Category Archives: Providence

What is Man? (Job 40; Job 41)

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Scripture reading – Job 40-41

A note from the shepherd: Today’s devotional is the second to the last in our study of the Book of Job. I congratulate you for completing a difficult journey. Indeed, one of the great disciplines of a chronological reading schedule is it disciplines us to consider subjects that are not appealing. Certainly, a study of troubles, trials, sickness, sorrows, and death is unattractive, but necessary. I trust a study of Job’s life has challenged each of us to accept life in this sin-cursed world will be characterized by times of sorrow, as well as fleeting times of joy.

Job 40

Today’s Scripture reading (Job 40-41) is a continuance of the Lord’s discourse with Job. Perhaps God’s question to Job is one He has brought to you and me.  Ultimately, it is the question of authority. The Lord asked Job: Shall he that contendeth [strives with] with the Almighty [Shaddai] instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it (40:2).

Frightened by the reality of God’s majesty, power, and sovereignty, Job saw himself for what he was as a man, and replied: Behold, I am vile [cursed]; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth [have nothing to say]. 5  Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4-5).

Humbled by the presence of God, Job yielded to the LORD. He no longer attempted to justify himself, and had nothing more to say.

Then, the LORD questioned, “8Wilt thou also disannul [dispute] my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be [i.e., appear to be] righteous?” (40:8) Will you dare to question the ways of the LORD (40:6-14)? Will you challenge My majesty? (40:10)

To demonstrate His power, and sovereignty over nature, God proved His dominion over creation with two great beasts that roamed the earth in Job’s day: The behemoth (40:15-24), and the leviathan (41:1-34).

The Behemoth, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature (Job 40:15-24)

The identity of the “behemoth” (40:15) is uncertain; however, the prevailing opinion among scholars is he was either a hippopotamus, elephant, or water buffalo. I am, however, of the opinion the behemoth may be an extinct beast. Perhaps a great dinosaur that roamed the earth following the flood.

Physical characteristics of the behemoth (40:15-24)

The behemoth was a vegetarian, for we read, “he eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b). He was a powerful beast, with great “strength…in his loins [hips, and] …his belly” (40:16). The movement of his tail, described “like a cedar” (40:17a), was like the movement and swaying of a cedar tree.

The description of the behemoth continued in Job 40:18-24. His bones were like brass and iron (40:18). He had a voracious appetite for mountain pastures (40:20), and when he quenched his thirst it was as though he “drinketh up a river” (40:23). The behemoth was described as “the chief [greatest] of the ways [works; creatures] of God,” and yet the Creator had power over him and could “make his sword to approach unto him” (40:19).

Before we consider the question, “What did all this mean to Job, and why should it matter to us?”, let us ponder another great beast…the Leviathan.

Job 41 – The Leviathan, and God’s Sovereignty Over Nature

The LORD invited Job to consider a second great beast, the “leviathan” (41:1). Once again, the identity of this great beast is uncertain; however, scholars suggest it might have been a giant saltwater crocodile, one that is probably extinct today. Whatever its identity, the analogy between the “behemoth” (Job 40) and leviathan was meant to draw Job to conclude he was foolish to question his Creator. After all, man paled in size and strength to the majestic leviathan God created (41:1-9).

Job was asked to ponder if a man could tame a leviathan? Of course, the implication was absolutely not; therefore, what right did Job have to question or stand before God (41:10-33).  We read how the leviathan “beholdeth all high things [for no man is his master]: He is a king over all the children of pride [and retreats from none](41:34).

Closing thoughts – Having considered the beauty and majesty of God’s creation, and the great creatures over whom He reigns supreme, we must ask, “What is man?” 

Job 7:17What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?”

Job 15:14What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?”

Psalm 8:4 – “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Psalm 144:3 – “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”

Hebrews 2:6aWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

Man is an eternal soul, and was created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7, 18-20). Because of sin, we are physically feeble, sinners by nature (Romans 3:10, 23), and bearing the weight and curse of sin (Romans 6:23). Yet, in spite of our sins and failures, God loved us and demonstrated His love “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God is our Creator. He is majestic in His glory, and sovereign of His creation. The LORD is omnipotent, holy, just, and forgiving. Yet, He is willing to save all who come to Him by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 John 5:13).

Hebrews 2:9 – “9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Is He your Savior? If so, have you given Him authority over your life?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

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Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s answer to Bildad’s accusations (Job 25) is continued in today’s Scripture reading. Unable to find reprieve from his sorrows, and bearing the disappointment of friends who assailed him, Job reflected on what we might label, “the good old days.” He remembered better days, and happier times.

Job 29

Job’s Complaint (29:1-6)

Having lost everything, the sting of feeling abandoned by God pierced Job’s soul day and night. He was grieved by friends who alleged he must be guilty of some wickedness. He felt God was turned against him, and bemoaned that his dreadful state had given cause for others to ridicule and scorn him.

Job then remembered the security and communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). He said, Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him] (29:2). He had lived what some call in our day, “the charmed life.” As a young man, he enjoyed the light of God’s favor (29:3). Comforted by the “secret of God” (His friendship and fellowship, 29:4), and the presence of his children (29:5), Job’s life had overflowed with plenty (29:6).

Job’s Prominence in Former Days (29:7-17)

There had been a day when he was esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered above the elders and judges of the city (29:7). When he passed in the streets, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). Contrary to the charges of his friends, Job had been beloved for his charity and compassion for the less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job’s Reputation (29:14-17)

He was hailed for his character and good deeds, and distinguished as a righteous judge (29:14). His charity for the less fortunate was known among his neighbors, for he served as eyes for the blind, and feet for those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he had been a father (29:16), and a foe of the wicked when men sought justice (29:17).

Job’s Delusion (29:18-23)

Like some in our day, Job had believed his prosperity would last forever. He supposed God would favor him for his righteous deeds, for he reasoned the days of the righteous are multiplied (29:18-19). He relished the approval of his peers, and they valued his counsel (29:20-21). When he spoke, lesser men were silent. To those who sought his counsel, his words were like dry soil that opens its “mouth wide” for spring showers (29:22-23).

Closing thoughts (29:24-25) 

For Job, times had changed, and he was left with only memories of better days. He remembered when he was much-loved, and all men sought his company (29:24-25). He had not been proud, or haughty as he was accused (29:24). Though he had been chief and sovereign in his realm, he was a comfort to those overcome with sorrows.

Friend, the day may come when you will be embroiled in trials and troubles. When sorrows come, remember God’s grace and favor is the only solace in your darkest hour. I close with a promise that has sustained believers down through the centuries:

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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The Procurement of Wisdom Requires Hard Work and Sacrifice (Job 27; Job 28)

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Scripture reading – Job 27; Job 28

Bildad had concluded his final discourse with Job (Job 25), and reminded him no man can be justified in the sight of God (25:4). Job’s response initiated his lengthiest speech in the book, beginning with Job 26:1 and concluding with Job 31:40. Our examination of Job’s response continues with today’s Scripture reading, Job 27-28.

Job 27 – Job’s Parable

Verse 1 described Job’s response to Bildad as a “parable,” or a wise saying. Appealing to God as Creator, Job complained the LORD had denied him justice and “vexed” or embittered his soul (27:1-2). Interestingly, though the Book of Genesis was not yet penned by Moses, he understood the uniqueness of man’s creation, and confessed, the “spirit of God is in my nostrils” (27:3; Genesis 2:7).

Job friends had argued his troubles were a consequence of sins, yet, he declared his innocence, and said, “My lips shall not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit [lies]. 5God forbid that I should justify you [agree with their false accusations]: Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (27:4-5). This ancient of men refused to compromise his integrity to pacify the men who assailed him. He accepted the disdain of his “friends,” rather than the weight of a guilty conscience (27:6).

The Family of the Wicked Often Pay for Their Transgressions. (27:11-23)

Job acknowledged the wicked are not always punished according to their sins, but he was confident God’s judgment was inevitable (27:11-23). They may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but their children often bear the consequences of their transgressions. In Job’s reflections, the children of the wicked are destined “for the sword” (often die early deaths), and never “satisfied with bread” (never happy or content, 27:14). Even the wives of the wicked become embittered by their pernicious ways, as the Scripture says they “shall not weep” for their husbands when they die (27:15).

The wicked enrich themselves at the sacrifice of others, but when they die their possessions are sometimes divided among the just and innocent (27:16-17). Their households are unstable, and as fragile as the cocoon of a moth (27:18). Regardless their boasting, the wicked go to the grave, and the honors heaped upon them perish with them (27:19). When the terror of death, and the wrath of God comes upon them (27:20), they will not find mercy (27:22).

Job 28 – The Search for Wisdom

Drawing an analogy where men mine for silver and refine gold (28:1), Job described the great lengths men must go to find wisdom.

The intense labor of a miner (Job 28:3-11)

The miner digs a shaft into the earth, and brings light into the darkness in search of ore (“stones of darkness,” 28:3). As he excavates the earth brings forth “sapphires…[and] dust of gold” (28:6). The miner lays his hand to the rocks, and overturns mountains seeking rich ore (28:9). He cuts channels in the rock (“rivers among the rocks”), and prevents waters from flowing into the mine shaft (28:10-11).

“Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?” (28:12-22)

Unlike “book learning,” wisdom is not something that can be acquired in a classroom. True wisdom, the wisdom only God can impart to a man, is priceless (28:13a). Wisdom cannot be mined out of the earth, nor found by exploring the depths of the sea (28:14). Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold or silver (28:15), and the purest gold is not to be compared with it (28:16-19). Then, if wisdom is so valuable, and rare, “Whence then cometh wisdom?” (28:20). Wisdom is “hid from the eyes” of man and “the fowls of the air” (28:21). One cannot find wisdom, though it is sought among the dead who have passed from this life (28:22).

God Alone is the Source of Wisdom (28:23-28)

Man can only know wisdom by God’s revelation: He is omniscient, and “understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof” (28:23). He is omnipresent, and sees and knows all things, “For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven” (28:24). Because He is Creator and Sustainer of the earth, the LORD even knows the weight of the winds and the water, and regulates the rain and the “way for the lightning” (28:25-26).

Closing thoughts (28:27-28) – Where might a man acquire wisdom? Job answered:

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28). The “fear of the LORD” is more than an emotional response; it is a practical response that obeys the Law of the LORD, and forsakes the way of sin (“to depart from evil is understanding” – 28:28b).  Moses commanded Israel to keep the statutes and judgments of God, “for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).  Hebrew fathers and mothers instructed their sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God, that they might “learn to fear” the LORD (Deuteronomy 4:10).

Tragically, the 21st century has given rise to a generation of pastors, teachers, and preachers who purport “Grace” and “Liberty,” and have neglected to teach and instruct our sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God. The result is a culture of pride and carnality that is a cancer in our homes and churches.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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Ever wonder, “Where is Justice?” (Job 24)

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Scripture reading – Job 24

Eliphaz, the third of Job’s friends to argue Job’s troubles were like those of the wicked, evoked a response from Job that began in chapter 23 and continued to chapter 24. Having slandered Job’s character, Eliphaz accused him of some great evil and urged him to repent promising God would restore him (22:23-27).

Nevertheless, though he suffered overwhelming afflictions and felt abandoned by God, Job maintained his innocence (Job 23). He lamented, if God would give him a hearing, he would maintain his troubles were greater than his sins (23:1-7). Yet, though he was wrongly accused by his friends, Job was confident God knew he was a man of integrity, who desired to walk according to His commandments (23:8-12).

Job 24

Accused of gross wrongdoing, the accusations brought against Job by his “friends” left him wondering why he suffered, when the wicked prospered and went unpunished? Job’s reflections on the sins of the wicked was recorded in Job 24:2-17.

Wrongs Committed by the Wicked (Job 24:2-17)

Tyrannical Thieves (24:2-8)

Job first considered the company of thieves, and their wiles, deceptions, and effronteries  against God and humanity. (Remember, as you read verses 2-8, the setting was an agrarian society, and the perspective was rural and agricultural. Of course, thievery and robbery are the same, though the coveted objects of the thief change with the culture). Times have changed, but the nature of man is as wicked as ever!

Before making an application to 21st century society, let’s consider Job’s observations. The first were land thieves who removed “landmarks,” essentially physical stakes, that designated the boundaries of a family’s lands (24:2a).  Not surprising, but the same criminal activity continues in our day. (Note – Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17; Proverbs 23:10-11). There were thieves who would seize a neighbor’s sheep, and move them to graze in his pastures, thus robbing a man of his livelihood (24:2b).

Tragically, the wicked have always preyed upon the most vulnerable of a society, the poor and the weak (24:3-8). In Job’s day, evil men would steal the donkey of an orphan (24:3a), and demand a widow’s ox for surety or collateral (24:3b). They would abuse the poor, and mislead them (24:4), and leave them to forage for food and shelter like wild beasts (24:5-8).

Cruel Oppressors of the Weak and Defenseless (24:9-17)

Job described children taken from their mothers (24:9) as collateral for debt (tragically, the 21st century has revived this abuse with “human trafficking,” and the mass movement of humanity across international borders). The wicked would take the robes of the poor (a symbol of the bare necessities for life) as collateral for debt (24:10). Such is the way of the wicked. While a farmer would reward an ox with the grain he treads, the wicked would leave the poor destitute, hungry, and thirsty (24:11-12; Deuteronomy 25:41 Corinthians 9:91 Timothy 5:18).

Murderers and Adulterers (24:14-17)

The rise of violent crimes and murder in 21st century society is akin to the observations of Job. He observed murderers who plotted and preyed upon the poor and needy (24:14). Numbered among the wicked were adulterers who disguised their faces to avoid recognition (24:15). Rounding out the society of the wicked were thieves who marked houses in the day, and enjoyed the guise of darkness to break into them and steal at night (24:16-17).

The Character and Fate of the Wicked (24:18-25)

Having considered the character and sins of the wicked, Job agreed with his friends, for the wicked will not go unpunished. The wicked are swift to steal the fruits of other men’s labor, because they are unwilling to toil in their own vineyards (24:18). Nevertheless, the end of the wicked is akin to “drought and heat [that consumes] the snow;” they will go the way of all sinners, to “the grave” (24:19).

Closing thoughts (24:20-25) – Describing the fate and destiny of the wicked, Job graphically detailed his end, writing: “20The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; He shall be no more remembered; And wickedness shall be broken as a tree” (24:20).

Rich or poor, famous or infamous, powerful or weak, the bodies of the dead eventually become the diet of worms. While the most stately of trees will eventually be broken and fall, the bodies of the powerful will inevitably decay in their graves. We might ponder with Job, why the LORD is patient with the wicked, and his pernicious ways; however, we are assured, “His eyes are upon their ways” (24:23).

Warning: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). 

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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Keep Hope Alive: God Knows You! (Job 22; Job 23)

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Scripture reading – Job 22; Job 23

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of the Book of Job. What a powerful book and reminder that no one is spared the troubles and trials of this earthly life. Job served as a memorable example of a spiritual man who faced not only the hardships of catastrophic losses, but the erroneous, harsh judgments of some who purported to be his friends.

Yet, we should remember Job was not aware his afflictions were a consequence, not of God’s judgment, but His confidence there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8). The LORD gave Satan liberty to assail Job, and spared only the man’s life, from that evil one’s assault. In spite of his sorrows, Job’s faith did not falter, even as the evil insinuations of his friends increased.

After listening to Job maintain his innocence, and refute the allegations that he had committed some sin that warranted God’s judgment (Job 21), Eliphaz, obviously offended, spoke up.

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Eliphaz the Temanite disputed Job for his third and final time (his first two challenges were recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). Though claiming to be Job’s friend, Eliphaz accused him of supposing he was righteous, and God was obligated to him (22:1-4).

Impatient with Job’s pleas of innocence, Eliphaz unleashed a torrent of accusations against the man whom God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). He alleged Job had exploited the poor (22:6), refused water to the thirsty, and denied bread to the hungry (22:7). He suggested he had taken advantage of the most vulnerable, sent widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushed orphans (22:9b). Eliphaz dared suggest Job thought God must be blind to his wicked ways, and warned all the troubles that had befallen Job was God’s punishment (22:12-14).

Eliphaz’s diatribe (22:15-30) against Job’s character continued through the balance of Job 22, as he recapped for Job concerning the wicked, and God’s judgment (22:15). Understanding the Book of Job is believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible, we are not surprised to find the worldwide flood still fresh in the minds of the men of Job’s day (22:16). Eliphaz reminded Job how the wicked were destroyed in the flood, for they had rejected the LORD (22:17). Yet, men in Noah’s day, as in our day, enjoyed God’s common grace, and their houses were “filled…with good things” (22:18).

Then, Eliphaz proved the callous, heartless man he was and boasted the righteous rejoice when the wicked are afflicted (22:19), and the righteous are “not cut down” (22:20). Once again, the implication was only the wicked suffer in the manner Job was afflicted, and called upon Job to repent and “return to the Almighty” (22:21-23). Perhaps the first to preach a “prosperity gospel,” Eliphaz promised God would prosper Job (22:26), and answer his prayers if he confessed his sin and repented (22:27-30).

Job 23 – Job’s Appeal for God to Hear His Plea

Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s harsh inferences was recorded in Job 23 and Job 24; however, today’s devotional will conclude focusing solely on Job 23.

Once again, Job employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, and God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained it seemed God was distant, and were he to find Him, he would come to His throne and petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). Knowing the LORD to be just, Job confessed, “I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5). He believed God would not only hear his cause, but would favor him in His judgment (23:6-7). Job complained, he searched everywhere for the LORD, but felt he was abandoned by Him (if only he had known, God was ever watching and attentive to him (23:8-9).

Closing thoughts (23:10-17) – Our devotion concludes with Job giving us a wonderful truth regarding God’s omniscience, mercy, and providences. Job 23:10 presents us with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences: “He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Though his friends misjudged him, Job was comforted knowing the LORD knew his ways and motives (23:11-12). Though men are given to urges, Job knew the LORD was immutable, and not given to whims. Our God is of “one mind” and does as He pleases, and His plan will be accomplished in our lives (23:13-14).

Job was confident, regardless the accusations brought against him by others, he was sure God knew him to be a man of integrity. While friends slandered and misjudged him, he believed God’s judgment was righteous and perfect.

Take comfort and trust in God: The LORD is not given to whims, for “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“Overcoming Bitterness: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

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Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would bring some comfort and pity, he soon realized they had come with one opinion – that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). According to his estimation, the wicked have a hard life, characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). The implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19

An old English adage reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Alas, life experiences teach us that sticks can leave scars, and stones may indeed break bones; but eventually the body will mend and heal. However, the effect of cutting words from a loved one, or friend, sometimes result in sorrows that follow us to the grave. Such is the protest we read from Job in chapter 19.

Job’s Complaint Against His Friends (Job 19:1-5)

Job answered the scorn of his friends, and challenged them, saying, “How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words?(19:2) The harsh judgments of his friends had left Job wounded and despairing of life. He protested, they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed of how they humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Though wronged by groundless judgments, Job fell into the well-worn rut commonly found among the embittered: He kept a tally of the wrongs committed against him. Job declared, “These ten times have ye reproached me (19:3). His heart was turned from the LORD, to those who wronged and accused him. Frustrated by meddling, Job suggested if he was wrong, let it be his business, and his alone (19:4).

“Not Fair!” – Job’s Complaint Against God (19:6-12)

Job then raised a complaint against the LORD, for he believed he was unfairly entangled with sorrows exceeding his failures (19:6). He cried to the LORD, but it seemed heaven was silent (19:7). He felt entrapped (19:8), humiliated (19:9), and his world destroyed (19:10). He complained, it seemed the LORD had become his enemy, and his life under siege (19:11-12).

A Crisis of Alienation (Job 19:13-20)

God’s Word gives us an insight into the human psyche, for in Job’s afflictions, he retreated into the seclusion often sought by those who suffer. If you have known rejection, endured personal attacks, or been dealt a setback, you might have known the temptation to retreat into solitude like a wounded soul.

Job had experienced the alienation of family and friends. He wrote, “[God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me” (19:13). He understood God was author of his troubles, but the response of his family, friends, and acquaintances wounded him. Job felt alone, forsaken by family (19:14a), and forgotten by friends (19:14b). Even the servants of his household dishonored him (19:15-16), and his wife abhorred his “breath [life, spirit]” (19:17). “Young children,” the picture of innocence, disdained him (19:18), and his most intimate friends turned against him (19:19).

A Plea for Pity and Vindication (Job 19:20-25)

His body physically wasted (19:20), Job turned his thoughts from self-pity, and plead with his friends for pity and understanding. He asked, “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (19:21-22). He begged for the vindication of his innocence to be recorded for future generations to consider, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know the cause of his afflictions, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”(19:25).

Closing thoughts (19:26-29) – Though he was looking through the lens of inexplicable sorrows and losses, Job’s faith remained unshaken. He was confident the LORD was his Advocate and Redeemer, and believed He would rescue and ransom him out of trials. Job reasoned, even if his afflictions ended in death, and worms destroyed his body, he believed his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would see God (19:26-27). Job’s rebuttal of Bildad concluded with a warning we should all consider: God is the final judge, and the day of his judgment will come (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

A word of invitation – Don’t be guilty of keeping a tally of wrongs committed against you (19:3). An angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness! Follow Job’s example, answer your enemies (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8), and turn to the LORD (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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God is with us in joys, and in sorrows. (Job 16)

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Scripture reading – Job 16

Eliphaz had made no allowance for Job to be anything less than guilty of some great wickedness. After all, he reasoned, “the wicked man travaileth with pain all his days” (15:20a).  Having begun with that false premise, Eliphaz wrongly concluded God was punishing Job. Job’s response was recorded in three pleas in chapters 16-17.  The first was a plea for mercy, rather than comfort.

Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Job 16:1-6)

The introductory verses of Job 16 reflect the heart of a man who was weary of accusations, brought by men who came under the pretense of showing compassion. Instead of comfort, Eliphaz had wounded and offended Job. He and his friends were, in Job’s words, “miserable comforters” (16:2). Job rebuked Eliphaz , and said, “Shall vain words have an end? Or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?” In 21st century vernacular, Job essentially said, “Stop Talking! What makes you think you have anything worth saying?”

Job’s friends were unsympathetic to his plight, and their words only added to his misery (16:1-14).  Job contemplated, if he were he in Eliphaz’s place, he would be able to heap upon him similar judgments (16:4). Yet, had they born his sorrows, they would have empathy (16:4-5).

Job’s Complaint Against God (Job 16:7-22)

Turning from his friends, I count at least seventeen complaints Job confessed to God in Job 16:7-22. I will not take the time to list all of his complaints, but I remind you they reflect the anguish of a hurting, troubled man. Job believed his trials were from the LORD, but he did not know their cause. His complaints; however, shed light on the plight and emotions that afflict believers when we go through hard times.

Closing thoughts – Take a few moments and consider Job’s grievances. Grief had left him physically, and emotionally exhausted (16:7). Sorrow wrinkled his countenance, and his body was physically wasted (16:8). Yet, rather than pity, his “friends,” attacked him like a lion seizes its prey (16:9). Instead of compassion, they scorned and looked upon him with disdain (16:10-11), leaving him a broken, wounded soul (16:12).

Job was crushed under the weight and sorrows of his troubles (16:13-15). His face was swollen from weeping, and the dark circles under his eyes were like “the shadow of death” (16:16). Still, Job argued his innocence (16:17a), confessed his devotion to God (“my prayer is pure,” 16:17b), and maintained he had harmed no man (16:18). While his friends scorned him, and added to his sorrows (16:19-20a), Job held out hope God would vindicate him before he died (16:20b-22).

I close with a common adage for those who feel life is hanging by a thread:

TIE A KNOT, HANG ON, AND TRUST GOD!

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“God Has Got the Whole World in His Hands” (Job 12; Job 13)

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Scripture reading – Job 12; Job 13

Zophar had contended that Job’s troubles were indicative of unconfessed sin (Job 11), and concluded his admonition with three challenges:  Repent (11:13-14); Be restored (11:15-19); but Be forewarned – A man who refuses to repent of his sin will vainly seek rest, refuge, and hope (11:20).

Job’s reproof of Zophar’s denunciation is recorded in Job 12-14. Today’s devotional will consider the first two of the three chapters (Job 12-13).

Job 12 – Four Spiritual Lessons in the Sovereignty and Providence of God

Job’s initial response to Zophar was sarcastic, asserting, “2No doubt…wisdom shall die with you” (12:2). In other words, Job argued that Zophar presumed he had all wisdom, and no doubt believed that wisdom would perish with him.

Continuing his reproof, Job declared, “I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?” (12:3) Although bearing the sorrows of his trials, Job’s confidence in the LORD, and his personal knowledge of God’s ways was unshaken by Zophar’s pride and condemnation. Job contended he was his friend’s equal, and he had heard nothing spoken that was not common knowledge among men (12:3). There are several lessons we might derive from Job’s defense.

Lesson – Trials are not indicative of sin or God’s judgment. (12:4-8)

Refuting Zophar’s contention that only the wicked suffer so many sorrows, Job observed, “6The tabernacles [houses or households] of robbers prosper, And they that provoke God are secure; Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly” (12:6).

Job’s observation was the opposite of Zophar’s conclusion. Using the order and laws of nature as the basis of his argument (12:7-8), Job concluded that the influence of sin in the world dictates that the stronger prey upon the weak (the beasts, fowls, and fish are proofs, 12:7-8).

Lesson – God is Sovereign, and He Will Not Abdicate His Authority (12:9-15)

The life and breath of “every living thing” is in God’s hands (12:9-10), and the wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God (12:11-13). God is all-powerful, and no man or nation can contend with His providences. What the LORD determines to break down, no man can rebuild (12:14a). He controls the floodwaters, and sends or withholds the rain (12:15). All men are under God’s control, for “the deceived and the deceiver are His” (12:16).

Lesson – No Man Can Contend with Divine Providence and Win (12:17-24).

God humiliates counselors, and makes fools of judges (12:17). He upends the bondage of kings, and entangles them in their own devices (12:18). He humiliates the mighty (12:19), and frustrates the counsel “of the aged” (12:20). He brings the powerful to disgrace (12:21). He brings to light the plots made in secret (12:22). He is Sovereign of the nations, and “increaseth [strengthens] the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth [leads] them again” (12:23).

Lesson – God Frustrates the Heads of the Nations, Leaving Them Blind (12:24-25)

Job 12:23–2524He taketh away the heart [mind; will; understanding] of the chief [leaders] of the people of the earth, And causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way [perplexed, and confused]. 25They grope in the dark without light, And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.

Job 13 – Job’s focus turns from his friends to God.

Job 13 begins with the same contention he stated in the early verses of Job 12: His friends are no wiser than he (13:1-2), and he does not need them superseding God’s authority or speaking for Him (13:3). He rejects their counsel, contending they were “forgers of lies…physicians of no value” (13:4). He accused them of dishonoring God, by supposing to speak on His behalf (13:5-13).

I conclude with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences found in the Bible: Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him (13:15a). Job was confident that, though his life might be taken in death, the Lord would not forsake him.

What about you? Will you trust God, when it appears it will cost you everything? Will you trust Him when you feel humiliated, and betrayed? Will your faith remain unshaken, when all seems lost?

Psalm 23:44Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

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Wise Counsel, Foolish Heart (Job 11)

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Scripture reading – Job 11

Job 11 introduces us to the third of Job’s friends, “Zophar the Naamathite” (11:1). While his age is not given, I offer two observations that lead me to suggest he was the youngest of the three. The first, Zophar was the last to speak, and culturally would have deferred to his elders. Secondly, his zeal and untethered speech seemed unusually harsh. Like his companions, Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar’s counsel was unkind, direct, and insensitive. He had listened when his elders interrogated Job, and was offended when he asserted he had committed no sin to warrant his afflictions.

Zophar Accosted Job with Four Rebukes (11:2-6)

Zophar accused Job of being full of pious talk, saying, “Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified [righteous in God’s eyes]?” (11:2) He assaulted Job’s character, and faulted him for lies, saying, “Should thy lies make men hold their peace?” (11:3a) Thirdly, he suggested Job was irreverent, and mocked men by his answers, when he should be ashamed (11:3b). Finally, He charged Job was a hypocrite, and observed, “For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in thine eyes” (11:4).

A personal note to those who aspire to counsel others: Notice, Zophar lacked the humility and compassion required of godly counselors (Galatians 6:1). He was proud and judgmental, and gave Job no opportunity to respond. He not only accused Job of sin (excessive speech, lies, irreverence, and hypocrisy), but asserted he deserved all that befell him (11:5-6).

The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God (Job 11:7-12)

Like some who profess a knowledge of God and a zeal for His Word, Zophar lacked the compassion and longsuffering of the LORD. Job was overcome by sorrows, and surely the Lord’s invitation would have resonated in his heart: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Yet, in spite of his youth, Zophar had knowledge and understanding regarding His Creator (11:7-9). He confessed; no man can know God apart from His revelation (11:7a). What had the LORD revealed of Himself? Our God is El Shaddai, “the Almighty,” omnipotent, all-powerful God (11:7b). His wisdom is “as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9The measure [of His wisdom] thereof is longer than the earth, And broader than the sea” (Job 11:8–9). (Stop and ponder: Zophar, like Job, was among the most ancient of men in the Scriptures after the flood; yet he had insight into the size of the earth and the breadth of the ocean.)

Then, Zophar boldly declared, God knows all that lies within the heart of man, and challenged Job, saying, the LORD “seeth wickedness also” (11:11b).

Three Admonitions Concluded Zophar’s Criticisms of Job (Job 11:13-20)

Repent: Zophar assumed Job’s troubles were God’s punishment, and urged him to repent, prepare his heart, and humble himself before the LORD (11:13). He counseled Job, and “let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles [lit. tent; house or household]” (11:14), in other words, put away your sin.

Be Restored: Zophar promised, if Job repented, the LORD would restore him (11:15-16). He would soon forget his miseries as swiftly as flood “waters that pass away” (dry up; 11:16). Zophar assured Job his “age” (life; days)would become as bright as the noonday sun (11:17), his hope would be restored (11:18a), and he would find rest (11:18b-19).

Be forewarned: Those who fail to repent will look in vain for rest (“eyes of the wicked shall fail”), find no refuge (“shall not escape”), “and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost” (hopeless; 11:20).

We will consider Job’s response to Zophar’s allegations in Job 12-14.

Closing thought – Zophar unlovingly and presumptuously reproached his elder. Nevertheless, there was truth in his counsel, and a lesson for us: Sincere believers will humble themselves, confess, and repent of sin. Remember:

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 © 2023 – 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
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

God Will Do Right as It Pleases Him, For He is God! (Job 9; Job 10)

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Scripture reading – Job 9; Job 10

Bildad had made his case, and accused Job of hypocrisy (Job 8). Job, however, rather than address Bildad’s harsh judgments, directed his lament to God (Job 9). Notice in Job’s answer, though he was a man of ancient days, he had profound insight into the character and attributes of His Creator. Looking to the God of heaven, Job asked the LORD, “How should a man be just [i.e., justified, righteous, perfect, sinless] with God?” (9:2). For Job, the implication was no man can be “just” or righteous in the sight of God Who is holy, “wise in heart, and mighty in strength” (9:4a).

Though he did not possess the Scriptures as we have them, Job had the knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself as Creator, Sovereign, and Sustainer of creation (9:5-9). Think about it…the LORD can move mountains (9:5), shake the foundations of the earth (9:6), and command the sun, moon, and stars in their orbit (9:7). His wonders cannot be numbered (9:10), and His ways are invisible (9:11). He is Sovereign of all, and “taketh away,” and no man dare say to Him, “What doest thou?” (9:12)

What were the things Job had seen, but the LORD had taken away? He lost his family, possessions, and health. When his “friends” came under the pretense of comforting him, they betrayed him with harsh judgments.

Job Pleads His Cause (9:14-35)

To interpret the balance of Job 9, I invite you to picture a heavenly courtroom, where God sits in judgment (9:15). We find poor Job standing before the presence of the Almighty, and he is both the defendant and his own advocate. Job realized God was a righteous Judge, and he dare not debate Him. After all, the LORD is altogether Just and Omniscient, and under no obligation to answer mortal man (9:16).

Job did not understand the cause for his troubles, and believed he was suffering “without cause” (9:17). In other words, he could think of no transgression to justify what he suffered. His troubles had come so swiftly, he could not catch his breath, before another assailed him (7:18). He searched his heart, and could think of no sin that deserved so many troubles. Nevertheless, with humility, Job acknowledged he had no grounds to protest or declare his innocence. He confessed, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: If I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse” (9:20). Job realized the LORD knew him, better than he knew himself (9:21).

Warning: Never Judge a Man’s Character by His Circumstances (9:22-24)

Eliphaz and Bildad contested, Job’s troubles were upon him because He was proud and unwilling to confess His sin (Job 4-5; 8). They declared his trials were God’s judgment for an egregious sin he had not confessed. Job, though, disputed their harsh judgment, and maintained, “This is one thing, therefore I said it, He [God]destroyeth the perfect and the wicked” (9:22). Job contended, the righteous and the wicked are both afflicted in this world (9:23).

Closing thoughts (9:25-35)

Our study of Job 10 will wait for another time and another year. I conclude today’s study with an invitation to marvel at the insight, discernment and wisdom of ancient Job. He was a man of flesh like you and me, but oh the depth of his wisdom and knowledge of the Creator! His trouble had come upon him “swifter than a post” (literally, a mail courier), and his days were passing like “swift ships…[and] as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (9:25-26). Job set his heart to stop complaining, and turn to the LORD (9:27). His afflictions had given cause for his “friends” to accuse him of wrong (9:28-29). Yet, though he contended his innocence, he realized no man is pure and innocent before God who is perfect, holy, and immortal (9:30-32).

I pray those caught in trials and afflictions of any kind, might not despair. Remember, Job will come to realize God’s hand was never against him. God tried him, to the end his love and faith might be proved and “come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). If you are in the midst of sorrows, meditate on this principle, and claim it:

2 Corinthians 1:3-43 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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
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#131
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You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.