Tag Archives: Prophecy

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (2 Samuel 13)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 13

The prophet Nathan had admonished David for his adultery, and warned him that his hands were stained with the blood of Uriah (2 Samuel 12:7-9) saying, “10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house” (2 Samuel 12:10-11). David repented of his sins, but only after he was publicly exposed (2 Samuel 12:13). Though the law demanded an adulterer’s death (Leviticus 20:10), the grace of God spared the king’s life (12:13b). Nevertheless, the consequences of David’s sins followed him to his grave.

Nathan had foretold, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (12:14). The immediate consequence of David’s sin was the death of the child borne by Bathsheba (12:14-15,18a); however, that was but the beginning of the sorrows David would face within his own household.

2 Samuel 13 begins with a familiar expression: “And it came to pass” (13:1).

What God declares will inevitably “come to pass,” and the king would not be able to escape the guilt that his own sins had become a pattern his sons would follow.

Tragic is an apt description of events that are recorded in 2 Samuel 13. We find here incest (Amnon, the eldest son of David entrapped and raped Tamar, his half-sister, who was the sister of Absalom, (13:1-14); murder (for Absalom sought revenge against Amnon, and ordered his servants to kill his brother (13:15-29); and irreconcilable sorrows (for not only was Amnon killed, but Absalom fled from Israel, leaving David to mourn not only the death of his eldest son, but also the loss of Absalom (13:31-39).

Closing thoughts from 2 Samuel 13

Many spiritual lessons are found in today’s Scripture reading. Amnon’s friendship with a crafty man provoked him to inconceivable wickedness. He had failed to put away wicked lusts (for incest is a grievous sin forbidden by the Law, Leviticus 18:9). When he was questioned by his cousin Jonadab, a man described as “a very subtil [crafty]man” (13:3), Amnon verbalized the wickedness in his heart, and thus breached a moral barrier to sin (13:4). You see, it is one thing to regard sin in your thoughts, but another to speak of it. Rather than reprove Amnon, Jonadab enticed him with a wicked plot, that would inevitably defile the virgin, Tamar. When she protested, Amnon raped her, and then “hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone” (13:15). Amnon’s infatuation with his sister was not love, but wicked lust, and her rape was an act of physical violence! There was no remorse in Amnon’s heart, and after stealing his sister’s purtiy, he humiliated her, and had his servants cast her out of his home (13:11-17).

We must not overlook a sad pattern of failure that emerges in David’s life. The king had failed to confront the sins of his household, and I suggest his weakness was a result of his own moral failures. He had sacrificed his moral authority, and was made weaker in his administration of justice.

When he learned that Amnon, his eldest son, had raped his sister, he was furious…but did nothing! (13:21) His failure to act as a loving, caring father, and a righteous judge (for so was his role as king), provoked his son Absalom, to avenge his sister’s honor (13:18-20, 22-29). Two years passed (13:23), and Absalom plotted to slay his brother. Oh what weeping, and sorrow came over David when he learned Amnon was dead (13:31, 36). David’s failure cost him two sons: Amnon was dead, and Absalom was departed (13:37-39).

“Be sure your sin will find you out!” (Numbers 32:23)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Plight of the Human Race (Psalm 53; Psalm 60)

Scripture reading – Psalm 53; Psalm 60

Our Scripture reading is from two psalms of David, Psalm 53 and Psalm 60. Our devotional is taken from Psalm 53.

Psalm 53 – An Observation of the Human Condition

Notice that Psalm 53 is nearly a restatement of truths observed by David in Psalm 14. The title of Psalm 53provides us the title of the person to whom it was addressed, “the Chief Musician.” It also provides the instrument used to accompany the singer, Mahalath (probably a stringed instrument), as well as the name of the melody, Maschil, that accompanied the psalm. As already noted, David is identified as the author in the title.

I invite you to identify three major truths found in Psalm 53: The fact of universal wickedness (53:1-3); the wicked’s denial of the providence of God (53:4-5); and David’s prayer that the LORD would save Israel, and rejoicing and gladness would be restored.

The Fool and His Plight (53:1-3)

David’s observations concerning the condition of man is not only well known, but should be self-evident to an honest observer. The folly of the fool is that he is an atheist, in word and deed! We read, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Notice the phrase, “there is,” is in italics, indicating it was added by editors hoping to give clarity to the passage. I suggest, however, that the addition was unnecessary, for the folly of the fool is that he has not only denied God in his heart, but also in his deeds. David observed that the atheism of the fool carries him down a path of corruption, and destruction. Indeed, “there is none that doeth good” (53:1b).

The doctrine of God’s omniscience is stated in the next verse, where we read, “2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God” (53:2). Having denied God, the fool may be convinced his sins go unnoticed and unpunished. Yet, God’s gaze is perpetually upon man, and he sees and tries the hearts to see if any seek Him (53:2).

Consider also that the plight of man is universal, and without exception: “Every one of them [every man, woman, boy, and girl] is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (53:3). Universal rebellion; universal immorality; universal sin… “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (53:3).

Ponder that truth for a moment. There are no exceptions to the infection of sin. We are all infected by its curse, and the mass of humanity past, present, and future is born under the curse of sin (of course, the one exception was Jesus Christ who, though born of a woman, was not born of the seed of man, but of the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35).

The apostle Paul observed the universality of sin, writing: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the universal consequences of sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The Wicked’s Denial of the Providence of God (53:4-5)

The fool has not only rejected God, but he has also denied the visible evidences of God’s essence and providences as seen in His creation every day (53:4a). David warned, God is jealous of His people, and the wicked will not go unpunished for their ill treatment of them (53:4b).

There is a sad irony in this psalm. On the one hand, men boast, “There is no God,” but there is coming a day a judgment when fear will take hold of the hearts of men, and those who set themselves against Him will be destroyed (53:5a). Indeed, the wicked will be put to shame, for the LORD will hold them in contempt (53:5b).

David’s Prayer and Intercession for Israel (53:6)

Psalm 53 concludes with David looking forward to the day when Israel will be saved. In that day, “Jacob shall rejoice” (the lineage of the Twelve Tribes), and “Israel shall be glad” (53:6). Whom would God send to answer David’s prayer for a Savior? His name would be Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Closing thoughts – Without exception; Every man or woman who rejects God, and refuses His offer of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son…is foolish. We might boast of our good works, but the prophet Isaiah declared, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). A sinner cannot be saved “by works of righteousness which [he has] done, but according to [God’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Majesty of God, the Eternal Judge (1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 18; Psalm 50

Today’s Scripture reading comprises Psalm 50, and 1 Chronicles 18. You should be familiar with the narrative of the latter, for it chronicles events we considered in a prior study of 2 Samuel 8. Psalm 50, therefore, is the focus of today’s devotional.

Psalm 50

The title of Psalm 50, “A Psalm of Asaph,” introduces a song writer who was a chief musician during the reign of David (1 Chronicles 6:39; 16:7). This is one of twelve psalms attributed to Asaph. The occasion for the writing of the psalm is not given; however, it rejoices in the LORD as a righteous judge (50:1-6), encourages the saints of God in their worship (50:7-15), and admonishes the wicked for their sin (50:16-21).

God, the Righteous Judge (50:1-6)

Knowing the names of God define His character, consider what we can learn of Him in the introductory verse: The mighty God [El Elohim – Mighty Ruler; Great God; Supreme], even the Lord [Yahweh; SELF-EXISTENT ONE], hath spoken, and called [summoned] the earth [all inhabitants] from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof” (50:1).

Psalm 50:2 declares the majesty of God: “2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined;” while Psalm 50:3 announces He is coming: “3Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: A fire shall devour before him, And it shall be very tempestuous round about him.”

I believe it is the Second Coming of Christ that is described here, for the LORD is pictured as one coming in judgment [like a fire], and mankind is admonished to prepare for His judgment (50:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:27).  The saints of God will be gathered, and the judgment of God will be righteous (50:5-6).

God’s Message to the Saints of Israel (50:7-15)

I notice three major truths regarding the LORD summoning His people to come before Him. The first, He is God, and therefore He has the right to judge Israel (50:7). God is pictured as pondering His judgment of the people, and acknowledges they had brought before Him sacrifices and burnt offerings continually (50:8). Nevertheless, the people were reminded that in offering bullocks and goats to the LORD, they were giving only that which was His (50:9). All that has life, and breath is the LORD’S (50:10-11).

In a wonderful reminder of God’s Sovereignty as Creator and LORD, He challenged the people, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof” (50:12).

Stop for a moment, and consider that last statement! There is nothing you and I can give the LORD, that is not already His, for all the world is His! We own nothing, but we are chosen to be stewards of possessions that are the LORD’S. Not only what we possess, but our very being is the LORD’S. In this, God has the right and authority to command us to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Lesson – How might we honor and glorify the LORD? By giving ourselves to Him out of a heart of gratitude, and present to Him all that is due (50:14). When we come to the LORD with a heart of gratitude, He promises: “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (50:15).

God’s Message to the Wicked (50:16-21)

The focus of Psalm 50 then turns from the saints, to God’s judgment of the wicked (50:16). Consider the hypocrisy of the wicked: Externally they acknowledge the statutes of the LORD (His Law and Commandments), and worship Him with sacrifices and offerings; however, God knows their hearts. He admonished the wicked, for they hated to be instructed in the way of righteousness, and had contempt for the Word of God (50:17). They violate His commandments, and fail to rebuke the thief (50:18a; Exodus 20:15). They observe the adulterer, but fail to condemn his adultery (50:18b; Exodus 20:14). The wicked lie and slander others (50:19-20; Exodus 20:16).

Notice in Psalm 50:21 how the threat of God’s judgment rose to a crescendo (50:21a), as He warned the wicked that they had abused His silence, His patience, and their day of judgment was coming (50:21b).

Conclusion: A Warning and a Promise (50:22-23)

The Warning: Fail to obey the LORD, and express gratitude of His blessings and longsuffering, and He will “tear you in pieces” and none can deliver you out of His fury (50:22).

The Promise: It is a heart of praise and thanksgiving that glorifies the LORD (50:23). When a sinner sincerely seeks the LORD, He promises to show him the way of “the salvation of God.” What is the way of salvation, and the forgiveness of sin?

Ephesians 2:8–108For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Accepting When God Says “No,” Will Open the Way for a Greater Blessing (2 Samuel 7)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 7

Today’s Scripture reading parallels events that are also recorded by the historian in 1 Chronicles 17. The events unfolding in 2 Samuel 7 follow sometime after the arrival of the Ark of God in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

David’s Passion to Build a Temple (7:1-3)

The early years of David’s reign were indeed, “golden years.” In the opening verses of today’s study, we find the king enjoying a time of rest, and reflection (7:1). The great warrior had earned a well-deserved reprieve, though it would be short-lived. 2 Samuel 8 records a string of battles David would soon face, but at this time “the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies” (7:1).

Resting, and contemplating the rich appointments of his cedar palace, the king confided to the prophet Nathan of his discomfort. He was troubled that while he enjoyed the luxury of his palace, the “Ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (for that was the tent David had prepared for the Ark (7:2). Neither approving or affirming David’s desire to build a temple, Nathan encouraged the king, “Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee” (7:3).

God Prohibited David Building a Temple (7:4-17)

The LORD came to Nathan, and commanded His prophet to reason with David, and forbad him building a Temple, noting He had not commanded nor expressed a desire for “an house for me to dwell in” (7:4-5). The LORD had fashioned a tabernacle that had sheltered the Ark during the wilderness years, and throughout the era of the Judges (7:6-7).

Nathan was commanded to go to the king, and remind him he was a servant of the LORD. He was to remember what the Lord had said concerning his beginning: “I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel” (7:8). Though he was king and his name and fame were growing, he was reminded his success had come from the LORD (7:9-10).

In contrast to David’s desire to build a house for the Ark, God promised the king, “the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house” (7:11). The verses that follow prove this was not a house made with hands, and formed out of cedar and stone, but was a royal lineage, a dynasty of kings (7:12). David was promised that his son [Solomon] would build a house, a temple to the LORD (7:13). God promised he would love him like a father loves a son (7:14), and would bestow His mercy upon him.

A far-reaching messianic prophecy is found in this passage, and it was one that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God promised the king, “I will stablish the throne of his [David’s] kingdom for ever” (7:13). The promise is repeated in 2 Samuel 7:16 where we read, “thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

A faithful prophet, Nathan fulfilled God’s command and “according to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David” (7:17).

David’s Response to the Prophecy (7:18-29)

Rather than dwell upon the denial of his desire to build a house for the LORD, David embraced the prophecy that his throne and kingdom would be forever (though not fully understanding the breadth of its fulfillment). Humbled by the LORD’s promises, I believe David rose from his throne, and made his way to the Tabernacle where he “sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?” (7:18).

He had been reminded that he was a lowly shepherd when the LORD chose him to be king (7:8), and it was God that had given him fame and power over his enemies (7:19). David asked a profoundly humble question: “20And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant” (7:20).

Think about that statement: LORD, you know me, and that I am a lowly servant in the presence of a God Who is great, and there is no god like Thee (7:22). God is indeed great in mercy, grace, power, and deeds. Israel’s history was a testimony of the greatness of God, for He had chosen them, and redeemed them out of the slavery of Egypt (7:23-24).

David believed God (7:25-29). Instead of the king building a temple for the LORD, God promised to build through David’s seed a perpetual dynasty. Trusting God’s grace, David’s prayer concluded rejoicing in God’s goodness (7:28), and requesting His divine blessings on himself, and his seed (7:29).

Closing thought – God’s way is always best. David had a good heart, and his desire to build a temple for the Ark was a righteous one; however, he accepted that responsibility and privilege would belong to his son and heir.

Nevertheless, by accepting the LORD’S prohibition, David inherited a far greater promise: His name, throne, and kingdom would be established by the LORD forever. That promise would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ: “16And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (7:16).

Lesson – Trust God, after all, His Way is Perfect! (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sing Unto the LORD! (Psalm 89; Psalm 96)

Scripture reading – Psalm 89; Psalm 96

Music has always been a central part of worshipping the LORD.  Had you been privileged to visit the Temple, you would have heard singers and musicians leading the congregation of Israel in worship. Their lives were dedicated to singing, playing, and composing songs of praise. Reading the psalms, you come to realize the deep, personal relationship the writers had with their subject…the LORD! Psalm 89 and Psalm 96 call upon the congregation to sing, sing unto the LORD!

Psalm 89 – The Person and Attributes of God

Psalm 89 was composed by “Ethan the Ezrahite,” and some scholars suggest he was also known as Jeduthun, a musician of David’s era. We can be certain he was a Levite, and his composition would have been sung in worship in the Temple. Time and space do not permit a thorough study of Psalm 89; however, I invite you to consider a few of God’s attributes detailed in the psalm.

A Call to Worship the LORD (Psalm 89:1-4)

God is merciful and faithful (89:1-2), and His promises never fail (89:3).

Divine Attributes (Psalm 89:5-18)

God is incomparable (Psalm 89:6-8), and He is to be feared and revered (89:7). He is strong and faithful (89:8). He is the Sovereign in nature, and the seas obey His will (89:9; Matthew 8:24-27). He is Sovereign of the nations, and He rules the “sea” of nations (89:10).

God is the Creator, and the mountains rejoice at His name (89:11-12). He is just, merciful, and to be trusted (89:14). He is righteous (89:16), and our protector (89:18). The LORD is “the Holy One of Israel, [and He] is our King (89:18).

God is Faithful, and No Promise of His Ever Fails. (89:19-52)

The LORD keeps covenant with His people, and He never forgets His promises (89:19-25). He is “my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (89:26). He is merciful (89:28), and just; and those who break His Covenant will not go unpunished (89:26-32). He is holy, and cannot lie (89:35). He is a righteous Judge, and sin will not go unpunished (89:38-45). He is just, and in Him is life, purpose, mercy, and forgiveness (89:46-51). He is worthy of praise, for He is “LORD for evermore” – eternal, perpetual, everlasting God (89:52).

Psalms 96 – “O SING unto the LORD a New Song!”

Psalm 96 is an evangelistic psalm of praise, a universal invitation to “all the earth” to worship and sing praises unto the LORD (96:1). Three times the psalmist invites worshippers to sing:  “1O sing unto the Lord a new song: Sing unto the Lord, all the earth. 2Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; Shew forth his salvation from day to day” (96:1-2).

What was this “new song?”  (96:1-2)

I believe it was a song of salvation, a song of redemption; and an invitation to all who worship the LORD to “shew forth His salvation” (96:2). The psalmist invites God’s people to, “Declare His glory among the heathen [all non-Hebrew people]” (96:3).

Not only are we to “sing unto the LORD,” we are also exhorted to “Give unto the LORD” (96:7-8). The psalm opened with a trifecta invitation to “Sing,” and now there is a triplicate invitation to Give: Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 8Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come into his courts” (96:7–8).

The evangelistic thrust of Psalm 96 continued with an invitation to “worship the LORD” (96:9). Sincere worship acknowledges the holiness of God, and those who worship Him, fear and revere Him (96:9). We who worship the LORD are to declare to “the heathen that the Lord reigneth…and He shall judge the people righteously” (96:10).

Psalm 96 concludes with a doxology, reminding us the sin Adam thrust upon the world, the curse of sin, and its effect upon nature has been “that the whole creation groaneth [sorrows] and travaileth [agonizes] in pain [i.e. pangs of death]” (Romans 8:22).

However, the psalmist foresaw a day when there would be rejoicing in nature: “the heavens…the earth…the sea…the field… [and] the trees of the wood [will] rejoice (96:11-12). What was the cause for rejoicing in nature? When the LORD comes to “judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the people with his truth” (96:13).

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Let All the Earth Praise the LORD! (1 Chronicles 16)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 16

The celebration of the arrival of the Ark of God in Jerusalem continued in 1 Chronicles 16. David had prepared a new tent for the Ark, while the original tabernacle from the days of Moses remained in Gibeon, a city north of Jerusalem, and located in the midst of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin.

The Ark’s return, and the restoration of sacrificial offerings (16:1-2) was cause for a national celebration. David did not usurp the role of the Levites; however, as king he placed himself at the forefront of the celebration. After blessing the people in the name of the Lord” (16:2), we read that “every man and woman [was given] a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh [possibly a serving of meat], and a flagon [clay jar] of wine” (16:3).

David had re-established, and set in order the service of the Levites and priests (16:4). He appointed singers and musicians to lead in daily worship (16:4-6), thus reminding us of the prominent role music and singing has always held when believers worship the God of heaven. A poet and musician himself, David had prepared a special psalm of thanksgiving for the occasion (16:7-36), and entrusted it to Asaph, one of three chief musicians (16:7).

A Festive Song, A Psalm of Thanksgiving (16:8-36)

David’s psalm heralded a new day, and a new beginning for the people. Calling upon all Israel to worship and give thanks to the LORD, David invited the congregation to sing: “9Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, Talk ye of all his wondrous works” (16:9). Boast of the LORD, and “10Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord” (16:10).

Three times the song called upon the people to “seek the LORD” (16:10-11). What did it mean to “seek the LORD?” It meant to diligently seek Him; call upon Him as one wholly dependent on Him (16:10).

Not only were the people to glory in the LORD, and seek Him, but they were to remember all He had done for them as a nation (16:12). Abraham, and Jacob were dead, but the covenant promises of the LORD had not failed (16:13-17). All He had promised He had fulfilled, for He had given Israel “the land of Canaan” for their inheritance (16:18). Though Israel had been small among the nations of the world, the LORD had protected His people from the heathen. He had warned the kings of the earth, “touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (16:22).

The focus of the song turned to rejoicing as the people were reminded that the LORD is King and Sovereign of the earth (16:23-33). All the world was encouraged to “sing unto the LORD,” for every day declares His salvation, and His glory is not hid from the eyes of the heathen” (16:23-24). Fools look to the heavens and declare, “No God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1), but the heavens themselves declare the glory of their Creator (16:25). He is great, and “is to be feared above all gods. 26For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens” (16:25-26).

How should believers respond when they realize the glory and majesty of the LORD? With hearts of thanksgiving and rejoicing, we are to bring to the LORD our offerings, and worship Him who is holy (16:27-29). Though all about us seems in turmoil, we should not forget that God sustains the earth, and “the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved” (16:30).

All nature should rejoice, for “The LORD reigneth” (16:31). 32Let the sea roar…let the fields rejoice…the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord” (16:32-33a). Why all this rejoicing? For David, like all the faithful saints of the Old Testament, was looking for the coming of the LORD. The psalm declares, the LORD “cometh to judge the earth” (16:33b).

A Doxology of Praise (16:34-36)

David’s psalm concluded with a prayer for deliverance, and a doxology of thanksgiving. I can hear the crescendo of voices and instruments, as the people sang, “34O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (16:34). Acknowledging that salvation is from God (16:35), the song fell silent with the last refrain: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever” (16:36). The voices of the people thundered in response, “Amen, and praised the Lord” (16:36).

1 Chronicles 16 concluded with a register of Levites that had been assigned to minister before the Ark in Jerusalem (16:37-38), and the names of men assigned to attend the altar and sacrifices in Gibeon, where the tabernacle of Moses remained (16:39-40). As in Jerusalem, so it was in Gibeon, that musicians accompanied the worship of the LORD (16:41-42).

Closing thoughts – With the celebration ended, David and all Israel returned to their houses (16:43). Though the episode with Michal, the daughter of Saul, and the first wife of David was unwarranted and disheartening (15:29), the past was the past and David and the nation looked forward to the blessings of the LORD (1 Chronicles 17).

I encourage you to do the same! Be willing to forgive, and leave the past in the past. We too often stumble over trifles, make minor issues major, and fail to recognize the blessings of the LORD. Take a moment and count your blessings, and then pause and meditate on the greatness of God displayed in His Creation, and in your salvation.

Let all the earth rejoice, and praise the LORD.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Life Got You Down? (Psalm 43:1-5) – Part 2 of 2 devotional posts.

Scripture reading – Psalm 43

There is no title given for Psalm 43, nor is the author identified. For me, I am content to read this brief psalm, and find encouragement when I realize I am in good company when it comes to facing discouragement and loneliness.

The psalmist writes, Judge [litigate; vindicate; deliver] me, O God [Elohim; the Godhead], and plead [defend; contend; argue] my cause [contest; controversy; dispute] against an ungodly nation [heathen; Gentile]: O deliver me from the deceitful [dishonest] and unjust [wicked; perverse; unrighteous] man” (43:1).

The author appealed to God to hear his prayer, and deliver him from a wicked, “unjust” enemy.  The enemy was not named; however, the tactics of the enemy are the same as those you and I might face. Lies, libel, slander, threats, and attacks on one’s integrity are the modus operandi of the enemies of God, and His people.

Rallying his heart, the psalmist continued his prayer, For thou art the God of my strength [fortress; stronghold; safety]: why dost thou cast me off [forsake; turn away; reject]? why go [behave] I mourning because of the oppression [distress; affliction] of the enemy [adversary]?” (43:2)

The writer felt forsaken, and alone (43:2). What he believed regarding God’s character, he found to be at odds with what he was feeling. He acknowledged the LORD was his Judge (43:1), Strength (43:2), Guide (43:3), Joy (43:4), Hope (43:5a), and Salvation (43:5b). He prayed for the LORD to restore him, and to “send out [spread] thy light and thy truth: let them [light and truth] lead [guide; bring]me; let them [light and truth] bring me unto thy holy [sacred; consecrated] hill [mount], and to thy tabernacles [residence; earthly place representing the presence of God]” (43:3).

The psalmist appealed to God to illuminate his way, and guide him with His Truth to the safe haven of God’s “holy hill” and the “tabernacles” where the saints of God gathered to worship (43:3). Though despairing, the psalmist rallied his heart, and looked past his sorrows. He set his heart upon the joy of worshipping, offering sacrifices, and singing His praises to God (43:4).

Psalm 43:4 – “4 Then will I go unto the altar [place of slaughter or sacrifice] of God, unto God my exceeding [blithesome] joy [gladness]: yea, upon the harp [string instrument] will I praise [give thanks; confess; revere; worship] thee, O God my God.”

Having turned his focus from his enemy and his troubles, the psalmist counseled his soul with two questions: Why art thou cast down [depressed; brought low], O my soul [life; person; heart]? and why art thou disquieted [troubled] within me? hope [wait; patient; tarry; trust] in God: for I shall yet praise [give thanks; worship] him, who is the health [deliverer; salvation] of my countenance [face], and my God” (43:5).

Robert Burton, an Oxford scholar of the 17th century, and author of The Anatomy of Melancholy, wrote: If there be a hell upon earth, it is to be found in the melancholy man’s heart.”

Friend, I do not know your fears, or that which troubles your soul, but I encourage you not to stay there. Turn your thoughts from self-pity, give yourself a “good talking to,” and trust the LORD!

1 Corinthians 10:13 – “There hath no temptation [test or trial] taken you but such as is common to man [i.e. your trouble is not unique]: but God is faithful [trustworthy; true], who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted [tried or tested] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [lit. to pass through the trial], that ye may be able to bear it [endure].”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A History Lesson (1 Chronicles 2; Psalm 43) – Part 1 of 2 devotional posts.

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 2; Psalm 43

Review of 1 Chronicles 1

The previous devotional introduced the First Book of the Chronicles, and it provided us with a genealogical study of human history beginning with Adam, the first man (1 Chronicles 1:1; Genesis 1:27-27; 2:18-25). The lineages of humanity are presented in the first chapter, descending from the sons of Noah, through Japheth (1:5-7), Ham (1:8-16), and Shem (1:17-23). While many of the great nations of the world would emanate from Japheth and Ham, it is the lineage of Shem and his descendants that is the central focus of the Biblical narrative.

The great patriarchs of the faith would be born of Shem’s posterity, beginning with Abraham, whom the LORD commanded to separate from “Ur of the Chaldees” (1:24; Genesis 11:10-32). With the promise that through him “all families of the earth [would] be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3), Abraham believed and obeyed God (Genesis 12:4).

Of the sons born to Abraham (Ishmael the firstborn, Isaac, and the sons born to Keturah, 1:32-33), it was Isaac who was the heir of the covenant, and to him was born Jacob, whom the LORD called Israel, the father of the twelve sons, who became the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2:1).

The Sons of Judah, the Royal Tribe (1 Chronicles 2)

The twelve sons of Jacob, later named Israel, are recorded in 1 Chronicles 2 (2:1-2). The lineage of Judah, the fourth born son of Israel, is of particular interest (2:5-55) because he would be the father of the royal tribe. Of his five sons (2:3-5) was born Pharez (i.e., Perez), the father of Hezron (2:9-15) through whose seed would be born David (2:15), and ultimately the LORD Jesus Christ (both Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph were of the tribe of Judah).

There is so much more that could be added to this brief study of names in 1 Chronicles 2; however, I fear that might prove counterproductive to the goal of both commentary and brevity.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Victory Song, and a History Lesson (Psalm 21; 1 Chronicles 1)

Scripture reading – Psalm 21; 1 Chronicles 1

We are continuing our chronological Scripture reading with two passages of the Bible. Our study of the Psalms resumes with today’s reading of Psalm 21, titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.” For those who enjoy Bible history, we are beginning a study of the first of two books known as the “Chronicles.”

Psalm 21 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving and Praise

Psalm 21 is a song of rejoicing, that was penned by David as a psalm of thanksgiving for a victory the LORD had given him over his enemies (21:1). Though kings, rulers, and politicians are quick to boast of their successes, David humbly acknowledged his victory on the battlefield was from the LORD.

Psalm 21:1The king shall joy [rejoice; be glad] in thy [the LORD’s] strength [might; power], O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God]; and in thy salvation [victory] how greatly [exceeding; abundant] shall he [the king] rejoice [be glad; joyful; delight]!

The LORD had answered David’s prayer, and given the king his heart’s desire, and He had not held back one request (21:2).

Psalm 21:22  Thou [LORD] hast given [put; deliver] him [the king] his heart’s [mind; understanding]desire [delight; longing; satisfaction], and hast not withholden [kept back; denied] the request [desire] of his lips. Selah.

The king’s victory had not come because he was a brilliant strategist, or a great warrior (though we know David was both). The king had prayed, and God had answered prayer! The LORD had gone before the king into battle, and rewarded David with “blessings of goodness…[and] a crown of pure gold” (21:3). David had asked the LORD to spare his life, and He answered the prayer with a Messianic prophecy that will one day be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The LORD promised the king, “length of days [lit. long life] for ever [perpetual; everlasting; eternal]  and ever [perpetuity; duration; continuing]” (21:4).

The King’s Enemies, and His Victory over Them (21:8-12)

Psalm 21:8-10 paints a picture of battle that was waged without the danger of political correctness. David understood his foe would not be overcome or defeated by elaborate speeches, peace initiatives, or verbal assaults on his rivals.  Having faith in their king and the LORD, the people called upon God to bless their army in battle, and unleash on their enemies His wrath (21:8-12). Israel’s adversaries would not be pacified, and God’s people realized the evil plot of their enemy (21:11).  The people called upon the LORD, and prayed He would turn the evil devices of the enemy against them (21:12). Psalm 21 concludes with a shout of victory (21:13).

Psalm 21:13 “Be thou exalted [high], LORD, in thine own strength [power; boldness; might]: so will we sing and praise [i.e. celebrate with music on an instrument] thy power [might; victory].”

An Introduction to History (1 Chronicles 1)

As reflected in its name, the Book of 1 Chronicles is a historical account of men, nations, and events. It contains not only a history of Israel as a people and nation, but the written record of humanity from the first man, Adam (1:1).

Though the human author of 1 Chronicles is unnamed (some scholars suggest it was written by Ezra after the Babylonian captivity), we can be certain it was inspired and preserved by God, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).

Many of the names recorded in 1 Chronicles 1 may be familiar. The famous and the infamous are named here. For students of Bible and human history, the record of names is rich, giving us greater insight into the passages.

You will find the following lineages in today’s reading: The Patriarchs from Adam to Noah and his sons (1:4). Following the Genesis flood, the genealogies of Noah’s sons (1:5-23): The sons of Japheth, whose ancestry settled in Europe (1:5-7).  The sons of Ham, whose lineage can be traced to Asia and Africa (1:8-16). Finally, the Sons of Shem (1:17-54), of whom were born Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael (1:27-28).

1 Chronicles 2 will give us the most important lineage, that of Jesus Christ, who was born of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s seed, the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

A closing thought: Though many of the names in 1 Chronicles are hard to pronounce, and unfamiliar, they were men who are part of the Biblical narrative. Every Bible student should be encouraged that modern archaeology has only proven the accuracy and preservation of the Word of God.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

A Fool’s Decree: “No God!” (Psalm 14 and Psalm 16)

Scripture reading – Psalm 14; Psalm 16

Our devotional will consider two psalms of David, Psalm 14 and Psalm 16. The occasion of these two psalms is not given; however, Psalm 14 was certainly penned when David was king, for it is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.”

Psalms 14

The Fool’s Decree, Depravity, and Dilemma (14:1-3)

Psalm 14 presents the universal definition of a fool: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They [fools] are corrupt, they have done abominable works, There is none that doeth good.”

We have the decree of the fool: He has “said in his heart, There is no God” (14:1b). “No God” is not merely something he said, but something that rises from within the man’s heart. He has rejected the Almighty, Supreme God, not only in his attitudes, and actions, but within his very heart, mind, and thoughts. He is not a fool because he is mentally deficient, or lacks academic accomplishments. No, he is a fool because in practice and principle, he has rejected God.

Notice the depravity of the fool is displayed in his wicked ways. Fools tend to be morally corrupt. Rejecting God, they have opened their hearts to all manner of wickedness. They are purveyors of abominable works. In Paul’s letter to believers in Rome, he described the abominations of those who reject God: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22-31). There is a universal commonality of all who reject God, and it is, “there is none that doeth good” (14:1).  Men may boast of their good deeds, but those who reject God, are fools.

Consider also the fool’s spiritual dilemma (14:2-3). Deny God at your peril, for your Creator is omniscient, and He knows all! Think of it: God ponders, and considers the hearts of all men, and asks: “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?” (14:4a). In other words, are they utterly void of understanding, and overwhelmingly stupid in their actions to continue in iniquity?

Psalm 14 is also an indictment of fools: They devour God’s people (14:4b). They have no fear of God. They provoke the LORD to wrath (14:5). They shame all who look to the LORD as their refuge (14:6).

The final verse of Psalm 14 expresses a Messianic aspiration (14:7); a longing that the LORD would rule in Israel, and restore the joy and prosperity He alone can give.

Psalm 14:7Oh that the salvation [help; deliverance] of Israel [descendants of Jacob] were come out of Zion [mountain of Jerusalem]! When the LORD bringeth back [restores] the captivity [exile] of his people, Jacob [the patriarch of Israel] shall rejoice [be glad; be joyful], and Israel shall be glad [brighten; rejoice].

Don’t despair! The LORD has promised He will return, and when He does He will right the wrongs, and establish a kingdom of peace for a millennium before His final judgment.

Psalms 16Don’t fret! God is a sure refuge for believers!

“Michtam of David,” is the title of Psalm 16. Some commentaries suggest the title is a “Golden Psalm of David.”

David wrote:Preserve [guard; protect] me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust [hope; confidence]. 2  O my soul, thou hast said [promised] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God], Thou art my Lord [Master; God]: my goodness [favor; pleasing] extendeth not to thee [a believer has no goodness apart from the LORD]” (16:1-2).

In a world overwhelmed with strife, threats of terror, and hopelessness, what a comfort it is to be assured the LORD never abandons His people! God is a watchman and refuge. I am not sure what circumstances moved David to express his “delight” in the LORD, but his joy was sustained by his confidence in Him. David took comfort knowing the LORD was faithful, and his grace was sufficient to cover his failings and shortcomings (16:2b).

Not only was the Lord David’s refuge, He was all the king needed. David writes, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup…the lines [measure; inheritance; portion] are fallen [divided; allotted] unto me in pleasant [delightful; lovely] places; Yea, I have a goodly [fair; pleasing] heritage [inheritance]” (16:5-6).

What a blessed place; to be where God is blessing! There are innumerable things for which we should be thankful; however, it is easy to allow the world to crowd out our joy with its sin and temptations.  I fear too many realize too late the blessings of the LORD.

Psalm 16 ends with a doxology of praise, and I encourage you to read and meditate on those verses. Notice especially Psalm 16:10, a Messianic promise of resurrection that was fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection from the dead: “10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption(16:10; Acts 2:25-28).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith