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!

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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!

The Lord Has Established His Throne

Kingdom of God

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:19–22 (ESV)

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we come to the end of this psalm, all of heaven is called on to join in the worship of the Lord. His throne is in heaven and his dominion is over all places and things.

Can you imagine all of creation, both heaven and earth, joining in worship of God because of his steadfast love and sovereign rule? Can you imagine the whole world joined together in singing and adoration before the throne of God, the Creator? This is what Psalm 103 calls for. He is a great God and worthy of praise from all of his creation. Let our souls rejoice in him and join the heavens and the earth in blessing his name!

**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

Psalm 1031 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV)

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The opening is a call to “bless” the Lord because of all he does. It is the Lord who forgives sin, heals us, redeems us, shows his love for us, and gives so many good things.

It may seem odd that we could “bless” the Lord. God alone can bless, right? The Hebrew word barak stands behind the English translation. It can mean “to praise, bless, or adore”. In the context of this psalm, it seems best to understand it as a call to praise and adore the Lord for all he does for us. Verse 2 is especially important to this psalm as it calls on us to “forget not all his benefits”. We need to remind ourselves of all of the good things God has done and continues to do. As the old song says, we should “count your blessings…and see what God has done.” And let us praise him for those things!

**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 King Who Answers Prayer

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Reading the Word

Psalm 99:6–9 (ESV)

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. 7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. 8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalm names Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as three former priest in Israel. Moses was not specifically mentioned as a priest in Scripture, but he was from the tribe of Levi. Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first high priest. Samuel was the last judge of Israel and functioned as a priest in his ministry.

What do we learn from these men from the Old Testament? They prayed to God and God answered them. But not only did they pray, they were obedient to the word of God (v. 7). We too can pray and know that God hears and listens, but we too must be obedient to God’s word. He is forgiving, but God also punishes sin (v. 8). God is King over all of the earth. He is worthy of our worship and full obedience.

**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!

He Has Done Marvelous Things

Psalm 981 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 98:1–6 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. 2 The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm speaks of praising God for the deliverance he has given to his people, Israel. The psalm does not mention a specific event, but many believe it points to the events of the exodus when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The circumstances around that time period would certainly fit well with the words of this psalm, but there are also other moments in Israel’s history where God intervened in miraculous ways and “revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations” (v. 2).

As God’s redeemed people, we should all relate well to the joyous tone of these verses. They speak of the salvation we have through his wondrous work in our lives. It is no small miracle that a sinner, as we all are, could turn in repentance of their ways and call out to God to forgive. It is also no small thing that the Son of God gave his life as a payment for the sins of the repentant. Our salvation is an amazing testimony to the power of God and to his love for us. He has certainly done marvelous things and is worthy of our praise!

**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!

Exalted Far above All Gods

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Reading the Word

Psalm 97:6–9 (ESV)

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. 7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! 8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord. 9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There is one God and all of creation proclaims his glory. However, mankind is prone to worship other things. Anything that receives the love and admiration that properly belongs to God alone is idolatry. Those who worship such idols will be put to shame when the Lord reveals his glory to all.

When we think of idolatry, we are likely to think of carved images made from wood or stone. These are the religious idols that are most common, but idols can consist of other things as well. When we make something else the center of our affections and pursuit, it can become an idol. Some of the things that can take the place of God in our lives are money, possessions, our jobs, sex, or even our family. Nothing is wrong with any of these things. All of them are good things, but when they become central in our lives rather than God, they become an idol. This psalm reminds us that God is the one and only God and all other “gods” must worship him (v. 7). All things must find their proper place in light of who God is and one day they all will. Let us even now give our total worship to the one and only God who is the Creator of all things.

**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!

Sing to the Lord a New Song!

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word, a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Subscribe to this page so you can follow along through the Book of Psalms in 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 96:1–9 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

Let Us Worship and Bow Down

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Reading the Word

Psalm 95:5–7 (ESV)

5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses call for us to “worship and bow down”. Why? Because the same God who made the sea and formed the dry land is the God who made us. He is our God! We belong to him as sheep belong to a shepherd.

We need to have a proper understanding of who God is and who we are. Worship gives us a proper perspective. When we come before God in worship, we are forced to humble ourselves knowing that we are under the authority of One who is greater than us. Worship forces us to realize our need for God’s care and provision. And worship moves us to thanksgiving for God’s love and grace in our lives. Come, let us worship and bow down before our 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!