Category Archives: Friends

Jeremiah Remembered, and Rewarded (Jeremiah 40)

Scripture reading – Jeremiah 40

As foretold by the prophets, God’s judgment was consummated against Judah, and Jerusalem laid in ruins.  With the arrest of king Zedekiah, and the slaying of his sons (39:5-7), all was lost. Only a remnant survived the fall of Jerusalem, and Babylon’s army gathered them in chains at Ramah, where they were taken to Babylon (40:1).

Jeremiah wrote of the great lamentation in Ramah (Jeremiah 31:15), but the prophetic implication of that place would later be observed by Matthew, when he wrote: “17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matthew 2:17-18).

Contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s orders (39:11-14), somehow Jeremiah came to be numbered among those in chains (40:1). Now, the captain of the guard named Nebuzaradan (40:1), intervened and “took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place” (40:2). Nebuzaradan was aware Jeremiah had warned his people their sins against the LORD would be the cause for Jerusalem’s destruction (40:3).

In an extraordinary act of respect, Nebuzaradan set Jeremiah at liberty, and gave him opportunity to go to Babylon in peace and under his protection, or remain in Judah and serve the remnant that would remain in the land (40:4-5). Jeremiah chose to remain with his people (40:6), and Nebuzaradan provided the prophet with a parting gift (40:5).

Nebuchadnezzar had installed a Jew named Gedaliah, who was to serve the interest of Babylon, and rule Judah as governor (40:5). Hearing Gedaliah was governor, some of the factions that fled Judah began returning (40:7), and among them were five men (40:8). Named among the five was Ishmael, who according to Jeremiah 41:1, was “of the seed royal” and some distant kin of David.

Gedaliah appealed to Ishmael and his companions, encouraging them to lay down their weapons, and go harvest the land (40:10). Still other of the Jews that had been scattered among the nations, returned to Judah and began rebuilding their lives (40:11-12).

Some who returned to farming, soon learned there was a plot to kill Gedaliah. Leaving their fields, they came to the governor asking, “Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee?” (40:13-14a). Gedaliah, though, refused to believe the report (40:14b), and dismissed Johanan’s offer to slay Ishmael (40:15). He feared Gedaliah’s death would give cause for the people to scatter, “and the remnant in Judah [would] perish” (40:15).

Failing to foresee the evil, and dismissing the men who came to him, Gedaliah accused Johanan of speaking “falsely of Ishmael” (40:16).

Closing thought – Our next devotional will continue the plot to slay Gedaliah. Tragically, his failure to discern his friends from his enemies would cost the governor his life (Jeremiah 41).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Four Principles for a Rewarding Life (Ecclesiastes 11)

Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 11

Remorse is a heavy burden to carry, but I have known many who, in their later years of life, were haunted by the sorrows of regret. Solomon understood that life holds many tendencies for regret, and wisely taught his son invaluable principles he had learned from years of experience. I invite you to consider Solomon’s wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 11.

Be Charitable. (11:1-4)

Ecclesiastes 11:1–21Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. 2Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

The word, “cast” means to freely give, and “the waters” in the Scriptures is often a reference to mankind (i.e., the sea of humanity). The implication then is to “freely give” (in this case, bread) to others, for you cannot know what “evil” the days ahead might hold for you. A popular adage sums up a similar warning: “What goes around, comes around.” Solomon urged, while you have the power to give…GIVE, for the day may come when you will find yourself in want.

Illustrating the need to give while you are able, Solomon cited nature, using an illustration to which all could relate, writing, when “clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth” (11:3). In other words, like clouds that do not hoard their lifegiving moisture, we should not be misers with the bounty of that which God has entrusted to us.

Some put off the opportunity or inclination to be charitable, looking for a time when it is more convenient, or the economy more favorable. They are like the lazy farmer; he procrastinates tending his fields, always looking for perfect weather, and a more convenient time for his labor (11:4).

God Has a Plan and Purpose for Your Life. (11:5-6)

Solomon did not have the privilege of scientific research such as we have today. He understood the baby’s body was formed in its mother’s womb (11:5); however, he did not know the essence of DNA (genetics) that guided the formation of that little one from conception (Psalm 139:15-16). The king did not know, and neither do we, how God made us uniquely who we are, imparting to us an eternal spirit, distinctly like no other.

Know this: You are unique, and God has a plan, and purpose for your life (11:5c). He has numbered your days (Psalm 90:12), but you cannot know the number of your years on this earth (11:6). While you are young (“in the morning” of your life), you should “sow thy seed” (give of yourself and your means as you are blessed). “In the evening” of life, when you are old (11:6b), don’t restrain your hand from blessing others. Don’t presume you can put off till tomorrow the good that you should do this day. Whether you are young or old, Do Right!

Wise Men Enjoy the Good Times, But Plan for the Bad. (11:7-8)

The light of a sunrise is welcomed, and when you are young it promises a day that is “sweet, and a pleasant thing” (11:7). The sun of spring and summer brings warmth, and the promise of growth and harvest; however, look ahead, and know “the days of darkness [cometh], for they shall be many” (11:8). Live for today, and fail to plan for the failings and frailty of old age, and you will say, “All that cometh is vanity” (11:8c).

Rejoice in Your Youth, but Remember God will be Judge. (11:9-10)

 Ecclesiastes 11:9 – Rejoice [Be Glad; Joyful], O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.

“Rejoice,” be glad in the strength of your youth! Enjoy life, but remember, the sins of one’s youth are a draft on old age. “God will bring thee into judgment” (11:9b).

The foolish man counsels the young to, “sow their wild oats,” but fails to warn: the wild seeds planted in one’s youth will sprout weeds that will choke the joys from their future (11:9b).

“Therefore remove [depart] sorrow [anger; wrath] from thy heart, and put away [do away; remove] evil [sin; wickedness] from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:10 )

Closing thoughts – The king urged youth to not mull over youthful grievances, nor allow them to become a flashpoint for anger and bitterness. The king challenged, “put away evil,” and give no place for the sins and lusts of the flesh.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, wrote:  “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

To put away sin, you must be fill the void with righteous choices, and godly attitudes. (Ephesians 4:22-32)

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Two-year Bible reading schedule for Heart of A Shepherd Followers

Dear Heart of a Shepherd followers,

December 31, 2021 is a milestone for those who faithfully follow http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com. I commenced writing, and publishing daily devotionals, beginning with Genesis 1, last January 1, 2021. January 1, 2022 will mark the start of my second year of writing and publishing a daily, chronological study of the Scriptures.

In February 2021, I introduced a new facet of ministry for Heart of A Shepherd Inc, when I began posting a daily devotional video on several social network sites. My HeartofAShepherd1 channel on GabTV.com has to date enjoyed nearly 50,000 plays (https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1).  Heart of A Shepherd Inc is also hosted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi8fwbF-vqmj3SifQ4Suigg. My preferred site for hosting daily video devotionals is DailyTestify.com (https://dailytestify.com/index.php/pages/59/).

If you enjoy these devotional posts, I encourage you to subscribe and have them sent directly to your email address. If you are following the video devotionals, please “Like” and become a follower.

A personal note: On average, I invest at least 3 hours a day studying, outlining, and writing daily devotionals. My wife edits the devotionals, and then I publish the final copy to my website. The labor is indeed sacrificial; however, God has blessed this outreach and thus far in 2021, www.HeartofAShepherd.com has had over 105,000 views, and been followed in 197 nations and territories.

Heart of A Shepherd 2-Year Scripture Reading Schedule

Please find attached to this post a JPG and PDF of the 2-year Scripture reading schedule for 2022-2023. The schedule can be printed, folded into 1/4 page folds, and it will fit in your Bible to serve as a page marker.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

 

“Matters of the Heart” (Proverbs 15)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 15

We continue our study in Proverbs, with the focus being Proverbs 15:18-21. While today’s devotional addresses a variety of different topics, they all ultimately fall under a subject I have titled, “Matters of the Heart.”

The Angry Man vs. The Patient Man (15:18)

Proverbs 15:18 “A wrathful [angry, raging] man stirreth up [meddles; causes contention] strife [quarrels; arguments]: but he that is slow [patient; longsuffering] to anger [wrath; flaring nostrils; huffing and puffing] appeaseth strife [quiets disputes and quarrels].”

It is the fate of some families to have a loved one whose demeanor is described in Proverbs 15:18 as “a wrathful man.” Such a one is characteristically self-centered, provokes contention, and has an angry spirit. Trouble follows him, and his presence at gatherings is often anticipated with dread and anxiety.

The contrast to the “wrathful man,” is the man who is “slow to anger” (15:18b). Unlike his quick-tempered, unloving cousin, this man loves and seeks peace. His patient demeanor tends to de-escalate a potentially volatile moment. His response is one of love, extending grace, and is therefore “not easily provoked” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

The Way of the Lazy vs. The Way of the Righteous (15:19)

Proverbs 15:19 – “The way [road; journey] of the slothful [lazy; sluggard] man is as an hedge of thorns [full of obstructions and difficulties]: but the way [path, road, journey] of the righteous [upright; just] is made plain [smooth].”

Contrasting a lazy, “slothful man” with the “the righteous” seems an odd comparison, until we understand it is not the men, but the way that is the subject.

The “way” (path, journey) of the “slothful” is difficult, for his laziness has allowed his way to become figuratively overgrown with thorns. According to him, he is too tired, too sleepy, mistreated, misunderstood, undervalued, and so goes the list of excuses for the “slothful man.” Such laziness inevitably leads to a life filled with failures, and frustrations.

The way of the “righteous” is described as “made plain” or smooth (15:19b). It is plain and smooth, not because man has prepared it thus, but because it is the LORD’s path. The path of the righteous is smooth, because he has been diligent and maintained his walk and way with the Lord.

Two Manner of Sons (15:20)

Proverbs 15:20 “A wise son [intelligent; wise hearted son] maketh a glad father [proud; rejoicing]: but a foolish man despiseth [disdains; shows contempt for] his mother.”

Proverbs 15:20 affords an opportunity to reflect on an earlier proverb in this chapter, that read: “A fool [mocker; rebel] despiseth [abhors; has contempt for] his father’s instruction [discipline; chastisement; warnings]: but he that regardeth [keeps; attends to] reproof [rebuke] is prudent [crafty; shrewd] (15:5).

The spiritual state of a child’s heart is not determined by intellect, talent, or outward beauty, but in how a child responds to his parent’s instruction and correction. A fool has contempt for correction, while a wise son responds with humility.  It is prudent for parents to honestly consider their child’s response to instruction and correction, not only within the home, but also with authorities outside the home.

A wise son is a father’s pride and joy; however, a fool treats his mother with contempt and disdain (15:20).

A Tale of Two Courses (15:21)

Proverbs 15:21 “Folly [silliness] is joy [mirth] to him that is destitute [without; lacking; void] of wisdom [lit. a heart without feelings]: but a man of understanding [wisdom; insight] walketh uprightly [go straight; righteous; just].”

Silly, insensitive fools have become the celebrities of our culture, and it follows that their sinful ways are modeled by the youth of this generation. “Destitute of wisdom” (15:21a), absurdity rules, immoral character governs, and sociopaths desensitized to the feelings of others have become the icons of our day. Let God’s people set their hearts to reject the folly of our day, and walk the straight path according to His Laws, precepts and commandments.

Closing thoughts – We have observed in our devotional a contrast of ways. The way of the wicked is angry, thorny, foolish, and folly. The way of the upright is God’s way, and is smooth, wise, and straight.

Matthew 7:13–1413Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

What path have you taken?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: Today’s Liberties May Seed Tomorrow’s Sorrows (Proverbs 2)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 2

Proverbs 2 is our Scripture reading, and today’s devotional will consider two subjects, taken from four verses found in Proverbs 2:12-15. [As a reminder, words and phrases in brackets are the amplification and application of the author.]

“Be Wary of Liberties Some Leaders Champion” (Proverbs 2:12-13)

Solomon advised his son that godly wisdom will induce a man to be wary of two enemies of youthWicked men and their influence (Proverbs 2:12-15) and the Adulterous woman and her ways (Proverbs 2:16-19). For this study, I will limit my focus to the influence of wicked men.

Proverbs 2:12-13 – “To deliver [rescue; save] thee from the way [path; course of life] of the evil man [wicked], from the man that speaketh [tell; say] froward things [lies and perverseness]; 
13 Who leave [forsake; abandon; depart from] the paths [way; manner] of uprightness, to walk in the ways [path; course of life] of darkness [i.e. ignorance; sorrow];”

Solomon exhorted his son to embrace godly wisdom and allow righteous discernment to set the course of his life.  Such wisdom directs youth to not only recognize the character of the ungodly, but to turn from their counsel [i.e. “froward things”].

The counsel of the wicked often comes from those who, to borrow an old adage, “should know better. Solomon exhorted his son to be cautious of those who once knew and followed the paths of uprightness, but departed to paths of darkness (2:13). The Apostle Paul challenged Timothy with a similar admonition writing, “in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1), because there will be some who would have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5).

It seems, in every generation, there are leaders who forsake “the paths of uprightness” (2:13), and entice young people to indulge in “grey areas” previous generations had steered from out of concern they might inflame lusts and induce sinful passions. Some leaders preach liberty, boast an “enlightened life,” and draw youth away from preservation and discretion. They become, what Solomon cautioned: Men who have left the paths of the upright, only to lead others astray, and walk in the way of darkness(2:13).

Closing thought – Be careful my friend! The liberties you trivialize today may enslave your children, and your children’s children.

Copyright © Travis D. Smith

“An Admonition to Parents and Youth” (Proverbs 2:14-15)

Every godly parent who shares Solomon’s concern prays that the wisdom they have imparted to their children will keep them from the path of temptation and sin.

Proverbs 2:14-15  “Who [men who forsake the paths of righteousness] rejoice [glad; merry] to do evil [sin; wickedness], and delight [rejoice; glad] in the frowardness [perversity] of the wicked;
 15 Whose ways [path; manner] are crooked [perverse; false; twisted], and they froward [depart; turn aside] in their paths [ways; trench; i.e. rut]:”

Solomon warned his son: The wicked are not content to pursue their sinful paths alone; they purpose to lure the innocent, the foolish, and naïve to follow in their sinful ways.

The wicked boast in their wickedness, and enjoy “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), and there are those who delight in enticing youth to accompany them in their sinful ways.

Closing thought – Wise parents must impress upon their children Paul’s admonition to believers in Corinth (a wicked, immoral city of the 1st century):

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Be not deceived [don’t be led astray]: evil communications [company and companions] corrupt [destroy; defile] good manners [morals; habits].”

Copyright © Travis D. Smith

David and His Mighty Men (1 Chronicles 27)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 27

We have followed the historian’s record of David’s census of the Levite tribe. The king had assigned men and their families to the task of ministering in the Temple, and in other matters related to their spiritual offices (1 Chronicles 23-26). With the important task of organizing the tribe of Levi complete, David’s focus shifted to the matter of his military organization.

1 Chronicles 27 – Israel’s Army and its Divisions

Today’s Scripture reading gives a record of the divisions and organization of the men who were leaders in David’s army (27:1-15). You will notice there were twelve divisions, and each division consisted of 24,000 men. A leader is named for each division. In addition, the princes, or rulers, who served as leaders of the tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22). The exception, neither the tribes of Gad or Asher are listed.

1 Chronicles 27:23-24 serve as a reminder of an earlier census when David had numbered only men who were twenty years and older (27:23a). The king, having received a promise from the LORD that Israel would be without number (“like to the stars of the heavens”), had not counted those who were younger than twenty years. We are reminded how Joab had questioned the king’s purpose for numbering the people (1 Chronicles 21:3), nevertheless, “24Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number” (27:24), but he refused to number the men of Levi and Benjamin (21:6). God had judged the nation for the king’s command to count the people, and His wrath “for it [had fallen]against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David” (27:24).

David had become a man of vast wealth in Israel, and he had appointed over his treasures, fields, vineyards, and herds, men who were trusted with all that he owned (27:25-31).

Recorded in the closing verses is a list of David’s trusted counselors (27:32-34). Named among them is Ahithophel, a counselor to the king, and Bathsheba’s grandfather. Although he had aligned himself with David’s son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:31; 16:23), when the insurrection failed, he hanged himself (2 Samuel 17); nevertheless, Ahithophel is named among David’s great men (27:33).

Closing thoughts – We have followed David’s life from his youth as a shepherd, to his last days as a powerful, and wealthy king. Here was a man who remembered it was the LORD who had taken him from herding sheep, to leading a great nation and people. His sinful passions, particularly his adultery with Bathsheba, shadowed his life, causing him to reap many sorrows. Yet, though he was a man surrounded by wise, and powerful men, he found his greatest joy and confidence in God’s Word.

Where, or to whom, do you turn for counsel?

Psalm 119:24 – “24Thy testimonies [i.e. words, laws, commandments] also are my delight and my counsellers.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Good morning, Father,” the words God loves to hear. (Psalm 5; Psalm 38)

Scripture reading – Psalm 5; Psalm 38

Departing from my narrative style of devotions, I am posting today’s Scripture readings with only my amplifications of word meanings in brackets and italicized. The Scriptures are in a bold font, and colored fonts are added to emphasize truths I invite you to ponder in your meditations.

Psalm 5 – An Introduction

How do you begin your mornings? I confess, I am the dreaded “morning person.” I generally wake up well before the alarm, and roll out of bed ready to start the day. How do you suppose David began his mornings? The answer: With prayer and meditation in God’s Word.

A Morning Prayer (5:1-3)

Psalm 5:1-3Give ear [hearken; listen] to my words [sayings; speech] , O LORD, consider [understand; regard; discern] my meditation [musings].
2  Hearken [hear; regard; be attentive] unto the voice [sound; noise] of my cry [i.e. cry for help], my King, and my God [i.e. might God]: for unto thee will I pray [make supplication; meditate].
3  My voice [lit. the sound of my voice] shalt thou hear in the morning [dawn; early morning], O LORD; in the morning will I direct [array; set in order; direct] my prayer unto thee, and will look up [behold; keep watch .

A Warning to the Wicked (5:4-6)

4  For thou art not a God that hath pleasure [desire; delight] in wickedness [iniquity; evil]: neither shall evil [wickedness] dwell [sojourn; gather together] with thee.
5  The foolish
[boasters] shall not stand [continue; remain; resort] in thy sight [presence; face]: thou hatest [set against; foe; detest] all workers [doers] of iniquity [wickedness; evil; unrighteousness].
6  Thou shalt destroy
[brake; annihilate] them that speak [say; talk] leasing [lies; deceit; falsehood]: the LORD will abhor [detest; loathe] the bloody [guilty; bloodthirsty] and deceitful [dishonest] man.

An Affirmation of Prayer and Worship (5:7-8)

7  But as for me, I will come into thy house [tabernacle; temple] in the multitude [abundance] of thy mercy [loving-kindness; goodness]: and in thy fear [reverence; i.e. fear of one superior] will I worship [bow down; reverence; prostrate] toward thy holy [consecrated; sanctified] temple.
8  Lead
[guide; bring] me, O LORD, in thy righteousness [justice] because of mine enemies [adversary; hostile foe]; make thy way [journey; road; course of life] straight [pleasing; direct; right; i.e. lawful] before my face.  

A Denunciation of the Wicked (5:9-10)

9  For there is no faithfulness [truth] in their mouth [word; speech]; their inward [heart] part is very wickedness [perverse; calamity; iniquity; destructive]; their throat [mouth] is an open [grave] sepulcher [grave; tomb]; they flatter [smooth] with their tongue [language; speech].
10  Destroy
[punish; make desolate] thou them, O God; let them fall [fall down; be cast down] by their own counsels [purpose; device; plan]; cast them out [drive out; banish; disperse] in the multitude [abundance; greatness] of their transgressions [sin; revolt; rebellion]; for they have rebelled [provoked; disobeyed; i.e. be contentious] against thee.  

An Assurance for the Righteous (5:11-12)

11  But let all those that put their trust [confide; i.e. make God their refuge; hope; flee to] in thee rejoice [be glad; joyful; i.e. make merry]: let them ever [evermore; perpetual; forever] shout for joy [sing; cry out; rejoice; i.e. be overcomers], because thou defendest [cover; i.e. put a hedge about] them: let them also that love thy name [i.e. embodying the person and character of God] be joyful [jump for joy; exult; triumph] in thee.
12  For thou, LORD, wilt bless
[adore; abundantly bless] the righteous [lawful; innocent; just]; with favour [delight; accept; pleasure] wilt thou compass [surround; encircle] him as with a shield [i.e. a prickly guard].

Psalm 38 – An Introduction

Psalm 38 does not indicate the time or circumstances that inspired this song of worship; however, its content indicates it was at a time of trial, sickness, and sorrow in David’s life.

David plead for mercy. (38:1-2)

Psalm 38:1 – O LORD, rebuke [reprove; correct; chasten] me not in thy wrath [anger; indignation; rage]: neither chasten [discipline; instruct; punish] me in thy hot displeasure [fury; wrath; indignation].
2  For thine arrows stick fast [sink; come down] in me, and thy hand presseth me sore [sink; come down].

David was physically weak and troubled. (38:3-8)

3  There is no soundness [wholesomeness] in my flesh [body] because of thine anger [fury; indignation]; neither is there any rest [peace; welfare; happiness] in my bones [body] because of my sin.
4  For mine iniquities
[sin; punishment; perversity; guilt] are gone over [passed over] mine head: as an heavy [grievous; difficult; great] burden [load] they are too heavy [burdensome] for me.
5  My wounds
[stripes; scourging] stink [abhor; loathsome; foul] and are corrupt [decay; consume; fester] because of my foolishness [folly; stupidity; silliness].
6  I am troubled
[bowed down; made crooked; twisted; distorted]; I am bowed down [cast down; depressed; humbled] greatly [exceedingly]; I go mourning [become dark] all the day [time] long.
7  For my loins
[trust; confidence; hope] are filled [overflow] with a loathsome [burning] disease: and there is no soundness  [completeness; wholesomeness] in my flesh [body].
8  I am feeble
[faint; weary; numb] and sore [exceedingly; greatly] broken [contrite]: I have roared [groaned; moaned] by reason of the disquietness [roaring; agitation; growling] of my heart [mind; seat of feelings and affections].
9  Lord [Master], all my desire [lust; greed; longing] is before thee; and my groaning  [sighs; mourning] is not hid [concealed; sheltered; secret] from thee.
10  My heart
[mind; seat of feelings and affections] panteth [throbs], my strength [power; might; ability] faileth[forsake; leave; abandon] me: as for the light [illumination; happiness] of mine eyes [sight], it also is gone [fails; incurable; nothing] from me.  

David had been deserted by his friends and family. (38:11)

11  My lovers [friends; those for whom he had an affection] and my friends [neighbor; companions; peers] stand [continue; remain] aloof from [against; counter to; in the sight of] my sore [wound; infective spot; i.e. leprous]; and my kinsmen [family; kindred] stand afar off [far from].  

David’s enemies sought advantage because of his weakness. (38:12)

12  They also that seek [search; require; desire] after my life [soul] lay snares [traps] for me: and they that seek [require] my hurt [calamity; distress] speak [say] mischievous things [wicked; perverse], and imagine [speak; declare; devise; plot] deceits [false; guile; treachery] all the day long.  

David refused to answer his enemies\critics. (38:13-14)

13  But I, as a deaf man, heard [hearken; obey] not; and I was as a dumb man [speechless; mute] that openeth not his mouth.
14  Thus I was as a man that heareth not
[hearken; obey], and in whose mouth are no reproofs [rebuke; arguments].  

David prayed earnestly for the LORD to intercede. (38:15-19)

15  For in thee, O LORD, do I hope [wait; tarry]: thou wilt hear [answer; reply], O Lord my God.
16  For I said
[speak; command; address], Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice [glad; joyful] over me: when my foot [walk; journey] slippeth [moved; fall], they magnify [praise; promote; advance] themselvesagainst me.
17  For I am ready
[prepared] to halt [limp; fall; stumble], and my sorrow [pain; grief] is continually [ever; perpetually; continually] before me.
18  For I will declare
[tell; shew; utter; confess] mine iniquity [fault; perversity; sin]; I will be sorry [afraid; anxious] for my sin.
19  But mine enemies are lively
[alive; living], and they are strong [mighty; increased]: and they that hate [detest; i.e. mine enemies] me wrongfully [lie; lying; deceit] are multiplied [many; increased].  

David’s enemies hated him, not for his sin, but for his righteousness. (38:20)

20  They also that render [reward; recompense; repay] evil [wickedness; hurt; trouble] for good [pleasant; pleasing; right; best] are mine adversaries [attackers; accusers]; because I follow [pursue; run after; chase] the thing that good is [pleasant; pleasing; right; best].  

David appealed to the LORD. (38:21-22)

21  Forsake [leave; relinquish; abandon] me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far [removed; recede; withdraw] from me.
22  Make haste
[hurry; be eager; hasten] to help [aid; assist; support] me, O Lord my salvation [deliverance; rescue; i.e. savior].

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

Out of Sorrows, A New Beginning (2 Samuel 1-2)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 1-2

Our study of 1 Samuel concluded with the deaths of King Saul, his sons, and a humiliating defeat for Israel when that nation’s soldiers fled the battlefield in disarray (1 Samuel 31:7). Three days later, news of Israel’s defeat, and the deaths of Saul and his sons reached David in Ziklag (2 Samuel 1:1).

2 Samuel 1 – The King is Dead: An Elegy

The news bearer was an Amalekite soldier. He had come to David with a fabricated claim that he had slain Saul in an act of mercy, sparing the king the indignity of falling into the hands of the Philistines (1:1-10). The truth was, as we read in 1 Samuel 31, Saul had fallen upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4). Nevertheless, to support his claim, the Amalekite had in his possession Saul’s crown, and a bracelet David would have recognized as the fallen king’s (1:10).

Saul had been an enemy of David for more than a decade, nevertheless the news of his death, and the death of Jonathan moved David to mourn, weep, and fast until that evening (1:11-12). Rather than rejoice in the death of his enemy, David mourned, and ordered the man who claimed to have slain the king to be put to death (1:11-16).

The Song of the Bow (1:17-27)

As the poet and musician, he was, David turned to poetry and expressed in an elegy his profound sorrow for the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan (1:17-27). To memorialize the household of Saul, David commanded the words of the elegy be taught to “the children of Judah” (1:18).

The concluding verses of 2 Samuel 1 expressed David’s grief at the loss of Jonathan, his friend and confidant (1:25-27).  There have been some who try to paint David’s lament as a twisted validation of sodomy, but it is not. Sodomy is condemned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-27), and we can be certain such a sin would not have been a subject put to music for children to sing.  David’s love for Jonathan was one of mutual affection and trust, and such a friend is rare indeed!

2 Samuel 2 – Two Kings and a Divided Nation

With the deaths of the king and his sons, David recalled he had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to succeed Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16). Being the spiritual man he was, David turned to the LORD for wisdom, and asked two questions: “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron” (2:1) With the LORD’s blessing, David, his two wives (2:2), and his men and their families moved to Hebron where he was crowned king by the men of the tribe of Judah (2:2-4).

David immediately faced opposition from Abner, Saul’s nephew (2:8) who moved to make Ishbosheth, Saul’s surviving son, king (2:9-10).  Abner’s opposition to David, coupled with Ishbosheth’s weak character, plunged the nation into a civil war that lasted over seven years (2:10-11).

Civil War (2:12-32; 3:1)

There were constant skirmishes between the men of Judah who served David as king, and those who served Ishbosheth, the son of Saul. Two strong generals incensed the conflict on both sides (2:12-17). Joab, David’s nephew by his sister Zeruiah (1 Chronicles 2:16), and Abner, the captain of Ishbosheth’s army, had become bitter enemies.

Coming upon a pool of water at Gibeon (2:12-13), Joab and Abner determined to set their soldiers in battle against one another (2:14-16). Abner was defeated, and fled the battle (2:17), with Joab, and his brothers, Abishai, and Asahel pursuing (2:18). Asahel, described as “light of foot as a wild roe” (2:18) pursued hard upon Abner intending to kill him (2:19-21).

Abner, desiring to spare Asahel for the respect he held for Joab, attempted to dissuade him, but “he refused to turn aside” (2:22-23). Abner then stabbed Ashael with the blunt end of his spear, and he died (2:23).

With Ashael dead, and Joab in pursuit, Abner fled to the “children of Benjamin,” who rallied to his side to face Joab (2:25). Abner persuaded Joab to turn back, lest he too die (2:26). Joab sounded the trumpet, and his men retired from the battle (2:27).

Joab and David’s men returned to their encampment victorious, having lost only nineteen men (2:30), while three hundred and sixty men of Benjamin had died (2:31). The victory, however, was a bitter one for Joab, who “took up [the body of his brother] Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem” (2:32a). As we will soon see, a vengeful spirit took hold of Joab, and would overshadow his relationship with David in the years ahead.

Closing observations: Though he would wait years to reign over a united Israel, the LORD, and time was on David’s side. He wisely sought the LORD for wisdom, and direction (2:1).

You and I would be wise to do the same…pray, and wait on the LORD.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

THE END: “Job Died Old, and Full of Days” (Job 42)

Scripture reading – Job 42

Job had remained silent since he had confessed, “I am vile” (40:4), and being reminded of the majesty of God, he “answered the Lord, and said, 2I know that thou canst do every thing, And that no thought can be withholden from thee” (42:1-2). He had complained, but now he resigned himself to God’s sovereignty. He acknowledged he had spoken in ignorance (42:3), and accepted that the LORD was not obligated to answer his questions.

We find a wonderful expression of Job’s humility when he confessed, 5I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: But now mine eye seeth thee(42:5). Though dreadful to have experienced the afflictions, the experience had moved Job from a theoretical knowledge (“hearing of the ear”), to a personal and practical knowledge (“now mine eye seeth thee”) of his God and Creator. Job confessed, 6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (42:6).

Job 42:7-10God Rewards Faithfulness

After accepting Job’s repentance, the LORD turned His focus to his foolish “friends” (42:7-9). “Eliphaz the Temanite” had been the first to challenge Job, and “the Lord said to [him], My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (42:7).

God commanded Eliphaz and his peers to “take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job” (42:8).

What an astonishing turn of events! Job had been the object of his friends’ scorn and judgments. It was their unkindness, and false arguments that had so provoked the LORD that He commanded them to humble themselves, and appeal to Job to intercede for them.

Job, evidencing the grace of a humble man, “prayed for his friends,” and the LORD rewarded him with “twice as much as he had before” (42:10). 

Closing Thoughts

We have studied forty-two chapters in the life of Job, and with the exception of his wife who had suggested he curse God and die, and four “friends” who proposed to be his counselors but became his critics, Job’s acquaintances have been strangely absent.

With the hard times past, and Job enjoying God’s blessings and financial prosperity, we read: Then [i.e. after God prospered Job “twice as much”] came there unto him all his brethren [kindred], and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance [i.e. friends and neighbors] before [before Job’s trials]” (42:11).

Where were these “brethren” and “sisters” when Job lost everything?  Where were his acquaintances when he lost his sons and daughters, servants, home, health and possessions?  Why appear now to show sympathy and comfort?  Why wait to bring Job “a piece of money” and gold earrings? After all, he had need of nothing (42:12-15)!

We conclude our study of the Book of Job, and my heart rejoices when I read that God had prospered him, and he “died, being old and full [satisfied] of days” (Job 42:10, 17).

Job had suffered much, and his afflictions were as severe as any we might imagine. He had borne the sorrow of his sons and daughters’ deaths. He had lost his house, possessions, and servants. Finally, he lost his health, and was afflicted from head to foot with painful sores. His friends had condemned him, and his family and neighbors had forsaken him, but God remembered him! When Job humbled himself before God, he was restored to His favor, and died very old, and content with his life (42:17).

Is that not what we all want? To not only live a long life, but be content, and satisfied when we draw our last breath!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith