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

Today’s Reading

Devotional

Asaph must have given a lot of thought to the question of what believers should remember. Psalm 75, we saw yesterday, commends the power of godly “recital” — a retelling of what God has done so as to bring near God’s name.” The importance of remembering and retelling is at the heart of Psalm 78. And here in Psalm 77, Asaph highlights yet another element in this theme.

Asaph finds himself in great distress (77:1). Its causes we do not know, but most of us have passed through “dark nights of the soul” when it seems that either God is dead or he does not care. Asaph was so despondent he could not sleep; indeed, he charges God with keeping him from sleep (77:4). Memories of other times when circumstances were so bright that he sang with joy in the night hours (77:6) serve only to depress him further. Bitterness tinges his list of rhetorical questions: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” (77:7-9 ).

What Asaph resolves to focus on is all the ways God has disclosed himself in power in the past. He writes: “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High” (77:10) — in other words, he appeals to all the displays of strength, of the deeds of God’s “right hand,” across the years. “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds” (77:11-12). So in the rest of the psalm, Asaph switches to the second person, addressing God directly, remembering some of the countless deeds of grace and power that have characterized God’s dealings with the covenant people of God. He remembers the plagues, the Exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, the way God led his people “by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (77:13-20).

Christians have all the more to remember. As Asaph “remembered” the Exodus by reading Scripture, so we have even more Scripture. We remember not only all that Asaph remembered, but things he did not know: the Exile, the return from exile, the long years of waiting for the coming of the Messiah. We remember the Incarnation, the years of Jesus’ life and ministry, his words and mighty deeds. Above all, we remember his death and resurrection, and the powerful work of the Spirit at Pentacost and beyond.

And as we remember, our faith is strengthened, our vision of God is renewed, and the despair lifts.

Numbers 32

Reuben and Gad Settle in Gilead

32:1 Now the people of Reuben and the people of Gad had a very great number of livestock. And they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold, the place was a place for livestock. So the people of Gad and the people of Reuben came and said to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the chiefs of the congregation, “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo, and Beon, the land that the LORD struck down before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” And they said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan.”

But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the LORD has given them? Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the LORD had given them. 10 And the LORD's anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, 12 none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’ 13 And the LORD's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone. 14 And behold, you have risen in your fathers' place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel! 15 For if you turn away from following him, he will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all this people.”

16 Then they came near to him and said, “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, 17 but we will take up arms, ready to go before the people of Israel, until we have brought them to their place. And our little ones shall live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the people of Israel has gained his inheritance. 19 For we will not inherit with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has come to us on this side of the Jordan to the east.” 20 So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will take up arms to go before the LORD for the war, 21 and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the LORD, until he has driven out his enemies from before him 22 and the land is subdued before the LORD; then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. 23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what you have promised.” 25 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben said to Moses, “Your servants will do as my lord commands. 26 Our little ones, our wives, our livestock, and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead, 27 but your servants will pass over, every man who is armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord orders.”

28 So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest and to Joshua the son of Nun and to the heads of the fathers' houses of the tribes of the people of Israel. 29 And Moses said to them, “If the people of Gad and the people of Reuben, every man who is armed to battle before the LORD, will pass with you over the Jordan and the land shall be subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession. 30 However, if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” 31 And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, “What the LORD has said to your servants, we will do. 32 We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan.”

33 And Moses gave to them, to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land and its cities with their territories, the cities of the land throughout the country. 34 And the people of Gad built Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth-shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran, fortified cities, and folds for sheep. 37 And the people of Reuben built Heshbon, Elealeh, Kiriathaim, 38 Nebo, and Baal-meon (their names were changed), and Sibmah. And they gave other names to the cities that they built. 39 And the sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and captured it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 40 And Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he settled in it. 41 And Jair the son of Manasseh went and captured their villages, and called them Havvoth-jair.1 42 And Nobah went and captured Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah, after his own name.

Footnotes

[1] 32:41 Havvoth-jair means the villages of Jair

(ESV)

Psalm 77

In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

77:1   I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
  When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
  You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
  I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
  I said,1 “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
  “Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
  Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
  Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10   Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”2
11   I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12   I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13   Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14   You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15   You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16   When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17   The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18   The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19   Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.3
20   You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Footnotes

[1] 77:6 Hebrew lacks I said
[2] 77:10 Or This is my grief: that the right hand of the Most High has changed
[3] 77:19 Hebrew unknown

(ESV)

Isaiah 24

Judgment on the Whole Earth

24:1   Behold, the LORD will empty the earth1 and make it desolate,
    and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
  And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
    as with the slave, so with his master;
    as with the maid, so with her mistress;
  as with the buyer, so with the seller;
    as with the lender, so with the borrower;
    as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
  The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered;
    for the LORD has spoken this word.
  The earth mourns and withers;
    the world languishes and withers;
    the highest people of the earth languish.
  The earth lies defiled
    under its inhabitants;
  for they have transgressed the laws,
    violated the statutes,
    broken the everlasting covenant.
  Therefore a curse devours the earth,
    and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
  therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched,
    and few men are left.
  The wine mourns,
    the vine languishes,
    all the merry-hearted sigh.
  The mirth of the tambourines is stilled,
    the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
    the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
  No more do they drink wine with singing;
    strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10   The wasted city is broken down;
    every house is shut up so that none can enter.
11   There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
    all joy has grown dark;
    the gladness of the earth is banished.
12   Desolation is left in the city;
    the gates are battered into ruins.
13   For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth
    among the nations,
  as when an olive tree is beaten,
    as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.
14   They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
    over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.2
15   Therefore in the east3 give glory to the LORD;
    in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16   From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
    of glory to the Righteous One.
  But I say, “I waste away,
    I waste away. Woe is me!
  For the traitors have betrayed,
    with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
17   Terror and the pit and the snare4
    are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
18   He who flees at the sound of the terror
    shall fall into the pit,
  and he who climbs out of the pit
    shall be caught in the snare.
  For the windows of heaven are opened,
    and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19   The earth is utterly broken,
    the earth is split apart,
    the earth is violently shaken.
20   The earth staggers like a drunken man;
    it sways like a hut;
  its transgression lies heavy upon it,
    and it falls, and will not rise again.
21   On that day the LORD will punish
    the host of heaven, in heaven,
    and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
22   They will be gathered together
    as prisoners in a pit;
  they will be shut up in a prison,
    and after many days they will be punished.
23   Then the moon will be confounded
    and the sun ashamed,
  for the LORD of hosts reigns
    on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
  and his glory will be before his elders.

Footnotes

[1] 24:1 Or land; also throughout this chapter
[2] 24:14 Hebrew from the sea
[3] 24:15 Hebrew in the realm of light, or with the fires
[4] 24:17 The Hebrew words for terror, pit, and snare sound alike

(ESV)

1 John 2

Christ Our Advocate

2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because1 the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him2 there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12   I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
13   I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
  I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
14   I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
  I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life3—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Warning Concerning Antichrists

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.4 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us5—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Children of God

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Footnotes

[1] 2:8 Or that
[2] 2:10 Or it
[3] 2:16 Or pride in possessions
[4] 2:20 Some manuscripts you know everything
[5] 2:25 Some manuscripts you

(ESV)