Category Archives: Hope

If You Had One Wish…What Would It Be? (2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

We come today to a new history book in our chronological reading of the Old Testament Scriptures. Whereas 1 Chronicles was a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel; 2 Chronicles is a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of events written from man’s viewpoint.   In contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, covering the same age as the Book of Kings, are written from God’s perspective.

1 Chronicles concluded with King David’s exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and to support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25).  With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).

2 Chronicles 1 opens with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1).

Solomon began his reign by calling for Israel to join him in worshipping the LORD at Gibeon, the historic location of the Mosaic Tabernacle (1:2-3).  Remember that David had relocated the Ark of God to Jerusalem where he provided a new tent for the Ark until the Temple would be constructed (1:4). The ancient brazen altar from the days of Moses was at Gibeon (1:5-6) and Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).

In Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon “and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee” (1:7). 

What an incredible proposition!  “Solomon, ask what you will and I shall give thee!”

What would you request should God grant you the opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted?    Would you ask for riches?  Possessions?  Power?  Popularity?  Fame?  The answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are; your affections, priorities, and passions.

Solomon’s answer to God’s proposition no doubt puts us all to shame!  The young king did not request those things which are pursued by carnal, worldly-minded men.  Solomon’s petition revealed a heart of deep humility.

2 Chronicles 1:10 – “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

God commended Solomon for his request and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).

The closing verses of 2 Chronicles 1 reveal the vastness of Solomon’s wealth as the LORD blessed him as He had promised.

Psalms 72 is believed to be David’s prayer for God’s blessings on the reign of his son Solomon.

In its immediate application, Psalm 72 is indeed an invocation for God to bless the reign of Solomon; however, I believe in its broader application it is a prophetic psalm. The psalm describes a universal kingdom over which the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will reign when He returns and sets up His righteous kingdom on the earth (72:1-3, 7).

Solomon’s kingdom was a great kingdom; however, Christ’s future kingdom will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8).  His will be a compassionate kingdom, “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13).

What a glorious day when men will be redeemed “from deceit and violence” (72:14), and the name of the LORD “shall endure for ever…and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call him blessed” (72:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

I’ve Got Happiness! How ‘bout You? (Psalms 111-118)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-118

Today’s Scripture reading entails eight glorious chapters in the Book of Psalms; however, I will limit this devotional commentary to Psalm 111 and Psalm 112.

Psalm 111 – Getting Wisdom

Three of today’s psalms begin with the same theme and call to worship: “Praise ye the LORD”(Psalms 111:1; 112:1; 113:1).

In essence, “Praise ye the LORD” is an expression of thanksgiving that boasts in the LORD Who is the Eternal, Self-existent God of creation. The psalmist asserts he will “Praise the LORD” with his “whole heart” – his mind, thoughts, and understanding undivided and focused on Him (111:1).

His praise and thanksgiving will be declared not only in the midst of those who are numbered among the “upright” (meaning those who obey the LORD’S Law and Commandments), but also in the midst of all the people (“the congregation” – 111:1).

In what will the psalmist praise the LORD? His meditations are on His works, the wonder and expanse of His creation (111:2) and “His righteousness”— for He is just, and “is gracious and full of compassion” (111:4b).

Believer, do you want to be numbered among the wise? Do you desire to be a man or woman of discernment and understanding? Remember this principle:

Psalm 111:10 – The fear [reverence; awe that begets righteous behavior] of the LORD is the beginning [is fundamental; foundational; most important thing] of wisdom: a good understanding [discretion; ] have all they that do [make; perform] his commandments: his praise [giving thanks] endureth [stands; is established] for ever [eternity].

Psalm 112 – Four Qualities of a “Blessed” Man

Psalm 112, like Psalm 111, begins with a word of praise to the LORD and an affirmation that the man who “feareth” [trembles; reveres] the LORD is “Blessed” [happy] because he “delighteth [desires; takes pleasure] greatly in His Commandments [Law; ordinances; precepts]” (112:1).

Notice there are four essential characteristics of a “Happy” man in Psalm 112: A “Happy” man is Blessed (112:1), Upright (112:4), Good (112:5-6a) and Righteous (112:7-9).

A man is happy and blessed because he recognizes he is the object of God’s grace (i.e. unmerited favor). 

Why is he the object of God’s grace?  Because he “feareth the LORD” (lit. reveres the name and rejoices in the character of the LORD) and “delighteth greatly in His commandments” (112:1c).  Such a man finds the Law and Commandments of the LORD a delight (Psalm 1:1-2), and the overflow of God’s grace in that righteous man’s life magnifies his influence (112:2) and blessed state (should his children follow his righteous path).

Secondly, a man is happy and “blessed” when he is “upright,” meaning just, righteous, a man who fears and reveres the LORD (112:4). 

God’s people are not spared from dark days, for they too suffer sickness, death of loved ones, disappointments, betrayals and broken promises. The righteous, however, have an assurance: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).  David observed the same, writing, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Believers are not spared dark days; however, they are assured the light of the LORD will pierce the darkness. What a precious promise! When we find we are “in the darkness,” the LORD promises He is “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (112:4b).

Another quality of a “Happy” man is that he is a “good man” (112:5). 

We notice four traits evidenced in a “good” man’s character (112:5-6).

He is gracious in his demeanor (pleasant and pleasing – 112:5a). He is generous (he lendeth to those in need – 112:5b). He exercises “good sense,” guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5). He is well “grounded,” for a good man “shall not be moved for ever” (112:6a).

Lastly, a “Happy” man is “righteous” (112:7-9). 

We find three qualities of this righteous man in verses 7-9. He is fearless, “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a), for he has a settled confidence in the LORD.  His heart is firm, “fixed, trusting in the LORD” (112:7b), and “shall not be afraid” (112:8b). He is freehearted, generous and giving to the poor (112:9). A righteous man is not a hoarder of riches, but a steward of God’s blessings and a conduit for ministering to those in need.

I conclude today’s devotional inviting you to take note of the wicked man’s response to the Happy man who is Blessed, Upright, Good and Righteous:

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall see [look; behold; regard] it, and be grieved [troubled; provoked; angry]; he shall gnash [i.e. grate or grind] with his teeth, and melt away [faint; be discouraged]: the desire [longing; delight; greed] of the wicked [guilty; immoral; ungodly] shall perish [be destroyed].”

Envy! The joy and happiness of the righteous is a grief, a sorrow to the wicked who grind their teeth like rabid dogs and “melt away,” defeated and consumed by their envy (112:10c).

In the words of King David, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Give All Praise, for the LORD is King (Psalms 108-110)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 108-110

Today’s Scripture reading is three psalms, all of which are attributed to King David.  For the sake of brevity, I will introduce each and limit this commentary.

Psalm 108 – A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving

David declares, “O God, my heart is fixed” (108:1). The “heart” in Scripture is more than a physical organ; it is, in its broadest sense a reference to one’s mind, thoughts, and is the seat of the emotions.

When King Solomon taught his son, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5a), it was a exhortation for him to give God his whole being: every thought, every aspiration, and every desire devoted to the LORD.

On what was David’s heart fixed?

Psalm 108:1-3 – O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise [lit. sing songs of praise], even with my glory [David was king; however, he was unashamedly devoted to giving his glory to worshiping the LORD]. 2  Awake [Be aroused; stirred], psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early [morning; at dawn]. 3  I will praise [give thanks] thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

David’s heart was resolved to give praise to God! The king broke into a song of praise and commanded both voice and instruments to praise the LORD (108:1-3). We are reminded once again the importance of song and instruments in worshiping the LORD.

Psalm 109 – The “Iscariot Psalm”

Psalm 109 and Psalm 110 are Messianic psalms. Psalm 109 is known as the “Iscariot Psalm” because it gives a prophetic picture of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ (i.e. “Jesus the Messiah”).

I hope to revisit Psalm 109 in greater detail in another year, but I invite you to ponder several prophetic statements in this psalm that were fulfilled in Christ’s betrayal, humiliation, and death. For instance, the chief priests and Sanhedrin fulfilled Psalm 109:2 when false accusers came and alleged Jesus had committed blasphemy (Matthew 26:59).

When we read, “they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Psalm 109:5), we remember Pilate’s judgment of Jesus saying, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4, 6).

Psalm 109:6-9 prophesy that Satan would enter “a wicked man” and was fulfilled on the night Judas betrayed Jesus (John 13:27). We know Judas went out and hanged himself and in so doing fulfilled the prophecy, “Let his days be few; and another take his office” (109:8). Acts 1:20-26 informs us that Judas’ office as a disciple and apostle passed to a believer named Matthias, and thus fulfilled the prophecy.

Psalm 110 – The Priest King

Psalm 110 is a Messianic psalm and gives us a portrait that could only be fulfilled in Christ. Psalm 110:1 makes it clear that David was not talking about himself or any other earthly potentate.

We read: “The LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] said unto my Lord [Master; Sovereign], Sit thou at my right hand [not only a place of privilege, but also one of strength], until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

Who was David addressing as sovereign? The Jews believed Psalm 110:1 was a reference to the coming Messiah (Matthew 22:44).

We read in the Gospel of Mark, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them [His disciples], he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul leaves no doubt that Jesus Christ is at God the Father’s right hand (Ephesians 1:20, 22).

Ephesians 1:20, 22 – “20 Which he [God the Father] wrought in Christ, when he [God the Father] raised him [Jesus Christ] from the dead, and set him [Jesus Christ] at his [God the Father] own right hand in the heavenly places22  And hath put all things under his [Jesus Christ]  feet, and gave him [Jesus Christ]  to be the head over all things to the church.”

Who has the privilege to sit at the right hand of the LORD, God of heaven?

Only one, Christ Jesus the LORD.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Memorial Day Sunday Service, May 24, 2020, 10:30 AM

You are invited to join us for Hillsdale’s Memorial Day Sunday services, this Sunday, May 24.

Hillsdale will be holding our third public service since the Coronavirus Crisis began. We are also broadcasting live online at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org and on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page.

Teen\Family Bible Study: Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will be continuing his Bible Study Series in the Book of James at 9:45 AM. The doors to our building will open briefly at 9:40 for those who will be joining us for the Bible Study.

The Memorial Day Sunday 10:30 AM service will open with a brief video tribute dedicated to our nation’s heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.

The pastoral staff is dedicating this week’s special number to all who served and are serving our nation. We will be singing the haunting, but beautiful Navy Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

Pastor Smith will be continuing his “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. This week’s message is taken from Psalm 23:4 and is titled, “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd.” 

Guidelines for Those Attending Hillsdale’s Public Worship Services: Guests and members are welcome and we ask you to understand the extraordinary precautions we are taking.

The doors to our building will open at 10:15 AM for those attending the 10:30 AM Worship service. For the comfort and safety of all in attendance, you are to proceed immediately to the auditorium, sit with your family, and put a safe distance between you and others. You will find every second pew roped off to ensure a safe space between yourself and others in attendance. Physical contact (handshaking, etc.) is discouraged. Avoiding passing offering plates, tithes and offerings can be given as you enter and exit the auditorium.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Cry of a Wounded Soul (Psalms 5, 38, 41-42)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 5, 38, 41-42

Our devotional commentary is taken from Psalm 41 where we find David at a low point in life, physically and emotionally. The theme of the psalm is, “God’s Care of the Poor” and scholars believe the king penned the song when he was ill or recovering from sickness.

Remembering the psalms were sung by priests and Levites during worship in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, I invite you to notice four stanzas.

The first stanza is a Beatitude that opens with the word, “Blessed” (41:1-3).

Psalm 41:1-3 – “Blessed [Happy] is he that considereth [understands] the poor [weak; needy]: the LORDwill deliver [save] him in time of trouble [sin; wickedness; evil]2  The LORD will preserve [keep; guard] him, and keep him alive [sustain]; and he shall be blessed [prosperous] upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver [abandon] him unto the will  [desire] of his enemies [adversary; foe]3 The LORD will strengthen [support; uphold] him upon the bed [couch; canopy] of languishing [sorrow]: thou wilt make [turn; overthrow] all his bed in his sickness [disease; malady].”

Having shown compassion to the poor, David rehearsed the LORD’s promise to hear and heed the cries of His people in their hour of need (41:1). The king remembered God keeps watch over His people and delivers them out of trouble in His time (41:2). Betrayed by those he loved, David had tossed and turned upon his bed as sorrows and disappointments washed over his soul (41:3).

The second stanza is a penitent prayer of confession and a cry for God’s grace (41:4). He prayed,

Psalm 41:4 – “4  I said, LORD, be merciful [gracious; show favor] unto me: heal [cure; purify] my soul [life]; for I have sinned [committed sin; guilty] against thee.”

The king had spent sleepless nights praying and searching his heart. He confessed his sin and pleaded for God’s grace, forgiveness and restoration (41:4).

In the third stanza, David rehearsed the sorrows and betrayals he had suffered (41:5-9).

Psalm 41:5-6 – “Mine enemies speak [charge] evil [sin; wickedness] of me, When shall he die [be slain], and his name [fame; honor] perish [destroyed]6  And if he [enemy; adversary] come to see [look; behold] me, he speaketh [declare] vanity [deceit; lies]: his heart gathereth [collect; heap; take up] iniquity [sin; wickedness] to itself; when he goeth [go forth] abroad [in the streets], he telleth [speak; say; talk] it.”

All who serve the LORD and walk with integrity will inevitably face such pain (41:5-7). Distressed by the sorrow of rejection and the bitter anguish of betrayal, David continued:

Psalm 41:7-8 – “7 All that hate me whisper [mumble] together [i.e. in chorus] against me: against me do they devise [imagine; fabricate] my hurt. 8  An evil [wicked] disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth [lays down] he shall rise up no more.”

What dismay, knowing embittered souls were plotting and bidding their time awaiting the day they could take satisfaction in the fall of the king (41:8).

Psalm 41:9 –  “Yea, mine own familiar [close] friend, in whom I trusted [a confidant], which did eat [devour; consume] of my bread [food; meal], hath lifted up his heel [foot] against me [magnified himself].

Psalm 41:9 gives us insight into the personal nature of the treachery that had befallen David.  [I believe verse 9 is also a Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled when Judas betrayed Christ].

David’s adversary wanted to grind the king under his heel and humiliate him.  His enemy waited for the satisfaction of the king’s demise.  Although not identified by name, I believe David’s enemy was either Absalom, the king’s own son (2 Samuel 15) or Ahithophel, the king’s trusted counselor who had joined in Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 16:23).

The fourth stanza of Psalm 41 concludes with a doxology of praise (41:10-13).

Psalm 41:10-13 – “But thou, O LORD, be merciful [be gracious; show me favor] unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them. [reward them for the evil his enemies had done] 11  By this I know that thou favourest [delight in] me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. 12  And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity [innocence], and settest me before thy face [presence] for ever. 13  Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.”

David’s hope was renewed when he turned his thoughts from his hurts and disappointments to the LORD.

Let’s take a lesson from David’s life: God is just and He favors those who put their trust in Him (41:11-12).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Worship Services at Hillsdale, this Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Followers,

I trust you are having a blessed Saturday and will be joining me and Hillsdale Baptist Church for our public worship services this Sunday.  We will continue to live-broadcast our services through the month of May and you can join us on either our public Facebook Page or www.HillsdaleBaptist.org (by the way, going to our website will be the smoothest and for the most part, glitch-free source for worship).

We are honoring our High School seniors this Sunday in the 9:30 AM service (please note the service time has been changed to 9:30 AM). We will introduce our seniors, share their testimonies, and our youth pastor Justin Jarrett, will be bring the charge to the class of 2020.

In the 10:30 AM service, I am bringing the third message in my “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. This Sunday’s message will explore the meaning and application of Psalm 23:3 – “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Please find attached this Sunday’s student outline, song sheets, and bulletin.

03 – He Restoreth My Soul – Psalm 23.1-3 – May 17, 2020 student blank songsheets 5 17 2020 bulletin 5-17 03 – He Restoreth My Soul – Psalm 23.1-3 – May 17, 2020 student blank

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith