Category Archives: Politics

Political Correctness is a Moral Cancer (Psalm 12)

Scripture reading – Psalm 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 10; 1 Chronicles 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Provocation of War (10:5-14)

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

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

War with Syria (10:15-19)

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Remembering September 11, 2001 – A Memorial to All Who Have Perished

September 11, 2001

I find myself at a loss for words this morning, the 20th anniversary of the unprovoked attack by militant Muslims on the United States of America. A whirl of emotions rises up in me when I remember watching the news feed showing a passenger jet flying into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. Seventeen minutes later, as I and millions of Americans were watching the horrific scene of fire and death in the North Tower, a second jet crashed into the South Tower of the WTC at 9:03 AM.

From all over New York City, first responders rushed to the site of the disaster, and into a scene of apocalyptic chaos. Fifty-six minutes later, at 9:59 AM, the unthinkable occurred when the South Tower collapsed into a heap of dust, debris, and fire. In spite of the terror and devastation, first responders continued their heroic efforts to save lives in the North Tower, even as those trapped in the Towers leaped to their deaths to escape the flames.

Twenty years later, and at an estimated cost of $8 trillion in the War on Terror ($2.3 trillion spent in Afghanistan), President Joe Biden announced on August 31, 2021, America’s retreat (some prefer “withdrawal”) from Afghanistan. The Biden administration abandoned an unknown number of American citizens, Afghans employed by the U.S., and Christians, knowing they would face the inevitable brutality of militant Islamic insurgents (Taliban). In addition, the U.S. left behind billions of dollars of military equipment and supplies.

The greatest toll of the War on Terror has been the loss of lives, and the physical and emotional scars of war left on soldiers, families, and our nation. Since September 11, 2001, 7,074 U.S. Military and Department of Defense civilians have given their lives in service to our nation. 20,740 U.S. military were wounded in action in Afghanistan, including 18 who were injured in the August 26, 2021 attack at the airport in Kabul. In Afghanistan alone, 2,455 U.S. soldiers were killed, including 13 who were killed at the airport on August 26, 2021.

With sorrow, I close this memorial letter with the names of the 13 service members who were killed August 26, 2021.

Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak, 22, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31, Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23, Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan Page, 23, Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20,

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1
https://mewe.com/p/heartofashepherdinc

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Pity the Nation (Psalm 75)

Scripture reading – Psalm 75

Continuing our Scripture readings in the Psalms, our focus is again on one of the twelve psalms attributed to Asaph, a chief musician during David’s reign. Psalm 75 challenges us 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. 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 is a 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, that 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, but “the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved,” will be the judgment of God’s righteous verdict. If our hope for justice was found only in the discretion of men, we would have cause for anxiety. God, however, has 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, the foundations of the world.

God Admonishes Foolish Leaders (75:4-8)

We find a warning to every leader who bears rule over the lives of men with a heavy, proud hand. 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 soon those in authority forget they are nothing without God! Civil government has been ordained by the LORD (Romans 13:1), and those who rule and judge have divine mandates for which they will give account. From the King or President, 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).

What of leaders who defy God’s authority, scorn His Law, and abuse their appointments?

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 He 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).

When the Foundations Shake, May the Saints Sing God’s Praises (75:9-10)

The psalmist has painted a dark picture of God’s wrath upon rulers that fail to rule righteously and lawfully. Nevertheless, the believer’s faith rests in the LORD and we should declare our faith in His holy character, and “sing praises to the God of Jacob” (75:9).

Closing thoughts – Though the foundations of a nation may be shaken, and the wicked boast and abuse their authority, be assured: 10All the horns [power and strength of their office] of the wicked also will [the LORD]cut off; But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted” (75:10).

God is just, and the wicked will face His wrath and be destroyed; however, He has promised to bless the righteous. Fools sing their own praises, and stiffen their necks against the LORD (75:5), but a wise man remembers every promotion that comes his way is an act of God’s grace (75:6).

The wise remember, “God is the judge [governor; the final dispenser of justice]: He putteth down [humbles; abases; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts; raises up] another” (75:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Keeping Promises: Integrity with Compassion (2 Samuel 9)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 9

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

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

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

David’s Kindness (9:1-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can the same be said of you?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Guiding Principles for Life and Friendships (Psalm 101; Psalm 105)

Scripture reading – Psalm 101; Psalm 105

Singing and thanksgiving remain our theme as we continue in the Book of Psalms for the Scripture reading. Psalm 101 is ascribed to David as the author. Although the writer of Psalm 105 is unnamed, many believe it may also be attributed to David. Today’s devotional will focus on Psalm 101.

Psalm 101 – A Resolution of Thanksgiving and Dedication

Imagine living under a ruler whose passion was not his career or legacy, but foremost his love and gratitude for the LORD. Such were the “golden years” of David’s reign in Jerusalem. The date and setting of this psalm is not known, but I believe it was in the early years, if not the beginning of the king’s reign over Israel.

While the purpose and overriding theme of Psalm 101 is a song of praise for the “mercy and judgment” of the LORD (101:1), you will notice the assertions of the king concerning his personal life and choices (101:2-8). There are nine assertive “I will” statements, and six “shall” statements.

David Purposed to Live a Righteous Life (101:2-3)

David determined as a matter of conviction that he would act in a “perfect way” [blameless], and conduct his life with a “perfect [innocent] heart” (101:3). The king set for himself an intolerance for observing or tolerating a “wicked thing before [his] eyes.” He was resolute, saying, he would “hate” the sins he observed in others (101:3).

Think about it: How much would your life and family change if you dedicated yourself to David’s standard of personal holiness and righteousness? Will you set your heart to walk a higher moral road, even if it means walking alone? Remember, what you tolerate, and the influences others have, will inevitably affect your life choices.

David Adopted Guiding Principles and Convictions (101:4-5, 7)

Though penned 3,000 years ago, the guiding principles we observe in the king’s psalm should resonate in the hearts of all believers. David’s “I will” and “I shall” statements leave no room for ambiguity. David was a man of conviction, and as king, there were always those who desired his favor and sought for power and position in his administration. David realized those closest to him would influence him with their counsel, and their character.

Psalm 101:4-5, 7 lists the manner of men the king would not tolerate in his emissaries. The following were cause for disqualification in the king’s court: “A froward [crooked, deceitful] heart,” and a “wicked [evil] person” (101:4). Slander [gossip], and proud and self-indulgent servants had no place in his household (101:5). Liars and deceivers were also unwelcomed in the king’s court (101:7).

Spiritual Qualifications for Servants to the King (101:6)

The psalm has so far focused on qualities the king determined were undesirable, and cause for disqualification. Psalm 101:6 states two qualities the king required in his servants: “6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

The men David desired in his fellowship and company were faithful, tried and true men of conviction. He required men “that walketh in a perfect way” (101:6) to serve him and the people. The word “walketh” in the King James Bible gives an accurate insight into the character of those who served the king. Regardless of a man’s talents, none would serve the king who fell short of a blameless testimony when measured by God’s laws and judgment.

Closing thoughts – It was not enough for the king to declare the qualifications and disqualifications of those closest to him. He determined he would actively oppose wickedness: “8 I will early destroy [silence] all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off [exterminate] all wicked doers from the city of the LORD” (101:8).

An invitation: Guiding principles and convictions must be weighed, and determined for our lives and families. If you follow David’s pattern, you must establish and state your personal convictions (101:3). Will you determine to live a blameless life, and keep your heart pure and innocent?

You must also decide the influences in your life (101:4-5, 7). The king determined he would not tolerate liars, gossips, the proud, or deceivers. In fact, he stated he would actively oppose the sin and wickedness of evil men.

He also set a spiritual standard for the character of those closest to him (101:6). They were to be faithful: faithful to the LORD, to His Law and Commandments. Their lives were to be a “perfect” testimony.

An application – Have you adopted guiding principles for your friendships? I encourage you to examine your personal convictions (“I will” and “I shall”), and the character of those closest to you. What manner of people are your friends?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Character Traits of the Righteous (Psalm 15)

Scripture reading: Psalm 15

Our preceding devotional considered five characteristics of the “blessed” man’s life (1:1-3). Today’s devotional will observe seven character traits that define the hearts of those whose citizenship is with God (15:1-5). The brackets within the following verses are by the author, and present a broader application of word definitions.

Remembering the psalms were worship songs, and not merely poems, David invites the congregation of Israel to ponder two questions in the opening stanza (15:1).

Psalm 15:11 LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah], who shall abide [dwell] in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell [remain; continue] in thy holy hill?

In essence, the psalmist asks: Lord, what manner of man or woman, desires to “abide in [dwell in] thy tabernacle [i.e. where the Ark of God was located]? David had prepared a new tent (1 Chronicles 16:1) to shelter the Ark as it arrived in Jerusalem, and it remained there throughout his reign. The king expressed in other psalms, his preference to worship the LORD in His sanctuary, over the opulence and comforts of his palace.

“Who shall dwell [abide; remain; continue] in thy holy hill? (15:1b) What manner of man seeks, and longs to abide on Mount Zion, where the Ark was located? (The Ark represented the throne of God, and His presence in the midst of His people.) David answered those questions, and stated seven characteristics of those who sincerely seek, worship, and enjoy the presence, and favor of the LORD.

1) The lives of the righteous are defined by integrity. They are trustworthy, sincere, and morally upright (15:2a).

Psalm 15:22  He that walketh uprightly [blameless; with integrity], and worketh righteousness [lawful; just], and speaketh [declare] the truth in his heart.

2) The righteous speak the truth, for it resides in their hearts and thoughts (15:2b; Ephesians 4:15).

3) Those who abide in the presence of the LORD are neither mean-spirited, or vengeful. Their words and deeds are loving (15:3).

Psalm 15:33  He that backbiteth [gossips; slanders] not with his tongue, nor doeth evil [sin] to his neighbour [friend; companion], nor taketh up [bear; carry] a reproach [contempt] against his neighbour [lit. near; nearest kinsman].

4) The sins of the wicked are loathsome to the righteous, and the godly have no desire for their company (15:4a;Psalm 1:1). The righteous give honor and respect to those who fear the LORD, and walk according to His Law and in the likeness of Christ (15:4b; Philippians 2:2-8).

Psalm 15:44  In whose eyes [sight of the righteous] a vile person [loathsome; reprobate] is contemned [despised; disdained]; but he honoureth [glorify] them that fear [revere] the LORD. He that sweareth [makes an oath] to his own hurt [affliction], and changeth not [.e., does not vacillate].

5) The righteous are promise keepers (15:4c). They keep their word, and honor their vows (and contracts), even at the sacrifice of themselves, and their own interests.

6) The righteous have compassion for the poor, and do not charge them excessive interest they can ill afford (15:5a; Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37).

Psalm 15:55  He that putteth not out [gives] his money [silver] to usury [high interest; i.e. indebtedness], nor taketh [accepts] reward [bribe;a gift] against the innocent [guiltless]. He that doeth [make; perform; do] these things shall never be moved [waver; fall; slide; slip].

7) The righteous are above reproach. They cannot be bribed, nor swayed in their judgments (15:5b; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 17:23).

The summary answer to the questions that introduced Psalm 15, (“1Lord, Who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”), are satisfied in the last phrase of Psalm 15:5.

“He that doeth these things shall never be moved” (15:5c). Those who dwell in the presence of the LORD have integrity, speak truth, hate the sins of the wicked, are not vengeful, keep their promises, have compassion for the less fortunate, and live above reproach. Are those traits true of you?

An Application – Do you have integrity in what you say and do? Do you speak the truth, and never lie? Do you hate the sins of wickedness, and find them loathsome? Are you forgiving? Do you keep your word? Do you make a vow, sign a contract, and commit yourself even at the sacrifice of your own interests? Do you show compassion for those less fortunate than yourself? Are you above the influence of a bribe?

An Invitation – If your answer to any of those questions raises a sense of guilt, and brings conviction: Confess your sins to the LORD, and vow to make right with others where you have failed.

1 John 1:9–109If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Embrace the joy of unity, and love one another! (1 Chronicles 12)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 12

We considered 1 Chronicles 11 in our prior Scripture reading, and the names of the mighty men, the great men of war, who were the leaders of the tribes of Israel when David was ordained king of a united Israel. 1 Chronicles 12continues a registry of the names of warriors who distinguished themselves on the battlefield, and were loyal to David.

Consider four groups of men and tribes who swore allegiance to David (12:1-40)

The first, the men of Benjamin who joined David when he was exiled from Israel, and living among the Philistines in Ziklag (12:1-7). Ziklag served as David’s stronghold during his fugitive years. Recalling Saul was a Benjaminite, the betrayal of skilled warriors from his own tribe had to have been discouraging for the king. The men of Benjamin were skilled, formidable warriors, and “could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow” (12:2; Judges 20:16).

Joining David’s band of men earlier than the Benjamites (12:1-7), were the men of the tribe of Gad. They came to David while he lived in the wilderness. “The Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold [i.e., stronghold] to the wilderness men of might” (12:8). They were a welcome addition to David’s band for they brought with them skills that had been proven in battle. Strong and powerful, they were prepared to battle hand-to-hand (for the buckler was a small shield used in sword warfare). In battle, the faces of the Gadites displayed the fierceness of lions, and they were flight of foot, as “swift as the roes [gazelles] upon the mountains” (12:8). Eleven great men of Gad were named (12:9-13), and they are remembered for swimming across the Jordan River in flood stage to join David (12:15).

Coming at a later date than the Benjamites and Gadites, were other “children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David” (12:16). David went out to prove the credibility of those latecomers, and proposed a treaty, saying, “If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it” (12:17). Speaking on behalf of the men of Benjamin and Judah, Amasai swore his allegiance to David, saying, “Thine are we, David, And on thy side, thou son of Jesse [who was of the tribe of Judah]: Peace, peace be unto thee, And peace be to thine helpers; For thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band” (12:18).

1 Chronicles 12:19-22 is a reminder of the time that David and his men had sought refuge from King Saul, and lived among the Philistines (1 Samuel 29-30). When the Philistines went up to battle Israel, their leaders refused to allow David to be among them, fearing he would lead his men turn on them in the midst of the battle with King Saul’s army (12:19; 1 Samuel 29). When David withdrew from the battle, there were many men of Manasseh who deserted Saul, and joined with David (12:20). They, like others of Israel, were men of war, and strengthened David’s hand in Israel (12:21-22).

1 Chronicles 12:23-40 gives us the names of the tribes, and the number of men who came together at Hebron to “to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord” (12:23; 2 Samuel 5:1-5). I will not take time to enumerate the tribes and the thousands of men who swore their allegiance to David, but I invite you to consider the character of those men who were confident that God had chosen David to be king of Israel.

Judah’s men came bearing “shield and spear,” and were ready for battle (12:24). The men of Simeon were “mighty men of valour for the war” (12:25). The men of Issachar had insight and discernment (12:32), and those of Zebulun were “expert in war, with all instruments of war” (12:33). They did not break rank in battle, and flee. They were “not of double heart,” but were stable and trustworthy (12:33).

One hundred thousand men from Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, tribes on the east side of the Jordan River came to Hebron, “to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king” (12:38).

The tribes of Israel celebrated David’s coronation with a three-day festival (12:39), enjoying meats, cakes, wine, and oil that were supplied by the nearest tribes, Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali (12:40).

Closing thoughtOur Scripture reading ends on a memorable note, “for there was joy in Israel” (12:40).

Though there was “one heart,” and “joy in Israel,” David lived in a sinful, fallen world, and in the midst of a sinful people. While children’s storybooks sometimes end with the phrase, “They lived happily ever after,” that summary is beyond man’s reach in this mortal life. In fact, the next chapter in David’s life will prove tragic (1 Chronicles 13).

There is joy when the hearts of God’s people, and their leaders are intertwined and dedicated to the glory of God; however, know such joy is fleeting. I encourage you: Embrace the joy of unity, and love one another! (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Coronation of David and His Mighty Men (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11

The reader will notice that 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11 are somewhat parallel accounts of events surrounding the coronation of David as the King of Israel. Together, the two accounts give us a panorama of the occasion, and a stunning reminder that God is Sovereign over heaven and earth!

2 Samuel 5 – A Coronation

Seven and one-half years after the tribe of Judah had crowned him king (2 Samuel 2:10-11), all the tribes of Israel assembled in Hebron to acknowledge David as Saul’s successor. I find three reasons the men of Israel accepted David as king. The first, he was a Hebrew, and in their words, “we are thy bone and thy flesh” (5:1). David’s leadership had also garnered their respect in the past, for in times of war he had served as a leader among them (5:3). Finally, and most importantly, David was God’s choice to lead the nation. The people testified, “the Lord said to thee [David], Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain [prince]over Israel” (5:2).

Gathering at the place he had reigned as king of Judah, “the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league [covenant] with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel” (5:3). David was thirty years old when he was crowned king of Judah, and he reigned “seven years and six months” (5:5). Altogether, he was king forty years (5:4), for “in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah” (5:5).

David’s first act as the king of Israel, was to establish Jerusalem as his capital, although it was occupied by the Jebusites (5:6). The siege of Jerusalem gave opportunity for David to lead all the armies of Israel. That ancient city, built upon the range of mountains known as Zion, was a natural fortress, with valleys on three sides, and only vulnerable to attack from the north. Confident in the walls of their fortress, the Jebusites mocked David’s army, suggesting even the blind and lame could defend their city against Israel (5:6).

David, evidencing the brilliance of a tactician of war, challenged his soldiers saying, “Whosoever getteth up to the gutter (most likely a passage for water that was cut through rock), and smiteth the Jebusites…he shall be chief and captain” (5:8). Joab, David’s general from the wilderness years, took up the challenge, and after conquering the Jebusites, became the captain of David’s armies (1 Chronicles 11:6).

The early years of David’s reign were blessed, and he “went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (5:10). Hiram, king of Tyre, offered to build the newly crowned king of Israel a palace fit for his reign in Jerusalem (5:11). “David perceived [knew; realized] that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he [the LORD] had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake” (5:12). David understood that the LORD’S blessings were upon him, because Israel was His chosen people.

Though chosen by the LORD to be king of Israel, David was not a perfect man. Following the pattern of the kings of the world, “David took him more concubines and wives…and there were yet sons and daughters born to David” (5:13). While the divine pattern of marriage is “one flesh” (one husband and one wife, Genesis 2:24), David followed the pattern of the world, and the wives and children of his household would later become a sorrow to him.

The Philistines wasted no time in challenging Israel’s newly crowned king (5:17-18). Showing a humility and dependence on the LORD that would be lacking in later years, “David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand” (5:19).

David’s army so soundly defeated the Philistines, that they fled from before them, leaving behind “their images” (idols), “and David and his men burned them” (5:21; Deuteronomy 7:5, 25). When the Philistines challenged Israel a second time (5:22), David sought the LORD’S direction again (5:23). Rather than a frontal assault, the LORD directed David to lead his army behind the Philistines (5:23), and when he heard the wind rustling through “the tops of the mulberry trees,” it was then that he would arise to smite the Philistines and then he would know the Lord would go before him (5:24). David obeyed the LORD, and God gave Israel a victory over their enemy (5:25).

1 Chronicles 11 – The Mighty Men of Israel

While 2 Samuel 5 has given us an account of the first battles David won as king of Israel, 1 Chronicles 11 gives us the names of the great men of war on whom David depended to carry out his orders. I have introduced you to Joab (11:6-8).

We also find the names of David’s other “mighty men” (11:10), including Jashobeam who slew three hundred men in one battle (11:11), Eleazar, acknowledged as “one of the mighties” (11:12), thirty captains, whom I will label, “The Thirty” (11:15), “Abishai the brother of Joab,” who was said to be the “more honourable” (11:20), Benaiah, who was applauded for slaying “two lionlike men of Moab…[and] a lion in a pit” (11:22), and an Egyptian that stood some seven feet, six inches tall (11:23). There is also Asahel (11:26), and a long list of “valiant men,” and included among them is “Uriah the Hittite” (11:26-47).

Closing thoughtsI close being reminded the secret of David’s greatness: It was not that he was a great warrior, although he was. He was not great because he was a man who inspired loyalty, which he did. He was not great because he was surrounded by great warriors, and he had many great fighters willing to go to war with him.

David was great, because he had faith in God’s calling (2 Samuel 5:10, 12), he “inquired of the LORD” (2 Samuel 5:19, 23), and obeyed the LORD (2 Samuel 5:25).

What about you? Is your life a testimony of one who is called of the LORD, dependent on His leading, and submissive to His will?

If not, will you bow your heart before the LORD, confess your lack of dependence and lack of faith, and covenant to yield your will to His will?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Foresee the Dangers of Compromise (1 Chronicles 5)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 5

The genealogical record of the Twelve Tribes of Israel continues in today’s Scripture reading (1 Chronicles 5), beginning with the two-and- one-half tribes that had settled on the east side of the Jordan River (I will identify them as the “Trans-Jordan Tribes”).

The Tribe of Reuben (5:1-10)

The introductory verses of 1 Chronicles 5 explain how Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob (Genesis 29:31-32), suffered the loss of his inheritance (5:1-2). As the firstborn son, it should have been Reuben’s lot to be the leader of the clan, and receive an ample inheritance that he would pass down to his sons. Such, however, was not the case.

Reuben committed a great sin against his father, by lying with his father’s concubine (a lesser wife, but nevertheless his father’s wife, Genesis 35:22). Reuben’s sin brought generational consequences for himself, and his family. He forfeited his inheritance and distinction as a tribe (Genesis 49:3-4), and Joseph’s sons became distinct tribes in Israel (5:1). Furthermore, the leadership of the Twelve Tribes of Israel fell to the tribe of Judah whose lineage emerged to become superior to his brethren, and David “the chief ruler” (5:2).

The great land mass occupied by Reuben on the east side of the Jordan River is described in 1 Chronicles 5:9, including their victory over the Hagarites (5:10).

The Tribe of Gad (5:11-17)

Gad was the seventh born son of Jacob, whose mother was Zilpah, Jacob’s concubine. Like the tribe of Reuben, the sons of Gad had settled on the east side of the Jordan, and occupied land extending north to Gilead. Some of the prominent names of the Gadites are listed (5:12-17).

The Defeat of a Confederacy of Heathen Nations (5:18-22).

The genealogical record is interrupted by a historical event, for the “sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh” (5:18) “made war against the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab” (5:19). They were “valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war” (5:18). The catalyst for the war with their neighbors was not given, but I suspect it was for the possession of fertile pastures.

The Trans-Jordan tribes experienced a glorious victory over their enemies; however, it was not their military skill that won the battle. We read, Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh “were helped against them [their enemies], and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him” (5:20). Though not stated, I believe the Hagariteswere descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and the Egyptian concubine Hagar (Genesis 16:15; 17:20; 25:12-17), which would make them the ancient ancestors of today’s Arabic nations.

Half-Tribe of Manasseh (5:23-24)

A portion of the genealogical record of the half-tribe of Manasseh is given, including the names of seven “mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers” (5:24).

The Record of a Tragic Failure (5:25-26).

We have seen that the Trans-Jordan tribes were mighty men of war, and God prospered them. Tragically, the prosperity of those tribes would come to a tragic end for “they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them” (5:25). They had chosen the lands outside the Promised Land, and it was their proximity to the heathen nations that was their undoing. The influence of the ungodly inevitably drew away their children from worshiping the God of Israel. They had broken covenant with the LORD, and He stirred the hearts of Assyrian kings, who invaded the lands of the two-and-one-half tribes, and took their children away into captivity (5:26).

Closing thoughts: Though their history was marked by victories, and the spoils taken in war had enriched them, it was the compromise of the Trans-Jordan tribes with the heathen that enslaved the hearts of their children to serve their gods (5:26).

Be diligent to establish standards and boundaries, and protect your children from the influence of the world and its sinful ways (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith