Tag Archives: Spiritual warfare

Political Correctness is a Moral Cancer (Psalm 12)

Scripture reading – Psalm 12

Make no mistake, “political correctness” is neither new, nor correct.  Psalm 12:1-8 exposes “political correctness” for what it is—a vehicle for attacking Truth and silencing those who believe God’s Word and accept its morality as just and right.

Psalm 12 is titled, “A Psalm of David,” and is the cry of a king who witnessed the retreat of a godly remnant, and in the king’s words, were all but extinct. David lamented:

Psalm 12:1 – “Help [deliver; save; avenge], LORD; for the godly man [saint] ceaseth [come to an end]; for the faithful [true; people of faith; believers] fail [disperse; disappear] from among the children of men.”

The date and setting that inspired Psalm 12 is not given, but the time of Absalom’s insurrection would certainly stir the sentiments we find in this passage. David cried out to the LORD to save the faithful, and avenge those who obey His law and revere Him (12:1).

Psalm 12:2-4 – “They speak [say; declare] vanity [deceit; evil] every one with his neighbor [friend; companion]: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.
3  The LORD shall cut off all flattering
[smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify] things:
4  Who have said
[declared; tell], With our tongue will we prevail [strengthen; act insolently]; our lips are our own: who is lord [master; sovereign; owner] over us?

Remembering the manipulative ways of Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-2), and the way he won the heart of the people by self-promotion at the expense of the king’s reputation (2 Samuel 15:3-5), we can identify David’s description of the smooth lips and double-tongued nature of the wicked (12:2).  With a “double heart,” and insolent “flattering lips” the wicked assail the godly, rejecting the authorities in their lives (12:4).

The believers of our day would do well to take a page out of David’s “playbook” and realize the nature of man has not changed!  The wicked are emboldened by their peers (12:2), and should they go unchallenged by the righteous, they will prevail against those in authority (12:4b).

Though the wicked revel in their lies, and boast with their lips, David assured the godly, “The LORD shall cut off all flattering [smooth] lips [language; speech], and the tongue that speaketh [declares; tells] proud [great; magnify]things” (12:3). Believer, take solace in this; The LORD will “cut off,” expose, and take vengeance against those who deny Him and rail against His people.

Psalm 12:5 – “For the oppression [spoil; destruction] of the poor [afflicted; depressed; needy], for the sighing [groaning; cries] of the needy [beggar; destitute], now will I arise [stand up], saith the LORD; I will set [array; appoint] him in safety [salvation; safety; liberty; prosper] from him that puffeth [scoffs; kindles as a fire] at him.”

David reminded his faithful followers that God is patient, longsuffering, and merciful toward sinners. However, He is just, and He will avenge the wicked who oppress the poor and needy. In this instance, the “poor and needy” are not necessarily financially challenged or destitute, but are afflicted and oppressed by the actions of the wicked.

The wicked boast, and oppress others, not understanding that the LORD is longsuffering, and extends liberty to sinners for a season. However, He declares He will rise up against the wicked, and pour out His wrath on those who “puffeth” and scoff at the poor and afflicted (12:5).

Psalm 12:6-7 – “6  The words [speech; commands] of the LORD are pure [clean; fair; no falsehood] words: assilver tried [refined] in a furnace of earth, purified [purged; refined] seven times.
7  Thou shalt keep
[preserve; guard; protect] them [the poor and needy of vs. 5] , O LORD, thou shalt preserve [guard; protect] them from this generation [age] for ever.”

Unlike the speech of the wicked (12:2-4), the words of the LORD (His Laws and Commandments) are pure, like refined silver that has passed through the furnace seven times (12:6).  The words of the wicked are full of vain promises; however, the Word of the LORD is faithful and true from generation to generation (12:7).

Psalm 12:8 – “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened].”

You need only read Psalm 12:8 to understand what has become of our world! Citizens of this world have invited the wrath of God by promoting the vilest of men and women to rule over them. God’s people should not be surprised, nor wonder why lawlessness abounds in the 21st century. David states the principle cause for pervasive wickedness: “The wicked [immoral; guilty; criminal] walk [go; behave] on every side [every place], when the vilest [worthless] men are exalted [raised up; high; emboldened]” (12:8).

Closing thoughts – My own country has “exalted…the vilest men,” prompting lawlessness as wickedness runs unchecked in our communities. A spirit of rebellion, promoted as a demand for rights, has seized upon the spiritual vacuum in our youth, while fanning the flames of anarchy in the hearts of our children. When the godly are silent, the wicked are strengthened, and will “walk on every side.” Continue to elect the “vilest men,” and lawlessness will prevail.

In spite of how “badly” things might go in society, God’s people should never forget the LORD’S promises are forever true. King David aptly stated: God’s words are “pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of wrath, purified seven times (12:6). Those who trust in the LORD, He will “keep…and preserve” (12:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Be A Prayer Warrior For Your Nation (Psalm 20)

Scripture reading – Psalm 20

Psalm 20 has been described by some as a “National Anthem” for Israel, but surely it should be the prayer of all who call upon the LORD. It is an intercessory prayer, an exhortation to pray and call to the LORD “in the day of trouble” (20:1). I suggest it is also an exhortation for believers to intercede with God for their nation and leaders. * As in the past, the amplifications of words in our text are those of the author.

Psalm 20:1-2 – “The LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] hear thee in the day [time] of trouble [adversity]; the name [fame; renown] of the God [Elohim; the Mighty God] of Jacob defend [strengthen] thee; 2  Send thee help [aid]from the sanctuary [holy place], and strengthen [support;; sustain] thee out of Zion [site of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount];

The setting and events that inspired this psalm are not stated, but because its author was David, I believe it was the king appealing to his people to call unto the LORD (20:1). Israel was facing an enemy, and the king dare not go to war without the confidence that the LORD would go before him (20:2).

Psalm 20:3-4 – “Remember [think of] all thy offerings [sacrifices], and accept thy burnt sacrifice [offering]; Selah [lit. pause; or pause to think]. 4  Grant [Deliver] thee according to thine own heart [mind], and fulfil [accomplish] all thy counsel [advice; purpose].”

Confident the battle was the LORD’s, the people worshipped Him, and prayed He would accept their sacrifices, hear, and answer their prayers (20:3-4).

Psalm 20:5 “We will rejoice [sing; shout] in thy salvation [deliverance], and in the name [fame; renown; reputation] of our God [Elohim; the Mighty God] we will set up our banners [flags; standard]: the LORD [Eternal God; Jehovah] fulfil [accomplish] all thy petitions [request; desires].”

Even before the battle was fought, the people believed the LORD would give their king victory. They promised to shout to the LORD for joy, and that He alone would be the object of their praise (20:5a). They were ready to unfurl their banners. (The flags carried into battle identified national pride). They believed the LORD would hear their prayers, and answer their petitions (20:5b).

Psalm 20:6 – Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed [the king was God’s anointed]; He will hear him from his holy heaven [for God reigns over His creation from heaven’s throne] with the saving strength of his right hand.

David’s faith inspired him to face the enemy, confident the LORD had heard the prayers of His people, and would save him, “His anointed” (20:6). God was mighty, and with “his right hand” (from a human perspective, the hand that is the strongest), He would save him in the battle.

Psalm 20:77Some trust in chariots, and some in horses [horsemen; the calvary]: But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Men and nations go into battle with little thought to the power of prayer or the providence of God. Their faith is in their weapons of war (chariots and horses). David, however, urged the people to “remember the name of the LORD our God” (20:7). We have observed in earlier devotions that the “name” of the LORD embodied all of His divine attributes. The LORD is holy, just, powerful, omniscient, compassionate, and sovereign. He will do as it pleases Him.

Psalm 20:8-98They [the enemies of God’s people] are brought down [defeated] and fallen [vanquished]: But we [Israel] are risen, and stand upright [confident of victory]. 9Save, Lord [Jehovah, save]: Let the king [the LORD; the Sovereign of heaven] hear us when we call [shout His name].

Closing thoughts – I invite you to consider three spiritual lessons from Psalm 20:

The LORD hears and answers prayer. Israel prayed the LORD would hear the prayer of the king, and His people, and go before them into battle (20:1-2). Oh, that the leaders of this world would call upon the LORD, and not put their faith in weapons of war. Remember, the God of heaven hears and answers prayers.

We should pray and assure our leaders of our prayers (20:3-4). Israel assured the king they would pray for the LORD to grant him wisdom, and bless his strategy for the battle. Blessed is the nation whose leaders call on the LORD, and whose people uphold them in prayer.

God’s people should put their faith in the grace and blessings of God.  Even before the battle was waged, the people planned to celebrate the victory, They were confident God heard, and would answer their prayers.

I close with a story conveyed by a farmer during the American Revolution.  The farmer was walking through the woods toward the encampment at Valley Forge, when he heard a voice. Drawing near, he found General George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying to God. That farmer was said to have returned home, and assured his wife that the United States would win her independence from England. When the farmer’s wife asked how he could be so sure, he answered, “Because I heard Washington’s prayer.”

1 Timothy 2:1-21 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Pity the Nation (Psalm 75)

Scripture reading – Psalm 75

Continuing our Scripture readings in the Psalms, our focus is again on one of the twelve psalms attributed to Asaph, a chief musician during David’s reign. Psalm 75 challenges us to a Biblical perspective on the sovereignty of God and His rule over the nations and people of the earth.

Psalm 75:1 summons the congregation to acknowledge God is the Supreme Ruler of His creation, and is due our thanksgiving. Twice the words of the first verse declare a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude: “1Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: For that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare” (75:1).

God is a Righteous Judge (75:2-3)

Psalm 75:2-3 speaks of judgment, and some might suppose it is the rule and judgment of man that is the focus. I believe, however, that the judgment of God is the subject. Who but the LORD has the authority to receive the congregation of the saints, judge them uprightly, and weigh them in the scales of His law (75:2)?

The law and judgment of men is perpetually shaky and uncertain, but “the earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved,” will be the judgment of God’s righteous verdict. If our hope for justice was found only in the discretion of men, we would have cause for anxiety. God, however, has assured His people, “I bear up the pillars of [the earth] (75:3). Nations rise, and nations fall, but be assured the LORD is holding up the pillars, the foundations of the world.

God Admonishes Foolish Leaders (75:4-8)

We find a warning to every leader who bears rule over the lives of men with a heavy, proud hand. The LORD admonished, “4I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: And to the wicked, Lift not up the horn [a symbol of power and strength]: 5Lift not up your horn on high [i.e. don’t abuse your office]: Speak not with a stiff [proud, stubborn] neck” (75:4-5).

How soon those in authority forget they are nothing without God! Civil government has been ordained by the LORD (Romans 13:1), and those who rule and judge have divine mandates for which they will give account. From the King or President, to the local magistrate, all in authority are commanded to be the servants of God for good, and avengers of His wrath “upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).

What of leaders who defy God’s authority, scorn His Law, and abuse their appointments?

God warned, “6For promotion cometh neither from the east, Nor from the west, nor from the south. 7But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (75:6-7). God is sovereign, and He is the final Judge. He promotes and demotes, and oversees the rise and fall of nations. Like a cup of red wine that is poured out like blood, God will pour out His wrath upon wicked leaders, and “all the wicked of the earth” will drink to the full the wrath of God (75:8).

When the Foundations Shake, May the Saints Sing God’s Praises (75:9-10)

The psalmist has painted a dark picture of God’s wrath upon rulers that fail to rule righteously and lawfully. Nevertheless, the believer’s faith rests in the LORD and we should declare our faith in His holy character, and “sing praises to the God of Jacob” (75:9).

Closing thoughts – Though the foundations of a nation may be shaken, and the wicked boast and abuse their authority, be assured: 10All the horns [power and strength of their office] of the wicked also will [the LORD]cut off; But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted” (75:10).

God is just, and the wicked will face His wrath and be destroyed; however, He has promised to bless the righteous. Fools sing their own praises, and stiffen their necks against the LORD (75:5), but a wise man remembers every promotion that comes his way is an act of God’s grace (75:6).

The wise remember, “God is the judge [governor; the final dispenser of justice]: He putteth down [humbles; abases; humiliates] one, and setteth up [exalts; raises up] another” (75:7).

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

A Path for Success (Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8)

Scripture reading – Psalm 39; 2 Samuel 8

Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 39), and also returns to the historical narrative of the life of David (2 Samuel 8). Today’s devotional will be taken from 2 Samuel 8.

2 Samuel 8 – David’s Success and Victories as King

If a boy in Israel had been looking for a hero, he would have to look no further than King David. The king’s life was a testimony of what God can do with a man who loves the LORD, and is fully yielded to His will.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continual success. When God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), the king accepted the rejection with humility. He then set about extending Israel’s territory, and securing the rule over his domain.

Confident in the LORD’S promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David defeated one adversary after another (2 Samuel 8). The first to fall to Israel were the Philistines who resided in territories to the west and south of Israel (8:1).

Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel, or began paying tribute to David. The Moabites, descendants of Lot who occupied land on the east side of the Jordan River, were the next to be conquered (8:2). King Hadadezer of Zobah (8:3), a capital city north of Damascus and whose lands occupied territories that included a portion of ancient Syria, reaching to the Euphrates River, was dealt a harsh defeat. Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). David had the chariot horses of his enemy “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again. (8:4).

When the Syrians came to aid Hadadezer, David sorely defeated them, slaying “of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men” (8:5). The king then secured the land for Israel, placing “garrisons in Syria of Damascus: and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts [paying Israel tribute]. And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went” (8:6). The bounty of the spoils of war were brought by David to Jerusalem, including “shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer” (8:7), and “exceeding much brass” that would later be used by Solomon to make vessels for the Temple (8:8; 1 Chronicles 18:8).

Continuing his conquest, David defeated the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14), who accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observed that, “David gat him a name,” for his reputation as a warrior king continued to grow (8:13).

What was the secret to David’s achievements? Was he successful because of his skill as a general and warrior on the battlefield? Was it the loyalty of his leaders (8:16-18), or the size of his army that gave him success?

The secret to David’s successes, and his military exploits was summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:6, 14). In turn, David proved himself, not only to the LORD, but also to all in his realm, for he “executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (8:15).

From Egypt in the south, to the Euphrates River in the east, David acquired for his kingdom the lands God had promised Israel as an inheritance. The king’s victories were part of God fulfilling His covenant promise to Abraham, and his seed (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21).

Closing thoughts – Who among us does not long for success? Everyone I have known wants to be successful, and to enjoy the fruits of their success. Yet, how many are willing to follow David’s example, model humility, and walk faithfully in the ways of the LORD?

Though a powerful king whose fame was growing, nevertheless, David was committed to do right, and to execute righteous “judgment and justice” to his people (8:15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Embrace the joy of unity, and love one another! (1 Chronicles 12)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 12

We considered 1 Chronicles 11 in our prior Scripture reading, and the names of the mighty men, the great men of war, who were the leaders of the tribes of Israel when David was ordained king of a united Israel. 1 Chronicles 12continues a registry of the names of warriors who distinguished themselves on the battlefield, and were loyal to David.

Consider four groups of men and tribes who swore allegiance to David (12:1-40)

The first, the men of Benjamin who joined David when he was exiled from Israel, and living among the Philistines in Ziklag (12:1-7). Ziklag served as David’s stronghold during his fugitive years. Recalling Saul was a Benjaminite, the betrayal of skilled warriors from his own tribe had to have been discouraging for the king. The men of Benjamin were skilled, formidable warriors, and “could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow” (12:2; Judges 20:16).

Joining David’s band of men earlier than the Benjamites (12:1-7), were the men of the tribe of Gad. They came to David while he lived in the wilderness. “The Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold [i.e., stronghold] to the wilderness men of might” (12:8). They were a welcome addition to David’s band for they brought with them skills that had been proven in battle. Strong and powerful, they were prepared to battle hand-to-hand (for the buckler was a small shield used in sword warfare). In battle, the faces of the Gadites displayed the fierceness of lions, and they were flight of foot, as “swift as the roes [gazelles] upon the mountains” (12:8). Eleven great men of Gad were named (12:9-13), and they are remembered for swimming across the Jordan River in flood stage to join David (12:15).

Coming at a later date than the Benjamites and Gadites, were other “children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David” (12:16). David went out to prove the credibility of those latecomers, and proposed a treaty, saying, “If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if ye be come to betray me to mine enemies, seeing there is no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look thereon, and rebuke it” (12:17). Speaking on behalf of the men of Benjamin and Judah, Amasai swore his allegiance to David, saying, “Thine are we, David, And on thy side, thou son of Jesse [who was of the tribe of Judah]: Peace, peace be unto thee, And peace be to thine helpers; For thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band” (12:18).

1 Chronicles 12:19-22 is a reminder of the time that David and his men had sought refuge from King Saul, and lived among the Philistines (1 Samuel 29-30). When the Philistines went up to battle Israel, their leaders refused to allow David to be among them, fearing he would lead his men turn on them in the midst of the battle with King Saul’s army (12:19; 1 Samuel 29). When David withdrew from the battle, there were many men of Manasseh who deserted Saul, and joined with David (12:20). They, like others of Israel, were men of war, and strengthened David’s hand in Israel (12:21-22).

1 Chronicles 12:23-40 gives us the names of the tribes, and the number of men who came together at Hebron to “to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord” (12:23; 2 Samuel 5:1-5). I will not take time to enumerate the tribes and the thousands of men who swore their allegiance to David, but I invite you to consider the character of those men who were confident that God had chosen David to be king of Israel.

Judah’s men came bearing “shield and spear,” and were ready for battle (12:24). The men of Simeon were “mighty men of valour for the war” (12:25). The men of Issachar had insight and discernment (12:32), and those of Zebulun were “expert in war, with all instruments of war” (12:33). They did not break rank in battle, and flee. They were “not of double heart,” but were stable and trustworthy (12:33).

One hundred thousand men from Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, tribes on the east side of the Jordan River came to Hebron, “to make David king over all Israel: and all the rest also of Israel were of one heart to make David king” (12:38).

The tribes of Israel celebrated David’s coronation with a three-day festival (12:39), enjoying meats, cakes, wine, and oil that were supplied by the nearest tribes, Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali (12:40).

Closing thoughtOur Scripture reading ends on a memorable note, “for there was joy in Israel” (12:40).

Though there was “one heart,” and “joy in Israel,” David lived in a sinful, fallen world, and in the midst of a sinful people. While children’s storybooks sometimes end with the phrase, “They lived happily ever after,” that summary is beyond man’s reach in this mortal life. In fact, the next chapter in David’s life will prove tragic (1 Chronicles 13).

There is joy when the hearts of God’s people, and their leaders are intertwined and dedicated to the glory of God; however, know such joy is fleeting. I encourage you: Embrace the joy of unity, and love one another! (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Coronation of David and His Mighty Men (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11)

Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11

The reader will notice that 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11 are somewhat parallel accounts of events surrounding the coronation of David as the King of Israel. Together, the two accounts give us a panorama of the occasion, and a stunning reminder that God is Sovereign over heaven and earth!

2 Samuel 5 – A Coronation

Seven and one-half years after the tribe of Judah had crowned him king (2 Samuel 2:10-11), all the tribes of Israel assembled in Hebron to acknowledge David as Saul’s successor. I find three reasons the men of Israel accepted David as king. The first, he was a Hebrew, and in their words, “we are thy bone and thy flesh” (5:1). David’s leadership had also garnered their respect in the past, for in times of war he had served as a leader among them (5:3). Finally, and most importantly, David was God’s choice to lead the nation. The people testified, “the Lord said to thee [David], Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain [prince]over Israel” (5:2).

Gathering at the place he had reigned as king of Judah, “the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league [covenant] with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel” (5:3). David was thirty years old when he was crowned king of Judah, and he reigned “seven years and six months” (5:5). Altogether, he was king forty years (5:4), for “in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah” (5:5).

David’s first act as the king of Israel, was to establish Jerusalem as his capital, although it was occupied by the Jebusites (5:6). The siege of Jerusalem gave opportunity for David to lead all the armies of Israel. That ancient city, built upon the range of mountains known as Zion, was a natural fortress, with valleys on three sides, and only vulnerable to attack from the north. Confident in the walls of their fortress, the Jebusites mocked David’s army, suggesting even the blind and lame could defend their city against Israel (5:6).

David, evidencing the brilliance of a tactician of war, challenged his soldiers saying, “Whosoever getteth up to the gutter (most likely a passage for water that was cut through rock), and smiteth the Jebusites…he shall be chief and captain” (5:8). Joab, David’s general from the wilderness years, took up the challenge, and after conquering the Jebusites, became the captain of David’s armies (1 Chronicles 11:6).

The early years of David’s reign were blessed, and he “went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (5:10). Hiram, king of Tyre, offered to build the newly crowned king of Israel a palace fit for his reign in Jerusalem (5:11). “David perceived [knew; realized] that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he [the LORD] had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake” (5:12). David understood that the LORD’S blessings were upon him, because Israel was His chosen people.

Though chosen by the LORD to be king of Israel, David was not a perfect man. Following the pattern of the kings of the world, “David took him more concubines and wives…and there were yet sons and daughters born to David” (5:13). While the divine pattern of marriage is “one flesh” (one husband and one wife, Genesis 2:24), David followed the pattern of the world, and the wives and children of his household would later become a sorrow to him.

The Philistines wasted no time in challenging Israel’s newly crowned king (5:17-18). Showing a humility and dependence on the LORD that would be lacking in later years, “David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto David, Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into thine hand” (5:19).

David’s army so soundly defeated the Philistines, that they fled from before them, leaving behind “their images” (idols), “and David and his men burned them” (5:21; Deuteronomy 7:5, 25). When the Philistines challenged Israel a second time (5:22), David sought the LORD’S direction again (5:23). Rather than a frontal assault, the LORD directed David to lead his army behind the Philistines (5:23), and when he heard the wind rustling through “the tops of the mulberry trees,” it was then that he would arise to smite the Philistines and then he would know the Lord would go before him (5:24). David obeyed the LORD, and God gave Israel a victory over their enemy (5:25).

1 Chronicles 11 – The Mighty Men of Israel

While 2 Samuel 5 has given us an account of the first battles David won as king of Israel, 1 Chronicles 11 gives us the names of the great men of war on whom David depended to carry out his orders. I have introduced you to Joab (11:6-8).

We also find the names of David’s other “mighty men” (11:10), including Jashobeam who slew three hundred men in one battle (11:11), Eleazar, acknowledged as “one of the mighties” (11:12), thirty captains, whom I will label, “The Thirty” (11:15), “Abishai the brother of Joab,” who was said to be the “more honourable” (11:20), Benaiah, who was applauded for slaying “two lionlike men of Moab…[and] a lion in a pit” (11:22), and an Egyptian that stood some seven feet, six inches tall (11:23). There is also Asahel (11:26), and a long list of “valiant men,” and included among them is “Uriah the Hittite” (11:26-47).

Closing thoughtsI close being reminded the secret of David’s greatness: It was not that he was a great warrior, although he was. He was not great because he was a man who inspired loyalty, which he did. He was not great because he was surrounded by great warriors, and he had many great fighters willing to go to war with him.

David was great, because he had faith in God’s calling (2 Samuel 5:10, 12), he “inquired of the LORD” (2 Samuel 5:19, 23), and obeyed the LORD (2 Samuel 5:25).

What about you? Is your life a testimony of one who is called of the LORD, dependent on His leading, and submissive to His will?

If not, will you bow your heart before the LORD, confess your lack of dependence and lack of faith, and covenant to yield your will to His will?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Timeless Lessons in History (1 Chronicles 9-10)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 9-10

1 Chronicles 9 – Post-Exilic Jerusalem

Our study of genealogies in 1 Chronicles began with Adam (1:1), the sons of Noah and their ancestries (1:5-26), to Abraham and Isaac (1:27-34), and the sons of Jacob, who were the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2:1-8:40).

We read in 1 Chronicles 9:1, “1So all Israel were reckoned by genealogies; and, behold, they were written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah, who were carried away to Babylon for their transgression.”

With those words, our study of the history of Israel has carried us forward in time beyond the reigns of kings in Israel, and Judah, to Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity. 1 Chronicles 9 is the genealogical record of the children of Israel who returned from Babylonian exile to resettle, and rebuild Jerusalem (9:4-34). Accepting the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, we find the names of those families and heads of households who set their hearts to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2).

Five tribes were represented in the families that repopulated Jerusalem: Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh (9:3). (The mention of Ephraim and Manasseh is notable, for they were among the ten tribes of northern Israel that had been taken captive by Assyria).

The Levites were among those who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, and 1 Chronicles 9:10-34 gives us the names of their families and heads of households. Briefly, among the Levites who returned to Jerusalem were the priests (9:10-13), musicians (9:14-16; Nehemiah 11:15-18; 12:28-29), and porters who are also identified as “keepers of the gates of the tabernacle” (9:17-23). The porters, or gatekeepers, were supervisors of the Temple chambers and treasuries (9:24-32). There were Levites who were trustees of Temple vessels, and the preparations of elements used in worship and offering sacrifices (9:28-32). Singers are specifically identified in 1 Chronicles 9:33.

Once again, the historian gives us a record of King Saul’s genealogy (9:35-44; 8:29-40).

1 Chronicles 10 – King Saul’s Death, and the Rise of David to the Throne

Rolling the calendar back from the repopulation of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, our study in 1 Chronicles returns to an event that will be familiar to those who have followed my devotionals in 1 Samuel. The writer of 1 Chronicles returned to the Philistines’ victory over Israel (10:1-2), and the deaths of King Saul and his sons (10:1-6). Perhaps to explain the end of the house and lineage of Saul, and the rise of the Davidic line, we are reminded that Saul fell upon his own sword, and died (10:5-6). Great humiliation followed when the bodies of Saul and his sons were found. The Philistines stripped Saul and his sons of their armor (10:9a), and after beheading Saul (10:9b), they placed his head and armor in the temple of Dagon, the fish god (10:10). Learning of the humiliation that had befallen their king, the men of Jabeshgilead “arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days” (10:12).

Closing thoughts: Consider with me three reasons for King Saul’s death, and the end of his dynasty (10:13-14).

We read, “Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord” (10:13a). Though his failures were many, most likely the transgression that is to be noted here was his failure to kill Agag, the king of the Amaelities, and his sparing the best of the spoils for himself, contrary to God’s command that all were to be killed (1 Samuel 15). We also remember how Saul had disobeyed the law of the LORD, and sought “counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it (10:13b; 1 Samuel 28:5-10). Finally, Saul died because he “inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him” (10:14a).

Thus, the dynasty of Saul was ended, and the LORD “turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (10:14).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Feel Like Quitting? (Psalm 73; Psalm 77)

Scripture reading – Psalm 73, Psalm 77

Today’s devotional study is taken from two psalms. Psalm 73 is simply titled, “A Psalm of Asaph,” who was a priest and musician in King David’s court (1 Chronicles 6:39; 15:19; 16:7). Asaph was also the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83. The recipient of Psalm 77 is addressed in the title, “To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.” Jeduthun is believed to have been the choir master of the singers in the Tabernacle. Both Asaph and Jeduthun were of the tribe of Levi.

The length of today’s psalms prevents an exhaustive study of each, and so the devotional will focus solely on Psalm 73.

Psalm 73 – A Psalm of Praise

Psalm 73 evidences the struggle saints of God have when they believe “God is good,” but find themselves suffering afflictions, while the wicked seem to prosper. Asaph opens the psalm with an affirmation of God’s goodness, writing, Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (73:1). He confessed that God was wholly, absolutely good towards Israel, and to all who are of “a clean heart” (73:1).

Not Fair! (73:2-16)

Remembering the goodness of the LORD, Asaph struggled with envy when he observed the “prosperity of the wicked” (73:2-3). From his distorted view, he felt the wicked seemed to have no troubles (73:5), and suggested “they have more than heart could wish” (73:7). Not fair, indeed!

Asaph asserted that the wicked blaspheme, extort, are lifted up in pride, and they dare to speak against the God of heaven! (73:8-9) While they grow more powerful, it seemed those who loved the LORD found themselves “plagued, and chastened” everyday (73:13-14). He knew he was in a bad place, and had not shared his struggles with others, lest he draw them astray (73:15).  Asaph confessed, his doubts had become “too painful,” too troublesome for him to bear (73:16).

Where Did Asaph Go to Turn Around His “Stinking Thinking?” (73:17-22)

Asaph writes, “17Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then understood I their end” (73:17). Asaph found his heart and thoughts were changed when he went to the “sanctuary of God,” the place of public worship and ministry (73:17). He recognized his proximity, his nearness, to God had challenged and changed his view of the ways of the wicked.

Rather than prosperity, he realized the rewards of the wicked were like “slippery places,” and their end was “destruction [and] desolation” (73:18-19). He was convicted in his heart, and confessed he had been foolish (73:21-22a). He reasoned he had become no better than a brute beast, thinking only of himself and his desires (73:22b).

Asaph’s Confidence Restored (73:23-28).

Asaph understood the LORD’S care of him was like that of a parent who tenderly takes hold of a child’s hand (73:23). He determined to trust the LORD to be his guide (73:24; Psalm 23:1), and set his affection on Him (73:25-26). He came to understand the prosperity of the wicked was temporal (73:27), and his happiness was measured by his intimacy with the LORD. Asaph wrote, “28But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all thy works” (73:28).

Closing thoughts: I fear many believers neglect public worship, and they find themselves where Asaph was: Alone, miserable, and backslidden. His focus had been on the world, and he struggled how the wicked seemed to prosper. In his depressed state, there is little doubt that his spirit would have resisted the duties of the sanctuary. However, when he “went into the sanctuary of God” (73:17), and there his thinking, and heart were changed!

Principle – The closer you are to God, the less affected you are by the world! (73:28)

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

The Wise Foresee the Dangers of Compromise (1 Chronicles 5)

Scripture reading – 1 Chronicles 5

The genealogical record of the Twelve Tribes of Israel continues in today’s Scripture reading (1 Chronicles 5), beginning with the two-and- one-half tribes that had settled on the east side of the Jordan River (I will identify them as the “Trans-Jordan Tribes”).

The Tribe of Reuben (5:1-10)

The introductory verses of 1 Chronicles 5 explain how Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob (Genesis 29:31-32), suffered the loss of his inheritance (5:1-2). As the firstborn son, it should have been Reuben’s lot to be the leader of the clan, and receive an ample inheritance that he would pass down to his sons. Such, however, was not the case.

Reuben committed a great sin against his father, by lying with his father’s concubine (a lesser wife, but nevertheless his father’s wife, Genesis 35:22). Reuben’s sin brought generational consequences for himself, and his family. He forfeited his inheritance and distinction as a tribe (Genesis 49:3-4), and Joseph’s sons became distinct tribes in Israel (5:1). Furthermore, the leadership of the Twelve Tribes of Israel fell to the tribe of Judah whose lineage emerged to become superior to his brethren, and David “the chief ruler” (5:2).

The great land mass occupied by Reuben on the east side of the Jordan River is described in 1 Chronicles 5:9, including their victory over the Hagarites (5:10).

The Tribe of Gad (5:11-17)

Gad was the seventh born son of Jacob, whose mother was Zilpah, Jacob’s concubine. Like the tribe of Reuben, the sons of Gad had settled on the east side of the Jordan, and occupied land extending north to Gilead. Some of the prominent names of the Gadites are listed (5:12-17).

The Defeat of a Confederacy of Heathen Nations (5:18-22).

The genealogical record is interrupted by a historical event, for the “sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh” (5:18) “made war against the Hagarites, with Jetur, and Nephish, and Nodab” (5:19). They were “valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war” (5:18). The catalyst for the war with their neighbors was not given, but I suspect it was for the possession of fertile pastures.

The Trans-Jordan tribes experienced a glorious victory over their enemies; however, it was not their military skill that won the battle. We read, Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh “were helped against them [their enemies], and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that were with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him” (5:20). Though not stated, I believe the Hagariteswere descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and the Egyptian concubine Hagar (Genesis 16:15; 17:20; 25:12-17), which would make them the ancient ancestors of today’s Arabic nations.

Half-Tribe of Manasseh (5:23-24)

A portion of the genealogical record of the half-tribe of Manasseh is given, including the names of seven “mighty men of valour, famous men, and heads of the house of their fathers” (5:24).

The Record of a Tragic Failure (5:25-26).

We have seen that the Trans-Jordan tribes were mighty men of war, and God prospered them. Tragically, the prosperity of those tribes would come to a tragic end for “they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them” (5:25). They had chosen the lands outside the Promised Land, and it was their proximity to the heathen nations that was their undoing. The influence of the ungodly inevitably drew away their children from worshiping the God of Israel. They had broken covenant with the LORD, and He stirred the hearts of Assyrian kings, who invaded the lands of the two-and-one-half tribes, and took their children away into captivity (5:26).

Closing thoughts: Though their history was marked by victories, and the spoils taken in war had enriched them, it was the compromise of the Trans-Jordan tribes with the heathen that enslaved the hearts of their children to serve their gods (5:26).

Be diligent to establish standards and boundaries, and protect your children from the influence of the world and its sinful ways (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith