Category Archives: Family

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (2 Samuel 13)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 13

The prophet Nathan had admonished David for his adultery, and warned him that his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 12:7-9) saying, “10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (2 Samuel 12:10-11). David repented of his sins, but only after he was publicly exposed (2 Samuel 12:13). Though the law demanded an adulterer’s death (Leviticus 20:10), the grace of God spared the king’s life (12:13b). Nevertheless, the consequences of David’s sins followed him to his grave.

Nathan had foretold, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (12:14). The immediate consequence of David’s sin was the death of the child borne by Bathsheba (12:14-15,18a); however, that was but the beginning of the sorrows David would face within his own household.

2 Samuel 13 begins with a familiar expression: “And it came to pass” (13:1).

What God declares will inevitably “come to pass,” and the king would not be able to escape the guilt that his own sins had become a pattern his sons would follow.

Tragic is an apt description of events that are recorded in 2 Samuel 13. We find here incest (Amnon, the eldest son of David entrapped and raped Tamar, his half-sister, who was the sister of Absalom, (13:1-14); murder (for Absalom sought revenge against Amnon, and ordered his servants to kill his brother (13:15-29); and irreconcilable sorrows (for not only was Amnon killed, but Absalom fled from Israel, leaving David to mourn not only the death of his eldest son, but also the loss of Absalom (13:31-39).

Closing thoughts from 2 Samuel 13

Many spiritual lessons are found in today’s Scripture reading. Amnon’s friendship with a crafty man provoked him to inconceivable wickedness. He had failed to put away wicked lusts (for incest is a grievous sin forbidden by the Law, Leviticus 18:9). When he was questioned by his cousin Jonadab, a man described as “a very subtil [crafty]man” (13:3), Amnon verbalized the wickedness in his heart, and thus breached a moral barrier to sin (13:4). You see, it is one thing to regard sin in your thoughts, but another to speak of it. Rather than reprove Amnon, Jonadab enticed him with a wicked plot, that would inevitably defile the virgin, Tamar. When she protested, Amnon raped her, and then “hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone” (13:15). Amnon’s infatuation with his sister was not love, but wicked lust, and her rape was an act of physical violence! There was no remorse in Amnon’s heart, and after stealing his sister’s purtiy, he humiliated her, and had his servants cast her out of his home (13:11-17).

We must not overlook a sad pattern of failure that emerges in David’s life. The king had failed to confront the sins of his household, and I suggest his weakness was a result of his own moral failures. He had sacrificed his moral authority, and was made weaker in his administration of justice.

When he learned that Amnon, his eldest son, had raped his sister, he was furious…but did nothing! (13:21) His failure to act as a loving, caring father, and a righteous judge (for so was his role as king), provoked his son Absalom, to avenge his sister’s honor (13:18-20, 22-29). Two years passed (13:23), and Absalom plotted to slay his brother. Oh what weeping, and sorrow came over David when he learned Amnon was dead (13:31, 36). David’s failure cost him two sons: Amnon was dead, and Absalom was departed (13:37-39).

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (Numbers 32:23)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

How Far Will a Man Fall? (2 Samuel 11-12)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 11-12

2 Samuel 11 – “And it came to pass, after the year was expired”

“Came to pass” is an apt description of the passing of life. No one knows what a day may bring forth, but each day presents us with an array of choices and consequences that leave their mark on our existence.

Events were about to unfold in David’s life that would inevitably follow him to his grave, and forever cast a shadow over his reign as king. If it were possible, we might strike this tragic moment from David’s life. What sin! What sorrow!

2 Samuel 11 challenges all believers to consciously abide in the presence of the LORD.

We have followed the king from his humble beginnings as a shepherd, and witnessed the surprise of his father and brothers when Samuel anointed him to be the next king of Israel. When he slew Goliath, the Philistine giant, he had become a household name in Israel. His transition from boyhood to manhood, brought a string of victories, as the fugitive of Saul emerged to become Israel’s warrior king, for “the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b).

Israel had celebrated David’s victories in 2 Samuel 10; however, 2 Samuel 11 introduced a sad foreboding of tragedy that would befall him. We read, “at the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem” (11:1).

Probably in his fifties, and having served twenty years as Israel’s king, David’s exploits on the battlefield had inspired songs that celebrated his valor (1 Samuel 18:7); however, he was but a man. There are many spiritual lessons we could take from 2 Samuel 11-12, and some should serve as a sobering warning to all believers.

Grave consequences inevitably befall a man who underestimates the sinful bent of his nature (Psalm 51:5).

Disobeying the law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17), David had given rein to the pleasures of the flesh and taken to himself “more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13). He had foolishly indulged in carnal pleasures, and neglected his duty to the nation.  He was at the pinnacle of his success, and enjoying God’s blessings. Israel was strong and prosperous. However, when his army went to war, David remained behind in the comfort of his palace (11:2). The king’s idleness and lack of accountability became the catalyst for a tragic series of decisions that would forever scar his life, and unravel his reign (2 Samuel 11:3-15).

How far will a “man after God’s own heart” fall?

I will not take the time to outline the obvious in the story of David’s sins recorded-in 2 Samuel 11, but lust, adultery, deceit, guile, and murder are all found here (11:4-17).  Those were the sins that haunted David to his grave.  The consequences of his sins, for himself, his family, servants and Israel were incalculable (11:18-25). Guilt, shame, sorrow, and humiliation shadowed David to his grave. We read:

“The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

David attempted to maintain a facade of routine for nearly a year as he sat on his throne, and conducted the affairs of state.  On the outside, things might have appeared as usual; however, David was conscious of God’s displeasure and later wrote:

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  [4] For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

2 Samuel 12 – “The LORD sent Nathan unto David” (12:1a).

In God’s timing, He sent a man of courage and integrity to speak to the king. Evidencing both wisdom and caution, the prophet Nathan approached David with a story that contrasted a rich man’s abuse of a poor man (12:1-6). Intrigued by the story and incited to anger, David passed sentence against the rich man, proclaiming, “As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:5b-6).

Having pronounced sentence, David and his attendants fell silent when Nathan pointed his finger, and raised his voice, boldly confronting the king, saying, “Thou art the man” (12:7).

David’s heart was smitten with conviction; he was indeed the man: adulterer; murderer; hypocrite and a wretched, miserable soul (12:8-12). His heart was convicted, and his proud, hypocritical façade crushed (12:13). David soon realized the sorrow his sin would bring on his family (12:15-17).  The king then prayed,

Psalm 51:3-4For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Closing thoughts – I invite you to turn the spotlight of truth on your heart. Realize the danger of idleness, and the tragedy that comes when we trifle with sin and temptation. I challenge you, “Flee also youthful lusts” before it is too late (2 Timothy 2:22)!  Solomon would later warn his son, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a).  When it comes to sin, the question is not “if,” but “when” the consequences of secret sins will befall you. I close with a blessed promise:

Proverbs 28:1313He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 65; Psalm 66

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

Psalm 65 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

Keeping Promises: Integrity with Compassion (2 Samuel 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 9

Resting from his victories on the battlefield, and enjoying the blessings of the LORD on his household, David’s heart became reflective. We are not told what stirred the king to remember his friend (9:1), but a vow he had made to Jonathan, the late son of King Saul, moved him to ask: “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1)

If you have followed www.HeartofAShepherd.com, you may remember the occasion of David’s vow to his friend. Jonathan had found in David a kindred spirit, and the prince admired the young shepherd who had slain the Philistine giant, Goliath. However, as David’s popularity grew in Israel, his presence in the palace increasingly provoked Saul’s jealousy, and the king had sought to slay him. In spite of his father’s malice, Jonathan not only accepted David as his peer, but demonstrated his unselfish love for him, and acknowledged he would succeed to the throne of Israel.

1 Samuel 20 records David’s final meeting with Jonathan before his death. David was a fugitive from the palace, and after barely escaping with his life, had sought refuge in the wilderness. Knowing his father meant to slay David, Jonathan sought from him a covenant that when he would be king, David would “not cut off [his] kindness from [Jonathan’s] house for ever” (20:15, 42).

David’s Kindness (9:1-3)

When I read, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1), I am reminded of the manner of man David was.  The house of Saul had been his enemy, but his friendship with Jonathan stirred in his heart a desire to show mercy and compassion to any that might be alive from Saul’s lineage.

Ziba, a servant of Saul, was summoned to appear before David, and he brought news that there was a son of Jonathan who still lived, but he was “lame on his feet” (9:3). (Mephibosheth had been dropped by his nurse when she fled the palace after receiving news that King Saul, and his sons had been slain in battle, 2 Samuel 4:4).

All oriental kings of ancient times would have slain their rivals to the throne, but not David. He desired to “shew the kindness of God unto him” (9:3). What manner of man was the king? He was one whom God had described as “after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

David’s Compassion for Mephibosheth (9:4-8)

Receiving the king’s summons to appear in his court must have frightened the man who had spent his life as a cripple. Limping his way into the presence of the king, Mephibosheth, most likely around twenty-one years old, “fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!” (9:6)

David sensed Mephibosheth’s fear, and spoke words of comfort to him, saying, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” (9:7).

What an incredible gesture! Mephibosheth went from a man dependent on the charity of others, to an heir of his grandfather’s royal lands, and a place of prominence at the king’s table! In humiliation (9:8), Mephibosheth wondered aloud why David would treat a man that was no more worthy than a “dead dog” (9:8).

With his father and grandfather’s lands restored to him, Mephibosheth needed servants to care for his estate. David, therefore, commanded Ziba, his sons, and servants to look after Mephibosheth’s interest in the estate (9:9-11).

Closing thoughts – Unlike our day, when those with physical challenges often flourish in their pursuits, men like Mephibosheth were shunned in ancient times. The thought of a lame man sitting at the king’s table would have been preposterous in any other kingdom, but not that of David. The king remembered his covenant with Jonathon, and his integrity demanded he fulfill his vow, even to a crippled man.

Herein is grace, for Mephibosheth was honored “as one of the king’s sons,” and he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (9:7, 11, 13).

What manner of man was David? He was loyal, compassionate, caring, faithful, and true!

Can the same be said of you?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Guiding Principles for Life and Friendships (Psalm 101; Psalm 105)

Scripture reading – Psalm 101; Psalm 105

Singing and thanksgiving remain our theme as we continue in the Book of Psalms for the Scripture reading. Psalm 101 is ascribed to David as the author. Although the writer of Psalm 105 is unnamed, many believe it may also be attributed to David. Today’s devotional will focus on Psalm 101.

Psalm 101 – A Resolution of Thanksgiving and Dedication

Imagine living under a ruler whose passion was not his career or legacy, but foremost his love and gratitude for the LORD. Such were the “golden years” of David’s reign in Jerusalem. The date and setting of this psalm is not known, but I believe it was in the early years, if not the beginning of the king’s reign over Israel.

While the purpose and overriding theme of Psalm 101 is a song of praise for the “mercy and judgment” of the LORD (101:1), you will notice the assertions of the king concerning his personal life and choices (101:2-8). There are nine assertive “I will” statements, and six “shall” statements.

David Purposed to Live a Righteous Life (101:2-3)

David determined as a matter of conviction that he would act in a “perfect way” [blameless], and conduct his life with a “perfect [innocent] heart” (101:3). The king set for himself an intolerance for observing or tolerating a “wicked thing before [his] eyes.” He was resolute, saying, he would “hate” the sins he observed in others (101:3).

Think about it: How much would your life and family change if you dedicated yourself to David’s standard of personal holiness and righteousness? Will you set your heart to walk a higher moral road, even if it means walking alone? Remember, what you tolerate, and the influences others have, will inevitably affect your life choices.

David Adopted Guiding Principles and Convictions (101:4-5, 7)

Though penned 3,000 years ago, the guiding principles we observe in the king’s psalm should resonate in the hearts of all believers. David’s “I will” and “I shall” statements leave no room for ambiguity. David was a man of conviction, and as king, there were always those who desired his favor and sought for power and position in his administration. David realized those closest to him would influence him with their counsel, and their character.

Psalm 101:4-5, 7 lists the manner of men the king would not tolerate in his emissaries. The following were cause for disqualification in the king’s court: “A froward [crooked, deceitful] heart,” and a “wicked [evil] person” (101:4). Slander [gossip], and proud and self-indulgent servants had no place in his household (101:5). Liars and deceivers were also unwelcomed in the king’s court (101:7).

Spiritual Qualifications for Servants to the King (101:6)

The psalm has so far focused on qualities the king determined were undesirable, and cause for disqualification. Psalm 101:6 states two qualities the king required in his servants: “6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

The men David desired in his fellowship and company were faithful, tried and true men of conviction. He required men “that walketh in a perfect way” (101:6) to serve him and the people. The word “walketh” in the King James Bible gives an accurate insight into the character of those who served the king. Regardless of a man’s talents, none would serve the king who fell short of a blameless testimony when measured by God’s laws and judgment.

Closing thoughts – It was not enough for the king to declare the qualifications and disqualifications of those closest to him. He determined he would actively oppose wickedness: “8 I will early destroy [silence] all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off [exterminate] all wicked doers from the city of the LORD” (101:8).

An invitation: Guiding principles and convictions must be weighed, and determined for our lives and families. If you follow David’s pattern, you must establish and state your personal convictions (101:3). Will you determine to live a blameless life, and keep your heart pure and innocent?

You must also decide the influences in your life (101:4-5, 7). The king determined he would not tolerate liars, gossips, the proud, or deceivers. In fact, he stated he would actively oppose the sin and wickedness of evil men.

He also set a spiritual standard for the character of those closest to him (101:6). They were to be faithful: faithful to the LORD, to His Law and Commandments. Their lives were to be a “perfect” testimony.

An application – Have you adopted guiding principles for your friendships? I encourage you to examine your personal convictions (“I will” and “I shall”), and the character of those closest to you. What manner of people are your friends?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Make a Joyful Noise Unto the LORD! (Psalm 100)

Scripture reading – Psalm 100

Psalm 100 is one of the most beloved of the psalms, and has inspired many great anthems, hymns and choruses of praise.  Knowing this a brief Scripture reading, I am taking liberty to use a bold font for the Scripture text, and adding my amplification of word meanings in italics within brackets.

Psalm 100 – An Invitation to Worship the LORD

Imagine entering the outer court of the Tabernacle, or approaching Solomon’s Temple on the Sabbath or Feast day. We would have found ourselves in the midst of a throng of people joyfully singing some of the psalms of degrees as they ascended the Temple mount. Nearing the top of the Mount, we would have heard the sound of instruments, and the voices of singers calling on the congregation to worship the LORD.

A Call for Thanksgiving (100:1-2)

Psalm 100:1-2 1Make a joyful noise [shout] unto the LORD [Jehovah; Yahweh; Eternal God], all ye lands [earth; country; world]. 2 Serve [labor; become servants] the LORD with gladness [joy; rejoicing]: come [enter; come in] before his presence [face] with singing [joyful voice; shouts of joy].

Not only Israel, but all nations were summoned to offer thanksgiving to the LORD. As the people gathered at the Tabernacle or Temple, they were encouraged to give thanks to the LORD in three ways: Shout for joy (100:1a); Serve the LORD with rejoicing; and Sing before Him in His presence (100:2).

A Cause for Thanksgiving (100:3)

Psalm 100:3 3 Know [perceive; understand] ye that the LORD he is God [Elohim; mighty God]: it is he thathath made us [wrought; squeeze or mold], and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Why should the people of the earth worship and praise the LORD? We are to praise the LORD for His Person: He is Jehovah, Elohim, Almighty God. While some men boast they are “self-made men,” the psalmist reminds us that God is our Creator, and “it is He that hath made us” (100:3b).

Your skills, talents, gifts, intellect, and opportunities are all tokens of God’s grace. Believers should give thanks, and find comfort in the knowledge that the LORD is our Shepherd, and we are “the sheep of His pasture” (100:3; Psalm 23).

A Command in the Mode of Thanksgiving (100:4)

Psalm 100:4 4 Enter [come] into his gates with thanksgiving [praise; offerings; i.e., hymns of thanksgiving], and into his courts [towns; villages] with praise: be thankful [give thanks] unto him, and bless [praise] his name [i.e., Person; God’s character; attributes].

I identify four aspects of sincere worship in Psalm 100:4. We are to worship the LORD in our substantive acts of “thanksgiving,” and in our offerings, when we enter His sanctuary (100:4a). We worship Him when we sing praises to Him (100:4b). We honor Him when we express our prayers and testimonies from thankful hearts (100:4c). Another aspect of worship is when we rehearse in our hearts His divine attributes, and praise His name (100:4d).

Imagine the zeal of a congregation that unashamedly praises the LORD in offerings, spirit, songs, and praise!

A Consideration of the LORD’S Moral Character (100:5)

Psalm 100:5 5 For the LORD is good [better; best; pleasing]; his mercy [lovingkindness; favor; love and grace] is everlasting [perpetual; always; eternal]; and his truth [faithfulness] endureth to all generations [age].

Our brief psalm of praise and thanksgiving closes reminding us that the LORD has given us cause for thanksgiving (100:5). He is “good,” benevolent, and pleasing. He is both just, and “merciful” (for if He were only just, we would have cause for fear; however, He is merciful, and forgiving). He is the very essence of “truth,” for He is honest, faithful, and sincere “to all generations” (100:5).

Closing thoughts: Take a few minutes and ponder as an individual or family all the things for which you should be thankful. Isn’t it humbling and comforting to know the God of heaven, is not only your Creator, but He loves and cares for you like a shepherd tends his sheep?

The next time you worship the LORD in the congregation of His people, remember Psalm 100, and sing. Sing unto the LORD, serve Him with gladness, and praise His name!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 14-15

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

1 Chronicles 14 – The LORD Blessed David’s Reign

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

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

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

1 Chronicles 15 – The Ark is Brought to Jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Timeless Lessons in History (1 Chronicles 9-10)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 9-10

1 Chronicles 9 – Post-Exilic Jerusalem

Our study of genealogies in 1 Chronicles began with Adam (1:1), the sons of Noah and their ancestries (1:5-26), to Abraham and Isaac (1:27-34), and the sons of Jacob, who were the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2:1-8:40).

We read in 1 Chronicles 9:1, “1So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression.”

With those words, our study of the history of Israel has carried us forward in time beyond the reigns of kings in Israel, and Judah, to Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity. 1 Chronicles 9 is the genealogical record of the children of Israel who returned from Babylonian exile to resettle, and rebuild Jerusalem (9:4-34). Accepting the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, we find the names of those families and heads of households who set their hearts to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2).

Five tribes were represented in the families that repopulated Jerusalem: Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh (9:3). (The mention of Ephraim and Manasseh is notable, for they were among the ten tribes of northern Israel that had been taken captive by Assyria).

The Levites were among those who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, and 1 Chronicles 9:10-34 gives us the names of their families and heads of households. Briefly, among the Levites who returned to Jerusalem were the priests (9:10-13), musicians (9:14-16; Nehemiah 11:15-18; 12:28-29), and porters who are also identified as “keepers of the gates of the tabernacle” (9:17-23). The porters, or gatekeepers, were supervisors of the Temple chambers and treasuries (9:24-32). There were Levites who were trustees of Temple vessels, and the preparations of elements used in worship and offering sacrifices (9:28-32). Singers are specifically identified in 1 Chronicles 9:33.

Once again, the historian gives us a record of King Saul’s genealogy (9:35-44; 8:29-40).

1 Chronicles 10 – King Saul’s Death, and the Rise of David to the Throne

Rolling the calendar back from the repopulation of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, our study in 1 Chronicles returns to an event that will be familiar to those who have followed my devotionals in 1 Samuel. The writer of 1 Chronicles returned to the Philistines’ victory over Israel (10:1-2), and the deaths of King Saul and his sons (10:1-6). Perhaps to explain the end of the house and lineage of Saul, and the rise of the Davidic line, we are reminded that Saul fell upon his own sword, and died (10:5-6). Great humiliation followed when the bodies of Saul and his sons were found. The Philistines stripped Saul and his sons of their armor (10:9a), and after beheading Saul (10:9b), they placed his head and armor in the temple of Dagon, the fish god (10:10). Learning of the humiliation that had befallen their king, the men of Jabeshgilead “arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days” (10:12).

Closing thoughts: Consider with me three reasons for King Saul’s death, and the end of his dynasty (10:13-14).

We read, “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord” (10:13a). Though his failures were many, most likely the transgression that is to be noted here was his failure to kill Agag, the king of the Amaelities, and his sparing the best of the spoils for himself, contrary to God’s command that all were to be killed (1 Samuel 15). We also remember how Saul had disobeyed the law of the LORD, and sought “counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it (10:13b; 1 Samuel 28:5-10). Finally, Saul died because he “inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him” (10:14a).

Thus, the dynasty of Saul was ended, and the LORD “turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (10:14).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“They forgot!” (1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 6; Psalm 78

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy chapters. 1 Chronicles 6 continues our study of the genealogy of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that began with 1 Chronicles 1 and will conclude with 1 Chronicles 8. Psalm 78continues our study in the Book of Psalms.

1 Chronicles 6 – The Genealogy of the Tribe of Levi

1 Chronicles 6 gives the ancestral record of the priestly tribe of Levi. Prominent at the outset are “the children of Amram; Aaron (the first high priest), and Moses (the prophet who led Israel out of Egypt), and Miriam (the sister of Aaron and Moses). The sons also of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (6:3).

Eleazar, the son of Aaron, succeeded his father as high priest. 1 Chronicles 6:4-15 records the line of high priests to the time of the Babylonian captivity. Other Levite families are noted (6:16-30), for they assisted the high priests in their duties, especially in the care of the Tabernacle and its implements.

Musicians had a prominent role in Israel’s worship, and the lineage of singers, composers, and those who led in congregational worship is recorded (6:31-47). Three notable musicians and their lineage are indicated:Heman, who penned Psalm 88, and was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (6:33-38; 1 Samuel 8:2,3). Asaph, whose name we have noted on several occasions in the psalms (6:39-43). Also, 2 Chronicles 29:30 identified Asaph as a “seer,” a prophet. Finally, there was also Ethan, who was the author of Psalms 89.

While the priests were charged with handling the sacrificial offerings, and only the high priests were permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (6:49; Hebrews 9), there were Levites who assisted the priests in what is described as “all manner of service of the Tabernacle of the house of God” (6:48). Though their tasks may be considered menial, nevertheless, they were necessary for the service of the LORD, and the worship of His people (6:48). They would have assisted the priests in killing, flaying, and boiling sacrifices, providing water and wood, and carrying away the ashes.

1 Chronicles 6:54-81 accounts the names of Levite cities. Unlike the other tribes, the Levites did not receive a territorial inheritance; however, forty-eight cities in the midst of the tribes of Israel were designated to them, including six cities of refuge (Numbers 18:20; Joshua 20:1-9; 21:1-42).

Psalm 78A Challenge to Heed the Lessons of the Past

Psalm 78 is titled, “Maschil of Asaph,” meaning a psalm of instruction, and is a study in the history of Israel, and God’s faithful, providential dealings with His people. I suggest Psalm 78 can be summed up in two words, “They forgot.”

Philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s reflection is certainly evidenced in Psalm 78.  The psalmist presents in seventy verses a panorama of Israel’s history, marked by the tragic failure to hear, remember, and heed the spiritual lessons of God’s providences and dealings with His people. God had chosen Israel to be the custodians of His Law, and Commandments. He had blessed, and entrusted the Hebrews with His Word.  Each generation was challenged with “shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, And his wonderful works that he hath done” (78:4).

Fathers and mothers were charged with the responsibility of not only remembering, but also teaching their children. In turn, each generation was to teach every successive generation not only that nation’s history, but God’s providential care of His people (78:3-8).

Tragically, Israel forgot! They broke their covenant with the LORD (78:10), and forgot His works, miracles, and all that He had done for Israel when He brought them out of Egypt (78:11-12). They forgot how He divided the Red Sea (78:13), and led them through the wilderness (78:14). They forgot that He had provided them water, manna, and meat (78:15-28). They forgot how they murmured against the LORD, and made a pretense of repentance only to turn back to their sinful ways (78:29-39).

They had forgotten how the LORD had delivered them out of slavery, and sent the plagues upon Egypt (78:43-55). They forgot how He brought them to the Promised Land, but they had rebelled, failed to trust God, and turned back to wander in the wilderness until that generation was dead, except for Joshua and Caleb (78:53-58). They forgot how they provoked Him to anger by their wickedness, and when the Ark had fallen into the hand of the Philistines, their priests, Hophni and Phineas, were slain (78:58-64).

Nevertheless, when the time came, God remembered His people, and He “chose the tribe of Judah,” and Mount Zion for his presence in Israel (78:67-69). The LORD also chose David to be king, and to shepherd His people (78:70-72).

A closing thought: Israel forgot the LORD, but the LORD never forgot, nor forsook His people!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

From Generation to Generation (Psalm 44)

Scripture reading – Psalm 44

The author of Psalm 44 is not given; however, the circumstances of its writing are without question a time of trials and troubles. The scribe of the psalm certainly had a knowledge of history (44:1-3), and in its verses recalled with fondness the stories the ancients had passed down to him by word of mouth, and written history.

Glory Past (44:1-8)

The psalmist writes, “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work [acts; deeds] thou [God] didst in their days, in the times of old [ancient times]. 2  How thou [the LORD] didst drive out the heathen [nations] with thy hand [power], and plantedst [struck] them; how thou didst afflict [hurt; afflict] the people [nations], and cast them out. 3  For they [the people of Israel] got not the land [Canaan; the Promised Land] in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm [might; strength] save [deliver; preserve] them: but thy right hand [typically the stronger hand], and thine arm [might; strength], and the light of thy countenance [face; presence], because thou hadst a favour [took pleasure] unto them.”

The opening verses of Psalm 44 should give parents and grandparents pause to ask themselves, “What have I taught my children?” Can your children recite Bible stories, and recall God’s works and providences?  Have you shared your faith with them and relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you teaching spiritual truths?

It is not enough to know history, for the sons and daughters of every generation must come to know the LORD personally. The psalmist knew the testimony of the LORD in history past, but he also asserted his personal faith in the LORD (44:4-8). He wrote, “I will not trust [be confident] in my bow [strength of the bow], neither shall my sword save me. 7  But thou [LORD] hast saved [delivered] us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame [confounded; confused] that hated us. 8  In God we boast [glory; praise; celebrate] all the day long [continually], and praise [confess; give thanks] thy name [fame; renown; reputation] for ever [perpetual; everlasting]. Selah.”

Faded Glory (44:9-16)

The psalmist had faith that God was able to deliver Israel out of her present troubles, but that did not keep him from objecting that he felt God had forsaken them (44:9). He rehearsed with the LORD how he felt abandoned, Israel had suffered defeat, and fallen victim to an enemy that scorned, and derided them (44:10-16).

A Protest of Fidelity (44:17-21)

Have you faced a trial, and felt there was no justice? Did you examine your heart, question your motives, and felt the LORD had forsaken you?

The psalmist was cast down, and heavy-hearted, and reasoned with God that he and Israel had not forgotten the LORD, nor broken covenant with Him (44:17). He moaned that the people had not backslidden (44:18), and reasoned, “21Shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (44:21).

A Petition for Grace (44:22-26)

Where do you turn when you feel there is no place to turn?

Israel was facing overwhelming sorrows, and an enemy that “counted [them] as sheep for the slaughter” (44:22). The author recalled the glories of Israel’s past (44:1-3), and the testimonies of how the LORD had gone before His people and given them victories (44:4-8), and he longed to see the same in his day. He prayed as though God were asleep, and had forgotten to guard and keep watch over Israel: 23Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, cast us not off for ever, 24Wherefore hidest thou thy face, And forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” (44:23-24).

Desperate and longing for help, the psalmist acknowledged he had come to a low place. He confessed, “Our soul is bowed down to the dust: Our belly cleaveth unto the earth” (44:25). He called on the LORD for help, not based on his own merit, but in light of the mercies of the LORD: “Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake”(44:26).

Closing thoughts: I close inviting you to become a student of God’s Word, and human history! As an American, I know the founding fathers of this nation were not perfect; however, they were conscious that a Sovereign God was directing the course of history. In his farewell letter to the governors of the thirteen states, George Washington, the first president of the United States, wrote the following prayer:

“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another…that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Oh, that the LORD would raise up men of integrity, and godly character to lead our nation once again.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith