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Psalms 1 and 19
Imagine that you are hiking in a remote mountainous region. The sun begins setting before you reach your destination, and the light of day is fading fast! Night falls, and you can barely see the path in front of you. Fortunately, you are traveling with a seasoned hiker who knows the twists and turns of these treacherous trails better than anyone else. As you inch your way through the darkness you listen for each word of instruction from your fellow hiker. As you listen to his confident voice, you finally reach your destination. With a sigh of relief you realize you could never have made this journey on your own.
Life can often feel like a faith-walk through dark and shadowy valleys. We need a voice to guide us on the slippery trails and uneven paths of life. The book of Psalms has helped God's people find their way through the darkness for thousands of years. These words of instruction and guidance continue to shed light on the paths of believers.
As we begin our study of Psalms, we naturally ask, "Where does one begin when there are 150 psalms to choose from?" With such a beautiful variety of psalms such as songs of praise, heartfelt prayers, sorrowful complaints, historical remembrances, and worship liturgies, where should we begin?
Why not start at the beginning: Psalm 1? After all, it was intended to introduce the Psalter. Just as important, Psalm 1 is one of the so-called Torah Psalms. Torah means "instruction" or "direction." These are the kind of psalms that give us the direction we need on the dark paths of life. This heading emphasizes the idea that the psalms were meant to instruct and to teach God's people, to give light in the darkness, to guide us along the path. All this we will discover as we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate our way with the light of his Word.
1. Describe a time when you had to walk or move about in darkness, as on a camping trip or during a power blackout. What were the dangers you faced?
What was one time you experienced darkness in your life and God's word gave you instruction and light?
2. Read Psalm 1. If some psalms are intended to instruct us, why do some believers use the Psalms only as a means of praise?
How have you experienced the instructive function of the Psalms in either a private or corporate worship setting?
3. What do you think it means to
-Walk in the counsel of the wicked?
-Stand in the way of sinners?
-Sit in the seat of mockers?
What is the significance of this progression of walking, standing, and sitting?
4. According to Psalm 1:2, in what aspect of a person's life is the battle for control really decided?
5. Compare the image of believers growing like a tree in Psalm 1:3-5 to the image of a tree in Jeremiah 17:5-8. Which passage is more explicit about the judgment that awaits the wicked?
Describe what the figures and images really mean.
6. Read Psalm 19. What impact can the silent language of God's glorious creation have on a nonbeliever's knowledge of Christ (vv. 1-6)?
7. The word perfect in verse 7 means "all-encompassing"-like the circuit of the sun (v. 6). What is the psalmist claiming for the instruction of God?
How have you experienced the truth of this claim in your spiritual life?
8. How can the study of God's word do the following things (vv. 7-8)?
-Make us wise
-Give us joy
-Bring us light
9. "Words" in verse 14 repeats the same concept rendered "speech" in verses 2-3. How do these verses express the all-encompassing nature of the instruction of God for all people?
10. How can you grow more attentive to God's voice speaking through creation? 11. How can you more faithfully learn and follow the teaching of God's truth revealed in Scripture?
What will help you speak words that reflect the Word of God and please the Lord?
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. -Psalm 1:2
Take time to meditate on the instruction that comes from the powerful declaration of God's presence in the heavens and the earth as well as the words he has given to us in Scripture.
Excerpted from Psalms by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Copyright © 1995 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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