Category Archives: Psalms

Count Your Days, and Your Blessings! (Psalm 90)

Count Your Days, and Your Blessings! (Psalm 90)

Scripture reading – Psalm 90

We depart from the Book of Numbers, to consider Psalm 90 for today’s Scripture reading. Psalm 90 is a prayer of intercession, and a song of praise that was authored by Moses, and is therefore the oldest of the Psalms. Certainly, it would have been one of the psalms heard in the Temple, and sung by the people when they assembled in the wilderness before the Tabernacle.

Scholars generally place Psalm 90 about the time Israel rebelled, and turned back from the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14). The context is most likely when the people began murmuring against the LORD, and He threatened to “smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them” (Numbers 14:11-12). Moses implored the LORD to spare the congregation (Numbers 14:13-19), and I believe Psalm 90 memorialized that occasion.

Psalm 90 – Great is the LORD!

The Lord had proven He was the refuge for Israel (90:1), the Creator (90:2a) who set the foundations of the mountains, and “formed the earth and the world” (90:2). He is the God of eternity (90:2b), and the absolute Sovereign of Creation (90:2). What is man? He is temporal, and dust (90:3).

When I was young, I could not fully grasp the meaning of Psalm 90:4. Moses wrote, “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (90:4). I have come to know all to well the fleeting of time, and life itself. A lifetime, or even a generation passes, and it seems “as a watch in the night” (90:4), and our lives are “soon cut off, and we fly away” (90:10).

Lest one be tempted to wallow in self-pity, and sorrow for the years that are past and cannot be reclaimed, Moses states a principle that should guide believers: So teach us to number our days [to make them count], that we may apply [give; attain] our hearts [understanding; i.e. thoughts] unto wisdom (90:12).

How different your life would be, if you knew the year, day, the hour, God has appointed for your death (Hebrews 9:27)! Many things that consume your thoughts, and your time would suddenly prove trivial. Moments to which you give little thought, and opportunities that seem routine, might suddenly be savored, if not treasured. Every day is a gift of God’s loving grace, and should be numbered and treasured.

Set aside pettiness, and be grateful for the day God has given you. Pray with Moses: “Let the beauty [grace, and favor] of the Lord our God be upon us: And establish thou [LORD] the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” (90:17)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Did You Know, Men of Ancient Times Knew the Earth Was Suspended in Space? (Job 25-26)

Scripture reading – Job 25-26

Job 25 – Bildad’s Final Reply

Bildad the Shuhite, the last of Job’s friends to speak, offered his final reply to Job in Job 25. Only six verses long, and unlike the vein of his earlier judgments, the focus of Bildad’s comments was upon God’s character. Remember, the opinion of his friends was that Job’s troubles suggested some great unconfessed sin for which God was punishing him.

Bildad’s final speech declared lofty truths regarding God, identifying Him as the Sovereign of His creation (25:2a), whose reign brings peace (25:2b). The heavenly armies of the Lord are innumerable, and the bright light of His person never sets upon His creation (25:3). The righteousness of God is brighter than the moon, and of purer light than the stars of heaven (25:5).

Man, however, cannot be justified (declared righteous) in the sight of God, for he is “born of a woman” (25:4). All men are sinners by nature, and “there [are] none righteous” (Romans 3:10); “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What is man? In contrast to God who is altogether holy, man is “a worm…and the son of man, which is a worm” (25:6). The word “worm” is a maggot; a disgusting worm that feeds upon dead flesh. In other words, man is so depraved, so inferior to God, that we are as maggots.

“How then can man be justified with God?” asked Bildad.

If sinful man is hopelessly depraved, and cannot find peace with God, what is a sinner to do? Paul answered man’s dilemma when he declared, “being justified [declared righteous and acceptable] by faith [in God’s offer of salvation and forgiveness], we have peace with God through [by] our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

Job 26 – The Majesty of Our Creator

Job 26 commences Job’s longest, and last speech (Job 26-31:40). He denounced Bildad for his miserable failure. Instead of comfort, he had brought condemnation (26:2). Rather than sensible counsel, he had taught error, and brought sorrow (26:3-4).

Having listened to his friends claims of wisdom, Job revealed to them a knowledge of God that is astounding, even to 21st century humanity. Recollecting that the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Scriptures, we find truths in Job 26:7-9 that are a marvel to consider, and were only in the past millennium accepted by scientists.

Job 26:7 7He [God] stretcheth out the north over the empty place, And hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Did you know that above the north pole, astronomers have found a space in which there are no visible stars [1]; in other words, there is an “empty place?” (26:7a) Job also revealed that God created, and He “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (26:7b).

Ancient men believed that the earth was held up, or was sitting upon something. Hindu worshippers believed the earth was resting on the back of an elephant, which was standing on a tortoise. [2] The Greeks believed the god they identified as Atlas was holding the world on his shoulders. God, however, had revealed to Job that the earth was suspended in space, and hanging on nothing!

Job 26:8 8He [God] bindeth up [wraps up; locks up] the waters in his thick clouds; And the cloud is not rent [breached; torn] under them.

Job knew that God had locked up tons of water in the fluffy, beautiful clouds that we see suspended in the sky. Though bearing tons of water, the clouds are “not rent,” until God has determined where and when rain will fall upon the earth. [3] So much more might be said, but I will conclude with Job’s closing observation in Job 26.

Job 26:14 14Lo, these are parts [limits; vastness] of his [God’s] ways: But how little a portion [only a whisper] is heard of him? But the thunder [roar] of his power who can understand [grasp; make sense of]?

Our Creator is so great, that no man can define Him with words. Let the heavens declare His majesty (Psalm 19:1; 97:6), and allow the image of His Son dying on the Cross remind us how much He loved the world (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

[1] Butler, J. G. (2008). Job: The Suffering Saint (Vol. Number Twenty-Four, p. 347). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.
[2] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Job (p. 451). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.
[3] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: Job (p. 453). New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company.

“God is Our Refuge and Strength” (2 Kings 19; Psalms 46, 80, 135)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 19; Psalms 46, 80, 135

Our Scripture reading returns today to 2 Kings 19, but you will notice that it takes us to a familiar time and place that is recorded in 2 Chronicles and the Book of Isaiah.

We have already noted that Hezekiah, king of Judah, was a great king who humbled himself before the LORD (2 Chronicles 31:10), organized the priesthood, restored worship and offering sacrifices in the Temple, and decreed that the people obey the Law and Commandments (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).

As we have noted in our study of 2 Chronicles 36, the Assyrian King Sennacherib had invaded Israel, overthrown Samaria, that nation’s capital city, and then began his campaign against Judah. Sennacherib sent an emissary named Rabshakeh who demanded Hezekiah pay tribute to Assyria. Rather than turn to the LORD, Hezekiah foolishly sought an alliance with Egypt that failed.

2 Kings 19

Facing the threat of a formidable foe, Hezekiah went to the Temple and cried out to the LORD (19:1). The king then sent messengers to Isaiah, seeking his counsel and a word from the LORD (19:2-5).

Isaiah sent an assurance from the LORD that He would send a “rumour” that would so trouble the king of Assyria, and that he would withdraw from Judah and return to his homeland where he would “fall by the sword” (19:6-7).

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was incensed by Hezekiah’s refusal and scoffed His faith in the LORD (19:10). Boasting of all the nations he had conquered and the gods of those nation’s failure to help them, Sennacherib threatened he would do the same to Judah (19:11-13). Hezekiah then cried out to the LORD and Isaiah sent a messenger to the king who assured him that God would utterly defeat Assyria (19:20-34).

The LORD kept His promise and we read, “it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they [Judah] arose early in the morning, behold, they [Assyrians soldiers] were all dead corpses” (19:35).

As Isaiah had prophesied, Sennacherib return defeated to his homeland where he was killed by his sons (19:36-37).

I close with a blessed assurance of God’s sovereignty (Psalm 46:1-3, 9-11).

Psalm 46:1-3 – “1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Psalm 46:9-11 – “9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Solomon’s Faithfulness to the LORD (1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8)

Scripture reading assignment – 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8

Having completed the Temple, “the glory of the LORD” so filled it that the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:11). Solomon then offered a prayer of thanksgiving and dedicated the Temple before the people (8:22-53).

1 Kings 9 is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer of dedication.

The LORD promised to bless Solomon if he would be a man of “integrity [upright; innocent] of heart, and in uprightness [honesty; walking a straight path], to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep [observe; heed] my statutes [ordinances; rules; laws] and my judgments [verdict]” (9:4).

God warned Solomon, should he or his children disobey His Law and Commandments and serve idols, the nation would be “cut off” and everyone would know Israel had forsaken the LORD and He had brought judgment against the nation (9:5-9).

The closing verses of 1 Kings 9 detail for us the cities Solomon built with Gentile slave laborers (9:15-24). In addition to the cities, we learn that Hiram, king of Tyre, assisted Solomon in building a fleet of ships (9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18).

2 Chronicles 8 – The Twenty-first Year of Solomon’s Reign

2 Chronicles 8 records the accomplishments of Solomon at the close of the twentieth year of his reign (8:1) including the cities he had built and others he had conquered (8:2-6).

Showing the expanse of his realm, Solomon levied extra taxes on those who were strangers in his domain (8:7-8) and they were constricted to bear the labor of his palace. Solomon’s army and their captains were men of Israel (8:9-10).

2 Chronicles 8 concludes noting the various sacrifices Solomon offered and the feast days he and Israel observed as a people during his reign (8:12-16).

What can we take away from today’s Scripture?

Let’s remember Solomon’s commitment to the LORD and his faithful observance of the sacrifices and feasts days according to the Law (8:12-13). He made worship a priority and assured that the priests and Levites would faithfully perform their duties, leading the people in praising the LORD and singing the psalms (8:14-15).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Why Trust the LORD? (Psalms 134, 146-150)

Daily Scripture Reading – Psalms 134, 146-150

Today’s Scripture reading comprises six psalms: Psalms 134, 146, 147, 148, 149, and 150. I will limit the devotional commentary to Psalm 146.

The author of Psalm 146 is not known; however, his purpose in writing the psalm is obvious: It is a song of praise to the LORD.  Notice that the psalmist employs numerous names for God that are meant to describe His nature, personality, and character.

An Explanation: Understanding a word in the Hebrew texts can be translated into English with more than one word. It is my desire to give you a broader understanding and insight into this beautiful psalm of praise for your own worship and edification. My amplification of words in the text is in brackets.

The psalmist begins Psalm 146 directing his praise and worship to the only One worthy of praise…the LORD (146:1-2).

Psalm 146:1-2 1  Praise [Hallelujah; Glory; Boast; Celebrate] ye the LORD [Yahweh; the sacred name of the LORD]. Praise the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], O my soul.
2  While I live [have life] will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises [sing psalms] unto my God [Elohim; mighty God] while I have any being.

The psalmist exhorts and admonishes the people to not put their trust or confidence in man (146:3-4).  

Psalm 146:3-4  3  Put not your trust [confidence] in princes, nor in the son [children] of man, in whom there is no help [salvation; deliverance].
4  His breath [man’s breath] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day [time] his thoughts perish.

Whether a prince among men or a mere mortal man; all men live under the sentence of death (Romans 6:23). Their breath disappears as a vapor, their bodies return to dust, and their plans and designs perish with them.

Such is the spiritual lesson the rich man encountered in Luke 12. 

Experiencing an overflow of the fruits of his labor at the time of harvest, the rich man determined to tear down his barns and hoard God’s blessings (Luke 12:17-18).  God judged the man a fool (Luke 12:19-20). Because his affections were on earthly riches, he died a spiritual pauper… “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21).

While the rich man’s affections for earthly treasures perished with him, the psalmist describes the man who looks to the LORD as “Happy” (146:5).

Psalm 146:5  5  Happy [Blessed; prosperous] is he that hath the God [Almighty God] of Jacob for his help [aid], whose hope [expectation] is in the LORD his God:

Why should you trust the LORD (146:6-9)? 

The psalmist suggests four qualities that lead us to trust the LORD.

We should trust the LORD because He is Creator of heaven, earth, the sea and “all that therein is”. (146:6)

Psalm 146:6  6  Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth [preserves; guards] truth for ever [i.e. God is forever faithful; trustworthy]:

We should trust the LORD because He is faithful and true: He “keepeth truth for ever” (146:6b).

We should trust the LORD because He is just and compassionate. (146:7-9)

Psalm 146:7-9 7  Which executeth [lit. to make or prepare] judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth [sets at liberty] the prisoners: 8  The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth [lifts up; comforts] them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous [just]: 9  The LORD preserveth [keeps watch; regards; saves] the strangers [sojourners]; he relieveth [bear witness; admonish; protects] the fatherless and widow: but the way [journey; path] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] he turneth upside down [subverts; thwarts; overthrows].

Fourthly, we should trust the LORD because He is King Eternal, the God of Zion of whose kingdom there is no end (146:10).

Psalm 146:10 10  The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

How foolish to trust man or place your confidence in earthly possessions!  The LORD is eternal, just, compassionate, faithful, true and our Creator!

Why trust any other?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

If You Had One Wish…What Would It Be? (2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

We come today to a new history book in our chronological reading of the Old Testament Scriptures. Whereas 1 Chronicles was a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel; 2 Chronicles is a parallel history to events recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Kings.

For the sake of interpretation, I suggest that 1 Kings and 2 Kings are a record of events written from man’s viewpoint.   In contrast, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, covering the same age as the Book of Kings, are written from God’s perspective.

1 Chronicles concluded with King David’s exhorting Israel to accept Solomon as king, and to support him in the greatest undertaking of his life, building a Temple for the LORD in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 29:1-25).  With modest fanfare, David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (1 Chronicles 29:28).

2 Chronicles 1 opens with Solomon sitting on his father’s throne “and the LORD God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (1:1).

Solomon began his reign by calling for Israel to join him in worshipping the LORD at Gibeon, the historic location of the Mosaic Tabernacle (1:2-3).  Remember that David had relocated the Ark of God to Jerusalem where he provided a new tent for the Ark until the Temple would be constructed (1:4). The ancient brazen altar from the days of Moses was at Gibeon (1:5-6) and Solomon “offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it” (1:6).

In Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon “and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee” (1:7). 

What an incredible proposition!  “Solomon, ask what you will and I shall give thee!”

What would you request should God grant you the opportunity to ask for something, for anything, and it would be granted?    Would you ask for riches?  Possessions?  Power?  Popularity?  Fame?  The answer to that question reveals a lot about who you are; your affections, priorities, and passions.

Solomon’s answer to God’s proposition no doubt puts us all to shame!  The young king did not request those things which are pursued by carnal, worldly-minded men.  Solomon’s petition revealed a heart of deep humility.

2 Chronicles 1:10 – “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?”

God commended Solomon for his request and promised to reward him with not only wisdom and knowledge, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (1:12).

The closing verses of 2 Chronicles 1 reveal the vastness of Solomon’s wealth as the LORD blessed him as He had promised.

Psalms 72 is believed to be David’s prayer for God’s blessings on the reign of his son Solomon.

In its immediate application, Psalm 72 is indeed an invocation for God to bless the reign of Solomon; however, I believe in its broader application it is a prophetic psalm. The psalm describes a universal kingdom over which the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will reign when He returns and sets up His righteous kingdom on the earth (72:1-3, 7).

Solomon’s kingdom was a great kingdom; however, Christ’s future kingdom will span “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (72:8).  His will be a compassionate kingdom, “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. 13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy” (72:12-13).

What a glorious day when men will be redeemed “from deceit and violence” (72:14), and the name of the LORD “shall endure for ever…and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call him blessed” (72:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Bible Stands…Though the Earth May Crumble (Psalms 119)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 119

Psalm 119 is a beloved psalm that is the longest of the psalms consisting of 176 verses! Although the author is not named, I believe King David wrote this eloquent song whose subject is the Word of God, the Law, the Commandments, its precepts, and the Testimonies of the LORD.

Undertaking a devotional commentary based on Psalm 119 is at the least daunting, if not impossible. Understanding a complete reading of the psalm will in itself be demanding; I therefore, will limit my effort to an introduction and trust you will read with pen or pencil in hand.

For the sake of introduction and grasping the organization of the psalm, I quote from Charles Spurgeon’s commentary titled “The Treasury of David.” Spurgeon writes of Psalm 119: “The Psalm is alphabetical. Eight stanzas commence with one [Hebrew] letter, and then another eight with the next [Hebrew] letter, and so the whole Psalm proceeds by octonaries [each section consisting of eight lines] quite through the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.” [You will notice a Hebrew letter is the heading for each eight-verse section.]

Knowing the primary subject of Psalm 119 is the Word of God, I challenge you to consider the motivation for reading, studying, and meditating in God’s Word daily.

You will notice numerous words that define the “Word of God” throughout the psalm. The Word, Law, Judgments, Statutes, Precepts, Commandments, and Testimonies are all references to the whole body of Scripture.

Why should you read the Bible daily? I could cite many reasons for being a disciplined student of God’s Word, but I will limit myself to three: Hope, Comfort, and Direction.

Psalm 119:49 states that “the word…caused me to hope.” Psalm 119:50, the Word “is my comfort in my affliction.” Psalm 119:59, the Word of God is my spiritual GPS, for “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.”

I pray that David’s passion for the Word of God will be your testimony.

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

I’ve Got Happiness! How ‘bout You? (Psalms 111-118)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-118

Today’s Scripture reading entails eight glorious chapters in the Book of Psalms; however, I will limit this devotional commentary to Psalm 111 and Psalm 112.

Psalm 111 – Getting Wisdom

Three of today’s psalms begin with the same theme and call to worship: “Praise ye the LORD”(Psalms 111:1; 112:1; 113:1).

In essence, “Praise ye the LORD” is an expression of thanksgiving that boasts in the LORD Who is the Eternal, Self-existent God of creation. The psalmist asserts he will “Praise the LORD” with his “whole heart” – his mind, thoughts, and understanding undivided and focused on Him (111:1).

His praise and thanksgiving will be declared not only in the midst of those who are numbered among the “upright” (meaning those who obey the LORD’S Law and Commandments), but also in the midst of all the people (“the congregation” – 111:1).

In what will the psalmist praise the LORD? His meditations are on His works, the wonder and expanse of His creation (111:2) and “His righteousness”— for He is just, and “is gracious and full of compassion” (111:4b).

Believer, do you want to be numbered among the wise? Do you desire to be a man or woman of discernment and understanding? Remember this principle:

Psalm 111:10 – The fear [reverence; awe that begets righteous behavior] of the LORD is the beginning [is fundamental; foundational; most important thing] of wisdom: a good understanding [discretion; ] have all they that do [make; perform] his commandments: his praise [giving thanks] endureth [stands; is established] for ever [eternity].

Psalm 112 – Four Qualities of a “Blessed” Man

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

Notice there are four essential characteristics of a “Happy” man in Psalm 112: A “Happy” man is Blessed (112:1), Upright (112:4), Good (112:5-6a) and Righteous (112:7-9).

A man is happy and blessed because he recognizes he is the object of God’s grace (i.e. unmerited favor). 

Why is he the object of God’s grace?  Because he “feareth the LORD” (lit. reveres the name and rejoices in the character of the LORD) and “delighteth greatly in His commandments” (112:1c).  Such a man finds the Law and Commandments of the LORD a delight (Psalm 1:1-2), and the overflow of God’s grace in that righteous man’s life magnifies his influence (112:2) and blessed state (should his children follow his righteous path).

Secondly, a man is happy and “blessed” when he is “upright,” meaning just, righteous, a man who fears and reveres the LORD (112:4). 

God’s people are not spared from dark days, for they too suffer sickness, death of loved ones, disappointments, betrayals and broken promises. The righteous, however, have an assurance: “there ariseth light in the darkness” (112:4a).  David observed the same, writing, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Believers are not spared dark days; however, they are assured the light of the LORD will pierce the darkness. What a precious promise! When we find we are “in the darkness,” the LORD promises He is “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous” (112:4b).

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

We notice four traits evidenced in a “good” man’s character (112:5-6).

He is gracious in his demeanor (pleasant and pleasing – 112:5a). He is generous (he lendeth to those in need – 112:5b). He exercises “good sense,” guiding “his affairs with discretion” (112:5). He is well “grounded,” for a good man “shall not be moved for ever” (112:6a).

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

We find three qualities of this righteous man in verses 7-9. He is fearless, “he shall not be afraid of evil tidings” (112:7a), for he has a settled confidence in the LORD.  His heart is firm, “fixed, trusting in the LORD” (112:7b), and “shall not be afraid” (112:8b). He is freehearted, generous and giving to the poor (112:9). A righteous man is not a hoarder of riches, but a steward of God’s blessings and a conduit for ministering to those in need.

I conclude today’s devotional inviting you to take note of the wicked man’s response to the Happy man who is Blessed, Upright, Good and Righteous:

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall see [look; behold; regard] it, and be grieved [troubled; provoked; angry]; 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].”

Envy! The joy and happiness of the righteous is a grief, a sorrow to the wicked who grind their teeth like rabid dogs and “melt away,” defeated and consumed by their envy (112:10c).

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Give All Praise, for the LORD is King (Psalms 108-110)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 108-110

Today’s Scripture reading is three psalms, all of which are attributed to King David.  For the sake of brevity, I will introduce each and limit this commentary.

Psalm 108 – A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving

David declares, “O God, my heart is fixed” (108:1). The “heart” in Scripture is more than a physical organ; it is, in its broadest sense a reference to one’s mind, thoughts, and is the seat of the emotions.

When King Solomon taught his son, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5a), it was a exhortation for him to give God his whole being: every thought, every aspiration, and every desire devoted to the LORD.

On what was David’s heart fixed?

Psalm 108:1-3 – O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise [lit. sing songs of praise], even with my glory [David was king; however, he was unashamedly devoted to giving his glory to worshiping the LORD]. 2  Awake [Be aroused; stirred], psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early [morning; at dawn]. 3  I will praise [give thanks] thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

David’s heart was resolved to give praise to God! The king broke into a song of praise and commanded both voice and instruments to praise the LORD (108:1-3). We are reminded once again the importance of song and instruments in worshiping the LORD.

Psalm 109 – The “Iscariot Psalm”

Psalm 109 and Psalm 110 are Messianic psalms. Psalm 109 is known as the “Iscariot Psalm” because it gives a prophetic picture of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ (i.e. “Jesus the Messiah”).

I hope to revisit Psalm 109 in greater detail in another year, but I invite you to ponder several prophetic statements in this psalm that were fulfilled in Christ’s betrayal, humiliation, and death. For instance, the chief priests and Sanhedrin fulfilled Psalm 109:2 when false accusers came and alleged Jesus had committed blasphemy (Matthew 26:59).

When we read, “they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Psalm 109:5), we remember Pilate’s judgment of Jesus saying, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4, 6).

Psalm 109:6-9 prophesy that Satan would enter “a wicked man” and was fulfilled on the night Judas betrayed Jesus (John 13:27). We know Judas went out and hanged himself and in so doing fulfilled the prophecy, “Let his days be few; and another take his office” (109:8). Acts 1:20-26 informs us that Judas’ office as a disciple and apostle passed to a believer named Matthias, and thus fulfilled the prophecy.

Psalm 110 – The Priest King

Psalm 110 is a Messianic psalm and gives us a portrait that could only be fulfilled in Christ. Psalm 110:1 makes it clear that David was not talking about himself or any other earthly potentate.

We read: “The LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] said unto my Lord [Master; Sovereign], Sit thou at my right hand [not only a place of privilege, but also one of strength], until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

Who was David addressing as sovereign? The Jews believed Psalm 110:1 was a reference to the coming Messiah (Matthew 22:44).

We read in the Gospel of Mark, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them [His disciples], he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul leaves no doubt that Jesus Christ is at God the Father’s right hand (Ephesians 1:20, 22).

Ephesians 1:20, 22 – “20 Which he [God the Father] wrought in Christ, when he [God the Father] raised him [Jesus Christ] from the dead, and set him [Jesus Christ] at his [God the Father] own right hand in the heavenly places22  And hath put all things under his [Jesus Christ]  feet, and gave him [Jesus Christ]  to be the head over all things to the church.”

Who has the privilege to sit at the right hand of the LORD, God of heaven?

Only one, Christ Jesus the LORD.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“You Call that Worship Music?” (Psalms 95, 97-99)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 95, 97-99

Our Scripture reading for today is four psalms of praise. Though the author of the psalms is not identified, most scholars assign them to David because of their style and content. We know David authored Psalm 95 because the writer of Hebrews quoted the psalm and identified the king as its author (Hebrews 4:7).

Today’s psalms are too rich for one devotional commentary to adequately address them all; therefore. I will limit this devotion to Psalm 98.

Psalm 98 – “Sing Unto the LORD a New Song”

Like Psalm 97, I believe the theme of Psalm 98 is the Second Coming of Christ. Hymnwriter and preacher Isaac Watts, cited Psalm 98 as the inspiration of his hymn, “Joy to the World.” Although most often sung as a celebration of Christ’s birth, “Joy to the World” is in fact a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming.

Psalm 98 is an invitation to worship the LORD in song, rejoicing in His salvation and righteousness (98:2). Let us consider the instructions in worship music we find in this psalm as a basis for judging the music style your church has implemented in its worship services.

We find that Psalm 98 consists of three stanzas, each three verses in length. The first is a call for Israel to worship and rejoice in the LORD (98:1-3). The psalmist writes,

Psalm 98:1 – O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

What is this “new song?” (98:1-3)

It is a victory song, for the LORD through His strength and power had given His chosen people salvation (98:1-2a). It is a song of redemption and praise for God’s grace (98:2b). It is a song praising the LORD for His faithfulness for He had not forgotten Israel.

Do you realize of all ancient people, the Jews are the only identifiable people from ancient times? The smallest, most insignificant people in all the earth have been preserved by the LORD.

The second stanza calls upon all nations of the earth to worship the LORD (98:4-6).

As one who loves music, and in particular congregational singing and choral anthems, notice with me that singing and playing on instruments was an essential part of worshipping the LORD.

The musicians who ministered in the Temple were trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise, but an energetic expression in music and song. The literal meaning of “noise” in vss. 4 and 6 is a “shout” or cry or triumph.

The music of the Tabernacle and Temple was never meant to entertain the masses or the congregation. The focus of worship music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both words and music. The singers and musicians did not perform for the applause of the people. Singers were accompanied by string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6). The focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (98:6).

The final stanza in Psalm 98 calls on all Creation to worship the LORD (98:7-9).

All creation will rejoice (95:7-8) and be freed from the curse of sin when the LORD comes to set up His millennial kingdom. Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect of man’s sin on creation. Creation awaits its deliverance from the curse of sin (Romans 8:19), but will be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) when the LORD comes again.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and yes, pandemics remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22) until the LORD comes to set up His earthly kingdom. He will right the wrongs for He is “to judge the earth” and will judge the earth in His righteousness (98:9).

An Observation

The Book of Psalms is a compilation of songs of praise and worship that was employed in daily worship in the Temple. While nothing took the primacy of reading and teaching God’s Word, the centrality of instrumental music and song is obvious throughout the Psalms and in other passages of Scripture in the Bible (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17).

Sadly, I fear today’s church has taken the command, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD…make a loud noise” literally and not figuratively. While the priests and Levites were dedicated and consecrated to serve the LORD and lead God’s people in earnest worship, today’s “hip-worship leaders” evidence a greater affinity for the world than the holiness of God. Employing every music genre of the 21st century world, the church’s attempt to satisfy the palate of carnal Christians and a secular culture’s demand for entertainment has come at the sacrifice of sincere worship.

Challenge: – Make Colossians 3:16-17 the standard for your worship music.

Colossians 3:16-1716  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith