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SDA Sabbath School Lesson 5-1st Quarter 2024--Singing the Lordís Song

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Richard Myers:
1st  Quarter        Lesson 05
Jan 27 - Feb 2                                                                                                                                                                             





Singing the Lordís Song in a Strange Land




Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon

Richard Myers:

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Weekís Study

Psalms 79:5-13; Psalms 88:3-12; Psalms 69:1-3; Psalms 22:1; Psalms 77:1-20; Psalms 73:1-20; 1 Peter 1:17.

    Memory Text:
    ďHow shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?Ē Psalms 137:4

We do not need to get deep into the book of Psalms in order to discover that the Psalms are uttered in an imperfect world, one of sin, evil, suffering, and death. The stable creation run by the Sovereign Lord and His righteous laws is constantly threatened by evil. As sin corrupts the world more and more, the earth has increasingly become ďa strange landĒ to Godís people. This reality creates a problem for the psalmist: How does one live a life of faith in a strange land?

As we already have seen, the psalmists acknowledge Godís sovereign rule and power, as well as His righteous judgments. They know that God is the everlasting and never-failing refuge and help in times of trouble. For this reason, the psalmists are at times perplexed (who isnít?) by the apparent absence of God and the flourishing of evil in the face of the good and Sovereign Lord. The paradoxical nature of the Psalms as prayers is demonstrated in the psalmistsí responses to Godís seeming silence. In other words, the psalmists respond to Godís perceived absence, as well as to Godís presence.

By God's grace, light continues to shine upon His people. They understand what many did not, God allows Satan to continue and evil to manifest itself in this world, the only evil in the universe. We know that the most weighty trust and the highest honor God can bestow upon us is that we partake in the sufferings of Jesus. And, in Romans 5:3-5 we are told why we glory in our tribulation. And we know that Jesus has gone before us and suffered so very much more than we shall ever experience. And we also know that it was the power of His Father that enabled Him to resist the temptation to sin. We may not hear the voice of Jesus as the world heard the voice of God when He said that Jesus was His Son, but we do indeed hear that still small voice assuring us that Jesus does not hide Himself from us. The Holy Spirit resides in our hearts if we love Him supremely.

*Study this weekís lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 3.

Richard Myers:
Sunday January 8
The Days of Evil

Read Psalms 74:18-22; Psalms 79:5-13. What is at stake here?

The psalmist seeks to grasp the great controversy between God and the powers of evil, and he points to Godís unfathomable forbearance, as well as to His infinite wisdom and power.

The problem of evil in the Psalms is primarily theological; it inevitably concerns questions about God. Thus, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is seen principally as a divine scandal because it provided an opportunity for the heathen to blaspheme God. Godís inheritance (the people of Israel) is the sign of His divine election and covenant (Deuteronomy 4:32-38; Deuteronomy 32:8-9) that will never fail. The concept of Godís inheritance also contains an end-time dimension, as one day all nations will become Godís inheritance and will serve Him. The notion that the nations invaded Godís inheritance threatens these divine promises.

No question, the psalmist acknowledges that the sins of the people corrupted the peopleís covenantal relationship with God and brought upon the people all the consequences (Psalms 79:8-9). The peopleís survival depends solely upon Godís gracious intervention and the restoration of the covenantal bond through the atonement of sin. The Lord is ďGod of our salvation,Ē which conveys Godís faithfulness to His covenantal promises (Psalms 79:9).

However, more important than the restoration of Israelís fortunes is the defense of Godís character in the world (Psalms 79:9). If the evil actions of the nations go unpunished, it will appear that God has lost His power (Psalms 74:18-23; Psalms 83:16-18; Psalms 106:47). Only when God saves His people will His name be justified and uplifted.

As today, the same principle existed back then. Our sins, our backsliding, our evils, can bring disrepute not only on ourselves but, worse, on the God whose name we profess. Our wrong actions can have detrimental spiritual effects on our witness and mission, as well. How many people have been turned off to our faith by the actions of those professing the name of Christ?

ďThe honor of God, the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of His people.ĒóEllen G. White, _The Desire of Ages_, p. 671. How do you understand this important truth and what it should mean in your own Christian life?

What a blessing to have teachers in our church, in God's church that lay the truth simply before us. The perfection of Christian character is the foundation of our faith, yet so very few understand it or have even heard of it. First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear, perfect at each stage. At conversion, there is perfection of character. There is a radical transformation of character when the old things are passed away, as represented by baptism. The heart is washed cleaner than fresh fallen snow. We do not believe in holy flesh this side of the second coming of Jesus. But, we ought to rightly understand the heart is purified when we surrender all to Christ. The motives are pure and holy. Then through obedience we are being sanctified to a higher and higher level. At each stage there is perfection of Christian character. Yes, it may be difficult to understand because so many have been taught otherwise. They have believed Satan's first great lie to humanity, if you sin you will surely not die. God says that if we sin a known sin we shall surely die. God does not forgive known sins unless they are truly repented. "No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven." Desire of Ages chapter 61.

Richard Myers:
Monday  January
At Deathís Door

Read Psalms 41:1-4; Psalms 88:3-12; Psalms 102:3-5; Psalms 102:11; Psalms 102:23-24. What experiences do these texts describe? In what can you relate to what is said here?

These prayers for salvation from illness and death demonstrate that Godís children are not exempt from the sufferings of this world. The Psalms reveal the psalmistís terrible afflictions. He is without strength, withering like grass, unable to eat, set apart with the dead, lying like the slain in the grave, repulsive to his friends, suffering and in despair. His bones cling to his skin.

Many psalms assume the Lord has permitted the trouble because of Israelís disobedience. The psalmist recognizes that sin can bring sickness; therefore, he refers to the forgiveness that comes before healing (Psalms 41:3-4). However, some psalms, such as Psalms 88:1-18; Psalms 102:1-28, acknowledge that the innocent suffering of Godís people is a fact of life, no matter how hard to understand.

In Psalms 88:1-18, God is charged with bringing the psalmist to the verge of death (Psalms 88:6-8). Notice, however, that even when the most daring complaints are uttered, the lament is clearly an act of faith, for if the Lord in His sovereignty allowed trouble, He could restore the well-being of His child.

At the graveís threshold, the psalmist remembers Godís wonders, loving-kindness, faithfulness, and righteousness (Psalms 88:10-12). Despite his sense of being stricken by God, the psalmist clings to God. Although he suffers, he does not deny Godís love and knows that God is his only salvation. These appeals show that the psalmist knows not only suffering but also has an intimate knowledge of Godís grace and that the two do not necessarily exclude each other.

In short, both Godís permitting of suffering and His deliverance are demonstrations of His ultimate sovereignty. Knowing that God is in control inspires hope. When we read Psalms 88:1-18 in the light of Christís suffering, we are awed by the depths of His love, in which He was willing to pass through deathís door for the sake of humanity.

Think about Jesus on the cross and what He suffered because of sin. How should that reality, that God in Christ suffered even worse than any of us, help us keep faith even amid times of suffering and trial?

Richard Myers:
Tuesday  January 30
Where Is God?

Read Psalms 42:1-3; Psalms 63:1; Psalms 69:1-3; Psalms 102:1-7. What causes great pain to the psalmist?

Not only does personal and communal sufferings trouble the psalmist but also, if not more, Godís seeming lack of attention to His servantsí hardships. Godís absence is felt like intense thirst in a dry land (Psalms 42:1-3; Psalms 63:1) and mortal anguish (Psalms 102:2-4). The psalmist feels removed from God and compares himself to lonely birds. ďI am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetopĒ (Psalms 102:6-7).

The mention of wilderness highlights the sense of isolation from God. A bird ďalone on a housetopĒ is outside of its nest, its resting place. The psalmist cries to God ďout of the depths,Ē as if being engulfed by mighty waters and sinking into a ďdeep mireĒ (Psalms 69:1-3; Psalms 130:1). These images depict an oppressive situation from which there is no escape, except by divine intervention.

Read Psalms 10:12; Psalms 22:1; Psalms 27:9; Psalms 39:12. How does the psalmist respond to Godís apparent absence?

It is remarkable that the psalmists resolve not to keep silent in the face of Godís silence. The psalmists unswervingly believe in prayer because prayer is directed to the living and gracious God. God is still there, even when He is apparently absent. He is still the same God who heard them in the past, and so, they are confident that He hears them now.

The occasions of Godís silence cause the psalmists to examine themselves and to seek God, but with confession and humble petitions. They know that God will not remain silent forever. The Psalms demonstrate that communication with God must go on, regardless of lifeís circumstances.

What can we learn from the psalmistsí responses to Godís apparent absence? How do you respond to times when God does seem silent? What sustains your faith?

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