Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window)
The celebration over the completion of the temple is only symbolic of the greater joy that has been brought to the people of this restored nation. There are many struggles still ahead and more opposition to come, but the people are no longer in captivity and those who have chosen to return are no longer in a foreign land. With the house of God now restored, the nation’s new life has begun in earnest.
These feelings are reflected in a number of psalms which give praise to God for hearing the people’s prayers in captivity and for being faithful in His promises of restoration. The 11 psalms that follow concludes our study of the book of Psalms.
1. What were your favorite stories when you were younger?
- Aesop’s Fables?
- Mother Goose?
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales?
- Home-spun stories?
- Bible stories?
2. What are the favorite stories for any children you may have (at home, in school, in church)?
3. Who is the keeper of your family stories and traditions? Do you ever hear of times when your folks or grandparents were young? What warning to future generations is implicit in their oft-repeated stories?
4. People in Biblical times did not have universal access to scripture. What took the place of history books, schools and seminaries (verses 1 – 8)? What does this believer want future believers to know and not forget about God? What would happen if the next generation forgets? Whose responsibility is it to see that they remember (see also Deuteronomy 6:6 – 9)?
5. Who are the men of Ephraim (verses 9 – 11; see also Jeremiah 31:5, 6)? Who does Ephraim come to symbolize as the list of sins grows (verses 8 – 11)? How could anyone forget such acts of God? What difference should these miracles of the past make in their present lives?
6. What test do they put to God (verses 18 – 20)? What test does God put to them (see Exodus 16:16 – 20)?Why do they demand further proofs of God’s covenant love? What moods does God alternate between (verses 21 – 24, 30, 31)? Why does God save them only to kill them (see Numbers 11:33, 34)? What limits to divine patience do you see here?
7. How do you characterize the role Israel relegated to God (verses 32 – 39)? What name would you give to the “game” Israel plays with God?
- the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak?
- flattery will get you anywhere?
- lip service only?
- let’s buy some time?
- good start, but no follow through?
- all head, no heart?
8. Why does God have mercy on humans (verses 38, 39)? Is it fair for God to expect more from “a passing breeze”?
9. What is Israel urged to remember (verses 40 – 55)? What plagues of Egypt underscore the psalmist’s point?
10. What events from the times of Joshua and Samuel are recalled (verses 54 – 66)? Why does the psalmist say the Lord “abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh” (verse 60; see 1 Samuel 4:1 – 11)? How did God put the Philistines “to everlasting shame” (verse 66; see 1 Samuel 5:6 – 10)?
11. In the psalmist’s mind, why did God have the Temple built in Judah (verses 67 – 69)? Since the Temple was built by Solomon, why does the psalmist sing the praises of David?
12. What is Asaph’s message to Ephraim? To Judah? Will his generation avoid the mistakes of the past?
13. What portion of this long poem is devoted to: the sins of the people? God’s judgment? God’s forgiveness?
14. Does this psalm leave you hanging? How did the New Testament writers pick up where Asaph left off (see Matthew 2:6; John 10:1 – 18; Revelation 7:17)?
15. How do you feel about God’s involvement in the staging of your own continuing story?
- God has written every chapter?
- God is seen between the lines only?
- God is in the audience?
- God is the director?
- God is hogging center stage?
16. Would you like your part or God’s part in that script to be re-written? What ending would you prefer?
17. What lesson would you like to pass along to the next generation? What historical example would you use to make your point?
18. Since all people as a group create the environment in which children grow up, should parents solely be responsible for their nurturing? How can you take a more active role in helping the children in your neighborhood? In your church?
19. Why doesn’t God perform the same miraculous deeds as in Bible times? Is God sleeping? What deeds could you point to as evidence to the young that God is “awake”?
20. When does your patience run out? When do you feel like “abandoning your people”? How do you resolve the problem of your people going “the wrong way”?
- let the people go?
- increase the consequences?
- withdraw your blessing?
- keep forgiving?
- begin again?
- no good resolution yet?
21. What story of God’s past dealings with you can you “remember” in times of temptation, forgetfulness and doubt you still face?
Next post is scheduled for Monday September 4.