Tag Archives: Spiritual warfare

Got problems? I have a promise! (Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55)

Scripture Reading – Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

Today’s Scripture reading consists of six chapters from the Book of Psalms, but the focus of this devotional commentary will be limited to Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:1-4 – The Grief and Prayer of a Heartbroken Father

An editor’s note in your Bible identifies Psalm 3 as the psalm David composed when his son Absalom rose up against him. The historical context is chronicled in 2 Samuel 15 and marked the culmination of years of rebellion on the part of Absalom.

By subtlety and slander (2 Samuel 15:3-6) Absalom had ingratiated himself to the people and “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). Conspiring against his father, Absalom led a coup and forced the king to flee Jerusalem. Psalm 3 is a song that expresses David’s anguish and cry to God. [Note – The amplification of the italicized text is by this author.]

Psalm 3:1-4  – “LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], how are they increased [multiplied] that trouble [cause distress; afflict] me! many are they that rise up [stand up as a foe] against me.

2  Many there be which say [speak; tell] of my soul [life; person; being], There is no help [deliverer] for him in God. Selah.

3  But thou, O LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God], art a shield [buckler; defense] for me; my glory [honor; splendor], and the lifter up [exaltation; to move in a higher direction] of mine head.

4  I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

David found himself surrounded by enemies who had once shouted his praises.  The loneliness of the king and his desperate cry to the LORD stirs the heart of all who have been in leadership and felt the blow and sorrow of betrayal.  Emboldened by his flight from Jerusalem, the king’s enemies derided him saying, “There is no help [deliverer] for him in God” (Psalm 3:2b).

Notice in verse 3 how David takes solace in the character and promises of God.  His reflections on the character of God strengthened his soul. David remembered the LORD of eternity was his “shield”, defender and the sovereign of creation.

Though driven from his throne, David was confident that God would exact vengeance and His justice would prevail.  Alone, afraid, humiliated, discouraged, but not defeated; David was certain God saw his plight and heard his cry. The king expressed his trust and faith in the LORD writing:

Psalm 3:4 – “I cried [called out] unto the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] with my voice, and he heard [answered; responded; replied] me out of his holy [sanctuary; sacred place] hill. Selah [i.e. to pause—most likely an instruction to musicians].”

The heartache borne by David is all too familiar to parents of sons and daughters who reject God in spite of their parents’ love, sacrifices, and the spiritual lessons engrained in them from their youth. Prodigal sons and daughters heap indescribable heartaches and sorrows on those who love them. I can only wonder how many desperate parents are praying their rebels will face the emptiness of their souls and come to themselves before it is too late (Luke 15:11-21).

Psalm 3:5 – “I laid me down [took rest] and slept [i.e. long sleep; fell asleep]; I awaked [i.e. arise]; for the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Self-existent, Eternal God] sustained [to prop; braced; held up] me.

All was not lost for David. When the deposed king looked past his sorrows and reflected on the LORD his hope renewed. Perhaps for the first time in days or weeks, David found solace in the LORD and slept (3:5). Sweet sleep-a quietness of heart and thoughts God gives a believer whose solace is in Him. David’s words (3:5) echo a bedtime prayer I was taught as a child:

“I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.”

Awakening from sleep, David’s faith was renewed and his soul refreshed.

Psalm 3:6-7  I will not be afraid [fear; tremble; frighten] of ten thousands of people, that have set [made; lay; fixed] themselves against me round about [on every side; surround].
7  Arise [Rise up; stand; perform], O LORD; save [deliver; help; rescue; avenge] me, O my God [Elohim; Mighty God]: for thou hast smitten [slay; kill; beat; strike] all mine enemies [foes; adversaries] upon the cheek bone [i.e. or jaw bone]; thou hast broken [shattered; crushed] the teeth of the ungodly [wicked].
8  Salvation [help; deliverance] belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing [prosperity; generosity] is upon thy people [tribe; flock]. Selah [pause].”

Betrayed by a son and surrounded by enemies, David asserted he was confident the LORD would save him.

Are you a parent who identifies with David’s sorrows and disappointments?

To face an enemy is sorrow enough, but when that enemy is your child mere words fail to express the grief and anguish of a parent’s broken heart.

Take heart: God hears and answers your cries in the night.  He is the same for you as he was for David: your Shield and Defender.  The LORD will answer your prayers and lift you up in His time.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Long Live the King! (2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18)

Scripture Reading – 2 Samuel 8-9; 1 Chronicles 18

You will notice a parallel in today’s scripture readings from 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 18 is a straightforward, unembellished record of David’s victories as king. 2 Samuel 8-9 gives us historical facts that paint a moving portrait of a godly king.

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

If a boy in Israel was looking for a hero, he would need to look no further than King David. David’s life is a testimony to what God will do with a young man when he loves the LORD and is fully yielded.

The first years of David’s reign were marked by continued success. After God denied him the opportunity to build a temple (2 Samuel 7:4-7), David accepted the rejection with humility and set about establishing himself as king and securing his rule over Israel.

Confident in God’s promises and obedient to His Laws and Commandments, David conquered 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 (8:1). Eventually, a line of kings and kingdoms either fell to Israel or began paying tribute to the king.

The Moabites, descended from Lot and occupying land on the east side of the Jordan, were the next to be defeated (8:2). Other nations inhabiting lands north and east of Israel included King Hadadezer of Zobah whose kingdom occupied a portion of ancient Syria and reached to the river Euphrates (8:3). Hadadezer’s kingdom boasted “a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen” (8:4). Rather than leave the King of Zobah defenseless, David had his chariot horses “houghed,” clipping their hamstring and thus preventing the horses from being used in battle again (8:4-5).

Continuing his conquest and securing Israel, the Amalekites (8:12) and Edomites (8:14) accepted servitude to David and Israel. 2 Samuel 8:13 observes that, “David gat him a name,” meaning he developed a reputation as a warrior king, when he defeated a Syrian army “in the valley of Salt (i.e. the Dead Sea area), being eighteen thousand men” (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? Did the loyalty of his leaders or the size of his army make him victorious?

The secret to the king’s victories over his enemies is summed up in this: “The LORD preserved [saved; delivered; gave victory to] David whithersoever he went” (2 Samuel 8:14).

David’s victories fulfilled God’s covenant promises with Israel that were made to Abraham, Moses and David (Gen. 15:17-21; Deut. 1:6-8; 11:24; 1 Kings 4:20-21). From Egypt in the south to the Euphrates River in the east, the lands God promised Israel, David acquired for his kingdom.

2 Samuel 9 – A Compassionate, Merciful King

A moving, heart-touching story in 2 Samuel 9 paints for us a spiritual portrait of the manner of man King David was in Israel. He was strong enough to lead a nation and subdue his enemies, but also a compassionate and merciful king.

With his kingdom secure, David’s thoughts turned to extending grace and peace to the household of his predecessor, King Saul (9:1), and in particular the oath he had made with the friend of his youth, Jonathan, son of Saul.

David enquired if any of Saul’s household were alive. When he learned that Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, was alive (9:2-6), he immediately sent for him and invited him to take his place in the palace at the king’s table (9:6-8).  The Scriptures give us unique insight into David’s character.

David was a man of integrity, a promise keeper. As the grandson of Saul, Mephibosheth could have been viewed as a legitimate heir to the throne; nevertheless, David remembered his promise to show mercy to Jonathan’s household (1 Samuel 20:14-17).

David was also a man of compassion. Mephibosheth, a cripple and “lame on his feet” (9:3), was invited to dine at the king’s table. He had been injured in a fall when his nurse fled the palace with him after his father Jonathan and grandfather Saul died in battle (2 Samuel 4:4).

Ancient oriental kings would have had no tolerance for the infirmed in their midst, let alone eating at their tables. Such was not the heart of King David. Not only did David bequeath the royal lands of his grandfather, King Saul, to him as his inheritance (9:7-9), but we read, “Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:13).

Unlike a fairy tale with a “happily ever after” ending, the kindness and grace David extended to Mephibosheth will later be betrayed when the king’s enemies lead a coup and attempt to make Jonathan’s son king (2 Samuel 16:1-4; 19:24-30).

Compassionate, faithful and obedient-those are the qualities God cherishes and blesses. What manner of man or woman are you?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Secrets to Success (2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 122)

Daily reading assignment – 2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11-12; Psalm 122

Remembering we are following a chronological schedule for reading the scriptures, you will notice today’s reading assignment is for two parallel passages: 2 Samuel 5 and 1 Chronicles 11-12, and Psalm 122.

The date for Psalm 122 is uncertain; however, it is a song of David that was sung as priests (and possibly pilgrims) ascended Mt. Moriah where the Temple was located.

Today’s devotional commentary will focus on the coronation of David by the Twelve Tribes of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-6; 2 Chronicles 11:1-3) and the great warriors who were numbered among his “mighty men” (1 Chronicles 11:6-47).

Following the death of King Saul, David had been crowned king by the tribe of Judah in Hebron (2 Samuel 2:4). Civil war lasting seven and one-half years had followed Saul’s death when men chose Ishbosheth, the son of King Saul, in opposition to the LORD’S will (some in Israel knowing Samuel had anointed David to be that nation’s next king).

Following the death of Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 4:12), the elders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel assembled at Hebron and anointed David to be king (2 Samuel 5:1-3). David was thirty years old when he was crowned king in Judah (5:4) and thirty-seven or thirty-eight years old when he was anointed king of all Israel (5:5). Altogether, David would reign as king for forty years.

David’s first task was to inspire his army to take the strong hold of mount Zion, held up to that time by the Jebusites (5:6-8). Zion, where David would found the city of Jerusalem, was the highest peak in the mountain range that bordered between the tribal lands of Judah and Benjamin. It was a natural stronghold with three valleys on either side of the mount and only the northside was vulnerable to siege.

Because of its natural strengths, the Jebusites boasted blind and lame men could hold the fortress against a siege (5:6). David challenged his army with a promise to make as his captain the man who would secure Zion for his capital (1 Chronicles 11:6).  Joab aspired to the challenge and became the chief captain of David’s armies (11:6).

David proved to be a brilliant tactician in war and inspired a host of men who became mighty (11:10-47) and loyal servants (12:1-40).  

Soon after being crowned king, David faced his first challenge as the Philistines stirred their armies to battle, eager to take advantage of Israel’s transition in leadership (2 Samuel 5:17). Two battles with the Philistines are recorded in 2 Samuel 5:18-25.

What was the secret to King David’s greatness? Was it his skills as a warrior? Was it his keen strategy as a leader? No! The secret to David’s success is found in where he looked for wisdom, insight, and direction.

2 Samuel 5:19-25 – Three Keys to David’s Success

  1. “David enquired of the LORD” (5:19), and when God said go to war, he went to war.
  2. “David and his men burned” (5:21) the idols of the Philistines and in so doing obeyed God’s Law (Deuteronomy 7:5, 25).
  3. “David enquired of the LORD” (5:23), and when God commanded, “Thou shalt not go up” (as he had before), he obeyed and waited on the LORD to tell him not only the WAY, but also the WHEN (5:24-25).

Those same keys for success must be followed by every believer who desires the LORD’S blessings on his life and family.

When you face the challenge of what to do, follow David’s path: 1) Pray; 2) Be faithful and obey the LORD; 3) Wait until the LORD has revealed not only the WAY, but also the WHEN to move forward.

The secret to David’s greatness was not his skill in battle or the mighty men who surrounded him; it was that “the LORD of hosts was with him” (1 Chronicles 11:9).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Passing the Torch: Lessons in Leadership Succession (2 Samuel 1-4)

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 1-4

As we open our Bibles to 2 Samuel, we find David and Israel entering a new era.  King Saul and his son Jonathan have been slain in battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 31).

An Amalekite soldier fabricated a claim that he had slain Saul in an act of mercy to spare him the indignity of falling into the hands of the Philistines (2 Samuel 1:1-10).  The truth was, Saul had fallen upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4).

Rather than rejoicing in the death of Saul, David mourned his death and ordered the man who claimed to have slain him put to death (1:11-16). Three times David lamented the deaths of King Saul and his sons (1:19, 25, 27).

The closing verses of 2 Samuel 1 express in poetic tones the grievous loss of Jonathan, David’s confidant and friend (1:25-27). 

Some have tried to paint David’s lament for the death of his friend as a twisted validation of sodomy…it is not!  Not only is sodomy condemned in God’s Law (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-27); it would never be rendered in a song for the people to sing.  David’s love for Jonathan was one of mutual trust; such a friend is rare indeed!

2 Samuel 2

David has waited more than a decade to be king.  With Saul dead, David turned to the LORD for wisdom, asking, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?”  (2:1).  With the LORD’s blessing, David went up to Hebron and was crowned king by the men of the tribe of Judah (2:2-4).

David immediately faced opposition from Abner, Saul’s nephew who moved to make Ishbosheth, a surviving son of Saul, king (2:9-10).  Abner’s opposition to David, coupled with Ishbosheth’s weak character, plunged the nation into a civil war (2:10-11) that would last over 7 years.

2 Samuel 3 – Three Principles for Leadership Succession

In spite of opposition, God blessed David and he “waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker” (3:1). Three principles are evident in David’s patience in the midst of conflict.

The first: Time is always on the side of the righteous.  The prophet Isaiah assured God’s people:

Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon that is formed [fashioned; made] against thee shall prosper [succeed]; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn [show to be in the wrong]. This [triumph of righteousness] is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [vindication; victory; success] is of me, saith the LORD.”

The second: Truth will triumph!  Men like Abner and Ishbosheth play the fool and are doomed when they oppose the will of the LORD.

The third: The lust for power, position, and influence is self-destructive in politics, business, and ministry. 

It seems to me that three manner of men rise to power and position in our world: the weak who, like Ishbosheth have connections; the strong who, like Abner are driven by greed and manipulate others to promote themselves; the third, God’s anointed who, like David are called, equipped, and dependent on God for promotion.

I have found churches, Bible colleges, and other religious institutions tend to fall prey to the same fallacies for a succession of leadership.

Some believe bloodlines (family) and relationships (friendships, peers, colleagues) will somehow assure success.

Churches, pulpit committees, and boards of institutions look for flashy, well-spoken, charismatic leaders and learn too late they chose the proverbial “flash in the pan” and failed to choose God’s anointed.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Minimizing the Sinful Character of An Enemy is Not Only Foolish, It is Dangerous. (Psalm 56, 120, 140-142)

Scripture reading assignment – Psalm 56, 120, 140-142

Psalms 120

Our scripture reading today is taken from a section of fifteen psalms, Psalms 120-134, titled “A Song of Degrees”.  The designation “degrees” might refer to one’s elevation or ascent to higher ground and the psalms in this section are believed by some to have been sung by priests ascending the steps to the Temple.

The author of Psalm 120 is believed to be King David and was written as a reflection on a time of trouble and affliction.   The title of Psalm 120 in by Bible is, “David prays against Doeg and reproves his tongue.”  Who was this Doeg and why did he cause David such distress?

We first met “Doeg the Edomite” (1 Samuel 21:7) when he overheard David’s request for bread from Ahimelech, the high priest (21:3-6). Doeg, identified as “a certain man of the servants of Saul” (1 Samuel 21:7), soon after conveyed the news of Ahimelech’s aid as the act of a traitor against the king.  When Saul’s soldiers refused to attack the priests, Doeg rose up and slew eighty-five priests in a brutal act of vengeance (22:16-18).

With that as our background, we understand when David writes, “In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me” (Psalm 120:1).

David was downcast when he learned the fate of Ahimelech and the priests who had given him bread. Doeg perpetuated the lie that David was Saul’s enemy. David prayed for the LORD to deliver him from his enemies (120:2) and wondered what would become of his enemy (120:3).

David longed for peace, but confessed those who sought him were bent to mischief and hated peace (120:3-7).

Minimizing the Evil Character of An Enemy is Not Only Foolish, It Is Dangerous.  (Psalms 140-142)

Psalm 140 is thought to be the occasion when David fled from the presence of King Saul and was a fugitive in the wilderness.  Scholars believe David penned Psalm 141 when his son Absalom rebelled and forced him to flee Jerusalem.  The circumstance of Psalm 142, is uncertain; however, its message is clear; whenever David faced troubles and the threats of enemies, the first thing he did was pray (Psalm 142:1).

Psalm 140 – Know Your Enemy

David prays, “Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man” (140:1).

David not only knew his enemy, he defined the character of his enemy: “evil, violent, wicked, and proud.”

Psalm 140:1 – Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man [wicked; immoral]: preserve me from the violent man [unjust; cruel; malicious];

Psalm 140:2 – Which imagine [devise; plot; purpose] mischiefs [evil; wickedness] in their heart; continually [always; daily] are they gathered together [assembled] for war [battle; fighting].

Psalm 140:3 – They have sharpened [pierced] their tongues [talk; speech] like a serpent; adders’ [viper] poison [fury; wrath; rage; indignation] is under their lips. Selah.

Psalm 140:4 – Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violentman; who have purposed [devised; plotted] to overthrow [cast down; i.e. with intent to harm; to drive away] my goings [steps].

Psalm 140:5 – The proud [arrogant] have hid a snare [trap] for me, and cords [a noose]; they have spread a net [i.e. a trap for catching animals] by the wayside; they have set gins [traps] for me. Selah.

David did not make the mistake of some who underestimate their enemy’s malicious ways and evil intent.  He understood his enemies were ever scheming, plotting, fighting, and threatening. He knew they would not tire in their attacks until they realized their objective…to see David overthrown and destroyed.

David’s portrayal of his enemies might shock us in today’s world; however, it should not. Underestimating the evil designs and influence of a foe can prove catastrophic.

I fear there is a naiveté regarding the depths of depravity in the hearts of sinful men. Living in a society set upon political correctness at the rejection of moral absolutes, has produced a reticence among preachers and believers when it comes to identifying and confronting the sins of our nation.

David reminds us it is not enough to know the enemies of the LORD and His people. We must identify what manner of people they are…evil, wicked, violent, and proud (140:1-5).

Paul’s challenge to Timothy from his prison cell in Rome should be our mandate:

2 Timothy 4:2, 5 – Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…5  But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

No Longer a Slave to Fear (Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52)

Devotional reading assignment – Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52

Dear Heart of a Shepherd Follower, because we are reading the Scriptures chronologically, you will notice the interspersion of parallel passages of Scripture with a book of the Bible we are reading. In this instance, events in David’s life are recorded in 1 Samuel and contemplated in his psalms (a psalm being a sacred song that would be accompanied by musical instruments and sung in the Temple). Today’s psalms reflect David’s plight and flight from King Saul. It is impossible to present a thorough commentary on each psalm and for that reason I will choose one or two psalms as my focus.

Psalm 7 – David’s Cry of Innocence

Scholars believe Psalm 7, titled by one writer the “Song of the Slandered Saint”, was written when David was the object of slander and lies from Cush the Benjamite (he is identified in the title of Psalm 7).

King Saul was jealous of David’s popularity and Cush the Benjamite used his envy as an opportunity to accuse David of treason. It was Cush’s proximity to the throne that gave credence to the slanderer who subtly undermined David’s strained relationship with the king.  Already suspected by the king, David turned his appeal for justice and vindication to the LORD.

Psalm 7:1-2 – “O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust [my refuge and hope]: save [deliver; help; preserve] me from all them that persecute [pursue; chase] me, and deliver [recover; defend; save] me: 2  Lest he tear [tear in pieces] my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces [break; tear apart], while there isnone to deliver [recover; save].”

David turned to the Lord and confessed, “O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust” (7:1). It was not his body, but his soul that endured the attacks of those who would tear and destroy his reputation (7:2).

Slander, gossip, lies and disloyalty are frequently the sorrows borne by God’s servants who serve Him with integrity.  The servants of the LORD do not aspire to popularity, but to faithfulness.  They seek not earthly applause, but heavenly commendation and to hear the LORD say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23).

David’s cry for justice and vindication is recorded in Psalm 7:3-5.

Psalm 7:3-5 – “O LORD my God, if I have done [make; wrought] this; if there be iniquity [wickedness; unrighteousness; injustice] in my hands; 4  If I have rewarded [treat; recompense; compensated]evil [sin; wickedness] unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered [take off; plundered]him that without cause [empty; vain] is mine enemy [adversary]🙂 5  Let the enemy persecute [pursue; chase] my soul [life; person], and take [overtake; hold] it; yea, let him tread down [oppress; trample upon]my life upon the earth, and lay [settle] mine honour [glory; reputation] in the dust. Selah.”

I have learned that vindication of one’s life and testimony is often a process of years, not days or months.  Protestations of innocence are usually to no avail when some are more willing to believe the slanderer than they are to weigh a lifetime of faithful ministry.  When accusers attack one’s character and assault one’s testimony, the righteous must prevail to trust the Lord for vindication.

Psalm 7:6-8 – “Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up [remove; depart; carry away] thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake [stir up; raise up; incite] for me to the judgment [sentence; justice] that thou hast commanded [charged; appointed]. 7  So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return [return again] thou on high [exalted; above; dignity]. 8  The LORD shall judge [plead the cause; execute judgment] the people: judge [plead; avenge; vindicate] me, O LORD, according to my righteousness [justice; rightness before the law], and according to mine integrity [completeness; innocence; blameless] that is in me.”

With humility and confidence in God’s justice, David appealed to the LORD to be the judge of his enemies and the redeemer of his rightness and integrity.

Psalm 7:9 – “Oh let the wickedness [sin; evil] of the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] come to an end [cease; fail]; but establish [prepare; ready; set up; confirm] the just: for the righteous  [just; lawful] God trieth [prove; test; examine] the hearts and reins [i.e. mind; inward parts].”

David made two requests in verse 9: 1) That the wicked would fail in their designs to destroy him. 2) That God, knowing David’s heart, would affirm his integrity and establish his testimony.

Some reading today’s devotional might be on the verge of resigning or leaving a post or ministry.  You have suffered personal attacks. You bear the sorrow of betrayal.  You feel abandoned.

Follow David’s example and cry out to the LORD knowing He is a God of justice and will vindicate His servant in due time.  Trust the Lord!

Psalm 27 – Breaking from the Tentacles of Enslaving Fear

Not all fear is negative and there are some things that warrant a good healthy dose of fear.  For instance: It is good to fear and revere authority when it guards us from the consequences of foolish or unlawful choices. We are wise to fear the dangers of a fiery blaze, the deadly potential of a lightning strike, the fast approach of a train at a railroad crossing, and the penalty of failing to study for an exam.

Fear might also be negative and enslaving. Some fears can paralyze and render one incapable of making decisions. Fear can spawn doubt, ambivalence, and drive one to retreat from relationships.

How can you overcome fear?  Let’s take some spiritual lessons out of David’s life experiences (Psalm 27:1-3).

Psalm 27:1 – “The LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God] is my light [brightness] and my salvation [Deliverer]; whom shall I fear? the LORD [Jehovah; Eternal God] is the strength [fortress; hold; rock; protection; refuge] of my life; of whom shall I be afraid [fear; tremble]?”

We notice three assertions of David’s courage and faith in verse 1.  The first, “The Lord is my Light:  David’s confidence was not in himself or in human thought or philosophy. His courage arose from his conviction that the LORD Who is Jehovah, Eternal God, was the source of light to his soul (John 1:4-5, 9; 1 John 1:5).

David’s second assertion was, “The LORD…is my Salvation.”  The Lord was his Deliverer and able to save his soul from the curse of sin.

David asks, Whom shall I fear?”  Is anyone too big for God?  Is anyone stronger than the LORD?  Is any circumstance greater than the LORD?

David’s third assertion was, The LORD is the Strength of my life.”  The LORD was his Rock, Fortress, and Refuge!  Why be afraid of mortal men if the Lord is your Protector?  Why scurry from a foe like a rat retreating from a predator?

Having stated the LORD is the object of his faith; David considered His providences and protection in the past (27:2).

Psalm 27:2 – “When the wicked [evil], even mine enemies [adversary] and my foes [hostile], came [approached; drew near] upon me to eat up [devour; consume; feed] my flesh [body], they stumbled [became weak; overthrown; staggered] and fell.”

David had experienced the threats of adversaries who savored besmearing his character and gloating in his sorrows.  His soul had been cannibalized by malicious attacks and disparaging lies.  Of those enemies David testified, “they stumbled and fell” (27:2b).

Remembering God’s faithfulness, David was emboldened and declared he would not be overcome with fear.

Psalm 27:3 – “Though an host [camp; great company] should encamp [pitch; lay siege] against me, my heart [mind; understanding] shall not fear [tremble; be afraid]: though war [battle; warfare; combat] should rise against me, in this will I be confident [trust; secure].”

Take heart friend!  If the LORD is your Light, Salvation, and Refuge, and He has proven faithful in the midst of trials that are past, cast aside your fears and affirm with David:

I will not be overcome with fear. I will not allow the threat of the unknown to rob me of my faith, joy, and confidence in the LORD.  

Romans 8:31 – “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Caution: Revenge straight ahead! (1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11; Psalm 59)

Today’s Bible reading is 1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11; Psalm 59; 

An explanation on our Chronological Reading Plan: Today’s Scripture reading covers not only 1 Samuel 18-20, but also Psalm 11 and Psalm 59. This latticework that pulls together various passages   will become a pattern as we read the Scriptures chronologically. For instance, the events in 1 Samuel 18-20 are patterned in both Psalm 11 and Psalm 59. Because the Scripture passages are long, I will limit the length of my devotional commentary.

1 Samuel 18-20

We find David residing in the king’s palace, befriended by Jonathan, the son of Saul (18:1-4; 19:1-2).  The slaying of the Philistine giant Goliath had propelled David from shepherd and court musician to national hero. David’s fame as a warrior, and the affection of the people, had stirred jealousy in the heart of the king.  Believing David was a threat to his reign, Saul determined to kill him (18:5-30).

Nevertheless, the bond between Jonathan and David was never broken in spite of Saul’s attempts to kill him (1 Samuel 20:1-23). Jonathan, believing David was God’s anointed and the heir to the throne, vowed to befriend, support, and love David to the end of his life (20:35-42).  Thrust out of the kingdom by the king’s attempts to kill him, David began a ten-year journey of hardship and loneliness. Separated from his friend and his father’s household, the future king would live in the wilderness, hiding and seeking refuge in caves.

A Lesson from David’s Life: Serving God does not come with a guarantee of comfort or favor. Faithful servants of God are not insulated from criticism.

Psalm 11 – There are times when retreat is the wiser choice. 

David fled from Saul when the king attacked him. In Psalm 11 we do not know if the foe David faced was within or without his kingdom; however, the threat was significant and the king’s counselors advised him to flee (11:1b-2).  David answered his frightened counselors saying,

Psalm 11:1 – “In the LORD put I my trust [confide; flee for protection; make refuge]: how say [speak; command] ye to my soul [life; person; mind], Flee [disappear; remove] as a bird to your mountain?

The counselors reminded the king the plot of the wicked was to destroy the just and upright (11:2), and as king, he was the moral pillar, the foundation of the nation (11:3).

Psalm 11:2-3 – “For, lo, the wicked  [ungodly; immoral; guilty] bend their bow, they make ready [prepare; set up; fix] their arrow upon the string, that they may privily [secretly] shoot at the upright [right; just; righteous] in heart [mind].  3 If the foundations [purpose; support; moral pillars] be destroyed [thrown down; broken in pieces], what can the righteous [just] do?”

David’s counselors reasoned, not only was his life at risk, but so also were the lives of the people and the future of the kingdom (11:3b).  In other words, what will become of the righteous should the king fall?

We find David’s response in Psalm 11:4-7.

Psalm 11:4-5 – “The LORD is in his holy [sacred; hallowed] temple, the LORD’S throne [seat] is in heaven: his eyes behold [perceive; look; gaze], his eyelids try [examine; prove], the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth [proves; examines] the righteous [just; law-abiding]: but the wicked [ungodly; immoral; guilty] and him that loveth violence [injustice] his soul hateth [as a foe].”

What a great reminder! Regardless the threats of an enemy or his demands, we must not compromise our integrity. The LORD has not abdicated the throne of heaven; the ways of the righteous will not go unrewarded, nor the ways of the wicked unpunished!

Our devotion ends with the assurance, “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright” (Psalm 11:7). The righteous are the objects of the LORD’s love!

Is there is an enemy who haunts your life with threats, maligning gossip, or with disapproving gazes?  Take confidence in this…the LORD loves the righteous and He is just. Trust the LORD!

Isaiah 40:31 – “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith