Lessons of the Past

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(Psalms 78, 105 & 106)
Lesson Number: 


Lesson 10

Lessons of the Past

(Psalms 78, 105 & 106)

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: Are you fearful about the future? Are you anxious? Does what you read in the news today cause you to worry? This week I read yet another article reporting that worry and anxiety are at record levels. Suicide rates are high. In that context, think about how you approach the difficult tasks in your life. If you have done it before, you likely encourage yourself by saying, “I’ve done this before, and I can do it again.” Apply that mind set to what God has done for you and for His people in the past. Reliance on God’s past good works is a theme in the Psalms. Let’s jump into our study of Psalms and learn more!

  1. Dark Teaching for Today
    1. Read Psalm 78:1-3. Is the psalmist talking about historical truths? (Yes, “sayings from of old.”)
      1. What does that suggest about the application of these sayings of old to current news? To problems that involve Israel today?
      2. If ancient history is good and helpful to us today, why does the psalmist call them “dark sayings?” (The point is that they may be difficult to correctly understand. This is not a negative comment about the morality of ancient sayings.)
      3. Think about some of the lessons from the Old Testament. Are they all easy to understand? For example, read Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and then read 1 Samuel 15:3. What is the lesson to be learned in these texts? Are these lessons “dark?”
        1. Notice the reasoning found in Deuteronomy 20:18. Why this destruction? (The Canaanites will teach God’s people to sin. They are engaged in “abominable practices.”)
    2. Read Genesis 15:16-18. What is meant by the term “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete?” (God tells Abram that later He will use Abram’s descendants in the future in connection with the sins of the Amorites.)
      1. Note the size of the land Abram’s descendants are given by God. Is that larger than the nation of Israel today? (Yes! This is a huge area. The Nile is west of the Red Sea. This includes Lebanon, a large part of Saudi Arabia, almost half of Iraq, most of Syria, and even reaches into Turkey. Of course, it includes modern Israel.)
    3. Read Judges 1:28-36. Did God’s people obey God with regard to the conquest and destruction? (No. It turns out that Abram’s descendants did not completely obey God and some Canaanites remained. Notice the specific reference to the Amorites.)
      1. Consider today’s news events and then factor in the “dark sayings.” Would Israel face a different situation today if it had cleared Canaan of all of its enemies?
    4. Read Psalm 83:2-4. Does this sound like the today’s news? (Yes. This shows that the failure to follow God’s directions on judgment against the Canaanites has created a persistent problem.)
    5. Let’s get back to Psalm 78. Read Psalm 78:4. Have you shared with your children and grandchildren what “glorious deeds” God has done for you?
      1. Have you shared with your children how the “dark sayings” impact the events of today?
    6. Read Psalm 78:5-7. What is the positive reason for teaching the next generations to remember God and keep His commandments? (It gives them hope! Hope combats anxiety.)
    7. Read Psalm 78:8-11. What is the negative reason for teaching the next generations to remember God and keep His commandments? (This is what we were discussing earlier. God’s people turned back from battle because they did not trust Him. They did not trust Him because they did not recall His mighty works in the past.)
      1. These verses suggest that being unfaithful to God frustrated completing His instructions. Recall that God’s plan has to do with judgment on the Canaanites. Is Israel today faithful to God?
        1. Does faithfulness matter if God made a promise to Abraham?
    8. In the last part of Genesis 18 we find Abram negotiating with God about the destruction of Sodom. God said He would not destroy Sodom if ten righteous people were there. Do you find a lesson in that story about destruction that applies to Israel today? (Not everyone needs to be on board with God in modern Israel for God to protect Israel.)
  2. Teachings for a Thousand Generations
    1. Read Psalm 105:6-11. We often read that in 1948 Israel proclaimed that it was a nation, and the United States, Britain, and the United Nations agreed. Is 1948 the birth year for Israel?(The better date comes from Psalm 105:8-11 when God confirmed the existing covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that for a “thousand generations” Canaan was their “inheritance.”)
      1. One commentator said that the people living in the area in 1948 did not appreciate others being given their land and the resentment we see today among the modern Canaanites is to be expected. Is this a failure to communicate “dark sayings?”
    2. Read Psalm 105:41-45. What is the timing of this Canaanite “possession?” (After God’s people left Egypt.)
      1. What do these texts say about existing people in that area? (God’s people “took possession” of the “fruit of the peoples’ toil.” They benefitted from those who previously lived there.)
    3. Look again at Psalm 105:44-45. We previously discussed judgment against the inhabitants of Canaan. What is the reason do we find here for displacing and destroying the Canaanites? (God explicitly says that He is fulfilling His promise to Abraham and his descendants “that they might keep His statues and observe His laws.” God gives the land to those who recognize Him as the true God.)
      1. I recently heard yet another university apologize for “stealing” its land from whatever was the local native American tribe. I’m sure that the university (and every similar university) purchased the land from someone. But the point is that at some time the land may have been forcibly taken from the natives. Does anything that we have been studying teach us valid lessons about this dispute? (What gods did the natives serve?)
        1. You may say, “Wait a minute! That is not fair. How were the Native Americans to know the true God? Just because you know the true God you get to steal land? (The Bible teaches us that all current people descended from Noah. That means the ancestors of everyone knew the true God. The lessons of Canaan are that God, at some point, executes judgment on those who reject Him and promote false gods.)
  3. Teaching Justice
    1. Read Psalm 106:1-3. Does God wants us to be just and righteous according to these verses? (Yes. I have no doubt the discussion we just had may cause some to dispute the justice of God.)
    2. Read Psalm 106:4. Is God just when He favors His people? Isn’t that at bottom, the issue we have been discussing?(Are you being unjust when you promote a system that gives humans the opportunity to move from eternal death to eternal life, and frustrates the approach that brings eternal death?)
    3. Read Psalm 106:6-8. What other consideration regarding justice do we find in these verses? (God’s name.)
      1. Let’s explore this. The psalmist tells us that God’s people rebelled against Him and failed to remember what God had done for them in the past. Does that mean God should now punish them like He punished the Canaanites?(God saved His people despite their sin, iniquity, and wickedness (see verse six) because of His reputation. He showed them mercy to show the world His power.)
        1. Does that seem just to you? (I say, “Yes.” God and Satan are not equivalent values. God is the author of good and Satan is the author of evil. Preserving God’s reputation is important.)
    4. Read Psalms 106:9-11. Pharaoh rebelled against God and so did God’s people at the Red Sea. One group was saved and the other drowned. Is this just?
    5. Read Psalms 106:12. What purpose did the arguably unequal justice at the Red Sea serve? (God’s people believed Him. Pharaoh was never going to convert to serve the true God. Pharaoh promoted evil.)
    6. We started off talking about anxiety, fear and today’s events. Then we discussed judgment and justice. What lessons have we learned that help us avoid being anxious? (First, God favors His people. He favors what advances His cause and His good name. Second, problems arise when we fall away from God. The ultimate lesson is to choose God and choose obedience. Even if we slip God understands that we are on His side.)
    7. Friend, will you choose God today?
  4. Next week: Longing For God in Zion.