Tag Archives: Grace

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (2 Samuel 13)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 13

The prophet Nathan had admonished David for his adultery, and warned him that his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 12:7-9) saying, “10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (2 Samuel 12:10-11). David repented of his sins, but only after he was publicly exposed (2 Samuel 12:13). Though the law demanded an adulterer’s death (Leviticus 20:10), the grace of God spared the king’s life (12:13b). Nevertheless, the consequences of David’s sins followed him to his grave.

Nathan had foretold, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (12:14). The immediate consequence of David’s sin was the death of the child borne by Bathsheba (12:14-15,18a); however, that was but the beginning of the sorrows David would face within his own household.

2 Samuel 13 begins with a familiar expression: “And it came to pass” (13:1).

What God declares will inevitably “come to pass,” and the king would not be able to escape the guilt that his own sins had become a pattern his sons would follow.

Tragic is an apt description of events that are recorded in 2 Samuel 13. We find here incest (Amnon, the eldest son of David entrapped and raped Tamar, his half-sister, who was the sister of Absalom, (13:1-14); murder (for Absalom sought revenge against Amnon, and ordered his servants to kill his brother (13:15-29); and irreconcilable sorrows (for not only was Amnon killed, but Absalom fled from Israel, leaving David to mourn not only the death of his eldest son, but also the loss of Absalom (13:31-39).

Closing thoughts from 2 Samuel 13

Many spiritual lessons are found in today’s Scripture reading. Amnon’s friendship with a crafty man provoked him to inconceivable wickedness. He had failed to put away wicked lusts (for incest is a grievous sin forbidden by the Law, Leviticus 18:9). When he was questioned by his cousin Jonadab, a man described as “a very subtil [crafty]man” (13:3), Amnon verbalized the wickedness in his heart, and thus breached a moral barrier to sin (13:4). You see, it is one thing to regard sin in your thoughts, but another to speak of it. Rather than reprove Amnon, Jonadab enticed him with a wicked plot, that would inevitably defile the virgin, Tamar. When she protested, Amnon raped her, and then “hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone” (13:15). Amnon’s infatuation with his sister was not love, but wicked lust, and her rape was an act of physical violence! There was no remorse in Amnon’s heart, and after stealing his sister’s purtiy, he humiliated her, and had his servants cast her out of his home (13:11-17).

We must not overlook a sad pattern of failure that emerges in David’s life. The king had failed to confront the sins of his household, and I suggest his weakness was a result of his own moral failures. He had sacrificed his moral authority, and was made weaker in his administration of justice.

When he learned that Amnon, his eldest son, had raped his sister, he was furious…but did nothing! (13:21) His failure to act as a loving, caring father, and a righteous judge (for so was his role as king), provoked his son Absalom, to avenge his sister’s honor (13:18-20, 22-29). Two years passed (13:23), and Absalom plotted to slay his brother. Oh what weeping, and sorrow came over David when he learned Amnon was dead (13:31, 36). David’s failure cost him two sons: Amnon was dead, and Absalom was departed (13:37-39).

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (Numbers 32:23)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Hears and Answers Prayer (Psalm 86; Psalm 122)

Scripture reading – Psalm 86; Psalm 122

Our Scripture reading consists of two chapters from the Book of Psalms, Psalm 86 and Psalm 122. David is the author of both, with Psalm 86 titled simply, “A Prayer of David,” and Psalm 122 titled, “A Song of Degrees” (the “degrees” most likely a reference to the ascending steps of the priests into the Temple). Our devotional is taken from Psalm 86.

Psalm 86 – A Petition for the LORD to Hear and Answer Prayer

The circumstances that inspired Psalm 86 are not given, but the content indicates it was at a time of trouble, and affliction for the king. The prophet Nathan forewarned David that trouble would shadow his household after his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of Uriah, her husband. We might be justified in assigning this psalm to the years of sorrow that followed his sin.

David’s Troubled State (86:1-7)

The afflictions David faced were constant reminders of his helpless dependency (86:1). He was the king of Israel, but he confessed he was “poor and needy,” and realized only the LORD could save and comfort him in his distress (86:2-3). His prayer rehearsed what he knew was true concerning the nature of God: “5For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; And plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (86:5). David resolved, “7In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: For thou wilt answer me” (86:7).

Take a moment and ponder that statement (86:7). There may come a time when you find yourself in a difficult situation with no where you can turn; or perhaps you have reached out to someone in confidence, only to be shunned, or betrayed. David found comfort knowing he could call upon God, appreciating He would not only hear, but would also answer his prayer.

The Sovereignty of God (86:8-14)

Some men call upon their “gods,” but those idols can neither see, hear, nor answer prayer (Psalm 135:15-17). Indeed, there is no God, save the God of heaven who is powerful, all-knowing, and worthy of our worship and praise (86:8-9). He is “God alone” (86:10).

Praying for the LORD to guide and direct him, David promised, “11Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: Unite my heart to fear thy name. 12I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: And I will glorify thy name for evermore” (86:11-12). David longed to know the way of the LORD (John 14:6), and promised he would be faithful, fear and revere the Lord, and glorify Him (86:11-12).

David’s Plight (86:14-15)

David did not identify his enemies by name (and there were many, including his own son Absalom), but he did describe them: “Proud…violent” and godless (86:14). They were proud, ambitious, plotting his destruction, and wicked.

Facing relentless enemies, David encouraged himself by remembering the character of God: “15But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (86:15).

A Final Plea (86:16-17)

David concluded the prayer, and called upon the LORD to be merciful, and strengthen him in his weakness (86:16). The king prayed, “17Shew me a token [sign] for good; That they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: Because thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me” (86:17).

David’s prayer for God to bless him was an inward cry for peace, as well as an outward sign of vindication. He prayed for the LORD to bestow on him a “token,” a sign of his blessing, and one that would silence his enemies, and put them to shame.

Closing thoughts – The next time you find yourself in a troubled place, and an enemy is waiting to gloat in your sorrows; remember, the LORD is merciful, kind, and omniscient. He is jealous of His name before the heathen, and is able and ready to come to the aid of those who call upon Him (86:17b).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Thou art the man!” (Psalm 51)

Scripture reading – Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness.

Biblical brokenness is contrition of heart, and always involves confession, seeks forgiveness, and offers a plea for restoration.

Psalm 51 introduces us to a man brought low by sin.  David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her conception of his son, and his failed attempt to conceal his sin had led to the death of Uriah the Hittite.  David’s sins were secret no more, and the prophet Nathan’s bold condemnation exposed his depravity before all in his court.

Lord Acton, the late 19th century British historian, made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Such is true of monarchs, politicians, leaders, teachers, and yes, pastors. The same, however, is also true of men and women who, in their own little fiefdoms, find themselves in roles that go unchecked. David found himself at the pinnacle of success and power, and accountable to no one. Though the words of the prophet, “Thou art the man!”  (2 Samuel 12:7) had humiliated him, they were the words that awakened in the king a godly sorrow to repentance.

Be forewarned: If given the right provocation, the potential of egregious wickedness lies within us all.

When David wrote, “I was shapen in inquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (51:5), he acknowledged the nature of sin that is present within us all. A millennium later, the apostle Paul wrote the same, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

David had maintained his cover of sin for nearly a year, and though in the throes of guilt, he proudly maintained a regal façade, passing judgment on other men’s sins.

One wonders how long David might have continued his charade if God had not commanded his prophet to confront the king.  Remembering oriental monarchs held absolute authority, and the power of life and death rested with them, we appreciate the tenuous position in which Nathan found himself.

The words, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7), echoed in the king’s hall, and resonated in David’s heart.  He cried to the Lord, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness… 2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). David acknowledged that only God can remove the guilt and stains of sin. He confessed his sins, praying, “3  For I acknowledge my transgressions…4  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (51:3-4a). He was haunted by his guilt, and his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah paled in comparison to his sins against God.

A Petition for Forgiveness and Renewal (51:10-12)

David prayed, “10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… 12  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (51:10, 12a). He longed for that which God alone could give—not only to be forgiven, but to have his happiness and joy restored.

A Passion for Serving the LORD (51:13-17)

With his sins forgiven, David’s thoughts turned to teaching others the ways of a loving, merciful, just, and holy God (51:13). He prayed for that which only grace might impart: Deliverance from guilt (51:14a), a desire to praise God’s righteousness in song (51:14b), and for the LORD to bless the words of his mouth (51:15). He acknowledged, the LORD does not desire a multitude of sacrifices, but a “broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart” (51:16-17).

Closing thoughts – As king, David found himself insulated from accountability. He had neglected his duties (2 Samuel 11:1), and his moral failure occurred when was alone. He had been too proud to acknowledge, confess his sins, and accept the consequences of his moral failures (2 Samuel 11:6-22). God, however, loved the king, and sent his prophet to confront him, that David might be restored.

Truth – If you are concealing sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time before the consequences of sins catch up with you, and affect your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4). Won’t you humble yourself before God, confess your sins, knowing He has promised, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Blessed Joy of Forgiveness (1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 32)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 20; Psalm 32

Today’s Scripture reading in 1 Chronicles 20 is a brief summary of our preceding study in 2 Samuel 11-12. The historian did not chronicle David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5), nor the king’s foolish attempt to conceal his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-13), eventually staining his hands with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-24; 12:7-12). The chronicler did record the king’s failure to accompany his servants to war and the siege of Rabbah, the Ammonite city (1 Chronicles 20:1).

Today’s devotional will consider Psalm 32. The setting of the psalm is not given; however, it is believed to be about the time of the king’s tragic sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 32 echoes the joy of every believer who has found redemption when he turned from sin, confessed, and found forgiveness.

Two Beatitudes (32:1-2)

Psalm 32:1 – “Blessed [happy; favored] is he whose transgression [sin; trespass] is forgiven [removed; lift; carried away], whose sin is covered [hide; conceal].”

Beatitudes typically begin with the word, “Blessed” (Psalm 1:1; Matthew 5:3-11). Those who are “blessed” are confident in, and the object of God’s grace and mercies. The “blessed” are joyful, and their happiness is independent of favorable circumstances. The truly “blessed” are believers who know the relief, and joy of having their sins forgiven. They have acknowledged their sin (Romans 3:23), but know their transgressions have been covered by the blood of Christ (32:2; Romans 6:23). They can sing with the saints, “Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!”

Psalm 32:2 – “Blessed [happy; favored] is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth [count; reckon; devise]not iniquity [sin; fault], and in whose spirit [breath; temper; mind] there is no guile [deceit; treachery].

The sins of the “blessed” have been reckoned, and accounted by God as a debt to Him that has been paid in full. The “blessed” are honest, and transparent before the LORD, and the weight of their guilt, and chastening has been removed.

The Agony of Unconfessed Sin (32:3-4)

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence [peace; speechless], my bones [body; life] waxed old [spent; wear out; consumed] through my roaring [rumbling; moaning; cries] all the day long. 4  For day and night thy hand [arm; rule] was heavy [made heavy; grievous; burden-some] upon me: my moisture [vitality] is turned [overthrown; changed] into the drought [heat] of summer [harvest]. Selah. [pause; i.e. suspend music]

Psalm 32:3-4 is David’s vain attempt to conceal his sins (32:3-4). He endured the guilt and shame of his sins for a year, until the LORD sent the prophet Nathan to confront him.  He was guilty; guilty of adultery with Bathsheba; guilty of engineering the murder of her husband Uriah, and guilty of deceit in a futile effort to conceal his sins.

He had been silent, and unwilling to confess his sin. His life was consumed with guilt, and his conscience roared against him day and night (32:3).  The heaviness of God’s hand, and the inescapable reality of His justice pressed on the king day and night.  Failing to confess his sin and repent, David felt his strength and vitality drying up like water consumed in the heat of a summer drought (32:4).

Repentance (32:5)

Psalm 32:5 – “I acknowledged [know; perceive; understand] my sin [offence; guilt; punishment] unto thee, and mine iniquity [sin; fault] have I not hid [cover; conceal]. I said [answered; promised], I will confess [make confession] my transgressions [trespass; sin] unto the LORD; and thou forgavest [take away; remove] the iniquity [sin; fault] of my sin [offence; guilt; punishment]. Selah.”

There is a way for the burden and guilt of sin to be lifted; however, it will cost you your pride, but its reward is like fresh water to a thirsty soul (32:5).

There is one solution to sin: honest confession and sincere repentance.  No more excuses; no more blame shifting; David said, I am guilty. He knew his offence. and would no longer conceal it (32:5a). The king confessed his sins… adultery, murder, and deceit! Oh, the joy of God’s response to his confession: “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (32:5b).

The Penitent Prayer and the Delight of Forgiveness (32:6-7)

Psalm 32:6-7 – For this shall every one that is godly [saint; pious] pray [i.e. intercede] unto thee in a time [season] when thou mayest be found [found out; present]: surely in the floods [deluge; overflowing] of great [many] waters they shall not come nigh [touch; reach] unto him.
7
Thou art my hiding place [protection; secret; cover]; thou shalt preserve [keep; guard; watch] me from trouble [distress; tribulation]; thou shalt compass [surround; encircle] me about with songs [shout; ringing cry] of deliverance [escape]. Selah. [pause; musical term for suspension]

“Forgiven,” what a wonderful truth!  More than the absolution of guilt; it is the response to one who has acknowledged the guilt of their sin, and a Redeemer that lifts that burden, taking away the sin and the guilt.

An illustration of forgiveness is the “scapegoat” that was sent out of the camp of Israel on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:15-22). The priest would sacrifice a goat, and acknowledge the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16:15-19). After sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice on the altar, the high priest would symbolically place his blood-stained hands on the living goat, and confess the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:20-22). Sending the “scapegoat” out of the camp was an illustration, a living symbol of God’s promise to forgive the sins of the nation.

David’s Advice (32:9)

Psalm 32:9 – Be ye not as the horse [i.e. which is swift], or as the mule [i.e. a beast of burden], which have no understanding [regard; prudent; discernment]: whose mouth must be held [muzzled; i.e. held in check; lit. to hold in] in with bit and bridle [halter; i.e. device for restraining], lest they come near [approach; draw near; ]unto thee.

David had learned concealing sin carries grave consequences for the sinner, and those he loves. The king urged God’s people to be humble, and obedient before God! Don’t be a “mule-headed,” hard-hearted, irrational believer (32:9).

David’s Admonition: Choose the Path of the Righteous (32:10-11)

Psalm 32:10 – Many [abundant; great many] sorrows [pain; grief; affliction; sufferings] shall be to the wicked [ungodly; guilty; i.e. immoral]: but he that trusteth [confident; secure]  in the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], mercy [loving-kindness; goodness; steadfast love] shall compass [surround; encircle] him about.

Psalm 32:11 – Be glad [rejoice; be merry] in the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], and rejoice [be joyful], ye righteous [just; lawful; blameless; innocent]: and shout [cry out; sing; i.e. be overcome]for joy, all ye that are upright [right; just] in heart [mind; understanding].”

Closing thoughts – David described the egregious effects of failing to confess and repent of sins. Are you bearing the weight and consequences of secret sins? I urge you to confess your sins, and God will forgive you, and restore unto you the life of the “blessed.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be A Prayer Warrior For Your Nation (Psalm 20)

Scripture reading – Psalm 20

Psalm 20 has been described by some as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. It is an intercessory prayer, an exhortation to pray and call to the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. * As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of the author.

Psalm 20:1-2 – “The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support;; sustain] thee out of Zion [site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired this psalm are not stated, but because its author was David, I believe it was the king appealing to his people to call unto the LORD (20:1). Israel was facing an enemy, and the king dare not go to war without the confidence that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. pause; or pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, the people worshipped Him, and prayed He would accept their sacrifices, hear, and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; standard]: the LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people believed the LORD would give their king victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy, and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners. (The flags carried into battle identified national pride). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers, and answer their petitions (20:5b).

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face the enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people, and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty, and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save him in the battle.

Psalm 20:77Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Men and nations go into battle with little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Their faith is in their weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). We have observed in earlier devotions that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes. The LORD is holy, just, powerful, omniscient, compassionate, and sovereign. He will do as it pleases Him.

Psalm 20:8-98They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts – I invite you to consider three spiritual lessons from Psalm 20:

The LORD hears and answers prayer. Israel prayed the LORD would hear the prayer of the king, and His people, and go before them into battle (20:1-2). Oh, that the leaders of this world would call upon the LORD, and not put their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

We should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers (20:3-4). Israel assured the king they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom, and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD, and whose people uphold them in prayer.

God’s people should put their faith in the grace and blessings of God.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory, They were confident God heard, and would answer their prayers.

I close with a story conveyed by a farmer during the American Revolution.  The farmer was walking through the woods toward the encampment at Valley Forge, when he heard a voice. Drawing near, he found General George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home, and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

1 Timothy 2:1-21 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Plight of the Human Race (Psalm 53; Psalm 60)

Scripture reading – Psalm 53; Psalm 60

Our Scripture reading is from two psalms of David, Psalm 53 and Psalm 60. Our devotional is taken from Psalm 53.

Psalm 53 – An Observation of the Human Condition

Notice that Psalm 53 is nearly a restatement of truths observed by David in Psalm 14. The title of Psalm 53provides us the title of the person to whom it was addressed, “the Chief Musician.” It also provides the instrument used to accompany the singer, Mahalath (probably a stringed instrument), as well as the name of the melody, Maschil, that accompanied the psalm. As already noted, David is identified as the author in the title.

I invite you to identify three major truths found in Psalm 53: The fact of universal wickedness (53:1-3); the wicked’s denial of the providence of God (53:4-5); and David’s prayer that the LORD would save Israel, and rejoicing and gladness would be restored.

The Fool and His Plight (53:1-3)

David’s observations concerning the condition of man is not only well known, but should be self-evident to an honest observer. The folly of the fool is that he is an atheist, in word and deed! We read, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Notice the phrase, “there is,” is in italics, indicating it was added by editors hoping to give clarity to the passage. I suggest, however, that the addition was unnecessary, for the folly of the fool is that he has not only denied God in his heart, but also in his deeds. David observed that the atheism of the fool carries him down a path of corruption, and destruction. Indeed, “there is none that doeth good” (53:1b).

The doctrine of God’s omniscience is stated in the next verse, where we read, “2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God” (53:2). Having denied God, the fool may be convinced his sins go unnoticed and unpunished. Yet, God’s gaze is perpetually upon man, and he sees and tries the hearts to see if any seek Him (53:2).

Consider also that the plight of man is universal, and without exception: “Every one of them [every man, woman, boy, and girl] is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (53:3). Universal rebellion; universal immorality; universal sin… “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (53:3).

Ponder that truth for a moment. There are no exceptions to the infection of sin. We are all infected by its curse, and the mass of humanity past, present, and future is born under the curse of sin (of course, the one exception was Jesus Christ who, though born of a woman, was not born of the seed of man, but of the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35).

The apostle Paul observed the universality of sin, writing: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the universal consequences of sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Wicked’s Denial of the Providence of God (53:4-5)

The fool has not only rejected God, but he has also denied the visible evidences of God’s essence and providences as seen in His creation every day (53:4a). David warned, God is jealous of His people, and the wicked will not go unpunished for their ill treatment of them (53:4b).

There is a sad irony in this psalm. On the one hand, men boast, “There is no God,” but there is coming a day a judgment when fear will take hold of the hearts of men, and those who set themselves against Him will be destroyed (53:5a). Indeed, the wicked will be put to shame, for the LORD will hold them in contempt (53:5b).

David’s Prayer and Intercession for Israel (53:6)

Psalm 53 concludes with David looking forward to the day when Israel will be saved. In that day, “Jacob shall rejoice” (the lineage of the Twelve Tribes), and “Israel shall be glad” (53:6). Whom would God send to answer David’s prayer for a Savior? His name would be Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Closing thoughts – Without exception; Every man or woman who rejects God, and refuses His offer of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son…is foolish. We might boast of our good works, but the prophet Isaiah declared, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). A sinner cannot be saved “by works of righteousness which [he has] done, but according to [God’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Majesty of God, the Eternal Judge (1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50

Today’s Scripture reading comprises Psalm 50, and 1 Chronicles 18. You should be familiar with the narrative of the latter, for it chronicles events we considered in a prior study of 2 Samuel 8. Psalm 50, therefore, is the focus of today’s devotional.

Psalm 50

The title of Psalm 50, “A Psalm of Asaph,” introduces a song writer who was a chief musician during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 16:7). This is one of twelve psalms attributed to Asaph. The occasion for the writing of the psalm is not given; however, it rejoices in the LORD as a righteous judge (50:1-6), encourages the saints of God in their worship (50:7-15), and admonishes the wicked for their sin (50:16-21).

God, the Righteous Judge (50:1-6)

Knowing the names of God define His character, consider what we can learn of Him in the introductory verse: The mighty God [El Elohim – Mighty Ruler; Great God; Supreme], even the Lord [Yahweh; SELF-EXISTENT ONE], hath spoken, and called [summoned] the earth [all inhabitants] from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof” (50:1).

Psalm 50:2 declares the majesty of God: “2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined;” while Psalm 50:3 announces He is coming: “3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: A fire shall devour before him, And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.”

I believe it is the Second Coming of Christ that is described here, for the LORD is pictured as one coming in judgment [like a fire], and mankind is admonished to prepare for His judgment (50:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:27).  The saints of God will be gathered, and the judgment of God will be righteous (50:5-6).

God’s Message to the Saints of Israel (50:7-15)

I notice three major truths regarding the LORD summoning His people to come before Him. The first, He is God, and therefore He has the right to judge Israel (50:7). God is pictured as pondering His judgment of the people, and acknowledges they had brought before Him sacrifices and burnt offerings continually (50:8). Nevertheless, the people were reminded that in offering bullocks and goats to the LORD, they were giving only that which was His (50:9). All that has life, and breath is the LORD’S (50:10-11).

In a wonderful reminder of God’s Sovereignty as Creator and LORD, He challenged the people, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (50:12).

Stop for a moment, and consider that last statement! There is nothing you and I can give the LORD, that is not already His, for all the world is His! We own nothing, but we are chosen to be stewards of possessions that are the LORD’S. Not only what we possess, but our very being is the LORD’S. In this, God has the right and authority to command us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Lesson – How might we honor and glorify the LORD? By giving ourselves to Him out of a heart of gratitude, and present to Him all that is due (50:14). When we come to the LORD with a heart of gratitude, He promises: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (50:15).

God’s Message to the Wicked (50:16-21)

The focus of Psalm 50 then turns from the saints, to God’s judgment of the wicked (50:16). Consider the hypocrisy of the wicked: Externally they acknowledge the statutes of the LORD (His Law and Commandments), and worship Him with sacrifices and offerings; however, God knows their hearts. He admonished the wicked, for they hated to be instructed in the way of righteousness, and had contempt for the Word of God (50:17). They violate His commandments, and fail to rebuke the thief (50:18a; Exodus 20:15). They observe the adulterer, but fail to condemn his adultery (50:18b; Exodus 20:14). The wicked lie and slander others (50:19-20; Exodus 20:16).

Notice in Psalm 50:21 how the threat of God’s judgment rose to a crescendo (50:21a), as He warned the wicked that they had abused His silence, His patience, and their day of judgment was coming (50:21b).

Conclusion: A Warning and a Promise (50:22-23)

The Warning: Fail to obey the LORD, and express gratitude of His blessings and longsuffering, and He will “tear you in pieces” and none can deliver you out of His fury (50:22).

The Promise: It is a heart of praise and thanksgiving that glorifies the LORD (50:23). When a sinner sincerely seeks the LORD, He promises to show him the way of “the salvation of God.” What is the way of salvation, and the forgiveness of sin?

Ephesians 2:8–108For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Path for Success (Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8)

Scripture reading – Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 39), and also returns to the historical narrative of the life of David (2 Samuel 8). Today’s devotional will be taken from 2 Samuel 8.

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

If a boy in Israel had been looking for a hero, he would have to look no further than King David. The king’s life was a testimony of what God can do with a man who loves the LORD, and is fully yielded to His will.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continual success. When God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), the king accepted the rejection with humility. He then set about extending Israel’s territory, and securing the rule over his domain.

Confident in the LORD’S promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David defeated one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south of Israel (8:1).

Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel, or began paying tribute to David. The Moabites, descendants of Lot who occupied land on the east side of the Jordan River, were the next to be conquered (8:2). King Hadadezer of Zobah (8:3), a capital city north of Damascus and whose lands occupied territories that included a portion of ancient Syria, reaching to the Euphrates River, was dealt a harsh defeat. Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). David had the chariot horses of his enemy “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again. (8:4).

When the Syrians came to aid Hadadezer, David sorely defeated them, slaying “of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men” (8:5). The king then secured the land for Israel, placing “garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts [paying Israel tribute]. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went” (8:6). The bounty of the spoils of war were brought by David to Jerusalem, including “shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer” (8:7), and “exceeding much brass” that would later be used by Solomon to make vessels for the Temple (8:8; 1 Chronicles 18:8).

Continuing his conquest, David defeated the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14), who accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observed that, “David gat him a name,” for his reputation as a warrior king continued to grow (8:13).

What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Was it the loyalty of his leaders (8:16-18), or the size of his army that gave him success?

The secret to David’s successes, and his military exploits was summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6, 14). In turn, David proved himself, not only to the LORD, but also to all in his realm, for he “executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (8:15).

From Egypt in the south, to the Euphrates River in the east, David acquired for his kingdom the lands God had promised Israel as an inheritance. The king’s victories were part of God fulfilling His covenant promise to Abraham, and his seed (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21).

Closing thoughts – Who among us does not long for success? Everyone I have known wants to be successful, and to enjoy the fruits of their success. Yet, how many are willing to follow David’s example, model humility, and walk faithfully in the ways of the LORD?

Though a powerful king whose fame was growing, nevertheless, David was committed to do right, and to execute righteous “judgment and justice” to his people (8:15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Primer in Congregational Worship (Psalm 33; Psalm 36)

Scripture reading – Psalm 33; Psalm 36

Worship in the 21st century Church is far from the reverential worship you would have known and experienced had you worshiped the LORD in the courtyard of the Tabernacle or at the Temple in Solomon’s day. Like all of the psalms, Psalm 33 has the LORD as its central focus, and its theme is a contemplation of God’s majesty as Creator, Almighty, Jehovah, Eternal God. * Today’s devotional will be taken from Psalm 33. As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

A Study in Congregational Worship (33:1-5)

Psalm 33:1 – “Rejoice [sing; shout for joy] in the LORD, O ye righteous [just; lawful; innocent; blameless]: for praise is comely [beautiful; suitable; fitting] for the upright [righteous; right].

Psalm 33:1 emphasizes the DUTY of believers (the righteous and the upright) to worship the LORD. Old Testament saints understood to be righteous in the sight of the LORD, required obedience to His laws and commandments in both spirit and practice. The righteous have both cause and duty to “Rejoice in the LORD” and praise Him (33:1).

Psalm 33:2-3Praise [give thanks] the LORD with harp [lyre]: sing [sing praise] unto him with the psaltery [lute] and an instrument of ten strings [ten string instrument]3 Sing unto him a new song; play [make music]skillfully [well; good; pleasing; beautiful] with a loud noise [shout; i.e. like the sound of a trumpet].

The Father also desires His people to worship Him out of a heart of DEVOTION. With both instrument and voice, the righteous are able to express their love and devotion in congregational music and song (33:2). The psalmist called upon the congregation to sing a “new song” (33:3a), and “play skillfully with a loud noise” (33:3b).

While “a loud noise” might be an apt description of some 21st century “praise music,” it falls short of the message portrayed by the psalmist. As an explanation: Often overlooked in the phrase is the word “skillfully,” meaning beautiful and well-pleasing; and something that cannot be achieved apart from years of disciplined practice. The “loud noise” implies the sound of wind instruments, such as a trumpet.

DECLARATION is another word that describes congregational worship. Believers are to declare in their music and song the majesty of the LORD who is worthy of praise and worship (33:4-5).

Psalm 33:4-54 For the word [spoken word; discourse] of the LORD is right [righteous; just]; and all his works [acts; deeds] are done in truth [faith; faithfulness]. 5 He [the LORD] loveth righteousness [justice] and judgment [right]: the earth [land] is full [filled; overflow] of the goodness [mercy; kindness] of the LORD.

God’s glory is also revealed in His Word and works. His Word is right, and His works are honest and true (33:4). He is holy, just, loving, faithful and good (33:4-5), and if we look, we can see the LORD’S loving and faithful hand in the world around us, and hopefully reflected in us.

An Affirmation of the Character of the LORD (33:5-19)

Remembering Psalm 33 is a song, notice the focus of the verses is upon the divine character and attributes of the LORD (33:5-19). The LORD is righteous (33:5a), good (33:5b), omnipotent (33:6-9), omniscient (33:10), and His counsel (Word) is eternal and immutable (33:11).

The LORD is vigilant, and He “looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men” (33:13). He knows what lies within the hearts of men, and “He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works” (33:15). The LORD is sovereign over all nations (33:16-17), and He is the protector and provider for them who fear and revere Him (33:18-19).

Three Benefits That Come to Those Who Worship the LORD (33:20-22)

Psalm 33 concludes with a doxology, that boasts of the LORD’s care for His children, and the benefits that come to them when they worship the LORD. When worship, and song focuses on the character of the LORD, believers who worship Him in Truth acquire three virtues: They learn patience, for they “waiteth for the LORD” (33:20). Their faith is increased, for they “have trusted in His holy name” (33:21). Finally, because they know the LORD is merciful, they are never without hope, for they “hope in [the LORD]” (33:22).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

God Has an Answer for Sorrow and Regret! (1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 25)

Regret Word Representing Regretful Regretting And Wordclouds

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 17; Psalm 25

As you read 1 Chronicles 17 for today’s Scripture reading, you will recognize it is nearly identical to the same event we considered in 2 Samuel 7. We cannot determine with certainty the author of 1 Chronicles; however, many scholars believe it was Ezra, the author of the book that bears his name. 1 Chronicles was written by a man who chronicled the history of Israel and Judah before the Babylonian captivity. For a complete commentary on the events recorded in 1 Chronicles 17, please reference my prior devotion on 2 Samuel 7.

Psalm 25 – A Song of Praise, Faith, and Entreaty

With only one or two exceptions, the verses recorded in Psalm 25 follow the pattern of the Hebrew alphabet, with the first word of each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet (comparable to an English author writing a poem with each verse of prose beginning with the letters A to Z).

The title of the psalm indicates it is “A Psalm of David,” but the occasion of the writing is not identified. Some believe Psalm 25 was written when the king was enjoying a season of ease (as we noticed in 2 Samuel 7:1); however, others suggest it was written near the end of David’s life. *As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

Trust in God (25:1-3)

Psalm 25:1-2 – “Unto thee, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], do I lift up [remove; take away] my soul [life; person]. 2 O my God [Almighty God], I trust [trust; confident; bold] in thee: let me not be ashamed [confounded; disappointed; put to shame], let not mine enemies [foes; adversary] triumph [rejoice; exult] over me.”

Although he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), there were seasons in David’s life when he struggled with sorrows, and enemies relished the opportunity of reveling in his afflictions. Facing the pressures of state, and the threat of enemies from within and without, there were times the king prayed to God, “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (25:1). David pled for the LORD to save him from his enemies, not only for his sake, but also as a testimony to all who call upon the name of the LORD (25:2-3).

A Passion for the LORD’s Leading (25:4-5)

Psalm 25:4-5 – “Shew me thy ways [road; path], O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; teach [instruct; accept] me thy paths [way; conduct; manner]. 5 Lead [bend; guide; aim] me in thy truth [right; faithfulness], and teach [instruct] me: for thou art the God [Almighty God] of my salvation [liberty; deliverance]; on thee do I wait [look; behold; hope] all the day [time].”

David’s prayer should be the prayer of all saints. The king longed for the LORD to give him insight, discernment, understanding, and direction. I have often prayed much the same: “LORD, show me the path you want me to take. Teach me, and bend my will to be in accord with Your Truth!” After praying, David committed himself to “wait all the day” on the Lord (25:5b).

A Petition: LORD, Remember Your Merciful Character (25:6-7)

Psalm 25:6 – “Remember, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], thy tender mercies [compassion] and thy lovingkindnesses [mercy; kindness; goodness]; for they have been ever of old [eternity; everlasting; perpetual].”

In the midst of his sorrows, David’s meditations reflected on God’s compassion and mercy (25:6a) He was reminded that the mercy and grace of the LORD would never be exhausted (25:6b).

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

How many of us no doubt share David’s petition for mercy? Knowing God is omniscient, David was certainly not asking God to “forget,” but to forgive and not hold his sins and transgressions against him (25:7). David cast the burden of his sorrows and regret on the LORD, and prayed he would be the object of His grace and mercy (25:7b). Knowing the magnitude of his sin, the king sought God’s forgiveness, praying, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great” (25:11).

The LORD Guides the Way of Those Who Fear Him (25:12-14)

David then asked, “What man is he that feareth [reveres] the Lord? Him shall he [the LORD] teach [instruct] in the way that he [the LORD] shall choose” (25:12). Solomon, the son of David who would inherit his father’s throne, gleaned from his father’s wisdom, later writing, “The fear [lit. reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: And the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

A Prayer for Deliverance (25:15-21)

Briefly summarizing the closing verses of Psalm 25, the king conveyed his sorrows were increasing (25:17), and he plead for the LORD to pity him with His compassion (25:18-19). Trusting the LORD would hear and answer his cry, David prayed, “Keep my soul, and deliver me… preserve me; For I wait on thee” (25:20-21).

Closing thought – Where do you turn when you feel troubled and overwhelmed? What do you do with yourregrets, sorrows and disappointments? 

I know some believers live in what John Bunyan described as the slough of despondency in his classic novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Like “Christian,” the main character in Bunyan’s novel, many bear the heavy burden of sins and regret. They wrestle in the mire of despair, and rather than repent of their sin and turn to Christ, they turn back to the very sins that pierce their soul with sorrow. Others amuse themselves with sinful distractions, and hope to salve their conscience with pleasures. Some “blame shift” and impugn loved ones with the consequences of their own sinful choices. Others turn to alcohol and drugs hoping to dull the sorrows of guilt and regret.

Take a page out of David’s life, and lift up your heart and thoughts to the LORD! (25:1-2) In the words of the great 19th century Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon:

“It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith