Category Archives: Peace

Home Sweet Home: A Family Portrait (Psalms 128)

Scripture reading Psalms 128

Psalm 128 continues our study of the Psalms titled, “A Song of Degrees” (Psalms 120-134), and is a song of rejoicing for the LORD’S blessings.  The central focus of the psalm is the promise of the LORD’S blessings on the household of the man who fears the LORD, and walks in His ways.

Notice the promise of happiness found in the first two verses of Psalm 128.

Psalm 128:1–21Blessed [Happy] is every one that feareth [reveres; worships] the Lord; That walketh in his ways. 2For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well [pleasant] with thee.

Is there anyone who does not desire, and long for happiness? Some look for affirmation as a way to happiness, but trophies, medals, and applause never gratify. Some climb the ladder to success, pursue wealth and acquire possessions, but find happiness just isn’t there. Sadly, the happiness the world promises is temporal, and never satisfies!

To whom does the psalmist promise happiness? To those who fear the LORD, and walk in His ways (obeying His Laws, and Commandments). Such a man will be happy and satisfied, and has the promise he will enjoy the fruit of his labor. (128:2). The man who loves and serves the Lord is physically blessed through his seed.  His wife is compared to a fruitful vine, and in Scripture vines symbolize a life-giving force.

The psalm continues with how the blessing was given: “The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion [the mountain upon which the Temple was built]: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life” (Psalm 128:5).The Temple was a majestic symbol of God himself.  It represented life, and Israel’s prosperity.

We have observed two family portraits in our study of Psalm 128. The first was of a man and his wife who, under the shadow of her husband’s love and piety (128:1-3a), was like “a fruitful vine,” and a source of joy to her husband. The second portrait was of the couple’s children, sitting around the table. The children had not grown up to become wild weeds, but were like olive plants; trained and cultivated. They were growing up to be a blessing (128:3).

The third family portrait was one of contentment (128:5-6), and the concluding verses of Psalm 128 served as a benediction.

The man that had feared the LORD (128:1) was now old, and stooped in age. His body was weak, but his spirit was strong as he aspired to see God’s blessings on his nation (128:5). Because the LORD is the rewarder of them who love and fear Him, the old man was promised, “6  Yea, thou shalt see [look; discern] thy children’s children[grandchildren], and peace [Shalom; prosperity] upon Israel” (128:6).

Closing thoughts: There are some reading this devotional who long for their family to be a picture of happiness and joy. You long for the LORD to pour out His blessings on your marriage, and to see your “children’s children” living in a nation that enjoys “Shalom,” the peace and prosperity of the LORD (128:6).

Those are admirable desires; however, they are promised only to them who fear the LORD, and walk in His ways (128:1).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD: My Deliverer and Protector (Psalms 124-125)

Scripture reading – Psalm 124; Psalm125

Our study of the Psalms continues with two psalms titled, “A Song of Degrees.” While Psalm 124 bears the name of David as its the author, the author of Psalm 125 is unknown. Both of the psalms are among those believed to have been sung by the priests as they ascended the steps in the Temple.

Psalms 124 – “A Song of Degrees of David.”

I suggest two major themes for Psalm 124. The first, the dangers from which the LORD had saved David and his men.

The phrase, 1If it had not been the Lord who was on our side” is repeated in Psalm 124:1, and again in Psalm 124:2. I believe it is possible a song leader could have sung the first verse, ending the verse with, “Now may Israel say” (124:1). The congregation might have echoed the phrase, 1If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” and added, “When men rose up against us” (124:2).

If the LORD had not been on the side of David and his men, the enemy (perhaps King Saul) would have “swallowed us [David, and his men] up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us” (123:3). If the LORD had not been on their side, he and his men would have been overwhelmed by their enemy, and swept away in Saul’s wrath like a violent stream sweeps away its victims (124:4-5).

Deliverance is the second theme of Psalm 124.  Like a prey delivered from the teeth of lion (124:6), and a bird set free from a trapper’s snare (124:7), when David called on the name of the LORD, his deliverer was the Creator of heaven and earth (124:8).

Psalms 125

The reference to Mount Zion (125:1) seems to confirm Psalm 125 was a psalm sung by pilgrims ascending the road to Jerusalem and the Temple. Consider the following as an outline for Psalm 125. I suggest you consider four major ideas for the psalm.

The Proclamation – “1They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. 2As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, So the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” (125:1-2)

We live in world where it seems the wicked often have the advantage. Psalm 125, however, exhorts believers to “trust in the LORD,” for He is like Mount Zion: Unmovable, immutable, unwavering, and He “is round about his people” forever (125:1-2).

The Promise – “3For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” (125:3)

The wicked threaten, and even smite the saints of God with their rod (i.e., club). Nevertheless, the LORD restrains the wicked, and the rod will not “rest [stay] upon the lot [person] of the righteous” (125:3).

The Prayer4Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.” (125:4)

The LORD is loving, and compassionate, and we can be certain He will bless those who please Him with good.

The Pledge – “5As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, The Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: But peace shall be upon Israel.” (125:5)

The LORD is Just, and those who take the crooked path, will be led along with the “workers of iniquity” and shall perish (125:5). But Israel [the true Israel, those who are the people of God] will enjoy peace (Galatians 6:16; John 14:27).

Closing thoughts: The mountains of Zion afforded Jerusalem a natural, fortified place, secure from her enemies.  Sitting upon the Mount Zion, Jerusalem was an impressive site from a distance and the deep ravines that cut through the mount were formidable.

In the same way Jerusalem enjoyed safety and security on Mount Zion, His people are encouraged to “trust in the LORD,” for He encircles them like the “mountains are round about Jerusalem” (125:1).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Critics Got You Down? Hope in the LORD! (Psalm 123)

Scripture reading – Psalm 123

Our Scripture reading is Psalm 123, and it is in the midst of the psalms that are titled, “A Song of Degrees” (Psalm 120-134). The author of Psalm 123 is not identified, and it would be mere speculation on my part to identify its author by name.

As stated in prior devotions, the psalms identified as “Song of Degrees,” are thought to have been those sung by pilgrims in their ascent to Jerusalem. There is also a great probability the “Song of Degrees” were sung by the priests and Levites as they ascended the steps to the Temple.

I suggest you consider three themes for Psalm 123.

The Focus of the Psalmist: The God of Heaven (123:1)

The psalmist writes, 1Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens” (123:1). I believe it is instinctive for man to look to the heavens, and the breadth and wonders of the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies, and ponder the Creator of it all. The author of Psalm 97 writes: “6The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (97:6). The LORD “dwellest in the heavens,” for He is Sovereign, and sits upon His throne. The prophet Isaiah was given a vision of God upon His throne, and he wrote, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple…[and the seraphims] cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

The Heart of the Psalmist: He looked to the LORD for His Will (123:2)

I invite you to consider four “looks” in verse 2. The first, a look of deference: Rather than the pride of his enemies, the psalmist looked to the LORD as “servants look unto the hand of their masters” (123:2a); a look of humility and servitude. Notice also a look of dependence: for the psalmist describes himself as looking to the hand of the LORD to meet his needs, “servants look unto the hand of their masters, And as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress” (123:2b). A third look I notice is the look for direction: This is a longing, expectant, look that “[waits] upon the Lord” (123:2c). There is finally, a look of determination: To wait upon the LORD “until that he have mercy upon us” (123:2d).

The Hope of the Psalmist: A Cry for Mercy (123:3-4)

The psalmist’s cry to the LORD appears to be one of desperation. He cried, “3Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us:” (123:3a). He had been the object of contempt, scorn, and mocking (123:3b). He longed for God to fill him with his loving mercies, and grace. Who were those who had treated him with scorn? Who had heaped upon him such sorrows?

The psalmist identified them as “those that are at ease…the proud” (123:4). His harsh critics were “at ease,” complacent, lazy, and proud.

Closing thoughts: I have learned that my harshest critics are seldom those who are laboring for the LORD, and serving His people. No, the critics arise from those whom the psalmist describes as “at ease…[and] proud” (123:4).

Let us take a spiritual lesson from the psalmist. He had suffered abuse, and lesser men might have quit; however, he determined to set his focus on his Creator (123:1), turn his heart to the LORD, and cry out for mercy (123:3-4).

Hope in the LORD!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Psalms of Rejoicing and Praise (Psalms 18; 121)

Scripture reading – Psalms 18; 121

The death of King Saul and his sons concluded a tragic time in Israel’s history (1 Samuel 31). The king’s death, however, marked the ascension of David, the man whom the LORD had chosen to be king, for he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

With today’s Scripture reading (Psalm 18 and Psalm 121), our study introduces us to the Psalms David penned during his reign as king of Israel. To understand the psalms, you must consider them in their historical context, and cultural setting. They were written by the king in a time that was pastoral and agricultural, and far removed from our fast-paced 21st century world. Beautiful and poetic, the psalms reflect the heart of a man who loved the LORD, and cherished His Word, Law, and Commandments. The spiritual breadth of the psalms makes it impossible for me to write an exhaustive exposition of the chapters we will study; however, I pray my meditations and thoughts will enrich your study. [For the sake of brevity, I will limit my focus to only a few verses. The phrases in brackets are the amplification of this author.]

Psalm 18 – A Hymn of Rejoicing

The title of Psalm 18 indicates it was a hymn of rejoicing, penned by David on the occasion when the LORD delivered him from Saul, and his enemies. After expressing his deep, and fervent love for the LORD (18:1), David painted a verbal portrait of the LORD using eight descriptive metaphors.

Psalm 18:2 – The LORD is my rock [stronghold; cliff], and my fortress [castle; fort], and my deliverer [Savior; Rescuer]; my God [Almighty God], my strength [rock; mountain], in whom I will trust [confide; have hope; seek refuge]; my buckler [small shield], and the horn [strength] of my salvation [liberty; deliverance; prosperity], and my high tower [defense; refuge].

Rock” and “Fortress” describe the LORD’S loving protection of His people.  David had often sought refuge among the rocks and clefts of the wilderness, and they serve as a reminder that God wants His people to flee to Him in our hour of trouble and need. The LORD is also our “Deliverer” and mighty “God,” and can save us from our enemies by the power of His might.  The LORD is “my Strength,” and He never changes.

David employed three metaphors for the LORD that are suggestive of a battlefield:  The LORD is “my Buckler,” a small shield employed when an enemy presses hard upon us. The LORD is “the Horn of my Salvation,” for He alone has the power to save us. The LORD is, “my High Tower,” a refuge to Whom believers may flee for safety.

Psalm 18:3 – I will call [call to; cry unto] upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised [boast; glory; sing praise]: so shall I be saved [delivered; preserved] from mine enemies [foe; adversary].

There were times when David’s courage waned, and his fears well-nigh overwhelmed him, but the LORD delivered him. Indeed, the LORD alone is worthy to be praised!

Psalm 18:30 – “As for God [“El;” Almighty God], his way is perfect: the word [commandment] of the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God] is tried [refined; purged by fire; tested]: he is a buckler [small shield] to all those that trust in him [flee to Him for protection; confide; make their refuge].”

It is easy to say, “God’s way is perfect,” when we are free from trials and troubles; however, will we trust God’s way is perfect when our days are shadowed by trials. When we feel the intense heat of trials, and our motives are tried like silver smelting in the fire, will we resolve to trust the LORD? When an enemy maligns us, and friends betray us, will we turn to God’s promises for hope?  Will we trust Him to be our “buckler” (a small shield for hand-to-hand combat), when an enemy means us harm?

David’s hope was revived, His strength renewed, when he reflected on the character of the LORD (18:31), and confessed, “His way is perfect” (18:30), for He is “my rock…[and] the God of my salvation” (18:46).

Psalm 121 – A Pilgrim’s Psalm

Psalm 121 is titled, “A Song of Degrees,” and it is believed it was one of the songs sung by saints of God during their annual pilgrimages.

I suggest four major themes from Psalm 121: The Pledge of the psalmist to seek the LORD (121:1); his Promise to trust Him (121:2); his confidence the LORD was His Protector (121:3-7); and that He was a Perpetual Shepherd and would “preserve [his] going out and [his] coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (121:8a).

Believer, there is no place beyond the LORD’S watch. He keeps us when we are young and strong, and when we grow old and frail. He is with us in sickness and in health! He is with us in our down sittings and our uprisings.

If you are a child of God, you are secure in the LORD, and can be assured, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6a).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

When Life is Not Fair (Psalm 35, 54)

Scripture reading – Psalm 35, 54

Today’s Scripture reading continues David’s plea for the LORD to save him from the plots, and traps his enemies had set for him. The title of Psalm 35 is simply, “A Psalm of David.”

Psalm 35

When David penned Psalm 35 is not known; however, his plea for the LORD to render him justice, and save him from his enemies is a familiar theme. Pursued by an army vastly larger than his troop of six hundred men, David found himself in a desperate place. Three times he maintained his innocence with the phrase, “without cause,”and reminded the LORD the injustices he had suffered.

David wrote, “7For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul” (35:7). David beseeched the LORD, “19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause” (35:19).

Friend, it is one thing to face trouble, and suffer for one’s wrongdoing; however, it is quite another when we have done no wrong, and someone desires to destroy us. Unfortunately, you will learn there are times when those whom you trust and love as friends, are often the ones who will betray you.

David asserted, “12They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling [sorrow] of my soul” (35:12). David had wallowed briefly in a “pity pit” when he reflected on the injustices he had suffered (35:13-16). He remembered mourning for his enemy when he was sick, and how he had fasted and prayed for him (35:13). He had sorrowed for the man who had become his enemy, in the way one would love and mourn for a mother (35:14). Yet, his enemy had rewarded him evil for good (35:12), and rejoiced in his sorrows. He had gathered others against him as a pack of wild animals would hunt, and ravage their prey (35:15-16).

How do you respond to injustices?

It is tempting to wallow in self-pity, and allow anger and bitterness to take hold of your soul. David wrestled with the injustices; however, he turned his focus to the LORD, and called on Him to save him (35:1-3, 17-28). He realized there was nothing he could do to appease his enemies, for they had no desire for peace (35:20).

David had searched his heart for wrongdoing, and then he turned to the LORD knowing He is a faithful, and true Judge, and said, “24Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me” (35:24).

Trusting the LORD would hear and answer his prayer, David remembered there were some who had not betrayed him. Looking beyond his sorrows, he looked forward to the day he would be delivered from his enemy, and his friends would “shout for joy, and be glad” (35:27). He was not yet free from his troubles, but he promised the LORD he would boldly speak of His righteousness, and “praise [Him] all the day long” (35:28).

Psalm 54

The title of Psalm 54 states not only the recipient, “the chief musician,” but also the stringed instrument, “Neginoth,” that was to accompany the psalm. Psalm 54 was a reflection on the sorrow and disappointment David suffered when the Ziphites, men of the tribe of Judah, betrayed him to Saul, and said to the king, “Doth not David hide himself with us?” (1 Samuel 26)

Psalm 54 is a fitting conclusion to today’s devotional, for it closes with David declaring, 4Behold [Look, and see], God is mine helper7For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: And mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies” (54:4, 7).

If you are in the throes of a conflict with someone who has no desire for peace, turn to the LORD. Yes, life is not fair, but you can be assured that God is just. Don’t fall into a “pity trap,” and despair. Call on the LORD, for He is waiting to help, and He is always good, and just.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Loneliness: No Man Cared for My Soul (Psalm 142)

Scripture reading – Psalm 142

At what time David penned Psalm 142 is uncertain; however, the title of the psalm gives us an occasion: “Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.” Our study in 1 Samuel placed David in a cave on two occasions. When he first grasped Saul’s intent to kill him, he sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), where he was joined by his family. Later, when he retreated to “the wilderness of Engedi” (1 Samuel 24:1), David and six hundred men, hid in a cave overlooking Saul’s encampment (24:2-4). Providentially, it was the same cavern where Saul retreated for privacy (24:2-4).

Before we consider 1 Samuel 25, I invite you to read Psalm 142, for I believe it reflects David’s state of heart when he received the news that the prophet Samuel had died (25:1).

Perhaps it was the loss of that spiritual leader, the man who had anointed him to succeed Saul as king (1 Samuel 13:14, 16:11-13), that moved David to express in Psalm 142:4, 4I looked [beheld; gazed intently] on my right hand, and beheld, But there was no man that would know me [no one took notice]: Refuge failed me; No man cared [sought for; inquired after] for my soul.”

Someone reading today’s devotional might reflect that sentiment, for we are social creatures by nature, and loneliness is a haunt of us all at some point in life. Before God created Eve, He observed in Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Trying circumstances can leave us feeling lonely, and abandoned. Disappointments, failure, sickness, or the death of a loved one intensifies a sense of isolation, and a feeling no one cares.

Where do you turn, when you struggle with thoughts, and feelings of abandonment?

David models the answer to that question, writing: “1I cried unto the Lord with my voice; With my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. 2I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble” (142:1-2).

David attested, “I cried [out loud]…I [made] my supplication [I asked for His favor, and mercy]. I poured out my complaint [telling the LORD all his anxieties]” (141:1-2), and “I shew before him my trouble” (141:2b). The LORD knew David’s troubles, but it was freeing for him to acknowledge, and state them specifically in his prayer. He confessed, “my spirit was overwhelmed within me,” and admitted he did not see a way forward (141:3a). Though it did not lift the cloud that shadowed him, David took comfort knowing the LORD realized the hard place where he found himself (141:3b).

In his despair, David looked, and hoped there was someone who might come to encourage him (141:4), but he found no man to offer strength, or comfort (141:4). Tragically, he felt there were none who seemed to care, or take notice of his despair (141:4b).

Having exhausted every hope of comfort or rescue, David cried to the LORD, and said, “Thou [the LORD] art my refuge [shelter] and my portion [share] in the land of the living” (142:5). He had come to realize there was no one who could rescue him. No one who could save him from “persecutors” that were stronger than he (142:6).

With boldness of faith, and believing the LORD would hear and answer his prayer, David petitioned, “Bring my soul out of prison” (142:7a), the spiritually gloomy place he found himself. Renewing his trust in God, he promised to use his deliverance as an occasion to praise the LORD’S name, and to declare His goodness to the righteous (142:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I am for Peace; They are for War” (Psalm 120)

Scripture reading – Psalm 120

Psalm 120A Song of Degrees

The title of Psalm 120, “A Song of degrees,” is the first of fifteen psalms with that title (Psalms 120-134). To clarify the meaning of “degrees,” and there are several different views and explanations suggested by scholars, I will state one of the most probable. Each year the children of Israel went up to Jerusalem for two feasts.  To maintain their focus on the Lord, they recited psalms as they drew near to Jerusalem.  The fifteen psalms were most likely those that they would have recited on their ascent to Jerusalem.

Psalm 120 is generally accepted as David’s reflection on the news that Doeg the Edomite had betrayed him to King Saul, and then massacred Ahimelech the priest, and the other priests of Nob (1 Samuel 22:9-23).

David suffered slander, and had been hunted by an unrelenting enemy determined to kill him. He had fled from Saul, and passed through the priestly town of Nob where he received bread, and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:1-9). When he received news how eighty-five priests and their families were slain because of Doeg’s lies (1 Samuel 22:9-10), David was overcome with grief. He “cried unto the Lord,” and later wrote: The LORD “heard me” (120:1).

What are we to do when we fall victim to “lying lips, [and]… a deceitful tongue?” (120:2) The answer, pray to the LORD to deliver you, knowing He hears, and answers prayer! David remembered his flight into the wilderness, and the wagging tongues of the wicked that were like “sharp arrows” (120:3-5). His enemy hated peace, and had no interest in resolving conflict; however, David confessed what should be our longing: “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (120:7).

Take a moment to reflect on that last statement: “I am for peace” (120:7a). We should be a peace loving, peace seeking people. We don’t clamor for quarrels, nor do we relish conflicts. However, we cannot sacrifice biblical principles, and have spiritual integrity with the LORD.

David learned what those who seek the Lord should accept. While we might seek peace, the wicked “are for war” (120:7b). The enemies of God, and His people have no interest in peace. They are for war, and strife, and conflict is their way.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I know God is for me!” (Psalm 56)

Scripture reading – Psalm 56

As we consider Psalm 56, remember that the psalms began as an integral part of worship in ancient Israel’s history, and continue even until our present day (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

The title of the psalm states the occasion that inspired it, for it was when David fled from King Saul, and sought refuge in Gath. When he was identified, and taken prisoner, David feared for his life, and made a pretense of insanity before King Achish (1 Samuel 21:10-15). I believe Psalm 56 was composed many years later when David was king. After composing the verses, the king sent the song to the chief musician of the Levites. Psalm 56 records David’s meditations, and the words were inspired by the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Recalling the desperation, when he was taken by the Philistines, David had prayed: “1Be merciful [be gracious] unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up [trample; crush]; He fighting daily oppresseth [torments] me.2Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: For they be many that fight [attack] against me, O thou most High. 3What time I am afraid, I will trust [be confident] in thee” (56:1-3).

Trusting in God’s favor, David faced his enemies (56:1). They threatened his life with malicious words, and tormented him daily (56:2). Though he did not deny his fears, he determined to trust that the LORD would protect him (56:3), and declared, “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (56:4). Wicked men will slander your testimony, and may threaten your life, but no man can threaten your soul! (Matthew 10:28)!

David’s enemies came upon him like ravenous wolves; they twisted his words, and waited for him to stumble (56:5-6).  He sometimes questioned, “Shall they escape by iniquity?” (56:7). Will they escape the consequences of their sinful ways?

He prayed the wicked would be punished, and took comfort knowing the LORD considered his sorrows, and his tears (56:8). Referencing a practice of ancient monarchs whose tears were collected in a bottle as a memorial to their sorrows, David prayed, “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: Are they not in thy book?” (56:8) He was confident the LORD would answer his prayers, and he made a wonderful statement concerning divine character: “This I know; for God is for me” (56:9b).

What a wonderful truth! You may be facing trials, and you feel abandoned. An enemy may be plotting to injure, or even destroy you. However, by faith you can claim David’s assertion and say, “I know, God is for me!”

Having stated his confidence in the LORD, David declared, “10In God will I praise his word: In the Lord will I praise his word. 11In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (56:10-11).

I have learned that my heart is comforted, and my spirit emboldened when I write, and speak what I believe. When David determined to praise God for His Word and promises, he was no longer a prisoner of fear. He had no cause to fear “what man can do” (56:11b).

The closing verses of Psalm 56 are a doxology of praise to the LORD (56:12-13). Trusting the words, and vows [promises] of the LORD, David praised the LORD at the prospects of his deliverance from his enemy.

Closing thoughts: Even the man after the heart of God went through seasons when he feared what tomorrow would bring, and struggled with the fear of man. It is natural to fear criticism, rejection, and those who gloat in our struggles. When those times come, and they will, take a lesson from David and determine to write, and sing praises to the LORD. Meditate in His Word, claim His promises, and declare, “I know, God is for me… I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (56:9, 11).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Wicked Will Not Go Unpunished (Psalm 52) – * Bonus devotional.

Scripture reading – Psalm 52

Psalm 52 records the prayer and meditations of David when he learned that Doeg, the Edomite, had betrayed him to King Saul (1 Samuel 21-22). The accusations of that wicked man had deceived the king, and he believed Ahimelech the priest had conspired to assist his enemy.

Doeg had witnessed Ahimelech giving David five loaves of bread, and the sword of Goliath as he requested (1 Samuel 21:3-4, 8-9); however, the priest had not done so as an act of ill will toward the king. Nevertheless, Doeg used the occasion to accuse Ahimelech, and he provoked the king’s fury (1 Samuel 22:16). When Saul’s soldiers refused to slay the priests, Doeg did the king’s bidding, and killed eighty-five priests and their families (1 Samuel 22:18-19). One man survived the slaughter, Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22:20-23).

It was the news of this tragic event that inspired Psalm 52.

Psalm 52:1-4 chronicles David’s assessment of the character of Doeg, and reveals that the wicked take pleasure in injuring the righteous. They employ their tongues to destroy the believers (52:1-2), and prefer lies over truth. They are liars, and love to deceive (52:3-4).

While the righteous take no pleasure in the suffering of the wicked, it is the judgment of God that reminds them He is just (52:5). Believers will see the LORD’S judgment, revere Him, and be satisfied His justice will be served (52:6). Doeg had committed a great evil, and God abandoned him to the consequences of his wicked ways (52:7).

News of the deaths of Ahimelech, and the priests of Nob had troubled David, but he took solace in the LORD’S loving mercies (52:8). He vowed, 9I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: And I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints” (52:9).

Closing thoughts:

Believer, God is ever good, and it pleases Him when His people make it a habit to praise Him before His saints (52:9)! Remember, the wicked make light of their transgressions, and take pleasure in lies and deceit. Though we are often tempted to complain, and declare—unfair, and unjust, in those times, take comfort in the confidence that the LORD is just, and the wicked will not go unpunished.

Take a few minutes, and rehearse all the good the LORD has done in your life!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Who is Your Refuge in Times of Trouble? (1 Samuel 21-22)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 21-22

David is a man on the run! He is stalked by a king whom he had faithfully served, but who now seeks to kill him. What began as envy, festered into bitterness, until the king attempted to spear David on three occasions. As a man on the run, David recognized Saul would not rest until he had taken his life, so David fled to the wilderness where he would live in exile for the next ten years.

1 Samuel 21 

David’s Flight to Nob (21:1-10)

After his meeting with Jonathan (1 Samuel 20), David came to Nob, a Levite town some three miles south of Gibeah (Saul’s home). Nob was where the Tabernacle and Ark of the LORD was located at the time (21:1). As one of Saul’s captains, David would ordinarily have traveled with an entourage of soldiers: however, his arrival in Nob stirred up some consternation in Ahimelech the priest who wondered, “Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?” (21:1) David answered Ahimelech, The king hath commanded me a business” (21:2).

Who was Ahimelech? He was a descendant of Eli’s lineage, and became Saul’s spiritual advisor after Samuel departed from the king. It is almost certain he would have known the king’s determination to kill David, and no doubt realized his answer was a lie. We might suggest various motives for David lying, but no doubt fear had taken hold, and his faith had faltered.

Needing sustenance for his flight, David requested five loaves of bread (21:3), but was told the only bread available was “hallowed bread” (21:4-6). Having no other bread, Ahimelech gave David “shewbread,” that was reserved for the priests. David then asked, “Is there not here under thine hand spear or sword?” (21:8). There was one sword, and it was the sword of Goliath, that had been kept in the Tabernacle after he was slain by David (21:8).

Before continuing our narrative, notice the identification of one man: “Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul” (21:7). An Edomite was a descendant of Esau, the son of Isaac, and Jacob’s brother. Though the Edomites were related to Israel, they were excluded from God’s covenant with Abraham. David knew Doeg was an enemy, and feared he would report to Saul that he had been to Nob, where he was assisted by Ahimelech the priest (22:9-11).

David Feigned Insanity (21:11-15)

Bearing the sword of Goliath, David fled “to Achish the king of Gath,” where he sought sanctuary in the midst of the Philistines (21:11). He was soon recognized, and “the servants of Achish [asked]… Is not this David the king of the land?” (21:11). Fearing for his life, David feigned insanity, and “scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard” (21:13). The act convinced King Achish, and he dismissed David as one was “mad” (21:14-15).

1 Samuel 22 – David’s Encampment in Adullam

David fled to the wilderness, where he “escaped to the cave Adullam”, which was near the valley where David had killed Goliath (22:1). Alone, destitute, and broken, David cried out to the LORD (Psalms 34; 57; 142), and He heard his cry.

Because he was a fugitive, David’s family feared for their lives, and joined him at Adullam (22:1). Seeking his parents’ welfare, David entrusted them to the King of Moab (22:3-4). Why Moab? David’s grandmother, Ruth, was herself a Moabite.

Four hundred fighting men joined David in Adullam. They were described as “in distress…in debt…and discontented” (22:2). Distress – perhaps bearing the abuses of Saul’s power; Debt, burdened by taxation, or unable to pay their creditors; Discontent-embittered souls who had suffered injustices. David was warned by the prophet Gad to, “Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah” (22:5).

Saul’s Rage (22:6-19)

Desperate to find, and kill David, Saul railed against the men of Benjamin, his own tribe (22:6-8). He accused them of taking bribes to conceal David, and slandered his own son, accusing him of conspiring with his enemy (22:8).

Doeg, the Edomite (21:7), betrayed Ahimelech the priest, and revealed how he had witnessed the priest aiding David (22:9-10; 21:7). Saul then commanded Ahimelech to come, and alleged he had conspired with his enemy (22:13); however, the priest pled innocent, and defended David’s character (22:14-15). Saul became enraged, and ordered the priest and his household slain (22:16-19). When his soldiers refused his orders, the king turned to Doeg the Edomite, and he slaughtered eighty-five priests, their families, and all that was in Nob (22:18-19).

David’s Empathy (22:20-23)

There was one survivor of the massacre in Nob, and his name was Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech (22:20). He reported to David all that had befallen his family, and the citizens of Nob (22:21). Bearing the weight of so many deaths (22:22), David invited Abiathar, “23Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard” (22:23).

Closing thought: We are all tempted to “live by our wits,” and our failure to seek the LORD often places us in places, and positions we come to regret.

David will come to learn that God is his refuge.

Who is your refuge?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith