Sunday School Lesson

February 17

Lesson 12 (KJV)

Our Mighty God

Devotional Reading: Psalm 114

Background Scripture: Psalm 66

Psalm 66:1–9, 16–20

1. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

 

2. Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.

 

3. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.

 

4. All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.

 

5. Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

 

6. He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

 

7. He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

 

8. O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

 

9. Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

 

17. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

 

18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

 

19. But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

 

20. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Key Verse

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands.—Psalm 66:1

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Identify the allusions in Psalm 66 to God’s rescue of Israel at the crossing of the Red Sea.

 

2. Discuss the impact that sharing one’s personal testimony can have on other believers.

 

3. Write a prayer of gratitude to God for one way that He has shown His power in his or her life.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A.  The Mother of All Bombs

B.  Lesson Context

   I. Come and Praise (Psalm 66:1–4)

A.  Appeal Made to Everyone (vv. 1, 2)

Those Annoying Songs

B.  Acclaim Given to God (vv. 3, 4)

II. Come and See (Psalm 66:5–9)

A.  Recalling God’s Deliverance (vv. 5, 6)

B.  Rejoicing in God’s Reign (vv. 7–9)

Power Without Electricity

III. Come and Hear (Psalm 66:16–20)

A.  Give Heed to My Testimony (vv. 16–19)

B.  Give Praise to God (v. 20)

Conclusion

A.  Remembering Our History with God

B.  Prayer

C.  Thought to Remember

HOW TO SAY IT

Assyrian

 

Uh-sear-e-un.

 

Babylonian

 

Bab-ih-low-nee-un.

 

Canaanites

 

Kay-nun-ites.

 

Edomites

 

Ee-dum-ites.

 

Moabites

 

Mo-ub-ites.

 

Philippians

 

Fih-lip-ee-unz.

 

Philistines

 

Fuh-liss-teenz or Fill-us-teenz.

 

Selah

 

(Hebrew) See-luh.

 

Zechariah

 

Zek-uh-rye-uh.

 

Introduction

A. The Mother of All Bombs

As I sat down to write the draft for this commentary, the radio informed me that the US military had just dropped a MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) bomb in a strike in Afghanistan. Nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs,” MOAB is the largest nonnuclear bomb in the US arsenal. Due to its massive size—21,000 pounds and 30 feet long—it can’t be delivered like other conventional bombs. It is transported within range of its target by a specially modified cargo plane, released, and then remotely guided to its target. One MOAB yields an explosive force equivalent to 11 tons of TNT.

The power of the bomb wasn’t limited to the battlefield. The MOAB also took over the news cycle. Whatever else the commentators planned on discussing that day fell by the wayside. Pundits debated whether such a show of force was justified and speculated on the political implications of the event. Others wondered if there was justification for such a weapon to exist at all. Throughout the day, world governments weighed in with messages of support or condemnation regarding the use of the bomb. The entire world took notice when a weapon of that magnitude was unleashed.

Psalm 66 explores a different type of might—God’s power. God’s mighty acts toward Israel were so great that every nation had to take notice and react.

B. Lesson Context

Traditionally, the Psalms are seen as a collection of five books. These five are Psalms 1–41, 42–72, 73–89, 90–106, and 107–150. Our texts for today and last week fall in the second of these five books. As overall characteristics, the psalms of this second book feature relatively many songs of trust and/or complaint plus some praise hymns.

The five books that compose the Psalms are seen to consist of subcollections that share similar themes. In that light, today’s text from Psalm 66 fits with the short collection Psalms 65–68. These four songs focus on the entire earth and all her nations. The nations are depicted as confessing (or needing to confess) God’s power and praising (or needing to praise) Him for His just rule.

This concern in Psalm 66 with other nations’ worship of God has led scholars to wonder if an international crisis was the background for its writing. Two possibilities are usually suggested. One is the Assyrian crisis of 701 BC (see 2 Kings 18:13–19:36); the other is after the release from Babylonian captivity. The date of the psalm’s writing under the latter proposal would be after the rebuilding of the temple in 515 BC, since Psalm 66:13 refers to that structure (compare Ezra 6:15).

No one knows which theory (if either) is correct. Yet this uncertainty does not rob the psalm of its dynamic power. It can be applied to any deliverance the people of God experience.

Remembering that psalms are ancient Israel’s worship songs, Psalm 66 presents itself as five stanzas. These five consist of verses 1–4, 5–7, 8–12, 13–15, and 16–20. Three of the stanza transitions are marked by the word Selah, occurring at the ends of verses 4, 7, and 15. One stanza transition is marked by the psalmist’s shift to writing in the first person in verse 13. Today’s lesson explores the first two stanzas in full, part of the third stanza, and the entirety of the fifth.

I. Come and Praise

(Psalm 66:1–4)

A. Appeal Made to Everyone (vv. 1, 2)

1. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands.

 

The hymn opens with a roar as all … lands of the world are charged to make a joyful noise in acknowledgement of the one true God. Since His works are not constrained within the borders of Israel, every nation everywhere is challenged to join Israel in worshipping Him. The same challenge concludes the stanza (see below). The imperative make a joyful noise suggests to some the idea of a triumphant army celebrating a victory (see also Psalms 81:1; 95:1; 98:4; 100:1).

 

2. Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.

 

The nature of the joyful noise is now refined in terms of the honour that God is due. The challenge for the crowd to sing in such a manner as to make his praise glorious allows no half-hearted or insincere praise! The word glorious captures the idea of an individual’s reputation in the community and how others regard that person (compare Psalms 79:9; 86:9; Isaiah 42:8, 12).

The Hebrew words for glory and glorious are based on a root that means “heavy” in various contexts. Some students propose, therefore, that to glorify someone is to add weight to his or her reputation. But conclusions regarding such added meanings are best avoided unless the author makes it clear that it is intended. One example of such an intention seems to be 2 Corinthians 4:17, where Paul—writing in Greek while having an expert knowledge of Hebrew—speaks of a “weight of glory.” A play on the common Hebrew root for the words heavy and glory is obvious in this case, given the construction of the sentence. But the same is not obvious in Psalm 66:2.

We may wonder how our singing glorifies God’s name. Is it through the skill of our voices, the level of our sincerity, the volume that results, or the nature of the lyrics? The psalmist doesn’t specify, but undoubtedly the level of our sincerity is the starting point for honoring the name of God.

 

What Do You Think?

Other than congregational singing, what are some other ways we can bring honor to God’s name and reputation?

 

Digging Deeper

Conversely, what are some ways that we may inadvertently detract from God’s reputation?

 

Those Annoying Songs

It’s happened to all of us: we get a song stuck in our head—one that goes around and around without end. That can be so annoying!

I’ve found that a short stint in children’s church can do just that. “Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord. Right arm!…”

There—I’ve planted the seed. “Father Abraham” will run through your mind all day long!

Though a song stuck in one’s head may be annoying, it is not damaging. But some thoughts that stick in our heads can indeed do great damage to us, thoughts like these: No one loves me. I always blow it. There’s no hope for me. I never do anything right.

Where do such thoughts originate? They are planted in our minds by our enemy. Satan keeps singing the same choruses over and over to us. It is a song with the title “God Does Not Care for You.”

How do you get rid of the devil’s songs that get stuck in your head? The wrong approach is to try to force those songs out of your head by strength of will; even if you succeed, they will merely return later (compare Luke 11:24–26). The right approach is to replace those songs with better ones. The Psalms, the hymnbook of ancient Israel, is a good place to find some great songs. They are life-giving and faith-building.

Genuine worship will renew your heart. Sing songs of praise like you mean it.

By the way, Father Abraham did have many sons. I am one of them, and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord!

—C. T.

B. Acclaim Given to God (vv. 3, 4)

3. Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.

 

Having addressed the peoples of all lands in the first two verses, the psalmist now instructs them in a proper way to address God. The word terrible is not used here in the modern sense of “awful,” but in the older sense of “terrifying”; the idea of “inspiring awe” conveys the sense.

So great are God’s works of power that His enemies have no choice but to submit themselves to Him. The word translated submit doesn’t imply that the submission springs from heartfelt adoration! (Compare David’s use of this word in 2 Samuel 22:44–46 and its parallel Psalm 18:43–45.) God’s enemies are so overwhelmed by Him that it’s necessary for them to put on an outward show of deference to God, even if their hearts are not in it.

 

4. All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.

 

We should be careful in understanding the sense of all the earth shall worship thee. In both the psalmist’s day and ours, most peoples of the earth do not worship the one true God. Thus this phrase should be understood as prophetic; this conclusion is supported by the future nature of the word shall. The Scriptures foretell a time when the entire world will worship Jesus (see Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).

From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to use Israel as the beachhead from which He brings salvation to all the nations (Genesis 12:1–3; 22:17, 18). We know this is accomplished through Jesus and the spread of the gospel (Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 13:47).

When Jesus returns, He will come not as a suffering servant but as a conqueror. Then all the nations of the world will submit either out of heartfelt worship or begrudging obligation. Revelation 15:3, 4 predicts that those in Christ will sing the Song of Moses: “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”

Regarding the word Selah, see the Lesson Context.

II. Come and See

(Psalm 66:5–9)

A. Recalling God’s Deliverance (vv. 5, 6)

5. Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

 

Echoing his own words in Psalm 66:3, above, the psalmist stresses anew why everyone should worship the Lord: His works toward humanity are terrible, again in the sense of inspiring terror or awe. What the psalmist implores the reader to come and see is the topic of the next verse.

 

6. He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

 

Specifically, the psalmist invites his audience to ponder anew what God did in the exodus. By the time God turned the sea into dry land to allow the Israelites to pass through the flood on foot (Exodus 14:21, 22), He had already worked 10 miracles in the form of plagues (Exodus 7–11). When the people saw the bodies of the Egyptian soldiers washed up on the beaches, they “feared … and believed the Lord” (14:31). Next came rejoicing (15:1–21). Every subsequent generation of Israelites should rejoice in him, as well, in remembering these facts (compare 1 Corinthians 10:1).

Psalm 66:2 refers to God’s glory or reputation. Here we are given a tangible way that God established His reputation among “the children of men” (66:5). The Song of Moses describes the fear that would fall over the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Canaanites—all peoples that Israel would eventually face in their conquest of the promised land—when they learned how God mightily delivered His people (Exodus 15:14–16).

What Do You Think?

What steps can we take to remind each other of our victorious history with God?

 

Digging Deeper

Which biblical figure in Hebrews 11 convinces you most of the importance of this question? Why?

 

B. Rejoicing in God’s Reign (vv. 7–9)

7. He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

 

The readers cannot be reminded too often of God’s eternal rule in power. The Song of Moses ends with this declaration: “The Lord shall reign for ever and ever” (Exodus 15:18). It is God who is the king of all the earth. In that capacity, He rules with great power and His accomplishments are awesome (compare Psalm 145:13).

As He rules, He sees everything. Nothing escapes His notice. He is able to behold the nations easily because He is sovereign over them as well as over Israel (compare Exodus 3:16; Psalm 11:4).

Any nation can suffer the consequences of being an enemy of God. Rebellion is always characterized by defiance of a higher authority. In effect, those who do so justify their actions by switching allegiance to a different authority. Often that different authority is merely the rebels themselves as they attempt to become autonomous; thus do the rebellious exalt themselves.

But no rebellion against God ever results in good. Before a nation, society, or person dares try to exalt self above God, the lessons of history should be consulted!

Again, see the Lesson Context regarding the word Selah.

Power Without Electricity

A thunderstorm rolled through, and the power went out. Our praise team was unplugged. No electric guitars, no electric keyboard, no microphones, and no overhead projectors. Our power for worship was gone.

No electricity also meant no lights and no air conditioning. Our sanctuary has no windows that can be opened, and it was cloudy outside; so the room was very dimly lit.

But as the service started, a cool breeze began to blow through the open doors. The aroma of fresh-fallen rain was exhilarating. The room brightened a bit as the clouds rolled back. We began praising Jesus to the accompaniment of a piano. It turned into a morning blessed by God.

Before we started the service, the elders and I prayed that God would get the power turned on … and He did! It was a powerful worship service. We praised God. We fed on the Word of God and the bread of life. We still didn’t have any electricity, but there was no shortage of power.

By the time we dismissed, the clouds were gone. I was locking up, a little past noon, when the lights came back on. “Go figure,” I said to myself. But then I said, “Thank You, Lord, for turning on the power before the power came on.”

What a great day in the Lord it turned out to be! Thinking about it makes me want to flip off all the circuit breakers this coming Sunday. Or perhaps I should leave to the Lord what level, type, and source of power we should experience. How often do you let earthly types of power—electrical or otherwise—pull your gaze away from the ultimate source of power? See Zechariah 4:6.

—C. T.

What Do You Think?

What Scriptures will you memorize to remind yourself during times of crisis that the sovereign God is the ultimate source of power?

 

Digging Deeper

How can you ensure that your recall of such Scriptures during crisis doesn’t end up being an empty mantra?

 

8. O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard.

 

As we read the psalmist’s exhortation to the Israelites here, we remind ourselves that Christians inherit this mandate. It is both a privilege and a responsibility to make the voice of his praise to be heard. The recipients of God’s generosity need to take the lead in worshipping Him. How much more this is true for Christians today, who are aware of the great salvation provided by Jesus Christ (compare 1 Corinthians 10:11)!

 

9. Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

 

The reason for this renewed praise is God’s continuing care for His people. The God who rescued an entire nation in the exodus is more than capable of preserving every individual soul (compare Psalm 30:3).

The psalmist’s generation may have experienced a life-threatening event (see the Lesson Context). Yet God sustains those who remain loyal to Him (compare 1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4). Life is always precarious and precious. Without God’s constant care, we are dead. The fact that He suffereth not our feet to be moved should assure us that we need not rely on our own power. That is what the wicked do, and they ultimately lose (compare Deuteronomy 32:35; Job 12:5).

III. Come and Hear

(Psalm 66:16–20)

A. Give Heed to My Testimony (vv. 16–19)

16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

 

As we rejoin the psalm in the final stanza, the scene has changed again. In the first stanza (Psalm 66:1–4), all the nations are challenged to praise God. In the second stanza (66:5–7), Israel is to lead the praise before the nations by recounting God’s mighty rescue of His people from Egypt. The third stanza (66:8–12) recalls either the exodus or a more recent time of trouble and rescue. In the fourth stanza (66:13–15), the psalmist personally vows to offer sacrifices extravagantly to God as a response to His recent rescue.

Now, in the fifth and final stanza (66:16–20), the psalmist begins a personal testimony regarding God’s work in his life. His personal experience is about to become one of public declaration.

 

What Do You Think?

What preparations can you make to ensure that the story of what God has done in your life endures as a witness to the next generation?

 

Digging Deeper

Should drafting your own eulogy be part of this effort? Why, or why not?

 

17. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

 

This is another instance of parallelism that so often characterizes Hebrew poetry, with the words cried, him, and my mouth in the first statement reflecting extolled, he, and my tongue in the second expression, respectively. Thus it would be a mistake to think the psalmist is saying two different things. He is actually offering one thought, which he repeats with similar words.

This singular thought is important: instead of immediately asking for help or complaining about something, the psalmist extolled God. (The original word behind the translation “extolled” is rendered “high praises” in Psalm 149:6.) This reminds us that our praise of God should come first, no matter the circumstances of life.

 

18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

 

This acknowledgment is also reflected by David in Psalm 32:3–5. The psalmist knows that the condition of his heart matters to God. There are certain conditions that hinder the effectiveness of prayers (examples: Lamentations 3:40–44; 1 Peter 3:7), and unconfessed sin is certainly one of them.

 

What Do You Think?

What plan can you enact to ensure that you take inventory on the condition of your heart on a regular basis?

 

Digging Deeper

Is this something that others can assist with, or is it strictly personal? Why?

 

19. But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

 

The psalmist recognizes that God has, in fact, heard him. Given this successful outcome, the reader may be tempted to draw up a checklist of the various points of the previous verses that lead up to here. That may be useful in terms of the broad contours that prayer should take. But we should always caution ourselves that God is not like a fictional genie who grants our wishes as long as we follow a certain procedure.

B. Give Praise to God (v. 20)

20. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

 

In closing, the psalmist voices a praise blessing to God for attending to the psalmist’s prayer. Prayers to fictional gods are never heard (Psalm 115:4–6), and praying to the one true God is no guarantee that He will listen (compare Jeremiah 11:11; 14:12).

Going hand in hand with the psalmist’s prayer being heard is God’s continuing mercy. The word being translated occurs about 250 times in the Old Testament, with varying translations such as “lovingkindness” (Psalm 17:7).

Visual for Lessons 11 & 12. Associate this with the question to the left as you ask, “What role does singing play in indicating the condition of the heart?”

Conclusion

A. Remembering Our History with God

Despite the circumstances in the psalmist’s day, God was still sovereign and all-powerful. He was still worthy of praise. He was still the judge who ruled all nations and knew the true condition of every individual human heart.

All the above remains true today. Although we are surrounded by those who do not fear God, we can do so nonetheless. Although we are surrounded by those who do not praise God, we can do so nonetheless. We can make a commitment to remind ourselves continually of His history with us. We can also encourage each other by sharing our personal testimonies of how He has demonstrated His strength in our lives.

As we do (or, perhaps, because we do), we will find ourselves submitting to His ways, regardless of whether those around us do so as well.

B. Prayer

God, we know that You are always good and always strong, regardless of our circumstances. We praise You for the times when you have been our mighty deliverer. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who delivers us from sin. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Praise reminds us of God’s might, and God’s might reminds us to praise.[1]

 

February 24

Lesson 13 (KJV)

Our Rescuing God

Devotional Reading: Romans 8:31–39

Background Scripture: Psalm 91:1–16

Psalm 91:1–8, 11–16

1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

 

2. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

 

3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

 

4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

 

5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

 

6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

 

7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

 

8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

 

12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

 

13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

 

14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

 

15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

 

16. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Graphic: bitontawan / iStock / Thinkstock

Key Verse

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.—Psalm 91:15

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Outline God’s promises to protect.

 

2. Identify dangers from which Christians need God’s protection.

 

3. Propose one way his or her church can extend the Lord’s rescuing protection to those in need.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A.  Our Protection and Salvation

B.  Lesson Context

  I. Safe Place (Psalm 91:1–8)

A.  Basis of Protection (vv. 1, 2)

B.  Forms of Protection (vv. 3–8)

Protection for the Lowly

A Fateful Day

II. Trustworthy Protector (Psalm 91:11–13)

A.  With the Help of Angels (vv. 11, 12)

B.  Against Nature’s Predators (v. 13)

III. Sure Promises (Psalm 91:14–16)

A.  Basis of Blessing (v. 14)

B.  Forms of Blessing (vv. 15, 16)

Conclusion

A.  God Is Our Protection and Salvation

B.  Prayer

C.  Thought to Remember[2]

 

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless

logo.jpg