Category Archives: Trust

Living a Purposeful Life (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

Scripture Reading – Ecclesiastes 1-6

Today’s Scripture reading is long, but meaningful to all who seek to understand the many troubled individuals we pass in our daily lives. I encourage you to read and contemplate the sorrow of an empty soul that only God’s grace and mercy can fill. The devotional commentary will focus entirely on Ecclesiastes 1-2.

Ecclesiastes chronicles the ponderings of elderly King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, apart from Christ. The king’s subject is the challenges and difficulties of this earthly life, and its vanity (emptiness).  Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 – “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.  What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”

Ecclesiastes, penned in the latter years of Solomon’s life, brings to us a shocking contrast to the bits of wisdom the king penned in the middle years of life, when he was presiding over Israel in that nation’s golden years. His youth far spent, and the frailty of old age his daily haunt, we notice that Solomon’s outlook has become sad and dismal.

Solomon questions, what is a man’s life apart from God?  To what ends should a man live?  What profit, what gain, what value is there for a man who spends his life in labor?

One generation dies and another takes its place (1:4); the sun rises and the sun sets (1:5); the wind blows and the waters run (1:6-7), and in Solomon’s observation, a man’s heart is never satisfied (1:8).

Ecclesiastes 1:8 – “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”

What a sad commentary on the life of a king whom God promised to give unimaginable wealth and incomprehensible wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-14)!  His youth spent, Solomon had turned his heart from God, and now near the end of his life, sums up his search for fulfillment saying, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14).

What happened to this man who had everything, but whose life became empty?  We find the answer to that question in 1 Kings 11:4.

1 Kings 11:3-4 – “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

From a horizontal, human perspective, Solomon’s life and passions showed the heart of one who had turned from God! No wonder Solomon writes, “Vanity, all is vanity,” thirty-four times in Ecclesiastes.

When he was young, the king loved the LORD and chose wisdom over wealth and worldly pleasures (1 Kings 3:9).  God had honored his desire and imparted to Solomon not only wisdom, but also riches and power. Tragically, in his old age, he had turned from the LORD and His Law and Commandments.

Ecclesiastes is the philosophical discourse of an old man out of fellowship with God. What a tragic conclusion for a man whose youth was a testimony of God’s blessings!

Ecclesiastes 2:11 – “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”

I believe it is author and preacher Chuck Swindoll who tells the story of a deeply disturbed individual who went to a psychiatrist seeking help with his anxieties.  Every morning the man awoke melancholy and, in the evening, went to bed deeply depressed.  Desperate and unable to find relief, he decided to seek the counsel of a medical doctor.

The psychiatrist, after listening to the man share his thoughts, fears and anxieties, finally leaned towards his patient and said, “I understand an Italian clown has come to our local theatre and the crowds are [rolling] in the aisles in laughter… Why don’t you go see the clown and laugh your troubles away?”

With a sad, forlorn expression, the patient muttered, “Doctor, I am that clown.”

Friend, a life lived apart from God and in contradiction to His Law will never be satisfying!  No pleasures can mask the sadness, nor riches satisfy the void of a sinner’s heart apart from the LORD.  Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes. 2:26 – “For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Daily Scripture Reading – Psalms 134, 146-150

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why trust any other?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Remember When Superman Symbolized Justice and “The American Way?”

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 16-18

Continuing our chronological daily reading of the Scriptures, you are invited to read Proverbs 16-18. Today’s devotional will be based on Proverbs 16:10-13.

Americans live in a republic whose laws should be as binding on her leaders as they are on common citizens.  Idealistically, no leader is above the law and the scales of justice are in no man’s favor.

In a monarchy, however, the king is the embodiment of the law and the citizens of his realm can only pray that their king is a righteous man who fears the judgment and wrath of God.

Proverbs 16:10-13 expresses four principles that serve as a guide for every leader and those he serves.

Proverbs 16:10 – “A divine sentence [decision reflecting God’s Law] is in [proceeds from; is on] the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not [does not commit trespass] in judgment [sentence; verdict].”

Kings, rulers, judges and all who are in authority are to exercise judgment being mindful that God, not man, is the ultimate authority of right and wrong.  When godly men sit in places of judgment, their hearts are able to weigh matters with the discernment God alone gives.  How is that possible?

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – “And it shall be, when he [king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he [king] shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”

The kings of Israel were to possess a copy of God’s Law written in their own hand (17:18).  The Law of God was to be a king’s daily meditation (17:19) and he was to remember he was God’s servant and a minister to his people (17:20).

Proverbs 16:11 – “A just weight [right verdict; scale] and balance [scales] are the LORD’S: all the weights [stones; measurements] of the bag are His work [labor; work of His hands].”

Lady Justice continues to serve as an international symbol of equity. She is often depicted wearing a blindfold, holding in her left hand the scales of justice, and in her right the double-edged sword of judgment.  She serves as a modern reminder of what kings were to remember: God is the final judge and arbitrator.  Israel’s king was to remember that God’s Law and the immutable principles of His holiness, grace and mercy were the final word when he executed judgment.

Proverbs 16:12 – “It is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome; repulsive] to kings to commit [do; execute] wickedness [moral wrong]: for the throne [seat of authority and judgment] is established [fixed; firmly established; made strong] by righteousness [rightness; moral virtue].”

Proverbs 16:12 addresses the responsibility and influence of kings and all who are in authority. I believe America is in a quagmire of immorality and injustice because our leaders have forsaken the Law of God, and have no moral compass for discerning right and wrong. The decay of our strength and security as a nation has paralleled the erosion of our confidence and respect for those in authority.

Proverbs 16:13 – “Righteous [true; just] lips are the delight [desire; pleasure] of kings; and they love [desire; like] him that speaketh right [just; upright].”

The integrity of a leader may be measured by the moral character of his counselors.  Godless leaders seek counsel from those who serve their immoral ends, but godly leaders have a passion for truth and love those whose words and counsel are honest and just.

Do you desire wisdom and discernment? Study God’s Word and meditate on His Laws and Commandments.

Psalm 119:103-105 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Proverbs: An Introduction (Proverbs 1-3)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 1-3

Continuing our study of the life and wisdom of King Solomon, our chronological reading of the Scriptures brings us to “The Proverbs of Solomon,” chapters 1-3.

To author a brief devotional commentary on three chapters of Proverbs is not just a daunting task, it is impossible. In fact, you will find six hundred individual devotional commentaries on my HeartofAShepherd.com website that I have written and hope to one day publish in an electronic book format for personal and group Bible studies.

Rather than attempt the impossible, allow me to share a few introductory thoughts that I hope will prove useful as you read and apply the Proverbs of Solomon to your life.

An Introduction

Solomon, the son of David, reigned as King of Israel in the 10th century B.C.   According to 1 Kings 4:32, the king authored “three thousand proverbs” and his wisdom was so widely hailed “there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  Cherished for their godly wisdom and divine inspiration, many of Solomon’s proverbs were collected and included in the canon of Old Testament Scriptures.

The book of Proverbs is King Solomon’s instructions to his son, a prince of Israel, who would one day be that nation’s king.  Inherent in its pages are teachings, admonitions, exhortations, and general guidelines for conducting one’s life in a wise, God-fearing manner.

What is a proverb?

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary defines a proverb as a “wise utterance.”  Brown-Driver-Biggs Hebrew-English Lexicon describes a proverb as a “brief terse sentence of popular sagacity.”  Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary states a proverb is “an old common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth.”

Proverbs are, in essence, trite sayings, rules, and common truths.  Some make the mistake of selectively choosing and applying individual proverbs as though they are universal promises when they are, in fact, simply stated principles that are general statements of truth (one such proverb oft quoted, but misapplied as an unassailable promise is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”).

Solomon’s proverbs often draw upon the agrarian culture of his day and are sometimes simple enough a child might grasp its meaning with little or no explanation.  Some proverbs are provocative in nature, the musings of a king all too aware of the temptations of the palace and the godless character of miscreants who haunted its courts in pursuit of lusts and carnal pleasures.

Like a loving father, twenty-three times the king arrests the attention of the young prince addressing him as “my son”.  With the fervor of a passionate preacher, Solomon’s proverbs “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2), sparing no words when describing the way of a fool and admonishing the tragic end of all who follow his path.

With pen in hand, I encourage you to take up your Bible and read Proverbs 1-3, underlining and noting in the margins the practical truths and their application to your life.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Wise Man Knows and Does Not Forget the Character of His Enemies (1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 94

The opening verse of 1 Kings sets the stage for a transition of leadership in Israel and marks the waning days of David: “Now king David was old and stricken in years” (1 Kings 1:1).

The mighty king whose youthful exploits were celebrated in song is now old, frail, and lying on his deathbed.  Though not culturally appropriate in our day, David’s attendants in a desperate attempt to provide physical warmth for the king’s failing body, suggested a young woman be sought who would share his bed (1:1-2). David succumbed to the counsel and a beautiful young woman named Abishag was brought to the king (1:3). While she attended to the king, the Scriptures make it clear that David did not violate her purity and “knew her not” (1:4).

Our study in 1 Chronicles 29 described the glorious coronation of Solomon as Israel’s king (29:1) and David’s prayer of intercession for his young son (29:19, 22-25). 1 Kings 1 gives us the tragic background that led to the king’s decision to leave no doubt that Solomon was God’s chosen king and David’s successor. The events recorded in 1 Kings 1-2 brings to memory the warning of the prophet Nathan that the sword would never depart from his household (2 Samuel 12:7-10).

Adonijah, the elder son of David and the brother of the late rebel Absalom, determined to plot and usurp the throne before David died (1 Kings 1:5-10). We have seen on more than one occasion that a weakness in David’s character was his failure to confront the sins of his own household. Such was the case once again with Adonijah when we read, “his father had not displeased him [Adonijah] at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” (1 Kings 1:6).

David’s failure to address his son’s usurpation gave others cause to follow Adonijah (1:7-8), thus setting the stage for not only a division in the king’s household, but also one that threatened to cause a civil war in Israel. There were even some men in David’s inner circle who, knowing the king was old and frail, were ready to seize the opportunity to be confederate with Adonijah and commandeer the throne of Israel.

Among the traitors who followed Adonijah was Joab (1 Kings 1:7), one of David’s “mighty men” who had disparaged the king’s will in the past and slain two of his generals (2 Samuel 3:27; 20:10).

Notice how rebels have a sense of those who are loyal to leadership and avoid their company.

Adonijah called several to anoint him as his father’s successor to the throne; however, “Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not” (1 Kings 1:10).  Adonijah knew his actions were contrary to the will of the LORD and he made sure those loyal to David would not be included in his plot.

Knowing Adonijah was setting in motion a plan to seize the throne, Nathan counseled Bathsheba to intercede with the king for her son Solomon and have him declared king (1 Kings 1:11-31).  David heeded the counsel of Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan and directed that Solomon be anointed king and declared his successor (1:32-40).

When news reached Adonijah that Solomon was king, all who had followed him in his rebellion fled for their lives (1:41-53).

A Lesson in Character

I have learned the strengths and weaknesses evidenced in a man’s character tend to be constant.

Consider the counsel David gave Solomon regarding his adversaries (2:1-9). David prepared Solomon to reign in his stead and challenged his son to be “strong” and conduct himself according to God’s law, assuring him the LORD’s blessing would rest upon his lineage (2:1-4).

David cautioned Solomon, reminding him of the flaws and failures of certain men in positions of power and influence who had proven untrustworthy and wronged him in the past (2:5-9).  Joab’s disloyalty was a concern to David who urged his son to “let not his hoar head (white hairs) go down to the grave in peace” (2:5-6).

There was also Shimei, the man who had cursed David when he fled from his son Absalom.  Shimei had begged for his life and was spared after Absalom’s rebellion, but David urged his son to execute Shimei and not risk him becoming a threat to the throne (2:8-9).

After David died (2:10-11), Solomon moved to secure his kingdom and the first threat he faced was his own brother Adonijah (2:12-25).  Playing on the pity Bathsheba might have for his state, Adonijah petitioned Solomon’s mother to intercede for him (2:13-18) that he might take Abishag (1:3-4), David’s young virgin concubine, for his wife. Solomon discerned Adonijah’s request to be a plot to legitimize his claim to the throne and had his brother put to death (2:19-25).

Following his father’s advice, Solomon dealt with each of his enemies in like fashion.  Abiathar, the priest who had supported Adonijah’s illegitimate claim to the throne, was warned his traitorous actions were worthy of death, but he would be spared (2:26-27). Hearing Solomon was pursuing threats to his reign, Joab fled to the altar hoping to find grace, but was slain (2:28-35). Solomon remembered the curses of Shimei against his father and three years later had him slain (2:39-46).

I close encouraging you to reflect on the character of people with influence in your life. Apart from sincere repentance and genuine humility, I believe you will find the strengths and weaknesses of a man’s character tend to be consistent.

In other words, a liar is a liar; a thief is a thief; a traitor is a traitor; and an honest, faithful man is predictably just that…honest, faithful and trustworthy!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture Reading – Psalms 111-118

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

Psalm 111 – Getting Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 112 – Four Qualities of a “Blessed” Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 112:10 – The wicked [immoral; ungodly] shall see [look; behold; regard] it, and be grieved [troubled; provoked; angry]; he shall gnash [i.e. grate or grind] with his teeth, and melt away [faint; be discouraged]: the desire [longing; delight; greed] of the wicked [guilty; immoral; ungodly] shall perish [be destroyed].”

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The King is Dead (1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

In the fortieth year of his reign as king, David was conscious of the frailty of old age and the increasing shadow of his own death. In today’s Scripture reading we have record of David’s final preparations before his inevitable departure from this earthly life.

1 Chronicles 26 – The Gatekeepers

Continuing the organization of those who will minister in the Temple, the focus of 1 Chronicles 26are those men and their families who will be charged with guarding the entrances to the Temple. Altogether there will be twenty-four guard stations attended by porters or gatekeepers described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6) and “able men for strength for the service” (26:8), meaning able-body men.

Men of the tribe of Levi were also assigned to guard the Temples treasuries (26:20-28) that consisted not only of what was given by the people, but also “out of the spoils won in battles” (26:27).

1 Chronicles 27 – Israel’s Army and its Divisions

Having completed the affairs of the Temple and its organization, David’s focus then turned to the organization of Israel’s armies by twelve divisions, each division consisting of twenty-four thousand men (27:1-15).

The rulers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22), as well as those men who were charged with managing the king’s possessions (27:23-31).

The record of David’s trusted counsellors is also stated (27:32-34).

1 Chronicles 28 – David’s Final Preparations

Calling together all the leaders of his kingdom (28:1), David made certain there would be no ambiguity as to his desires and God’s plan for Israel when he died.

Seeming to indicate he had been lying on his bed until now, we read that “the king stood up upon his feet” and began to share the longing in his heart to build a Temple for God, as well as, the reason why he was denied that privilege: “But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood” (28:3).

David shared how God had chosen Solomon to be king (28:5) and had promised him a perpetual kingdom if he would keep the LORD’s “commandments” and judgments (28:7-8). In the audience of the leaders, David exhorted Solomon to know God and serve the LORD “with a perfect heart and with a willing mind” (28:9-10). David charged Solomon to take up architectural plans he had devised for the Temple and to “build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it” (28:9-10).

1 Chronicles 29 – David’s Final Acts as King

We come to the end of this first chronicle of Israel’s history having followed God’s providential hand in His creation from Adam, the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1), through Noah (1:4-17) and his son Shem (1:17). Of Shem’s lineage was born Abraham (1:27) with whom God established His redemptive covenant that was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).

David has reigned forty years as Israel’s king (29:27) and his final appeal to the leaders of the nation is recorded in 1 Chronicles 29. The king reminded all Israel that God had chosen Solomon to succeed him as king, but urged the people to remember he was “young and tender, and the work…great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God” (29:1).

Modeling the manner of giving that honors the LORD, David gave liberally and enthusiastically for the building of the Temple (29:2-5). The leaders of the nation followed the king’s example and “offered willingly” (29:6-9). Witnessing the spirit of their king and leaders, the people also “offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (29:9).

A beautiful benediction of praise and worship is recorded when David rehearsed God’s blessings on Israel (29:10-13) and his inferiority in the light of God’s grace (29:14-15). Remembering his humble beginnings, David prayed with a sense of awe:

1 Chronicles 29:14-1514  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort [remember, David was a son of a shepherd]? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. 15  For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow [shade; temporal; passing], and there is none abiding [no hope in this life].

David’s prayer turned to one of intercession as he contemplated the task of being king which Solomon was about to undertake (29:19). Sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving followed and the ceremony concluded with Solomon being anointed as king a second time and then taking his place on the throne (29:20-24).

God did answered David’s prayer, for “the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (29:25).

The reign of David, Israel’s great king, comes to an end with a simple obituary:

“And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead” (29:28).

Notice the memorial to David’s character in that last sentence: David “died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour [glory; splendor]” (29:28).

All men and women will die, but I dare say, few will die having lived a full life that has been blessed, bequeathing honor as their life’s crowning trait.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture Reading – Psalms 108-110

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

Psalm 108 – A Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving

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

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

On what was David’s heart fixed?

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

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

Psalm 109 – The “Iscariot Psalm”

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

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

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

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

Psalm 110 – The Priest King

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only one, Christ Jesus the LORD.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Pour Themselves into Those Who Will Eventually Succeed Them (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study in 2 Samuel and is a parallel of the same events recorded in 1 Chronicles 21-22. (The record in the chronicles gives us additional details.)

2 Samuel 24

We find David as an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was only a memory. The king is now in the latter years of his life and reign as the king of Israel.

The opening verses of 2 Samuel 24 will no doubt challenge some to wonder why the LORD would be angry with Israel, move David to take a census of his army, and then turn about and be angry with David for doing so (24:1-10). Remember the LORD never tempts man to sin (James 1:13), but He does use the natural inclination of a man’s heart to providentially accomplish His will and purpose.

General Joab, the captain of David’s army, cautiously questioned the king’s motive, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command for a census was an act of pride that might prove to be a provocation of God’s judgment.

As soon as the sum of the fighting men of Israel was delivered, David’s heart was convicted, and he confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10). God is just, and the consequences of David’s sin would not be dismissed by the LORD. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11).

Gad was given a message that demanded the king choose one of three judgments that would come upon Israel because of David’s sin: seven years of famine, three months pf being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies than be pursued by an enemy (24:14).

2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

Seventy thousand were dead, but had the LORD not been restrained by His mercy, even Jerusalem would have suffered His wrath (24:16). David had prayed as the angel of the LORD approached Jerusalem and made intercession for his people praying, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house” (24:17).

Bearing the weight of his guilt and realizing the consequences of his sin had befallen the nation, David interceded and asked for God’s judgment to fall upon him and his household rather than His people (24:17).

The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD instructing David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18). [Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]

Seeing the king and hearing his desire to buy his threshingfloor, Araunah offered not only the land, but also his oxen and threshing instruments as a gift to David (24:20-23).

The king refused Araunah’s offer and confessed, “I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (24:24).

David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah, and sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had purchased. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign David’s offering was accepted and God’s wrath was satisfied (1 Chronicles 21:26).

You might wonder what became of the land David purchased. The threshingfloor of Araunah was the same place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). It would also be where Solomon will build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

1 Chronicles 22

David, knowing the years of his life were drawing to a close, devoted himself to preparing workmen and materials that would be required for Solomon to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-19). David instructed Solomon and imparted to his son his duty to embrace God’s promises and build the Temple in Jerusalem (22:6-16).

Leaving no doubt who should be his heir and the next king, David “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1) and set forward an organization of the priests and Levites who were to serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).

There are many lessons we can take from today’s study; however, I will leave you with one:

David had accepted that his earthly life would soon be passed, and not only  prepared his son to be king, but also charged Solomon with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6-11).

Psalm 90:10 – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength [i.e. pride] labour [toil; grief; misery] and sorrow [mourning]; for it is soon [i.e. hurry; too soon] cut off [passed], and we fly away [i.e. our years take flight].”

Wise men and women pour their lives into those who will eventually succeed them!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith