Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Psalms 101-118|
Writing notes about the psalms in general is very difficult, because there is no uniformity in them. Yes, we can categorise them according to author and, particularly with David, that suggests the nature of the psalms, but mostly they are a complete mix of experience.
Clues to Reading the Psalms
One of the things I've observed as I've written these notes, is that in most psalms there is a REASON FOR WRITING. If you've ever written a story or composed a piece of poetry, it was because of thoughts, ideas and especially feelings that you've had that you want to convey. Before you read the commentaries of each study, read through the whole psalm (perhaps out loud) and see if you can catch WHY the psalmist was writing. Much of the psalm may be a call to praise but somewhere, possibly in the first few verses, you may find the thing that has provoked the psalmist to pen these words. Sometimes you have to read a long way into the psalm before one verse stands out and shows you what the psalmist has been going through. Sometimes there is petition for help, other times praise for the help that has been given. Sometimes the need was physical, sometimes it is because of people in opposition, sometimes it is simply because the enemy of souls has been pressing in. Often though that reason may just appear as a single verse or even part verse and everything else hinges around that.
Needs of Mankind
Almost more than any other parts of Scripture, the psalms show us the Achilles heels of mankind. If we are proud, the realities of life shown here humble us. If we feel strong, we are reminded here there will be times when our natural weaknesses will be revealed. If we feel spiritual we are reminded here there will be times of attack then we won't feel so great! The psalms do a great job of bringing balance and perspective.
Of course the greatest thing about the psalms is that they reveal and remind us about the Lord. For the person starting their walk of faith, they come as revelation. For the person who has walked many years with the Lord, they come as reminders. Be blessed as you read them.
Theme of the Psalms in this Series
NB. The Letters with the study numbers = the author. See below.
Passage: Psalm 101
A. Find Out:
1. What does he start out by doing? v.1
2. What does he declare about himself? v.2,3a
3. How will he avoid unrighteousness? v.3b-5,7
4. What does he say about the righteous? v.6
5. What does he say he will do every day? v.8
1. What appears to be David's primary desire?
2. How will he achieve that negatively?
3. How will he achieve that positively?
This is clearly a psalm of commitment to righteousness by David. He starts out with the intention of praising the Lord for His love and the justice He brings (v.1). Perhaps it is the thought of the Lord who brings justice that makes him say he must live a blameless life (v.2a) for who knows when the Lord could come at any time and hold him accountable (implied v.2b). The rest of the psalm speaks of ways that he will maintain that blameless life. He makes no mention of his heart – it seems that that is taken for granted. At that follows is external.
He starts with what he sees. He will not allow anything vile to remain before him (v.3a); things done by those who are unfaithful will not be allowed to be seen in his presence (v.3b). Those who have twisted or perverse hearts are to be kept far from him; he wants nothing to do with evil (v.4). If he even hears anyone slandering their neighbour in his presence he will deal with them (v.5a), and even the proud he will not put up with (v.5b). Anyone who is deceitful or tells lies, will not be allowed near him (v.7). In all of these ways he will seek to keep himself blameless – by excluding all forms of unrighteousness from his life.
But he will not be merely negative; he will be proactive in his desire to be blameless. He will draw others who are like-minded to him (v.6) and he will seek to deal with the wicked in the land for which he is responsible (v.8). This is a psalm about outer righteousness.
1. Remember Jesus called us to be righteous in our hearts.
Passage: Psalm 102:1-12
A. Find Out:
1. What is the psalmist's initial plea v.1,2
2. What has happened to him physically? v.3-5
3. How does he describe himself, and why? v.6,7
4. What happens in the day and why? v.8,9
5. What does he see as the cause of this, with what result? v.10,11
6. Yet what does he declare? v.12
1. What appears to be the psalmist's physical state?
2. What repercussions does that have?
3. And why does he believe it is happening?
In this first part we see the anguish of the psalmist, the reason for his anguish and the results that follow. In the second part tomorrow we will see his plea to God and what he knows about the Lord.
His starts by calling out to the Lord for help (v.1) asking the Lord to turn to him (v.2). In the next three verses he appears to give the initial reasons for his anguish, which appear to be purely physical. His bones ‘burn' (v.3), he's off his food (v.4) and so as a result he is rapidly losing weight (v.5). We aren't told what his affliction is (which sounds like rheumatoid arthritis) but he seems to feel that his life is wasting away rapidly (v.3a). Because of the apparent pain that he is suffering he can't sleep at night and feels isolated from the rest of the sleeping world, rather like a night owl (v.6,7) During the daytime his enemies, seeing his weakness, taunt him and speak against him (v.8), for his eating is as one in deep anguish (v.9). Behind it all he feels that the Lord has cast him aside (v.10) so that he is vanishing like the shadows at sunset or the grass withering away (v.11).
To conclude this first part, he contrasts the Lord who is unchanging and will be there to help, throughout all generations (v.12). This he will expand on in the second part and it seems to be the hope that he relies upon. The Lord is unchanging and will help him.
1. However we change, the Lord is unchanging.
2. Jesus died for whatever we do. Repentance opens the door for help.
Passage: Psalm 102:13-22
A. Find Out:
1. What does he believe the Lord will do? v.13,16
2. Why? v.14,17
3. With what result? v.15
4. Why is he writing? v.18
5. What does he anticipate happening? v.19,20
6. With what result? v.21,22
1. What is now the focus of the psalmist's concern?
2. What does he want the Lord to do?
3. On what basis does he make his appeal?
In the first part that we saw yesterday, it seemed like the psalmist was in physical anguish and he was crying out because of that. Now the focus swings away from himself to Zion , Jerusalem . His declarations about the Lord, what he seems to know that the Lord will do, seem to be his way of reassuring himself. There is part plea and part declaration of faith.
He starts this part by declaring that the Lord will rise up and come to bless Zion (v.13), that He will rebuild her (v.16). The way he then speaks about ‘her stones' and ‘her very dust' (v.14) suggest that the city is broken down. Whether that is complete and suggests the Exile, or is some prior time after an enemy attack is unclear for there is no historical notation with this psalm or indication of its writer.
He knows that when the Lord does restore, then the nations of the world will know and fear Him (v.15) as He responds to the prayers of the destitute (homeless? again suggesting Exile? v.17).
He writes for the sake of future generations (v.18) who will know what has happened, that the Lord looked down (v.19), saw the prisoners being taken (v.20) and restored His people (v.22) so that His name could again be praised in Jerusalem (v.21). Most of this he declares as a statement of faith. Remarkable!
1. When things look dark, can we declare the truth in faith?
2. Will we KNOW that God WILL restore?
Passage: Psalm 102:23-28
A. Find Out:
1. What does the psalmist say God did? v.23
2. How had he pleaded? v.24
3. What does he say about the Lord? v.25,26
4. Yet what does he know about Him? v.27
5. What will happen yet in the future? v.28
1. What had been the psalmist's plight?
2. How did he encourage himself?
In the first part we saw the psalmist describing his plight in physical terms. In the second part we saw him turn the focus away from himself to the plight of Jerusalem . This final part comes with a brief reference to himself but mainly with declarations about the enduring nature of the Lord and His purposes.
At the start of this part he mentions again that it was the Lord, as far as he is concerned, who has apparently cut short his life which seems under threat (v.23). His response had been to call on the Lord not to take him away in what seems middle age, a time when he should have many years to go (v.24a). Then it's almost as if he says, it's all very well for you, for you go on for ever (v.24b), you aren't plagued by terminal illness (implied).
Having had that thought, he builds on it. He knows that the Lord was the one who established the heavens and the earth (v.25), He goes back that far. Yet he also knows that material existence will wear out and the Lord will put aside the existing world (v.26), but although it will wear out, the Lord never will, He will remain the same forever (v.27). More than this, the psalmist may pass away but there will still be future generations who will know the Lord (v.28), they will be there and He will still be there. He seems to take comfort in the knowledge that all he knows will pass away, but the Lord and all His goodness never will. Somehow this brings him comfort.
1. Everything else may change, but the Lord never will.
2. Present circumstances may deteriorate, but God will triumph.
Passage: Psalm 103:1-6, 19-22
A. Find Out:
1. To whom, first of all, does the psalmist call upon to praise God? v.1,2
2. Who else does he call upon? v.20-22
3. What is the first reason given for praise? v.3,4a
4. What further reason is given? v.4b,5
5. What does the Lord do for the oppressed? v.6
6. And what has He done in heaven for what reason? v.19
1. To whom is this psalm addressed?
2. What reasons are given for praise in v.3-5?
3. What reasons are given in v.6 & 19?
The psalm starts and finishes with a call to praise. First of all it is a call to the psalmist himself to praise the Lord (v.1,2) and then at the end a call to all of creation to praise the Lord (v.20-22).
The main middle section which speaks about how the Lord treats sinners and frail mankind generally, we will consider separately tomorrow. That long central part is wedged between v.6 which declares how He works for the oppressed (possibly preparing the ground for the following main section) and v.19 which speaks of how the Lord rules over all things (a conclusion to having thought through all those things).
Verses 3 to 5 speak to the psalmist himself about what God has done for him in two ways. First of all it is about how the Lord has saved him, how He has forgiven him and healed him (v.3) and saved him from an eternal separation from the Lord (v.4). But it is more than simply being saved; it is also for the life that he has been led into whereby he knows and experiences the Lord's love and compassion (v.4b) and who meets all his needs and restores him (v.5). Although they are general principles of truth in these three verses they also seem to have a personal touch, as being about the psalmist's own experience of the Lord. What follows is how the Lord has revealed Himself to and through Israel , but these have been about his personal experience.
1. Do I praise the Lord regularly for the wonder of my salvation?
2. Do I praise Him for the wonder of what He has led me into?
Passage: Psalm 103:7-18
A. Find Out:
1. How does the psalmist know so much about the Lord? v.7
2. What does he know about the Lord? v.8
3. What doesn't He do? v.9,10
4. What does He do? v.11-13
5. What does the Lord know about us? v.14-16
6. Who are blessed, and how? v.17,18
1. How is God described here?
2. How does He act accordingly?
3. How does all this affect us?
We saw yesterday the call to praise God, what He did for the psalmist and the fact that He works for the oppressed. Now in this part the psalmist opens up a tremendous revelation of the Lord. If only those who say God is a hard God would read this passage! This isn't what the psalmist has made up; it is what he has learnt about the Lord through the Lord's dealings with Moses and Israel (v.7).
He describes the Lord as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love (v.8). We need to memorise this verse! Everything else about the Lord flows from it. First of all there are negative things that the Lord WON'T do: He won't always accuse and let His anger go on (v.9), He won't give us what we deserve (v.10). No, on the positive side His love is there for all who fear, respect and come to Him (v.11), and He takes our wrongs completely away (v.12). Going back to that first description, He is compassionate, feeling for His children (v.13) as a father understands and feels for his children.
The Lord understands us (v.14) and knows we came from dust and that we are as frail as the grass or a flower in the field which is soon gone (v.15,16). Nevertheless His love is always there for us (v.17), for those of us who will remain in covenant relationship with Him (v.18) and His righteousness will continue through all generations (v.17).
1. Hold onto the truth: God is loving, compassionate and full of grace.
2. His blessing is for all who will remain in relationship with Him.
A. Find Out:
1. How does the psalmist see the Lord? v.1,2a
2. What does he first describe Him doing? v.2b-4
3. What does he then describe Him doing? v.5-9
4. What does he next describe Him doing? v.10-18
5. What does he next describe Him doing? v.19-23
6. How does he sum this up? v.24-26
1. What is the psalmist doing in each part we've read?
2. With what objective?
This is a psalm all about God's greatness as it is realised in Creation. The psalmist starts off by acknowledging the Lord's greatness and His sovereignty (v.1) and thereafter describes different facets of the Lord's creation provision. He starts with the heavens or the skies (v.2-4) and then he turns to the earth and the seas (v.5-9). He speaks about how the Lord brought the waters to the earth and created the seas. From the seas he goes on to speak about how the Lord waters the land from springs (v.10) for all the wild creatures he has made (v.11,12) and for the domestic animals and man (v.14,15), and to provide a habitat for all creatures (v.16-18).
From the awareness of God's provision of the earth, he moves to the provision of day and night (v.19-23) that determines the different lifestyles for the animals (v.20-22) and for man (v.23).
In verse 24 he starts a peal of praise for the wonder of God's works, the sea, the land, all the creatures in the sea (v.25), and man's activities in ships on the sea (v.26).
It is very easy to take for granted the world in which we live. Great nature programmes on TV have pointed out the wonder of creation, but we need to remember all this is God's provision for us, this incredible planet on which we live. This is all an expression of God's love for us, to be enjoyed by us.
1. Realise afresh that God created this world for our blessing.
2. Give thanks to Him regularly for it.
A. Find Out:
1. Why do people look to the Lord? v.27,28
2. What two things has the Lord the capability of doing? v.29,30
3. What does the psalmist want for the Lord? v.31
4. What does he say he will do? v.33
5. What does he hope? v.34
6. Yet what does he ultimately desire? v.35
1. What provision does the psalmist initially consider?
2. Yet what big provision does he move on to consider?
3. What outworking does he consider this should bring?
We said yesterday that this is a psalm about Creation, but really it is more than that; it is a psalm about PROVISION. Yesterday we saw provision of water that provides so many other things, and those things culminated in the seas providing a means for the coming and going of mankind. Now the psalmist brings tighter and tighter focus to what he says. All of mankind looks to the Lord to provide their food (v.27) which they gladly receive (v.28). But it's more than that. When He withholds His hand, and food is in short supply (implied), people fear. Even more when He decides to remove life, they die (v.29). But He's also the God who brings His Spirit and life comes (v.30). Ultimately God is the bringer of life or death. All talk of His provision ultimately boils down to this.
The psalmist's desire is thus that God will always be glorified (v.31a) and that He will continue to enjoy His works (the world) and will thus continue to provide for us (implied v.31b). He has the ability to just touch the world and change it (v.32). For himself, the psalmist will give Him glory by singing praise (v.33) and trusts that all his thoughts will be right ones that are acceptable to the Lord (v.34), but as he looks on the world (implied) he wishes that sinners no longer existed on the earth to spoil it (implied v.35)
RECAP - Psalms 101-104
In this first group of 8 studies we have seen :
These are a mix of strong affirmations, pleas of anguish, declarations of praise for the Lord's love and grace, and a strong exalting the Lord as Creator of all things. Yet again they reveal the mix of life experiences we go through, good times, hard times and bad times, but with the Lord always there for us!
Lord, thank you that you are the Creator of this world, and you are my provider. Thank you that you are there to rescue me in the down times of enemy attack, thank you for the wonder of your love and grace that is continually there for us.