Wisdom for Righteous Living

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(Psalms 119, 90, 81, 141)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8

Wisdom for Righteous Living

(Psalms 119, 90, 81, 141)

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: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: “Remember the thief on the cross!” In the debate over what righteousness by faith means, the experience of that thief gives us confidence that our works will not save us. Have you ever heard a Christian who argues the importance of right living say, “Remember the thief on the cross?” If you think about this, that thief is a powerful lesson about how our life can be if we ignore the teachings of the Bible on right living. That thief ended life on earth with the most embarrassing and painful death. Let’s jump into our study of the Psalms to learn more about how life is better if we follow God’s rules!

  1. The Walk
    1. Read Psalm 119:1-3. These verses use the term “walk” twice. What does it mean to walk “in the law,” and to “walk in His ways?” (Walk refers to the direction of your life. The blessed person moves forward in a way consistent with God’s law.)
    2. Read Psalm 119:4-6. Do you like to be embarrassed? What does this teach us about how to avoid embarrassment? (We will not be “put to shame” if we are focused on God’s laws.)
      1. Think about the time when you felt most embarrassed? Was it because you were obeying God’s commands?
    3. Read Psalm 119:7-9. How can we know how to keep God’s law? Is there a learning curve? (There is a learning curve. The psalmist writes about learning the “righteous rules.” Those rules are found in God’s Word - the Bible.)
    4. Let’s skip down and read Psalm 119:32-34. Verse 32 has an unusual phrase: “when you enlarge my heart.” What do you think it means for God to enlarge our heart with regard to His law? (Our natural heart is not in accord with God’s law. We not only need to learn God’s law, but we need a change of heart. We need the Holy Spirit to change our heart so that we can “run” with our “whole heart.”)
      1. Have you been involved in a situation where you wanted God to ignore one part of your life? God could have your life, just this one little part you would like to keep? (The psalmist tells us the goal is to turn over our entire heart to God’s leading.)
    5. Look again at Psalm 119:34. The psalmist links “understanding” with “whole heart” observance. Do you see Christians who misunderstand the meaning of a commandment?
      1. Read Matthew 5:27-28. What is Jesus doing here? How is He helping us to better understand the seventh commandment? (Jesus gives us a deeper understanding of what God has in mind for better living.)
  2. Counting
    1. Read Psalm 90:10-12. Moses (who lived a lot longer) tells us that our lifespan is 70 years, or 80 if we are strong. That is worrisome news to me! What point do you think Moses is making when he tells us to consider the power of God’s anger and wrath? (If you look at the lifespan of humans before the Flood, you see that they lived much longer. Moses’ point is that God holds the key to longevity. That is power.)
      1. How does the instruction “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” fit into Moses’ statement about longevity? (We have limited time on earth. We need to make the best of it. Part of our goal in our limited time is to become wise.)
      2. What do you think Moses means when he tells us to “get a heart of wisdom?” What does “wise” mean? Is he talking about our relative intelligence? (No. He is telling us that understanding God’s will, and acting in accordance with it, is wisdom. Wisdom can be learned. This can impact the length of our life.)
      3. My step grandfather was a great man for the short time I knew him. However, he had previously spent decades as a drunk. The Salvation Army and the Holy Spirit rescued him and he began to preach and teach. I recall him telling me how he regretted all the lost years to alcohol. Do you take your years seriously?
    2. Read Psalm 81:6-7. Scan the prior verses in Psalm 81 and tell me what you think verse six means? (God is speaking about the time when His people were slaves in Egypt.)
      1. What does the reference in verse 7 to Meribah mean? (Read Exodus 17:4-7. This reference is to the time when the people so distrusted God that they were threatening to stone Moses.)
      2. When Psalms 81:7 refers to the people being “tested” at Meribah, do you think that God withheld water from them as a test? (If you read Exodus 17:2 Moses says that the people are testing God.)
      3. With all of these charges about “testing” being made, what do you think is the real issue? (Trusting God.)
      4. Step back a moment. If you trust God, will your life be better? (It will be more peaceful.)
    3. Read Psalm 81:11-16. What aspect of counting our days do these verses address?(When we count our days, we not only consider how we are spending our time, but we have the opportunity to increase the enjoyment of life. Would you like your remaining days to be excellent?)
    4. Read Psalm 112:7-8. Compare this description of the righteous with the problem at Meribah. What makes the difference? (Trusting God. What a glorious description of the attitude that we need to acquire from God. We are not afraid of bad news. Our heart is steady. We look forward to winning in the end.)
  3. The Consideration
    1. Read Psalm 141:3-4. What about our lips are we watching? Are we trying not to swear? Are we trying not to lie? (While those are important, I think the bigger issue is reflected in verse four. We need to watch our influence. Is our influence to incline others to evil?)
    2. Read Psalm 141:5. How do you like an unexpected blow to the head? When I worked on construction I hated it when I unexpectedly hit my head on a board I had not noticed.
      1. Oil on the head is a great thing. How is getting hit on the head by a righteous rebuke like oil? (David admits that sometimes he just needs to get hit with a rebuke.)
      2. Does this raise a modern culture versus the Bible issue? If anyone rebukes sin, especially in the church, this is considered by many to be a grave error. We are told to be “welcoming.” What do you think?
      3. I am a leader in a “welcoming” church. We believe in being kind to sinners, and avoid kicking them around. Personally, I feel better being kind than being harsh. How about you?
      4. Is there a way to resolve this conflict? (This is King David writing about himself. David is a man who was close to God and should have no excuses for bad behavior. Jesus was often kind to sinners. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the right approach to sinners.)
    3. Read Psalm 141:6. What does David have in mind for evil judges? (They should be tossed off a cliff.)
    4. Read Psalms 141:8-10. We have much discussion here about dangerous things. David says that the wicked have bad things in mind for him. Is it appropriate to spend our remaining days looking for harm for our enemies and safety for ourselves? Except, of course, where we need to take a hit to help us to get back on track? (We naturally seek safety. The ultimate point being made by David is that God is our safe harbor. He can save us and give the wicked what they had in mind to harm the righteous.)
    5. Friend, while our ultimate salvation is the most important goal, do you want to spend 70-80 years having an unpleasant time? Do you want to be unhappy and afraid? Constantly complaining about how God and others have let you down? We do not want to live the life that led the thief to the cross. Instead, we need to follow God’s commands and live a confident, trusting, wise, and happy life. Will you choose to follow God’s commands?
  4. Next week: Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord.