Category Archives: Family

Proverbs: An Introduction (Proverbs 1-3)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 1-3

Continuing our study of the life and wisdom of King Solomon, our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chapters 1-3.

To author a brief devotional commentary on three chapters of Proverbs is not just a daunting task, it is impossible. In fact, you will find six hundred individual devotional commentaries on my HeartofAShepherd.com website that I have written and hope to one day publish in an electronic book format for personal and group Bible studies.

Rather than attempt the impossible, allow me to share a few introductory thoughts that I hope will prove useful as you read and apply the Proverbs of Solomon to your life.

An Introduction

Solomon, the son of David, reigned as King of Israel in the 10th century B.C.   According to 1 Kings 4:32, the king authored “three thousand proverbs” and his wisdom was so widely hailed “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  Cherished for their godly wisdom and divine inspiration, many of Solomon’s proverbs were collected and included in the canon of Old Testament Scriptures.

The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s instructions to his son, a prince of Israel, who would one day be that nation’s king.  Inherent in its pages are teachings, admonitions, exhortations, and general guidelines for conducting one’s life in a wise, God-fearing manner.

What is a proverb?

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary defines a proverb as a “wise utterance.”  Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon describes a proverb as a “brief terse sentence of popular sagacity.”  Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary states a proverb is “an old common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth.”

Proverbs are, in essence, trite sayings, rules, and common truths.  Some make the mistake of selectively choosing and applying individual proverbs as though they are universal promises when they are, in fact, simply stated principles that are general statements of truth (one such proverb oft quoted, but misapplied as an unassailable promise is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”).

Solomon’s proverbs often draw upon the agrarian culture of his day and are sometimes simple enough a child might grasp its meaning with little or no explanation.  Some proverbs are provocative in nature, the musings of a king all too aware of the temptations of the palace and the godless character of miscreants who haunted its courts in pursuit of lusts and carnal pleasures.

Like a loving father, twenty-three times the king arrests the attention of the young prince addressing him as “my son”.  With the fervor of a passionate preacher, Solomon’s proverbs “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2), sparing no words when describing the way of a fool and admonishing the tragic end of all who follow his path.

With pen in hand, I encourage you to take up your Bible and read Proverbs 1-3, underlining and noting in the margins the practical truths and their application to your life.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Is it Time to Put Honey Back into Your Honeymoon?

Scripture reading assignment – Song of Solomon

Today’s Scripture reading introduces the Song of Solomon.  As its name suggests, the author is Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba, and God’s chosen successor to his father’s throne.

In answer to his prayer, God blessed Solomon with wisdom that exceeded that of any man of his day. As a young king, he enjoyed wealth beyond imagination, and his fortunes grew with each successive year of his reign.

Following the custom of his day, Solomon formed alliances with heathen kings through marriage and took their daughters who brought the idols of their homelands into his palaces (1 Kings 11:1-2).  Recalling his harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines, we are disappointed, but not surprised when we read,

“When Solomon was old, that 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).

The Song of Solomon is a book of romance, eight chapters long and written when he was a young king. There are various views on how the Song of Solomon should be interpreted.

Some suggest an Allegorical interpretation, stating the Song of Solomon describes God’s relationship with His people.  Some Jewish rabbis believed the Song of Solomon was an allegory [story or parable] describing God’s relationship with Israel.

Some scholars suggest a Typical interpretation and believe the Song of Solomon is a love poem written by the king to a young woman he loved.  Some scholars draw a parallel and suggest the book describes Christ’s love and relationship with the Church.

For the sake of our study, I suggest a Literal interpretation.  In other words, I believe the Song of Solomon is a story of romance.  A love story and a celebration of youthful love and romance between the king and a wife whom he loved and who adored him.

Time and space do not permit a full and detailed commentary on this book of romance; however, I trust today’s commentary will serve as a valuable outline for future studies.

Song of Solomon 1-2 – The Beginning of a Royal Courtship.

Song of Solomon 3-4 – A Portrait of Young Love

Song of Solomon 5-6 – Formula for a Happy Marriage: Two dedicated souls and a lifetime of patience and romance.

Song of Solomon 7-8 – “What Beautiful Feet You Have, My Love!”

I close with the apostle Paul’s exhortation to believers in Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:25, 33 – “ 25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it… 33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

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

The King is Dead (1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

In the fortieth year of his reign as king, David was conscious of the frailty of old age and the increasing shadow of his own death. In today’s Scripture reading we have record of David’s final preparations before his inevitable departure from this earthly life.

1 Chronicles 26 – The Gatekeepers

Continuing the organization of those who will minister in the Temple, the focus of 1 Chronicles 26are those men and their families who will be charged with guarding the entrances to the Temple. Altogether there will be twenty-four guard stations attended by porters or gatekeepers described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6) and “able men for strength for the service” (26:8), meaning able-body men.

Men of the tribe of Levi were also assigned to guard the Temples treasuries (26:20-28) that consisted not only of what was given by the people, but also “out of the spoils won in battles” (26:27).

1 Chronicles 27 – Israel’s Army and its Divisions

Having completed the affairs of the Temple and its organization, David’s focus then turned to the organization of Israel’s armies by twelve divisions, each division consisting of twenty-four thousand men (27:1-15).

The rulers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22), as well as those men who were charged with managing the king’s possessions (27:23-31).

The record of David’s trusted counsellors is also stated (27:32-34).

1 Chronicles 28 – David’s Final Preparations

Calling together all the leaders of his kingdom (28:1), David made certain there would be no ambiguity as to his desires and God’s plan for Israel when he died.

Seeming to indicate he had been lying on his bed until now, we read that “the king stood up upon his feet” and began to share the longing in his heart to build a Temple for God, as well as, the reason why he was denied that privilege: “But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood” (28:3).

David shared how God had chosen Solomon to be king (28:5) and had promised him a perpetual kingdom if he would keep the LORD’s “commandments” and judgments (28:7-8). In the audience of the leaders, David exhorted Solomon to know God and serve the LORD “with a perfect heart and with a willing mind” (28:9-10). David charged Solomon to take up architectural plans he had devised for the Temple and to “build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (28:9-10).

1 Chronicles 29 – David’s Final Acts as King

We come to the end of this first chronicle of Israel’s history having followed God’s providential hand in His creation from Adam, the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1), through Noah (1:4-17) and his son Shem (1:17). Of Shem’s lineage was born Abraham (1:27) with whom God established His redemptive covenant that was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

David has reigned forty years as Israel’s king (29:27) and his final appeal to the leaders of the nation is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29. The king reminded all Israel that God had chosen Solomon to succeed him as king, but urged the people to remember he was “young and tender, and the work…great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God” (29:1).

Modeling the manner of giving that honors the LORD, David gave liberally and enthusiastically for the building of the Temple (29:2-5). The leaders of the nation followed the king’s example and “offered willingly” (29:6-9). Witnessing the spirit of their king and leaders, the people also “offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (29:9).

A beautiful benediction of praise and worship is recorded when David rehearsed God’s blessings on Israel (29:10-13) and his inferiority in the light of God’s grace (29:14-15). Remembering his humble beginnings, David prayed with a sense of awe:

1 Chronicles 29:14-1514  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort [remember, David was a son of a shepherd]? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. 15  For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow [shade; temporal; passing], and there is none abiding [no hope in this life].

David’s prayer turned to one of intercession as he contemplated the task of being king which Solomon was about to undertake (29:19). Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving followed and the ceremony concluded with Solomon being anointed as king a second time and then taking his place on the throne (29:20-24).

God did answered David’s prayer, for “the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (29:25).

The reign of David, Israel’s great king, comes to an end with a simple obituary:

“And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (29:28).

Notice the memorial to David’s character in that last sentence: David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour [glory; splendor]” (29:28).

All men and women will die, but I dare say, few will die having lived a full life that has been blessed, bequeathing honor as their life’s crowning trait.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Pour Themselves into Those Who Will Eventually Succeed Them (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study in 2 Samuel and is a parallel of the same events recorded in 1 Chronicles 21-22. (The record in the chronicles gives us additional details.)

2 Samuel 24

We find David as an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was only a memory. The king is now in the latter years of his life and reign as the king of Israel.

The opening verses of 2 Samuel 24 will no doubt challenge some to wonder why the LORD would be angry with Israel, move David to take a census of his army, and then turn about and be angry with David for doing so (24:1-10). Remember the LORD never tempts man to sin (James 1:13), but He does use the natural inclination of a man’s heart to providentially accomplish His will and purpose.

General Joab, the captain of David’s army, cautiously questioned the king’s motive, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command for a census was an act of pride that might prove to be a provocation of God’s judgment.

As soon as the sum of the fighting men of Israel was delivered, David’s heart was convicted, and he confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10). God is just, and the consequences of David’s sin would not be dismissed by the LORD. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11).

Gad was given a message that demanded the king choose one of three judgments that would come upon Israel because of David’s sin: seven years of famine, three months pf being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies than be pursued by an enemy (24:14).

2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

Seventy thousand were dead, but had the LORD not been restrained by His mercy, even Jerusalem would have suffered His wrath (24:16). David had prayed as the angel of the LORD approached Jerusalem and made intercession for his people praying, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house” (24:17).

Bearing the weight of his guilt and realizing the consequences of his sin had befallen the nation, David interceded and asked for God’s judgment to fall upon him and his household rather than His people (24:17).

The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD instructing David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18). [Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]

Seeing the king and hearing his desire to buy his threshingfloor, Araunah offered not only the land, but also his oxen and threshing instruments as a gift to David (24:20-23).

The king refused Araunah’s offer and confessed, “I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (24:24).

David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah, and sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had purchased. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign David’s offering was accepted and God’s wrath was satisfied (1 Chronicles 21:26).

You might wonder what became of the land David purchased. The threshingfloor of Araunah was the same place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). It would also be where Solomon will build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

1 Chronicles 22

David, knowing the years of his life were drawing to a close, devoted himself to preparing workmen and materials that would be required for Solomon to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-19). David instructed Solomon and imparted to his son his duty to embrace God’s promises and build the Temple in Jerusalem (22:6-16).

Leaving no doubt who should be his heir and the next king, David “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1) and set forward an organization of the priests and Levites who were to serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).

There are many lessons we can take from today’s study; however, I will leave you with one:

David had accepted that his earthly life would soon be passed, and not only  prepared his son to be king, but also charged Solomon with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6-11).

Psalm 90:10 – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength [i.e. pride] labour [toil; grief; misery] and sorrow [mourning]; for it is soon [i.e. hurry; too soon] cut off [passed], and we fly away [i.e. our years take flight].”

Wise men and women pour their lives into those who will eventually succeed them!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Absalom the Rebel is Dead” (2 Samuel 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 16-18

2 Samuel 16 – David’s Flight from Jerusalem

The rebel son of David named Absalom set in motion events that would not only usurp his father’s throne, but also end in his own death.

As David fled the capital city and began ascending the Mount of Olives, he was met by Ziba, a servant of Mephibosheth, the surviving son of his late friend Jonathon, and the grandson of King Saul (16:1-3). Ziba proposed to David that his many kindnesses to Mephibosheth had been rewarded with betrayal and his master was plotting to ascend the throne in the king’s absence (16:3-4).

[Note – 2 Samuel 19:24-30 indicates that Mephibosheth later asserted his loyalty to David and contended the king had been misinformed by his servant Ziba. Rather than sort out the matter, David deferred and ordered the division of Mephibosheth’s land and possessions between him and Ziba].

Crossing the Mount of Olives and beginning his descent on the eastern slope, David encountered a foolish man named Shimei, a relative of King Saul. Adding to the king’s humiliation and sorrow, Shimei hurled both stones and curses at David (16:5-14).

Absalom was surrounded by men who had participated in his uprising, and among them was Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted counselors (believed by some scholars to have been the grandfather of Bathsheba). Ahithophel, evidencing a bitter spirit toward David, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father by going into the king’s harem and lying with his concubines (16:15-22).

2 Samuel 17 – The Revolution Unravels

Now David had wisely planted Hushai, a trusted friend, in Absalom’s court. Hushai was tasked, not only to act as a spy in the usurper’s household (15:23-37), but also to counter the counsel of Ahithophel (17:1-14).

Ahithophel knew that all was lost when his counsel was rejected and Absalom failed to pursue the king. Rather than suffer the indignity of falling into David’s hands, Ahithophel went home, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself (17:22-23).

2 Samuel 18 – The Culmination and Bitter End of Absalom

Mustering his mighty men and thousands of others who were confederate with him, David divided his army in thirds and prepared them for battle against Absalom (2 Samuel 18).  David, in spite of the great harm Absalom had committed against him, pleaded with his generals, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom” (18:5).

David’s army would be victorious; however, the battle took the lives of twenty thousand Israelites (18:6-8). Realizing the overthrow of his father had failed, Absalom fled the battle, and in spite of the king’s orders that his son would be spared, was slain by Joab (18:9-17).

When news of the victory reached David (18:18-28), rather than inquire into the welfare of his generals and army, David requested news of Absalom’s welfare, saying, “Is the young man Absalom safe” (18:32-33)

When he learned his son was dead, David wept saying, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (18:33).

Ahithophel, possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba, was dead.  Absalom was dead. Both men suffered the indignity of hanging on a tree, a sign that a man was accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13).

David was inconsolable, his heart broken by the knowledge that his own sins had been the catalyst of the deaths of many, including his son.

What sorrows accompany familial sins! Let us all remember the sins and indiscretions of one sinner can prove calamitous to others, especially those whom we love and hold dearest.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Got problems? I have a promise! (Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six chapters from the Book of Psalms, but the focus of this devotional commentary will be limited to Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:1-4 – The Grief and Prayer of a Heartbroken Father

An editor’s note in your Bible identifies Psalm 3 as the psalm David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him. The historical context is chronicled in 2 Samuel 15 and marked the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom.

By subtlety and slander (2 Samuel 15:3-6) Absalom had ingratiated himself to the people and “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). Conspiring against his father, Absalom led a coup and forced the king to flee Jerusalem. Psalm 3 is a song that expresses David’s anguish and cry to God. [Note – The amplification of the italicized text is by this author.]

Psalm 3:1-4  – “LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], how are they increased [multiplied] that trouble [cause distress; afflict] me! many are they that rise up [stand up as a foe] against me.

2  Many there be which say [speak; tell] of my soul [life; person; being], There is no help [deliverer] for him in God. Selah.

3  But thou, O LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], art a shield [buckler; defense] for me; my glory [honor; splendor], and the lifter up [exaltation; to move in a higher direction] of mine head.

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

David found himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises.  The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to the LORD stirs the heart of all who have been in leadership and felt the blow and sorrow of betrayal.  Emboldened by his flight from Jerusalem, the king’s enemies derided him saying, “There is no help [deliverer] for him in God” (Psalm 3:2b).

Notice in verse 3 how David takes solace in the character and promises of God.  His reflections on the character of God strengthened his soul. David remembered the LORD of eternity was his “shield”, defender and the sovereign of creation.

Though driven from his throne, David was confident that God would exact vengeance and His justice would prevail.  Alone, afraid, humiliated, discouraged, but not defeated; David was certain God saw his plight and heard his cry. The king expressed his trust and faith in the LORD writing:

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

The heartache borne by David is all too familiar to parents of sons and daughters who reject God in spite of their parents’ love, sacrifices, and the spiritual lessons engrained in them from their youth. Prodigal sons and daughters heap indescribable heartaches and sorrows on those who love them. I can only wonder how many desperate parents are praying their rebels will face the emptiness of their souls and come to themselves before it is too late (Luke 15:11-21).

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

All was not lost for David. When the deposed king looked past his sorrows and reflected on the LORD his hope renewed. Perhaps for the first time in days or weeks, David found solace in the LORD and slept (3:5). Sweet sleep-a quietness of heart and thoughts God gives a believer whose solace is in Him. David’s words (3:5) echo a bedtime prayer I was taught as a child:

“I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.”

Awakening from sleep, David’s faith was renewed and his soul refreshed.

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

Betrayed by a son and surrounded by enemies, David asserted he was confident the LORD would save him.

Are you a parent who identifies with David’s sorrows and disappointments?

To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your child mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

Take heart: God hears and answers your cries in the night.  He is the same for you as he was for David: your Shield and Defender.  The LORD will answer your prayers and lift you up in His time.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Wonder, “What If Things Were Different?” (2 Samuel 13-15)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 13-15

We begin with some background to today’s Scripture reading. While we do not know the extent to which David’s adultery was known in the palace (2 Samuel 11), we do know his sin with Bathsheba was no secret. In fact, one of David’s servants questioned the king, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

That servant’s enquiry gave opportunity for David to reassess his mood, but the king was unwilling to entertain the servant’s probing suspicion. Dismissing the servant’s convicting question, the king refused to cease from his unlawful behavior.

There was someone else who had knowledge of David’s descent into wickedness. Joab, the commander of David’s army, received the king’s order to place Uriah in the heat of the battle and then withdraw leaving him exposed to the enemy (11:14-15).

Joab was no man’s fool. Though He obeyed David’s orders, he no doubt wondered the king’s motive for betraying Uriah (11:17-24). Joab was faithful to his king, but he did not forget David’s sin and would one day defy him when he chose Solomon to succeed him as king (1 Kings 2:28-29).

While having confessed and repented of his sins, David could not escape the consequences of his choices. Though his sins were forgiven, their effects would haunt him through the lives of his children.

2 Samuel 13 – Consequences of David’s Sin and the Fulfillment of Nathan’s Prophecy

Remembering Nathan’s prophecy as our context, “the sword shall never depart from thine house” (2 Samuel 12:10), we begin to see the far-reaching consequences of David’s sins. Death and sorrow would become the haunt of David’s family.

Remembering the sins of a father are suffered to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5), we find Amnon, the king’s firstborn son, dallying in sexual lusts. Tragically, the object of the prince’s depraved cravings was Tamar, his half-sister and the sister of Absalom (2 Samuel 13:1-2).

Consumed with sexual passions, Amnon confessed to Jonadab, a cunning friend and his cousin, his forbidden lusts for his half-sister (13:3-4). Rather than dissuade him, Jonadab encouraged Amnon with a plan to entrap Tamar and give him an opportunity to lie with her (13:5-14).

Tamar, a virgin daughter of the king, protested her brother’s attempts, but Amnon “would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her” (13:14).

Like all crimes of passion, Amnon’s “love” proved to be no more than vile, unbridled lust. After he had robbed Tamar of her purity, he rejected her, ordering his servants, “Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her” (13:17). Notice “woman” is in italics and was added by editors. In fact, Amnon said, “Put now this woman out from me” (13:17), treating Tamar with contempt.

Her innocence stolen by her brother and no longer named among the king’s virgin daughters, “Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours [royal robes worn by the king’s daughters]…and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying” (13:18-19).

Hearing the wickedness committed by Amnon against his half-sister, Absalom, David’s thirdborn son and Tamar’s brother, determined to seek revenge for the disgrace she had suffered (13:20, 22).

On a personal note, I believe David’s moral failures were the cause for his impotent response to the news of his daughter’s rape (13:21). When he realized Amnon would face no consequences for raping his sister, Absalom plotted to avenge her and ordered his servants to kill his half-brother, Amnon (13:28-29).

With Amnon dead, Absalom fled to Geshur, the realm ruled by his maternal grandfather (13:37). David mourned the death of Amnon and the heartbreak that had befallen his household (13:37). While Absalom lived in Geshur for three years, David longed for his son’s return (13:39).

I will pick up our study of the conflicts and sorrows in David’s household on a later date. I close will a brief highlight of the balance of today’s scripture.

2 Samuel 14-15 – Absalom Returns to Jerusalem, But is Snubbed By His Father, and Leads a Coup.

2 Samuel 14 concludes with David being persuaded to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem (14:1-14). Joab contrived a fictional tale of a woman that David discerned was meant to induce him to send for his son Absalom (14:15-20).

David made the fateful decision to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem; however, the king’s refusal to receive him embittered his son (14:24).

Bent on vengeance, Absalom encouraged and entertained the affections of the people (14:25-27), plotted the overthrow of his father’s throne (15:1-12), and eventually led a coup to become Israel’s king (15:13-37).

Several “What if’s” come to mind as I close today’s commentary:

What if David had heeded his servant’s probing question, “Is Bathsheba Uriah’s wife?”

What if David’s children had recognized the awful consequences of their father’s sins and chosen righteousness?

What if Amnon had a godly friend, instead of a crafty partner in sin? What if he had the kind of friend who would speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15)? The kind of friend who defines your sinful thoughts and affections for what they are, wicked and vile!

What if David had responded to the news of Tamar’s rape by not only becoming angry, but passing judgment on his son’s horrific, incestuous sin?

What if David had pursued Absalom and demanded justice for the murder of Amnon?

I wonder: Are there some “what if’s” that haunt your life? What if you humbled yourself and confessed your sins? What if you went to a loved one and asked forgiveness for your deceitful ways? What if you began to speak the truth in love and put away lies?

What if?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Mother’s Day Challenge

A Bonus Devotional Thought from Heart of a Shepherd.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement,” did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work].   However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our society.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminists have attacked and distorted God’s design for the roles of man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge;” the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel; rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church. The responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

What Is Your Spiritual Lineage? (1 Chronicles 1-2)

Daily reading assignment – 1 Chronicles 1-2

As stated in its name, 1 & 2 Chronicles in the Scriptures is a “chronicle,” a historical record of events in the history of Israel as a nation and her kings.  There are many events recorded in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, and 2 Kings that are not recorded in the Chronicles.  There are also events recorded in the Chronicles that are omitted in the other historical books.

As far as the Chronicles and their author, it is believed by many that Ezra is the human author, and they were written sometime after the Babylonian captivity. For novices of a “Read Thru the Bible” plan, you may find the ancestral record of names in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles to be uninteresting and dull. However, the genealogies were invaluable to the Hebrews in establishing the priesthood, the distribution of ancestral lands, and later the the lineages of Israel’s kings.

1 Chronicles 1

The first chapter of 1 Chronicles establishes the lineage of Adam to Noah, as well as the lineage of his sons after the Genesis Flood (1:1-54).  The famous and the infamous are named here, and for students of Bible history and human history, the genealogical record is rich!

The individual genealogies of Noah’s sons are recorded: the sons of Japheth (1:5-7), sons of Ham (1:8-16), and the sons of Shem (1:17-54).  The patriarchs of ancient Middle Eastern kingdoms are chronicled, including Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael who were descendants of Shem’s lineage (1:27-28).

1 Chronicles 2

1 Chronicles 2 accounts for the lineages of Jacob’s twelve sons, the patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2:1-2).  Of particular interest is the genealogical record of Judah, the father of the royal tribe, and his five sons (2:3-5).  From the tribe of Judah will be born David, Israel’s future king (2:15); Solomon; and ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ (note that Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph were both of the tribe of Judah).

Some reading this devotional commentary might wonder, “What is so important about a list of names?”

If you were Hebrew, your proof of lineage was essential if you hoped to have a legitimate claim to an inheritance of land, possessions, titles, and privileges!  A genealogical record proving one’s bloodline was indispensable in Israel.  Tribal and family lands were passed from generation to generation based on the genealogical record of one’s ancestry.

For most, lineage is important when it comes to the subject of inheritance, nevertheless, it is temporal at best. Your inheritance of lands, possessions, and monies will eventually pass to others.

“What about your spiritual inheritance?”

We are all the sons and daughters of Adam, the first man, and sinners by nature.  We were born under the curse of sin which is death.

Paul writes in his letter to believers in Corinth, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  If you have confessed you are a sinner and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior Redeemer, you are a child of God “by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-29).

You may be a pauper by physical lineage, but your spiritual lineage in Christ makes you an heir of His righteousness and eternal life!

Remember, without proof of lineage, one’s claim of inheritance is in vain!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith