A fully updated edition of Spurgeon’s morning and evening devotional The Interpreter using the ESV.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Year One, July 21

Our God Is In the Heavens1
The sad and foolish history of idol worship given in our last two readings makes us want to turn to another subject. Let us adore and worship the only true and living God, who has revealed himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the God of promise, who alone should have our worship. Let us read the holy song of the Jewish church in
Psalm 115
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
When we find ourselves in trouble, the answer to our problem is not in us. We must be humble and realize the best solution is to pray to our merciful and faithful God.
2 Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
The enemies of God complain about him and blame him for their troubles. The saints of God mention these blasphemies in their prayers and ask the Lord to shut the mouths of these bitter persons.
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
No matter how much the ungodly may rage, God sits upon the throne. They cannot overthrow him from his position of control over them. The most violent efforts to defeat God will not stop him from accomplishing everything he intends to do. Every plan of the Lord will be completed, right down to the smallest detail. This is sweet comfort for his saints.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
The very best idols are really just lumps of metal. What contempt the psalmist pours on these sacred images! They deserve to be made fun of. The next sentences are harsh, but deserved. Idols are not to be respected but despised.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
These idols are designed to represent various features of physical ability, but they are just so many lies. An eye that cannot see, cannot acquire insight. A mouth that cannot speak, cannot convince anyone. Hands that cannot move, cannot accomplish anything.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
They are as disgusting and ridiculous as the images they adore.
9 O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
Trusting in God is the duty and privilege of all saints, at all times, in all places.
12 The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
Past blessings guarantee the future, because our God does not change.
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.
These are precious promises for those who are very young, for those who live in poverty, for those who have little ability, and for those who are rejected by the world. They are not and will not be forgotten when God blesses his chosen.
14 May the LORD give you increase,
you and your children!
Believers will become more numerous. The chosen race shall increase.
15 May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
And this is true, whatever men may say, or whatever the Lord may bring. You who are righteous before God, rejoice!
16 The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any who go down into silence.
So far as this world is concerned, death ends human praise. Therefore, let us make up our mind to bless the Lord as long as we live, according to the commitment made in the next verse.
18 But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!
1 Psalm 115:3

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Year One, July 20

The LORD, He Is God!1
Judges 18:1-6; 14-20; 22-26
1In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? (“What are you doing in this place?” is the kind of question people who are concerned with the cares of this world would ask. And in this case it was actually a good one to ask this priest who had accepted such a shameful job.)
4And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me: he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5And they said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.”
They were not concerned whether he was a true servant of God or not. Like many people today, they thought one religion was as good as another. They saw the metal idol, the ephod, and a priest, and that was good enough for them. One would think that if they cared about religion at all, they would have been anxious to have the right one. But no, the very people who are careful about what they eat, what they wear, and what medicine they take, will welcome anyone else’s religious beliefs without examining them first.
6And the priest said to them, “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.
False priests always seem to have lots of nice things to say.
The spies finished their job and returned to the tribe of Dan with their report. Then the men of war marched toward the city of Laish. On their way they stopped near or at Micah’s house for the night, like the five spies had done earlier. But instead of being grateful for Micah’s hospitality, they returned his kindness by robbing him!
14Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” (This was a hint that perhaps the gods would be worth stealing.) 15And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and asked him about his welfare. 16Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war.
They kept the priest in conversation while they stole the pathetic gods that could not protect themselves. It is almost funny. What a crazy thing to do. They steal what they had already worshiped and then they worship what they had stolen.
18And when these went into Micah’s house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” (They knew the most powerful arguments to keep him quiet. They asked him if he would make more money being the priest of an entire community or just one man. The man who has already sold himself is easily bought.)
20And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household god and the carved image and went along with the people. (Bishop Hall says, “He that was won with ten shekels, may be lost with eleven. The Levite had too many gods to bother his conscience over which one to worship. There is nothing more inconsistent than a Levite who seeks nothing but himself.”2)
22When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. 23And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” 24And he said, “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” (What a pile of superstition and absurdity! You have stolen my gods that are all I have. They are my own gods. I made them myself. The are very precious and dear to my heart. Nothing can cheer me up if I lose them. He was foolish enough to trust in gods that could not take care of themselves and just as foolish to grieve for their loss. If we lose the smile of the true and living God, then we would have a reason to say, “What have I left?” To lose the presence of God is to lose everything.)
25And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” (They who have power on their side are rarely at a loss for words. They have very little reason to conceal the lion’s claw beneath the lion’s pad.)  26Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.
If Micah became a wise man from this incident, he was a great winner by his loss. If those who rely on rituals and ceremonies had their altars and images broken in pieces and their cathedrals torn down, it would be a cheap cure of their foolishness. Oh that the Lord would take his great broom and sweep out the priests and their idols. Let us also pray that he will clean the temples of our hearts. 
1 Psalm 100:3
2 Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Year One, July 19

Flee From Idolatry1
Judges 17
1There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” (Her blessing was not worth much. She was just as ready to curse as bless. Her silver was her god while it was in the form of coins and remained so when it was changed into a metal image. The fact that she cursed when she lost it proves that. We will read that Micah had some appearance of religion, but what was that worth when he was a thief to begin with? Some unknown fear caused him to return the money even though his conscience had not stopped him from stealing it in the first place. His personality was the type that can easily be attracted to the religious practices we find him involved in.) 
3And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.”
They had an image made even though it was against God’s law. To make matters worse, they dedicated the image to Jehovah. Good intentions are no excuse for disobedience. Today, churches that have images tell us they do not worship the images, but worship the god they represent. If we accept this excuse, then idolatry no longer exists in the world. God does not accept that kind of thinking.
4So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household gods, and ordained one of his sons, who became his priest.
Children imitate their parents. The mother makes one image, the son has a house full of gods, and the grandson becomes a priest. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”2 Once we leave the spiritual worship of God, there is no telling how far we will stray.
6In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Which meant that everyone did whatever evil he liked.)
7Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes, and your living.” And the Levite went in. (It was poor pay. 200 shekels had been spent on the carved image and ten is thought to be enough for the priest. They preferred an expensive idol, even though the priest is kept in poverty. His pay was even worse when we consider that the priest was selling his soul for such a tiny amount. How shameful for a Levite, the servant of the living God, to be serving lifeless idols.)
11And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.” (This is the way superstitious people talk. They have a real priest with the proper background, therefore they think blessings are virtually guaranteed. The images were forbidden. The ephods were forbidden. Their whole worship was in direct violation to the Lord’s true worship at Jerusalem. But that did not matter to this family! Their priest was a Levite and that was all they cared about. They assumed they would be blessed in spite of all the rules they had broken. Not much has changed in our times. Today people set up crosses, hang pictures and build altars and expect special favors from God even though all their misguided worship is really imaginary and an insult to the Lord Jesus. Outward ceremonies and performances that are not commanded in Scripture should not be part of our worship. If we attend these kinds of services, we will eventually be caught up in the sin of them.)
1 1 Corinthians 10:14
2 John 4:24

Monday, July 17, 2017

Year One, July 18

Flee Youthful Passions1
The sad case of Samson reminds us of the warnings in the book of Proverbs against that treacherous form of sin. Evil company is always dangerous, but keeping company with persons whose lives are impure is deadly. May the young men of the household take today’s lesson to heart. It has been hard to write, but a sense of duty has forced it on us.
Proverbs 7:1-18; 21-27
1 My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
Treasure up this warning as a precious thing. It may keep you from becoming miserable and heartbroken in your old age.
2 keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Keep the commandments of the Bible at your finger tips and in the center of your heart.
4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
5 to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words,
As good women are our greatest blessings, so bad women are among the worst curses in the world. Flee immoral women. Do not listen to their words. To show us how wicked they are, Solomon tells us a true story. Let us read it with the sincere prayer that none of us will ever act like this foolish young man.
6 For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
7 and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
The young man does not have grace in his heart or common sense in his head.
8 passing along the street near her corner
taking the road to her house
He would have been much better off taking a long detour rather than going past her house.
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
Being out late leads to no good.
10 And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
If she was someone who was okay to be with, she would have been at home at this hour of the night.
13 She seizes him and kisses him
and with bold face she says to him,
14 “I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
O the wickedness of those who combine religion with their filthiness. It was only part of the bait she used to trap the foolish young man.
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
This was another lie. She only pretended he was special to her. Beware of these deceivers.
16 I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
What a servant of Satan was she! There are many like her, who trap fools in their nets.
22 All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
The ox has no idea of what is coming, or he would never enter the slaughterhouse. Wicked young men do not realize their sin is leading them to a terrible slaughterhouse.
or as a stag is caught fast
A deer, thinking it has found a meal, goes to the bait only to be caught in the trap the hunter has set. A foolish man, thinking he has found pleasure, goes to this wicked woman only to be ensnared in the trap she has prepared. What he thinks is rare fun, soon turns to disaster.
23 till an arrow pierces its liver;
The deer soon feels the pain of the hunter’s arrow. The foolish man’s pleasures will soon be followed by the suffering his folly brings.
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.
The life of both his body and his soul will be ruined by his wicked acts.
24 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Let not your heart turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths,
26 for many a victim has she laid low,
and all her slain are a mighty throng,
Samson and Solomon paid dearly because they did not steer clear from these types of women.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
Strong language, but not too strong. If young people knew what would finally happen as a result of their unclean actions, they would rather burn their flesh with fire, or sleep with venomous snakes, than have any close friendship with sexually impure persons. Young women, should detest those vulgar fellows whose actions should not even be talked about. Everyone, whether they are young or old, male or female, should be disgusted by any lewd thoughts, words, or actions in what they read, watch, or take part in.
1 2 Timothy 2:22

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Year One, July 17

But I Will Not Remove From Him My Steadfast Love1
Judges 16:21-31
21And the Philistines seized [Sampson] and gouged out his eyes (according to the eighth century Bible translation into the Arabic language, they used fire to blind Samson), and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. (The strongest they could find, and the most painful to the wearer). And he ground at the mill in the prison. (The great champion became a slave and was forced to do a job even slaves thought was beneath them. Milton2 describes the fallen hero as saying:
“Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this Heaven-gifted strength. O glorious strength,
Put to the labor of a beast, debased
Lower than bond slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistine yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves.”)
22But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. (Our gracious God does not throw away his servants. His grace is like the receding tide of the ocean. Just like Samson’s hair, it returns as strong as ever. It is one of the wonders of God that he will not stop loving someone even when that person proves he does not deserve to be loved.)
23Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” (They blasphemed Jehovah by magnifying Baal. They do, however, teach us a lesson we often forget. That is, to give all the credit for our victories to God.)
25And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” (The poor blind prisoner was now just someone for the lords of the Philistines to laugh at and mock. Eventually, they let him rest a bit, while they refilled their cups and thought about fresh insults to throw at him.) 27Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.
28Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (How touching is that sweetest of prayers, “Remember me.” Whether it be Samson or the dying thief who uses it, the Lord did remember him.) 29And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
Milton will again comment for us:
“Those two massive pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugged, he shook, till down they came and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder,
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lord, ladies, captains, counselors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistine city round.
O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying you have fulfilled
The work for which you were foretold
To Israel, and now you lie victorious
Among the slain, self-killed
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death now joined
You with your slaughtered foes.”
So the Lord God of Israel silenced the boastings of his enemies, as he will do in the last great day.
31Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.
1 Psalm 89:33
2 John Milton (1608 - 1674). Probably best know for his poem Paradise Lost.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Year One, July 16

Take Care That You Are Not Carried Away With the Error Of Lawless People1
We do not have space to include Samson’s famous triumph at Gaza, where he pulled up the heavy gates to the city and carried them to the top of a hill. Instead, we must come to the unhappy story in which this great man became a victim of his own foolishness; that is, the event that took away his power to judge and protect his countrymen. Delilah was paid to seduce Samson and persuade him to reveal the secret of his great strength.
Judges 16:6-20
6So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”
7Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 8Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known. (After this narrow escape, Samson had no excuse to hang around this double-crossing woman. “For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird.”2 But this man was so infatuated3 with Delilah that he plunged right back into the trap he had just escaped from. Sin is madness.)
10Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.” 11And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 12So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
A second time betrayed! A second time delivered! Is this not enough to make him run away from the deceiver’s house? Sadly, no. It would be easier to teach a moth to stay away from the flame than to convince someone who is under the influence of sin to stay away from its sparkle and glitter.
13Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 14So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web. And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
This time he came dangerously near his secret. The whirlpool in which he was surging was sucking him down. Poor Samson!  Who could save you when you were determined to destroy yourself?
15And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. 17And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (Samson’s dedication to the instructions the angel of the Lord gave his parents was his real strength. His uncut hair was the symbol of that dedication. When he gave up his secret, the Lord left him and he received the just reward of his sinful pleasures. He sinned deliberately, and therefore God allowed him to suffer the harm that naturally comes with it.)
18When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. (Bad men and women are always ready sell out the very persons they loudly claim to love. They are never to be trusted.) 19She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. (We cannot hope to succeed if God is not with us. We may have been brave and powerful in the past, but if the Lord leaves us we will fail and the devil will have the victory. What a warning this unhappy story presents to us. May the infinite mercy of God allow us to truly learn from it.)
1 2 Peter 3:17
2 Proverbs 1:17
3 infatuated - Head over heels in love with, lovesick for, attracted to, smitten with, crazy about, enchanted by.