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“Few Things Are as Repulsive as One Who Praises Himself” (Proverbs 27)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 27

Our brief study in the Proverbs continues with chapter 27. Though filled with golden nuggets of “uncommon common sense,” the focus of our devotional will be limited to Proverbs 27:2.

Proverbs 27

The Book of Proverbs is a king’s instructions to his son.  On several occasions, Solomon has expressed concern that the heart of his son might not be lifted up in pride. Born into a home of wealth and privilege, it would have been easy for a young prince to be carried away by the grandeur of the palace, and the presence of servants ever ready at his beckon call. Proverbs 27:2 presents a wonderful consideration regarding the insightful counsel of a father who understood the bent of the heart of his son. Lest he be led astray by the pride of youth, Solomon urged his son to recognize how uncomely it was for a man to boast, and praise himself.

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

Few things are as repulsive as a man boasting in his achievements. It is, however, the nature of man to “proclaim every one his own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6). Such a man has forgotten the raw clay from which he was taken. While praise and acknowledgement are rewarding, they ring hollow when expressed by one’s own lips.

Why is a conceited, pompous, self-congratulatory spirit so distasteful to others, and inappropriate before God?

The answer is clear – because it is not the Spirit of God, but the evil spirit of self-promotion. The prophet Isaiah, comparing the fall of Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon, to the fall of Lucifer, noted how that fallen angel had boasted in his pride, and exalted himself to be the Creator’s equal (Isaiah 14:12-15). Notice the number of times Lucifer employed the pronoun “I” to glory in himself.

Isaiah 14:12-15 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Closing thoughts – Before you dismiss the thought of being proud and vain, evaluate how much of your conversations are actually self-focused? Are you given to bragging and boasting? Does your social media wall reveal you to be arrogant, self-righteous, and self-promoting?

The ugly little secret is: others have already noticed how much of your life is self-focused.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Beware the Busybodies!” (Proverbs 25; Proverbs 26)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 25; Proverbs 26

Continuing our second of two devotionals from today’s Scripture reading, I invite you to consider Proverbs 26:17-19.

Proverbs 26:17  – “He that passeth by [pass over; provokes], and meddleth [pass over; provokes; alienates] with strife [controversy; lawsuit; dispute] belonging not to him, is like one that taketh [restrains; catch; seize] a dog [fierce, hungry dog] by the ears.”

A lot of people are more adept at giving advice, than they are at accepting counsel, and managing their own lives and concerns!  Those sanctimonious types are a lot more proficient at creating problems than solving problems.  They are what Paul described as “busybodies” in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; individuals who are slackers in dealing with their problems, but experts in sowing discord and undermining the authority of spiritual leaders (2 Thess. 3:14-15).

Paul found the same sin in the church at Ephesus among the younger women. He described them as idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Timothy 5:13).

Believers, beware of busybodies! They will surely suffer the fate of one foolish enough to grab a fierce dog by its ears—their sins will come back to bite! (26:17).

Before concluding today’s devotional, allow me the liberty of addressing two more proverbs (26:18-19).

Proverbs 26:18-19 – “As a mad [rabid; insane] man who casteth [shoots] firebrands [burning arrows], arrows [i.e., spear or dart that wounds], and death,
 19 So is the man that deceiveth [beguiles; betrays] his neighbor [companion; friend], and saith, Am not I in sport? [play; laugh; mock]

“I’m sorry… I was kidding… I didn’t mean anything by it!” may be an easy out for one who has cast a firebrand and wounded another’s feelings.  Such a man throws his verbal darts without considering how or where they fall. His callousness and careless thought earn him the label of a man to be guarded against, and one who should be avoided.

A word of advice: Don’t believe his excuses!  The Lord taught His disciples a valuable lesson regarding the words that proceed from a man’s mouth:

Matthew 15:18-20 – “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 
20 These are the things which defile a man…”

* If you are a regular follower of www.HeartofAShepherd.com, please subscribe to have my daily devotionals sent directly to your email address.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Hawking One’s Self and Gawking at Others has become a Passion” (Proverbs 25:6-7)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 25; Proverbs 26

Today’s Scripture reading is Proverbs 25 and 26. As with all the chapters in Proverbs, the number of verses, and couplets of wisdom are daunting if addressed in a brief devotional. My devotional commentary from Proverbs 25will focus on Proverbs 25:6-7. This is the first of two devotional studies today.

Proverbs 25

The Internet has opened up a world of fame and/or infamy for those who want to impact the social media world. Such a platform has given opportunity to anyone who wants to be an overnight, self-made, internet sensation.

I am often amazed at the magnitude of information individuals are willing to share on social network sites. Hawking one’s self and gawking at others has become an all-consuming past time. It is estimated that 18-34-year-olds spend 3.8 hours a day social networking! The infatuation with self, reminds me of a comment my tourist guide in Israel made years ago when he observed the national pastime of Israeli youth was “to see and to be seen.”

Proverbs 25:6-7 cuts against the grain of our self-promoting society. Solomon urged his son to show discretion and humility, especially in the presence of great men. The king wrote:

Proverbs 25:6-7 – “Put not forth thyself [don’t be a self-promoter; overtly ambitious; seeking vainglory] in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
7 For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up [ascend; go up] hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower [humbled; humiliated] in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.”  

Christ taught a similar lesson regarding humility in Luke 14:8-10.

Luke 14:8-11 – “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room [place of honor]; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Closing thoughts – Take a few minutes and inspect your social media page, and the pictures you have posted. I encourage you to be honest about the things you have written, and the photos you have posted. Forget how many “Likes” or “Comments” you have received and consider: How much of what I have posted glorifies God? Are you guilty of self-promotion?

In a day of shameless self-promotion, HUMILITY is still the quality God cherishes in His people.

* If you are a regular follower of www.HeartofAShepherd.com, please subscribe to have my daily devotionals sent directly to your email address.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Summary of Solomon’s First Twenty Years (1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8

Today’s Scripture reading records a summary of the first twenty years of Solomon’s reign as the king of Israel. 1 Kings 9 and 2 Chronicles 8 are parallel passages of the same events.

1 Kings 9

With the Temple and palace finished, the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time (1 Kings 9:2), and reaffirmed His covenant with David, Solomon’s father. He promised to bless Solomon if he would be a man of “integrity [pure; innocent] of heart, and in uprightness [honesty; walking a straight path], to do according to all that [the LORD had] commanded… [to] keep [observe; heed] my statutes [ordinances; rules; laws] and my judgments [verdict]” (9:4). God promised His blessings and favor on Solomon’s lineage, if He honored and obeyed Him (9:6).

There were conditions to God’s blessings, and Solomon was warned, should he or his children disobey the Law and Commandments and turn to idols, the nation would be “cut off” (9:6-7). The ruins of the Temple would become a “proverb and a byword” (9:8), a lasting reminder to all who passed through the land of how Israel forsook the LORD, and brought God’s judgment upon the nation (9:5-9).

1 Kings 9:10-14 provides us a passing event between Solomon, and Hiram the king of Tyre. Perhaps to pay debt he owed in the cost of materials for constructing the Temple, Solomon gifted Hiram twenty cities in Galilee of northern Israel. Apparently, Hiram felt slighted by the inferiority of the cities given to him by Solomon, and we read, “they pleased him not” (9:12).

Solomon also built and fortified cities (9:15-21), requiring a taxation or levy on the people (9:15). Cities were built that served both as storehouses for grains, and as Solomon’s military outposts (9:19). Many of the children of Israel’s enemies had remained in the land, and Solomon graciously allowed them to work and live in peace (9:20-21). He wisely employed men of his own nation to serve as soldiers, civil servants, leaders, and military leaders (9:22). Five hundred-fifty men of Israel served as supervisors of Solomon’s projects (9:23).

Solomon moved his Egyptian wife from David’s palace, located near the Temple mount in Jerusalem (9:16, 24). We also learn how Hiram, king of Tyre, had assisted Solomon in building a fleet of ships, and they engaged in maritime trade with other nations (9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18).

2 Chronicles 8

Mirroring the record of Solomon’s accomplishments recorded in 1 Kings 9, 2 Chronicles 8 repeats the feats of Solomon at the close of his twentieth year as king (8:1).

2 Chronicles 8 concludes noting the various sacrifices Solomon offered, and his observance of the feast days: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (8:13).

Solomon also followed his father David’s organizational plan for those who served in the Temple (8:14).

Closing thoughts – Let’s remember Solomon’s commitment to the LORD and his faithful observance of the sacrifices, and feasts days according to the Law (8:12-13). The king made worship a priority, and assured the priests and Levites would perform their duties, and faithfully lead the people in praising the LORD and singing the psalms (8:14-15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Four Probing Questions on the Matter of Praising the LORD (Psalm 150)

Scripture reading – Psalm 150

Psalm 150 completes our journey through the book of the Psalms for 2021.  We will return to this divinely inspired collection of worship songs in March 2022. Psalm 150 reminds us to not only praise the LORD, but reveals the central role music has had in the worship down through the centuries. Twelve times the psalmist calls on God’s people to “Praise the Lord!”

For our study, I suggest four questions to consider in the believer’s obligation to give praise to the LORD.

Where should believers praise the LORD? (150:1)

Psalm 150:11Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary [holy place]: Praise him in the firmament [breadth of the heavens] of his power.

The LORD is to be praised “in His sanctuary” (150:1a). What was His sanctuary? It was the Temple, and specifically the inner sanctum, the holy of holies. Though the heavens and the earth could not contain Him, He chose to bless the sanctuary in the midst of Israel with His presence.

Not only should the LORD be praised “in His sanctuary,” His power is displayed in the “firmament” of heaven, and gives all who look upon it cause to shout Hallelujah! “Praise ye the LORD” (150:1).

Why should believers praise the LORD? (150:2)

Psalm 150:22Praise him for his mighty acts [strength and mighty deeds]: Praise him according to his excellent[abundant] greatness [majesty].

God is worthy of our praise because of His mighty deeds, and the heavens and all creation reflect His majesty (150:2).

How (and with what) should believers praise the LORD? (150:3-5)

Psalm 150:3-53Praise him with the sound [blast] of the trumpet [horn; shofar or ram’s horn]: Praise him with the psaltery [lute or string instrument] and harp.
4Praise him with the timbrel [a hand drum or tambourine] and dance [a whirling around, circular dance]: Praise him with stringed instruments [played by plucking strings] and organs [wind instruments; flute or reed instrument].
5Praise him upon the loud cymbals [percussion instruments]: Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Musical instruments have always been a part of congregational worship, and here the psalmist describes a virtual orchestra of instruments upon which musicians were to praise and worship the LORD. Horns, lute like string instruments, harps, percussion instruments consisting of tambourines, hand drums, cymbals, and wind instruments were all part of congregational worship. Accompanying the orchestra were those who praised the LORD in dance, with its whirling motions (150:4)

Who should praise the LORD? (150:6)

Psalm 150:66Let every thing [all living creatures, including man] that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Summing up the whole matter of worship and praising the LORD is the universal call to every creature, to praise the LORD. Let every man and woman, beast and birds of the air, and even the fish of the waters give praise to their Creator! “Praise ye the LORD” (150:6).

Closing thoughts – Believer, we live in a noisy world that overwhelms and drowns out the sweet sounds from the Lord. If we listen, we will find Him in the quiet and solitude of His creation and the gratifying meditation of His Word. Do you seek a daily time of quiet to read the Scriptures, and meditate on the LORD?

When you join other believers in public worship, do you consciously block out the noise and busyness of life, and focus on the LORD to praise Him? If you are a musician, think of the blessing you have to not only lift your voice to the LORD, but use your talent to worship, and encourage others to worship the LORD!

No matter our station in life, may we all follow the advice of the psalmist, and “Praise the LORD!”

* Follow me on “Daily Testify,” a new conservative Christian social media platform.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Move with me to “Daily Testify” – A Christian Alternative to Facebook Indoctrination

Dear Heart of A Shepherd Followers,

I am writing to invite you to join me on a new social media platform named Daily Testify.” (Daily Testify has an App for both Apple and Android Phones.)

Most of you are aware Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are dominated by liberals who hold a worldview that is secular and atheistic. Those social platforms make no effort to disguise their anti-God, anti-Christ, and anti-Bible militancy.

I challenge you to STOP supporting the giant social media corporations. They are riddled with secularist’s who are the antithesis of what Bible believers value and embrace. Join “Daily Testify,” a social platform dedicated to the values of sincere, God-fearing, Bible believers.

On a personal note: My wife and I recently met with the owners and founders of “Daily Testify,” and found them to be sincere Bible believers who share the faith and philosophy of http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com. They had become burdened for the need of a Christian, conservative alternative to the liberal social platforms that have saturated and are destroying Christian homes and families.

Founded near the beginning of the COVID hysteria, “Daily Testify” is growing, and its founders have dedicated their personal resources to not only its development, but also to insuring it is a haven of safety for youth, and women.

I began posting to “Daily Testify” less than a month ago, and have established my personal wall, Heart of A Shepherd, Inc, and Hillsdale Baptist Ministries pages on that site (Hillsdale Baptist Church, Hillsdale Christian Academy, and Hillsdale Fine Arts Academy).

Look me up on “Daily Testify,” join and “Friend” me!

With the heart of a Shepherd,

Pastor Travis D. Smith

Praise the LORD, and Go to Bed Rejoicing! (Psalm 148; Psalm 149)

Scripture reading – Psalm 148; Psalm 149

Today’s Scripture reading consists of two psalms, and the theme of each may be summed up in three words: “Praise the LORD!” The call to praise and worship continues to be the subject of our study as we near the conclusion of our devotionals in the book of Psalms.  Both of our songs of praise resume the format we have noticed in earlier psalms: A call to worship, followed by the cause or reason for praising the LORD.

Psalm 148 is divided into two sections.

The first (148:1-6) begins with a call for the heavens to praise the LORD (148:1). The angels and the hosts of heaven are to offer praise to the LORD (148:2). The heavenly bodies are to praise to the LORD (sun, moon, stars), and the clouds in the heavens above are all to praise their Creator (148:3-5). The LORD is not only the Creator, but He has set in order His creation, and not a word of His decrees will fail (148:6).

The second portion (148:7-14) is a call for all that inhabit the earth to praise the LORD. The great creatures of the sea (i.e., “ye dragons”), the wonders of nature (fire, hail, snow, vapor, storms and wind, all reflect the glory of the Creator (148:8-9). The vegetation of the earth, the beasts of the fields, the birds of the air, and every creeping thing on the earth are to praise the LORD (148:10). All men and women have cause to praise the LORD (148:11-12).

Indeed, let all that have breath, praise the LORD, for His name alone is worthy of praise (148:13-14).

Psalm 149 continues the theme of praise, and is also divided into two sections.

The first section is a call to public or congregational worship (149:1-3), and we notice the praise and worship of spirit-filled believers is distinctive in both words and music. The psalmist writes:

Psalm 149:11Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, And his praise in the congregation of saints.

The words of the “new song” (renewed song) are focused upon the LORD, and refer to the songs that would have been sung by the priests in the Tabernacle and the Temple. King David, who was a poet and musician wrote: “[The LORD] hath put a new [fresh; renew] song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see [perceive; observe; discern] it, and fear [reverence], and shall trust in the LORD” (149:1).

The apostle John described the singing of the elders in heaven, writing, “9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Closing thoughts – Why should believers praise and worship the LORD? Not only because He is worthy of our praise, but because He takes pleasure in His people offering Him praises (149:5). When believers have an attitude of gratitude for the LORD, they go to bed happy, and “sing aloud upon their beds” (149:5).

Let all who have breath, sing and offer praises to the LORD!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Hallelujah, Praise the LORD! (Psalm 147)

Scripture reading – Psalm 147

Psalm 147 is thought to have been written after Israel had returned from the Babylonian captivity; however, neither the occasion or the author is revealed. The mention of the city of Jerusalem being built, and the “outcasts of Israel” being gathered (147:2), gives good cause to believe the psalm was most likely written about the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Psalm 147 is a song of worship and praise to the LORD for Who He is, both in His person and divine attributes. We find three distinct calls for the people to worship the LORD (147:1, 7, 12), and the reason for the people to praise the LORD.

Men Should Praise and Worship the LORD (147:2-3)

It was the LORD who made rebuilding Jerusalem possible when it had been destroyed by Babylon; and it was He Who moved the heart of King Cyrus to bless the Israelites, and release them to return to their land (147:2; Ezra 1). The LORD was able to heal the sorrows of the oppressed, and bind up the wounds of the afflicted (147:3).

Who Is the LORD? (147:4-10)

He is the God of heaven, and is able to do what no man can do, for “He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names” (147:4). Our God is omnipotent, omniscient, compassionate, and just in His judgments (147:5-6).

We should give thanks to the LORD, and praise Him in both song and with instruments for He is the Creator, and nature bows to His command and will (147:7-11). He is the sustainer of the earth, and paints the clouds in the sky, sends “rain for the earth,” and makes the “grass to grow upon the mountains” (147:8). He provides food, not only for man, but for the beast of the field, and the birds of the air (147:9).

In what does the Creator delight?

God takes no joy “in the strength of the horse,” or in the physical strength of man (147:10). He delights in men who fear and revere Him, and put their hope and trust in His mercy (147:11).

We should praise the LORD! He is Sovereign of the earth, and what He has spoken will come to pass (147:15-18). Nature obeys the Creator’s voice, and He sends the snow, the frost, and the hail (147:16-17). God speaks, and the ice melts, the wind blows, and the streams flow with water (147:18).

The LORD chose Israel and revealed His word to Jacob (the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel), and His “statutes and His judgments unto Israel” [Law and Commandments] (147:19). He chose and revealed Himself to Israel, and apart from the witness of His people, the heathen had no knowledge of the LORD and “His judgments” (147:20).

Closing thoughts – Believer, the God whom the psalmist praised and worshiped, is your Creator, and the Sustainer of the universe. He knows the number and the names of the stars, and He loves to be revered, and feared by men who worship and praise Him!

Are you stressed, and burdened with many cares? Know it is the LORD Who heals the broken-hearted (147:3), and shows compassion for those who humble themselves. He is just, and will surely judge the wicked (147:6).

What more can be added, than to join the psalmist and shout, Hallelujah, “Praise ye the LORD” (147:20).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Why Men Should Trust the LORD (Psalm 134; Psalm 146)

Scripture reading – Psalm 134; Psalm 146

Psalm 134 – “A Song of Degrees”

The title of Psalm 134 is “A Song of Degrees,” and should be a familiar one to the followers of www.HeartofAShepherd.com. We have noted the same title on numerous occasions, and you may recall the psalms which bear that heading are believed to have been sung by pilgrims approaching Jerusalem for festivals, and by Levite singers when the priests ascended the steps of the Temple.

Psalm 134:1–31Behold, bless [praise] ye the Lord, all ye servants [slaves; ministers] of the Lord, Which by night stand [remain] in the house of the Lord [Yahweh.
2Lift up [raise up] your hands in the sanctuary [holy place], and bless [praise] the Lord.
3The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion [i.e., Jerusalem].

What is the duty of man? It is to “bless” and praise the LORD! All who serve the LORD, not only His ministers, but all His servants are to praise Him; especially those who minister in His house.

Before sunrise, the priests and Levites were busy preparing for the day; preparing not only the Temple and its courts, but themselves. For, the character of those who served the LORD, and who were charged with leading His people in worship, was to be holy. The hands to be lifted up in His sanctuary, were to be holy hands.

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul expressed his longing that “men pray every where, lifting up holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:7-8). Such should be the desire of those who lead in worship, and for all the congregation itself.

Remembering our God is Creator of heaven and earth, may all who worship the LORD Who chose Zion, the place of His Temple, be blessed!

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Psalm 146

The author of Psalm 146 is not identified; however, his purpose in writing the psalm is obvious, for it is a song of praise to the LORD.  Notice the psalmist employed in Psalm 146, numerous names for God that describe His divine nature, personality, and character. [The text in brackets is the amplification of this author.]

Directing his worship and adoration to the One worthy of praise, the psalmist begins:

Psalm 146:1-2   Praise [Hallelujah; Glory; Boast; Celebrate] ye the LORD [Yahweh; the sacred name of the LORD]. Praise the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God], O my soul.
2  While I live [have life] will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises [sing psalms] unto my God [Elohim; mighty God] while I have any being.

Exhorting and admonishing the people to not put their trust or confidence in man (146:3-4), we read:

Psalm 146:3-4 –  Put not your trust [confidence] in princes [rulers], nor in the son [children] of man, in whom there is no help [salvation; deliverance].
4  His breath [man’s breath] goeth forth, he returneth to his earth [dies]; in that very day [time] his thoughts [plans, plots] perish.

Whether a prince among men or the common man, all live under the sentence of death (Romans 6:23). When their breath disappears as a vapor (James 4:14), their bodies return to dust (Genesis 3:19), and their plans and designs perish with them (146:4).

Such was the spiritual lesson from the parable of the rich man (Luke 12).

The rich man had experienced an overflow from the fruits of his labor at the time of harvest, and determined to hoard the abundance of God’s blessings (Luke 12:17-18).  The LORD, however, judged the man a fool (Luke 12:19-20); his affections had been on earthly riches, and he, though rich, died a spiritual pauper. Such a man plots and plans for this temporal life, but fails to give thought of eternity. He is a fool, for he “layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21).

While the rich man’s affections and treasures perished with him, the psalmist described a man who looks to the LORD as “Happy” (146:5).

Psalm 146:5 –  Happy [Blessed; prosperous] is he that hath the God [Almighty God] of Jacob for his help [aid], whose hope [expectation] is in the LORD his God:

The psalmist gave four divine attributes that give us cause to trust the LORD. (146:6-9)

The first, we should trust the LORD because He is Creator of heaven, earth, the sea and “all that therein is” (146:6).

Psalm 146:6 –  Which [The LORD] made [fashioned; i.e. created] heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth [preserves; guards] truth for ever [i.e. for God is forever faithful; trustworthy]:

We should trust the LORD because He is faithful and true, and “keepeth truth for ever” (146:6b).

We should also trust the LORD because He is just and compassionate. (146:7-9)

Psalm 146:7-9  Which executeth [lit. to make or prepare] judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth [sets at liberty] the prisoners:
8  The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth [lifts up; comforts] them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous [just]:
9  The LORD preserveth [keeps watch; regards; saves] the strangers [sojourners]; he relieveth [bear witness; admonish; protects] the fatherless and widow: but the way [journey; path] of the wicked [ungodly; guilty] he turneth upside down [subverts; thwarts; overthrows].

Finally, we should trust the LORD because He is King Eternal, the God of Zion of whose kingdom there is no end (146:10). We read:

Psalm 146:10 10  The LORD shall reign for evereven thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

How foolish to trust man, or place your confidence in earthly possessions!  The LORD is eternal, just, compassionate, faithful, true, and He is your Creator!

Why trust any other?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Covenant Promise for a Humble People (2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 136)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 136

The reign of Solomon was a glorious time in Israel’s history. With humility, Solomon had requested the LORD give him wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:10), and God had honored his request by promising him not only wisdom, but also “riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before,” neither would there be any succeeding Solomon. (1:12).

Having fulfilled his father’s desire to build a house for the LORD, Solomon dedicated the Temple and adorned it with furnishings reflecting the majesty of the LORD (2 Chronicles 2-5). The LORD visibly descended upon the Temple in a cloud that displayed His glory and presence among His people (2 Chronicles 5:13). In 2 Chronicles 6, the king had led Israel in worshipping the LORD, affirming to the people the hand and providence of God was upon them as His chosen people (6:1-11).  Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple was recorded in 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

The LORD, having heard the prayer of Solomon, responded with a confirmation that was magnificent to behold (7:1-22).

2 Chronicles 7:1 – “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.”

So great was the presence of the LORD, that we read: “The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house”
(2 Chronicles 7:2).

2 Chronicles 7:3 – “And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he [the LORD] is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

The king led the people in giving offerings as they “dedicated the house of God” (7:5). The priests also began their ministries in the Temple and around the altar, as the Levites took up the instruments David had prepared for the occasion, and began to praise the LORD in music and with the sound of the trumpets (7:6-7). For fourteen days, the people were united, as they celebrated the dedication of the Temple (7:8-9).

The celebration being ended, Solomon “sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people” (7:10).

2 Chronicles 7:11 gives testimony of God’s grace, and blessings upon Solomon, for we read: “…all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected” (7:11).

The LORD responded to Solomon’s prayer, and confirmed He had heard his prayer, and chosen the Temple as His “house of sacrifice” (7:12). Affirming He would hear and answer the prayers of His people when they sinned, were assailed by troubles, and taken captive, the LORD promised:

2 Chronicles 7:13–1413If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turnfrom their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

We find three promises in God’s covenant with Israel (7:14). When calamitous times would come upon that nation because they had sinned and broken covenant with Him  (7:13), if the people would: “Humblethemselves…PraySeek His face…and Turn” from their sins, the LORD would forgive the sins of His people and heal the land (7:14b).

Closing thoughts2 Chronicles 7:14 was God’s covenant with Israel; however, those same promises should reflect the longing in every believer’s heart for their own nation. The troubles and adversities a nation and people face should move believers to humble themselves before God, confess their sins and that of their nation, seek God’s forgiveness, and claim His promise that He will heal their land, families, churches, and nation.

I have no greater way to conclude today’s Scripture reading, than to commend to you the reading of Psalm 136 – “Give Thanks to the LORD!”

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith