Do Not Boast

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental devotional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 75:1–5 (ESV)

1 We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. 2 “At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity. 3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah 4 I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; 5 do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’ ”

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Have Regard for the Covenant

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Reading the Word

Psalm 74:18–23 (ESV)

18 Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name. 19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever. 20 Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. 21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day! 23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the closing verses of Psalm 74, the psalmist calls out to God to remember His covenant (verse 20). In making a covenant with His people, God promised to be with them as their God. This promise was not made with a people who had somehow earned God’s favor, but was an act of God’s grace. He made a covenant out of mercy and love. And it is the grace of God that this psalmist now calls out out for.

This is the theme of all of Scripture. We are told that all people are sinners and have offended the holy God. We do not deserve His favor, but He is gracious and forgives those who will call out to Him and trust in His word. In His word, God tells us that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for sins and that all who trust in him will be saved. We call out to God and ask Him to remember His promise to forgive. We call out and ask for His grace.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

The Ruler of Creation

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Reading the Word

Psalm 74:9–17 (ESV)

9 We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long. 10 How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever? 11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them! 12 Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. 15 You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams. 16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. 17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 9-11, we read a lament. The people no longer see God’s work among them. There are no sign and there is no prophet to speak God’s word to the people. It is as if God has abandoned them.

In verses 12-17, the tone changes. It goes from one of lamentation to one of speaking of God’s greatness as the Sovereign One. These verses proclaim that God is the ancient King who is always at work to fulfill His plan of redemption. He is powerful over all of creation.

In these verses we see one who is troubled by his circumstances as he calls out to God. He even feels as though God has forgotten or is ignoring him. However, the psalmist reminds himself that God is the Sovereign King and that His purposes will be fulfilled. God has His reasons for the things that take place in our lives, even if we do not always know what those reasons are. We must simply trust in His redemptive plan knowing it is being worked out in all of God’s creation. Let us not lose heart, but let us remember who is King.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Has God Cast Us Off Forever?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 74:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? 2 Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt. 3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary! 4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs. 5 They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees. 6 And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers. 7 They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground. 8 They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm begins with a prayer asking God to remember His people. It is a description of total destruction of the land, including the temple itself. The description fits best with what we know of the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C.

The people did not think that God would allow such a catastrophic defeat to happen to His people. They especially did not not think that He would allow the temple, which represented God’s presence and protection, to be destroyed and profaned. However, it did happen and now the psalmist is calling out to God wondering where He is.

Just as God used difficulties in the Old Testament to discipline His people. He often does the same for us today. The Babylonian destruction and captivity was used by God to redirect the hearts of the people to Him. It was a very difficult time for the people, but it was used by God. Let us not lose heart in the midst of difficulty as if God has forgotten us or as if He has failed. Instead, let us continue to trust in Him and learn to to trust in Him even more.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Whom Have I in Heaven but You?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:24–28 (ESV)

24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After acknowledging that God is always with him in verse 23, now the psalmist declares that God is the greatest desire of his heart. He writes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” The Apostle Paul would echo this same desire in Philippians 3:8-9:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…

When our perspective is properly aligned, God is at the center. This is what happened in the life of this psalmist in verse 17 when he went to the sanctuary to worship. His view of life had been skewed previously through envy, but now it is properly aligned. There is no reason to be envious when you are near to God because nothing is of greater value. Let us fix our eyes on the Lord and tell of His goodness!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

God Holds Our Hand

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:21–23 (ESV)

21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read the consequences of envy. The previous verses have discussed how the psalmist was envious of the prosperity of others, but when he came to worship his perspective changed (verse 17). Now we read that before this change in perspective, envy had led to bitterness and anger. These feelings are how the psalmist felt about God.

In an amazing statement, verse 23 tells us that even in his time of bitterness and anger, God remained. God continued to hold the psalmist’s hand as a parent does for a child who may be in a bad mood, but still needs instruction, guidance, and protection. This is how God is towards His children. He does not desert us, but He exercises grace and uses the experiences of life to teach us so that we grow into maturity. He is always there holding our hand.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

I Went to the Sanctuary of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:15–20 (ESV)

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. 16 But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, 17 until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. 18 Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is easy to become discouraged. When we look around and begin to compare our lives to the lives of others, we can easily find things that we wish were different. We see where those who have no regard for holiness or for God seem to prosper while we and others who are committed to Him struggle in life. It can be disheartening.

The psalmist in Psalm 73 has written about his discouragement in the opening verses, but something changes his perspective when we get to verse 17. When he enters the sanctuary of God his eyes were opened. Through gathering with the people of God and worshipping, he was reminded who God was, what God had done, and what God would do in the future. It is through worship that God’s people not only glorify God, but that God’s people are encouraged to live in the world and trust in Him. Let us not fail to gather with the people of God for worship. We need it.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Is It Worth It?

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Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 73:10–14 (ESV)

10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.

The Danger of Prosperity

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:4–9 (ESV)

4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 73:4-9 resumes by speaking about the seeming prosperity of the wicked. They are healthy and well-fed. They live care-free lives. They are proud and arrogant as they speak against others and even against heaven.

These verses describe the danger of prosperity. Great riches and possessions can cause us to become self-sufficient. There is no need to rely on God day-to-day. This is why Jesus said that it is harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). This is also the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21).

May God give us all that we need, but not so much that we feel we no longer need him. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let not the gifts Thy love bestows estrange our hearts from Thee.”

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Beware of Envy

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:1–3 (ESV)

1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is easy to fall into the sin of envy. We look at what someone else has and think we should have it too. In fact, we feel as if we are the one who deserves to have it more so than the other person. This can cause great pain in our relationships with others.

It can also cause great problems in our relationship with God. When we are envious of others, we are also saying that God has failed to be fair and good to us. We declare that God has given what we deserve to someone who does not deserve the same. Our main issue is with our attitude towards God. This is why this psalm begins with the words “Truly God is good.” The psalmist reminds himself of this important fact about God.

Let us remind ourselves that God is good. Let us not be envious, but let us love others. And let us not be envious because we love our good God whose grace overflows towards us.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!