A Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 73)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 73

Questions:

1. If you had to choose between being (a) prosperous and wicked, or (b) poverty-stricken and pure in heart, what would you be? Why?

2. Asaph is credited with Psalms 50 and 73 – 83. He was most likely a poet associated with the Temple. What is his nagging doubt in this psalm (verses 2 and 3)?

3. What has he seen (verses 4 – 12)? What attitudes may be undermining his faith?

4. Do you think Asaph is objective in what he sees? Why or why not? What does he find both attractive and negative in the lifestyle, worldview and agnosticism of the rich?

5. What was he hoping his “pure heart” would get him (verses 13, 14)? What causes him to change his mind (verses 15 – 17)?

6. To what might the “sanctuary of God” refer? What new insight does Asaph gain? Why does he feel like God sleeps (verse 20; see also Psalm 35:23 and Psalm 44:23)?

7. What “glory” does Asaph have in mind (verses 24, 25; see also Psalm 16:9 – 11)? What path will he take toward it (verses 23 – 28)?

8. What constant hope literally surrounds Asaph’s envy and despair (verses 1 and 28)?

9. Imagine your life now is just a dream (or a nightmare), and when you awake, all will return to normal. What heavy burden, human ill or gross injustice would you like to wish away, as if it were but a dream?

10. Do you ever share Asaph’s envy? Does his insights satisfy you? Why or why not?

11. Name some rich and famous people who have committed suicide, gone through a string of unhappy relationships or lost fortunes to drugs and alcohol.  What comes first: the problems or the money? What problems does money create? If you were suddenly rich and famous, would you be free of these problems?

12. When your feet have stumbled in this area, how have you recovered your balance?

13. Have you had a “sanctuary” experience? When? Where? What happened? What are you doing to keep that faith perspective alive?

14. How would you explain to a child why God does not knock down bullies and trouble-makers at school?

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A Psalm of Asaph (Psalm 50)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 50

Questions:

1. Does your mind wander during church? At what part of the service do you daydream the most?

2. What picture of God is drawn in verses 1 – 6? Whom is He addressing and judging here? Why call the heavens and the earth to witness this trial?

3. What is God’s message to the religious in verses 7 – 15? Is it wrong to offer sacrifices as decreed in the Law? For whose benefit were they decreed? God’s?

4. Why is God so harsh with His own people (see Amos 3:2)? What does God want (verses 14, 15)?

5. What is God’s message to the “wicked” (verses 16 – 21)? How do they differ from the first group? Who has the right words? The right actions? What does each group lack?

6. What is the threat and promise in verses 22 and 23? Why is God so fierce?

7. Do you ever picture God as an angry judge? How does it make you feel?

8. If God were to address your church today through this psalm, what would He more likely attack: mindless ritualism or lip service? Why?

9. Continuing the scenario in Question #8, what forms of empty religion would He rail against? What forms of hypocrisy?

10. What comes first in your spirituality? Action? Prayer? Sacrifice? Talk? Explain your answer. What comes second?

11. In this psalm, God first warned the people, then re-issued His call to follow Him. How has He done that for you?

12. What “thanks offering” did you give (or will give) to God today? Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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A Psalm of the Sons of Korah (Psalm 49)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 49

Questions:

1. How would you complete this phrase? “Man is the only animal that __________.”

2. What would you want named after you?

  • Children and/or grandchildren
  • A city or town
  • A park or building
  • A scholarship fund
  • A scientific discovery

3. What would (or do) people associate with your name?

4. How does the psalmist get your attention in verses 1 – 4? What is his “riddle”?

5. Is the message for the rich alone? In what things do these people trust (verses 6 and 11)? What reality do they refuse to see? How is that worldview expressed today?

6. How does the psalmist account for the unfairness in life (verse 15)? What is the basis for his viewing reality that way? How can God solve the problem stated in verses 7 – 9?

7. What picture does the psalmist paint of the hereafter (verses 16 – 19)? What verses indicate a heaven and hell? What verses indicate no afterlife at all?

8. How is humankind different from the animal world (verse 20)?

9. Do you believe the best things in life are free? Give some examples of great things money can’t buy?

10. If there were no heaven or hell, would you agree with modern sentiments such as “Just do it” or “He who dies with the most toys win”? What worldview would attract you most if there was no Christianity?

11. Has the death of a loved one caused a “big chill” on your or your friends’ worldview? Explain.

12. This psalm is echoed in Jesus’ teaching (see Matthew 6:25 – 34). How do both teachings challenge your current lifestyle and priorities? How can you avoid being “like the beasts”?

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