A Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 80)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 80

Questions:

1. If you were sinking in quick sand, would you pray for help? Yell at God? Figure out an escape? Look for help? Give up?

2. Why is Joseph mentioned (verses 1 and 2; see Genesis 46:19 – 21)? Who do these names represent? From what do they need to be saved (2 Kings 17:6)?

3. What does “make your face shine upon us” mean (verse 3; see Numbers 6:24 – 26)?

4. What is their affliction? What do you think is most painful about their trial of faith (verses 4 – 6)?

5. How do you read the symbols in the allegory of the vine (verses 8 – 16)? Is the “vine” the northern kingdom? What does its great size mean? What is the removal of the walls (see Isaiah 5:5, 6)? The boar (verse 13)? The son (verse 15)?

6. How is the change in the refrain significant (verse 14)? Is this psalm saying that only God can close the distance the people feel?

7. Who is the “son of man” mentioned in verse 17?

  • the nation of Israel (see Exodus 4:22)?
  • the king of the returning exiles?
  • a future Davidic king?

8. What three images in this psalm did Jesus apply to Himself (see John 10:11; John 15:1; John 17:1)?

9. What do you do in times of trouble and need?

  • pray for God’s restoration?
  • turn to other people?
  • go at it on your own?
  • retreat in frustration?

10. In reference to Question #9, does God want you to respond differently?

11. What is your “bowl of tears”? Is there any relief in sight? How can you keep from being overwhelmed?

12. Can you talk when you’re angry? How do you work through conflicts when you are angry at someone? Do you let anger out or hide it inside? Do you prefer to act like nothing happened?

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A Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 79)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 79

Questions:

1. If your house were on fire, what one possession would you save? What would you make sure got left behind?

2. Before facing a firing squad, what would be your last request?

3. What does this psalm lament (verses 1 – 4; see 2 Kings 25:8 – 12)?

4. Did God feel like the people of Jerusalem had “servants” (verse 10; see Jeremiah 5:1 and 2)? How did the exiles make the God of the Jews look (verse 4)?

5. Is the people’s plea “how long, O Lord” an expression of trust or self-pity (verse 5)?

6. What two things do they ask God to do (verses 6 – 8)? Are they responsible for what has happened (verses 8 and 9)? Who is?

7. What is an “avenger of blood” (verse 10; see Numbers 35:19 – 21)? In Israel’s view, how would avenging their blood be in God’s best interest (verse 12)?

8. How much space is given to repentance? Praising God? Seeking vengeance? How would you react such prayers if you were God?

9. How would you react if the events recorded in verses 1 – 4 were happening in your church or community? Has distress ever given your church, family or friends an opportunity to pull together?

10. In what ways does the world ask, “where is your God?” What answer can you give? Where can you point to the power of God?

11. Are you asking “how long” right now? What makes you impatient?

12. Do you have a responsibility to preserve those “condemned to die”?

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A Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 74)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 74

Questions:

1. How is it appropriate to use your hands at your church:

  • praying?
  • greeting?
  • raised in worship?
  • asking “why” with raised hands?

2. Would you say you are a “summer” or “winter” person? In what way?

3. Where in history must we place this psalm (verses 3 and 7)? What crisis of faith does Jerusalem’s destruction bring (verses 1 and 2)?

4. Why is this so perplexing to the “sheep of God’s pasture”? What had the prophets said (verse 9; Jeremiah 6:6 – 8)? What “sign” proved them right (see 2 Kings 25:1 – 21)?

5. Why does the destruction of Jerusalem bring mockery to God (verse 10)? What do the people want God to do?

6. Which verse serves as the “watershed” verse, on either side of which flow the two major streams of thought in this psalm?

7. What event in Israel’s history does the psalmist cite as evidence for his case (verses 13 – 15)? What event in world history (verses 16 and 17)? If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He save the people from their enemies?

8. To what does the psalmist appeal in the end? What does he think God cares about (verses 19 – 21)? What “clamor” does he think God will want to silence (verses 18, 22, 23)?

9. On which side of the “watershed” are you? Focused on the “they” who ruined your life for you? Or the “You” who can do something about it?

10. Have you ever felt like God had forgotten you or your cause forever? What triggered your tears? Your anger? Or do you keep all such emotion inside?

11. Can you be yourself in your church? With God? What would God do in your situation now if you freely expressed your feelings? What is God likely to do if you are not honest?

12. What event in your lifetime caused a crisis of faith? Did you have any warning? What about God was called into question? Is the problem resolved? Could it ever be?

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