July 27 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” ~Psalm 51:17

Update from Acts: The man who founded churches all over the world boards a ship for Rome where he will plead his case. A Northeaster, a heavy storm from the north, hits the ship en route, but God spares Paul’s life and the lives of those with him.

Psalm 50

When it comes to worship, we must be clear about what we mean when we say we’re “giving” to God. God doesn’t need anything, as the poet explains in Psalm 50. God made everything. He owns everything. So the truth is that we cannot really give the Lord anything. We can, however, give back or return what He has poured out on us. When we give to God as part of our worship, the act should be motivated by thanks rather than pride.

We’re invited to come to God with our needs, but we must never think we are somehow meeting His. “Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (v. 15). John Piper explains it this way: “Here is a great discovery. We do not glorify God by providing his needs, but by praying that he would provide ours—and trusting him to answer . . . Prayer is a delightful partnership. God gets the glory; we get the delight”(Desiring God:  Meditations of a Christian Hedonist).

Psalm 51

This psalm falls into the category of penitential psalms. We are given the song’s background in the title. (Psalm titles are found in the original Hebrew text, although editorial additions may have been made later). David is repenting after his sin with Bathsheba. The king prays for forgiveness and cleansing and for God to restore him. He is mourning over his sin and longing for renewed joy.

Though David has sinned against other people (Bathsheba’s husband, for example), he sees his sin as being against God first and foremost. And he reminds us that merely going through the motions of worship is not acceptable to the Lord. What He desires most is that our hearts be broken over sin. That’s the kind of worship (sacrifice) God wants us to bring into His presence. David does not forget that God longs to bless him and the people. “In your good pleasure make Zion [the place where the king lives] prosper” (v. 18).

Psalm 52

The psalm’s origin is in the title. David, on the run from King Saul, found temporary refuge with a priest-friend. Assisting the priest was a man named Doeg the Edomite (1 Sam. 21:1-9). Out of spite, Doeg ratted David out to Saul’s soldiers. Consequently, David’s friend, the priest, was brutally murdered and King Saul’s men picked up David’s trail (1 Sam. 22:9-19).

In this poem, perhaps written in some cave in Judea’s hill country, David encourages himself with reminders of God’s justice. God will bring down the wicked, including Doeg and all who pursue David. And God will cause His servant, David, to prosper, like an olive tree that is daily nurtured (v. 8). It may look like the wicked are prospering, but their prosperity is short-lived.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.