×
A devotional bible commentary
in partnership with
Join Us!
Join Us!

Today’s Reading

Devotional

Deuteronomy 26; Psalms 117 — 118; Isaiah 53; Matthew 1

WHEN I WAS A BOY, a plaque in our home was inscribed with the words “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Apart from the change from “hath” to “has,” similar words are preserved in the NIV of Psalm 118:24.

My father gently applied this text to his children when we whined or complained about little nothings. Was the weather too hot and sticky? “This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Were the skies pelting rain, so we could not go out to play? “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” What a boring day (or place, or holiday, or visit to relatives)! “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Sometimes the words were repeated with significant emphasis: “This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

It is not that Dad would not listen to serious complaints; it is not that Scripture does not have other things to say. But every generation of Christians has to learn that whining is an affront against God’s sovereignty and goodness.

But the text must first be read in its context. Earlier the psalmist expresses his commitment to trust in God and not in any merely human help (Ps. 118:8-9), even though he is surrounded by foes (Ps. 118:10). Now he also discloses that his foes include “the builders” (Ps. 118:22) — people with power within Israel. These builders were quite capable of rejecting certain “stones” while they built their walls — and in this case the very stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. In the first instance this stone, this capstone, is almost certainly a reference to a Davidic king, perhaps to David himself. The men of power rejected him, but he became the capstone.

Moreover, this result was not achieved by brilliant machination or clever manipulation. Far from it: “the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23). In his own day Isaiah portrays people who make a lie their refuge while rejecting God’s cornerstone (Isa. 28:15-16). The ultimate instance of this pattern is found in Jesus Christ, rejected by his own creatures, yet chosen of God, the ultimate building-stone, and precious (Matt. 21:42; Rom. 9:32-33; Eph. 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6-8) — a “stone” disclosed in all his true worth by his resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:10-11). Whether in David’s day or in the ultimate fulfillment, this marvelous triumph by God calls forth our praise: This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24).

Deut. 26

Offerings of Firstfruits and Tithes

26:1 “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.

“And you shall make response before the LORD your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror,1 with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. 11 And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten of the tithe while I was mourning, or removed any of it while I was unclean, or offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God. I have done according to all that you have commanded me. 15 Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.’

16 “This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have declared today that the LORD is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. 18 And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19 and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.”

Footnotes

[1] 26:8 Hebrew with great terror

(ESV)

Psalms 117 -- 118

The Lord's Faithfulness Endures Forever

117:1   Praise the LORD, all nations!
    Extol him, all peoples!
  For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
  Praise the LORD!

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

118:1   Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
  Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
  Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
  Let those who fear the LORD say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
  Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
    the LORD answered me and set me free.
  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
  The LORD is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
  It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in man.
  It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in princes.
10   All nations surrounded me;
    in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11   They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
    in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12   They surrounded me like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13   I was pushed hard,1 so that I was falling,
    but the LORD helped me.
14   The LORD is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
15   Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous:
  “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16     the right hand of the LORD exalts,
    the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”
17   I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18   The LORD has disciplined me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19   Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the LORD.
20   This is the gate of the LORD;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
21   I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
22   The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.2
23   This is the LORD's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
24   This is the day that the LORD has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25   Save us, we pray, O LORD!
    O LORD, we pray, give us success!
26   Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
    We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27   The LORD is God,
    and he has made his light to shine upon us.
  Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
    up to the horns of the altar!
28   You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
29   Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Footnotes

[1] 118:13 Hebrew You (that is, the enemy) pushed me hard
[2] 118:22 Hebrew the head of the corner

(ESV)

Isaiah 53

53:1   Who has believed what he has heard from us?1
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
  For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
  he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
  He was despised and rejected2 by men,
    a man of sorrows3 and acquainted with4 grief;5
  and as one from whom men hide their faces6
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
  yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
  But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
  upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
  All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
  and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
  like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
  By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
  that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
  And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
  although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;7
  when his soul makes8 an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
  the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11   Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see9 and be satisfied;
  by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12   Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,10
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,11
  because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
  yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Footnotes

[1] 53:1 Or Who has believed what we have heard?
[2] 53:3 Or forsaken
[3] 53:3 Or pains; also verse 4
[4] 53:3 Or and knowing
[5] 53:3 Or sickness; also verse 4
[6] 53:3 Or as one who hides his face from us
[7] 53:10 Or he has made him sick
[8] 53:10 Or when you make his soul
[9] 53:11 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll he shall see light
[10] 53:12 Or with the great
[11] 53:12 Or with the numerous

(ESV)

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,1 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,2 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,3 and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,4 and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ5 took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed6 to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23   “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Footnotes

[1] 1:3 Greek Aram; also verse 4
[2] 1:7 Asaph is probably an alternate spelling of Asa; some manuscripts Asa; also verse 8
[3] 1:10 Amos is probably an alternate spelling of Amon; some manuscripts Amon; twice in this verse
[4] 1:12 Greek Salathiel; twice in this verse
[5] 1:18 Some manuscripts of the Christ
[6] 1:18 That is, legally pledged to be married

(ESV)