Let Your Compassion Come Speedily

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Reading the Word

Psalm 79:1–8 (ESV)

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a lament that most likely connected to the fall of Jerusalem and exile of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. The verses describe the defiling of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the killing of many Israelites by the enemy. Why did this happen? Because God was angry with his people because of their sin.

Scripture tells us that all who place their trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins and will not be condemned before God. However, Scripture also tells us that God does discipline his people for their benefit. It is through discipline that our hearts and minds are transformed as we learn to love the things God loves and hate the things he hates. Let us be thankful that God is a gracious and forgiving God. And let us also be thankful for the discipline we receive that helps us as we become more and more like Christ.

**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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A Shepherd King

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:65–72 (ESV)

65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a strong man shouting because of wine. 66 And he put his adversaries to rout; he put them to everlasting shame. 67 He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68 but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves. 69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. 70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; 71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. 72 With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Against conventional understanding, God rejected the tribe of Ephraim and chose Judah. Ephraim is the tribe descended from Joseph and seemed to be the tribe of favor. However, God showed his sovereignty and his grace by choosing Judah instead. God chose David, a descendant of Judah and made him king over Israel.

While king, God promised David that he would have a descendant who would sit on the throne forever. In the New Testament, we learn that this descendant is Jesus Christ. God’s grace was not only with Judah in the days of David, but God would bring the Messiah, the King of kings, into the world to bring salvation and to forever shepherd the people of God. What a wonderful and gracious God who uses flawed people to fulfill his perfect plans for this world!

**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!

Judgment and Grace

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:59–64 (ESV)

59 When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. 60 He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind, 61 and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe. 62 He gave his people over to the sword and vented his wrath on his heritage. 63 Fire devoured their young men, and their young women had no marriage song. 64 Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Because of Israel’s rebellion and because they turned to idolatry (v. 58), God removed his presence from among the people. Yet, God remained with Judah (cf. v. 68). In his anger, God allowed the tabernacle at Shiloh to be destroyed and the ark of the covenant to be captured, which was symbolic of his power and glory. Young men and priests were killed and the widowed women were so overwhelmed that they did not weep.

We must be careful not to trivialize sin. We can focus so much on the love and grace of God that we forget his holiness and justice. Scripture tells us that God will one day pour out his wrath in judgment on sin. The bad news is we are all sinners and deserve his wrath. The good news is that God himself has provided a way for our sin to be payed for. He sent his Son into the world to die in our place. He went to the cross to take the punishment that we deserve and when we place our trust in him, our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God, our holy Creator. The cross is a reminder of both the reality that sin will be judged and that God is gracious to sinners who repent and believe. Let us not forget either truth.

**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!

Our Idols

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:54–58 (ESV)

54 And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountain which his right hand had won. 55 He drove out nations before them; he apportioned them for a possession and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents. 56 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies, 57 but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow. 58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after God showed his power and compassion to the people of Israel by bringing them out of slavery in Egypt and settling them in the Promised Land, they turned away from him. The people did not keep the covenant that they had made with God and they turned to idolatry.

Before we ask how the Israelites could do such a thing, we need to ask ourselves if we do the same.How often do we adopt the gods of our culture? Some examples of the false gods of our culture are celebrities, sports, money, and self. We may not set up high places and idols carved from wood or stone, but we certainly make things more important than they should be, even more important than God himself, in our lives. Let us repent and thank God for his grace for saving sinners like us. He is certainly a gracious 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!

He Led Them Like Sheep

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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. Please subscribe to this page if you would like to follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 78:44–53 (ESV)

44 He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams. 45 He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them. 46 He gave their crops to the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust. 47 He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamores with frost. 48 He gave over their cattle to the hail and their flocks to thunderbolts. 49 He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels. 50 He made a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague. 51 He struck down every firstborn in Egypt, the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham. 52 Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. 53 He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid, but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

We Are Flesh

Psalm 7839 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 78:38–43 (ESV)

38 Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. 40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! 41 They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, 43 when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, records the history of the people of Israel. In that history, we see the people in a pattern of running to God in times of trouble and deserting him in times of ease. Over and over again, the people sin against God. And over and over again, God shows his patience by preserving them and welcoming them back. The grace we see from God is astounding!

As we read the history of Israel, we read our own story. We too are sinners and constantly turn our backs on God. n fact, Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and that we deserve God’s wrath. But Scripture also tells us that God is merciful and gracious towards sinners. Over and over again he welcomes us back. And, because we are all sinners and can not save ourselves, he made salvation possible. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for us by going to the cross and dying in for our sins. He is our substitute. When we acknowledge our sin and trust in Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we are saved and given eternal life. What a gracious 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!

False Praise

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:32–37 (ESV)

32 In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe. 33 So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. 34 When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. 35 They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. 36 But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. 37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after God punished the people for grumbling and complaining, they did not believe. They were afraid to enter the Promised Land and instead desired to return to Egypt. God punished the people by banishing them to wander in the desert for forty years until the entire generation had passed away. They would never enter the land that God was delivering them to. The people seemed to turn to God as a result of his discipline, but it turned out to be superficial only. Over time, the people showed their unfaithfulness and true relationship with God by turning away.

It is often in times of difficulty that people call out to God for help. Often, when God shows his grace and mercy, those same people make vows to God and say many flattering things about him that soon fade away. Instead of fully trusting in him, they go back to their old ways and forget about God until trouble comes again. This reveals the sinful heart that only uses God to serve self. Let us pray to God that our love for him would be genuine and through every circumstance we find ourselves in.

**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!

Our Daily Bread

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:26–31 (ESV)

26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind; 27 he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas; 28 he let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings. 29 And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved. 30 But before they had satisfied their craving, while the food was still in their mouths, 31 the anger of God rose against them, and he killed the strongest of them and laid low the young men of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, we find a recounting of the incident found in Numbers 11. God feeds the people by sending quail. This was done in a response to the people complaining about the manna that God had been giving them to sustain them in the wilderness. So God gave them the meat that they craved and grumbled about. As the people greedily gathered the quail, God was angered and punished the people.

Unfortunately, the attitude of the people of Israel in Numbers 11 often reflects our own. God promises to be with his people and supply their daily bread, but we are often not content with what he gives. Instead, we groan and crave more. In doing so, we fail to give God the glory he deserves. He not only supplies our daily needs, but he has supplied his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. God, in his great grace, not only gives us life, but eternal life as he leads us to the Promised Land and sustains us all the way.

**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!

Testing God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:17–25 (ESV)

17 Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. 18 They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19 They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21 Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22 because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. 23 Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, 24 and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after God delivered the people out of Egypt, showing his love and power, the people sinned against him. They did so by testing God (v. 18). Instead of praising God and trusting in him because of all he had done, they questioned God. “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” They did not trust that God would provide their basic needs of food and water as he led them through the desert to the land of Canaan. As a result, God was full of wrath (vv. 21-22), but he gave them water and fed them in abundance.

O believer, do not fail to see that God has shown his love and power to us. He has shown it as he has brought salvation to us through the shed blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has shown it as he has given us new life through his Spirit that indwells us. Let us not ask for new proofs of God’s love and power. Such demands and attitudes are sinful and the result of unbelief. Instead, let us find confidence from all that God has done in the past as we walk by faith into the future.

**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!

No Turning Back

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Reading the Word

Psalm 78:9–16 (ESV)

9 The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle. 10 They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. 11 They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. 12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. 14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. 15 He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. 16 He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After opening the psalm by calling for the people to learn from history (vv. 1-8), verses 9-16 begin to recount that history. It begins by telling how the Ephraimites had forgotten their history and had shrunk back in the day of battle. They forgot how God had displayed his power and allowed the Israelites to cross the Red Sea when they went out of Egypt. God also led them with a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and supplied water from a rock. If the Ephraimites had remembered their history, they would have gone into battle knowing that God was with them.

We can read these words and wonder at how the people could forget what God had done. How often do we do the same in our own lives? We have seen and experienced God’s power as believers. We are told in Scripture that all who believe are born again and have the Spirit of God living within them. Yet, when faced with difficulty or trials, we often forget that God is with us and we wonder how we will make it through our circumstances. Let us not forget our history. It prepares us for the future.

**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!