Tag Archives: Integrity

Dare You Question God? (Job 38; Job 39)

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(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 38; Job 39

Elihu, the fourth, youngest, and last of Job’s friends to contend with him, urged him to consider God’s majesty as Creator. He proclaimed the nature and sovereignty of the LORD was revealed in thunderstorms (Job 37:1-5), snow and ice (37:6-10), and the winds, clouds, and rain (37:11-18). He challenged Job, “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (37:14), and disputed his audacity to question God’s providence in his life (37:15-22). Having waxed eloquent in his comments concerning the sovereignty and nature of God as Creator, Elihu fell silent.

Job 38

When Elihu finished speaking, the LORD suddenly appeared, and His voice was heard “out of the whirlwind [great storm]” (38:1). He questioned Job, saying, Who is this that darkeneth [obscures] counsel by words without knowledge [discernment]? (38:2) In other words, “Job, dare you question my providences in your life? Stand up, speak up, and justify your right to question Me! (38:3)

A Divine Inquisition: Job Had No Grounds to Contend with God (Job 38:4-41)

Notice a series of questions fills the balance of Job 38. As you will see, the implication was that Job had no right to question or argue with God. The LORD  proposed questions meant to convince Job he was ignorant of God’s ways, and therefore had no right to query Him.

Then, the LORD asked Job, where were you when I created the earth? “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4-5). Do you know upon what the “foundations” of the earth are set? (38:6) Where were you when I set the boundaries of the sea? (38:8-11) Where were you when I created light, and divided the day and the night? (38:12)

Indeed, Job knew nothing of the depths, or the darkness of the sea (38:16). He did not know from where light originated, nor how far it had traveled (38:19-21). He could not explain the origin of snow or hail (38:22-23). He did not understand the currents of the wind (Job 38:24), or the clouds that carry water according to their courses (Job 38:25).

Because the Book of Job is believed to be the oldest book of the Scriptures, we should be amazed at the knowledge and insights recorded in this chapter regarding the stars and constellations. Four constellations of stars are mentioned (38:31-32), and Job was asked: “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” In effect, Job, can you command the course of the stars? (38:33) Can you command the rain to fall (38:34), or control the lightnings? (38:35) Job, can you feed the lions, or provide food for the ravens? (38:36-41).

Of course, all the questions put to Job were intended to give him a proper perspective of God as Creator, and himself.

Job 39 – Mortal Man Cannot Understand the Course of Nature or the Providences of God Apart from His Revelation.

The LORD began a series of questions to Job in chapter 39, as He paralleled proposals concerning His sovereign care of the animals of His creation.

Goats and Deer (39:1-4)

The LORD first probed an area unknown to Job, inquiring, “Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth [give birth]? Or canst thou mark when the hinds [deer] do calve [give birth]?” (39:1) The implication was, though Job was ignorant of those matters, God knows the exact moment wild goats give birth, and deer go into labor (39:1). He knows when the months of their gestation are fulfilled (39:2), and when their offspring are old enough to “go forth, and return not” unto their parents (39:4).

Donkeys and Unicorns (39:5-12)

The LORD asked Job, “Who hath sent out the wild ass [donkey] free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” (39:5) Imagine this: God takes care of wild donkeys, providing them a home in the wilderness, and pasture in the mountains (39:6-8).

Job was then asked regarding the unicorn (39:9-12). Down through the centuries, there has been much debate on the identity of the unicorn. While I can assure you it was not the mythical creature of man’s imagination, it was nevertheless a beast known to men of Job’s day. Rather than a one-horned beast, there are scholars who identify the unicorn as a two-horned animal, perhaps a wild ox or an antelope. Some suggest the unicorn was a rhinoceros, others the one-horned oryx. Regardless, they were wild beasts, that could not be tamed, nor serve as domesticated beasts of burden.

Peacocks and Ostrich (39:13-17)

The LORD then questioned Job, had he given the peacock or ostrich beautiful feathers (39:13). The description of the ostrich was notable, for that bird was accurately described as ignorant, and one that buries her eggs in the earth (39:14). The ostrich is said to bury her eggs, only to forget where she buried them. Thus, she “forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them” (39:15). Then, God declared He “deprived her [the ostrich] of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding” (39:17).

Horse, Hawk, and Eagle (39:19-30)

The horse, known for its beauty and courage, was proposed to Job, and the LORD asked, “19Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” (39:19-25) Concluding His line of questioning, the Lord offered an additional request for Job to consider, asking, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, And stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, And make her nest on high?” (39:26-27)  No doubt, Job had to stop and consider the vast diversity between himself (man) and his Creator (God).

Closing thoughts – What was the summation and purpose of the LORD interrogating Job?

Among many answers that could be given, one was the LORD wanted to demonstrate that man has no right to complain when he feels he has been treated unfairly, or strive against God. The LORD is God, and is sovereign of not only His creation, but He is man’s absolute authority. Therefore, man has no right to question the ways of God, for His ways are past finding out.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Elihu: An Exhibition in Youthful Zeal (Job 32)

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Scripture reading – Job 32

Job 31 recorded Job’s final reply to the allegation that his troubles were those prescribed to wicked men. When Job finished his retort, his friends were silent, and “ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1). In chapter 32, we learned there was a younger man who had listened to the dispute between Job and his friends.

“Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram” (32:2b), had deferred to his elders. Finally, the silence of Job’s “friends” stirred him to no longer hold his tongue. Exhibiting the zeal of youth, he confessed he was stirred to indignation, not only by Job, whom he observed, “justified himself rather than God” (32:2c), but “also against his three friends…because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job” (32:3).

Seeing the conversation between Job and his friends ended with no resolution, Elihu determined he would no longer be silent (32:4-8). He observed a profound and enduring truth: “Great men are not always wise: Neither do the aged understand judgment” (32:9). Then, he demanded his elders would listen and weigh his opinion in the matter of Job and his afflictions (32:10).

Elihu’s words were lofty, but his spirit was negative (32:12). Though young, he boasted he had discernment in the matter of Job’s afflictions that was not yet expressed (32:14-17). Elihu spoke allegorically in terms every man would understand. His enthusiasm, coupled with likening his spirit to a new wine skin that was ready to burst (32:18-19), resulted in boasting when he proclaimed, “For I am full of matter [words], The spirit within me constraineth [compels] me. 19Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; It is ready to burst like new bottles” (Job 32:18–19).

Unable to contain himself any longer, Elihu asserted: “20I will speak, that I may be refreshed [relieved]: I will open my lips and answer. 21Let me not, I pray you, accept [favor] any man’s person, Neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 22For I know not to give flattering titles [puff up others]; In so doing my maker [Creator] would soon take me away [seize by force]” (Job 32:20–22).

Though the youngest of the men, Elihu’s youthful zeal demanded a hearing. Although young, he was wise in much he observed. He then began a monologue of judgment and condemnation that would last for six of the remaining chapters in the Book of Job. Yet, as we will see, when the LORD addressed the contention between Job and his “friends,” He will disregard everything Elihu said.

Closing thoughts – Elihu’s assessment was correct when he said, old age is not indicative of spiritual maturity, wisdom, or understanding. However, let us also observe how religious zeal, without godly wisdom and understanding is injurious. I close with Solomon’s challenge that all believers would be wise to heed:

Proverbs 4:77Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all thy getting get understanding.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Singing the Desert Blues (Job 30-31)

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Scripture reading – Job 30-31

Our previous devotional found Job recalling the way life used to be (Job 29). He had enjoyed the blessings of God’s favor, as well as the esteem from family, friends, and fellow citizens. In former years, young men shied from his company, while elders stood in his presence (29:8). His counsel was valued (29:7-17), and he supposed he might forever be the benefactor of God’s grace (29:18-23). Of course, those were the “good old days,” before Job experienced catastrophic losses and afflictions.

Job 30

Disdained by Lesser Men (30:1-14)

Job’s circumstances were now changed, and instead of esteem, he was mocked by lesser men (30:1-14). They were young men, whose fathers he would not have entrusted with the care of sheep dogs. Those men openly disdained Job (30:1). They were slothful, and Job loathed them (30:2-4). They were “children of fools” (30:8), who sang ballads deriding his afflictions (30:9). They spat in his face (30:10), and Job’s sorrows (30:11) served as a “righteous reason” for them to treat him spitefully (30:12-13).

Wrecked by Physical Disease (30:16-18)

Grief took hold of Job (30:16), as the toll and pain of his afflictions pierced him to the bone (30:17a). His muscles ached (“my sinews take no rest”) beneath his skin, while open oozing sores exposed the extent of the infection above. Job felt as though his flesh had been exchanged – that he had swapped healthy flesh for loathsome (30:17b-18). He was well-nigh hopeless, and felt God opposed him. When he prayed, it seemed God refused to hear his cry for pity and compassion (30:19-20). He had come to a place he accused the LORD of cruelty (30:21), and felt abandoned (30:22-24).

Job complained, for the compassion he formerly extended to others was forgotten, and it seemed his good deeds were rewarded with evil (30:25-26). He moaned and groaned (30:27-30), and in the words of the late preacher J. Vernon McGee, sang “The Desert Blues” (30:31).

Job 31 – Job’s Finale and Defense

Job 31 recorded the conclusion of Job’s deposition of his righteousness, and his assertion of innocence. I invite you to consider eleven virtues stated by Job in his defense.

Personal chastity is the first virtue. Declaring he was not guilty of lusts, Job stated, “I made a covenant [vow; agreement] with mine eyes; Why then should I think [i.e., lust after] upon a maid?” (31:1)

The second virtue suggested was an assertion of innocence. Though his “friends” accused him of lies and deceit, Job demanded he be “weighed in an even balance.” He believed God would find him a man of integrity (31:5-6).

Job’s commitment to purity and uprightness was his third virtue. He declared his hands were clean of wrongdoing. In fact, he suggested, should a stain be found on his life and character, he would relinquish the fruits of his labor (31:7-8).

Marital fidelity was the fourth virtue claimed by Job. He professed he was innocent of adultery (31:9-12).

A fifth virtue was a claim to have been a faithful master, and a kind employer. Believing all men are created in the image and likeness of God, Job believed he was no better than his servants. He understood God was Creator of both the servant and his master (31:13-15).

Sixthly, Job declared he had been charitable to the poor, widows, and fatherless (31:16-20). His friends accused him of being an oppressor and abuser of the less fortunate. Job, however, wished his arm would fall from his body, had he taken advantage of the less fortunate (31:21-22).

Closing thoughts (31:23-40) – In quick order, consider five remaining virtues claimed by Job as evidence of his righteous character. While he lived in the midst of an idolatrous people, Job declared he was innocent of idolatry, for his faith and trust were in God alone (31:23-28).

He had been kind to his enemies, and never took satisfaction in their misfortunes (31:29-30). He was a man given to hospitality, and known for generosity to strangers (31:31-32). Unlike Adam, the first man who sinned and sought to hide his transgressions from God (31:33), Job declared he was innocent of hypocrisy, hiding no secret sins (31:33-37). Finally, Job stated he was honest in business (31:38-40). He had not leased another man’s field, and failed to pay him what was owed when harvest time came.

Job’s longest speech concluded (Job 31:40) with him being like most men: He boasted his virtues, but was blinded by pride, and unable or unwilling to see his flaws.

* Note – Our next devotion (Job 32) will introduce Elihu, a fourth “friend” of Job’s. His youthful zeal will heap upon Job sorrow upon sorrows.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Remember the Good Old Days? (Job 29)

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Scripture reading – Job 29

Job’s answer to Bildad’s accusations (Job 25) is continued in today’s Scripture reading. Unable to find reprieve from his sorrows, and bearing the disappointment of friends who assailed him, Job reflected on what we might label, “the good old days.” He remembered better days, and happier times.

Job 29

Job’s Complaint (29:1-6)

Having lost everything, the sting of feeling abandoned by God pierced Job’s soul day and night. He was grieved by friends who alleged he must be guilty of some wickedness. He felt God was turned against him, and bemoaned that his dreadful state had given cause for others to ridicule and scorn him.

Job then remembered the security and communion he once enjoyed with his Creator (29:2-6). He said, Oh that I were as in months past, As in the days when God preserved me [watched over him] (29:2). He had lived what some call in our day, “the charmed life.” As a young man, he enjoyed the light of God’s favor (29:3). Comforted by the “secret of God” (His friendship and fellowship, 29:4), and the presence of his children (29:5), Job’s life had overflowed with plenty (29:6).

Job’s Prominence in Former Days (29:7-17)

There had been a day when he was esteemed in all quarters of his realm (29:7-17). He was numbered above the elders and judges of the city (29:7). When he passed in the streets, young men shied from him, and aged men rose in his presence out of respect (29:8). When he spoke, men listened and none questioned his wisdom (29:9-11). Contrary to the charges of his friends, Job had been beloved for his charity and compassion for the less fortunate (29:12-13).

Job’s Reputation (29:14-17)

He was hailed for his character and good deeds, and distinguished as a righteous judge (29:14). His charity for the less fortunate was known among his neighbors, for he served as eyes for the blind, and feet for those unable to walk (29:15). To the needy, he had been a father (29:16), and a foe of the wicked when men sought justice (29:17).

Job’s Delusion (29:18-23)

Like some in our day, Job had believed his prosperity would last forever. He supposed God would favor him for his righteous deeds, for he reasoned the days of the righteous are multiplied (29:18-19). He relished the approval of his peers, and they valued his counsel (29:20-21). When he spoke, lesser men were silent. To those who sought his counsel, his words were like dry soil that opens its “mouth wide” for spring showers (29:22-23).

Closing thoughts (29:24-25) 

For Job, times had changed, and he was left with only memories of better days. He remembered when he was much-loved, and all men sought his company (29:24-25). He had not been proud, or haughty as he was accused (29:24). Though he had been chief and sovereign in his realm, he was a comfort to those overcome with sorrows.

Friend, the day may come when you will be embroiled in trials and troubles. When sorrows come, remember God’s grace and favor is the only solace in your darkest hour. I close with a promise that has sustained believers down through the centuries:

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 – “3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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The Procurement of Wisdom Requires Hard Work and Sacrifice (Job 27; Job 28)

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Scripture reading – Job 27; Job 28

Bildad had concluded his final discourse with Job (Job 25), and reminded him no man can be justified in the sight of God (25:4). Job’s response initiated his lengthiest speech in the book, beginning with Job 26:1 and concluding with Job 31:40. Our examination of Job’s response continues with today’s Scripture reading, Job 27-28.

Job 27 – Job’s Parable

Verse 1 described Job’s response to Bildad as a “parable,” or a wise saying. Appealing to God as Creator, Job complained the LORD had denied him justice and “vexed” or embittered his soul (27:1-2). Interestingly, though the Book of Genesis was not yet penned by Moses, he understood the uniqueness of man’s creation, and confessed, the “spirit of God is in my nostrils” (27:3; Genesis 2:7).

Job friends had argued his troubles were a consequence of sins, yet, he declared his innocence, and said, “My lips shall not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit [lies]. 5God forbid that I should justify you [agree with their false accusations]: Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me” (27:4-5). This ancient of men refused to compromise his integrity to pacify the men who assailed him. He accepted the disdain of his “friends,” rather than the weight of a guilty conscience (27:6).

The Family of the Wicked Often Pay for Their Transgressions. (27:11-23)

Job acknowledged the wicked are not always punished according to their sins, but he was confident God’s judgment was inevitable (27:11-23). They may enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25), but their children often bear the consequences of their transgressions. In Job’s reflections, the children of the wicked are destined “for the sword” (often die early deaths), and never “satisfied with bread” (never happy or content, 27:14). Even the wives of the wicked become embittered by their pernicious ways, as the Scripture says they “shall not weep” for their husbands when they die (27:15).

The wicked enrich themselves at the sacrifice of others, but when they die their possessions are sometimes divided among the just and innocent (27:16-17). Their households are unstable, and as fragile as the cocoon of a moth (27:18). Regardless their boasting, the wicked go to the grave, and the honors heaped upon them perish with them (27:19). When the terror of death, and the wrath of God comes upon them (27:20), they will not find mercy (27:22).

Job 28 – The Search for Wisdom

Drawing an analogy where men mine for silver and refine gold (28:1), Job described the great lengths men must go to find wisdom.

The intense labor of a miner (Job 28:3-11)

The miner digs a shaft into the earth, and brings light into the darkness in search of ore (“stones of darkness,” 28:3). As he excavates the earth brings forth “sapphires…[and] dust of gold” (28:6). The miner lays his hand to the rocks, and overturns mountains seeking rich ore (28:9). He cuts channels in the rock (“rivers among the rocks”), and prevents waters from flowing into the mine shaft (28:10-11).

“Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?” (28:12-22)

Unlike “book learning,” wisdom is not something that can be acquired in a classroom. True wisdom, the wisdom only God can impart to a man, is priceless (28:13a). Wisdom cannot be mined out of the earth, nor found by exploring the depths of the sea (28:14). Wisdom cannot be purchased with gold or silver (28:15), and the purest gold is not to be compared with it (28:16-19). Then, if wisdom is so valuable, and rare, “Whence then cometh wisdom?” (28:20). Wisdom is “hid from the eyes” of man and “the fowls of the air” (28:21). One cannot find wisdom, though it is sought among the dead who have passed from this life (28:22).

God Alone is the Source of Wisdom (28:23-28)

Man can only know wisdom by God’s revelation: He is omniscient, and “understandeth the way thereof, And He knoweth the place thereof” (28:23). He is omnipresent, and sees and knows all things, “For he looketh to the ends of the earth, And seeth under the whole heaven” (28:24). Because He is Creator and Sustainer of the earth, the LORD even knows the weight of the winds and the water, and regulates the rain and the “way for the lightning” (28:25-26).

Closing thoughts (28:27-28) – Where might a man acquire wisdom? Job answered:

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding” (28:28). The “fear of the LORD” is more than an emotional response; it is a practical response that obeys the Law of the LORD, and forsakes the way of sin (“to depart from evil is understanding” – 28:28b).  Moses commanded Israel to keep the statutes and judgments of God, “for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).  Hebrew fathers and mothers instructed their sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God, that they might “learn to fear” the LORD (Deuteronomy 4:10).

Tragically, the 21st century has given rise to a generation of pastors, teachers, and preachers who purport “Grace” and “Liberty,” and have neglected to teach and instruct our sons and daughters in the statutes and judgments of God. The result is a culture of pride and carnality that is a cancer in our homes and churches.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

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Keep Hope Alive: God Knows You! (Job 22; Job 23)

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Scripture reading – Job 22; Job 23

Continuing our two-year chronological study of the Scriptures, we are in the midst of the Book of Job. What a powerful book and reminder that no one is spared the troubles and trials of this earthly life. Job served as a memorable example of a spiritual man who faced not only the hardships of catastrophic losses, but the erroneous, harsh judgments of some who purported to be his friends.

Yet, we should remember Job was not aware his afflictions were a consequence, not of God’s judgment, but His confidence there was “none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (1:8). The LORD gave Satan liberty to assail Job, and spared only the man’s life, from that evil one’s assault. In spite of his sorrows, Job’s faith did not falter, even as the evil insinuations of his friends increased.

After listening to Job maintain his innocence, and refute the allegations that he had committed some sin that warranted God’s judgment (Job 21), Eliphaz, obviously offended, spoke up.

Job 22 – Eliphaz’s Rebuke of Job

Eliphaz the Temanite disputed Job for his third and final time (his first two challenges were recorded in Job 4-5, and Job 15). Though claiming to be Job’s friend, Eliphaz accused him of supposing he was righteous, and God was obligated to him (22:1-4).

Impatient with Job’s pleas of innocence, Eliphaz unleashed a torrent of accusations against the man whom God said, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man” (1:8). He alleged Job had exploited the poor (22:6), refused water to the thirsty, and denied bread to the hungry (22:7). He suggested he had taken advantage of the most vulnerable, sent widows away wanting (22:9a), and crushed orphans (22:9b). Eliphaz dared suggest Job thought God must be blind to his wicked ways, and warned all the troubles that had befallen Job was God’s punishment (22:12-14).

Eliphaz’s diatribe (22:15-30) against Job’s character continued through the balance of Job 22, as he recapped for Job concerning the wicked, and God’s judgment (22:15). Understanding the Book of Job is believed to be the most ancient of the books of the Bible, we are not surprised to find the worldwide flood still fresh in the minds of the men of Job’s day (22:16). Eliphaz reminded Job how the wicked were destroyed in the flood, for they had rejected the LORD (22:17). Yet, men in Noah’s day, as in our day, enjoyed God’s common grace, and their houses were “filled…with good things” (22:18).

Then, Eliphaz proved the callous, heartless man he was and boasted the righteous rejoice when the wicked are afflicted (22:19), and the righteous are “not cut down” (22:20). Once again, the implication was only the wicked suffer in the manner Job was afflicted, and called upon Job to repent and “return to the Almighty” (22:21-23). Perhaps the first to preach a “prosperity gospel,” Eliphaz promised God would prosper Job (22:26), and answer his prayers if he confessed his sin and repented (22:27-30).

Job 23 – Job’s Appeal for God to Hear His Plea

Job’s reply to Eliphaz’s harsh inferences was recorded in Job 23 and Job 24; however, today’s devotional will conclude focusing solely on Job 23.

Once again, Job employed the scene of a heavenly courtroom, and God being his judge and he the victim advocating for compassion and understanding (23:1-2). Job complained it seemed God was distant, and were he to find Him, he would come to His throne and petition the LORD to hear his appeal (23:3-4). Knowing the LORD to be just, Job confessed, “I would know the words which He would answer me, And understand what He would say unto me” (23:5). He believed God would not only hear his cause, but would favor him in His judgment (23:6-7). Job complained, he searched everywhere for the LORD, but felt he was abandoned by Him (if only he had known, God was ever watching and attentive to him (23:8-9).

Closing thoughts (23:10-17) – Our devotion concludes with Job giving us a wonderful truth regarding God’s omniscience, mercy, and providences. Job 23:10 presents us with one of the great statements of faith in God’s providences: “He knoweth the way that I take: When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (23:10).

Though his friends misjudged him, Job was comforted knowing the LORD knew his ways and motives (23:11-12). Though men are given to urges, Job knew the LORD was immutable, and not given to whims. Our God is of “one mind” and does as He pleases, and His plan will be accomplished in our lives (23:13-14).

Job was confident, regardless the accusations brought against him by others, he was sure God knew him to be a man of integrity. While friends slandered and misjudged him, he believed God’s judgment was righteous and perfect.

Take comfort and trust in God: The LORD is not given to whims, for “He is one mind…and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (23:13).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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“Overcoming Bitterness: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (Job 19)

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(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)

Scripture reading – Job 19

The sad drama between Job and his friends continued in Job 19, as he responded to the callous, unloving reproofs of Bildad the Shuhite (Job 18). Though Job might have anticipated his friends’ arrival would bring some comfort and pity, he soon realized they had come with one opinion – that Job’s afflictions were characteristic of the troubles that befall wicked men.

With that fabricated premise, Bildad assailed Job for being long-winded in his protests (18:2), and too proud to receive counsel (18:3). According to his estimation, the wicked have a hard life, characterized by calamity (18:5-18), and go to their graves with none remembering them (18:16-20). The implication was that Job’s troubles were such as should be expected of the wicked (18:21).

Job 19

An old English adage reads, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Alas, life experiences teach us that sticks can leave scars, and stones may indeed break bones; but eventually the body will mend and heal. However, the effect of cutting words from a loved one, or friend, sometimes result in sorrows that follow us to the grave. Such is the protest we read from Job in chapter 19.

Job’s Complaint Against His Friends (Job 19:1-5)

Job answered the scorn of his friends, and challenged them, saying, “How long will ye vex my soul, And break me in pieces with words?(19:2) The harsh judgments of his friends had left Job wounded and despairing of life. He protested, they had treated him reproachfully, and should be ashamed of how they humiliated him while in the throes of sorrows (19:3). Though wronged by groundless judgments, Job fell into the well-worn rut commonly found among the embittered: He kept a tally of the wrongs committed against him. Job declared, “These ten times have ye reproached me (19:3). His heart was turned from the LORD, to those who wronged and accused him. Frustrated by meddling, Job suggested if he was wrong, let it be his business, and his alone (19:4).

“Not Fair!” – Job’s Complaint Against God (19:6-12)

Job then raised a complaint against the LORD, for he believed he was unfairly entangled with sorrows exceeding his failures (19:6). He cried to the LORD, but it seemed heaven was silent (19:7). He felt entrapped (19:8), humiliated (19:9), and his world destroyed (19:10). He complained, it seemed the LORD had become his enemy, and his life under siege (19:11-12).

A Crisis of Alienation (Job 19:13-20)

God’s Word gives us an insight into the human psyche, for in Job’s afflictions, he retreated into the seclusion often sought by those who suffer. If you have known rejection, endured personal attacks, or been dealt a setback, you might have known the temptation to retreat into solitude like a wounded soul.

Job had experienced the alienation of family and friends. He wrote, “[God] hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me” (19:13). He understood God was author of his troubles, but the response of his family, friends, and acquaintances wounded him. Job felt alone, forsaken by family (19:14a), and forgotten by friends (19:14b). Even the servants of his household dishonored him (19:15-16), and his wife abhorred his “breath [life, spirit]” (19:17). “Young children,” the picture of innocence, disdained him (19:18), and his most intimate friends turned against him (19:19).

A Plea for Pity and Vindication (Job 19:20-25)

His body physically wasted (19:20), Job turned his thoughts from self-pity, and plead with his friends for pity and understanding. He asked, “Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?” (19:21-22). He begged for the vindication of his innocence to be recorded for future generations to consider, and pity him (19:23-24). Though he was overwhelmed by sorrows, and did not know the cause of his afflictions, Job declared his faith saying, 25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”(19:25).

Closing thoughts (19:26-29) – Though he was looking through the lens of inexplicable sorrows and losses, Job’s faith remained unshaken. He was confident the LORD was his Advocate and Redeemer, and believed He would rescue and ransom him out of trials. Job reasoned, even if his afflictions ended in death, and worms destroyed his body, he believed his Redeemer would raise him from the dead, and he would see God (19:26-27). Job’s rebuttal of Bildad concluded with a warning we should all consider: God is the final judge, and the day of his judgment will come (19:28-29; 42:7-9).

A word of invitation – Don’t be guilty of keeping a tally of wrongs committed against you (19:3). An angry, unforgiving spirit will eat at your soul and make you a slave to bitterness! Follow Job’s example, answer your enemies (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8), and turn to the LORD (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

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When Hope Fails, Be Confident God is Just and Faithful (Job 7; Job 8)

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(Other translations are available upon request.)

Scripture reading – Job 7; Job 8

We continue our chronological Scripture reading in the Book of Job. There are some difficult passages in Job, but I pray my efforts through Heart of A Shepherd will be an enhancement to your understanding. Thank you for embarking on this devotional journey.

Review – Remember, Job was in a dark place in life. He had suffered the loss of possessions (1:14-18), and the deaths of sons and daughters (1:15-19). Boils and open sores from his head to his feet added to his misery (2:7-8), and the harsh judgments of three “friends” well-nigh overwhelmed him (Job 4-5). Job’s friends came to him under the pretense of pity and compassion (2:11-13), but their words betrayed their prejudice of his present state.

The first friend to speak was Eliphaz, who argued God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. The implication was, in spite of his plea of innocence, Job was afflicted because he refused to confess his sin (Job 4-5). Job’s response to Eliphaz’s harsh judgment began in chapter 6, and continued to chapter 7.

Job 7 – Failing Hope

In his anguish, Job found Eliphaz’s words weighty and unsettling. Disheartened and despairing of life, Job’s thoughts turned dark, and he reasoned death alone might afford him relief from his distress.

Job’s Lamentations (7:1-6)

In his dejected state, Job pondered the brevity of life and that every man has his “appointed time…upon earth” (7:1). Physically afflicted, and emotionally despondent, he felt his days had come to nothing (7:3). With his body consumed by illness and disease, Job tossed and turned on his bed through the night (7:4-5). He felt his days rushing toward death, and confessed he was in a hopeless state (7:6).

Job’s Reflections on Death (7:7-10)

Praying to the LORD, Job was reminded his life was as unpredictable as the wind (7:7). He realized the inevitability of death (7:8-9), and all that a man has attained in life is soon passed, and will belong to others (7:10). Oh the tragedy of sinners whose treasures are in this world, and not in heaven. All such men are fools in God’s judgment, for they lay up treasures for themselves, and are “not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

Job’s Longings for Afflictions to Cease (7:11-16)

Eliphaz had berated Job for looking to death as an escape from his sorrows (Job 4-5). Yet, Job answered him and declared, “I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). He confessed, if his spirit were like a roaring sea, or a whale, he could have a boundary to reign in his sorrows (7:12). But when Job retreated to his bed, there was no relief from the terrifying dreams that emanated through the black expanse of night (7:13-14). He was so overcome with sorrow, he felt as though his very life (i.e., soul) was strangled (7:15). In fact, he had come to literally “loathe life” (7:16).

Job’s Petition for Pardon and Deliverance Him (7:17-21)

Our study of Job 7 concludes with Job asking a question that would later be echoed by David, “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?” (David wrote, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (7:17; Psalm 8:4) Stating the same in the vernacular of the 21st century: “Why should God be concerned with common man?” After all, man is unpredictable, and ever given to change, and the LORD is ever trying the heart of man (7:18). Job wondered, how long before he would be left alone to die (7:19).

Job’s Confession: “I have sinned.” (7:20-21)

Some scholars suggest Job said, “If I have sinned” (7:20). He acknowledged God as the giver and preserver of life, but complained it seemed he was a man marked for afflictions and troubles (7:20). He felt his life was wasted under the burden of sin (7:21), yet, he found no pardon or forgiveness (7:21). So, Job resigned himself to death, and said, “now shall I sleep in the dust” (7:21).

Job 8 – The Counsel of Bildad the Shuhite

Chapter 8 recorded the counsel of Bildad the Shuhite, the second of Job’s friends. Like Eliphaz, Bildad came “to mourn with [Job] and to comfort” him (2:11); however, his counsel was insensitive and severe. He had listened to Job’s response to Eliphaz, and his plea for mercy and understanding. However, unlike Eliphaz, Bildad made no pretense of kindness, and his words were harsh and judgmental (8:2).

Bildad’s proud tone evidenced he had little experience with trials and hardships that bear the fruit of humility. He condemned Job’s lament (8:2), and alleged he had inferred God was unjust (8:3). Indirectly, Bildad implied Job’s children were dead because they sinned against God (8:4). Echoing Eliphaz’s counsel, Bildad reasoned, if Job was “pure and upright” God would bless him (8:5-7).

Closing thoughts (8:8-21) – So much more could be taught from this passage, but those lessons must wait until another year. Our devotion concludes with Bildad charging Job as a hypocrite (8:8-19), suggesting he had been forsaken by the LORD: “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, Neither will he help the evil doers”(8:20). Bildad’s counsel lacked compassion, and his reasoning lacked humility and spiritual discernment. He not only failed Job as a friend, he added to his sorrows. Tragically, His judgments were contrary to the ways of the LORD who is loving, compassionate, longsuffering, and just.

I conclude with a treasured principle for all who love the LORD:

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Will You Dare Speak Truth? (Job 6)

Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Other languages available upon request.)

Scripture reading – Job 6

Rather than pity and comfort, Eliphaz the Temanite (2:11) added to Job’s sorrows (Job 4-5; Job 6:1-13). Eliphaz had come to Job under the guise of friendship, but offered subtle insinuations of some wrong doing on his friend’s part. He had failed Job, for he was guilty of blending man’s reasonings with godly wisdom.

Job 6

Job answered Eliphaz’s insinuations that his troubles reflected God’s judgment and displeasure. He acknowledged his sorrows had come upon him like the “arrows of the Almighty” (6:4a), and he was wounded to the depths of his soul. (Remember, Job did not know God’s purpose for his troubles; had he known, he would have cause for shame.) In his afflictions, Job complained it seemed the “terrors of God” were aligned against him (6:4).

Job Asserted: His Complaints Were Not Without Cause (6:5-6)

Failing to empathize with Job’s sorrows, Eliphaz’s counsel was both insensitive and harsh. Nature offered ample illustrations of how beasts do not complain when they are fed (6:5). The donkey does not bray when it grazes in a field of grass, and the ox is satisfied with its fodder (6:5). Yet, Job complained, Eliphaz’s counsel was as unsavory as unseasoned food, and as tasteless as the “white of an egg” (6:6),

Job Articulated: Death is preferable to suffering unspeakable sorrows. (6:8-13)

Once again, Job’s thoughts turned to despair (6:8-9), and he reasoned the grave would bring release from his sorrows (6:10). Overwhelmed by disappointments, Job confessed his weakness, and sensed he had nothing for which to live (remember, he lost family, and riches in one fell swoop). Afflictions and sorrows had overwhelmed him, and he reasoned he did not have the strength of stone or brass (6:12). Indeed, Job was reduced to hopelessness (6:13).

Job Argued: His friends had failed him. (6:14-21)

Instead of the pity and compassion he should have been shown (6:14), Eliphaz afflicted Job with counsel he likened to the mirage of an oasis in a desert (6:15-17). His words had left Job’s soul thirsty and yearning for relief (6:15-17). Like a caravan seeking water in the desert, the arrival of Job’s friends had raised his longing for compassion; yet, they brought neither understanding nor comfort (6:18-21).

Job Admonished: Who invited you? (6:22-27)

Job questioned his friends, “Did I say, Bring unto me?” (6:22) (Stating the same in a different mode, Job asked: Why did you come? Did I invite you? Have I requested any of your possessions to replace the loss of my own? (6:22-23)

Job challenged Eliphaz, “Teach me [truth], and I will hold my tongue,” tell me “wherein I have erred” (6:24). In essence, Job confessed, he would gladly accept “right words” [truth], but was wearied by Eliphaz’s hollow arguments and unfounded reproofs (6:25). He asserted, Eliphaz’s counsel was flawed, for he lacked both wisdom and empathy (6:26). Instead of pity and compassion, he had added further grievance to a man who was childless (6:27a). In effect, Eliphaz dug a pit with his counsel, and hoped to entrap Job as a hunter would dig a pit to entrap his prey (6:27b).

Closing thoughts (6:28-30)

Job challenged Eliphaz, tell me the truth, and I will listen (6:24a). Tell me where I am wrong, and I will repent (6:24b). Resolute in his desire for truth, Job invited Eliphaz to speak the truth. He invited him to look at his countenance, examine his life, and determine if he spoke the truth (6:28). Job declared his integrity, and asked, “Is there iniquity in my tongue?” (6:29).

I admire Job’s resolute desire for the truth (6:24). Do you have that desire? A desire for those who love you to speak honestly, and lovingly the Truth? (Ephesians 4:15)

“Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour” (Ephesians 4:25).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization.

Mailing Address:
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
#131
Tampa, FL 33626-1611

You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Saints and Scoundrels in the Church (2 John; 3 John)

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Scripture reading – 2 John; 3 John

The Second Epistle of John and The Third Epistle of John were written near the end of John’s life, and prior to the book known as “The Revelation.” Today’s study will serve as a brief introduction to 2 John and 3 John.

The Second Epistle of John

Though not by name, the introductory verse of 2 John identified the letter’s recipient: “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth” (1:1).

While the writer of The Second Epistle of John did not identify himself by name, scholars are generally agreed the author was John. The style of the letter, its tone and theme reflect the 1st Epistle of John. Preferring the title “elder,” as opposed to apostle, John wrote to a fellow believer and her family whom he addressed as “the elect lady and her children” (1:1). That phrase has given cause for debate over the centuries. Some propose “the elect lady” had a broad implication, and the churches in general were the recipient.

Others believe, as I do, that John was writing to an individual believer (“the elect lady”) and the “children” of her household. She was obviously a believer whose testimony was respected and beloved by John and other believers (1:1b). The closing verses of this small epistle also give cause to believe the letter was penned to a specific believer and her household. As he concluded the epistle, John expressed not only his desire to soon visit the household of “the elect lady,” but also sent a greeting to her on behalf of “the elect children of thy elect sister” (no doubt her nieces and nephews, 1:12-13).

The Third Epistle of John

In his third letter, John once again introduced himself as “the elder” (1:1). The word “elder” served as a description of both an office among the churches (“elder\pastor”), and an indication of maturity (being an older pastor).

The epistle was addressed to a believer named Gaius, whom John described as “the well-beloved,” and expressed a brotherly affection writing,  “whom I love in the truth” (3 John 1:1). John’s affection and admiration of Gaius was both a friend and brother in Christ. Remembering the apostle’s challenge to love the brethren “in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18), and to “love one another” (1 John 3:7, 11), John’s epistle to Gaius effused with sincere, agape’ (self-sacrificing) love (3 John 1:1-8).

Of course, not all in the churches were loving, and John identified one enemy in particular… Diotrephes. Diotrephes was the antithesis of brotherly love, and the apostle spared no words in condemning him (3 John 1:9-11).  John identified Diotrephes’ hypocrisy, exposed his shameless self-promotion (1:9) and spiritual insubordination (1:10a). He documented his criticisms, accusations, and opposition to John’s leadership as an apostle and elder (1:10). John left no doubt regarding the fate of Diotrephes, and identified him as one who “doeth evil [and] hath not seen God” (1:11).

John closed his third epistle with a note of affirmation for a believer named Demetrius.  He wrote of that believer: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true” (1:12).

Closing thoughts – An old adage goes, “Times have changed, but people have not!”

Like the 1st century church, the church of the 21st century has its “well-beloved Gaius” (1:1) and faithful Demetrius (1:12). Their testimonies are tried, faithful and true. Nevertheless, the timidity of pastors and the shallowness of church leaders in the 21st century has allowed a proliferation of men and women of the stripe of Diotrephes. Even the most faithful churches will have their share of “Diotrephes” who in their desire to have the preeminence, will attack even the most faithful pastors with “malicious words” (3 John 1:9-10). Of such a one, the church must recognize them by their works and words, and cast them out (3 John 1:10).

Are you a “wellbeloved Gaius,” a “Demetirus” known for your testimony and love for the truth, or a “Diotrephes” functioning like a spiritual cancer in the midst of the congregation?

When there is a Diotrephes in the midst, church leaders are obligated to identify and confront him; if he will not repent, cast him out! (3 John 1:10; Matthew 18:17).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.