Tag Archives: Promises

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

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8

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

1 Kings 9

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

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

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

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

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

2 Chronicles 8

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 148; Psalm 149

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

Psalm 148 is divided into two sections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Psalm 134; Psalm 146

Psalm 134 – “A Song of Degrees”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Psalm 146

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why trust any other?

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 7; Psalm 136

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Temple for the LORD (1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 2)

Scripture reading – 1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 2

Our study of God’s Word brings us to two parallel chapters in the Bible, 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 2 (We will conclude our readings of the Proverbs in a few days, but chronologically we are returning to the history of Israel in the time of King Solomon.)

You might remember both I and II Kings were written in the post-Davidic era, but before the Babylonian exile. The Chronicles (the first and second books) are believed to have been composed after Israel returned from exile. (Many scholars suggest they were the work of Ezra, inspired and preserved by God, 2 Peter 1:21). In an earlier devotion, I suggested the Book of the Kings gives us the human perspective on Israel’s history, while the Book of the Chronicles reflects God’s perspective on His chosen people.

Returning to our study of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, we find Solomon setting his heart to build the Temple as he had been commanded by God. As a nation, Israel was at peace with her neighbors, and the wealth of the kingdom was unprecedented. David had longed to build a house for the LORD, but because his hands were bloodied from war, God had denied him the opportunity to build His Temple. Thus, the closing years of David’s life had been spent preparing his son, Solomon to build the Temple, while he dedicated himself to setting in store the gold, silver, and brass implements that would be utilized in the daily Temple worship.

Having been blessed with the gift of wisdom excelling all men of the earth (1 Kings 4:29-34), Solomon set his heart to build the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5).

After ascending the throne of Israel, Hiram, king of Tyre (a coastal city to the north of Israel, and in an area known today as Lebanon), sent ambassadors to Solomon to congratulate his anointing as king (5:1). The king of Tyre had been a dear friend of David, and had supplied timber for the king’s palace in Jerusalem.

Solomon wasted no time in petitioning for timber and workmen from Hiram’s kingdom, and requested the king might send him his finest artisans to assist in preparing the wood and stones required for constructing the Temple (5:2-7). Hiram agreed to Solomon’s request, and the two kings set terms for the goods and materials he had requested (5:8-18).

1 Kings 6 gives us the time Solomon began to build the Temple (6:1, 37-38), its dimensions (6:2-3), and design, including its windows (6:4), rooms (6:5-10), walls, floors (6:15-18), and doors (6:31-35). The extraordinary beauty of the carvings in the walls and floors overlaid with gold are detailed (6:15, 18, 21-22). Within the “oracle” (the Holy of Holies where the “ark of the covenant of the LORD” rested), Solomon placed two carved cherubim (estimated at nearly fifteen feet in height), their wings outstretched, spanning the breadth of the hall, each gilded with gold (6:19-28). With the foundation of the Temple laid in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, the construction of the Temple was completed in the eleventh year (6:37-38).

You will notice that 2 Chronicles 2 gives similar details to the preparations and building of the Temple we have considered in 1 Kings 6. There were thousands employed in the construction (2:17-18).

Closing thoughts – Together, the accounts of the construction of the Temple remind us the central focus of Israel was the LORD, and the beauty and presence of His house was a perpetual reminder of God’s presence in the midst of His people. Care was taken to sanctify, and dedicate every step in the process of building the Temple. All the labor and preparation of the materials used in the construction were cut and prepared outside of the Temple Mount, and then transported to be placed intact without the need or the noise of a hammer or axe in the holy city (6:7;Proverbs 24:27).

It was the desire of the LORD to bless Israel; but we are reminded the fulfillment of His promises was conditioned upon the people obeying His Laws and keeping His commandments (6:12). If Israel would obey Him, the LORD promised He would never forsake them (6:13).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Even a Fool Can Father a Child, but a Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 24; 1 Kings 5

In addition to our Scripture reading in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 24), our chronological study of God’s Word returns to 1 Kings 5. This devotional will consider Proverbs 24:3-4.

“A Wise Man Builds a Home” (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Solomon, a master builder whom God trusted with the responsibility of building His Temple in Jerusalem, employed the analogy of building a house to emphasize the necessity of exercising godly wisdom when building one’s life and family (24:3-4). The king wrote:

Proverbs 24:3–43Through wisdom is an house builded; And by understanding it is established: 4And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

I have had opportunity to tear down a few old buildings in my lifetime. I have fond childhood memories of assisting my Dad when he tore down a couple of old weathered, clapboard-sided farmhouses and barns, and then recycled the wood to build barns on our property in the country.  Unlike a contractor who follows meticulously drawn blueprints when building a house, my Dad’s de-construction required little more than hammers, crowbars, ladders and raw physical strength!

Unfortunately, I fear many believers fail to follow God’s blueprint when building their family. In fact, the manner of some is as destructive as a man who tears down, rather than builds his home. Consider Solomon’s counsel to his son in the matter of building a house (i.e., a life or home), with my amplification of word meanings in brackets.

Proverbs 24:33Through [By] wisdom [godly wisdom and insight] is an house [life; family] builded [established]; and by understanding [insight; discernment] it is established [fixed; made ready]:

Forgive my frank, honest observation in the challenge of building a life and family. It is my opinion: Any fool can father a child and start a family; however, a man of godly wisdom knows to build a family requires commitment, wisdom, discernment, and understanding.

Sadly, the state of our society evidences that few have any concept of the personal discipline and sacrifice required to make a house a home!  There are few who turn to the LORD, the source of all wisdom, and ask Him for discernment (James 1:5).

For the sake of application, let’s consider the house in verse 3 as an allegory of one’s personal life and family, and ask: “How would wisdom and understanding have us to furnish this house?”  Proverbs 24:4 answers that question.

Proverbs 24:4 – “And by knowledge [i.e. wisdom and understanding, plus knowledge derived from life experiences] shall the chambers [rooms] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I confess, I lack my wife’s vision and motivation when it comes to decorating. Four walls, a roof that does not leak, and a comfortable chair, and I am content.  My wife, however, has an eye for style, furnishings, and placement. She is able to take a house [chambers], add a few furnishings, and make a house a comfortable, attractive home!

The house and chambers Solomon portrayed represented a life or family built by godly wisdom (24:3).  Spiritual understanding was the foundation of the home (24:3), and the knowledge of walking in the light of God’s Law was its furnishings (24:4). Where can a man attain such furnishings for himself and his family? The Word of God.

Paul urged Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Why should a father be a disciplined student of God’s Word? The Scriptures are inspired by God, and are His manual for life. The Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A disciplined study, and application of the nuggets of wisdom found in Proverbs is a great beginning!  Remember, however:

Any man can start a family, but a wise man follows God’s blueprint [the Scriptures] to build a home.

Copyright @ 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Spiritual Benefits of Biblical Discipline” (Proverbs 23)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 is today’s Scripture reading, and as you will see, it is rich in metaphors that illustrate spiritual principles for life and daily living. Solomon is training his son, the future king of Israel, and instilling in him life lessons. He cautions his son concerning the enticements of the rich and powerful (23:1-3), and the enslaving sin of covetousness (23:4-5). He admonished him to not fall into the company of “big bellies and booze” (23:19-21), and urged him to treasure truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding (23:23).

Today’s devotional will consider Proverbs 23:12-16 , and the subject is the spiritual benefits of Biblical discipline.

Remembering the Book of Proverbs is a compilation of a father’s loving instructions to his son, we feel Solomon’s passion for his son to respond to loving discipline with a humble, teachable spirit.

Proverbs 23:12 “Apply [take; set] thine heart [mind, thoughts; emotions] unto instruction [warning; discipline; reproof], and thine ears to the words [speech; sayings] of knowledge [i.e., knowledge of good and evil].”  

Proverbs 23:12 places the responsibility of a right response to correction and discipline upon the child. We live in a permissive society that absolves its youth of personal responsibility, and condemns parents who determine to balance loving instruction with authoritative discipline. It is that misguided, unbiblical approach to parenting that has encouraged an undisciplined, lawless spirit in the youth of this generation.

Solomon challenged his son to harmonize his heart, thoughts, and emotions with what he had been taught from a child. Because we sin by nature, it follows that the bent of every son and daughter is to sin. Temperaments differ, and the degree or choice of sin are not the same; however, the spiritual reality is: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15).

Proverbs 23:13  “Withhold [keep back; deny; refrain] not correction [instruction; chastisement; discipline] from the child: for if thou beatest [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod [staff; stick; family scepter], he shall not die.” 

Solomon is not encouraging physical abuse, nor commending a parent who vents their anger and frustration on a child. Still, contrary to societal norms of the 21st century, the Word of God exhorts loving parents to recognize the bent of a child’s heart, and administer loving discipline.

Proverbs 23:14  “Thou shalt beat [strike; punish; smite] him with the rod, and shalt deliver [rescue; save; preserve] his soul [life; being; spirit] from hell.” 

To avoid confusion: Solomon was not calling for, or suggesting physical abuse. He was stating a principle that is the desire of every parent who longs to see their child turn from sin and follow righteousness.

Truth–The temporal pain of physical discipline is not comparable to an unbridled, undisciplined spirit that may drive a child to an early grave, and send his soul to the punishment of eternal hell.

Proverbs 23:15-16  “My son, if thine heart [thoughts; feelings; emotions] be wise [sound; restrained from acting in an evil manner], my heart shall rejoice [be joyful; extremely happy; glad], even mine.    
16 Yea, my reins [figurative of the mind] shall rejoice [jump for joy; exult; shout], when thy lips [language; speech] speak [say; declare] right things [upright; honest].”

A wise son or daughter is a delight to a parent’s heart! When a child chooses good over evil, and speaks words that are true, honest and sincere, the heart of the father swells with joy and pride.

I close with a promise for every son and daughter that will embrace wisdom, and follow the path of a godly parent’s loving instructions:

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© 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sovereign God, and A Lesson in Parenting (Proverbs 21-22)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 21; Proverbs 22

Proverbs 21

The Lord is Sovereign of His Creation (Proverbs 21:1-3)

We are once again reminded that God is Sovereign! He is the Ruler of His creation, and has all power and authority. He is involved in the affairs of man, and is working all things together according to His purpose, and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29). He does not approve of the sinful actions and decisions of men; however, He is sovereign and is able to direct choices contrary to His will, to the end of accomplishing His eternal purpose (notice Joseph’s affirmation of that truth in Genesis 50:20).

Proverbs 21:1-3 is an exposition of the Sovereignty of God, and the authority of man.

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart [mind; thoughts; will] is in the hand [under the authority and dominion] of the LORD, as the rivers [channels; canals; streams] of water: he turneth [bends; turns aside] it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor].”

All human authority is subservient to the authority of God. Men are not robots; however, they cannot act independent of God. God can, and does guide men’s choices to accomplish His plan and purpose. The LORD is sovereign, and like a farmer directs water through irrigation channels to his crops, He directs and channels the heart of a king where He wills (21:1b).  [Example of Pharoah in Exodus 10:1-2.]

Proverbs 21:2 – “Every way [road; journey; course of life] of a man is right in his own eyes [opinion]: but the LORD pondereth [weighs; measures] the hearts [mind; understanding].”

Proverbs 21:2 reminds us that God knows the heart, motives, and purpose in man. It is the bent of the human heart to perceive ourselves better than we are; however, God weighs and knows what lies within the hearts of men.

Finally, we are reminded that God’s focus is on the heart of man, and not his outward form or ritual (21:3).

Proverbs 21:3 – “To do [accomplish] justice and judgment [righteousness; conform to an ethical or moral standard] is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice [offerings].

Outward ritual, without inward devotion is hypocrisy. Though hypocrites offer sacrifices of money, service and outward conformity (1 Samuel 16:7), it is the heart of the righteous to obey the Lord.

Closing thoughts – God’s hand rests upon every human authority in your life. Look past the personalities, flaws, and failures of those in authority, and be confident: God is able to turn the hearts of men to accomplish His best for your life. Trust the Lord, and pray for those in authority! (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Proverbs 22

Parenting: A Lesson for the Fainthearted (Proverbs 22:6)

Proverbs 22:66Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Thousands of books and articles have been written on child rearing. Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counselors, pastors, neighbors, friends, and family, all have their opinions on how you should train and discipline your child. Yet, it has been my observation that most everyone is an expert on child training, until they have children of their own!

Proverbs 22:6 is one of the best known, and most quoted verses in Proverbs.  It has been the inspiration of godly parents, and a club of discouragement for parents wrestling with the will and path of a rebel. Allow me to amplify Solomon’s proverb with my own clarification in brackets.

Proverbs 22:6  “Train up [initiate; inaugurate; dedicate; consecrate] a child in the way [road; path; journey] he should go: and when he is old [aged; “hair on the chin”], he will not depart [turn aside; withdraw] from it.”

Many parents languish in the throes of discouragement when a child rebels, and turns from his parents. They might have embraced Proverbs 22:6, and believed it afforded them an absolute guarantee of a “happily ever-after ending.” Yet, when a son rejects his parents’ counsel, and goes his own way, godly parents often wrestle with guilt until they are driven to despair (too often heaped upon them by the judgments of others). Even the rebel might throw the responsibility of his wicked choices onto his parents, and other authorities in his life.

The problem: A proverb is a proverbial expression, a wise saying and a general truth. It is not a guarantee. In other words, Proverbs 22:6 is not a “parenting guarantee,” because it is subject to a child’s individual free will. Every child will choose to embrace, or reject parental instructions and commands. “Train up” carried in its original meaning, the practice of a mother chewing food for a suckling child, and then placing the chewed food on her child’s palate. Why? She was encouraging her child to develop a taste for solid food as he or she matures.

It is the prayer of godly parents that their children will have a taste, and desire for righteousness. Nevertheless, I remind you that Adam and Eve had a perfect Creator/Father, and He placed them in a perfect environment (the Garden of Eden). Yet, the first man and woman rebelled and chose to sin (Genesis 3:6-7).

Closing thought – The wicked influences of this sinful world, and its philosophies, are fighting for the heart of every child. There are no perfect parents; and every child has a will of their own. Nonetheless, I urge you to do all you can to set a godly example, teach your children the truths of God’s Word, expose them to godly influences, and insulate them from the ways and wiles of sin. Then, pray earnestly!

You may email the author at: HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Alcohol: “To Drink, or Not to Drink?” Is that the Question? (Proverbs 20)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 20

You will find that Proverbs 20 is a chapter rich in spiritual truths that seem to challenge nearly every aspect of life. From the admonition concerning wine and “strong drink” in verse 1, to the affirmation of biblical chastening described as “the blueness of a wound” in verse 30, spiritual principles abound. A daily devotional gives little opportunity to address the whole chapter, and so I have determined to tackle one that is being overlooked, if not rejected by some believers. Consider the first verse:

Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Should you be willing to embrace this proverb as simply as it is stated, its truth and application are both simple and undeniable. Consider a restatement of that proverb with this author’s amplification of word meanings:

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating drink] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”

There are many in the 21st century Church who argue for tolerance in the matter of alcohol, and have embraced the imbibing of “strong drink” as a matter of liberty. Such an argument is a grave departure from the historical stance of Bible believers. Sadly, the silence of the pulpit in the matter has only perpetuated the acceptance of wine and alcohol. So, we ask the question, “To drink, or not to drink?” What do the Scriptures teach?

Paul challenged pastors to be sober [lit. temperate], “not given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:3). In the Epistle of Titus, Paul called on pastors (i.e., “bishops”) to be “blameless…not given to wine” (Titus 1:7). He also cautioned older women to be “not given to much wine” (Titus 2:3).

Modern societies enjoy the blessing of fresh, pure water; however, that was not the case in ancient times. There was a risk of unsanitary, unpurified water in Solomon’s day, and that of the apostles. To kill germs and bacteria in drinking water, wine would be mixed with the water making it safe to drink (the mix was 8 parts water, and 1 part wine).

Lacking modern refrigeration we enjoy, juices would ferment in the heat, making it necessary to water down the wine to slow down the fermenting process and sterilize the water. Today’s strong wine and alcohol go through a distilling process that was unknown in Bible times, with the purpose of elevating alcohol content. Unlike the wine in the Bible that was watered down, today’s strong drink is imbibed for its intoxicating properties.

What spiritual applications might we take from Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Concerning pastors: Because the Scriptures admonish pastors to be “not given to wine,” and understanding the wine of Bible times was not nearly as intoxicating as it is today, we can state unapologetically: A man who indulges in wine or alcohol is unfit for the pastorate. Old Testament priests were not to “drink wine nor strong drink” (Leviticus 10:9), and certainly God’s standard would be no less for his preachers.

Concerning believers: Solomon admonished his son to not drink wine or strong drink (20:1), nor keep company with drunkards. Solomon wrote, “20Be not among winebibbers; Among riotous eaters of flesh: 21For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:20–21). The virtuous wife and mother of Proverbs 31 (believed to have been Bathsheba), warned her son who was heir to the throne: “4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; Nor for princes strong drink: 5Lest they drink, and forget the law, And pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4–5).

Paul admonished believers to not risk causing another believer to stumble and fall, therefore, “It is good neither to eat flesh [i.e., meat offered to idols], nor to drink wine” (Romans 14:21).

Some might quote 1 Timothy 5:23 as grounds for taking liberty with wine and alcohol. We read, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). Timothy had some stomach ailments, and proving the young preacher was not in the habit of drinking wine, Paul urged him to take some wine for medicinal purposes (in the absence of medicines at our disposal today).

Closing thoughts – There are many verses, principles, and illustrations that support an absolute intolerance of wine and alcohol in the life of a believer (Hosea 4:11; Daniel 1:8, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition, our society abounds with examples of damages caused by alcohol use: Physical (cancer of the esophagus, mouth, pharynx, and larynx), gross immorality caused by the effect of lowering inhibitions, and spiritual failures.

1 Corinthians 6:9–109Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

You matter, and there is hope to escape the ravages of alcohol! You can reach this author at HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

“Hatred Reveals What Love Forgives” (Proverbs 10)

Scripture reading – Proverbs 10

We are considering Proverbs 10 for today’s Scripture reading. Our devotional will consider Proverbs 10:12, and Proverbs 10:31-32.

“Hatred Exploits What Love Conceals” (Proverbs 10:12)

Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred [an attitude that detests, despises] stirreth up [awakens] strifes [discords; contentions]: but love [genuine, sincere love of a friend] covereth [conceals; hides; passes over] all sins [transgression; rebellion; guilt].”

Have you ever wondered why there is so much strife and discord in the world? Solomon diagnosed the root cause of a pervasive, contentious spirit, and stated simply: “Hatred stirreth up strifes” (10:12a). To state the same judgment in a different way: Hatred, not love, disrupts, denigrates, damages, and devastates all whose life it touches. Hatred provokes strife in marriages, families, friendships, and congregations.

Paul identified pride as the root cause of envy and strife in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:4).  John wrote concerning Diotrephes, who was a cause of grief and a source of discord in the early church: Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence [ambitious, and striving to be first] among them, receiveth us not (3 John 1:9). Some will dress up strife in a garb of religious piety; however, the presence of unresolved conflict is indicative of an unforgiving spirit. Such a spirit, if unchecked, will become antagonistic, and destroy friendships, families and fellowships.

A second principle from Proverbs 10:12 is, “love covereth all sins” (10:12b).

Biblical love does not overlook sin, for that would contradict the ways of the LORD, (Proverbs 3:11-12), and the Scriptures. After all, believers are commanded to lovingly, and meekly address sin in each other’s life (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). What does it mean, “love covereth all sins?”

Sincere, genuine love longs to forgive, and will not unnecessarily expose the sins, failures, and shortcomings of one who is loved. Biblical, Christ-like love is longsuffering, kind, gracious, and forgiving (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

Closing thought – In his letter to believers in the 1st century, Peter wrote: And above all things have fervent charity [self-sacrificing love] among yourselves: for charity shall cover [forgives; overlooks] the multitude of sins [personal offenses]” (1 Peter 4:8).

You and I should not be surprised that hatred stirs up strife; however, we should be concerned that some who profess to love others, readily entertain and expose their failures.

Hatred reveals, what love conceals; hatred exploits, what love forgives (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Careful: Your Lips Will Reveal Your Heart (Proverbs 10:31-32)

Proverbs 10:31 The mouth [speech; utterance] of the just [righteous; lawful] bringeth forth [utters; bears the fruit of] wisdom [shrewdness; skillful use of knowledge]: but the froward [perverse; swearing] tongue [speech; evil speaker] shall be cut out [cut down; destroyed; punished]. 

The tongue was a frequent subject of Solomon’s proverbs, and the Scriptures abound with examples of its use, and misuse. James wrote, “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things…6  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…8 the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5-6, 8).

Controlling one’s tongue is a challenge; however, it is not the small member in our mouth that is the trouble. The problem is the heart.

The words and conversations of the God-fearing righteous will evidence grace, godly wisdom and discernment. By contrast, the tongue of the wicked is perverse, and will be known for lies, and speaking evil of others. Jesus taught His disciples, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart…For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).

Proverbs 10:3232The lips [language; speech] of the righteous [just; lawful] know [perceive; understand; acknowledge; observe] what is acceptable [desired; delightful; pleasing]: but the mouth [speech; utterance] of the wicked [ungodly; lawless] speaketh forwardness [perverse; is obstinate].”

Listen to a man’s conversation long enough, and you can discern his character. We would do well to understand that words matter, and they are a window into the soul. The substance and character of a man will be revealed in his words. A good, just man will encourage the soul with words that edify, and are pleasing. A righteous man understands the power of a well-spoken word (Psalm 37:30). The wicked, however, are proud and their words cut, and conversations are perverse.

Closing thoughts – What do your words and conversations reveal about your character?

Be careful how you answer that question. The true measure of your inner man is revealed in your words and conversations. Understanding the power of a spoken word, we would do well to embrace Paul’s challenge to believers of the church in Colosse:

Colossians 4:66 Let your speech [word; conversation] be alway [ever] with grace [acceptable; favor; kindness], seasoned [i.e. spiced; prepared] with salt [purifying; a natural preservative], that ye may know how ye ought [should] to answer [respond] every man.

Copyright © 2021 – Travis D. Smith