Category Archives: Psalms

“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

God Warns: Don’t Forget Me! (Psalms 50, 53, 60, 75)

Scripture reading – Psalms 50, 53, 60, 75

Today’s Scripture reading consists of four Psalms and I believe they all revolve around the time of David’s reign. As noted in earlier devotionals, David experienced great victories because “the LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14).  Consider with me the longest of today’s psalms as the focus of our devotional commentary.

Psalm 50 – God, My Righteous Judge

You will notice the title of Psalm 50 is “A Psalm of Asaph.” This is the first of twelve Psalms attributed to Asaph who was a musician in the Temple (2 Chronicles 29:30). Remembering this is a song that worshippers would have heard in the Temple, let us consider the themes that run through the chapter.

Psalm 50:1-6 – The Majesty of God, the Righteous Judge

Consider the names for God in the opening verses: He is El, meaning mighty and “Elohim,” meaning “mighty God.” (50:1a). He is “YHWH,LORD Jehovah, the Eternal, Self-existent God (50:1b). He is majestic in His person (50:2) and is the coming Judge who is righteous and just (50:3-6).

Psalm 50:7-15 – The LORD’S Threefold Message for the Righteous in Israel

Does the LORD have a right to judge His people? Absolutely, because He is “God, even thy God”(50:7). While God did not reject the burnt offerings and sacrifices of His people (50:8), He nevertheless revealed the people had both a wrong motive and wrong view of the sacrifices they offered to the LORD (50:9-15).

Rather than seeing the sacrifices as a visual representation of the weight of their sin, the people were proud of their sacrifices. When they came before the LORD they failed to come in humility and identify their offerings as tokens symbolic of their sin and need of atonement (50:9). The LORD said to His people, “Do you think I need your sacrifices? Do you think you have earned my favor by bringing me a bull out of your stalls or a goat from your pens (50:9)?

The LORD laid bare how foolish His people were to boast in their sacrifices, as though He needed them! After all, everything in the earth belongs to the LORD (50:10-13)!

God desired that His people would come with “thanksgiving” and keep His covenant (50:14). The LORD promised, “call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (50:15); call on me and I will answer your prayers.

Psalm 50:16-21 – God’s Message for the Wicked of Israel

The wicked were men of Israel who knew His Commandments and spoke of God’s Covenant with them; however, they were wicked hypocrites (50:16)! The LORD revealed He knew what lay in the hearts of men (50:17-20).

Consider the litany of charges God brought against the wicked: They hated his instruction and despised His discipline (50:17). They tolerated theft and condoned adultery (50:18). Their mouths were filled with evil, and they were deceivers (50:19). They scorned their fellow man and slandered their own siblings (50:20).

God warned the wicked, though He had been silent and longsuffering, He was just and would surely set things in order and judge their sins (50:21).

Psalm 50:22-23 – The LORD’S warning: Don’t forget me!

The wicked had given no thought of God and dismissed His judgment.  God warned Israel: Don’t forget me! Don’t forget I am omniscient, good, just, and holy (50:22a). Ignore my warnings and I will “tear you in pieces [like a lion], and there be none to deliver [save you]” (50:22b). Offer me praise and glorify me in your words and works and I will “show the salvation of God” (50:23).

Lesson – Having a right perspective of God (50:1) is essential to having a right view of ourselves and what manner of man or woman we are in His eyes.

Challenge – Give God your heart and everything else will take its rightful place (50:14-15).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Overcoming Fear and Regret (Psalms 25, 29, 33, 36, 39)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 25, 29, 33, 36, 39

Reminder: If you enjoy following these daily devotional posts, I ask that you please take time and sign up at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. Enter your email address in the right column, and my daily devotionals posts will be emailed directly to you. Facebook and Twitter are censoring conservative posts, especially ones that deal with moral issues that go against political correctness. I encourage you to move away from a dependence on social media accounts.

Today’s Scripture reading covers five chapters in the Book of Psalms. I commend you for persevering through lengthy passages that might prove daunting. Understanding the length of some daily readings, I feel it is prudent for me to limit the length of my daily commentaries.

Psalm 25 – A Prayer for Grace, Help and Deliverance

Regret, sorrow, and disappointment cast a dark shadow over the earthly sojourn of humanity, and only the most seared conscience will deny they do not look back on life and have cause for remorse.

Some bear the burden of sin and regret to their graves. John Bunyan described this type of weight as the “slough of despondency” in his classic novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Those who wrestle in the mire of sin and sadness, rather than repent of their sin, tend to indulge and continually repeat the very offenses that pierce their soul with sorrow and distress.

Others entertain sinful temptations hoping the salve of temporal pleasure might assuage their empty soul. There are those who contend with guilt by blame shifting and charging loved ones for the consequences of their sinful choices.

Some turn to alcohol and drugs (legal and illegal) in a vain attempt to appease the piercing burden of regret and find no relief for their hurting soul.

Psalm 25 reminds us that there is only one place to go when you are beset with fear and regret: Go to the LORD!  I cannot tell you when David penned this moving psalm; however, its content reveal the King was struggling as he confessed his sorrows and confronted his fears.

David begins the psalm expressing his faith and confidence in the LORD and prays, “Unto thee, O Lord” (and I might add, “unto thee alone”), do I lift up my soul [life; person] (25:1).

Surrounded by enemies, in his distress the King prayed, “O my God, I trust [trust; confident; bold] in thee: let me not be ashamed [confounded; disappointed; put to shame], let not mine enemies [foes; adversary] triumph [rejoice; exult] over me” (25:2).

Physically weak and emotionally fragile, David’s faith and confidence in the LORD had not wavered. He prayed,

Psalm 25:3 – “Yea, let none that wait [look; hope] on thee be ashamed [confounded; disappointed; put to shame]: let them be ashamed [confounded; disappointed; put to shame] which transgress [offend; act deceitfully] without cause.

David’s prayer was not only for the LORD to save him from his enemies, but also as a testimony to all who call upon the name of God (25:3a).  He reasoned, if some should be put to shame, let it be those who have sinned and transgressed against the LORD without provocation (25:3b).

David cried for wisdom praying, “Shew me thy ways [road; path], O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; teach me [instruct; accept] thy paths [way; conduct; manner]” (25:4).

There are two ways, two paths in life. The way of man who denies God which leads to death (Proverbs 14:12); the way of the LORD that is straight and narrow begins at the cross and is the way of life (Matthew 7:14).

David’s prayer should be the prayer of every believer. We have the Word of God, but we need the LORD to give us insight, discernment and understanding. David continued,

Psalm 25:5 – “Lead me [bend; guide; aim] in thy truth [right; faithfulness], and teach me [instruct; accept]: for thou art the God [Almighty God] of my salvation [liberty; deliverance]; on thee do I wait [look; behold; hope] all the day [time].”

What does that prayer look like in a twenty-first century vernacular?

“LORD, show me the path I should take. Teach me how to conduct myself in a way that pleases You. Bend my will to be in harmony with Your truth’ (John 17:17).

David confessed, “Lord, you are my salvation, safety, and deliverer!” (25:5b).

What does a heavy soul do after crying out to the LORD? Wait! In fact, David prays, “on thee do I wait all the day” (25:5c). The word “wait” is hope. David prays, “LORD, I am looking and waiting on you!”

What do you do when you struggle with fear or regret?

If we are honest, we are prone to be impatient.  Fear and flight are the natural reactions of a troubled soul, and many refuse to accept “fiery trials” as part of God’s refining process in their lives (1 Peter 4:12).

In the midst of his sorrow, David prayed, “Remember, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], thy tender mercies [compassion] and thy lovingkindnesses [mercy; kindness; goodness]; for they have been ever of old [eternity; everlasting; perpetual]” (25:6b).

What a comforting promise! “LORD, I remember your compassion and your mercies are never ending!”

Finally, David called upon the LORD and prayed, “Remember not the sins of my youth [childhood], nor my transgressions [sin; trespass; guilt]: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ [welfare] sake, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]” (25:7).

Knowing the LORD is omniscient (meaning, “all-knowing”), why would David pray, “Remember not the sins of my youth?” David was not praying for the LORD to set aside an attribute that defines who He is; but rather, he was asking the LORD to not hold against him the foolish sins of his youth! In other words, “Lord, do not rehearse the sins and transgressions of my youth.”

Knowing the LORD is a God of mercy, David cast the burden of his sorrows and regret on the LORD and prayed, “according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ [welfare] sake, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]” (25:7).

I close with a quote of the great 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon: “It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.”

What have you done with your regret, sorrow and disappointments?

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith