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Sabbath: How to Read the Psalms — 46 Comments

  1. A new year, a new quarter, and a new theme. We are going to study the Psalms and I guess that one goal is to find their deep meaning. But, if we leave it at we may lose one of the special blessings of the Psalms; writing our own.

    A few years ago I was introduced to the work of Bruce Prewer, a Uniting Church of Australia minister who wrote modern Psalms in an Australian idiom throughout his nearly 60 years of ministry. His poetry reflects a deep commitment to Christianity and a touch of Australian humour. Here is a little example:


    Go out with the Gospel ringing in your ears
    with joy flooding your heart
    and a spring energising your step
    and with love flowing through your hands.
    Yes, with love in our hands.
    joy in our hearts,
    and a spring in our step.

    The Lover of the universe will uphold you,
    the Saviour of the lost will enfold you,;
    the Spirit of truth will mould you,
    now and evermore,
    Yes, now and evermore.

    I am going to ask our readers to do something rather special this quarter. Instead of just studying what others have written in the Psalms, how about we try and write some Psalms ourselves? They don’t need to be poetry as such, but I know that many of you like putting words together eloquently, expressing some of the joy, passion and depth of our Christian experience and our love for our Saviour. I don’t expect every comment to be a psalm, but I would like our regular commenters to write something like a psalm at least once a week. Maybe we could even write a book, "Songs from Sabbath School Net"

    Are there any takers?

    • I’ll think about writing a psalm but I had started last fall and am over half way through copying the Psalms from my Bible into a notebook (delays due to family emergency). Composition books work fine for this.
      I find that if I write out scripture I see things in it I’ve never noticed before. And in olden times the kings were to write their own copies of the law (what they had at the time) Deut. 17:18
      Blessings to all who have already shared their words with us. I am going to put them in my Sabbath School notebook.

    • That’s a good idea; it also challenges us to tune into what the Spirit is saying to us as we delve into this prose.

    • If I may, I will share some of the poems/(psalms) my father wrote during his lifetime. We collected them all up and put them in a small book we handed out at his memorial service. He was a much better writer than I. The first one he wrote came during an awakening time in his life. It came to him in an instant after an accident on a rainy on I 64 Hwy in Kentucky circa 1978. A car coming on the freeway darted across lanes in front of him. He hit the breaks and went into a spin. After 3 revolutions, he came to rest facing the median with a semi truck/trailer barreling down on the driver side door. To his good fortune and God's plan, his engine was still running. He stepped on the gas and his car moved forward just far enough so the semi hit the rear of the car virtually removing the trunk from the large Ford LTD he was driving. When he came to rest, this poem came to his mind complete, and he wrote it down while he waited for emergency services to arrive:

      "For One Wretch Like Me"

      The King of the Universe stepped down from His throne
      Leaving Glory and honor, He came to atone.
      Mankind was in peril and hopelessly lost:
      So He came to redeem them, never counting the cost.

      Yet He was despised and rejected of men,
      Though His coming was foretold by the prophet's pen.
      He was cursed and scorned and whipped like a slave
      by the very same ones He had come to save.

      He was crowned with thorns and nailed to a tree;
      All this he endured just for you and for me.
      But death could not hold Him; He arose from the grave;
      He counted us worthy; our sins He forgave.

      Then the King of the Universe ascended on high,
      To stand in our place; Satan's claims to deny.
      He sent us His Spirit to comfort and cheer;
      To counsel, instruct, and to conquer all fear.

      Soon our King will return, this scarred Earth to restore;
      Where the redeemed of all ages will abide evermore.
      Greater love than this has the world never known;
      That for ONE WRETCH LIKE ME, Jesus gave up His throne.

      John Williams 1978

    • The psalms are infinitely beautiful, deeply expressive, and often healing. What is predominantly missing for many readers is a guide to interpreting the literary merits to uncover the spiritual inspiration.

      As Spirit of Prophecy Director at my local church, I have introduced an annual poetry challenge (now concluding its 2nd year), in which members create poems around the current E.G.White texts and themes for the quarter.

      As a published poet, I have written over a thousand poems, including 10 psalms. I would be happy to share one in another related post.

    • 7Thanks for a great idea, Maurice. All those who are thankful to the Lord, those who seek Him, and those who adore Him already have unspoken psalms hidden in their hearts. To express them in a forum that invites them must be a welcome outlet for those who would like to share the deep feelings of their souls.

      I have written 10 psalms to date. Here is one in which the heart, in travail, cries out to God for rescue:

      psalm 9
      ___of Andrew___
      when his soul travailed in angst

      1 is there no way
      out of this corner,
      O Lord my God?
      what shall i say
      to bring You nearer
      to ichabod?

      2 my bosom swells
      with wayward passions
      the faith that dwells
      in waning rations
      of reasoning

      where once i soared,
      an eagle flying
      on angel wings!
      3 by heav'n adored,
      darkness defying,
      Your Spirit brings

      my only balm,
      my consolation,
      my corps d ‘esprit.
      4 restore my calm,
      my soul salvation,
      my liberty.

      5 when tongues of fire
      consume my being
      with fretful angst,
      be my Desire,
      from shackles freeing
      one tricked and pranksed.

      6 is there no hope
      for one so broken
      by selfish pride,
      who, here, must grope,
      without a token,
      without a guide? Selah.

      7 i see Your Cross,
      You see my crosses;
      give me Your Peace
      amidst my pieces.
      8 still at a loss,
      i count my losses;
      rid me of these
      untimely theses.

      9 i long to climb
      beyond earth's climax:
      calm my rough seas
      till darkness ceases.
      10 Alpha of Time,
      balance my time-lapse;
      hear all my pleas,
      if You it pleases.

      11 Saviour Divine,
      in my confinement
      i am resigned
      to Thy assignment.
      12 swiftly i come,
      no more complacent;
      bring me back home
      from sin's debasement.

      © Copyright 2021 November 20
      by Clyve A. Bowen♫

  2. I read each day through the comments here, but have never contributed. I love the psalms, and poetry in general, so while I may not contribute often, here is my

    Psalm for a New Year

    Oh Living Lord, Creator of all,
    Our Sustainer, our Redeemer - though we fall;
    Our Father, whom we all adore,
    Be our God forevermore.

    You call us children; Your special friends
    And for our pressing needs you tend;
    Teach us still to trust, not fear,
    Bring us joyfully, peacefully to this new year.

    Oh Living Lord, this God of mine,
    I'll praise your name, through all of time.

  3. God of heaven, God of mankind, God who delivers, God divine.
    No need to fear because He cares, God divine, God of mankind.
    Walk in strength because God cares. Walk in courage because God is near.
    God divine, God of mankind.

  4. While I enjoy the easy access to the quarterly each day, I lose the flow of the message when I have to take extra time to look up words that are not readily used by people without a religious background.
    Words such as "liturgical" instead of the better understood "public worship".
    Are the quarterly lessons only meant for the elite class?
    I'm all for education and look up the meaning to words used in the lesson that I don't understand.

    I have noticed this tendency by the authors to use words of that nature, perhaps for efficiency, perhaps unawares, that seem to be meant for the well educated.

    To place a stumbling block such as this hinders the message that we all need access to.

    • I would consider myself "well educated" but from time to time I meet words for which I am not sure of the meaning. I often have a dictionary to hand or look up the words online. I tell my Sabbath School class members to study with a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words. After all we are in a "school".

      • Indeed, Erma, in school we expect to learn all sorts of things, not all of which are in the curriculum. 😊 And the internet makes it much easier than it was in my younger days when I had to use a paper dictionary.

    • Thank you, I pray someone at the General Conference considers this.
      I have advanced degrees but even I get lost sometimes in very specialized religious vocabulary because my education was not Biblical and was from worldly institutions, and before I committed my self (as an adult)to the Lord.

    • An "Easy Reading Adult Bible Study Guide" is available at the AdventistBookCenter.com for those who find the usual Bible Study Guide too challenging. (Unfortunately, we cannot offer that version on our site.)
      On the other hand, everyone reading this is clearly using the internet, and it is fairly simple to look up unfamiliar terms on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or one built into a "privacy" browser. And learning new words is good for your brain! It will keep your brain functioning much better than limiting yourself only to the familiar. 😊

    • It seems to me when one is reading in any field of study, one should expect to encounter words which are unfamiliar to those who have not been specially educated in that field. In looking up these words, whether it be in some field of science, in the bible, or in these weekly lessons studies, it adds to my knowledge and the definitions or explanations of these words sometimes leads to more research on my part. I have been out of school for over 60 years but I still enjoy learning & that often requires looking up words to clarify the intended meaning of the author. Consider if someone told you their favorite color to be blue, but didn't specify the shade of blue, you would not have a complete idea of what they were relating to you. If they were to say Royal Blue, or Baby Blue that would add a clearer meaning to what they were saying. With the words used in these lessons, often there is a more simple word or phrase that is similar but it may not give the precise intent of the author. Our education is just beginning. We are told we will be learning throughout eternity.

    • Dahlia, I understand your plight! As a teacher/educator, I believe the challenge in study is learning new words or ways of doing things. Learning is a lifelong journey, so dig in, use that dictionary and join the body of learners and become an elite learner yourself. None of us know everything, some of us know a little or a lot, but we are all in the same boat as learners. Don’t feel bad about stretching your mind. God be with you as you grow.

    • Hi, My Sister Dahlia

      I see your point, and do understand your dilemma. Sometimes a powerful parenthesis (brackets) would be enough to set your mind at ease without sending you to the dictionary.

      At the same time, for myself, I take challenges such as these as opportunities to learn and grow. When I was a young schoolboy, I enjoyed reading, and I never read a good book without having a slip of paper that served both as my bookmark and as notepaper on which I recorded every new and interesting word and turn of phrase I encountered. Today, I believe I have full mastery of language, as a result of my uncoerced diligence.

      I would encourage you to embrace the jargon as it comes; in a little while, you will find yourself at ease with a well-informed vocabulary.


  5. Son of God -

    You came showing man God’s Way –
    You are His Way!

    You came sharing God’s Truth for man –
    You are His Truth!

    You came bringing God’s Light to man –
    You are His Light!

    You are His Way, His Truth and His Light –
    Man will meet the Father in you - thank you Lord Jesus Christ !


  6. Psalm 23 is one of my favorite Bible passages and the only chapter I’ve memorized. So I’ll try writing a song in that style…

    The Lord is my best friend
    He listens to me
    He knows me better than anyone
    Better than I know myself
    He always wants me

    Even when I’m in hard times,
    Hard because I’ve turned my face away from Him
    I’m not afraid it will stay that way
    Because He is always with me

    His Word and prayer, they comfort me
    He prepares events and connections that help me grow
    He gives me meaningful work
    In Him, my paths are never without purpose

    Surely, His smile and sweet laugh
    Will fill me all the days of my life
    And when He returns, I will go home to be with Him
    To bask in the Son light of His loving Heart
    forever and ever

    • Thank you. This helps with the situation I’m in where I feel like “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”
      The Lord is good - even when the situation hurts.

  7. One thing I love about all of the Psalms is that they all cover a wide range of human emotions. We see excitement, triumph, sorrow, desperation, fear, jealousy, adoration, trust, love, devotion, confidence, brokenness …. Spiritual mentors often encourage us to downplay our emotions or supersede our emotions with faith. The Psalms, however, I believe, embrace our emotions.

    While it’s wise not to base our decisions on emotions alone, … we “lean not on our own understanding (Prov.3:5-6)…I’m sure God gave us emotions for a reason. Sometimes an emotional reaction is at the Holy Spirit’s prompting. For example, we might feel anger or pain at the way God is being falsely portrayed, or when His Word is rejected. God himself showed emotions in Jesus on this earth. We see Jesus showing righteous anger at the Temple, and crying at Lazarus’s funeral. We see lonely Jesus on the Cross.

    So I love how the psalms model for us how in prayer we can offer God back all of our emotions, none of them are off-limits, there are no wrong emotions. Some emotions show up because of lack of faith, that’s true, but if we’re honest about the fact that we are harboring these emotions, God can help us work through them into a place of praise and trust.

    The Psalms are located at the heart (middle) of the Bible, just like our emotions express our hearts. In our memory text, Jesus points us to the psalms as a way of knowing Him… Through these ancient poems, and through our own prayers and songs, He can shape our emotions back towards Himself, back towards seeing Him above all else, and thereby heal our hearts.

  8. Hello, I agree with Dahlia. There is a phrase “Tabernacle with one another” that has been used. Please explain. Thank you.

    • The meaning of words depends a lot on context - even more so in ancient Hebrew than in English. Where do you find such a phrase? (I cannot find it in the KJV or in this lesson.)
      Since you are on the internet, a simple Google search will often provide the answer to words and phrases. When studying the Bible, you can check how an older version like the KJV compares with a more modern one. If you will become acquainted with BibleGateway.com, you can compare versions easily.

    • I believe that to “tabernacle with one another” means “to live together“ or “to spend a lot of time together, to stay together”. It references the Old Testament tabernacle where God kept a visible presence to show that He lived with His people. In John 1:14, “the Word dwelt among us,” literally means, “tabernacled among us,” or “He pitched a tent among us.”

      • That would be my understanding too. John 1:14 NET reads,

        Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us.

        Somehow the words, "tabernacle with one another, sounded familiar, but then I could not find the phrase anywhere in the KJV Bible (and I'd not expect it in more modern versions), not even "tabernacle" used as a verb, as far as I could tell. So I'm genuinely curious where "AOC" found the phrase.

        As a last-ditch effort, I checked Young's Literal Translation and found this:

        "and I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, `Lo, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them -- their God, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away." Rev. 21:3-4 YLT

        Both the KJV and NASB (and probably others) translate "will tabernacle" as "will dwell." But then "dwell" is not a word we use very often nowadays either." So here's the NLT rendering:

        “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev. 21:3 NLT

        Beautiful promises, no matter which version we read. 😊 We are so blessed to have so many Bible versions available to us! (In the "olden days" I used to lay out 5 or so Bibles out in front of me to compare versions in order to discover the possibilities in the original Hebrew or Greek. Now it's a lot easier with Biblegateway.com)

    • There is research on learning that supports the idea of making the text accessible. Just the act of reading is less likely to occur or continue if the level of comprehension gets lower than 95% (or even lower - I think this is the magical number.) Being a language teacher I know the number of incomprehensible words has to be really low for the brain to also be able to do the advanced processing required of Bible study. I would suggest a glossary in the margins. If one needs to switch tabs and search every few words that is just tiresome. (Who has had some smarty pants doctor or mechanic spout a bunch of information we don’t understand? It is off-putting which the Sabbath school lesson should not be. It can also come across as arrogant and superior, also not what the Sabbath school lesson should be.) Even those of us that are experienced in reading theological literature would benefit.

  9. The book of Psalms is not just a book of prayers and of hymns, to read and sing in worship service. I am not criticizing the use of it for such, rather I would just like to say there are also guides for living a victorious life in Christ, though sometimes subtle. In its texts we may find joy, happiness, and Devine advice.

  10. Praise the LORD
    Praise the LORD
    Praise the LORD

    The LORD is my Creator
    The LORD is my Redeemer
    The LORD is my Comforter
    The LORD is my Refuge
    The LORD is my Friend

    Oh how I love to Worship The LORD
    Oh how I love to Pray to The LORD
    Oh how I love to feel The Presence of The LORD

    Thank you LORD for your Love
    Thank you LORD for your Mercy
    Thank you LORD for your Grace
    Thank you LORD for your Holiness

    I urgently await the New Earth
    I urgently yearn for being recreated.
    I urgently desire the end of sin
    Oh how lovely that time will be

  11. I Dreamed a dream of Heaven,
    The Lord took me there,
    The Place…full of Love,
    This place… despair.

    Lord, Bring me back daily,
    As I listen…search… on bender knee,
    I’ll share what You’ve given me.

  12. I am excited to begin this study of the book of Psalms. Psalms 91, holds a special place in my heart. I am elated when I find the words of hymns and anthems that I know, in the book of Psalms. Each quarter, I marvel, at how each quarter's topic is so appropriate and on time for what we need. God is leading. I personally enjoy learning the new words or passages which are sometimes in the lesson. It has improved or added to my knowledge on many things and I would like that to continue. I look forward to this journey into Psalms with my fellow believers around the world. Peace and Blessings to All in this New Year.

  13. Oh Beautiful Savior
    What am I that You love me so
    I will praise You always
    And I’m so very grateful to know…

    That You hold me precious in your sight
    That You saved me and walk at my side
    What can I do for You?
    How could I repay
    I could never repay
    what you did for me
    How can it be

    All honor and glory and praise to You
    My Beautiful Savior.

    I am embarrassed to post it because I am no writer. But I will because I am redeemed and will proclaim it.

  14. Thank you Maurice, for allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire you to organize ssnet. It has been a blessing to me and to so many of us from around the world. My wish is that all those who read and participate in this discussion will have a blessed new year.

  15. Taking the challenge to write a Psalm
    Search, though we might,
    no passage is found.
    He opened the scriptures, (Luke 24:32)
    Then their eyes were opened, (Luke 24:31}
    After which He opened their understanding. (Luke 24:45)
    Recognition was achieved.
    Not a crucified master but a risen Messiah was in their midst!
    Open the Scriptures,
    That your eyes too may be opened
    And He may bring understanding to your darkened mind.
    It is He who brings clarity of thought,
    To mere mortals - eternal truths.
    The Messiah lived and died among us,
    To rise and make eternal life possible,
    Though we be but flesh and blood.
    Extend the invitation, “Open the scriptures,
    That the Messiah may open your eyes and mind.”
    Because time is running short
    And passage will not always be found.

  16. Truly, the book of Psalms is a real feelings of God's people. Not only in the times before, but until in these present generations. Psalms provides the inner concept of individuals concern on how to express their personal relations to the Lord. Likewise, even how God replied the prayers of his people through Psalms , God express his beautiful plot that satisfy his children. No wonder, usually we got quoted from the book of Psalms as we start worship on sabbath observance, it gives us inspired more to worship God, our Creator.
    I get plus for the points Maurice, to have our own personal Psalms when we talk to the Lord,God. Here a little points of plot :

    Like a flower of lily
    As simple as it be
    Seems satisfied in the top
    But water runs quietly
    My life found you o Lord
    Without questioning but
    You answered me.
    How great though art oh God
    Am not a lily in top of water
    But you design me as simple creation
    With a purpose to express You
    The beauty of nature
    That no one can make
    But only you the Creator our God. 🙏

  17. Here ya go, Maurice. What a great mental exercise, this writing of contemporary Psalms. I call this one: "Contemporary Praise Psalm" If you find it fitting to share, please do so, with my blessings on all.

    Contemporary Praise Psalm
    Before the “twinkle” in my father’s eye;
    Before fertilizer committed egg,
    *Before the weaving of bone and brain, Lord,
    You ere had written the days ordained for me.
    And, though You foresaw the temper, the rebellious bent, the thrill of thrill, for the thrill of it, You loved her, not just mightly, but Almightly, as demonstrated by the racking torment You suffered on the cross—for her. You loved her during her rebellion until at last, hope having been abandoned, you found her in the *“waste howling wilderness.” You led her about, You instructed her, and kept her as the apple of Your eye.
    Kept her then, keeping me still: Thank You, my Maker, my Father, and my Savior. I love You.

    *Psalm 139:15
    *Deuteronomy 32:10


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