Will We Listen?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 81:11–16 (ESV)

11 “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 13 Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! 14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. 16 But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Even after all God had done for his people and even after his promise to be their God and bless them, they still did not obey him. They followed their own hearts and their own sinful ways. Even so, God promises to restore them if they turn to him. He stands ready to bless them.

Israel is a picture of all of mankind. In the Garden of Eden, man was placed in a paradise with all of the blessings of God, but sinned by disobeying the word of God. Likewise, Israel was rescued from slavery and brought to the Promised Land and offered the blessings of God, but sinned through disobedience to God’s word. And we do the same thing. God saves us from our sins through his Son, Jesus Christ, but we would rather follow our own way than submit to him as Lord. Even so, God stands ready to forgive and restore those who will repent and turn to him. What a patient and 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!

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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!

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!

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!

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!

Consider the Days of Old

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Reading the Word

Psalm 77:5–9 (ESV)

5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago. 6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search: 7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

In a time when it seems as if the Lord has forgotten him, the psalmist asks himself questions. In summation, he asks, “Has his [God’s] steadfast love forever ceased?” While he asks this in many ways, the sure answer is “no.”

The psalmist asks himself questions concerning God’s love, grace, and faithfulness to remind himself of the past where the Lord has proven his love and faithfulness. We too must remember the past when we are hard pressed in the present. Let us remind ourselves of all that God has done and let us be confident of the present and future. We see God’s love and grace at the cross and, if we look closely, in our daily lives. He will surely remain faithful in 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!

Have Regard for the Covenant

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Reading the Word

Psalm 74:18–23 (ESV)

18 Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name. 19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever. 20 Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. 21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day! 23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the closing verses of Psalm 74, the psalmist calls out to God to remember His covenant (verse 20). In making a covenant with His people, God promised to be with them as their God. This promise was not made with a people who had somehow earned God’s favor, but was an act of God’s grace. He made a covenant out of mercy and love. And it is the grace of God that this psalmist now calls out out for.

This is the theme of all of Scripture. We are told that all people are sinners and have offended the holy God. We do not deserve His favor, but He is gracious and forgives those who will call out to Him and trust in His word. In His word, God tells us that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for sins and that all who trust in him will be saved. We call out to God and ask Him to remember His promise to forgive. We call out and ask 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!

God Holds Our Hand

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:21–23 (ESV)

21 When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read the consequences of envy. The previous verses have discussed how the psalmist was envious of the prosperity of others, but when he came to worship his perspective changed (verse 17). Now we read that before this change in perspective, envy had led to bitterness and anger. These feelings are how the psalmist felt about God.

In an amazing statement, verse 23 tells us that even in his time of bitterness and anger, God remained. God continued to hold the psalmist’s hand as a parent does for a child who may be in a bad mood, but still needs instruction, guidance, and protection. This is how God is towards His children. He does not desert us, but He exercises grace and uses the experiences of life to teach us so that we grow into maturity. He is always there holding our hand.

**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!