The Lord sets His face against the proud, but He is for the humble, the outcast, the afflicted. I’ve seen it again and again. This is my just born granddaughter, Sadie. She is a gift of God to my daughter Sally and her husband Phil. She was a much prayed for baby. (Many of you know Sally through her Aslan painting which you can see through this link: http://www.deebrestin.com/products/aslan-posters-prints/ Sally was led to paint Aslan because she wanted to try to get an answer to why a good God allowed so much suffering. He did give her a surprising answer.
Often we don’t know why He allows suffering, and we are called to accept the mystery of suffering, but we do know God is good.
We also know, according to the psalms we will be studying this week, that “He hears the desire of the afflicted; He encourages them, and listens to their cry.” That is the next lovely song on the CD that goes with A Woman of Worship. Sally and Phil cried out to the Lord during their three years of infertility. Sally had resolved that if God never gave her the desire of her heart, she would trust Him. But in this case He said, “Yes.” Sally and Phil are filled with gratitude. Sadie was rushed to intensive care because Sally had an infection and a fever — but all is fine now. She came home Saturday night and Phil celebrated his first Father’s Day with great joy. Sally is overwhelmed with emotion — saying things like, “This is the most amazing experience of my life. I can see how motherhood is going to keep me on my knees. Sadie is going to be my little buddy everywhere I go! I appreciate you so much more Mom — how you love me. I have soooo many emotions of joy, love, gratitude, and —oh!”
Many of you have read The God of All Comfort, or even worked through it on this blog — and you know that God often allows suffering, and we must accept that mystery. But it is important to know that when He allows suffering, it isn’t because He doesn’t care or doesn’t hear. We are going to be meditating on some passages this week that demonstrate that. Let your roots sink deeply into this truth, into the living water that will nourish your parched soul and reassure you of His love.
Take a question or two a day. Meditate. Memorize the song or, if you don’t have it, the verse the song is based on, which is Psalm 10:17. Sink your roots deep into His Word.
1. Use Psalm 9:1-2 as a way to begin your time of worship. List a few of His wonders here. Sing praise to His name, either using the song on the worship CD or another. Worship shapes you — remember — you become like what you give worth to.
2. Meditate on Psalm 9:9-10. Find three truths about the Lord to remember in times of trouble.
3. Psalm 10 is a classic psalm of lament. The following passages show the progression. Describe what you find:
A. What is David’s opening lament in verse 1? What is troubling him according to verses 2-9? Have you ever felt this way?
B. Describe David’s turn in Psalm 10:12-14. What does he remember about God?
C. Meditate on Psalm 10:17-18 and list what you learn about the Lord and your contemplations.
3. How have you seen the truths of Psalms 9 and 10 in your life? How will you apply them to your life right now?
4. Read all of Psalm 34. This psalm is filled with beautiful word pictures. Tap into your right brain as you look at them. If you were to paint them, what might you paint to depict each of the following?
A. Psalm 34:5
B. Psalm 34:6
C. Psalm 34:7
D. Psalm 34:8-10
5. Peter quotes Psalm 34:12-15 when he is addressing believers facing persecution. When others are unkind to us, persecute us, or speak evil against us, how should we respond? How might you apply this to your life?
6. The promise you are memorizing from the song (Psalm 10:17) is repeated in other words in Psalm 34:15 and Psalm 34:17-18. What new insight do these passages give you?
7. It is important to put Scripture in the context of the whole Scripture. Psalm 34 standing alone could lead us to believe the righteous won’t suffer, or at least, will have any suffering removed fairly quickly. Yet the whole of Scripture teaches that God’s rescue might look quite different than we imagine. The disciples surely didn’t expect Jesus to be crucified. My daughter Sally has suffered so much in the last fifteen years of her life — so her rescue wasn’t fast, and there may be more suffering ahead. But I am seeing a character in her that has emerged through the fire. I’d like each of you to reflect on this in your own life.
A. How has suffering in your life resulted in perhaps a “different kind of rescue?”
B. What have you learned? How will this help you when you face suffering the next time?
Worship comes from an old English word “worth-shape.” In other words, whatever we worship shapes us. Every single one of us struggles with idols of the heart. Idols cannot be destroyed, but they can be replaced. May the Lord replace our longing for human approval, or junk food, or control with Himself. The psalms will lead us to worship Christ, and in worshiping Him, we will find, to our amazement, our idols will be pushed off the throne, and we will find that we are shaped by Him, changed, conformed not to the ugly idols of this world, but to His image. We become beautiful, like Him. Filled with peace, joy, self-control, wisdom, and love.
This week we’ll be looking at an overview of some psalms that help us worship Christ and we’ll use what has become one of the favorite praise songs of this generation to help us worship as well: Shout to the Lord. It’s the first song on the CD in A Woman of Worship. It has a Spanish chorus in it as well, which I love for it helps me remember His Bride is from every tribe and nation, worshiping Him throughout the earth.
If you are just beginning with us, I suggest you take a question or two a day — respond to other people as you feel led, and be creative with your worship. Use the internet to find different versions of Shout to the Lord or Bible translations. Download a great sermon or worship music and walk outside. Let’s not just study worship — let’s do it. Then from the overflow of our hearts, we can strengthen one another.
Lord, I lift up each sojourner who is desirous of studying the psalms. I pray you would quicken her (or him!) and draw her to you. Give us hearts to worship you. I ask this in the name of the only One worthy of worship.
Start memorizing Shout to the Lord.
1. What old English word is the word worship derived from? What does this say to you?
2. My Jesus, My Savior implies a sweet intimate relationship with the Lord. How do you see that the psalmist had this in:
A. Psalm 116:1-2
B. Psalm 8:3-4
C. Share a time from the recent past when you were aware that the Lord was personally mindful of you.
2. Lord, There is None Like You
3. Meditate on Psalm 22 in which David describes a terrible time of suffering. Yet behind David is Christ, for this is a clear Messianic psalm. Find descriptions of what Jesus endured for you. Praise Him for this. Use music, if there is a song or hymn that helps you, share it.
My Comfort, My Shelter
Continue learning and singing Shout to the Lord
4. Describe the emotions of the psalmist in Psalm 18:1-6. Give references with your answer.
Eugine Peterson says often our prayers are “cut flower prayers,” lacking the passion we see in the psalms. They lack the passion we see in the psalms. What brings passion into our lives? I have found that it often comes through suffering — when we have to turn to the Lord and do so, with the kind of passion we see in Psalm 18. When, in time, we find He rescues us (though the rescue may be quite different than anticipated) we are filled with gratitude and again, our prayers have passion. Share one time when the Lord was “your comfort, your shelter.”
Mountains Bow Down and The Seas Will Road
5. Meditate on Psalm 18:7-19 and describe the images of God coming to the rescue.
Forever I’ll Stand
SING SHOUT TO THE LORD WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE LYRICS
6.Derek Kidner reminds us that Psalm 18 is ultimately Messianic. With that in mind, look at Psalm 18:20-27. How do you see Him here?
7. In Psalm 18:29-50 list what God does that no one else can do.
8. What will you remember from this week’s lesson?
This is my first blog and I want this to be meaningful, fun, and and, more than anything, get your heart hot for Jesus. Who wants to live a lukewarm boring life? May this be the summer of increasing awareness of His presence in our lives. I want to be like my grand-daughter Ana who said, “Grandma – take my picture rejoicing in front of the sunset. Jesus loves me!
Tell me how you’ve been aware of His presence today!