Tag Archives: Parents

Individual Responsibility: A Parable of “Sour Grapes” (Ezekiel 18-20)

Scripture reading – Ezekiel 18-20

Today’s Scripture reading is a lengthy one, consisting of 95 verses, housed in three chapters (Ezekiel 18-20). I will limit the focus of this devotional commentary to Ezekiel 18.

Ezekiel 18 – Who Are You Going to Blame?

There was no dispute over Israel and Judah’s provocation of God’s justice and the judgment of His people. The people had broken their covenant with God, disobeyed His Law and Commandments, and provoked the LORD to wrath. The LORD commanded Ezekiel to go to the people and confront their insinuation that the troubles that had befallen them were an injustice to them for the sins of their forefathers (18:1-2a).

There was a parable in Babylon among the people of the captivity that said, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?”  (18:2). In other words, the younger generation was blaming their fore-fathers for the troubles and miseries they were suffering. The implication was that God was not just, and was punishing children for the sins of their parents.

Sadly, that same spirit is pervading our own society. Blame shifting has become epidemic in our culture. The evils committed 150 years ago by the forefathers of this generation has fostered a spirit of entitlement that some suggest excuses wrath, violence, bitterness, rioting, and even murder.

Ezekiel 18 addresses the matter of individual responsibility and personal accountability to God.

God commanded Ezekiel to declare the universality of man’s wickedness and the inevitable consequences of sin: “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (18:4).

Though all have sinned, nevertheless, the LORD is just and His judgments are right and true. God promised to bless the man that chooses righteousness and obeys His statues and judgments (18:5-9).  However, every son and every generation will bear God’s judgment for its sins, and God will not hold a father accountable for the sins of his son (18:10-13).

Should a son see his father sin, but the son chooses the way of righteousness, he will not bear his father’s guilt (18:14-17), but the father will be punished for his own sins (18:18-20).

 So, who are you going to blame for your troubles and sorrows?

There is no denying a family suffers for the choices of its members; however, we each bear the burden of choosing how to respond to the troubles and sorrows that arise in our lives.

God is just and “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son” (18:20). The LORD is merciful and compassionate (18:21). He is ready to forgive our sins when we repent and has promised, our sins “shall not be mentioned” or remembered against us (18:22).

Let’s stop wallowing in the mire of self-pity, blaming others for our sinful choices and the consequences that befall us!  God is just and He judges every man and woman “according to his ways” (18:30a). If we repent of our sins and turn from our sinful ways, the LORD promises, sin “shall not be your ruin” (18:30b)!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” (Proverbs 30-31)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 30-31

Though not by design, it so happens that today’s Scripture reading falls on Father’s Day! I encourage you to read and savor these final two chapters of Proverbs as we continue our goal of chronologically reading through the Word of God this year. My focus for today’s devotional commentary is limited to Proverbs 31:1-2.

The “virtuous woman” is the subject of Proverbs 31, perhaps the most beloved of the chapters in Proverbs because it addresses the most central figure in life apart from our Creator—one’s mother. Like chapter 30, the authorship of Proverbs 31 has been debated down through the centuries; however, I feel there is much about this chapter that commends itself to having been authored by King Solomon.

Proverbs 31:1 – “The words [discourse; law] of king Lemuel, the prophecy [burden; tribute] that his mother taught him [instructed; discipline; chasten].”

There is no record of a king named Lemuel in ancient Israel or Judah and many scholars believe Lemuel might have been a nickname Bathsheba gave to her son Solomon. Having lost her firstborn son in infancy, the one conceived in an act of adultery with David, one can understand why Bathsheba would dedicate Solomon to God and, in her heart, name him Lemuel (The literal meaning of Lemuel is “unto God” –lit. dedicated to God). For the sake of our devotional studies in Proverbs, I propose we view this chapter as Solomon’s memorial to his mother.

Verse 2 of Proverbs 31 records the Queen mother’s appeal to her son in a three-fold question:

Proverbs 31:2 – “What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows [dedication to God; binding covenant between mother and God]?”

Allow me to probe the meaning of the three questions proposed by the king’s mother.

1) “What my son?” (31:2a) – i.e. – What more can I say to you my son and king?

2) “What, the son of my womb?” (31:2a) – She reminds the king that she knew him in her womb; before he drew his first breath. She gave him life and loves him as no one else could love him.

3) “What, the son of my vows?” (31:2a) – Like Hannah dedicated her son Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11), Bathsheba had dedicated her son while he was in her womb. She remembers the first stirring of life and how she had prayed for him. She had dedicated her son to serve the Lord!

We are not told what moved Bathsheba to make an impassioned plea to her son. Perhaps her motherly instincts sensed the moral dangers Solomon would face. She knew all too well the temptations that beset a man of power, possessions, and popularity. The plea of the Queen mother resonated in her son’s heart and he memorialized her virtuous qualities as an example for all women.

Someone has said: “The greatest moral power in the world is that exercised by a mother over her child.”

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president of the United States said concerning his mother, “All that I am, or ever have been, in this world, I owe, under God, to my mother.”

It is my prayer that the king’s praise of his mother will move husbands, sons and daughters to encourage wives and mothers with words of affirmation and move mothers to aspire to the qualities of a virtuous woman.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy, for They Are More Precious Than Gold” (Proverbs 19-21)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 19-21

Today’s Scripture reading challenges me with an impossible task: How to choose one or two proverbs when the chapters assigned are too rich to mine in a year, let alone, in one daily devotional! Today’s commentary will focus on Proverbs 19:3-4 and I pray its application will be a blessing.

Proverbs 19:3-4 offers us insight into the heart and mind a foolish person. Solomon observes two characteristics of a fool [one who is silly and whose path is folly].

Proverbs 19:3 “The foolishness [silliness; folly] of man perverteth [distorts; overthrow] his way [journey]: and his heart [mind; thoughts; seat of his feelings] fretteth [rage; be troubled] against the LORD.”

The fool has a distorted view of life. His heart, thoughts and emotions rage against the LORD [Jehovah—Eternal God; Self-existent God]. He is double minded (James 1:84:8), denying His Creator in his heart and thoughts (Psalm 14:1), while blaming God and others for his woes.

A second parable offers a lesson in friendship—contrasting the rich and the poor.

Proverbs 19:4  “Wealth [riches; possessions] maketh [adds to; increases] many friends [companions]; but the poor [needy; helpless] is separated [scattered; dispersed] from his neighbour [companion; friend].”

“Wealth maketh many friends” and Solomon warns his son that riches and possessions are like magnets. Though wealth buys friends, they often prove to be temperamental, shallow friends. Friends whose aspirations are self-centered and motivated by what they hope to gain.

Poverty is not inviting and economic failure often breeds loneliness. While fair weather “friends” flatter the rich, the poor find themselves the bane of society and “separated from [their] neighbor.” The poor often find they are lonely and rejected by their friends and family.

The parable of the Prodigal son comes to mind when I ponder Proverbs 19:3-4.

The Prodigal was a proud, disobedient, rebellious son (Luke 15:11-32). Setting his heart on the world and its lascivious ways, he despised his father, demanded his inheritance and left home (Luke 15:12-13).

For a season he was the life of the party until he had wasted all his father had given him (Luke 15:13b-14). With no money, friends or hope—the prodigal found himself impoverished and estranged from his father and God (Luke 15:14-16).

Financially destitute and spiritually broken, a longing arose within the heart of the prodigal to return to his father’s house (Luke 15:15-19). Drawing near to home, the prodigal greeted his father with a confession of sin and unworthiness, but his father greeted him with grace, love, and forgiveness (Luke 15:20-24).

Lesson – There are some things money cannot buy, for they are too precious to affix a price.

Money cannot buy GRACE, for it is a gift that is GIVEN. Money cannot buy LOVE, for biblical love calls for an act of self-sacrifice. Money cannot buy FORGIVENESS, for it is imparted as an act of freewill.

If your life is graced by a friend whose love is enduring, matchless and true, you are blessed! For believers, such a friend is Jesus Christ whose love for sinners held Him to the cross as He died for the sins of the world.

Bad News: The gift of forgiveness and salvation exceeds more than all the world can afford.

Good News: Salvation is freely given to any who call upon the LORD to be saved.

Romans 5:8-9 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Biblical Perspective on Class Envy and Friendships (Proverbs 13-15)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 13-15

Our study of King Solomon and the wisdom he expressed in his proverbs continues with today’s Scripture reading, Proverbs 13-15. Our devotional commentary will consider two proverbs from Proverbs 13 that are taken from my devotions posted at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. As a reminder, brackets are used by this author to amplify meanings and definitions.

 “A Biblical Perspective on the Cause of Class Envy” (Proverbs 13:4)

Proverbs 13:4  “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

Honest hard labor has fallen out of favor in our nation.  Rather than encouraging employees to give employers an equal measure of labor for wages paid, politicians and socialists provoke class envy asserting the “working class” is oppressed. Proverbs 13:4 reminds us that nothing has changed about the heart of an indolent man when it comes to fruit for his labor. His lot is to always be in want.

Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul [mind; heart; appetite] of the sluggard desireth [craves], and hath nothing [lazy, foolish men are never satisfied]: but the soul [mind; heart; appetite] of the diligent [one who acts decisively] shall be made fat [be satisfied].”

Notice the sluggard (lazy) desires and craves what others afford only through labor.  He wants the same things, but he is too indolent to work and save to satisfy his passions. He “hath nothing” and becomes a burden to his family and society.

The contrast to the sluggard is the diligent man.  The diligent man is by definition, decisive and quick to act.  He is industrious, using his time, talents and resources wisely. While the sluggard is left wanting, the hardworking are made fat, satisfied and content with the fruits of their labor.

If your parents imparted to you the discipline of hard work in your youth—thank them!  They have given you a gift that has shaped your life and character in a way you will only appreciate when you are older.

“A Friend’s Character Will Either be a Blessing or a Curse” (Proverbs 13:20)

The theme of Proverbs 13:20 is Influence [the sway or effect one has on another]. Notice the truth Solomon imparts regarding the influence of friendships:

Proverbs 13:20 – “He that walketh with [befriends; is a companion of] wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

Every good parent will be concerned and vigilant about the friends and influences in their son or daughter’s life. Why? The power and responsibility to influence others is a fact we all share!  People influence us Verbally by what they say or communicate [examples–letters, emails, social media].  In addition, a friend’s Actions and Attitudes have an influence on us.

Too few parents are willing to accept the responsibility of examining honestly their child’s friendships and understanding that friends have a powerful influence on a child’s character and ultimate destiny.

Solomon’s proverb is direct: A wise man will seek the company of likeminded men–those who evidence wisdom and discernment; however, a “companion of fools shall be destroyed” [the picture drawn by the word “companion” is of cattle that graze together. Ever notice how a herd of cattle grazing in a large pasture stand together, often feeding in the same direction?].

The apostle Paul warned believers in Corinth: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The word “communications” can also be translated “companions”; the word “manners” can be translated “morals”. Literally, don’t be misled: wicked, sinful friends will defile one’s moral judgment [i.e. spiritual discernment; the ability to discern right and wrong].

Lesson – The character of one’s friendships is a mirror of one’s own character. 

Friendships have the power to edify or destroy. If you run with fools, you are a fool! If you choose the company of those who have godly wisdom and discernment, they will influence you to be the same.

Reflect on the people who bear influence upon your life, thoughts and values. Are your friends spiritually minded men and women? Is their influence edifying? Do your friends strengthen you spiritually?  Are you under sound Biblical exposition and influenced by godly relationships?

Psalms 1:1 – “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

Copyright – Travis D. Smith

A Disastrous Parenting Philosophy: “Do as I Say, Not as I Do!” (Proverbs 10-12)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 10-12

I trust you are continuing in the discipline of reading the Scriptures assigned for each day. For context, our chronological reading of the Scriptures finds us in the midst of the reign of King Solomon, the son and successor of David.

The wealth of subjects and spiritual instructions found Proverbs 10-12 is far greater than this author can address in a brief devotional commentary. For a greater exposition, I invite you to visit my devotional commentaries in Proverbs at www.HeartofAShepherd.com. (I hope to one day make these available in an electronic book format).

Today’s devotional commentary is limited to one proverb, Proverbs 10:1.

In his youth, Solomon professed his love for the Lord and a passion for obeying God’s Law. In his latter years, the king permitted himself a liberty that would become a spiritual cancer for him, his family and Israel. We read, Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father: only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places (1 Kings 3:3).  

Solomon became what James identifies as a “double minded man” (James 1:8); he lacked spiritual integrity with God and before his people. Did God in His mercy and grace bless Solomon?  Absolutely; however, he proved to be the kind of father who challenges his son to, “Do as I say, not as I do!”  Solomon’s lack of integrity followed him and his sons to their graves.

Let’s focus briefly on the opening proverb of chapter 10.

Proverbs 10:1 – “…A wise son maketh a glad father [a father loves to brag]: but a foolish son is the heaviness [grief] of his mother.”

Solomon stated what every parent knows…a son or daughter who evidences godly wisdom and exercises good judgment fills the heart of a parent with joy.  By contrast, a foolish son [unteachable, disobedient, silly and immature] is a great sorrow to his mother and father.

The father of a foolish son might appear stoic, silent, and at a loss to console a mother whose heart grieves day and night for the wayward son of her womb.  Her distress rushes over her like the waves of the ocean and she cannot be comforted apart from resting in the Lord, and like the father of a prodigal, never giving up hope (Luke 15:11-24).

Solomon challenged his son in a later proverb, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).  In ancient times, a man would use stones as physical landmarks to mark the corners of his property. Thieves could rob a man of his land by moving the “landmarks”, the stones that marked the boundaries of his inheritance.

The ancient landmarks Solomon referred to in Proverbs 22:28 were not physical, but spiritual: Spiritual laws, Commandments, vows and convictions. Solomon urged his son to be wise and honor the spiritual boundaries he had been taught in his youth.

How many parents have idly watched a double minded son or daughter chart a spiritual course that inevitably became their heartache?  How many foolish sons and daughters have ignored, uprooted and disavowed the spiritual landmarks, the boundaries and convictions that served their fathers and mothers well?

Parents long to see their children choose righteous spiritual paths; however, they must not only teach, but also model their faith and convictions. Adult children might disavow the spiritual landmarks established by their parents; however, they do so at their own peril and eventual sorrow.

Ephesians 6:1-3  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Wisdom’s Appeal to Sinners (Proverbs 7-9)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 7-9

We are continuing our daily reading in the Proverbs of Solomon with Proverbs 7-9 being the subject of today’s devotional commentary.

Proverbs 7 – The Calamity of Sexual Immorality

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Seventh Commandment, states clearly God’s plan for humanity’s sexuality and the posterity of the human race.  From the beginning, the companionship of one man and one woman for life has never been in doubt (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18, 20-25).

Human history, however, reveals not only a rejection of marriage, but also the tragic toll of sexual immorality. Crushed dreams, divided hearts, broken families, physical disease, and despair has been the haunt of all who reject the sanctity of marriage. The lesson is indisputable:

Give rein to lusts that cannot be righteously satisfied and you will be consumed by them.

Proverbs 7 serves as a graphic tale of a young man’s folly. Whether a personal observation of the sorrows that followed in the wake of his father’s adultery or a consequence of his own sinful choices, Solomon gives us a portrait that serves as a warning to all who reject godly wisdom and choose the path of immorality. The king warned his son, the house of an adulterer is “the way to hell” (7:27).

Proverbs 8 – Wisdom Anthropomorphized

My theme for Proverbs 8 is expressed in a word consisting of seventeen letters and five syllables. What is the definition of anthropomorphized? It means to take on human characteristics. Wisdom does that in Proverbs 8, and is in my interpretation, the embodiment of the pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Solomon introduces us to Wisdom in the first three verses of the chapter (8:1-3), and then she (Wisdom) begins to speak throughout the balance of the chapter (8:4-36). You will notice the personification of Wisdom expressed in personal pronouns throughout Proverbs 8.

Proverbs 8:4 – “Unto you, O men, I call.”

Proverbs 8:7 – “My mouth shall speak truth.”

Proverbs 8:12 – “I wisdom dwell with prudence.”

Proverbs 8:17 – “I love them that love me: and those that seek me early shall find me.”

Proverbs 8:34 – “Blessed is the man that heareth me.”

Proverbs 8 concludes with wisdom’s invitation and warning:

Proverbs 8:35-36  For whoso findeth me [Wisdom personified in Jesus Christ] findeth life [spiritual and eternal life – 1 John 5:11], and shall obtain [get] favour [acceptance; good pleasure; goodwill] of the LORD. 36 But he that against me [Christ the Lord] wrongeth [violates] his own soul [life; person; mind; spirit]: all they that hate [to reject; are enemies or foes] me [wisdom] love death [pestilence; ruin; hades].”

Proverbs 9 – Wisdom’s Invitation

Solomon continues his personification of Wisdom in chapter 9 and we find her building a house described as having “seven pillars” (9:1). [In the Scriptures the number seven indicates completeness or wholeness.]

Consider this chapter as an offering of two spiritual scholarships to two opposing schools of thought and philosophy.

The first scholarship is to the University of Godly Wisdom (Proverbs 9:1-6) and the second to the School of Folly (Proverbs 9:13-18). You will notice that Proverbs 9:7-12 serve as transitional verses between the two schools.

As you read Proverbs 9, ponder this question: In what school of thought or philosophy are you enrolled?

Are you enrolled in the University of Godly Wisdom? Are you a student in the School of Folly where gullible, simple men dwell?  [The “simple” are those who lack godly wisdom, are slaves to sin, and follow a course of sorrow, destruction, and eventual death.]

It is not too late to become a student in the LORD’S University of Godly Wisdom by humbling yourself and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ taught His followers, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst… All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35, 37).

I invite you, enroll in the University of Godly Wisdom without delay by opening your heart to the Lord.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Parenting Failure: The Fundamental Cause for a Society’s Rejection of Law and Order” (Proverbs 4:10-12)

Scripture Reading – Proverb 4-6

Our Scripture reading covers three chapters and consists of eighty-five verses. For the sake of brevity, we will consider only one proverbial idiom (Proverbs 4:10-12). You are invited to visit my www.HeartofAShepherd.com blog for thirty-two expositions on today’s Scripture reading.

After exhorting “children” to embrace wisdom (Proverbs 4:7-9), Solomon challenged his son to hold his father’s instructions with humility (4:10-12).  Solomon writes:

Proverbs 4:10 – “Hear [obey, hearken], O my son, and receive [lay hold of, take, seize] my sayings [words; speeches; answer]; and the years of thy life shall be many [increase].”

Solomon challenged his son with a longing implanted in every human heart—long life!  The object of Solomon’s instruction to his son is the fifth commandment:

Exodus 20:12  “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

The Apostle Paul repeated the same promise in Ephesians 6:1-3.

Ephesians 6:1-3 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

Loving parents look past the difficult task of teaching and correcting their children and see its reward—a child who will enjoy a long fruitful life.  A child who obeys and honors his parents will generally enjoy a long life, while a son who rebels, refuses instruction, and rejects his father’s counsel will often die an early death.

In Proverbs 4:11-12, Solomon challenged his son to follow the path he was taught from his youth, promising he would experience God’s blessings and protection.

Proverbs 4:11-12 – “I have taught [instructed; pointed; directed] thee in the way [course; road] of wisdom [skill and knowledge to make right choices]; I have led [guided] thee in right paths [paths of righteousness]. 

12 When thou goest [depart; take a journey from home], thy steps shall not be straitened [distressed; filled with obstacles]; and when thou runnest [hasten], thou shalt not stumble [weak; tottering; feeble in one’s legs].”

What a beautiful promise!  How many parents will stand at a fresh grave and weep over a son or daughter that rebelled against godly instruction and died an early death?  How many parents live to regret they failed to instruct and correct their children when their hearts were young and tender?

I close with an observation that is becoming all too real—our nation is beginning to reap a whirlwind of trouble because parents have abdicated responsibility to teach, instruct and train their children to follow righteousness.  Our youth are filing through our courts in record numbers and the responsibility of this lawlessness belongs to the parents who failed to instruct their children, and a society that is delusional enough to think there is inherent goodness in man!  Every child is born a sinner and the bent of a sinner’s heart is to do evil (Romans 3:10, 23).

Rebellion has become symptomatic of youth in our day and the result is a spirit of lawlessness that plagues our homes, communities and nation—from the White House to the County Court House—our society has no respect for the rule of law and order.

Do you want to live a long life and be blessed? Honor your parents and heed the LORD Commandments.

Deuteronomy 4:40 – “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Pour Themselves into Those Who Will Eventually Succeed Them (2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of our study in 2 Samuel and is a parallel of the same events recorded in 1 Chronicles 21-22. (The record in the chronicles gives us additional details.)

2 Samuel 24

We find David as an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was only a memory. The king is now in the latter years of his life and reign as the king of Israel.

The opening verses of 2 Samuel 24 will no doubt challenge some to wonder why the LORD would be angry with Israel, move David to take a census of his army, and then turn about and be angry with David for doing so (24:1-10). Remember the LORD never tempts man to sin (James 1:13), but He does use the natural inclination of a man’s heart to providentially accomplish His will and purpose.

General Joab, the captain of David’s army, cautiously questioned the king’s motive, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command for a census was an act of pride that might prove to be a provocation of God’s judgment.

As soon as the sum of the fighting men of Israel was delivered, David’s heart was convicted, and he confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10). God is just, and the consequences of David’s sin would not be dismissed by the LORD. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11).

Gad was given a message that demanded the king choose one of three judgments that would come upon Israel because of David’s sin: seven years of famine, three months pf being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies than be pursued by an enemy (24:14).

2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

Seventy thousand were dead, but had the LORD not been restrained by His mercy, even Jerusalem would have suffered His wrath (24:16). David had prayed as the angel of the LORD approached Jerusalem and made intercession for his people praying, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house” (24:17).

Bearing the weight of his guilt and realizing the consequences of his sin had befallen the nation, David interceded and asked for God’s judgment to fall upon him and his household rather than His people (24:17).

The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD instructing David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18). [Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]

Seeing the king and hearing his desire to buy his threshingfloor, Araunah offered not only the land, but also his oxen and threshing instruments as a gift to David (24:20-23).

The king refused Araunah’s offer and confessed, “I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing” (24:24).

David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah, and sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had purchased. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign David’s offering was accepted and God’s wrath was satisfied (1 Chronicles 21:26).

You might wonder what became of the land David purchased. The threshingfloor of Araunah was the same place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). It would also be where Solomon will build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1).

1 Chronicles 22

David, knowing the years of his life were drawing to a close, devoted himself to preparing workmen and materials that would be required for Solomon to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-19). David instructed Solomon and imparted to his son his duty to embrace God’s promises and build the Temple in Jerusalem (22:6-16).

Leaving no doubt who should be his heir and the next king, David “made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1) and set forward an organization of the priests and Levites who were to serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).

There are many lessons we can take from today’s study; however, I will leave you with one:

David had accepted that his earthly life would soon be passed, and not only  prepared his son to be king, but also charged Solomon with the privilege for which God had chosen him… “build an house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6-11).

Psalm 90:10 – “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70 years]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80 years], yet is their strength [i.e. pride] labour [toil; grief; misery] and sorrow [mourning]; for it is soon [i.e. hurry; too soon] cut off [passed], and we fly away [i.e. our years take flight].”

Wise men and women pour their lives into those who will eventually succeed them!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Absalom the Rebel is Dead” (2 Samuel 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 16-18

2 Samuel 16 – David’s Flight from Jerusalem

The rebel son of David named Absalom set in motion events that would not only usurp his father’s throne, but also end in his own death.

As David fled the capital city and began ascending the Mount of Olives, he was met by Ziba, a servant of Mephibosheth, the surviving son of his late friend Jonathon, and the grandson of King Saul (16:1-3). Ziba proposed to David that his many kindnesses to Mephibosheth had been rewarded with betrayal and his master was plotting to ascend the throne in the king’s absence (16:3-4).

[Note – 2 Samuel 19:24-30 indicates that Mephibosheth later asserted his loyalty to David and contended the king had been misinformed by his servant Ziba. Rather than sort out the matter, David deferred and ordered the division of Mephibosheth’s land and possessions between him and Ziba].

Crossing the Mount of Olives and beginning his descent on the eastern slope, David encountered a foolish man named Shimei, a relative of King Saul. Adding to the king’s humiliation and sorrow, Shimei hurled both stones and curses at David (16:5-14).

Absalom was surrounded by men who had participated in his uprising, and among them was Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted counselors (believed by some scholars to have been the grandfather of Bathsheba). Ahithophel, evidencing a bitter spirit toward David, counseled Absalom to disgrace his father by going into the king’s harem and lying with his concubines (16:15-22).

2 Samuel 17 – The Revolution Unravels

Now David had wisely planted Hushai, a trusted friend, in Absalom’s court. Hushai was tasked, not only to act as a spy in the usurper’s household (15:23-37), but also to counter the counsel of Ahithophel (17:1-14).

Ahithophel knew that all was lost when his counsel was rejected and Absalom failed to pursue the king. Rather than suffer the indignity of falling into David’s hands, Ahithophel went home, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself (17:22-23).

2 Samuel 18 – The Culmination and Bitter End of Absalom

Mustering his mighty men and thousands of others who were confederate with him, David divided his army in thirds and prepared them for battle against Absalom (2 Samuel 18).  David, in spite of the great harm Absalom had committed against him, pleaded with his generals, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom” (18:5).

David’s army would be victorious; however, the battle took the lives of twenty thousand Israelites (18:6-8). Realizing the overthrow of his father had failed, Absalom fled the battle, and in spite of the king’s orders that his son would be spared, was slain by Joab (18:9-17).

When news of the victory reached David (18:18-28), rather than inquire into the welfare of his generals and army, David requested news of Absalom’s welfare, saying, “Is the young man Absalom safe” (18:32-33)

When he learned his son was dead, David wept saying, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (18:33).

Ahithophel, possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba, was dead.  Absalom was dead. Both men suffered the indignity of hanging on a tree, a sign that a man was accursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13).

David was inconsolable, his heart broken by the knowledge that his own sins had been the catalyst of the deaths of many, including his son.

What sorrows accompany familial sins! Let us all remember the sins and indiscretions of one sinner can prove calamitous to others, especially those whom we love and hold dearest.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Got problems? I have a promise! (Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six chapters from the Book of Psalms, but the focus of this devotional commentary will be limited to Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:1-4 – The Grief and Prayer of a Heartbroken Father

An editor’s note in your Bible identifies Psalm 3 as the psalm David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him. The historical context is chronicled in 2 Samuel 15 and marked the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom.

By subtlety and slander (2 Samuel 15:3-6) Absalom had ingratiated himself to the people and “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). Conspiring against his father, Absalom led a coup and forced the king to flee Jerusalem. Psalm 3 is a song that expresses David’s anguish and cry to God. [Note – The amplification of the italicized text is by this author.]

Psalm 3:1-4  – “LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], how are they increased [multiplied] that trouble [cause distress; afflict] me! many are they that rise up [stand up as a foe] against me.

2  Many there be which say [speak; tell] of my soul [life; person; being], There is no help [deliverer] for him in God. Selah.

3  But thou, O LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], art a shield [buckler; defense] for me; my glory [honor; splendor], and the lifter up [exaltation; to move in a higher direction] of mine head.

4  I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

David found himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises.  The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to the LORD stirs the heart of all who have been in leadership and felt the blow and sorrow of betrayal.  Emboldened by his flight from Jerusalem, the king’s enemies derided him saying, “There is no help [deliverer] for him in God” (Psalm 3:2b).

Notice in verse 3 how David takes solace in the character and promises of God.  His reflections on the character of God strengthened his soul. David remembered the LORD of eternity was his “shield”, defender and the sovereign of creation.

Though driven from his throne, David was confident that God would exact vengeance and His justice would prevail.  Alone, afraid, humiliated, discouraged, but not defeated; David was certain God saw his plight and heard his cry. The king expressed his trust and faith in the LORD writing:

Psalm 3:4 – “I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

The heartache borne by David is all too familiar to parents of sons and daughters who reject God in spite of their parents’ love, sacrifices, and the spiritual lessons engrained in them from their youth. Prodigal sons and daughters heap indescribable heartaches and sorrows on those who love them. I can only wonder how many desperate parents are praying their rebels will face the emptiness of their souls and come to themselves before it is too late (Luke 15:11-21).

Psalm 3:5 – “I laid me down [took rest] and slept [i.e. long sleep; fell asleep]; I awaked [i.e. arise]; for the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] sustained [to prop; braced; held up] me.

All was not lost for David. When the deposed king looked past his sorrows and reflected on the LORD his hope renewed. Perhaps for the first time in days or weeks, David found solace in the LORD and slept (3:5). Sweet sleep-a quietness of heart and thoughts God gives a believer whose solace is in Him. David’s words (3:5) echo a bedtime prayer I was taught as a child:

“I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.”

Awakening from sleep, David’s faith was renewed and his soul refreshed.

Psalm 3:6-7  I will not be afraid [fear; tremble; frighten] of ten thousands of people, that have set [made; lay; fixed] themselves against me round about [on every side; surround].
7  Arise [Rise up; stand; perform], O LORD; save [deliver; help; rescue; avenge] me, O my God [Elohim; Mighty God]: for thou hast smitten [slay; kill; beat; strike] all mine enemies [foes; adversaries] upon the cheek bone [i.e. or jaw bone]; thou hast broken [shattered; crushed] the teeth of the ungodly [wicked].
8  Salvation [help; deliverance] belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing [prosperity; generosity] is upon thy people [tribe; flock]. Selah [pause].”

Betrayed by a son and surrounded by enemies, David asserted he was confident the LORD would save him.

Are you a parent who identifies with David’s sorrows and disappointments?

To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your child mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

Take heart: God hears and answers your cries in the night.  He is the same for you as he was for David: your Shield and Defender.  The LORD will answer your prayers and lift you up in His time.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith