Category Archives: Friends

“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

You Have No Right to Question God! (Job 38-39)

Scripture reading – Job 38-39

Elihu had waxed eloquent in his observations that the God of creation is Sovereign, and Master of nature. He had urged Job to consider the majesty of God evinced in thunderstorms (Job 37:1-5), snow and ice (37:6-10), the winds, clouds, and rain (37:11-18). He challenged Job, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14), and disputed his audacity to question God’s providence in his life (37:15-22).

When Elihu finished speaking, the LORD appeared suddenly, and His voice was heard “out of the whirlwind [great storm]” and He questioned Job: “2Who is this that darkeneth [obscures] counsel [God’s plans or matters] by words without knowledge [discernment]? (38:2) The LORD’s thunderous voice asked Job, who are you to question my providences in your life? Stand up, justify your right to question Me (38:3)!

Job 38:4-41 – Job Had No Grounds to Contend with God.

A series of questions fills the balance of Job 38, and the implication of the questions and their answers is that Job had no right to question or argue with God. The questions proposed by the LORD were meant to convince Job that he was ignorant of God’s ways, and therefore had no right to query Him.

The LORD asked Job, where were you when I created the earth? (38:4-5). Where were you when I laid the foundations? (38:6) Where were you when I set the boundaries of the sea? (38:8-11) Where were you when I created light, and divided the day and the night? (38:12)

Job knew nothing of the depths, or the darkness of the sea (38:16). He did not know from where light originated, nor how far it had traveled (38:19-21). He could not explain the origin of snow or hail (38:22-23). He did not understand the wind currents, described in Job 38:25 as “a watercourse for the overflowing of waters.”

Four constellations of stars are mentioned (38:31-32), and Job was asked, “33Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” Job, can you command the course of the stars? (38:33) Can you command the rain to fall (38:34), or control the lightnings? (38:35) Job, can you feed the lions, or provide food for the ravens? (38:36-41).

Job 39 – If Job Could Not Understand the Course of Nature, He Surely Could Not Understand the Providences of God.

The LORD proposed to Job a series of questions, proving His sovereign care of the animals of His creation. The first question, “1Knowest thou [Job] the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth [give birth]? Or canst thou mark when the hinds [deer] do calve [give birth]?” (39:1)

God knows the exact moment that wild goats give birth, and deer go into labor (39:1). He knows when their months of gestation are fulfilled (39:2), and when their offspring are old enough to “go forth, and return not” unto their parents (39:4).

The LORD asked, “5Who hath sent out the wild ass [donkey] free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (39:5) Think of it: God takes care of wild donkeys, providing them a home in the wilderness, and pasture in the mountains (39:6-8).

Job was asked regarding the unicorn (39:9-12). There has been much debate on the identity of the unicorn; however, it is certainly not the mythical creature of man’s imagination. Scholars identify the unicorn as a two-horned animal, perhaps a wild ox or an antelope. They are wild beasts, and cannot be tamed, or serve as domesticated beasts of burdens.

The LORD questioned Job if he had given the peacock or ostrich beautiful feathers (39:13). The description of the ostrich is notable, for she is an ignorant bird that buries her eggs in the earth (39:14), and “forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them” (39:15). God declared that He had “deprived her [the ostrich] of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding” (39:17).

The horse, its beauty, and courage was proposed to Job, and the LORD asked, “19Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” (39:19-25)

The hawk and the eagle were proposed to Job, and he was asked where they derived their instincts? “26Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, And stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, And make her nest on high?” (39:26-27)

What was the summation and purpose of the LORD interrogating Job?

It was to demonstrate that Job had no right to complain that he was treated unfairly, or to strive against God. The LORD is God, and He is sovereign of not only creation, but He is man’s absolute authority. Man has no right to question the ways of God!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is Just, Merciful, Gracious, and Good (Job 35-36)

Scripture reading – Job 35-36

Job 35 – Elihu’s criticism of Job continues as that angry young man charges him with three improper statements.

The first, that Job had misrepresented religion as unprofitable (35:1-8). Elihu suggested that Job had implied that his “righteousness [was] more than God’s” (35:2). Of course, Job had not verbalized such an outrageous statement, but Elihu had supposed that was the implication of his testimony of innocence (35:3-8).

Job had prayed, and cried out to God because of his afflictions; however, Elihu suggests he was not interested in drawing closer to God, but merely seeking relief from his sorrows (35:9-13).

Job had complained of not understanding the cause of his plight, and despaired of ever again enjoying God’s favor (35:14). Elihu suggested the delay in Job’s deliverance from suffering was because he had opened “his mouth in vain; He multiplieth words without knowledge” (35:15-16). Stated simply, Job had said a lot, but he had failed to humble himself before God.

Job 36 – Elihu’s Proposal to “Speak on God’s Behalf” (36:2)

Evidencing youthful pride, Elihu proposed to “speak on God’s behalf” (36:2), and to impart uncommon “knowledge” (36:3). He promised his words would be true (36:4a), and that which God Who “is perfect in knowledge” would have him to speak (36:4b).

Elihu returned to the rationale that had been espoused by Job’s friends, and that is that God is just and always rewards men according their works (36:5-15).

Elihu declared that “God is mighty…mighty in strength and wisdom” (36:5). It was Elihu’s conclusion that was untrue. He implied that God always rewards men according to their works, and declared that the Lord “preserveth [prolongs] not the life of the wicked: But giveth right [justice] to the poor” (36:6).

Elihu’s assertion failed the reality that God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Not only does the LORD prolong the life of the wicked, providing them opportunity to repent of their sins, but the poor do not always receive the justice they are due in this earthly life (36:6b).

Another error proposed by Elihu was that, hypocrites in heart heap up wrath…They die in their youth” (36:13-14a). In a perfect, sinless world that statement would stand as just, and there are many instances where wicked men die young. However, it is also true that God is patient, and his grace is offered to the worst of sinners.

Elihu suggested that Job’s sorrows were due to his pride, and had he humbled himself and repented, God would have given him a “table…full of fatness [rich foods]” (36:16). Elihu continued, because Job had refused to repent, the “judgment of the wicked” had befallen him (36:17), and no amount of riches could deliver him (36:18-19).

Job 36 concludes with Elihu attempting to inspire Job to concede the sovereignty and omnipotence of God (36:22-33).

God is supreme, and He “exalteth” and sets up whom He pleases (36:22a). He is omniscient, and no man can teach Him (36:22b). He is perfect, and cannot be accused of “iniquity” or wrong doing (36:23b).

God’s greatness is displayed in His creation (36:24-25), for the “heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). He is eternal, and “the number of His years [cannot] be searched out” (36:26b).

God’s power and wisdom sustains His creation, and He determines where the clouds drop their water (36:27-28), and they act as a canopy, sheltering us from the rays and heat of the sun (36:29-30). The same clouds that brought judgment on the earth in the flood, also bear life-giving water by which He “giveth meat [food] in abundance” (36:31).

Contrary to Elihu’s reasonings, and the assertions of Job’s friends, God is not only just, He is gracious, merciful, and kind.

Matthew 5:4545That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Religious Zeal without Knowledge is a Travesty (Job 33-34)

Scripture reading – Job 33-34

We were introduced to Elihu in the previous devotional (Job 32). Understanding Job and his friends were his elders, he had remained silent and observed the debate between those men. Having failed to convince Job of his error, “the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). Provoked by the failure of Job’s friends, and incensed by his protests of innocence (32:2-3), Elihu had confessed he was “ready to burst” with his own opinion (32:17) like wine that had fermented in wine skins and having no vent (32:18-20).

Job 33 – Elihu’s Denigration of Job

Elihu began with a façade of humility, conceding he was no better than Job, for he too was “formed out of the clay” (33:6). His humility soon gave way to arrogance as he accused Job of daring to accuse God of treating him as an enemy (33:7-10).

Attempting to convict Job of folly, Elihu reminded him that he was not “just” (i.e. righteous), and God is Sovereign, and does not give “account of any of His matters” (33:12-13). God is altogether righteous in His ways, and good in His dealings with man (33:14-18).

Job’s friends had argued that his afflictions were God’s punishment for some wickedness, and he had confessed he believed his suffering was a token of God’s wrath (33:19).

Elihu believed that God uses pain and afflictions for His purpose, and to protect men from pride (33:17-23). Job’s sorrows, he argued, could be used by God to purge his passion for “bread…and dainty [rich] meat” (33:19-20), and “deliver [redeem] him from going down to the pit [grave]” (33:24, 28).

Job 34 – The Majesty of God’s Character, and Elihu’s Defamation of Job’s

Elihu challenged Job and his friends to listen to his indictment of the man (34:1-4), and accused him of entertaining high ideas of himself, and a false view of God (34:5-9). He alleged that Job was self-righteous, and that he had accused God of injustice (34:5). He insinuated that Job believed he had been wounded “without transgression” (i.e. unfairly, 34:6), and that he had declared he might as well run with the wicked, for pleasing God “profiteth a man nothing” (34:7-9).

Although he had mistaken the cause of Job’s sorrows, Elihu nevertheless stated some great insights into the attributes of God (34:10-30).

He declared God is Just (34:10-12, 17, 19, 23), Sovereign (34:13-15), and Almighty (34:20, 24). He is Omniscient, “21For his eyes are upon the ways of man, And he seeth all his goings. 22There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves…He knoweth their works” (34:21-22, 25). He is Judge of the wicked (34:26-28).

Job 34 concluded with Elihu sharply rebuking Job, and demanding, “speak what thou knowest” (34:33b), or say what you think! He reproved him, and accused him of speaking “without knowledge [thinking]…[and] without wisdom [discernment]” (34:35). He cruelly declared his desire that “Job may be tried unto the end [forever]because of his answers for wicked men [i.e. he answers like wicked men]” (34:36), and “addeth rebellion unto his sin…and multiplieth [murmurs or complains] his words against God” (34:37).

A closing thought: Elihu had defamed, cruelly past judgment, and condemned Job without cause. He had arrogantly demanded that others hear and agree with his conclusion (34:34). Rather than a friend, Elihu’s words, and actions had proved he was Job’s enemy. He desired to destroy the man God pronounced as “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:1, 8).

Warning: Elihu’s are ever present, and we should be vigilant and oppose those who are swift to libel and slander others.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragic Consequences of Generational Sins (Job 20-21)

Scripture reading – Job 20-21

Job 20 records the second and final response of Zophar the Naamathite (his first speech was recorded in Job 11). Offended by Job’s admonition that his “friends” would face God’s wrath for their harsh judgments (19:28-29), Zophar’s rebuke came swift and furious (20:1-3).

Job 20:4-29 – The Fate of the Wicked

Like his friends, Zophar inferred that Job’s afflictions were to be expected by those who are wicked. Consider three erroneous opinions Zophar stated regarding his observations of the wicked.

The first error, that the wicked always come to destruction (20:4-11).

Zophar submitted that the rejoicing of the wicked is brief (20:4), and the honors bestowed on them perishes with them, and they are soon forgotten (20:5-8). Neither of those statements is necessarily true. In fact, the wicked often live out their lives enjoying ill acquired wealth, and their funerals and tombs are often grand spectacles to behold.

The second error, that the wicked will not prosper (20:12-23).

Continuing his erroneous observations, Zophar suggested that the prosperity of the wicked is brief (20:12), inevitably bites like a poisonous viper (20:13-16), and he dies in want.

One need remembers the LORD’s parable of a rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) to understand the error in Zophar’s reasoning. Beguiled with the pleasures of his riches, the rich man ordered his barns be torn down to build greater barns, and said to his soul, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Rather than die in want, the rich fool died as he had lived, enjoying his wealth until he learned in eternity that he was the poorest of men: “20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20–21).

The third error in Zophar’s observations was that only the wicked suffer devastating sorrows, and catastrophic losses (20:24-29).

Zophar maintained that the wicked are struck down (20:24-25), and all that he has is destroyed (20:26).  He observed that the wicked feel everything is against him, until his riches are consumed by God’s wrath (20:27-28).

While it might be argued that the wicked often suffer loss, it is more often true that they are rewarded by the system of this fallen world, and hailed for their ill-gotten gains (John 15:19a).

The implication of Zophar’s argument was that Job’s sorrows were a wicked man’s afflictions, and such is the lot or “heritage,” God has “appointed” for the wicked (20:29).

Job 21 – Rather than Suffer, the Wicked Prosper

I will summarize Job 21 by outlining Job’s disagreement with Zophar’s fallacies. Demanding his friends be silent that he might speak, Job sarcastically challenged them that after he had spoken, “mock on” (21:1-2).

Confessing his struggle was with God, not with men (21:3-6), Job observed that the wicked and their children often live long lives, and enjoy prosperity (21:7-13). He contended that the riches of the wicked cause their hearts to be calloused, and “they say unto God, Depart from us; For we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (21:14-15)

Failing to realize that they deserve nothing, and all that they have is a testimony of God’s grace and longsuffering, the prosperity of the wicked moves them to reject God (21:16).

Do not assume that the wicked go unpunished.

The consequences of sin are inevitable, and the wicked are “18 as stubble before the wind, And as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19God layeth up his [the wicked’s] iniquity for his children: He rewardeth him, and he shall know it” (21:18-19).

Here is a tragic truth: The children of the wicked often suffer the influence of their parent’s sins. That truth is stated three times in the Law (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).

Numbers 14:18 – “18The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

Warning: The consequences of your sins may be borne by your children.

A Personal Note: Knowing this devotional series is read daily by hundreds of believers, I covet your prayers for my wife. She was hospitalized today, January 19, 2021, with pneumonia and we are waiting on confirmation if her illness is COVID-19 related. As you might imagine, the devotions in the Book of Job have been personal, and have coincided with my wife and me facing our own afflictions. Thank you for interceding for us. I will update this prayer request when I receive news.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his three friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would have brought him some comfort and pity, he had soon realized they had come with one opinion: that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad had assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). He had opined that the wicked have a hard life that is characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and they go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). Of course, the implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19:1-5 – Job’s Bitter Complaint Against His Friends

Job accused his friends of tormenting his soul, and breaking him “in pieces with words” (19:2). He protested that they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed for how they had humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Frustrated with their meddling, Job rebuked them, and suggested if he was wrong, then let it be his fault alone (19:4). Contrary to their allegations, Job again declared he was innocent of wrongdoing (19:5).

Job 19:6-12 – Job’s Complaint Against God

A familiar complaint is once again raised by Job against the LORD. He felt he had been unfairly entangled with sorrows that exceeded his failures (19:6), and that when he cried out to God heaven was silent (19:7). Entrapped, humiliated, his world uprooted, Job felt everything had been brought against him (19:8-12).

Job 19:13-20 – A Crisis of Alienation and Loneliness

We can identify in Job’s afflictions the solitude of one who is suffering greatly. He acknowledged God’s hand in his trials, writing, “13He [God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from” (19:13). Though God was the author of Job’s troubles, the response of his family, friends, and others had left him deeply wounded.

Job felt alone. Forsaken by his family (19:14a), forgotten by his friends (19:14b), slighted by his servants (19:15-16), and abhorred by his wife (“my breath [life, spirit] is strange to my wife” (19:17). Even “young children,” the picture of innocence, “despised” him (19:18). Finally, the friends he thought dearest, had turned against him (19:19).

Job 19:21-27 – Job’s Plea for Pity and Vindication

Turning his thoughts from self-pity, Job begged for pity and understanding (19:21-22). He entreated that the defense of his innocence be recorded so that future generations might look upon his afflictions with wonder, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know their cause, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (19:25).

Looking through the lens of sorrows and trials that he believed were unjustified, Job’s faith had remained unshaken, and he was confident that God his Advocate and his Redeemer, would rescue and ransom him out of his trials. Though worms would destroy his body, Job was confident that his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would one day see God (19:26-27).

Job concluded his rebuke of Bildad, admonishing him that the day of God’s judgment would come, and he would regret the injustices he had committed against him (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

When Trials Come, and Sorrows Overwhelm (Job 3)

Scripture reading – Job 3 

Continuing our study of Job, we have noted that this suffering saint, though having lost everything, had in the words of his wife, “retained [his] integrity,” (2:9a). Frustrated by his humility before God, Job’s wife urged him to “curse God, and die” (2:9).

Job, however, reproved his wife for speaking the way of “foolish women,” and reasoned, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” In spite of his trials, and overwhelming sorrows, Job never sinned by complaining against his God (2:10).

Job 2 concludes with the arrival of his “three friends” (2:11), who having heard of his trials, came purposing “to mourn with him and to comfort him” (2:11b). Arriving together, they were shocked when they beheld the physical toll of Job’s trials (2:12a). In an outward expression of their compassion and sorrow, “they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven” (2:12b). For “seven days and seven nights,” they sat on the ground with Job, never speaking a word, “for they saw that his grief was very great” (2:13).

Job 3 – The Silence is Broken

Seven days having passed, the silence was finally broken when Job began to speak. Contrary to Satan’s slander, that he would curse his Creator in the midst of his sorrows (1:11; 2:5), Job lamented that his suffering was so great it would be better had he never been born (3:1).

The balance of Job 3 records the anxiety of this man whose faith had not wavered, but whose mind and soul were weighted by an avalanche of trouble. Finding no solace, Job finally gave expression to his anguish, acknowledging his deepest, inmost doubts for his very existence (3:2-12). He bewailed the day he was conceived (3:2-12), and began to look upon death as a welcome release from his sufferings, and the great equalizer that all men must eventually face (3:12-19). Mourning his misery (3:20-23), Job questioned why God gives “light” (i.e. life) to a soul that longs to be free from sorrows (3:20-26).

But, lest we be too hard on Job, let us remember that his words serve as a reminder that even good men struggle deep within their soul. Though overwhelmed with misery, Job was no less the man in whom God had boasted, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (2:3).

Any who have suffered deeply can relate to the hopelessness that grasped Job’s heart. Pain, especially when it affects family and loved ones, can drive anyone to entertain dark or despairing thoughts.

Job did not know the calamities he had suffered were a matter in which heaven itself had an acute interest. Nor was God with him less in his sorrows, than He had been in his prosperity. I close reminding you of a spiritual principle that should lift your heart when you feel trials are overwhelming you:

1 Corinthians 10:1313 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God isfaithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith