Tag Archives: Holy

“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

How Far Will a Man Fall? (2 Samuel 11-12)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 11-12

2 Samuel 11 – “And it came to pass, after the year was expired”

“Came to pass” is an apt description of the passing of life. No one knows what a day may bring forth, but each day presents us with an array of choices and consequences that leave their mark on our existence.

Events were about to unfold in David’s life that would inevitably follow him to his grave, and forever cast a shadow over his reign as king. If it were possible, we might strike this tragic moment from David’s life. What sin! What sorrow!

2 Samuel 11 challenges all believers to consciously abide in the presence of the LORD.

We have followed the king from his humble beginnings as a shepherd, and witnessed the surprise of his father and brothers when Samuel anointed him to be the next king of Israel. When he slew Goliath, the Philistine giant, he had become a household name in Israel. His transition from boyhood to manhood, brought a string of victories, as the fugitive of Saul emerged to become Israel’s warrior king, for “the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went” (1 Chronicles 18:13b).

Israel had celebrated David’s victories in 2 Samuel 10; however, 2 Samuel 11 introduced a sad foreboding of tragedy that would befall him. We read, “at the time when kings go forth to battle…David tarried still at Jerusalem” (11:1).

Probably in his fifties, and having served twenty years as Israel’s king, David’s exploits on the battlefield had inspired songs that celebrated his valor (1 Samuel 18:7); however, he was but a man. There are many spiritual lessons we could take from 2 Samuel 11-12, and some should serve as a sobering warning to all believers.

Grave consequences inevitably befall a man who underestimates the sinful bent of his nature (Psalm 51:5).

Disobeying the law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17), David had given rein to the pleasures of the flesh and taken to himself “more concubines and wives” (2 Samuel 5:13). He had foolishly indulged in carnal pleasures, and neglected his duty to the nation.  He was at the pinnacle of his success, and enjoying God’s blessings. Israel was strong and prosperous. However, when his army went to war, David remained behind in the comfort of his palace (11:2). The king’s idleness and lack of accountability became the catalyst for a tragic series of decisions that would forever scar his life, and unravel his reign (2 Samuel 11:3-15).

How far will a “man after God’s own heart” fall?

I will not take the time to outline the obvious in the story of David’s sins recorded-in 2 Samuel 11, but lust, adultery, deceit, guile, and murder are all found here (11:4-17).  Those were the sins that haunted David to his grave.  The consequences of his sins, for himself, his family, servants and Israel were incalculable (11:18-25). Guilt, shame, sorrow, and humiliation shadowed David to his grave. We read:

“The thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).

David attempted to maintain a facade of routine for nearly a year as he sat on his throne, and conducted the affairs of state.  On the outside, things might have appeared as usual; however, David was conscious of God’s displeasure and later wrote:

Psalm 32:3-4 – “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  [4] For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

2 Samuel 12 – “The LORD sent Nathan unto David” (12:1a).

In God’s timing, He sent a man of courage and integrity to speak to the king. Evidencing both wisdom and caution, the prophet Nathan approached David with a story that contrasted a rich man’s abuse of a poor man (12:1-6). Intrigued by the story and incited to anger, David passed sentence against the rich man, proclaiming, “As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity” (12:5b-6).

Having pronounced sentence, David and his attendants fell silent when Nathan pointed his finger, and raised his voice, boldly confronting the king, saying, “Thou art the man” (12:7).

David’s heart was smitten with conviction; he was indeed the man: adulterer; murderer; hypocrite and a wretched, miserable soul (12:8-12). His heart was convicted, and his proud, hypocritical façade crushed (12:13). David soon realized the sorrow his sin would bring on his family (12:15-17).  The king then prayed,

Psalm 51:3-4For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Closing thoughts – I invite you to turn the spotlight of truth on your heart. Realize the danger of idleness, and the tragedy that comes when we trifle with sin and temptation. I challenge you, “Flee also youthful lusts” before it is too late (2 Timothy 2:22)!  Solomon would later warn his son, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13a).  When it comes to sin, the question is not “if,” but “when” the consequences of secret sins will befall you. I close with a blessed promise:

Proverbs 28:1313He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Pity the Nation (Psalm 75)

Scripture reading – Psalm 75

Continuing our Scripture readings in the Psalms, our focus is again on one of the twelve psalms attributed to Asaph, a chief musician during David’s reign. Psalm 75 challenges us to a Biblical perspective on the sovereignty of God and His rule over the nations and people of the earth.

Psalm 75:1 summons the congregation to acknowledge God is the Supreme Ruler of His creation, and is due our thanksgiving. Twice the words of the first verse declare a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude: “1Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: For that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare” (75:1).

God is a Righteous Judge (75:2-3)

Psalm 75:2-3 speaks of judgment, and some might suppose it is the rule and judgment of man that is the focus. I believe, however, that the judgment of God is the subject. Who but the LORD has the authority to receive the congregation of the saints, judge them uprightly, and weigh them in the scales of His law (75:2)?

The law and judgment of men is perpetually shaky and uncertain, but “the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved,” will be the judgment of God’s righteous verdict. If our hope for justice was found only in the discretion of men, we would have cause for anxiety. God, however, has assured His people, “I bear up the pillars of [the earth] (75:3). Nations rise, and nations fall, but be assured the LORD is holding up the pillars, the foundations of the world.

God Admonishes Foolish Leaders (75:4-8)

We find a warning to every leader who bears rule over the lives of men with a heavy, proud hand. The LORD admonished, “4I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn [a symbol of power and strength]: 5Lift not up your horn on high [i.e. don’t abuse your office]: Speak not with a stiff [proud, stubborn] neck” (75:4-5).

How soon those in authority forget they are nothing without God! Civil government has been ordained by the LORD (Romans 13:1), and those who rule and judge have divine mandates for which they will give account. From the King or President, to the local magistrate, all in authority are commanded to be the servants of God for good, and avengers of His wrath “upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).

What of leaders who defy God’s authority, scorn His Law, and abuse their appointments?

God warned, “6For promotion cometh neither from the east, Nor from the west, nor from the south. 7But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (75:6-7). God is sovereign, and He is the final Judge. He promotes and demotes, and oversees the rise and fall of nations. Like a cup of red wine that is poured out like blood, God will pour out His wrath upon wicked leaders, and “all the wicked of the earth” will drink to the full the wrath of God (75:8).

When the Foundations Shake, May the Saints Sing God’s Praises (75:9-10)

The psalmist has painted a dark picture of God’s wrath upon rulers that fail to rule righteously and lawfully. Nevertheless, the believer’s faith rests in the LORD and we should declare our faith in His holy character, and “sing praises to the God of Jacob” (75:9).

Closing thoughts – Though the foundations of a nation may be shaken, and the wicked boast and abuse their authority, be assured: 10All the horns [power and strength of their office] of the wicked also will [the LORD]cut off; But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted” (75:10).

God is just, and the wicked will face His wrath and be destroyed; however, He has promised to bless the righteous. Fools sing their own praises, and stiffen their necks against the LORD (75:5), but a wise man remembers every promotion that comes his way is an act of God’s grace (75:6).

The wise remember, “God is the judge [governor; the final dispenser of justice]: He putteth down [humbles; abases; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts; raises up] another” (75:7).

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 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

Praise, Prayers, Promises, and Peace (Psalm 29)

Scripture reading – Psalm 29

What can you give someone who has everything?  What can you and I, mere mortals with failings and shortcomings, give to God Who is the Creator and Sovereign of the universe? *As in earlier devotions, I have taken liberty to amplify word meanings in brackets.

Give That Which God Requires (Psalm 29:1-2)

Psalm 29:1-2 1Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD [Jehovah; Self-Existent, Eternal God], O ye mighty [strong; mighty ones], give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD glory [honor] and strength [acknowledge His power; might].
2Give [bring; ascribe] unto the LORD the glory [honor] due unto his name [character; reputation]; worship [bow; do reverence; prostrate] the LORD in the beauty [honor; glory; splendor] of holiness [hallowed; consecrated; sacredness].”

To “give” is to bring, ascribe, or assign to the LORD that which is rightfully due Him.  The “mighty,” perhaps the mightiest among mankind, or the angels of heaven (i.e., the sons of God, Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), owe their being to the LORD. The angels, like man, were created to glorify and serve the LORD. God is due our praise!

Worship and adoration are “due unto His name,” for His names define His divine character and attributes (29:2).  When we worship the LORD, we acknowledge He is Creator, Jehovah, Eternal, and Self-Existent God.

The Power and Presence of the LORD in the Storm (29:3-9)

The presence and majesty of the LORD in His creation is explained in Psalm 29:3-9. Rather than a prolonged commentary, I will permit my word amplifications to reflect the beauty and the revelation of God in the midst of a powerful sweeping storm over the mountains of Canaan. Imagine the loudest, most powerful storm you have ever experienced, and how the thunder was loud enough it shook the house, and the lighting so bright it was blinding.

Psalm 29:3-9 – The voice [sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory [honor]thundereth [roars]: the LORD is upon many [great] waters.
4  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD is powerful [mighty; strength]; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty [glory; honor].
5  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD breaketh [destroys; crushes; abolishes] the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh [destroy; crush; abolish] the cedars of Lebanon [known for their beauty and strength] .
6  He
[the LORD] maketh them also to skip like a calf [leap or frolic like a young calf]; Lebanon and Sirion [a mountain peak in Lebanon] like a young unicorn [perhaps a one-horned antelope].
7  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD divideth [cut in pieces; engraved] the flames of fire.
8  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD shaketh [be pained; tremble] the wilderness [desert place]; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh [southern Palestine].
9  The voice
[sound; noise; thunder] of the LORD maketh the hinds [doe or female deer] to calve [give birth], and discovereth [make bare; uncover] the forests: and in his temple [palace; sanctuary] doth every one speak [command] of his glory [honor; great reputation].

The LORD is Sovereign of Creation (29:10-11)

Psalm 29:10-1110 The LORD sitteth [dwells; abides] upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth [dwells; abides]King for ever [everlasting].
11 The LORD will give
[grant; put; deliver] strength [power; might] unto his people [nation]; the LORD will bless his people with peace [shalom; health; prosperity].”

The psalm concludes with an assurance that when storms are raging, we can take comfort remembering the LORD is sovereign over Creation.  To Him, the floodwaters, though powerful and frightening, are His footstool, and He is the everlasting King (29:10). The LORD is the source of strength and peace for His people!

Closing thought – Storms come in various forms. Some are natural occurrences like the thunderstorm described in Psalm 29. Other storms are deeply personal and bring emotional upheavals, physical sufferings, and paralyzing fears. Those storms can come in waves, rushing in upon our lives and reminding us even the strongest are vulnerable. Yet, storms can also remind us to look to the God of heaven, for “the LORD sitteth King for ever…[and]will bless His people with peace” (29:11).

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

“A Right Motive, and a Wrong Method Invite God’s Judgment” (Psalm 132; 2 Samuel 6)

Scripture reading – Psalm 132; 2 Samuel 6

We continue our chronological study of the Scriptures with today’s reading taken from the Book of Psalms (Psalm 132), and 2 Samuel 6 where the Ark of God is transported to Jerusalem. That event should be familiar to my readers, for we considered the same event in 1 Chronicles 13. Psalm 132, titled “A Song of Degrees,” was one of several psalms that were sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem, and by the Levites when the priests ascended the Temple Mount. Today’s devotion will consider the spiritual lessons we can derive from the transport of the Ark of God to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 6

Remembering the Ark of God symbolized God’s heavenly throne, and was a testimony of His presence among His people (Psalm 80:1; 99:1), David set his heart to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, his capital (2 Samuel 6:1-2). Neglected throughout the reign of King Saul, David longed to return the Ark to its prominence in Israel, and he had prepared a new tent that would serve as its tabernacle. The movement of the Ark to Jerusalem was a cause for celebration, and “David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand” (6:1) to accompany its journey.

Celebration turned to tragedy when David “set the ark of God upon a new cart,” and failed to employ the “staves” or poles God had prescribed for its movement in the wilderness (Numbers 4:5-6). When the Ark appeared ready to topple from the cart, Uzza placed his hand on the Ark to steady it, and was struck dead for defiling that which the LORD had sanctified for Himself (6:3-7).

A faithful servant died because David had failed to search the Scriptures and seek the mind of the LORD in transporting the Ark. We read, “David was displeased,” he was angry with the LORD (6:8). His anger then turned to fear, and the king complained, “How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?” (6:9)

The balance of the now familiar story continues with its temporary placement in the household of Obededom the Gittite, whom the LORD blessed abundantly in the three months it resided with him (6:10-12). David then renewed his plan to retrieve the Ark, and celebrated and offered sacrifices to the LORD as it was carried by the Levites (6:13-15).

It seemed that all Israel celebrated the entrance of the Ark of God into Jerusalem, with one exception: “Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart” (6:16).

After celebrating the appointment of the Ark of God in its place on Mount Zion, David blessed the people, and sent them home with “a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine” (6:19). Sadly, for David, he “returned to bless his household,” but was greeted by his wife who scorned the king’s delight in the LORD (6:20-23).

Closing thoughts – Though observed in an earlier devotion, it is worthwhile to be reminded of some spiritual principles we can take from 2 Samuel 6.

The first: Right motives can never justify wrong methods. The failure to seek the LORD, and His pattern for moving the Ark, came at the expense of a faithful servant’s life (6:3-7).

A second lesson: Never treat as common what God has declared and deemed holy. Uzza touching the Ark violated God’s holiness (1 Chronicles 13:3; Numbers 4:15).

I close with a quote by the late evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.- “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith