Category Archives: Law

“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

How Far Will a Man Fall? (2 Samuel 11-12)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 11-12

2 Samuel 11 – “And it came to pass, after the year was expired”

“Came to pass” is an apt description of the passing of life. No one knows what a day may bring forth, but each day presents us with an array of choices and consequences that leave their mark on our existence.

Events were about to unfold in David’s life that would inevitably follow him to his grave, and forever cast a shadow over his reign as king. If it were possible, we might strike this tragic moment from David’s life. What sin! What sorrow!

2 Samuel 11 challenges all believers to consciously abide in the presence of the LORD.

We have followed the king from his humble beginnings as a shepherd, and witnessed the surprise of his father and brothers when Samuel anointed him to be the next king of Israel. When he slew Goliath, the Philistine giant, he had become a household name in Israel. His transition from boyhood to manhood, brought a string of victories, as the fugitive of Saul emerged to become Israel’s warrior king, for “the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b).

Israel had celebrated David’s victories in 2 Samuel 10; however, 2 Samuel 11 introduced a sad foreboding of tragedy that would befall him. We read, “at the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem” (11:1).

Probably in his fifties, and having served twenty years as Israel’s king, David’s exploits on the battlefield had inspired songs that celebrated his valor (1 Samuel 18:7); however, he was but a man. There are many spiritual lessons we could take from 2 Samuel 11-12, and some should serve as a sobering warning to all believers.

Grave consequences inevitably befall a man who underestimates the sinful bent of his nature (Psalm 51:5).

Disobeying the law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17), David had given rein to the pleasures of the flesh and taken to himself “more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13). He had foolishly indulged in carnal pleasures, and neglected his duty to the nation.  He was at the pinnacle of his success, and enjoying God’s blessings. Israel was strong and prosperous. However, when his army went to war, David remained behind in the comfort of his palace (11:2). The king’s idleness and lack of accountability became the catalyst for a tragic series of decisions that would forever scar his life, and unravel his reign (2 Samuel 11:3-15).

How far will a “man after God’s own heart” fall?

I will not take the time to outline the obvious in the story of David’s sins recorded-in 2 Samuel 11, but lust, adultery, deceit, guile, and murder are all found here (11:4-17).  Those were the sins that haunted David to his grave.  The consequences of his sins, for himself, his family, servants and Israel were incalculable (11:18-25). Guilt, shame, sorrow, and humiliation shadowed David to his grave. We read:

“The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

David attempted to maintain a facade of routine for nearly a year as he sat on his throne, and conducted the affairs of state.  On the outside, things might have appeared as usual; however, David was conscious of God’s displeasure and later wrote:

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  [4] For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

2 Samuel 12 – “The LORD sent Nathan unto David” (12:1a).

In God’s timing, He sent a man of courage and integrity to speak to the king. Evidencing both wisdom and caution, the prophet Nathan approached David with a story that contrasted a rich man’s abuse of a poor man (12:1-6). Intrigued by the story and incited to anger, David passed sentence against the rich man, proclaiming, “As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:5b-6).

Having pronounced sentence, David and his attendants fell silent when Nathan pointed his finger, and raised his voice, boldly confronting the king, saying, “Thou art the man” (12:7).

David’s heart was smitten with conviction; he was indeed the man: adulterer; murderer; hypocrite and a wretched, miserable soul (12:8-12). His heart was convicted, and his proud, hypocritical façade crushed (12:13). David soon realized the sorrow his sin would bring on his family (12:15-17).  The king then prayed,

Psalm 51:3-4For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Closing thoughts – I invite you to turn the spotlight of truth on your heart. Realize the danger of idleness, and the tragedy that comes when we trifle with sin and temptation. I challenge you, “Flee also youthful lusts” before it is too late (2 Timothy 2:22)!  Solomon would later warn his son, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a).  When it comes to sin, the question is not “if,” but “when” the consequences of secret sins will befall you. I close with a blessed promise:

Proverbs 28:1313He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

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 Right Motive, and a Wrong Method Invite God’s Judgment” (Psalm 132; 2 Samuel 6)

Scripture reading – Psalm 132; 2 Samuel 6

We continue our chronological study of the Scriptures with today’s reading taken from the Book of Psalms (Psalm 132), and 2 Samuel 6 where the Ark of God is transported to Jerusalem. That event should be familiar to my readers, for we considered the same event in 1 Chronicles 13. Psalm 132, titled “A Song of Degrees,” was one of several psalms that were sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem, and by the Levites when the priests ascended the Temple Mount. Today’s devotion will consider the spiritual lessons we can derive from the transport of the Ark of God to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6

Remembering the Ark of God symbolized God’s heavenly throne, and was a testimony of His presence among His people (Psalm 80:1; 99:1), David set his heart to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, his capital (2 Samuel 6:1-2). Neglected throughout the reign of King Saul, David longed to return the Ark to its prominence in Israel, and he had prepared a new tent that would serve as its tabernacle. The movement of the Ark to Jerusalem was a cause for celebration, and “David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand” (6:1) to accompany its journey.

Celebration turned to tragedy when David “set the ark of God upon a new cart,” and failed to employ the “staves” or poles God had prescribed for its movement in the wilderness (Numbers 4:5-6). When the Ark appeared ready to topple from the cart, Uzza placed his hand on the Ark to steady it, and was struck dead for defiling that which the LORD had sanctified for Himself (6:3-7).

A faithful servant died because David had failed to search the Scriptures and seek the mind of the LORD in transporting the Ark. We read, “David was displeased,” he was angry with the LORD (6:8). His anger then turned to fear, and the king complained, “How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?” (6:9)

The balance of the now familiar story continues with its temporary placement in the household of Obededom the Gittite, whom the LORD blessed abundantly in the three months it resided with him (6:10-12). David then renewed his plan to retrieve the Ark, and celebrated and offered sacrifices to the LORD as it was carried by the Levites (6:13-15).

It seemed that all Israel celebrated the entrance of the Ark of God into Jerusalem, with one exception: “Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (6:16).

After celebrating the appointment of the Ark of God in its place on Mount Zion, David blessed the people, and sent them home with “a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine” (6:19). Sadly, for David, he “returned to bless his household,” but was greeted by his wife who scorned the king’s delight in the LORD (6:20-23).

Closing thoughts – Though observed in an earlier devotion, it is worthwhile to be reminded of some spiritual principles we can take from 2 Samuel 6.

The first: Right motives can never justify wrong methods. The failure to seek the LORD, and His pattern for moving the Ark, came at the expense of a faithful servant’s life (6:3-7).

A second lesson: Never treat as common what God has declared and deemed holy. Uzza touching the Ark violated God’s holiness (1 Chronicles 13:3; Numbers 4:15).

I close with a quote by the late evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.- “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Guiding Principles for Life and Friendships (Psalm 101; Psalm 105)

Scripture reading – Psalm 101; Psalm 105

Singing and thanksgiving remain our theme as we continue in the Book of Psalms for the Scripture reading. Psalm 101 is ascribed to David as the author. Although the writer of Psalm 105 is unnamed, many believe it may also be attributed to David. Today’s devotional will focus on Psalm 101.

Psalm 101 – A Resolution of Thanksgiving and Dedication

Imagine living under a ruler whose passion was not his career or legacy, but foremost his love and gratitude for the LORD. Such were the “golden years” of David’s reign in Jerusalem. The date and setting of this psalm is not known, but I believe it was in the early years, if not the beginning of the king’s reign over Israel.

While the purpose and overriding theme of Psalm 101 is a song of praise for the “mercy and judgment” of the LORD (101:1), you will notice the assertions of the king concerning his personal life and choices (101:2-8). There are nine assertive “I will” statements, and six “shall” statements.

David Purposed to Live a Righteous Life (101:2-3)

David determined as a matter of conviction that he would act in a “perfect way” [blameless], and conduct his life with a “perfect [innocent] heart” (101:3). The king set for himself an intolerance for observing or tolerating a “wicked thing before [his] eyes.” He was resolute, saying, he would “hate” the sins he observed in others (101:3).

Think about it: How much would your life and family change if you dedicated yourself to David’s standard of personal holiness and righteousness? Will you set your heart to walk a higher moral road, even if it means walking alone? Remember, what you tolerate, and the influences others have, will inevitably affect your life choices.

David Adopted Guiding Principles and Convictions (101:4-5, 7)

Though penned 3,000 years ago, the guiding principles we observe in the king’s psalm should resonate in the hearts of all believers. David’s “I will” and “I shall” statements leave no room for ambiguity. David was a man of conviction, and as king, there were always those who desired his favor and sought for power and position in his administration. David realized those closest to him would influence him with their counsel, and their character.

Psalm 101:4-5, 7 lists the manner of men the king would not tolerate in his emissaries. The following were cause for disqualification in the king’s court: “A froward [crooked, deceitful] heart,” and a “wicked [evil] person” (101:4). Slander [gossip], and proud and self-indulgent servants had no place in his household (101:5). Liars and deceivers were also unwelcomed in the king’s court (101:7).

Spiritual Qualifications for Servants to the King (101:6)

The psalm has so far focused on qualities the king determined were undesirable, and cause for disqualification. Psalm 101:6 states two qualities the king required in his servants: “6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

The men David desired in his fellowship and company were faithful, tried and true men of conviction. He required men “that walketh in a perfect way” (101:6) to serve him and the people. The word “walketh” in the King James Bible gives an accurate insight into the character of those who served the king. Regardless of a man’s talents, none would serve the king who fell short of a blameless testimony when measured by God’s laws and judgment.

Closing thoughts – It was not enough for the king to declare the qualifications and disqualifications of those closest to him. He determined he would actively oppose wickedness: “8 I will early destroy [silence] all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off [exterminate] all wicked doers from the city of the LORD” (101:8).

An invitation: Guiding principles and convictions must be weighed, and determined for our lives and families. If you follow David’s pattern, you must establish and state your personal convictions (101:3). Will you determine to live a blameless life, and keep your heart pure and innocent?

You must also decide the influences in your life (101:4-5, 7). The king determined he would not tolerate liars, gossips, the proud, or deceivers. In fact, he stated he would actively oppose the sin and wickedness of evil men.

He also set a spiritual standard for the character of those closest to him (101:6). They were to be faithful: faithful to the LORD, to His Law and Commandments. Their lives were to be a “perfect” testimony.

An application – Have you adopted guiding principles for your friendships? I encourage you to examine your personal convictions (“I will” and “I shall”), and the character of those closest to you. What manner of people are your friends?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Right Motive, Wrong Method invites God’s Judgment (1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 107

Our first Scripture reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 13, and records the tragic events that accompanied David’s failed attempt to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. Newly crowned as king (1 Chronicles 12), it was in his heart to honor the LORD, and bring the Ark to Jerusalem so that all the people might worship the LORD. With the affirmation of his leaders (13:1), David proclaimed to “all the congregation of Israel” his desire to “bring again the ark of our God to us” (13:2-3).

The Ark, a testimony of God’s presence in the midst of His people, and its mercy seat a symbol of His heavenly throne, had been forsaken for many years (13:3). After it had fallen into the hands of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:4-17; 5:1-12), the Ark had been returned to Israel; however, when the men of Bethshemesh had touched the Ark and violated its holiness, they had been slain by the LORD (1 Samuel 6:19-21). Fearing the LORD’S judgment, the men of Kirjathjearim had retrieved the Ark, and placed it in the home of Abinadab, where it remained for the next twenty years (7:1-2).

David had admirable intentions for bringing the Ark to Jerusalem (13:4-6); however, he violated spiritual principles (13:7-10). 

The first, by reaching out and touching the Ark, Uzzah had treated as common what God had declared to be holy. He had lived in the home of Abinadab where the Ark had been kept, and he should have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but demanded (13:3). The Law of God was clear—the Ark was never to be touched (Numbers 4:15).

Though Uzzah’s motive was to steady the Ark, he violated God’s precepts, and regardless of his motive, his actions were unacceptable to God! The use of a cart to transport the Ark violated the method God had prescribed for its transport. It was to be carried by priests using staves overlaid with gold (Exodus 25:13-14).

From where did the notion of employing a “new cart” to transport the Ark arise?

It was the means the Philistines had used when they returned the Ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-8). David had employed a pagan method to accomplish a righteous end, and that was unacceptable to God. While his desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was “right in the eyes of all the people” (13:3-4), it was the means, not the motive God judged.

Consider David’s response to Uzza’s death.

He was “displeased,” meaning he was angry. Was he angry with God, or with himself for failing to seek the way of the LORD? His anger was soon displaced with fear, for “David was afraid of God…[and asked] how shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (13:12).

David did not continue bringing the Ark on its journey to Jerusalem, but entrusted it to “the house of Obededom the Gittite” (13:13). The LORD smiled upon the household of Obededom, “14And the ark of God remained with the family of Obededom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obededom, and all that he had” (13:14).

My study of 1 Chronicles 13, has reminded me of a quote I often heard thundered from the pulpit of my Bible college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!” (Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.)

Psalm 107 – A Psalm of Celebration and Thanksgiving

I close with a brief introduction of Psalm 107, which does not bear a title, and we do not know the author or the date it was composed.

Given the celebratory nature of the psalm, and the call for those “Whom [the LORD] hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; 3And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south,” a good case can be made the psalm was composed after Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Feel Like Quitting? (Psalm 73; Psalm 77)

Scripture reading – Psalm 73, Psalm 77

Today’s devotional study is taken from two psalms. Psalm 73 is simply titled, “A Psalm of Asaph,” who was a priest and musician in King David’s court (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7). Asaph was also the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. The recipient of Psalm 77 is addressed in the title, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.” Jeduthun is believed to have been the choir master of the singers in the Tabernacle. Both Asaph and Jeduthun were of the tribe of Levi.

The length of today’s psalms prevents an exhaustive study of each, and so the devotional will focus solely on Psalm 73.

Psalm 73 – A Psalm of Praise

Psalm 73 evidences the struggle saints of God have when they believe “God is good,” but find themselves suffering afflictions, while the wicked seem to prosper. Asaph opens the psalm with an affirmation of God’s goodness, writing, Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (73:1). He confessed that God was wholly, absolutely good towards Israel, and to all who are of “a clean heart” (73:1).

Not Fair! (73:2-16)

Remembering the goodness of the LORD, Asaph struggled with envy when he observed the “prosperity of the wicked” (73:2-3). From his distorted view, he felt the wicked seemed to have no troubles (73:5), and suggested “they have more than heart could wish” (73:7). Not fair, indeed!

Asaph asserted that the wicked blaspheme, extort, are lifted up in pride, and they dare to speak against the God of heaven! (73:8-9) While they grow more powerful, it seemed those who loved the LORD found themselves “plagued, and chastened” everyday (73:13-14). He knew he was in a bad place, and had not shared his struggles with others, lest he draw them astray (73:15).  Asaph confessed, his doubts had become “too painful,” too troublesome for him to bear (73:16).

Where Did Asaph Go to Turn Around His “Stinking Thinking?” (73:17-22)

Asaph writes, “17Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then understood I their end” (73:17). Asaph found his heart and thoughts were changed when he went to the “sanctuary of God,” the place of public worship and ministry (73:17). He recognized his proximity, his nearness, to God had challenged and changed his view of the ways of the wicked.

Rather than prosperity, he realized the rewards of the wicked were like “slippery places,” and their end was “destruction [and] desolation” (73:18-19). He was convicted in his heart, and confessed he had been foolish (73:21-22a). He reasoned he had become no better than a brute beast, thinking only of himself and his desires (73:22b).

Asaph’s Confidence Restored (73:23-28).

Asaph understood the LORD’S care of him was like that of a parent who tenderly takes hold of a child’s hand (73:23). He determined to trust the LORD to be his guide (73:24; Psalm 23:1), and set his affection on Him (73:25-26). He came to understand the prosperity of the wicked was temporal (73:27), and his happiness was measured by his intimacy with the LORD. Asaph wrote, “28But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all thy works” (73:28).

Closing thoughts: I fear many believers neglect public worship, and they find themselves where Asaph was: Alone, miserable, and backslidden. His focus had been on the world, and he struggled how the wicked seemed to prosper. In his depressed state, there is little doubt that his spirit would have resisted the duties of the sanctuary. However, when he “went into the sanctuary of God” (73:17), and there his thinking, and heart were changed!

Principle – The closer you are to God, the less affected you are by the world! (73:28)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Way of the Wicked (2 Samuel 4; Psalm 6)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 4; Psalm 6

The events in 2 Samuel 4 are another reminder that humanity has not changed. Evil men struggle for power, riches, and influence, and the treachery and deceit found in our Scripture readings are as present in our day as they were in ancient times.

2 Samuel 4

The Plot to Kill, Ishbosheth, King of Israel (4:1-4)

When the news of Abner’s death (3:26-27) reached Saul’s son, Ishbosheth was so overcome with fear that “his hands were feeble [i.e., became limp], and all the Israelites were troubled” (4:1). With the captain of his army dead, Ishbosheth realized his days as king were numbered.

Two brothers, Baanah and Rechab (4:2-3), supposed the death of Abner provided them an opportunity to exact revenge against the house of Saul (for that king had slain many Gibeonites who lived in Beeroth, 2 Samuel 21:1-2). Besides Ishbosheth, the son of Saul, there was one other male of Saul’s household, Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan; however, he was lame and unfit to be king (4:4). With Ishbosheth dead, Baanah and Rechab reasoned the last obstacle to David becoming king of Israel would be removed, and they would be rewarded.

The Assassination of Ishbosheth (4:5-8)

Under the pretense of gathering grain, possibly as compensation to their band of soldiers, Rechab and Baanah entered the palace. Finding Ishbosheth sleeping, they killed him upon his bed, and beheaded him (4:5-7). Carrying the head of the king as proof he had been slain, Rechab and Baanah traveled through the night, and “brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron” (4:8). Imagining they would be rewarded, they said to David, “Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed” (4:8).

David Condemned the Murderous Actions of Rechab and Baanah (4:9-12)

Reflecting on the LORD’S faithfulness during his wilderness years, David certainly did not need Rechab and Baanah to slay Ishbosheth (4:9). Drawing upon how he had ordered the death of the Amalekite soldier that had claimed to slay King Saul (2 Samuel 1), David condemned the two brothers for slaying Ishbosheth, “a righteous person in his own house upon his bed” (4:11).

David then “commanded his young men, and they slew [Rechab and Baanah], and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron” (4:12). Because the pool in Hebron was a public gathering place, hanging the limbs of the slain served as a testimony and a warning to Israel. A testimony that David had no part in the assassination of Ishbosheth. It was also a warning to any who might be tempted to betray David in the future. David, however, made certain “the head of Ishbosheth” was given an honorable burial “in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron” (4:12).

Closing thought: We should not be surprised that when there is no law, evil men commit heinous acts of treachery, and murder. The wicked actions of Rechab and Baanah, and their expectation to be rewarded for murdering Ishbosheth, is the way of the world. David, however, proved to be a righteous man, and his judgment to put Rechab and Baanah to death was according to the Law (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17,21).

Psalm 6Suffering, Sorrows and Setbacks

The setting and historical context of Psalm 6 is not known; however, David is identified as its author. Time and space do not allow me to do an in-depth study of Psalm 6; however, I trust my brief overview might be a blessing.

Psalm 6:2 2  Have mercy [Be gracious; show favor] upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal [cure; make whole] me; for my bones [i.e. body; substance] are vexed [troubled; tremble; alarmed; disturbed]

Psalm 6:5-7 5  For in death there is no remembrance [memory; memorial] of thee: in the grave [hell; the pit; Sheol] who shall give thee thanks [praise; revere]?

6 I am weary [faint; exhausted; grown weary] with my groaning [sighing; mourning]; all the night make I my bed to swim [inundate; i,e, swimming with tears]; I water [melt; dissolve] my couch [i.e., bed with a canopy] with my tears [weeping]

7  Mine eye [sight; appearance] is consumed [dimmed; waste away] because of grief [sorrow; anger]; it waxeth old  [grows old; fails] because of all mine enemies [distress; pains].”

Believer, if you find yourself in the midst of trials, and your soul is burdened and weary of life…take heart; the saints of God are strengthened in their faith when they, in the midst of the extremity of their weakness, turn to the Lord.

Many are the saints that have experienced the sorrows of trials, and can readily identify with David’s sleepless nights.  How many have cried themselves to sleep, because of the sinful choices of one they loved?  How many parents have grown weary, bearing the sorrows and trials heaped upon them by children who have chosen a path of sin? Take heart…God hears your cries.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Dead Man Walking; God’s Man Rejoicing (Psalm 63, 1 Samuel 28)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 28; Psalm 63

1 Samuel 28 – Dead Man Walking

One might feel a certain empathy for King Saul in the latter years of his reign and life. The king was old, the strength and vitality of his youth faded, and his spirit consumed by bitterness. In contrast, David had been a faithful servant to the king, but Saul’s jealousy had made his friend his enemy. Indeed, the champion of Israel, appeared to be in league with Achish, the Philistine king (28:1-2).

Saul was alone. He had disobeyed God’s command, and the LORD had withdrawn his Spirit from the king (16:14-15). With the prophet Samuel dead (28:3), and the Philistine army gathered against Israel (28:4), Samuel trembled at the sight of “the host of the Philistines” (28:5).

Paralyzed by a spirit of foreboding (28:5-6), and desperate for a word of reassurance, the king disguised himself, violated the Law (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31), and turned to a witch who consulted with spirits (28:7;Leviticus 20:27). Assuring the witch, she would not be punished, Saul demanded she call the prophet Samuel from the dead (28:11).

The LORD permitted Samuel to appear, and his appearance frightened the witch, who realized the man before her was Saul (28:12). With the king’s assurance that she would come to no harm, the woman revealed she had seen a man, “an old man…covered with a mantle” (28:14). Saul realized the apparition was that of Samuel, and the king “stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself” (28:14).

Samuel demanded, “Why hast thou disquieted me [awaken from rest or sleep], to bring me up [from Sheol, the place of the dead]?” (28:15). Trembling with fear, Saul declared how the Philistines had gathered against Israel, and God’s Spirit had departed from him (28:15). He confessed he had no prophet to answer him, and no man to interpret dreams (28:15).

Samuel then reminded Saul he was suffering the consequences of his disobedience (1 Samuel 15:23; 28:18). Not only had God’s Spirit departed from Saul, but the LORD had become his enemy (28:16). The LORD had “rent the kingdom out of [Saul’s] hand, and given it to [his] neighbour, even to David” (28:17).

Revealing the imminent deaths of Saul and his sons, and the defeat Israel would suffer the next day on the battlefield (28:19), Saul fell to the ground, “and there was no strength in him” (28:20). Overcome with emotion, and weak from fasting, the witch took pity on Saul and urged him to eat (28:22-24). When their supper was ended, Saul and his men “rose up, and went away that night” (28:25).

Closing thoughts: Rather than humble himself, and repent, Saul departed with his heart hardened, knowing he would not live to see another night. Because of his sin and disobedience, the king and his sons would die the next day, and his throne would be given to David.

He was a “dead man walking.”

Psalm 63

The title of Psalm 63 gives us the background for the song, for it was “when [David] was in the wilderness of Judah.” You will notice phrases and verses throughout the psalm that are beautiful and expressive.

In light of Saul’s despair in 1 Samuel 28, Psalm 63 affords us an encouraging contrast.  While Saul longed for a word from the LORD, but found his sins had made the LORD his enemy; David’s heart rejoiced in his God, and he confessed:

Psalm 63:11O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Surely, only a man who loved the LORD could find such joy, comfort, and cause for rejoicing in Him.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Treasures of the Wicked are Fleeting, But the Righteous Will Behold the Face of God (Psalm 17)

Scripture reading – Psalm 17

Psalm 17 is titled, “A Prayer of David.” We cannot be certain what occasion served as the background for the psalm; however, the fervency of the prayer leaves no doubt its inspiration came from a time of grave danger in David’s life. The previous Scripture reading, 1 Samuel 26-27, could serve as a fitting setting for the prayer. Consider the following outline for Psalm 17.

A plea for justice (17:1-4) – David asserted his rightness before the LORD, and his desire for Him to hear his cry for help. His enemies had accused him of wrongdoing, and deceiving the king, Saul’s heart had turned against him. Although he was falsely accused, David took comfort knowing the LORD is omniscient (17:2). His concern was not the judgment of men, but the justice of God (17:3). With humility, he declared the LORD had tested and tried his heart, and found nothing! As a man of integrity, he had determined in his heart that he would “not transgress” in word, or action (17:4).

A prayer for grace (17:5-6) – Though his enemies plotted to destroy him, it was David’s prayer that the LORD would grant him grace and favor, and keep his feet on the right path (17:5; 37:23). With faith in the LORD, he asserted, “6I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God” (17:6).

An entreaty for protection (17:7-12) – Desiring to be an object of God’s goodness (17:7a), and to be saved from his enemies (17:7b), David prayed, 8Keep me as the apple [pupil] of the eye… hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (17:8b). Recounting the malicious intent of his enemy (17:9-11; 1 Samuel 26), David described the king as “a lion that is greedy of his prey, [and] a young lion lurking in secret places” (17:12).

A petition for vindication (17:13-14) – With righteous indignation, David called upon the LORD to exact His justice on the wicked (17:13), reminding him that all men, even the wicked are in the hand of God to do as He will. He considered how the wicked are “men of the world, which have their portion in this life” (17:14). Their treasures are earthly, and when they are dead, they “leave the rest of their substance to their babes” (17:14).

A recitation of hope and thanksgiving – “15As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (17:15).

David looked beyond the grave, and with eyes of faith, declared with confidence, the righteous will “awake” and behold the face of God (17:15). The word “awake,” describes the resurrection of believers from the dead. When Jesus announced He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He said, “I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). Paul encouraged believers whose loved ones had died, “14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

For believers, physical death is a “shadow” (Psalm 23:4), a veil through which we will pass, comforted by the presence of the LORD. For the lost, death is the dreadful beginning of perpetual darkness, and eternal suffering. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith