Guests: and

Leading Question: WFor you or people close to you, what is a place that is tied to spiritual experiences
or memories of connection with God?

Scripture Focus: Psalm 84, Psalm 125, Psalm 122, Psalm 46

The Big Idea: For many of the biblical writers, Zion, or Jerusalem, was the place where God dwelt and from which God blessed the people.

For Discussion:

The author of Psalm 84 speaks with jubilation and longing about the dwelling place of the LORD. Perhaps most famous is the line in verse 10: “Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere.” The subtitle of this psalm attributes the poem to the sons of Korah, people responsible for leading worship in the temple. Other psalms attributed to the sons of Korah include Psalms 42-29, 85, 87, and 88. These poems depict beautifully the joy of receiving sustenance and embracing a sense of purpose as servants in the house of God.

Discussion Question: In what ways do you think the first-hand experience of the writers contributed to vividness and urgency in these psalms?

Discussion Question: Psalm 125 likens “those to trust in the LORD” to Mount Zion, which “cannot be shaken.” What does this simile communication about God? What does this simile illustrate about what trust is?

Psalm 122, another of the Psalms of Ascent, expresses joy in the collective action of going to the house of the Lord.

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
  “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet are standing
  in your gates, Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built like a city
  that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
  the tribes of the LORD—
to praise the name of the LORD
  according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
  the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
  “May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
  and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
  I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
  I will seek your prosperity.

Discussion Question: The Hebrew word for peace (italicized above) also means wholeness, wellbeing, and sometimes to repay a debt or repair something that has been damaged. What does this prayer for peace reveal about what shalom or peace is? And what aspects of this prayer could translate or be applied to places we gather to work and worship?

Discussion Question: God’s promises are powerful and comforting; they can also be confusing, especially when they seem so far from being fulfilled. What does Psalm 46 (below) offer to us who are aware of ongoing wars? What does it look like to be still when aware of ongoing desolations?

1 God is our refuge and strength,
  an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
  and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
  and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
  the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
  God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
  he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
  the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
  the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
  to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
  he burns the shieldswith fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
  I will be exalted among the nations,
  I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
  the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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