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

The entries below are from Year One and are also emailed to subscribers.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Year One, July 26

May the God Of Peace Be With You All1
Ruth 1:19-22
19So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” (She had been gone ten years, but her good character was still held in high respect with the people. Therefore they were glad to see her return, though they were surprised by her poverty. Her many bereavements may have changed her looks, because even her former acquaintances asked, “Is this Naomi?” We may experience similar changes in our lives. May faith and patience prepare us for them.)
20She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi (pleasant or sweet); call me Mara (or bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. (God can soon change our sweets into bitters, therefore let us be humble. But he can just as easily transform our bitters into sweets. Therefore let us be hopeful. It is very usual for Naomi and Mara, sweet and bitter, to meet in the same person. He who was called Benjamin, or “the son of his father’s right hand,” was first called Benoni, or “the son of sorrow.” The comforts of God’s grace are all the sweeter when they follow the troubles of life.) 21I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. (When she had her husband, and sons, and property, she was full, and went her way to a foreign land, perhaps wrongly. But now that she was deprived of everything, she felt that God was with her in her emptiness, and that he had brought her back.) Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”
It is wise to know and appreciate that everything that happens to us is part of God's will for us. Naomi submitted to her Master even though she suffered from what seemed like harsh treatment. This is the proper kind of attitude for a believer to have who has been disciplined by God. Our Lord is the great example of it, for he said, “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
22So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.
  
Ruth 2:1-7
1Now Naomi had a relative of her husband’s, a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz.
If it was good for Naomi to have a wealthy relative, then how blessed it is for poor sinners to have a rich relative in the person of the Lord Jesus.
2And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
These good women were not ashamed of honest and humble work. They did not take to begging, or doing nothing. They desired to support themselves through honest labor. Ruth had been a wealthy woman, but she was not above working to support her mother-in-law and herself.
3So she set out and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the clan of Elimelech.
To Ruth, it seemed she chose this field by chance, but the hand of the Lord was in it. It was he who directed her to the very best place that would move her towards her future prosperity.
4And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. and he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” (What a blessing when employer and employees work together in such a holy way. It is a shame that this kind of godly fellowship is so rare!) 5Then Boaz said to his young man who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6And the servant who was in charge of the reapers answered, “She is the young Moabite woman, who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab. 7She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.”
Boaz was a good master to his servants, and he was also kind to the poor. Those who excel in one direction are generally excellent in others. Ruth must have been happy to glean under the care of a man like Boaz. She had given up everything for God and the Lord took care of her. She was busy doing the right thing and God’s love was watching over her.
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1 Romans 15:33

Monday, July 24, 2017

Year One, July 25

Who Shall Separate Us From the Love Of Christ?1
We have reached the shortest of the historical books, which contains the sweet story of Ruth. Her story is told in the Bible because she was one of the ancestors of our Lord Jesus. He came to save Gentiles as well as Jews and he was pleased to include a foreigner from a heathen land in the family tree of his ancestors.
  
Ruth 1:1-11; 13b-18
1In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. 2The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. 3But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. (They had escaped the famine, but other troubles visited them. No matter where we live, trials will be a part of our lives.)
4These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, 5and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. (Alas, poor soul! The arrows of death wounded her terribly! Yet the Lord did not leave her alone in her widowhood. He prepared the loving heart of a young woman to comfort her.)
6Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. (This was welcome news, and was easy to believe, because empty gossip would not have given the Lord credit for ending the famine. Or, perhaps this was just what Naomi wanted to believe. We should try to believe the best whenever possible. And, we should always give credit for good gifts to the giver. Our food, whether it is physical or spiritual, comes from the Lord.) 7So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.
8But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9The LORD grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands?”
She reminded them that she had no more sons to become their husbands and urged them to go back to their own nation. Then she added,
13b“For it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.” (The mature widow acted wisely in testing the young women. Many say they will join the Lord’s people who have not thought about the trials of true religion. They should count the cost.) 14Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. (These two women were opposites. We have known both types. One, like Orpah, is delighted with religion and happy to follow the Lord Jesus until some difficulty or trial comes. Then she gives it all up. The other, like Ruth, is really converted and holds onto Jesus through fair and stormy conditions. She continues to the end.)
15And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
Ruth joined herself to the Lord’s people and never lived to regret it. Those who choose to walk with Jesus may have it rough for awhile, but better times are ahead.
18And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. (She was only too glad to have Ruth for a lifetime companion. The people of God are glad to welcome sincere souls into their fellowship.)
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1 Romans 8:35

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Year One, July 24

Will You Not Revive Us Again?1
Israel slid back into the sin of idolatry repeatedly. And each time they did they experienced more pain and suffering. We can imagine the feelings of the godly men of the nation during these times. Their prayer may have been much like the psalmist Asaph in
  
Psalm 80
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Lord, in ancient times you were Israel’s leader. Even now, you live above the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle of Shiloh. Therefore, find it in your heart to show your power for the benefit of your people.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
The prayer mentions the names of the tribes of Israel; just as the High Priest had them written on the ephod when he came into the presence of the Lord. May God save and bless every part of his one church and not just our own tribe.
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Everything will turn out properly if we are first saved. A change of character is better than a change of circumstances. Change us, O Lord, and then change our situation.
4 O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
Sorrow was both their food and drink. Would the Lord never bring an end of their miseries? This is mighty pleading.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
When the wicked are happy because we are miserable and laugh because we seem confused, then the Lord will hear and rescue us.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
This is a repetition, but not a useless one, because it was the most important blessing asked for.
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
Asaph’s poetry is filled with emotion as he describes Israel being brought into Canaan. God’s goodness to us in the past makes our present sorrows very bitter, when we know the change in our circumstances is caused by our sin.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
Israel’s living conditions were very bad. They could no longer defend their borders. Ferocious enemies were destroying the land. Their distress had reached the breaking point. Only those who know what it is to see invaders in their country and homes can even imagine the conditions Israel endured. 
14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15 the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
What was needed was a visit from God. What was needed was power given to the judges God had raised up to deliver Israel. Barak, and Gideon, and Jephthah were nothing without God, but if the Lord appeared they would become branches of the vine that produce fruit and display God’s power.
All that was needed was a visit from God and his anointing on the judge he appointed to deliver Israel. 
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Israel’s great need was a bold and brave leader. One appointed by the Lord to save them. Jesus is our great Leader and he has the power of Jehovah within him. In a small way, the judges were given power from God to save their people. Man sins alone, but he must have help to escape from the trouble his sin brings. We are helpless to save ourselves. We must have power from heaven. Only Jesus can save us.
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
If God would rescue them, they thought they would be so thankful that they would never sin against the Lord again.
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Even though their situation was extremely bad, they were confident that the Lord would change them and their circumstances. They believed he would show his grace by bringing about events that would save them. Let us keep this closing prayer on our heart and lips for many days to come.
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1 Psalm 85:6

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Year One, July 23

You Shall Be Clean From All Your Uncleannesses and From All Your Idols1
We find the whole history of the book of Judges briefly retold in
  
Psalm 106:34-48
34 They did not destroy the peoples,
as the LORD commanded them,
This was the Jews main sin. All of their other faults were a result of not obeying this command. They were brought to Canaan to destroy the criminal nations that lived there. Israel was either too afraid or too rebellious to finish the job. As a result, more sin and sorrow followed their first sin. No one can fully understand how much evil may follow one act of disobedience. If we allow just one sin to be out of control, it will become a terrible plague in our life. Oh for grace to make careful work of removing such sin. Only the Holy Spirit can help us in doing this.
35 but they mixed with the nations
and learned to do as they did.
Close friendship leads to imitation. We cannot live with the wicked without being influenced by them. The blazing wood that does not burn us may still blacken us.
36 They served their idols,
which became a snare to them.
Sometimes heathen worship was pleasing and attractive. Often it was immoral and tempting to the flesh. God’s own people were trapped by their natural urges and desires.
37 They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
These sacrifices were the high point in idolatrous worship. They were also the most horrible of crimes. What a miserable fact, that a people who had known the Lord should fall so low as to murder their innocent babies at the altars of demons! Human nature is capable of the worst crimes imaginable! Can even devils perform worse wickedness than this?
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.
40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
The Lord looked on their disgusting acts and was disgusted with them. He decided he would make them understand that he would not put up with his own people doing these things. Sin was worse in God’s people than in others, because they knew better. They had made a most holy promise to act better than this.
41 he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
43 Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity.
See how patient God was. He delivered them many times, even though they kept returning to their wickedness. Have we experienced the same great mercy?
44 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
How beautiful and wonderful these words are! They describe the tender heart of God! Oh God, who can pardon like you do? Who besides you would keep his promise to this kind of people? What huge amounts of mercies were used to cover such huge amounts of sins? To read Israel’s story is like looking into a mirror. It is enough to bring tears to our eyes. Our shame is mixed with our thankfulness as we think how wonderful God has been to us too. 
46 He caused them to be pitied
by all those who held them captive.
The Lord who brought water out of rock, made even their tormentors feel sorry for them and before long he brought about the means to deliver them.
47 Save us, O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
Later generations learned from this history. We should do the same. Let us join in the words of praise that bring this psalm to its conclusion.
48 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!
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1 Ezekiel 36:25

Friday, July 21, 2017

Year One, July 22

Can Man Make For Himself Gods?1
One of the most revealing satires2 about the worship of idols is found in the book of the prophet Isaiah.
  
Isaiah 44:9-20
9All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, (If these people had any sense they would understand how useless their idols are. They will not allow themselves to be corrected. If they did, they would be admitting they had been deceived.) that they may be put to shame. 10Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? (These mighty good-for-nothing gods, when do they actually become gods? When do they become worthy of adoration?) 11Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. (The stupid idol and its senseless worshippers will all be laughed to scorn. Let both makers and worshippers, and everyone who has anything to do with idol worship, come forward and answer a few questions which will expose the shame of their false worship.) Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. (The prophet begins with the last person who worked on the idol. He takes us to the blacksmith’s shop where the wooden idol is coated with precious metal. But this maker of gods has human weaknesses. He is thirsty and faints because he has no water. What a mighty god-maker is he! The god does not come to life in the blacksmith’s shop.) 13The carpenter sketches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. (Isaiah goes back a little further in the process, to the place where the design of the idol takes place. He shows us the carpenter working with his tools. He marks the block of wood with his pencil and carves it with his plane and chisel, but no sign of a god is visible here either.)
14He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.
Perhaps there was something holy about the tree the wood came from. No. Isaiah takes us back another step before the wood came to the carpenter’s shop. It was just a common tree that was planted in the forest. The rain watered it and it grew the same as the others.
15Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.
The tree is chopped down and behold, it serves a double purpose. Part of the wood is used for the fire to bake bread and part is used to make a god.
16Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
One part of the tree cooks meals and blazes on the hearth to keep men warm and happy. The rest they talk to in a pleading voice, “Deliver me, for you are my god.” What drunken-like stupidity!
18They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. (The minds of idolaters are blinded and they deserve to be. If men were men, and not lovers of sin, they would put an end to such foolish behavior.) 19No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Man has fallen so low through sin that his thinking is illogical. He cooks his food with the same wood he makes his idol from and the wind blows away the ashes. All that remains is the idol he holds in his right hand and he is so blind he cannot see how obvious his foolishness is.)
Oh Lord, have pity on man’s madness and save him from himself. Amen.
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1 Jeremiah 16:20
2 satire; a parody, spoof, mockery, caricature. A method to show scorn, derision and ridicule.

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!
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1 Psalm 115:3