Tag Archives: Sanctification

Two Things God Hates: A Covetous Heart and Lying Lips (2 Kings 5-8)

Scripture reading – 2 Kings 5-8

Our Scripture reading covers four chapters; however, today’s devotional will focus only on 2 Kings 5.

2 Kings 5

With Elijah’s dramatic departure into the presence of the LORD (2 Kings 2), Elisha became the principal prophet in Israel. Several miracles, including those recorded in 2 Kings 4, validated that Elisha was Elijah’s successor and proved the power of God rested upon him.

The news of God’s anointing upon Elisha reached the household of a man named Naaman, “captain of the host of the king of Syria” (5:1). We read that Naaman “was a great man [noble; but perhaps great in size as well] with his master, and honourable [exalted; respected]…a mighty [heroic; valiant; champion] man in valour [virtuous; strong], but he was a leper” (5:1).

Every man has his flaws and challenges; however, for Naaman his was a physical affliction…leprosy. Apart from a miracle, there was no cure. A leper would eventually face exclusion from the living, as the dreaded disease slowly ate away his face, limbs, and extremities of his body.

Providentially, a slave girl from Israel shared with Naaman’s wife that there was a great prophet in Samaria who could heal her husband (5:2-3).  Hearing there was hope for the captain of his armies to be healed, the king of Syria sent Naaman to Israel with gifts and a letter to the king requesting that his servant might be healed of leprosy (5:4-6).  Knowing the request was an impossible one for him to fulfill, the king of Israel “rent his clothes” fearing the king of Syria was provoking a conflict with Israel (5:7).

When Elisha understood the king of Israel’s distress, he requested that Naaman be sent to his household, assuring the king, “let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (5:8). Imagine the drama as Naaman, the great captain of Syria, arrives at Elisha’s house. His plight with leprosy was no doubt visible and this great warrior found his body plagued with a curse that not only stole his dignity, but would inevitably rob him of life.

Rather than the dramatic miracle healing he had hoped, Elisha sent a messenger and commanded Naaman to take a path of humiliation and “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (5:10). Naaman’s response brings to light the fact that Naaman not only had an affliction of the flesh, his soul was also cursed and blinded with another disease…pride.

Naaman was enraged (5:11-12). Instead of some great, ceremonial act of healing, the prophet’s demand that he wash himself in Israel’s small Jordan River (5:9-10) was an affront to the man of Syria. Fortunately, Naaman’s servants prevailed upon him and persuaded their master to obey the prophet.  When Naaman came forth from the Jordan “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (5:13-14).

Miraculously healed, Naaman offered to reward Elisha for his service; however, the prophet refused his gifts (5:15-16).  Naaman then responded with a moving statement of his faith in the LORD, Jehovah, the Self-existent, Eternal God of Israel, and swore that he would never again offer sacrifices to other gods (5:17-18).

The closing verses of 2 Kings 5 turns the spiritual lens of this passage from Naaman’s dramatic statement of faith to the petty, covetousness of “Gehazi, the servant of Elisha” (5:20). Knowing Elisha had refused Naaman’s reward for healing him of leprosy, Gehazi determined he would not allow the moment to pass without seeking opportunity to enrich himself (5:20-22).

Without Elisha’s knowledge, Gehazi followed after Naaman and when the captain of Syria saw him he halted. Stepping down from his chariot, Naaman greeted Elisha’s servant with a question of shalom, “Is all well?” (5:21). Gehazi responded with shalom, “All is well” (5:22), but then lied by suggesting Elisha had sent him for a portion of the reward. Naaman granted Gehazi’s request who then took and hid the gifts (5:23-24) before returning to Elisha (5:25).

With the keen discernment of a spiritual man, Elisha questioned his servant “whence comest thou” (5:25). Gehazi lied, answering, his master, “Thy servant went no whither” (5:25). Knowing the covetous, disingenuous spirit of Gehazi, Elisha pronounced God’s judgment on his unfaithful servant who was immediately smitten with the leprosy that had plagued Naaman (5:26-27).

There are many spiritual lessons we might take from 2 Kings 5. One is that Naaman’s sinful pride nearly robbed him of not only the physical healing of his body from leprosy, but also the spiritual healing that came to his soul when he believed and confessed, he would only offer sacrifices to the LORD hereafter (5:17).

Another spiritual lesson is the reminder that God hates covetousness and lying lips: Gehazi coveted Naaman’s reward and then lied to Elisha. The consequences of his sins was not only that leprosy would plague him the rest of his life, but his children would also bear the curse of their father’s sins (5:27).

I close being reminded there are seven things the LORD despises and that will invite His judgment (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Battle is the LORD’S (2 Chronicles 19-23)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 19-23

Our Scripture reading is five chapters long, but I will limit today’s devotional commentary to 2 Chronicles 19-20.

2 Chronicles 19

With Ahab, king of Israel, slain in his battle with Syria, his ally King Jehoshaphat returned to his palace in Jerusalem where he was confronted by Jehu, the son of Hanani whom Asa had imprisoned (19:1-2).

With the boldness of a prophet of the LORD, Jehu condemned the king’s alliance with Ahab saying, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (19:2).

In spite of Jehoshaphat’s inappropriate alliance with the late king of Israel, Jehu comforted the king with God’s promise of grace saying, “there are good things found in thee…and hast prepared thine heart to seek God” (19:3).

Jehoshaphat set his heart to lead Judah in the way of the LORD and set judges in the land to rule in difficult matters (19:4-11) and admonishing them, “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment” (19:6).

2 Chronicles 20

Near the latter years of his reign, Jehoshaphat received word that a confederacy of enemies was gathering to wage war against Judah (20:1-2).  Fearing the size of the armies aligned against Judah, Jehoshaphat “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (20:3). The people gathered in Jerusalem and joined their king before the Temple where he called upon the LORD (20:4).

King Jehoshaphat, standing in the midst of his people, rehearsed in his prayer God’s covenant promises to Israel and how the LORD had promised the land “to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever” (20:5-7).

What a stirring prayer! What an inspiring scene! As Judah’s King called upon the LORD and confessed he was powerless to face such a great foe (20:12), “all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children” (20:13).

God heard Jehoshaphat’s prayer and sent Jahaziel to prophecy and encourage the king and Judah saying, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (20:15).

With God’s assurance, the people went to the battlefield and found their enemies had turned and destroyed one another (20:22-23).  Without lifting a sword or spear, the LORD gave Judah victory and the spoils of war were so great it took three days to gather them (20:24-25).

When neighboring kingdoms heard the news of Judah’s victory and how the LORD had fought against their enemies, “the fear of God was on all the kingdoms” (20:29).

While there are many lessons we might take from today’s Scripture reading, perhaps the most principal one is that the LORD wants us to call upon Him in times of trouble, trials and sickness.

When we are afraid, call upon the LORD.  When enemies threaten us and we feel overwhelmed, remember, “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

“The battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

Pay Day Someday! (2 Chronicles 10-12)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 10-12

You will find that today’s Scripture reading in 2 Chronicles parallels events that are recorded in our preceding reading assignment (1 Kings 12-14).

2 Chronicles 10 – A Tragic Time in Israel’s History

Following the death of King Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:30-31), his son Rehoboam ascended the throne and all Israel came to Shechem to make him king (10:1).

Unfortunately, all was not well in Israel. Though not yet physically divided, the nation was spiritually duplicitous and Solomon’s “heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4). The LORD had warned Solomon that his failure to keep the Law and Commandments would be punished by Israel being divided by one of his own servants. The identity of that servant is revealed as Solomon’s old adversary, Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 10:2-3).

Evidencing the foolishness of his youth and inexperience, Rehoboam faced the grievances of Israel, lacking both grace and humility (10:4-5).  Rejecting the counsel of his father’s older and wiser advisors (10:6-7), Rehoboam heeded the counsel of his peers and the king’s harshness provoked the people to rebel (10:8-14).

Remembering the LORD is sovereign, we read, “So the king hearkened not unto the people: for the cause was of God” (10:15).  The ten northern tribes of Israel, after hearing the king’s words, “went to their tents” (10:16) and “rebelled against the house of David” (10:19).

2 Chronicles 11 – A Nation Divided

Under Jeroboam, the ten northern tribes became known as Israel and the tribes of the south, Judah and Benjamin, became one nation known as Judah. King Rehoboam had thought to raise an army to seek the unification of Israel through war; however, the LORD sent a prophet named Shemaiah and deterred him from provoking war against his brethren (11:1-4). Dissuaded from civil war, Rehoboam set about building fortresses (11:4-12) to strengthen Judah against the battles that would be provoked by a divided kingdom.

2 Chronicles 11 illustrates the swift decline of a nation that rejects God (11:13-15).

We read “the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to [Rehoboam] out of all their coasts [borders; i.e. cities and lands in Israel]… and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off [i.e. cut them off] from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD” (11:13-14).

True to the character of a godless politician, Jeroboam consolidated the northern ten tribes not only politically, but spiritually. He instituted a new religion worshipping calves, ordaining “priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made” (11:15). Thankfully we read that there were a few left in Israel who “set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel” and they continued to worship in Jerusalem (11:16).

For three years, Rehoboam exercised the wisdom passed on to him by his father; however, it was his father’s proclivity to lust and immorality that proved to be his own destructive pattern of sin (11:17-23).

2 Chronicles 12 – The Menace of Pride and Arrogance

Comfortable in his palace and with Judah secured and strengthened, Rehoboam “forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him” (12:1-2).

The LORD brought Shishak, king of Egypt against Judah. The prophet Shemaiah declared that the sins of Rehoboam were to be punished by the LORD delivering his kingdom over to serve Egypt (12:1-5). Hearing the warning of the LORD’s displeasure, the king and his leaders humbled themselves before the LORD, Who in His mercy, spared Judah from destruction (12:5-8).

Adding to Judah’s humiliation, Shishak removed “shields of gold which Solomon had made” from the walls of the palace (12:9).  Rehoboam, perhaps to save face in front of his people, contented himself with a counterfeit of the glory that once belonged to his kingdom, and “made shields of brass” to replace the “shields of gold” (12:10).

What a tragedy! Where shields of gold once reflected God’s glory and blessings upon Israel, shields of brass, cheap imitations made of tin and copper, masked the miserable state of the nation!

I close pondering what lessons we might take from today’s Scripture.

Is it possible that, like Judah of old, our nation’s wealth and prosperity has deceived us? In the same way Rehoboam became servant to Egypt and counterfeited the loss of his “shields of gold” with brass shields, I fear we have become a nation enslaved to a mounting debt we owe to enemies committed to our own demise.

The United States has rejected the LORD, His Word, Law and Commandments. Is it possible our nation’s pursuit of the pleasures of sin has blinded us to the warnings of the evangelists of old… There is a pay day someday!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Living a Purposeful Life (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

Scripture Reading – Ecclesiastes 1-6

Today’s Scripture reading is long, but meaningful to all who seek to understand the many troubled individuals we pass in our daily lives. I encourage you to read and contemplate the sorrow of an empty soul that only God’s grace and mercy can fill. The devotional commentary will focus entirely on Ecclesiastes 1-2.

Ecclesiastes chronicles the ponderings of elderly King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, apart from Christ. The king’s subject is the challenges and difficulties of this earthly life, and its vanity (emptiness).  Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3 – “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.  What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”

Ecclesiastes, penned in the latter years of Solomon’s life, brings to us a shocking contrast to the bits of wisdom the king penned in the middle years of life, when he was presiding over Israel in that nation’s golden years. His youth far spent, and the frailty of old age his daily haunt, we notice that Solomon’s outlook has become sad and dismal.

Solomon questions, what is a man’s life apart from God?  To what ends should a man live?  What profit, what gain, what value is there for a man who spends his life in labor?

One generation dies and another takes its place (1:4); the sun rises and the sun sets (1:5); the wind blows and the waters run (1:6-7), and in Solomon’s observation, a man’s heart is never satisfied (1:8).

Ecclesiastes 1:8 – “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.”

What a sad commentary on the life of a king whom God promised to give unimaginable wealth and incomprehensible wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-14)!  His youth spent, Solomon had turned his heart from God, and now near the end of his life, sums up his search for fulfillment saying, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14).

What happened to this man who had everything, but whose life became empty?  We find the answer to that question in 1 Kings 11:4.

1 Kings 11:3-4 – “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

From a horizontal, human perspective, Solomon’s life and passions showed the heart of one who had turned from God! No wonder Solomon writes, “Vanity, all is vanity,” thirty-four times in Ecclesiastes.

When he was young, the king loved the LORD and chose wisdom over wealth and worldly pleasures (1 Kings 3:9).  God had honored his desire and imparted to Solomon not only wisdom, but also riches and power. Tragically, in his old age, he had turned from the LORD and His Law and Commandments.

Ecclesiastes is the philosophical discourse of an old man out of fellowship with God. What a tragic conclusion for a man whose youth was a testimony of God’s blessings!

Ecclesiastes 2:11 – “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.”

I believe it is author and preacher Chuck Swindoll who tells the story of a deeply disturbed individual who went to a psychiatrist seeking help with his anxieties.  Every morning the man awoke melancholy and, in the evening, went to bed deeply depressed.  Desperate and unable to find relief, he decided to seek the counsel of a medical doctor.

The psychiatrist, after listening to the man share his thoughts, fears and anxieties, finally leaned towards his patient and said, “I understand an Italian clown has come to our local theatre and the crowds are [rolling] in the aisles in laughter… Why don’t you go see the clown and laugh your troubles away?”

With a sad, forlorn expression, the patient muttered, “Doctor, I am that clown.”

Friend, a life lived apart from God and in contradiction to His Law will never be satisfying!  No pleasures can mask the sadness, nor riches satisfy the void of a sinner’s heart apart from the LORD.  Solomon writes,

Ecclesiastes. 2:26 – “For God giveth to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading assignment – 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we take away from today’s Scripture?

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5

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

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

1 Kings 8 – Dedication of the Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

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

1 Kings 5

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

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

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

1 Kings 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Uncommon, Common Sense (Proverbs 22-24)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 22-24

We are continuing our study of the Proverbs of Solomon, chapters 22-24. Today’s devotional commentary, Proverbs 22:1-3, is appropriated from earlier posts at http://www.HeartofAShepherd.com.

Proverbs 22:1 – “A Good Name: Better Than Silver and Gold”

(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is one of my heroes. Born in 1809 on the western frontier of the United States in the state of Indiana, Lincoln’s life story is inspiring. The son of a farmer, Lincoln’s childhood home was a log cabin. He was homeschooled and largely self-educated.

This man of the most common stock would challenge a nation to confront its soul and weigh its fundamental declaration that, “all men are created equal.” Honest AbeThe Rail SplitterThe Great Emancipator was mocked by his enemies; however, even they admired his character and reputation for honesty.

Proverbs 22:1 calls you to consider the reputation associated with your name.

Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name [honorable reputation] is rather to be chosen than great riches [wealth]and loving favour [grace] rather than silver and gold.”

A good name is not something you can purchase with silver and gold. Your reputation is something you earn. Your parents named you when you were born; however, your character and life choices have shaped and colored the hue of your name. What character qualities come to mind when someone hears your name?

Solomon challenged his son that it was better to be an honorable man, than to possess wealth, but be cloaked with dishonor.

Proverbs 22:2 – A man’s worth is not defined by what he owns, but by what or who owns him.

Parable 22:2 – “The rich and poor [destitute] meet together [concur; encounter]: the LORD is the maker [Creator] of them all.”

There is little difference between the rich and the poor; with the exception the rich man has much goods. We are all God’s creatures.  The rich man is no better than the poor man, and a poor man is no less than a rich man.

Whether rich or poor, we are sinners in need of a Savior Redeemer—Jesus Christ. Regardless of the designer label in our clothes, we need God’s mercy and grace. In the end, death is the great equalizer of both the rich and poor.

We read in the Book of James:

James 1:9-10 – “Let the brother [believer] of low degree [poor circumstances] rejoice in that he is exalted [rich in Christ]10  But the rich, in that he is made low [humbled]: because as the flower of the grass he [rich man] shall pass away.”

Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth [demonstrated] His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Proverbs 22:3 – A Word to the Wise and a Warning to the Foolish

Proverbs 22:3 – “A prudent [cunning; sensible] man foreseeth [perceive; understands] the evil [sin; wickedness; adversity], and hideth [conceal; hide; shelter] himself: but the simple [foolish; silly] pass on, and are punished [condemn; inflict a penalty].”

We are living in dangerous, uncertain times and Proverbs 22:3 challenges believers to be wise and discerning in a world that is no friend of the spiritually-minded. Consider the contrast between two men who are polar opposites when it comes to discernment—the Prudent and the Simple.

The Prudent man is a learner. He is a student of the Scriptures [the Wisdom of God] and human nature.  His senses are exercised by the Word of God and a lifetime of experiences.  He is wary of the wiles and ways of the world. Prudence dictates that he foresees the ways of the wicked and withdraws himself from the consequences of their sinful ways.

The Simple are not learners.  They are stubborn, and ignore the admonitions of their parents and have disdain for godly counsel. They pursue the pleasures of sin, giving no thought to their tragic end. The Simple rush past moral restraints and headlong down the path of self-destruction. This same proverb is repeated in Proverbs 27:12, thus magnifying the need to read and heed its truth.

Proverbs 27:12 – “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.”

Truth – Men who are wise will seek and heed godly counsel.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Remember When Superman Symbolized Justice and “The American Way?”

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 16-18

Continuing our chronological daily reading of the Scriptures, you are invited to read Proverbs 16-18. Today’s devotional will be based on Proverbs 16:10-13.

Americans live in a republic whose laws should be as binding on her leaders as they are on common citizens.  Idealistically, no leader is above the law and the scales of justice are in no man’s favor.

In a monarchy, however, the king is the embodiment of the law and the citizens of his realm can only pray that their king is a righteous man who fears the judgment and wrath of God.

Proverbs 16:10-13 expresses four principles that serve as a guide for every leader and those he serves.

Proverbs 16:10 – “A divine sentence [decision reflecting God’s Law] is in [proceeds from; is on] the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not [does not commit trespass] in judgment [sentence; verdict].”

Kings, rulers, judges and all who are in authority are to exercise judgment being mindful that God, not man, is the ultimate authority of right and wrong.  When godly men sit in places of judgment, their hearts are able to weigh matters with the discernment God alone gives.  How is that possible?

Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – “And it shall be, when he [king] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he [king] shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”

The kings of Israel were to possess a copy of God’s Law written in their own hand (17:18).  The Law of God was to be a king’s daily meditation (17:19) and he was to remember he was God’s servant and a minister to his people (17:20).

Proverbs 16:11 – “A just weight [right verdict; scale] and balance [scales] are the LORD’S: all the weights [stones; measurements] of the bag are His work [labor; work of His hands].”

Lady Justice continues to serve as an international symbol of equity. She is often depicted wearing a blindfold, holding in her left hand the scales of justice, and in her right the double-edged sword of judgment.  She serves as a modern reminder of what kings were to remember: God is the final judge and arbitrator.  Israel’s king was to remember that God’s Law and the immutable principles of His holiness, grace and mercy were the final word when he executed judgment.

Proverbs 16:12 – “It is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome; repulsive] to kings to commit [do; execute] wickedness [moral wrong]: for the throne [seat of authority and judgment] is established [fixed; firmly established; made strong] by righteousness [rightness; moral virtue].”

Proverbs 16:12 addresses the responsibility and influence of kings and all who are in authority. I believe America is in a quagmire of immorality and injustice because our leaders have forsaken the Law of God, and have no moral compass for discerning right and wrong. The decay of our strength and security as a nation has paralleled the erosion of our confidence and respect for those in authority.

Proverbs 16:13 – “Righteous [true; just] lips are the delight [desire; pleasure] of kings; and they love [desire; like] him that speaketh right [just; upright].”

The integrity of a leader may be measured by the moral character of his counselors.  Godless leaders seek counsel from those who serve their immoral ends, but godly leaders have a passion for truth and love those whose words and counsel are honest and just.

Do you desire wisdom and discernment? Study God’s Word and meditate on His Laws and Commandments.

Psalm 119:103-105 – “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104  Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

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

Scripture reading – Proverbs 10-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith