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!

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!

Suffering for Your Sake, O God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 44:17–26 (ESV)

17 All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. 18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; 19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. 23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. 26 Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Understanding and Applying the Word

We have been reading this psalm for a couple of days. In the previous verses we read the words of one crying out to God for help, but God has not done anything. Now we read that, even through all of the difficulties, the people have been faithful towards God (v. 17). They continue to live their lives for him.

Interestingly, we are told that the suffering that is taking place is “for your sake” (v.22). The people are suffering precisely because they are God’s people. This passage is quoted in Romans 8:36-39 by the apostle Paul who uses it to speak of his suffering for belonging to Christ and proclaiming the gospel.

The people of God in every age can expect rejection. In some places and times they can also expect severe persecution. Why? Because, as the people of God, they walk as witnesses to the truth to a world that has rejected the truth for a lie. When believers suffer for the sake of the truth of God’s word, they suffer for God’s sake. He may not come to our immediate rescue, but we can do the same thing that the writer of this psalm did. We can trust in the steadfast love of God (v.26). After all, he is the one who has redeemed us by sending his Son to die on a cross. He has shown us his love and we can trust him in every circumstance.

**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!

Opening Our Hearts in Prayer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 44:9–16 (ESV)

9 But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies. 10 You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil. 11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations. 12 You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them. 13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us. 14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. 15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face 16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the opening verses (vv. 1-8), the psalm looks back at how God had been with previous generations and helped them against their enemies. However, in verses 8-16, we read the words of one who has heard the stories of all God has done in the past, but is not experiencing it in the present. The enemies are having their way and God has not provided help.

One of the remarkable things about the Book of Psalms is that many of the psalms are the recorded prayers of God’s people. In these prayers we find praise and joy, hope and trust, and God’s people speaking of their love for him. But we also find times when things are not so good and when God’s people are hurting and calling out to God as they wait for him to answer. In these prayers, we find honesty and the people of God opening their hearts to God.

We can learn much from the psalms. One of the key things we learn is how to pray. We often come before God with our prayers, but many of us fail to truly open our hearts to him. The psalms teach us that we can be open. We can be honest. Cast your cares before the Lord. He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

**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 Presence of God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 43:1–5 (ESV)

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! 2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm ends with the same refrain that we read twice in Psalm 42: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” With these words, the psalmists reminds himself that he can trust in God and that he will again be in the presence of God. This psalm seems to especially look forward to a return to the temple, which was the center of worship and the special place of God’s dwelling among his people in the Old Testament (cf. vv. 3-4).

As Christians, we know that we can worship God anywhere and that we have his Spirit dwelling within us. The Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19). Yet, we also experience times when it feels as if God is far away. It is in those times that we need to remind ourselves that God is with us as we walk by faith in his word. One day, all of God’s people will be in his presence for eternity. In that day, our faith will be realized and we will see him in his glory.

**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!

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 42:6–11 (ESV)

6 My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist is in despair. He describes his feelings using the imagery of a powerful waterfall that pushes its waves over him and beats him up. In this despair he calls out to God, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Yet there is hope in the midst of the despair. Notice what we find in verse 6. The psalmist writes, “therefore I remember you…” And in verse 9 he writes, “I say to God my Rock.” Even in despair, we see that God is the hope of this writer, which is why he ends this psalm with the words “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

In life, our faith in God will be tested. It is in the difficult times that we face that we will know what kind of faith we truly have. Is it a faith that turns away and runs when things are hard? Or, is it a faith that gives us confidence to go on in the face of adversity? God is with us at all times and in all situations. Do you trust 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!

My Soul Thirsts for God

Psalm 421 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 42:1–5 (ESV)

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

How do you feel when God feels far away? In the opening verse of Psalm 42 the psalmist compares his desire for God to that of a deer in need of water during a drought. The psalmist’s soul thirsts for God and waits for a time when he may appear before God. As he waits, his tears flow (v. 3) and others mock and ask him, “Where is your God?”

Life can be difficult and it can seem especially difficult when you feel abandoned. In verse 5 we read a refrain that will repeat itself in verse 11 and again in Psalm 43:5. It is the heart of the message of these two psalms. In these verses, we are reminded that we need not be troubled because we can trust in God. He is faithful and will not abandon us. There are better days ahead. In fact, for God’s children, there are days of never ending joy ahead because he has promised to dwell with us forever in a new creation where there is no pain or sorrow or suffering. Let us rejoice in the hope we have in the God of our salvation.

**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!

Betrayed by a Friend

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:9–13 (ESV)

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verse, David calls out to God because of his enemies who long to see David’s end. Now, in these verses, he mentions that not only is he dealing with the attacks of his enemies, but also one who was supposed to be his closest friend. This is one who had eaten with David and who David trusted. Many years later, we see Jesus quote this passage and apply the betrayal of a friend to Judas (John 13:18).

Even after being betrayed by his friend, David trusts that God would vindicate him. We see here an example of faith in the face of great adversity. It is easy to trust on God when things are easy, but what happens when the world stands against you? What happens when God is all you have? David trusted and his trust turned to praise in the final words of this psalm. Whatever our circumstances, may we remember the God is with us and that he is for 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!