What's in a Sandwich
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
On June 9th, we started our summer series entitled Heart Conversations With God. One of the goals of this series is to enrich our prayer language with God by looking at some of the Psalms. Some of us get stuck - how do I talk to God? What is permissible? How do I take my conversations with God deeper? We trust this series will take you deeper.
First, some background material on the Psalms.
The 150 psalms are organized into five books. Book I (Ps. 1–41) is Davidic (i.e. composed by King David and compiled prior to his death). Book II (Ps. 42–72) was most likely added in the era of Solomon. Books III and IV (Ps. 73–89; 90–106) were probably collected during the Exile, and Book V (Ps. 107–150) was collected in the time of Ezra. This last book is the most liturgical.
In The Old Testament Speaks (Harper and Row), Dr. Samuel Schultz notes that the psalms “express the common experience of the human race. Composed by numerous authors, the various psalms express the emotions, personal feelings, attitudes, gratitude, and interests of the average individual. Universally, people have identified their lot in life with that of the psalmists.”
The Psalms were written over an extended period of time, most probably coming between 1000 and 400 B.C. They were written by different authors, and at several times new groups of psalms were added to the collection. Seventy-three of the psalms were written by David, and forty-nine are anonymous.
The psalms were used in public worship in Israel, as well as for private devotions. They show us how intimate and free our relationship with God can be, as we share every thought and feeling with Him.
➔ “Selah” - This word appears 71 times in the psalms. The word means “to lift up” and most believe it is a musical sign, perhaps indicating a pause.
While the book of Psalms is not organized by topic but by the era they were added, it does show a number of repeated themes, so we can classify some psalms by their content. The following types have been identified:
- Praise psalms, focusing on the person of God and praise Him by describing His nature or His qualities. This type of psalm is illustrated in Psalms 33, 103, and 139.
- Historical psalms, reviewing God’s dealings with His people. Illustrations are Psalms 68, 78, 105, and 106.
- Relational psalms, exploring the personal relationship which exists between God and the believer. They are illustrated in Psalms 8, 16, 20, 23, and 55.
- Imprecatory psalms, in which the worshiper calls on God to overthrow the wicked. Among them are Psalms 35, 69, 109, and 137.
- Penitential psalms, where the psalmist expresses sorrow over his failures and confesses his sins to God. Examples are Psalms 6, 32, 51, 102, 130, and 143.
- Messianic psalms, referring in some way to Christ, who is to come from David’s family line. Many such psalms are indicated by references in the New Testament. Psalms which the New Testament indicates refer to Christ are Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 69, 72, 89, 102, 109–110, and 132. Others also may have messianic elements or make prophetic references.
- Liturgical psalms, used in Israel’s worship at specific times of the year or on special occasions. While most of the psalms were used in public worship, these are linked with such events as coming up to Jerusalem for one of the annual festivals. Liturgical psalms may be illustrated by Psalm 30 (used in the dedication of the temple), 92 (a psalm for the Sabbath), and Psalms 120–134.
Take some time to read through this Psalm. As we noted on Sunday, the psalm is a “chiasmus” - it begins and ends with verses depicting the object of praise (vv. 1–2; 10). Like a sandwich, remember from Sunday?
The big idea of this text is, better to praise God who is forever versus man who returns to the ground!
V.3-4 Why is putting our trust in men a bad idea?
V.5-6 How are men and God seen as different in this text?
Why would the writer of this Psalm call the person who puts their trust in God blessed?
This next section is where we spent our time on Sunday. One of the “so what’s?” of this text is, praise doesn’t disconnect us from the needs of the world, but connects us to the needs around us.
How does this text do that?
• It lists the needy (v.7-9)
Note the needy mentioned in this text.
Notice v3. How are these people needy?
• It illustrates how God meets these needs (v.7-9)
What are the actions God is involved in?
On Sunday I talked about partial and ultimate fulfillment of God’s actions. How do you reconcile this?
Imagine that a Jewish person enters into the synagogue and by using this Psalm in their praise and prayer focus they are reminded of the needs of the world. Praise doesn’t disconnect them from the needs of the world, but connects them to the needs around them.
Not only would they have been reminded of the needy, they would have been aware of the countless Old Testament texts that spoke of Israel’s responsibility to meet the needs of the oppressed. For an example see Lev 19:9,10, Deut 15:11. They were to be the hands and feet of God on the earth!
How is our prayer and praise to be any different today? Bottom line, it isn’t! Jesus clearly defined His ministry by talking about the needy. Check out Luke 4:18-19. Now, today, we are the body of Christ, sent out to be Jesus in the world in which He has placed us. We are the body of Christ... can you think of examples in the NT that show the church engaged with the alien, the fatherless, the widow?
Here is your homework assignment. In this series we are talking about enriching and expanding our language of prayer.
- Prayerfully read this Psalm each day this week
- Ask God to show you who are the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, the alien, the fatherless and the widow in your life. For example there might be a literal prisoner you need to go and visit. However, there are other kinds of prisons that people live in - the prison of addiction, of self hate, of isolation and marginalization. How can your friendship help them find release?
- What is He asking you to do?
- As we think of Constance Lake, our summer focus, how might you describe their state? What might God be asking of you regarding our First Nations focus? Go… Pray… Give?
Our heart conversations with God can expand our world as we embrace the rich language of the Psalms. Praise doesn’t disconnect us from the needs of the world but connects us to the needs around us.
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