Category Archives: Trust

God Hears and Answers Prayer (Psalm 86; Psalm 122)

Scripture reading – Psalm 86; Psalm 122

Our Scripture reading consists of two chapters from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 86 and Psalm 122. David is the author of both, with Psalm 86 titled simply, “A Prayer of David,” and Psalm 122 titled, “A Song of Degrees” (the “degrees” most likely a reference to the ascending steps of the priests into the Temple). Our devotional is taken from Psalm 86.

Psalm 86 – A Petition for the LORD to Hear and Answer Prayer

The circumstances that inspired Psalm 86 are not given, but the content indicates it was at a time of trouble, and affliction for the king. The prophet Nathan forewarned David that trouble would shadow his household after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah, her husband. We might be justified in assigning this psalm to the years of sorrow that followed his sin.

David’s Troubled State (86:1-7)

The afflictions David faced were constant reminders of his helpless dependency (86:1). He was the king of Israel, but he confessed he was “poor and needy,” and realized only the LORD could save and comfort him in his distress (86:2-3). His prayer rehearsed what he knew was true concerning the nature of God: “5For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; And plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (86:5). David resolved, “7In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: For thou wilt answer me” (86:7).

Take a moment and ponder that statement (86:7). There may come a time when you find yourself in a difficult situation with no where you can turn; or perhaps you have reached out to someone in confidence, only to be shunned, or betrayed. David found comfort knowing he could call upon God, appreciating He would not only hear, but would also answer his prayer.

The Sovereignty of God (86:8-14)

Some men call upon their “gods,” but those idols can neither see, hear, nor answer prayer (Psalm 135:15-17). Indeed, there is no God, save the God of heaven who is powerful, all-knowing, and worthy of our worship and praise (86:8-9). He is “God alone” (86:10).

Praying for the LORD to guide and direct him, David promised, “11Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: Unite my heart to fear thy name. 12I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: And I will glorify thy name for evermore” (86:11-12). David longed to know the way of the LORD (John 14:6), and promised he would be faithful, fear and revere the Lord, and glorify Him (86:11-12).

David’s Plight (86:14-15)

David did not identify his enemies by name (and there were many, including his own son Absalom), but he did describe them: “Proud…violent” and godless (86:14). They were proud, ambitious, plotting his destruction, and wicked.

Facing relentless enemies, David encouraged himself by remembering the character of God: “15But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (86:15).

A Final Plea (86:16-17)

David concluded the prayer, and called upon the LORD to be merciful, and strengthen him in his weakness (86:16). The king prayed, “17Shew me a token [sign] for good; That they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: Because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me” (86:17).

David’s prayer for God to bless him was an inward cry for peace, as well as an outward sign of vindication. He prayed for the LORD to bestow on him a “token,” a sign of his blessing, and one that would silence his enemies, and put them to shame.

Closing thoughts – The next time you find yourself in a troubled place, and an enemy is waiting to gloat in your sorrows; remember, the LORD is merciful, kind, and omniscient. He is jealous of His name before the heathen, and is able and ready to come to the aid of those who call upon Him (86:17b).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Blessed Joy of Forgiveness (1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 32)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 32

Today’s Scripture reading in 1 Chronicles 20 is a brief summary of our preceding study in 2 Samuel 11-12. The historian did not chronicle David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5), nor the king’s foolish attempt to conceal his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-13), eventually staining his hands with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-24; 12:7-12). The chronicler did record the king’s failure to accompany his servants to war and the siege of Rabbah, the Ammonite city (1 Chronicles 20:1).

Today’s devotional will consider Psalm 32. The setting of the psalm is not given; however, it is believed to be about the time of the king’s tragic sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 32 echoes the joy of every believer who has found redemption when he turned from sin, confessed, and found forgiveness.

Two Beatitudes (32:1-2)

Psalm 32:1 – “Blessed [happy; favored] is he whose transgression [sin; trespass] is forgiven [removed; lift; carried away], whose sin is covered [hide; conceal].”

Beatitudes typically begin with the word, “Blessed” (Psalm 1:1; Matthew 5:3-11). Those who are “blessed” are confident in, and the object of God’s grace and mercies. The “blessed” are joyful, and their happiness is independent of favorable circumstances. The truly “blessed” are believers who know the relief, and joy of having their sins forgiven. They have acknowledged their sin (Romans 3:23), but know their transgressions have been covered by the blood of Christ (32:2; Romans 6:23). They can sing with the saints, “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!”

Psalm 32:2 – “Blessed [happy; favored] is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth [count; reckon; devise]not iniquity [sin; fault], and in whose spirit [breath; temper; mind] there is no guile [deceit; treachery].

The sins of the “blessed” have been reckoned, and accounted by God as a debt to Him that has been paid in full. The “blessed” are honest, and transparent before the LORD, and the weight of their guilt, and chastening has been removed.

The Agony of Unconfessed Sin (32:3-4)

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence [peace; speechless], my bones [body; life] waxed old [spent; wear out; consumed] through my roaring [rumbling; moaning; cries] all the day long. 4  For day and night thy hand [arm; rule] was heavy [made heavy; grievous; burden-some] upon me: my moisture [vitality] is turned [overthrown; changed] into the drought [heat] of summer [harvest]. Selah. [pause; i.e. suspend music]

Psalm 32:3-4 is David’s vain attempt to conceal his sins (32:3-4). He endured the guilt and shame of his sins for a year, until the LORD sent the prophet Nathan to confront him.  He was guilty; guilty of adultery with Bathsheba; guilty of engineering the murder of her husband Uriah, and guilty of deceit in a futile effort to conceal his sins.

He had been silent, and unwilling to confess his sin. His life was consumed with guilt, and his conscience roared against him day and night (32:3).  The heaviness of God’s hand, and the inescapable reality of His justice pressed on the king day and night.  Failing to confess his sin and repent, David felt his strength and vitality drying up like water consumed in the heat of a summer drought (32:4).

Repentance (32:5)

Psalm 32:5 – “I acknowledged [know; perceive; understand] my sin [offence; guilt; punishment] unto thee, and mine iniquity [sin; fault] have I not hid [cover; conceal]. I said [answered; promised], I will confess [make confession] my transgressions [trespass; sin] unto the LORD; and thou forgavest [take away; remove] the iniquity [sin; fault] of my sin [offence; guilt; punishment]. Selah.”

There is a way for the burden and guilt of sin to be lifted; however, it will cost you your pride, but its reward is like fresh water to a thirsty soul (32:5).

There is one solution to sin: honest confession and sincere repentance.  No more excuses; no more blame shifting; David said, I am guilty. He knew his offence. and would no longer conceal it (32:5a). The king confessed his sins… adultery, murder, and deceit! Oh, the joy of God’s response to his confession: “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (32:5b).

The Penitent Prayer and the Delight of Forgiveness (32:6-7)

Psalm 32:6-7 – For this shall every one that is godly [saint; pious] pray [i.e. intercede] unto thee in a time [season] when thou mayest be found [found out; present]: surely in the floods [deluge; overflowing] of great [many] waters they shall not come nigh [touch; reach] unto him.
7
Thou art my hiding place [protection; secret; cover]; thou shalt preserve [keep; guard; watch] me from trouble [distress; tribulation]; thou shalt compass [surround; encircle] me about with songs [shout; ringing cry] of deliverance [escape]. Selah. [pause; musical term for suspension]

“Forgiven,” what a wonderful truth!  More than the absolution of guilt; it is the response to one who has acknowledged the guilt of their sin, and a Redeemer that lifts that burden, taking away the sin and the guilt.

An illustration of forgiveness is the “scapegoat” that was sent out of the camp of Israel on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:15-22). The priest would sacrifice a goat, and acknowledge the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16:15-19). After sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice on the altar, the high priest would symbolically place his blood-stained hands on the living goat, and confess the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:20-22). Sending the “scapegoat” out of the camp was an illustration, a living symbol of God’s promise to forgive the sins of the nation.

David’s Advice (32:9)

Psalm 32:9 – Be ye not as the horse [i.e. which is swift], or as the mule [i.e. a beast of burden], which have no understanding [regard; prudent; discernment]: whose mouth must be held [muzzled; i.e. held in check; lit. to hold in] in with bit and bridle [halter; i.e. device for restraining], lest they come near [approach; draw near; ]unto thee.

David had learned concealing sin carries grave consequences for the sinner, and those he loves. The king urged God’s people to be humble, and obedient before God! Don’t be a “mule-headed,” hard-hearted, irrational believer (32:9).

David’s Admonition: Choose the Path of the Righteous (32:10-11)

Psalm 32:10 – Many [abundant; great many] sorrows [pain; grief; affliction; sufferings] shall be to the wicked [ungodly; guilty; i.e. immoral]: but he that trusteth [confident; secure]  in the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], mercy [loving-kindness; goodness; steadfast love] shall compass [surround; encircle] him about.

Psalm 32:11 – Be glad [rejoice; be merry] in the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], and rejoice [be joyful], ye righteous [just; lawful; blameless; innocent]: and shout [cry out; sing; i.e. be overcome]for joy, all ye that are upright [right; just] in heart [mind; understanding].”

Closing thoughts – David described the egregious effects of failing to confess and repent of sins. Are you bearing the weight and consequences of secret sins? I urge you to confess your sins, and God will forgive you, and restore unto you the life of the “blessed.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be A Prayer Warrior For Your Nation (Psalm 20)

Scripture reading – Psalm 20

Psalm 20 has been described by some as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. It is an intercessory prayer, an exhortation to pray and call to the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. * As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of the author.

Psalm 20:1-2 – “The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support;; sustain] thee out of Zion [site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired this psalm are not stated, but because its author was David, I believe it was the king appealing to his people to call unto the LORD (20:1). Israel was facing an enemy, and the king dare not go to war without the confidence that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. pause; or pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, the people worshipped Him, and prayed He would accept their sacrifices, hear, and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; standard]: the LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people believed the LORD would give their king victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy, and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners. (The flags carried into battle identified national pride). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers, and answer their petitions (20:5b).

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face the enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people, and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty, and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save him in the battle.

Psalm 20:77Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Men and nations go into battle with little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Their faith is in their weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). We have observed in earlier devotions that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes. The LORD is holy, just, powerful, omniscient, compassionate, and sovereign. He will do as it pleases Him.

Psalm 20:8-98They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts – I invite you to consider three spiritual lessons from Psalm 20:

The LORD hears and answers prayer. Israel prayed the LORD would hear the prayer of the king, and His people, and go before them into battle (20:1-2). Oh, that the leaders of this world would call upon the LORD, and not put their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

We should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers (20:3-4). Israel assured the king they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom, and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD, and whose people uphold them in prayer.

God’s people should put their faith in the grace and blessings of God.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory, They were confident God heard, and would answer their prayers.

I close with a story conveyed by a farmer during the American Revolution.  The farmer was walking through the woods toward the encampment at Valley Forge, when he heard a voice. Drawing near, he found General George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home, and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

1 Timothy 2:1-21 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Majesty of God, the Eternal Judge (1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50

Today’s Scripture reading comprises Psalm 50, and 1 Chronicles 18. You should be familiar with the narrative of the latter, for it chronicles events we considered in a prior study of 2 Samuel 8. Psalm 50, therefore, is the focus of today’s devotional.

Psalm 50

The title of Psalm 50, “A Psalm of Asaph,” introduces a song writer who was a chief musician during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 16:7). This is one of twelve psalms attributed to Asaph. The occasion for the writing of the psalm is not given; however, it rejoices in the LORD as a righteous judge (50:1-6), encourages the saints of God in their worship (50:7-15), and admonishes the wicked for their sin (50:16-21).

God, the Righteous Judge (50:1-6)

Knowing the names of God define His character, consider what we can learn of Him in the introductory verse: The mighty God [El Elohim – Mighty Ruler; Great God; Supreme], even the Lord [Yahweh; SELF-EXISTENT ONE], hath spoken, and called [summoned] the earth [all inhabitants] from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof” (50:1).

Psalm 50:2 declares the majesty of God: “2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined;” while Psalm 50:3 announces He is coming: “3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: A fire shall devour before him, And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.”

I believe it is the Second Coming of Christ that is described here, for the LORD is pictured as one coming in judgment [like a fire], and mankind is admonished to prepare for His judgment (50:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:27).  The saints of God will be gathered, and the judgment of God will be righteous (50:5-6).

God’s Message to the Saints of Israel (50:7-15)

I notice three major truths regarding the LORD summoning His people to come before Him. The first, He is God, and therefore He has the right to judge Israel (50:7). God is pictured as pondering His judgment of the people, and acknowledges they had brought before Him sacrifices and burnt offerings continually (50:8). Nevertheless, the people were reminded that in offering bullocks and goats to the LORD, they were giving only that which was His (50:9). All that has life, and breath is the LORD’S (50:10-11).

In a wonderful reminder of God’s Sovereignty as Creator and LORD, He challenged the people, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (50:12).

Stop for a moment, and consider that last statement! There is nothing you and I can give the LORD, that is not already His, for all the world is His! We own nothing, but we are chosen to be stewards of possessions that are the LORD’S. Not only what we possess, but our very being is the LORD’S. In this, God has the right and authority to command us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Lesson – How might we honor and glorify the LORD? By giving ourselves to Him out of a heart of gratitude, and present to Him all that is due (50:14). When we come to the LORD with a heart of gratitude, He promises: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (50:15).

God’s Message to the Wicked (50:16-21)

The focus of Psalm 50 then turns from the saints, to God’s judgment of the wicked (50:16). Consider the hypocrisy of the wicked: Externally they acknowledge the statutes of the LORD (His Law and Commandments), and worship Him with sacrifices and offerings; however, God knows their hearts. He admonished the wicked, for they hated to be instructed in the way of righteousness, and had contempt for the Word of God (50:17). They violate His commandments, and fail to rebuke the thief (50:18a; Exodus 20:15). They observe the adulterer, but fail to condemn his adultery (50:18b; Exodus 20:14). The wicked lie and slander others (50:19-20; Exodus 20:16).

Notice in Psalm 50:21 how the threat of God’s judgment rose to a crescendo (50:21a), as He warned the wicked that they had abused His silence, His patience, and their day of judgment was coming (50:21b).

Conclusion: A Warning and a Promise (50:22-23)

The Warning: Fail to obey the LORD, and express gratitude of His blessings and longsuffering, and He will “tear you in pieces” and none can deliver you out of His fury (50:22).

The Promise: It is a heart of praise and thanksgiving that glorifies the LORD (50:23). When a sinner sincerely seeks the LORD, He promises to show him the way of “the salvation of God.” What is the way of salvation, and the forgiveness of sin?

Ephesians 2:8–108For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Path for Success (Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8)

Scripture reading – Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 39), and also returns to the historical narrative of the life of David (2 Samuel 8). Today’s devotional will be taken from 2 Samuel 8.

2 Samuel 8 – David’s Success and Victories as King

If a boy in Israel had been looking for a hero, he would have to look no further than King David. The king’s life was a testimony of what God can do with a man who loves the LORD, and is fully yielded to His will.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continual success. When God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), the king accepted the rejection with humility. He then set about extending Israel’s territory, and securing the rule over his domain.

Confident in the LORD’S promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David defeated one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south of Israel (8:1).

Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel, or began paying tribute to David. The Moabites, descendants of Lot who occupied land on the east side of the Jordan River, were the next to be conquered (8:2). King Hadadezer of Zobah (8:3), a capital city north of Damascus and whose lands occupied territories that included a portion of ancient Syria, reaching to the Euphrates River, was dealt a harsh defeat. Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). David had the chariot horses of his enemy “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again. (8:4).

When the Syrians came to aid Hadadezer, David sorely defeated them, slaying “of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men” (8:5). The king then secured the land for Israel, placing “garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts [paying Israel tribute]. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went” (8:6). The bounty of the spoils of war were brought by David to Jerusalem, including “shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer” (8:7), and “exceeding much brass” that would later be used by Solomon to make vessels for the Temple (8:8; 1 Chronicles 18:8).

Continuing his conquest, David defeated the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14), who accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observed that, “David gat him a name,” for his reputation as a warrior king continued to grow (8:13).

What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Was it the loyalty of his leaders (8:16-18), or the size of his army that gave him success?

The secret to David’s successes, and his military exploits was summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6, 14). In turn, David proved himself, not only to the LORD, but also to all in his realm, for he “executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (8:15).

From Egypt in the south, to the Euphrates River in the east, David acquired for his kingdom the lands God had promised Israel as an inheritance. The king’s victories were part of God fulfilling His covenant promise to Abraham, and his seed (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21).

Closing thoughts – Who among us does not long for success? Everyone I have known wants to be successful, and to enjoy the fruits of their success. Yet, how many are willing to follow David’s example, model humility, and walk faithfully in the ways of the LORD?

Though a powerful king whose fame was growing, nevertheless, David was committed to do right, and to execute righteous “judgment and justice” to his people (8:15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Praise, Prayers, Promises, and Peace (Psalm 29)

Scripture reading – Psalm 29

What can you give someone who has everything?  What can you and I, mere mortals with failings and shortcomings, give to God Who is the Creator and Sovereign of the universe? *As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

Give That Which God Requires (Psalm 29:1-2)

Psalm 29:1-2 1Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD [Jehovah; Self-Existent, Eternal God], O ye mighty [strong; mighty ones], give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD glory [honor] and strength [acknowledge His power; might].
2Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD the glory [honor] due unto his name [character; reputation]; worship [bow; do reverence; prostrate] the LORD in the beauty [honor; glory; splendor] of holiness [hallowed; consecrated; sacredness].”

To “give” is to bring, ascribe, or assign to the LORD that which is rightfully due Him.  The “mighty,” perhaps the mightiest among mankind, or the angels of heaven (i.e., the sons of God, Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), owe their being to the LORD. The angels, like man, were created to glorify and serve the LORD. God is due our praise!

Worship and adoration are “due unto His name,” for His names define His divine character and attributes (29:2).  When we worship the LORD, we acknowledge He is Creator, Jehovah, Eternal, and Self-Existent God.

The Power and Presence of the LORD in the Storm (29:3-9)

The presence and majesty of the LORD in His creation is explained in Psalm 29:3-9. Rather than a prolonged commentary, I will permit my word amplifications to reflect the beauty and the revelation of God in the midst of a powerful sweeping storm over the mountains of Canaan. Imagine the loudest, most powerful storm you have ever experienced, and how the thunder was loud enough it shook the house, and the lighting so bright it was blinding.

Psalm 29:3-9 – The voice [sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory [honor]thundereth [roars]: the LORD is upon many [great] waters.
4  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is powerful [mighty; strength]; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty [glory; honor].
5  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD breaketh [destroys; crushes; abolishes] the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh [destroy; crush; abolish] the cedars of Lebanon [known for their beauty and strength] .
6  He
[the LORD] maketh them also to skip like a calf [leap or frolic like a young calf]; Lebanon and Sirion [a mountain peak in Lebanon] like a young unicorn [perhaps a one-horned antelope].
7  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD divideth [cut in pieces; engraved] the flames of fire.
8  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD shaketh [be pained; tremble] the wilderness [desert place]; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh [southern Palestine].
9  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD maketh the hinds [doe or female deer] to calve [give birth], and discovereth [make bare; uncover] the forests: and in his temple [palace; sanctuary] doth every one speak [command] of his glory [honor; great reputation].

The LORD is Sovereign of Creation (29:10-11)

Psalm 29:10-1110 The LORD sitteth [dwells; abides] upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth [dwells; abides]King for ever [everlasting].
11 The LORD will give
[grant; put; deliver] strength [power; might] unto his people [nation]; the LORD will bless his people with peace [shalom; health; prosperity].”

The psalm concludes with an assurance that when storms are raging, we can take comfort remembering the LORD is sovereign over Creation.  To Him, the floodwaters, though powerful and frightening, are His footstool, and He is the everlasting King (29:10). The LORD is the source of strength and peace for His people!

Closing thought – Storms come in various forms. Some are natural occurrences like the thunderstorm described in Psalm 29. Other storms are deeply personal and bring emotional upheavals, physical sufferings, and paralyzing fears. Those storms can come in waves, rushing in upon our lives and reminding us even the strongest are vulnerable. Yet, storms can also remind us to look to the God of heaven, for “the LORD sitteth King for ever…[and]will bless His people with peace” (29:11).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Has an Answer for Sorrow and Regret! (1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 25)

Regret Word Representing Regretful Regretting And Wordclouds

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 25

As you read 1 Chronicles 17 for today’s Scripture reading, you will recognize it is nearly identical to the same event we considered in 2 Samuel 7. We cannot determine with certainty the author of 1 Chronicles; however, many scholars believe it was Ezra, the author of the book that bears his name. 1 Chronicles was written by a man who chronicled the history of Israel and Judah before the Babylonian captivity. For a complete commentary on the events recorded in 1 Chronicles 17, please reference my prior devotion on 2 Samuel 7.

Psalm 25 – A Song of Praise, Faith, and Entreaty

With only one or two exceptions, the verses recorded in Psalm 25 follow the pattern of the Hebrew alphabet, with the first word of each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet (comparable to an English author writing a poem with each verse of prose beginning with the letters A to Z).

The title of the psalm indicates it is “A Psalm of David,” but the occasion of the writing is not identified. Some believe Psalm 25 was written when the king was enjoying a season of ease (as we noticed in 2 Samuel 7:1); however, others suggest it was written near the end of David’s life. *As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

Trust in God (25:1-3)

Psalm 25:1-2 – “Unto thee, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], do I lift up [remove; take away] my soul [life; person]. 2 O my God [Almighty 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.”

Although he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), there were seasons in David’s life when he struggled with sorrows, and enemies relished the opportunity of reveling in his afflictions. Facing the pressures of state, and the threat of enemies from within and without, there were times the king prayed to God, “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (25:1). David pled for the LORD to save him from his enemies, not only for his sake, but also as a testimony to all who call upon the name of the LORD (25:2-3).

A Passion for the LORD’s Leading (25:4-5)

Psalm 25:4-5 – “Shew me thy ways [road; path], O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; teach [instruct; accept] me thy paths [way; conduct; manner]. 5 Lead [bend; guide; aim] me in thy truth [right; faithfulness], and teach [instruct] me: for thou art the God [Almighty God] of my salvation [liberty; deliverance]; on thee do I wait [look; behold; hope] all the day [time].”

David’s prayer should be the prayer of all saints. The king longed for the LORD to give him insight, discernment, understanding, and direction. I have often prayed much the same: “LORD, show me the path you want me to take. Teach me, and bend my will to be in accord with Your Truth!” After praying, David committed himself to “wait all the day” on the Lord (25:5b).

A Petition: LORD, Remember Your Merciful Character (25:6-7)

Psalm 25:6 – “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].”

In the midst of his sorrows, David’s meditations reflected on God’s compassion and mercy (25:6a) He was reminded that the mercy and grace of the LORD would never be exhausted (25:6b).

Psalm 25:7 – “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].”

How many of us no doubt share David’s petition for mercy? Knowing God is omniscient, David was certainly not asking God to “forget,” but to forgive and not hold his sins and transgressions against him (25:7). David cast the burden of his sorrows and regret on the LORD, and prayed he would be the object of His grace and mercy (25:7b). Knowing the magnitude of his sin, the king sought God’s forgiveness, praying, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great” (25:11).

The LORD Guides the Way of Those Who Fear Him (25:12-14)

David then asked, “What man is he that feareth [reveres] the Lord? Him shall he [the LORD] teach [instruct] in the way that he [the LORD] shall choose” (25:12). Solomon, the son of David who would inherit his father’s throne, gleaned from his father’s wisdom, later writing, “The fear [lit. reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: And the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

A Prayer for Deliverance (25:15-21)

Briefly summarizing the closing verses of Psalm 25, the king conveyed his sorrows were increasing (25:17), and he plead for the LORD to pity him with His compassion (25:18-19). Trusting the LORD would hear and answer his cry, David prayed, “Keep my soul, and deliver me… preserve me; For I wait on thee” (25:20-21).

Closing thought – Where do you turn when you feel troubled and overwhelmed? What do you do with yourregrets, sorrows and disappointments? 

I know some believers live in what John Bunyan described as the slough of despondency in his classic novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Like “Christian,” the main character in Bunyan’s novel, many bear the heavy burden of sins and regret. They wrestle in the mire of despair, and rather than repent of their sin and turn to Christ, they turn back to the very sins that pierce their soul with sorrow. Others amuse themselves with sinful distractions, and hope to salve their conscience with pleasures. Some “blame shift” and impugn loved ones with the consequences of their own sinful choices. Others turn to alcohol and drugs hoping to dull the sorrows of guilt and regret.

Take a page out of David’s life, and lift up your heart and thoughts to the LORD! (25:1-2) In the words of the great 19th century Baptist 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.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Accepting When God Says “No,” Will Open the Way for a Greater Blessing (2 Samuel 7)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 7

Today’s Scripture reading parallels events that are also recorded by the historian in 1 Chronicles 17. The events unfolding in 2 Samuel 7 follow sometime after the arrival of the Ark of God in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

David’s Passion to Build a Temple (7:1-3)

The early years of David’s reign were indeed, “golden years.” In the opening verses of today’s study, we find the king enjoying a time of rest, and reflection (7:1). The great warrior had earned a well-deserved reprieve, though it would be short-lived. 2 Samuel 8 records a string of battles David would soon face, but at this time “the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies” (7:1).

Resting, and contemplating the rich appointments of his cedar palace, the king confided to the prophet Nathan of his discomfort. He was troubled that while he enjoyed the luxury of his palace, the “Ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (for that was the tent David had prepared for the Ark (7:2). Neither approving or affirming David’s desire to build a temple, Nathan encouraged the king, “Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee” (7:3).

God Prohibited David Building a Temple (7:4-17)

The LORD came to Nathan, and commanded His prophet to reason with David, and forbad him building a Temple, noting He had not commanded nor expressed a desire for “an house for me to dwell in” (7:4-5). The LORD had fashioned a tabernacle that had sheltered the Ark during the wilderness years, and throughout the era of the Judges (7:6-7).

Nathan was commanded to go to the king, and remind him he was a servant of the LORD. He was to remember what the Lord had said concerning his beginning: “I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel” (7:8). Though he was king and his name and fame were growing, he was reminded his success had come from the LORD (7:9-10).

In contrast to David’s desire to build a house for the Ark, God promised the king, “the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house” (7:11). The verses that follow prove this was not a house made with hands, and formed out of cedar and stone, but was a royal lineage, a dynasty of kings (7:12). David was promised that his son [Solomon] would build a house, a temple to the LORD (7:13). God promised he would love him like a father loves a son (7:14), and would bestow His mercy upon him.

A far-reaching messianic prophecy is found in this passage, and it was one that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God promised the king, “I will stablish the throne of his [David’s] kingdom for ever” (7:13). The promise is repeated in 2 Samuel 7:16 where we read, “thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

A faithful prophet, Nathan fulfilled God’s command and “according to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David” (7:17).

David’s Response to the Prophecy (7:18-29)

Rather than dwell upon the denial of his desire to build a house for the LORD, David embraced the prophecy that his throne and kingdom would be forever (though not fully understanding the breadth of its fulfillment). Humbled by the LORD’s promises, I believe David rose from his throne, and made his way to the Tabernacle where he “sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (7:18).

He had been reminded that he was a lowly shepherd when the LORD chose him to be king (7:8), and it was God that had given him fame and power over his enemies (7:19). David asked a profoundly humble question: “20And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant” (7:20).

Think about that statement: LORD, you know me, and that I am a lowly servant in the presence of a God Who is great, and there is no god like Thee (7:22). God is indeed great in mercy, grace, power, and deeds. Israel’s history was a testimony of the greatness of God, for He had chosen them, and redeemed them out of the slavery of Egypt (7:23-24).

David believed God (7:25-29). Instead of the king building a temple for the LORD, God promised to build through David’s seed a perpetual dynasty. Trusting God’s grace, David’s prayer concluded rejoicing in God’s goodness (7:28), and requesting His divine blessings on himself, and his seed (7:29).

Closing thought – God’s way is always best. David had a good heart, and his desire to build a temple for the Ark was a righteous one; however, he accepted that responsibility and privilege would belong to his son and heir.

Nevertheless, by accepting the LORD’S prohibition, David inherited a far greater promise: His name, throne, and kingdom would be established by the LORD forever. That promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ: “16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

Lesson – Trust God, after all, His Way is Perfect! (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Make a Joyful Noise Unto the LORD! (Psalm 100)

Scripture reading – Psalm 100

Psalm 100 is one of the most beloved of the psalms, and has inspired many great anthems, hymns and choruses of praise.  Knowing this a brief Scripture reading, I am taking liberty to use a bold font for the Scripture text, and adding my amplification of word meanings in italics within brackets.

Psalm 100 – An Invitation to Worship the LORD

Imagine entering the outer court of the Tabernacle, or approaching Solomon’s Temple on the Sabbath or Feast day. We would have found ourselves in the midst of a throng of people joyfully singing some of the psalms of degrees as they ascended the Temple mount. Nearing the top of the Mount, we would have heard the sound of instruments, and the voices of singers calling on the congregation to worship the LORD.

A Call for Thanksgiving (100:1-2)

Psalm 100:1-2 1Make a joyful noise [shout] unto the LORD [Jehovah; Yahweh; Eternal God], all ye lands [earth; country; world]. 2 Serve [labor; become servants] the LORD with gladness [joy; rejoicing]: come [enter; come in] before his presence [face] with singing [joyful voice; shouts of joy].

Not only Israel, but all nations were summoned to offer thanksgiving to the LORD. As the people gathered at the Tabernacle or Temple, they were encouraged to give thanks to the LORD in three ways: Shout for joy (100:1a); Serve the LORD with rejoicing; and Sing before Him in His presence (100:2).

A Cause for Thanksgiving (100:3)

Psalm 100:3 3 Know [perceive; understand] ye that the LORD he is God [Elohim; mighty God]: it is he thathath made us [wrought; squeeze or mold], and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Why should the people of the earth worship and praise the LORD? We are to praise the LORD for His Person: He is Jehovah, Elohim, Almighty God. While some men boast they are “self-made men,” the psalmist reminds us that God is our Creator, and “it is He that hath made us” (100:3b).

Your skills, talents, gifts, intellect, and opportunities are all tokens of God’s grace. Believers should give thanks, and find comfort in the knowledge that the LORD is our Shepherd, and we are “the sheep of His pasture” (100:3; Psalm 23).

A Command in the Mode of Thanksgiving (100:4)

Psalm 100:4 4 Enter [come] into his gates with thanksgiving [praise; offerings; i.e., hymns of thanksgiving], and into his courts [towns; villages] with praise: be thankful [give thanks] unto him, and bless [praise] his name [i.e., Person; God’s character; attributes].

I identify four aspects of sincere worship in Psalm 100:4. We are to worship the LORD in our substantive acts of “thanksgiving,” and in our offerings, when we enter His sanctuary (100:4a). We worship Him when we sing praises to Him (100:4b). We honor Him when we express our prayers and testimonies from thankful hearts (100:4c). Another aspect of worship is when we rehearse in our hearts His divine attributes, and praise His name (100:4d).

Imagine the zeal of a congregation that unashamedly praises the LORD in offerings, spirit, songs, and praise!

A Consideration of the LORD’S Moral Character (100:5)

Psalm 100:5 5 For the LORD is good [better; best; pleasing]; his mercy [lovingkindness; favor; love and grace] is everlasting [perpetual; always; eternal]; and his truth [faithfulness] endureth to all generations [age].

Our brief psalm of praise and thanksgiving closes reminding us that the LORD has given us cause for thanksgiving (100:5). He is “good,” benevolent, and pleasing. He is both just, and “merciful” (for if He were only just, we would have cause for fear; however, He is merciful, and forgiving). He is the very essence of “truth,” for He is honest, faithful, and sincere “to all generations” (100:5).

Closing thoughts: Take a few minutes and ponder as an individual or family all the things for which you should be thankful. Isn’t it humbling and comforting to know the God of heaven, is not only your Creator, but He loves and cares for you like a shepherd tends his sheep?

The next time you worship the LORD in the congregation of His people, remember Psalm 100, and sing. Sing unto the LORD, serve Him with gladness, and praise His name!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Suffering, Compassionate, and Victorious Savior (Psalm 22; Psalm 23)

Scripture reading – Psalm 22; Psalm 23

Our Scripture reading consists of two of the most beloved psalms in the Bible. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm that presents us with a graphic portrait of Christ’s crucifixion, suffering, and death on the Cross. Psalm 23 is unquestionably one of the best known of all the psalms. A thorough study of each psalm is impossible in a devotional; therefore, the focus of this devotion will be Psalm 22. The brackets within the verses contain this author’s amplification.  HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Psalm 22 – The Suffering Shepherd

If you are familiar with the Gospel accounts of Christ’s death on the Cross, you will recognize the opening words of Psalm 22 as the very words quoted by Christ from the Cross (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:34).

Psalm 22:1-2My God [Almighty God; my strength], my God, why hast thou forsaken [left; failed; abandon] me? why art thou so far [remote; distant] from helping [saving; delivering] me, and from the words of my roaring [moaning; cries; distress]?  2 O my God [Supreme God; the Godhead], I cry [call out] in the daytime [daily; by day], but thou hearest [answer; respond] not; and in the night season, and am not silent [still; quiet].”

Christ’s cries of sorrow to His Heavenly Father are found here.  Jesus would be betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and abandoned by His disciples. In the hour of His suffering, He not only experienced the physical pain of the cross, He also suffered the anguish of loneliness. God the Father had turned away, and Christ cried, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  (22:1; Matthew 27:46)

Why would the Father forsake His Son? Why so far away when His Son hung dying on the Cross?

A holy God would not look upon sin, and Jesus in His suffering had become “sin for us, Who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He was altogether sinless; however, He bore the guilt, shame, and condemnation for sin we all deserve…DEATH (Romans 5:12). Make no mistake, God heard the cries of his Son, but heaven was silent as Christ accepted the penalty of our sins (22:2).

Psalm 22:3 – “But thou art holy [completely pure and clean], O thou that inhabitest [dwells; sits; abides] the praises of Israel.”

David confessed the holiness of God’s character, and His worthiness to be praised (22:3). Whatever sorrows and loneliness the king might bear, he was confident God was altogether holy!  The God of Israel is faithful, and He hears and answers prayers (22:4-5).

The prophetic focus of Psalm 22 shifted to the shame and reproach Christ would suffer on the Cross beginning with Psalm 22:6 and continuing through to Psalm 22:21.

Consider briefly the humiliation of a cross (22:6), the derision Jesus suffered as the crowd scorned and derided him (22:10). The agonies of the Cross continued with the emotional agony of Golgotha. Jesus was abandoned (22:11), encircled by enemies who are portrayed as bulls and roaring lions (22:12-13). Notice the description of the physical suffering of the Messiah: tired and traumatized (22:14); thirsty and tormented (22:15); taunted by enemies that were portrayed as dogs. The very nails of the cross are portrayed as piercing Christ’s hands and feet (22:16-17). Even the parting of Christ’s robes is prophetically described as it would occur (22:18; John 19:23-24).

The prophetic scene of the Cross continues with Christ’s death portrayed in the words, “19But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20Deliver my soul from the sword; My darling from the power of the dog” [a portrayal of the Gentile soldiers, 22:19-20].

The closing verses of Psalm 22 end in a note of triumph, and with two invitations (22:22-31).

The first invitation was to Israel, “the seed of Jacob…the seed of Israel,” and was an appeal for the people to glorify and fear the LORD (22:23). Reminiscent of the thief on the cross, the Messiah was foretold as not rejecting the afflicted, nor hiding “his face from him; But when he cried unto him, he heard” (22:24). I believe this was a foretelling of the thief crying to Jesus on the Cross, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus heard his penitent cry, and answered, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The second invitation was a universal one to all nations, and all people of the earth. David wrote, “27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. 28For the kingdom is the Lord’s: And he is the governor among the nations” (22:27-28).

Closing thoughts – One thousand years before the Cross, David penned in exacting detail this prophecy of a suffering Messiah (Psalm 22). Christ’s death fulfilled the Father’s plan for a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. His glorious resurrection triumphed over sin and the grave, promising all who accept Him, forgiveness and redemption. Even the Second Coming of Christ is found in Psalm 22: Jesus Christ will come again, as Sovereign and Governor of the nations, and all will “bow before Him…and declare His righteousness…that He hath done this!” (22:28-31)

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith