Tag Archives: Ministry

He Alone is God and There is No Other! (Isaiah 40-43)

Scripture reading: Isaiah 40-43

The breadth of today’s Scripture reading is so great that I am limiting my devotional commentary to Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40

The destruction of Jerusalem and God’s judgment against Judah for her wickedness appears imminent in Isaiah 40. Knowing the grace and longsuffering of the LORD, we are not surprised that nearly a century passed before Babylon attacked the capital city, destroyed the Temple, and took the people captive.

Let’s take a few minutes and glean from Isaiah 40 some insight into the character of God.

The God of Israel is portrayed as longsuffering, forgiving and comforting (40:1-2).   Seven hundred years before he was born, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah was foretold here (40:3-5; Matthew 3:3).

Observing the temporal nature of this earthly life and knowing that our lives are like grass that withers and flowers that fade, Isaiah declares, “the Word of our God shall stand forever” (40:6-8). What comfort we should take from our confidence in the immutable nature of God! Times change and men change; however, God changes not and His Word is established forever!

Who is my God? 

He is the Creator and the depths of the waters in the oceans are like “the hollow of his hand” (40:12a).  He knows the span of the heavens, the stars, moons, and planets.  He has calculated the dust of the earth and knows the weight of the mountains and hills (40:12b).

My God is so great that all the nations and their armies of the earth are as nothing to Him (40:15-17). 

There is nothing and no one greater than my God!  The beauty of earth’s sphere reflects the glory of His throne and men are like grasshoppers in his presence (40:22-23).  He is omniscient, and calls the stars of heaven by name (40:26).  He is Everlasting God, Creator and Sustainer of all things (40:28).  He is my Savior and my Strength (40:30-31).

Isaiah 40:30-31 – “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

From whence did my God come?

He was God before there was time and creation.  I confess my poor finite mind cannot explain this doctrine, but His person and handiwork, are they not evidenced in all He has created? (Psalm 90:1-2)

Isaiah 43:10b-11, 13a – “… I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour…13  Yea, before the day was I am he…”

Before the first day…there was God!  He alone is God!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God Orders the Starts and Stops! (Jonah 1-4)

Scripture reading Jonah 1-4

The Book of Jonah is today’s Scripture reading assignment. Though only four chapters in length, this historical drama is powerful and telling: Nineveh, a wicked, idolatrous city, unaware of the imminence of God’s judgment and the threat of annihilation. The LORD and Sovereign Creator is holy and just, but also merciful and loving toward sinners. Jonah, a reluctant, rebellious prophet, defied God’s command to warn Nineveh and call the people to repent of their sins.

Have you ever wanted to run?

You may remember a childhood tantrum that resulted in your threat to take your little red wagon and run away from home. To your chagrin, your mother pretended to take you up on your plan, and even offered to help you pack!  If you were strong willed, you might have even followed through with strong determination! Fortunately, for a child, minutes can seem like hours and a hundred yards like a mile. Upon returning home from your self-willed excursion, your mom probably greeted you, “Well, you’re back! Wash your hands and get ready for dinner!”

Two lessons come to the forefront of this scenario: The first, “What is best for you is not always what you think is best.”  The second, may not be realized until years later; although you could not see her, your mother never took her eyes off you!

Some 2800 years ago, a passionate, patriotic and popular preacher in Israel named Jonah received God’s command: “Arise, go to Nineveh…” (1:2). 

Nineveh was a great city with a population of 120,000 souls (Jonah 4:11). However, Nineveh was also a wicked city, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and a great adversary of Israel!

Possibly fearing his nation’s enemy or the rejection of His own people, Jonah refused to preach against Nineveh, later confessing he feared the LORD would spare that city from destruction!  Jonah resigned his calling as God’s prophet (Jonah 1:3), paid his fare, and took a ship for Tarshish, a city on the western most edge of the known world in his day (1:3).

In his flight from the LORD, Jonah soon found himself caught in a great storm and the sea threatening to take him and his fellow passengers to a watery grave (1:4-6).  Evidencing the callousness of a backslidden sinner, Jonah slept in the bottom of the ship until he was awakened by the sailors. Jonah confessed he was a prophet of the LORD and the storm was sent by God to chastise him. Fearing for their lives, the sailors reluctantly cast Jonah into the sea where he was swallowed by a great fish providentially provided by the LORD.

We read that Jonah confessed his sin and “prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly” (2:1) and “He heard me” (2:2). 

The prophet understood his miserable state was a watery grave unless the LORD delivered him (2:9-10).  The LORD mercifully answered Jonah’s prayer and “spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (2:10).

Jonah obeyed the LORD, went to Nineveh and began warning that great city, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). 

Amazingly, the people of Nineveh believed the word of that reluctant prophet and repented (3:5-9).  Hearing Nineveh’s penitent cry, the LORD was moved with compassion and set aside His judgment (3:10).

Jonah 3:10 – “And God saw [looked;; beheld; perceived] their works [behavior; deeds], that they turned [turned back] from their evil [sinful; wicked] way; and God repented [reckoned; moved with compassion] of the evil [destruction; bad—not sin], that he had said that he would do [make; wrought; perform; accomplish] unto them; and he did it not.”

We would number Jonah among the greatest preachers and prophets of all time, if he had also longed to see Nineveh repent. Jonah, however, did not rejoice in the LORD’s compassion, or the city being spared His judgment. We read:

Jonah 4:1-2 – “But it displeased [so angry he trembled] Jonah exceedingly [overcome with anger], and he was very angry [incensed; burned with anger]. 2 And he prayed unto the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God], and said [charged], I pray thee [lit. “Ah, now!”], O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country [northern Israel]? Therefore I fled [ran away; bolted] before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious [showing favor] God, and merciful [full of compassion], slow [patient; longsuffering] to anger, and of great [many; abundant] kindness [mercy], and repentest [moved with compassion] thee of the evil [judgment].”

Jonah was angry that God had spared a city that was the enemy of Israel. Jonah then left Nineveh, built a temporary dwelling outside the city, and sat down and waited to see if God would destroy the city (Jonah 4:5).

Here we find a characteristic of men who abandon their calling…they are more interested in temporal comforts than they are in lost souls (4:6). 

Jonah 4:6 – “And the LORD God prepared [appointed; told] a gourd, and made it to come up [ascend; mount up]over Jonah, that it might be a shadow [shade] over his head, to deliver [preserve; recover; escape] him from his grief [lit. sin; evil; wickedness; distress; misery]. So Jonah was exceeding glad [rejoicing; joyful; cheered up] of the gourd.”

Jonah became angry and despaired of life when the LORD destroyed the gourd and its leafy vine. “God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry [incensed; burn with anger] for the gourd? And he said, I do well [good; please; better] to be angry, even unto death” (4:9).

God then challenged Jonah to consider his priorities, along with his foolish, self-centered attitude.

Jonah 4:10 – “Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity [to regard; have compassion] on the gourd, for the which thou hast not labored [ie. severe, hard work], neither madest it grow [to nourish; promote growth]; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:”

This brief biography of Jonah’s life ends with a question:

Jonah 4:11 “And should not I spare [show compassion; regard; pity] Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand [120,000] persons that cannot discern [know; understand] between their right hand and their left hand; and also much [plenty; great] cattle?”

There may be someone reading this devotion who has quit on God and taken a ship to your own Tarshish. 

I understand the temptation that comes with hard times, difficult people, harsh criticisms and little encouragement. To quit is appealing in the midst of disappointments, especially when a “gourd” promises you rest and comfort. However, such a path comes at the sacrifice of the best part…the will of the LORD.

Take a lesson from Jonah’s life: God orders the starts and stops, not man! 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Tragedy: When We Forget the Kindness of Others (2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24)

Scripture Reading – 2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24

Our Scripture reading focuses on two parallel accounts of the life and times of Joash (i.e. Jehoash), the young king of Judah, who began to reign when he was seven years old, and Jehoiada who served as the chief priest in the Temple and was the spiritual mentor for the king until his death at 130 years old.

2 Kings 12

Jehoash ascended to the throne of Judah when he was seven years old (2 Kings 11:3-4, 12) and under the influence of the chief priest Jehoiada, the young king began a revival of worship in the Temple (12:2). The Temple had been neglected and fallen into disrepair during the reign Queen-mother Athaliah (2 Chronicles 24:7).

The king, therefore commanded that offerings be collected and dedicated to repairing the “house of the LORD” (12:4-6). When he realized the repairs were not being made as he had commanded (2 Chronicles 24:5), the king demanded a report on the state of the offerings (12:7-8) and ordered that the money given by the people would be secured and the repairs a priority (12:9-16; 2 Chronicles 24:8-13).

2 Kings 13 – Death of Elisha

There is an interesting dynamic recorded here between the great prophet Elisha and Joash, the king of Israel (13:14). Although we read that the king “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” (13:11), he nevertheless respected the old prophet and his ministry in Israel. King Joash came to Elisha’s death bed and “wept over” the venerable prophet saying, “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Chronicles 24:11).

Elisha left the king with one final prophecy, that Israel would defeat Syria in three battles (13:15-19); however, the nation would fail to completely destroy their adversary (13:19).

To complete today’s devotional, I invite you to turn your attention to 2 Chronicles 24 and the record of the death of the chief priest Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24:15-16), and the assassination of Jehoash (i.e. Joash) who reigned forty years over Judah (2 Chronicles 24:1, 24-25).

2 Chronicles 24 – The Death of the Priest Jehoiada and the Conspiracy to Kill King Joash

Jehoiada, the chief priest and mentor of King Joash (i.e. Jehoash), died at the age of 130 (24:15). Without his godly, aged mentor, the king was soon encouraged by younger leaders in Judah to tolerate idol worship in the kingdom (24:17-18).

Having turned to idols, Judah provoked the LORD’S wrath against the nation. Restraining His judgment for a season, the LORD mercifully sent prophets to call the people to repent (24:19). One of those faithful prophets was Zechariah, the son of the late chief priest Jehoiada (24:20), who had been the king’s spiritual mentor.

Zechariah confronted the sins of the nation and warned of the LORD’s judgment (24:19-22). Rather than heed the words of the prophet, the king conspired with the young leaders and killed the son of the man who had spared his life when he was an infant (2 Kings 11:3).

Zechariah was stoned to death, even as he warned the LORD would avenge his death (24:21-22). Fulfilling Zechariah’s dying prophecy, the stage was set for Jehoash to be wounded in battle against the King of Syria (24:23-25a). Recovering from his wounds suffered in battle, the king was slain by his servants (24:25b-26).

Having forgotten the kindness of Jehoiada the high priest, who had saved his life as an infant and made him king, Joash was complicit in the prophet Zechariah’s death, whom the people rose up and stoned.

A quote of the late evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Sr. comes to mind as I read, “Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son…” (2 Chronicles 24:22a).  Dr. Bob, as he was affectionately known by students of then, Bob Jones College, reminded the students, “When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, that man is well-nigh hopeless.”

Indeed, there was no hope for Joash when he turned from the LORD and “remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him” (24:22a).  How could a man whose life was spared by the selfless act of another, not only fail to remember his kindness, but be guilty of the cruel death of his son?

Bitterness! When Joash’s sin was exposed and confronted, rather than repent, the king became enraged! You and I can avoid the same folly if we will heed Ephesians 4:31-32.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A New Era, A New Prophet: Elisha (2 Kings 1-4)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 1-4

With no introduction, the Book of 2 Kings picks up where 1 Kings ended.  The old prophet Elijah is in the last days of his earthly ministry and his protégé Elisha is prepared to take up his “mantle,” literally and figuratively (2 Kings 2:13). Due to the length of today’s reading, I will focus on a few highlights from each of the four chapters.

2 Kings 1

Israel’s King Ahaziah, the son of Ahab and Jezebel (1:2), reigned two years before he fell through the lattice work of an upper window and suffered what would be a terminal injury (1:2). Wondering if he might recover from the fall, the king sent servants to enquire of the pagan god Baalzebub (1:2).  Yahweh, however, intervened and sent Elijah to confront the king’s messengers.  After reproving the king for sending his servants to enquire of Baalzebub, Elijah announced that a premature death would befall the king (1:3-4).

When his couriers returned, Ahaziah questioned why they had returned so soon (1:5). The messengers then explained how they had met a prophet who rebuked them for turning to Baalzebub and then prophesied the king’s death (1:6).

Distressed, Ahaziah demanded “what manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words?” (1:7) Hearing the physical description of the prophet, Ahaziah exclaimed, “It is Elijah the Tishbite” (1:8).

Determined to exact revenge on the prophet, the king sent a captain and fifty soldiers to demand that Elijah come to the king. Elijah boldly contested the demands of the wicked king and declared, “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty” (1:10). A second time, Ahaziah sent a captain and fifty soldiers demanding Elijah come to the king and those men were also consumed when “the fire of God came down from heaven” (1:12). When King Ahaziah sent the third captain and his fifty soldiers to meet Elijah, they came with humility and a reverential fear of the man of God (1:13-14).

Elijah, bearing the power of God on his life and ministry, stood courageously before the king who was laying upon his bed and prophesied, “Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die” (1:16). Ahaziah died and Jehoram, his younger brother, reigned in his stead as King of Israel (1:17).

A brief explanation: You will notice in 1 Kings 1:17 the mention of two men named Jehoram. There was the Jehoram who became the king of Israel after his brother Ahaziah died. Another Jehoram was the son of Jehoshaphat, the godly king who reigned in Judah.

2 Kings 2

2 Kings 2 records the momentous occasion when God sent a fiery chariot to take up Elijah to heaven. Witnessing Elijah’s departure, Elisha was blessed with a double portion of the old prophet’s spirit (2:9-11).

2 Kings 3

Elisha served as God’s prophet before the kings of three nations in 2 Kings 3. The kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom all learned God had a prophet in the land and that prophet was Elisha.

2 Kings 4 – Four miracles performed by Elisha. 

The first miracle, multiplying a widow’s oil to pay her debts and save her sons from becoming bond slaves (4:1-7).  The second miracle, blessing a childless, elderly woman and her husband with a son, as a reward for their serving as Elisha’s benefactors (4:8-17).  Raising that same elderly couples’ son from the dead was Elisha’s third miracle (4:18-37).  The fourth miracle was turning a poison pottage into one that nourished the “sons of the prophets” (4:38-44).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Power of Prayer and the Faith of One Poor Widow (1 Kings 17-19)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 17-19

Today’s Scripture reading is both lengthy and rich in detail. I dare not attempt to write a thorough devotional commentary that covers 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19; however, I encourage you to read those chapters for the context of future devotions. I will limit my commentary to 1 Kings 17 and with the prospect of returning to 1 Kings 18-19 in the future.

In his speech titled Man in the Arena, President Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States described a man of rare courage, as one who “strives valiantly…who spends himself in a worthy cause…and who at the worse, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Such a man was Elijah!

1 Kings 17 – The Prophet Elijah, Man of Prayer

Absent of any fanfare, we are suddenly introduced to one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, “Elijah the Tishbite” (17:1). Remembering the sins and wickedness of Israel’s King Ahab, and his Queen Jezebel as our backdrop, we find one man in all Israel who confronted Ahab and warned him that his sins had provoked the wrath of God. As a result, Israel would be punished with drought as God withheld rain from the land (17:1; Deuteronomy 11:16-17; 28:23-24).

James 5:17-18 reminds us that the drought Israel experienced was a testimony of the power of one man’s prayer, Elijah (i.e. Elias).

James 5:17-18 – “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

While Israel suffered drought and a scarcity of food, God directed Elijah to retreat to a brook named Cherith where He promised to provide him water and ravens would bring him food to eat in the morning and evening (17:2-7).

When the brook dried up, the LORD commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath, a Phoenician city, located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There the prophet would find a widow, a woman of faith, whom the LORD would use to provide him food and water throughout the balance of the drought in Israel (17:8-16).

Elijah found the poor widow suffering the dearth of the drought and his request for water and food was first rejected on rational grounds, for she had no cake and only enough food and oil for one last meal (17:12).

The prophet answered the widow’s despair, promising if she would believe the word of the LORD and obey, saying, “The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth” (17:14). God did indeed respond to the widow’s faith and the barrel of flour and the cruse of oil were miraculously replenished every meal (17:15-16).

Later tragedy struck the widow’s household when her son died (17:17). Fearing her son’s death was God’s judgment for sin, she pled with Elijah, “What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son” (17:18).

Elijah, taking up the son’s dead body, went to the loft of the house where he prayed to the LORD, “O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” (17:20).

Three times Elijah stretched his body over the lifeless body of the boy and pleading, “O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again” (17:21). God answered Elijah’s prayer and “the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived” (17:22).

I close today’s devotional commentary inviting you to notice the testimony of the widow’s faith: “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth” (17:24).

In verse 18 the widow recognized Elijah was a “man of God.” In verse 24 she confessed the prophet was not only a “man of God,” but that “the word of the LORD” was in his mouth.

To state the fact of the widow’s faith in another way: She not only heard the TRUTH, she believed the words of the prophet was the very Word of God.

Such was then, and is today the way of true salvation, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Solomon’s Faithfulness to the LORD (1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8)

Scripture reading assignment – 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8

Having completed the Temple, “the glory of the LORD” so filled it that the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:11). Solomon then offered a prayer of thanksgiving and dedicated the Temple before the people (8:22-53).

1 Kings 9 is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer of dedication.

The LORD promised to bless Solomon if he would be a man of “integrity [upright; innocent] of heart, and in uprightness [honesty; walking a straight path], to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep [observe; heed] my statutes [ordinances; rules; laws] and my judgments [verdict]” (9:4).

God warned Solomon, should he or his children disobey His Law and Commandments and serve idols, the nation would be “cut off” and everyone would know Israel had forsaken the LORD and He had brought judgment against the nation (9:5-9).

The closing verses of 1 Kings 9 detail for us the cities Solomon built with Gentile slave laborers (9:15-24). In addition to the cities, we learn that Hiram, king of Tyre, assisted Solomon in building a fleet of ships (9:26-28; 2 Chronicles 8:17-18).

2 Chronicles 8 – The Twenty-first Year of Solomon’s Reign

2 Chronicles 8 records the accomplishments of Solomon at the close of the twentieth year of his reign (8:1) including the cities he had built and others he had conquered (8:2-6).

Showing the expanse of his realm, Solomon levied extra taxes on those who were strangers in his domain (8:7-8) and they were constricted to bear the labor of his palace. Solomon’s army and their captains were men of Israel (8:9-10).

2 Chronicles 8 concludes noting the various sacrifices Solomon offered and the feast days he and Israel observed as a people during his reign (8:12-16).

What can we take away from today’s Scripture?

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Why Trust the LORD? (Psalms 134, 146-150)

Daily Scripture Reading – Psalms 134, 146-150

Today’s Scripture reading comprises six psalms: Psalms 134, 146, 147, 148, 149, and 150. I will limit the devotional commentary to Psalm 146.

The author of Psalm 146 is not known; however, his purpose in writing the psalm is obvious: It is a song of praise to the LORD.  Notice that the psalmist employs numerous names for God that are meant to describe His nature, personality, and character.

An Explanation: Understanding a word in the Hebrew texts can be translated into English with more than one word. It is my desire to give you a broader understanding and insight into this beautiful psalm of praise for your own worship and edification. My amplification of words in the text is in brackets.

The psalmist begins Psalm 146 directing his praise and worship to the only One worthy of praise…the LORD (146:1-2).

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

The psalmist exhorts and admonishes the people to not put their trust or confidence in man (146:3-4).  

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

Whether a prince among men or a mere mortal man; all men live under the sentence of death (Romans 6:23). Their breath disappears as a vapor, their bodies return to dust, and their plans and designs perish with them.

Such is the spiritual lesson the rich man encountered in Luke 12. 

Experiencing an overflow of the fruits of his labor at the time of harvest, the rich man determined to tear down his barns and hoard God’s blessings (Luke 12:17-18).  God judged the man a fool (Luke 12:19-20). Because his affections were on earthly riches, he died a spiritual pauper… “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21).

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

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

Why should you trust the LORD (146:6-9)? 

The psalmist suggests four qualities that lead us to trust the LORD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why trust any other?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Dedication and a Celebration (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5

My apology for a late post of today’s devotional commentary. My computer began failing on Wednesday. Regrettably, I purchased a new laptop to replace my old one that was nearly six years old. To quote an old Persian adage, “this too shall pass!”

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5.

1 Kings 8 – Dedication of the Temple

We have followed the building of the Temple from its inception in the heart of King David, to its construction fulfilled during the reign of his son, Solomon. The Temple having been completed, and all the necessary implements and utensils readied, the day for dedicating the Temple came.

After the furnishings were placed in the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was carried up by the priests from David’s palace complex (8:1-4). With sacrifices so great they could not be numbered, the Ark was placed in the oracle, meaning the inner sanctuary of the Temple we identify as the “Holy of Holies” (8:5-6) and sat beneath the wings of the great cherubims that resided in the holy place (8:7-8). With the passing of centuries, all that remained in the Ark was the treasured tablets upon which God had written His Commandments (8:9).

We read that the glory of God so “filled the house of the LORD” that the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:10-11).  Why?  Why were the priests unable to minister in the Temple after the LORD’s glory filled the house?

Because the God of Heaven is a Holy, glorious God with whom mortal man dare not trifle.  His glory is “like devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17). He is “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). God’s presence was so powerful and convicting that the priests “could not stand to minister” (8:11a).

The dedication of the Temple continued with Solomon rehearsing how his father had longed to build the Temple, but was forbidden by God, and how that privilege passed to David’s son (8:12-21).  In the sight of all the people, Solomon offered a prayer of thanksgiving, remembering God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises and praying for the nation (8:22-30).

Knowing the justice of God, Solomon confessed the bent of man’s sinful heart to depart from the Law and Commandments (8:31-32). Solomon prayed that when Israel sinned as a nation, that the LORD would not forsake His people, but would hear their confession, and upon their repentance, would forgive their sin (8:33-36).

Knowing troubles would befall the nation (example, famine arising from physical disasters and blights), Solomon prayed that the LORD would hear the prayers of every man (8:37-43).  Should the people go to war and fall captive, the king prayed the LORD would hear the prayers of His people and restore them to their homeland (8:44-50). Remember the mercies of God in the past, Solomon concluded his prayer by reminding the LORD how He had chosen Israel and brought the people out of Egypt under Moses (8:51-53).

The dedication of the Temple being ended, Solomon blessed the people and led a celebration with sacrifices and offerings that continued fourteen days (8:54-66).

2 Chronicles 5 adds an additional element to the celebration that demonstrates the prominence of music in the worship of the LORD (5:12-13).

While we will not see the visible presence of the LORD’S glory in a cloud in today’s sanctuaries, it is my prayer that we would be so conscious of the LORD in our worship that we cannot but reverence and glorify Him.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD Deserves Nothing Less Than Our Best (1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 7; 2 Chronicles 4

Because his reign was one of peace, Solomon was able to dedicate himself to many construction projects.

While the Temple required seven years to build (6:38), Solomon’s palace was under construction for thirteen years, the details of which are given in 1 Kings 7:1-12. Some scholars refer to the “the house of the forest of Lebanon” as a summer house or lodge for the king; however, I have come to believe it was a great house that was part of the palace complex (7:2-8). I believe it was so named because of the great amount of cedar pillars that supported its roof.

We read that Solomon also built a house for his queen who was “Pharaoh’s daughter” (7:8). Again, I believe that the queen’s house was attached to the palace complex.

The attention turns from Solomon’s palace grounds and returns to the preparations for the Temple. A craftsman named Hiram, not the same Hiram who was king of Tyre, was enlisted to make intricate, elaborate pieces of brass, silver and gold for the Temple (7:13-51). Skilled as a metal artisan, he “was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass” (1 Kings 7:14).

The attention to detail and beauty is worth noting, even down to the utensils used in Temple sacrifices. Tables of gold, golden lampstands, basins of gold, and golden lavers engraved with lilies (2 Chronicles 4:5). Doors of brass and pillars engraved with wreaths and pomegranates (4:9, 12-13) all added to the beauty of the Temple.

Why such attention to detail? Because Solomon was building a house for the LORD, and it was an outward testimony of the greatness of His God (2 Chronicles 2:5-6).

I close with a similar challenge for today’s believer. Why should we expect the worship of the LORD in our churches to be the best that we can offer? Why should we strive to give him music of our praise that aspires to the highest offerings? Why should we give attention to the beauty of our places of worship?

Because the LORD deserves no less than our absolute best. Paul challenged the believers in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Temple: A Great House for a Great God (1 Kings 5-6; 2 Chronicles 2-3)

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 5-6; 2 Chronicles 2-3

1 Kings 5

Fulfilling his father’s dream and honoring his legacy (5:2-4), Solomon set about acquiring the building materials necessary for constructing the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5).

Requesting the assistance of his father’s friend, Hiram king of Tyre, Solomon ordered cedars from Lebanon and requested skilled laborers “to hew timber” (5:6).  Hiram agreed to supply cedar and fir timbers for the Temple, floating them on the Mediterranean Sea to Joppa, a port designated by Solomon (5:7-10; 2 Chronicles 2:16).

In turn, Solomon contracted with Hiram to provide sustenance consisting of wheat and pure oil (5:11-12).  The size and scope of the Temple project is revealed in the tens of thousands of alien laborers that were employed in acquiring construction materials (5:13-18).

1 Kings 6

The date Solomon began construction on the Temple was revealed as 480 years after Israel’s exodus from Egypt (6:1).

Details of the exterior dimensions and size of the interior chambers are recorded (6:2-10). Assuming a cubit was 21 inches, the outside of the Temple was 90 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high (6:2). On the front of the Temple was a porch described as 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep (6:3). The Temple had window openings allowing natural light to penetrate the interior of the Temple (6:4). There were also interior chambers or vestries for Temple utensils and the robes and dress rooms for the priests (6:5-6). The beams of the Temple rested on the walls of the building (6:6).

The skill of the laborers is revealed in that the large stones of the Temple were pre-cut away from the building site and no tool was to be used in the building that would disturb the peace and quiet of the place that would be a house of worship (6:7-10).

In the midst of the construction, the LORD renewed the covenant he had first established with David. God assured the young king that, if he would walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He would fulfill all He had promised (6:11-12) and would dwell in the midst of Israel (6:13).

The “oracle” (6:19), the innermost sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was located (also known as the “Holy of Holies” or the “holy place”) was a perfect cube with dimensions that were 30 feet wide, 30 feet long, and 30 feet high (6:20). Concealed by a beautifully embroidered curtain, the oracle was a place of exquisite beauty with ceiling, floor, and walls paneled in cedar that was engraved and overlaid with a veneer of pure gold (6:15-30).

2 Chronicles 2-3 – A Record of the Temple for Babylonian Exiles

As a reminder, the Chronicles were written for those Jews who were exiled from Israel and living in Babylon. There are some additional details regarding the Temple that are offered here, but I particularly want to invite you to consider 2 Chronicles 2:4-6 where Solomon addressed the purpose of the Temple (2:4) and the greatness of the LORD (2:5-6).

For Israel, the Temple was the place of worship (2 Chronicles 2:5-6). The inner sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was located, was representative of the throne of God in the midst of His people.

How great is our God? Can a building made by men contain Him? Of course not!

2 Chronicles 2:5-6a5  And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. 6  But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him?”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith