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!

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Is It Worth It?

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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 I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day.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 73:10–14 (ESV)

10 Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. 11 And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. 13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.

The Danger of Prosperity

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:4–9 (ESV)

4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 73:4-9 resumes by speaking about the seeming prosperity of the wicked. They are healthy and well-fed. They live care-free lives. They are proud and arrogant as they speak against others and even against heaven.

These verses describe the danger of prosperity. Great riches and possessions can cause us to become self-sufficient. There is no need to rely on God day-to-day. This is why Jesus said that it is harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). This is also the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21).

May God give us all that we need, but not so much that we feel we no longer need him. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let not the gifts Thy love bestows estrange our hearts from Thee.”

**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!

Beware of Envy

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:1–3 (ESV)

1 Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Understanding and Applying the Word

It is easy to fall into the sin of envy. We look at what someone else has and think we should have it too. In fact, we feel as if we are the one who deserves to have it more so than the other person. This can cause great pain in our relationships with others.

It can also cause great problems in our relationship with God. When we are envious of others, we are also saying that God has failed to be fair and good to us. We declare that God has given what we deserve to someone who does not deserve the same. Our main issue is with our attitude towards God. This is why this psalm begins with the words “Truly God is good.” The psalmist reminds himself of this important fact about God.

Let us remind ourselves that God is good. Let us not be envious, but let us love others. And let us not be envious because we love our good God whose grace overflows towards 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!

Filled with His Glory

Psalm 7219 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 72:15–20 (ESV)

15 Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! 16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field! 17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! 18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. 19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses begin with a call for long life for the king and then requests that the people pray for the king. Also, there is a prayer for gold and an abundance of food and crops for the land. In verse 17 we see the nations recognizing this king’s reign and submitting to him, not out of subjection, but because they find their blessing in him.

As we have mentioned previously, this psalm does not describe any earthly king who has ever reigned, but the rule of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Genesis, God promised Abraham that he would be blessed and that through his seed the nations would be blessed. It is through the Messiah, the descendant of Abraham, that the world finds its blessing. Jesus Christ came to remove the curse of the fall and restore the world to what it was intended to be. It is through Christ’s reign that we find life in abundance. May the whole earth be filled with 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!

From Sea to Sea

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Reading the Word

Psalm 72:8–14 (ESV)

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! 9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! 11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. 13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After opening this psalm with a prayer of blessing for a newly inaugurated king, verses 8-11 go on to speak of the realm of the king’s reign. “May he have dominion from sea to sea,” says the psalmist. This is the prayer that the king’s dominion will be universal and that his reign will be acknowledged by the nations.

In verses 12-14 we again read that this king will be a defender of the weak and oppressed and will see to it that they receive justice.

These verses do not describe any government or ruler from history, but point us to the kingdom of God and the one true King who will rule the nations in justice. It is God’s plan to bring all things in heaven and earth under the rule of Jesus Christ, the Son (cf. Ephesians 1:10). As believers, we look forward to the day when the world will be as it should be and all people will be treated equally and with justice. We work to that end even now as we wait for the righteous and just King who will reign over 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!

The King of Justice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 72:1–7 (ESV)

1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! 2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! 3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! 4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! 5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! 6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! 7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many scholars believe that this psalm is a prayer for the inauguration of a king. The prayer asks that the king would be one who ruled justly and championed the cause of the people, especially the oppressed of society. The prayer understands that when justice is practiced the nation flourishes in every way.

Throughout the history of the world, there have been societies that were better and worse at practicing justice. We can even see that this is still the case in our world today. One thing is certain though: there has never been a nation/government/ruler who ruled in perfect justice. In every time and place, people have been treated unfairly and been the subject of oppression. The Bible gives us hope that one day there will be a righteous King who will rule over the people with perfect justice (Isaiah 11:1-9). In that day the world will prosper under his rule and authority. Come, King Jesus!

**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!

All Things for Good

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Reading the Word

Psalm 71:19–24 (ESV)

19 Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? 20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. 22 I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. 24 And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.

Understand and Applying the Word

Verse 19 begins by speaking of God’s righteousness, which “reaches the high heavens.” When we speak of God’s righteousness, we mean that God does what is right. This is interesting given the words of verse 20 where the psalmist writes that God has made him see “many troubles and calamities.” The difficulties the psalmist has been facing are from the hand of the sovereign God.

So, how can God be righteous if He is responsible for the troubles? Because God uses those difficulties to make us better. As Romans 8:28 says, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We can have confidence knowing that God has a plan to work in our lives and bring us to maturity in Christ. For that reason, we can join the psalmist in praise of the righteousness of 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!

In the Time of Old Age

Psalm 719 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. I do not publish devotional material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read through the Book of Psalms with us in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 71:7–18 (ESV)

7 I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. 9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. 10 For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together 11 and say, “God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him.” 12 O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! 13 May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. 14 But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

You Are My Rock and My Fortress

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Reading the Word

Psalm 71:1–6 (ESV)

1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! 2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! 3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. 6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm expresses the hope and trust of one who depends on the Lord for deliverance. God is called his rock and his fortress. Both of these images speak of stability and safety.

Trust is often something that develops over time through experience. This is something that has taken place in the psalmist’s life as well. He states, “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth.” The psalmist has a long experience with God’s faithfulness and care in his life and it leads him to trust in God in his present situation.

As you look back on your life, notice how God has lovingly and faithfully brought you to where you are right now. He has been with you all the way and He will continue to be with you in the future. You can trust in Him as you face today and tomorrow and every day in His strength.

**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!