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Psalms Essentials

Bible Study Lesson Schedule and Weekly Essentials

June 3-4
Lesson Passage: Psalm 1:1-6

  • The Hebrew title for the Book of Psalms comes from a word which means "praise."
    The Greek term "psalmos" in classical times meant "the music of a stringed instrument."[class notes, Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, Dallas Theological Seminary]
  • Keep in mind that the Psalms are poems and should be read and studied as such. For instance, the writer of Psalm 1 pictures the vitality, fulfillment, and stability of the godly person through the single image of a tree planted by a stream of water.[class notes, Dallas Seminary]
  • In Psalm 1, the writer describes two individuals, two paths of life and two results. One is the blessed or godly man (verses 1-3); the other is the wicked man (verses 4-6).
  • Verse 1 - Describes what the blessed man does not do. (1) He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. Biblically, "to walk" means to live one's life. He does not take counsel nor advice from the ungodly. (2) He does not stand in the path of sinners. This means to be submissive to or to continue in the action and manner of the sinner. (3) He does not sit in the seat of scoffers. In the Hebrew culture, sitting was the position of the Rabbi or teacher. A scoffer is a mocker, one who mocks God and the
    things of God. Spurgeon said, "The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell." Overall point: Be very careful about the company you keep! 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, "Bad company corrupts good morals."
  • Verse 2 - Describes what the blessed man does do. (1) He loves God's Word and obeys it. Notice, he "delights" in God's Word! (2) He also meditates on God's Word. He chews on it; rolls it over & over in his mind "day and night." This man goes way beyond just a casual acquaintance with the Word of God.
  • Verse 3 - Describes in a beautifully poetic way what the blessed man is like: a tree firmly planted, secure and nourished. Result: this man prospers in whatever he does, he bears fruit, etc.
  • Verses 4-5 - Describes the wicked man. He is a lightweight. Chaff is the husk of the grain which is light, worthless and easily carried away by the wind. This man will not be able to stand at the judgment, that is, he will be found guilty. He has a fearful end to his life.
  • Verse 6 - The Lord knows and approves of the righteous man. The way of the wicked will perish, that is, to go into eternity separated from God. The righteous and the wicked are like two parallel lines which never meet and are going in opposite directions.

June 10-11
Lesson Passage: Psalm 78:5-8, 32-39

  • When we think of the Psalms, we usually imagine that David wrote most if not all of them. However, of the 150 Psalms, David wrote 73. A man named Asaph wrote 12 Psalms including Psalm 78. Asaph is probably the chief musician of King David. [Joseph Addison Alexander, The Psalms Translated and Explained, page 327] This psalm is called a "Maskil," which is a teaching psalm or a contemplative poem. The first line in verse one says, "Listen, O my people, to my instruction..."
  • Psalm 78 is one of the longest Psalms - 72 verses. So, we will not try to cover it all in a thirty-minute lesson! The theme is God's guidance of His people Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness. It is a history lesson, not to satisfy their curiosity about the past, but to learn from the sins of previous generations to foster obedience in the future. It is also a warning to future generations. A familiar quotation, attributed to several
    people, would fit here: "Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."
  • Verses 5-6 - Long ago God had instructed the nation Israel to teach His laws to their children. It was to pass from one generation to the next. See the command of the Lord through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This was to ensure that each succeeding generation would obey the Lord right up to the present generation.
  • Verse 7 - The goal of the instruction: that present and future generations would place their confidence in the Lord, not forgetting His works and to obey the Lord. APPLICATION: When we remember what the Lord has done in our lives, we have the confidence in Him to face the future. However, how easy it can be to forget the many blessings He has given us in the past and to worry about the future.
  • Verse 8 - is the poor example of previous generations who were stubborn and rebellious - do not be like them! They did not prepare their heart and their spirit was not faithful to God. See Romans 15:4, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction..."
  • Verses 32-33 refers to the generation that saw God do such things as the parting of the Red Sea and providing them with manna each day. And yet, they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works! Consequently, that generation died in the wilderness. William S. Plumer said, "It is not want of evidence, but the want of right disposition that keeps men from believing God."[Dr. Constable's Notes on Psalms, page 210]
  • Verses 34-39 - After God severely disciplined them, some of them turned back to Him but not wholeheartedly or consistently. Still, He showed compassion, forgave them and did not destroy all of them at once. He "restrained His anger and did not arouse His wrath."(verse 38) God "remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and does not return."(verse 39) This refers to the brevity of life. Our lives are like a "vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."(James 4:14)

June 17-18 (Sunday is Father's Day)
Lesson Passage: Psalm 23:1-6

  • No doubt this is the best known of any of the Psalms, and to many people, it is the most beloved portion of the entire Bible. Spurgeon said, "It is David's heavenly pastoral...this is the pearl of Psalms whose soft and pure radiance delights every eye."[Treasury of David Vol. 1, page 353]
  • Verse 1 - Gives us the theme of the Psalm and defines the relationship between the believer and the Lord. Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need. He is the Lord, the Shepherd. I am the sheep. He leads, I follow - that's how it works. We need to understand that he is talking about believers, not all people. Sheep are stupid, stubborn, timid and helpless. Philip Keller, in his book A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, says that sheep need "endless attention and meticulous care." That refers to you and me - we are needy!
  • Verses 2-3 - What He provides for me: rest, refreshment(spiritual, physical and emotional), and restoration - to revive me and cheer me up. APPLICATION: Notice, it says He "makes me lie down." Sometimes the Lord must gently force us to get rest and refreshment!
  • Verse 4 - We need to anticipate trouble. We are never promised a problem-free life. He does not say "if I happen to go through the valley of the shadow." No, he says "even though." This refers to the valley of deep darkness; extreme, imminent danger. David wrote from experience. For two years he was chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him. But, he will fear no evil because the Lord is with him. In the midst of
    trouble, understand the Lord's instruments: the rod and the staff. The rod is a club which the shepherd used to ward off predators. The shepherd used the staff to rescue, to guide and to discipline the sheep.
  • Verses 5-6 - The scene changes to a banquet hall which is symbolic for the Lord's lavish provision. Even in the presence of danger (enemies), David is confident of the Lord's care and is not afraid. The oil is refreshing, soothing and is consistent with a gracious host welcoming someone into their home. David's cup overflows with abundant blessing from the Lord. In verse 6, David closes this great Psalm with a response of faith. He knows that the Lord's loyal love will go with him for the rest of his life. Dwelling in the house of the Lord would refer to the Tabernacle - the Temple had not been built yet. APPLICATION: Every day, moment by moment, we can "dwell in the house of the Lord" through our devotional life, Scripture reading, and prayer.
    Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
    John 10:14-15.

June 24-25
Lesson Passage: Psalm 138:1-8

  • Psalm 138 is a Psalm of individual or communal thanksgiving, or declarative praise. It begins a group of eight psalms of David, his last in the Book of Psalms.(Constable, page 333) The key word in the Psalm is "thanks" which is repeated three times in the first four verses.
  • Verse 1 - The first line of the Psalm sets the tone: "I will give Thee thanks with all my heart." Notice, too, that David is addressing the Lord in verses 1-4, so it is a prayer.
    He speaks of the Lord in the third person in verses 5-6; then, he switches back to addressing the Lord in verses 7-8. In the second line of verse 1 he says that he will sing praises to the Lord "before the gods." This is a challenge to the other gods of men. He will challenge them to their faces, showing the strength of his God over the lesser gods. There is a similar thought in Psalm 119:46.
  • Verses 2-3 - David expresses why he bows in worship and thanksgiving - for the Lord's lovingkindness and truth; that He answered David on the day he called on the Lord which made him bold with strength in his soul. APPLICATION: Our thanksgiving and praise should always be directly related to our knowledge of the Lord and what He has done for us. We worship Him in both grace and truth (John 1:14).
  • Verses 4-6 - When all the kings of the earth hear the Lord's truth, they too will give thanks to Him. This was the reaction of the Queen of Sheba in Solomon's day, 1 Kings 10:1-13.(Constable, page 334) Jesus used her as an example of someone who traveled far and at great expense to hear the Lord's wisdom from Solomon (Matthew 12:42).
    Although the Lord Himself is exalted, He reaches down to lift up the lowly but is distant from the arrogant ("haughty"). See Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5.
  • Verses 7-8 - Verse 7 sounds like Psalm 23:4 - "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." These lines are assurances of the Lord's care and comfort in the midst of trouble, and protection against enemies. We are never promised an exemption from trouble. Trials are not an elective course, but part of the required curriculum. The Lord promises protection, care, comfort and salvation in the midst of trouble as we travel through this life. The first line of verse 8 means that the Lord will complete, KJV says "perfect," what He has begun for me. For the believer, the Lord will finish what He started in our life. See Philippians 1:6.

July 1-2
Lesson Passage: Psalm 84:1-12

  • Psalm 84 is a Psalm of Ascent, meaning that it was sung by Israelite pilgrims as they were traveling to Jerusalem to worship the Lord at the temple. They were ascending because Jerusalem was one of the highest points of elevation in Palestine. The writer is unknown. The superscription refers to the sons of Korah, who were those who arranged and sang this Psalm in Israel's public worship.(Constable, page 151) Spurgeon said, "Pilgrimages to the tabernacle were a great feature of Jewish life."(Treasury of David, Vol.II, page 432)
  • Verses 1-2 - These verses set the tone for the entire psalm. "Lord of hosts" means "the Lord of armies," which emphasizes His power. His dwelling places were His temple and courtyards. The Lord promised to meet with His people in a special way
    there through the mediation of the Levitical priests. The regular worshipper could not enter the temple proper but could worship God in its courtyards. (Constable, page 151) The psalmist expresses intense desire to appear before the Lord in worship. "My heart and my flesh" means that the whole man is involved. See also Psalm 42:1-2, which is a beautiful expression of longing for the Lord. APPLICATION: Would that we had this same attitude as we entered the Worship Center each weekend! We tend to be too casual about worship.
  • Verses 3-4 - The psalmist envied the birds who make their nests in and around the temple since they were always near the Lord. They even had the freedom to be near the altars. The person who is blessed, to be envied, to be favored - is the one who is constantly engaged in worship which resulted in praise. Spurgeon said, "Communion is the mother of adoration."(Treasury of David, Vol. II, page 433)
  • Verses 5-7 - This is the second time the word "blessed" is used to describe the happiness of the true worshipper in the Lord. Their strength is in the Lord even though they go through the valley of Baca, which means weeping. "Strength to
    strength" - the weary traveling pilgrim becomes stronger and stronger as they draw closer and closer to the Lord. He anticipates the joy in worshipping God in the temple area.
  • Verses 8-10 - He is addressing God asking Him to hear his prayer, which is on behalf of the king. "Our shield" is a metaphor for the king who is also described as "Thine anointed." Paul encouraged Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 to pray for "kings and all who are in authority." On verse 10, Dr. John MacArthur says, "One day standing at the door of the temple, or just being near, was better than a thousand days fellowshipping with the wicked."(MacArthur Bible Commentary, page 653) See also Hebrews 11:24-26.
  • Verses 11-12 - This presents God's overall protection, provision, and goodness toward those who walk with Him in integrity. He ends the psalm with the third "blessed" describing the man who trusts in the Lord.

July 8-9
Lesson Passage: Psalm 95:1-11

  • A simple two-point outline for this Psalm: (1)An Invitation to Praise the Lord, Verses 1-8. (2) A Warning Against Unbelief, Verses 9-11. It is interesting that Hebrews 4 quotes three passages verbatim from Psalm 95: (1) Hebrews 4:3 quotes from Psalm 95:11; (2) Hebrews 4:5, also quotes from Psalm 95:11 and (3) Hebrews 4:7 gives an indication that David is the author and quotes from Psalm 95:7b and 8a. Also, Hebrews 3:7-11 quotes Psalm 95:7b-11 almost word for word. The writer of Hebrews introduces those verses from Psalm 95 by saying, "...just as the Holy Spirit says." He is affirming that Psalm 95 is God's Word, written by the Holy Spirit!
  • Verses 1-2 - Four times in these two verses the writer uses the phrase "let us," which is an invitation to praise the Lord: "sing for joy," "shout joyfully," "come before His presence with Thanksgiving," and "shout joyfully with psalms."
  • Verses 3-5 - The writer gives reasons for praising the Lord. He is a great Lord. He is a great King. In His hands are the depths of the earth that is, He created and He possesses the whole earth: the mountains, the sea, and the dry land.
  • Verse 6 - Another invitation to worship, bow down and kneel before "our Maker."
  • Verse 7a - An additional reason to worship Him: He is our God, and we are His people, His sheep. APPLICATION: Our minds should be fully engaged Biblically when we worship the Lord - focus on why we worship Him. Just repeating "praise the Lord" over and over again is, at best, shallow and at its worst is not worship at all. Repeating the attributes and works of the Lord leads us to more meaningful worship and praise.
  • Verse 7b - Introduces the warning portion of this Psalm.
  • Verses 8-11 - Although this Psalm begins with a positive note of worship and praise, it concludes with a warning. APPLICATION: Before looking at the details, we see that both messages are necessary: (1) Worship and praise and (2) A warning not to fall away from following the Lord in obedience. In verse 8, he mentions two specific places and instances in Israel's history. See Exodus 17:1-7. The people had disputed with Moses and tested God. Massah means test; Meribah means quarrel. The Lord takes these kinds of things very seriously. Verse 9 is an indictment of the people - even though they had seen Him work in the parting of the Red Sea and many other ways, they tested Him with unbelief. Verse 10 - So, God "was sick of, or disgusted with" them![Alexander, The Psalms Translated and Explained, p. 395) Verse 11 - God was angry with them, and as a consequence, they would not enter His rest. "His rest" refers to the promised land - see Deuteronomy 12:10. The Psalmist warns his readers and us of the dangers of disobeying the Lord.

July 15-16
Lesson Passage: Psalm 19:1-14

  • We do not know the historical situation of this Psalm, but we do know that it was written by David and was to be accompanied by music. That is all we know.
  • A simple three-point outline of Psalm 19: (1) The Works of God, verses 1-6; (2) The Word of God, verses 7-11; (3) The Worship of God, verses 12-14. The theme: Without knowledge of God there is no true worship of God. The third point of the outline, worship, is the response as a result of the first two points: knowledge of God from His works and His Word. Psalm 19 answers the question "How can we know God?" Answer: from His works (creation); and from His Word.
  • Verses 1-2 - The "heavens" refers to the visible sky. They continually tell of God's glory and the work of His hands. They reveal knowledge of God.
  • Verses 3-4 - There is no audible speech, but they have a voice which fills the earth. Every tongue, nation, and ethnic group sees and hears it. The tent for the sun is like a bridal tent or pavilion.
  • Verses 5-6 - The sun comes out and moves across the heavens, and nothing is hidden from it. These verses compare the sun to God - nothing escapes His notice. See Romans 1:18-20. Man is without excuse; he has ample evidence of God's existence and power from what he can observe in creation. He knows about God from creation, but he suppresses the truth!
  • Verses 7-8 - This section (verses 7-11) is one of the most powerful passages on God's word in the entire Bible. He uses different terms for God's Word: law, testimony, precepts, and commandment. The qualities of God's Word: perfect, sure, right and pure. The accomplishments of God's Word: restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart and enlightens the eyes.
  • Verses 9-11 - What the law demands: fear of the Lord, which is clean, that is, ethically pure. It remains forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous - they are unchangeable. God's word is more desirable than wealth (gold) and is sweeter than honey. By the statutes, laws, ordinances, etc. God's servant is warned, and in obeying, there is great reward. APPLICATION: Our people need to hear this wonderful tribute to God's word! We need to value God's word more.
  • Verses 12-14 Verse 11 mentioned "Thy servant." Now, in this last section, in the form of a prayer, he further develops how the Lord's servant should respond to the works and word of God. In verse 12 he asks, "Who can discern his own errors?" He followed with a request that the Lord acquit him of hidden faults, which refers to sins we might commit and not even be aware, as opposed to deliberate sins. Verse 13 refers to presumptuous, intentional sins - asking the Lord not to let them rule over him. Result: he will be blameless and acquitted of great transgression. Verse 14 is a benediction which mentions three names for God: Lord, Rock, and Redeemer. In this Psalm, he has gone from Creator to Redeemer!

July 22-23
Lesson Passage: Psalm 136:1-5, 10-15, 23-26

  • Psalm 135 and 136 are descriptive praise Psalms, which praise God for His greatness and for blessing His people. Psalm 136 is unique because it repeats the same refrain in each verse: "For His lovingkindness is everlasting." The Israelites probably sang this psalm antiphonally, meaning that the leaders sang the first line and the congregation responded by singing the refrain.(Dr. Constable's Notes on Psalms, page 329)
  • Verses 1-5 - The writer invites the people to give thanks to the Lord. Then, in each verse, he explains reasons why we should thank and praise the Lord. We should praise Him because "He is good," verse 1. He is "the God of gods," verse 2. He is "the Lord of lords," verse 3. "To Him alone does great wonders," verse 4. "To Him who made the heavens with skill," verse 5. Each line is followed by the refrain, "For His lovingkindness is everlasting." The word "lovingkindness" in the Hebrew can be translated "love," "faithful love," "steadfast love," "loyal love," "lovingkindness," "kindness," and "mercy."(Constable, page 330) APPLICATION: Mindlessly repeating "praise the Lord" over & over again can become meaningless repetition. This Psalm encourages us to get our minds in gear and think about why we praise the Lord
  • Verses 10-15 - This section highlights specific actions the Lord performed in Israel's history for which they can thank and praise the Lord. He "smote the Egyptians in their firstborn," verse 10. He "brought Israel out from their midst with a strong hand and an outstretched arm," verses 11-12. As a poetic device, the psalmist gives physical characteristics to the Lord (hand, arm). Of course, we know that God is Spirit and does not have a physical body. He "divided the Red Sea asunder and made Israel pass through the midst of it," verses 13-14. "He overthrew Pharoah and his army in the Red Sea," verse 15.
  • Verses 23-26 - This section forms a summary of how God cared for Israel and all creatures. He "remembered us in our low estate," verse 23. Spurgeon said, "For the Lord even to think of us is a wealth of mercy."(Treasury of David, Vol. 3b, page 211) "He has rescued us from our adversaries," verse 24. He "gives food to all flesh," verse 25. In verse 26, the writer closes out the Psalm in the same way he started it in verse 1, "Give thanks to the God of heaven"!

July 29-30
Lesson Passage: Psalm 146:1-10

  • Here is an outstanding quote from Charles Spurgeon regarding Psalm 146: "We are now among the Hallelujahs. The rest of our journey lies through the Delectable Mountains. All is praise to the close of the book. The key is high-pitched: the music is upon the high-sounding cymbals. O for a heart full of joyful gratitude that we may run, and leap, and glorify God, even as these Psalms do."(Treasury of David, Vol. 3b, page 400) I cannot improve on that! By the way, the term "Delectable Mountains" is from Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, which Spurgeon read many times.
  • The writer is unknown. Each of the last five psalms in the Book of Psalms begins and ends with the charge to "Praise the Lord!" The Hebrew word is hallelujah, which is why Spurgeon says we are now among the Hallelujahs. These are called hymns of descriptive praise.
  • Verses 1-2 - He invites us to praise the Lord, and he vows to praise the Lord for the rest of his life.
  • Verses 3-4 - The psalmist warns against trusting and putting too much hope in human leaders, "princes." They cannot save us, are mortal, they die ("his spirit departs"), and their ideas die with them.
  • Verses 5-6- The blessed man has his hope and his help in the Lord, the Creator. See Jeremiah 17:7-8.
  • Verses 7-9 - The psalmist now lists nine examples of the Lord's power and faithfulness that should cause us to praise Him. If meeting a need, these can mean physical or spiritual needs or both. (1) He executes justice for the oppressed. (2) He gives food to the hungry. (3) He sets the prisoners free. (4) He opens the eyes of the blind. (5) He raises up those who are bowed down. (6) He loves the righteous. (7) He protects the strangers. (8) He supports the fatherless (orphans) and widows. (9) He thwarts the way of the wicked. From this list, we also see the things that are important to the Lord and should be priorities for us as well.
  • Verse 10 - The writer ends the psalm by inviting us to praise the Lord because He will reign forever. Spurgeon says, "Glory be to His name, His throne is never in jeopardy. As the Lord ever liveth, so He ever reigneth."(Treasury of David, Vol. 3b, page 403) Praise the Lord!

August 5-6
Lesson Passage: Psalm 51:1-17

  • If anyone ever asks me what it means to confess sin, I always encourage them to read Psalm 51(this week's lesson) and Psalm 32(next week's lesson). The superscription: "For the choir director: A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba." The entire story is recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. David, King of Israel, had committed adultery and murder. Psalm 51 is called a
    penitential or confessional psalm. The phrase "For the choir director" tells us that the psalm was designed for public worship. For us, it is a pattern for dealing with sin.
  • Verses 1-6 - This section shows us the seriousness of sin. He starts by asking God to be gracious; the KJV says, "have mercy," which means to show favor, to be compassionate. David used three terms for sin: (1) "transgressions" - which means a revolt or rebellion against divine law. (2) "iniquity" - personal perverseness, and (3) "sin" - missing the mark, like an arrow which misses the target. This term includes sins of omission. Verse 4 - Our sin offends God first and foremost, no matter who else is affected, and He is justified when He speaks against us. Verse 5 - we sin because we are all natural born sinners! Verse 6 - What God wants of us: "truth in our innermost being." Be honest with the Lord and be honest with yourself. He doesn't want superficial confession and repentance.
  • Verses 7-14 - Forgiveness is available! Some of the things he asks of God: purify me, wash me, make me hear joy, blot out all my iniquities, create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Hyssop (verse 7) was used to apply the blood to the doorposts in Exodus 12:22. It was a plant used for ritual cleansing.
  • Verses 15-17 - Results of his cleansing and what the Lord wants: "I will teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners will be converted to Thee."(verse 13) "My tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness."(verse 14) "My mouth may declare Thy
    praise."(verse 15) The Lord does not delight in sacrifice (verse 16), that is, in superficial ritual without the heart of the sinner. The Lord wants a broken and contrite heart (verse 17)! See Luke 18:9-14 and 1 John 1:9.
  • Verse 11 - David uses a phrase which we must address: "Do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me." In the OT, the Holy Spirit came upon certain individuals for particular ministries, such as the King. The Spirit could also be taken away if that person lapsed into a life of disobedience and sin, such as Saul (1 Samuel 16:14). David did not want this to happen to him. For us, we need not ever pray this prayer because as NT believers, the Holy Spirit is given to us forever (John 14:16).

August 12-13
Lesson Passage: Psalm 32:1-11

  • Psalm 32 is the other Psalm I would suggest someone read who asks me about the confession of sin - the first being Psalm 51. Psalm 32 is a psalm of David - a "maskil," which was a contemplative or teaching psalm. The background of the two psalms is the same: David's sin with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. Psalm 51 expresses David's emotions; Psalm 32, the lessons learned which he passes on to us.
  • Verses 1-2 - A happy man is a forgiven man. He uses different instructive terms for sin: (1) "transgression" - stepping out of bounds, open rebellion. (2) "sin" - missing the mark, going astray. (3) "iniquity" guilt, a burden. (4) "deceit" - fraud, deception, including self-deceit. He also uses different terms for the cleansing: (1) "forgiven" - taken away. (2) "covered" - put out of sight, or clothed.
  • Verses 3-5 - David's personal experience, which is instructive for us. In verse 3, his problem is that he kept silent about his sin, that is, he did not confess it to the Lord. Consequently, God's hand was heavy upon him in discipline, which affected his physical energy (verse 4). He gave in, acknowledged his sin to the Lord - didn't hide it, but confessed it - and the Lord forgave his guilt (verse 5). The burden was lifted. Lesson for us: be transparent with the Lord. See 1 John 1:9.
  • Verses 6-7 - David's instruction to us based on his experience of confessing his sin - "Therefore..." Pray to the Lord at all times but especially during times of danger and distress ("great waters"). In verse 7 he expresses his assurance that the Lord is his safe place from trouble.
  • Verses 8-11 - He speaks for the Lord - "I will instruct you..." The Lord will keep His eye on us, He will counsel us. Don't be like a stubborn mule resisting the leading and discipline of the Lord. Verse 10 opens with a sobering line: "Many are the sorrows of the wicked." He contrasts that line by showing the result of trusting the Lord - His loyal love surrounds him. The final verse ends on a positive, uplifting note: be glad, rejoice, shout for joy! Who can do this? Righteous ones and all who are upright in heart!

August 19-20
Lesson Passage: Psalm 141:1-10

  • This psalm is one of a group of four psalms - Psalm 140-143, all by David. All four form a distinctive group, reflecting the same conditions and possessing many similarities. (A. Cohen, The Psalms, page 456) The situation and details are unknown. Spurgeon said of this Psalm, "Its meaning lies so deep as to be in places exceedingly obscure, yet even on its surface it has dust of gold."(Treasury of David, Vol. 3b, p. 307)
  • David is obviously in trouble. He prays for godliness in his heart and life and deliverance from sinners.
  • Verses 1-2 - A desperate cry to the Lord to be heard, for the Lord to accept his prayer as incense at the evening sacrifice. "His case was urgent, and he pleaded that urgency."(Spurgeon, p. 307)
  • Verses 3-4 - He asks the Lord to guard him from any evil, especially what he might say. It is very similar to saying, "Lead us not into temptation."(Matthew 6:13) He mentions men who do iniquity and has a poetic way in verse 4 of saying that he does not want to participate in their sin: "And do not let me eat of their delicacies." The word "delicacies" implies luxuries, which are enticing temptations. Proverbs 23:6, "Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies." It may refer to sitting down to a meal with a wicked person or to joining him in his sin. The point: He is asking the Lord not to let him be tempted by the lifestyle of an evil person.
  • Verses 5-7 - In verse 5, he expresses openness to the correction and constructive criticism of the righteous. He asks the Lord not to let him refuse helpful correction from godly people. APPLICATION: Often the Lord uses godly friends to come alongside us to encourage, exhort, warn and correct us. We need to be open to their counsel. Verses 6 and 7 are rather obscure. "Their judges" likely refers to the judges of the wicked or possibly the leaders of the wicked. Constable states, "The wicked would learn that David's words had been true when God ultimately destroyed them. They would testify that God had overturned them into the grave, as one who plows a field turns the earth over."(Dr. Constable's Notes on Psalms, page 340)
  • Verses 8-10 - David closes out the psalm by requesting protection from those who were his enemies. He goes where we should always go - to the Lord; to take refuge in Him. David asks that the Lord not leave him defenseless. APPLICATION: Don't miss this point. He is saying that he is defenseless without the Lord. When we encounter trouble, we think we can solve it - but we are defenseless without the Lord. David recognized this. David also referred to the trap and snares the enemy set for him, asking the Lord for protection. In verse 10, David ends the psalm on a beautiful note: may the wicked fall into their own trap and David pass by in safety! See also Psalm 7:15, 35:8 and 57:6. ILLUSTRATION: I can't help but think of the wicked Haman in the Book of Esther. He wanted to destroy the Jews, but he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

August 26-27
Lesson Passage: Psalm 42:1-11

  • Psalm 42 is a "maskil," - a teaching Psalm. Even though he is not mentioned in the superscription, most commentators agree that the writer is David. Spurgeon said of this psalm, " is so Davidic, it smells of the son of Jesse, it bears the marks of his style and experience in every letter."(Treasury of David, Vol. 1b, page 270) The sons of Korah were a family of Levitical singers, so this was to be used in public worship. The occasion was most likely when David was fleeing from Absalom and was not able to worship in the temple.
  • Verses 1-2 - These are two of the most meaningful verses in the entire Book of Psalms and set the tone for the psalm. David expresses his longing for the Lord in the form of a deer panting for water. His soul thirsts for the living God. He is barred from public worship and he is heartsick; he longs for communion with the Lord. He asks, when can he come and appear before the Lord? See Psalm 119:131; Psalm 63:1 - powerful expressions of yearning for the Lord! APPLICATION: We are too casual about worship and fellowship with the Lord. We might ask, couldn't David have his personal quiet time while he was on the run? Yes - but there is something special about corporate worship. Spurgeon said, "He who loves the Lord loves also the assemblies wherein His name is adored. David was never so much at home as in the house of the Lord."(Treasury of David, Vol. 1b, page 271)
  • Verses 3-4 - David expresses his sorrow (tears) as he remembers the times when he led his people in worship and what a joy those times were to him.
  • Verses 5-6 - He addresses his soul trying to encourage himself to hope in the Lord. He prays to the Lord remembering Him, even though he is far from Mount Zion where the ark dwelt in David's day. The temple had not yet been built.
  • Verses 7-8 - He sees his troubles like waves crashing down on him, the noise of the waves calling to each other and rolling over him. (Constable, page 134) Nevertheless, he would be encouraged in his troubles by the Lord's lovingkindness.
  • Verses 9-10 - In his prayer, he asks the Lord for the reasons for his continued
    emotional and physical distress. It is interesting that he calls the Lord "my rock," but then asks why He has forgotten him. He knows one thing but feels another. He mentions his enemies here and in verse 3 as they taunt him and ask "Where is your God?
  • Verse 11 - David encourages himself by addressing his soul just as he did in verse 5. He closes on a positive note by telling himself to hope in God and expressing confidence that he will yet praise Him! APPLICATION: This is a good psalm to read when spiritually dry or discouraged.