Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land

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(Psalms 37, 41, 74, & 77)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 5

Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land

(Psalms 37, 41, 74, & 77)

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: How would you feel if most people opposed Christianity and thought it to be a dangerous teaching? Because the readers of these studies are located all over the world, some know exactly what that feels like. But those of us in the United States have no idea. When I was young and living in Michigan, most people claimed to be Christians. Of course, there were a few rebels. But no one claimed that Christianity was harmful, it merely got in the way of having “a good time.” That is changing. An ever growing number of Americans no longer believe the Bible, instead they believe that its teachings are toxic to human relationships. Even within the church many argue that people have been harmed by the way some Christians share the truth. What is the actual complaint about sharing from those who claim to be God’s people? That the truth is being shared without apology? Or that those sharing are inartful? Our Psalms this week discuss living for God in a hostile environment. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible!

  1. Plea for Help
    1. Read Psalm 74:3-4. What disaster is described here? (Read Psalm 79:1. This is a reference to the destruction of the first (Solomon’s) temple and the capital city of Jerusalem. Everything in God’s sanctuary is completely destroyed.)
      1. What is meant (Psalms 74:4) by “Your foes have roared?” (They have rejoiced in victory over God. All the things that pointed to the power of God all point to the power of God’s enemies.)
    2. Read Psalm 74:5-6. How are the enemies of God like woodcutters? (God’s enemies have taken the same approach to the beautiful carved wood in the temple that they would take to cutting down a stand of trees in the forest!)
    3. Read Psalm 74:7-8. What is the worst thing that has happened to the places of worship? (They are all burned down!)
    4. Read Psalm 74:9. What is especially discouraging? (They have no idea when God will intervene to help them.)
  2. Frustration and Shame
    1. Read Psalm 74:10-11. When you find yourself defeated by something, do you appreciate being mocked for it? Do you enjoy the shame of defeat? (The answer is obvious: No!)
      1. The psalmist is asking God why He allows Himself to be shamed? Do you think this is a good strategy? If you were God would you appreciate this kind of comment?
    2. Let’s consider some other Psalms for reasons why we blame God for not fixing our problems. Read Psalm 77:7-9. What reasons are suggested here? (God has forever rejected the psalmist. God no longer loves us. God’s promises have an expiration date and we are past that date. God has become angry and has forgotten to be gracious.)
      1. If you were God, would you appreciate those claims?
    3. Read Psalm 74:12. What does the psalmist suggest is the reason why God is not acting? (The psalmist answers his own question. God is an experienced God. He has been working for the salvation of people for a long time. God must have a strategy in this to help save people.)
    4. Read Psalm 77:14-16 and Psalm 77:19-20. What positive view about God’s willingness to help do we see here? (Working wonders is part of God’s nature. He took slaves in Egypt and He walked them through the sea!)
    5. Read Psalm 74:13-17. What reason does the psalmist exclude for God not acting? (God’s delay does not reflect his inability to act or his weakness. God has experience cracking the heads of monsters. More than that, He controls the seasons!)
    6. Read Psalm 74:19-23. Who do you think the psalmist is really worried about? (This is where we find the truth. The words “dove,” “poor,” “downtrodden,” and “needy” all refer to God’s people. While the psalmist is undoubtedly concerned about the name of God (He is after all, the psalmist’s God), what he is really concerned about is himself! Don’t forget us, God!)
      1. Is that a cynical answer, or is there some logic to it? (The logic is that God can take care of Himself. God’s people cannot.)
    7. Read Psalm 41:7-9. What other cause for shame must we endure when God does not intervene to defeat the bad guys? (Others blame us! Those who hate us “imagine the worst,” but this is even true for “my close friend in whom I trusted.”)
    8. Read Psalm 41:10. What great idea does the psalmist have after God intervenes for him? (He is going to “repay” those who hate him and, apparently, his trusted friend.)
      1. What kind of repayment do you think he has in mind? (Read Psalms 41:11. The most positive answer is that repayment comes in the form of them seeing him return to power.)
  3. What We Deserve
    1. Read Psalm 41:12. The psalmist claims that God has saved him “because of [the psalmist’s] integrity.” What do you think? Isn’t this at the heart of the original allegation - that the psalmist was not protected because of his failures?
      1. Read Psalm 41:4. To what does the psalmist admit? (That he is a sinner!)
      2. Read Psalm 38:3-5. Albert Barnes Commentary says that this text describes the same Psalm 41:12 psalmist who is talking about his “integrity.” What point is the Bible making to us? What lesson should we learn? (We cannot trust ourselves to make an honest evaluation of our integrity.)
    2. Read Luke 13:1-5. What does Jesus say about our belief that our relative goodness protects us? (Jesus says that without Him our sins would cause eternal death. We all deserve death. We are all sinners.)
      1. Does that mean that the underlying view that sin causes harm and adverse consequences is wrong? (No. The general idea that obedience and protection are related is true. That is one reason why God gave us His rules - to protect us. The point made by Jesus is that we cannot claim to be good. Unless we repent, meaning unless we rely on Jesus’ goodness, we all deserve death. Plus, we cannot depend on our self-assessment of our integrity.)
  4. The Road to Triumph
    1. Read Psalm 37:1-2. What is the fate of those who trouble us? The fate of those who do evil? (They will fade and die.)
    2. Read Psalm 37:3-4. What is the natural result of having a relationship with God? (He will give you “the desires of your heart.”)
    3. Read Psalm 37:5-7. What is the most important thing for us to do in the face of trouble? (Trust God. Be patient. Try not to worry.)
    4. Read Psalm 37:8-9. Recall the psalmist in Psalm 41:10 who said that when God put him back on top he would “repay” those saying bad things about him? What does this suggest is the better response? (Don’t be angry. In God’s time you will be on top.)
    5. Read Psalm 37:12-15. What will happen to the wicked? (They will suffer what they have in mind for God’s people.)
      1. We just studied the story of Esther. What comes to mind? (Haman was hung on the gallows he created to hang Mordecai. Esther 7:9-10.)
    6. Read Psalm 37:16. With what should we comfort ourselves until God rescues us? (The little that we have is better than all the things owned by the wicked.)
    7. Friend, God will win! We don’t deserve to win, but God does and He has graciously offered to make us winners too. Will you repent and accept His offer right now? Will you wait patiently for God’s rescue?
  5. Next week: I Will Arise.