Category Archives: Hope

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

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 13

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

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

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

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

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

Closing thoughts from 2 Samuel 13

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Hears and Answers Prayer (Psalm 86; Psalm 122)

Scripture reading – Psalm 86; Psalm 122

Our Scripture reading consists of two chapters from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 86 and Psalm 122. David is the author of both, with Psalm 86 titled simply, “A Prayer of David,” and Psalm 122 titled, “A Song of Degrees” (the “degrees” most likely a reference to the ascending steps of the priests into the Temple). Our devotional is taken from Psalm 86.

Psalm 86 – A Petition for the LORD to Hear and Answer Prayer

The circumstances that inspired Psalm 86 are not given, but the content indicates it was at a time of trouble, and affliction for the king. The prophet Nathan forewarned David that trouble would shadow his household after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah, her husband. We might be justified in assigning this psalm to the years of sorrow that followed his sin.

David’s Troubled State (86:1-7)

The afflictions David faced were constant reminders of his helpless dependency (86:1). He was the king of Israel, but he confessed he was “poor and needy,” and realized only the LORD could save and comfort him in his distress (86:2-3). His prayer rehearsed what he knew was true concerning the nature of God: “5For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; And plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (86:5). David resolved, “7In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: For thou wilt answer me” (86:7).

Take a moment and ponder that statement (86:7). There may come a time when you find yourself in a difficult situation with no where you can turn; or perhaps you have reached out to someone in confidence, only to be shunned, or betrayed. David found comfort knowing he could call upon God, appreciating He would not only hear, but would also answer his prayer.

The Sovereignty of God (86:8-14)

Some men call upon their “gods,” but those idols can neither see, hear, nor answer prayer (Psalm 135:15-17). Indeed, there is no God, save the God of heaven who is powerful, all-knowing, and worthy of our worship and praise (86:8-9). He is “God alone” (86:10).

Praying for the LORD to guide and direct him, David promised, “11Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: Unite my heart to fear thy name. 12I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: And I will glorify thy name for evermore” (86:11-12). David longed to know the way of the LORD (John 14:6), and promised he would be faithful, fear and revere the Lord, and glorify Him (86:11-12).

David’s Plight (86:14-15)

David did not identify his enemies by name (and there were many, including his own son Absalom), but he did describe them: “Proud…violent” and godless (86:14). They were proud, ambitious, plotting his destruction, and wicked.

Facing relentless enemies, David encouraged himself by remembering the character of God: “15But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (86:15).

A Final Plea (86:16-17)

David concluded the prayer, and called upon the LORD to be merciful, and strengthen him in his weakness (86:16). The king prayed, “17Shew me a token [sign] for good; That they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: Because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me” (86:17).

David’s prayer for God to bless him was an inward cry for peace, as well as an outward sign of vindication. He prayed for the LORD to bestow on him a “token,” a sign of his blessing, and one that would silence his enemies, and put them to shame.

Closing thoughts – The next time you find yourself in a troubled place, and an enemy is waiting to gloat in your sorrows; remember, the LORD is merciful, kind, and omniscient. He is jealous of His name before the heathen, and is able and ready to come to the aid of those who call upon Him (86:17b).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 51)

Scripture reading – Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness.

Biblical brokenness is contrition of heart, and always involves confession, seeks forgiveness, and offers a plea for restoration.

Psalm 51 introduces us to a man brought low by sin.  David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her conception of his son, and his failed attempt to conceal his sin had led to the death of Uriah the Hittite.  David’s sins were secret no more, and the prophet Nathan’s bold condemnation exposed his depravity before all in his court.

Lord Acton, the late 19th century British historian, made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Such is true of monarchs, politicians, leaders, teachers, and yes, pastors. The same, however, is also true of men and women who, in their own little fiefdoms, find themselves in roles that go unchecked. David found himself at the pinnacle of success and power, and accountable to no one. Though the words of the prophet, “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7) had humiliated him, they were the words that awakened in the king a godly sorrow to repentance.

Be forewarned: If given the right provocation, the potential of egregious wickedness lies within us all.

When David wrote, “I was shapen in inquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (51:5), he acknowledged the nature of sin that is present within us all. A millennium later, the apostle Paul wrote the same, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

David had maintained his cover of sin for nearly a year, and though in the throes of guilt, he proudly maintained a regal façade, passing judgment on other men’s sins.

One wonders how long David might have continued his charade if God had not commanded his prophet to confront the king.  Remembering oriental monarchs held absolute authority, and the power of life and death rested with them, we appreciate the tenuous position in which Nathan found himself.

The words, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7), echoed in the king’s hall, and resonated in David’s heart.  He cried to the Lord, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness… 2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). David acknowledged that only God can remove the guilt and stains of sin. He confessed his sins, praying, “3  For I acknowledge my transgressions…4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (51:3-4a). He was haunted by his guilt, and his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah paled in comparison to his sins against God.

A Petition for Forgiveness and Renewal (51:10-12)

David prayed, “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… 12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (51:10, 12a). He longed for that which God alone could give—not only to be forgiven, but to have his happiness and joy restored.

A Passion for Serving the LORD (51:13-17)

With his sins forgiven, David’s thoughts turned to teaching others the ways of a loving, merciful, just, and holy God (51:13). He prayed for that which only grace might impart: Deliverance from guilt (51:14a), a desire to praise God’s righteousness in song (51:14b), and for the LORD to bless the words of his mouth (51:15). He acknowledged, the LORD does not desire a multitude of sacrifices, but a “broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (51:16-17).

Closing thoughts – As king, David found himself insulated from accountability. He had neglected his duties (2 Samuel 11:1), and his moral failure occurred when was alone. He had been too proud to acknowledge, confess his sins, and accept the consequences of his moral failures (2 Samuel 11:6-22). God, however, loved the king, and sent his prophet to confront him, that David might be restored.

Truth – If you are concealing sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time before the consequences of sins catch up with you, and affect your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4). Won’t you humble yourself before God, confess your sins, knowing He has promised, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

SOS: A Cry for Help (Psalm 70)

Scripture reading – Psalm 70

Our Scripture reading is from Psalm 70, and is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance.” The occasion that inspired the psalm is not stated, but the tone of the song indicates it was during a time of crisis in David’s life, if not perhaps within Israel itself. I invite you to consider the psalm in four spiritual thoughts. * Note the brackets are those of the author and are meant to amplify word meanings.

A Cry for Help (70:1)

Psalm 70:11Make haste, O God [Elohim, Mighty God], to deliver [save; rescue] me; Make haste to help me, O Lord [Yahweh].

David prayed for the LORD to help, to come to his aid, and to make haste. We do not know the circumstances that prompted the king’s cry; however, there was a crisis and he was anxious for the LORD to come before it was too late.

A Cry for Vindication (70:2-3)

Psalm 70:22Let them be ashamed [put to shame; humiliated] and confounded [disgraced; dismayed] that seek after my soul [life; being]: Let them be turned backward, and put to confusion [humiliated; disgraced], that desire [take delight in] my hurt [misery; trouble; hurt].

Anyone in leadership can identify with the king’s anguish in this verse, for there are always those waiting for an opportunity to bring down a righteous man. David does not name his adversaries, but there were many who sought his ruin. He not only desired vindication, but longed that his enemies might be exposed, filled with shame, frustrated, and humiliated.

Psalm 70:33Let them be turned back for a reward [consequence; because] of their shame that say, Aha, aha. [the scorn of an enemy]

No one likes to hear, “I told you so.”  David especially did not want his enemies to have one word of reproach toward him or any of God’s people. He prayed that his enemies might not only suffer the shame and consequences of their sins, but also be frustrated in their efforts.

A Prayer for Those Who Seek the LORD (70:4)

Psalm 70:44Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad [merry] in thee: And let such as love thy salvation [deliverance; acts of salvation] say continually [continuously], Let God be magnified [be great; be strong].

Though hurting from the threats and attacks of those who sought his ruin, David did not allow his enemies to dominate his thoughts. His prayer turned from focusing on his adversaries, to praying for the saints. David prayed that those who seek the LORD might rejoice in Him, and delight in His salvation.

Contrast the scoffing of the wicked, “Aha, aha” (70:3), with the believer’s cry, “Let God be magnified” (70:4). Therein is the heart of people of faith! Let God be glorified, magnified, and lifted up!

David’s Humility and Confession (70:5)

Psalm 70:55But I am poor [wretched; humble; afflicted] and needy [in want]: make haste unto me, O God: Thou art my help [strength] and my deliverer [escape]; O Lord, make no tarrying [do not linger; do not delay].

David was king, and his outward man was far from “poor and needy,” but it was his inner man, his soul, that felt the sorrow and anxiety from the assaults of those who desired his ruin. The prayer (psalm) concludes as it began, with a cry for God to quickly respond, and a confession that the LORD alone was his “help” (strength), and “deliverer.

Closing thought – Where do you turn in times of distress and trouble? I fear many believers turn to their own wiles, and ways. Some are overcome with anxiety, and depression. Some may take their own lives in a desperate attempt to escape their sorrows.

Where should you turn? Follow David’s example, turn to the LORD, and He will be your help and deliverer.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Song of Thanksgiving (Psalm 67; Psalm 69)

Scripture reading – Psalm 67; Psalm 69

Our study of the Psalms continues with two songs of worship. According to its title, Psalm 67 was addressed to, “The Chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song” (it is believed that “Neginoth” was a stringed instrument). Psalm 69 is titled, “To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim,” and describes it as, “A Psalm of David.) The focus of today’s devotional is Psalm 67.

A Prayer for God’s Grace and Mercy (67:1)

Like other psalms of thanksgiving we have considered, this brief, but beautiful song as a petition to the God of Israel to be “merciful” and gracious to His people. The psalm continues, “bless us; and cause his [God’s] face to shine upon us” (67:1). Literally, shine your favor upon us, O Lord!

We might ask, “Why should the LORD bless His people?” The answer: “That thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations. 3Let the people praise thee, O God; Let all the people praise thee” (67:2-3).

The motivation for asking for the LORD’s blessings was not a selfish desire for success or material possessions, but as a testimony of God’s favor upon His people before all the nations of the earth (67:2-3).

A Petition for Universal Praise and Thanksgiving (67:4-5)

4O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: For thou shalt judge the people righteously, And govern the nations upon earth. Selah.”

The psalmist longed for that which should be the desired of all believers: that the nations of the world would turn to the LORD and “be glad and sing for joy” (67:4a).

What part might believers have in seeing the nations of the world turn to God? Jesus Christ answered that question with His Great Commission: “19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Unlike the scales of man’s justice, God’s judgment is perfectly righteous, and altogether just (67:4b). He is a just, and holy God; He is kind, and compassionate. What a great cause for rejoicing! “5Let the people praise thee, O God; Let all the people praise thee” (67:5).

God’s Response to Praise and Thanksgiving (67:6-7)

The psalmist observed, when a nation praises the LORD, He in turn blesses the earth. The psalmist writes, “6Then shall the earth yield her increase” (67:6a). Unless you grew up on a farm, or have had a family garden, you might not grasp the beauty of that promise. A man who praises the LORD in his labor, enjoys the blessings of God, and the fruit of his labor.

Twice we read, “And God, even our own God, shall bless us. 7God shall bless us” (67:6b-7a). What an inspiring thought! When our hearts and thoughts are upon the LORD, and we offer Him our prayers of thanksgiving, He blesses us twofold!

Psalm 67 concludes with the assurance, “all the ends of the earth shall fear him” (67:7b, 22:27). All people, everywhere, will have cause to fear, revere, and worship the LORD.

Closing thought: Take a few moments and count your blessings. Offer to the LORD a prayer of thanksgiving for the multitude of His blessings.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 65; Psalm 66

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

Psalm 65 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

 

Be A Prayer Warrior For Your Nation (Psalm 20)

Scripture reading – Psalm 20

Psalm 20 has been described by some as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. It is an intercessory prayer, an exhortation to pray and call to the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. * As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of the author.

Psalm 20:1-2 – “The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support;; sustain] thee out of Zion [site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired this psalm are not stated, but because its author was David, I believe it was the king appealing to his people to call unto the LORD (20:1). Israel was facing an enemy, and the king dare not go to war without the confidence that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. pause; or pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, the people worshipped Him, and prayed He would accept their sacrifices, hear, and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; standard]: the LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people believed the LORD would give their king victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy, and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners. (The flags carried into battle identified national pride). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers, and answer their petitions (20:5b).

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face the enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people, and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty, and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save him in the battle.

Psalm 20:77Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Men and nations go into battle with little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Their faith is in their weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). We have observed in earlier devotions that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes. The LORD is holy, just, powerful, omniscient, compassionate, and sovereign. He will do as it pleases Him.

Psalm 20:8-98They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts – I invite you to consider three spiritual lessons from Psalm 20:

The LORD hears and answers prayer. Israel prayed the LORD would hear the prayer of the king, and His people, and go before them into battle (20:1-2). Oh, that the leaders of this world would call upon the LORD, and not put their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

We should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers (20:3-4). Israel assured the king they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom, and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD, and whose people uphold them in prayer.

God’s people should put their faith in the grace and blessings of God.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory, They were confident God heard, and would answer their prayers.

I close with a story conveyed by a farmer during the American Revolution.  The farmer was walking through the woods toward the encampment at Valley Forge, when he heard a voice. Drawing near, he found General George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home, and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

1 Timothy 2:1-21 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Plight of the Human Race (Psalm 53; Psalm 60)

Scripture reading – Psalm 53; Psalm 60

Our Scripture reading is from two psalms of David, Psalm 53 and Psalm 60. Our devotional is taken from Psalm 53.

Psalm 53 – An Observation of the Human Condition

Notice that Psalm 53 is nearly a restatement of truths observed by David in Psalm 14. The title of Psalm 53provides us the title of the person to whom it was addressed, “the Chief Musician.” It also provides the instrument used to accompany the singer, Mahalath (probably a stringed instrument), as well as the name of the melody, Maschil, that accompanied the psalm. As already noted, David is identified as the author in the title.

I invite you to identify three major truths found in Psalm 53: The fact of universal wickedness (53:1-3); the wicked’s denial of the providence of God (53:4-5); and David’s prayer that the LORD would save Israel, and rejoicing and gladness would be restored.

The Fool and His Plight (53:1-3)

David’s observations concerning the condition of man is not only well known, but should be self-evident to an honest observer. The folly of the fool is that he is an atheist, in word and deed! We read, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Notice the phrase, “there is,” is in italics, indicating it was added by editors hoping to give clarity to the passage. I suggest, however, that the addition was unnecessary, for the folly of the fool is that he has not only denied God in his heart, but also in his deeds. David observed that the atheism of the fool carries him down a path of corruption, and destruction. Indeed, “there is none that doeth good” (53:1b).

The doctrine of God’s omniscience is stated in the next verse, where we read, “2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God” (53:2). Having denied God, the fool may be convinced his sins go unnoticed and unpunished. Yet, God’s gaze is perpetually upon man, and he sees and tries the hearts to see if any seek Him (53:2).

Consider also that the plight of man is universal, and without exception: “Every one of them [every man, woman, boy, and girl] is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (53:3). Universal rebellion; universal immorality; universal sin… “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (53:3).

Ponder that truth for a moment. There are no exceptions to the infection of sin. We are all infected by its curse, and the mass of humanity past, present, and future is born under the curse of sin (of course, the one exception was Jesus Christ who, though born of a woman, was not born of the seed of man, but of the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35).

The apostle Paul observed the universality of sin, writing: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the universal consequences of sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Wicked’s Denial of the Providence of God (53:4-5)

The fool has not only rejected God, but he has also denied the visible evidences of God’s essence and providences as seen in His creation every day (53:4a). David warned, God is jealous of His people, and the wicked will not go unpunished for their ill treatment of them (53:4b).

There is a sad irony in this psalm. On the one hand, men boast, “There is no God,” but there is coming a day a judgment when fear will take hold of the hearts of men, and those who set themselves against Him will be destroyed (53:5a). Indeed, the wicked will be put to shame, for the LORD will hold them in contempt (53:5b).

David’s Prayer and Intercession for Israel (53:6)

Psalm 53 concludes with David looking forward to the day when Israel will be saved. In that day, “Jacob shall rejoice” (the lineage of the Twelve Tribes), and “Israel shall be glad” (53:6). Whom would God send to answer David’s prayer for a Savior? His name would be Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Closing thoughts – Without exception; Every man or woman who rejects God, and refuses His offer of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son…is foolish. We might boast of our good works, but the prophet Isaiah declared, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). A sinner cannot be saved “by works of righteousness which [he has] done, but according to [God’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Primer in Congregational Worship (Psalm 33; Psalm 36)

Scripture reading – Psalm 33; Psalm 36

Worship in the 21st century Church is far from the reverential worship you would have known and experienced had you worshiped the LORD in the courtyard of the Tabernacle or at the Temple in Solomon’s day. Like all of the psalms, Psalm 33 has the LORD as its central focus, and its theme is a contemplation of God’s majesty as Creator, Almighty, Jehovah, Eternal God. * Today’s devotional will be taken from Psalm 33. As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

A Study in Congregational Worship (33:1-5)

Psalm 33:1 – “Rejoice [sing; shout for joy] in the LORD, O ye righteous [just; lawful; innocent; blameless]: for praise is comely [beautiful; suitable; fitting] for the upright [righteous; right].

Psalm 33:1 emphasizes the DUTY of believers (the righteous and the upright) to worship the LORD. Old Testament saints understood to be righteous in the sight of the LORD, required obedience to His laws and commandments in both spirit and practice. The righteous have both cause and duty to “Rejoice in the LORD” and praise Him (33:1).

Psalm 33:2-3Praise [give thanks] the LORD with harp [lyre]: sing [sing praise] unto him with the psaltery [lute] and an instrument of ten strings [ten string instrument]3 Sing unto him a new song; play [make music]skillfully [well; good; pleasing; beautiful] with a loud noise [shout; i.e. like the sound of a trumpet].

The Father also desires His people to worship Him out of a heart of DEVOTION. With both instrument and voice, the righteous are able to express their love and devotion in congregational music and song (33:2). The psalmist called upon the congregation to sing a “new song” (33:3a), and “play skillfully with a loud noise” (33:3b).

While “a loud noise” might be an apt description of some 21st century “praise music,” it falls short of the message portrayed by the psalmist. As an explanation: Often overlooked in the phrase is the word “skillfully,” meaning beautiful and well-pleasing; and something that cannot be achieved apart from years of disciplined practice. The “loud noise” implies the sound of wind instruments, such as a trumpet.

DECLARATION is another word that describes congregational worship. Believers are to declare in their music and song the majesty of the LORD who is worthy of praise and worship (33:4-5).

Psalm 33:4-54 For the word [spoken word; discourse] of the LORD is right [righteous; just]; and all his works [acts; deeds] are done in truth [faith; faithfulness]. 5 He [the LORD] loveth righteousness [justice] and judgment [right]: the earth [land] is full [filled; overflow] of the goodness [mercy; kindness] of the LORD.

God’s glory is also revealed in His Word and works. His Word is right, and His works are honest and true (33:4). He is holy, just, loving, faithful and good (33:4-5), and if we look, we can see the LORD’S loving and faithful hand in the world around us, and hopefully reflected in us.

An Affirmation of the Character of the LORD (33:5-19)

Remembering Psalm 33 is a song, notice the focus of the verses is upon the divine character and attributes of the LORD (33:5-19). The LORD is righteous (33:5a), good (33:5b), omnipotent (33:6-9), omniscient (33:10), and His counsel (Word) is eternal and immutable (33:11).

The LORD is vigilant, and He “looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men” (33:13). He knows what lies within the hearts of men, and “He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works” (33:15). The LORD is sovereign over all nations (33:16-17), and He is the protector and provider for them who fear and revere Him (33:18-19).

Three Benefits That Come to Those Who Worship the LORD (33:20-22)

Psalm 33 concludes with a doxology, that boasts of the LORD’s care for His children, and the benefits that come to them when they worship the LORD. When worship, and song focuses on the character of the LORD, believers who worship Him in Truth acquire three virtues: They learn patience, for they “waiteth for the LORD” (33:20). Their faith is increased, for they “have trusted in His holy name” (33:21). Finally, because they know the LORD is merciful, they are never without hope, for they “hope in [the LORD]” (33:22).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Accepting When God Says “No,” Will Open the Way for a Greater Blessing (2 Samuel 7)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 7

Today’s Scripture reading parallels events that are also recorded by the historian in 1 Chronicles 17. The events unfolding in 2 Samuel 7 follow sometime after the arrival of the Ark of God in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

David’s Passion to Build a Temple (7:1-3)

The early years of David’s reign were indeed, “golden years.” In the opening verses of today’s study, we find the king enjoying a time of rest, and reflection (7:1). The great warrior had earned a well-deserved reprieve, though it would be short-lived. 2 Samuel 8 records a string of battles David would soon face, but at this time “the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies” (7:1).

Resting, and contemplating the rich appointments of his cedar palace, the king confided to the prophet Nathan of his discomfort. He was troubled that while he enjoyed the luxury of his palace, the “Ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (for that was the tent David had prepared for the Ark (7:2). Neither approving or affirming David’s desire to build a temple, Nathan encouraged the king, “Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee” (7:3).

God Prohibited David Building a Temple (7:4-17)

The LORD came to Nathan, and commanded His prophet to reason with David, and forbad him building a Temple, noting He had not commanded nor expressed a desire for “an house for me to dwell in” (7:4-5). The LORD had fashioned a tabernacle that had sheltered the Ark during the wilderness years, and throughout the era of the Judges (7:6-7).

Nathan was commanded to go to the king, and remind him he was a servant of the LORD. He was to remember what the Lord had said concerning his beginning: “I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel” (7:8). Though he was king and his name and fame were growing, he was reminded his success had come from the LORD (7:9-10).

In contrast to David’s desire to build a house for the Ark, God promised the king, “the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house” (7:11). The verses that follow prove this was not a house made with hands, and formed out of cedar and stone, but was a royal lineage, a dynasty of kings (7:12). David was promised that his son [Solomon] would build a house, a temple to the LORD (7:13). God promised he would love him like a father loves a son (7:14), and would bestow His mercy upon him.

A far-reaching messianic prophecy is found in this passage, and it was one that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God promised the king, “I will stablish the throne of his [David’s] kingdom for ever” (7:13). The promise is repeated in 2 Samuel 7:16 where we read, “thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

A faithful prophet, Nathan fulfilled God’s command and “according to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David” (7:17).

David’s Response to the Prophecy (7:18-29)

Rather than dwell upon the denial of his desire to build a house for the LORD, David embraced the prophecy that his throne and kingdom would be forever (though not fully understanding the breadth of its fulfillment). Humbled by the LORD’s promises, I believe David rose from his throne, and made his way to the Tabernacle where he “sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (7:18).

He had been reminded that he was a lowly shepherd when the LORD chose him to be king (7:8), and it was God that had given him fame and power over his enemies (7:19). David asked a profoundly humble question: “20And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant” (7:20).

Think about that statement: LORD, you know me, and that I am a lowly servant in the presence of a God Who is great, and there is no god like Thee (7:22). God is indeed great in mercy, grace, power, and deeds. Israel’s history was a testimony of the greatness of God, for He had chosen them, and redeemed them out of the slavery of Egypt (7:23-24).

David believed God (7:25-29). Instead of the king building a temple for the LORD, God promised to build through David’s seed a perpetual dynasty. Trusting God’s grace, David’s prayer concluded rejoicing in God’s goodness (7:28), and requesting His divine blessings on himself, and his seed (7:29).

Closing thought – God’s way is always best. David had a good heart, and his desire to build a temple for the Ark was a righteous one; however, he accepted that responsibility and privilege would belong to his son and heir.

Nevertheless, by accepting the LORD’S prohibition, David inherited a far greater promise: His name, throne, and kingdom would be established by the LORD forever. That promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ: “16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

Lesson – Trust God, after all, His Way is Perfect! (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith