Category Archives: Psalms

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 148; Psalm 149

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

Psalm 148 is divided into two sections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 94; Psalm 119

Psalm 94 – A Cry for Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven words describe the whole body of Scripture.

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 37; Psalm 71

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

Psalm 37

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

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

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

“Fret not” (37:1-2)

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

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

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

“Trust in the LORD” (37:3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Praise Ye the Lord! (Psalm 117)

Scripture reading – Psalm 117

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

My God is My Shield, and Defender (Psalm 115; Psalm 116)

Scripture reading – Psalm 115; Psalm 116

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms that are calls to worship. Leaving no doubt whom the God of Israel is, the psalmist invites people of faith to boast in Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the Sovereign of all!

Psalm 115

The psalmist began his psalm as a prayer, and appealed to God to defend His name and honor (115:1). The heathen had scorned the God of creation, and dared to mock Him, asking, “Where is now their God?” (115:2) Offended by the question, the psalmist answered, “Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (115:3).

The focus of the author then turned to the congregation of Israel, and he reminded them that the idols of the heathen “are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (115:4). The wicked worships idols that “have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7They have hands, but they handle not: Feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat” (115:5-7). Oh, the foolishness of men when they deny the God of creation! They worship gods fashioned like themselves: mute, blind, deaf, and dumb! (115:8).

Turning his thoughts to the LORD, the psalmist exhorted Israel to worship the LORD, reminding the people three times: The LORD “is their help [aid] and their shield [protector; i.e., a small shield used in close combat](115:9-11). What the LORD had been in the past (for He had “been mindful” of Israel), the people were promised He would be in the future: “He will bless them that fear [Him], both small and great” (115:13).

Psalm 115 concluded, reminding believers why the LORD should be worshipped and praised: He is Creator, and “made heaven and earth” (115:15). He is Sovereign, and “the heaven, even the heavens are the LORD’S” (115:16a). As Creator, He made man the keeper of the earth (115:16b; Genesis 1:26, 28-30; 2:15).

Understanding the dead cannot praise the LORD (115:17), the psalmists declared, “we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord” (115:18).

Psalm 116

The author of Psalm 116 opened the psalm with a sincere testimony of his love for the LORD, writing, “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (116:1).

The psalm did not identify the affliction that had brought “sorrows of death” (116:3) upon its author; however, he described his troubles as “the pains of hell” (116:3). In the midst of his sorrows, the psalmist turned to the LORD and prayed, “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul” (116:4b). As he reflected upon God’s character, he prayed, “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful6  The LORD preserveth the simple [innocent]: I was brought low, and he helped me… 8  For [the LORD] hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling” (116:4-8).

Reflecting on the faithfulness of the LORD, and knowing He hears and answers prayer, the psalmist affirmed his devotion to the LORD with a series of vows (116:9-19).

Psalm 116:9 – I will walk before [live; i.e., conscious awareness of the presence of] the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:13 – I will take the cup of salvation [possibly the Passover cup], and call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:14 – I will pay [complete; finish] my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Psalm 116:17 – I will offer [make] to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving [praise], and will call [publicly] upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116:18-19 – I will pay [complete; finish] my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Closing thoughts – Consider Psalm 116:15 – “Precious [honorable, and noble] in the sight [presence] of the LORD is the death [i.e., the day of death] of his saints [people of faith].”

The inevitability of death is the bane of humanity; however, from the LORD’s perspective, the death of His saints is precious, excellent and noble. All believers can say with conviction, “whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Majesty of God (Psalm 113-114)

Scripture reading – Psalm 113-114

Today’s Scripture reading continues our study in the Book of Psalms, and the collection of psalms known as the “Hallelujah Psalms.” Like Psalm 111 and Psalm 112, Psalm 113 and Psalm 114 begin with the phrase: “Praise ye the LORD” (112:1, 113:1, 114:1). Psalm 113 and Psalm 114 belong to a group of psalms identified as the “Hallel psalms” (Psalms 113-118). The “Hallel psalms” were worship psalms sung at three feasts: Feast of the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Psalm 113 – A “Hallel” Psalm

The author of Psalm 113 is not identified; however, its opening verse sounds a call to worship for the congregation of Israel: “Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, Praise the name of the Lord” (113:1).

Let all who “serve,” and obey the LORD, sing Hallelujah to His name! Let the LORD’S name be “blessed” [praised]…for evermore” (113:2), and everywhere, from “the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same” (113:3).

Why should the LORD be praised? (113:4-9)

The LORD should be praised for His throne is “high above all nations,” thrones, kings, and authority (113:4). He is higher than the stars of heaven (113:4b), and there is none that compare to Him (113:5). Our God is so high above, that He must humble Himself to look upon heaven and earth (113:6).

The LORD deserves our praise because he lifts up the poor and needy (113:7), and is able to exalt them over rulers (113:8). It is the LORD that blesses the barren” woman, and she embraces the joy of motherhood (113:9). Hallelujah, “Praise ye the LORD!” (113:9b)

Psalm 114 – A Psalm of Reflection on Israel’s Exodus

Psalm 114 is also a “Hallel psalm.” Because it celebrated Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, it would have been a song heard during the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the “Feast of Booths,” it commemorated Israel’s wandering in the desert; Exodus 23:14-17; Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-43; Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

The psalmist memorialized the works and ways of the LORD in His dealings with Israel. In Psalm 114:1, He brought Israel “out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob [the twelve tribes of Israel], from a people of a strange language” [for Israel had serve Egyptian masters]. The LORD was Priest to Israel, and ordained His house be built in Judah (Jerusalem), for He had chosen “Israel as His dominion” (114:2). He divided the Red Sea when He brought Israel out of Egypt, and drove the Jordan (River) back for the people to cross into Canaan (114:3, 5).

When Israel encamped at Mount Sinai, where the LORD gave Moses His Commandments and Law, His Spirit descended and the mountains and hills trembled at His presence (114:4, 6-7; Exodus 19:18).

The psalmist then called upon all the earth to tremble at the presence of the LORD, saying, “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob” (114:7). In His presence, even the rocks were cleaved in half, and water gushed forth from its fissures (114:8).

Closing thoughts – If you are a novice to Bible studies, you may wonder what application, if any, a psalm about Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness has for 21st century believers.

Besides reminding us of the majesty and greatness of the LORD, we are also reminded that the record of historical events during Israel’s sojourn are instructive for believers of all ages. For instance, the rock from which water came forth to quench the thirst of the people in the wilderness, was a type or picture of Jesus Christ.

Paul writes, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock [literally a massive rock] that followed [came with, or behind] them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The cloud that led and shadowed Israel by day, and the pillar of fire that was with them by night, was Jesus Christ!

Truth – As the LORD was ever with Israel, so He is with all believers who come into His family and walk in His ways. He protects, sustains, and meets our needs just as He did in days of old. While all the earth will one day tremble at His presence, believers are comforted knowing they are never beyond His reach, tender love and care.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“I’ve Got Happiness, How ‘bout You?” (Psalm 112)

Scripture reading – Psalm 112

Psalm 112, like Psalm 111, begins with a word of praise to the LORD and an affirmation that the man who “feareth [reveres] the LORD” is “blessed” [happy] because he “delighteth [desires; takes pleasure] greatly in his commandments [Law; ordinances; precepts]” (112:1).

Consider with me four characteristics of a “Happy Man” found in this brief psalm.

The first characteristic of a “happy man” is that he understands he is the object of God’s grace [i.e. unmerited, undeserved favor].

What manner of man realizes he is the object of God’s grace?  The man that “feareth the LORD” [lit. reveres the name and rejoices in the character of God] and “delighteth greatly in His commandments” (112:1c).  Such a man will find the Law and Commandments of the LORD a delight (Psalm 1:1-2), and his “seed” (sons and daughters in the faith) will know the overflow of God’s grace in His life (112:2).

The second characteristic denotes, a “happy” man is “Upright.” His life is guided by the light of God’s Word (Psalm 119:105), and he fears the LORD (112:4). 

Believers are not spared from dark days. We too suffer sickness, bereave the deaths of loved ones, and face the disappointments of betrayals and broken promises. The righteous, however, are assured: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).  David had observed in an earlier psalm, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The upright are inclined to be “gracious, full of compassion, and righteous,” because they reflect the character of the God whom they love and serve!

Another quality of a “happy” man is that he is agood man” (112:5). 

We notice four traits evidenced in a “good” man’s character:  He is gracious in demeanor (pleasant and pleasing); he is generous (“lendeth” to those in need); he exercises “good sense,” guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5), and he is well “grounded” for a “[good man] shall not be moved for ever” (112:6).

Finally, a “Happy” man is “righteous” (112:7-9). 

There are three qualities of a righteous man listed in the concluding passage of today’s psalm. The first, a righteous man is fearless: “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a), for he has a settled confidence in the LORD. The heart of the righteous is “fixed, trusting in the LORD” (112:7b), and “he shall not be afraid” (112:8b).  He is also freehearted, generous, and giving to the poor (112:9). Rather than a hoarder of riches, he behaves himself as a steward of God’s blessings, ministering to those in need.

Closing thoughts – What is the response of the wicked to a man who is blessed, upright, good and righteous(112:10)

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall see [look; behold; regard] it [the joy and happiness of the righteous], and be grieved [troubled; provoked to anger]; he shall gnash [i.e. grate or grind] with his teeth, and melt away [faint; be discouraged]: the desire [longing; delight; greed] of the wicked [guilty; immoral; ungodly] shall perish [be destroyed].”

What do the wicked see in the righteous man that provokes envy and anger?  They see he is blessed in his generations, established in his way, trusting in times of trouble, established and unafraid, enduring and honored, and full of joy and happiness!

In the words of David, “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Building with the LORD (Psalm 111; Psalm 127)

Scripture reading – Psalm 111; Psalm 127

I cannot say with certainty that Psalm 111 was penned by David; however, the message of the psalm conveys an often repeated theme found in the psalms that bear the king’s name: Praise and Thanksgiving.

Psalms 111 – Hallelujah!

A Psalm of Praise (111:1-5)

The psalm begins with David calling upon the congregation, “Praise ye the LORD” (111:1a), an expression of thanksgiving that joyfully boasts in the LORD Who is the Eternal, Self-existent God of creation. The king vowed, “I will praise [give thanks to] the Lord with my whole heart [mind, thoughts], in the assembly of the upright [keepers of the Law], and in the congregation” (111:1).

Sincere praise arises from a trusting, undivided heart.  When the psalmist considered the works of the LORD, the wonder of His creation, and the expanse of the heavens, he shared the delight of all who boast in the LORD, “My God made that!” (111:2).

The works of the LORD are “glorious” to behold  (111:3) and “wonderful” (111:4a), with every detail reflecting the Creator who is “gracious and full of compassion” (111:4). He honors His covenant with man, and never forgets His promises (111:5).

Why should we glorify the LORD? (111:6-10)

We need only look around us to see God’s works, and be reminded that He is truth, and His judgment and commandments never waver (111:6-7). Though we live in uncertain times, and in the midst of shaking and changing, yet the commandments of the LORD “stand fast for ever and ever” (111:8). The winds of political change should never cause a believer to doubt the principles and precepts of God’s immutable Word (111:9).

Closing thoughts – Remember this principle: The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning [fundamental; the most important thing] of wisdom: a good understanding [insight; discretion] have all they that do [make; perform] his commandments: his praise [glory] endureth [stands; is established] for ever [eternity].” (Psalm 111:10)

Psalm 127 – Building a House to the LORD

The devotional prior to today’s Scripture reading was from 1 Chronicles 28-29, and was King David’s farewell challenge to Israel, and his son Solomon. Though not directly attributed to David, the title of Psalm 127, “A Song of Degrees for Solomon,” leads me to believe it was written for him about the time he assumed the throne, and undertook the task of building the Temple. If written by David, certainly the first verse resonated in Solomon’s heart: 1Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (127:1).

Without the LORD, all labor is futile and vain. (127:1)

Men may accomplish outstanding works, and undertake incredible feats in a lifetime, but without God’s blessing, their works and efforts cannot endure, and often perish before the man himself has passed. Only with the LORD can a man build something that withstands the test of time. Without His blessing, our accomplishments are all for naught.

Warning: It is better to work hard, and trust God to bless.

Psalm 127:22It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: For so he giveth his beloved sleep.

In this life, we often set alarms to wake up early, only to work late into the night, striving for success. We may achieve worldly fame, financial success, and have all manner of accolades bestowed upon us; however, it is often to the neglect of family, and perhaps at the sacrifice of things that are eternal.

The Blessing of Children: The More the Merrier (127:3-5)

Psalm 127:3-53Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: And the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; So are children of the youth.

5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: They shall not be ashamed, But they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Little explanation is necessary for Psalm 127:3-5; however, its application is contrary to a culture that rejects children as a burden and hardship. The Biblical perspective is, “Children are an heritage,” a gift, and a blessing “of the LORD.

The father of sons who fear the LORD is blessed, and strengthened because of them, and they are like “arrows” in the hand of a mighty warrior. Such a man is courageous, bold, and confident even when enemies are at the gate.

Closing thoughts – What manner of son or daughter are you? Does your life strengthen, or weaken the hearts of your parents? Are you a joy, or a curse to them?

Proverbs 19:2626He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, Is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD is Great! (Psalm 145; 1 Chronicles 26)

Scripture reading – Psalm 145; 1 Chronicles 26

1 Chronicles 26 – Porters, Guards, and Administrators

David’s census of the Levites continues in 1 Chronicles 26 with the assignment of men and families who would serve as “the porters” of the Temple (26:1-19). The “porters” were in fact gatekeepers, and the ancient equivalent of what churches today would describe as a security team.

How important were the porters? They were of the tribe of Levi, and chosen by the LORD to serve Him on behalf of Israel. It was their task to guard the entrances to the Temple, and be alert to thieves and enemies. They were extraordinary men, and were as serious about their tasks as the priests were theirs. The porters were described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6), “strong men” (26:7), and “able men” (26:8). They were assigned by families to gates (26:13-19), and there were twenty-four companies in all.

In addition to guarding the Temple, some Levite households were keepers of the Temple treasuries (26:20-28). These families were entrusted with securing the “treasures of the house of God, and [watched] over the dedicated things” (26:20). It was their task to secure the gifts offered by the people, and the “spoils won in battles” (26:20). The treasuries of the Temple were dedicated to the maintenance of “the house of the LORD” (26:27).

A third group of Levite families oversaw “the outward business over Israel, and were officers and judges” (26:29). By “outward business,” we are to understand it was the governing of the land outside the Temple. They were the counselors of the law to the king and his officers. They were “men of valour…in the service of the king” (26:30). Some were assigned to the tribes west of the Jordan River (26:30), while others were assigned to the tribes on the east side of the Jordan (26:32). Theirs was a sacred trust, “for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king” (26:32).

Psalm 145 – A Psalm of Praise

Unlike many of the psalms of David we have studied, Psalm 145 is a triumphant psalm of praise, and its central focus is God’s character, and attributes. The psalm begins with David promising to praise the LORD every day, and forever (145:1-2).

Why should the LORD be praised? (145:3-20)

You will notice the balance of the psalm answers that question (145:3-20). We should praise the LORD because He is great (145:3), strong (145:4), gracious and compassionate. He is patient and merciful (145:8). He supports the weak (145:14), sustains all who look to Him for help (145:15), and provides for every living thing (145:16). The LORD is righteous, and holy (145:17). When you call upon Him, He is near (145:18). He answers prayer (145:19), and preserves all who love Him (145:20).

Closing thoughts – No wonder David ended the psalm, resolving, 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (145:21).

David modeled for believers the manner in which we should worship the LORD. We should not mindlessly “go through the motions,” giving little thought to the words of our prayers, or the songs of our praise. We should consciously meditate upon the great truths God has revealed about His character, and attributes, allowing who He is to passionately, and energetically prompt us to praise His name.

The LORD is great, and worthy of our praise!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

PRAYER: God’s Prescription for Troubles (Psalm 143; Psalm 144)

Scripture reading – Psalm 143; Psalm 144

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms, and the titles of both Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 credit David as the author. Psalm 144 is a psalm of worship and praise, while Psalm 143 is a penitent, mournful psalm. Today’s devotional will be taken from the latter.

We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life.  When he was assailed by enemies, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; 61:3).  When trials came and troubles threatened to engulf him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1).  When he faced the scourge of the consequences of his sins, he called upon the Lord, confident He would hear, and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).

Psalm 143 continues David’s practice of prayer and opens with the king calling upon the LORD for grace. He implored God, “Give ear to my supplications [plea for mercy]: In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness [remembering God is altogether righteous, and will only do that which is right and good]” (143:1).

Notice, David did not pray for justice, but for mercy. Why? Because no man or woman can be justified in the sight of a holy, just God. David intreated the LORD, “enter not into judgment with thy servant: For in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (143:2).

David did not identify the enemy who had caused him such consternation; however, he was certainly at a low place in life. The king enumerated the wickedness of his adversary, declaring he had been “persecuted…smitten…[and made to] dwell in darkness” (143:3). David confessed he was “overwhelmed…[and his] heart…desolate” (143:4).

Where do you turn when you feel overwhelmed, and depressed?

David prayed (143:1-4), and then he remembered “the days of old” (or we might say, “the good old days,” 143:5). He remembered better days, and as he meditated on the providences of God past (His ways and works), the king’s spirit was stirred, and he literally and figuratively, reached out to God and confessed, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah” (143:6). The LORD wants believers to have that same passion and longing, and to realize only He can satisfy the longing of a thirsty soul.

Eight Intimate Petitions (143:7-11)

Notice the personal nature of David’s prayer to the LORD: “Hear me speedily (143:7)…Open my hearing to “thy lovingkindness” (143:8)…Reveal to me “the way wherein I should walk” (143:8)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teachme to do thy will” (143:10)…Lead me into the land of uprightness” (143:10)…”Quicken [revive] me” (143:11)…and Save me “out of trouble” (143:11). We do not know what “trouble” David was facing; however, he was in a place that only the LORD could deliver his soul from sorrows (143:11b).

Closing thoughts – Because you live in a sin-cursed world, it is inevitable that you will cross paths with an adversary; one who savors your sorrow, and is a trouble to your soul.

Where do you turn when troubles come? Many allow troubles to mount up until they resort to counselors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements.

What did David do? He turned to the LORD, cried for mercy (143:1-2), assessed his circumstances (143:3-4), and then he remembered. He remembered better days, and the ways and works of God (143:5). He reminded the LORD, “I am thy servant” (143:12), for he remembered the LORD is jealous for His servants’ sake (143:12).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith