(last updated 1/15/17)
"Psalm" means song. These were set to music.
The Psalms reveal Christ, the Messiah, especially in His relationship to Israel. They are universal in application, but keep in mind their Jewish origin and character. They were written TO Jews, BY Jews, during the dispensation when God was dealing with Israel, and His standard was the Law (not grace, as in the church age).
They focus more on feelings than on events or people—all kinds of feelings. The Psalms contain God’s "psychology." We learn how a godly person should handle his emotions.
The theme is the King, Christ, and the kingdom. Remember, God’s kingdom will not come on earth until when? Many of the Psalms speak of the millenial kingdom.
Who wrote the Psalms? Not just David. He probably wrote 73 of them. Also: Moses 1, Solomon 2, sons of Korah 11, Asaph 12, Heman 1, Ethan 1, and Hezekiah 10.
David was far from sinless (all of us are) but the Bible calls David "a man after God’s own heart." Here we see David’s heart revealed, an example to which we may compare our own hearts.
The Psalms are full of worship, praise, comfort. They are an example of Hebrew poetry, using parallel ideas and expressions, and figures of speech. Parallels are not just repetition. Sometimes the same thought is repeated in different words; sometimes the thought is followed by a contrasting thought; sometimes the thought is developed or expanded in the next line.
Many are "Messianic," prophetic, i.e. 2, 21, 22, 45, 110. Some deal with historic settings. Some are about our relationship with God. Some were used in connection with special Jewish days.
We can learn much about God’s attributes here, also many doctrinal truths. A good exercise might be to keep a list as you read through, what facts are taught in this book.
Imprecatory Psalms: Many have trouble with psalms that ask God to deal judgment upon the evil man, upon enemies, because this doesn’t seem like the "Christian" thing to do. Keep in mind the Old Testament context: Israel was God's people, meaning He chose them to be the people, the nation, through whom He revealed Himself to the world--through the Law, which He gave through Moses, and through the prophets, who spoke God's words to the people. God declared that Israel's enemies--those who rejected the true and living God and worshipped idols--would receive His judgment unless they repented. God judges evil because He is righteous. God used Israel to carry out His judgments against them. This is why Israel was not told to be forgiving, to turn the other cheek. But when Jesus came, He revealed more of God's plan, which now includes loving our enemies--showing them God's love, mercy and grace. Yet we can relate to David's imprecatory prayers, and pray them along with him, when we realize who our true enemy is--Satan. God's judgment is found in the New Testament as well, including curses on those who reject God; compare Deut. 11:26-28, 28:15-68, Rom. 12:20, Acts 8:20, Gal. 1:8-9, Rev. 6:10.
Another common problem in interpretation: the many promises of health, wealth, success, deliverance from troubles, etc. What is the answer to this dilemma? Are these promises repeated and confirmed in the New Testament to the church? Do we see the lives of the apostles and early Christians characterized by these blessings? No; we are promised tribulation in this life. Compare I Thes. 3:3-4. In different dispensations, God uses different means to test men, and works through different means. Israel had prophets to speak for God, and received physical blessing in exchange for obedience. Now, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and we are to expect tribulation even when we are obedient, but we are promised spiritual blessings--a closer walk with God, a personal relationship. Reading Psalms without understanding dispensations results in the false notion that trusting and obeying results in a smooth, pleasant life. Spending too much time in the Psalms because they are comforting and relate to our FEELINGS can result in an unbalanced theology, even if you are not involved in a health/wealth/prosperity church; for example, Psalm 84:11, 103:3-5, 112. As we read the experiences and expectations of the Old Testament saints, we gain insight into the differences between the dispensation of Law and the dispensation of grace (the church age).
Christians differ on views of salvation in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament. Is it the same or different? The Bible teaches that salvation has always been through faith; the first clear teaching on this fact is Gen. 15:6, which is so important and foundational that it is quoted four other times in the Bible, Rom. 4:3,20-22, Gal. 3:6, James 2:23. Both Old and New Testaments teach that our faith is shown by our obedience--by our works--yet those works of obedience do not save us. In the Old Testament dispensation, those who believed in the true God were not referred to as "believers," "saved," "Christians," "born again," or "regenerated"--these are New Testament concepts. Rather, they are referred to as the "righteous" or the "godly," terms that all speak of behavior, of obedience. (When salvation is spoken of in the Old Testament, the context indicates that generally it is speaking of Israel or Israelites been saved or rescued from their earthly enemies.)
In the New Testament dispensation (the church), believers are no longer under the Law--required to keep it--but under grace, because Christ fulfilled the Law on our behalf. Because our salvation is based on what Christ did and not on what we do, believers in the church age are promised eternal security. The church is given the indwelling Holy Spirit; previously, the Holy Spirit "came upon" certain people (mostly prophets, priests and kings) and was "with" the righteous but not "in" them, John 14:17. The New Testament says nothing of the possibility of the indwelling Spirit coming and going; He does not cease to indwell us if we are sinful believers. Hence we have continued assurance of our salvation regardless of our works: eternal security, the sealing of the believer. Without the sealing and indwelling Holy Spirit, is there eternal security? Apparently not. In the Old Testament, we see very little emphasis on faith, on believing, and much emphasis on obeying the Law. Notice as we read through the Psalms the emphasis on "doing" rather than on "believing" as we find in the New Testament. Understanding the differences between the dispensation of Law and the dispensation of grace will help us better understand the Psalms and apply them correctly to our lives.
How do we see parallel ideas in v1? What two kinds of people are contrasted in this psalm? Do you think "God’s law" is strictly the Mosaic Law, or rather, whatever written Scripture they had at that time? They might not have had more than the books of Moses (the Law). Can we generalize to God’s Word, the Bible? It’s easy to delight in the Lord, but isn’t the Bible often seen as something we are "supposed" to read and study, and it’s work, and often dry and hard to understand? Has it ever been that to you? Has it ever been more than that? Why the difference? Can we really delight in it? What results if we do?
What are some clues that this is a messianic psalm? We see judgment and the millenial kingdom. Compare Luke 24:44.
1-3 The time period is the final rebellion at the end of Christ's earthly kingdom--the millenium, compare Rev. 20:7-9. Which two persons of the Trinity do you see in 2? God's Anointed is another name for the Messiah.
6 Again we see the time when Christ reigns on earth, from Jerusalem (Zion).
7 is used by Jehovah Witnesses to try to prove Jesus was not the eternal son; they say it refers to His birth. However, the rest of the Bible indicates that He is eternal. The Bible interprets itself, through its one author the Holy Spirit; this verse is repeated in Acts 13:33. What event does "begotten" refer to?
7-9 God the Father is speaking to God the Son, who will rule over His righteous kingdom with a rod of iron--sin will not be tolerated.
What are the circumstances of this psalm? What can we learn from this, when we are in trouble? How can we deal with those fears that keep us awake at night? "I will not": we can choose to not allow our emotions to control us.
8 We find the words "salvation" and "save" used more in the Psalms than any other Old Testament book. Keep in mind that in the Old Testament, these terms were generally used in reference to physical deliverance, aid, victory, prosperity--sometimes personal, but frequently speaking about God's deliverance of the nation of Israel, according to the promises He made to Abraham. Compare Ex. 14:13, I Sam. 11:13, 14:45, 19:5.
When we read these terms, we automatically think of eternal life, because that is how salvation is presented in the New Testament. Our salvation and deliverance is from our spiritual enemy--Satan, and an eternal abode with him in the lake of fire. But in the Old Testament, eternal life was not stressed; the hope and expectation of God's people was the earthly kingdom promised to Israel. This promise was partially fulfilled in the Old Testament, whenever Israel was living in obedience to God's Word, as delivered through the Law and the prophets. It will finally be fully realized when they recognize their Messiah at the end of the seven years of tribulation, when Christ comes back in glory, and rules over this kingdom for 1000 years. The Old Testament saints (believers) will be resurrected at the second coming to inherit that kingdom, Dan. 12:13, Mat. 8:11.
2 Beware of that which is worthless and deceptive.
3 Sometimes when we pray, doesn't it seem like God doesn't hear? But what does the Bible say? Is this a promise to all people, or to believers?
4-5 What does David say to do? If you do these things, what does 8 say will result?
4 When does David suggest praying?
4-6 What do we learn about God?
7 "Bow" is "worship" in KJV. Same idea; physically or mentally?
8 Isn't this similar to how Jesus tells us to pray in Mat. 6:13?
9-10 A prayer of imprecation (not the whole psalm). In their dispensation, it was right for a godly man to pray this. In ours, we are told it is not; that is not the way God is operating right now. During the tribulation, it may be right again, because that will be a time of God’s judgment and vengeance. Knowing God will rightly judge, gives us peace about those kinds of people and our frustrations about them. In 10 we find the principle of reaping what you sow.
12 How is this like Job 1? Is this a promise of health/wealth/success? Spiritually, yes, for the New Testament believer, Eph. 1:3. But for the Old Testament believer, God promised physical blessings to the righteous.
What is David's mood/experience? What can we learn from this prayer by comparing 1-7 with 8-10?
3-5 sounds like he is hinting that if perhaps he HAS done wrong, then his enemies SHOULD overcome him. However, we find this kind of remark often in the Old Testament, as a way of saying, "I am so sure I am right, that if I’m not telling the truth, I’d even let you kill me/my loved one." 6-11 Note several references to God judgment; what kind of judge is God? When we can't understand God's ways, we can always be assured of this fact. Even in the Old Testament, where God promises blessings for obedience, we find the idea of testing, 9. (Hearts and minds = both thoughts and feelings) Man's sinfulness causes what, 11?
11 An important statement about God; accepting this solves a lot of our misunderstandings.
12-16 How God deals with the wicked. He does stuff to them; what might sword/bow/arrows be? He uses their own actions to give them what they deserve. More evidence of how God is in control of everything, at the same time that He is giving us complete free will. Our free choices will always work into God’s ultimate plans.
17 We will read often in Psalms about the importance of God's holy name; the Bible says we are to very careful how we use it. Exo. 20:7, Lev. 22:32, Mat. 6:9.
Observing creation shapes our attitude toward God. Our place in God’s creation; 4 implies we are "nothing." Rom. 1:20; 3-4 could be the response of any person who has honestly looked at the creation.
Yet 6-8 tells the role God has given us in His creation. These verses are politically incorrect today; why? The Christian should not believe that nonsense about how the environment would be better off without our interference, that we are an intruder into pristine nature, a johnny-come-lately. It’s true that man often destroys instead of builds up, because of our fallen nature. But the first few chapters of Genesis make it clear that man did not come along last; God created the earth in six literal days and placed man on the earth to rule over it, Gen. 1:26-28. We find this same principle in Gen. 1:28 and II Pet. 2:12. 8, paths of the sea; supposedly ocean currents were not known about in that day. So either they WERE known, or God revealed this to David, the writer.
Even though this seems to be talking about man on the earth, other references that quote this chapter apply it to Christ, so we can call this a Messianic psalm. (We often see this principle of two levels of meaning, especially a present and a future meaning.) Mat. 21:16, I Cor. 15:27, Heb. 2:5-9. Because Christ is not yet ruling on this earth, and all things are not yet under His feet, this psalm then becomes a prophetic psalm.
Parallel thought at beginning and end.
These next few psalms (10-17) seem to have application to the endtimes and particularly to the Jewish remnant.
Focusing on God the righteous Judge.
3-10 Can you see the final judgment here?
5-6 In past tense; could refer to past judgment, of nations that oppressed Israel; or could refer to future judgment. Prophecy often spoken in past tense as if it has already happened. Could refer to both.
Then goes on to speak of judgment to come.
12 The importance of blood; a basic doctrine.
15-16 Does God have to send something supernatural? Even the magnitude of judgment in the tribulation could be merely the result of man’s own actions, yet the Bible makes it clear it is no less the action of God.
17-20 Sounds like a clear reference to the final judgment.
Who is David concerned about here? The wicked. Could God be far off, hide Himself, then? Now? Always keep these differences in mind when you read the Psalms; they are not TO US, but have application for us.
4 The atheist. This was a fairly new idea in David’s time. Earlier, polytheism was the problem, but people basically believed in God/gods. Remember that Noah would have known people who knew Adam, who knew God. There is much evidence of God’s existence. Do the 10 Commandments speak against atheism? No, just OTHER gods.
7-10 The persecution during the Tribulation.
Who is the ultimate "wicked man?" The Antichrist. 18, man of the earth, compare Rev., "those who dwell on the earth." Earthdwellers vs. citizens of heaven.
12-15 Asking God to take revenge. Compare Rev. 6:9-11.
References to those who are or become believers during the tribulation are used by those who don’t believe in the pre-tribulation rapture to prove that the church is still on the scene. They equate believers with the church, just as they equate Israel with the church. But if you realize that the church is merely one group of believers with whom God deals in the different dispensations, it is no problem. The church is always referred to as the church or the bride or those who are "in Christ." The term saints is not synonymous with the church. There are at least 5 groups: the church, Israel, the tribulation saints, those who believed before Israel came into existence, and those who believe during the millenium.
God our refuge.
1b, compare Mat. 24:16, Rev. 12:14.
Is fleeing the answer to troubles? In what ways can we flee? How about fleeing to the Lord instead?
3 The foundations: could be authority, could refer to the time when Absalom was trying to jerk the kingdom out from under David’s hand, could also refer to the authority of God’s Word being attacked.
4-5 What does it say about testing? Eyelids may refer to a close scrutiny. Different wording in KJV. Trieth: examine, prove, test, investigate.
6, snares, Strong's Concordance says nothing about "coals of fire." Rain snares? As part of His judgment on them? Sounds like 9:15-16, where their own deeds will come back to crush them, like antibiotics that fail against epidemics because people for years didn’t take the full dose and inadvertently caused viruses to become immune? Or our out-of-control economy comes crashing down because of the staggering national debt? Or our short-sighted foreign policies allow enemy nations to bring us to our knees?
This psalm also appears to have application to the end times. Can you see that even though David may have been saying fleeing to the mountain was not the answer at THAT time, that in the end times, those who read this will take it differently, given what we are told will happen in Matthew and Revelation?
Have the godly ever been in the majority? Will they ever be? Is it even possible, as some believe, that godly men could bring in the millenial kingdom as they exert greater influence over the world? In the tribulation, when the church is removed, it will really seem that way to those who become believers.
4 The ungodly believe they are their own; they are in control, and they want to be. But what does it mean when someone is "lord" over you? This is the crux of the matter. Who is in control of you?
This also will have its ultimate fulfillment in the future, in the tribulation. Lying/flattering/proud/boastful are words often used to describe who? the Antichrist.
5 Does this guarantee you won’t be hurt in a car accident? Why? Looking to God for deliverance in the tribulation will be the only way to survive.
6 God’s Word is truth--infallible, ultimate authority--in contrast to rampant deception in those days.
8 In the world, vileness is exalted, especially in the tribulation.
Did God forget David?
3 parts. 1-2, panic, things look pretty bleak; 3-4, calling on God; 5-6, trusting God. This is a good model for dealing with our fears, panic. It’s OK to start out with those feelings and admit them, then go the next step by taking them to God and reminding yourself that God is able, and then give them to God and trust Him, remembering the good things He has done.
Can you see how this Psalm can be especially relevant to the great danger, persecution, they will face in the tribulation? As Christians, who is our great enemy?
"How long…" again like Rev. 6:9-11.
What does God say about the atheist? The Hebrew word for fool is "nabal." What other Nabal do we know about, I Sam. 25? Silly/simpleton/madman.
1b, where else is this quoted?
But what about the many good things that people do? In GOD’S JUDGMENT, they don’t count as good, only in man’s sight. Many people are offended when you say that no one does good; humanly speaking, many people do good, even bad people. But God’s yardstick is different.
7 What is this referring to? What was Israel looking for? A Messiah, an earthly kingdom. God’s future plans for Israel. Particularly relevant to Israel’s hopes during the last 3 1/2 years of the tribulation.
David, writing for his own time, may have been talking about those who are fit to enter God’s presence in the tabernacle. For our day, a description of how the godly should live.
Holy hill = Zion, Jerusalem, Israel.
Can you see a prophetic meaning, in the light of the past few psalms and their references to the end times? Those who will enter the kingdom, at the end of the seven years tribulation--believers still alive at that time. These are the people who, in their earthly bodies, will live on the earth under the earthly reign of Jesus Christ.
Do you see how God’s Word can have meanings on several different levels, and applications to several different times, all of which were engineered and intended by God, even though the human writer may not have understood this when he wrote it?
Taking interest from fellow Jews was forbidden. Should we say interest is sinful? Not in our economy, but it was different in their economy. But what application can we take from it? Be fair in your money dealings.
2 Can be taken several ways. Also, different translations. I like NASB better than KJV. Might refer to "our" righteousness, which is actually Christ’s. Or might refer to what he values in life; there is nothing of value but Christ and all that He represents in your life.
3 ?? Different translations. 3-4 contrast the godly with idolaters.
5-6 Talking about what? The Jews were very concerned with their earthly inheritance, in the land; lot/lines/heritage/cup/portion. So is our "lot" our earthly situation, or the Lord, or both? What about the situations you have been given in life? Do you see them all as beautiful? If Rom. 8:28 is true, everything that has happened to you--your lot in life--is from God. If it is from God, isn’t it a gift from God?? Even the things that don’t look or feel so good? Have you ever been able to look back at something or someone you were having a real problem with, and later see how it was truly from God’s hand? How it changed you, brought you closer to God? Then wasn’t that really a gift from God?
7-8 Can we be learning in the night? We can rest in the Lord, physically and spiritually. We are to actively WALK in the Spirit; cooperate, be aware of His presence, mentally check in with Him frequently.
Did David have the indwelling Holy Spirit? This was a new thing that began at Pentecost; compare John 14:17. It’s hard for us to imagine what that must have been like. In the different dispensations, God has selected different circumstances to test us, different ways to reveal Himself to us. I believe the point is, to show man that no matter what advantage God gives us or how He works with us, we fail and are utterly sinful, and need His grace--a Savior.
10 Why is this verse important? Prophecy of the Messiah, His resurrection. Did David know that when he wrote it? Maybe, not necessarily. He may have been thinking of how God would take care of him and not allow him to die, even though he faced danger; or he may have been referring to his own future resurrection. However, Peter speaks of its fulfillment in Acts 2:25-31, and applies it directly to Christ. If you remember that the Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, then comparing Scripture with Scripture is a way of letting Him interpret His own statements to us. Also Paul in Acts 13:35-37. We can also apply it to the fact that when we die, God does not abandon our soul, but we are immediately in His presence and have unbroken fellowship with Him.
11 Is this truth any different in that day than ours? If HE makes known the path of life, that implies that we DON’T know the way. If fullness of joy is found in His presence, then what if we aren’t in His presence, or as much as we could be? Is the Christian life a drag? It can be; some people would make it so, by focusing on the "don’ts" and the externals rather than developing a closer relationship with Christ. If He is your best friend, the one you truly love, then being close to Him can’t be hum-drum.
What is the ultimate, long term application of 11? Eternity.
1-2 Why does David think God should hear him?
3-5 What is this about? (testing). His words, deeds. Path: Bible often uses this. Psa. 16:11, 119:105, Mat. 7:13-14. But what do we know about David’s life? It was not blameless. Perhaps at the time he wrote this he believed this about himself at that point. Perhaps he had Job-itis, as we all do--blind to our own sins/faults--we think we’re doing pretty good. Don’t be telling God how good you’ve been doing. But it also seems to be prophetic of Christ, since so many Psalms are. Only who is blameless?
6-12 Enemies; do we have enemies that do this to us? In war, if being physically attacked--anxiety, fear, danger. Spiritual application: Satan, I Pet. 5:8. Eye = attention; wing = protection, care.
13 What is "Thy sword"? Compare the words of the hymn, "A Mighty Fortress": "The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, his rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him. That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth." One little word shall fell him. What is that word? (hint: whose name?)
14 What does it say about men of this world? Similar idea to 10:18 and "those who dwell on the earth" in Rev. 3:10.
15 What might this be referring to? Could be in life, or in/after death.
This is almost exactly the same as written in II Sam. 22. What circumstance? After Saul’s death, when he was no longer a threat to David as king.
Not a lot said so far about loving God; mainly the injunction to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind. Here we have I believe the first record of someone telling God they love Him--the only Old Testament use of this particular Hebrew word: to have compassion on, to find or show mercy, have pity? Other Old Testament word used of loving the Lord: to have affection for, as a friend.
1-3 Words to describe what God is to him: we see the military connotations. How does this apply to us? Spiritual battle.
4-6 Death seemed imminent. He calls for help.
7-15 Could mean God used these elements at some point in rescuing him from his enemies, or could be a poetic way of describing God’s power in rescuing him, or could be a reference to past or future.
16-19 God rescues him. Who is our strong enemy?
20 Does God reward us for our righteousness?? Read on...
24 Here is the key. Many verses in the Bible, taken alone, could give the wrong impression. Compare Prov. 16:2. That’s why it’s so important to read in context, and to read it ALL. (I really thank J. Vernon McGee for driving this home to me.)
26 Crooked/twisted/perverse; often used as an opposite of straight, righteous, integrity.
27 Humility vs. pride; a frequent theme in the Bible.
28 What verse does this remind you of?
29 What does this remind you of? Move mountains. So can we literally do these things? If so, How would they glorify God? These Bible writers are saying that nothing is too hard, even things that appear to be impossible situations.
30-31 We can have total confidence in God.
32-42 Descriptions of his military victory. How does this apply to us?
41 Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers?
46 God the rock--a common theme throughout the Bible.
This may have prophetic reference to Christ’s death and resurrection. 4-6, death on the cross. 7-15, darkness, earthquake; could this section refer to God’s wrath being poured out on sin, or be a poetic picture of the great lengths God went to (so to speak) to bring about our salvation, or the spiritual battle that was being fought and won at this time? Jesus temporarily descended into Sheol, the realm of who? 16-19, God rescued Him from death. Who might be the strong man? 20-24, Christ the sinless sacrifice. 37-42, what might this section point to? 43-45, He reigns on earth. 46-50, praise and thanks to God who did all this. 48, who might be the violent man?
The creation and God's Word--the two sources of revelation.
1-6 The creation speaks to us of God: speaks, tells, message, declare, reveal, voice. We should use this truth to speak to those who don't believe in God (as the Bible defines God). Jesus was present at creation, Gen. 1:26, and creation was by and through Him and for Him, Col. 1:16.
7-11 God's Word is so wonderful; the importance of knowing it. Sure: we can know it, it doesn't change with the times as liberals would like us to believe, nothing is being added to it as many Christians believe today. True: today many believe that truth is different for different people, that you create your own truth--the Bible says God's Word is true and doesn't change. Instead, who must change?
12-14 A good prayer. Why his concern for presumptuous, willful sins? How were those dealt with under the Law? There WAS NO sacrifice to cover those; so he was anxious not to fall into those sins.
Prayer for the king's victory over enemies, prayer before going out to battle.
1 God of Jacob; reference to Israel.
7 Don't boast (praise/trust/are strong through) in what? Do boast in (make mention of/trust/praise name of) who?
"Trust" is used in the Old Testament mostly in Psalms, about 40 times, almost twice as often as all the rest of Old Testament.
9 Save = hosanna (Hebrew).
Where do we find our strength for life's daily battles? What do we put our trust in?
What is David talking about here? The blessings of a kingdom under God. Possibly this is the thanks for the victory they prayed for in Ps. 20.
Can you see a prophetic application to the millenial kingdom?
This, and Ps. 2, could refer to either/both the battle of Armageddon and the final uprising at end of the Millenium.
9-10 Time of anger/wrath = judgment on earth, not eternal punishment (that is not referred to as His wrath). When we are promised deliverance from His wrath in the New Testament, that refers not to eternal punishment, but the pouring out of God's wrath in the Tribulation. Ez. 7:19, Zeph. 1:14-18, I Thes. 1:10, 5:9 (1-10, context is the day of the Lord), Rev. 6:16-17, 15:1. Wrath (in Strong's) has the connotation of passion, whereas eternal punishment is the just consequence of unbelief, decreed by the Righteous Judge.
What is the importance of this psalm? Prophetic of the Messiah; what aspect in particular?
As David is writing this, what is HE talking about? A very difficult situation, causing him anguish; asking God for help, praising Him, worship. Had God forsaken him, is He not answering him? His faith: even though it seems this way, read 3. 4, reminding himself.
6-8 His feelings again fluctuate.
9-10 What do we learn about his childhood? Some don't believe that children CAN believe at early age; what does this passage say about that?
11-18 Vivid description of his anguish, physical and emotional.
19-21 But instead of dwelling on that, he goes on to do what? Beseech God.
22-on He praises God. 24, David KNOWS that God does hear and help, contrary to what David was FEELING. Do we let our feelings rule us, or our minds--what we KNOW the Bible says is true? How can we keep our feelings from controlling us?
27, 29 We see twice the word "worship"; what is it, according to this context (25-31)? What parallel term do we see in 29, in 30? Worship is recognizing God's rule over you, that you will serve Him, be subject to Him in every way. Sunday "worship" is not what we are talking about, but rather our individual everyday attitude toward God, which will then be reflected in our corporate worship. Today churches have redefined "worship" to mean the singing and the general atmosphere in the group service; that is not the biblical meaning of "worship."
How do we see the Messiah in this psalm? Compare Mat. 27. 30-31(Ps. 6-7), 35(18), 39(7), 40-43(8), 46(1). 22 quoted in Heb. 2:12. This psalm contains no confession of sin or imprecation against enemies; a righteous man being put to death by his enemies.
Just as David was describing his feelings, we see Christ's feelings during the crucifixion.
J.V. McGee sees the final seven sayings of Jesus in this psalm.
1 Jesus said this. Why did God forsake Him? Why did He cry "why?" Not the "why" of doubt or impatience; the human emotional response to pain (physical, emotional, spiritual); the pain of sin. He understands when we cry "why?"
6 Worm--perhaps speaking of Jesus' feelings?
7-8 This is what happened to Jesus on the cross. Mat. 27:43.
9-10 Speaking of Jesus' birth and childhood.
12-13 Bulls picture Roman soldiers; the lion was the picture of Rome.
14-17 A description of a crucifixion. (Yet David in his day knew nothing of Rome or crucifixions.) 14, heart like wax--broken heart; what came out, indicating rupture of the heart, John 19:34? 15, compare John 19:28. 16, compare Is. 53:5. Dog was a term for Gentiles.
19-21 Compare Luke 23:46. Unicorn/wild oxen; animal horn pictures strength? Horned oxen, or perhaps a single-horned animal like a rhinoceros, smaller than elephant, often called wild bull.
25-26 Could this be a reference to the thief on the cross? Compare Luke 23:39-43.
30-31 "It is finished." Do you see us, the church age, here?
22-31 seem to also speak of the millenial kingdom.
Gen. 22 and Is. 53 also picture the cross. In fact, these three Old Testament passages give more information about what was actually taking place there, than the gospel historical accounts.
The most well-known and memorized psalm.
The analogy of God the Great Shepherd is used throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. When Jesus said He was the Good Shepherd, surely the Jews knew what He was referring to, as in many other common Old Testament truths. That's why some recognized Him as the Messiah, and some saw Him as a blasphemer, making Himself out to be God.
Do you see how this psalm could give you the idea of the health-wealth teaching? So how should we take it? It WAS literally true for the obedient Israelite; God has promised physical blessings to Israel, but spiritual blessings to the church along with tribulations.
We might see different stages or seasons of the believer's walk with God in this psalm.
1-2 God meets my needs and takes care of me. The psalmist refers to God as "He"--a bit impersonal, perhaps more head knowledge than heart knowledge.
3 Most believers at some point wander off God's path a bit; we need restored, but He guides. God is still "He."
4 As we walk with the Lord longer, He leads us through hard times, maturing us in our faith, teaching us to trust Him more fully. In 3, "He guides," but now, "I walk," and sometimes we feel alone (are we really?). How does the psalmist refer to God now? The relationship has become much more personal--more heart knowledge, years of experiential knowledge.
5 "You" or "He"? Compare the food in 5 to the food in 2. Besides death and danger in 4, we now also face what? Even if we aren't aware of any earthly enemies, who is our ultimate enemy? Yet what? David was anointed with oil as a sign of God's choosing him as king and of the Holly Spirit coming upon him to empower him; we (the church) are anointed by the Holy Spirit who now indwells all Christians in the church age, I John 2:20,27.
6 How does he sum up the life of the believer? How can we say that when we face the things mentioned in 3, 4, and 5? And what is our end--what do we have to look forward to? We are part of God's family, His household. Dwell: remain, abide, continue, return, tarry. In David's day, where did God met with people in the tabernacle or temple, in the Holy of Holies; where does the Holy Spirit dwell today? So are we in His presence forever?
1 This is the opposite of what the humanist says.
3-4 Similar to Ps. 15. Hill of the Lord, holy place; what is this? 4, what two things go together?
6 Jacob = Israel.
7-10 What great music uses these words? Handel's "Messiah," in which all the words are from Scripture and tell the story of the Messiah.
Sounds like David is definitely referring to the future kingdom under Israel's Messiah, not himself here. A messianic, prophetic psalm.
1-2 A great prayer.
4-5 More about paths. Jesus too talks about paths, the wide and the narrow. The one that looks wide and pleasant isn't necessarily the one that is God's way.
So is David sitting there with his eyes closed and his mind bland, waiting for a supernatural message from God? No, it's in God's Word. We read it, and at the same time we should ask this of God, so we aren't just reading words.
7 Does God remember what's confessed? (He obviously doesn't "forget"--He chooses not to bring to His remembrance.) Did David need to ask God? Don't we often say in prayer, things that God knows, but it helps us to say it out loud to remind ourselves?
Some people, even though they know God forgave, get hung up on not being able to forgive themselves for some things. In other words, they continue to "feel" guilty and unforgiven. There are even Christian books to help people forgive themselves, and Christian psychologists deal with these continued guilt feelings. Does the Bible say we can or should forgive ourselves? No. Actually, what is beneficial about those continued bad feelings about ourselves? Keeps us humble, constant reminder that no matter how we think we are doing, we are sinful and beyond hope, without Christ. If we continue to "feel" bad, does that mean that God did not forgive us when we confessed our sin? Of course not, but Satan tries to keep us focused on our feelings so we will feel defeated.
9 Humble; margin says afflicted. What is the connection? During afflictions, we are more teachable, not so self-confident.
10 If we are following God's Word to the best of our ability, and our path is not pleasant, what must we still conclude?
11 He doesn't forgive you because "you're WORTH it!" (as the commercials tell us) but only because of Christ. No self-esteem teaching here.
12 Does this mean, if you are putting God first to the best of your ability, He will tell you how to make daily decisions? Then you end up looking for some sign, or trying to interpret things that happened, as "So maybe this means God is telling me to..." How does God really do this? Does the Bible, particularly the New Testament, give us any reason to assume that Christians were getting advice on everyday decisions? Looking up verses on God's will leads to such advice as Rom.12:1-2, Eph. 5:17 (context, not daily decisions), I Thes.4:3, 5:16-18, James 1:5, I Pet.2:15.
13 Literally true for Israel. Spiritual blessings for us, according to Eph. 1:3.
14 Does this mean God will give you the inside scoop if you are living right? No, but the one who fears Him will be often in His Word, and God's counsel/secrets will become more and more clear to that person.
15 I set the Lord always before me; this is how.
16-21 Prayer for personal deliverance, and 22, national deliverance. 21, the hard part, but we see this all through the Bible.
David asks God to vindicate him on what basis? Be careful of Job-itis!! There is only one who truly fits this description--who? But it should be our goal to try to be able to say this.
5 So should we avoid get-togethers with unbelievers, or does it mean that at community get-togethers, we should only sit by Christians? What does "sit" imply then? Jesus had dinner with Pharisees...
8 Is our church building to be revered as a special place? No. What is David saying, and how does it apply to us today? He was speaking of the temple; where is the temple of the Holy Spirit today, I Cor. 3:16?
12a Sometimes our foot is in a slippery place. Maybe we even allow it, not whole-heartedly committing ourselves to the place we ought to be.
12b Can anything we say to God make Him more glorious? Bless = an act of adoration, praise, thank, salute, kneel down. We bless God by saying this to Him. He deserves this from us, and it is also for our benefit, especially as we do it in a group, in public, so all have their attention drawn to God's attributes and actions.
1 Many songs have been written to these words. These words speak to us. Fear is a common problem, dealt with in both Old Testament and New Testament. In the Psalms, David exposes many of the common problems we struggle with, and that people go to therapists for. Fear, guilt, anxiety are main ones. We can find the solutions to these problems in the Bible, but we must read it, understand it, and apply it, all of which take a certain amount of effort. Also, dealing with these problems include dealing with Self--parts of the old nature which have not yet been brought to the place of death, Rom. 6-8.
This is why many Christians will go to a Christian therapist; they say "I've gone to church, prayed and read the Bible, but it hasn't worked, I've still got the same problems, I still can't handle them." 1) Going through the motions of the Christian life is not the same as applying truth or dealing with Self. 2) If you think that being a Christian means having a smooth path, then you are confused when life is not trouble-free, and you assume it doesn't "work." Then you assume there must be something "more," and that's where Christian therapists step in. They say, yes the Bible is good as far as it goes, but it deals with spiritual problems, not mental and emotional ones. However, this assumes that there IS such a distinction! Can we believe that what God revealed to godly men--the Bible--is inadequate for our needs, and that unbelievers really discovered other, more effective truth?? Christianity is not an instant cure-all for life's problems; it does include afflictions, which are part of the way God draws us closer to Him; it doesn't guarantee freedom from trouble, especially for the New Testament believer.
So when we are fearful and lacking in trust, we read these verses. Does that instantly make this true in your life? How do you get from reading it, to having it be true in your life? You can read it over and over, say it out loud over and over, and that doesn't make it so--it's a start. Then what needs to happen? This is the hard but necessary part: You walk day by day, step by step, in that difficult situation, continually reminding yourself of these truths, asking God to be this in your life, setting Him continually before you, and make conscious decisions, moment by moment if necessary, to turn from that fear, not give in to it, and to trust Him. Even if that trust instantly evaporates, to do it again immediately, and again and again, even hundreds of time a day or an hour. Maybe have a particular verse that you are saying to the Lord each time you do this, trying to make this verse become real in your experience. We must continually choose to trust Him.
Light--Jesus used this metaphor to apply to Himself, along with other familiar Old Testament metaphors.
2-3 We don't identify with these words very much. But what about believers in countries characterized by warfare and terrorism? It's possible that in our country in our lifetime, we could face such conditions.
4-6 Why would David want to live at the temple? Should we want to live at our church? No--what is David really desiring? God's presence, which we should desire too. Where do we find that? This gives us an idea of how the godly Jew felt about the temple.
Read 8. How can we seek God's face, since He is spirit and cannot be seen, or even pictured in our mind? Many Christians are more interested in seeking God's hand than His face--what He can give them, rather than coming to know Him, who He is. We start out that way as immature Christians, and hopefully move more toward knowing Him as we mature. Maybe His hand is what He uses more with the newer believer, because maybe that is all they can relate to at first. Then He draws us in closer.
10 Here's another favorite theme of therapists: Your problems are not your fault, but rather are because your parents did or didn't do this or that. Regardless of what our parents are like, God is able to heal us, change us, use us. We don't have to dredge up past experiences and emotions, or scream and hit pillows, or find and confront all the people who have hurt us, or whatever other theories the therapists have, which are constantly changing, and which they can't agree on among themselves. The Bible never changes.
Read 13-14. Despair/depression are common problems that people take to therapists. A frequent solution is chemical mood alteration. Here is the Bible's answer. The Bible doesn't guarantee that we will not struggle with despair or depression, but it does tell us to continually take it to God, and to continually set God before us.
There are many passages that show us how to deal with fear, anxiety, guilt, self, despair.
1-2 As we read over and over about David's concern that God hear him, I'm wondering about their assumptions about God vs. ours. Why doesn't God hear our prayers? Because of our sins. We know He hears us, that our sins don't stand in the way, because we are "in Christ." In their time, they had to make sure they had offered sacrifices; maybe they never felt sure?
We never have to doubt that God hears us. But like Peter (Mat. 14:30) we sometimes doubt that He will do something; we know He can, but we also know that He allows things to happen to us, for His reasons.
3-5 Asking God to give the wicked what they deserve.
6-9 Ends with expression of trust in God.
8-9 Often ends with application to the nation Israel, not just himself.
We see the repetition, parallels of Hebrew poetry.
1 Addressed to angels. (He addresses the angels this way in Ps. 103.)
Thunderstorm, nature. Everything glorifies God, as did the great flood. He is Lord over all.
11 Application to Israel.
When we see a storm, it should remind us of God's power. The pagans thought their idol deities controlled the forces of nature; David tells who actually does. Jesus reinforced this when He performed miracles over nature (i.e., calming the storm).
Psalm 30 (subtitle: temple dedication)
1 Like in Ps. 25, concern that enemies not exult/triumph over him.
2-3 From fear, life-threatening illness...
4 ...to praising.
5 Contrasting two kinds of experiences. Our lives are up, then down. Fear, then relief. Chastisement, then blessing. (He recognized this illness as God's punishment.) God knows how much we can take, and lets us catch our breath.
6-7 From prosperity and self-confidence, to dismay and doubt. Secure/never be moved: implies carelessness toward God.
11 From mourning to gladness.
Many of our ups and downs have to do with allowing our feelings to rule. David was an emotional man, and able to express his emotions. Dealing with emotions is one of the Christian's biggest problems. Again, that's why many go to therapists seeking relief. The answers are in God's Word.
12 Don't forget to thank Him afterwards when He has answered your prayer or delivered you from the situation. Share it with others; it builds their faith.
Read 1-4 Here is another group of verses that is good to focus on and hang onto when you are floundering in your life. In this psalm, we again see David in some situation in which he is physically and emotionally devastated.
5 What is important about this verse? Compare Luke 23:46. This gives us a clue--does the rest of the psalm also have reference to Christ? In what way? We again see the crucifixion pictured. In what ways? Might David be saying he feels in danger of death, and is saying, OK, if that's what You have for me now? This is the ultimate in accepting God's will, no matter how it appears to be the end for us. Might God choose to lead us into an even narrower and rockier path? Do we say, OK, Lord?
8 David is concerned about his earthly enemies; who is our enemy?
23-24 David is encouraging other believers; his faith is now stronger, after having gone through this hard time. If the Lord has taken us through hard times, and we have learned how trustworthy He is, we are in a position to encourage those who are struggling with trusting God in hard situations.
And we also can relate to this psalm if we have ever felt overwhelmed by life. We can see hopelessness, depression, even paranoia. We see how the godly person is trying to find that balance between overwhelming feelings and what he knows is true about God. He doesn't "feel" these things about God; he knows them. We see him trying to exercise faith. We see that it is a struggle--it doesn't just happen. So if in your life you are finding that it isn't just happening, and you are wondering how to deal with that, follow David's example.
Why does it sometimes seem easier to go to a human for a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on? Why are we more willing to try what some human suggests, than what God says? It is helpful to have Christian friends that help you in your attempts to know God better and follow Him. (All a therapist is, is a paid friend, but he doesn't really know you and care about you like a true friend. And God is the truest friend.) But God will gradually wean you from having to have a human helping you know Him, to learning of Him directly from His Word--just you and Him.
What does it mean to us that God is a Rock? The source of strength; isn't that what we are lacking? Our protection; from what? Something that won't move or change, unlike life. This theme of God the Rock is common through the psalms.
What does it mean to commit your spirit to God? How do you do this?
My times are in Thy hand: what does this mean? By telling God this, we are agreeing with this truth and making it personal. Admitting that He is sovereign, that everything that is happening is according to Him, that it's not out of control (even if it feels that way). Whatever He brings in your life is OK with you (in a way).
Do you see how God's psychology is better than man's? It's just a matter of applying it.
This psalm may refer to what David learned from his sin with Bathsheba, which is dealt with in Ps. 51.
1-2 Confession and forgiveness. Is the issue whether or not David was able to forgive himself? 2b, he truly repented, he didn't just say the magic words.
Forgiven, covered, not imputed: what was different in the Old Testament? Animal sacrifice only atoned for sin, covered it. Atonement is an Old Testament word, meaning to cover--a temporary covering until the Lamb of God was sacrificed. This is not the terminology found in the New Testament. (Many like to say it means at-one-ment; that is not correct.)
3-4 What do you think was going on here? Maybe he was under heavy conviction ever since the event, and this was his experience as he tried to hide that sin over an extended period of time. Don't emotional burdens (stress) eventually show up as physical symptoms?
5 Then he does this.
6 Noah's flood? Sometimes life seems overwhelming like a flood.
8 It appears God is saying this to David; we can count on this! How does it happen? If He can just use His eye, doesn't that imply we are paying attention to Him, looking at Him often? Otherwise He might have to do more to get our attention.
9 It's not through externals; it happens internally.
11 Many try to make Christians feel they need to be happy all the time, to have a smile on their faces. Is that what this is saying?
1-3 Music and praise. New songs are OK, not just the traditional ones. New song: Rev. 5:9, 14:3, in heaven.
4-5 Why should we praise God?
6-9 The God of creation. 6 and 9 tell us how God created; so do many other verses. Gen. 1-2, John 1:1-10.
10-12 God and nations. The Bible records that God is interested in both individuals and in nations and their leaders. He is sovereign over both. 10-11, God's sovereignty. 12, we often hear the first half applied to the U.S., usually by those Christians who believe we need to make it again a Christian nation (many question if it ever truly was). But doesn't the second half qualify who that nation is? Is it possible for any nation other than Israel to have God as their Lord? Can there be consensus unless by a law? Then there would be no freedom of religion. The Bible teaches that Israel as a nation is blessed in a way that other nations are not.
13-22 What is the source of strength and victory? And how does God decide who gets that help?
19 Is this true in our dispensation? Will it be true in the next one, the tribulation? We don't find it promised.
Psalm 34 (sub-title gives historical context)
1-6 Another great song. 1-3, praise with others; that's how God is magnified, exalted (made larger in man's eyes). 4-7, how to deal with fear. Does it say He'll keep us from getting into fearful situations or troubles? Sometimes He protects in a bad situation, sometimes He keeps us from the situation; we can't know why.
8-14 If you don't consider dispensations, you end up with the health/wealth theology here. God promised physical blessings to obedient Israelites, but spiritual blessings to the church.
15-18 God helps, but He doesn't keep us from troubles, broken hearts, crushed spirits.
19 Here it is stated that the righteous do have afflictions, even in the Old Testament.
20 What is significant here? We know it is prophetic because of John 9:36. Also in Ex. 12:46, the passover lamb.
1-8 David is speaking as God's anointed king over God's chosen people, Israel. Besides the idolatrous God-rejecting nations that were Israel's enemies, David had personal enemies who were trying to overthrow God's appointed king. This may also be prophetic of how the saints will pray during the tribulation. When we (the church) think of our personal enemies, we must realize we are in a completely different situation. We are taught to pray for our enemies. Yet we can relate to David's imprecatory prayers, and pray them along with him, when we realize who our true enemy is--Satan.
Do we fight our own enemies or let God deal with them? And isn't it hard to be sure if you are really in the right, or if you are just blind to what you did to bring this on? We usually think we are right, but that doesn't mean we are.
8 You reap what you sow--Old Testament and New Testament, believers and unbelievers. A principle that God has built into life.
13-15 Sounds like he is not talking about other nations but those he once considered friends.
19 Those who are "wrongfully" his enemies--apparently enemies within.
20 Sounds like those who incite trouble.
22-26 Beseeching God to act on his behalf. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." David is trying not to take matters into his own hands.
1-4 Is the ungodly man concerned about his sinfulness or his sins? David apparently has been contemplating these type of people.
5-on So he shifts his focus to God, and how He is just the opposite of these people.
8-9 If your idea of Christianity is rules and outward activities, will you experience this? How do you then? By coming to know God. How do you do that?
11 Beware this danger, if you are indrrd upright. (Maybe he is saying, the foot of the proud man?)
Each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, two verses for each letter.
1-2 We all struggle with the desire for vengeance on those who do us wrong. This psalm assures us that God is a just God and will do what is right for both the righteous and the wicked. It teaches that all men will reap what they have sown. What about evildoers? God had promised Old Testament believers material prosperity, but David was concerned and confused when he saw evildoers also enjoying prosperity. They may have it, but it is not a sign of God's blessing to them. Remember that their prosperity in this life is ALL they will get.
3 "Dwell in the land" is a reference to what land? What nation did God promise this to? Even when they were not in their land but in captivity, they were to remain faithful to God. When will Israel ultimately inherit their promised land? In the millenial kingdom, under Christ's earthly 1000-year reign. Has God promised the church a land? God's promises to the church are found in the New Testament Epistles. But is there application to the church?
4 Are you waiting on God for His will, or for Him to do your will? Is it possible that your will in any matter might be better than God's will? Is this is a formula for getting God to do what you want, or is it saying that God will put His desires in your heart?
It is important to understand dispensations in the Bible, to understand the difference between the age of grace (the church) and age of law (Israel). God promised Israel physical blessings under the Law in return for obedience, Deut. 28-30 (as well as curses for disobedience). He promised the church spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3, and told us to expect tribulations and troubles in our lives, John 16:33, Rom. 8:35, II Cor. 1:5, Phil. 1:29-30, I Thes. 3:3.
11 "The land" is mentioned many times in this psalm. Israel was promised the land; their future hope was earthly, never heavenly, as is the church's future hope. The church is not promised the land of Israel (or America), the earth, or earthly blessings.
24 Does it say the godly man won't ever fall?
Chewing on this chapter will help you understand the concept of dispensations; it was written to Israel, living under the Law, but it has application to the church in the age of grace.
1 What is the subject here--what two verbs? Because of what? 3,4,5,18.
1-12 David describes the results of his sin, apparently before it was confessed and dealt with. Emotional discomfort may result in physical discomfort. He may be experiencing an actual physical condition as a punishment from God. Did God "do" this to him, or might it have been natural consequences? Both?
13-15 Does he argue with his foes? Why not? He knows he is guilty, sinful; he is leaving it in God's hands.
Other than Bathsheba/Uriah and the census, we are not specifically told of a lot of David's "sins." But we do know that he was an emotional, perhaps impulsive, sort of guy. Surely many of the things we read about him might not have been acts of trusting in the Lord, but trying to use might or cleverness to keep on top of things. For example, J.V.McGee suggests that his "feigning madness" may have been a human ruse, which he later may have repented of, recognizing that he had not trusted in God to take care of him in that situation with the king of Gath. And consider how he would have taken instant revenge against Nabal, except that Abigail talked sense into him.
Do you see how this could be prophetic of Christ bearing sin on the cross? The horror of sin that He experienced? Friends and loved ones standing far off? Not opening his mouth?
18 Many go to a psychiatrist to try to relieve the anxiety caused by sin, or resort to medication. Who should we really go to? And do what, according to this verse?
1 Sounds like David, like many of us, had a problem with his mouth. If we do, this is what we too should pray. Also Ps. 141:3.
4-5 Does David needs more self-esteem? Instead, we need more what? Humility--recognition that Self is nothing, compared to God. Humility is the opposite of pride.
12-13 He sounds full of sadness, depressed. He basically is throwing himself on God's mercy; he feels there's nothing he can do. If you feel like this, is something wrong with you? No. It's true, but we shouldn't wallow in these feelings; they should turn our eyes more to God.
1-2 The previous two psalms highlighted David's negative feelings; now he tells how God has brought him out of that pit. For us, what might that pit be? Why might God allow us to get into those pits? So we might recognize our helplessness and learn who He really is.
3 What is another reason He allows this? As others see God at work in your life, their faith is encouraged, and God gets even more praise.
5 Meditate on this when you're down.
6-8 Compare Heb. 10:5-7. Who is spoken of here? Heb. 10:8-9, what is the point here? Things changed when Christ came. First/second implies dispensations; God is now doing something different than He was doing in the previous dispensation. God doesn't change, but He deals differently with men at different times. He has arranged a series of tests--a different one in each dispensation.
Heb. 10:3-4 is about sacrifices in the Old Testament. Under the Law, the emphasis was on the physical physical--external. Now He asks us to internalize His truths. This is what dispensations are about--to show man, no matter what advantage God gives him, his hopeless condition and need for God.
9-10 What does David do?
10-11 What important "t" word does David use here in describing God? The Bible speaks often of truth--a concept many reject today.
13-15 He speaks of those who don't love God.
16-17 And those who do.
3 What is the context of this psalm?
6, 9 Possibly refers to Ahithophel, his trusted counselor who went over to Absalom, II Sam. 16-17. Jesus quotes this in John 13:18, so besides the immediate literal meaning, we see it is also prophetic of whom? The Bible often has more than one level of meaning or application.
10 Was this idea of repaying, right or wrong for David? Ex.21:23-25. What about for us? Mt. 5:38-39 again.
11 In Old Testament, this was true; righteousness/obedience resulted in success through God's hand. In New Testament, Mt. 5:10-11,39-41, I Cor. 6:7. Winning isn't necessarily a sign of God's pleasure, and losing isn't necessarily a sign of His displeasure with you. Who is our enemy? Sometimes he temporarily triumphs over us, especially if we are not using our armor and our sword effectively, Eph. 6:10-17; but will he ultimately triumph over us?
These next few Psalms are by the sons (descendants) of Korah, or for them to perform. What happened to Korah? He led a rebellion, God killed him. Korah was a Levite, but Dathan and Abiram, his cohorts, were Reubenites. His sons did not die, and continued to serve. Numbers 26, we find that when Korah and his household died, his line was not wiped out, that his sons were apparently considered separate households, and did not support his rebellion.
1-2 Whether in Egypt or when they are put out of the land, the godly remnant thirsts after God. Thirsting implies what? That you have nothing else that satisfies that craving you feel, you feel like you will die without something, everything else you thought important suddenly is not as important as that craving. Do our souls pant for God?
3 Continual crying, pouring out your soul to God, despair, disturbed inside, mourning, oppressed by others (or feeling like you are).
4 Where did he used to go? And feel like what?
5 How does he deal with these feelings? 5, and again in 11, he talks to himself. The believer's new man/self talks to your old man/self, reminds you what you ought to do, compare Rom. 6-8.
6-10 He isn't praising now, but he knows he will be again, and reminds himself that he will. Sometimes it seems that getting through the night, 8, is all we can do, and we can't even do that without God's help. 9, who is the enemy that oppresses us?
11 He doesn't stay in the dumps but reminds himself of what he knows--biblical truth about God. Hope looks to the future, doesn't stay focused on the past or present.
1-2 The ungodly nation could be Egypt, Babylon/Persia, Assyria, or the Antichrist's future rule. We might relate this to trying to live as a Christian in an ungodly world. Who is the enemy who oppresses us?
2 Why does he think God has rejected him? In the Old Testament dispensation, what had God promised Israel? Obedience = victory.
3 Light and truth are terms used later for whom? See the Gospel of John.
5 The same refrain, same hope, of the previous psalm.
1-3 This psalm recounts Israel's history. Were their victories due to their own strength? What is the application for us?
4-8 Who should we not be trusting in? SELF.
9-16 Why did all this happen to them? Because of their sin, their idolatry (one of the themes of the Old Testament). 15-16, who is the enemy who seeks to dishonor and humiliate us?
17-21 They say they were honoring God, but apparently they were fooling themselves. Can we fool ourselves about whether or not we are really pleasing God? We are masters at rationalizing and passing the buck.
22-26 This may be the prayer of believers during the tribulation. 23, does God sleep? Might it feel that way sometimes? But is that feeling a fact? We need to test our feelings against the facts in God's Word.
1-5 Is this addressed to the king of Israel, or prophetically to God's Messiah when He reigns on earth? Or both? A clue is at the end of 2: forever.
6-8 More clues: Whose throne and kingdom? God's anointed. One of the spices in 8, myrrh, speaks of death--whose death? John 19:39. 6-7 are quoted in Heb. 1:8-9 about Christ.
9 speaks of the queen at His side; who is the bride? Eph. 5:23-32, I Cor. 6:2-3, Rev. 19:7, 21:2. When does He come to earth to establish His kingdom? When does this marriage take place?
10-17 Clues about the bride. Where else do we read about the virgins and a wedding? Matt. 25:1-12. Who might the virgins be? The bride is the church, the virgins could represent Israel, or those left alive at the end of the tribulation, and the wise were those who believed (had the Holy Spirit, represented often by oil), the foolish could be those who did not believe and were taken away to judgment. At the end of the tribulation, believers alive on earth will enter the kingdom, but first the unbelievers are taken away for judgment. Matt. 13, 24, 25. 10-11, this Gentile bride leaves her own people, worships Him as her Lord. This foreshadows the church, as do some Gentile brides in the Old Testament (Ruth, Rebekah, the bride in the Song of Solomon).
10 and 13 use the word daughter, but it is obviously talking about the king's bride; this sheds light on I Cor. 7:36. They used family terms more broadly than we do.
1-3 Why should the believer not fear? But do we struggle with fears? Why? Are 2-3 literal or figurative? For us, figurative, but perhaps in the past, and in the future tribulation, literal. Earth being removed or changed could refer to a massive earthquake, a cosmic collision, or some other type of tectonic event. The church will not be here for those seven years, because we will have been caught up before the Antichrist is revealed and before he signs the seven-year covenant that marks the beginning of the seven years tribulation.
4-7 refers to Jerusalem and the temple. River--compare Zech. 14:4,8. The rest of this psalm sounds like its perspective is right after the tribulation and the establishment of Christ's kingdom. The "prophetic past tense" is often used in prophecy of future events.
8-11 The wars have ceased and the Messiah is victorious. 10 speaks to both them and us when in that helpless, all-appears-lost position. Are we always to do nothing? Or does this speak of our inner panic, or our dependence on Self or on man's might?
Perhaps when this was written, Israel had encountered an earthquake, and God had protected them as well as defeated their enemy. Yet it has future implications.
1-3 Here God is King over all the earth. Do we see that today? So what time period is presented here? The millenial kingdom. The nations don't appear to be in rebellion here. When this was written, Israel was apparently rejoicing over God being their true King. But it will be more fully fulfilled in the future. Again we see more than one level of meaning.
7-9 God's chosen nation, Israel, recognizes that God reigns over their enemies, but this will truly happen when the Messiah returns to earth.
1-2 What/where is the city of our God, the holy mountain, 1, Mt. Zion, the city of the great King, 2? This is about Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and the location of the temple.
4-7 In David's day, this would have immediate reference to Israel's triumph over enemy nations. 8, the city again.
8-14 Israel's great love for the city, the temple, Mount Zion: Jerusalem.
1-2 Who is this addressed to? Not just Israel: all people.
This psalm speaks of riches, and the folly of riches without God.
7-9 Riches cannot do what? Gal. 4:5 and Titus 2:14 tell us that only Christ can redeem us from the slavery of sin. 9, the mention of "redeem" is followed by a reminder about eternal life.
10-14 The rich man thinks what? But in reality, 12, what? What awaits them? Believers are sheep, with a Good Shepherd; the shepherd of the godless leads them to death.
15 In contrast, death has no power over our souls. Sheol (NASB) = the grave (KJV) = death. A man's soul can only be redeemed how?
16-17 Should we be jealous of the godless rich?
18 Who will congratulate such a man? But not God.
20 Conclusion about the godless rich.
Who is Asaph, the writer? I Chron. 15:16-17. We will see that all three of them wrote psalms. What tribe? The Levites were in charge of the temple, and here, music in the temple.
1-6 First paragraph presents God as a what? Who is He addressing, 1? When did Israel make a covenant with God by sacrifice? Ex. 24:7-8, following the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. When does judgment take place? Clues: He summons the earth, fire and tempests, the godly are gathered.
7-15 Addressed to the righteous. When they sacrifice, are they really giving God anything? It's all His already. He doesn't require it because He's hungry, like pagan gods. And if He was hungry, would He tell us? So why do it, 14-15? Thanksgiving acknowledges and honors Him.
16-23 Addressed to the wicked/those who forget God.
16 Why would He say this? At the final judgment? Compare Mat. 7:21-23, Is. 29:13. Many were pretending, or thought they were believers, thinking God was like them-creating God in man's image. How and why do people do this? By not following the God of the Bible, not reading the Bible. Religion is man's attempts to reach God. The message os the Bible is that faith in Christ, through the cross and His blood, are the way to a relationship with God.
23 We often wonder about how God will fairly judge the many on this earth that have not had access to His Word. God the righteous Judge has things perfectly under control, even though we don't understand how He will do it. He has told us in His Word that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. We have seen Christ as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, appearing to many. The Holy Spirit came upon people then, and He is omnipresent on this earth now. God is able to make Himself known to men.
Who wrote this, in what context?
1-4 David confesses his sin. Note he covers all the biblical terms for sin. Iniquity: crookedness, perversion. Sin: missing the mark. Transgression: rebellion. Evil: wickedness.
5 The doctrine of original sin is taught here. This is not implying that sexual relations are bad or that his mother had him out of wedlock. We do not become sinners by committing a sin; we commit sin because we were born with a sin nature.
6 What does God want us to be like? Outwardly only?
10 We can't clean ourselves up.
11 Believers in the dispensation of the Law did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit; this distinguishes the church, which began when the Spirit was given in Acts 2. In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon people for a time to empower them for service, especially people like kings and prophets, I Sam. 16:13.
16 Under the Law, there was no sacrifice for intentional sin, Leviticus 4-5. Based on the Hebrew words used, and biblical examples, we can surmise that the sacrifices for sin were for unintentional sin (includes sins of ignorance, sins of commission or omission, conscious sin, intentional but nondefiant, non premeditated), as opposed to intentional sin (defiant, high-handed, rebellion against God, premeditated). This explains why David is asking God to forgive, and his comment on sacrifices. There was no sacrifice for such sin, and he knew it. He was throwing himself on God's mercy.
So sacrifices were limited; they didn't cover everything. They could not be "used" by the person whose heart was not the Lord's, who sinned carelessly and flagrantly, and then lightly said, "Oh well, I'll just go make a sacrifice and everything will be hunky-dory." But apparently Israel was often guilty of doing just this thing, according to the messages of the prophets.
17 This was David's response to sin in his life, II Sam. 12:13 and why God could call David "a man after His own heart," Acts 13:22. Others pass the buck or rationalize when confronted with their sin: Adam, Eve, Aaron (golden calf), Saul (when Samuel asked why he hadn't killed all the Amalekites, I Sam. 15). That is the message for us; God wants our hearts to be contrite like David's.
19 Does this contradict 16? A broken and contrite heart is necessary, 17, then righteous sacrifices can be offered.
1-4 What kind of people is David talking to? Mighty man (according to Strong's Concordance): warrior, tyrant. The evil man. David writes about a particular man, Doeg, but we will see application to a future time.
5 When might this happen? At the end of their earthly life? Because of 6-7, we might wonder if this happens at the judgment that removes the wicked from the earth before the beginning of Christ's earthly kingdom, following the tribulation and then the second coming. According to Mat. 13:30,37-43,49, 24:40-43, the unbelievers who are still alive on the earth at the second coming will be taken away alive to judgment, leaving only the righteous on earth for the kingdom.
8-9 What three things does David say he does? We should too.
1 God emphasizes this judgment by repeating Ps. 14:1. What future man is the ultimate fool, denying God/Christ, claiming that he himself is God?
1-3 Compare this passage to Rom. 3:10-12. Here we find the doctrine of the utter sinfulness of men, repeated in both the Old and New Testaments. How does this answer the person who thinks it is possible to gain eternal life by being good enough? God says it is not possible.
6 When he speaks of salvation coming out of Zion, what is he talking about? He is waiting for the Messiah to be revealed.
The Ziphites betrayed David to Saul, I Sam. 23:19. Saul came after David and was just on the other side of the mountain from him. But then Saul received an urgent message to return home immediately, Philistine raid. What important facts do we learn about God in 1,4,5? The Lord's Prayer also puts an emphasis on God's name and His power. 6, we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices, but what are we to do instead, Rom. 12:1?
David may be speaking of his treacherous "friend," Ahithophel, II Sam. 15-17. Have you ever been stabbed in the back, betrayed, hurt, really disappointed by the way someone treated you, which you did not deserve?
For a political and military leader, cunning, lying, plots, factions, back-stabbing, game-playing, and power struggles are a way of life. How can a believer operate in that sphere without resorting to that behavior? Wrong doers get the best of you because you were honest, kind, unselfish. Can similar things happen to us?
12-14 This may be prophetic of Jesus; feelings about His friend Judas. Acts 1:16 says that the Scriptures told of him.
17 When something is eating at you constantly, might you need to give it to God over and over? it's not so much that God needs asked over and over as that our feelings overwhelm us and make it hard to truly trust.
19 Does God answer prayer? What else do we learn about God, repeated in James 1:17?
22 How should we handle these kinds of things?
23 And what about the ones who do these things? In spite of circumstances, what should we do?
Psalm 54 and 55 are also prophetic of the tribulation: persecution, betrayal, turning in Christians and Jews. Mat. 10:21,34-36, Micah 7:5-7.
1-7 David writes of a specific time in his life. It's not hard to see believers in the tribulation in the same situation.
4 What does he mean by "mere man"?
8 Does God notice our troubles? Tears in bottle: Old Eastern custom, to place bottles/containers of their tears at the graves of loved ones, to show their love and grief.
9 Remember this FACT, even when it doesn't FEEL like it. Therefore I should what, 10? And what, 11? Again the idea of mere man.
What is the historical setting? Fleeing from Saul.
Another prayer for rescue; another psalm with prophetic implications for the tribulation saints.
1 Does God have wings? What does this picture? Safety and protection.
3 Who is the enemy who tramples on us? 6, does he prepare a net, dig a pit, for us? Sometimes circumstances seem dangerous and threatening, making us feel helpless and hopeless.
7 This is our goal. We can choose to trust despite our feelings.
9-11 This is to be our focus in those times.
1 O gods (NASB) = congregation KJV. Speaking of rulers, judges, mighty ones, those men in power. Do men judge unrightly? but who does, 11?
A request for God's judgment and vengeance on wicked men in positions of power. The Bible tells us that in God's overall plan, that will eventually happen, in His own time.
10 A desire for vengeance comes from a sense of right and wrong, of fair play. We don't like to see people getting by with wrong. We are satisfied when we see people getting what they deserve. But we are not to personally attempt to be the agents of vengeance. We are to trust God to do what is right.
11 And this follows too. Eventually the righteous WILL be rewarded, in God's own time.
Injustice will not go on forever, but God lets people do what they want; He gave us free will, even to choose sin.
Historical setting? I Sam. 19:11. His wife Michal helps him escape out the window while the house is being watched by Saul's men. She puts an idol under the covers so it looks like he is there.
Another prayer for rescue, deliverance. Don't you suppose that when David became king, he breathed a sigh of relief that the days of Saul and his men chasing him were over? Everything will be OK now, right? A prolonged trial may finally end, but will other trials await us?
4 Did David do anything to anger those who are after him? Sometimes it IS our fault that people are against us. Be careful, and be honest.
5 Is God ever asleep on the job? Does it sometimes appear that God isn't acting? If we can't see it, does that mean it's not happening?
8 Is God threatened by the power of evil men or nations?
12 This is why he wants God to do something--he is concerned about sinfulness. Are we?
16-17 We may not identify with David's desire for vengeance, but we can focus on the verses like this which direct our thoughts to God during our troubles.
David calls God his shield, his fortress, his rock-things he needs in his circumstances. What do we need? A close and true friend? A tranquilizer? An antidepressant? A guide through uncertain paths? A provider? A counselor or therapist? A comforter? A light on a dark path? Is God all those things?
Historical context, Israel has struggled in battle; a lament and a prayer for help.
2 Massive earthquakes can cause huge crevices and sinkholes. This could also be figurative language.
3 Does God sometimes lead us down rough paths? Why? Do we sometimes end up on a rougher path than needed because we're NOT following?
The importance of what?
11-12 What principle do we find?
1 Do we really need to ask God to hear us?
2 Who is this rock?
3-4 He chooses to focus on who God is.
6-7 David speaks of himself as king. What is important to God?
8 Sing praises.
Some think this was written during the dark time of Absalom's rebellion, when David was being betrayed and abandoned by many who were once friends and loyal.
1 Do we do this? Silence can be in prayer time, waiting for God to direct your thoughts, or in your Bible reading time, listening to what God is saying to you through His Word.
God only. In order to help us learn that, might God remove other comforting influences so we have nothing to lean on but Him? Then maybe He will give them back in some measure, once you have learned not to depend on them.
3-4 David may be talking about himself here. Who is he talking to?
5-7 Who is he talking to here? He repeats 1-2. Might we need to remind ourselves of things over and over, especially when we are in a "situation"? Is prayer for telling God what we want Him to do? Or is it for telling God that we are open to whatever He is planning to do, and that we are just waiting to hear from Him? Do we know what God should do? Is there any chance our plans are wiser than His?
8 Who is he talking to here?
9 People can be tough to deal with, whether low or high on the totem pole.
10 Tthe kinds of things that men tend to trust in.
12 Who is he talking to now? Psalm 61 was more a prayer; addressed to God. This psalm is more a meditation--David's thoughts. Is this saying that we are saved according to our works? Recompense does not mean salvation. Compare John 6:28-29, II Cor. 5:10, I Cor. 3:12-15.
1 Can you know God is God without Him being YOUR God? Like the beginning of Ps. 42: thirst, yearn. Where does this happen? Why might God lead us into those kinds of paths? Earnestly (NASB), early (KJV): rising early to search diligently, painstakingly.
3-5 What are we to do in response to God? David is more satisfied with God than with things (just as good things to eat will satisfy your body).
6 How to deal with sleeplessness.
8 Do we cling to God when things are going fine? We learn to cling in the dry and weary land.
1-6 Secret plots of the enemy, as opposed to out and out attacks. Sometimes the problem isn't the "enemy" but the dread we feel.
7-10 But what? God will confound evildoers. As we see in many psalms, David starts out moaning about something, then at the end, gets his eyes back on God. Like David, we may get hung up temporarily on our negative thoughts and feelings, but we see we don't need to stay there.
1 Silence, and praise. Both are ways of honoring God, responding to Him. KJV: praise waiteth for Thee. Zion, the temple, Thy house, Thy court: where the Messiah will reign from.
2 Do we see all men coming to God? Will there come a time when this will be true? This appears to be a clue that this psalm about the millenial kingdom.
3 Will there still be sin in the millenial kingdom? Sin will be present until the end of the kingdom and beginning of the eternal state. David, the writer, would then be in his transformed sinless body--one of the many who will be ruling and reigning with Christ, administering the kingdom and dealing with the sin of those still in their mortal state who are still reproducing and populating the earth. This group will include the church--all those since the resurrection who have believed in Christ up to and including those caught up alive in the rapture and changed in the "twinkling of an eye." It will also include the saved of Israel who died in faith in the Old Testament.
4 This appears to refer to those just mentioned, serving Christ in the kingdom, who is reigning from His throne in Jerusalem.
5 Who trusts Him? Only Israel? During the Kingdom, "every knee will bow."
6-8 Perhaps this refers to Christ's return bringing an end to the earthly disasters and chaos of the tribulation years, as well as peace among men.
9-13 The growth process, the crops, the weather cycle, are all set in motion and controlled by God. It sounds here like the earth is extremely fertile and productive, more so than today. Although the curse of sin has not yet been removed from man, it appears that the effects of sin on the earth itself will be largely neutralized during the kingdom age. Compare Amos 9:13-15, Is. 40:3-5.
This psalm, and the next couple, dealing with the millenium, might also tell us something about God's present dealing with nations--that all men do indeed have knowledge of God, and should be properly responding to Him. We often assume that in the Old Testament, only Israel had access to knowledge of God. They had the Law, and prophetic revelation, but the Bible never says that God ONLY showed Himself to Israel, or through Israel, although Israel was to point others to God.
Although this psalm is prophetic, it surely also referred to some local events in David's time. Yet God is able to speak through those He inspired to write in such a way that His desired truth is revealed through the words they chose. This is evidence that the Bible could not have been written by mere men speaking merely their own words. The Bible tells us that the Author is the Holy Spirit, working through men.
1-4 Who is being addressed? When will this happen? How do we know this? Rev. 20:7-10, Ps. 2. So we know this psalm has prophetic application. The NASB says "feigned obedience" in 3; where the KJV says "submit themselves unto thee," the meaning, as per Strong's, is as the NASB says.
7 "Nations" in the Bible often refers to the Gentile nations as opposed to the nation of God's chosen people, Israel. The implication might be that God, who is omnipresent and omniscient, keeps His eye on everyone.
8 Again, we see that this is addressed to not just Israel but to whom? "Our" may be Israel speaking.
Read 10-12. The "us" and "our" seem to refer to Israel; one of the purposes of the seven years of tribulation was the purging and refining of Israel, Dan. 11:35. We can make a certain amount of application to ourselves here, but the end of 12 is distinctly about the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel; our trials aren't promised to end in a place of abundance.
13-15 In the Old Testament, people didn't go to "church." Where did they go? For the purpose of offering what?
16-20 Who is addressed? We can know this passage is for all believers, because these teachings are found throughout the Bible, not just to Israel.
Now that we have analyzed a number of Psalms, see if you can determine the context of this short Psalm. It probably has application on more than one level, but what do you think it is primarily about? What are some clues you used?
This Psalm, like many, has application on at least three levels: 1) what was literally going on in David's day, under the blessings and curses of the Law; 2) speaking prophetically of the millenial kingdom; and 3) application for us in the church age. Understanding the first two will help us understand how to apply it to ourselves correctly.
1) Apparently God delivered Israel from her enemies in a wonderful way, even delivering them from death. David reminds them of how God led and cared for them in the days of Moses. He recognizes God's blessings to Israel; even the nations around them can see how God has acted on Israel's behalf.
2) In the kingdom, the wicked will be scattered, will flee, will perish, will dwell in a parched land. Christ, the righteous judge, will rule with a rod of iron, Ps. 2, and although the descendants of the original righteous inhabitants will not all believe, they will be dealt with, unlike today, when many prosper. The fatherless, widows, lonely, and prisoners from the tribulation will now prosper.
3) We, the church, are not under the blessings and curses of the Law. Earthly blessings are promises to Israel, not to the church. The church is promised tribulations on this earth along with spiritual blessings. We must be careful in how we apply the wonderful promises we read in the Psalms. Our enemies might prevail over us, rather than scatter, flee or perish, 1-4. We may not be led into prosperity; we may find ourselves in a parched land, 6, even though we may be living righteously--or God may discipline us, Heb. 12:5-11, and allow us to be there because of sin and rebellion in our lives. We may not be delivered from death, 20. Israel was promised military strength, 28; the church is promised spiritual strength. Israel as a nation was blessed when they were following God; the church is not promised earthly pre-eminence or a righteous kingdom before Christ returns.
Now let's look at a few specific passages.
4 The KJV shows "the Lord" as "JAH" = Jahweh = the Lord.
5 Psychology preaches that we are victims of our families, and that most families are "dysfunctional." Even Christian psychology preaches that those with less than ideal relationships with their fathers will have trouble relating to God as their father. The Bible does not teach that. God is the perfect father, and whether you had a bad one or none at all, doesn't matter. If it depended on us and our background and understanding, no one would have a right relationship with God. But He deals with us, just as the child's relationship with their father is a matter of how that father chooses to deal with his child. His character is revealed in the Bible for all to know, no matter how limited your understanding or how warped your life.
17 The chariots of God would be the army of angels, II Kings 6:12.
18 This verse is quoted in Eph. 4:8, referring as Christ ascending to heaven following the resurrection, apparently taking with Him the Old Testament saints in Abraham's Bosom, Luke 16:22-23, who had been awaiting the payment for their sins. Here it speaks of Christ ascending the mountain of God (Mount Zion) where He will reign from Jerusalem, bringing with Him those He rescued at the end of the great tribulation, accepting homage, even from the rebellious.
19 We can claim this as well as Israel, for this promise if found in both the Old and New Testaments.
21 This could be a reference to Gen. 3:15. God's promised Messiah was prophesied from the very beginning to crush Satan's head; when did that take place? Satan thought that by getting evil men to put Christ to death, he would win; yet that very act brought about his ultimate defeat.
24-27 The triumphal procession of the Messiah to Jerusalem, to the temple. The Old Testament saints have been resurrected to their immortal bodies, to inherit the kingdom promised to them, Job 19:25-26, Dan. 12:13, Mat. 8:11.
32-35 The peoples of the earth praise the Messiah, the God of Israel, ruling from Jerusalem and from the temple.
As we did with Psalm 68, let's look at this psalm from several angles: 1) David, 2) tribulation believers, 3) prophetic of Christ, and 4) application to us.
1-2 He may be in physical danger from water and mud, or he may be using those as symbolic of his troubles.
3-4 His enemies cause him woe.
5-12 In spite of the fact that he realizes he is a sinner, he is faithful to God--has this resulted in a smooth path?
13-19 He prays for deliverance.
20-21 His woes.
22-28 He asks for God's vengeance on his enemies. Is God's vengeance righteous?
29-33 In spite of his woes, he chooses to praise God and be positive.
34-36 Even though things don't look good, does he believe God's promised plans for Israel will happen?
2) Tribulation believers, Jews
1-4 Those who become believers after the church is caught up in the rapture will face great danger and terror because of persecution during the tribulation.
5 Recognition of sinfulness and God's sovereignty.
6 Perhaps a concern that he will not betray fellow believers and put their lives in danger.
7-12 How easy will being a follower of Christ be at that time? 8 sounds like Luke 21:16-17.
13-19 Prayer for deliverance from danger.
20-21 This will be a lonely, terrifying time. People will have trouble buying food if they don't do what, Rev. 13:17? Some will endanger their own lives to help them; Mat. 24-25 appears to be in chronological order, and after Christ's second coming, 24:30, the unrighteous will be removed before the kingdom while the righteous will inherit the kingdom, with one of the criteria being how they treated Jews, or possibly other Christians, "these brothers of Mine," Mat. 25:34-46.
22-28 Prayer that God will give the wicked what they deserve--we read elsewhere that this is the time when God pours out His wrath on the wicked. The wicked will not inherit eternal life; their names will not be found where?
29-33 In spite of the terrible persecution at that time, true believers will be faithful to the Lord.
34-36 Confidence that God will soon fulfill His promises to Israel, that no matter how bad things look, God will prevail. He has promised that the day of wrath will be limited to seven years and that Christ will then return to destroy whom, Rev. 19:11-21?
3) Prophetic of Christ
Jesus applies 4 to Himself in John 15:25. 5, Jesus obviously had no foolishness or sins of His own; whose did He bear? 8 refers to "my mother's children" not "father's"; what important doctrinal truth does this hint at? What might His family life have been like--sweetsie perfect? Jesus quotes 9 about Himself in John 2:16-17. 12, wouldn't there be rumors all his life about being illegitimate, and unpleasant names? Might 20 describe His feelings on the cross? Compare 21 with Mat. 27:34,48. 22-28 could be a reference to Judas; 25 is quoted in Acts 1:20 (read in context, 16-20).
4) Application to us
1 Might we need help in physical danger? Might our soul feel this way?
2-3 Has your life ever felt like this?
4 Might this apply especially to godly leaders or to believers in countries with persecution?
5 We need to be quick to admit our sinfulness to God, to repent when needed.
6 Are we concerned that our actions, or what others are saying about us, might be a stumbling block to other believers?
8 Might believers have to stand alone against families of unbelievers, or even believers, or have to make a stand unpopular within even a Christian family?
9-12 Are our actions/words ever misunderstood, twisted? Think of believers in highly visible positions or positions of leadership, with gossip or constant pressure to compromise. Have we all been gossiped about, or witnessed the effects of gossip on someone else, even within Christian circles?
16-17 Sometimes we are in a situation where we need immediate direction on how to act or react. God promises to give us what when we ask, James 1:5? Pray, believe, then do the best you can and trust God's leading.
22-28 Will the unrighteous ultimately get what they deserve? We may or may not get the satisfaction of seeing it.
28 There are several references to the book of life: Phil. 4:3, Rev. 13:8, 20:15, Luke 10:20, Ps. 139:16. It's unclear if there is more than one book, or how you get in or out of it. Some think that if your name was recorded, then "blotted out," you can lose your salvation. But perhaps all names are in the book of life from the beginning and are blotted out at death if the person has failed to believe. The main idea is that God knows all, from the beginning--nothing slips by Him. He knows each individual, everything he does, and his eternal destination.
32 True believers--those who seek God--should be what?
34-36 We believe the Old Testament prophecies of God's future plans for Israel's glory in the kingdom age. Not until the millenial kingdom will heaven and earth praise Him, 34.
The first thing we notice about this psalm is how short it is.
1 The psalmist is in imminent danger. We would call this type of prayer a "quickie"--"Help!" Sometimes that's all we have time for in a touchy situation.
4 What can a believer rejoice about at a time like this? So even in a time of imminent danger, we can remember that God is in control.
5 Help! Hurry!
1 God is our what? This idea is repeated in many ways.
4 He is concerned about his enemies.
5, 17 The psalmist speaks from the perspective of a lifetime of trusting God.
7-11, 17-20 Do we need to fear the future--the time of decreasing physical strength and old age? God will take his part, even when it looks like all is lost. Were his troubles part of God's plan?
20 His desire for greatness reflects not his ego, but his role as God's anointed king over His nation Israel.
22-24 The role of music in praise. What does he especially praise about God?
A psalm of Solomon, David's son, 1, who succeeded him on the throne of Israel. His reign was characterized by peace and prosperity.
What clues hint that this psalm will find its complete fulfillment in the millenial kingdom?
20 The next group of psalms are not by David; many are by Asaph, Ethan and Korah, who were among the Levites David appointed to be in charge of singing in the temple service, I Chron. 6:31-33, 15:16-17. We will actually have some more by David later.
1 In the Old Testament, living under the blessings and curses of the Law, the righteous were rewarded with physical blessings.
2-3 In what way had the psalmist almost slipped?
4-12 The lot of the wicked appears pretty good sometimes. This didn't make sense to him, because he knew that blessings were promised to those, at least those of Israel, who were following God. Do we sometimes get discouraged because, while following God, we struggle with trials and burdens, but it appears the godless are doing just fine?
13-14 What had been his experience, as a righteous man?
16-17 It bothered him, "until"--here did he find insight? In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us that we can't figure out God's ways by observing life; his conclusion is found in 12:13-14. The only way we can find out and understand what God is doing in this life is to read what He has revealed to us in His Word; trying to get your "theology" from what you see and experience leads onto confusion.
19 What will happen to them? Mat. 6:1-5 tells us that those who live for man's approval, not God's, may get it, but that is ALL they will get.
21-22 What happens when we hold onto bitterness? He equates this bitterness and envy with what, 22?
23-24 He got his priorities right.
25-28 Now that he has considered the matter, this is what he really thinks. As we see in many psalms, David starts out moaning about something, then at the end, gets his eyes back on God. Like David, we may get hung up temporarily on our negative thoughts and feelings, but we see we don't need to stay there.
Is it OK if on this earth things don't go that great, 25-26? Why, 27-28? In 28 he speaks of "good." What is good? Is it what we read in 3-12, or what we read in 23-28? Compare Rom. 8:28--is this speaking of what looks and feels good, or what is good in God's eyes and His Big Plan?
28 Are we more interested in telling of His works or our works? Mat. 6:9 tells us to be more concerned about whose name? 6:10, about whose kingdom, whose will? Is our life to be all about ME, about SELF?
1 Because we have the entire Bible, we know that God has not rejected Israel forever, Deut. 30:1-5, Jer. 31-33, Rom. 9-11, but He did put them out of their land temporarily because of their disobedience and rejection of Him. To them at that time it seemed like forever. Do our troubles sometimes feel like it's the end for us?
3-8 We see the destruction of the temple.
9 There was no prophet to speak God's words to them.
The destruction of the temple did not happen in David's day. This psalm could have been written later by a descendant of Asaph, or it could be prophetic.
12-17 "Yet..." Again we see the psalmist begin by recounting his woes or fears, then making the choice to re-focus on what? Dividing the sea could refer to parting the Red Sea, but "of old" and the context of the next few verses seem to refer farther back, to the judgment of the great flood of Noah's day.
Sea monsters (NASB)/dragons (KJV) and Leviathan could be references to marine-type dinosaurs; after the flood they began to die out due to climate changes, but there are a number of biblical references to them. Leviathan, described in Job 41, was well-known to Job, who probably lived before Abraham, in a time much closer to the post-flood years. Some commentaries say this was a crocodile, but the detailed description is of a great sea dragon.
15 seems to also refer to post-flood effects. 16 speaks of creation, and 17 again refers to the new post-flood boundaries of oceans and continents; what does Gen. 1:9 imply about the original land and water? The original climate appeared to be uniformly temperate--was there rain or storms, Gen. 2:5-6? Possibly there was something like a vapor canopy that might have been the source of the "floodgates of the sky," (NASB) or "windows of heaven," (KJV) Gen. 7:11, as well as protection from ultraviolet rays--might that contribute to the long lifespans of early man? The first mention of seasons, Gen. 8:20-22, follows the flood, which would have caused great changes to the earth as well as atmospheric changes that would impact the climate.
18 What kind of people spurn God?
2, 18-23 The psalmist reminds God of His promises, that Israel is His covenant people. Does God forget His promises and need to be reminded? Or do we say things like this because it helps US to remember what God has promised? If we can't SEE God's plan working out before our eyes, does that mean He is doing anything? We might even think He is waiting to act until we ask Him to. He does tell us to ask, but the Bible also makes it clear that God is always at work, working out His sovereign plan.
1 Who is speaking to whom? Believers are thanking and praising God in 1 and 9-10, while focusing on His judgment of the wicked in 2-8.
2-5 Who is speaking here? An appointed time for what? How does God judge? If there are things we can't understand about God, we can always rest in this fact. What sin in particular is mentioned? What was Satan's sin? Eze. 28:17, Is. 14:13-14. God hates pride.
10 Horns refer symbolically to power, strength. May be a metaphor from the animal kingdom, where animals flaunt their strength, defiance, by lifting their horns.
While the general theme of this psalm is that God is the Judge, and judgment is coming, we see several things that tie this judgment specifically to the tribulation.
3 "The earth and all who dwell in it." If you are familiar with Revelation, you notice the frequent parallel phrase that occurs many times in that book: "those who dwell on the earth." God's judgment at that appointed time is not for those whose citizenship is in heaven, Phil. 3:20, but for those of the godless world system. The church will already have been caught up to heaven; God's wrath is not for the church, Rev. 3:10, but for godless men, and for the purpose of refining, purging and purifying Israel, Dan. 11:35.
6 Which direction is not mentioned? Endtime prophecies in Eze. 38:15, 39:2 and Dan. 11:6-15,40 speak of an enemy attack coming from where? "Exaltation" (NASB) = "promotion" (KJV). A power from the north will attempt to exalt/promote itself.
8 Note the terms "cup...well-mixed...drink...drain...dregs." Compare Rev. 14:10, 16:19, 17:4, 18:6. This is not just one of many judgments God has carried out, 8, but will involve who?
1-2 Who is spoken of here? Zion or Mt. Zion is Jerusalem; Salem is short for Jerusalem. Salem means "peace," Jerusalem means "city of peace."
3 God will be victorious over all man's weapons.
5-6 What happened? Reminds me of Mt. 28:4 and Old Testament stories of how God miraculously brought confusion on the enemy, etc. Also I John 5:19.
10 The wrath of evil men against God and His forces will ultimately work right into God's sovereign plan.
2 Salem is only mentioned here and in connection with Melchizadek, described in Gen. 14:18 as king of Salem (king of "peace") and as priest of God Most High. Later, under the Law given to Moses, priests would be in the line of Levi, and kings would be descendants of David, in the line of Judah. It was impossible to be both, yet Melchizadek was both. He blessed Abram, and Abram gave him tithes. He is spoken of at length in Hebrews 7, where we are told that his name translates as "king of righteousness," he had no father or mother, no genealogy, no beginning or end, and like Christ, remains a priest forever. Many believe he was a theophany--an Old Testament incarnation of the second person of the Trinity (Christ). That idea is supported in this psalm where Salem is mentioned as being the place where God dwells and has His tabernacle.
This was probably a poetic description of some victory in David's day, but we also see prophetic implications. In the millenial kingdom, Christ will dwell in and rule from Jerusalem. He will be known, 1, not marginalized as in today's world. 3-10, compare Zech. 12:1-9. Judgment is mentioned twice, 8-9, in connection with saving ALL the humble (righteous) of the earth. 10 speaks twice of wrath; the Bible speaks of this time as the day of wrath. 11-12 make it clear that at this time, Christ is ruling and is feared now by all nations, unlike today or David's day.
1-4 How does the psalmist feel? Have you ever felt like this? Sometimes we choose to wallow in our feelings and let them control us, but sometimes we are just too weak to deal with them. Might this be describing depression? 5-6 It's not clear if he is remembering God, or remembering "the good old days," perhaps before things were so bad.
7-10 When God is taking us through deep waters, or chastisement, we may feel like this. But is this the way the Bible describes the Lord? Should we believe our feelings, or God's Word? Are feelings the same as facts?
11-15 Now what does he ponder, instead of his troubles? As we see in many psalms, we may feel down, but we don't have to stay there; we can choose to meditate on what we know about the Lord. We can remind ourselves of the power and goodness of the Lord. This is how to follow Psalm 16:8.
16-20 The psalmist may have been recognizing how all nature recognizes, reflects God's power. Or he may be recounting the happenings of the great flood. We see in 19 that currents were known at this early time.
A lengthy recounting of Israel's history.
1-8 Why does this story need to be recounted again? A "dark saying" is something puzzling, a hard question. What does this teach about parents? Do children have to turn out like their parents?
9-11 God had promised Israel victory and success as long as they were obedient, yet they suffered defeat. What three big mistakes did Israel commit?
12-16 Did they have any excuse to forget such things?
17-20 What did they do wrong? Was it wrong to ask for food?
What do we learn about Israel in this Psalm?
Noting especially the first word, what do we learn about God in 23, 38, 52? God often gives us what we do not deserve, just as He does NOT give us what we DO deserve--eternal punishment--if we put our faith in Jesus. If we are not faithful and obedient, does God quit working in our lives? Or is he ALWAYS at work, whether we see Him or not? In the Old Testament, God was often angry at His people because of their sins, 21, 31, 38, 49, 50, 59, 62. Now, when God looks at those who are His, who does he see? Why--what happened at the cross?
Hebrews 3-4 speaks of Israel's problem with unbelief, and warns Christians not to be like them. These are the people who believed God enough to leave Egypt, but not enough to enter the promised land. We see the unbelief of believers--this is the puzzling question of verse 2. The Bible often speaks of Egypt as a symbol of the world (the godless world system), and Hebrews speaks of the promised land as symbolic of God's rest. Many Christians believe God enough to leave the world behind for salvation through faith in Christ. Do many follow the cycle described in this psalm--trying to live with one foot still in the world, not trusting God, not living according to the Bible, not even really knowing the Bible? Do all Christians experience God's peace and rest, or do many go through feeling frustrated and defeated as Christians?
65-72 But now, the writer says, God has pushed back their enemies, and chosen David and his descendants to shepherd His inheritance. Which tribe is the line that will lead to Christ? This is the line that is followed throughout the Old Testament. 72, David didn't always act with integrity, but what DID he have that God values?
1-4 Disobedient and idolatrous Israel suffered the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and captivity, as the prophets had warned.
5 They understood that God was angry with them for a reason and that they were being punished. But they also wanted God to deal with the ungodly nations who oppressed them.
8-9 They understood that repentance was necessary, and humbling themselves before God.
10-12 They knew that their enemies mocked God because of them. They wanted God to vindicate His holy name in the sight of those wicked nations.
13 How do they close their prayer?
Besides the historical setting, we can see prophetic fulfillment in the coming tribulation. The Jews will be persecuted, and most severely in the great tribulation--the last 3 1/2 years, which begins with the abomination of desolation, when the Antichrist desecrates the temple, Dan. 9:27, Mat. 24:15-21. Israel will cry out to God for help against the nations of the world. God will indeed pour out His wrath on the nations, for that will be the day of God's wrath, Zeph. 1:15, Rev. 6:17.
How might this psalm apply to us today as Christians? How does the ungodly world treat Christians? Do we long to see God's justice against evil? Even though we know we are saved, is it still necessary to recognize our sinfulness? Do we need to beg God to forgive our sins, or do we need to thank Him that He already has?
1 In the Bible God is often pictured as a what? And His people as what? Joseph is a reference to Israel. In the Old Testament, where was God's presence? Ex. 25:21-22. The ark of the covenant was kept in the temple's Holy of Holies, which was separated from the Holy Place by a heavy veil or curtain, Ex. 27:33-34. Only the high priest could enter there, once a year, on the day of atonement, Lev. 16:29-34. What happened to this veil at the crucifixion, Mat. 27:50-51? Why?
2-3 In the Old Testament, "save" and "salvation" seem to refer to the deliverance of the nation of Israel from her enemies, not to eternal life as we think of salvation. But when we read of their desire for God's salvation, we can apply that desire equally to ourselves, knowing our need of salvation through Christ alone, not through any efforts of our own.
4-7 We read much more about God's anger in the Old Testament than in the New. What has happened since the Old Testament days that has impacted God's anger toward sin? Israel needed to placate the anger of God; why don't we?
8-13 More symbolic language. In 8 what refers to Israel? What is said about the vine that strongly hints that it is talking about Israel? Mountains and cedars (trees) sometimes refer symbolically to nations, authority, power. We see that in taking the literal interpretation of Scripture, we recognize the use of symbolic language when it is clearly warranted, looking to the Bible itself to interpret those symbols.
"Vine" doesn't always refer to Israel, but Israel is often spoken of figuratively as a vine, Is. 5:7, Hos. 10:1. We are told God is the vinedresser, or the owner of the vineyard, and Jesus is the true vine, John 15:1. Jesus told the parable about how the master of the vineyard chose to pay those he sent out into his vineyard to work it, and another parable about the evil vinegrowers who killed his servants, Mat. 21. Perhaps the vineyard is the world, or God's kingdom, and perhaps vines represent the different nations. We can interpret symbolic language by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Mountains and trees are also used symbolically in the Bible to speak of powers and nations, Is. 2:12-17, Dan. 4:10-12,20-22, Jud. 9:8-15.
14-19 Now we find some foreshadowing of the Messiah being God's Son. The psalmist speaks of the vine in 14; in 15 he then speaks of the "vineyard," KJV, which is translated as "shoot" in NASB. He connects this thought with the "branch" (KJV) which God has strengthened for Himself; NASB translates this as the "son." This is interesting because the Hebrew word used here can be translated either way. Compare these references to Isa. 11:1. Who descended from Jesse, Ruth 4:17,22? Isaiah lived after David, so he can't be speaking of David, but of what descendant of David? Who is spoken of prophetically in Isa. 53? He is described in 53:2 as a tender plant (KJV) or shoot (NASB). Then in Ps. 80:17 we again see the reference to the "son of man," a term applied to Christ. This son is described how, 17? At the second coming of Christ, Israel WILL be revived and restored, as 18-19 prophesy; they will never turn from Him again, His face will shine on them, and they shall indeed be saved.
1-5 We see the use of singing and musical instruments to praise God. The Law gave Israel various feast days to observe.
6 Who is speaking from here to the end of the psalm? 6-7, what aspect of Israel's history is in view? What happened at Meribah, Ex. 17:6-7?
8-10 What were the terms of God's blessings? Under the Law, obedience to God resulted in physical blessings for the nation. We see the term "worship," which today is used to denote the singing in church; is this the meaning here? What does it really mean?
11-14 "But." What did Israel do instead? So what did God do instead? If we want to choose sin, will God keep us from doing that? Even though He forgives us when we repent and confess, might He let us experience the consequences of our sin--reap what we have sown? What would He rather do?
15 In the kingdom, every knee will bow, Ps. 2:12, Isa. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10. Will every heart?
16 God desires to bless Israel abundantly; when will this finally happen?
1 Who is God speaking to or about? Has this happened, or when will it actually happen, or is it speaking figuratively? "Gods" can also be translated "rulers" or "magistrates."
2-4 What kind of judges are they?
5-7 The psalmist addresses the judges. Small-g "gods" could mean they were acting like little gods, or could mean that in a sense, judges take the place of God--the Righteous Judge--before men. 5, what future event is referred to?
8 The psalmist then addresses God. At what future time will God judge the earth and possess the nations?
Verse 6 is quoted by Jesus in John 10:34-36. In 36 we see that the Jews understand the term "Son of God" to mean divine. Jesus is using this example to say that they don't get bothered if they--mere men--are referred to as "gods." So why should they be bothered because He, the actual Son of God, tells them who He is? "The Law" here refers to the Old Testament. Note that "gods" is with a lower case "g." Obviously Jesus is not saying that any humans are gods, can become gods, or equal to God; the Bible does not teach this. In Ps. 82:6, the psalmist is addressing the judges, who in a sense are taking the place of God, the Judge, on earth; God has given men the right to act as judges of other men. The context of the entire psalm is about judging. 7 points out they are really just men, and they had better remember that. If they judge unjustly, what will happen to them?
1-4 Israel has always suffered anti-semitism. Today on the news we hear the sentiment of 4 quite a bit, especially from Israel's Muslim neighbors.
5-8 This particular grouping of enemies has not appeared at any time in history; this is future.
9-12 Israel prays that God will destroy her enemies. In the church age, God has told us to pray for our enemies. But God had not told that to Israel.
13-18 It sounds like these enemies will be defeated by God, not by Israeli military. 16 and 18, what will be known following this defeat from God? Many students of prophecy think this is the next prophecy to be fulfilled; world events indicate that the stage is set and this could happen very soon.
The rapture is a signless event, and no prophesied event MUST happen before the rapture. It will take place before the signing of the 7-year covenant by the beast/antichrist. In the church age, God has temporarily set aside Israel and is dealing with the church. The Psalm 83 war looks as though God is once again dealing with Israel, so it appears that the rapture will probably have already taken place.
1 In the Old Testament, where was God's dwelling place? The mercy seat of the ark, in the Holy of Holies. Where does God's Spirit dwell today in the church age? Eph. 3:17, II Tim. 1:14, I John 4:15.
2-3 Why such longing? They didn't "go to church" every week like we do. The Jews worshiped by offering sacrifices for their sins, which could only be done at the temple, at Jerusalem. Many lived far away and only made the long journey on prescribed feast days.
4 This may be speaking of the Levites who are assigned to carry out the duties of the temple.
5-7 Do we rely on Self, or God? There are blessings for those who trust in God. In that day, the godly man gladly made the journey to Zion (Jerusalem).
8-12 In their day, God's anointed would be the king--David. The Messiah--Christ--is also spoken of as God's anointed, Rev. 22:4. The upright man loved the thought of being at God's house so much that what, 10? Do good Christians always have stress-free lives, 11-12? Remember that God promised physical blessings to Israel, and spiritual blessings to the church, Eph. 1:3.
1-3 Has God restored Israel, covered and forgiven all their sin, withdrawn His fury? When will be the day of His fury--the day of wrath? This is speaking prophetically of the future of Israel.
4-7 When Israel turns to God and accepts their Messiah, these prayers will be answered.
6 The KJV uses "revival" here; the NASB uses the term "revival" also in 71:20 and 80:18, where the KJV uses "quicken." What is called "revival" today, in terms of revival meetings, is completely different and not biblical. God did revive Israel at times, after bringing them as a nation to a place of repentance and turning back to worship and obey the true and living God. This psalm is asking God to restore Israel to the land God promised them and to the place of promised blessing under the Law, on the basis of their sin being forgiven, 1-3.
Revival is an Old Testament concept, referring to the nation of Israel and the land that God promised them. The church does not need reviving; God has already given us everything we need to follow Him and to grow. We have the complete Word of God. We have the Holy Spirit, who indwells us with power; He is not like a battery that runs down regularly and needs recharged once a year. Revivalists often pray for the Holy Spirit to come down, to be poured out; this already happened on Pentecost in Acts 2. God does not leave us when we sin or are faithless or lethargic; it is up to us to get into the Word, to pray, to choose to walk in the Spirit. The New Testament does not teach the church to pray for revival, to pray for a movement of God to change us or do a "new work." It is up to us to respond to what God has already done. The only mention of "revive" in the New Testament is that sin revived, Rom. 7:9, and Christ revived from the dead, Rom. 14:9.
8-9 God's peace is for who? He will save who? For what purpose? Remember, the land referred to in the Old Testament is not the church, not America, but Israel. God has not promised to revive or restore America, contrary to what some teach.
10 What four qualities are required for Israel's restoration? They have not yet recognized God's truth, that His lovingkindness and righteousness come only through whom? God's Messiah, Jesus Christ.
11 When Christ returns, at the end of the tribulation, truth will indeed walk on this earth, and God's righteousness will be poured out.
12-13 Then the nation of Israel will flourish as promised, when Christ reigns on earth in His kingdom, with Israel as its head.
Do we remember to thank God for every blessing we have? Has everything in our lives felt good? If God is in control, why is that? If Rom. 8:28 is true, why does life often not seem good? Whose definition of "good" is the Bible talking about--ours or God's? How might those differ? God's big plan includes our spiritual growth; does that happen mostly when things are going smooth, or when we struggle? When God gives us what we need, in His eyes, our lives will yield fruit.
1-7 Is this psalm about or for Israel? It is a prayer of David, asking God for help. Does he really need to ask God to do these things? Isn't God like this, whether we ask Him to or not? Don't we often ask Him to be with us, or with someone else? Isn't He anyhow? How might we pray instead? Acknowledge that He is, and thank Him! What do we learn about David in these verses? 2, he reminds God that he is a godly man, not out of pride, but because under the Law, God had promised physical blessing and protection to the righteous--to those who obeyed the Law. What important facts do we learn about God in 5? Does David doubt God's promises, 7?
8-10 The other nations served other gods, small "g." What does David say about this in 10? What works might David be referring to in 8 and 10? 9 is prophetic--when will this finally happen?
11 God does what and we do what? If we do not walk in the truths we know, it's not likely He will teach us more. How does God teach us? John 16:13-15, where are the things of Jesus found, that He will teach us about? If we want the Holy Spirit to clarify God's Word to us, we need to be reading it. Why does David's "heart" need uniting? Does God want all of us, or is He satisfied with just part of us?
12-13 Do we have an attitude of gratitude? "Glorify" means to make weightier, heavier, more glorious; how can we do this toward God? This mirrors the Lord's Prayer, Mat. 6:9. Whose name is to be glorified--mine or His? Sheol is the grave; David's life had been endangered many times. When God has delivered us from certain death, or hopeless trouble, what results when we share that with others?
14-17 David prays about these same troublemakers that we keep reading about--he had many enemies. Who is our enemy? Those who are in his camp are often characterized by what, 14? The end of 14 contrasts with Ps. 16:8. What facts do we learn about God in 15? 16, is David impressed with his own status? He likens himself to what? What is the "sign" God has given us, 17, that we can share with others? Some like to talk about what "sign" they are born under--our "sign" is the Cross.
1-7 What location is special to God? We don't see the word "Jerusalem" but it is identified by Zion, the city of God, the holy mountain. 4, Rahab represents Egypt, the southern power, and Babylon the northern power. What will God do to this city, 5? How did the Jews feel about this city, 7?
1-2 What is the mood of the psalmist, Heman? This is the only psalm he penned; there are several references to Heman, and he appears to be one of King David's seers, or wise men, as well as a musician in the temple. We don't know much about him, or why he feels this way--but what does Heman know? Many commentators think he may suffer from depression--for more on this, see http://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/psalm-88-for-my-soul-is-full-of-troubles/.
3-5 The possibility of death is or seems real, such as in Jeremiah's experience of being thrown into the cistern, Jer. 38. Or perhaps, wishing for death seems better than what's going on in life: an ongoing trauma, an ongoing or worsening health situation, or...? Deep depression may lead to preoccupation with thoughts of death. Sheol = the grave.
6-7 Did God put him in the "pit"? Maybe, or maybe it just feels like it. If he is a believer, does God's wrath rest on him? Or does it just feel like it? Is God afflicting him? Or does it just feel like it? Are feelings the same as facts? Yet don't we often allow our feelings to control us? Where do we find the facts we should believe? What if our feelings are at odds with the facts in the Bible? Why do we like to blame someone for what is going on?
8-9 These verses could imply some horrible health or physical condition, such as Job's.
10-12 If death indeed awaits him, he questions how that could possibly glorify God. In the Old Testament, Christ had not yet come to earth, died, and arose to heaven where we will join him upon our death; for the New Testament believer, we know that death is just the door to something much better, II Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:21-23. Heman overlooked what God had revealed to His people, as early as Job's day, Job. 19:25-27. This knowledge of the resurrection of the saints was also confirmed through the prophets, Is. 26:19, Dan. 12:2,13. Heman's deep melancholy led him to dramatize death and wallow in the negative rather than focus on the facts that God had provided in order to give us hope.
13 In spite of his sense of hopelessness, he knows that, as in verse 1, his one hope is to do what? In 1, when does he pray? When in 13? What else do we always have as a strong resource besides prayer? In God's Word, He speaks to us; in prayer, we respond to Him. We need a balance of both; many neglect God's Word, and hope to "hear" from Him through some subjective experience.
14 Heman was obviously a believer; did God really reject him, or did it just FEEL that way? DID God hide His face from him? In the Old Testament, believers were not promised the indwelling Holy Spirit, so they did not always have His presence with them. Even though New Testament Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit, why might God allow us to not FEEL His presence? II Cor. 5:7. If we have believed on Jesus for salvation, we can hold onto Heb. 13:5b--but does it say we will always FEEL His presence? If our feelings tell us otherwise, we need to exercise faith and thank God that He IS with us, that He has promised to always be with us, and that He IS working out His plan, His will. The Lord's Prayer says, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," Mat. 6:10. God's sovereign will--His plan for the Big Picture--is being carried out in heaven. On earth, He has given mankind free will; we can choose to do God's will or not. We can ask Him to help us do His will, and to help others we are praying for. The Bible tells us how God wants us to live--that is His will on earth. It is not a big mystery to search out, as some teach--we do not need to look for subjective signs or feelings to know His will for us.
15 Heman's affliction and terrors have been going on for most of his life.
16-18 In his deep affliction, he is overwhelmed with feelings of abandonment, by God and others. In our trials, sometimes friends are not understanding, or helping, or even present. Your spouse may not be there for you, may add to your troubles, or may be gone. Why might God remove the comfort of friend and spouse? Prov. 18:24, sometimes we are fortunate to have a friend like this, but who is it really speaking of? Will we truly learn to appreciate this truth if we have people around us to meet our needs?
15 "From my youth," something ongoing that Heman can't escape from: a physical or mental affliction, a negative family situation that doesn't improve, something he did that left ongoing consequences, something that happened to him earlier in life that has affected or scarred him, etc.
This psalm doesn't end with a positive attitude about God, but we do see that Heman hangs onto his faith in God and continually prays, 1, 13. Parts of this psalm could seem like the lament of Job or Jeremiah, a leper, or even be prophetically speaking of Christ's feelings at the darkness of the crucifixion. Although the Old Testament covenant promised physical blessings for obedience to God, we see no health/wealth gospel here. God allowed Satan to torment Job and did not explain to him why it was happening, or what was going on behind the scenes between God and Satan; we know that God was proving to Satan that Job would stay faithful to Him no matter how hard Satan made his life. In the New Testament Christians are promised tribulations: John 16:33, Acts 14:22, II Cor. 1:5, Phil. 1:29-30, I Thes. 3:3, II Tim. 3:12, I Pet. 4:12-19. But we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to give us peace and comfort, John 14:16,26-27, 15:26, 16:7.
This is the one psalm written by Ethan.
1-4 What two qualities of God are mentioned in 1 and 2? How did He reveal them, 3-4? This psalm is about the Davidic covenant.
5-18 About God's character. When you feel like Psalm 88, and can't think one positive thought, read sections like this. Get clear in you mind who God is; it will help you see your situation in proper context. When there is nothing to rejoice in, why can we still rejoice, 14 and 16? What description is repeated in 5 and 8? God is Lord over His creation and over Israel's enemies ("Rahab" often refers symbolically to Egypt). A word that has been overused today is "awesome"--only God is awesome, 7. Dominionists/Kingdom Now say Christ is reigning NOW on His throne, and we have the kingdom on earth NOW, but we clearly do not see 14 in this so-called kingdom now.
19-29 About God's promises to David. But did this mean that these blessings and victories were handed to David? No, he had to do things, and struggle, and we see that his struggles were often pretty intense. What is one way God spoke to people in those days, 19? God is what, 24? This covenant extends how long, 28? Israel must reign on earth in the future, in the millenial kingdom, or this is false.
In the Old Testament, we often see the emphasis on the coming kingdom, in which Israel and her Messiah will rule. Which descendant of David is the Bible about, who will ultimately sit on that throne? So we see David as a type of Christ, and this psalm as messianic prophecy. Note the clues in 26-27, "You are My Father," and "I shall make Him my firstborn." Compare Rom. 8:29 and Col. 1:15. David's throne will exist forever, as the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and later to David. Israel's future hope was earthly rather than heavenly; we don't see an emphasis on heaven. Apparently the kingdom will not end after the thousand years, but go on forever on the new earth, with Christ ruling over it. The church's hope is a spiritual hope--eternal life--with our future eternal home being the New Jerusalem, the city that descends from heaven following the creation of the new heaven and the new earth, Rev. 21:1-2.
30-37 If-then-but(nevertheless)-nor. 35, God will not what? For how long, 36-37?
38-51 Perhaps this lament was written at a time when David's enemies appeared to be overwhelming him. Are the charges he makes against God true? God promised the outcome; did He promise that along the way, everything would go perfectly smooth? Why does He allow struggles and pain? Didn't He originally create a perfect world? Why is it now full of trials and pain? What did God do about that to give us a way through this mess? Ultimately we know God's sovereign will does happen, and we look forward to heaven, but we are promised trials and tribulations along the way, that we might learn what?
Because we have seen that this psalm has prophetic elements, we can see 38-51 picturing Christ on the cross, when His enemies appeared to be victorious; God turned His back temporarily while Christ bore the sins of the world.
52 Compare with 38-51. In spite of how things look or feel, in spite of what is happening, can we still say this? Why? Compare Job 1; what was Job's response in 1:21? What two repeated words give a focus to this psalm? One is found in 1,2,14,24,28,33,49; the other is found in 1,2,5,8,24,33,49. It is God's faithfulness that keeps us saved--not our faithfulness, II Tim. 2:13.
The only psalm composed by Moses. He authored the first five books of the Bible, including the story of creation, the fall and the flood--information either passed down from Adam and his descendants, or revealed to Moses by God. In this psalm, Moses looks at the main events in God's "big picture" of time throughout the ages.
1-2 Who is this psalm about, 1? Is Moses subscribing to some mythological-type god that gave birth to creation? No, this is a poetic way of expressing what the Bible clearly teaches. How did God create? By His word. When did God originate?
3-4 Moses begins by referencing creation; what important event in Gen. 3 does he now refer to? Death entered the world. "Return" implies what? Thousand-year life spans refer to what time period?
Where else is 4 quoted or paraphrased? II Peter 3:8. This verse is often used to support the day/age interpretation of Genesis 1. Does either passage say 1 day = 1000 years? It is not a mathematical formula. What does "like/as" mean? (These words are especially important when interpreting Revelation.) Here it also says it's like a watch in the night, a different length of time--4 hours. Even if we could say that the Bible teaches 1 day = 1000 years, it does not help match up Genesis with evolution. You need one day to equal millions of years, and the biblical order of events does not match evolutionary order: what would happen if plants, Gen. 1:11, were created millions of years before the sun, 1:14, or even one year?
What does 4 teach about God's view of time vs. ours? God is not time-oriented, He is eternal--past, present and future all at the same time. We are finite creatures of time. What seems long to us is brief to God; we think our life seems long, and that living for 1,000 years would be unbelievably long. Were the "great" life spans from Adam to the flood long in the big picture?
5-6 Here is more evidence that Moses was just referring to those who lived before the flood; what happened to them? They all died in the flood, except for whom? Again Moses uses a simile: their lives are like what?
7-12 Moses appears to be speaking now of the present; 7-9 picture what about the children of Israel that he led? By this time, men's life spans are like today. (Moses himself lived longer than the average--120 years.) Was life full of joy and pleasure and time for "ME"? What IS life to be about, 11-12?
13 Now Moses looks forward to what promised event? Did he know how long it would be? From our perspective, much later in history, the Messiah has already come, the price for sin has been paid, but we too look for Him to come and catch us up to meet Him in the air. Do we know how long it will be? The New Testament tells believers to wait expectantly for Him, and to be on the alert.
14-17 When will these things ultimately happen? They may happen in small doses during our earthly lives, but in the kingdom and then eternity they will be completely fulfilled. Does 15 promise that for however many years God has brought you trials, He will give you an equal length of good years? Some teach this as a form of the prosperity gospel, along with Joel 2:25, applying Israel's promises of physical blessing to the church (who is promised spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3). If this were true, we might expect God to give us what we think we "deserve." Instead, God wants us to love, trust and walk with Him, regardless of whether there is anything in it for us, Job 13:15. This prayer is their desire, and will be fulfilled in the kingdom age. It is also our desire; sometimes God does this for us, but it is not a promise to the church.
So for us, what is the basic message of this psalm? Understand the difference between our view of time and God's; make the best use of the time God has given to us.
This psalm is a favorite of many. We will look at it on four levels: David's day, Israel's future, the Messiah, and application to us (the church).
David and his people were Israelites. God had given them the Law, with its blessings and curses, all conditional on their obedience to the Law of God ("if you...then I will...").
1-2 Who is this psalm for? Is it addressed to all Israel, as so many psalms are? What is implied by the words "dwell" and "abide"? Those who are true believers, who are trusting in God.
3-4 God had promised Israel His care and protection as long as they were obedient.
5-10 Israel's enemies would not prevail over them when they were obeying God, even if the enemy had superior numbers. God would fight for them. We read many instances of this in the Old Testament.
11-13 What do we learn here about angels? Keep (KJV) = guard (NASB). Does this say there is an angel specifically assigned to each believer? There may be, but the Bible does not specifically say that. God will even protect them from dangerous animals.
14-16 Under the Law, Israel was promised prosperity, blessings and long life in exchange for obedience. In the Old Testament, salvation, 16, generally referred to God's deliverance of their nation from its enemies.
We see clues in this psalm of something more than their present danger and salvation. In 5-10, we see references to pestilence, darkness, destruction, the recompense of the wicked, evil, and plagues. Who might the trapper be, 3? Note the repeated reference to the lion and the serpent; who does that picture? Gen. 3:1, I Pet. 5:8. Jesus told of persecution coming to those who would follow Him, and ultimately, the seven years of tribulation; Matt. 10:17-42, especially 17 and 21. Apparently there will be bounty hunters looking for Jews and Christians. 11-13, angels will have a special ministry then? Revelation describes much angelic activity, by angels both good and evil.
This psalm speaks of God's supernatural protection, yet we know that many Jews and Christians will be martyred during the seven years of tribulation. So who can claim this promise of protection? Revelation speaks of 144,000 who are sealed and apparently set aside for God's purposes with supernatural protection; perhaps this psalm is about them. 16, perhaps "long life" refers to them being among the few to come through the tribulation alive, to go into the millenial kingdom in their natural bodies. They will "behold My salvation"--they will see Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation, to set up His earthly kingdom.
The Messiah: a messianic psalm.
Satan knew this psalm was about Jesus and he quoted it as part of his attempted temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Mat. 4:6 and Luke 4:10. Did he quote all of 11-12? Are the angels to guard us from every foolish and foolhardy thing we try, or are they to guard the way of the person who living like v1-2? Jesus was obeying the Father completely, not going off on tangents. Because Jesus was perfectly fulfilling 1-2, He was completely under God's protection described in this psalm. Was Jesus at the mercy of His enemies, or were they acting within the plan and will of God? Who is His ultimate enemy, as we saw above in 3 and 13? Satan knows and quotes Scripture; what does this mean for us? Scripture can be used deceptively. One of his popular devices is to add to it or leave out, or use out of context, compare Gen. 3:1-5.
Application to church-age believers.
1-2 Where else do we read about abiding? Compare John 15:1-7. Abide = dwell, remain. Christians abide "in" Him and He abides "in" us in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, promised only to those believers in the dispensation of the church.
3 For us, who is that trapper (NASB) or fowler (KJV)--who is our enemy? 13, what does I Pet. 5:8 warn us of?
4 Seek refuge (NASB) = trust (KJV). This is a beautiful and comforting picture of God's gentle loving care, picturing a mother hen; compare Matt. 28:37. His what is our strong protection? Truth (KJV) = faithfulness (NASB). Where do we find God's truth? We need to be in God's Word, filling our minds with His truth and understanding where that conflicts with man's ideas of truth.
5-10 Is the church promised physical blessings and complete protection in exchange for obedience? No, we are not under the Law with its "if...then" conditional blessings (and curses). We are living in the dispensation of grace, not law. Believers are not promised safe-keeping through danger, but God CAN do this if He chooses. What fate awaited many of the apostles as well as many faithful Christians through the years? A failure to understand the different dispensations described in the Bible has caused many to doubt God's love, power and goodness as they see "bad" things happening in their lives. Health/wealth or prosperity teachers falsely teach that Christians who have no unconfessed sin and who entertain no thoughts of doubt WILL experience the physical blessings promised to Israel under the Law; this teaching is often called "word of faith" because you must guard your mind and mouth to only speak words of faith, not of doubt. These teachings of physical blessing are not repeated to the church; rather, we are warned to expect what, John 16:33?
Yet even though this is not a blanket promise for the church, we all know that God leads, guides and protects us, often seemingly miraculously. When we struggle with fear, we look to this psalm for comfort. We are to throw ourselves upon His mercy. Yet we must not take these as blanket promises, or we will find ourselves struggling to hold onto our faith when trials do come. Why does God bring trials in our lives? So that we learn to do what, II Cor. 5:7? God wants us to learn to trust Him; do we learn this best when everything is going smooth?
11-12 Why do we need angels to guard us if we have the indwelling Holy Spirit? Are these His duties? Compare John 14-16.
14 Because the church is promised spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3, we can see Israel's promise of physical and national deliverance as picturing our promise of deliverance from sin and death because we know Christ as Savior. We may suffer in this life, but we look forward to eternal life with Him, II Cor. 4:17.
This psalm was for the sabbath day; God gave Israel the sabbath day--a day of rest--as a sign between them and God, to commemorate what key event? This was the defining event of the Old Testament, the event by which they defined who the true and living God was--the Creator. What was the significance of the day of rest being on the seventh day of the week? What is the defining event of the New Testament? What day of the week did it happen? This is why the church has chosen to meet on the first day of the week, although it is never commanded; it is interesting that Jesus did not repeat the commandment to keep the sabbath any longer, even though He did repeat the other nine commandments. Heb. 4:8-11 tells us that the sabbath rest has been fulfilled in Jesus--that because of what He did, we can rest from works, for we are saved by grace alone through faith alone.
1 Singing is a way to give God what and what? Today singing is presented as worship; the Bible never presents worship as connected with singing, but rather as yielding to God, serving Him, falling down before Him.
2 In our singing, praising and giving thanks, the focus is to be on Him--what He is like, what He has done, and what He is going to do, not on how "I" feel or what "I" am doing for Him or going to do for Him, as we find in much contemporary Christian music.
3 The psalmist mentions the common instruments of his day. Lute: stringed, pear-shaped body, 6-13 sets of strings, a neck with frets and pegs for tuning. Lyre: like a small harp.
4 Music helps us express what? Again, we see that we ought to sing about what?
5 Why is it hard for us to figure out or fathom God's plans and purposes? Is understanding everything about God necessary in order to put our faith in Him?
6 Human knowledge and understanding are available to all, but can the unrighteous--the unsaved--understand God's truths? I Cor. 2:11-16. Rom. 1:18-32 tells about the downward spiral into ignorance and sin of those who reject the knowledge of God. All have faith enough to believe in Him, but true wisdom and knowledge come through Christ, Prov. 1:7.
7 The psalmist goes on to speak of the unsaved; the Bible does not use the term "wicked" to refer only to the most evil of people, but as a term to describe unbelievers. "Righteous" and "wicked" are not terms that describe two extremes, with a large group in the middle in a "gray area." There are only believers/righteous and unbelievers/wicked, as far as God's judgment is concerned. What does 7 say about how rare the wicked man is? This is not saying that the wicked were created only for the purpose of eternal destruction; the rest of the Bible does not support that idea. It seems to be describing their end, following up on the idea of 6. Yet their end WILL be what? Which is why we are to go out and share what news?
8-9 Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the wickedness of the world, and it seems like "they" are "winning." But the Bible assures us otherwise. Are we to trust feelings and appearances, or the facts of God's Word? God's plans WILL prevail. 7-9 could be speaking of God giving Israel victory at that time over her enemies.
10 It could be, based on 10, that the author is David, but we don't know for sure; prophets and priests were also anointed. "Horn" is used as symbolic of power.
11 We have trouble identifying with the psalmist's feeling toward his enemy, but in the Old Testament, God had not commanded His people to love their enemies, but rather to defeat and even wipe out those wicked and idolatrous enemies who had rejected the knowledge of the true and living God. They were commanded not to intermarry with them or compromise with them in any way. When Jesus came, He commanded that we are to love our friends and enemies alike and that now men were to leave vengeance to God.
12-14 The psalmist has talked about the wicked man; now who does he talk about? The wicked flourish like what? But the righteous flourish like what and what? What is the psalmist's point? Which yields fruit--grass or a palm tree?
15 What is the witness of the righteous? Don't the unsaved, and sometimes even Christians, accuse God of being unjust and unloving? If circumstances, or even just our feelings, lead us to think that, do we believe in feelings and appearances, or God's Word?
The first line of 1 gives the time this psalm speaks of--when will the Lord reign? The rest of 1 confirms the kingdom setting. 2 speaks of His throne. Comparing the flood comments of 3-4 to Ps. 98:7, we see the context there (4-9) is about nature praising Him with their noise, as in song. Floods here could reference rivers or the sea (see Strong's). His testimonies--His words, as recorded in the Bible--are sure (KJV), confirmed (NASB). Everything has been fulfilled as prophesied. His house would be the millenial temple.
In David's day, 1-2 recognize God's sovereignty over Israel; 3-4 could be a reminder of the great flood of Noah's day, the greatest show of God's power recorded in the Old Testament. David often sang of God's house--the tabernacle, where God met with them at the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, in the Holy of Holies.
For the church, we are reminded of God's strength and power; we strive to allow Him to reign in our lives. We are reminded of His eternal nature--He is not limited by time as we are. When we see flood waters or ocean waves, we are given just a glimpse of God's awesome power. Is God's "house" located in our local church buildings today? Where does God dwell today--where does He desire holiness? I Cor. 6:19-20
Again we will look at this psalm on several levels; first, David's day.
1-7 The psalmist probably is speaking of Israel's enemies. 3, what do they wonder? It probably looked pretty bad at times. 7, do the pagan nations have any respect for Israel's God?
8-11 The psalmist reminds the people of the nations that God indeed sees everything they do; is anything hidden from Him? Does God deal with nations? 10 uses "chasten" along with "rebuke." What does 9 say about the creation/evolution debate?
12-13 Chastise includes the ideas of punish, instruct, correct, teach; here it is used along with "teach." Do you think the psalmist is talking here about God's dealing with Israel's enemies, or with Israel?
14 The Bible teaches this in both the Old and New Testaments. Might they have FELT otherwise? This fact is important to our interpretation of the Bible. Some teach that God is through with Israel and now all the Old Testament promises to Israel are to the church; this is called replacement theology--the church has replaced Israel in God's plans. But the Bible teaches that God has only set Israel aside temporarily, and will indeed fulfill all His promises to her. Dan. 9's timeline of the 70 "weeks" (70 sevens--of years) tells that after the 69th week, there is a gap of an unspecified period of time, then God completes His plan when the 70th week begins. That "gap" of time, of unknown length, is the church age; while Israel is temporarily set aside, God is dealing with the church. When the church age ends, when we are caught up at the rapture, the 70th week begins--the seven years of the tribulation.
17-18 What had God promised to do for Israel as long as they were following the Law?
19 Did people of David's day struggle with anxiety? How did they manage, without modern psychology?
20-23 Would their enemies prevail? Would God judge their enemies?
1-7 What words in this section seem to point to the time when God pours out His wrath on evil? The seven years of tribulation will be a time of great horror; 5, what awaits Jews and those who become Christians after the rapture? What will characterize that time? Violence and death, especially to those who are less able to escape whatever is going on.
8-11 The godless of that day, more than those of any other time, can be called what and what, 8? God will allow great evil to take place, but does that mean He doesn't see or can't do anything about it? It may appear that way to those at that time, both believers and unbelievers. 10, God is a God who teaches, but will this be a time of teaching? Is God going to be nervous about what goes on on earth then, or is He in total control? The plans of evil men may appear to be prevailing, but how do they compare to God's plan, 11?
12-15 What group of people is being chastened/taught by God at that time? Dan. 11:35, speaking of Israel. The purification of Israel is one of the two purposes of the tribulation, the other being the pouring out of God's wrath on evil men. 14, will Israel be destroyed at that time by those seeking to destroy her? 15, the tribulation will be followed by what period of time, that will be characterized by righteous judgment?
16-23 Jews will be targeted for destruction like at no other time in history. Yet Israel will see God working on their behalf. Israel will turn to God at this time, and at the second coming, they will finally recognize and accept their Messiah. What will happen at the end of the tribulation, 23? Compare Rev. 19:19-21.
Application to us--the church
1-7 When we see evil prevail, is there anything wrong with desiring to see justice done? Are we to take vengeance into our own hands, or are we to wait patiently for God's vengeance on evil? Are we righteous enough to rightly judge others? Who is? Here in the Old Testament, we see the emphasis on God's vengeance on the wicked, but what has God revealed in the New Testament that our attitude toward the unsaved should be? We ought to do what for them? Are there some people that we really hope won't receive God's forgiveness, which we ourselves have received? Does it sometimes feel to us like God is looking the other way, that we too cry out "how long?" WILL it be made right one day? Are we guaranteed the satisfaction of seeing it? But there is nothing wrong or unchristian about a righteous desire to see right done and wrong punished.
8-11 God will do what and what? To just nations, or to individuals also? Without God, is our knowledge worth much? How important is man, really? Can we hide our wrong thoughts from God? Can we fool Him?
12-16 When God chastens us, is that bad/negative, 12? Even if it FEELS bad? How can it be a blessing? When we pray and ask God to teach us, do we realize that His answer may be in the form of chastening? Compare Heb. 12:5-6. Does it sometimes FEEL like He has abandoned us? Is that feeling a fact? Where are the facts found? We can be confident that no matter what has happened, God will make everything right one day, 15--in His time, in His way. Do we need to take vengeance into our hands, or force open the door of justice that seems to stay closed? What is the answer to 16?
17-23 The slipping foot here may have slipped in sin, or slipped in dangerous footing; is it the end of the world? Anxiety is one of the big problems people face today; what is the Bible's answer? Where do we find this consolation? Compare II Cor. 10:5, Phil. 4:6-8. Do we have to let our feelings control us? Very bad things may happen in this life, 21, but what? What will He do about it?
1-2 What ought we to do? Joy mentioned how many times? Christians through all ages are to do this.
3-5 Life isn't always conducive to feelings of joy. Is joy based on our circumstances? Is it different than happiness? So why should we do (1-2)? The Old Testament stresses God's identity as Creator--creation was the defining act of the Old Testament.
6-7a What term is used with "worship"? These two words often used together as synonymous, defining worship for us. Other terms frequently used with "worship" are yield, serve and sacrifice. Is worship, in the biblical sense, a group activity or an individual one? Must we physically kneel, or does kneeling picture bowing the heart, yielding Self, before God? 6, Israel bowed and kneeled before God, and believers today worship Him; only in the earthly kingdom will all (believers and unbelievers alike) bow before Him, Phil. 2:10. "For"--and we do this why? The Bible often uses the picture of God the Shepherd and us the sheep. What do we see in that picture?
7b-11 7b and 8 speak about God (His); 9-11 are God speaking (Me/I). In 8, "harden" could also be "to be dense"--what does this tell us? Provocation (KJV) = at Meribah (NASB). The day of temptation (KJV) = the day of Massah (NASB). Did all individuals in the nation of Israel obey God, in the days of Moses? In David's day? Will they in the tribulation? Just because Israel is God's chosen nation doesn't mean all were saved; He chose Israel to be the nation through whom He revealed Himself to the world, by giving them the Law and the prophets. 10, grieved with (KJV) = loathed (NASB). Why did God feel this way about that particular generation, so that He allowed them all to die in the wilderness without entering the Promised Land--the land of rest?
This section is quoted in Heb. 3:7-11, with the application for the church in 3:12-19 through 4:11. The writer of Hebrews is talking to Hebrew (Jewish) believers, who were tempted to look backwards to Judaism and moving farther from Christ rather than growing in their faith and knowledge of Christ. The Israelites had enough faith to put the blood on their doorposts and leave Egypt (the godless world system), but that generation did not exercise their faith to believe God would provide for them, in spite of His miracles, so they did not enter the land of rest. Likewise, many Christians put their faith in the shed blood of Christ; do all, after salvation, continue to exercise faith for daily living? Those who rely on their own works never enter in God's rest--the rest from works, 4:10. This results from not knowing God's Word and spending time in it. The psalmist warns the Israelites of David's day not to fall into the error of their forefathers, but to hear His voice--to obey God's Word.
1-6 Is this psalm addressed to Israel? What phrases identify the intended audience, in 1,3,5,7,9,10,11,13? What are they to do, 1-2 and 2-3? 4-5, had all the nations worshiped God in the past? Christ will rule unchallenged from Jerusalem over the entire earth for 1,000 years, instituting the righteous kingdom that the world has always desired and never had.
7-8 What are all people to do? 8, the Bible speaks of sacrifices again being instituted in the millenial temple, apparently looking back to the cross, just as Old Testament sacrifices looked forward to the cross, anticipating the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world.
9 What are all people to do? What does worship mean? What word is also used in this verse to give an idea of what attitude is involved in worship?
10 Only in the millenial kingdom can this truly be said. Today the kingdom is only in the hearts of believers--the spiritual kingdom. When He reigns, will He resort to the base practices that have characterized every other kingdom of the past? All the earth will be established on a firm foundation--the Rock.
11-12 What rejoices here? The Bible says that in the kingdom, the curse of sin will be partially lifted, and the earth will be fertile and productive.
13 Why will the earth rejoice? Judgment here is a positive thing, not a negative; everything will be made right. The day of God's wrath has passed (the tribulation).
Although this psalm speaks of the future, there is much here for us to learn about the Lord: His salvation, His glory and power, He is Creator, He alone is to be worshiped, He is a righteous judge, He is faithful. These themes are repeated many times throughout the Bible. What is to be our response to these facts?
1-6 What time period do you see pictured here? The second coming. Islands/isles/coastlands (depending on your translation) refer to the Gentile nations. (We can know this by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and letting Scripture interpret itself. Compare Is.42:1-4 with Jesus quoting it in Mat. 12:17-21.) Today there are actually people claiming to be Jesus, and many who believe and follow them. But the Bible makes it clear that when He comes, there will be very obvious signs, especially His glory.
7-9 Today graven images are not as common but people still worship them. Are there other false gods besides graven images? All powers, whether false gods (demons) or angels, will worship and before Him.
10-12 Many believers will die during the persecution of the tribulation, but some will still be alive at the second coming. These will be the citizens of the kingdom; the wicked who aren't killed when Christ returns, Rev. 19: 19-21, will be removed alive for judgment, Mat. 13:36-43, 47-50.
For believers reading this psalm today, the Lord is to reign in our lives; "hallowed by Thy name, not mine...Thy kingdom come, not mine...Thy will be done, not mine." We are reminded of His what and what, 6? We are reminded to have no other gods before Him, and to examine our lives to see if we have anything that vies for His place. When we are discouraged by the evil around us, we are reminded that one day righteousness and justice will prevail, that God takes care of us--we are taught to pray that He deliver us from temptation and evil. We can be glad and give thanks, for who He is and what He has done, no matter what our circumstances.
1-3 What has God apparently done for Israel? Remember that in the Old Testament, salvation generally speaks of military deliverance and saving. This victory is obvious to all the surrounding nations.
4-9 Israel's rejoicing is expressed by various musical instruments as they sing, and reflected in the majesty of God's creation. They express faith that God, the righteous judge, will continue to do right for all peoples on earth.
1-3 When does God truly gain the victory, reveal His righteousness to the nations, fulfill His promises to Israel, and all the ends of the earth see this? At the second coming.
4-6 There has never been a time when all the earth will sing and shout praises to the Lord and recognize Him as King. That is future.
7-10 The earth itself will rejoice at His coming, for many Old Testament passages tell how the curse will be partially lifted and the earth will flourish in the millenial kingdom. 9 tells us the kingdom is just ahead; at that time Christ will rule the earth, the world, the peoples as the righteous Judge and King. Mat. 25 explains that before the kingdom begins, Christ will judge those left alive at the end of the great tribulation to find who will enter the kingdom (the righteous) and who will be removed from the earth (the unrighteous).
Application for us:
1 certainly applies to us as Christians. 2, the New Testament presents salvation as for forgiveness of sin by faith in Christ alone, who was revealed in the days He walked the earth and was crucified and rose again. This knowledge is there for all the nations to see, and Paul's teachings make it clear that the Jews no longer have a monopoly on God but now the Gentiles (the nations) are part of what God is doing--calling out the church as the body of Christ.
3 And yet Paul also makes it clear, as does the Old Testament, that God is not yet done with Israel but has a future for His covenant people--all the promises He made to them will be fulfilled. And all the earth is being reaching for Christ through missionary endeavors. The Bible also tells us that the creation itself is a witness to all the peoples of the earth of who God is, Rom. 1:18-20. Some believe that the constellations, and even the 12 signs of the zodiak, were originally given as pictures to man of God's plan of salvation, as reminders, to keep man from forgetting what he should be passing down from generation to generation. From Virgo (virgin birth) to Leo (king reigns).
4-6 This is one of many reminders in Psalms that all men are to praise Him. God has given us the gift of music--singing and the ability to invent musical instruments to praise Him more joyfully.
7-9 God's greatness is pointed to by creation itself; our response is to be praise and joy. Even within the literal interpretation, we can all recognize the use of metaphors and personification; this does not argue against interpreting the Bible literally.
10 When we feel discouraged by the evil in our world and by many things we don't understand, we take hope in the knowledge that God is indeed the righteous judge. He will do what is right in the long run--we don't have to see or know how He will do it. We are to trust His Word. We can know that He is indeed coming again, and only at that time will this world function the way God originally intended.
1 Should we see God as our buddy? The Bible uses the picture of King. How does that help us understand how we should relate to Him? In the Old Testament, where was God's presence to be found? Ex. 25:8-22, 26:30-34. Today, in the church age, do we have to go to church to meet with God? John 14:17,20, Rom. 8:11.
What word describes God in 3, 5, and 9? Kind of like a closing refrain at the end of three sections. What else is said just before each? Just before that description, each time, what are we told to do?
In David's day, God ruled over Israel through His anointed king, 1. He was exalted and worshiped in Israel. Today, in the church age, He reigns over His people--all believers--in a spiritual kingdom. Following the second coming, Christ will physically reign over the entire physical earth--over all nations, and all will exalt, praise and worship Him (at least, outwardly). What do we learn in this psalm about what His reign will be like?
An easy psalm to memorize!
This is what Israelites were to do when they came to the temple--what parts of the temple mentioned here let us know this? Should we apply these concepts in the church age? What else should go on at church, Acts 2:42?
We are His people: who is the psalmist talking to and about? These things are true for all believers, and will be ultimately fulfilled in the millenial kingdom. What does 3 say about evolution? The Bible clearly identifies God as Creator.
There are several ways to look at this Psalm: 1)David in his earlier years, 2)David in his later years, 3)application for us, and 4)prophetic of Christ in His coming kingdom.
1)David may be speaking of what he plans to do when he becomes king; Saul pursued him for years after Samuel anointed him as the future king. 2 may speak of looking forward to the time when the Holy Spirit would come upon him as God's anointed; in the Old Testament believers were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit, but He came upon kings, prophets, etc. with power for the duration of their appointed role. He speaks of his house, dwelling with him, ministering to him, the city of the Lord (Jerusalelm)--apparently speaking of his palace. 2, blameless/perfect does not mean sinless, which is impossible, but rather, the way of integrity. In contrast to wicked Saul, how does David plan to run things? What kind of people will he be looking for? If this was indeed the time frame, how did David measure up to his promises of integrity? He began well, but what happened? We need to be careful in making promises to God or others; we don't truly know how sinful our hearts actually are.
David's vow to cut off and destroy the wicked is not out of line with what God commanded His people in the Old Testament. Evil was to be rooted out. When Jesus came on the scene, He had a new message--love your enemy, pray for the evil person, repay evil with good. But this was not God's approach to evil under the dispensation of Law. Evil was not to be tolerated. Now in the church age, we are under the dispensation of grace; God has given the church a different set of instructions than He gave Israel. As king, it would be David's responsibility before God to maintain spiritual purity in Israel. He does not see this as inconsistent with his vow to engage in what two things, 1?
2)Perhaps David wrote this later after his great sin with Bathsheba. We would like to think this is his renewed vow of righteousness. But by then, as he reaped what he had sown, such high ideals were pretty unrealistic. When we stumble and sin and repent, how does that affect our witness to others, including our children and grandchildren?
3)For believers in the church age, we don't have to worry about the Holy Spirit coming and going, 3. How important is it for the Christian's daily life to match up with what you believe and what you say? What happens when it doesn't? Are we to hate, destroy or cut off evildoers? Some of what we do wrong doesn't seem to fall into the category of sin (things to be confessed and repented of), but we sometimes waste our time on what, 3? Is poor judgment "sin"? KJV says "wicked thing" which sounds more like purposeful sin than "worthless thing" in NASB--like poor choices in entertainment?
3, David may have been speaking of Israelites who engaged in idolatry; do Christians sometimes get involved in false practices or doctrines? Are we to hate those that fall away, that turn aside, become derelict? What should our attitude be? What do we need to guard against? Can such things sneak up on us? What should OUR response be to malicious gossip, or arrogant people--in the church? Are we to tolerate and accept all behavior? What kind of people should we have close to us, 6-7? Employers may be looking for this type of person, 4-7 (then again, some may just be looking for yes-men!).
4)Could this be Christ speaking in the millenial kingdom? Only He can truly say these things and keep His word. This passage tells us, as do others, that His reign will be characterized by what? He WILL destroy and cut off evildoers; He will reign with a what, Ps. 2:9? He will be an absolute ruler, a dictator, but a benevolent dictator--the only truly righteous and just rule the world has ever had.
Several possible time periods are pictured here. 1)The psalmist, in David's day, may have been struggling with difficult circumstances and struggling with trusting God. It could even be David, speaking of the time when Saul was trying to kill him. After turning his attention to God in 12-22, he returns to his own condition; how does he feel about his life? That causes him to reflect on what attributes of God? How does meditating on this help us when things look bad?
19 Israel recognized heaven as God's, but the Old Testament does not speak of heaven as Israel's eternal hope; God has promised them an earthly kingdom, which will last how long, II Sam. 7:12-16? How will this happen, Rev. 21:1?
2)God had punished Israel for their idolatry and unfaithfulness by doing what to them for 70 years? II Chron. 36:15-21. Zion = Jerusalem. The psalmist may have been describing in 1-11, especially 10, the feelings of the Jews in captivity, out of their land, away from Jerusalem and temple, which was the only place that their sacrifices could be offered. The 70 years was come to an end, "the appointed time," 13, and Israel would once again be a nation in their own land, 15-16, which is what they had been praying for while in captivity, 17,20. However, this would only take place in a limited way. 18 could be speaking of children and grandchildren, or it could be prophetic of the future rebirth of the nation Israel in 1948.
3)Can you see any future prophetic meaning? 1-11 might describe desperate believers in what time period (2, day of distress; 10, God's wrath and indignation)? The tribulation. 12-22 speaks of what event at the end of the tribulation? The second coming, when Christ returns to earth to reign over His earthly kingdom for one thousand years--the millenium. What clues in this section speak of this?
4)Besides these time frames, is there application here for us? Could this be picturing someone struggling with serious physical issues? Or a really rough spot in life? Or depression? Or even a big pity party? What does God want to do in our lives? How does He often bring that about? Should we tell God what to do and not to do, and how quickly to do it? Do we ever blame God for troubles, perhaps like 10? Or maybe we just see the consequences of our own sinfulness. Is the problem really life, or is it how we respond to life and how we feel about it? When we focus on our troubles, who are we really focusing on? Do we see here self-pity and self-centeredness? What is the solution, 12-on? No matter our troubles, what can we praise God for? Who He is, what He has done, what we know He will do.
25-27 Who is being spoken of here? As quoted in Heb. 1:10-12, who is it referring to there? So is Psalm 102 speaking of God the Father, or Christ the Son, the Messiah? The Holy Spirit, the author of the Bible, interprets this psalm for us by inspiring the writer of Hebrews to quote it. Christ, being identified here as the Creator, is shown to be equal to God the Father.
We also see in this passage that the Bible's comments about the creation--the world, the universe--are very scientific. 26, the heavens and the earth are not eternal but will perish, will wax old, will wear out. Scientists speak of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or the Law of Entropy: everything tends toward disorder, toward chaos, toward less complexity--the earth is winding down. Yet evolution requires that complexity and order has been increasing all along. Compare end of 26 to Rev. 21:1. Is God subject to the same laws as His universe, 27? What difference might these facts make to our lives?
Who is the psalmist speaking to? (beginning and end) Why would you have to tell yourself to praise God? Why not just do it? What does Ps. 86:11 teach us about ourselves?
1-5 What is "all that is within me"? My WHOLE SELF: heart/soul/mind, not just lip service. Bless (God): kneel, praise, thank, worship. He blesses us by what He does; we bless Him by what we tell Him--these kinds of things. Does 3-5 describe our lives? Is it true that some Christians have unhealed diseases, their life is the pits, they are not being satisfied with good things, they do not feel youthful energy? How do we square reality with this passage?
Who is this passage written to? Israel. Under the Law, what did God promise the righteous and obedient? Read Deut. 28:1-14. Are these promises repeated in the New Testament for the church age? What are we promised? Eph. 1:3, John 16:33. Not understanding this difference makes it difficult for us to understand the Old Testament and apply it to our lives. So if our blessings are spiritual, not physical, how would we interpret this passage?
6-7 We saw God's promises to do these things for Israel; has He promised to make everything turn out fine for us in the church age? No, but when will He make everything turn out right? In the millenial kingdom, and following that, at the final judgment day. Why should the New Testament Christian care about the history of Moses and the Israelites? What do we learn about God in 7? So can we know God's way?
8-10 What do we learn here about God? What do we really deserve from God? Is this truth found in both the Old and the New Testaments? Do you see how we can separate what is true for Israel or the church, and what is true about God at all times? Reading the whole Bible will help us understand who God is, what He has done and will do, as well as how He tests man differently in different time periods; in different dispensations, God dispenses His grace under somewhat differing conditions. Comparing 10 with Ps. 30:5, Is. 57:14-16, Jer. 3:12-13, Micah 7:18, what do we learn about God and man?
11-14 Can we truly comprehend His love, kindness and compassion? Only to whom? What does God take into consideration about us? How does that make you feel? How far is the east from the west? What if it said north/south? This could only be true if the earth is round, so it appears this fact was known at that time. Scholars tell us that the earth's roundness was only discovered in Columbus's time, but there are several indications in the Bible that this was already known.
15-18 How is man contrasted with God? 17, to whom? 18, to whom? Those who reverence Him, who keep the Law. Not to those who only toy with Him.
19 What is God's sovereignty? How does an understanding of this doctrine affect our world view? How does it help us with fear, worry, anxiety?
20-21 What do we learn about angels here? What do angels do? God delegates jobs to the angels; apparently He does not do everything directly Himself. What is another term for angels used in the Bible, 21?
22 The theme of this psalm is to do what (beginning and end)? Who is to do it? Why (middle section)?
How does this psalm open and close, 1 and 35? What does it mean to bless the Lord? He blesses us by doing wonderful things for us; as this psalm demonstrates, we bless Him by telling Him how wonderful He is.
1-4 Does God the Father really wear clothes? What does John 4:24 tell us about Him? Attributing human characteristics to God is called anthropomorphism. God uses this in the Bible to allow us to understand better what He is like, but because He is Spirit, He has no physical body. The psalmist tells how great God is, and how much higher He is than His creation. Unlike the pagan religions believe, God is not part of the creation but separate from it; He is not in everything, as the New Agers say.
5-9 5 sounds like a reference to creation, but 6-9 seem to speak of the flood--followed by great tectonic activity, geologic change, mountain building. God's creation is under His control. How should this make us feel?
10-30 How would you sum up this section? God provides for His creature's needs through natural processes that He has set in place. Even though animals hunt their own food, they are represented as getting their food from God. Is the same true for us? Compare Mat. 6:25-34. How do these facts help us with worry and anxiety? He causes grass to grow, He planted the trees, He appoints darkness, He renews the ground: did the forces of nature just happen or are they set in place by God? 26, where does Leviathan live? This sea serpent or dragon is described in Job 41:1-9. Here is evidence of marine reptiles like dinosaurs; Job is thought to pre-date Abraham, and to live shortly after the flood era. Dinosaurs, which survived the flood with the rest of God's creatures, only began dying out as the climate changed from temperate everywhere to the various temperature extremes we now have.
15 Does the Bible represent wine as sinful? Some of the sacrifices included wine; it is also connected with gladness and a merry heart. What was the first miracle Jesus did? He also compared the new dispensation God was bringing in to wine in wineskins, which makes no sense if wine is sinful. But what IS sinful? Drunkenness. Why today might drinking be bad even if you do not get drunk? Drinking and driving.
30 Who was present at creation, Gen. 1:2,26, Col. 1:16? Who is "us" and "our"? The Trinity.
33-34 "While I have my being"; what two entities are in that statement? Am "I" separate from this "being" that I have? Meditation is thinking on God and His Word, chewing and digesting; it is not the New Age "ommmmm" type meditation, yet this type of meditation is invading the church. Christians are told that we should still our minds as we engage in mystic practices to help us "hear God's voice." This goes straight to an important doctrinal issue: is God still speaking today? Rev. 22:18-19 speaks to this issue. Some will say those verses only apply to the book of Revelation, yet it is significant that God arranged His written Word so that this warning is part of His last recorded words to us. The rest of the Bible echoes this warning, Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:5-6, Mat. 5:18, so we know it applies to more than just Revelation.
Yet today many are claiming to hear God literally speak to them, even recording and repeating those words as binding on others. We all know that God speaks "through" people, events, etc., enlightening our minds to what He has already said. But to claim to be speaking new words from God today is heresy. If they in any way add to, subtract from, or change what is said in God's written Word, they are heresy--deception from Satan or his demons, who are quite capable of speaking through an audible voice or a vision, and may even deceitfully identify themselves very convincingly as God or Jesus. The same can hold true for so-called "prophetic" messages; this is why we looked at length in I Cor. 12-14 at the subject of spiritual gifts.
35 Is this a negative statement or a positive one? When will this happen? See Ps. 52:5 and Mat. 13:36-43,47-50. This will take place at the end of the tribulation; the wicked will be removed from the earth and the righteous left.
1-7 What are we told to do? Are we to focus on/talk about/sing about what we will do and are doing for God, or about what He has done and will do for us? This should be one of the criteria for the songs we sing in church. When life is stressful, rereading these verses will help us get our eyes off our problems and on the Lord.
4 is another way of saying Ps. 16:8, isn't it? This is THE THING that we want to learn to do; how to make it continual, a part of moment-by-moment living. Do we tend to seek constantly when everything feels OK? Might this be one reason God allows trials in our lives? 5 says to remember these things; do we tend to forget? 6. who is this written to? But there is much application for us in the church age.
8-on The rest of the chapter deals with Israel's history: making known God's deeds, remembering His wonders.
8-15 Who did God make a covenant with? Gen. 12:1-3. How long will this covenant last, 8 and 10? What part of the covenant is referred to here? God promised Israel a land--what land? Today Israel does not yet posses ALL the land God promised them; according to this passage, will they someday possess it? This will not happen until after the rapture, the seven years tribulation, and the second coming; in the kingdom, they will possess it finally.
16-24 In this account of Joseph in Egypt, how do we see God's sovereignty in 16-17? Did God arrange for all this to happen? Why did God arrange for there to be a famine, 23-24? And yet, aren't famines the result of natural forces? We learn important insights here into God's sovereignty. What is one purpose of the troubles in Joseph's life, and in ours, 19? Troubles might come to us as punishment, or as consequences of our own poor or even sinful choices, but not necessarily. 19, this incident wasn't only for Israel's benefit; it was also about what God was doing in whose life? In God's big plan, does everything work together for His purposes? Where do we find that truth in the New Testament? Rom. 8:28.
25-36 tell about how God got the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery. Why did the Egyptians turn on them? Did God force them to do this against their own will, or did He use their own decisions to be part of His sovereign plan? God never overrides the free will He has given us, yet our free will never thwarts His sovereign plans and purposes.
26 Was Aaron in God's original plan for Moses? Ex. 4:10-16. But didn't God know all along that Aaron would be part of the plan? We see that God has a first choice, His ideal will, but He never forces His will on us. When people don't cooperate, we see that He permits us to do things our own way; we call this His permissive will.
37-45 is about what God did after He took them out of Egypt. Compare 40 to John 6:31-35,51. Compare 41 to I Cor. 10:4; the Old Testament pictures Christ in many ways. 44, the promised land was to be a place of rest, of not working--of cities, home and vineyards already provided. It is a picture of what our spiritual lives are to be like--compare Hebrews 4:3-11. The Sabbath day of rest and the promised land were pictures of spiritual truths for the church, that we rest in what God has already done; we cannot gain it, and are not to try to gain it, by our own works, which is impossible.
Was God faithful to Israel, even when they weren't obeying Him as they should? Will He also be faithful to us, even when we aren't faithful? See II Tim. 2:13.
1-3 This psalm, like the previous one, is about Israel's history. Psalm 105 was about God's deeds on behalf of Israel; Psalm 106 is about Israel's faithlessness and rebellion. It begins and ends with a positive focus on God, but in between it is pretty negative. When we are feeling really negative and our prayers are full of complaints, can we still keep our focus on God, who He is, what He has done, and what He has said He will do? 3, are there benefits to living a godly life?
4-5 When the psalmist speaks of looking forward to God's salvation, 4, how does he define that, 5? In the Old Testament, "salvation" is not used in the same context that we use it in the age of grace, speaking of eternal life in heaven with Jesus. It speaks of the national deliverance of God's chosen people, Israel. The psalmist is looking forward in faith toward the time God will fulfill His covenant promises to Israel. But we also see the spiritual application for the church.
6 As he begins his litany of Israel's faithlessness to God, how does he spell it out? When we complain to God about how things are going in our lives, are we quick to confess our own sinfulness, and that it usually plays a part in whatever we are upset about? Or do we make excuses and rationalize our own behavior? Goes on about Israel's history of sinning.
7-8 They did not what? But they did what? Nevertheless God did what? Why? This pretty much sums up this chapter, which goes on to detail various incidents.
9-12 Like it said in 8, God did what, 10? Again, not speaking of eternal life, but of delivering the nation of Israel. Because He did this, they did what, 12?
13-14 But then they did what four things, 13-14? Do we ever fall into this same pattern (starting in 9)?
15 Why is this verse a scary warning? KJV: He sent "leanness" into their soul. What might that mean? Is it wise to demand things of God, to assume we really know what is best for us or others? If we pray that God's will be done, then trust that He will do that, we can have peace. What if things don't "look" like His will is being done? Should we walk by sight--go by appearances--or should we walk by faith?
16-18 When Dathan challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron, what did God do? Does God still do that to rebellious people? But we get the picture of how God feels about rebellion.
19-20 The golden calf was not said to be another god that they began to worship and follow, but a tangible image of God. What did the 10 Commandments tell them about images? So we worship an invisible God and we are to be OK with that; is that sometimes hard to accept?
21-27 Why is Israel scattered today throughout the nations, rather than all gathered in the land God promised them? Since 1948 they have begun to be gathered again into their land, as we see Ez. 37 beginning to be fulfilled, but this will not fully take place until the second coming and the millenial kingdom.
28-33 How does God feel about those who claim to trust Him, but also partake in false practices? Phinehas stood up for righteousness and God rewarded him; Moses was punished for his rash act of anger in striking the rock when God told him to speak to it. He did not get to enter the promised land. Might our anger, rebellion or faithlessness result in consequences in this life, even though we are forgiven through Christ's blood?
34-39 Do Christians today sometimes compromise with the world, marrying unbelievers or adopting some of their false religious practices? Many evangelical churches today are bringing in unbiblical New Age and mystical practices.
40-43 Again, why has Israel been treated harshly by the nations of the world? When will this finally change? When they recognize their Messiah at the end of the tribulation, at the second coming. How does God feel about grumbling, forgetting what He said and did, disobeying, compromising with the world?
44-48 Could this be said about the church today as well as Israel in the Old Testament? If it weren't for His mercy and grace, we wouldn't make it. He promised Israel that He would fulfill His covenant, and He promises the church that He will forgive sin because of Christ's blood. Today does God pour out His anger on us when we are rebellious and fail to trust Him? Why not? When WILL He pour out His anger on the world? But not on the church--we will have been gathered from among the nations, as in 47. The church will be caught up and delivered from God's wrath, just as Israel is promised a national deliverance in the future, at the second coming.
Examples of how God delivers His people
1-3 Who is the subject? The redeemed: Christians? Christians are not yet on the scene; what redeemed people has He gathered? Who is the adversary? We of the New Testament would say Satan, but for Israel, it would be their enemies.
4-9 What happened, 4-5? "Then" what, 6-7. Therefore what, 8? Why, 9? Is there application for us?
10-16 What happened, 10-12? "Then" what, 13-14? Therefore what, 15? Why, 16? Is there application for us?
17-22 What happened, 17-18? "Then" what, 19-20? Do all fools respond this way? Therefore what, 21-22? Is there application for us? What should characterize our songs in church? Thanksgiving, joy, lyrics that tell of what He has done, that speak of His lovingkindness.
23-32 We have seen people who wandered in the wilderness,4, who dwelt in darkness, 10, and fools who rebelled, 17; what kind of people do we find in 23-24? Those whose work brings them face to face with God's power in nature? What happened, 25-27? "Then" what, 28-29? Therefore what, 31-32? What New Testament incident does this remind you of? Do we sometimes have to get to the end of our rope before we turn to the Lord? Are our troubles sometimes for our punishment, or brought on by our own doings? How does this chapter give us hope?
33-38 How else did God deal with Israel? We are not told in the New Testament that God deals with the church this way; the church does not have a land, because it is made up of all nations, but is there spiritual application for the church? Because of God's dealings with Israel, with blessings and curses depending on their degree of obedience, some today teach that He is doing the same with the church, and try to put some spiritual meaning on every drought, famine, earthquake or economic downturn.
39-42 God warned Israel what He would do and why; they did not have to guess. He has not told the church anything similar, and the church is not Israel (although some teach the church IS now spiritual Israel and has inherited all her promises). Israel was under the Law, with its blessings and curses; the church is not, and this teaching is clear in the Epistles.
43 In all those happenings, what was the wise Israelite to conclude about God? Is there application for us?
1-3 How does the psalmist feel in the first line of this psalm? In the many ups and downs of our spiritual lives, do we sometimes feel this way? Do we always? Can our hearts be steadfast even when our feelings are all over the place? Today many contemporary Christian songs make rash promises that no Christian can fulfill: "I will always" do this or feel that way or will give God "my all." David says "I will" what? He does not make rash promises. What two words describe his singing? Does he choose to sing like this because he feels good, or because of who God is? Some churches claim we should not use musical instruments; does the Bible support this?
4-6 Is the focus his feelings, or who God is? How great is God's lovingkindness and His truth? Even when we're down, can we pray and sing like these verses?
7-9 God has parceled out the land, although not yet fulfilled. God has made specific promises to Israel about the land and about nations; not so to the church.
10-13 How are things going right now? But what does David know about God? Can our hearts be steadfast when things are not going well? Why?
1-5 Who is this about? How does David characterize himself, 4 and 5?
6-20 Asking God to punish the wicked one. This is one of the imprecatory psalms; many have trouble understanding psalms that ask God to deal judgment upon the evil man, upon enemies, because this doesn't seem like the "Christian" thing to do. Keep in mind the Old Testament context: Israel was God's people, meaning He chose them to be the nation through whom He revealed Himself to the world--through the Law, which He gave through Moses, and through the prophets, who spoke God's words to the people. God declared that Israel's enemies--those who rejected the true and living God and worshipped idols--would receive His judgment unless they repented. God judges evil because He is righteous. He used Israel to carry out His judgments against them. This is why Israel was not told to be forgiving, to turn the other cheek. But when Jesus came, He revealed more of God's plan, which now includes loving our enemies--showing them God's love, mercy and grace. We can relate to David's imprecatory prayers; who is our true enemy? God's judgment is found in the New Testament as well, including curses on those who reject God; compare Deut. 11:26-28, 28:15-68, Rom. 12:20, Acts 8:20, Gal. 1:8-9, Rev. 6:10.
8 is quoted by Peter; who is he speaking of in Acts 1:15-17, 20-22? So this psalm is prophetic of Judas; this explains why this psalm is so harsh. Glancing back through this section, does it make more sense now?
17 What is this principle we see throughout the Bible? Sowing and reaping. We see in this section the earthly consequences God brings on the hard-core wicked. Can we be encouraged by this psalm when we think of the vile, the wicked? Will God judge righteously?
21-29 Will God vindicate the righteous? Compare 25 with Mat. 27:39. So this psalm is also prophetic of whom?
30-31 David sums up his attitude. What are we to do when oppressed by the wicked?
1-3 Who is speaking to whom? More evidence for Trinity. What does this teach about the Messiah? Where is this quoted? Heb. 1:13, Mat.22:44 where Jesus uses it as evidence for His deity; Acts 2:34, where Peter uses it as evidence in his first sermon for the deity of Christ. When will this happen? After Christ defeats the beast and destroys the kingdom of man at the end of the tribulation, then rules over His earthly kingdom. So until that time, where is Christ? Where is He when those things begin to happen, Rev. 5:6? No longer sitting and interceding for us; why won't we need Him to do that anymore at that time? The church will have been raptured and is with Him in our sinless state. Now He stands, actively bringing about the events of Revelation. 3, the Messiah and His people will come into power--the earthly millenial kingdom.
4 Where is this quoted? Heb. 5:6, 7:17,21. Why there--what is Hebrews teaching about Christ? We no longer need a what, or a what, Heb. 2:17? God will not what? Yet we read in several places that God "repented" of His actions, Gen 6:6-7, Exo. 32:14. The Hebrew word includes these meanings: sigh, breath strongly, be sorry, pity, console. In the context of sending the flood, did God realize He made a mistake in creating man, or did he sigh heavily in sorrow, as we would when our children choose to go the wrong direction? Which meaning does the Bible best support? We also read that God is not like man that He should repent, Num. 23:19. This uses the same Hebrew word. Looking at the context, Balaam tells king Balak that, unlike man, God does not lie or repent but does what He says He will do.
5-7 When is the day of wrath? The seven years of tribulation. What does God do at that time? He breaks the kingdom of man, He judges evil. There will be much death and destruction, and Christ will be lifted up.
This psalms teaches that the Messiah will one day rule on the earth, and that He will rule from Jerusalem. But what must happen first? 5-6, the day of wrath, judgment on this earth. Mat.25:31-32 shows Him judging the nations (Gentiles). Rev.19:17-18, Eze.39:12-14, 17 shows the land filled with corpses.
1 What is it always appropriate to do when believers get together?
2 What might believers study? God's Word, His creation, how He works in our lives and the lives of others. We are to use our minds, not just seek emotional experiences.
3-9 The writer gives examples of God's great works. So here we learn in a nutshell some of what God does and has done. Do all these things happen on this earth all the time? Why not? So might this psalm speak of a future time--the time of the Messiah's kingdom, when everything will be like this? 7 and 8 both speak of what important Bible word? God's truth is one of the great themes of the Bible; today the concept of truth, even in the church, is being marginalized in favor of a subjective approach to right and wrong, and even to Bible doctrine.
9 and 5 both speak of what? Can God have permanently rejected Israel? What word tells us? Some claim this does not really mean forever, just a long time. Unfulfilled prophecy must be future.
How is God's name described, 9? No man’s name is reverend (awesome, NASB); the Bible does not teach us to use the title of "Reverend" or "Father." If we wish to show respect to the position of pastor, we might address "Pastor Smith" or "Pastor Joe"; some pastors prefer merely to be called by their actual name, not seeing themselves as in a position higher than other church members. How can we keep God's name reverend and holy? Might this tie in with the commandment to not take or use His name in vain? In vain: in a useless, empty manner, as just a common word used for emphasis in our conversation, as even so many Christians carelessly do.
10 Here is a great formula for gaining wisdom and understanding. Again, God is interested in how we engage our minds. How do we begin getting wisdom? Which Bible author speaks more about wisdom than any other? Soloman (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), then Job is next. In the New Testament, Paul speaks most about wisdom. Is wisdom about knowing lots of facts? Is understanding? Knowledge speaks of facts. Does this say that you have to have good understanding about the Lord and His commandments before you can do them? Or does doing them bring understanding? This psalm begins and ends with what? So how important should praise be in our lives?
This psalm is a good example of the dispensation of the Law: God promised Israel physical blessings in exchange for obedience. We (the church) are not Israel and are no longer under the Law (see Galatians); God has promised the church spiritual blessings, and warned us to expect and bear up under tribulations in this life. Those who do not hold the literal, historical, grammatical view of Scripture, or who do not understand this, might mistakenly be looking for health, wealth and earthly success. When those things do not happen, they struggle with doubts about God or doubts that they are truly saved or are truly forgiven. It is important to recognize that the Scriptures were given to people at different points of history; God revealed Himself and His plans gradually over time. Scripture was not written to American Christians in the 20th-21st centuries. The psalms are written to Israel, to those under the Law, but they have application for us in the dispensation of grace. We will look at this psalm from both perspectives--first, to those to whom it was written.
1 The Jews were to fear the Lord and keep His commandments: the Law. God's blessing would result.
2-9 These verses tell of blessings and alludes to the fact that this is the lot of the righteous. What are the blessings he can expect? How are the righteous described?
10 And what of Israel's enemies?
Let's see how all this applies to the church age.
1 Compare Eph. 1:3. Israel was promised physical blessings; the church is promised spiritual blessings.
2 Is this guaranteed to the obedient Christian? But are our children and even future generations influenced by our faith?
3-9 Compare Mat. 6:25-34, God will provide our what, 32? Phil. 4:11-13, 19, II Cor. 4:7-9,17-18,5:7, 6:4, 11;27, 12:9-10. These verses speak of our righteousness; does it come from obeying the Law, or rather how?
7 This is something we all struggle with. The obedient Jew did not fear because he knew God would literally deliver him from the hand of evil; yet we know that God allows great tribulation in our lives to test and display our faith. Are we guaranteed that we will get the satisfaction of seeing our enemies defeated, 8? No in this life. How can we gain the victory over fear? Rom. 8:28, understanding God’s sovereignty.
10 When will this happen, for us? At the final judgment.
Do you see how failing to understand the dispensations of Scripture can lead Christians to believe that the church is guaranteed health, wealth, success, and that the world (the wicked) will melt away before us as we bring in the reign of righteousness, even before Christ returns? This is the teaching of dominionism or "kingdom now"--those who believe the church is to take dominion over the world and bring in the kingdom, then handing it over to Christ at His return (also known as reconstructionism).
1-4 This part is about what? Is this section equally true for the Old Testament and New Testament believer? Can we praise Him like this even when our lives are very difficult? Why can we?
5-6 An alternate translation clarifying the term "humble": Who looks far below in the heavens and on the earth. In what other way did God "humble Himself," Phil.2:8? We have no concept of how far above us God is.
7-8 The writer is speaking of righteous Jews, as in Psa. 37:25. Are these promises for the New Testament Christian? Some teach yes, but as we read in New Testamant passages in the previous psalm, not necessarily. Is God able to supply our needs abundantly, Eph. 3:20? Why does He not always choose to do so?
9 Is this a promise to barren Christian women, as it was to the obedient Jew? Might God bless a barren Christian woman like this? Why might He choose not to?
1-2 What is this saying about Israel's relationship with God?
3-8 These verses may all speak of the event mentioned in 1-2, or they may be speaking of various events following that time--during the wilderness journey. We are not told that the Jordan turning back involved tectonic activity but it is possible. 8 could speak of Moses bringing water from the rock. Do only people respond to the Lord, or does the earth also respond to the Lord's will?
1 The turned-around sentence emphasizes what part of the thought? The Christian self-esteem movement (borrowed from the world, from psychology) would give glory to us. Self-esteem flirts dangerously with pride. What does the Bible teach instead? Mat. 18:4, 23:12, James 4:6,10, I Pet. 5:5-6. What word is repeated three times? Thy/Your. The Lord's Prayer begins: Hallowed be THY name, THY kingdom come, THY will be done--not MINE. And this is to happen because of what and what?
2 "The nations" would be the Gentiles. So what is the author saying?
3 But what? What doctrinal teaching is illustrated here? Sovereignty. Can we understand all God’s ways? Does it matter if we do?
4-8 "Their" refers back to who? So our God, in the heavens, who does as He pleases, is contrasted with what, that the Gentile nations worship? Are they self-existent, like God? Can they actually do anything? Today graven idols are making a comeback in New Age religious circles. What other kinds of idols are there, that Christians might be tempted by?
9-13 Contrasting with 8, what is repeated in 9, 10, 11? What is repeated in the second half of each verse? How is the first phrase of each of parallel meaning? Most of use don't use shields today; how would this speak to those people? 12, what happens to those who trust Him? How does 12-13 restate part of 9-11? Parallelism is one of the marks of Hebrew poetry, rather than rhyming words, like ours.
This was written to Israel--God's people. We the church are now God's people, as God has temporarily set Israel aside. Do these verses also apply to us? Our blessings are spiritual, not physical, Eph. 1:3. Do all who know the Lord, trust in the Lord? Why? What can be done about that?
14-15 Under the Law, those who trust the Lord are promised physical blessings. Who is the source of all blessing, whether physical or spiritual? "Heaven" reminds us of what previous verse? 3.
16a What is mentioned for the third time here in 16a? Comparing the three references, what might be a theme of this psalm? Heaven is then contrasted with earth.
16b What do the environmentalists say instead? Compare Gen. 1:26-28, 9:3, II Pet. 2:12, Psa.8:6-8. Is man to use it? Are the heavens man’s domain? What is behind space exploration? The search for life somewhere besides earth--evidence for what false belief? Evolution, the false religion of humanism, of those who do not believe God’s Word.
17-18 What two groups of people are contrasted? We will what and what? What does it mean to bless the Lord? God blesses us by what He does for us; we bless Him by what we say to Him.
1-5 What happened to him? What did God do for him? He is grateful for God's deliverance, apparently in the face of death. Does God promise to deliver us, or our loved ones, from danger? Can He--might He? Even if He doesn't, is 5 still true?
6-11 What might "simple" mean, 11? Not real smart or clever? Those with a simple faith? Do you have to be smart or intellectual to know and believe God? Have we all been caught up in bad situations because we didn't think things through? Does God say, "oh well, you made your bed, now lay in it," or is He still compassionate about our weaknesses? Because of the comment about all men being liars, perhaps he was caught up in something like that--perhaps he was "simple" and naive. Are we to trust in men?
Can our soul have rest, 7, even when circumstances are stormy? Does the psalmist specify what his situation was? Can we all relate to these feelings, no matter our particular situation? Does God always deliver in the same way? Might He do it by changing the situation? Might He do this by helping us to walk through it?
12-19 Because of what He has done for us, what might we be motivated to do? What does he talk about doing? Offer sacrifices, 13, 17; do we need to do that? Why not? Should we thank Him for that? What else does he speak of doing? Giving thanks, praise--privately? When God has done something wonderful for us, don't we want to share that with others? Are we to take vows, 14,18? That was an Old Testament concept; God did not require vows--they were optional choices some made. We see Paul (raised a Jew) speaking of keeping a vow; if you make it, you are to keep it--keeping your word.
15-16 Does God care about our death? Why might He find this "precious"? Again we wonder if the psalmist had been in danger of death. 16, God takes care of us even though we don't deserve it. Can we order or command God or insist He heal us or keep someone from death. Some teach that if we "claim" something, God must honor that.
19 The context is an individual Jewish believer. Could the Jews meet with God anywhere, as we can? Why not? Where did they meet with God?
This psalm could also be prophetic of believers in the tribulation. Great affliction and death are constant threats. "All men are liars": deception will abound. Believers will be laying down their lives for the name of Christ; this is precious (of great cost, value) in the sight of the Lord. This believer hopes to one day be in Jerusalem, in the Lord's house (the temple), to offer praise and sacrifice. But Jerusalem is a dangerous place--until Christ returns and sets everything right.
This psalm is even shorter than Psalm 100. Who is it addressed to? The nations = the Gentiles (all who are not Israel). Do the nations praise Him? When will they say these things about Christ? In the future, in the millenial kingdom.
They will praise Him for what two things? Truth is being watered down in churches today, but when He returns, His truth will be upheld and enforced.
Some think this psalm is the center of the Bible; if so, perhaps it holds extra significance. Others think Psalm 118 is the center.
We will see elements of Hebrew poetry in this psalm.
1-4 How is God described? What repetition or parallel construction do we see here? KJV/mercy = NASB/lovingkindness. 2-4 address what three groups of people? A recent psalm spoke of the simple; can even the simplest understand this about God? If He is good, can we trust Him? So why is that hard sometimes?
5-7 The psalmist opened with a comforting fact about God; what is going on in his life? We get some clues: some are doing something, or trying to do something, to him, and doing what, 7? Others are doing what, 7? Now we learn why he is focusing on God's goodness. Notice the two-part construction of these three verses. What is he confident of?
8-9 Can we always rely on other people? Are all men trustworthy? Even those who are supposed to be? Even our leaders? Do we desire security in life? Can we count on a spouse or parent or friend or the government to protect us? These things may give you some security; does God want us to find our security in them? God is our what? Some think 8 is the center of the Bible, and therefore possibly of special significance.
10-13 He was in imminent danger--from who? 13, "you"--apparently, the enemy. At the time this was written, "all nations" might have referred to enemies of Israel; at what future time will Israel face such danger from all nations? Rev. 19:19, Zech. 12:1-9. What does "extinguished as a fire" (KJV, "quenched as fire") in 12 imply? God will instantaneously and miraculously deliver them. Is this a promise that all believers facing danger will be delivered? No, but is there application to the church? Eph. 3:20, is God is able to do this? He can, and He may, but He does not promise to; we are told to expect troubles in this life and to face them through the strengthening of the indwelling Holy Spirit, even rejoicing in the Lord.
14-16 Compare Exo. 15:2, which speaks of what similar miraculous deliverance in Israel's history?
17-18 The psalmist was in danger of death, but did not die, which makes him want to do what? Is that one reason God sometimes deals with us in miraculous ways--to encourage others? Might some of our affliction be from our Father's loving hand, for discipline? One purpose of the tribulation is to bring judgment on evil men; what is the other, Dan. 12:10? That Israel may be purified and prepared to receive her Messiah.
19-21 The psalmist would be speaking of what gates? Of the temple. Could Jews meet with God anywhere, like we can? No, only where? Only who could enter, 20? The righteous--those conforming to God's Law. In this psalm's future fulfillment, the righteous who are still alive at the end of the tribulation enter what? The millenial kingdom, and the temple there. How are believers in the church age righteous--by conforming to God's Law? No--by faith alone through grace.
22 To believers today this seems like an obvious prophetic reference to Christ--to the Messiah. But the psalmist was speaking of circumstances of that time; possibly he was saying that, through the deliverance this psalm is about, Israel was victorious over her enemies--the "builders" who were building the godless world system of which the Bible so often speaks.
The prophetic importance of this passage is proved by its being quoted in Mat. 21:42-44, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, Eph. 2:22, I Pet. 2:6-8. Who are the ones who rejected this stone? Again, those who are building the kingdom of man--the godless world system. A cornerstone implies the beginning of a building--something new. Might the church be foreshadowed here? (How is foreshadowing different from prophecy? It is only recognized with hindsight, after that event happened.)
23-24 Whether the event of the psalmist's day, or Christ as cornerstone, or Israel's future deliverance at the end of the tribulation, could man have brought this about? In the original context, might 24 refer to a specific 24-hour day? Might this apply to our daily thankfulness? What other day might it refer to, in the context of the New Testament believer? This age--the age of grace?
25-26 In the Old Testament, the terms "save" and "salvation" don't usually refer primarily to salvation as we think of it today; the context is usually the safety and deliverance of Israel, often in the context of battles. What is the application for us today? In 26, the psalmist may have been speaking of the one who brought deliverance from Israel's enemies, probably David. What does this refer to in Mat. 21:9? Should the Jews have recognized Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament? They were still looking for a national deliverer, not personal salvation. Bless: God blesses us by His actions toward us, and we bless Him by our words to Him.
27 What did this refer to in the literal historical context of the psalmist's day? What is the application to Christ's first coming?
28-29 All this is to result in what? Will this be Israel's response when they finally receive their Messiah?
We just read the shortest chapter in the Bible--now we have the longest. The subject of this psalm is God's Word: its importance, and how we are to respond to it. Might it be significant that this is not only the longest psalm but also the longest chapter in the Bible, and located in the center of the Bible? This is a wonderful chapter to read and meditate on. How amazing that God inspired the psalmist to write so extensively on how wonderful God's Word is, what it will do in our lives, how we should feel about it and respond to it.
Notice that God’s Word is mentioned in every verse (except maybe a couple), by many different synonyms: the law of the Lord, His testimonies, His ways, His paths, His precepts, His statutes, His commandments, His righteous judgments, His Word, His ordinances, His sayings, His promises. Soes "the law of the Lord" or "the law" necessarily refer just to the Law of Moses? We assume that, but the Bible uses it often as a general term to refer to God’s Word, because at that time the written Word was the five books of the Law.
The psalmist often used these words to describe his response to God and His Word: delight, love, obey, meditate, rejoice.
This psalm is a type of Hebrew poetry; each section relates to one letter of the Hebrew alphabet--eight verses in each section, each starting with that letter. Each verse is in two parts.
As we read this psalm, note: how we should relate to God’s Word, what it reveals about God, the blessings of keeping it, the effects of keeping it. We will note the many commands, telling us what God wants us to do--God's will for us.
1-8 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Does "blameless" (NASB) or "undefiled" (KJB) mean sinless? Not doing wrong, not doing things worthy of blame. They were to be blameless, do no iniquity, be upright of heart, and keep His statutes; they were under the Law. Although often guilty of sin, how are those qualities applied to the Christian, Rom. 4:4-6? "Judgments," 7, do not refer to condemnation, but to God's verdicts and decrees.
9-16 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 9, can children and youths learn and keep God's Word? 10, do we sometimes seek God halfheartedly? 11 is one of the most well-known and loved passages in this psalm; why is it important? Because of this verse, what do many children's programs stress? 12, is this speaking of a voice outside Scripture? How does God teach us His Word? John 14:6. Is this true of us?
17-24 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 18, why do some people see more in Scripture than others? Do you see God's Word in every verse? What things are we to do? 19, does God hide His Word or will from us? Does it feel like it sometimes? Why might that be? Is 21 speaking of proud believers, or the unsaved? How should we act or feel when powerful people speak against us, 23? Does reading your Bible ever get to be a "duty"? When it is, how can it change from a duty to a delight? 24, are we to look for subjective signs or feelings or lay out a "fleece," when we need direction?
25-32 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? When we feel low, experiencing grief, where is the answer? When we don't know what to say in person or in a card to someone grieving, we can mention that we pray they find comfort in God's Word. Is God's Word understandable?
33-40 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Sometimes the psalmist declares he will do or is doing certain things; sometimes we see him asking God to do things for him. So far, what are some of the things he does? What are things he asks God to do? Do we need His help to walk in His ways--to even want to? Is 37 saying that it is God's job to stop us from sinning? What is the difference, 38, between having and reading God's Word, and having it established to us? What is our response to be? 39, even though we know we are forgiven, does the fact of our sinfulness give us dread? Twice he has spoken of God reviving him, 25 and 40; how does that happen (consider the context of this entire chapter). Through some mystical or subjective experience? Rather, through what?
41-48 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? We don't deserve anything in ourselves, but we can pray for what, 41? God's mercy, His kindness to us. Particularly for what, 42-46? Having an answer. Who reproaches us? Our adversary. What does it mean to meditate on God's Word, 48? Is it a silence, an emptying of the mind, seeking for a voice or a feeling of His presence? Many are teaching this today. We read, think on what we have read, chew on it and digest it, holding it up to inspect it, look at it from different angles, comparing it to other Scripture, praying that God would give us understanding and help us apply it to our lives, etc.
49-56 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Why do we sometimes "remind" God what He has said in His Word, 49? 50, when we are low, God's Word lifts us up, like water to a wilted plant. What kind of affliction is he going through? Does our world today make us feel like 53? 55, why is he doing this in the night instead of sleeping? What do we do when awake in the night?
57-64 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 61, how is his life going? 62, again, what is going on in the night? 63, the fellowship of true believers.
65-72 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 65, can we always say this? Compare Rom. 8:28. what does he mention in both 67 and 71? What does he say about afflictions? Does he say that they were from God? Does God allow and use them? In spite of them, he says God is good, God does good. So what is one important result of affliction? Compare John 9:3, another reason. Do we feel like 72?
73-80 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? No evolution, 73. 74 and 78 talk about what two groups who may be watching you, with what two different reactions? So what is another possible reason for afflictions. Does knowing God's purposes and His kindness comfort us in those afflictions?
81-88 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? What is his life like? 81-84, waiting and wondering; can you relate to that? 88, why does he want God to revive him--so life will be nicer?
89-96 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Why is 89 important doctrinally? Settled: appointed, established, stands (like a pillar). Does it change, does it need reinterpreted to fit our changing times? Can truth change? Post-modernist thinking says there is no truth. What else stands, 90-91?
Are only believers His servants? In the parable of the talents in Mat. 25:15-30, many see the wicked servants as believers, because they think servants means believers, but this says otherwise. Believers would not be called worthless slaves and thrown into outer darkness, but some teach this. This is a great example of the importance of reading and comparing ALL Scripture, and how Scripture interprets Scripture. How does 92 shed light on how to get through afflictions? 96, earthly perfection has limitations; what about God's Word?
97-104 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 98-100 and 104, what do we learn about God’s Word here? 101, is this like the old nature vs. new nature? 103, are they always? When are they not?
105-112 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 105, how does it do this? A great verse to memorize. 106, we see the psalmist often talk about how he will keep God's Word. Under the Law, followers of God were to keep the Law, but were not empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we are. Are we to depend on our own strength? 107 and 110, what is going on with him?
He speaks a number of times about needing God to revive him; today some pick up on that word to justify so-called revival meetings. What does the psalmist always say that God will use to revive him? Do we need special meetings and special speakers for this? Again, we are reading the experience of the dispensation of the Law; we don't read in the New Testament (the directions to the church) of needing to be revived, or how to accomplish it. We have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit; if we are languishing in our spiritual lives, do we need "more" of the Spirit? Can more of Him come in? Is He a person or a force? He is either completely in us or not at all. Are we always completely yielded to Him? What will help us do that? God's Word. Today's "revival meetings" are not based on Scripture.
113-120 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? The psalmist has been speaking of his love and faithfulness to God's Word in spite of his many afflictions from the wicked--the cursed, his weeping from grief, the arrogant, the snares they lay for the righteous, their lies. We all have difficulties and enemies--who is our main enemy? This psalm could certainly have future fulfillment in the tribulation; 118-19 sounds like what time period? The end of the tribulation, the beginning of the millennial kingdom. 120, is his fear and trembling for himself, or for whom? Judgment is coming upon the wicked; God is not to be trifled with.
121-128 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 123, does this mean we can't know for sure we are saved, or that we look ahead eagerly for the day our salvation is complete? 125, humility before God. 126, is there coming a day when God will finally act to bring an end to lawlessness? Is 127 true for us? Does 128 echo what we read in the epistles about false teaching in the church?
129-136 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? 130, compare Acts 4:13. 133, what is one thing God’s word will do for us? 136, how does the he feel when he sins? Repentance, brokenness, distrust of Self. Will God stop us from sinning? Can He use it in our lives to bring about the kind of change He is after?
137-44 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? If the Bible contained errors, could 140 and 142 and 144 be true? Only biblical Christianity claims to be the exclusive truth. Many who call themselves Christians don’t believe this anymore.
145-52 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Do we ever feel like 145-47? 148, is he a night watchman, or at least sometimes? Previous references to the night could also imply this, or could speak of sleeplessness in the night. He really looks forward to this time. Might we have a time of day that is our time to spend with God, to look forward to, like this? 151, have any become outdated? We find repeated themes of the wicked, of God's truth, of God reviving him, of loving God's Word and longing for it. 151, in the Old Testament God was "near"--compare what Jesus tells His disciples just before His deat, John 14:17? Why does Jesus say this? Here we see clearly two different dispensations; God is about to change the way He deals with man.
153-60 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? Will God deliver us from all afflictions, persecutors, adversaries? He did promise to do this for Israel if they were righteous under the Law. Reading the Old Testament without understanding God's different promises to Israel and to the church can lead to confusion in your spiritual life.
160, the Bible claims to be true. We can tell this to someone who scoffs and says the Bible is just stories or fables, or is full of contradictions. If we just say, "Well, I believe it is true," they might say, "Well, I don't believe it is." Tell them it claims to be without error (which no other religious book does); therefore, the burden of disproving it is on them. Tell them many have tried to disprove it but so far no one has been able to. Our understanding of Bible doctrine is so important to be able to clearly tell others.
Many churches teach that it becomes the Word of God to you (to different people in different ways at different times) or it contains the Word of God; that God may use it to speak to you, but He may also speak to you through a book, newspaper article, a person, etc., and then THAT becomes equally the Word of God to you.
161-68 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? The psalmist, King David, is persecuted by who? Perhaps his own underlings. We may see this as those in authority over us. This also speaks of great persecution of believers by government both in the tribulation; falsehood, 163, speaks of the deception of those days, and looking for God's salvation, 166. Is 165 true in our lives? So if we lack peace, how can we get it? Be more in God's Word.
169-76 Do you see God's Word in every verse? What are some things we can do? What are some repeated themes we see here? 172, what should be the subject of much of our singing? Are some lyrics the actual words of Scripture? That's a great way to keep it in our minds. Here are some great songs about God's Word:
"How Firm a Foundation": How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
"Standing on the Promises": Standing on the promises of Christ my King, Through eternal ages let His praises ring, Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing, Standing on the promises of God. Standing, standing, Standing on the promises of God my Savior; Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God. Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promises of God.
What does he emphasize in 171 and 175? 173, being righteous was the criteria for counting on God's help, under the Law. In spite of his many statements of loving and keeping God's Word, what does he humbly confess in 176? What parable does this remind us of? Luke 15:1-7.
Psalms 120-34 are "Songs of Ascents": to be sung while ascending to Jerusalem, in the hills/mountains. The males were to go to the temple three times a year. Jerusalem is several thousand feet above sea level. We will note the historical context, application to us, and future fulfillment of these short psalms.
He hates lies, but he lives among those who what? He loves peace, but he lives among those who what? Are we too called to live among those who have a different value system?
Meshech, Gen. 10:2, a son of Japheth: his descendants were the Gentiles to the north. Compare Eze. 38:2-3, 39:1, the land of Gog. Kedar, Gen. 25:13, a son of Ishmael--the Arabs, Eze. 27:21. 5-6, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passin' through..."
Have there always been liars? Where do we read more about the evils of the tongue? Proverbs, James 3. What future time period will be characterized by lies and deceit?
1-3 What is he saying about the mountains? Pagans worshipped on every high place--not Israel's source of help. This was sung while making the pilgrimage through the hills up to Jerusalem, perhaps thinking of the Lord, their help, who dwelt in the tabernacle/temple. Sometimes the Bible speaks of mountains as symbolic of nations, powers, governments; does the context seem to point to this? Probably not. Was a defending army swooping down the mountain? Perhaps the mountains reminded him of God the Creator.
4-8 He speaks several times of "keep" and "preserve." We might wonder what it means for God to "keep" us--to guard us. Does He keep bad things from happening to us? He promised His protection to Israel if they were keeping the Law; is this promise repeated to the church? We are told to expect tribulations and fiery trials. Does God sometimes show us the favor of His protection? Will this promise be true for all Jews, for all believers, during the tribulation? We know that many are martyred. Could these promises be for the 144,000 witnesses who are sealed and supernaturally protected? 5-6 points us to Rev. 7:16. The moon probably symbolically speaks of dangers in the night. Evil is always around us, but especially so in the tribulation. Perhaps 8 speaks of the end of the tribulation.
For a more devotional application of the reference to mountains, here is an essay I wrote on this passage some years ago.
Psalm 121:1, "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?"
For years this verse mystified me. It seemed to imply some sort of power in the mountains. What's the big deal about the mountains?
That was before I lived in Nevada. I now live in a valley overshadowed by the majestic 9000-foot Santa Rosa's. In making my weekly 50-mile trek to Winnemucca to shop, I drive along their base. My eyes are drawn across alfalfa fields and thousands of acres of open sagebrush to several more ranks of mountain ranges to the south and west--the Double HH's, the Slumbering Hills, the Jackson's. Upon crossing the pass, another valley opens out before me. To the west are the Bloody Run's, to the east are the Snowstorms's. Ahead, rising above Winnemucca, are the Sonoma's.
Do I mind the long drive to town? Actually I love it. In rural Nevada, the traffic is so sparse that I am often virtually alone on the road. This is my uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord. And I usually begin by thanking Him for what I see around me--wide open spaces, miles of sagebrush, scattered fields of alfalfa, cattle grazing on hillsides, breath-taking clouds in an uncluttered smogless blue sky.
And the mountains...the awe-inspiring mountains. I have fallen in love with them. How can anyone look at them and believe they are the product of time and chance--of evolution? My little corner of Nevada is only a speck when compared to the earth, to the universe. Yet to me it speaks loud and clear of God's power--of creation.
Before I even get to the "big" problems I want to pray about, I am overwhelmed by God's greatness. I find that without even trying, I have managed to see my problems in their proper perspective. I laugh at myself for thinking that problems are actually big--something that God is really going to have to work at solving!
Surely the psalmist was also overwhelmed by the knowledge of God's power to help. Now I understand why he began his psalm with that thought. It's not that there is anything in the mountains that can help. Mountains are completely indifferent to our problems. They simply point us to God. The Bible tells us that this is one purpose of the creation.
Many prayers recorded in the Bible begin with recognition of God as Creator. If we follow this pattern, we will get a proper perspective on the petitions we bring to Him. "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who MADE heaven and earth."
1-5 Going to Jerusalem--where in particular, 1 and 9? Why was the temple so important to them? That was where they went to meet with God, through their human mediator, the priest; to offer sacrifices for sin. Where do we meet with God? I Cor. 3:16. Church is not the equivalent of the temple; why do we go to church? Israel and the church are not the same; they are in different dispensations.
6-8 When will Jerusalem have real and lasting peace? The millenium. But they will be promised a false peace by who? The beast, who will sign a seven-year covenant/treaty with them. Peace with Israel is much in the news.
What body part do 1-2 talk about? What picture helps us understand how we relate to God? Does the Bible tell us to speak and claim what God should do, or to humbly accept whatever His will might be? Mat. 6:10. Are they filled with contempt for the godless? Perhaps; are we to feel that way? Those who don't accept the dispensational view have trouble with this attitude because they see the church in the Old Testament, where God's revelation did not yet include love for your enemies; that was something new revealed when Jesus came. But in the psalms, we do see the righteous hating the wicked, and being called on by God to not just defeat but destroy the ungodly nations. This is not for the church; God's instructions for the church are found in the epistles. Are we to hate sin?
What event in Israel's history might this be referring to? Could it be talking about something else? Could it be prophetic of the tribulation? Might the waters be both literal and symbolic? They were caught in the snare; then what happened? Can we relate this to how God sometimes works in our lives? If the worst does not happen, at the last minute, is it just coincidence? Who is the trapper--the one who sets snares for us?
We are to give Him the credit and the glory; 6, we are to bless His name. 8, God's very name is powerful. Psalms speaks often of the importance of God's name. The Bible has much to say about God's holy name, and how we are to very careful how we use it. Exo. 20:7, Lev. 22:32, Mat. 6:9. End of 8, we often see God identified this way in the Old Testament. What is God's defining act of the Old Testament? What is His defining act of the New Testament? We should reference them in our witnessing to unbelievers, especially those to whom the authority of the Bible means nothing.
In the immediate context of this psalm and the Psalms, who are "His people," "those who trust in the Lord," the "righteous," those who are "good" and "upright"? The psalmist uses mountains to speak of what qualities? What is the psalmist saying about Israel? 3-5, how did God deal with men in the dispensation of the Law? God promised to bless and protect those who obeyed the Law.
Is there application for the church here? Israel has been temporarily set aside in God's plan during the age of grace; the church is now His people, but Israel will one day again be the center of God's plans as He fulfills all the promises He made to them. 1, believers abide forever; they have eternal life and cannot be moved. Under the Law, God did not indwell believers but was with them, John 14:17. 3, is the worldwide church promised a land? Only Israel was promised a land. Can Christians expect wickedness in the lands in which they live? The New Testament tells us to expect tribulation and fiery trials. 4, if these things happen, does that mean God is not doing good to us? 5, is the church promised that the wicked will get what is coming to them in this life? No, although they may; the wicked will not be judged until God pours out His wrath on them in the tribulation.
So the church has a general application of God's power and His goodness to us, but we must be careful in taking passages literally to ourselves that were given to those in another dispensation. We compare them to the New Testament.
What was the cause of their joy? What did many Jews do at the end of the Babylonian captivity? They couldn't believe it was happening; who else marveled at it besides them, 2? As they worked their own land again, they wept, but what would happen? Might this also speak of the 1948 formation of Israel as a nation, and ultimately their national restoration under their Messiah?
What is the application for the church?
Who wrote this psalm? Where else does he write about the vanity of life apart from God? Ecclesiastes. Vanity, in vain: without meaning, emptiness. What is he saying about house, safety, work, possessions, wealth, children? Does 2 mean we should not work diligently? What is his point?
In those days, large families was a sign of God’s blessing and insured that the tribe increased. Arrows, quiver, warriors, and enemies speak of protection and military might within the tribe. The "Quiverful" movement today takes this passage as for the church; these families may have ten or even 20 children. They tend to be a group that is very patriarchal, with the woman's place in the home serving the man, often stressing long hair and dresses for girls and women, and often heavily into homeschooling and legalism.
1 speaks of blessing for who? Is this only for Israel or for all believers?
What do you see in the rest of this psalm that speaks of the dispensation of Law? God promised physical blessing in return for obedience/righteousness: prosperity, fertility, many children, long life, the implication of one's children also being righteous and being rewarded with large families. Zion and Jerusalem, 5-6, relate this psalm to who?
How does this psalm apply to us in the dispensation of grace? God promises the church spiritual blessings, not physical blessings, Eph. 1:3. We are not promised success, wealth, children, or long life. How might we lack those things but still be blessed, spiritually?
Who is "me," 1--who is persecuted? Many "hate Zion"--what is Zion? Another name for Jerusalem. "Youth" might refer to Israel's early history. Why did Israel suffer persecution according to the Abrahamic covenant? Deut. 28:1,15.
What is the application for the church? Do Christians suffer persecution? Because of their disobedience, as per Deut. 28? The church is not promised pleasant lives in exchange for obedience. Even those of us who do not face martyrdom face trials.
In the Old Testament, we don't find the teaching of loving and praying for your enemies. Those who don't see a distinction between Israel and the church have trouble with passages like 6.
1-2 Might the "depths" be the depths of the sea, or the depths of despair? What did he do when he found himself there? Do we really need to ask, or hope, for God to hear us? So why might he say this, 2? Do God's answers always come instantly? If not, what should we do?
3-4 Does a sinner have any standing before God? DOES God preserve our iniquities? Do we sometimes feel like He might? If so, what do we need to remind ourselves? What results?
5-7 Are these verses his response to the dilemma of 1-2? What word is repeated three times? Which one twice? Hope: wait patiently ("wait" again).
8 Who is this written to? When will this be fulfilled? Rom. 11:25-27, this is one of the purposes of the tribulation, to prepare Israel to accept her Messiah. Can we apply this verse to other nations besides Israel? Will God redeem America? Now, in the age of grace, God is offering salvation to individuals, not nations. God has not made similar promises to any other nation; Israel is His chosen people, to whom He made unconditional promises, some which will not be fulfilled until the millenial kingdom.
What attitude does the psalmist have? Humility, trust, contentment, quiet submission to God's will. Who wrote this? A king who humbled himself before God. When David was anointed by Saul, did he reach for power? What took place for years before he became king? Humility is the opposite of what? Pride, self-righteousness. How is a weaned child different from a nursing child? How do 1-2 point to 3? Hope: wait patiently.
1-10 What incident in David's life does this speak of? The temple had not yet been built at Jerusalem; the ark was located in the tabernacle. David desired to build a permanent home for the ark; what was its significance, 5? God met with His people at the mercy seat of the ark, where the sacrificial blood was applied.
11-12 What did God promise David? Here we have the Davidic covenant; who does "forever" speak of, in the line of David?
13-16 What is Zion? Another name for Jerusalem. God has chosen it for how long? He will bless it.
17-18 The horn speaks of might. Prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit).
As the Jews were ascending to Jerusalem to the temple for required feast days three times a year, men from the various tribes all came together at this time. How did they feel about this? This blessing is likened to what? Aaron was the high priest; priests were anointed with oil to represent the Holy Spirit coming upon them. Are there other applications for this sentiment about brothers (the believing community) and unity?
Unity is a popular word in church circles today. Unity is not something we can create; we are to maintain the unity that we have by our mutual adherence to truth, Eph. 4:3-5, John 17:11,20,23. Truth is the basis of unity; without it Christian unity cannot exist.
The pilgrims returning to Jerusalem greet whom? The night watchmen at the temple. What is the application for us? Are we servants of the Lord? We bless the Lord by our what, and He blesses us by His what? Our words to Him, His deeds toward us. As we often see in the Old Testament, God is identified by His defining act in the Old Testament, which is what? Creator. What is His defining act in the New Testament? The cross/resurrection!
That ends the songs of ascents. Most of these last psalms are on praise.
1-3 Who is addressed? How does 18-19 help answer that? Priests in the temple. What are they/we told over and over to do? Margin: Hallelujah! The priests are in the temple; does this mean that church is the place to praise God? Why should we praise Him when things do not feel good?
4 What do we learn here about Israel? What is the application for the church? Some today believe that Israel is no longer God's chosen people, that the church has replaced Israel in God's plans; this is called "replacement theology" and is also common among Calvinists, who generally do not see Israel receiving God's promises in the future. Jer. 30-33 make it clear that God has temporarily set Israel aside, as does Rom. 9:1-5 and Rom. 11. God is now operating through the church; when the church is removed and caught up, God will fulfill the rest of His plan for Israel. Understanding God's plans for Israel and His plans for the church is important to correctly understanding and interpreting the whole Bible.
5-6 How does this describe God's sovereignty?
7 God is sovereign over what? Nature. Does God do this supernaturally, or did He create and put in place the laws of nature? This speaks of God as Creator.
8-12 Is God sovereign over man’s affairs? Even of unbelievers? God often use natural circumstances to bring about His will? Does He sometimes intervene in a supernatural way? 12, what was His purpose in the events of 8-11?
13 What are some reasons we should read the Old Testament? To remember who God is and what He has done.
14 In God’s judgment, He has what? How does this make us feel? Is this speaking of the judgment for the lake of fire? No, it is speaking of His people.
15-18 What is spoken of here? So why should we choose the true God over idols? Rom. 12:1-2, we (the church) are being what?
19-21 Who is being addressed especially? The priests represented men to God; what were these mediators to do? Are we priests today? Who is our High Priest? So should we also do this? In what way did God dwell in Jerusalem? His presence was in the Holy of Holies, at the mercy seat of the ark. Where is it now--where is His temple? Our bodies--we have the indwelling Holy Spirit.
What feature stands out about this psalm? The repeated refrain may have been a responsive reading by the congregation; this feature is similar to Psalms 106 and 118. Is God always kind? What about when things don't feel good?
Reading the first half of each verse, do we see similarity to Psalm 135? 1-3, three verses of praise. 4-9, the wonders of creation. 10-20 recount God's dealings with Israel, from Egypt to the promised land. What do we learn about Israel's land in 21-22? What do we learn about God in 23-25? What does "low estate" remind us? What should be our response to all this, 26?
In all this, God has shown Himself always kind. God is full of mercy; the Bible teaches us to pray for His mercies.
1 Where is the writer of this psalm? Who is "we"? Captive Israel in Babylon. Rivers: canals off the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that they dug as slave labor. What are they doing? What is Zion? Jerusalem. They are miserable there, which they should be; why are they in captivity? Punishment sent from God for their disobedience.
2-3 What did their captors want them to do? Apparently music was a major part of their lives, and they were famous for their music; do they want to sing now? Sin does that to us. J. Vernon McGee points out that the Christian IS to sing in a strange land; why?
4-6 Apparently hand and tongue refer to their part in making music. How do they feel about Jerusalem?
7-9 speak of a desire for (godly) vengeance against those who have destroyed the chosen place of the Lord. According to the Law, this was the way things were to be done; an eye for an eye. Even today, in those cultures (and many others), there is not the reverence for the life of the individual as in our culture, and vengeance is still important. We judge them by our standard, but they are not us. Apparently they had witnessed the Babylonians doing this very thing to their children when they were captured, so we see the "eye for eye" thinking. When Cyrus the Great defeated the Babylonians, he did to them what they had been doing to others. They reaped what they sowed.
Vengeance is not just an Old Testament concept; in the New Testament, we are told that WE are not to take vengeance--we are to leave it to God, and God WILL do it. We are to forgive, as Christ did, but to forgive is not to dismiss the seriousness of wrong. God is a holy and just God, and He assures us He will right all wrongs. Should we look forward to that? Is it wrong to desire that justice be done against evil? If you love righteousness, should you hate wickedness?
1 "Before the gods" has several possible interpretations. Before (Strong's): in the presence of, in the sight of. We see "gods" with a small "g" which also has several possibilities (Strong's): idols/false gods, magistrates/judges, angels. Other than that phrase, what is the main point of 1? What does "all my heart" tell us?
2 We find several important concepts here. What two actions are spoken of? What does "bow down" imply? Is it merely a physical movement? If so, why didn’t Daniel’s three friends (Dan. 3) just bow down, and say, oh well, it doesn’t really mean anything, instead of refusing and being thrown in the furnace? Bowing indicated worship. Whether we physically do that act or not, worship involves bowing before God--yielding, submitting. Was the temple built in David’s time?
"Temple" could be translated "tabernacle"; it could also refer to the Holy of Holies. In what way were either of these meanings significant to the Old Testament worshiper? Is this the way we should feel toward our church buildings? Where is God's presence now? Within each believer--not in a physical location.
Worship includes what action, 2? For what and what? Even when we don't feel thankful about how life feels, can we always be thankful for these?
What does 2 tell us about the Bible--God's Word? The Bible claims to be true. Many believe it is written by men, or contains stories, fables or allegories with morals for us to live by. Many believe it has errors. If it has errors, is it true? No. It is either true or not. Archaeological evidence always confirms and never disproves Bible references. Fulfilled prophecy proves the Bible is true; no other writings makes specific detailed prophetic claims that have been fulfilled exactly. Is God's name important? What does the end of 2 tell us about the importance of God's Word? KJV/above, NASB/according to.
3 What does this tell us about prayer? What are some of the answers we may receive? Some of the answers we need are in the Bible.
4-6 Were all the kings of the earth thankful to God at that time? When will they be? In the millenial kingdom. What is something we should sing about? Today many contemporary songs focus on "me"--how I feel about God, what I am doing for Him, what I will do for Him. The Bible teaches that our singing should focus on Him--praising and thanking Him for who He is, speaking of His ways. Col. 3:16, "teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."
7 Does trouble come to the godly? Does "revive" speak of "revival" meetings? God does revive the nation Israel, but not in the sense of a modern "revival"; revival is never spoken of in connection with the church. Who indwells and empowers each Christian? Does He need revived? If we feel weak or far from God, do we need more of the Holy Spirit? When He indwells us, does He come part way in and later come in a little more? So instead, what do we need to do more of? Obedience, prayer, being in the Word. The Old Testament saints did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit; apparently they needed revived from time to time. The Old Testament righteous who were obedient under the Law were promised protection; is the church promised this? We are told to expect trials, tribulations and persecution.
8 Do we live like we believe God is sovereign and loving, or do we worry about what He might or might not do? Will God forsake us? But in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon people temporarily, and might abandon them to their sinful ways.
1-12 How do we see God's omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence? He is everywhere, sees and knows everything about everyone, and is all-powerful. Do sitting, rising, lying down, our path, and all our ways pretty much cover everything about our lives? What verbs in 1-4 tell what He does? What does He do, 5? Can we escape or hide from Him? Can we ever be where He can't hear or help us?
13-16 Is an unborn baby a person? Does God know how long each person has? Does everyone have the same allotted number of days?
17-18 Is God concerned about us individually?
19-22 Does the psalmist say this because he is a hateful evil man, or because he is totally devoted to God? Because God is so wonderful, he loathes those who are God's enemies, and desires for God to punish them; will He? Does this line up with what the New Testament is taught? Under the Law, there was nothing wrong with this sentiment; when Christ came, what did He teach that was new? Love your enemies, pray for them, share the gospel with them. Those who see the church and Israel as one group, under one covenant, have trouble explaining passages like this in the Old Testament.
23-24 A good prayer. Is anxiety a problem for us? Psychology deals extensively with anxiety, and even Christian psychologists think the Bible doesn’t have all the answers, that we have to look elsewhere for help with anxiety. But the Bible has a great deal to say about anxiety; God helps us control both our thoughts and our feelings (our hearts). Mat. 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6-8, II Tim. 1:7, I John 4:18. Many passages say "fear not." When we truly know and love God, will we fear or worry? Why not? Because we trust Him.
1-5 Is he concerned about bad stuff that just "happens," or evil that is purposely, knowingly done to him? Do some people enjoy causing trouble, even hurting others? Traps and snares, 5, will certainly apply to believers in the tribulation. When did David need rescued from evil men? When Saul was chasing him? In time of war? When his own counselors, friends and even his son were trying to sabotage him? Didn't people seem to be against him for much of his life? Do believers today ever face this, on either a small or large scale?
6-8 We are to take these situations to God and trust Him.
9-11 The Bible--Old and New Testaments--teaches the principle of reaping what you sow, and that God is just. Does evil bring consequences? Is David wicked or righteous? Is he having a temper tantrum? He is agreeing with God's revealed principle of justice: the evil will reap evil, it will come back on them. In trying to soften this idea to fit what the church is taught about love and forgiveness, some teach that burning coals in Rom. 12:21 speaks of a positive act, but here burning coals seems to have a negative meaning. Why is the New Testament Christian uncomfortable with the concept of vengeance? We are told not to take vengeance ourselves but leave it to God. God's vengeance on evil IS a biblical concept, even in the New Testament. God created us with a desire for justice, and for those in the wrong to be punished; this desire on our part is not wrong or unbiblical. Some go so far as to try to soften, limit, or eliminate the teaching of eternal punishment in the lake of fire, but the Bible clearly teaches this.
12-13 Here we find God's justice. In the Old Testament, under the Law, Israel was promised blessings for obedience--for righteousness. So if the righteous were afflicted, could they count on God's help? The church is not given these same promises for our earthly life.
1-2 Is David telling God what to do, or is this a poetic way of saying he is calling on God? Prayer is pictured by what? Exo. 30:8. So in Rev. 5:8, 8:3-4, we see how the Bible uses symbols that are easily interpreted for us by comparing Scripture to Scripture. Here, working backward from Psalms and Rev., what is pictured in Exodus by the requirement of perpetual incense burning before the Lord? What are we told in Luke 18:1, I Thes. 5:17?
3 Why would David be worried about his mouth? What does James have to say about our mouths? James 3:2-10.
4 Does God incline our hearts to evil? Mat. 6:13, does God lead us into temptation? God leads us--do we always follow His leading? In every trial, isn't there a wrong choice possible--a temptation? Do even believers need God's help to make right choices?
5 What is David talking about? Compare Pro. 27:6; several New Testament passages talk about admonishing your brother. What's the difference between suffering at the hands of evil men, and being admonished by a brother? Aren't both painful? So all pain is not the same?
6 "Their judges" must refer to the wicked deeds, 5, of the wicked, 4.
7 Not sure what he's getting at.
8-10 Again we see the hope of the wicked reaping what they have sown, like Haman, and God our refuge in danger. Traps, snares, nets, wicked: besides dangers to the psalmist, we see allusions to the tribulation.
David is where, doing what? Saul and his army are after him. How does life appear? He is trapped, life looks hopeless. Can this apply to us also?
1-2 Do you see the poetic style of saying the same thing four different way?
3 How does he feel? Ever feel that way, like any step could be dangerous because of landmines hidden everywhere? Who is our enemy who is doing this? What fact comforts him? When we understand God’s omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, His sovereignty (see Psalm 139), we will be comforted too.
4 David sees no escape (NASB)--but did David escape? Just because it looks like the end of the world, is it? In some situations, no one really knows what is happening with you except God, or maybe no one really cares like you’d like them to.
5 So all is lost, right?
6-7 Might the worst happen? Or what may happen? Even though what? If God is merciful and graciously delivers us from the situation, what should be our response? Even in the Old Testament, where God promised earthly blessings to the righteous, did He allow them to undergo stressful situations? Remember the Old Testament saints did not have the comforting presence of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we do. Is God waiting to act until we tell Him our situation, or is He always working in our lives? Why does it sometimes feel like God is not listening, seeing or working? Is God's plan to keep us free of troubles? Why not?
1 Is David demanding that God hear and answer? Is this how prayer works? We often find prayer and supplication linked; they apparently are somewhat different. Supplication: entreaty, earnest request. Prayer may be a broader term, including worship (yielding to God's will), intercession, confession of sin, making requests. Compare Phil. 4:6, which mentions what other aspect of prayer?
2 The New Testament believer is "in Christ" so God looks not at our sinfulness but sees Christ's righteousness on our behalf, II Cor. 5:21, Phil. 3:9. In the Old Testament dispensation, had the Lamb of God paid the price for sin? Were they dressed in His righteousness? So at that time, no one was justified in the sight of God; sacrifices were necessary. Compare Psa. 14:1-3, which is quoted in Rom. 3.
3 In 3, 9, and 12, who does he speak of? This was often a problem for King David; who is our main enemy?
4 How does he feel? Have you ever felt overwhelmed and desolate by the constant attacks of the enemy?
5-6 What helps? Remembering what God has done in the past--for us, for others, in His Word.
7 Have you ever felt like this? Do you think David ever suffered from depression? He was a very emotional person.
8-9 Might he need literal direction where to walk? Might we? Might this psalm prophetically speak of the dilemma of believers in the tribulation?
10-12 David doesn't just beg God to make everything better; what does he also desire, 10-11? Do we just want God to fix stuff for us, or do we see ourselves as David does at the end of 12? Does God use trials to teach us about Him, 10? Again we see individuals in the age of the Law needing revived; they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower them. 12, would a good and loving God really do this? Is judgment the action of a good God or an evil one?
1-2 What does God do here? Is this the action of a righteous God or a wicked one? In the dispensation of the Law, God was dealing with Israel as a nation, and they were to put down and eve destroy their enemies--the enemies of the true and living God. David was a warrier-king.
How does this apply to the church? Does the New Testament teach that our warfare is physical and military, or is it spiritual? Eph. 6:10-17. Those who do not understand the dispensations of the Bible have trouble interpreting passages like this, which on the surface do not seem to fit with our New Testament perspective of loving, forgiving, and turning the other cheek.
3-4 Does God do those things for him because he is important, or thinks he is? Get a perspective.
5-8 Who does he need rescued from? Aliens/ASB = strange children/KJV. Perhaps David has been captured by an enemy people. What are these people like? Is God able to use the forces of nature to bring about David's deliverance?
9-11 Perhaps David is repeating his request, or perhaps he is praising God for delivering him.
12-15 God has delivered David and his people; how does their future look?
Besides the original meaning in David's day, and the application to the church today, we often see in Psalms a prophetic application to the tribulation or millenial kingdom. Let's look at this possibility. We see believers asking for God's deliverance from aliens/strange children. This could speak of strangers in alien nations, or could possibly refer, literally, to something or someone even more strange. We see their deceit, falsehood. Twice it is repeated, emphasizing their right hand. What meets this description in Rev. 13:1-18? The beast and all who take his mark. Many believe that "aliens" will appear in the tribulation as part of the great deception; if so, they would actually be demons in disguise.
It is interesting that "strange children"/KJV is also translated as "aliens"/NASB. "Children:" (excerpts from Strong's) in a wide sense, both literal ad figurative; subjects, nation, one who is anointed or appointed, rebel, robber, soldier, tumultous one.
"Strange" (Strong's 5236) is always used of strange gods, except once, "in a strange land." Dan. 11:39, "and he will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign [strange, 5236] god." So we see tribulation believers or Jews being captured or trying to elude capture by the beast's forces. Revelation speaks of God bringing great tectonic and weather events on the earth, maybe even using such events to bring deliverance.
9-15 seems to speak of deliverance. We know that many will not make it through the tribulation, but what awaits the ones that do? The millenium will be a time of blessing for Israel, as we see pictured in 12-15.
This psalm is an acrostic; each verse (except one) begins with one Hebrew letter. It speaks of God’s greatness and mercy and what He has done.
1-3 How often should we bless God with our words? What does "unsearchable" mean? How much do we really know about God?
4-7 Who should we tell about God and what He has done?
8-13 What is God's nature? How can we bless God? God's kingdom is mentioned how many times? When will this come about? Following the rapture, tribulation, and second coming. Rev. 20 tells of the thousand-year kingdom of Christ on earth, but what happens then? This time frame is spoken of in many places.
14 Will God make sure we never fall or are bowed down?
15-16 Compare Psa. 104:27; God's hand provides for who? All creatures. Who is spoken of here--animals or people? It all comes from God’s hand.
17 Does this always feel true when life seems unfair or makes us angry? Are feelings facts? How can this be true when things do not look this way?
18-20 Does God always feel near when we call on Him? Are feelings facts? How do these verses limit who God responds to? What about those who don't love Him or His truth but who don't seem wicked? Does the Bible say there is a middle group?
21 Again, what clue are we given to tell us what it means to bless God? Our mouths speak. Do all flesh bless Him? When will they?
1-2 What is the theme of this psalm?
3-4 Should we put our trust in any man? Why not?
5-9 What three phrases are used to identify God? The psalmist lists things God does that we can praise Him for; what needy types of people are listed? We can add to this list from our own experience. The righteous, 8, are contrasted with who, 9? Rom. 3:10 says there is none righteous, meeting God's standard of perfect righteousness. But the Old Testament uses "the righteous" to speak of those who follow the Lord and keep the Law.
10 Who or what is Zion? Jerusalem. Again we are told the kingdom will go on forever. How does this verse speak to current events regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict over who land it is?
1-2 Who is this psalm to and about?
3-9 What is being said about God?
10 Is this a slam on the horse? What is being compared or referred to? Where might man look to for strength? What does the horse represent for them at that time? The horse in that day was not for pleasure riding but was an animal of war: military power. So what is being said about the legs of man? What is the point of this verse?
11 By comparison, who does God not favor?
12-13 Who is this psalm about?
14-18 What does this passage teach about God? His sovereignty. What does that mean--has He pre-programmed everything to happen a certain way? Has He given man free will? Can weather be understood and predicted? Why? A wise, intelligent Creator makes things happen by setting up a natural, predictable, logical system--what we call nature, or the laws of nature. The "laws" of nature are merely a description of the orderly processes we observe. Evolutionists refer to these laws but do not believe in a Creator; without a Creator, such "laws" do not make sense and cannot be explained.
19-20 What is this saying about Israel? Does God deal with all nations the way He does with Israel? God has a unique and exclusive relationship with them as a nation. Their nation is "God’s chosen people." Israel is the only people God is dealing with as a nation; is the church a nation with a land? What is the application of this psalm for those outside Israel--for the church today? We learn of God's sovereignty, of His desire that we trust in Him alone, and of His plans and promises to the nation Israel.
1-2 Who praises the Lord? Hosts (Strong's): a mass of persons, especially organized for war, an army, battle, soldiers; related to hostage. God is frequently identified in the Old Testament as the Lord of hosts; so what would be one of the roles of the angels? Warfare. One of the main themes of the Bible is spiritual warfare; when did it begin? When will it end? "Hosts" is not used in New Testament, but Rev. 19 talks about the armies which were in heaven.
3-6 What praises Him here? Things in the heavens. How do they do that? Compare 19:1. 5, what did God use to create everything?
7-10 What praises Him here? The earth and its creatures. 7, "dragons" in the KJV is translated "sea monsters" in the NASB. Strong's: a marine or land monster, sea serpent or jackal; dragon, sea-monster, serpent, whale. Many ask where dinosaurs fit in the Bible since they don't seem to be mentioned; however, the word "dinosaur" was only coined in the 1800s so the word would not be found in the Bible. Yet the Bible does speak of such creatures--first, in Gen. 1:21, where this same Hebrew word is translated "whales" in the KJV but "sea monsters" in the NASB.
In Job, we find two creatures described that would be dinosaurs--a land creature and a sea creature. What creature is named in Job 40:15? This word is transliterated from the Hebrew word "b'hemoth." He is described in 15-24; some translations call this a hippopotamus, but does 17 confirm that? A cedar is a huge tree. 19 makes him sound quite large and powerful, more so than any other creature. Yet even more fearsome is what creature that we find in Job 41:1 and described in the entire chapter? Hebrew: "livyathan." A sea serpent, or marine dinosaur; what is the implied answer to the rhetorical questions in 1-7? Some say sea serpents are only legends, but might legends be based on truth? Why is it that legends from all cultures speak of fire-breathing dragons; what do we find in 18-21?
Job is thought to date to the times of the patriarchs. Were there dinosaurs on the ark? Of course; Noah took all creatures on the ark (young dinosaurs would be small). Harsher climate following the flood apparently caused dinosaurs to start dying out, but there is much evidence of dinosaurs (usually referred to as dragons) in every culture. Some, usually marine, are even found in modern times. Christians need not fear that the fact of dinosaurs conflicts with the Bible.
11-12 Everyone is commanded to praise Him.
13-14 Why is everything and everyone to praise Him? "Horn" speaks symbolically of strength. We see Israel referenced; it's primary meaning regards Israel, but is this psalm only about Israel? Does everything and everyone praise the Lord at this time? When will they? In the greater prophetic fulfillment is future. This is God's will for the earth.
1-3 What is this psalm about? Who is it primarily speaking about? Is there application for the church? Do we see music playing a part in praise?
4-5 This speaks of the fact that even though God's people, Israel, often endured affliction, He had plans for them. Is our bed usually a place of praise, or a place of moaning, griping, and worrying? Why is it that our worries tend to keep us awake at night, not our joys? When we are afflicted, can we praise God for who He is, His plans, His will, and for our salvation?
6-9 What two things do the godly ones, 5, have? What are they going to do? Why? Is this speaking of Israel, under the Law of the Old Testament, or the church, whose directions are found in the New Testament epistles? Is God a righteous judge, 9? Why did God tell Israel to conquer other nations, Exo. 23:31-33? Does this mean they would live in peace with idolatrous nations? Under the dispensation of the Law, God had revealed Himself and His laws through the nation of Israel; their enemies were the enemies of God. In the Old Testament, the godly used their swords against the ungodly; in the New Testament, do believers have a sword? What is it? Eph. 6:17. How do we use it towards the ungodly? How will Jesus use it at the battle of Armageddon, Rev. 19:15?
Is the church a nation? The church--the body of Christ, all true believers--is present in all nations. Many teach that God's plans and promises regarding Israel are void and now apply to the church, but the Bible teaches that Israel has been temporarily set aside due to disobedience, and all God's promises will yet be fulfilled in the future, through the purifying of the seven years tribulation, and then, following the second coming, through Christ's earthly reign.
Some who take the allegorical approach rather than the literal dispensational interpretation teach that the church is to triumph militarily--to take dominion over the world, to bring in "the kingdom" so that Christ can return to receive the kingdom that has been prepared for Him by the church. Some of these groups are called "dominion theology," "dominionism," "kingdom now," "reconstructionism" (in which society is reconstructed according the an Old Testament model). Many of those taking the reformed or Calvinistic view think we are living in the kingdom now--that Christ is already ruling (in the hearts of believers) and that Satan is chained (although on a long chain).
These doctrinal errors come from lumping all believers of all times into one category, from not understanding the various dispensations the Bible presents, and from not interpreting the Bible in the normal, literal, historical, grammatical sense. Individual words are very significant to the literal interpretation. The Bible itself supports this view, because we are told not one jot or tittle (NASV, not the smallest letter or stroke) will pass away without being fulfilled (Mat.5:18), and in Rev. 22:18-19, not to add or take away any of the words of this book. These verses would be meaningless if the literal interpretation were not true.
1-6 What is the theme of this final psalm? Where should we praise Him? For what should we praise Him? How do we know about His mighty deeds? They are recorded in His Word; should we praise Him for the Scriptures? Can knowing the Scriptures better help us to praise Him? What else can help us praise Him? Music.
Today church music is often characterized as worship; the Bible characterizes it as what? Worship is a yielding of one's self to God. Our church services are often called "worship services"; biblically speaking, worship is not particularly what we do in church, because worship is not primarily a group activity but a personal activity. What does Col. 3:16 tell us about music among New Testament believers? The New Testament doesn't specifically mention the church using instruments so some teach that is not biblical, but an argument from silence is not strong. In the Old Testament, the temple service included directions for singers and instrumentalists. I Chron. 25:3 says the temple instruments were for giving thanks and praise; this is different from worship.
This psalm speaks specifically to Israel; by application, does it speak to all believers? Could we stretch this to say that praise is one of God's purposes for man? When will this actually happen?
Copyright 2013 Jan Young
Return to Jan's Bible Notes