As Far as the East Is from the West

Psalm 10312 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:6–12 (ESV)

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Lord is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. This is good news because it means that he does not give us what we deserve, which is his unrelenting wrath. We have all sinned against God through our rebellion and disobedience, but God is a God who forgives our sin and removes it from us “as far as the east is from the west.” It is completely and finally forgiven!

The most amazing thing about God is his love for us. Even though we are sinners, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to make atonement for our sins. He went to the cross at Calvary to die as a sacrifice. It was through Jesus’ death that our sins were paid for and forgiven. Why did God provide such a sacrifice? Because he is merciful and gracious and abounding in steadfast love. Let us praise him for all he has done!

**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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Establish the Work of Our Hands

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word, a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read along with us each day. We are currently reading through the Book of Psalms.

Reading the Word

Psalm 90:13–17 (ESV)

13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

The God Who Is Gracious

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Reading the Word

Psalm 89:19–26 (ESV)

19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. 20 I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, 21 so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not outwit him; the wicked shall not humble him. 23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. 24 My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. 25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses recount how God chose David as king of Israel. The passage recalls the events of 1 Samuel 16. The emphasis that we see in these verses is that it was by God’s choosing that David was made king. And it was also by God’s hand that he was given success as king as he triumphed over his foes. God promised to give David success and he fulfilled his promise.

God is a God of steadfast love and faithfulness. He is committed to his people and he makes promises that he keeps. Why? Not because we deserve such faithfulness, but simply because God is gracious. As we live our lives, we should be encouraged by God’s unfailing loyalty and when he fulfills his promises to us, we should give him the glory because it is only through him that we have anything at all.

**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 God Merciful and Gracious

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Reading the Word

Psalm 86:14–17 (ESV)

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

David is under attack by men that he calls “insolent” and “ruthless”. Yet, in his prayer, David calls out to God to show him mercy and grace based on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. He does not plead with God based on his personal merit or righteousness. His prayer shows that he is willing to admit that he may share some of the blame in the circumstances.

We can learn much from David. Often times, when we feel as though we are being mistreated we need to stop and self-examine. We need to be willing to admit that we may have at least contributed in some way to our circumstances. When we pray to God for deliverance, let us also pray for forgiveness and grace. Then let us praise him for his love and faithfulness toward 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!

I Call on You, O Lord

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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 for the day. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 86:1–7 (ESV)

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

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!

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!