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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His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 1361 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 136:1–9 (ESV)
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4 to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5 to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6 to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7 to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8 the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9 the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

Understanding and Applying the Word

It does not take long to understand the central theme of this psalm. Every line ends with the refrain “for his steadfast love endures forever.” God’s steadfast love is the reason that we should give thanks to him.

In verses verses 4-9, the theme of God’s steadfast love continues and is shown in his creative acts. He made the heavens and the earth. He made the stars and the sun and the moon. It is God who created a world that could sustain life. And it is God who created us and gave us the gift of life. What a wonderful God who shows us his love in so many ways. His love truly does endure 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!

Your Name Endures Forever

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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 be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 135:13–21 (ESV)

13 Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
14 For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.

19 O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
20 O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!
21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion,
he who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the LORD!

Praise Him in the Night

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Reading the Word

Psalm 134:1–3 (ESV)

1 Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
2 Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the LORD!

3 May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is written to the priests and Levites who serve in the Temple sanctuary. It seems to specifically address those who served in the night hours (v. 1). The psalmist calls on these servants to praise God, the Creator. While those who work in the night hours may not be seen by many, their praise and devotion is still important because God is worthy and all we do is ultimately for him, not others.

This psalm is a reminder to all believers that we should live lives of worship at all times. God is worthy of our praise whether we are in a great crowd or we are alone in the night. The Lord is our Creator and our Sustainer. Let us always remember that we serve the Lord in everything we do and let us praise 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!

Praise the Lord, All Nations

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Reading the Word

Psalm 117:1–2 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a summons to praise the Lord. An important thing to notice is that it is a summons to “all nations” and “all peoples.” We misunderstand the Bible if we think that God was only interested in one nation, Israel, in the Old Testament. It is true that Israel was especially chosen by God to represent him in the world, but God’s redemptive plan has always been for all people. We see it here (and elsewhere) in the Old Testament and it becomes even more clear in the New Testament. Jesus tells his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and we see a heavenly vision in Revelation 7:9-10 that includes people from “every nation, from all tribes and people and languages” standing before God in worship.

God is a God of love for all people. He sent his Son into the world that all might be saved. As we proclaim the gospel to the world and as we gather each week with fellow believers, let us praise God together and let us celebrate that God welcomes all who will turn to him, regardless of race, social class, gender, or nationality. Praise the Lord!

**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 the Rising of the Sun

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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 Scripture reading. Please take a moment 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 113:1–9 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! 2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! 4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! 5 Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!

 

In the Congregation

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Reading the Word

Psalm 111:1–10 (ESV)

1 Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 2 Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. 3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; 8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name! 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 111 is a call to praise. It is a call for the congregation of the people of God to give thanks for all he has done and it recounts some of those things.

Our praise is always in response to who God is and what he has done. When we gather as the people of God, we worship together and our worship should be focused on these two things. As we think of what he has done, we focus primarily on God’s grace through the giving of his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and on the promise of eternal life for all who will trust in Jesus’ work on the cross. However, let us not forget to recount the specific ways God has worked in our lives. Let us speak of his goodness and generosity to the congregation of God’s people so that we may join in thanksgiving and praise. We serve a great 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!

A People Without a City

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Reading the Word

Psalm 107:1–9 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm is a call to give thanks to God for his salvation. The psalm then tells of the salvation of different groups of people. Verses 4-9 tell us of the first group who are described as “wandering in the desert wastes” and having no city to dwell in. As a result, they are “hungry and thirsty” and their soul faints within them. The people cried to the Lord for help and he delivered them.

It is uncertain what the historical background is for this text. It possibly refers to the wanderings recorded in Numbers following the exodus from Egypt. It may also refer to the return of the exiles from Babylon after captivity. Regardless, it points us to the larger story of Scripture that tell us that God is gathering a people together who will live for eternity in a new heaven and new earth where there is a city for his people: the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21). We are currently living in the wilderness of this sinful world where we hunger and thirst for righteousness, but we are sure that a new world awaits and that our souls will be filled. Let the redeemed give thanks!

**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!

Make Known His Deeds

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Reading the Word

Psalm 105:1–7 (ESV)

1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, 6 O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Worship is the primary way we show thanks to God for all he has done. Worship is also how we bear witness to the world our love for God. As we live our lives in thanksgiving, we declare to the world that God is great, that he is good, and that he is worthy of our praise. So, let us give thanks to the Lord that his deeds may be known and so that those who seek he Lord may rejoice with 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!

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

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Reading the Word

Psalm 104:30–35 (ESV)

30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. 31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, 32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! 33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. 35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm began by speaking of God’s sovereign rule over all of creation. It now ends in much the same way. In these last verses, we are told that the creation will continue on as long as the Lord sustains it. The psalmist will praise the Lord of creation and looks to a day when the wicked will be removed from the earth.

Our response to the created world around us should reflect that of the psalmist. We should praise God. His handiwork is on display for us. We should devote ourselves to pleasing the one who created us. We should worship God in all we do. Just as all of creation shows the glory of God, our lives should do the same. Let us live each day saying “Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!”.

**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!