Category Archives: Trust

Got problems? I have a promise! (Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six chapters from the Book of Psalms, but the focus of this devotional commentary will be limited to Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:1-4 – The Grief and Prayer of a Heartbroken Father

An editor’s note in your Bible identifies Psalm 3 as the psalm David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him. The historical context is chronicled in 2 Samuel 15 and marked the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom.

By subtlety and slander (2 Samuel 15:3-6) Absalom had ingratiated himself to the people and “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). Conspiring against his father, Absalom led a coup and forced the king to flee Jerusalem. Psalm 3 is a song that expresses David’s anguish and cry to God. [Note – The amplification of the italicized text is by this author.]

Psalm 3:1-4  – “LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], how are they increased [multiplied] that trouble [cause distress; afflict] me! many are they that rise up [stand up as a foe] against me.

2  Many there be which say [speak; tell] of my soul [life; person; being], There is no help [deliverer] for him in God. Selah.

3  But thou, O LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], art a shield [buckler; defense] for me; my glory [honor; splendor], and the lifter up [exaltation; to move in a higher direction] of mine head.

4  I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

David found himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises.  The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to the LORD stirs the heart of all who have been in leadership and felt the blow and sorrow of betrayal.  Emboldened by his flight from Jerusalem, the king’s enemies derided him saying, “There is no help [deliverer] for him in God” (Psalm 3:2b).

Notice in verse 3 how David takes solace in the character and promises of God.  His reflections on the character of God strengthened his soul. David remembered the LORD of eternity was his “shield”, defender and the sovereign of creation.

Though driven from his throne, David was confident that God would exact vengeance and His justice would prevail.  Alone, afraid, humiliated, discouraged, but not defeated; David was certain God saw his plight and heard his cry. The king expressed his trust and faith in the LORD writing:

Psalm 3:4 – “I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

The heartache borne by David is all too familiar to parents of sons and daughters who reject God in spite of their parents’ love, sacrifices, and the spiritual lessons engrained in them from their youth. Prodigal sons and daughters heap indescribable heartaches and sorrows on those who love them. I can only wonder how many desperate parents are praying their rebels will face the emptiness of their souls and come to themselves before it is too late (Luke 15:11-21).

Psalm 3:5 – “I laid me down [took rest] and slept [i.e. long sleep; fell asleep]; I awaked [i.e. arise]; for the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] sustained [to prop; braced; held up] me.

All was not lost for David. When the deposed king looked past his sorrows and reflected on the LORD his hope renewed. Perhaps for the first time in days or weeks, David found solace in the LORD and slept (3:5). Sweet sleep-a quietness of heart and thoughts God gives a believer whose solace is in Him. David’s words (3:5) echo a bedtime prayer I was taught as a child:

“I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.”

Awakening from sleep, David’s faith was renewed and his soul refreshed.

Psalm 3:6-7  I will not be afraid [fear; tremble; frighten] of ten thousands of people, that have set [made; lay; fixed] themselves against me round about [on every side; surround].
7  Arise [Rise up; stand; perform], O LORD; save [deliver; help; rescue; avenge] me, O my God [Elohim; Mighty God]: for thou hast smitten [slay; kill; beat; strike] all mine enemies [foes; adversaries] upon the cheek bone [i.e. or jaw bone]; thou hast broken [shattered; crushed] the teeth of the ungodly [wicked].
8  Salvation [help; deliverance] belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing [prosperity; generosity] is upon thy people [tribe; flock]. Selah [pause].”

Betrayed by a son and surrounded by enemies, David asserted he was confident the LORD would save him.

Are you a parent who identifies with David’s sorrows and disappointments?

To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your child mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

Take heart: God hears and answers your cries in the night.  He is the same for you as he was for David: your Shield and Defender.  The LORD will answer your prayers and lift you up in His time.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalms 50, 53, 60, 75

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

Psalm 50 – God, My Righteous Judge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Long Live the King! (2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18

You will notice a parallel in today’s scripture readings from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 18 is a straightforward, unembellished record of David’s victories as king. 2 Samuel 8-9 gives us historical facts that paint a moving portrait of a godly king.

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

If a boy in Israel was looking for a hero, he would need to look no further than King David. David’s life is a testimony to what God will do with a young man when he loves the LORD and is fully yielded.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continued success. After God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), David accepted the rejection with humility and set about establishing himself as king and securing his rule over Israel.

Confident in God’s promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David conquered 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 (8:1). Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel or began paying tribute to the king.

The Moabites, descended from Lot and occupying land on the east side of the Jordan, were the next to be defeated (8:2). Other nations inhabiting lands north and east of Israel included King Hadadezer of Zobah whose kingdom occupied a portion of ancient Syria and reached to the river Euphrates (8:3). Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). Rather than leave the King of Zobah defenseless, David had his chariot horses “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again (8:4-5).

Continuing his conquest and securing Israel, the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14) accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observes that, “David gat him a name,” meaning he developed a reputation as a warrior king, when he defeated a Syrian army “in the valley of Salt (i.e. the Dead Sea area), being eighteen thousand men” (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? Did the loyalty of his leaders or the size of his army make him victorious?

The secret to the king’s victories over his enemies is summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14).

David’s victories fulfilled God’s covenant promises with Israel that were made to Abraham, Moses and David (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21). From Egypt in the south to the Euphrates River in the east, the lands God promised Israel, David acquired for his kingdom.

2 Samuel 9 – A Compassionate, Merciful King

A moving, heart-touching story in 2 Samuel 9 paints for us a spiritual portrait of the manner of man King David was in Israel. He was strong enough to lead a nation and subdue his enemies, but also a compassionate and merciful king.

With his kingdom secure, David’s thoughts turned to extending grace and peace to the household of his predecessor, King Saul (9:1), and in particular the oath he had made with the friend of his youth, Jonathan, son of Saul.

David enquired if any of Saul’s household were alive. When he learned that Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, was alive (9:2-6), he immediately sent for him and invited him to take his place in the palace at the king’s table (9:6-8).  The Scriptures give us unique insight into David’s character.

David was a man of integrity, a promise keeper. As the grandson of Saul, Mephibosheth could have been viewed as a legitimate heir to the throne; nevertheless, David remembered his promise to show mercy to Jonathan’s household (1 Samuel 20:14-17).

David was also a man of compassion. Mephibosheth, a cripple and “lame on his feet” (9:3), was invited to dine at the king’s table. He had been injured in a fall when his nurse fled the palace with him after his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul died in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).

Ancient oriental kings would have had no tolerance for the infirmed in their midst, let alone eating at their tables. Such was not the heart of King David. Not only did David bequeath the royal lands of his grandfather, King Saul, to him as his inheritance (9:7-9), but we read, “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:13).

Unlike a fairy tale with a “happily ever after” ending, the kindness and grace David extended to Mephibosheth will later be betrayed when the king’s enemies lead a coup and attempt to make Jonathan’s son king (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30).

Compassionate, faithful and obedient-those are the qualities God cherishes and blesses. What manner of man or woman are you?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

Psalm 25 – A Prayer for Grace, Help and Deliverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright – 2020 – Travis D. Smith

When God Says, “NO” (2 Samuel 6-7; 1 Chronicles 17)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 6-7; 1 Chronicles 17

Our Scripture reading continues with David’s decision to move the Ark of God to Jerusalem. As noted in a parallel passage recorded in 1 Chronicles 13, the celebration was cut short when David, the priests, and Levites failed to consult the Torah on the means of transporting the Ark.

An earlier devotional addressed the tragedy surrounding David employing a “new cart” to transport the Ark to Jerusalem. Today’s devotional will look past that tragic event (2 Samuel 6:1-11).

2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 – Parallel Passages

2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 offer us two expositions of the same event. We are introduced to the prophet Nathan, Samuel’s successor, who will have a great influence in David’s life during his reign.

No doubt in a reflective mood in the comfort of his new palace, David’s thoughts turned to building a temple for Israel to come to Jerusalem and worship the LORD (1 Chronicles 17:1-9).  Nathan gave his blessing to David’s desire (2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 17:2); however, that same night the LORD revealed to the prophet that the king would not be permitted to build a temple; however, his son and successor would build a temple (1 Chronicles 17:3-12).

We find two covenant promises expressed to David in 1 Chronicles 17 and 2 Samuel 7.  The first, that God would bless David, subduing his enemies and establishing his lineage on Israel’s throne forever (17:7-11).  The second, that his son and successor would not only build a house of worship to the LORD, but his throne would “be established for evermore” (17:14); a promise fulfilled in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  The balance of today’s Scripture is a record of David’s praise and thanksgiving for God’s covenant promises (2 Samuel 7:12-17; 1 Chronicles 17:16-27).

Permit me to close by proposing a question:

How do you respond when God’s answer to your longing and prayer is contrary to your desire? In other words, when God says, “no.”

David’s love for the LORD moved him to request that he might build a house, a temple for God. The King reasoned, how could he rest in a palace when the Ark of God resided in a tent of curtains (2 Samuel 7:2; 1 Chronicles 17:1).

God refused David’s request saying, “Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?” (2 Samuel 7:5). The LORD gave two grounds for His refusal. The first, His earthly presence among Israel had always been as a sojourner, “in a tent and in a tabernacle” (2 Samuel 7:6). The second basis of God’s refusal was He had not commanded David to build Him a house (2 Samuel 7:7).

God did not need a house; however, Israel needed the king the LORD chose and anointed to rule His people (2 Samuel 7:8-11).

If David set His heart to love the LORD and serve His people, God promised He would bless him, and his lineage would reign forever (a promise that will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ – 2 Samuel 7:12-16).

Lesson – Trust God and accept He is sovereign. The LORD has authority to order both the stops and the starts in life, and His way is perfect (Romans 8:28).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

How Great is Our God? (Psalm 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132

Today’s Scripture reading in the Book of Psalms is extensive. For the sake of brevity, I will limit my devotional focus to Psalm 89.

Psalm 89 – The Person and Attributes of God

One study method I have often used over the years is to study a passage of Scripture and look for and focus on what God has revealed about Himself, His person, and His character. I have always found that approach to be an enriching discipline and invite you to follow the same in your devotions.

Psalm 89, though referring to King David throughout, was probably written during Israel’s captivity in Babylon. The author is identified as Ethan the Ezrahite. I cannot identify the man; however, I am relatively certain he would have been a Levite and there is no doubt this psalm would have been sung in worship in the Temple.

I suggest the following as an outline of Psalm 89.  Introduction (Psalm 89:1-4) – A call to worship (many might identify verse 1 as a chorus often sung today); I. Divine Attributes (Psalm 89:5-18); II. Davidic Covenant (Psalm 89:19-37); III. The Immediate Distress of the Exiled (Psalm 89:38-45); IV. A Plea to God for Mercy (Psalm 89:46-52).

Time and space do not allow a thorough study of Psalm 89; however, permit me an opportunity to highlight a study of a few of God’s attributes recorded in this psalm.

Introduction – A Call to Worship (Psalm 89:1-4)

Psalm 89:1-2 – God is merciful and faithful.

Psalm 89:4 – His promises never fail (the promise to establish David’s “seed for ever” is fulfilled in Jesus Christ).

II. Divine Attributes (Psalm 89:5-18)

Psalm 89:6-8 – God is incomparable: To be feared and revered (89:7). He is strong and faithful (89:8).

Psalm 89:9 – God is sovereign in nature: The seas obey His will (Matthew 8:24-27).

Psalm 89:10 – God is sovereign over nations: He rules the “sea” of nations.

Psalm 89:11-12 – God is Creator.

Psalm 89:14 – God is Just; Merciful; and Trustworthy.

Psalm 89:16 – God is righteous.

Psalm 89:18 – God is Protector; Holy; and Sovereign King.

II. The Davidic Covenant – God’s Covenant with David and Israel (Psalm 89:19-37)

Psalm 89:19-25 – God keeps Covenant and never forgets His promises.

Psalm 89:26 – God is “my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”

Psalm 89:28 – God is merciful.

Psalm 89:26-32 – God is just and those who break His Covenant will not go unpunished.

Psalm 89:33-34 – God’s lovingkindness (steadfast love) and faithfulness will not fail.

Psalm 89:35 – God is holy, He cannot lie.

III. The Immediate Distress of the Exiled (89:38-45)

Psalm 89:38-45 – God is a righteous Judge and sin will not go unpunished.

IV. A Plea to God for Mercy (Psalm 89:46-52)

Psalm 89:46-51 – God is just and in Him is life, purpose, mercy, and forgiveness.

Psalm 89:52 – God is worthy of praise for He is “LORD for evermore” – eternal, perpetual, everlasting God.

What is the purpose of pondering, considering, listing, and meditating on the attributes of God revealed in His Word? The LORD has revealed He is merciful, kind, loving, longsuffering, and just.

Understanding who God is, gives courage, confidence, and hope. I know when I face trouble and trials, He hears and answers prayer. Therefore:

Psalm 89:1 – I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Life of a Blessed Man (Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68)

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 1-2, 15, 22-24, 47, 68

Today’s scripture reading consists of eight psalms. Our devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 1:1-3.

Psalm 1

Psalm 1 is the first recorded Beatitude in the Bible and offers a contrast of two lives: the “blessed” man (Psalm 1:1-3) who walks in the way of God’s Law and prospers and the “ungodly” who defy God, oppose His Law and “shall perish” (Psalm 1:4-6).

Before we study this beautiful psalm of promise and instruction, let us first consider what it means to be “blessed” (1:1).

In essence, the word “blessed” means happy or prosperous. Men often seek happiness in all the wrong places. They pursue pleasure, only to find it fleeting. They seek riches, but find money cannot buy happiness. They look for fulfillment in relationships, only to be disappointed.

So, what is this “blessed” state of the Psalm 1 man?

It is more than fleeting happiness. It is an enduring satisfaction, a contentment not rooted in or based upon one’s circumstances. The “blessed” man finds his joy in the LORD, His Word and His promises. In other words, he is blessed because his trust is in the LORD and not in man or favorable circumstances (Deuteronomy 33:29; 2 Chronicles 9:7; Psalm 34:8; Proverbs 8:32; 29:18).

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

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

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

A blessed man does not lift up his voice in chorus with “the scornful,” for they disdain God and His Law (Psalm 14:1).

What is the source of the blessed man’s contentment?

His joy and “delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (1:2).

I invite you to contemplate two reflections on the blessed man’s life. The first, he delights, meaning he values and finds pleasure in, “the law of the LORD” (the Commandments, Laws, principles, and precepts of God’s Word).

The second quality we find in the blessed man is his discipline: He meditates [ponders; mulls it over; lit. “chews the cud”] in the Law of the LORD “day and night” (1:2). He saturates his heart and thoughts with the eternal, immutable truths of God’s Word.

Such a man is “like a tree planted by the rivers [stream] of water, that bringeth forth [deliver; give]his fruit in his season [time; appointed time]; his leaf [foliage; branch] also shall not wither [fade away; drop down]; and whatsoever he doeth [make; wrought; commit] shall prosper [succeed; be profitable] (1:3).

The blessed man is “planted” (1:3a). He is not a wild volunteer sapling. No, this man has chosen to cultivate his heart in God’s Word, and his life is a testimony of spiritual fruit.

What is his “fruit in his season?” (1:3b) While not identified, I believe it is the “fruit of the Spirit” Paul identifies as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. 23 Meekness, temperance…” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This tree, symbolic of the blessed man’s life, has leaves that “shall not wither” (1:3c). The foliage of a natural tree is an indicator of its health and wellbeing. So it is with the blessed man; his life evidences the spiritual health and vibrancy of a man who lives and walks in the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:25).

Lastly, “whatsoever he [the blessed man] doeth shall prosper” (1:3d). Remember, we are focusing on the inner, not outward man. The “blessed” man’s focus is eternal and not limited to immediate, visible fruit. The legacy of a blessed man is not only the immediate fruit borne by his life and works, but also the seeds he plants that will live long after his earthly sojourn has ended.

What about you? Where are you planted?

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture Reading – Psalms 106-107

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 107

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

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

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

Why should Israel praise the LORD and give thanks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Secrets to Success (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 122)

Daily reading assignment – 2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 122

Remembering we are following a chronological schedule for reading the scriptures, you will notice today’s reading assignment is for two parallel passages: 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11-12, and Psalm 122.

The date for Psalm 122 is uncertain; however, it is a song of David that was sung as priests (and possibly pilgrims) ascended Mt. Moriah where the Temple was located.

Today’s devotional commentary will focus on the coronation of David by the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-6; 2 Chronicles 11:1-3) and the great warriors who were numbered among his “mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:6-47).

Following the death of King Saul, David had been crowned king by the tribe of Judah in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:4). Civil war lasting seven and one-half years had followed Saul’s death when men chose Ishbosheth, the son of King Saul, in opposition to the LORD’S will (some in Israel knowing Samuel had anointed David to be that nation’s next king).

Following the death of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:12), the elders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel assembled at Hebron and anointed David to be king (2 Samuel 5:1-3). David was thirty years old when he was crowned king in Judah (5:4) and thirty-seven or thirty-eight years old when he was anointed king of all Israel (5:5). Altogether, David would reign as king for forty years.

David’s first task was to inspire his army to take the strong hold of mount Zion, held up to that time by the Jebusites (5:6-8). Zion, where David would found the city of Jerusalem, was the highest peak in the mountain range that bordered between the tribal lands of Judah and Benjamin. It was a natural stronghold with three valleys on either side of the mount and only the northside was vulnerable to siege.

Because of its natural strengths, the Jebusites boasted blind and lame men could hold the fortress against a siege (5:6). David challenged his army with a promise to make as his captain the man who would secure Zion for his capital (1 Chronicles 11:6).  Joab aspired to the challenge and became the chief captain of David’s armies (11:6).

David proved to be a brilliant tactician in war and inspired a host of men who became mighty (11:10-47) and loyal servants (12:1-40).  

Soon after being crowned king, David faced his first challenge as the Philistines stirred their armies to battle, eager to take advantage of Israel’s transition in leadership (2 Samuel 5:17). Two battles with the Philistines are recorded in 2 Samuel 5:18-25.

What was the secret to King David’s greatness? Was it his skills as a warrior? Was it his keen strategy as a leader? No! The secret to David’s success is found in where he looked for wisdom, insight, and direction.

2 Samuel 5:19-25 – Three Keys to David’s Success

  1. “David enquired of the LORD” (5:19), and when God said go to war, he went to war.
  2. “David and his men burned” (5:21) the idols of the Philistines and in so doing obeyed God’s Law (Deuteronomy 7:5, 25).
  3. “David enquired of the LORD” (5:23), and when God commanded, “Thou shalt not go up” (as he had before), he obeyed and waited on the LORD to tell him not only the WAY, but also the WHEN (5:24-25).

Those same keys for success must be followed by every believer who desires the LORD’S blessings on his life and family.

When you face the challenge of what to do, follow David’s path: 1) Pray; 2) Be faithful and obey the LORD; 3) Wait until the LORD has revealed not only the WAY, but also the WHEN to move forward.

The secret to David’s greatness was not his skill in battle or the mighty men who surrounded him; it was that “the LORD of hosts was with him” (1 Chronicles 11:9).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Lonely? Despairing? The LORD is Waiting! (Psalms 102-104)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 102-104

Our scripture reading today consists of three psalms: Psalm 102, Psalm 103, and Psalm 104. Each psalm is in its own right an incredibly beautiful song of praise and worship of the LORD as Sovereign, Creator, Sustainer, and universal Ruler. Knowing the trying and troubling times we are in, today’s devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 102.

Psalm 102 – The Prayer of the Afflicted

Psalm 102 is a song of lamentation not only on a personal scale, but also as a nation. The psalmist cried out to the LORD to hear his prayer, and receive it with sympathy and compassion (102:1). Though the author is anonymous, believers can readily identify with his cry, “I am in trouble,” and with urgency, “answer me speedily” (102:2).

In a series of vignettes (portraits), the psalmist painted for us the sorrows and afflictions of a man who had experienced the spiritual, physical, and emotional toll sin had taken on his life and nation.  He observed, his days were like a puff of smoke and his body like cold ashes in a hearth (102:3).  Like grass withering in the midday sun, his heart was dried up, and he had no appetite (102:4).  His flesh was gaunt and wasted, and his appearance like a dead man walking (102:5).

A series of miniature portraits reveal his solemn anguish, as he compares his sorrows to that of birds in their habitat. “Like a pelican of the wilderness” (known for its solitude), an “owl of the desert” (a haunting picture of gloom), and a sparrow alone upon a house top, the psalmist felt alone and isolated (102:6-7).

Summing up his miserable state, the psalmist declared his life had become no more than “a shadow…[and] withered like grass” under the heat of the sun (102:11).

Psalm 102:12-28 – A Patriot’s Prayer

The psalmist’s despair turned to hope when his focus moved from his affliction to the LORD.

Psalm 102:12 – “But thou, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God]], shalt endure [dwell; abide; sit enthroned] for ever [eternity]; and thy remembrance [memorial] unto all generations [evermore].”

The psalmist’s emphasis on “Zion” (the mount upon which Jerusalem is built) most likely places this psalm toward the end of the Babylonian captivity. Israel remembered the LORD’S promises to not forsake His people, and they lived in anticipation of the LORD’S restoring them to their land (102:13-21).

With eyes of faith, the psalmist takes comfort knowing the LORD reigned in heaven and had not forgotten His people (102:17-20).   Longing to see Israel restored before his death, the psalmist prayed that his life would not be cut short (102:23-24).

Psalm 102 concludes with the focus upon the character of the LORD (102:25-28).

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 102:25-28 and identifies Jesus Christ as the subject (Hebrews 1:10-12), revealing He is Creator (102:25), Enduring (102:26), Immutable (102:27a), Eternal(102:27b), and Faithful (102:28).

You do not know the challenges before you, but you can take solace in this: The LORD is “the same,” His years “shall have no end” (102:27), and His promises endure (102:28).

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith