Category Archives: Fool

“Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Workshop”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 10

The following study is taken in part from my devotional commentary post on the Book of Proverbs dated December 10, 2014.

Today’s study in proverbs features what I will call three “stand alone proverbs” – three proverbial statements of “Uncommon Common Sense” communicating three distinct observations.

Proverbs 10:15  “The rich man’s wealth [property; possessions; savings] is his strong city [a fortified city]: the destruction [ruin; dismay; terror] of the poor [needy; helpless] is their poverty.”

“You didn’t build that!”, was an adage employed by liberal politicians in the 2012 election cycle in the United States.   Hoping to stir up class envy, the statement taunted the successful while dismissing the sacrifices and risks taken by employers and business owners.  I accept the statement if the intent is to acknowledge divine providence; however, an ideology that taunts hardworking entrepreneurs, spawns an expansive welfare state, inevitably makes citizens debtors and slaves of big government.   How tragic!   While excoriating the successful, the poor are left weak, dependent and one crisis from destitution!

Proverbs 10:15 is a statement of fact—a rich man finds comfort and security in his wealth.   In the same way citizens of a medieval city found refuge behind the walls of a city, a rich man finds security in riches providentially provided to him by God.   By contrast, the working poor are often a crisis away from desperation (an incentive to be a “saver” and not a “spender” or “debtor”).

Proverbs 10:16 – “The labour  [wages; reward] of the righteous [just; law-abiding] tendeth to life [strength; satisfaction]: the fruit [result; reaping] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] to sin [punishment; i.e. leads to greater sin].”

Though the curse of sin left man laboring for food by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19),  the reward of an honest day’s labor brings its own satisfaction.   I am not sure who to credit with the quote, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”; however, there is a lot of truth in that statement.   The prevalence of depression in our society is, I believe, directly related to the gross amount of leisure time we enjoy as a society.  Too few of us come to the end of a day and enjoy the reward of having accomplished anything that is lasting!

Proverbs 10:17 – “He is in the way [path] of life that keepeth [heeds] instruction: but he that refuseth reproof [refuses to hear and heed correction] erreth.”

Solomon continues a common theme in verse 17—God blesses a man who heeds correction and rebuke; however, a rebel will inevitably follow a path to his own destruction.

As Solomon challenged his son to take the path of righteousness, it is the duty and responsibility of parents and spiritual leaders to challenge men and women with the same enduring truths from God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2)!

Two questions to ponder: What path are you taking?  Is your heart open to correction? 

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The Appearance, Attitude and Actions of a Seductress

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 7

Proverbs 7 is the story of a young man who, in the company of other like-minded fools, allows his heart to be drawn away by a temptress (Proverbs 7:6-9).  The verses in today’s study take our focus to a woman who, in the absence of her husband, forsakes the vows of her marriage and commits adultery.

We will note the appearance, attitude and actions of an adulterer.

Proverbs 7:10-12 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12  Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”

Notice the adulterer’s appearance:  Her dress is as the “attire of an harlot” (7:10a).  Solomon lived 3,000 years ago, well before malls, slick advertisements and Hollywood glitz; however, he drew a distinction in a woman’s dress and that of an adulterer.

It is my observation that the dress of the harlot has moved from the immodestydarkened, seedy street corner to Main Street in America.  Modesty is still God’s standard for Christian women (1 Timothy 2:9-10) and believers should strive for appropriate decorum in dress and action (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Sad to say, the church has followed the world in its style and standards.

Solomon also addresses the adulterer’s attitude:  She is “subtil of heart” (cannot be trusted; her ways are sly and cunning – 7:10) and “loud and stubborn” (7:11a).  She has a rebel’s heart.  She is loud and raging, venting her rebellion with angry words and threats.

Finally, we notice her actions betray the heart of a fornicator, driven by lust and a passion for sin (7:11b-12).  Her thoughts are not set upon the matters of her household nor the needs of her family; “her feet abide not in her house” (7:11b).   She is everywhere, when she should be at home!   She is “without” [on the highways], “in the streets” [in the marketplaces, shopping centers and malls] and “lieth in wait at every corner” [as one lying in ambush, she entraps the fool who entertains her in his heart and thoughts].

chicken-run1Some say the rate of divorce in the church is equal to that of secular society.  There was a time I would have challenged that observation, but no longer.  I have known far too many professing Christians who allowed their hearts and thoughts to entertain forbidden lust, casting aside the sacred vows of marriage, as though God will overlook their sinful indiscretions!  What preachers of past eras use to say still holds true: “The chickens do come home to roost” and your sins will find you out (Numbers 32:23; Galatians 6:7)!

Some reading this devotional are victims of an unfaithful spouse; like the husband of the adulteress in today’s devotional, you carry the sorrows and consequences of a spouse’s sins.

If you are a member of a Bible-believing church that addresses adultery, as it should, the unfaithful spouse who refuses to repent should be declared by the church an unbeliever (Matthew 18:17).   When the church addresses adultery in its midst, Paul writes that the believer married to an unrepentant spouse is “not under bondage” (1 Corinthians 7:15).guard your heart

I close with Solomon’s challenge to his son:

Proverbs 4:23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Keys to Success

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 75-77

Our scripture reading today is three psalms, Psalms 75, 76 and 77 all ascribed to Asaph as the author (as are Psalms 73-83), a priest and musician in the court of king David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7).  Psalm 75 will be my focus for today’s devotional commentary.

Although we know the author was Asaph, we are not told the occasion that inspired the writing of this psalm of praise.  Given the content of the psalm, it is my speculation it was written following a battle or time of conflict.

We take several spiritual lessons away from Psalm 75.  The first, God is the object of our praise and thanksgiving (75:1). The second, God promises He is a righteous judge (75:2).

The third lesson, when you find yourself living in uncertain, shaky times, rest assure God is not alarmed and will “bear up the pillars” (i.e. the supports) of the earth beneath you (75:3).

We find a warning to boastful fools tempted to “blow their own horn” (75:4b-5a) and to sing their own praises in Psalm 75:4-7.   Such fools are proud, celebrating and promoting themselves, their interests and agenda apart from God’s blessings.  The LORD warns, don’t play the fool and stiffen your neck against the LORD (75:5)

Psalms 75:6 stresses a spiritual principle God’s people, especially their leaders, should heed: “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.”

Men crave promotion and positions of authority where they are lauded with praise; however, a wise man remembers whatever promotion might come his way is an act of God’s grace.

After all, “God is the judge [governor; the final dispenser of justice]: He putteth down [humbles; abases; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts; raises up] another” (Psalms 75:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“The Path And Ways Of A Floozy”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 5-6

Our scripture reading for today is Proverbs 5-6; however, my focus for this devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 5:3-6.  As a reminder, my www.heartofashepherd.com site is host to my devotional commentary on the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 5 addresses a salacious subject—the strange woman (5:3-6) and is an appropriate subject in a day when some of the leading voices of women boast they are “dirty women”.

 The raunchy nature of our society has not only made women the objects of vulgarity, but has diminished their role as the purveyors of grace and innocence.  As wife and mother, womanhood has served humanity as the bulwark of human civility.   However, the 21st century woman embodied in the likes of Madonna, Ashley Judd and Miley Cyrus, are racing for the extremity of debauchery.   Abdicating the God-given roles that were her strengths, she has diminished her influential virtues—this in the name of liberation!

Ponder Solomon’s warning to his son concerning the “strange woman”.

Proverbs 5:3-5 – “For the lips [conversation] of a strange woman  [adulterous]  drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil [full of flattery]But her end [the end of the adulterous woman] is bitter as wormwood [cursed], sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet [path] go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [the path to hell].”

 Proverbs 5:6 – “Lest thou shouldest ponder [consider] the path of life, her ways [adulterous woman] are moveable [uncertain; wander], that thou canst not know [understand; discern] them.”

Solomon warns his son, the path of an adulterous floozy is aimless and her ways mesmerizing.  She flatters and her words are sweet as a honeycomb (Proverbs 7:13-20), but they are poison to the fool who believes them.

Fools believe they are the exception to the consequences of sin.  I assure you that breaking God’s commandments regarding the sin of adultery (Exodus 20:14, 17) will lead you down a path of self-destruction.  Indeed, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a) and adultery is no exception—death of a marriage, family, career, reputation and friendship.

What?  You say the pornographic nature of your sin is on your computer in the privacy of your home and no one will get hurt?

Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

 Heed Paul’s exhortation and “Flee also youthful lusts…” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Having a midlife crisis?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 10-13

With the Temple built and his palace and homes finished, Solomon became an international sensation in 1 Kings 10 when we read, “the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions” (10:1).  Solomon’s wisdom, the wealth and splendor of his kingdom, and God’s blessings became known far and wide.

There are many fables and legends that surround the visit of the Queen of Sheba; however, this is a devotional commentary and we will consider the only reputable source we have…the Word of God (1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31).

The kingdom of Sheba is believed to have been in the southern end of the Arabian peninsula known today as Yemen.  The Queen had received news of the remarkable wisdom of Solomon and the wonders of his kingdom and set upon a journey from her kingdom in the south to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel in the north.  Rather than travel via ship on the Red Sea, the scriptures indicate she came with a “very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (10:2a).

The purpose of the queen’s visit is summed up in this, “she communed with him of all that was in her heart” (10:2b).  Whatever questions she proposed to Solomon, he was able to answer (10:3).  She was amazed at the beauty of all he had built (10:4), the splendor of the meals served in his palace, his boundless wisdom, the rich raiment worn by his servants (10:5) and their privilege to serve a king of such wisdom (10:6-8).   1 Kings 10:10-13 records the wealth the queen bestowed on Solomon as well as the gifts he bequeathed to her out of his royal treasury.

The lavish wealth of the king’s palace, the tributes paid to him by other nations, his shields of gold, his throne made of ivory and overlaid with gold (10:18-20), gold vessels and exotic animals, chariots and champion horses are all detailed (10:21-29).

The grandeur of Solomon’s kingdom is tarnished when we read in 1 Kings 11, “Solomon loved many strange women” (11:1).  Disregarding the LORD’s admonition concerning the danger of wives who worship “after their gods” (11:2), Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart” (11:3).

The king’s sins provoked God’s wrath (11:9) and his family and nation suffered for his apostasy (11:10-13).  Israel became a troubled nation with enemies without (i.e. Pharaoh and Egypt – 11:14-25) and enemies within (i.e. Jeroboam, a “mighty man of valour” who Solomon recognized too late as a threat to his kingdom – 11:26-40).   Jeroboam fled Israel into Egypt where he stayed until Solomon died and “Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead” (11:40-43).

Learning that Solomon was dead (12:1-2), Jeroboam returned to Israel and petitioned king Rehoboam on behalf of the tribes of Israel that the heavy burden of taxation and servitude placed upon the people by Solomon’s ambitious construction projects be lightened (12:3-4).  Rehoboam, though having the advantage of his father Solomon’s wise men as his counselors (12:6-7), foolishly dismissed them and heeded the advice of his peers who stoked his pride and ambition (12:8-11) setting in motion a rebellion that divided the kingdom (12:12-33).

1 Kings 13 gives the history of a divided Israel, the ten tribes of the north rebelling against Rehoboam and ceding from his reign as king.  The rebellious tribes followed Jeroboam into idolatry and all manner of sin and wickedness (13:1-34).

I invite you to consider in closing the great and tragic end of Solomon’s reign.  The wisest man who ever lived, when he was old, disobeyed the LORD.   “His heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4) and he “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (11:6).  Notice the statement concerning Solomon in 1 Kings 11:4, “it came to pass, when Solomon was old.

Old enough to know better!  Old enough to not play a fool!  Old enough to understand the consequences of sin, wicked choices on himself and his family.

Sadly, there is a great possibility someone reading this devotional commentary is doing the same.  Some might call it a “mid-life crisis”.  Call it what you will; however, if you fail to abide in God’s Word, saturate your heart with spiritual principles, and sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word; it may one day be said of you, “when he was old…his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God” (11:4).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Whatever Happened to Common Sense?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 1

The Proverbs of Solomon will be the focus of our Thursday scripture readings and devotional commentaries for the next twenty-one weeks. Posted on my “Heart of a Shepherd” blog you will find a year of daily devotional commentaries based on the Book of Proverbs.

The preamble of Proverbs is Proverbs 1:1-4. Solomon expresses a five-fold goal for conveying his proverbs in writing in those four verses.

The first goal, “To know wisdom…” (1:2) – Wisdom carries a greater meaning than mere knowledge.   Wisdom implies the “skillful [right] use of knowledge”.  A man may be intellectually brilliant, but lack wisdom.

The second goal, “To know … instruction (1:2) – By definition, Biblical instruction implies both “reproof” and “chastisement” (discipline).  The word “instruction” in Proverbs 1:2 is translated “chasten” in Proverbs 13:24.  “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (13:24).  By implication, the primary purpose for a parent to chasten a child is instructive, not punitive.

Solomon’s third goal is “…to perceive [discern] the words of understanding” (1:2).  An application of this goal is to impart what we might call “common sense” (a sense that is, in my opinion, rare in our day).

The fourth goal for proverbs is “To receive [accept] the instruction of wisdom [disciplined instruction]justice [discerning between right and wrong], and judgment, and equity [integrity, justice… determining what is right and fair] (1:3).

To acquire wisdom, one must have a right attitude toward discipline and instruction (1:3).   A sociologist and pragmatist might question whom or what determines right or wrong; however, God the creator has weighed in on that debate with His Law and Commandments [“for by the law is the knowledge of sin” – Romans 3:20].

Finally, the fifth goal Solomon cited for imparting his proverbs is, “To give subtilty [discernment] to the simple [silly; foolish], to the young man knowledge and discretion.” (1:4)

Remember, as we study the Book of Proverbs, Solomon’s primary object is the instruction of his son who would be king.  An oriental king was the supreme judge in judicial matters and there was no court of appeal after a king had passed judgment.  It was critical that Solomon’s son have an ability to discern between good and evil; to know what to say and what not to say; to know when to be silent and when to speak.

We are blessed to have the proverbs of Solomon for our instruction and meditations.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

“Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek Them Not!”

May 26, 2017

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 42-46

Today’s reading assignment in our “Read-Through-the Bible” is possibly the longest so far and it is my desire to spare you from an equally long devotional commentary.  I will highlight several prophecies found in Jeremiah 42-46 and make a few observations.

As you may remember, Jeremiah’s ministry has been to warn Judah and her kings that the time for repentance had past and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the army of Nebuchadnezzar was certain.  Rather than heed the prophets warning, the people abused, persecuted and imprisoned the old prophet.  God, in an exercise of His grace, did not leave the people hopeless and Jeremiah assured the people the nation would one day be restored to the land and Jerusalem rebuilt.

The fate of the nation was sealed; however, the LORD assured the people, “Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. 12  And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (Jeremiah 42:11-12)

Because some of the people would be tempted to flee south into Egypt, the LORD warned the nation, “hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; 16  Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.” (Jeremiah 42:15-16)

Knowing some of the people would not heed the LORD’s admonition, Jeremiah warned them, “Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant11  And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt…and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt” (Jeremiah 43:10-12). Jeremiah’s warning to the remnant that retreated into Egypt continues in Jeremiah 44.

Jeremiah 44:11-14, 23 – “11 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. 12  And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. 13  For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: 14  So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape…23  Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.”

Rather than the safety they sought, the remnant of Judah that fled from Nebuchadnezzar’s army to Egypt perished in that land (Jeremiah 44:26-30).  In His grace, God promised a “small number” would “escape the sword” and return to Judah (44:28).  The prophecy against Egypt continues in Jeremiah 46.

I invite you to consider Jeremiah 45 as I conclude my highlights of chapters 42-46.  Jeremiah 45 is a brief, but fascinating passage.  Consisting of only five verses and addressed specifically to Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch (45:1), the LORD lovingly and directly addressed the man who stood by the prophet Jeremiah as he faithfully declared God’s Word to the people.  The prophecies of God’s judgment deeply affected Baruch (45:2-3) as he faced the same hardships, persecutions and imprisonment as the old prophet.

Jeremiah admonished Baruch, his faithful friend and scribe,  warning him: “seekest [require; beg; strive after] thou great things [high; greater; proud thing] for thyself? seek [require; beg; strive after] them not: for, behold, I will bring [come in; enter; give; advance] evil [bad; adversity; affliction; distress] upon all flesh [person; mankind; bodies], saith the LORD: but thy life [soul; person; heart] will I give [deliver; commit; give up; abandon] unto thee for a prey [spoil; possessions; booty; plunder] in all places whither thou goest [walk; depart; follow].”

Friend, I close today’s devotional commentary with the same questions and challenge for you:  Why are you never satisfied?  Why is your heart and affections set upon temporal riches, possessions and titles, knowing all those things will perish?  Why do you sacrifice the spiritual walk of your family for the carnal?  Seek Them Not! 

Matthew 6:19-21 19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith