Tag Archives: Prophecy

The Lord Loveth the Righteous (Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21)

Daily reading assignment: Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21

Because we are following a chronological study of the Bible, there will be times when our study of a particular book of the Bible (for instance, we are currently reading 2 Samuel) will take us to other books that fit the timeline. You will notice our daily readings in 2 Samuel will include passages from the Book of Psalms and 1 Chronicles that fit the timeline and setting of our Bible reading.

Today’s devotional reading follows 2 Samuel 1-4 in which David, after he was crowned king of Israel by the tribe of Judah, was confronted by wicked men who were determined he not be king. Facing formidable, wicked adversaries, David’s hope and courage were restored when his heart considered the majesty, sovereignty, and justice of God. Psalms 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, and 21 reflect the meditations of David during that time. For the sake of brevity, I limit my commentary to Psalms 6, 9-10.

Psalm 6 – “Been there, Done that”

Psalm 6 carries a wealth of meaning for saints who are mature in years and experienced enough to say, “been there, done that.” Believers often focus on David’s failures and take comfort that even a man after God’s own heart was beset with sins and failures.  It is true: David was a man who loved the Lord, but he also carried the consequences of his sins to his grave.

Consider David’s prayer for God’s grace and mercy in the midst of chastening (Psalm 6:1-7).

Rather than respond in anger, we read David pled for God’s mercy (6:2).  Rather than bitterness, we see humility.  David reasoned, Lord, if I go down to my grave how can I praise you when my tongue has been silenced by death (6:4-5)? His was not the plea that protests injustice; instead, it was the confession of a sinner with a humbled, burdened soul (6:6-7).

Mature saints readily identify with David’s sleepless nights.  Many have cried themselves to sleep because of their sinful choices or those made by a loved one.  Are you weary? Take heart…God hears your cry in the night.

Perhaps you struggle to identify with David’s plea for mercy in the midst of God’s chastening. Have you felt the sorrow and shame of your sins? Do you fear God’s judgment?

The writer of Hebrews observed, “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards (meaning, not a sincere believer and child of the LORD), and not sons” (Hebrews 12:8). I invite you, turn from your sin before it is too late and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Romans 10:9 promises, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

Psalm 9 – A Call for Thanksgiving

Psalm 9 is a song of praise and thanksgiving for God’s executing judgment upon the wicked and delivering the righteous.

Psalm 10 – The Pride and Oppressive Ways of The Wicked

Though times have changed, the nature of man has not.  Contrary to their rhetoric, the nature of the wicked is, and has always been to oppress the poor and helpless (10:2-3, 7-11).

More than ever in my lifetime, the unveiled demagoguery of the wicked is on full display in the world. There is no shame in promoting every mode of moral depravity.

Consider the twisted rationality of the Coronavirus crisis (COVID-19). While left-leaning politicians demand isolation and “social distancing” under the pretext of saving lives, the same promote abortion as a virtue and an “essential” practice.

Such is the lunacy of the wicked: “Professing themselves to be wise, they [have become] fools” (Romans 1:22). Proud, angry, and vile, they are “without natural affection, implacable (unforgiving), [and] unmerciful” (Romans 1:31).

Of the wicked we read, “God is not in all his thoughts [and] his ways are always grievous” (Psalm 10:4-5). The righteous, however, know the LORD will hear the desire of the “humble” and their cry (Psalms 10:17).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Ichabod, The Glory is Departed! (1 Samuel 4-8)

Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 4-8

1 Samuel 4 – Disaster: The Ark of the LORD is Lost

Fulfilling prophecy (1 Samuel 2:34), tragedy struck the household of Eli and all of Israel as the LORD had promised. Routed in battle by the Philistines, the men of Israel set their hearts to parade the sacred “ark of the covenant of the LORD” onto the battlefield where it and the battle were lost (4:1-11). Receiving the news that his sons were slain and the ark was lost, Eli fell from where he was sitting, breaking his neck, and died (4:12-18).

When the wife of Phinehas, Eli’s daughter-in-law, learned her husband was dead and the ark was lost, she went into labor and with her dying breath named her son “Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel” (4:21-22).

1 Samuel 5 – Dagon, the Fish God and the Ark of God

Israel had lost the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s heavenly throne and His presence in Israel. The nation had gone to war without seeking God’s blessing, and the victorious Philistines had taken the Ark and demeaned it as nothing more than a trophy of war displayed and mocked in the temple of Dagon, their fish god (5:1-5).

The Philistines learned Dagon was a powerless, lifeless idol in the presence of the Ark of God. Wherever the Ark was displayed, the Philistines suffered “emerods,” meaning plagues, boils, and physical devastation. Fearing the Ark and the judgment of Israel’s God, the Philistines determined to send it back to Israel (5:11-12).

1 Samuel 6 – The Ark Returned to Israel

Fearing the Ark and the wrath of God, the Philistines constructed a new cart to return it to Israel (6:1-7) and directed the casting of gold images like the “emerods” (boils) and “mice” that had plagued the land (6:4-5).

Not absolutely convinced all that had befallen them was because of the Ark’s presence, it was decided to have a new cart constructed that would be drawn by two milk cows, separated from their calves. Knowing the cow’s instinct would be to go to their calves, it was believed if Israel’s God was the cause of their troubles, He would guide the cart bearing the Ark home to Israel (6:7-12).

When the Ark arrived in Israel, the people of Bethshemesh celebrated its return and, cutting up the cart for its wood, sacrificed the cows in celebration (6:13-14).

Celebration Turned to Sorrow (6:19-20)

In their excitement for the Ark’s return, the citizens of Bethshemesh violated its holiness (6:19). Rather than covering the Ark with its two cherubims on top of the Mercy Seat that represented God’s throne, they treated it as an object of curiosity,“looked into the ark of the LORD,” and were slain (6:20).

1 Samuel 7 – Samuel, the Righteous Judge of Israel

Remembering the high priest Eli and his sons were dead, the people placed the Ark in the home of Abinadab (most likely a Levite) and charged his son Eleazar with the care of the Ark (7:1). Nearly a century would pass before the Ark was removed from Kirjathjearim and brought to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

God honored Samuel’s rule as judge of Israel and gave the nation peace from war with the Philistines throughout his reign (7:3-17).

1 Samuel 8 – Israel Demands a King

When Samuel was old his sons were made judges; however, they did not walk in the righteous ways of their father (8:1-3a).  We read, they “turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (8:3).

The failure of Samuel’s sons to rule righteously gave cause for the people to request a king to rule in Israel (8:5-6). Their demand sorrowed Samuel; however, the LORD assured him “they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee” (8:8).

Because Israel rejected God’s benevolent rule, the LORD commanded Samuel to warn the people they would pay a heavy price for rejecting Him and choosing a king (8:9).

Their sons would be drafted, and their daughters would become household servants (8:10-13). The king would tax their crops and herds and take away their servants (8:14-17). When they would complain the burdens placed on them by the king were unjust, the LORD promised He would not hear they cries (8:18).

Nevertheless, the people demanded a king, and the “the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king” (8:22).

As we will see, the people’s demand to have a king and be like all the other nations (8:5) would be a request they would regret.

Lesson: Be Careful What You Ask For…You May Get It!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Tragedy of Disobedience – (Judges 3-5)

Scripture Reading – Judges 3-5

Israel’s failure to drive the heathen nations out of the land soon brought home a sorrow and heartache to many in Israel. We read,

Judges 3:6-76  And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. 7  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.

Unspeakable wickedness is reflected in those two verses. Having failed to drive out the heathen and separate themselves from them and their idols, Hebrew families suffered the loss of their sons and daughters who intermarried with the wicked and followed in their ways (3:6). Their children not only turned from the LORD, but they began committing all manner of whoredom in the groves (3:7).

A history of Israel under the Judges is recorded beginning with Judges 3:7 and continuing to Judges 16:31.

From liberty to servitude, Israel provoked the LORD’S anger and He delivered them “into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia” whom the people served for eight years (3:8).

Evidencing His grace, when Israel cried to the LORD He sent Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, to judge and call the nation to turn to the LORD (3:9-10). The LORD delivered His people and gave the nation rest for forty years as long as Othniel was judge in the land. (3:11).

After Othniel’s death, Israel followed a pattern of rebellion that invited God’s judgment and each time the LORD raised up a judge to call the nation to repent (3:12-31).

An intriguing story unfolds of a brave Benjaminite named Elud who stealthily made his way into the palace where he slew Eglon, the Moabite king with a dagger (3:15-26). Ehud’s courageous example and his faith in the LORD, not only delivered Israel from servitude, but also gave the people rest for eighty years (3:27-30).

Judges 4 – Deborah: A Prophetess in the Land

Israel once again turned from the LORD and the nation fell victim to a powerful king, “Jabin king of Canaan” (4:2-3).  This time the LORD called upon a woman named Deborah, identified as a “prophetess” (4:4-5), to judge the nation.

Deborah summoned a man named “Barak” (4:6) of the tribe of Naphtali, to lead the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun against Jabin (4:6-7). When Barak insisted he would only go if Deborah accompanied him, she warned it would be said that “the LORD shall sell Sisera [the Canaanite general] into the hand of a woman” (4:8).

When the Canaanite general Sisera realized he was defeated (4:9-16), he fled the battle on foot, and sought to hide in the tent of a woman named Jael (4:17-19). When he fell asleep, Jael rose up and drove a tent peg through Sisera’s temple (4:20-22).

Judges 5 – A Song of Victory

The prophetess Deborah breaks into song (5:3-11) and leads the people to recall their glorious history (5:3-5), and their decline as a wayward, suffering people (5:6-8).

Deborah’s song turns to rejoicing in the victory the LORD had given his people (5:9-23), and the courage of Jael, the woman who slew Sisera, by driving a peg through his temples (5:24-27).

Faith was and still is the victory!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Whom or What are You Serving? (Joshua 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Joshua 22-24

Joshua 22 – A Misunderstanding Led to a Threat of Civil War

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half of the tribe of Manasseh had requested of Moses to grant them the pasture lands on the east side of the Jordan River (Numbers 32; Deuteronomy 3:12-20).

Seven years had passed before the new land was at peace and the warriors of Israel were allowed to lay down their swords and shields. With Israel at rest and the lands assigned by tribe, the warriors of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh were discharged from their duties and allowed to return to their families and lands on the east side of the Jordan (22:1-9).

Joshua challenged the men returning to their families to be diligent to observe the Commandments and the Law given by Moses. He urged them to cleave to the LORD and serve Him with all their hearts. (22:5).

Erecting a memorial to their covenant with the other tribes, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an altar on the east side of the Jordan that nearly became a provocation for war (22:10).  A threat of civil war soon followed as the western tribes misunderstood the purpose of the altar and feared the other tribes had departed from the God of Israel (22:11-12).

Wisely, before blood was shed, a delegation was sent to investigate the intent of the structure. Rather than a place of worship and sacrifice as they feared, they found the altar was a memorial for future generations to remember their covenant with the LORD and the Twelve Tribes of Israel  (22:13-34). The investigation embodies a spiritual principle for us all:

Proverbs 18:13 – “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

Joshua 23-24 – Joshua’s Final Challenge and Address

“Old and stricken in age,” Joshua gathered the leaders of Israel for a parting exhortation before his death (23:1-2).  Like the great leader he was, he foresaw the challenges Israel would face in the years ahead when he was departed. Joshua’s words echo the passion of every godly leader who longs to see God’s people walk in the ways of the LORD.

He reminded them how the LORD had fought for and never forsook them (23:4-10).  He challenged them to keep God’s Word (23:6), cleave to the LORD (23:8), and love the LORD (23:11).  He warned: Compromise with the heathen and you will invite God’s judgment (23:12-16).

At Shechem (24:1), the same place Abraham had received God’s promise that his lineage would inherit the land (Genesis 12:6-7), Joshua began to rehearse God’s promises and providences.

He recalled God had chosen Abraham (24:2-4), delivered Israel out of Egypt (24:5-7), and guided them through the wilderness (24:7-10).  He reminded the people that God had given them the land as He had promised (24:11-13) and challenged them to revere and serve the LORD (24:14-28). Lastly, Joshua exhorted the people to declare their devotion to the LORD with a covenant to memorialize their vow to serve Him (24:25-28).

The Book of Joshua closes with the death of a generation of leaders and three burials.  Joshua, the successor of Moses died at 110 years old and was buried (24:29-30).  Fulfilling Joseph’s request (Genesis 50:25), his bones were buried on the land owned by his father Jacob (24:32).  Finally, Eleazar the high priest and the son of Aaron, died and was buried (24:33).

Like it was with Israel, so it is with every man and woman reading this devotional:

We must individually decide whether or not we will serve the LORD with our whole heart (24:14-24).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Wonder What God is Up To? Don’t worry; it is for good! (Genesis 48-50)

Devotional reading assignment: Genesis 48-50

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the close of our study of Genesis. Having vowed to fulfill his father’s request to be buried in Canaan, Joseph was soon after summoned to his father’s bedside.

Genesis 48-49 is Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) “Last Will and Testament.”

Rallying for a few moments, Jacob sat up in his bed and rehearsed with Joseph God’s covenant promises (48:3-4). Because he had been a faithful son and servant of the LORD in Egypt, Jacob promised Joseph he would be doubly blessed of the LORD.  Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, would each receive an inheritance in the stead of Reuben and Simeon, his older brothers (48:5-6, 21-22).

Jacob’s final words to his sons and his prophetic insight into the future of their lineages is recorded in Genesis 49. Lest there be any questions of his wishes, Jacob repeated his request to be buried in Canaan with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, mother Rebekah, and his wife Leah (49:29-32).  Genesis 49 closes with the great patriarch’s death, an inevitable appointment for us all (Hebrews 9:27).

A dramatic scene unfolds in Genesis 50 when we read, “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him” (50:1). 

Following the ways of the Egyptians, Joseph directed the embalmment of his father’s body in a fashion befitting his relation to Joseph, Egypt’s second most powerful ruler (50:2-3).  When the days of mourning were past, Joseph requested permission to carry his father’s body to Canaan to bury him in the ancestral tomb (50:4-7).

The funeral processional out of Egypt was like none ever seen in Canaan (Genesis 50:8-9).  Jacob’s twelve sons, their families (with the exception of small children), and senior leaders of Egypt driving Egyptian chariots and horses, followed Jacob’s body from Egypt to Canaan (50:10-13). With their father buried and famine continuing in the land, Joseph and his brothers returned to Egypt (50:14).

Recalling the evil committed against Joseph when they sold him as a slave, his brothers feared the absence of their father would give Joseph opportunity to exact revenge (50:15-17).  Instead of revenge, we read, “Joseph wept” (50:17b).

Fulfilling the vision the LORD gave him in his youth (Genesis 37:3-11), Joseph’s brothers bowed before him (50:18) as he assured them the wrongs he had suffered were providentially used by God to prepare the way for him to preserve his family (50:19-20).

One of the greatest statements of faith in God’s sovereignty and providence is found in Joseph’s assurance: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (50:20).

Joseph’s life is a testimony of what it means to suffer wrong and continue to walk in faith and humility.  He did not focus on the grievous evil committed by his brothers, nor give rein to bitter, vengeful thoughts.  Joseph was confident, whatever wrongs he might have suffered, God was faithful and able to bring to pass that which is good!

Friend, are you bitter? Are you nursing hurts and embittered by disappointments?  Are you willing to confess your hurts and let go of your bitterness? Will you trust Him? Trust God knowing He will bring to pass that which is good.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Lived Like a Sinner, But He Died a Prince (Genesis 46-47)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 46-47

Today’s scripture reading follows the amazing news that Joseph is alive and rules in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 45:25-28).  Accepting Pharaoh’s gracious offer to provide refuge from the famine for his family (45:16-19), Joseph instructed his brothers to bring his father and their families to Egypt.

Setting his heart to journey to Egypt and be reunited with Joseph; Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) last stop before entering the Arabian Peninsula, the gateway to Egypt, was Beersheba (Genesis 46:1).  There he worshipped “the God of his father Isaac” and was assured the Lord’s covenant promises would follow his family into Egypt and they would one day be restored to their land (46:2-4).

One hundred and thirty years old, the sinful deceiving ways of his youth are past and the demeanor of the old man reflects the name he now bears, “Israel…Prince with God.” Jacob’s family roster, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is recorded in Genesis 46:8-27.

Twenty-two years has passed since Jacob last embraced Joseph and their emotional reunion is described: “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (46:29). Preparing his father and brothers for their audience with Pharaoh, Joseph instructed them on their decorum in the great ruler’s court (46:31-34).

 

Genesis 47 records Pharaoh’s interview with Joseph, his father Israel (aka Jacob), and five of his brothers (47:1-10). 

Remembering Joseph was seventeen years old when his brethren sold him into slavery, God blessed him with his father’s presence another seventeen years after they were reunited in Egypt (47:28).  Knowing the end of his earthly sojourn was at hand, Israel summoned Joseph to his bedside (47:29-31) and humbly expressed one dying wish:

Genesis 47:29b-30 – “29 … If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace…”

Knowing Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) son was the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, he might have requested a stately funeral; instead, his final request reflected where his heart was…in the land the LORD promised would be the perpetual inheritance of his people (Genesis 12:1).

You and I have an appointment with death and we would do well to ponder where our heart and affections lie.  Egypt was the epicenter of pleasure and wealth in Jacob’s day, but the old man remembered he was a sojourner, a foreigner and his citizenship was in another place.  The same is true for every believer; Jesus promised His followers:

John 14:2-32  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Are the Sons of Esau the Hordes of ISIS? (Genesis 35-37)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 35-37

We find Jacob leading his family spiritually and physically to Bethel, the place he had first met with and worshipped the LORD more than 20 years before (35:1).  Indicating how far his family had strayed from the LORD, we read that Jacob commanded his household to, “Put away the strange gods that are among you” (35:2).  Arriving at Bethel, Jacob rebuilt the altar and led his family to worship the LORD (35:6-7).

Jacob’s return to Bethel was not without its sorrows.  Deborah, the maid of his mother Rebekah, was the first to die (35:8).  Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel, the mother of Joseph, died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son (35:16-18).   Adding to the sorrows was the death of his father Isaac (35:28-29).

I fear Genesis 36 holds little to excite the average believer.  This chapter is the birth record of the sons born of Esau’s lineage. While the sons of Esau shared a physical lineage with the Hebrews (tracing their ancestry to Isaac and Abraham), they, like their father Esau, did not value their spiritual heritage nor share in God’s covenant promises with the descendants of Abraham.

The sons of Esau became the fathers of kingdoms we recognize in the Scriptures as the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert.  Their descendants became enemies of Israel and their bitter strife continues in the Middle East to our day.

Esau had become a wealthy and powerful man (36:6-8) who, following their father Isaac’s death (35:29), chose to keep peace with his brother Jacob and remained in Seir (32:3).  Seir, located in Edom, was the land on Israel’s southern border stretching from the salt marshes of the Dead Sea eastward to the desert (36:6-8).  This area includes the ancient and once forgotten city of Petra.  We read an important statement in Genesis 36:8, “Esau is Edom.”

Esau was the father of a people who became known as the Edomites. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow them to pass through their land (Numbers 20:18-21).  The Edomites were adversaries of King Saul and King David (1 Kings 11:14-16).  When King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel, the Edomites became allies with Babylon and participated in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem.

The birth of Amalek (36:12), the father of the Amalekites and the grandson of Esau, marks the birth of another people that would become enemies of Israel.   It was the Amalekites who, during Israel’s years in the wilderness, fought against Joshua and Israel while Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses during a battle (Exodus 17:8-16).  We read in 1 Samuel 15 that King Saul warred against the Amalekites.

Why did God have the names of Esau’s lineage recorded in Genesis 36 and why is it important to 21st century believers?

One reason is I believe the roots of the conflict and strife we are witnessing in the Middle East and our 21st century world is traced to a people whose ancestry is that of Esau in origin.  We identify the enemies of modern Israel as Palestinians, Muslims, proponents of Islam, and the followers of the prophet Mohammed.   In the most basic sense, they are all sons of Esau.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith