A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite (Psalm 89)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 89

Questions:

1. Have you ever been forced to break an important promise? How was it taken by the “promisee”?

2. What part of yourself was most mature in your early teenage years: body, soul or spirit?

3. How does Ethan define love in this psalm (verses 1 and 2)? To what covenant is he referring (verses 3 and 4; see 2 Samuel 7:8 – 17)?

4. Why do you think Ethan launches into a lengthy hymn to the Creator at this point (verses 5 – 18)? Who are “the holy ones” (see Daniel 4:13; Job 15:15, 16)? What is the connection between God’s faithfulness and might?

5. Are verses 9 – 13 about creation? What battle is hinted at (verse 10)? Do you think “Rahab” refers to the mythical sea monster or Egypt (see Psalm 87:4; Job 7:12)?

6. The psalmist’s God has the power to create and defend. What other power does Yahweh wield (verses 14 – 16)? How is the Jewish God different from the pagan gods (see Exodus 34:6, 7)?

7. To what theme does the psalmist finally return (verses 19 – 29)? To whom did God speak in a vision (verse 19; see 2 Samuel 7:16, 17)? What promises were made to David? How did he respond (verse 26)? What position would Israel hold among the people of the world (verse 27)?

8. What conditions were on the agreement (verses 30 and 31)? How could God be “faithful” and still reserve the right to correct the erring king? What is the psalmist thinking has happened (verse 38)?

9. What event has shattered the psalmist’s faith (verses 40 – 45)? What are the neighboring people saying (verse 50)? Has the covenant really been broken? What would a modern Jew conclude from this psalm, knowing that the Davidic line disappeared thousands of years ago?

10. Does God seem to keep promises with you or have you felt misled or confused? What situation of life has called God’s promises into question?

11. When you experience setbacks what is your first reaction? Focus on the problem? Become overwhelmed with emotion? Affirm God’s control? What is the psalmist’s approach?

12. Do you see God at work in the adversities you face now? Do you feel free to go to God in the “hard times” or do you think you have to “be at your best”? How do you keep yourself hidden from God?

13. What has God created in your life? What battles has God won for you? Your church?

14. Does God’s faithfulness excite you? Why or why not? Do you make God’s faithfulness known “through all generations”? What do you want others to know? How can you become a more effective witness?

15. How did the early Christians feel God solved the problem of the lost Davidic line (see Revelation 1:5)? How is God’s covenant to Israel alive in the church today?

16. Have you ever felt that God didn’t come through on a promise? What happened? To what divine quality would you appeal to guarantee God keeps His promise?

17. What does this psalm say about our ability to resolve contradictions by ourselves? How does this keep us “hanging on” in crisis?

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A Psalm of the Sons of Korah (Psalm 85)

Scripture Text:

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Psalm 85

Questions:

1. Relatives excepted, who gave you your first kiss? Was it what you expected? Did you try again?

2. Which verses are about the past? The present? The future? What are the restored fortunes of Jacob (verse 1)?

3. How is the present going? What tension do verses 1 – 3 and 4 – 7 create? How would you explain the word “revive” in verse 6?

4. What do verses 4 – 7 give as the cause of God’s anger? What is a sign of revival, both personal and corporate (verse 6)?

5. What is dangerous about a crisis of faith (verse 8)? What does it mean for God’s glory to dwell in the land (verse 9; see Ezekiel 11:22 – 24)?

6. What truth is expressed in verses 10 – 12? What is God’s part of the deal? What is the people’s?

7. What is the meaning of verse 13? How might this be a messianic promise?What

8. How can “believing backward” help you “believe forward”?

9. Are you disappointed that something didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would? How might this psalm help you?

10. What are some “national laments” of today? Does God show favor to certain nations? Why or why not? How can we express our corporate laments?

11. What pattern of faith unfolds in this psalm? In your life?

12. What does it mean to let God’s glory dwell in your life?

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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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