Learning to Give Thanks

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:17–26 (ESV)

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 4-9, we are told to give thanks to God who is our Creator. In verses 10-16, we are reminded that it was God who led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. And now, in verses 17-26, we are called on to give thanks to the Lord because he brought the people into the Promised Land and conquered the powerful kings who resided there.

This psalm reflects on the history of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. However, it also speaks of to Christians today. We should give thanks to God who is our Creator. He is also the one who has delivered us from slavery to sin and death through his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has promised that we will inherit the true promised land, a new heaven and new earth where sin and death will be no more. We will dwell in that land for all of eternity and the Lord himself will be there with us. We have much to be thankful for!

**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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Our Redeemer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:10–16 (ESV)

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 136 is a psalm that calls on mankind to give thanks to God. In the opening verses (vv. 1-9), we are reminded that God is Creator and is deserving of thanks for giving us life. Now, in verses 10-16, our attention is turned to the Lord’s redemptive acts in how he rescued the people from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the promised land.

This psalm was originally written to the Jewish people whose ancestors had been slaves in Egypt. Their redemption through the Exodus was a focal point of their history. We do not have to be native Israelites to find meaning in these verses. All of Scripture is focused on how God is the Redeemer of mankind. The salvation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is a picture of how God is working in an even greater way to free all of mankind from slavery to sin. God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bring us freedom. All believers have reason to praise God as Redeemer. May we remember his goodness towards us and give him thanks!

**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!

His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 1361 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 136:1–9 (ESV)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

Understanding and Applying the Word

It does not take long to understand the central theme of this psalm. Every line ends with the refrain “for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s steadfast love is the reason that we should give thanks to him.

In verses verses 4-9, the theme of God’s steadfast love continues and is shown in his creative acts. He made the heavens and the earth. He made the stars and the sun and the moon. It is God who created a world that could sustain life. And it is God who created us and gave us the gift of life. What a wonderful God who shows us his love in so many ways. His love truly does endure forever!

**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!

Your Name Endures Forever

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 135:13–21 (ESV)

13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
14 For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.

19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
he who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the LORD!

Whatever the Lord Pleases

Psalm 1356 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 135:1–12 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the name of the LORD,
give praise, O servants of the LORD,
2 who stand in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God!
3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.

5 For I know that the LORD is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

8 He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
9 who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The beginning of this psalm is a call to worship. Over and over again we read in the opening verses, “Praise the Lord!” Then in verses 4-5 we are told the reason: God is great and whatever he pleases, he does. This may not seem like a convincing reason to praise God unless we continue reading the following verses. There we are told that God, who is great and above all, is in control of all things and, in his great might, brought the people out of slavery in Egypt.

Power alone is not a reason to praise God. However, God is not just all-powerful. He is righteous and just and loving and gracious. In short, God is good (v. 3). All believers should praise the Lord for his greatness. He has delivered us all from our bondage to sin and death. He did this through his Son, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross to pay the penalty for sin, but rose on the third day victorious over sin and death. Now all believers have victory through Christ and the promise of an eternity with our Lord. Let us praise his name. He is great and he is good!

**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!

Praise Him in the Night

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Reading the Word

Psalm 134:1–3 (ESV)

1 Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the LORD!

3 May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is written to the priests and Levites who serve in the Temple sanctuary. It seems to specifically address those who served in the night hours (v. 1). The psalmist calls on these servants to praise God, the Creator. While those who work in the night hours may not be seen by many, their praise and devotion is still important because God is worthy and all we do is ultimately for him, not others.

This psalm is a reminder to all believers that we should live lives of worship at all times. God is worthy of our praise whether we are in a great crowd or we are alone in the night. The Lord is our Creator and our Sustainer. Let us always remember that we serve the Lord in everything we do and let us praise him!

**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!

Unity

Psalm 1331 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 133:1–3 (ESV)

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unity is a wonderful thing. When the people of God are working together, it is pleasant and brings great pleasure. The psalmist uses two images to illustrate the goodness of unity. It is like the precious oil used to anoint a priest that runs down from his head to his beard and to his robe. The oil spreads over the entire person. It is also like the dew running off of Mount Herman, the highest peak in Israel, and onto Zion. Zion is a dusty and much smaller mountain, but it is where the temple sits. The dew from Mount Herman gives refreshing moisture to dry Zion.

If you have ever been in a church where unity is not present among God’s people, you may have a good understanding of this psalm. Without unity, the people of God cannot prosper and thrive. It takes unity to allow the body of Christ to function as it ought to and accomplish what it is designed to. This is why there is such a great emphasis throughout the New Testament on this vital issue. We are called to love one another, forgive one another, and live in unity as we serve and build one another up. May we dwell in unity and experience its great pleasures.

**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!

Promise Kept

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Reading the Word

Psalm 132:11–18 (ESV)

11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses refer to God’s promise to David. The Lord made a covenant promise to David that there would be a descendant of David’s who would reign forever. The promise finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the descendant of David (cf. Matthew 1:1), came into this world as the long-awaited Messiah. Messiah is the title that means “anointed one” and was used as a way to speak of kings because they were anointed as they began to reign. Jesus came as King, but went to the cross to die for his people. He is a King that gave his life so that his people could live. Scripture tells us that Jesus will one day come again. In his return, he will come as a conquering King who will defeat his enemies and sit as their Judge.

God is faithful to his promises. Scripture is a record of the promises he has made and their fulfillment. As we go through this Christmas season, let us remember why we celebrate: Jesus has come into the world. The King has come! God has kept his promise to David. And Jesus has brought salvation to all who believe in his name. What a wonderful and faithful 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!

God’s Dwelling Place

Southwest Corner of the Temple Mount

Southwest corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Reading the Word

Psalm 132:1–10 (ESV)

1 Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor,
all the hardships he endured,
2 how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”

8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm speaks of David’s desire to build a temple for God’s dwelling place among the people of Israel. You can read more about this in 2 Samuel 7. The reason David wanted to build such a temple and was willing to put forth the effort to do so was because he wanted God to be near. David desired to dwell in the presence of the Lord.

Like David, we too desire to dwell in the presence of the Lord. However, we do not go to a temple to visit God. That was a temporary arrangement that has been superseded through the work of Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. Through Jesus, we have direct and immediate access to God the Father. So, we are always in the presence of God in a way that believers in the Old Testament never experienced.

Yet, we still long for more. We long for the day when we will dwell with God and know him face-to-face. That day is still future. The Book of Revelation tells us that one day God will create a new heaven and new earth where he will dwell with his people for all eternity. In Christ, we have immediate access to God today. And, in Christ, we have the promise of dwelling in his presence forever!

**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!

Like a Child

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Reading the Word

Psalm 131:1–3 (ESV)

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist voices his trust in the Lord. Some things are too great to be grasped. We are limited in our understanding. When we try to figure these things out or make sense of them, we can become discouraged or frustrated. The psalmist, instead, trusts in God as a young child trusts in his mother for protection, care, and provision.

We can trust God. He is a God of faithfulness and always keeps his promises. His word tells us that he works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). We may not always understand how God is working or what his plans are, but we can trust him. We can take comfort in knowing that he is in control and we do not have to figure all of these things out. We can simply quiet our soul in trust and security as we rest in the arms of the Lord.

**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!