Guests: and

Leading Question: What does it mean to bless God? What does it mean to receive a blessing?

Scripture Focus: Psalm 104, Psalm 103, Deuteronomy 6:13, Psalm 96, Psalm 98

The Big Idea: Praise is the beginning, the end, and everything in between in the book of Psalms,
absolutely fundamental to the life of God’s people both individually and in community.

For Discussion:

In Hebrew poetry, when a line is used to start and end a poem, it is called an inclusion. This creates something like a sandwich, holding the meat of the poem inside. Psalm 104, like Psalm 103, begins and ends with the phrase “Praise the Lord, O my soul.” The word translated “praise” here in the NIV is the Hebrew word brk, which means “to bless,” or “to praise.” This word is used most often in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis and in Psalms.

Discussion Question: Thinking of the narratives in Genesis and looking at poems like Psalm 104, what do you see as connections between praising and blessing? In what ways do these English words overlap? And how do the stories and poems of the Hebrew Bible deepen our understanding of this?

When my Hebrew language students study the book of Deuteronomy, they often note the multiple meanings of the word ‘vd, a word that occurs in Deuteronomy more than in any other book of the Bible. As a verb, it means “to work, to serve, to worship.” The noun form translates as “servant” or “slave.”

Deuteronomy 6:13 (NASB)
You shall fear only the LORD your God;
And you shall worship Him and swear by His name.

Psalm 96
1 Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD
  who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
  and praise the LORD.
3 May the LORD bless you from Zion,
  he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.

Discussion Question: What does the overlap between service and worship reveal about what worship is, and how it fits into a life of faith?

In his book about discipleship based largely on a study of the Psalms of Ascent, Eugene Peterson writes, “Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship” (A Long Obedience In the Same Direction, p. 54). In his characteristic way, Peterson is careful point out that worship, including praying the Psalms, is not the end, but rather a starting point. “Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God,” he writes, “it whets our appetite” (A Long Obedience, p. 56).

Discussion Question: Have you experienced worship as a starting point or lauching pad for what comes next? If so, how?

Discussion Question: The most common line in the Psalms is “Praise the Lord!” This is the word hll, and is familiar to most English speaking worshippers through the word hallelujah (a combination of the second common plural imperative, “you all praise,” and an abbreviate form of Yahweh, the personal name of Judah’s God). What is praise? What role does praise play in worship, both individual and collective?

Discussion Question: What does it mean to “sing to the Lord a new song” (see, for instance, Psalm 96 and Psalm 98)?

Comments are closed.