordan River], and of the Hermonites, from the hill [mountain range or mount] Mizar [a mountain peak in Lebanon].
7  Deep [i.e. deep water] calleth [calls out] unto deep [i.e. deep water] at the noise [voice; sound; thunder] of thy waterspouts [waterfalls]: all thy waves [breaking waves] and thy billows [rolling waves] are gone over me.

David Hoped in the LORD (42:8-10)

Psalm 42:8-10 8  Yet the LORD will command [charge; appoint] his lovingkindness [unfailing love and mercy] in the daytime, and in the night his song [music; singers] shall be with me, and my prayer [intercession; supplication]unto the God of my life.
9  I will say [promise] unto God my rock [fortress; stronghold], Why hast thou forgotten [or ignore] me? why go [walk; depart; come] I mourning [become dark] because of the oppression [distress; affliction] of the enemy [adversary; foes]?
10  As with a sword [crushing; shattering] in my bones [body], mine enemies reproach [defy; distress; say sharp things]me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

With a Renewed Spirit, David Asserted His Faith (42:11)

Psalm 42:11 – 11  Why art thou cast down [depressed; stoop], O my soul? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; i.e. be in an uproar] within me? hope [wait; tarry; be patient] thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health[salvation; deliverance] of my countenance [face; presence], and my God.

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

I Shall Not Be Moved! (Psalm 62; Psalm 64)

Scripture reading – Psalm 62; Psalm 64

There is a familiar refrain in today’s Scripture reading, and it is like many of the psalms authored by David. While I cannot say with certainty the occasion that inspired Psalm 62 and Psalm 64, the subject and content fit the trauma and sorrow he suffered when Absalom led a rebellion against him. Each of the psalms afford us an insight into the wicked bent of men, and their nature. The devotional is taken from Psalm 62. [* Use of brackets indicates the amplification of the author.]

David’s Confidence in the LORD in Times of Trouble (62:1-2)

Though hated by his son, and hunted by those who would kill him, David declared his faith in the LORD, saying:

Psalm 62:1–21Truly [Surely] my soul waiteth [rests] upon God: From him cometh my salvation [help]. 2He [God] only is my rock [fortress] and my salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved [not stagger or falter].

Driven from his palace, and hunted by evil men, David’s faith stilled his soul, providing him solace and presenting him rest. If ever there was a man who had cause for a “panic attack” or paralyzing anxieties, it was David. And yet, he was confident the LORD was his Rock, his Fortress, his Salvation, and his sure Defense. With boldness the king proclaimed, “I shall not be greatly moved” (62:2).

Evil Preys Upon Weakness (62:3-4)

David’s song invites you to consider the moral decline of men, and how they prey upon those they seek to destroy.

Psalm 62:3–43How long will ye imagine mischief [lit. verbally assault, shout] against a man? Ye shall be slain[struck down; killed]  all of you: As a bowing [bending] wall shall ye be, and as a tottering [broken] fence. 4They [the wicked] only consult [plan; plot] to cast him down from his excellency [dignity; high character]: They delight [take pleasure] in lies: They bless [praise] with their mouth, but they curse [disdain] inwardly. Selah.

Stop for a moment and meditate on what David revealed about the ways of the wicked. Although his reflections were recorded 3,000 years ago, nothing has changed! What he described as the character of evil men is mirrored everywhere in our world today. Politicians, liberal media, and powerbrokers do not hesitate to lie, distort, and destroy the character of good men and women.

The wicked probe for a man’s weakness, and if they find it, they attack him with a vengeance. If they are unable to find a fault, they will court your favor, pretend to be your friend, and curse you behind your back.

Closing thoughtsWhat can we take from Psalm 62?

It is the nature of evil men to sting a good man’s reputation with lies, and assault his character. We should not be surprised when a godly man is attacked by those whose intent is to break his spirit, and bring him to shame.

What hope is there for believers when they are cruelly attacked? David answers that question in the balance of Psalm 62, and I will offer a brief summary: Wait on the LORD, and hope in Him (62:5). Remember, He is your Rock, Fortress, and Salvation (62:6). “8Trust in him at all times…Pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (62:8). Know that all men, “the lowly, and the high [powerful],” are deluded, empty shells, and are “lighter than vanity” (62:9). Never put your faith or confidence in men (62:10).

Remember: God will render “to every man according to his work” (62:12).

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