How Shall We Sing?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 137:1–9 (ESV)
1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a sad psalm. We read words reflecting on the feelings of those Israelites who were taken into exile by the Babylonians. We read of their heartache and tears. Their captors called on them to sing their songs, but they have no desire to sing. How can they sing when they are away from Jerusalem and the presence of God? The final verses turn to calling on God to avenge his people and execute justice against the Babylonians.

Living in this world, Christians find themselves as exiles. We live among those who are not God’s people and who are opposed to God’s word. In many places and across history, many believers have suffered great injustice at the hands of those opposed to Christianity. When we see or hear of these things, our hearts break and we call out to God. We call out because we desire for the sin of this world to be removed and we cry out for God to execute justice on behalf of the innocent. Let us continue to sing the songs of our great Redeemer as we wait for 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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More than Watchmen for the Morning

Psalm 1306 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please take the time to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 130:1–8 (ESV)

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

I Lift Up My Eyes

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day.

Reading the Word

Psalm 123 (ESV)

1 “To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.

4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.”

I Hope in Your Words

Psalm 119147 [widescreen]

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

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:145–152 (ESV)

145 With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord! I will keep your statutes. 146 I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies. 147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. 148 My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. 149 Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life. 150 They draw near who persecute me with evil purpose; they are far from your law. 151 But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. 152 Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever.

My Hiding Place

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:113–120 (ESV) 113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God. 116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! 117 Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! 118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. 119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. 120 My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The double-minded, evildoers, and wicked disregard the commands of God. However, those who fear God and his judgments seek to live according to God’s word. In so doing, they find hope and a place of refuge.There are ultimately two ways to live our lives. We can live according to the way we decide or we can live according to what God has said in his word. These options are the same as they have been since the garden of Eden in Genesis 3. There, the first man and woman decided to live their own way and disobey God. Mankind has been in rebellion against God ever since.The world will tell you that it is best and most fulfilling to follow your own path. God’s word tells us that this way is actually the path to destruction, not fulfillment. It is only through God’s word, his instruction to us, that we find hope. It is those who trust in God’s salvation through Jesus Christ that look forward to eternal life. What are you looking for to fulfill you? Turn to God’s word. It is the only place you will find what you seek.**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!

My Comfort in Affliction

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:49–56 (ESV)

49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. 51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. 52 When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. 53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law. 54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. 55 I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. 56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Going through difficult circumstances is not easy for anyone. It can bring stress, worry, fear, and a host of other emotions that we would rather not experience. Such circumstances can be even more difficult if they are caused or made worse by others who purposely wish to harm us. This is the situation with the psalmist in these verses. His is under attack from others who seek his harm.

Even though he is under attack, the psalmist remains hopeful. Why? Because he trusts in the word of God. He believes that God will be faithful to do what he has promised to do. The word of God brings the psalmist hope, life, comfort, and singing in the midst of difficulty. We too can face our circumstances in the same way. We too can trust in God’s word, knowing he will fulfill his promises to his people. When we do this, we are prepared to face whatever life may send our way and we can do so with hope.

**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 Word Gives Life

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:25–32 (ESV)

25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! 26 When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! 27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. 28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! 29 Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! 30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. 31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! 32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist reflects on great sorrow as he states, “My soul clings to the dust,” and “My soul melts away for sorrow.” What is the remedy for such emotional pain? The word of God! It strengthens and gives life.

We need the word of God. It is not just something that is nice to have nor is it something that we read just to gather interesting information. It is living and breathing. It works in our hearts and minds to transform us into new people. The word of God is essential to the believer if we are to live with an accurate understanding of the world around us. Let us not despair, but let us turn to the word and find hope and life.

**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!

Hope for the Poor And Needy

Psalm 10922 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 109:21–29 (ESV)

21 But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me! 22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me. 23 I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust. 24 My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat. 25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads. 26 Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! 27 Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it! 28 Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad! 29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we see David’s hope. His trust is in God, who he calls “God my Lord” in verse 21. The titles that he uses reflect on God’s sovereign rule over all. While David is “poor and needy” (a description of his weakness), God is in control and full of steadfast love towards David.

What are you going through? What is it that you are facing that makes you feel weak and powerless to overcome? David sought the Lord in prayer and trusted that the sovereign One would be faithful to him. You and I can rest in the truth that our God is in control and that he loves his people. Let us call out to him and trust him. We may be weak, but he is all-powerful.

**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 Lord Is Enthroned Forever

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Reading the Word

Psalm 102:12–17 (ESV)

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. 13 You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. 14 For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. 15 Nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory. 16 For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; 17 he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening verses of this psalm reflected the words of one who is in despair and waiting for God to act. The tone of the psalm turns in our verses today. The psalm goes from questioning to a proclamation of trust. “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever” are powerful words that speak of God’s sovereignty over all. The writer has not forgotten this even in the midst of his circumstances.

It can be difficult to maintain hope in times of trouble. It is much easier to focus on the negative and forget that there is more to the story than just the present moment. God instructs us to view our circumstances differently. He instructs us through his word and tells us that he is in control and works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). God has a plan and his plan never fails. But do we trust him? Do we trust him even when all hope seems lost? We can because he is enthroned forever!

**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!

How Long, O Lord?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 89:46–52 (ESV)

46 How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? 47 Remember how short my time is! For what vanity you have created all the children of man! 48 What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah 49 Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 50 Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked, and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations, 51 with which your enemies mock, O Lord, with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed. 52 Blessed be the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“How long, O Lord?” These are the words that the psalmist asks as we near the end of Psalm 89. The writer is wondering when God will fulfill his promises to his people. When will he provide a king from the line of David and defeat the enemies of Israel? It seems as though God has forgotten.

The way God chooses to fulfill his plans and purposes is not always evident to us. At times, we may be left wondering what God is doing or if he is doing anything at all. We may cry out with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?”

Notice that the author of Psalm 89 continued to put his hopes in God’s promises. He may not have understood how they would be fulfilled, but he waited for them. We know from the rest of Scripture that God did keep his promises by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. We have the benefit of knowing with greater clarity how God is working to redeem the world from sin, so let us continue to trust in him even when we do not always understand our circumstances or trials. Blessed be the Lord forever!

**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!