Category Archives: Psalms

A New Beginning (Ezra 6, Psalm 137)

Scripture reading – Ezra 6, Psalm 137

We are continuing our study of Israel’s history after the Jews returned from exile. With the decree of king Cyrus to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (1:1-3), one might think the work on the Temple would be without opposition. After all, God’s people came to Zion with the affirmation of the king, his assurance of financial support, and the command for those Jews not returning to support those who were (1:4-11).

Fifty thousand Jews responded to the prospect of going home to the land God had promised Israel (2:1-70). After arriving in the land and settling in their homes, the people set about the task of building an altar (3:1-4) and laid the foundation of the Temple (3:5-11). A celebration began when the last stone of the foundation was set in its place, (3:11); however, rejoicing was soon followed by sorrow. There arose enemies who opposed the work on the Temple (Ezra 4). When they failed to halt the work (4:1-11), they appealed to the king of Persia (4:11-16) and accused the children of Israel of plotting a rebellion against the king.

Artaxerxes, king of Persia, ordered a search of the archives of the kings (4:17-22). Finding Israel and Judah had a history of rebelling against the occupation of their lands and cities, the king decreed the work on the Temple to cease (4:23-24).

Sixteen years passed, until the LORD sent His prophets, Haggai and Zechariah (5:1), who “prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem (5:1). “2Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God…and with them were the prophets of God helping them” (5:2). Again, the enemies of God’s people rose up to oppose them, and then appealed to the king (5:3-17).

Ezra 6

King Darius commanded a search be made of the archives (6:1), where it was discovered Cyrus, king of Persia, had commanded the Temple be built (6:3). Additionally, the king  had made provision for sacrifices, and given the dimensions and material composition of the Temple (6:3-5).

In a twist of humor, and serving as a testimony to the sovereignty of God, the attempt of the enemy to derail the work on the Temple concluded with the Jews being favored by the king. King Darius not only commanded the Jews’ enemies financially support their work, but also supply what was needed for food and sacrifices (6:6-10). Giving warning to any who might oppose them, the king proclaimed, “I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this” (6:11).

Ezra 6 concluded with a glorious celebratory dedication of the new Temple (6:15-17). The priests and Levites were divided and assigned their duties “as it [was] written in the book of Moses” (6:18), and the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread were renewed (6:19-22).

What a wonderful, providential turn of events in the lives of God’s people! Knowing a king of Persia could not rescind a law once it was avowed, the LORD had preserved Cyrus’ decree for the Temple to be rebuilt. Darius was bound to the king’s edict, and moved to ensure it was fulfilled.

Closing thoughts – Notice Psalm 137 affords us a perspective on the sorrows the Jews bore during their years in Babylon. The children of Israel took for granted the grace and mercies of God, and continued in their sins until there was no remedy but the judgment of the LORD. God raised up many prophets to warn Israel and Judah, should they continue in their sins He would deliver them to their enemies.  Yet, they would not heed the warnings of His prophets, but continued in their sins until all was lost.

Arriving as captives in Babylon, the Jews were haunted by the memories of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Temple destroyed by fire. So, we read, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” (137:1).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

A Cry for Mercy, and the Fruit of Peace (Psalm 79)

Scripture reading – Psalm 79

The content of Psalm 79 makes a strong case for it to be a song that was contemporary with the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of that great city. This is the second of two devotionals for today, and is taken from Psalm 79.

The psalmist cried to God, for there was no other to whom he could appeal (79:1). Nebuchadnezzar’s army (“the heathen”) had invaded Judah, defiled the Temple, and left the bodies of the dead in the streets (79:1-2). The blood of the slain flowed through the streets like streams of water. There were none to bury the dead and spare their loved ones the indignity of being carrion for birds and beasts (79:3). The psalmist complained, the suffering of Jerusalem gave occasion for the heathen to mock God’s people, who had “become a reproach to [their] neighbors” (79:4).

A Cry for Pity, Mercy, and Vengeance (79:5-12)

The writer did not appeal to the injustice of God’s wrath, however, he asked, “How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire?” (79:5) The sins of Judah, had brought God’s wrath upon the nation. Yet, should the heathen be unpunished for their abuses, and wickedness? (79:6)

The psalmist reminded the LORD how the wicked had “devoured Jacob” [slaughtered Israel and Judah], and “laid waste His dwelling place” (the Temple, 79:7). He begged for the LORD’s mercy (79:8), and appealed to Him to save His people, not because of their merit, but for the sake of His testimony among the nations (79:9). He reasoned, “Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God?” (79:10)

Calling for God’s vengeance, he implored the LORD to hear the sigh of the prisoners, and save those “that are appointed to die” (79:11). Reminding the LORD the heathen took pleasure in the travails of His people, he prayed God would exact vengeance “sevenfold” saying, “they have reproached thee, O Lord” (79:12).

Closing thought – What was the basis for the psalmist’s prayer for deliverance? It was the LORD’s covenant with Israel and Judah. He reminded the LORD, “So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture” (79:13a; 95:7; 100:3). Confessing his humility on behalf of the nation, the psalmist promised, “we will give thee thanks for ever: We will shew forth thy praise to all generations” (79:13b).

The sorrows and sufferings that befell Jerusalem and Judah was because of their wickedness; yet, the psalmist remembered the LORD’s promises of grace and mercy. He understood the LORD chastened Israel and Judah because they were His people, and whom He loves He chastens (Hebrews 12:6).

A personal invitation – You may be bearing the weight of God’s chastening. Remember, He is gracious and merciful. Like a loving father, who chastens a son, the LORD loves you and He corrects you to the end your life  “yieldeth [bears] the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised [trained; disciplined]thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Pity the Nation Governed By the Wicked (Psalm 75)

Scripture reading – Psalm 75; Psalm 79

Continuing our chronological study of the Bible, today’s Scripture reading begins a brief departure from our study of the prophecies of Jeremiah. For the next five days, we will consider a compilation of writings that were contemporary to the fall of Jerusalem.

Psalm 75 and Psalm 79 are attributed to Asaph, a Levite musician who was a contemporary of King David. As noted in earlier devotions, there were several psalms credited to Asaph; however, there is some debate regarding whether or not Psalm 75 and Psalm 79 were penned by Asaph, or authored by a member of his household after the fall of Jerusalem. There is much about the content of both psalms that lend themselves to being a record of the devastation left in the wake of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. This is the first of two devotionals for today’s Scripture reading.

Scripture reading – Psalm 75

Psalm 75 challenges believers to a Biblical perspective on the sovereignty of God and His rule over the nations and people of the earth. Psalm 75:1 summons the congregation to acknowledge God is the Supreme Ruler of His creation, and is due our thanksgiving and praise. Twice the words of the first verse declare a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude: “1Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: For that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare” (75:1).

God, The Righteous Judge (75:2-3)

Psalm 75:2-3 speaks of judgment, and some might suppose it is the rule and judgment of man that is the focus. I believe, however, the judgment of God is the subject. Who but the LORD has the authority to receive the congregation of the saints, judge them uprightly, and weigh them in the scales of His law (75:2)?

The law and judgment of men is perpetually shaky and uncertain, and “the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved” (75:3). God’s judgment, however, is righteous, and He assured His people, “I bear up the pillars of [the earth] (75:3). Nations rise, and nations fall, but be assured the LORD is holding up the pillars, and the foundations of the world.

All in Authority are Subject to God. (75:4-8)

Lest some leaders feel they are above the law and judgment of God, the LORD admonished: “4I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn [a symbol of power and strength]: 5Lift not up your horn on high [i.e. don’t abuse your office]: Speak not with a stiff [proud, stubborn] neck” (75:4-5).

How different our world would be if those who wield authority remembered they were nothing without God! Civil governments are ordained by the LORD (Romans 13:1), and those who rule and judge have divine mandates for which they will give account. From the ruler of a nation, to the local magistrate, all in authority are commanded to be the servants of God for good, and avengers of His wrath “upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).

God warned, “6For promotion cometh neither from the east, Nor from the west, nor from the south. 7But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (75:6-7). God is sovereign, and is the final Judge. He promotes and demotes, and oversees the rise and fall of nations. Like a cup of red wine that is poured out like blood, God will pour out His wrath upon wicked leaders, and “all the wicked of the earth” will drink to the full the wrath of God (75:8).

Though the Foundations of Nations are Shaken, May the Saints Sing Praises to God (75:9-10)

The psalmist painted a dark picture of God’s wrath upon rulers who fail to rule righteously and lawfully. Yet, the believer’s faith rests not in man, but in the LORD. We should boldly declare our faith in His holy character, and “sing praises to the God of Jacob [Israel]” (75:9).

Closing thoughts – We are living in uncertain times when the nations of the world are shaken, and the wicked boast and abuse their authority. Nevertheless, God is just, and the wicked will face His wrath. While fools sing their own praises and stiffen their necks against the LORD (75:5), a wise man remembers every promotion that comes his way is an act of God’s grace (75:6).

The wise man remembers, “God is the judge: He putteth down [humbles; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts]another” (75:7).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 4230 Harbor Lake Dr, Lutz, FL 33558. You can email for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Praise Ye the LORD! (Psalm 135, Isaiah 49)

Scripture reading – Psalm 135, Isaiah 49

Our Scripture reading is Psalm 135 and Isaiah 49. While the author of Psalm 135 is unnamed, it is certainly an inspiring song with a call for God’s people to worship and praise the LORD. Isaiah 49 is both prophetic and a psalm of adoration (49:13-17). Today’s devotional will be taken from Psalm 135.

Psalm 135

Consider with me three questions that will serve as an outline for Psalm 135. The first question:

Who should praise the LORD?” (135:1-3)

In verse 1, the command to “praise” the LORD is stated three times; however, the first “praise,” is an exclamation that can be translated literally, “Hallelujah.” In praising the “name of the LORD,” we are to recall, boast, and admire Him for Who He is in His person and attributes (the focus of Psalm 135:4-14).

Who should praise the LORD? The first mentioned are the “servants of the LORD” (135:1c). The servants were those who ministered in the Temple. The priests, Levites, singers, musicians, were all “servants of the LORD.” A second group who were summoned to praise the LORD were the people standing “in the house of the LORD, [and] in the courts of the house [Temple] of our God” (135:2).

All who gathered in the outer courts of the Temple and recognized “the LORD is good,” were invited to worship, and Sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant” (135:3). “Pleasant,” meaning lovely, joyful, melodious, and sweet. Unlike the loud, beating, boisterous music that is characteristic of today’s so-called church music, the character of the songs that were used in worshiping the LORD were “pleasant,” and pleasing to Him.

A second question we might consider in our study of Psalm 135 is stated:

Why praise the LORD?” (135:4-14)

Many reasons were given for praising the LORD, and high on the list affirms, He had “chosen Jacob unto himself, And Israel for his peculiar treasure” (135:4). God’s people were to praise the LORD because of His character and attributes: He is great, incomparable (“above all gods”), and Sovereign (having done whatsoever He pleased, 135:5-6). The LORD was worthy of praise because He is the Creator, and directs the rain, lightnings, and wind as a blessing to His people (135:7).

The LORD should be praised for He was the Deliverer of His people. He “smote the firstborn of Egypt,” and by ten plagues humbled Egypt and Pharaoh (135:8-9). He also slew the kings of the Amorites, Bashan, and Canaan (135:10-11). He kept His covenant with Israel, and gave them Canaan as “an heritage unto Israel His people” (135:12).

The LORD is worthy of praise for He is eternal, and His name “endureth for ever” (135:13). He should be praised because He is just, merciful, compassionate, and “will repent [forgive] himself concerning his servants” (135:14).

The third question in our outline of Psalm 135 is this:

“Why are idols unworthy of man’s worship?” (135:15-18)

The psalmist’s answer to that question is simple in its explanations, yet profound in its application. While the 21stcentury man might think of himself as too sophisticated to worship idols, there is much about Psalm 135:15-18 that should reverberate in the heart of men and women of all ages.

For instance, “the idols of the heathen [were] silver and gold, The work of men’s hands” (135:15), but the modern man is little different. We might not worship objects we have crafted out of silver and gold, but we certainly love, and lust after things we purchase with silver and gold.

The psalmist’s description of the idols of the heathen was both humorous and tragic (135:16-18). He worshipped as gods the vessels of his own invention (135:15); however, his gods were mute, blind, deaf, and lifeless (135:16-17). Indeed, those who worshipped such idols were as mute, blind, deaf, and lifeless as the objects they worshipped (135:18)!

Closing thoughts – Our study of Psalm 135 concludes appropriately with three verses of exhortation. The “house of Israel” (the Twelve Tribes), the “house of Aaron” (the high priests), the “house of Levi” (those who assisted the priests, and served as Temple musicians), and all “that fear [and revere] the LORD” were to praise Him (135:19-20).

Psalm 135:21 reminds us the LORD had chosen Zion, and the city of Jerusalem as the place where the Ark, representing God’s heavenly throne, was placed and served as a reminder He was in the midst of His chosen people.

Ending as it began, Psalm 135 concludes with an exhortation that should be the practice of all believers: “Praise ye the LORD!” (135:21)

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Be Still; the LORD is Our Refuge (Psalm 46; Psalm 80)

Scripture reading – Psalm 46; Psalm 80

Two psalms are the focus of today’s Scripture reading, and both are certainly pertinent and instructive to believers of the 21st century.

Psalm 46

Since the fall of man, the world has been filled with troubles, sorrows, and wars. The mass media of our day, and the reach of the internet has given us a view of events while they are unfolding. Sadly, there is little good news, and the proliferation of wickedness and violence, coupled with inept leadership, has brought the world to the precipice of anarchy.

What are we to do in the midst of our trials and troubles? Psalm 46 gives us the answer.

God is Our Refuge (46:1-3)

Our God has power over nature, and He is the place (and person) to whom we can flee in troubled times (46:1). He is our Refuge (shelter; strong rock), and Strength (our security, and place of safety). All who flee to the LORD have no cause for worry or fear (46:2). Whether the mountains are moved out of their places by an earthquake, or the seas are troubled (“seas” can be literal, or a symbol of human society), we can be confident God is steadfast and unshaken (46:2-3). “Selah,” pause and ponder that promise!

God is Our River of Life, and Source of Grace (46:4-7)

Jerusalem was the city where the LORD established His Temple, and it was an outward symbol of His presence in the midst of His people (46:4). God had covenanted with Israel to be a perpetual blessing to His people, but the children of Israel had failed to keep covenant with Him.

The LORD was “in the midst” of His people, and though the “heathen raged” (46:6a), the very sound of His voice would cause the nations to tremble (46:6b). The psalmist assured His people, “7The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (46:7).

God Will Be Exalted in the Earth (46:8-11)

The third stanza of Psalm 46 declared God’s judgment, and reminded Judah though the armies of their adversaries were fierce, it was the LORD who has power and authority over nature and the nations. God alone can bring peace, for “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire” (46:9).

Closing thoughts – We close being reminded when troubles and trials assail, people of faith look to the LORD. He would have us to, “Be still,” and rest in the knowledge He is sovereign. He is greater than our trials (46:19), and His purpose will “be exalted among the heathen [and] in the earth” (46:10).

No matter the trial, affliction or enemy, remember: “The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (46:11).

Psalm 80

The setting of Psalm 80 is thought to be after the fall of Israel to Assyria, and was a petition to the LORD to intervene for the Northern Kingdom. It was a song and cry for compassion, and salvation (80:1-7).

As a nation, Israel was described as a grape vine transplanted out of Egypt (80:8-9), a bough that flourished under God’s blessings spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River (80:10-12), and a land devastated by enemies portrayed as ferocious as a wild boar (80:13a) and wild beasts (i.e. lions, bears, wolves, 80:13b).

Psalm 80 concluded with the psalmist crying to the LORD to intervene, and save His people (80:14-15). Describing the desolations, Israel had suffered (consumed by fire and cut down, 80:16), the psalmist pens for the third time: “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, Cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (80:3, 7, 19).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

God is Greater than Your Fears (Psalm 76)

Scripture reading – Psalm 76

Continuing our chronological study of the Scriptures, we take a detour from the prophecies of Isaiah to Psalm 76. This psalm is believed to have been penned on the occasion of the LORD delivering king Hezekiah, and Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege (2 Kings 18-19; Isaiah 37-38).

Psalm 76 is titled, “To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.”

“Neginoth” was a stringed instrument. Thus, Psalm 76 was written by a son of the lineage of Asaph (a Levite musician who had been a contemporary of king David), and was to be accompanied on a string instrument. I invite you to consider three major components of the psalm.

A Song of Praise to God (76:1-6)

The psalmist reminded Judah and Israel how the LORD had chosen to dwell in their midst. We read, “1In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel” (76:1). The LORD had revealed Himself in the Scriptures, and His prophets had declared His Word to the people. His “name,” the sum of Who He is in His person and attributes, was “great in Israel” (76:1).

His “tabernacle” was in Salem (ancient Jerusalem), and He dwelt in Zion (76:2). This “tabernacle” was not the same word as the place where the Ark of the Covenant was placed during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. In fact, the tabernacle recorded in Psalm 76:2 is the word for a “lair,” a den or dwelling place of a lion. Remembering the setting of this psalm is the celebration that followed the angel of the LORD slaying 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, it’s appropriate the LORD would be described in the terms of a lion in its den, whose “dwelling place [was] in Zion” (76:2).

The LORD had slain the Assyrian soldiers in the night, and in the morning the citizens of Jerusalem awoke, and looked upon a battlefield strewn with broken “arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword” (76:3).

The words of the psalm break into praising the LORD, declaring He is “more glorious” (He is the illuminator, the giver of light), and “excellent” (majestic and powerful, 76:4). The LORD had “spoiled” (plundered) the valiant men of Assyria while they “slept their sleep” (for they had been slain in their sleep, 76:5)., and the “chariot and horse” had been “cast into a dead sleep,” and were destroyed in the night (76:6).

Fear and Revere the LORD (76:7-10)

No man can stand before the LORD when He is angry (76:7), and when the sound of His judgment was “heard from heaven,” all the earth feared, and was still” (76:8). Why did the LORD destroy the Assyrian army? Why did He drive king Sennacherib and his soldiers out of Judah to their land? I invite you to consider three reasons God intervened on behalf of His people.

The first, God is just, and He “arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth” (76:9). In the Scriptures, the “meek” are not a portrait of weakness, but of strength that is under control, harnessed, and reined in. The meek are strong because their faith is strong in the LORD! Of the meek, Christ declared, “they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

Another reason the LORD destroyed soldiers of Assyria, was to turn “the wrath of man,” and give cause for His people to praise Him (76:10a). Finally, because the earth had heard the God of Judah had destroyed the army of Assyria, it served as a warning to others (especially the soldiers who survived the slaughter) to restrain their wrath, and refrain from evil (76:10b).

An Invitation to Renew Your Promises to the LORD (76:11-12)

Psalm 76 concludes with an invitation for God’s people to renew their faith and commitment to the LORD: “Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: Let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared” (76:11). Notice three invitations recorded in verse 11: 1) Recommit your life to the LORD; 2) In gratitude, bring gifts and offerings of praise; 3) Fear and revere the LORD (76:11).

Closing thoughts – Our study concludes encouraging us to realize our God will “cut off the spirit of princes: He is terrible to the kings of the earth” (76:12). The LORD will break the spirit of evil men, and wicked leaders have reason to fear Him, because “He is terrible” and the mighty fall at His pleasure (76:12b).

Is there someone who terrifies or torments you? Do you feel overwhelmed, or afraid? Remember, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: But whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

If you love the LORD, and trust Him, you have no cause for worry or fear; for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18a).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Praise the LORD, and Go to Bed Rejoicing! (Psalm 148; Psalm 149)

Scripture reading – Psalm 148; Psalm 149

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms, and the theme of each may be summed up in three words: “Praise the LORD!” The call to praise and worship continues to be the subject of our study as we near the conclusion of our devotionals in the book of Psalms.  Both of our songs of praise resume the format we have noticed in earlier psalms: A call to worship, followed by the cause or reason for praising the LORD.

Psalm 148 is divided into two sections.

The first (148:1-6) begins with a call for the heavens to praise the LORD (148:1). The angels and the hosts of heaven are to offer praise to the LORD (148:2). The heavenly bodies are to praise to the LORD (sun, moon, stars), and the clouds in the heavens above are all to praise their Creator (148:3-5). The LORD is not only the Creator, but He has set in order His creation, and not a word of His decrees will fail (148:6).

The second portion (148:7-14) is a call for all that inhabit the earth to praise the LORD. The great creatures of the sea (i.e., “ye dragons”), the wonders of nature (fire, hail, snow, vapor, storms and wind, all reflect the glory of the Creator (148:8-9). The vegetation of the earth, the beasts of the fields, the birds of the air, and every creeping thing on the earth are to praise the LORD (148:10). All men and women have cause to praise the LORD (148:11-12).

Indeed, let all that have breath, praise the LORD, for His name alone is worthy of praise (148:13-14).

Psalm 149 continues the theme of praise, and is also divided into two sections.

The first section is a call to public or congregational worship (149:1-3), and we notice the praise and worship of spirit-filled believers is distinctive in both words and music. The psalmist writes:

Psalm 149:11Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, And his praise in the congregation of saints.

The words of the “new song” (renewed song) are focused upon the LORD, and refer to the songs that would have been sung by the priests in the Tabernacle and the Temple. King David, who was a poet and musician wrote: “[The LORD] hath put a new [fresh; renew] song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see [perceive; observe; discern] it, and fear [reverence], and shall trust in the LORD” (149:1).

The apostle John described the singing of the elders in heaven, writing, “9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Closing thoughts – Why should believers praise and worship the LORD? Not only because He is worthy of our praise, but because He takes pleasure in His people offering Him praises (149:5). When believers have an attitude of gratitude for the LORD, they go to bed happy, and “sing aloud upon their beds” (149:5).

Let all who have breath, sing and offer praises to the LORD!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God’s Living Word (Psalm 94; Psalm 119)

Scripture reading – Psalm 94; Psalm 119

Psalm 94 – A Cry for Justice

Today’s Scripture reading is Psalm 94 and Psalm 119. Psalm 94 is not attributed to an author, and is a psalm that cries for vengeance against the foes of Israel. Oppressed by adversaries, the psalmist questions, “3Lord, How long shall the wicked, How long shall the wicked triumph? 4How long shall they utter and speak hard things? And all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?” (94:3-4) The psalmist then points out the injustices Israel had suffered (94:3-6), and how the wicked had mocked Him, the God of Israel (94:7).

The psalmist rehearsed with Israel (94:8), saying of the LORD, “9He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? 10He that chastiseth [rebukes] the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? 11The Lord knoweth the thoughts [intent; plans; plots] of man, That they are vanity [empty; meaningless]” (94:9-11).

Psalm 94 concludes with the promise that the LORD does hear, and answers the cries and prayers of His people (94:12-23). He chastens saints, and instructs them in His law (94:12; Hebrews 12:5-7). He is just, and the wicked will not go unpunished (94:13), and the righteous shall be justified (94:14-15). Though the wicked gather against God’s people, we can be sure the LORD is our “defense…rock…[and] refuge” (94:22), and the “LORD our God shall cut them [the wicked] off” (94:23).

Psalm 119 – The Eternal, Immutable, Inexhaustible Word of God

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses in length), and has been numbered among the favorite psalms of the saints down through the ages. Sadly, many (perhaps the majority) of 21st century preachers have so weighted the exposition of the Scriptures on the Doctrine of Grace, that they have neglected preaching the Word, the Law, and Commandments of God. Nevertheless, a study of Psalm 119 will remind sincere believers that the Word, Law, and Commandments of God are timeless and eternal.

The length of Psalm 119, and the breadth of its truths, makes the task of writing a brief commentary impossible. For the sake of brevity, allow me to suggest a three-point outline for the first 72 verses of Psalm 119.
1) The Supremacy of the Word of God (119:1-24)
2) The Study of the Word of God (119:25-48)
3) The Sufficiency of the Word of God (119:49-72)

Seven words describe the whole body of Scripture.

As you read Psalm 119, you will notice a repetition of nouns that define the Scriptures.
The “Word” is literally the spoken Word of God or His commandments (119: 49, 50, 57, 58, 65, 67).
The “Law” (119: 51, 53, 55, 61, 70, 72) refers to the Hebrew “Torah” (meaning the laws, teachings, and doctrines) or the “Pentateuch” (the first five books of the Old Testament).
There are also the “Judgments” of God, meaning His ordinances, commands and rulings (119:52, 62).
Statutes” (119:54, 64, 68, 71) and “Precepts” (119:56, 63, 69) embody the commandments, decrees, and divine mandates.
The “Commandments” (119:60, 66) are God’s Law (Exodus 20:1-17), ordinances, and law that give insight and discernment.
There are also the “Testimonies” (119:59), that are the witness of God’s divine laws.

Together, the Word, Law, Judgments, Statutes, Precepts, Testimonies, and Commandments refer to the whole body of Scripture.

Closing thoughts – It is possible to write volumes of books based upon Psalm 119, and preach a year of sermons, and yet not exhaust its riches. Therefore, I will commend to you the reading of this chapter, and pray your love for God’s Word will be quickened, and reignited into a perpetual flame.

Psalm 119:129Thy testimonies [witness; admonitions; ordinances] are wonderful [marvelous; astonishing]: therefore doth my soul [life; person] keep [preserve; guard] them.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Surviving, and Thriving in a World Gone Mad (Psalm 37)

Scripture reading – Psalm 37; Psalm 71

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two lengthy psalms: Psalm 37, “A Psalm of David,” and Psalm 71, a psalm whose author is not known (although it may have been penned by David in his old age). Today’s devotional is taken from a portion of Psalm 37.

Psalm 37

Don’t Worry; Be Happy in the LORD! (37:1-11)

Every day we are inundated by reports of wickedness that can only be explained as evidence of abject depravity. We cannot go a day without violence and wickedness blazed across news headlines; yet, when I was a child, parents allowed their children to play outside, unmolested, for hours on end, with ne’er a worry. What happened?

How should Bible-believers respond to a culture that is the antithesis of godliness and morality? Where do we focus our thoughts and emotions when we witness injustices that grieve the soul, and stir us to anger and indignation? Psalm 37 tackles those questions.

“Fret not” (37:1-2)

David wrote, Fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of evildoers [wicked], neither be thou envious [jealous; provoked to jealousy] against the workers [makers] of iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness] (37:1).

Don’t allow the sins of the wicked to stir you to anger. Don’t be jealous when the wicked appear to prosper in their sins. Remember, there is pleasure in sin, but only for a season (Hebrews 11:25), and the wicked shall soon [speedily; quickly] be cut down [cut off] like the grass, and wither [fade away; sink down] as the green herb [tender grass](37:2). 

Like grass that withers under the summer heat, God’s wrath will inevitably consume the wicked in their sin.

“Trust in the LORD” (37:3)

Rather than fret and worry (37:1-2), we are to, “Trust in the Lord, and do good (37:3).

Psalm 37:3 – “Trust [be confident; bold] in the LORD, and do good [pleasing; pleasant]; so shalt thou dwell [abide; remain; continue] in the land, and verily [truth; faithfully; believe] thou shalt be fed [shepherd; lit. graze or pastured].”

Not only must we not fret, and trust in the LORD; we must also “delight…in the LORD.” (37:4)

Psalm 37:4 – “Delight [be content] thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions] of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding].”

To “delight” is to be content and satisfied. We delight in the LORD when we are content to enjoy His presence, study His Word, and accept that His will and purpose is always good (Romans 8:28-29). Consider what the LORD promises those who delight in the Lord: “He shall give [deliver; put; make] thee the desires [request; petitions]of thine heart [mind; feelings; understanding](37:4b). Of course, when your delight is in the Lord, His will is your heart’s desire!

To thrive in a “sin mad world,” believers must “roll over on the LORD” their burdens, troubles, and anxieties. (37:5-6)

Psalm 37:5-6 – “Commit [roll over; trust] thy way [journey; manner; road; course] unto the LORD; trust [secure; confident; bold] also in him; and he shall bring it to pass [make; wrought; commit; create]6 And he shall bring forth [bring out; finish; i.e. make to appear] thy righteousness [justice; prosperity; justice] as the light [illuminate; i.e. light of day], and thy judgment [manner; right; cause] as the noonday.”

To “commit thy way” is to “roll over” one’s burdens onto the LORD.  The “way” is one’s life path, road, and future.  When we give our life to the LORD (Romans 12:1), we must learn to “trust also in Him” (37:5). David invites believers to be bold, and confident the LORD will accomplish His will in us.  He will defend us from slander, and vindicate us [“thy righteousness”] in the light of day (37:6).

Surrounded by wickedness, and facing unjustified attacks of an enemy, we must seek that special place of finding “rest in the Lord.” (37:7-11)

Psalm 37:7 – “Rest [be still; silent] in the LORD, and wait patiently [lit. endure anguish; tremble] for him: fret not [don’t be soon angry] thyself because of him who prospereth [to succeed; to have success] in his way [journey; road; course], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [creates wicked plots].”

The discipline of silence is nearly lost in today’s society. We are surrounded by noise and activity everywhere we go. Even worship services are filled with noise and activity! Yet, we are exhorted to “rest in the Lord,” be still, silent, and quiet. Sadly, many are unwilling to be quiet long enough to pray, and allow the LORD an opportunity to speak deep within their hearts.

Returning to the admonition he used in the first verse, David again urged, “fret [angry; angered] not thyself because of him who prospereth  [succeeds; to have success] in his way [journey], because of the man who bringeth [create; wrought; make] wicked devices [lewd; mischievous] to pass [create; wrought; make]. 8 Cease from [forsake; abandon] anger [wrath], and forsake [relinquish; abandon] wrath [fury; anger; rage]: fret [angry; angered] not thyself in any wise [altogether] to do evil [hurt; afflict; break](37:7-8).

Don’t allow the sins of others to provoke you to sin! Don’t be overcome with anxiety, when the wicked flaunt their sin, and appear to prosper.

Psalm 37:9-10 – “For evildoers [the wicked] shall be cut off [destroyed; consumed]: but those that wait upon [look for; expect; tarry] the LORD, they shall inherit [occupy; take possession of] the earth [land]. 10  For yet a little while [a brief time], and the wicked [ungodly; guilty] shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider [understand; perceive; regard] his place [home; country], and it shall not be.”

The lives of the ungodly are short-lived, but the LORD rewards those who wait on, and look to Him (37:9-10). David assured believers, “the meek [humble] shall inherit [possess; be heir; take possession] the earth [land; country]; and shall delight [refresh; delicate] themselves in the abundance [great] of peace [Shalom; completeness; happy] (37:11).

Closing thoughts – Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 37:11 in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5). While the world portrays the “meek” as weak, the biblical definition is of one who exercises spiritual discipline and self-control. The meek are, by God’s grace, and the work of His Holy Spirit, strong and tender. Of such a man, God promises, He will give him an inheritance, and lasting peace.

How should you respond to the evil and wickedness in the world? Don’t worry (37:2), trust the Lord (37:3), delight in Him (37:4), roll all your anxieties onto Him (37:5-6), and seek that perfect place of rest (37:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Praise Ye the Lord! (Psalm 117)

Scripture reading – Psalm 117

The beauty and simplicity of today’s Scripture reading needs little commentary. Psalm 117 is not only the briefest chapter of the Scriptures; it also falls, appropriately, at the center of the Bible.

The brevity of Psalm 117 has been a subject of conjecture among Bible students and scholars. Some propose the two verses were an ancient doxology, sung by worshippers in the Temple and the synagogues at the close of a worship service. Others suggest the two verses were a closing thought to other psalms of worship (although, I do not see the purpose that would have served). Whenever it might have been sung is not as important as the intent of the psalm: To sing “Hallelujah,” to the LORD!

A Universal Call to Praise the LORD: “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: Praise him, all ye people.” (117:1)

To “praise,” is to boast, celebrate, and sing “Hallelujah.” The psalm opens with a universal call for all Gentile nations to join with Israel in shouting praises to the LORD. In his letter to believers in Rome, Paul quoted Psalm 117:1, writing, “Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud [praise] him, all ye people” (Romans 15:11).

A Cause to Praise the LORD: 2For his merciful kindness [goodness; favor; loving-kindness] is great [superior]toward us: And the truth [trustworthiness; faithfulness] of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord” (117:2).

Once again, we are given a reason for praising the LORD. The LORD deserves our adoration and praise because He is good, and His loving-kindness is infinite. We who love the LORD will never have cause to be disappointed in His care of us.

We should praise the LORD not only for his “merciful kindness,” but also that He is “truth.” Not one of His promises will fail or fall short. What He has covenanted to do, He will do.

Closing thoughts – Believing the LORD is all He has revealed Himself to be, and He changes not; the psalm begins as it ended, and with no more to be said, than, “Praise ye the Lord” (117:2).

The LORD deserves the praise of all nations, and people. We who know the LORD should ever praise the LORD!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith