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Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms

Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms

by Tim Baker

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Let your students experience the raw faith and rich praise in Israel’s national songbook—the Psalms. The 12 sessions in Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms (the latest in Youth Specialties’ Creative Bible Lessons series) unwrap this Old Testament book so your students understand the passion, anguish, and joy expressed by David and the other Hebrew


Let your students experience the raw faith and rich praise in Israel’s national songbook—the Psalms. The 12 sessions in Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms (the latest in Youth Specialties’ Creative Bible Lessons series) unwrap this Old Testament book so your students understand the passion, anguish, and joy expressed by David and the other Hebrew songwriters—and then learn to love the same God that the ancient Jews loved. The meetings (which are perfect for high schoolers and middle schoolers alike) are arranged around kinds of Psalms, including— Torah Psalms Seeing God at work in your personal history Complaint Psalms When you’re attacked, is God always your bulletproof vest? Royal Psalms Jesus in the Psalms Trust Psalms The God who really knows you, inside and out Penitential Psalms Shedding old skin—forgiveness and renewal Thanksgiving Psalms Gratitude is next to godliness Oracle Psalms How to hear God Taunt Psalms Battle lines are drawn And each session is loaded with options galore: clips from easy-to-get videos, games for mixing and games with a purpose, in-depth and ready-to-use questions for small-group discussions, original role plays, low-prep scripts, talks for you to give—activities to choose from that give your students not only a memorable time in youth group, but a taste of both the quiet trust and the boisterous celebration that the Psalms overflow with. Perfect for Sunday school teachers, youth workers, volunteers, CE directors, DREs, associate pastors—whoever wants to minister to real teenagers in a real world.

Product Details

Publication date:
Creative Bible LessonsSeries Series
Product dimensions:
7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms

Raw faith & rich praise-12 lessons from Israel's national songbook
By Tim Baker


Copyright © 2000 Tim Baker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-23178-7

Chapter One






Copies of A Psalmatic Survey (page 20) cut into strips

Copies of What's Up with This Psalm? (page 21)

Copies of The Real Me (page 22) cut into strips


So you want to study the psalms, eh? Or maybe you don't really want to, but you're being pressured to include some Old Testament stuff in your program and Psalms seems like the easiest. After all, who wants to study the prophets or the judges or the chronicles and genealogies of stuffy kings?

Nope, it'll be the psalms for you, all those nice little poems about praising God in the sanctuary, lying down by still waters, delighting in the Lord.

And being oppressed, seeking vengeance on enemies, feeling totally abandoned by everyone and everything.

Hmm ... well, maybe Psalms isn't merely a book of nice little poems at all. Maybe it's something much deeper, much richer, much more important. Maybe it's exactly what your kids need to bestudying. In that case, kudos to you for such a fine and well-thought-out choice of topics.

As you begin this study, keep several things in mind-beside the fact that Psalms is a whole lot more than a collection of nice little poems.

First, Psalms is primarily a book of songs and prayers. True, each one deals with some pretty heavy and real issues that may very well relate to your kids, such as loneliness, fear, and anger. But ultimately Psalms does not teach its readers about these issues. It's no theological treatise, but rather a book that teaches us how to pray and praise when we find ourselves in the same situations and facing the same issues as the psalmists.

Second, we don't know a lot about Psalms beyond this:

It was written by many different people, including David, some of whom we know nothing about.

It was written over a broad time period extending from before to after the Jewish exile, and it was probably compiled in its present form sometime during the third century B.C.

It was used regularly in worship for both praying and singing, and many of the words such as Selah probably had to do with performance or liturgical directions.

Third, if there is one underlying theme to the entire book of Psalms, it is this-there is one God who is in charge of all creation, all history, all everything. As one commentator put it, "At the core of the theology of the Psalter is the conviction that the gravitational center of life ... is God" (NIV Study Bible).

During these lessons, your students will read and study the innermost thoughts of historical people who experienced and felt many of the same things they do today-feeling bad about making some really big mistakes, feeling angry, feeling left out of the crowd, feeling abandoned, feeling resentful, feeling afraid, feeling unsure ... you name it and the psalmists felt it. Just like your kids. Just like you.

So get ready to deal with real people, real life, and real faith. Because this ain't just another book of nice little poems-not by a long shot.



When everyone has arrived have students find a place in the room where they can have some privacy. Give each student two sheets of paper and some markers. Begin with something like-

Today I'd like you to think of yourselves as artists. On one of the sheets of paper I gave you, I'd like you to draw a picture of your life. You can use pictures, words, symbols ... anything that comes to mind. Don't worry-you won't be graded on your artistic ability. Leave the other sheet blank.

Give students time to draw their pictures. Then have them hang their drawings and their blank sheets of paper side-by-side on the walls of the meeting room. Ask them to walk around the room and look at the other pictures. On the blank sheets of paper, ask them to write down titles for the picture beside it. When students are finished, send them back to find their own pictures to read the titles that others gave them. Have them share the results with the rest of the class. Then ask these questions:

What did you notice about other people's drawings? What title did you like the best? Why?

Is it easy for you to share honestly about your life? Why?



When students have settled down, say something like-

Today we're going to begin a journey studying some pretty intense folks who wrote honestly about themselves and their lives. But before we start, I'd like you to think about your own lives for a moment.

Distribute copies of The Real Me (page 22) and ask your students to write in their answers. When they're finished ask them to put their answers into poetry-not necessarily the rhyming kind, but something that reads more fluidly than straight answers. Explain by saying something like-

Lots of people keep a journal as a way to talk about themselves and express their feelings. I'd like you to take your answers from the worksheet and put them into a journaling-poetry format. For example, you might write something like-

Everyday it's the same Never enough time to be myself Always too busy trying to be someone else I feel lonely, happy, sad all at the same time Never sure where I want to go ...

Whatever you write is fine. I just want you to be as honest as you can.

When students have finished writing, have them form groups of four to share their responses to the questions. If they feel comfortable they can also share the poems-psalms they wrote. After they've shared, ask the following questions:

Did your poem represent your life? How?

Is it easy for you to express the details of your life with other people? Explain.

When have you felt angry at God or happy about your relationship with him, but you weren't sure how to express yourself?

Regardless of the opener you use, transition into the next section with something like-

Today we're going to begin looking at a book of the Bible that a lot of people tend to ignore or never really study too closely, the book of Psalms. As we walk through this book, you'll learn a lot about how people communicated with God a long time ago, what they believed about him, and how they lived out their beliefs.



While students form groups of four, distribute pencils and copies of A Psalmatic Survey (page 20). Make sure each group also has a Bible. Instruct groups to read each psalm listed on the handout and then write what they think it's about in the appropriate box. When they're finished have each group join another to compare their responses. Finally, invite students to gather in the center of the meeting room and ask volunteers to share their responses with the entire group.

Continue the lesson with something like-

Let's experiment. I'm going to read something to you and I'd like you to recall what you just learned from the psalms. Think about what the psalms might say about these situations.

Begin reading these situations and give students time to respond:

Rafael has been having trouble getting along with his parents. It's not that they have serious fights all the time-it's just that they disagree about everything. Lately, he's been having trouble sleeping.

Leslie and Terry have been dating for years. Last night Terry pressured Leslie to go too far. At first Leslie said no, but after a while she finally gave in. Now she feels terrible.

Taylor smoked pot for the first time last night. His first few hits made him feel sick. After a while, though, he started to feel really strange. He tried driving home, but he hit a parked car. Now he's in jail.

Ireland has been trying to get closer to God lately. She's even been having private worship times. But no matter how hard she tries, she still feels disconnected from God.

After reading these situations and giving students time to apply the psalms to the situations, ask-

Do the psalms you've read today apply to your life? How?



Have students pair up and then have the pairs link up with another pair to create a group of four. Begin this section with something like-

I'd like you to discuss what impact the psalms you talked about might have on your life.

Give a question strip from What's Up with This Psalm? (page 21) to each pair of students to discuss. After a few minutes ask all pairs to link up with another pair to form a new group of four. Ask the new quads to discuss the responses their group gave during the small group time.

Wrap up the discussion by saying-

Remember, the psalms were written by real people. God was working in their lives long ago, and he works in our lives today.



Explain to students that the only way to understand the psalms is to realize that they deal with real people, real events, and real emotions.

The psalms reveal the history of real people. Ask a student to read Psalm 78:13-22 from one of the Bibles.

Explain that a key ingredient in the psalms is the historical information found there. The psalms not only record what people did-they also record God's interaction with them. Say something like-

When people talked to God in the psalms, they talked about real things that had happened. It was important to them to look back on their history as a way of remembering how God had worked in their lives and as a reminder that he would continue to work in their future.

The psalms reveal the emotions of real people. Ask a student to read Psalm 13:1-6 from one of the Bibles.

Explain to your students that not only did the psalms deal with real events but they also dealt with real emotions. Say something like-

When people talked to God in the psalms, they were completely honest with him. They didn't hide their emotions from him. If they were angry, they said so. The emotions may not have always been positive or justified, but they knew that God would listen to them anyway. God promises to listen to us whenever we talk to him, not just when we're happy and feeling close to him, but also when we're struggling or upset.

The psalms reveal real relationships with a real God. Ask a student to read Psalm 139:1-12 from one of the Bibles.

Explain to your students that the writers of the psalms assumed that there was someone listening on the other end. Why? Because they had a relationship with that someone, God, and they knew him well enough to trust that he was listening. Say something like-

The people who wrote the psalms weren't writing just for the sake of writing. They were communicating with a God they knew and trusted and had a relationship with. Which is what God wants with you-a real relationship that involves communication, getting to know one another, and genuine intimacy.



Conclude with something like-

We've seen a lot in Psalms today about real people who had a relationship with God. More than anything else the psalms are prayers and songs that can teach us how to talk to and listen to God in any circumstance. Let's end tonight by doing just that-praying.

Lead your students in the following litany. Teach them the student response (it's simple enough that they should have it down after a couple of practice recitations), and during the prayer cue them when they should respond. (This litany is based on Psalm 25: 4-5.)

Leader: God, you are the One who created us, as you created David and the other writers who wrote these psalms to you in worship and praise.

Students: Show us your ways, O Lord, and teach us your paths.

Leader: We thank you for hearing not just our thanks and requests, but also our complaints and frustrations.

Students: Show us your ways, O Lord, and teach us your paths.

Leader: We tell you now, God, that we want to understand more of this book of Psalms, so that we can love you more and love each other better.

Students: Show us your ways, O Lord, and teach us your paths.

Leader: Guide us in your truth and teach us, for you are God our Savior, and our hope is in you all day long.

Students: Show us your ways, O Lord, and teach us your paths.

All: Amen.


Excerpted from Creative Bible Lessons in Psalms by Tim Baker Copyright © 2000 by Tim Baker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tim Baker is the author of numerous books, including Leave a Footprint - Change the World, Broken, and The Way I See It and the Award-winning Extreme Faith. He's the Managing Editor of The Journal of Student Ministries, and a regular columnist for Youthwalk Magazine. Tim lives in Longview, Texas, with his wife, Jacqui, and their three kids. Find out more about Tim at www.timbaker.cc.

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