Category Archives: Psalms

The LORD is Just and Merciful (Psalms 106-107)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 106-107

Psalm 106 – God’s Faithfulness vs. Israel’s Unfaithfulness

Psalm 106 is a song of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD (106:1). The author is not identified, but we have cause to believe David was the author because the first and last verses of the psalm (106:1, 48) are quoted in 1 Chronicles 16 on the occasion of David’s having the Ark of God relocated to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16:1, 34-36).

Psalm 106:1-5 is a liturgical call to worship and adulation the LORD for He is good and merciful (106:1), mighty (106:2), just (106:3), and gracious (106:4).

Psalm 106:6 turns the focus from praise and thanksgiving to penitent confession of Israel’s national sins (106:6-42).

The psalm rehearses the sins of Israel as a people and the tragic consequences of her sin. This included rebellion (106:7-12), jealousy, idolatry (106:19-21), unbelief, grumbling, disobedience (106:24-27), failure to separate from the heathen (106:28-32), and defying the LORD’s Law and commandments (106:34-35). The great depth of Israel’s depravity as nation is seen when the people sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (106:37-38). So great was Israel’s sins that the LORD came to detest His people and deliver them over to their enemies to be taken captive (106:39-42).

Psalm 106 concludes with a reminder that the LORD is a God of mercy and compassion who hears the cries of His people and restores them (106:43-48).

Hebrew scribes divide the Book of Psalms into five books: Book 1 consists of Psalms 1-41; Book 2 comprises of Psalms 42-72; Book 3 contains of Psalms 73-89; Book 4 consists of Psalms 90-106.  Psalm 106 marked the conclusion of the fourth book while Psalm 107 is the introduction to the fifth and last Book of the Psalms containing Psalms 107-150.

Psalm 107

Psalm 107 opens with an exhortation to give thanks to the LORD for redeeming Israel out of Babylonian captivity (107:1-3).

The psalmist remembers how the LORD preserved His people in exile and restored them to the land He promised Abraham would be his inheritance.  The psalmist writes:

Psalm 107:8-9 – “Oh that men would praise [give thanks] the LORD for His goodness [grace; mercy; loving-kindness], and for His wonderful works to the children of men! 9  For He satisfieth [fills] the longing [seeking; hungry] soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness [good and pleasant things].”

Why should Israel praise the LORD and give thanks?

Consider five reasons Israel had to give thanks to the LORD. The first, when the people lost their way in the wilderness and were hungry and thirsty, the LORD heard their cry and provided them food and water (107:4-9).

Second, during Israel’s Babylonian captivity, the LORD heard their cry and restored them to their land (107:10-16).

Third, in times of trouble and distress, the LORD sent His Word to heal His people (107:17-22).

Fourth, like a ship caught in a storm with the seas threatening to engulf her, Israel was in danger of being lost in the sea of humanity until God delivered His people and restored them to their land (107:23-32).

Finally, when Israel lost her home and all seemed hopeless, the psalmist reminded the people the LORD is Sovereign over nature and is able to bless the land for the sake of the righteous and bring judgment upon the land when the wicked dwell therein (107:36-41).

Wise are those who understand the way of the LORD and walk in His commandments for “they shall understand [regard; be instructed in] the lovingkindness [mercy; goodness; grace] of the LORD” (107:43).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Feel Like Complaining, “Life’s Not Fair”? (Psalms 73, 77-78)

Daily reading assignment – Psalms 73, 77-78

Today’s Scripture reading consists of three chapters in the Book of Psalms, however, our devotional commentary will focus on only Psalm 73.

Psalm 73 – “A Psalm of Asaph”

Asaph was a priest and musician in King David’s court (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7) and the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. Psalm 73 is a psalm of praise to the LORD and a testimony of Asaph’s journey of faith. Asaph opens the psalm with an affirmation of God’s goodness asserting:

Psalm 73:1 – “Truly [i.e. Only; Certainly] God is good [lit. only good] to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”

Unlike sinful men of whom it is said, “there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:1; Romans 3:12), God is wholly, absolutely good, and there is no evil or sin present in Him.  The first verse of Asaph’s song declares an immutable truth: God is only good to Israel and to all who are of “a clean heart” (meaning pure, innocent and sincere heart).

Psalm 73:2 commences a series of candid observations and humble confessions on Asaph’s part. Describing his spiritual struggles, Asaph confessed he was on the brink of backsliding (73:2) when he observed how the wicked seem to prosper in their sin (73:3). While the righteous struggled, it seemed to Asaph that the wicked were not “plagued (troubled) like other men” (73:5).

In spite of God’s promises and goodness (73:1), Asaph wondered how the wicked could oppress others, speak against heaven, and “increase in riches” (73:8-12). In other words, while Asaph’s heart told him to “trust the LORD,” his feelings cried, “It’s not fair!” Asaph appeared to be on the crisp of quitting when he decried, “the ungodly…prosper…[and] I have cleansed my heart in vain” (73:12-13).

Have you ever felt life is not fair? Ever wish you could quit?  If not yet, you will certainly wrestle with that temptation one day.  Unfortunately, there are many who have done that very thing. They quit and walked away from marriage, family, friends, church, and ministry. For a season they may appear relieved and happy, until the ripple effect of their decision invariably catches up with them and their loved ones.

Asaph, wrestling with his conflicting thoughts and emotions, appeared ready to turn from the LORD, until he weighed the consequences of his decision and the offense it might be to the next generation (73:15-16). The pain and sorrow his abandonment would inflict on others motivated Asap to go to and enter the “the sanctuary of God” (at this time, the tabernacle).

It was in the LORD’s presence that his perspective on the wicked and their end changed (73:17-20). Asaph confessed, “my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins (i.e. pierced within his soul)” (73:21).

With his heart renewed and his eyes fixed on eternity, Asaph remembered the prosperity of the wicked was temporal (73:27). With his faith in the LORD restored and his desire to serve Him renewed (73:28), Asaph concluded his song with what should be the aspiration of every believer:

 

Psalm 73:28 – “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the LORD GOD that I may declare all thy works.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

When Friends Become Enemies (Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63

While today’s Scripture reading covers four chapters (Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63), this devotional commentary will focus solely on Psalm 35. The parallel to Psalm 35 is most likely the events that are recorded in 1 Samuel 19:5; 20:1; 23:25; 24:9-15; 25:29; 26:18-19.

Psalm 35 – The Betrayal of Friends and Peers

Psalm 35 is a song chronicling a low time in David’s life when he had suffered the deep wounds of betrayal from King Saul, a man whom he had faithfully served on the battlefield and in the palace. David’s popularity in Israel had soared after he slew Goliath, provoking the king to jealousy who then set upon a plot to murder David. The king’s plot was to murder David as though he were a foe (1 Samuel 24).

Betrayed by his friends, David turned to the LORD and prayed for God to be his Advocate (35:1-3). We find David calling on the LORD in verse one. Falsely accused and fearing for his safety, David employed two metaphors in his petition that defined the work of an attorney: Plead, a call for the LORD to come to his aid and declare his innocence; and Fight, a request for the LORD to go to battle on his behalf.

David Prayed for the LORD to Be His Warrior. (35:2-3).

He called upon the LORD to come to his defense as a warrior with “shield,” a covering for the body, and “buckler,” a small shield for hand-to-hand combat (35:3). David prayed for the LORD to not only be his defense, but also to mount an offensive against his enemies (35:3) with the spear.

Psalm 35:4-10 – An Imprecatory Prayer

David prayed for God’s judgment upon his foes (35:4-6). He protested his innocence (35:7), declaring he had a clear conscience and the accusations of his enemy and their attempt to entrap him was “without cause” (for no reason). He pled for justice and that the traps and devices his enemies had planned for his destruction would be their own undoing (35:8-10).

Psalm 35:8 – “Let destruction [desolation; ruin] come upon him at unaware; and let his net that he hath hid [concealed] catch [take; capture; seize] himself: into that very destruction [desolation; ruin] let him fall [fail; cast down].”

A great illustration of such an event, an enemy of the LORD and His people falling victim to his own schemes, is the story of Haman being hung upon the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, a righteous Hebrew man (Esther 7:9-10).

David was not seeking personal revenge for the wrongs committed against him. Rather than allow his soul to become controlled by a vengeful spirit, he had turned to the LORD to seek justice (Romans 12:14, 19-21).

David praised the LORD for His incomparable nature (35:10) and prosecuted his case against his enemies’ injustices (35:11, 16). He had been maligned by false accusations, slandered, and defamed (35:11). He had proven himself to be a fearless warrior; however, when facing the king and his soldiers (the equivalent of today’s federal government), David was helpless to defend himself.

He was a victim of malevolence, declaring: “They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul” (35:12-13). David had ministered to, prayed for, and grieved for King Saul when his soul was tormented, like a son grieves for a mother who is ill (35:14).

In his hour of need, those who had been his friends assailed David as an enemy (35:15-16). They had mocked, slandered, and publicly derided him. He had been the object of their rage and accusations (35:16).

Betrayal, broken trust, and treachery are wounds you must learn to bear in life.  They might be afflicted by an abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, a disloyal friend, or an unfair employer. Be cautious whom you allow into your inner circle of confidants for invariably, there will be a Judas among them.

Lesson – Those you help the most are often the ones who turn and wound you deepest.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“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