Have Mercy on Me, O God

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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!

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Kicked While Your Are Down

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:5–8 (ESV)

5 My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die, and his name perish?” 6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is nothing like being kicked when you are down. That is what this psalm describes. As the psalmist lies in sickness, his enemies use the situation to drag his name through the mud using slander. These enemies look forward to his death and the end of his family line (v. 5). They do all they can to spread false information about him and paint him in the worst possible light.

As he lies in sickness, the only one David can call out to is God. Yes, he has sinned against God, but he has repented (v. 4). He knows that God is gracious and forgiving and restores the repentant heart to fellowship. In the day God lifts him up, his name will be vindicated over his enemies.

Those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ are forgiven of their sins. They are adopted as children of God. Though enemies may attack, there comes a day when God’s people will be vindicated over all the enemies of God and his children. We wait in confidence for God to lift us up for 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!

O Lord, Make Me Know My End

Psalm 394 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 39:1–13 (ESV)

1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. 3 My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah6 Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! 7 “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. 8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9 I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. 10 Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. 11 When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers. 13 Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

I do not know many people who like to think or talk about death. Yet, it is a topic that we must think about at some point because it is a reality that we all face. We need to be prepared for it and we need to prepare others for it. In this psalm, the writer asks for God to make him know the end and the measure of his days. He wants to live in the reality that life is short.

As a pastor, I have come to realize that funerals open a door of opportunity to encourage people to reflect on the brevity of life. I believe this is a good thing and that reflecting on death can help us have a better life. We need to consider that we will one day stand before the Creator and give an account. We also must consider that we have all sinned and that God is holy. Thankfully, he is also gracious and has made forgiveness of sin possible through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s word tells us that those who trust in Christ will be saved and given eternal life.

We need to be prepared for death because it can come at any moment. We, like the psalmist, need to know the brevity of our days and turn to Christ while we have time. Will you today?

**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!

Feeling Crushed

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Reading the Word

Psalm 38:1–8 (ESV)

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! 2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, 6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. 7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Sin is a serious matter. It can cause many problems in our lives. It can harm or destroy relationships. It can get us into legal problems. It can even cause illness and physical issues. This is the case in Psalm 38.

As a result of sin, David is sick. He states, “There is no soundness in my flesh…there is no health in my bones.” He also mentions his feeling of guilt and describes it as a great burden that is too heavy for him. So he is left crushed under the weight of his sin.

There is good news for David and for us. God forgives sinners. In fact, this is the very message that is central to the entire Bible. We have all sinned and are crushed under the weight of our sin, but God loves us and has sent his Son into the world as a sacrifice for sin. He took the weight of our sin upon himself and let us go free. When we realize our need for salvation and trust in the sacrifice of Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are set free from our burden. 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!

Turn from Evil and Do Good

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Reading the Word

Psalm 37:27–34 (ESV)

27 Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. 28 For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. 32 The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. 33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial. 34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Turn away from evil and do good,” we are told in this psalm. In fact, this is the message of all of Scripture. The thing is, most of us probably think that we are already “good”, or at least good enough. The problem is that Scripture tells us that none of us are good. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As a result, we are condemned to death (Romans 6:23).

But we can turn from our sin in repentance and call upon the Lord for forgiveness. In his grace, God does forgive those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation (Acts 2:38). Not only does the believer find forgiveness, but also the promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth in the very presence of God. What a great hope we have in 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!

No Fear of God

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do post a suggested reading. We are working through the Book of Psalms in 2018. If you have not already subscribed to this page, please do so and plan to read along with us each day! Thanks again!

Reading the Word

Psalm 36:1–4 (ESV)

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

Running from Repentance

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Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Guilt is a terrible thing to live with. It gnaws at your conscience. It never leaves you alone and there is no peace to be found. In this psalm, we read that that David felt as though his bones were wasting away and he groaned all day long in agony. He was guilty and he did not want to do what he needed to do. He did not want to own up to his sin. Instead, he kept silent. How often do we do the same?

However, when David finally did admit his sin and stopped trying to hide it, he found something unexpected. In our world of getting even, we expect him to pay dearly for whatever it is he has done. Instead, he finds forgiveness. The Lord covers his sin and does not count it any longer. It is forgiven.

How amazing that the all-knowing, holy God would forgive the sin of the repentant. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says God does for all who acknowledge their sin and turn to him by trusting in Jesus Christ as the one who pays for their sin. Do not let your guilt continue to eat away while you try to hide. It will never work. Besides, there is a better way. Turn to God in repentance and he will forgive you.

**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 Shadow of Your Wings

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Reading the Word

Psalm 17:1–9 (ESV)

1 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! 2 From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! 3 You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 4 With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. 5 My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. 6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. 7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, 9 from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, David cries out to God for help. As he calls on God, he points to his own faithfulness towards God as a reason why God should protect him from his enemies. Does this mean that David thought he was perfect? No. It means that, generally speaking, David believed he was obedient and followed God’s will in contrast to his enemies who paid no regard to doing so.

Scripture teaches us that continued sin in our lives hinders our prayers. Compare passages such as Psalm 66:18 and Proverbs 28:9. These passages should not be understood to mean that we need to be entirely sinless. That simply is not true of anyone. But they do warn us that our willful continued sin harms our prayer life. Are you wondering why God seems distant and not answering? Is your life a reflection of the person who is faithful towards God? Or are you living in opposition to God’s will and know you need to repent? Praise God that he stands ready to forgive!

**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, Lord?

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Reading the Word

Psalm 6:1–10 (ESV)

1 O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. 2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long? 4 Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. 5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? 6 I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. 8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. 9 The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this psalm, David calls out for God to deliver him from his enemies. In fact, David has been calling out to God, but has yet to see God move. This is why he asks “how long?” How long until God will answer his prayers? David describes his situation as one that has brought tears and weeping. He is greatly troubled and desperately needs God’s intervention. Then as we read verses 8-10, the psalm changes from one of desperation to one of confidence. David is sure that God has heard his prayers and that he will act on his behalf. David’s enemies would answer to God for their actions.

How often have you prayed and waited? How did you respond to the delay? The Bible teaches us that God does hear our prayers and that he does answer them. However, he may choose to answer them in ways that we do not expect or in his own timing. Even in prayer, we learn to allow God to be God and to trust his response and his timing. He is a God of steadfast love towards his people and he will never fail 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!

The Lake of Fire

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Reading the Word

Revelation 20:11–15 (ESV)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we near the end of Revelation, and the Bible as a whole, we find one last judgment. This is the Great White Throne Judgment. At this time, all non-believers throughout history will be gathered before Christ who will sit as their final judge. All of these will be judged according to what they have done and cast into the lake of fire where Satan and his followers were cast in Revelation 20:10. Death and Hades are also thrown into the lake of fire.

Those who have not trusted in Jesus Christ to save them will stand and be judged for their actions. The Bible tells us that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There are none found not guilty at this judgment. May believers praise God for his grace and for the salvation we have in Christ. May we take the opportunities that we have to proclaim the good news that salvation is free to all who will call on the name of 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!