Category Archives: Leadership

Whose Side Are You On? (2 Samuel 17)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 17

2 Samuel 17 continues the historical record of the insurrection led by Absalom, David’s thirdborn son. We are given a window, a front row seat, concerning Absalom’s war council, and the opposing strategies he was proffered.

Ahithophel’s Counsel for Pursuing David (17:1-4)

Ahithophel, an embittered, but wise man and the grandfather of Bathsheba, counseled Absalom to allow him to pursue David and his entourage that very night (17:1). His strategy was to ambush David before he could organize his “mighty men,” and “smite the king only” (17:2). Ahithophel encouraged the king, by striking the head (the king), he would “bring back all the people [and] all the people shall be in peace” (17:3). Absalom and “all the elders of Israel” agreed to the counsel (17:4); yet, Absalom made a fateful error, and a providential one for David, for he said: “Call now Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear likewise what he saith” (17:5).

Hushai’s Contrary Counsel and Diversion (17:5-14)

Remembering Hushai’s loyalty was to David, he fulfilled his mission by giving opposing counsel to that of Ahithophel. Ahithophel’s counsel was to pursue, and destroy David before he could organize, even before he could pass over the Jordan River. Hushai, however, urged that Absalom had the luxury of time, and an opportunity to gather a superior force, and by strength of power would defeat his father (17:6-12). Appealing to Absalom’s pride, and pursuit of glory, Hushai painted a picture saying that, if necessary, “all Israel [would] bring ropes to that city, and…will draw it into the river, until there be not one small stone found there” (17:13).

Though Ahithophel’s counsel was the wiser of the two, Absalom rejected his advice, and followed Hushai’s strategy, “For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom” (17:14).

David’s Flight Across Jordan (17:15-29)

The priests, who were on David’s side in the conflict, sent word to him by way of a woman (“wench”) who met with two of David’s men at a well (17:17). After being concealed in the well by the woman, she deceived Absalom’s men with a tale that David’s men had fled the city (17:20). David’s spies returned to his encampment, and warned the king concerning Absalom’s plot (17:21). Hushai warned the king, he and his company must pass that very night over the Jordan before resting (17:22).

Absalom followed his father in a desperate pursuit; however, David and all that were with him had crossed the Jordan to Mahanaim, located on the east side of the Jordan River. There the king and his company not only refreshed themselves, but were comforted by gifts from those who were sympathetic to David (17:27-29).

The Tragic Death of Ahithophel (17:23)

His counsel rejected, Ahithophel, a man who had been one of David’s trusted counselors, understood what Absalom and those who followed him would soon learn…All was Lost. The opportunity to crush David’s forces was when he was in hasty retreat, but that time had passed. Though shamed, and humiliated by the insurrection led by his own son, David and those who were with him were men of war. In the words of Hushai’s counsel to Absalom:

2 Samuel 17:8, 10 – “Thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war…all Israel knoweth that thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are valiant men.”

Knowing his counsel had been rejected, Ahithophel exited Absalom’s presence, and went home to put his personal affairs in order, and “hanged himself” (17:23).

Closing thoughtsThe problem with Ahithophel was not his counsel, but his spirit.

There was a time he exercised the gifts of discernment, and the wisdom of a man that consulted with the word of God (2 Samuel 16:23). Tragically, he had allowed bitterness and a vengeful spirit to supplant godly wisdom. He had opposed David, God’s anointed, and committed high treason against the king.

Warning – Before choosing sides in a conflict, a wise man assesses his spirit, for only fools oppose the LORD’S side.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Chickens Coming Home to Roost (Psalm 55; 2 Samuel 16)

Scripture reading – Psalm 55; 2 Samuel 16

Our daily Scripture readings continue to focus on the life and reign of David, king of Israel. 2 Samuel 16 continues the narrative with David’s hasty flight from Jerusalem, as Absalom, his thirdborn son, had stolen the hearts of the people and led an insurrection against his father. Psalm 55, the second half of today’s Scripture reading, is believed to have been written by David during this heart wrenching time in the king’s life. Today’s devotional will focus upon 2 Samuel 16.

2 Samuel 16

David’s heart was grieved when he learned Ahithophel, a trusted counselor and the grandfather of Bathsheba, had joined Absalom’s rebellion (15:30-31). To counter Ahithophel’s counsel, David commanded Hushai the Archite, a faithful friend and servant, to return to Jerusalem and join himself to Absalom and serve in his court as a spy (15:32-34, 37).

An Act of Deceit (16:1-4)

As David, his family, and entourage of warriors fled Jerusalem, they encountered “Ziba the servant of Mephibosheth” (16:1). You might remember that Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, and the grandson of king Saul. Though Mephibosheth had cause for a legal claim to the throne, he had recognized David as king, and he had extended to him the lands and properties that would have been his as Jonathan’s heir (2 Samuel 9:1-13). Ziba had been commanded by the king to serve Mephibosheth as the caretaker of his master’s estate (9:9-13).

Coming alone, and bearing a large amount of food and wine, seemed suspicious to David, who asked Ziba, “where is thy master’s son?” (16:3) Ziba went on to betray his master, suggesting Mephibosheth had planned to use Absalom’s insurrection as an occasion for him to usurp the throne (16:3). Hasty in his response, and failing to investigate the sincerity of Ziba’s answer, David bequeathed to him the lands and properties of Mephibosheth (16:4). We will see that the king would later reverse his decision when he heard Mephibosheth’s account (2 Samuel 19:24-30).

The Insanity of a Bitter Spirit (16:5-9)

Time and space do not permit a full exploration of the deplorable scene when Shimei, a man kin to Saul and a Benjamite, confronted David at one of the lowest points of the king’s life (16:5-14). Hurling curses at David, and casting stones from a safe distance at him and his entourage, Shimei called the king a murderer, and a worthless man (16:7). Shimei contended the humiliation David had suffered was the justice he rightly deserved (16:8). While David suffered the insults in silence, Abishai the son of Zeruiah, and brother of Joab, required the king’s blessing to defend his honor: “let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head” (16:9).

David’s Gracious and Humble Response (16:10-14).

Trusting in God’s sovereignty, David refused to seek revenge, and accepted Shimei’s abuse as from the LORD (16:10). In his sorrow, he reflected on his shame and saying to Abishai, “Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him” (16:11).

David determined to accept his humiliation, saying, “12It may be that the Lord will look on mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day” (16:12). Only when the king crossed the Jordan River did he, “and all the people that were with him…[refresh] themselves” (16:14; 17:22).

Absalom’s Seizes His Father’s Throne, and His Gross Wickedness (16:15-23)

Absalom wasted no time in crowning himself king, and it seemed all Israel came to honor him (16:15), among whom was Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather (16:15). Hushai, David’s friend and spy, presented himself to Absalom saying, “God save the king, God save the king” (16:16). Flattering the youthful impudence of Absalom, Hushai convinced him that he had taken leave of David to serve him (16:17-19).

Ahithophel, desiring to heap greater sorrow and shame upon David and bearing bitterness for the king’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father further (16:20-21). Ahithophel suggested Absalom would endear himself to Israel, by the young man entering his father’s harem, and committing incest with the king’s concubines (16:20-21). Heeding the detestable counsel of Ahithophel, Absalom went into his father’s harem “in the sight of all Israel” (16:22).

Closing thoughts – For a season, it seemed Ahithophel’s counsel “was as if a man had inquired at the oracle [sanctuary; the holy place] of God” (16:23). The old counselor was indeed wise, but his counsel would soon be spurned by Absalom (17:14). Ahithophel was a wise man, but bitterness had poisoned his soul. His days were numbered, and knowing he had committed treason against God’s anointed, he would commit suicide, rather than face the consequences of his treason (17:23).

In conclusion, consider David’s response to Shimei’s curses and abuse (16:11-12). Though he was king, he accepted with humility that there was truth in Shimei’s accusations. He was a “bloody man” (16:7), and his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah. As none other, he understood the sorrows, and humiliations he had suffered were the consequence of his own wickedness, and a fulfillment of God’s judgment (2 Samuel 12:7-12). He had committed sins in secret, but they were now the catalyst for public sorrow and shame.

In the words of a poet, “the chickens had come home to roost.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Political Correctness is a Moral Cancer (Psalm 12)

Scripture reading – Psalm 12

Make no mistake, “political correctness” is neither new, nor correct.  Psalm 12:1-8 exposes “political correctness” for what it is—a vehicle for attacking Truth and silencing those who believe God’s Word and accept its morality as just and right.

Psalm 12 is titled, “A Psalm of David,” and is the cry of a king who witnessed the retreat of a godly remnant, and in the king’s words, were all but extinct. David lamented:

Psalm 12:1 – “Help [deliver; save; avenge], LORD; for the godly man [saint] ceaseth [come to an end]; for the faithful [true; people of faith; believers] fail [disperse; disappear] from among the children of men.”

The date and setting that inspired Psalm 12 is not given, but the time of Absalom’s insurrection would certainly stir the sentiments we find in this passage. David cried out to the LORD to save the faithful, and avenge those who obey His law and revere Him (12:1).

Psalm 12:2-4 – “They speak [say; declare] vanity [deceit; evil] every one with his neighbor [friend; companion]: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
3  The LORD shall cut off all flattering
[smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify] things:
4  Who have said
[declared; tell], With our tongue will we prevail [strengthen; act insolently]; our lips are our own: who is lord [master; sovereign; owner] over us?

Remembering the manipulative ways of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-2), and the way he won the heart of the people by self-promotion at the expense of the king’s reputation (2 Samuel 15:3-5), we can identify David’s description of the smooth lips and double-tongued nature of the wicked (12:2).  With a “double heart,” and insolent “flattering lips” the wicked assail the godly, rejecting the authorities in their lives (12:4).

The believers of our day would do well to take a page out of David’s “playbook” and realize the nature of man has not changed!  The wicked are emboldened by their peers (12:2), and should they go unchallenged by the righteous, they will prevail against those in authority (12:4b).

Though the wicked revel in their lies, and boast with their lips, David assured the godly, “The LORD shall cut off all flattering [smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify]things” (12:3). Believer, take solace in this; The LORD will “cut off,” expose, and take vengeance against those who deny Him and rail against His people.

Psalm 12:5 – “For the oppression [spoil; destruction] of the poor [afflicted; depressed; needy], for the sighing [groaning; cries] of the needy [beggar; destitute], now will I arise [stand up], saith the LORD; I will set [array; appoint] him in safety [salvation; safety; liberty; prosper] from him that puffeth [scoffs; kindles as a fire] at him.”

David reminded his faithful followers that God is patient, longsuffering, and merciful toward sinners. However, He is just, and He will avenge the wicked who oppress the poor and needy. In this instance, the “poor and needy” are not necessarily financially challenged or destitute, but are afflicted and oppressed by the actions of the wicked.

The wicked boast, and oppress others, not understanding that the LORD is longsuffering, and extends liberty to sinners for a season. However, He declares He will rise up against the wicked, and pour out His wrath on those who “puffeth” and scoff at the poor and afflicted (12:5).

Psalm 12:6-7 – “6  The words [speech; commands] of the LORD are pure [clean; fair; no falsehood] words: assilver tried [refined] in a furnace of earth, purified [purged; refined] seven times.
7  Thou shalt keep
[preserve; guard; protect] them [the poor and needy of vs. 5] , O LORD, thou shalt preserve [guard; protect] them from this generation [age] for ever.”

Unlike the speech of the wicked (12:2-4), the words of the LORD (His Laws and Commandments) are pure, like refined silver that has passed through the furnace seven times (12:6).  The words of the wicked are full of vain promises; however, the Word of the LORD is faithful and true from generation to generation (12:7).

Psalm 12:8 – “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened].”

You need only read Psalm 12:8 to understand what has become of our world! Citizens of this world have invited the wrath of God by promoting the vilest of men and women to rule over them. God’s people should not be surprised, nor wonder why lawlessness abounds in the 21st century. David states the principle cause for pervasive wickedness: “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened]” (12:8).

Closing thoughts – My own country has “exalted…the vilest men,” prompting lawlessness as wickedness runs unchecked in our communities. A spirit of rebellion, promoted as a demand for rights, has seized upon the spiritual vacuum in our youth, while fanning the flames of anarchy in the hearts of our children. When the godly are silent, the wicked are strengthened, and will “walk on every side.” Continue to elect the “vilest men,” and lawlessness will prevail.

In spite of how “badly” things might go in society, God’s people should never forget the LORD’S promises are forever true. King David aptly stated: God’s words are “pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of wrath, purified seven times (12:6). Those who trust in the LORD, He will “keep…and preserve” (12:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“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

“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

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

False Accusations – the Hook of Humiliation (2 Samuel 10; 1 Chronicles 19)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 10; 1 Chronicles 19

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two passages of Scripture, but one event. 2 Samuel 10 and 1 Chronicles 19are focused on one historical event. I am choosing 2 Samuel 10 as the passage for today’s devotional.

The phrase, “and it came to pass” (10:1a) begs a brief recap of events that immediately precedes our study in 2 Samuel 10. You might remember how David had sought if any man of King Saul’s lineage was still alive. When David received the news that there was one lone survivor of Saul’s lineage, Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan (9:5), he summoned for him to appear before him.

Fulfilling his covenant to be a blessing to Jonathan’s lineage, David extended a gracious invitation to Mephibosheth, and invited him to “eat continually at the king’s table” (9:7, 10, 13) with his own sons. Mephibosheth, though lame, was privileged to once again live as a prince.

After that great picture of grace, “it came to pass….” (10:1)

An Act of Humiliation and Disgrace (2 Samuel 10:1-5)

What came to pass? David had received news that “Nahash the king of the children of Ammon died, and his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 19:1). The king remembered a past kindness shown to him by Nahash, and felt it behooved him to send ambassadors to extend sympathy and condolences to Hanun, Nahash’s son and heir (10:2).

Coming “into the land of the children of Ammon,” Ammonite counselors convinced Hanun that David had not sent ambassadors, but spies to discover the nation’s weaknesses (10:3). Trusting his counselors, and failing to examine the Israelite men himself, Hanun betrayed David’s trust and humiliated the Israelite men, shaving half their beards, and cutting off their robes (10:4).

A Provocation of War (10:5-14)

Understanding an ambassador is an agent of a ruler and his government, David took the ill treatment of his ambassadors as a personal offense (10:5). When the Ammonites learned that David was incensed by their ill treatment of his men, they hired Syrian mercenaries to prepare to war against Israel (10:6).

Learning the Ammonites had hired Syrian warriors, David commanded Joab to gather the “host of the mighty men” of Israel, and go to war against the Ammonites and their Syrian mercenaries (10:7-11). Confident the LORD was with Israel, Joab and Abishai his brother, went to war, against the Ammonites and the Syrians (10:9-14). When the Syrian mercenaries fled from before Joab, the Ammonites also fled into the safety of their walled city (10:13-14).

War with Syria (10:15-19)

Although defeated in their initial skirmish with Israel, the Syrians gathered a greater army against Israel (10:15-17). David himself led Israel to battle, and soundly defeated Syria, slaying seven hundred men who drove chariots, forty thousand horsemen, and Shobach, the captain of the Syrian army (10:18). Israel’s success against Syria moved the kings of other nations to make peace with Israel, and come under tribute to David (10:19).

Closing thoughts – What can we take from today’s study? Perhaps the most prominent lesson is the need to search out a matter, and seek the truth first, before charging someone with wrong motives, or wrongdoing. David’s desire had been to extend sympathy and comfort to the Ammonites upon the death of King Nahash (10:1-2).

Tragically, the Ammonite counselors accused David of sending men to spy out the land (10:3). That accusation, along with Hanun’s ill treatment of David’s men, led to war and the deaths of thousands of soldiers. How tragic! King Hanun believed a lie, and his nation and families grieved the deaths of their sons.

Lesson – Don’t believe everything you hear, especially about others. Take time to investigate, and get the truth. Make an effort to know the heart and intent of a man before believing the worst.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Keeping Promises: Integrity with Compassion (2 Samuel 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 9

Resting from his victories on the battlefield, and enjoying the blessings of the LORD on his household, David’s heart became reflective. We are not told what stirred the king to remember his friend (9:1), but a vow he had made to Jonathan, the late son of King Saul, moved him to ask: “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1)

If you have followed www.HeartofAShepherd.com, you may remember the occasion of David’s vow to his friend. Jonathan had found in David a kindred spirit, and the prince admired the young shepherd who had slain the Philistine giant, Goliath. However, as David’s popularity grew in Israel, his presence in the palace increasingly provoked Saul’s jealousy, and the king had sought to slay him. In spite of his father’s malice, Jonathan not only accepted David as his peer, but demonstrated his unselfish love for him, and acknowledged he would succeed to the throne of Israel.

1 Samuel 20 records David’s final meeting with Jonathan before his death. David was a fugitive from the palace, and after barely escaping with his life, had sought refuge in the wilderness. Knowing his father meant to slay David, Jonathan sought from him a covenant that when he would be king, David would “not cut off [his] kindness from [Jonathan’s] house for ever” (20:15, 42).

David’s Kindness (9:1-3)

When I read, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (9:1), I am reminded of the manner of man David was.  The house of Saul had been his enemy, but his friendship with Jonathan stirred in his heart a desire to show mercy and compassion to any that might be alive from Saul’s lineage.

Ziba, a servant of Saul, was summoned to appear before David, and he brought news that there was a son of Jonathan who still lived, but he was “lame on his feet” (9:3). (Mephibosheth had been dropped by his nurse when she fled the palace after receiving news that King Saul, and his sons had been slain in battle, 2 Samuel 4:4).

All oriental kings of ancient times would have slain their rivals to the throne, but not David. He desired to “shew the kindness of God unto him” (9:3). What manner of man was the king? He was one whom God had described as “after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

David’s Compassion for Mephibosheth (9:4-8)

Receiving the king’s summons to appear in his court must have frightened the man who had spent his life as a cripple. Limping his way into the presence of the king, Mephibosheth, most likely around twenty-one years old, “fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!” (9:6)

David sensed Mephibosheth’s fear, and spoke words of comfort to him, saying, “Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” (9:7).

What an incredible gesture! Mephibosheth went from a man dependent on the charity of others, to an heir of his grandfather’s royal lands, and a place of prominence at the king’s table! In humiliation (9:8), Mephibosheth wondered aloud why David would treat a man that was no more worthy than a “dead dog” (9:8).

With his father and grandfather’s lands restored to him, Mephibosheth needed servants to care for his estate. David, therefore, commanded Ziba, his sons, and servants to look after Mephibosheth’s interest in the estate (9:9-11).

Closing thoughts – Unlike our day, when those with physical challenges often flourish in their pursuits, men like Mephibosheth were shunned in ancient times. The thought of a lame man sitting at the king’s table would have been preposterous in any other kingdom, but not that of David. The king remembered his covenant with Jonathon, and his integrity demanded he fulfill his vow, even to a crippled man.

Herein is grace, for Mephibosheth was honored “as one of the king’s sons,” and he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (9:7, 11, 13).

What manner of man was David? He was loyal, compassionate, caring, faithful, and true!

Can the same be said of you?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Path for Success (Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8)

Scripture reading – Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 39), and also returns to the historical narrative of the life of David (2 Samuel 8). Today’s devotional will be taken from 2 Samuel 8.

2 Samuel 8 – David’s Success and Victories as King

If a boy in Israel had been looking for a hero, he would have to look no further than King David. The king’s life was a testimony of what God can do with a man who loves the LORD, and is fully yielded to His will.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continual success. When God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), the king accepted the rejection with humility. He then set about extending Israel’s territory, and securing the rule over his domain.

Confident in the LORD’S promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David defeated one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south of Israel (8:1).

Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel, or began paying tribute to David. The Moabites, descendants of Lot who occupied land on the east side of the Jordan River, were the next to be conquered (8:2). King Hadadezer of Zobah (8:3), a capital city north of Damascus and whose lands occupied territories that included a portion of ancient Syria, reaching to the Euphrates River, was dealt a harsh defeat. Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). David had the chariot horses of his enemy “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again. (8:4).

When the Syrians came to aid Hadadezer, David sorely defeated them, slaying “of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men” (8:5). The king then secured the land for Israel, placing “garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts [paying Israel tribute]. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went” (8:6). The bounty of the spoils of war were brought by David to Jerusalem, including “shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer” (8:7), and “exceeding much brass” that would later be used by Solomon to make vessels for the Temple (8:8; 1 Chronicles 18:8).

Continuing his conquest, David defeated the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14), who accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observed that, “David gat him a name,” for his reputation as a warrior king continued to grow (8:13).

What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Was it the loyalty of his leaders (8:16-18), or the size of his army that gave him success?

The secret to David’s successes, and his military exploits was summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6, 14). In turn, David proved himself, not only to the LORD, but also to all in his realm, for he “executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (8:15).

From Egypt in the south, to the Euphrates River in the east, David acquired for his kingdom the lands God had promised Israel as an inheritance. The king’s victories were part of God fulfilling His covenant promise to Abraham, and his seed (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21).

Closing thoughts – Who among us does not long for success? Everyone I have known wants to be successful, and to enjoy the fruits of their success. Yet, how many are willing to follow David’s example, model humility, and walk faithfully in the ways of the LORD?

Though a powerful king whose fame was growing, nevertheless, David was committed to do right, and to execute righteous “judgment and justice” to his people (8:15).

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