Tag Archives: Bitterness

God is Sovereign and Will Accomplish His Purpose (2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25)

Daily reading assignment – 2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25

2 Kings 14, and 2 Chronicles 25 are records of the same historical events: The reigns of Joash, king of Israel, and Amaziah, king of Judah.

I remind you that Joash, the father of Amaziah, became king as a seven-year-old boy and had been guided by the godly counsel of the high priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24).  During Joash’s reign, Judah had experienced a spiritual renaissance and the kingdom prospered until Jehoiada died (24:15), and Joash heeded the counsel of wicked men.

Someone has observed the path of sin will always take you further than you ever planned to go, and so it was with Joash. He forgot the kindness of his lifelong friend, the chief priest Jehoiada (24:22), and eventually fell in with those men who stoned to death the prophet Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (24:20-22). Tragically, Joash’s reign ended when he was assassinated by his servants who avenged the slaying of Zechariah (24:24-26).

Joash’s son, Amaziah became king in Judah (24:27, 28:1).  Like his father before him, Amaziah’s reign began well and “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart” (25:2).

It is that last phrase, “but not with a perfect heart” (25:2), that will shadow the life and reign of Amaziah.  Amaziah exacted justice for his father’s assassination, killing those who murdered his father; however, unlike other kings, he did not prevail upon the families of the assassins, and spared the lives of their sons and daughters according to the law (Deuteronomy 24:16).

Amaziah organized his army in preparation for war with Edom (descendants of Esua, who lived on the east side of the Dead Sea); however, he foolishly hired mercenary soldiers out of Israel (25:6). When God sent a prophet to warn Amaziah that hiring idol worshipping mercenaries from Israel was not the will of God (25:7), the king heeded the warning and sent the soldiers of Israel home (25:10).

As Amaziah led his army into what would be a glorious victory over Edom, the mercenary soldiers from Israel, for the slight of not going to war and taking the spoils of battle, turned and attacked cities along the border of Judah (25:13).

Remembering Amaziah was a man who lacked “a perfect heart” for the LORD, we read he committed idolatry (25:14) following his victory over Edom and foolishly worshipped the idols of Edom! The LORD sent a prophet who warned the king he had provoked God’s wrath for foolishly worshipping the gods of the very people he had defeated (25:15-16). His heart lifted up with pride, Amaziah rejected the prophet’s admonition and threatened to kill him (25:16).

Fresh off his victory over Edom, Amaziah initiated a call to war against Joash, king of Israel. Joash warned Amaziah to not meddle in the affairs of Israel (25:17-19). Blinded by pride and heeding the counsel of his peers (25:17), Amaziah, went to war and was defeated by Joash who took him prisoner (25:21-23).

With King Amaziah as his prisoner, Joash broke down the northern wall of Jerusalem and plundered the treasuries of the palace and the Temple (25:21-24).

I close with a principle concerning the sovereignty of the LORD.

Sinful pride distorts the thoughts within man, and Amaziah deluded by victory, refused to heed the warning sent to him in a fable by Joash, king of Israel (25:18-20). We read, “Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God” (25:20).

Amaziah refused the prophet’s warning and rejected the caution of Israel’s king. The king’s pride led to Judah’s humiliating defeat, the disgrace of being taken prisoner, the eventual plundering of the Temple, and pilfering of the palace treasuries (25:21-23). The king suffered his final humiliation when his servants conspired to slay him (25:28).

Warning: Pride distorts a man’s thinking, blinds him to his faults, and invariably brings him to ruin. In the words of Solomon:

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride [arrogance] goeth before destruction [calamity; breach], and an haughty [proud; self-sufficient] spirit before a fall [ruin].

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Tragedy: When We Forget the Kindness of Others (2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24

Our Scripture reading focuses on two parallel accounts of the life and times of Joash (i.e. Jehoash), the young king of Judah, who began to reign when he was seven years old, and Jehoiada who served as the chief priest in the Temple and was the spiritual mentor for the king until his death at 130 years old.

2 Kings 12

Jehoash ascended to the throne of Judah when he was seven years old (2 Kings 11:3-4, 12) and under the influence of the chief priest Jehoiada, the young king began a revival of worship in the Temple (12:2). The Temple had been neglected and fallen into disrepair during the reign Queen-mother Athaliah (2 Chronicles 24:7).

The king, therefore commanded that offerings be collected and dedicated to repairing the “house of the LORD” (12:4-6). When he realized the repairs were not being made as he had commanded (2 Chronicles 24:5), the king demanded a report on the state of the offerings (12:7-8) and ordered that the money given by the people would be secured and the repairs a priority (12:9-16; 2 Chronicles 24:8-13).

2 Kings 13 – Death of Elisha

There is an interesting dynamic recorded here between the great prophet Elisha and Joash, the king of Israel (13:14). Although we read that the king “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (13:11), he nevertheless respected the old prophet and his ministry in Israel. King Joash came to Elisha’s death bed and “wept over” the venerable prophet saying, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Chronicles 24:11).

Elisha left the king with one final prophecy, that Israel would defeat Syria in three battles (13:15-19); however, the nation would fail to completely destroy their adversary (13:19).

To complete today’s devotional, I invite you to turn your attention to 2 Chronicles 24 and the record of the death of the chief priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:15-16), and the assassination of Jehoash (i.e. Joash) who reigned forty years over Judah (2 Chronicles 24:1, 24-25).

2 Chronicles 24 – The Death of the Priest Jehoiada and the Conspiracy to Kill King Joash

Jehoiada, the chief priest and mentor of King Joash (i.e. Jehoash), died at the age of 130 (24:15). Without his godly, aged mentor, the king was soon encouraged by younger leaders in Judah to tolerate idol worship in the kingdom (24:17-18).

Having turned to idols, Judah provoked the LORD’S wrath against the nation. Restraining His judgment for a season, the LORD mercifully sent prophets to call the people to repent (24:19). One of those faithful prophets was Zechariah, the son of the late chief priest Jehoiada (24:20), who had been the king’s spiritual mentor.

Zechariah confronted the sins of the nation and warned of the LORD’s judgment (24:19-22). Rather than heed the words of the prophet, the king conspired with the young leaders and killed the son of the man who had spared his life when he was an infant (2 Kings 11:3).

Zechariah was stoned to death, even as he warned the LORD would avenge his death (24:21-22). Fulfilling Zechariah’s dying prophecy, the stage was set for Jehoash to be wounded in battle against the King of Syria (24:23-25a). Recovering from his wounds suffered in battle, the king was slain by his servants (24:25b-26).

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.

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 then, Bob Jones College, reminded the students, “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” (24:22a).  How could a man whose life was spared by the selfless act of another, not only fail to remember his kindness, but be guilty of the cruel death of his son?

Bitterness! When Joash’s sin was exposed and confronted, rather than repent, the king became enraged! You and I can avoid the same folly if we will heed Ephesians 4:31-32.

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 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Tragic Legacy: How will you be remembered? (1 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 13-16)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 13-16

Once again, we find 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 13-16 are parallel records of the same events. In today’s reading we find historical record in 2 Chronicles to be more detailed and giving us a greater insight into the drama between Israel in the north and Judah in the south.

1 Kings 15

1 Kings 15 records a succession of kings reigning over Israel and Judah.  Judah’s King, Rehoboam, died and his son Abijam was crowned king and reigned only three years (15:1-2). Continuing in the sins of Solomon and Rehoboam (15:3-8), his life was cut short and his son Asa ascended to the throne of Judah (15:8) and reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem (15:10).

The reign of Asa was a glorious time in Judah, and the king began leading the nation back to the LORD (15:11). The sodomites (male prostitutes) that had found refuge in Judah during Rehoboam’s reign (15:24) were driven out of the land in Asa’s reign (15:12). Even Asa’s mother was not spared the reform as she was deposed from her throne as Queen mother for worshipping idols (15:13).

A contemporary of Asa in Judah was Baasha king of Israel (15:16) who designed to make war against Judah (15:17) until Asa emptied the treasuries of the Temple and his palace to pay for a league with the king of Syria (15:18-21). As we will learn in 2 Chronicles 16, his decision to align himself with the king of Syria was not the will of the LORD (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).

2 Chronicles 13-16

2 Chronicles continues the same history, adding more detail and insight into the LORD’S dealings with both Judah and Israel. There was a succession of kings of David’s bloodline in Judah and some, particularly, King Asa, followed the will of the LORD and led the nation in spiritual revival (2 Chronicles 14:2-7).

In Israel, however, there was a succession of kings who continued that nation’s rebellion and rejection of the God of Israel.

Asa’s reign was one of success, peace, and prosperity, until the thirty-sixth year of his reign, when Asa turned from the LORD and put his trust in his reasoning apart from the LORD (2 Chronicles 16). When Baasha, king of Israel, led an invasion against Judah, Asa failed to call upon the LORD and sought a covenant with Benhadad king of Syria (16:1-6).

Though successful in the immediate, Asa’s decision to seek a league with Syria was foolish and offended God. A prophet named Hanani declared Asa’s lack of faith would haunt him the rest of his life, and he would face wars until his death (2 Chronicles 16:7-9). Rather than repent, Asa was enraged and imprisoned the prophet, and then “oppressed” some of the people who were no doubt critical of the king’s decisions (16:10).

Three years later, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign in Judah, God afflicted Asa with a critical disease in his feet (16:12).  The disease is not identified.  Some scholars suggest gout, but I wonder if it was not gangrene.  Whatever it was, the affliction proved terminal when Asa, whose heart was not right with the LORD, turned to his physicians and not to the LORD.

A great memorial was held upon Asa’s death, however, his lifetime of serving the LORD was marred by his faithlessness and rebellion in his later years (2 Chronicles 16:13-14).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

The Kingdom is Divided (1 Kings 12-14)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 12-14

When Jeroboam learned that Solomon was dead and his son Rehoboam reigned in his stead (11:43-12:1), he returned from Egypt where he had found refuge (12:3).

1 Kings 12 – The Precipitous Decline of Israel and the Threat of Civil War

Summoned by the northern ten tribes, Jeroboam asserted himself to speak on behalf of the tribes of Israel, and petitioned that King Rehoboam would relieve the heavy burden of taxation and servitude under which the people had suffered during Solomon’s reign (12:3-4).

Though having the advantage of his father’s counselors (12:6-7), Rehoboam, dismissed them and heeded the counsel of his peers who stoked his pride and ambition (12:8-11). Rehoboam’s arrogance set in motion a rebellion that threatened civil war in Israel and led to the division of the kingdom (12:12-33).

The northern ten tribes calling themselves “Israel,” made Jeroboam the first king (12:19-20). Those tribes not only rebelled against King Rehoboam, but also set themselves against God. They abandoned worship at the Temple in Jerusalem and made themselves “two calves of gold” (12:19-20, 25-30).

Because the priests of Levi refused to follow Jeroboam’s insurrection, he “made priests of the lowest of the people” (12:31) and erected and altar in Bethel that “he had devised of his own heart” (12:31).

1 Kings 13 – Great Wickedness in the Northern Ten Tribes (Israel)

1 Kings 13 gives us the beginning history of a divided Israel represented by the ten tribes of the north that had rebelled against Rehoboam. The rebellious tribes followed Jeroboam into idolatry (13:1-34), and it appears he acted not only as king, but also as priest over the people (12:33-13:1).

We read that Jeroboam “returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places” (13:33). The description of Jeroboam’s priests as the “lowest of the people” illustrates how little regard he placed on worship and the priesthood. He gave no thought of a man’s birth, lineage, or character when he chose priests for Israel, as stipulated by God.

1 Kings 14 – The Spiritual and Moral Decline of Judah

1 Kings 14 begins as a prophecy against Jeroboam and reveals his lineage would be cut off.

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over Judah; however, his reign was marked by wickedness and the nation’s decline into all manner of sin and ungodliness (14:21-24). Even in Judah, idol worship flourished and the depth of that nation’s wickedness is expressed in this: “There were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations”(14:24).

Not even the invasion of the armies of Shishak, Pharaoh of Egypt, caused the people of Judah to turn their hearts to the LORD (14:25). Raiding the treasures of Solomon, Shishak also took the shields of gold that decorated the walls of Solomon’s palace to Egypt (14:25-26).  Adding to the disgrace, Rehoboam instructed that shields of brass be substituted for the shields of gold that were removed by the king of Egypt (14:27-28).

God’s warning to Solomon that his sins would be the catalyst for a divided kingdom were fulfilled and we read, “there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days” (14:31).

Our devotion ends with the news that “Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried” (14:31); reminding us that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

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

What would you do today, if you knew there was no tomorrow? (Proverbs 27-29)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 27-29

Our Scripture reading continues in Proverbs, chapters 27, 28, and 29. For the sake of brevity, I will limit today’s devotional commentary to Proverbs 27:1-3.

Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” [note – Luke 12:19, 20James 4:13]

What would you do today, if you knew there was no tomorrow?  What would change in your priorities?  Who would you call or visit to express a word of gratitude or affection?  Who would you seek out to make right a wrong?  Who would you forgive, putting off bitterness and embrace in love?

Procrastination is a terrible malady of man!  Too many of us go through life putting off to tomorrow what should and could have been done today!  I believe that is the point of Proverbs 27:1. Do not defer, put off, or procrastinate to tomorrow the good that you might do today.

Lost sinners procrastinate confessing their sin and trusting Jesus Christ as Savior (Hebrews 4:7Acts 24:252 Corinthians 6:2).  Believers put off confessing their sin, serving others, singing praises, teaching, and witnessing to lost loved ones, only to be filled with remorse when they realize there will be no tomorrow.

Challenge: Make a list of things you hope to accomplish today, or one day, and set dates and goals for accomplishing them before you face no tomorrows. Turn off the television, stop surfing the internet, disengage from social media, and redeem today as though it were your last—it may be!

James 4:14, 17 – “14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away…17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

Proverbs 27:2 – There are few things as repulsive as one who glories in boasting their own achievements.

Proverbs 27:2 – “Let another man praise [boast; celebrate; sing your praises] thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips [speech].”

The Book of Proverbs is a king’s instructions to his son who would one day be king. Fearing that his son’s heart might be lifted up with pride, Solomon urged him to be a young man whose demeanor was one of humility.

Having been born into a household of wealth and privilege, one might imagine the temptation for a young prince to be carried away by the grandeur of the palace, with servants ever ready to do his bidding.  Solomon taught his son that it is uncomely for a man to praise himself [or as some say, “to beat his own drum”].

Few things are as repulsive as a man or woman who crow about their own achievements.  Unfortunately, it is the nature of men to “proclaim every one his own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6). Such a man has forgotten the raw clay out of which he was taken. Though praise and accolades are rewarding, they ring hollow when expressed by one’s own lips.

Why is a braggadocio, self-asserting spirit so repugnant to God? 

Because it is the spirit of pride and not the Spirit of God.

Think about it: How much of your conversations with others is focused on yourself?  Are you given to bragging and boasting?  Look at your social media page to find the answer.

Proverbs 27:3 – A fool’s wrath is a great burden to all.

Proverbs 27:3 – “A stone [building stone] is heavy, and the sand weighty [burden]; but a fool’s [silly, immoral] wrath [anger; indignation] is heavier [more grievous] than them both [a fools wrath takes a physical and emotional toll heavier than building stones and sand].”

What was Solomon thinking when he observed that the wrath of a fool is heavier than both a heavy stone and weighty sand?

Having undertaken the construction of the Temple and his palace, Solomon knew well the physical weight of sand and stone. The king was familiar with the design and use of heavy stones that were required for constructing an enduring place of worship for Israel.

The heavy stones mentioned in Proverbs 27:3 are most likely the great building blocks used in constructing the Temple and other public buildings.  Estimates are that some of the stones weighed from a few tons to as much as 160 tons.  Sand, like building blocks, is also heavy in volume and a great burden to move.

The fool is the subject of Proverbs 27:3. He is not intellectually deficient. This fool is one that is spiritually defiant, morally corrupt, and a hater of wisdom and instruction.  He opposes God (Psalm 14:153:1), hates spiritual truth (Proverbs 1:22), and is a grief and heaviness to his father and mother (Proverbs 10:117:25).

Solomon observes that the wrath of a fool takes a physical toll and is heavier than building stones and sand.  How so?

While stones and sand are physically heavy and difficult to move, the weight of a fool’s wrath is both a physical burden and an emotional weight to his family, friends and acquaintances.

Without question, the wrath of a fool takes a physical toll on all who associate with him. Many are the parents who go to early graves with heavy hearts, emotionally overwhelmed and physically devastated by the distress of a fool’s wrath.

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

“Absalom the Rebel is Dead” (2 Samuel 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 16-18

2 Samuel 16 – David’s Flight from Jerusalem

The rebel son of David named Absalom set in motion events that would not only usurp his father’s throne, but also end in his own death.

As David fled the capital city and began ascending the Mount of Olives, he was met by Ziba, a servant of Mephibosheth, the surviving son of his late friend Jonathon, and the grandson of King Saul (16:1-3). Ziba proposed to David that his many kindnesses to Mephibosheth had been rewarded with betrayal and his master was plotting to ascend the throne in the king’s absence (16:3-4).

[Note – 2 Samuel 19:24-30 indicates that Mephibosheth later asserted his loyalty to David and contended the king had been misinformed by his servant Ziba. Rather than sort out the matter, David deferred and ordered the division of Mephibosheth’s land and possessions between him and Ziba].

Crossing the Mount of Olives and beginning his descent on the eastern slope, David encountered a foolish man named Shimei, a relative of King Saul. Adding to the king’s humiliation and sorrow, Shimei hurled both stones and curses at David (16:5-14).

Absalom was surrounded by men who had participated in his uprising, and among them was Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted counselors (believed by some scholars to have been the grandfather of Bathsheba). Ahithophel, evidencing a bitter spirit toward David, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father by going into the king’s harem and lying with his concubines (16:15-22).

2 Samuel 17 – The Revolution Unravels

Now David had wisely planted Hushai, a trusted friend, in Absalom’s court. Hushai was tasked, not only to act as a spy in the usurper’s household (15:23-37), but also to counter the counsel of Ahithophel (17:1-14).

Ahithophel knew that all was lost when his counsel was rejected and Absalom failed to pursue the king. Rather than suffer the indignity of falling into David’s hands, Ahithophel went home, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself (17:22-23).

2 Samuel 18 – The Culmination and Bitter End of Absalom

Mustering his mighty men and thousands of others who were confederate with him, David divided his army in thirds and prepared them for battle against Absalom (2 Samuel 18).  David, in spite of the great harm Absalom had committed against him, pleaded with his generals, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom” (18:5).

David’s army would be victorious; however, the battle took the lives of twenty thousand Israelites (18:6-8). Realizing the overthrow of his father had failed, Absalom fled the battle, and in spite of the king’s orders that his son would be spared, was slain by Joab (18:9-17).

When news of the victory reached David (18:18-28), rather than inquire into the welfare of his generals and army, David requested news of Absalom’s welfare, saying, “Is the young man Absalom safe” (18:32-33)

When he learned his son was dead, David wept saying, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (18:33).

Ahithophel, possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba, was dead.  Absalom was dead. Both men suffered the indignity of hanging on a tree, a sign that a man was accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13).

David was inconsolable, his heart broken by the knowledge that his own sins had been the catalyst of the deaths of many, including his son.

What sorrows accompany familial sins! Let us all remember the sins and indiscretions of one sinner can prove calamitous to others, especially those whom we love and hold dearest.

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

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