Category Archives: Morality

“A Prophetic Portrait of a Rebellious Nation” – part 2 – (Isaiah 1)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 1

As we begin our study of Isaiah, I invite you to picture in your mind a setting that is a heavenly courtroom, with God sitting on His throne, and with the nation of Judah the defendant.

The Case: The Ingratitude of Judah vs. The Love and Grace of God (1:1-2)

Two witnesses were commanded to hear the charge against Judah: the “heavens” and the “earth” (1:2). The LORD charged Judah, saying, “I have nourished and brought up children [people of Judah], and they have rebelled against me(1:2).

How had the LORD nourished and brought up His people? He had chosen Abraham and established His Covenant with his lineage (Genesis 12). He had entrusted Israel with His Law and Commandments (Exodus 20). He had sent prophets who taught the people, and chastened the nation when it strayed. Yet, we read, “They have rebelled against me” (1:2c), rejected His Law, and His offer of love and grace.

Three Charges Against Judah (1:1-9)

The First Charge – Rebellious Ingratitude (1:3-4)

While a dumb ox knows its owner, and a donkey appreciates its master’s stall, Israel was a people that “doth not consider” (1:3). Consider what? The sins of the people had blinded them, and they gave no thought to the LORD’s care, love, and provision. The prophet Jeremiah would observe: “For my people [are] foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish [foolish; silly] children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22).

They had become a sinful, wicked people, and were burdened with “iniquity” (the weight of their sin and guilt, 1:4). They had “forsaken the LORD” (1:4), despised His Law and Commandments, and had “provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger” (1:4).

The Interrogation and Infection (1:5-6)

The LORD questioned Judah, asking, “Why should ye be stricken [beaten; punished] any more? ye will revolt [rebel] more and more [again and again]: the whole head [whole body] is sick [diseased], and the whole heart faint [sick; feeble].” The stench of Judah’s sins had reached heaven, and the people were infected by wickedness (1:6).

The Consequences of Judah’s Sins (1:7-9)

The sins of nation had resulted in the land being destroyed (“your country is desolate”), “cities burned with fire,” and their riches plundered by foreigners (“strangers” – 1:7). So dreadful was the judgment, if the LORD had not shown the people mercy, Judah “should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah [utterly destroyed with no soul spared]” (1:9).

The Second Charge – Religious Insincerity (1:11-20)

God charged the people as being pious hypocrites (1:11-12), and He declared He was weary with their sacrifices and offerings (1:11). They trampled upon the courts of the Temple, and had given no thought to His presence and holiness in the Temple (1:12). The LORD declared:

“Bring no more vain [false; deceitful; empty] oblations [non-blood offerings – flour, fruit, oil]; incense [perfume; sweet incense] is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome] unto me…it is iniquity [wicked; vanity], even the solemn meeting [sacred assembly for worship]” (1:13-14).

Even their prayers had become an abomination: “When ye spread forth [lay open; stretch forth; display] your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers [supplications], I will not hear [hearken; listen]: your hands are full [overflowing] of blood. [shedding of blood]” (1:15).

In spite of Judah’s wickedness, the LORD extended a pardon if the people would repent of their sins (1:16-18). He called upon the nation, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins [faults; offences] be as scarlet [color of blood], they shall be as white [purified; without blemish] as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool [i.e. white]” (1:18).

Offering a conditional pardon, the LORD appealed to the people, “If ye be willing [consent] and obedient [hearken; obey], ye shall eat [consume] the good [beauty; blessings] of the land” (1:19); but warned, “if ye refuse [unwilling] and rebel[disobey; provoke], ye shall be devoured [eat up; consumed] with the sword [knife; dagger]: for the mouth [commandment; Word] of the LORD hath spoken it. [pronounced; declared]” (1:20).

The Third Charge – Three Reprehensible Injustices (1:21-23)

Understanding the leaders of a nation are a reflection of the character of the people, I conclude today’s study inviting you to consider three nauseous traits of those who govern a dying nation.

The leaders of Judah were vile, having rejected God’s Law, and were “companions of thieves,” enriching themselves by illicit gain (1:23). The leaders lacked integrity, and were guilty of loving gifts (bribery), and shameless self-promotion (“followeth after rewards” – 1:23; Exodus 23:8; Micah 3:11-12). Finally, the leaders had abused and exploited the weak (“the fatherless…the widow” – 1:23d; Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21).

Closing thoughts – Take a moment and reflect on your nation, its leaders, and government. Are the failed character traits of Judah’s leaders the same as you see in your society–vile, lacking integrity, and abusing the weak?

Warning – The sinful traits of a nation’s leaders reflect its citizens, and demand God’s judgment (1:24-31).

Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Pay Day Shall Surely Come Someday (2 Kings 13; 2 Chronicles 24)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 13; 2 Chronicles 24

Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues in 2 Chronicles 24, and you will notice a parallel of events we considered in our prior devotional from 2 Kings 12. Of course, 2 Kings was authored prior to the Babylonian captivity, while 2 Chronicles is believed to have been written by Ezra after the children of Israel returned from exile.

The Reign of Joash (24:1-27)

2 Chronicles 24 gives additional details to the years that Joash reigned as king of Judah. Once again, we are reminded that the king “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (24:2). There is also the record that Jehoiada the high priest had taken for Joash “two wives; and he begat sons and daughters” (24:3).

Repairing the Temple (24:6-14)

As we found in 2 Kings 12, Joash had commanded the Temple be repaired (24:4-6). Scripture gives us the cause for those repairs stating: “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim” (24:7).  The identity of “the sons of Athaliah” is not given; however, they had stripped the Temple of the LORD, and furnished the heathen temple to Baal with its treasures.

The means of collecting monies to rebuild the Temple and pay its workers is recorded (24:8-12), and there was enough given by the people to not only “set the house of God” in order and finish it, but also to make new vessels of gold and silver for offering sacrifices (24:14).

The Death of Jehoiada, the High Priest (24:15-16)

Incredibly, Jehoiada the high priest lived to be 130 years old. What a wonderful, rich life this servant of the LORD had lived. His testimony in Israel was such that he was given a burial worthy of kings.

The Faith of the Saints is Never More Than One Generation from Extinction (24:17-22)

Soon after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah sought his permission to leave “the house [Temple] of the LordGod of their fathers” (24:17), and “the king hearkened unto them” (24:17). What follows is a great tragedy, and a warning to all who call upon the LORD. Jehoiada’s presence in Judah had been a powerful one, and his influence upon king Joash began when he was little more than an infant. The king had faithfully served the LORD under the shadow and guidance of the high priest, but his death revealed the weak spiritual state of the king and leaders of Judah.

With the king’s blessing, the leaders of Judah established groves for idol worship and prostitution (24:18), and provoked the LORD who poured out His wrath “upon Judah and Jerusalem for…their trespass” (24:18). Yet, the LORD sent prophets to call the nation to repent, “but they would not give ear” (24:19).

Then, “the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you” (24:20).

How did the leaders of Judah respond to the preaching of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada? “They conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the Lord” (24:21). Even king Joash, who had enjoyed the love and mentoring of Zechariah’s father his whole life, “remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his [Zechariah’s] father had done to him, but slew his son” (24:22). As he was dying, Zechariah rebuked the king, “The Lord look upon it, and require it [avenge his murder] (24:22).

Sin Begats Sin, Murder Begats Murder (24:23-27)

At the end of that same year, a Syrian army lay siege to Jerusalem, killing all the leaders among the people, and taking the spoils of Jerusalem to “the king of Damascus” (24:23). Judah’s lust for sin, and the depravity of the people had left the nation so weakened that a mere “small company of men” was all that was necessary for Syria to conquer “a very great host,” for the people “had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers” (24:24).

Closing thoughts – The glorious reign of Joash came to an inglorious end, for he suffered “great diseases,” until “his own servants conspired against him for [shedding] the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed” (24:25). Unlike the honorable burial that had been given to Jehoiada the priest, Joash was not buried “in the sepulchers of the kings” (24:25).

Warning: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

The Shame and Sorrow of Compromise (2 Chronicles 19; 2 Chronicles 20)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 19; 2 Chronicles 20

Our Scripture reading for this final day of the year is 2 Chronicles 19 and 20.

The setting of 2 Chronicles 19 follows the bloody battle at Ramoth-Gilead (2 Chronicles 18), and the death of Israel’s king, Ahab. Jehoshaphat had returned home from the battle in peace (19:1), in spite of his foolish compromise with Ahab and the displeasure of the LORD (19:1).

As the king approached Jerusalem, he was met in the way by the prophet Jehu (he had been a prophet in Israel, but had moved to Judah 1 Kings 16:1-7). Jehu rebuked the king, saying, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (19:2).

Though He had despised Jehoshaphat’s compromise with the wicked, idolater Ahab, the LORD, nevertheless spared, and blessed the king of Judah whose son had married Ahab’s daughter. Yet, as we will soon see, the effects of Jehoshaphat’s unequal yoke with Ahab will have dire consequences for the throne of David and God’s people (21:3-7). In spite of His displeasure, the LORD spared and blessed the king of Judah, because he had “taken away the groves out of the land, and [had] prepared [his] heart to seek God” (19:3).

Jehoshaphat was a gifted administrator, and one of his great accomplishments was the foresight to put in place judges who were charged with applying the law and commandments judiciously (19:5-11). We read, the king “set judges in the land [in the walled cities]6And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment” (19:5-6).

Imagine how different our world would be if judges in our day were committed to judging matters according to the will and the Word of the LORD. Jehoshaphat charged the judges to fear and revere the LORD for He is righteous, and to have no “respect of persons, nor taking of gifts [accept no bribes]” (19:7).

The king also assigned judges (Levites, priests, and the high priest) who were charged with judging matters in Jerusalem, and settling controversies and conflicts that would arise in the capital city (19:8). Jehoshaphat admonished the judges to rule according to “law and commandment, statutes and judgments,” and “warn [the people] that they trespass not against the Lord” lest they suffer His wrath (19:10). The matter of the law and judges concluded with a distinction being drawn between rulings in spiritual matters, which were the responsibility of the high priest, and civic matters, which fell upon “Zebadiah, the son of Ishmael” (19:11).

2 Chronicles 20

Time and space prevent a thorough study of 2 Chronicles 20; however, it is a chapter that begins with Jehoshaphat and Judah enjoying the blessings and protection of the LORD. In this chapter, God blessed His people for their faith, and rewarded them with a great victory over their enemies, without the soldiers of Judah lifting a sword or spear (20:1-21).

The LORD caused Judah’s enemies, the Ammonites, and Moabites, to turn, and destroy each other’s army (20:22-23). When the army of Judah came upon the battlefield, they saw a landscape littered with the bodies of their enemies, and a spoil so great it took three days to strip the bodies of the precious jewels that were on them (20:24-28). Sadly, the godly legacy of Jehoshaphat ended with yet another compromise with a heathen king (20:31-37).

Closing thoughts – Jehoshaphat will die (21:1-7), and tragically, Jehoram his son will not follow in his father’s godly legacy. Influenced by his wife’s family, the son of Jehoshaphat, will walk “in the way of the kings of Israel…for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife” (21:6).

In the words of the apostle Paul, Be not deceived: evil communications [companions] corrupt good manners [morals] (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God is Holy, Merciful and Forgiving (1 Kings 21) – Part 1 of 2 devotionals.

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 21; 1 Kings 22

Our study of the kings of Israel and Judah continues with today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 21 and 22. This is the first of two devotionals, and will focus on 1 Kings 21.

Lifted up with pride, and failing to consult the LORD, Ahab had spared the life of Benhadad king of Syria, and provoked God’s wrath (20:31-34). The LORD then sent one “of the sons of the prophets” (20:35), and he prophesied the death of the Ahab, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people” (20:42). Heavy-hearted and dejected, Ahab returned to his palace in Samaria (20:43).

1 Kings 21

A Sulking Monarch (21:1-6)

Rather than repent of his failures, and seek the LORD, the king set his covetous heart upon a vineyard that was next door to his palace. Now, the vineyard belonged to a man of Jezreel named Naboth, but it was a vineyard which Ahab coveted, so he proposed that Naboth trade his land for “a better vineyard,” or sell it (21:1-2). While the proposition appeared fair, it was intolerable for Naboth for it had been his inheritance from his father, and no doubt, was passed down through his family for generations (21:3). Rejected, Ahab went to his palace sulking over Naboth’s refusal, and then laid upon his bed refusing to eat (21:4).

Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel, observed the king’s spirit and asked, “Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?” (21:5) Ahab then confided in his wife how Naboth had refused his offer, and would not sell him his vineyard (21:6).

A Scheming Queen (21:7-16)

With scorn, Jezebel rebuked the king, and asked, “Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?” (21:7) Are you king? Dare you allow a man of your kingdom to refuse you? Assuring Ahab, she would take care of the matter of Naboth’s vineyard, Jezebel encouraged the king saying, “arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (21:7).

Foolish Ahab did not question his wife, but allowed her to plot against Naboth. Plagiarizing the king’s name and seal on letters, she engaged “two men, sons of Belial,” wicked, worthless men, to bear false witness against Naboth, accusing him of blasphemy against God and the king (21:10). Proclaiming a fast, and placing Naboth in a position of privilege, the false witnesses arose against Naboth, and accused him of blasphemy. The men then “carried [Naboth] out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died” (21:13).

“When Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, [she] said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite…for Naboth is not alive, but dead” (21:15). Without a question, it seems Ahab did as his wife had said, and took possession of Naboth’s vineyard (21:16).

A Startling Prophecy (21:19-23)

Now, the murder of Naboth so stirred the wrath of the LORD, that He commanded Elijah to confront Ahab, and prophesy the king’s death, saying, “in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine” (21:19).

Elijah arose to obey the LORD as he had been commanded, and Ahab scoffed at the prophet saying, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” (21:20)

Bold in his faith, and courageous in his obedience, Elijah declared all the LORD had commanded him. The prophet foretold the king would die, and his lineage would be cut off from ever reigning in Israel (21:20-23). He then prophesied the king’s wife would be cast over the wall of Jezreel, and “the dogs shall eat Jezebel” (21:23).

Closing thoughts – Let us consider in closing not only Ahab’s failure as king, but also that of his wife Jezebel. The wickedness of Ahab had exceeded that of all the kings who had gone before him. Rather than a moral influence for good, Jezebel had “stirred up” the king to serve idols” (21:26).

Astonishingly, Ahab responded to the warning of God’s judgment with humility, and “rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly” (21:27). Even more astonishing was the LORD’S response to Ahab, for He restrained His judgment saying, “29Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house” (21:29).

* This concludes the first of today’s devotionals. Please remember to subscribe to Pastor Smith’s daily chronological devotionals, and have them sent to your email address.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“God is Sovereign, and The Battle is the Lord’s” (1 Kings 20) – A Bonus Devotional

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 20

Now, the LORD commanded the prophet Elijah to anoint three successors to be kings of Israel and Judah, and his own replacement (1 Kings 19:15-21). Hazael, he anointed to succeed Benhadad as king of Syria (19:15). Jehu was anointed to be king of Israel following Ahab (19:16). Finally, Elisha was chosen by the LORD to serve as Elijah’s disciple and his successor as prophet in Israel (19:16b, 19-21).

1 Kings 20 – The Failure of Ahab, and His Death Foretold

1 Kings 20 presents us with a record of how Benhadad, king of Syria, oppressed and impoverished Israel. With arrogance and impunity, he humiliated king Ahab (20:1-12) and demanded that king’s treasury of silver and gold. He abducted Ahab’s wives and took his children as hostages, along with the best of Israel’s population to serve as his slaves (1 Kings 20:2-3). When the king of Syria increased his demands, Ahab realized Benhadad’s demands were intolerable, and would never be appeased (1 Kings 20:5-6).

God in His grace, sent a prophet to encourage Ahab to be courageous and assured him the LORD was on his side (20:13). Promised victory in spite of the odds against him, Ahab withstood Benhadad in a series of three battles and God gave Israel a great victory (20:14-30).

Tragically, Ahab’s heart was lifted up with pride, and when Benhadad begged for his life to be spared, the king of Israel failed to consult the LORD. Ahab made a foolish, and fateful decision; not only did he spare Benhadad’s life, he honored him by setting him in his own chariot before the people (1 Kings 20:32-33). Sparing the enemy of Israel provoked the wrath of the LORD (20:31-34), and He sent a man to Ahab, one described as “of the sons of the prophets” (20:35). The young prophet confronted Ahab, and said:

1 Kings 20:42-43 – “Thus saith the Lord, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. 43And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.”

Closing thoughts – 1 Kings 20 was a spiritual crossroads for King Ahab, and true to his evil character, he made decisions independent of the LORD, and promoted his interests before that of the LORD’S.

Consider three spiritual lessons: The first, God is jealous of His glory and name (20:13). Ahab had surrendered to Benhadad’s demands and failed to seek the LORD, and in doing so, sacrificed God’s best for His people. God declared to Ahab, “thou shalt know that I am the LORD” (20:13).

We are also reminded that God is sovereign over all creation (20:23-28). The LORD is the God of the hills and the valleys. He is not the “god of many,” but the sovereign God of all, and turns the hearts of kings and rulers according to His will (Proverbs 21:1).

Lastly, God is just, and desires obedience (20:32-42). Ahab’s failure to kill his enemy invited the LORD’S judgment upon himself and Israel. Ahab will invite his own death, and Israel will suffer a humiliating defeat (1 Kings 21-22).

What about you? Do you seek the LORD and His will when making decisions? Do you put your faith in the wisdom of man, or in the LORD knowing He is sovereign, and He desires the best for His people?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD will Punish Evil (1 Kings 16)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 16

The focus of 1 Kings 16 is almost entirely upon the succession of kings who ruled the northern ten Tribes, known as Israel. As I study the rise and fall of kings in Israel, I am reminded the evidence of God’s sovereignty is ever present.

1 Kings 16 – A Succession of Wicked Kings

True to God’s words, the wickedness of the kings who ruled Israel did not go unpunished. After the ten Tribes in the north rebelled, and rejected Rehoboam as king, Jeroboam led the people to turn from the LORD, and made golden calves for the nation to worship. Jeroboam, the first king of northern Israel, failed to obey the LORD, and the prophet Ahijah had prophesied his lineage would be cut off (14:7-11). Although Nadab, Jeroboam’s son, reigned two years, he was assassinated by Baasha who then became the third king of Israel (15:25-28).

1 Kings 16

The LORD then sent the prophet Jehu to forewarn Baasha, because he had continued in the evil ways of Jeroboam, that his family would be cut off, and suffer the same judgment as Jeroboam’s household (16:1-6). Elah, the son of Baasha, became the fourth king of Israel, and reigned less than two years before he was killed by Zimri, who was captain of one-half of the chariots in Israel (16:8-10). Zimri became Israel’s fifth king, and he fulfilled Jehu’s prophecy, slaying all the household of Baasha (16:11-14). Zimri’s reign lasted only seven days (16:15), for the army of Israel heard how Elah had been slain, and chose one of their own to be king–“Omri, the captain” of the army of Israel (16:16). When Zimri understood the soldiers of Israel were loyal to Omri, he committed suicide, setting fire to the palace, and dying in the flames “for his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD” (16:18-19).

Omri served Israel as that nation’s sixth king, and reigned twelve years (16:21-23). In the sixth year of his reign, he built a new capital city for Israel which he named Samaria (16:24). Of Omri we read, he “wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him” (16:25-26). Omri’s death set the stage for the rise of the most notorious king and queen in Israel’s history: “Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead” (16:25, 28).

Closing thoughts – There are few in history whose infamy is so appalling that the mere mention of their name paints a picture of gross, notorious wickedness. King Ahab, and his wicked idolatrous wife Jezebel, will define the extremity of evil in Israel (16:29-33).

Ahab “did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (16:33). He forsook the LORD, and worshipped Baal, the pagan god of rain and the harvest (16:31). The depths of wickedness in Israel during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel would seem unimaginable, if it were not for the historical record the LORD has preserved for us in His Word.

1 Kings 16:34 concludes our study, with an evidence of how far Israel had descended into wickedness, for in Ahab’s day the city of Jericho was rebuilt, which Joshua had cursed (Joshua 6:26).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Spiritual Integrity will Choose the LORD! (2 Chronicles 15; 2 Chronicles 16)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 15; 2 Chronicles 16

Today’s Scripture reading continues a study of King Asa’s reign in Judah. Because the events in 2 Chronicles 16 were considered in our prior study of 1 Kings 15, the focus of this devotional will be 2 Chronicles 15.

The Prophet Azariah’s Exhortation to King Asa (15:1-7)

The “Spirit of God” moved Azariah, the Lord’s prophet, to meet the king, and challenged Asa with the conditions of God’s blessings. Azariah prophesied, “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you” (15:2). Azariah continued, “3Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law5And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries” (15:3, 5).

So it is for any nation, people, or man who rejects the LORD. “Without the true God,” and without a faithful preacher, “and without the law” (15:3), a society descends into lawlessness, and there is no peace! Yet, there is still hope if men will “turn unto the LORD,” and seek Him (15:4). However, should a nation continue to reject the LORD, it will surely be vexed, and troubled (15:6).

Azariah concluded his exhortation to king Asa, saying, “7Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded” (15:7; note Deuteronomy 31:6-7; Joshua 1:6-7, 9; Ephesians 6:10).

King Asa’s Revival (15:8-15)

We have learned how Asa began his reign with a heart that was “good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (14:2). He had “commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law, and the commandment” (14:4).

Yet, as we come to today’s passage, the heart of Asa had waned in his commitment to the LORD. Fifteen years had passed since he became king (15:10), and like many who grow older and weary, he became less vigilant. The king and Judah had become tolerant of “abominable idols,” and the altar of the Temple had fallen into disrepair (15:8).

Who might have diminished Asa’s passion for the LORD? (15:16-19)

Sadly, I must suggest it was possibly the influence of his own family. Asa’s grandmother, Maachah the widow of Rehoboam, mother of Abijah, and the Queen Mother during Asa’s reign (15:16) would have had a prominent place and influence in the kingdom.

In his zeal to serve the LORD, Asa had to deal with his own household, and that was accomplished in this: “[King Asa] removed [Maachah] from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron” (15:16).

God rewarded Asa’s reform, and the people of Judah sought the LORD “with their whole desire” (15:15), “there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa” (15:19).

Closing thoughts – Many believers face the spiritual challenge that confronted King Asa. He had tolerated the sins of his grandmother, and failed the LORD. In accommodating his grandmother’s wickedness, he was weakened and inevitably sin robbed him and Judah of God’s blessings.

One of the greatest challenges we face is that of addressing the sins of our loved ones. A rebellious son or daughter who has rejected his or her foundational training leads parents to a heartrending dilemma: Lovingly confront the sin and wrath of a rebel, or accommodate the sin and betray the LORD and His Word.

Caution – As it was with Asa, so it is with many spiritual leaders: When a leader permits sin to go unchallenged in his household, the influence of his compromise will rob him and his ministry of God’s blessings. Sadly, the testimony of that truth is seen in the steady decline, and failure of our churches, schools, and Christian colleges to heed God’s Word.

“Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” (15:7)

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Moral Depravity Demands the Judgment of God (1 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 10)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 10

You will notice 2 Chronicles 10 is a parallel record of the events that were recorded in 1 Kings 12. There, Rehoboam had been crowned king of Israel (1 Kings 12:1; 2 Chronicles 10:1). When the ten northern tribes petitioned Rehoboam to lighten the burdens imposed on them by Solomon, he refused the counsel of his elders, and followed the advice of his peers, provoking an insurrection in Israel (1 Kings 12:2-15; 2 Chronicles 10:2-15). The ten northern tribes became known as Israel, and made Jeroboam king (1 Kings 12:16-19; 2 Chronicles 10:16-19).

Ahijah the prophet had prophesied that Jeroboam would one day be king of the northern ten tribes of Israel (11:29-31). The prophet had spoken the word of the LORD to Jeroboam, and entreated him: “If thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee” (11:38).

The LORD made Jeroboam king of Israel; however, he failed to obey the LORD’s commandments, and led the people into idolatry and great wickedness. The consequence of Jeroboam’s sin is revealed in 1 Kings 14.

1 Kings 14

Though warned by a prophet of Judah that his idolatry and wicked ways would not go unpunished (1 Kings 13:1-5), Jeroboam continued in his sin until his son, Abijah became deathly ill (1 Kings 14:1). Fearing his son might die, Jeroboam commanded his wife to disguise herself, and go to Shiloh in Judah, to ask Ahijah the prophet to reveal “what shall become of the child” (14:2-3). Jeroboam’s wife obeyed him, and coming to Shiloh, she entered the prophet Ahijah’s house (14:3-4).

Ahijah Condemned Jeroboam’s Sin, and Foretold His Son’s Death (14:5-20)

Ahijah was old and blind (14:5), but the LORD had revealed to him that the wife of King Jeroboam was coming and was disguised as another woman (14:5). When she arrived at the prophet’s house, he bid her enter, and questioned, “why feigned thou thyself to be another?” (14:6)

Ahijah condemned Jeroboam’s wickedness, and directed his wife to remind her husband that the LORD had made him king in Israel (14:7-8). God would have blessed him had he kept His commandments (14:8); however, the king had rejected the LORD, made himself idols, and provoked God’s wrath.

The looming consequence of Jeroboam’s wickedness was that his son would die and Israel would mourn his death (14:13). God would raise up another family dynasty to be king in Israel (14:14). The prophet also revealed how Israel would be conquered, and the people taken into captivity “because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin” (14:15-16).

Ahijah’s prophecy was fulfilled, for as Jeroboam’s wife entered the city and came to the threshold of the palace, “the child [the son of Jeroboam] died” (14:17). Israel mourned the death of the young prince, even as Ahijah had prophesied (14:18). Jeroboam, the first king of northern Israel died after reigning 22 years, and his son Nadab ruled briefly for two years before he was assassinated (1 Kings 15:25-31).

The Sin, Depravity, Humiliation, and Death of Rehoboam (14:21-31)

Our historical narrative in 1 Kings 14 concludes with the focus on life in Judah (the southern kingdom) during the reign of King Rehoboam, son of Solomon (14:21).

Rehoboam reigned 17 years, during a tumultuous, and tragic time in Israel. Fulfilling the prophecy that the kingdom would be divided after Solomon’s death, Rehoboam had failed to unite the people. When the northern ten tribes seceded under Jeroboam, the son of Solomon was left ruling two tribes, Judah and Benjamin.

While the northern tribes worshipped the golden calves made by Jeroboam, the tribes under Rehoboam were no better, for “Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done” (14:22).

Although the Temple was in Jerusalem, and an outward form of worship continued there, the nation as a whole committed all manner of wickedness. Prostitution, under the guise of religion, was present everywhere in the land (14:23). The depth of depravity to which Judah sank is summed up in this:

“There were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (14:24).

Closing thoughts – Judah was guilty of the very sins for which the heathen nations before them had been condemned. Sodomy (i.e., homosexuality) is the pinnacle of gross wickedness, and Judah had embraced that sin to their own demise. No longer a powerful nation shielded by God’s blessings, Israel and Judah had rejected the LORD, disobeyed His laws and commandments, and became in servitude to “Shishak king of Egypt” (14:25). Shishak “took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made” (14:26).

Defeated, and humiliated, Rehoboam disguised the poverty of the nation, having brass shields made to use in public ceremonies, and replacing the gold shields of Solomon (14:27-28).

Tragically, rather than peace, “there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days” (14:30) and Rehoboam died.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Warning: God Is Just, and He Will Not Ignore a Nation’s Sins Forever (1 Kings 13)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 13

Having rejected Rehoboam as king, the ten tribes in the north, now known as Israel, followed Jeroboam and made him king. The two tribes in the south, Judah and Benjamin, now identified as Judah, continued to serve Rehoboam.

King Jeroboam, fearing the worship of the LORD in Jerusalem might unite the people (12:26-27), established his own religion, and encouraged the people to worship two golden calves (12:28). One calve he sat in Bethel, and the other in Dan (12:29-30). He then ordained “the lowest of the people” to serve as his priest (for the sons of Levi had apparently refused to participate in Jeroboam’s idolatry, 12:31).

Acting as a priest, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar he had built in Bethel, and it is there we find him in today’s Scripture reading, 1 Kings 13.

1 Kings 13 – Wickedness and Tragedy in Israel

God Sent a Prophet from Judah to Condemn Bethel’s Idol Worship (13:1-10)

We do not know the name of the prophet, but he faithfully discharged his duty as God’s prophet, and condemned the altar Jeroboam had built at Bethel (13:1).

The prophet foretold a son would be born in Judah, of the lineage of David, and his name would be Josiah (13:2). He warned Jeroboam how the king named Josiah would lead a revival in Judah, and he would destroy the illegitimate altar at Bethel, and the prophets, and the bones of dead men would be burnt upon the altar (13:2).

Jeroboam was furious with the prophet, and when he stretched forth his hand to order the prophet to be seized, his hand drew up, and withered (13:4). The king cried for mercy, and the prophet prayed and Jeroboam’s hand was restored (13:6). Restored to health, the king invited the prophet to his home for food, drink, and a gift. The prophet, however, refused, for the LORD had commanded him to neither eat nor drink in Bethel (13:7-9). So, the prophet departed another way as he had been commanded (13:10).

An Act of Disobedience, and A Tragic End (13:11-32)

As the prophet departed, he was met along the way by a man described as “an old prophet in Bethel” (13:11). The old prophet and his sons lived at Bethel, in spite of the idolatry, and wickedness Jeroboam had raised up there.

Having heard how the prophet from Judah had boldly confronted the altar and the wicked Jeroboam, he invited that faithful prophet to his home at Bethel for bread and water (13:11-17). Hearing the hesitancy of the prophet, the old prophet lied, and persuaded the prophet from Judah that the LORD had sent him to bring the prophet to his home to “eat bread and drink water” (13:18).

Foolishly, the prophet heeded the old prophet’s words, disobeyed the LORD, and invited upon himself the wrath of God (13:19-22). Even while he was eating, God filled the old prophet’s mouth with His judgment against the prophet from Judah, and foretold he would die along the way, and not be buried in his father’s sepulchre (13:22).

Sending the prophet from Judah on his way, the old prophet soon heard there was a man seen slain outside Bethel, and a donkey and lion stood over the man’s lifeless body (a scene that was contrary to nature, and therefore an act of God, 13:23-25). The old prophet believed God’s judgment had been fulfilled, and said, “It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the Lord: therefore the Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him” (13:26).

The old prophet left his home, found and retrieved the lifeless body of the prophet (13:27-28), and lamented his death. He commanded the body of the dead prophet be placed in his own tomb (13:29-30). After the prophet was buried, the old prophet instructed his sons to bury him one day in the same tomb (13:31).

Though he had failed to condemn the sins and idolatry of Bethel, the old prophet acknowledged the words of the prophet from Judah, and asserted the judgment of God would one day fall upon that place as the prophet had foretold (13:32).

The King and Israel Continued in Wickedness (13:33-34)

The cry of the prophet against the altar at Bethel did not dissuade Jeroboam or Israel from idolatry. Instead, the king led the people in “his evil way,” and chose “of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places” (13:33). So great was this wickedness, God determined He would cut of Jeroboam’s lineage, and “destroy it from off the face of the earth” (13:34).

Closing thoughts – Compromise has become the way of believers, and the way of the churches today. Preachers have failed to speak out against the wickedness of the world, and it is no wonder that gross wickedness has been embraced by our homes, churches, and schools. If God is faithful and just, and He is, He will surely pour out His judgment upon this generation that justifies its sins under the pretense of liberty, love and grace.

1 Samuel 15:22b – “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to hearken than the fat of rams.”

Copyright© 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” (Proverbs 31, 1 Kings 12)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 31, 1 Kings 12

The “virtuous woman” is the subject of Proverbs 31, perhaps the most beloved of all the Proverbs because it addresses the most central figure in life apart from our Creator—one’s mother. Like chapter 30, the authorship of Proverbs 31 has been debated down through the centuries; however, I feel there is much about this chapter that commends itself to having been authored by King Solomon. [Author’s note – A separate devotional for 1 Kings 12 is available at www.HeartofAShepherd.com]

Proverbs 31:1 – “The words [discourse; law] of king Lemuel, the prophecy [burden; tribute] that his mother taught him [instructed; discipline; chasten].”

There is no record of a king named Lemuel in ancient Israel or Judah, and many scholars believe Lemuel might have been a nickname Bathsheba gave to her son Solomon. Having lost her firstborn son in infancy, the one conceived in an act of adultery with David; one can understand why Bathsheba would dedicate Solomon to God, and in her heart, name him Lemuel (the literal meaning of Lemuel is “unto God” –lit. dedicated to God). For the sake of our devotional studies in Proverbs, I propose we view this chapter as Solomon’s memorial to his mother.

Verse 2 of Proverbs 31 records the Queen mother’s appeal to her son in a three-fold question:

Proverbs 31:2 – “What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows [dedication to God; binding covenant between mother and God]?”

Allow me to probe the meaning of the three questions proposed by the king’s mother.

1) “What my son?” (31:2a) – i.e. – What more can I say to you my son and king?

2) “What, the son of my womb?” (31:2a) – She reminds the king that she knew him in her womb; before he drew his first breath. She gave him life, and loves him as no one else could love him.

3) “What, the son of my vows?” (31:2a) – Like Hannah dedicated her son Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), Bathsheba dedicated her son while he was in her womb. She remembers the first stirring of life and how she prayed for him. She had dedicated him to serve the Lord!

We are not told what moved Bathsheba to make an impassioned plea to her son. Perhaps her motherly instincts sensed the moral dangers Solomon would face. She knew all too well the temptations that beset a man of power, possessions, and popularity. The plea of the Queen mother resonated in her son’s heart, and he memorialized her virtuous qualities as an example for all women.

Someone has said: “The greatest moral power in the world is that exercised by a mother over her child.”

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States said concerning his mother, “All that I am, or ever have been, in this world, I owe, under God, to my mother.”

Closing thoughts – Read the entirety of Proverbs 31 today. It is my prayer the king’s praise of his mother will move husbands, sons and daughters to thank the LORD for loving mothers, and encourage them with words of affirmation and thanksgiving. Finally, in a day that is desperate for a moral compass, I pray there will be mothers who have been inspired from the king’s praise of his mother, to aspire to the qualities of a virtuous woman.

To the two mothers in my life, thank you for your loving sacrifices, and examples of Christ-like, unconditional love. (Proverbs 31:28-31)

[Author’s note – A separate devotional for 1 Kings 12 is available at www.HeartofAShepherd.com]

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith