Category Archives: Faith

A Biblical Perspective on Class Envy and Friendships (Proverbs 13-15)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 13-15

Our study of King Solomon and the wisdom he expressed in his proverbs continues with today’s Scripture reading, Proverbs 13-15. Our devotional commentary will consider two proverbs from Proverbs 13 that are taken from my devotions posted at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. As a reminder, brackets like these are used by this author to amplify meanings and definitions.

 “A Biblical Perspective on the Cause of Class Envy” (Proverbs 13:4)

Proverbs 13:4  “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

Honest hard labor has fallen out of favor in our nation.  Rather than encouraging employees to give employers an equal measure of labor for wages paid, politicians and socialists provoke class envy asserting the “working class” is oppressed. Proverbs 13:4 reminds us that nothing has changed about the heart of an indolent man when it comes to fruit for his labor. His lot is to always be in want.

Proverbs 13:4  “The soul [mind; heart; appetite] of the sluggard desireth [craves], and hath nothing [lazy, foolish men are never satisfied]: but the soul [mind; heart; appetite] of the diligent [one who acts decisively] shall be made fat [be satisfied].”

Notice the sluggard (lazy) desires and craves what others afford only through labor.  He wants the same things, but he is too indolent to work and save to satisfy his passions. He “hath nothing” and becomes a burden to his family and society.

The contrast to the sluggard is the diligent man.  The diligent man is by definition, decisive and quick to act.  He is industrious, using his time, talents and resources wisely. While the sluggard is left wanting, the hardworking are made fat, satisfied and content with the fruits of their labor.

If your parents imparted to you the discipline of hard work in your youth—thank them!  They have given you a gift that has shaped your life and character in a way you will only appreciate when you are older.

“A Friend’s Character Will Either be a Blessing or a Curse” (Proverbs 13:20)

The theme of Proverbs 13:20 is Influence [the sway or effect one has on another]. Notice the truth Solomon imparts regarding the influence of friendships:

Proverbs 13:20 – “He that walketh with [befriends; is a companion of] wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Every good parent will be concerned and vigilant about the friends and influences in their son or daughter’s life. Why? The power and responsibility to influence others is a fact we all share!  People influence us Verbally by what they say or communicate [examples–letters, emails, social media].  In addition, a friend’s Actions and Attitudes have an influence on us.

Too few parents are willing to accept the responsibility of examining honestly their child’s friendships and understanding that friends have a powerful influence on a child’s character and ultimate destiny.

Solomon’s proverb is direct: A wise man will seek the company of likeminded men–those who evidence wisdom and discernment; however, a “companion of fools shall be destroyed” [the picture drawn by the word “companion” is of cattle that graze together. Ever notice how a herd of cattle grazing in a large pasture stand together, often feeding in the same direction?].

The apostle Paul warned believers in Corinth: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The word “communications” can also be translated “companions”; the word “manners” can be translated “morals”. Literally, don’t be misled: wicked, sinful friends will defile one’s moral judgment [i.e. spiritual discernment; the ability to discern right and wrong].

Lesson – The character of one’s friendships is a mirror of one’s own character. 

Friendships have the power to edify or destroy. If you run with fools, you are a fool! If you choose the company of those who have godly wisdom and discernment, they will influence you to be the same.

Reflect on the people who bear influence upon your life, thoughts and values. Are your friends spiritually minded men and women? Is their influence edifying? Do your friends strengthen you spiritually?  Are you under sound Biblical exposition and influenced by godly relationships?

Psalms 1:1 – “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Copyright – Travis D. Smith

A Disastrous Parenting Philosophy: “Do as I Say, Not as I Do!” (Proverbs 10-12)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 10-12

I trust you are continuing in the discipline of reading the Scriptures assigned for each day. For context, our chronological reading of the Scriptures finds us in the midst of the reign of King Solomon, the son and successor of David.

The wealth of subjects and spiritual instructions found Proverbs 10-12 is far greater than this author can address in a brief devotional commentary. For a greater exposition, I invite you to visit my devotional commentaries in Proverbs at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. (I hope to one day make these available in an electronic book format).

Today’s devotional commentary is limited to one proverb, Proverbs 10:1.

In his youth, Solomon professed his love for the Lord and a passion for obeying God’s Law. In his latter years, the king permitted himself a liberty that would become a spiritual cancer for him, his family and Israel. We read, Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places (1 Kings 3:3).  

Solomon became what James identifies as a “double minded man” (James 1:8); he lacked spiritual integrity with God and before his people. Did God in His mercy and grace bless Solomon?  Absolutely; however, he proved to be the kind of father who challenges his son to, “Do as I say, not as I do!”  Solomon’s lack of integrity followed him and his sons to their graves.

Let’s focus briefly on the opening proverb of chapter 10.

Proverbs 10:1 – “…A wise son maketh a glad father [a father loves to brag]: but a foolish son is the heaviness [grief] of his mother.”

Solomon stated what every parent knows…a son or daughter who evidences godly wisdom and exercises good judgment fills the heart of a parent with joy.  By contrast, a foolish son [unteachable, disobedient, silly and immature] is a great sorrow to his mother and father.

The father of a foolish son might appear stoic, silent, and at a loss to console a mother whose heart grieves day and night for the wayward son of her womb.  Her distress rushes over her like the waves of the ocean and she cannot be comforted apart from resting in the Lord, and like the father of a prodigal, never giving up hope (Luke 15:11-24).

Solomon challenged his son in a later proverb, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).  In ancient times, a man would use stones as physical landmarks to mark the corners of his property. Thieves could rob a man of his land by moving the “landmarks”, the stones that marked the boundaries of his inheritance.

The ancient landmarks Solomon referred to in Proverbs 22:28 were not physical, but spiritual: Spiritual laws, Commandments, vows and convictions. Solomon urged his son to be wise and honor the spiritual boundaries he had been taught in his youth.

How many parents have idly watched a double minded son or daughter chart a spiritual course that inevitably became their heartache?  How many foolish sons and daughters have ignored, uprooted and disavowed the spiritual landmarks, the boundaries and convictions that served their fathers and mothers well?

Parents long to see their children choose righteous spiritual paths; however, they must not only teach, but also model their faith and convictions. Adult children might disavow the spiritual landmarks established by their parents; however, they do so at their own peril and eventual sorrow.

Ephesians 6:1-3  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Wisdom’s Appeal to Sinners (Proverbs 7-9)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 7-9

We are continuing our daily reading in the Proverbs of Solomon with Proverbs 7-9 being the subject of today’s devotional commentary.

Proverbs 7 – The Calamity of Sexual Immorality

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Seventh Commandment, states clearly God’s plan for humanity’s sexuality and the posterity of the human race.  From the beginning, the companionship of one man and one woman for life has never been in doubt (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-25).

Human history, however, reveals not only a rejection of marriage, but also the tragic toll of sexual immorality. Crushed dreams, divided hearts, broken families, physical disease, and despair has been the haunt of all who reject the sanctity of marriage. The lesson is indisputable:

Give rein to lusts that cannot be righteously satisfied and you will be consumed by them.

Proverbs 7 serves as a graphic tale of a young man’s folly. Whether a personal observation of the sorrows that followed in the wake of his father’s adultery or a consequence of his own sinful choices, Solomon gives us a portrait that serves as a warning to all who reject godly wisdom and choose the path of immorality. The king warned his son, the house of an adulterer is “the way to hell” (7:27).

Proverbs 8 – Wisdom Anthropomorphized

My theme for Proverbs 8 is expressed in a word consisting of seventeen letters and five syllables. What is the definition of anthropomorphized? It means to take on human characteristics. Wisdom does that in Proverbs 8, and is in my interpretation, the embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Solomon introduces us to Wisdom in the first three verses of the chapter (8:1-3), and then she (Wisdom) begins to speak throughout the balance of the chapter (8:4-36). You will notice the personification of Wisdom expressed in personal pronouns throughout Proverbs 8.

Proverbs 8:4 – “Unto you, O men, I call.”

Proverbs 8:7 – “My mouth shall speak truth.”

Proverbs 8:12 – “I wisdom dwell with prudence.”

Proverbs 8:17 – “I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me.”

Proverbs 8:34 – “Blessed is the man that heareth me.”

Proverbs 8 concludes with wisdom’s invitation and warning:

Proverbs 8:35-36  For whoso findeth me [Wisdom personified in Jesus Christ] findeth life [spiritual and eternal life – 1 John 5:11], and shall obtain [get] favour [acceptance; good pleasure; goodwill] of the LORD. 36 But he that against me [Christ the Lord] wrongeth [violates] his own soul [life; person; mind; spirit]: all they that hate [to reject; are enemies or foes] me [wisdom] love death [pestilence; ruin; hades].”

Proverbs 9 – Wisdom’s Invitation

Solomon continues his personification of Wisdom in chapter 9 and we find her building a house described as having “seven pillars” (9:1). [In the Scriptures the number seven indicates completeness or wholeness.]

Consider this chapter as an offering of two spiritual scholarships to two opposing schools of thought and philosophy.

The first scholarship is to the University of Godly Wisdom (Proverbs 9:1-6) and the second to the School of Folly (Proverbs 9:13-18). You will notice that Proverbs 9:7-12 serve as transitional verses between the two schools.

As you read Proverbs 9, ponder this question: In what school of thought or philosophy are you enrolled?

Are you enrolled in the University of Godly Wisdom? Are you a student in the School of Folly where gullible, simple men dwell?  [The “simple” are those who lack godly wisdom, are slaves to sin, and follow a course of sorrow, destruction, and eventual death.]

It is not too late to become a student in the LORD’S University of Godly Wisdom by humbling yourself and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ taught His followers, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35, 37).

I invite you, enroll in the University of Godly Wisdom without delay by opening your heart to the Lord.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

If You Had One Wish…What Would It Be? (2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

We come today to a new history book in our chronological reading of the Old Testament Scriptures. Whereas 1 Chronicles was a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel; 2 Chronicles is a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of events written from man’s viewpoint.   In contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, covering the same age as the Book of Kings, are written from God’s perspective.

1 Chronicles concluded with King David’s exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and to support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25).  With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).

2 Chronicles 1 opens with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1).

Solomon began his reign by calling for Israel to join him in worshipping the LORD at Gibeon, the historic location of the Mosaic Tabernacle (1:2-3).  Remember that David had relocated the Ark of God to Jerusalem where he provided a new tent for the Ark until the Temple would be constructed (1:4). The ancient brazen altar from the days of Moses was at Gibeon (1:5-6) and Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).

In Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon “and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee” (1:7). 

What an incredible proposition!  “Solomon, ask what you will and I shall give thee!”

What would you request should God grant you the opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted?    Would you ask for riches?  Possessions?  Power?  Popularity?  Fame?  The answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are; your affections, priorities, and passions.

Solomon’s answer to God’s proposition no doubt puts us all to shame!  The young king did not request those things which are pursued by carnal, worldly-minded men.  Solomon’s petition revealed a heart of deep humility.

2 Chronicles 1:10 – “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

God commended Solomon for his request and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).

The closing verses of 2 Chronicles 1 reveal the vastness of Solomon’s wealth as the LORD blessed him as He had promised.

Psalms 72 is believed to be David’s prayer for God’s blessings on the reign of his son Solomon.

In its immediate application, Psalm 72 is indeed an invocation for God to bless the reign of Solomon; however, I believe in its broader application it is a prophetic psalm. The psalm describes a universal kingdom over which the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will reign when He returns and sets up His righteous kingdom on the earth (72:1-3, 7).

Solomon’s kingdom was a great kingdom; however, Christ’s future kingdom will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8).  His will be a compassionate kingdom, “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13).

What a glorious day when men will be redeemed “from deceit and violence” (72:14), and the name of the LORD “shall endure for ever…and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call him blessed” (72:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Solomon: The Pinnacle of Greatness (1 Kings 3-4)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 3-4

In 1 Kings 3-4, Solomon begins to come into his own as the King of Israel. We are given insight into the young king’s gift of administration, his skill as a builder, and his great intellect. While those traits are important in a leader, the most treasured qualities of all are those we find concerning his spiritual character. We read,

“Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places” (1 Kings 3:3).

There was as yet no Temple, and the observation that Solomon was offering sacrifices “in high places” was not a denunciation, but a testimony to his passion and dedication to the LORD.

Why did Solomon journey to Gibeon to offer sacrifice? (3:4)

You might remember how David had celebrated the Ark of the Covenant’s relocation to Jerusalem in 1 Chronicles 15 and how he had constructed a new Tabernacle for the Ark until the Temple was built. While the Ark was no longer in Gibeon (note 3:15), the ancient Mosaic Tabernacle was (2 Chronicles 1:3), and it was there Solomon offered sacrifices to the LORD (3:4).

1 Kings 3:5-15 – Solomon’s Petition for Wisdom

While worshiping at Gibeon, “the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee” (3:5). A pleasing petition follows where, unlike the bent of most men, Solomon evidenced a humility that is rare among leaders. Conscious of his youth and inexperience (3:7) and overwhelmed by the challenge of leading a great nation, Solomon prayed,

1 Kings 3:9 – Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

The LORD was pleased with Solomon’s demeanor and his request. God not only promised to answer the king’s prayer, but also to bless him with “riches, and honour” so that no king was be his equal in all the world (3:13).

Remembering His covenant with David, the LORD promised Solomon he would be blessed with a long life, if he would walk in the ways of the LORD, and obey His Laws and Commandments (3:14).

1 Kings 4 – Solomon’s Leadership, Wealth, and Wisdom

There is much to compliment Solomon as the King of Israel in this chapter. We find a record of his military leaders (4:1-6), the officers of his court, the territories to which they were assigned (4:7-19), and the breadth of the land that he ruled (4:20-22). Also outlined was the size of his royal court that is shown in the daily provisions that were required for his palace (4:22-28), as well as, his stables that comprised “forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen” (4:26).

The wisdom, intellect, and poetic skills of this great king are not left in doubt (4:29-33), for “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (4:34).

I close with a tragic observation that will soon be borne out as we follow Solomon’s life and reign.

Although he was a man of unparalleled wisdom in his youth, he died having departed from his love for the LORD, for when he was old “his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Bible Stands…Though the Earth May Crumble (Psalms 119)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 119

Psalm 119 is a beloved psalm that is the longest of the psalms consisting of 176 verses! Although the author is not named, I believe King David wrote this eloquent song whose subject is the Word of God, the Law, the Commandments, its precepts, and the Testimonies of the LORD.

Undertaking a devotional commentary based on Psalm 119 is at the least daunting, if not impossible. Understanding a complete reading of the psalm will in itself be demanding; I therefore, will limit my effort to an introduction and trust you will read with pen or pencil in hand.

For the sake of introduction and grasping the organization of the psalm, I quote from Charles Spurgeon’s commentary titled “The Treasury of David.” Spurgeon writes of Psalm 119: “The Psalm is alphabetical. Eight stanzas commence with one [Hebrew] letter, and then another eight with the next [Hebrew] letter, and so the whole Psalm proceeds by octonaries [each section consisting of eight lines] quite through the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.” [You will notice a Hebrew letter is the heading for each eight-verse section.]

Knowing the primary subject of Psalm 119 is the Word of God, I challenge you to consider the motivation for reading, studying, and meditating in God’s Word daily.

You will notice numerous words that define the “Word of God” throughout the psalm. The Word, Law, Judgments, Statutes, Precepts, Commandments, and Testimonies are all references to the whole body of Scripture.

Why should you read the Bible daily? I could cite many reasons for being a disciplined student of God’s Word, but I will limit myself to three: Hope, Comfort, and Direction.

Psalm 119:49 states that “the word…caused me to hope.” Psalm 119:50, the Word “is my comfort in my affliction.” Psalm 119:59, the Word of God is my spiritual GPS, for “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”

I pray that David’s passion for the Word of God will be your testimony.

Psalm 119:129Thy testimonies [witness; admonitions; ordinances] are wonderful [marvelous; astonishing]: therefore doth my soul [life; person] keep [preserve; guard] them.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Wise Man Knows and Does Not Forget the Character of His Enemies (1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94

The opening verse of 1 Kings sets the stage for a transition of leadership in Israel and marks the waning days of David: “Now king David was old and stricken in years” (1 Kings 1:1).

The mighty king whose youthful exploits were celebrated in song is now old, frail, and lying on his deathbed.  Though not culturally appropriate in our day, David’s attendants in a desperate attempt to provide physical warmth for the king’s failing body, suggested a young woman be sought who would share his bed (1:1-2). David succumbed to the counsel and a beautiful young woman named Abishag was brought to the king (1:3). While she attended to the king, the Scriptures make it clear that David did not violate her purity and “knew her not” (1:4).

Our study in 1 Chronicles 29 described the glorious coronation of Solomon as Israel’s king (29:1) and David’s prayer of intercession for his young son (29:19, 22-25). 1 Kings 1 gives us the tragic background that led to the king’s decision to leave no doubt that Solomon was God’s chosen king and David’s successor. The events recorded in 1 Kings 1-2 brings to memory the warning of the prophet Nathan that the sword would never depart from his household (2 Samuel 12:7-10).

Adonijah, the elder son of David and the brother of the late rebel Absalom, determined to plot and usurp the throne before David died (1 Kings 1:5-10). We have seen on more than one occasion that a weakness in David’s character was his failure to confront the sins of his own household. Such was the case once again with Adonijah when we read, “his father had not displeased him [Adonijah] at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” (1 Kings 1:6).

David’s failure to address his son’s usurpation gave others cause to follow Adonijah (1:7-8), thus setting the stage for not only a division in the king’s household, but also one that threatened to cause a civil war in Israel. There were even some men in David’s inner circle who, knowing the king was old and frail, were ready to seize the opportunity to be confederate with Adonijah and commandeer the throne of Israel.

Among the traitors who followed Adonijah was Joab (1 Kings 1:7), one of David’s “mighty men” who had disparaged the king’s will in the past and slain two of his generals (2 Samuel 3:27; 20:10).

Notice how rebels have a sense of those who are loyal to leadership and avoid their company.

Adonijah called several to anoint him as his father’s successor to the throne; however, “Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not” (1 Kings 1:10).  Adonijah knew his actions were contrary to the will of the LORD and he made sure those loyal to David would not be included in his plot.

Knowing Adonijah was setting in motion a plan to seize the throne, Nathan counseled Bathsheba to intercede with the king for her son Solomon and have him declared king (1 Kings 1:11-31).  David heeded the counsel of Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan and directed that Solomon be anointed king and declared his successor (1:32-40).

When news reached Adonijah that Solomon was king, all who had followed him in his rebellion fled for their lives (1:41-53).

A Lesson in Character

I have learned the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in a man’s character tend to be constant.

Consider the counsel David gave Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9). David prepared Solomon to reign in his stead and challenged his son to be “strong” and conduct himself according to God’s law, assuring him the LORD’s blessing would rest upon his lineage (2:1-4).

David cautioned Solomon, reminding him of the flaws and failures of certain men in positions of power and influence who had proven untrustworthy and wronged him in the past (2:5-9).  Joab’s disloyalty was a concern to David who urged his son to “let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (2:5-6).

There was also Shimei, the man who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom.  Shimei had begged for his life and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion, but David urged his son to execute Shimei and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (2:8-9).

After David died (2:10-11), Solomon moved to secure his kingdom and the first threat he faced was his own brother Adonijah (2:12-25).  Playing on the pity Bathsheba might have for his state, Adonijah petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him (2:13-18) that he might take Abishag (1:3-4), David’s young virgin concubine, for his wife. Solomon discerned Adonijah’s request to be a plot to legitimize his claim to the throne and had his brother put to death (2:19-25).

Following his father’s advice, Solomon dealt with each of his enemies in like fashion.  Abiathar, the priest who had supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne, was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he would be spared (2:26-27). Hearing Solomon was pursuing threats to his reign, Joab fled to the altar hoping to find grace, but was slain (2:28-35). Solomon remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and three years later had him slain (2:39-46).

I close encouraging you to reflect on the character of people with influence in your life. Apart from sincere repentance and genuine humility, I believe you will find the strengths and weaknesses of a man’s character tend to be consistent.

In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, faithful and trustworthy!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith