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God Broke the Mold When He Made You! (Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145)

YOU ARE UNIQUE ! message on the card shown by a man hand, vintage tone

Scripture Reading – Psalms 131, 138-139, 143-145

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six Psalms; however, this devotional commentary will limit its focus to Psalm 139.

Charles Darwin, the 19th century English naturalist, was a geologist and biologist by training. Called by many, the Father of Evolution, Darwin attained world-wide fame when he published his book, Origin of the Species (1859).

Though many (if not the majority) of his suppositions on the Theory of Evolution have been disproven and rejected by credible scientists, nevertheless evolution has continued to be taught in secular education as the explanation for life and the physical universe. The delusion of evolution has wreaked havoc in our world and has infected not only our outlook on life, but also the value we place on life itself.

Consider this statement: What you believe concerning the origin of life will dictate the answers to fundamental questions on life itself: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Where am I going?”

Psalm 139 is not only David’s declaration of his belief in His Creator, but also his revelation concerning God’s attributes.

God is Omniscient and knows all that is in your heart (Psalm 139:1-6).

He knows your fears, longing, thoughts, and desires (139:1a).  There is nothing you can hide from God.  He knows all about you (139:2).  He knows everything you think in secret and everything you say in public (139:2b).  He savors the noble and excellent qualities of your life (139:3-6).

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12).  He abides in every part and place of His creation and there is no place where God is not present (139:7-8).

Psalm 139:7-8 “Whither shall I go [walk; come; ] from thy spirit [God’s Spirit]? or whither shall I flee [i.e. be put to flight] from thy presence [face; countenance]? 8  If I ascend up [go up] into heaven [i.e. Heavens..the sky above; stars and planets], thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol; grave; pit; place of the souls of the dead], behold, thou art there.”

Knowing the LORD is omnipresent, you can be confident you are never beyond His protection, love, and compassion (139:9-10).  You can take flight, but you are never beyond His grasp.

Psalm 139:9-10  – “If I take [depart; carried away] the wings of the morning [dawn; first beams of morning light], and dwell [abide; remain; inhabit] in the uttermost parts [end; last] of the sea; 10  Even there [flight as fast as light or the depths of the sea] shall thy hand [power] lead [guide; bring] me, and thy right hand [i.e. considered to be the stronger side] shall hold [take hold; possess; handle; grasp] me.”

When the darkest hour of life is upon you, the light of the Lord is with you (139:11-12).

Psalm 139:11-12 – “If I say [speak], Surely the darkness [i.e. misery] shall cover [bruise; break; overwhelm] me; even the night shall be light [day; light] about me. 12  Yea, the darkness [i.e. misery] hideth [obscures] not from thee; but the night shineth [shines; enlightens; gives light]  as the day: the darkness [i.e. misery] and the light [luminous light] are both alike to thee.”

God is your Originator… your Creator, Designer and Architect (Psalm 139:13-16). He has Sovereignly determined your uniqueness. (139:13)

Psalm 139:13  For thou hast possessed [get; acquire] my reins [lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; soul, seat of my desire and affections]: thou hast covered [knit; weave] me in my mother’s womb [belly; bosom; body].

He has impressed on man’s soul a consciousness of his Creator’s hand and design. (139:14)

Psalm 139:14-15 – “I will praise [give thanks; confess God in public] thee; for I am fearfully [amazingly; stand in awe or reverence] and wonderfully made [distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous [wonderful; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works [labor; i.e. needlework; deeds]; and that my soul [life; person; being] knoweth [perceives; observes] right well [exceedingly; greatly]. 15  My substance [strength; physical frame; bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret [mother’s womb], and curiously wrought[woven as a tapestry] in the lowest parts of the earth [out of human sight].

From the moment of your conception, your person and days were determined (139:16).

Psalm 139:16Thine eyes did see [perceive; look; behold] my substance [body; frame; bones], yet beingunperfect [embryo; unformed mass in mother’s womb]; and in thy book [letter; scroll] all my members were written [described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which in continuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them [before one day of my life was past].”

My friend, you are special, unique, and one of a kind; there is no one like you. Modern science has proven just how unique you are.  Your ears are geometrically unique as is your body odor (secreting a combination of 44 compounds).  Your fingerprints and fingernails are unique with loops and swirls forming patterns unique to you.  Even the pores of your nose form a pattern like no other.

He created you as a free will agent. You are not a robot and every person has the privilege and responsibility of choice, individual actions, thought and will.

Romans 1:20 – “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Memorial Day Sunday Service, May 24, 2020, 10:30 AM

You are invited to join us for Hillsdale’s Memorial Day Sunday services, this Sunday, May 24.

Hillsdale will be holding our third public service since the Coronavirus Crisis began. We are also broadcasting live online at www.HillsdaleBaptist.org and on Hillsdale’s Facebook Page.

Teen\Family Bible Study: Youth Pastor Justin Jarrett will be continuing his Bible Study Series in the Book of James at 9:45 AM. The doors to our building will open briefly at 9:40 for those who will be joining us for the Bible Study.

The Memorial Day Sunday 10:30 AM service will open with a brief video tribute dedicated to our nation’s heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.

The pastoral staff is dedicating this week’s special number to all who served and are serving our nation. We will be singing the haunting, but beautiful Navy Hymn, Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

Pastor Smith will be continuing his “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. This week’s message is taken from Psalm 23:4 and is titled, “The Guidance, Protection, and Loving Care of My Shepherd.” 

Guidelines for Those Attending Hillsdale’s Public Worship Services: Guests and members are welcome and we ask you to understand the extraordinary precautions we are taking.

The doors to our building will open at 10:15 AM for those attending the 10:30 AM Worship service. For the comfort and safety of all in attendance, you are to proceed immediately to the auditorium, sit with your family, and put a safe distance between you and others. You will find every second pew roped off to ensure a safe space between yourself and others in attendance. Physical contact (handshaking, etc.) is discouraged. Avoiding passing offering plates, tithes and offerings can be given as you enter and exit the auditorium.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“You Call that Worship Music?” (Psalms 95, 97-99)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 95, 97-99

Our Scripture reading for today is four psalms of praise. Though the author of the psalms is not identified, most scholars assign them to David because of their style and content. We know David authored Psalm 95 because the writer of Hebrews quoted the psalm and identified the king as its author (Hebrews 4:7).

Today’s psalms are too rich for one devotional commentary to adequately address them all; therefore. I will limit this devotion to Psalm 98.

Psalm 98 – “Sing Unto the LORD a New Song”

Like Psalm 97, I believe the theme of Psalm 98 is the Second Coming of Christ. Hymnwriter and preacher Isaac Watts, cited Psalm 98 as the inspiration of his hymn, “Joy to the World.” Although most often sung as a celebration of Christ’s birth, “Joy to the World” is in fact a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming.

Psalm 98 is an invitation to worship the LORD in song, rejoicing in His salvation and righteousness (98:2). Let us consider the instructions in worship music we find in this psalm as a basis for judging the music style your church has implemented in its worship services.

We find that Psalm 98 consists of three stanzas, each three verses in length. The first is a call for Israel to worship and rejoice in the LORD (98:1-3). The psalmist writes,

Psalm 98:1 – O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.

What is this “new song?” (98:1-3)

It is a victory song, for the LORD through His strength and power had given His chosen people salvation (98:1-2a). It is a song of redemption and praise for God’s grace (98:2b). It is a song praising the LORD for His faithfulness for He had not forgotten Israel.

Do you realize of all ancient people, the Jews are the only identifiable people from ancient times? The smallest, most insignificant people in all the earth have been preserved by the LORD.

The second stanza calls upon all nations of the earth to worship the LORD (98:4-6).

As one who loves music, and in particular congregational singing and choral anthems, notice with me that singing and playing on instruments was an essential part of worshipping the LORD.

The musicians who ministered in the Temple were trained, skilled, and dedicated musicians. The sound of their voices and instruments was not noise, but an energetic expression in music and song. The literal meaning of “noise” in vss. 4 and 6 is a “shout” or cry or triumph.

The music of the Tabernacle and Temple was never meant to entertain the masses or the congregation. The focus of worship music was the LORD, and His holiness was reflected in both words and music. The singers and musicians did not perform for the applause of the people. Singers were accompanied by string instruments (the harp, vs. 5) and wind instruments (trumpets and coronet, vs. 6). The focus of worship was “the LORD, the King” (98:6).

The final stanza in Psalm 98 calls on all Creation to worship the LORD (98:7-9).

All creation will rejoice (95:7-8) and be freed from the curse of sin when the LORD comes to set up His millennial kingdom. Romans 8:18-25 reveals the devastating effect of man’s sin on creation. Creation awaits its deliverance from the curse of sin (Romans 8:19), but will be delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) when the LORD comes again.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and yes, pandemics remind us that “creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:22) until the LORD comes to set up His earthly kingdom. He will right the wrongs for He is “to judge the earth” and will judge the earth in His righteousness (98:9).

An Observation

The Book of Psalms is a compilation of songs of praise and worship that was employed in daily worship in the Temple. While nothing took the primacy of reading and teaching God’s Word, the centrality of instrumental music and song is obvious throughout the Psalms and in other passages of Scripture in the Bible (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17).

Sadly, I fear today’s church has taken the command, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD…make a loud noise” literally and not figuratively. While the priests and Levites were dedicated and consecrated to serve the LORD and lead God’s people in earnest worship, today’s “hip-worship leaders” evidence a greater affinity for the world than the holiness of God. Employing every music genre of the 21st century world, the church’s attempt to satisfy the palate of carnal Christians and a secular culture’s demand for entertainment has come at the sacrifice of sincere worship.

Challenge: – Make Colossians 3:16-17 the standard for your worship music.

Colossians 3:16-1716  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Sword Shall Never Depart (2 Samuel 19-21)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 19-21

2 Samuel 19 – Overwhelming Sorrow, but Life Goes On

Receiving news of his son’s death, David was overwhelmed with grief. David’s mighty men had been victorious in battle and his throne had been secured, but not without great cost to the king and the nation. David’s wails of grief were haunting, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  (19:4)

General Joab rebuked the king and reminded him how Absalom had brought shame and sorrow upon him and the nation (19:1-6).  Heeding Joab’s counsel (19:7-8), David laid aside his anguish and sat in the gate where he could greet the people and call on the nation to unite and bring him back to Jerusalem as their king (19:9-15).

Evidencing he was a man of mercy and truly one after God’s “own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), David extended amnesty to the men who had joined in the uprising. Even Shimei was spared, the man who had cursed him when he fled Jerusalem, (19:16-23). (David, however, never did trust Shimei and when he was dying, warned Solomon, his son and successor, to beware the man – 1 Kings 2:8-9, 36-46).

Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and grandson of King Saul, knowing his servant had given David an impression he was disloyal and supported the uprising, sought an audience with the king to declare his loyalty (19:24-30).

David also honored the men who had come to his aid in the midst of the uprising (19:31-40).  Although he was returning to his kingdom, all was not well in Israel (19:41-43).  David’s return to Jerusalem was attended by strife that arose between Judah and the other tribes in Israel (the northern ten tribes are described as “men of Israel” – 19:41).

2 Samuel 20 – All is Not Well in Israel

Nathan’s prophecy that the sword would never depart from David’s household (2 Samuel 12:9-12) continues to be fulfilled and will haunt David the rest of his life. While the royal tribe of Judah readily embraced David’s return to the throne, there was a wicked man named Sheba, a son of the tribe of Benjamin, who opposed David (2 Samuel 20:1-4).  Because Saul, Israel’s first king was a Benjaminite, there was an animosity that tribe held toward David.

Sheba soon enlisted thousands of men who were willing to join him in resistance to David (20:4-13).  David acted swiftly. Realizing the fragile nature of his return to the throne, the rebellion was put down and the conflict ended with Sheba being beheaded (20:22).

2 Samuel 21 – Famine in the Land

Suffering three years of famine, the LORD revealed to David there would not be a healing of the land until he righted a wrong committed by his predecessor, king Saul against the Gibeonites (non-Israelites who lived in Canaan – 21:1-14).

David set right the wrong committed against the Gibeonites, capturing seven men of Saul’s lineage, and turning them over to the Gibeonites who put to death by hanging.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Worship Services at Hillsdale, this Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Followers,

I trust you are having a blessed Saturday and will be joining me and Hillsdale Baptist Church for our public worship services this Sunday.  We will continue to live-broadcast our services through the month of May and you can join us on either our public Facebook Page or www.HillsdaleBaptist.org (by the way, going to our website will be the smoothest and for the most part, glitch-free source for worship).

We are honoring our High School seniors this Sunday in the 9:30 AM service (please note the service time has been changed to 9:30 AM). We will introduce our seniors, share their testimonies, and our youth pastor Justin Jarrett, will be bring the charge to the class of 2020.

In the 10:30 AM service, I am bringing the third message in my “Coronavirus Series” from Psalm 23. This Sunday’s message will explore the meaning and application of Psalm 23:3 – “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

Please find attached this Sunday’s student outline, song sheets, and bulletin.

03 – He Restoreth My Soul – Psalm 23.1-3 – May 17, 2020 student blank songsheets 5 17 2020 bulletin 5-17 03 – He Restoreth My Soul – Psalm 23.1-3 – May 17, 2020 student blank

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Mother’s Day Challenge

A Bonus Devotional Thought from Heart of a Shepherd.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

The feminist movement of the 20th century, sometimes referred to as the “Women’s Liberation Movement,” did much to seek equality in areas that were justified [i.e. a woman’s right to vote; equal pay for equal work].   However, the diminishing of the role of wife and mother by the same movement has hastened the decay of marriage, family and our society.  In an effort to break what they viewed as the constraints of traditional marriage and home, feminists have attacked and distorted God’s design for the roles of man and woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25).

The Biblical role of a husband to his wife is that of provider, protector, lover and friend; after all, God’s observation was that “It is not good that the man should be alone”  (Genesis 2:18).   The woman’s role is that of “help meet” to her husband (Genesis 2:18) and “nurturing” mother to her sons and daughters (Proverbs 31).  Sadly, it is the very essence of womanhood and the powerful influence that women have in their traditional roles that feminist have distorted and nearly destroyed.

The powerful influence of the women in our lives and homes is the theme of the opening verse in Proverbs 14.  Solomon draws a contrast between the influence of a woman of wisdom and a foolish woman.

Proverbs 14:1 – “Every wise woman buildeth [establish; construct; manufacture] her house: but the foolish [woman who rejects wisdom and instruction] plucketh it down [beat down; break down; destroy] with her hands.”

wise woman builds her family (14:1a). The quality of wisdom implied is more than a “love of knowledge;” the implication is that she loves the Lord and His commandments. She is wise because she is spiritually minded and exercises spiritual discernment.

Prov 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By contrast, a foolish woman (14:1b) destroys her family; she “plucketh it down with her hands”. She is a rebel; rejecting her God-given role, refusing instruction and bristling at correction. She is not spiritually minded, lacks discernment and destroys those closest to her.

For those who have been so blessed, thank God for godly wives and nurturing mothers. Pray for the women in your life, family and church. The responsibility of being a wise woman has never been greater or more needed.  Encourage them; thank them; and praise them.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 – Parallel Passages

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

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

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

Permit me to close by proposing a question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

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

Psalm 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you? Where are you planted?

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The 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