Category Archives: Psalms

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:7-13)

Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 21-22 and Psalm 51. Our devotional is from Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness, confession, repentance, and a plea for restoration.

Written after the prophet Nathan’s dramatic confrontation with king David (2 Samuel 12:7-13), Psalm 51 introduces us to a man brought low by sin. David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her conception of his illegitimate son, and his failed attempt to conceal his sin had led to the murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite on the battlefield.  David’s hush-hush sins were secret no more and the king’s disgrace was exposed in his court.

Many a great man and woman have found themselves in the unenviable position we find king David…at the pinnacle of success and power and unaccountable to any who might mercifully and lovingly warn, “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7).

Late 19th century British historian Lord Acton made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”   Such is true, not only of monarchs, politicians, business leaders, teachers, and pastors; but also, men and women who, in their own little fiefdoms have roles that go unchecked.

One should ponder how David falls from the innocence of a boy tending sheep in his teens, a national hero in his young-adult years (1 Samuel 18:7; 21:11), crowned king by age 30, but at 50 years of age descends to become an adulterer and murderer.

Be forewarned: Given the right provocation, the potential of such egregious sins lies within us all.   David acknowledged the nature and bent of sin within us when he writes, “I was shapen in inquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).  Indeed, the inclination for sin is within the heart of all, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

Even more disconcerting, while in the throes of sin David continued to act as judge in other men’s matters while tolerating the curse and burden of his own sins.  One wonders how long David might have continued his charade if God had not commanded his prophet to confront the king.  Remembering oriental monarchs like David held absolute authority and the power of life and death rested with them, we appreciate the tenuous position Nathan found himself.

The words, “Thou art the man!”(2 Samuel 12:7) echoed in the king’s judgment hall and resonated in David’s heart who cried out to the Lord, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness… 2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3  For I acknowledge my transgressions…4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done thisevil in thy sight…”(Psalm 51:1-4a).

David prayed, “10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… 12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10, 12a).

I find three failures in David’s life that are the haunt of men and women. 

The first, David entertained unbridled passions that inevitably led to a neglect of his duties and responsibilities as husband, father and king. The second, David’s role as king had insulated him from accountability.  His moral failure occurred when he was alone.  Finally, until confronted by Nathan, David was too proud to confess his sins and humbly accept the consequences (2 Samuel 11:6-22).

Friend, if you are concealing sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time before the consequences catch up with you and your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4).

I invite you to humble yourself before God knowing He has promised, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Before you post your next crisis on Facebook, will you take time to pray? (Psalm 31)

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 35-36, Psalm 31, and Mark 3. Our devotional reading is from Psalm 31.

Where do you turn when circumstances seem hopeless (Psalm 31:1, 6, 14, 19)?  Where do you flee for comfort? How do you respond when enemies attack your character and friends betray you (31:8, 13, 15, 18, 20)?

I fear many believers turn to peers for counsel, rather than to the LORD and His Word.  Some vent their anxieties on social media platforms and a host of sympathies, sad faces, and praying hands follow.  Some turn to secular counselors who lack spiritual discernment and their counsel promotes the temptation to blame shift and magnify one’s “right” to be angry and bitter.

While we might find temporal relief with friends who commiserate with our struggles, often because they are themselves caught up in the same, we nevertheless miss a faith lesson opportunity to lean on the LORD and find Him a sure support.

Take a lesson from David and his example. The king writes,

Psalm 31:1 – “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust [confidence]; let me never be ashamed [confounded; confused]: deliver me in thy righteousness [justice; virtue].”

David did not reason that he merited the LORD coming to his defense; instead, he appealed to the LORD on the basis of the LORD’s “righteousness”—knowing He is holy, just, gracious and merciful. David continues,

Psalm 31:2 – “Bow down [incline; turn] thine ear to me; deliver [rescue; save] me speedily [with haste]: be thou my strong [fortress] rock [refuge], for an house of defence [fortress; castle] to save [deliver; rescue] me.”

David was confident the LORD hears and answers prayer. I sympathize with the king’s request for the LORD to not only hear his prayer, but also hasten to save him!  The LORD, however, answers prayer in His time and His answer to prayer is never too late!

Psalm 31:14-15a – “But I trusted [hoped] in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God [Elohim; Mighty God]. 15 My times [i.e. seasons and appointed times] are in thy hand [directed; i.e. in the power of]…”

All “my times” are directed by the hand of God who is sovereign, faithful and ever-present.  The good times and the bad times; times of joy and times of sorrow.  Times of strength and health and the times of sickness and death. “My times are in thy hand” (Psalm 31:15).

Do you believe God is at the helm and you can trust Him to direct all things according to His benevolent will? (Romans 8:28-29)

Before you post your next crisis on Facebook and garner a rush of sympathies, would it not glorify God more for you to simply pray, “I trust in thee, O LORD…My times are in thy hand”.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Got Trouble? God’s Got a Plan! (Psalm 18:30)

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Follower,

We have seen many reminders of God’s providential care throughout Joseph’s life and admired his faith and fortitude through the sorrows and injustices he suffered.  Hated by brothers whose jealousy drove them to sell him as a slave.  Falsely accused by his master’s wife, unfairly sentenced to prison, and forgotten.  Consider another example of faith in the providence of God recorded by David in Psalm 18:30.

Psalm 18:30 – “As for God [“El”; “Almighty God”], his way [path; actions] is perfect [without blemish]: the word [commandment] of the LORD [Jehovah] is tried [refined; purged by fire]: he is a buckler [small shield] to all those that trust in him [make Him their refuge].”

It is easy to say, “the way of God is perfect” when we are free from trials and troubles; however, are we willing to trust the LORD when trials shadow our days?  Will we trust Him when we are like gold passing through a smelter’s fire?

When enemies malign us and friends betray us, will we, like David turn to God’s promises and hope in the LORD?  Will we trust Him as our “buckler” (a small shield for hand-to-hand combat), when an enemy means to harm us?

Reflecting on the character of God (18:31), when David asserts, Jehovah is my Refuge (i.e. “rock”), his strength was renewed (18:32), his courage restored, and his steps made sure (18:33, 36).

Friend, are you facing trials?  Don’t lose hope!  Be confident “His way is perfect” and the fiery trials you are facing have the potential of purifying your heart like silver and strengthening your character like steel!

Give thanks to the LORD even before the trial is past knowing His mercies fail not (18:46-50)!

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

“Are You a Child of the King?” (Psalm 15)

* Today’s devotional reading is Genesis 37-38, Psalm 15, and Matthew 15. Our devotional reading is from Psalm 15.

Psalm 15 opens with David pondering and meditating on two questions that have eternal significance:

Psalm 15:1 – LORD, who shall abide [sojourn; dwell temporarily] in thy tabernacle [tent; home]? who shall dwell [lodge; remain] in thy holy [sanctuary; sacred place; sanctified] hill?

Stated another way, LORD, what is the character of people who have citizenship in your holy place?  What manner of people do you favor to lodge in your presence?

Psalm 15:2-5 depicts the character and manner of God’s spiritual children.

The saints of God are people of integrity (Psalm 15:2). They are honest and trustworthy in their conduct and sincere in their words.

Psalm 15:2 2  He that walketh [travels; behave] uprightly [blameless; with integrity], and worketh [do; commit; act] righteousness [just; morally upright], and speaketh [say; talk; promise; declare] the truth [right; faithful] in his heart [mind; understanding].

The citizens of heaven are not slanderers in word, mean-spirited in actions, or vengeful in spirit (Psalm 15:3).

Psalm 15:3 He that backbiteth [talebearer; slanders] not with his tongue, nor doeth [wrought; commit] evil [sin; wickedness]to his neighbour [friend; companion], nor taketh up [bear; carry] a reproach [shame; disgrace; rebuke; contempt]against his neighbour [lit. near; nearest kinsman].

The children of God find the sins of the wicked loathsome (15:4a).  They love the company of the righteous (15:4b) and are faithful to their vows and promises even at personal sacrifice (Psalm 15:4c).

Psalm 15:4 – In whose eyes [sight] a vile person [loathsome; reprobate] is contemned [despised; scorn; disdained]; but he honoureth [glorify] them that fear [revere]the LORD. He that sweareth [charge; take an oath; curse] to his own hurt [evil; affliction; bad], and changeth not [i.e. does not vacillate].

The citizens of heaven do not take advantage of the less fortunate by charging excessive interest or adding to their debt more than they can afford (15:5a).  They are known for their honesty and are not swayed from justice by bribes and enticements (15:5b).

Psalm 15:5–  He that putteth not out [give; deliver; give] his money [silver] to usury [interest; i.e. indebtedness], nor taketh [accept; seize; take away] reward [bribe; gift] against the innocent [guiltless]. He that doeth [make; perform; do] these things shall never be moved [waver; fall; slide; slip].

David concludes the exposition of the character and manner of people who will dwell with the LORD, promising “he that doeth these things shall never be moved” (15:5c).

What about you, my friend?  Are you a citizen of heaven? Are the spiritual characteristics and good, honest works of a child of God evident in your life?

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

Like a Father, the LORD Loves the Righteous (Psalm 11)

Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 29-30, Psalm 11, and Matthew 11. Today’s devotional is from Psalm 11.

We are uncertain of the historical context of Psalm 11; however, we know king David was facing the threats of an enemy and weighing the counsel of advisers who urged him to flee.

There are times retreat from confrontation is a wise choice.  David fled from the presence of Saul when the king attacked him. David fled Jerusalem after his son Absalom stole the people’s affections and led an insurrection against the king.  However, as we learn in our study of Psalm 11, there are times we face adversaries and the LORD would have us stand fast and trust Him.

We do not know if the foe David faced was within or without his kingdom; however, the threat was significant and the king’s counselors advised him to flee (11:1b-2).  David answered his frightened counselors,

Psalm 11:1 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?

The counselors answered their king, reminding him the plot of the wicked was to destroy the just and upright (11:2) and as king, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the nation (11:3).

Psalm 11:2-3 – “For, lo, the wicked  [ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix] their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind].  3 If the foundations [purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

David’s counselors reasoned, not only was his life at risk, but so also were the lives of the people and the future of the nation (11:3b).  In other words, what will become of the righteous should the king fall?

We find David’s response in Psalm 11:4-7.

Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law-abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [injustice] his soul hateth [as a foe].”

What a great reminder…regardless the threats of an enemy or his demands we compromise our integrity, the LORD has not abdicated the throne of heaven and He is Just!  The ways of the righteous will not go unrewarded and the ways of the wicked will surely be punished!

Our devotion ends with the assurance, “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”(Psalm 11:7)

What a great thought!  The righteous are the objects of the LORD’s love!  Like a father looks adoringly at his children, the LORD looks upon the righteous.

My friend, perhaps there is an enemy that haunts your life with threats, maligning gossip, or with disapproving gazes.  Take confidence in this…the LORD loves the righteous and He is just. Trust the LORD!

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Life of a Blessed Man! (Psalm 1)

Happy New Year, friends and followers of www.HeartofaShepherd.com!

I invite you to join me this New Year as I begin a new daily Bible Reading Schedulethat will take us through God’s Word in one year.  You will find the Bible Reading Schedule at the previous link and by going to www.HillsdaleBaptist.orgPlease notice the daily readings include three categories: Old Testament, Poetry, and New Testament. 

I plan to post regular devotionals on a portion of each day’s reading assignment.  Rather than a comprehensive commentary, my goal is a practical application of a portion of the daily reading.  For example, the Bible reading for January 1, 2019 is Genesis 1-2, Psalm 1, and Matthew 1.  The focus of today’s devotional is Psalm 1.

Psalm 1 is the first recorded Beatitude in the Bible and offers a contrast of two manner of men; the “blessed” who walk in the way of God’s Law and the “ungodly” who oppose God.  King David writes,

Psalm 1:1-3 – “Blessed [happy and content] is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2  But his [the blessed man] delight isin the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3  And he [the blessed man whose delight and meditations on the Word of God are night and day]shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

David begins Psalm 1 advising us where happiness is not found. Happiness is not found “in the counsel of the ungodly…in the way of sinners, [or]…in the seat of the scornful”(1:1).

1) A blessed man does not seek thecounsel of the ungodlywhose philosophy is “eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).

2) The blessed man does not abide in the“way of sinners” whose spiritual GPS is set on a destination of wickedness and “shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).

3) The blessed man does notlift up his voice in chorus with“the scornful”, for they disdain God and His Law  (Psalm 14:1).

What is the source of the blessed man’s happiness and contentment? His joy and “delight isin the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

Two observations regarding the blessed man’s life: 1) His “delight”, passion, and desire is the Word of God.  2) His discipline is to “meditate”upon the principles and precepts of God’s Law.  “Day and night” he saturates his heart and thoughts with the eternal, immutable truths of God’s Word.

Here’s a thought for the day:

“A Bible that’s falling apart probably belongs to someone who isn’t.” —Christian Johnson. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.; Today’s Best Illustrations.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

The Centrality of Music in Worship and Praise

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 149-150

Our year-long reading of the Psalms come to a close today on an appropriate theme… “Praise ye the LORD”.  Psalm 149 and Psalm 150 begin and end with a call to worship.  What an incredible thought that the LORD, our Creator Who is Almighty desires we His people praise Him.

Dogs bark, cats purr, lions roar, and eagles screech…but man alone has the means to communicate in words, song, and musical instruments his worship of the LORD through songs of praise.

I have taken liberty to add to today’s psalms my amplification of the closing chapters in this wonderful book of songs of worship and praise.  As one who loves music, I invite you to especially note the prominence of music, musical instruments, and trained musicians in worshipping the LORD.

Psalm 149:1-9 – Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast] ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new [fresh] song, and his praise [hymn of adoration; song of praise] in the congregation [Assembly] of saints [the godly; pious].
2  Let Israel [lit. “He will rule as God”; another name for Jacob] rejoice [be glad; joyful] in him [i.e. the LORD] that made [Created] him [Israel or Jacob]: let the children of Zion [mount upon which Jerusalem was found] be joyful [be glad; rejoice] in their King.
3  Let them praise his name [the name of the LORD] in the dance [i.e. round dance; dance in circular motion]: let them sing praises [psalms] unto him with the timbrel [tambourine] and harp [the string instrument].
4  For the LORD taketh pleasure [delights; pleased] in his people [people of His congregation; like Israel]: he will beautify [glory; boast] the meek [poor; humble; lowly] with salvation [He will deliver; prosper].
5  Let the saints [the godly; pious] be joyful [i.e. jump for joy; rejoice] in glory [or splendor bestowed on them by the LORD]: let them sing aloud [rejoice; shout for joy] upon their beds.
6  Let the high [exaltation] praises of God [Almighty God] be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
7  To execute [work; create; make; show] vengeance [revenge] upon the heathen [Gentile nations], and punishments [chastening; rebuke; reproof] upon the people [nation];
8  To bind their kings [rulers of the Gentile nations] with chains, and their nobles [those who exercise authority] with fetters [chains; manacles that bind] of iron;
9  To execute [make; create] upon them the judgment [law; ordinance] written [prescribed]: this honour [glory; majesty; splendor] have all his saints [godly]. Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast] ye the LORD.

Psalm 150:1-6 – Praise [Glory; Celebrate; Sing; Boast]  ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary [holy; sacred place dedicated to the LORD]: praise him in the firmament [in the heavens] of his power [strength; might; majesty].
2  Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent [abundance] greatness.
3  Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery [lyre] and harp.
4  Praise him with the timbrel [tambourine] and dance [i.e. round dance; dance in circular motion]: praise him with stringed instruments and organs [flute; pipe].
5  Praise him upon the loud cymbals [large, clashing cymbals]: praise him upon the high sounding [jubilant; loud noise] cymbals [i.e. perhaps like a ringing bell].
6  Let every thing that hath breath [breath of life] praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

It saddens me to witness the diminishing of congregational singing and choral anthems in the 21st century church.  

In today’s church, the choir, a central part of worship dating to the time of King David, has become little more than a backup for spotlight hungry semi-professionals vocalists.   Even worse, congregations singing great, majestic hymns of the Christian faith are relegated to audiences mumbling in almost muted silence, “Seven-Eleven Choruses” [seven words repeated eleven times].  Worship today is a far cry from the worship the psalmist describes in today’s psalms.

I praise the LORD He has blessed Hillsdale with skilled musicians who voluntarily give and use their talents when our congregation worships the LORD with hymns of worship and praise.  What a joy to have musicians and choir members who, week after week, dedicate their time and talents to serving the LORD and praising Him!

Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith