Category Archives: Love

Wisdom’s Appeal to Sinners (Proverbs 7-9)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 7-9

We are continuing our daily reading in the Proverbs of Solomon with Proverbs 7-9 being the subject of today’s devotional commentary.

Proverbs 7 – The Calamity of Sexual Immorality

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Seventh Commandment, states clearly God’s plan for humanity’s sexuality and the posterity of the human race.  From the beginning, the companionship of one man and one woman for life has never been in doubt (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-25).

Human history, however, reveals not only a rejection of marriage, but also the tragic toll of sexual immorality. Crushed dreams, divided hearts, broken families, physical disease, and despair has been the haunt of all who reject the sanctity of marriage. The lesson is indisputable:

Give rein to lusts that cannot be righteously satisfied and you will be consumed by them.

Proverbs 7 serves as a graphic tale of a young man’s folly. Whether a personal observation of the sorrows that followed in the wake of his father’s adultery or a consequence of his own sinful choices, Solomon gives us a portrait that serves as a warning to all who reject godly wisdom and choose the path of immorality. The king warned his son, the house of an adulterer is “the way to hell” (7:27).

Proverbs 8 – Wisdom Anthropomorphized

My theme for Proverbs 8 is expressed in a word consisting of seventeen letters and five syllables. What is the definition of anthropomorphized? It means to take on human characteristics. Wisdom does that in Proverbs 8, and is in my interpretation, the embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Solomon introduces us to Wisdom in the first three verses of the chapter (8:1-3), and then she (Wisdom) begins to speak throughout the balance of the chapter (8:4-36). You will notice the personification of Wisdom expressed in personal pronouns throughout Proverbs 8.

Proverbs 8:4 – “Unto you, O men, I call.”

Proverbs 8:7 – “My mouth shall speak truth.”

Proverbs 8:12 – “I wisdom dwell with prudence.”

Proverbs 8:17 – “I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me.”

Proverbs 8:34 – “Blessed is the man that heareth me.”

Proverbs 8 concludes with wisdom’s invitation and warning:

Proverbs 8:35-36  For whoso findeth me [Wisdom personified in Jesus Christ] findeth life [spiritual and eternal life – 1 John 5:11], and shall obtain [get] favour [acceptance; good pleasure; goodwill] of the LORD. 36 But he that against me [Christ the Lord] wrongeth [violates] his own soul [life; person; mind; spirit]: all they that hate [to reject; are enemies or foes] me [wisdom] love death [pestilence; ruin; hades].”

Proverbs 9 – Wisdom’s Invitation

Solomon continues his personification of Wisdom in chapter 9 and we find her building a house described as having “seven pillars” (9:1). [In the Scriptures the number seven indicates completeness or wholeness.]

Consider this chapter as an offering of two spiritual scholarships to two opposing schools of thought and philosophy.

The first scholarship is to the University of Godly Wisdom (Proverbs 9:1-6) and the second to the School of Folly (Proverbs 9:13-18). You will notice that Proverbs 9:7-12 serve as transitional verses between the two schools.

As you read Proverbs 9, ponder this question: In what school of thought or philosophy are you enrolled?

Are you enrolled in the University of Godly Wisdom? Are you a student in the School of Folly where gullible, simple men dwell?  [The “simple” are those who lack godly wisdom, are slaves to sin, and follow a course of sorrow, destruction, and eventual death.]

It is not too late to become a student in the LORD’S University of Godly Wisdom by humbling yourself and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ taught His followers, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35, 37).

I invite you, enroll in the University of Godly Wisdom without delay by opening your heart to the Lord.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Is it Time to Put Honey Back into Your Honeymoon?

Scripture reading assignment – Song of Solomon

Today’s Scripture reading introduces the Song of Solomon.  As its name suggests, the author is Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba, and God’s chosen successor to his father’s throne.

In answer to his prayer, God blessed Solomon with wisdom that exceeded that of any man of his day. As a young king, he enjoyed wealth beyond imagination, and his fortunes grew with each successive year of his reign.

Following the custom of his day, Solomon formed alliances with heathen kings through marriage and took their daughters who brought the idols of their homelands into his palaces (1 Kings 11:1-2).  Recalling his harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines, we are disappointed, but not surprised when we read,

“When Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

The Song of Solomon is a book of romance, eight chapters long and written when he was a young king. There are various views on how the Song of Solomon should be interpreted.

Some suggest an Allegorical interpretation, stating the Song of Solomon describes God’s relationship with His people.  Some Jewish rabbis believed the Song of Solomon was an allegory [story or parable] describing God’s relationship with Israel.

Some scholars suggest a Typical interpretation and believe the Song of Solomon is a love poem written by the king to a young woman he loved.  Some scholars draw a parallel and suggest the book describes Christ’s love and relationship with the Church.

For the sake of our study, I suggest a Literal interpretation.  In other words, I believe the Song of Solomon is a story of romance.  A love story and a celebration of youthful love and romance between the king and a wife whom he loved and who adored him.

Time and space do not permit a full and detailed commentary on this book of romance; however, I trust today’s commentary will serve as a valuable outline for future studies.

Song of Solomon 1-2 – The Beginning of a Royal Courtship.

Song of Solomon 3-4 – A Portrait of Young Love

Song of Solomon 5-6 – Formula for a Happy Marriage: Two dedicated souls and a lifetime of patience and romance.

Song of Solomon 7-8 – “What Beautiful Feet You Have, My Love!”

I close with the apostle Paul’s exhortation to believers in Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:25, 33 – “ 25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it… 33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“You Call that Worship Music?” (Psalms 95, 97-99)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 95, 97-99

Our Scripture reading for today is four psalms of praise. Though the author of the psalms is not identified, most scholars assign them to David because of their style and content. We know David authored Psalm 95 because the writer of Hebrews quoted the psalm and identified the king as its author (Hebrews 4:7).

Today’s psalms are too rich for one devotional commentary to adequately address them all; therefore. I will limit this devotion to Psalm 98.

Psalm 98 – “Sing Unto the LORD a New Song”

Like Psalm 97, I believe the theme of Psalm 98 is the Second Coming of Christ. Hymnwriter and preacher Isaac Watts, cited Psalm 98 as the inspiration of his hymn, “Joy to the World.” Although most often sung as a celebration of Christ’s birth, “Joy to the World” is in fact a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming.

Psalm 98 is an invitation to worship the LORD in song, rejoicing in His salvation and righteousness (98:2). Let us consider the instructions in worship music we find in this psalm as a basis for judging the music style your church has implemented in its worship services.

We find that Psalm 98 consists of three stanzas, each three verses in length. The first is a call for Israel to worship and rejoice in the LORD (98:1-3). The psalmist writes,

Psalm 98:1 – O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

What is this “new song?” (98:1-3)

It is a victory song, for the LORD through His strength and power had given His chosen people salvation (98:1-2a). It is a song of redemption and praise for God’s grace (98:2b). It is a song praising the LORD for His faithfulness for He had not forgotten Israel.

Do you realize of all ancient people, the Jews are the only identifiable people from ancient times? The smallest, most insignificant people in all the earth have been preserved by the LORD.

The second stanza calls upon all nations of the earth to worship the LORD (98:4-6).

As one who loves music, and in particular congregational singing and choral anthems, notice with me that singing and playing on instruments was an essential part of worshipping the LORD.

The musicians who ministered in the Temple were trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise, but an energetic expression in music and song. The literal meaning of “noise” in vss. 4 and 6 is a “shout” or cry or triumph.

The music of the Tabernacle and Temple was never meant to entertain the masses or the congregation. The focus of worship music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both words and music. The singers and musicians did not perform for the applause of the people. Singers were accompanied by string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6). The focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (98:6).

The final stanza in Psalm 98 calls on all Creation to worship the LORD (98:7-9).

All creation will rejoice (95:7-8) and be freed from the curse of sin when the LORD comes to set up His millennial kingdom. Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect of man’s sin on creation. Creation awaits its deliverance from the curse of sin (Romans 8:19), but will be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) when the LORD comes again.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and yes, pandemics remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22) until the LORD comes to set up His earthly kingdom. He will right the wrongs for He is “to judge the earth” and will judge the earth in His righteousness (98:9).

An Observation

The Book of Psalms is a compilation of songs of praise and worship that was employed in daily worship in the Temple. While nothing took the primacy of reading and teaching God’s Word, the centrality of instrumental music and song is obvious throughout the Psalms and in other passages of Scripture in the Bible (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17).

Sadly, I fear today’s church has taken the command, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD…make a loud noise” literally and not figuratively. While the priests and Levites were dedicated and consecrated to serve the LORD and lead God’s people in earnest worship, today’s “hip-worship leaders” evidence a greater affinity for the world than the holiness of God. Employing every music genre of the 21st century world, the church’s attempt to satisfy the palate of carnal Christians and a secular culture’s demand for entertainment has come at the sacrifice of sincere worship.

Challenge: – Make Colossians 3:16-17 the standard for your worship music.

Colossians 3:16-1716  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 32, 51, 86, 122)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122

Our previous devotional, 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Chronicles 20, is the background for two penitent psalms in today’s Scripture reading (Psalm 32 and Psalm 51). Today’s devotional commentary is focused on Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness, confession, repentance and a plea for forgiveness and restoration. The prophet Nathan’s dramatic confrontation with David (2 Samuel 12:7-13)  had exposed his adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s mighty men. Added to the disgrace was the king’s attempt to conceal his sin that ultimately ended in the king’s directing Uriah’s death.

It is frightening to consider the depths of sin into which a man or woman might descend. At the zenith of success and power, the words of the prophet Nathan had echoed in the palace and resonated in David’s soul: “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7)

Late 19th century British historian Lord Acton made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  That is true of monarchs, politicians, business leaders, professors and, yes, pastors.

One should ponder how a man like David was befallen by sin. Considering the disgraced king, we can scarce remember the innocent shepherd or the young king humbled by the adulation of his nation. He has dishonored his crown and the servants of his kingdom revile him in private whispering, “adulterer” and “murderer.”

David acknowledged the nature and curse of hereditary sin, confessing, “I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). The disposition to sin is bound in the heart of all men and women, for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

While I am dismayed by the depths of sin to which David descended, it is the length of time he tolerated the burden of such sins while acting as judge in other men’s affairs that surprises me. How long might David have continued his charade if it were not for God’s deploying his prophet to confront the king on his throne?

“Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7) echoed in the judgment hall and resonated in David’s heart who cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness (Psalm 51:1).  David prayed, “Wash me throughly,” because his heart and hands were dirty with his transgressions (51:2-3). He had sinned against many, but was acutely aware his foremost sin was against the LORD. The king prayed, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (51:4).

David continued, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me…12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (51:10, 12).

No more pretense. No more hypocrisy. No more vain worship. The king confessed, “For thou desirest not sacrifice…17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (51:16a, 17a).

I close suggesting at least three factors contributed to David’s moral failure.

The first, he entertained lusts that inevitably led to a neglect of his duties and responsibilities as husband, father and king.

The second factor, his role as king had insulated him to accountability. His moral failure occurred when he was alone, far from the battlefield and separated from his wives and children.

Finally, though he was a man with a heart for God, he was nonetheless too proud to confess his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-22) and accept the consequences of his moral failures.

Lesson: If you are hiding sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time. Be assured, the consequences of secret sins will inevitably catch up with you and your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4).

Invitation: The LORD is waiting to hear you pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10a, 12a).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Mother’s Day Challenge

A Bonus Devotional Thought from Heart of a Shepherd.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement,” did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work].   However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our society.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminists have attacked and distorted God’s design for the roles of man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge;” the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel; rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church. The responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Joy of Brotherly Love (Psalm 133)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 133

I am unsure why today’s scripture reading assignment consists of only one brief Psalm; however, it is poetic, beautiful, and inspiring.

Psalm 133 is ascribed to David as “A Song of Degrees” (the same inscription found in Psalms 120-134). Scholars suggest the “degrees” referred to the ascension of pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem for one of the Hebrew festivals. The same scholars surmise the psalms were sung by believers making their pilgrimage to the Tabernacle in David’s time, and later to the Temple after its construction during Solomon’s reign.

I am of a different opinion. Understanding the psalms were songs of worship led by the priests and Levites in the Temple, I believe the psalms inscribed as “A Song of Degrees” were sung by the priests as they ascended the steps of the Temple Mount to offer sacrifices and entered the Temple to worship the LORD.

Without any more adorning on my part, consider the beauty of this psalm as a celebration of the joy of brotherly love and unity among God’s people.

Psalm 133:1 – Behold, how good [precious; pleasing] and how pleasant [sweet; charming; delightful] it is for brethren [of kindred spirit] to dwell together [alike; altogether] in unity [togetherness]!

We are by nature beings who long for fellowship, and when that fellowship is sweetened with the joy of unity and mutual love for the LORD, there is nothing sweeter.

What is the nature of this love that bonds and unites the hearts of believers?

Psalm 133:22  It is like the precious [pleasing] ointment [oil; i.e. olive oil often perfumed] upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments [the robes worn by the high priest];

Brotherly love is an abundant love, an overflowing love like the anointing oil that ran from Aaron’s head, down his beard, and over his garments. Like the sweet scent the high priest carried on his beard and robes, so is the lingering sweet fragrance of brotherly love and fellowship.

Psalm 133:33  As the dew of Hermon [a mountain north of Israel], and as the dew that descended [come down] upon the mountains of Zion [upon which the city of Jerusalem was built]: for there the LORD commanded[put in order; charged] the blessing, even life [living] for evermore [everlasting].

Like the perpetual dew that shrouded Mt. Hermon (its moisture was carried down by the winds to the arid mountains of Zion), brotherly love and unity is the blessing the LORD sends down upon His people. Brotherly love is an enduring, constant, self-sacrificing love.

The mark of a sincere believer is expressed in not only his love for God, but also his love for the brethren: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”(John 13:35).

What sorrow when brotherly love and unity is lost.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Here Comes the Bride! (Ruth 1-4)

Daily reading assignment: Ruth 1-4

The Book of Ruth is a beloved book of God’s people and of particular interest to Jews and Christians because it establishes the genealogy of David as a descendant of the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe of which Jesus Christ is born.  We read in Matthew 1:5-6, “And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth [the subject of today’s Bible reading]; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king…”

Ruth 1 – Far From God

The Book of Ruth is a bridge between two eras, from the time when judges ruled Israel but before kings reigned in the land.  It is a testimony of God’s sovereignty… overruling in the affairs of man and providentially working out His will through the frailty of human decisions.

The book of Ruth is often described as a book of “Redemption,” for it explains how Ruth, a Gentile Moabite woman who had no right of inheritance among the tribes of Israel, came to be named in the lineage of Christ when she became the wife of Boaz, a wealthy man who paid the price of her redemption.

The opening verses of Ruth introduce us to Elimelech and his wife Naomi. We find Israel in the midst of a crisis (“there was a famine in the land”) that demanded a response of faith and obedience.  Elimelech, however, failed to respond to the famine by faith and led his family to Moab…far from the LORD, his people, and the land of his inheritance (Ruth 1:2).

Elimelech’s fateful decision ended tragically when he and his sons, both of whom had married Moabite women, died in Moab leaving Naomi alone with the wives of her sons (1:3-5).

What a miserable fate Naomi had suffered during her ten-year sojourn in Moab!

She became a widow in a foreign land and was left in poverty and despair. A glimmer of hope ignited in Naomi when she heard, “the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread” (1:6).

Naomi determined to return to Israel, and, knowing Moabite women would have no place in Israel, she encouraged her daughters-in-law to find Moabite husbands (1:7-9).   When Orpah and Ruth, Naomi’s daughters-in-law, insisted on returning with her, she counseled them toward an unwise decision (1:10-12).

Orpah heeded Naomi’s counsel and returned to Moab (1:13-15); however, Ruth clung to Naomi, refusing to depart.  Ruth’s love for Naomi inspired one of the most beautiful confessions of faith in the Bible (1:16-17).

Ruth 1:16-17And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: 17  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORDdo so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

The trials and ten year sojourn in Moab had taken such a physical toll on Naomi’s appearance that when she returned to Israel, the people of Bethlehem looked on her and said, “Is this Naomi?(1:19) Ten-years of trials, troubles, and losses had dramatically changed her.

Naomi answered their inquiries and confessed her bitter spirit toward the LORD saying, “20b Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty [El Shaddai] hath dealt very bitterly with me…21b the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent One] hath testified [responded to her sin] against me, and the Almighty [El Shaddai—Eternal; All powerful; All Sufficient One] hath afflicted me?” (1:20b-21)

Ruth 2 – The Sovereignty and Providential Care of the LORD

Time and space do not allow me to carry this story of love and grace to a proper conclusion, but I urge you to read all four chapters in the Book of Ruth.

Ruth’s beauty and exceptional character captured the eye and the affections of Boaz, a wealthy kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth’s deceased father-in-law (2:5-17).   Although she was Moabite woman and stranger in the midst of God’s people, she changed her citizenship, and by faith became part of the house of Israel. The LORD sovereignly led Boaz to extend his grace to Ruth, and he loved her and acknowledged her faith saying, “the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust” (2:12).

Ruth 3Boaz proposed marriage and pledged his love to Ruth (3:10-12).

Ruth 4 – A Romance of Redemption

Boaz’s romance of redemption is completed in Ruth 4 when he purchased the right to take Ruth as his wife (4:9).   This amazing story of romance, grace, and God’s sovereignty ends stating that Ruth, a Moabite woman by birth, would be the great-great-grandmother of David, Israel’s future king (4:22).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin. (Deuteronomy 30-31)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 30-31

True to the nature of God, having promised in His justice He would punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him (Deuteronomy 29:24-29), He promises in Deuteronomy 31 to be merciful should the people repent and restore them to their land (30:1-14).

Deuteronomy 30 concludes with a strong challenge to Israel to know the Word of the LORD is sure and He will bless the people when they keep His covenant.  However, should they disobey His Laws and Commandments, He will surely bring judgment upon the nation (30:15-20).

Mindful of his own mortality and knowing the days of his earthly sojourn were ending, Moses reminded the nation he is “an hundred and twenty years old” and the LORD had said, “Thou shalt not go over this Jordan” (31:1-2).

In the tone of a loving, aged father who knows his days with his children are concluding, Moses encouraged the people, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (31:6).  The same God who delivered Israel out of Egypt and preserved them in the wilderness will “not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (31:6).

Moses publicly affirmed Joshua’s ordination “in the sight of all Israel” (31:7-8) and challenged the spiritual leaders of the nation to be the custodians and teachers of the LORD’s Law and keep the Law and Commandments before the people (31:9-13).

Reminded God is Omniscient, the LORD revealed to Moses that after his death, the people would break their covenant with Him and “go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land” (31:14-18).  The power and influence of worship music is shown when the LORD commanded Moses to write a song to remind the people of their covenant with the LORD (31:19-22).

Deuteronomy 31 concludes with Moses giving a final charge to Joshua as he assumes the leadership of the nation (31:23).  Gathering the people, Moses challenged the Levites to take the record of the LORD’s Law and “put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (31:24-26).

There are many lessons we might take from today’s scripture reading; however, the one that strikes a chord with me is:

The frailty of old age is not an excuse for tolerating sin.

At one hundred and twenty years old, Moses was “feeling his age” and was conscious of the inevitableness of his death.  The pressures of leading a rebellious people “forty years in the wilderness” and old age had taken its toll on the man (29:5).

Moses confessed, “I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in” (31:2).  “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” (31:14).   We read again, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers” (31:16).

Moses was old and frail; however, the fire of his convictions and dedication to the LORD had not abated. 

I am afraid the same cannot be said of my generation.  There is a growing tolerance of sin and carnality in Christian homes, Bible preaching churches, Christian schools, Bible colleges and universities.  In an effort to appease rebellious children in their own households, leaders of my generation are compromising spiritual disciplines and precepts of the ministries they are leading.

The fears Moses expressed in Deuteronomy 31:29 are, I believe, a foreshadow of what will become of many fundamental churches, schools, and institutions.

Deuteronomy 31:29 – “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”

How about you, my friend? Does the fire of godly convictions still burn in your spirit and soul?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Moral Foundation of Societal Laws (Deuteronomy 21-23)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 21-23

We find in today’s scripture reading the basis from which we derive our societal views on the sanctity of life, compassion, and decency. Signs of moral decay are around us; however, there are glimpses of compassion, rightness, and a sense of justice that continues to prevail.

Our neighbors may be ignorant of the source of their outrage when animals are mistreated, the weak are abused, or women are victims of violence. In today’s scripture you will discover the moral basis of justice and our conviction that demands kindness and fairness.

Moral Decency and Compassion (Deuteronomy 21)

Deuteronomy 21 sets forth various laws Israel was to follow. The sanctity of human life is demonstrated in the regard of a slain man whose body was discovered with no witnesses to identify his killer (21:1-9).

The just treatment of an alien woman taken as the spoil of war is addressed and the dignity of womanhood was demanded (21:10-12). Should a Hebrew man take a foreign woman as his wife, she was to be given a season of mourning (21:13). Should the husband later declare he did not desire her, she was to be treated with dignity and not to be sold as a slave. She was to be granted her freedom (21:14).

The birthright of inheritance as a firstborn son was established (21:15-17). The firstborn son’s right of a double inheritance could not be diminished, even if he was born to a least favored wife. He was his father’s firstborn and his privilege could not be reduced.

The nation was to be intolerant of rebellion in its youth (21:18) and a rebellious, stubborn son given to gluttony and drunkenness was to be put to death by the men of the city after due process (21:19-21).

Love Thy Neighbor (Deuteronomy 22)

There are many life principles we follow as a nation that originate in the Old Testament scriptures. What we consider civil behavior has its roots in Old Testament laws.  For example, your neighbors might try to find and return a stray pet to its owner. That compulsion is founded in the Israelite law that a man was required to preserve his neighbor’s property, have compassion on stray livestock (22:1-2), and hold a lost object until it was claimed by its owner (22:3).

A militant movement in the 21st century has attempted to normalize “transsexualism,” but God’s law addressed this aberration of His divine order and demanded the dress and fashion of the male and female to be distinctive (22:5).

Remembering God is Creator and life is sacred, the Israelites were to value and preserve life; even the smallest bird and her nestlings were to be treated with compassion (22:6-7).

Traditional homes in the Middle East were flat roofed and families would escape the interior heat of a home by seeking refuge on the roof at night. Demonstrating the sacred nature of human life, a “battlement” or low wall was required on the roof to prevent accidental falls that would result in injury and death (22:8).

Unlike the heathen, Hebrew women were given protections and the right of due process should their purity and testimony be called into question (22:13-21).  Practical laws and guidelines regarding the sanctity and purity of marriage were stated and adultery and rape were condemned (22:13-30). Incest was prohibited and was an abomination to God (22:30).

Deuteronomy 23

Males who underwent sexual mutilation (23:1), such as what you and I might identify as “sex change” in the 21st century, were to be put out from God’s people.

The rights of inheritance and those prohibited to have any inheritance in Israel are listed (23:2-8). Principles concerning hygiene and sanitation are enumerated, even the use of a shovel to cover human waste was endorsed (23:12-14).

A slave fleeing a foreign master was to be given safe haven in Israel (23:15-16) and female whores and sodomite men were to be excluded from the nation (23:17-18).

A Hebrew was forbidden to charge interest (usury) on a loan to another Hebrew; however, interest was allowed when loaning to a non-Hebrew (23:19-20).

Principles concerning vows are stated: 1) Making a vow is binding and is not to be entered into lightly and when failed is a sin (23:21). 2) In fact, it is better to not make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it (23:22-23).

Finally, we notice a lesson in civility and an expression of compassion for others: Strangers were permitted to eat fruit in vineyards and fields as they passed by; however, they were forbidden to employ a vessel to carry more than they could eat at one time (23:24-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Whole Duty of Man (Deuteronomy 8-10)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 8-10

Remembering Israel is at the entrance to the Promised Land, and knowing he will not accompany them when they invade, one senses an urgency in Moses’ challenge to the people.

It was important for those who stood before Moses to remember how the LORD had sustained them as a nation. Remember His commandments and providential care. Remember He had preserved them, even down to their raiment and sandals (8:4). Remember, as a father chastens the son he loves, the LORD had chastened and tried them (8:5) that they might fear and revere Him as their God (8:6).

Knowing the land was all the Lord promised (8:7-9); Moses warned that some would forget the LORD and boast in their hearts, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (8:14-17).

Is that not like you and me? When we are in trouble, facing trials and have needs, we earnestly call out to the LORD. However, when we have no needs and there is no crisis, we are tempted to be proud and self-sufficient.

Moses reminded the people the land the LORD promised to give them was occupied by nations “greater and mightier” (9:1-2) than Israel.  The LORD promised to give Israel victory, not because they were more righteous or powerful than their enemies, but because the LORD was with them (9:3-5).

Moses reviewed several historical examples of how difficult and proud the people had been during their forty-year journey in the wilderness. He rehearsed how their wickedness had provoked him to wrath and he had cast the LORD’s Commandments to the ground (9:17). When the LORD threatened to destroy the nation in his wrath, Moses had interceded and God answered His prayer and spared the nation (9:7-29).

Deuteronomy 10 continues Moses’ account of the LORD’S mercy and Him renewing His covenant and inscribing His Commandments on stone a second time (10:1-5). Moses challenged the people to obey the LORD with five imperatives:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fearthe LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Who is the God of Israel (10:14-22)?

He is the Creator (10:14).  He is “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e. to be feared]”.  He is Just (10:15-18).

The LORD could have chosen any nation; however, He chose Abraham and his lineage.  He chose Israel, not because they were greater (for the LORD “regardeth not persons”), but in an act of grace He chose to “love them” (10:15, 17).

What was Israel’s duty in light of God’s grace and love? (10:20)

Solomon summed up a believer’s duty in this:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith