Tag Archives: Anxiety

Three Good Things, and Why You Should Embrace Them (Lamentations 3-5)

Scripture reading – Lamentations 3-5

Jeremiah’s lamentations take on a very personal tone in Lamentations 3, the longest chapter in this small prophetic book. While today’s Scripture reading is Laminations 3-5, today’s devotional commentary will be limited to chapter 3.

Lamentations 3

Jeremiah has lived to see all that he prophesied against Judah come to pass. Left behind with the poorest people after Babylon conquered and destroyed Jerusalem, the prophet gazes out upon a scene of devastation. The Temple has been destroyed, the palaces and homes of the city laid waste, and the walls of Jerusalem have fallen.

Lamentations 3:1-21 is a testimony of the prophet’s afflictions.

Alienated from God, the heavy burden of discipline upon him, Jeremiah felt as though the LORD had turned against him (3:2-5). He prayed in his distress, but felt as though God did not hear his prayers (3:6-8). In his sorrows, the prophet felt trapped, abandoned, wounded in heart (3:9-13). Mocked by his own people (3:14) and nearly overcome with feelings of helplessness (3:15-18), Jeremiah was despairing of life (3:19) until he turned his focus from his circumstances to the LORD (3:20-21).

Lamentations 3:21-66 – Hope of Salvation in the Midst of Afflictions

In the midst of his sorrows, Jeremiah expressed his faith in words that are the inspiration of the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Jeremiah writes:

Lamentations 3:22-23It is of the LORD’S [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God] mercies [loving-kindness; grace]that we are not consumed, because His compassions [mercies; tender love] fail not [never ends or ceases].
23  They are [mercy and tender compassions] new every morning: great [sufficient; plenty] is thy faithfulness[steadfastness].”

Jeremiah continues, “The LORD is good [Lit. – pleasant; pleasing; best; joyful] unto them that wait [tarry; patiently wait; hope] for Him [the LORD], to the soul that seeketh [follows; searches; asks] Him” (3:25).

It comes as no surprise that the “LORD is good;” however, notice there is a twofold condition for experiencing the goodness of God.

1) First, we must learn to “wait [hope] for Him” (3:25a).

It is easy to counsel others to be patient and wait on the LORD; however, to practice the same is an exercise of faith, hope and trust.

Are you willing to wait on the LORD when you have been hurt?  To wait when you are ill?  Do you wait on the LORD when you have been mistreated or misunderstood?  Are you willing to wait on the LORD when a loved one makes choices that grieve your heart?  “Patience is a virtue,” is an old English adage and from my vantage point is in short supply. Jeremiah’s counsel in the midst of deep distress is “wait” and hope in the LORD (Psalm 27:14; 37:14; Proverbs 20:22).

2) Second, we must truly “seek Him” (3:25b).

What does it mean to seek the LORD? Be diligent to search Him out by reading, inquiring, and meditating in His Word. To seek the LORD one must obey His Law and Commandments, and follow His will (3:40; Jeremiah 29:13)

I close inviting you to consider the things that are said to be “good[pleasant; beautiful; right; pleasing] in Lamentations 3:26-27.

Lamentations 3:26 – “It is good that a man should both hope [expectant waiting] and quietly wait [wait and keep silent] for the salvation [help; deliverance] of the LORD.”

It is good for a believer to “hope” (3:26a). This “hope” is more than an emotional or mental aspiration; it is the practice of a disciplined heart and soul.  It is hope that awaits with anticipation God’s answer to prayer. It is hope that springs from faith that is predicated on the knowledge that God hears and answers prayer. We hope in the LORD because He is faithful to His Word and promises.

It is also good to “quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (3:26b).  Wait without complaining. Wait in silence. Wait for the LORD to answer prayer and move in His timing.  (I fear the pews of churches are filled with many who are neither patient or quiet!)

Thirdly, it is good when a son bears the yoke and burden of manhood (3:27). 

Lamentations 3:27 – “It is good for a man [lit. a man child; son] that he bear the yoke [disciplines; burdens] in his youth.”

In the midst of his own afflictions, Jeremiah acknowledged that it is a good thing when young men bear the yoke of manhood with its challenges, trials, and disappointments.

Many parents coddle their youth and insulate them from a harsh reality: Life can be difficult, even harsh, but a satisfying, rewarding life requires discipline and endurance. 

Lesson – Parents rob children of a “good” thing when they fail to make them bear the burdens, blessings, and consequences of their choices.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

How Do You Answer an Insolent Fool? (Isaiah 35-36)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 35-36

There are two timelines in today’s Scripture reading. Isaiah 35 describes the yet future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Isaiah 36 then turns our focus back to the imminent threat of the Assyrian army that had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 35 The earth and the nations of the world after Christ’s judgment and His Millennial Kingdom

After the Second Coming of Christ, His reign on the earth will usher in a time of peace and prosperity like the world has not known since before Adam sinned.

The earth will be restored and the desert will bring forth life and flower with beauty reflecting God’s glory (35:1-2). The physically weak will be strengthened (35:3) and the fearful will be emboldened (35:4). Christ’s reign will be one of perfect justice and believers will find security in Him.

When Christ reigns the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will jump for joy (35:5), the dumb will break forth into singing (35:6), and the desert will flow with streams of water (35:6b) and bloom like an oasis (35:7). What a glorious day that will be!

The world in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be at peace and believers will come to Zion (new Jerusalem) with “songs and everlasting joy” (35:9). In that day, the day when Christ reigns on the earth, “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (35:10). What a happy day that will be!

Isaiah 36 – Isaiah 36 turns our focus from the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 35) to Isaiah’s Day, about 701 B.C.

We find Jerusalem under siege as the Assyrian armies overran and defeated Israel (taking captive the northern ten tribes). The Assyrians have conquered the outlying cities and fortresses of Judah and are encamped outside the great walls  of Jerusalem (Isaiah 36).

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe, sums up Isaiah 36-39 writing, “Hezekiah [the king of Judah] faced three crises in a short time: an international crisis (the invasion of the Assyrian army), a personal crisis (sickness and near death), and a national crisis (the visit of the Babylonian envoys).”  [The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets]

The events of Isaiah 36 follow a national revival that had been led by Hezekiah, King of Judah.

We read in 2 Chronicles 32:1 that Sennacherib king of Assyria invaded Judah, “after these things.” After what things? What had occurred in Judah just before the Assyrians invaded? The answer to that question is found here:

2 Chronicles 31:20-21 – “20  And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God21  And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”

After Hezekiah had done that which was good, and right, he followed after truth (2 Chronicles 31:10). Hezekiah restored the Temple and worship after he had set his heart to seek God, and obey the law and commandments. Then, and only then, did he begin to prosper. And yet, after those things, an enemy threatened to overthrow the king, destroy Jerusalem, and remove God’s people out of the land.

An emissary of the Assyrian King Sennacherib named Rabshakeh, was sent to confront King Hezekiah (36:4-8) and he demand tribute be paid to the king of Assyria.

Hezekiah sent representatives to reason with Rabshakeh; however, he was insolent and reproached Hezekiah (36:4) and his faith in Judah’s God (36:7).

Somehow Rabshakeh, the Assyrian king’s emissary, had knowledge of Hezekiah’s foolish appeal to Egypt for an alliance and knew that effort had failed. Rabshakeh suggested that should the Assyrians give Judah two thousand horses, they would lack the soldiers to go to war (36:8-9).

Rabshakeh went so far as to suggest that Assyria was laying siege to Jerusalem because Judah’s God had told him to, “Go up against the land, and destroy it” (36:10).

Hearing the emissary’s message and fearing it would disturb the soldiers defending the city walls of Jerusalem, Judah’s leaders asked Rabshakeh to deliver his message in the Syrian language (36:11-12), a language that common soldiers would not understand. Instead of delivering the message as requested, the messenger raised his voice against the men on the wall, mocking King Hezekiah and his faith that God would deliver Judah (36:13-22).

Realizing they were hearing the words of an insolent man, the soldiers on the wall, “held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not” (36:21).

We will pick up our narrative on the siege of Jerusalem and King Hezekiah’s response tomorrow. I will close today’s devotion with a question and a spiritual lesson.

How do you answer an insolent fool? – SILENCE!

Proverbs 26:4-5  “Answer [speak; respond; reply] not a fool according to his folly [foolishness; stupidity], lest thou also be like [equal to; resemble] unto him. 5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise [shrewd] in his own conceit [eye; confidence; disdain].”

“Solomon warned his son in verse 4 that responding to a fool in the midst of his folly has the potential of drawing you into his folly—and you become like him—a fool!

Stated in a different way—You cannot reason with a fool!

It is a waste of time and effort to reason with a man who has rejected Truth and refuses to heed the clear exposition of God’s Word.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

“There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy, for They Are More Precious Than Gold” (Proverbs 19-21)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 19-21

Today’s Scripture reading challenges me with an impossible task: How to choose one or two proverbs when the chapters assigned are too rich to mine in a year, let alone, in one daily devotional! Today’s commentary will focus on Proverbs 19:3-4 and I pray its application will be a blessing.

Proverbs 19:3-4 offers us insight into the heart and mind a foolish person. Solomon observes two characteristics of a fool [one who is silly and whose path is folly].

Proverbs 19:3 “The foolishness [silliness; folly] of man perverteth [distorts; overthrow] his way [journey]: and his heart [mind; thoughts; seat of his feelings] fretteth [rage; be troubled] against the LORD.”

The fool has a distorted view of life. His heart, thoughts and emotions rage against the LORD [Jehovah—Eternal God; Self-existent God]. He is double minded (James 1:84:8), denying His Creator in his heart and thoughts (Psalm 14:1), while blaming God and others for his woes.

A second parable offers a lesson in friendship—contrasting the rich and the poor.

Proverbs 19:4  “Wealth [riches; possessions] maketh [adds to; increases] many friends [companions]; but the poor [needy; helpless] is separated [scattered; dispersed] from his neighbour [companion; friend].”

“Wealth maketh many friends” and Solomon warns his son that riches and possessions are like magnets. Though wealth buys friends, they often prove to be temperamental, shallow friends. Friends whose aspirations are self-centered and motivated by what they hope to gain.

Poverty is not inviting and economic failure often breeds loneliness. While fair weather “friends” flatter the rich, the poor find themselves the bane of society and “separated from [their] neighbor.” The poor often find they are lonely and rejected by their friends and family.

The parable of the Prodigal son comes to mind when I ponder Proverbs 19:3-4.

The Prodigal was a proud, disobedient, rebellious son (Luke 15:11-32). Setting his heart on the world and its lascivious ways, he despised his father, demanded his inheritance and left home (Luke 15:12-13).

For a season he was the life of the party until he had wasted all his father had given him (Luke 15:13b-14). With no money, friends or hope—the prodigal found himself impoverished and estranged from his father and God (Luke 15:14-16).

Financially destitute and spiritually broken, a longing arose within the heart of the prodigal to return to his father’s house (Luke 15:15-19). Drawing near to home, the prodigal greeted his father with a confession of sin and unworthiness, but his father greeted him with grace, love, and forgiveness (Luke 15:20-24).

Lesson – There are some things money cannot buy, for they are too precious to affix a price.

Money cannot buy GRACE, for it is a gift that is GIVEN. Money cannot buy LOVE, for biblical love calls for an act of self-sacrifice. Money cannot buy FORGIVENESS, for it is imparted as an act of freewill.

If your life is graced by a friend whose love is enduring, matchless and true, you are blessed! For believers, such a friend is Jesus Christ whose love for sinners held Him to the cross as He died for the sins of the world.

Bad News: The gift of forgiveness and salvation exceeds more than all the world can afford.

Good News: Salvation is freely given to any who call upon the LORD to be saved.

Romans 5:8-9 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Wonder, “What If Things Were Different?” (2 Samuel 13-15)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 13-15

We begin with some background to today’s Scripture reading. While we do not know the extent to which David’s adultery was known in the palace (2 Samuel 11), we do know his sin with Bathsheba was no secret. In fact, one of David’s servants questioned the king, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3)

That servant’s enquiry gave opportunity for David to reassess his mood, but the king was unwilling to entertain the servant’s probing suspicion. Dismissing the servant’s convicting question, the king refused to cease from his unlawful behavior.

There was someone else who had knowledge of David’s descent into wickedness. Joab, the commander of David’s army, received the king’s order to place Uriah in the heat of the battle and then withdraw leaving him exposed to the enemy (11:14-15).

Joab was no man’s fool. Though He obeyed David’s orders, he no doubt wondered the king’s motive for betraying Uriah (11:17-24). Joab was faithful to his king, but he did not forget David’s sin and would one day defy him when he chose Solomon to succeed him as king (1 Kings 2:28-29).

While having confessed and repented of his sins, David could not escape the consequences of his choices. Though his sins were forgiven, their effects would haunt him through the lives of his children.

2 Samuel 13 – Consequences of David’s Sin and the Fulfillment of Nathan’s Prophecy

Remembering Nathan’s prophecy as our context, “the sword shall never depart from thine house” (2 Samuel 12:10), we begin to see the far-reaching consequences of David’s sins. Death and sorrow would become the haunt of David’s family.

Remembering the sins of a father are suffered to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5), we find Amnon, the king’s firstborn son, dallying in sexual lusts. Tragically, the object of the prince’s depraved cravings was Tamar, his half-sister and the sister of Absalom (2 Samuel 13:1-2).

Consumed with sexual passions, Amnon confessed to Jonadab, a cunning friend and his cousin, his forbidden lusts for his half-sister (13:3-4). Rather than dissuade him, Jonadab encouraged Amnon with a plan to entrap Tamar and give him an opportunity to lie with her (13:5-14).

Tamar, a virgin daughter of the king, protested her brother’s attempts, but Amnon “would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her” (13:14).

Like all crimes of passion, Amnon’s “love” proved to be no more than vile, unbridled lust. After he had robbed Tamar of her purity, he rejected her, ordering his servants, “Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her” (13:17). Notice “woman” is in italics and was added by editors. In fact, Amnon said, “Put now this woman out from me” (13:17), treating Tamar with contempt.

Her innocence stolen by her brother and no longer named among the king’s virgin daughters, “Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours [royal robes worn by the king’s daughters]…and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying” (13:18-19).

Hearing the wickedness committed by Amnon against his half-sister, Absalom, David’s thirdborn son and Tamar’s brother, determined to seek revenge for the disgrace she had suffered (13:20, 22).

On a personal note, I believe David’s moral failures were the cause for his impotent response to the news of his daughter’s rape (13:21). When he realized Amnon would face no consequences for raping his sister, Absalom plotted to avenge her and ordered his servants to kill his half-brother, Amnon (13:28-29).

With Amnon dead, Absalom fled to Geshur, the realm ruled by his maternal grandfather (13:37). David mourned the death of Amnon and the heartbreak that had befallen his household (13:37). While Absalom lived in Geshur for three years, David longed for his son’s return (13:39).

I will pick up our study of the conflicts and sorrows in David’s household on a later date. I close will a brief highlight of the balance of today’s scripture.

2 Samuel 14-15 – Absalom Returns to Jerusalem, But is Snubbed By His Father, and Leads a Coup.

2 Samuel 14 concludes with David being persuaded to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem (14:1-14). Joab contrived a fictional tale of a woman that David discerned was meant to induce him to send for his son Absalom (14:15-20).

David made the fateful decision to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem; however, the king’s refusal to receive him embittered his son (14:24).

Bent on vengeance, Absalom encouraged and entertained the affections of the people (14:25-27), plotted the overthrow of his father’s throne (15:1-12), and eventually led a coup to become Israel’s king (15:13-37).

Several “What if’s” come to mind as I close today’s commentary:

What if David had heeded his servant’s probing question, “Is Bathsheba Uriah’s wife?”

What if David’s children had recognized the awful consequences of their father’s sins and chosen righteousness?

What if Amnon had a godly friend, instead of a crafty partner in sin? What if he had the kind of friend who would speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15)? The kind of friend who defines your sinful thoughts and affections for what they are, wicked and vile!

What if David had responded to the news of Tamar’s rape by not only becoming angry, but passing judgment on his son’s horrific, incestuous sin?

What if David had pursued Absalom and demanded justice for the murder of Amnon?

I wonder: Are there some “what if’s” that haunt your life? What if you humbled yourself and confessed your sins? What if you went to a loved one and asked forgiveness for your deceitful ways? What if you began to speak the truth in love and put away lies?

What if?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 32, 51, 86, 122)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122

Our previous devotional, 2 Samuel 11-12 and 1 Chronicles 20, is the background for two penitent psalms in today’s Scripture reading (Psalm 32 and Psalm 51). Today’s devotional commentary is focused on Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness, confession, repentance and a plea for forgiveness and restoration. The prophet Nathan’s dramatic confrontation with David (2 Samuel 12:7-13)  had exposed his adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of David’s mighty men. Added to the disgrace was the king’s attempt to conceal his sin that ultimately ended in the king’s directing Uriah’s death.

It is frightening to consider the depths of sin into which a man or woman might descend. At the zenith of success and power, the words of the prophet Nathan had echoed in the palace and resonated in David’s soul: “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7)

Late 19th century British historian Lord Acton made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  That is true of monarchs, politicians, business leaders, professors and, yes, pastors.

One should ponder how a man like David was befallen by sin. Considering the disgraced king, we can scarce remember the innocent shepherd or the young king humbled by the adulation of his nation. He has dishonored his crown and the servants of his kingdom revile him in private whispering, “adulterer” and “murderer.”

David acknowledged the nature and curse of hereditary sin, confessing, “I was shapen in iniquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). The disposition to sin is bound in the heart of all men and women, for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

While I am dismayed by the depths of sin to which David descended, it is the length of time he tolerated the burden of such sins while acting as judge in other men’s affairs that surprises me. How long might David have continued his charade if it were not for God’s deploying his prophet to confront the king on his throne?

“Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7) echoed in the judgment hall and resonated in David’s heart who cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness (Psalm 51:1).  David prayed, “Wash me throughly,” because his heart and hands were dirty with his transgressions (51:2-3). He had sinned against many, but was acutely aware his foremost sin was against the LORD. The king prayed, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (51:4).

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

No more pretense. No more hypocrisy. No more vain worship. The king confessed, “For thou desirest not sacrifice…17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (51:16a, 17a).

I close suggesting at least three factors contributed to David’s moral failure.

The first, he entertained lusts that inevitably led to a neglect of his duties and responsibilities as husband, father and king.

The second factor, his role as king had insulated him to accountability. His moral failure occurred when he was alone, far from the battlefield and separated from his wives and children.

Finally, though he was a man with a heart for God, he was nonetheless too proud to confess his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-22) and accept the consequences of his moral failures.

Lesson: If you are hiding sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time. Be assured, the consequences of secret sins will inevitably catch up with you and your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4).

Invitation: The LORD is waiting to hear you pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10a, 12a).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

How Far Will You Go? (2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 11-12; 1 Chronicles 20

2 Samuel 11 – “And it came to pass, after the year was expired”

The opening phrase of today’s Scripture (11:1) appears contradictory to the enormity of events that were about to unfold in David’s life. His choices and consequences would forever change his future.

“Came to pass” is an apt description of the passing of life. No one knows what a day may bring forth, but each day presents us with an array of choices and their consequences that inevitably leave their mark on our existence.

If it were possible, we would readily strike this tragic moment from David’s life. What sin! What sorrow! But 2 Samuel 11 is a startling reminder to each one of us, of who we might become if we fail to consciously abide in the presence of the LORD and remember He sees and knows all.

We have followed the king from his humble start as a youthful shepherd, rejoiced when he slew the Philistine giant, and sensed Israel’s great future when the prophet Samuel anointed him to be that nation’s next king.

We have been with David when he took to flight from King Saul and hid in the caves of the wilderness. We followed his transition from boyhood to manhood. We rejoiced with his string of victories in 2 Samuel 10 as the fugitive of Israel became that nation’s warrior king, for “the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b).

All Israel celebrated David’s conquests in 2 Samuel 10; however, 2 Samuel 11 introduces an observation that is sadly, a forewarning of tragedy about to befall David. We read, “at the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem” (11:1).

David is at least fifty years old and has faithfully served as king for twenty years.  His name has been a common household word in Israel since slaying Goliath, and his exploits on the battlefield inspired songs that celebrated his valor (1 Samuel 18:7). David, however, was but a man. We should take a lesson from his life that will serve as a warning to all:

Grave consequences inevitably befall the man who underestimates the sinful bent of his nature (Psalm 51:5).

Disobeying the law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17), David had given rein to the pleasures of the flesh and taken to himself “more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13). He had foolishly indulged in carnal pleasures and neglected his duty to the nation.

David was at the pinnacle of his success, enjoying God’s blessings, and Israel was strong and prosperous. However, we find David lounging on his bed when he should have been with his men on the battlefield (11:2).

The king’s idleness and lack of accountability became the catalyst for a tragic series of wicked decisions that would forever scar his life, family, and reign (2 Samuel 11:3-15).

How far will a “man after God’s own heart” fall?

Lust, adultery, deceit, guile and murder were sins that haunted David to his grave.  The consequences of his sins that passed to his family, servants and Israel were incalculable. Guilt, shame and eventually humiliation, would shadow David to his grave. We read:

“The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

David attempted to maintain a facade of routine for nearly a year as he sat on his throne conducting the affairs of state.  On the outside, things might have appeared as usual; however, David was conscious of God’s displeasure and would later write:

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  [4]For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

2 Samuel 12 – “The LORD sent Nathan unto David” (12:1a).

In His timing, God sent a man of courage and integrity to speak to the king. Evidencing both wisdom and caution, the prophet Nathan approached David with a story that contrasted a rich man’s abuse of a poor man (12:1-6). Intrigued by the story and incited to anger, David passed sentence against the rich man, proclaiming, “As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:5b-6).

Having pronounced sentence, David and his attendants fell silent when Nathan raised his voice and boldly confronted the king, saying, “Thou art the man” (12:7).

David’s heart was smitten with conviction for he was indeed the man: adulterer; murderer; hypocrite and a wretched, miserable soul (12:8-12). His heart was convicted, and his proud, hypocritical façade crushed (12:13). David realized the sorrow his sin would bring on his family (12:15-17).  The king prayed,

Psalm 51:3-4For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

I close inviting you to turn the spotlight of truth and focus it on your heart and life. 

First, a warning: Realize the danger of idleness and the tragedy when one trifles with sin and temptation. I challenge you, “Flee also youthful lusts” before it is too late (2 Timothy 2:22)!

Second, a reminder: Solomon warned his son, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a).  When it comes to sin, the question is not “if,” but “when” the consequences of secret sins will befall you.

Third, a blessed promise: “Whoso confesseth [sins] and forsaketh them [sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13b).

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

The End May Not Justify the Means. (1 Chronicles 13-16)

Scripture Reading – 1 Chronicles 13-16

While our Scripture reading covers four chapters, today’s devotional commentary will focus on only one, 1 Chronicles 13.

1 Chronicles 13 – A Great Celebration Goes Terribly Wrong

Heralding a call for revival, David commanded the “Ark of God” (also known as the Ark of the Covenant) be brought to Jerusalem, for the nation had “enquired not at it in the days of Saul” (13:2-3).  What a sad commentary on the reign of King Saul! The Ark, representing the heavenly Throne of God on earth and in the midst of Israel, had not been consulted nor a central point of worship in Israel for some seventy years.

Thirty thousand men of Israel (2 Samuel 6:1) had come to celebrate the Ark’s journey to Jerusalem; however, the joyous occasion was cut short when a man named Uzza “put forth his hand to hold (or steady) the ark” that was being carried on a cart pulled by oxen (13:7-10). Unfortunately for Uzza, neither David nor the Levites had consulted the scriptures on the God-appointed means and method for transporting the Ark (13:7-10).

“WHY?” becomes a question we should address. 

Why would God punish Uzza whose impulse to steady the Ark on the cart was not only instinctive, but also arguably innocent (13:9-10)? After all, was it not a good thing that the desire of David and the elders of Israel was to have the Ark, the symbol of God’s presence, in Jerusalem the capital city?

David’s response to God’s swiftly striking Uzza reminds us that the king was quite human. We read, “David was displeased” (13:11), meaning angry or burning with anger.  Frustrated and fearing God, David asked, “How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?” (13:12)

Is that not like you and me? Have you ever committed yourself to something, but then realized you failed to pray?  The question David asked after Uzza was struck down was the one he should have asked before attempting to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

Uzza was not struck down because he was insincere or impassionate in his desire to see the Ark moved to Jerusalem.  He died because the manner in which the Ark was transported violated God’s instructions.  The Ark was to be carried by means of staves or poles (Numbers 4).  Touching the sacred Ark, the symbol of God’s heavenly Throne (which is holy), defied God’s instructions and defiled what God declared to be holy and sanctified for Himself (Numbers 1:51; 4:15, 20).

Regardless of how well-meaning or pious the motive was for moving the Ark to Jerusalem, employing any means other than that the LORD commanded was inevitably going to lead to a tragic end.

“It is never right to do wrong to get a chance to do right.”  (Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.)

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Life Got You Down? (Psalms 43-45, 49, 84-85, 87)

Daily reading assignment: Psalms 43-45, 49, 84-85, 87

Today’s scripture reading is lengthy, and for that reason our devotional commentary will focus only on Psalm 43.

Psalm 43

Spiritually mature believers are well aware of the conflict that assaults the soul when our knowledge and understanding of God’s truth and His promises seems to be contradicted by our thoughts, circumstances, heart and emotions.

Heavy heart, downcast, melancholy and depression are just a few of the terms that define someone who is “weary” of life (Job 10:1) and broken in spirit (Proverbs 17:22).

Descriptions of this condition have evolved through the centuries; however, the reality that depression is the plague of man’s soul is undeniable.  Robert Burton, the 17th century Oxford scholar and author of The Anatomy of Melancholy, wrote: If there be a hell upon earth, it is to be found in the melancholy man’s heart.”

Psalm 43 offers an opportunity to peer into the depressed soul of a great king pleading to the LORD to rescue his heart from loneliness and his soul from the pit of despair.

David appealed to the LORD to hear his prayer and deliver him from a wicked, “unjust” enemy (Psalm 43:1). Though he did not name his enemy, the tactics of his enemy are the same as those you and I face in our day.  Lies, libel, slander and threats are the modus operandi of the enemies of God and His people.

Rallying his heart, David stated what he knew, “God is my strength” (43:2), literally, my fortress, stronghold and refuge.  However, what David believed concerning the character of the LORD was at odds with his feelings and state of mind.  The king knew God was faithful; however, he confessed he felt forsaken, alone and overcome by his adversaries (43:2).

Turning his thoughts from despair, David looked to the LORD, like the captain of a ship peers through the fog and darkness for the piercing beam of a lighthouse (43:3-4). David appealed to God to “send out thy light” and illuminate his way (43:3).  His longing was for the LORD to guide him with His truth to the safe haven of God’s “holy hill” and the “tabernacles” where the saints of God gather to worship (43:3).

Though despairing, the king rallied his heart to look past his sorrows and set his heart upon the joy of once again offering sacrifices to God and singing His praises (43:4).

Turning his focus from his enemy and troubles, David counseled his soul with two questions: Why are you depressed?  Why are you so troubled?   (43:5)

Psalm 43:5 – “Why art thou cast down [depressed; sink; brought low], O my soul [life; person; heart]? and why art thou disquieted [troubled; roar; in tumult; roar] within me? hope [wait; patient; tarry; trust] in God: for I shall yet praise [give thanks; confess; revere; worship]  him, who is the health [deliverer; salvation; welfare] of my countenance [face], and my God.”

David comprehended the error of his fears and doubts, and counseled his heart, “hope in God” (43:5b)!  Resetting his spiritual compass from the delusion that is self-pity to one of trust and faith in the LORD, David took courage and declared, “I shall yet praise [give thanks; worship] Him [the LORD], who is the health [deliverer; salvation; welfare] of my countenance [face], and my God” (43:5c).

I do not know what fears haunt your soul; however, I know the way to pass through trials is to turn your thoughts from your doubts and trust the LORD!

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation [test or trial] taken you but such as is common to man [i.e. your trouble is not unique]: but God is faithful [trustworthy; true], who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted [tried or tested] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [lit. to pass through the trial], that ye may be able to bear it [endure].”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith