The Righteous Flourish

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Reading the Word

Psalm 92:10–15 (ESV)

10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil. 11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants. 12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, 15 to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Verse 12 states that the “righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Both of these tree are symbols of strength and vitality (cf. Isaiah 2:13; 65:22; Hosea 14:5–6; Zechariah 11:2). This is a great contrast to the evil, who will be swept away (vv. 9-10). We are also told that these trees are planted in the house of the Lord, which tells us of the nearness to God that the righteous will experience.

This psalm began declaring the praise of the Lord. God is deserving of worship because of his great deeds. As the psalm ends, we are once again reminded of why it is good to praise the Lord. It is God who gives life and gives it abundantly to his people. He is the God who will judge evil and give life to the righteous. The Lord is upright and he is a rock to those who trust in 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!

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No Evil Shall Befall You

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Reading the Word

Psalm 91:5–13 (ESV)

5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The words of these verses can be, and have been, misunderstood. If we do not read them carefully we may think that they teach us that nothing bad will ever happen to the people of God. This is how Satan tried to deceive Christ when he quoted verses 11-12 (cf. Matthew 4:5-6). This is how Satan has always tried to deceive mankind.

In the garden of Eden, Satan deceived the woman and the man by convincing them that God was not good. God was holding something good back from them (i.e. wisdom). The first man and woman fell for it and ate of the tree that was forbidden. Likewise, we are often tempted to believe that if God is good then nothing bad should ever happen to his good people. We might ask, “If God is good why do bad things happen to good or innocent people?” After all, the verses of this psalm teach that evil is reserved for the enemies of God, right?

Well, not really. As we will read tomorrow, in verse 15 God promises to be with his people in the time of trouble and to rescue them. These verses do not promise freedom from trouble, only that God will be with us in those times and will ultimately deliver us. For some, that might mean he will heal our sickness. For others, he may give us victory over our enemies. But for many, it will mean that our victory does not come in this life, but in the next. God promises us that he will give us the ultimate victory. We will be victorious over sin and death because of what he has done for us through his Son, Jesus Christ. We will have eternal life and the joy of eternity with God as our Father. Nothing in this world can ever take that away!

**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!

Punishment upon Punishment

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Reading the Word

Psalm 69:22–28 (ESV)

22 Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. 24 Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. 25 May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. 27 Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Reading these verses raises questions in our minds. The verses seem so unkind and unloving. How can David say such things? Should we feel the same about our enemies? Didn’t Jesus teach that we should love our enemies? These are all good questions and we should wrestle with them.

David’s words are not contrary to the teaching of Scripture. First, he leaves vengeance in the hands of God. He dos not take it upon himself to punish his enemies, but calls out to God, the righteous and all-knowing Judge to do so. This is important because God is the one who always renders the right judgment. Secondly, Scripture tells us that sin and evil will ultimately be judged. David’s prayer is in line with this truth. He is calling out for what God has told us will take place. All believers should long for the day when injustice will cease and perfect justice will take place. That is the heart of David’s prayer.

Let us read these words and be reminded of the injustice of this world as we look forward to the end of sin and evil when God makes things right.

**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 Righteous Rejoice in the Lord

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Reading the Word

Psalm 64:7–10 (ESV)

7 But God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. 8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads. 9 Then all mankind fears; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what he has done. 10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The world can often seem unfair and even cruel. Wicked and evil people seem to get away with their actions. Swindlers sometimes seem to prosper from their lies and deceit. And the innocent and weak may seem to be taken advantage of.

But Scripture tells us a different story. God’s word tells us that evil will be judged by an all-knowing God. In the end, truth and justice will prevail as God deals with all of mankind with perfect justice. In that day, the righteous will rejoice and the wicked will be brought to ruin. So, today we live by faith in God’s promise to judge evil as we live for him in a world that is always seeking to devour the weak for profit.

As you read this, you may be wondering how anyone will escape God’s judgment. That is a good question. The Bible says we are all sinners and stand condemned by our sin. Yet God in His grace has provided His Son as payment for our sin. He went to the cross as a perfect sacrifice. And Jesus rose from the dead in victory over sin. God’s word tells us that if we repent of our sin and trust in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we will find forgiveness and salvation. This is the free gift of a loving and gracious God for all who will believe. Will you trust Him today?

**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!

Corruption at the Top

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Reading the Word

Psalm 58:1–5 (ESV)

1 Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge the children of man uprightly? 2 No, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. 4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear, 5 so that it does not hear the voice of charmers or of the cunning enchanter.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In every age, those in power have used their power for their own ends. The saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” was as true in ancient times as it is today. This psalm speaks of those in power who think of themselves as gods and act wickedly.

God’s word tells us that all will one day give an account to the final Judge and the One who is truly the absolute authority. God will act justly and show no favoritism in his judgments. May this psalm serve as a warning to all of us to seek to do what is right rather than what is popular or what may benefit us most. And may this psalm especially challenge those in positions of authority to exercise their power in accord to the will of God. We will be called to account.

**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 Love of Evil

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 and follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 52:1–4 (ESV)

1 Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.

 

The Wicked Vanish Like Smoke

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Reading the Word

Psalm 37:12–20 (ESV)

12 The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, 13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. 14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; 15 their sword shall enter their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. 16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. 18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; 19 they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance. 20 But the wicked will perish; the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures; they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Try as they might, the wicked will not prosper. Their ways are futile. They may “plot” in order to get the upper hand, but their own evil will turn on them. They resist and despise the righteous and their ways. They cling to evil and hate what is good. They use every evil (sword and bow) to put down the righteous, but they will only find defeat.

The Lord upholds the righteous. They are his possession and he will sustain them. By contrast, it is the wicked who are like smoke and vanish quickly because they are the enemies of God.

The world chases after “success” at all costs and justifies whatever means is necessary to obtain it. May we be content to walk in righteousness even if we have little in this world. We know that we belong to a wonderful God who will not abandon us and who will one day gather us to himself. There is nothing to be desired more than that.

**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!

 

 

Fret Not

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Reading the Word

Psalm 37:7–11 (ESV)

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm we find the phrase “fret not yourself” repeated three times. The phrase appears as the first words of Psalm 37:1 and then again in verses 7 and 8. The Hebrew word translated as fret means “to be heated or enraged”. It has the idea of getting angry over the success of the wicked (cf. verse 8). Proverbs 24:19 repeats this instruction.

Rather than allow ourselves to get angry because evildoers seem to prosper, we are told to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. What does this mean? We are to trust that God knows and that he will take care of these things. Evil and those who participate in it will be judged. The wicked will be no more and those who trust in and depend on the Lord will inherit the land and dwell in peace.

When we read the end of the Bible, Revelation 21 tells us what awaits those who are the people of God. There will be a new heaven and a new earth where sin and evil are no more. God will dwell with his people and there will be peace. The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). What a day that will be!

**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!