Create in Me a Clean Heart

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Reading the Word

Psalm 51:10–13 (ESV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David has admitted his sin and taken full responsibility. Now he requests that God would create in him a new heart and renew a right spirit within him. With these words, David is asking God to change him at the core level of who he is. He wants to be a different man. He is not just asking for strength to resist sinning, but he is asking for his desires and passions to be changed. This can only happen through the work of God in our lives.

When we come to Christ in repentance of our sins and trusting in him to save us, we are told that we are born again. We are given new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that those who are in Christ are a new creation. This means that God has begun a work within us to change us. Through his word, his Spirit, his people, and our experiences, God reshapes our desires so that they are the same as his desires. And he promises that the work that he has begun will be brought to completion (Philippians 1:6). We will one day be completely free from our sin and we will be holy as he is holy. Look back at your life and see how far God has brought you as he has been working in your life. As you reflect on God’s work, give thanks to him 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!

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I Shall Be Whiter than Snow

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Reading the Word

Psalm 51:5–9 (ESV)

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There have been some interpreters over the years that have understood verse 5 to mean that David’s mother had sinned when she conceived David and that all sexual activity is sinful. This is not a proper understanding of the verse. The proper interpretation is clear when we look at a translation like the NIV which reads, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David’s focus is on his own sinfulness, not the sinfulness of someone else in this psalm. He acknowledges that he is a sinner and has always been a sinner.

What does David do in light of this truth? He calls out to God to cleanse him. He needs to find forgiveness before God so that he may have the joy that results from having a right relationship with the Lord. We all have the same need as David. We are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. Thankfully, God is gracious and ready to cleanse us and restore us when we call out to him and trust in Jesus Christ, the One who gave his life as a payment for our sin.

**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!

Have Mercy on Me, O God

Psalm 511 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 51:1–4 (ESV)

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is one of the most well-known of the psalms. The words are amazing enough on their own, but knowing the background makes this psalm even more amazing. David has had an affair with Bathsheba and, in an attempt to cover it up, he has commanded that her husband, Uriah, be placed in the thick of battle so that he will be killed. David’s scheme to cover up his wrongs fails, however, as Nathan the prophet confronts David over his sin.

This psalm is the result of David’s guilt and repentance over what he has done. In these opening verses, he pleads with God for mercy as he admits his wrongdoing. He bases his plea not on anything he has done to deserve God’s forgiveness, but solely on the steadfast love of God. What a wonderful example of the grace of God towards all of us. Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and fall short, but God is gracious and forgives those who repent and turn to him. Whatever your background, know that God stands ready to show his grace and mercy to you when you acknowledge your sin and your need for forgiveness.

**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!

Walk the Talk

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Reading the Word

Psalm 50:16–23 (ESV)

16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. 18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. 19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. 22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 50 has much to say about insincere religion. In the previous verses, God chastises those who brought their sacrifices because they thought by doing so they put God in their debt. Not so! God does not need our sacrifices. He already owns everything. Our worship should be motivated by thanksgiving for all he has done for us.

In our verses for today, God speaks against those who would say all of the right religious things, but then live their lives in complete contrast to their words. God calls these people wicked. Those who truly belong to God do not only know the right teaching of God’s word, but they live according to it. Jesus echoes this sentiment in Matthew 7:21:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

The psalm ends with a summary:

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

May our religion be pure and sincere. May the word of God not be just information that we can recite, but may it change us from the inside out so that we become more and more like our Savior.

**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 Cattle on a Thousand Hills

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Reading the Word

Psalm 50:7–15 (ESV)

7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. 8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. 9 I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. 10 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. 12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, God tells his people, Israel, that he will not accept their sacrifices. Why? Because the sacrifices were done with the wrong motives. They were done out of religious observance rather than out of thanksgiving. The people believed that by doing religious exercises they could in some way make God indebted to them. God reminds the people that he does not need their sacrifices. Everything is already his! Instead, they should offer their sacrifices in thanksgiving for what God has already done. This is true worship. Worship is always a response to who God is and what he has done.

This should cause us to ask why we do the things we do. Do we obey God because we think it will make him like us more and he will be more likely to do something for us? Do we go to church or give our money because we think it means God will answer our prayers? Our obedience and worship should not be motivated by getting God to act on our behalf. Our worship is a response to what he has done. For the believer, he has sent his Son who died for us so that we could have eternal life. This is why we worship.

**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 Is Judge

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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. We are reading the the Book of Psalms in 2018. Please subscribe to this page if you would like to follow along. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 50:1–6 (ESV)

1 The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. 4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah

The Poverty of Riches

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:13–20 (ESV)

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. 18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— 19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. 20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There are things money cannot buy. Perhaps you are familiar with the song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Money may bring people close to us for different reasons, but it cannot make someone love us. So too, money is of no value when a person dies. Nothing that a person is able to obtain in this life will follow to the grave. Not our possessions. Not our accomplishments.

So, what will we do to prepare for death? The foolish person will find confidence in possessions and self. The wise will trust in God who is able to save from the power of death. That is exactly why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He came to die in our place. He died and rose again to defeat death for us. When we trust in him, rather than ourselves, we find forgiveness and eternal life. Do not place your trust in your wealth, your possessions, or even your accomplishments. None of those things will matter in the end. Trust in God and he will save.

**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!

What Are You Trusting In?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:5–12 (ESV)

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? 7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit. 10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. 12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening verses of Psalm 49 call for all people to listen up. These words are for everyone regardless of nationality or social status (cf. Psalm 49:1-4). No matter who you are or where you are from, one day your life will come to an end. At that time, what will you trust in? Will it be your wealth and possessions?

Regardless of the popular saying that “he who dies with the most toys wins”, we know that it just is not true. We are all destined to die and no amount of wealth, power, or social status can change that. There is only one thing that we can trust in that makes a difference. We can trust in the Creator who is loving and gracious towards us. He is the one who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to defeat sin and death so that we could have eternal life. May we place our trust in the One who is truly able to save 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!

Hear This, All Peoples!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:1–4 (ESV)

1 Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor together! 3 My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. 4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is addressed to all people. Why? Because we are all alike in one very important way: our humanness. It does not matter where we are from. It does not matter what social class we belong to. We have commonality.

We live in a world that likes to divide itself into groups. We have groups based on nationality. We have groups based on language. We have groups based on skin color. We have groups based on age, income, gender, education, etc. Yet, a biblical worldview reminds us that we are all human and created by God. We may have minor differences, but at the core we are alike. Let us not think of ourselves as superior to others, but let us live as the people God created us to 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!

Your Steadfast Love

Psalm 481 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 48:9–14 (ESV)

9 We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. 10 As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness. 11 Let Mount Zion be glad! Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments! 12 Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, 13 consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation 14 that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Remembering all that God has done results in praise. When God’s people think about his steadfast love, the result is worship. The word translated as “steadfast love” is the Hebrew word hesed. It speaks of God’s covenant faithfulness to his people. God has lived up to his promises! As the people admire God’s temple and think on his faithfulness, they praise him!

Followers of God today have even greater reason to praise and rejoice in God’s steadfast love. This psalm was written prior to the cross and the people had not heard of God’s work there. We live in a post-resurrection world and have the full benefit of seeing God’s love displayed as his Son went to Calvary for our sins and then rose from the grave victorious over sin and death. He did this for us. Let us think on all the ways God has been faithful to keep his promises and let us join the praise of God’s people!

**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!