Tag Archives: Bitterness

The LORD Hears the Cry of a Broken Heart (Psalm 3)

You will notice in your Bible an editor’s note identifying Psalm 3 as a psalm of David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him forcing the king to flee his throne and the capital city of Jerusalem.  Recorded in 2 Samuel 15, this event is the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom against his father.  Absalom conspired against his father and stole the affection of the people by implying his father the king cared little for them (2 Samuel 15:3-6).  Psalm 3:1-4 records David’s cry to the LORD.

David, once the champion of Israel, finds himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises. The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to God rouses the heart of any who have been in leadership and felt the blow of betrayal and the burden of humiliation.  The king’s flight emboldened his enemies to deride, “not even God will deliver him!” (Psalm 3:2)

Betrayed by his son and rejected by his people, David took solace in the character and promises of God (Psalm 3:3).   He remembered the LORD was his “shield”, Defender, and Sovereign.  Though driven from the throne by his enemies, the king was confident God would exact vengeance and justice would prevail.  Humiliated and discouraged, but not defeated; David was confident God saw his plight and heard his cry (Psalm 3:4).

My friend, I am afraid the delusional, wicked spirit of David’s son, Absalom is characteristic of our generation.  As Absalom was devoid of a son’s natural affection and respect for his father (Romans 1:30-31), this generation mirrors the same disregard of its elders in its lusts for rights and privileges it has neither earned nor deserves.  Like Absalom, too many of this day are a grief to their parents.

No doubt there are parents reading this devotional who, in their own circumstance, identify with David’s sorrow.  To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your own son or daughter, mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

I close with a word of encouragement—God hears and answers the cry of His people in the night.  The LORD is for you, Who he was for David, your Shield and Defender.

Psalm 3:8 – 8  Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith

A Curse of Ingratitude

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 2 Chronicles 21-24

Our study in 2 Chronicles continues today with a nation in mourning when we read, “Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead” (2 Chronicles 21:1).

Jehoshaphat’s reign over Judah was aptly summed up in these words: He “walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:32).

Jehoshaphat and his father Asa reigned over Judah sixty-six years and the LORD blessed the nation with peace and prosperity; however, the latter years of each king’s reign was stained with alliances that compromised not only their life testimonies and the nation.

King Asa made a foolish alliance with Syria in the latter years of his reign and went to his grave ruling a nation at war (2 Chronicles 16:9).  Like his father before him, Jehoshaphat’s last act as king was an alliance with the Ahaziah, the wicked king of Israel, “to make ships to go to Tarshish”  (2 Chronicles 20:35-36); ships that were apparently lost in a storm and “broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish” (2 Chronicles 20:37).

Jehoram, unlike his father and grandfather before him, began to reign over Judah with no evidence he loved or aspired to serve the LORD (2 Chronicles 21:1).  Rather than peace and prosperity, the reign of Jehoram began with him commanding the murders of his own brethren to secure the throne of Judah and eliminate any challenge to his reign (2 Chronicles 21:2-5).

Though he ruled only eight years, Jehoram’s reign was not only a terror to his father’s household, it began Judah’s decline into all manner of evil.  Taking the daughter of Ahab, Israel’s wicked king, to be his wife, Jehoram “walked in the way of the kings of Israel…and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD” (21:6).  Jehoram’s godless example was far reaching, for “he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto” (21:11).

God raised up Elijah, the great Old Testament prophet, to confront Jehoram (21:12-13), who warned the king his wickedness not only provoked the LORD’s judgment against Judah (21:14), but would also result in his own dreadful death described as a “great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day” (21:15).  We are not told what the intestinal disease was, but I suspect it might have been a cancer for we read, “his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases…” (26:19).  Unlike his father’s memorial service, Judah did not honor Jehoram with a king’s burial.

Continuing on a path of compromise with the wicked, one that would eventually lead to Judah’s destruction, Ahaziah, the youngest son of Jehoram, secured his father’s throne in Jerusalem and following the counsel of his mother, having his brethren slain (22:1).  Though he reigned for only a year, Ahaziah “did evil in the sight of the LORD” (22:4) and followed the counsel of the idolatrous and wicked “house of Ahab” (22:4).

Ahaziah was slain after reigning only one year over Judah (22:9) and was succeeded by his wicked mother Athaliah, who ordered the slaying of all the royal line of David (22:10-12).   Josah, the infant son of Ahaziah, was spared when Ahaziah’s sister concealed him for six years while Athaliah reigned in Judah (22:11-12).

2 Chronicles 23 records the coronation and ascension of Joash to the throne led by the high priest Jehoiada and the priestly tribe of Levi (23:1-11), the slaying of Athaliah and her followers (23:12-15).  Having crowned the new king, the high priest Jehoiada boldly led the nation in revival, purging the land of the worshippers of Baal (23:16-21).

Joash began to reign when he was seven years old and Jehoiada, the high priest served as his counsel and guide (24:1-3).  Under the influence of Jehoiada, Joash set his heart to repair the temple that had fallen into decay during the six-year reign of Athaliah (24:4-7).  Joash made a proclamation for a collection to be taken from the people and the offerings of the people used to hire workman to repair the temple (24:8-14).

The high priest Jehoiada counseled and guided Joash until his death at one hundred and thirty years old (24:15-16).  With Jehoiada dead, the “princes of Judah” (24:17) were emboldened to come to the king who turned the heart of the king and the nation from the LORD and provoking His wrath (24:18).

The LORD raised up prophets to prophesy against the sins of the nation; among them was Zechariah, the son of the Jehoiada the high priest.   Zechariah confronted the sins of the nation, warning of the LORD’s judgment (24:19-22).  Having forgotten the kindness of Jehoiada the high priest who had saved his life as an infant and made him king, Joash was complicit in the prophet Zechariah’s death, whom the people rose up and stoned.

The LORD judged Joash and Judah, giving Syria victory who slew the “princes of the people” (24:22-24).  The servants of Joash rose up and slew the king while he slept on his bed and buried him without the honors given to kings (24:25).

A quote of the late evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. comes to mind as I read, “Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son…” (2 Chronicles 24:22a).  Dr. Bob, as he was affectionately known by students of Bob Jones College, reminded the student body, “When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, that man is well-nigh hopeless.”

Indeed, there was no hope for Joash when he turned from the LORD and “remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son…” (24:22a).

How could a man whose life was saved by the selfless act of another, not only fail to remember his kindness, but be guilty of the merciless death of his son?

I suppose every believer can answer that question when we bear in our heart a spirit of bitterness, forgetting the LORD sacrificed His Son for our sins.  Thus we read this exhortation:

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Attitudes are an External Indicator of the Bent or Direction of One’s Heart and Thoughts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Proverbs 13

Our society defines attitudes from an emotional perspective and deflects personal responsibility.  If someone exhibits a bad attitude, psychologists deem them victims—victims of poverty, neglect, rejection or abuse. Rather than taking responsibility and self-correcting one’s bad attitude, people find it easier to cast dispersion upon a peer or an authority figure they feel has failed them.  In the process of deflecting responsibility for one’s attitudes, they dig a deeper emotional and spiritual rut!

Today’s devotional will challenge you to look into your own heart for the cause of attitudes that beset you.  More than emotions, attitudes are an external indicator of the bent or direction of one’s heart and thoughts.

Proverbs 13:1  “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction [correction]: but a scorner [scoffer] heareth not rebuke [firm reproof].”

Notice the heart attitude of the “wise son”—he hears and heeds his father’s correction, reproof and rebuke.  His attitude toward his father’s discipline is that of a learner, unlike the scorner. The scorner “heareth not rebuke”—he mocks the authorities in his life and holds them in derision. He blames others for his attitudes and justifies his rebellion by focusing on what he perceives as their failures. He is a slave to “stinking thinking”, a pattern rooted within the bent of his heart and thoughts. Allow me to illustrate this truth with a childhood memory.

I remember NASA illustrating the entry of space capsules into earth’s atmosphere in the 1960’s and emphasizing the attitude of the nose of the capsule.  Attitude was the word NASA used to define the direction of the top or nose of the capsule as contrasted with the heat shield at its base. If the attitude of the nose were right, the heat shield at the base of the capsule would deflect the fiery heat of earth’s atmosphere. If the attitude of the capsule were wrong, the capsule and its occupants would burn up upon re-entry. Life and death were directly related to the attitude of the capsule’s nose.

That same principle is true concerning our attitudes. A pattern of bad attitudes will drive one emotionally and spiritually down a path of self-destruction.  However, the answer to a life of bad attitudes [anger, rebellion, resentment, jealousy, etc.] is not to merely confess and correct negative attitudes or emotions…it is to get to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of a sinful heart! In other words, as goes the heart so goes the attitude!

A Right Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Right Attitude

A Wrong Heart/Mind/Pattern of Thoughts = A Wrong Attitude

My friend, if you are waging war with sinful attitudes, the solution is not for others to change, but for you to change. Too many look outside themselves for a solution to enslaving attitudes…a different spouse, different school, different job, different church…foolishly thinking different will make a difference! Not so!

If you are weary of battling with enslaving attitudes, look to the bent and direction of your own heart and “stinking thoughts”.  Take a few minutes and do an honest, spiritual heart check-up and take responsibility for your attitudes! Get control of your thoughts and you will overcome your attitudes (Philippians 4:8; Proverbs 23:7).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Unforgiveness is a Bitter Fruit

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Mark 11-12

Today’s reading in the Gospel of Mark records the beginning of the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry.  Tradition states the “Triumphal Entry” of Christ (Mark 11:1-11) into Jerusalem occurred on Sunday, although there are many that believe it most likely occurred on the Monday before the Day of the Passover and our LORD’s appointment with the Cross.

Christ’s cursing the fig tree that bore nothing but leaves and driving the money-changers out of the Temple are both recorded in Mark 11:12-21.

Two topics, “Faith” and “Forgiveness”, are the subject of Mark 11:22-26 and the LORD’s instructions are both beautiful in their simplicity and convicting in their application (Mark 11:22-26).  Many profess faith in God; but how many believe God will not only hear our prayers, but will answer them?

Christ’s challenge on faith and prayer precedes the admonishment: if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26).  Thirty-eight years in ministry has taught me there are many church members who bear about in their souls a spirit of bitterness.  In my opinion, one of the most besetting sins in the 21st century church is an unwillingness to deal with offenses in a biblical manner motivated by love for God and love for others.  Too many allow bitterness to fester in their soul and, like cancer in the body, spread until it infects spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Some reading this devotional harbor bitterness toward parents for what you perceive were slights during your youth.  There are parents struggling with bitterness because their child has disgraced the family by foolish, sinful actions.  Hurting words and broken vows have embittered marriages.  Church members are bitter with fellow believers and pastors are hurt by slights and offenses.

You need not wonder why you have lost your joy and your prayers go unanswered if an unforgiving spirit haunts your soul!   I challenge you to meditate on this truth:  An unwillingness to forgive others is not only a seed that will eventually bear bitter fruit; it is indicative of a soul that has never entered into God’s forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35).  Harbor an unforgiving spirit and you do so at the sacrifice of  your prayers going answered (Psalm 66:18).

Believer, you are commanded to be “kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).  Grasp the magnitude of the sins God has forgiven you and you will find no excuse to not forgive others!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Trouble with Bitterness? Consider Digging Another Well!

Gold shovel in freshly dug dirt with blue skyMonday, February 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 24-27

The four chapters assigned as today’s Bible reading (Genesis 24-27) are full of historic implications and spiritual applications.  In fact, it is impossible to present a brief devotional that covers the scope of these passages of Scripture.  Allow me to suggest title themes to summarize the content of the chapters as you read them.

isaacs-brideMy theme for Genesis 24 is “Here Comes the Bride”.    Following the death of his beloved Sarah (23:1-2), we find Abraham burdened that Isaac, his son and heir of God’s covenant promises, would have a fitting wife.  Fearing Isaac might be tempted to take a wife of the heathen tribes that dwelled in Canaan, Abraham determined to send his “eldest servant” (24:2-4) to his kindred residing in “Ur of the Chaldees” (11:27-31).  Reflecting the faith of his master, Abraham’s servant prayed for the LORD to make His will clear in choosing the young woman who would become Isaac’s wife (24:12-14).  God heard and answered the servant’s prayer even as he was praying (24:15-26).  In a prayer of praise that is a model to all who call upon and desire the will of God, the servant prayed, I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (24:27).

My title theme for Genesis 25 is “Fighting Brothers”, a story of two brothers, Esau, the father of the Edomites and Jacob, the heir of God’s covenant promises and father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, conceived twins and the movements of the infants in her womb were extremely aggressive (25:22).  genesis-25 The LORD revealed the sons in her womb would become fathers of two nations (25:23) and, contrary to their birth order, the eldest son would “serve the younger” (25:23).  No doubt Rebekah shared the LORD’s unusual revelation with her husband Isaac; however, his love for his eldest son (25:27-28) motivated him to later attempt to oppose the LORD’s will and give Esau the inheritance as his firstborn son (Genesis 27).

“Dig Another Well” is my theme title for Genesis 26.  Isaac, the inheritor of God’s covenant promises and the possessions and riches of his father Abraham, is so blessed by the LORD that we read, “the Philistines envied him” (26:14).  Moved by envy, the Philistines began to stop up the wells that Abraham had digged in his days for his flocks and herds and “filled them with earth” (26:14-15).

My theme title for Genesis 27 is, “Esau the Carnal and Jacob the Conniver”.

Before I close today’s devotional commentary, I invite you to consider Genesis 26 and a spiritual truth some might need to hear.  

 Many years ago, a dear evangelist friend named Reuben Ewert preached a memorable sermon from Genesis 26 titled, “Dig Another Well”.  Bro. Reuben illustrated how Isaac’s response to the Philistines filling his father’s wells with earth was a worthy model for us all to follow when conflicts arise.  Because fresh water wells were invaluable in a land known for its deserts, one can imagine the hardships and personal offence Isaac might have felt as the wells dug by his father were destroyed.

dig-another-wellHow did Isaac respond?  Did he become embittered?  Did he plot a way and path of revenge?   No, rather than revenge, he kept digging wells.

Genesis 26:18a – “And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father…”

Genesis 26:21a – “And they digged another well…”

Genesis 26:22 – And he removed from thence, and digged another well…”

Not only did Isaac dig wells, he also “builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD” (26:25).

Some reading this devotion are slaves to a bitter spirit and may long for revenge.  You might be the victim of slights and mistreatment; however, your failure to address your offenses biblically has allowed a bitter, unforgiving spirit to rule your thoughts and emotions affecting your relationship with the LORD, your family and friends.

I invite you to follow Isaac’s example, set aside bitterness and move on with your life; in other words, “dig another well”.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith