Texts: Psalms 90:1-2; Psa 100:1-5; Psa 100:73; Psa 100:49; Psa 141:2; Psa 20:3; Psa 54:6; Psa 78:1-8
This week, our focus is going to again be on the subject of worship but the particular focus, the place from which we will take our leaning, is the Psalms. If you have read the Psalms, you will already know that they are full of all kinds of things, from the corporate history of Israel of old, to the songwriter’s most personal thoughts. They are full of worshipful motifs and thoughts, but they also contain some anguish and some anger, some of it astonishingly frank!
The Psalms were basically songs that were to be sung usually with some kind of musical instrumental accompaniment. While we have many of the words preserved, I think there is no instance where the music has been preserved so we are left to wonder what they sounded like. Some of the psalms were sung by choirs, so we can imagine them to have been rather grand.
The range of subjects and moods in the Psalms is so great that it is doubtful that any of us could not relate at some time and in some way to the sentiments and ideas expressed there:
- Do you have a favorite worship place in the Psalms, a place where you go when you are in a worshipful frame of mind, or where you go if you want to be in a worshipful frame of mind?
The lesson for this week suggests several places for us to look:
- Psalm 19 – At a time when so many people are looking to naturalistic causes for all things, this Psalm invites us to consider the greatness and grandeur of God as it is reflected in the cosmos.
- Psalm 119 – this is the longest of the Psalms and it is one that lauds the law of God. What thoughts do you have about praising God for the law given to us?
- Psalm 73 – this is a very interesting one because in it there is raises a perennial question about why it is that the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer. Interestingly, the Psalmist found resolution to his struggles over this when he went into the sanctuary. It is not so easy to tell why this resolution came to the Psalmist when he went into the sanctuary, but several possibilities come to mind:
- He gained a more long-term view of things, being reminded of the end of the wicked.
- He saw again God’s justice as it plays out in judgment.
- By coming into the house of God, he lost his fascination with his own troubles.
- Psalm 49 – this Psalm offers a challenge to those who rely on with wealth and resort to nefarious ways of getting it. There is cause here to reflect on matters of injustice and exploitation as it is found in the world today.
- What should you do about the vast difference between the “have’s” and the “have nots?”
- What might we do about exploitation and injustice? Do you think God cares about such things?
- How much security does wealth produce for us?
- What do you think the causes of poverty are? Laziness? Indolence? Loss of hope?
- How would your life changed if you saw the things of earth as fleeting, borrowed for a while?
- Psalm 78:1-8 in particular – here the Psalmist links worship and the need and process of conveying great historical truths to the next generation.
- Is this a legitimate part of worship?
- How do you think this can best be done?
- What happens to a community that forgets the leadings of God in the past?
- Do you have a testimony of your own that you could recite to help keep a sense of God’s providence alive in your life and, perhaps, engender the same appreciation in the life of someone else?
Some questions that come to mind at the conclusion of these reflections are these:
- How can the hope of God bringing justice at some future point benefit us here and now?
- Do you think that the fact of God’s justice coming at some future point is enough, or should people be active now in attempting to assure fairness and justice for all?
- Is there some danger in music, preaching, and other forms of worship becoming merely routine? And how can we prevent that?
- Do you ever hear the Psalms read as part of your worship?