He Has Done Marvelous Things

Psalm 981 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 98:1–6 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm speaks of praising God for the deliverance he has given to his people, Israel. The psalm does not mention a specific event, but many believe it points to the events of the exodus when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The circumstances around that time period would certainly fit well with the words of this psalm, but there are also other moments in Israel’s history where God intervened in miraculous ways and “revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations” (v. 2).

As God’s redeemed people, we should all relate well to the joyous tone of these verses. They speak of the salvation we have through his wondrous work in our lives. It is no small miracle that a sinner, as we all are, could turn in repentance of their ways and call out to God to forgive. It is also no small thing that the Son of God gave his life as a payment for the sins of the repentant. Our salvation is an amazing testimony to the power of God and to his love for us. He has certainly done marvelous things and is worthy of our praise!

**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!

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Light for the Righteous

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Reading the Word

Psalm 97:10–12 (ESV)

10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Those who love the Lord should hate evil. As we look at the world around us it might sometimes seem as if the wicked prosper. They may seem to have the best that life has to offer: money, possessions, fame, and power. Yet, we can be sure that judgment will one day come. In that day, it is the righteous who will be preserved and the wicked will be destroyed.

Verse 11 tells us that “Light is sown for the righteous”. This may seem like an odd statement, but taken in the context of this psalm, the meaning is clear. There is coming a final day when God will judge the world. The wicked will be condemned, but for the righteous, light is sown (rather than judgment). The righteous will be delivered and given life filled with joy and delivered from evil once and for all. This is truly worth our rejoicing!

**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!

Exalted Far above All Gods

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Reading the Word

Psalm 97:6–9 (ESV)

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. 7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! 8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord. 9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is one God and all of creation proclaims his glory. However, mankind is prone to worship other things. Anything that receives the love and admiration that properly belongs to God alone is idolatry. Those who worship such idols will be put to shame when the Lord reveals his glory to all.

When we think of idolatry, we are likely to think of carved images made from wood or stone. These are the religious idols that are most common, but idols can consist of other things as well. When we make something else the center of our affections and pursuit, it can become an idol. Some of the things that can take the place of God in our lives are money, possessions, our jobs, sex, or even our family. Nothing is wrong with any of these things. All of them are good things, but when they become central in our lives rather than God, they become an idol. This psalm reminds us that God is the one and only God and all other “gods” must worship him (v. 7). All things must find their proper place in light of who God is and one day they all will. Let us even now give our total worship to the one and only God who is the Creator of all things.

**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!

Let the Earth Rejoice!

Psalm 971 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 97:1–5 (ESV)

1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read about the reign of God. He is not the God of Israel alone, but of the whole world. “Let the many coastlands be glad,” says the psalmist. Why? Because the Lord reigns! God rules over all of the world as the final judge.

The image of God as judge can be one that brings joy and gladness or one that brings fear and denial. The different responses are both seen in this passage. For those who are the enemies of God, judgment is a terrible thing. God’s wrath brings trembling. However, for those who have repented of their sins and called out to God for forgiveness, the Lord’s appearing is a time to be glad. His grace is unending and his love is worthy of our praise. Our God reigns. Let us rejoice!

**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 Lord Reigns!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 96:10–13 (ESV)

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord reigns. He rules over all things. This is established by the fact that he is the Creator who established the world. It is also established in the fact that it is the Lord who judges all people. The judgment of God is an occasion for joy and praise because God judges perfectly. He is fair and right in all of his judgments.

While this psalm is focused on the present truth that God rules over all things, it also points to the future when God’s rule will fill the creation completely. Sin and wickedness will be judged and removed from the world and perfect righteousness will prevail. This is why the creation itself is called to rejoice: the heavens, the earth, the sea, the field, and the trees. The creation, along with God’s people, will be finally released from the curse of sin and its consequences and we will dwell with the Lord forever. That is cause for great rejoicing!

**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!

Sing to the Lord a New Song!

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word, a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Subscribe to this page so you can follow along through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 96:1–9 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

If You Hear His Voice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 95:7–11 (ESV)

7 …Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses stand as a call to respond correctly to the word of God. There is a warning given using the Israelites who did not trust God in the time of the Exodus as an example. The people grumbled and complained as they were led out of Egypt to the promised land. They showed that they did not trust that God would protect them and deliver on his promises. As a result, God does not let them enter the land for forty years, which would be after an entire generation had died.

This psalm serves as a warning to us. When we hear the word of God, whether through reading it or hearing it taught, we are expected to act on it. It is not just information to fill our minds, but is intended to shape our hearts. We show that we believe and trust our God when we are willing and ready to obey him. So, let us hear God’s voice in his word and let us seek to live in obedience.

**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!

Let Us Worship and Bow Down

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Reading the Word

Psalm 95:5–7 (ESV)

5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses call for us to “worship and bow down”. Why? Because the same God who made the sea and formed the dry land is the God who made us. He is our God! We belong to him as sheep belong to a shepherd.

We need to have a proper understanding of who God is and who we are. Worship gives us a proper perspective. When we come before God in worship, we are forced to humble ourselves knowing that we are under the authority of One who is greater than us. Worship forces us to realize our need for God’s care and provision. And worship moves us to thanksgiving for God’s love and grace in our lives. Come, let us worship and bow down before our God!

**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!

A Joyful Noise

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Reading the Word

Psalm 95:1–4 (ESV)

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I will enter his courts with praise.” We often sing these words in our churches, but do our hearts match our words? “The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods,” says the psalmist. We have reason to praise and be thankful.

Why do you worship? Why do you gather with other Christians to sing songs of praise? Hopefully, it is not just tradition, but because you are so filled with thanksgiving that you cannot help yourself. When we fully grasp that the Lord is the Creator and is sovereign over all things, and when we fully grasp that God loves us so much that he gave his only Son as a sacrifice for our sin, we should want to praise him! The God of the universe cares about you and me! Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

**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!

Jesus, Our Champion

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Reading the Word

Psalm 94:16–23 (ESV)

16 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? 17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. 18 When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. 19 When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. 20 Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? 21 They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses begin with two questions: “Who rises up for me against the wicked?” and “Who stands up for me against evildoers?” The answer is “the Lord”. God is the One who proves to be the help the writer needs. It is God who is a stronghold and a refuge. And it is God who will destroy the wicked because of their sin.

Believers have a Savior we can count on. Jesus Christ not only paid the price for our sins, but he also promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He bought us at a high price (the price of his own life) and he will never let us go. It is Jesus who will stand as our Champion in the end as he defeats Satan and destroys evil once and for all. Let us, as his people, find assurance in our Savior and know that the days of the wicked are numbered.

**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!