Psalms - Weekly Lesson

2024 Quarter 1 Lesson 08 - Wisdom for Righteous Living

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Jan · Feb · Mar 2024
Quarter 1 Lesson 08 Q1 Lesson 08
Mar 17 - Mar 23

Wisdom for Righteous Living

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Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study

Ps. 119:1–16, Psalm 90, John 3:16, Ps. 95:7–11, Psalm 141, Psalm 128.

Memory Text:

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV).

As we have seen, God’s grace provides for the forgiveness of sin, and it creates a new heart in the repentant sinner, who now lives by faith.

God’s Word also provides instructions for righteous living (Ps. 119:9–16). Keeping God’s law is by no means a legalistic observance of rules but life in an intimate relationship with God, a life full of blessings (Ps. 119:1, 2; Psalm 128).

However, the life of the righteous person is not without temptations. Sometimes the righteous can be tempted by the cunning nature of sin (Ps. 141:2–4) and even fall to that temptation. God allows times of testing to let His children’s faithfulness (or unfaithfulness) be clearly revealed. If God’s children heed God’s instruction and admonishment, their faith will be purified and their trust in the Lord strengthened. Wisdom for righteous living is gained through the dynamics of life with God amid temptations and challenges. Thus, the prayer that God would teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12) reflects an ongoing commitment to walk in faithfulness to the Lord.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 24.

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18th of March

Your Word I Have Hidden in My Heart

Read Psalm 119:1–16, 161–168. How should we keep God’s commandments, and what are the blessings that come from doing that?

The Bible depicts a daily life of faith as a pilgrimage (“walk”) with God in His path of righteousness. The life of faith is maintained by walking “in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 119:1, NKJV) and by walking “in the light of Your countenance” (Ps. 89:15, NKJV). These are by no means two different walks. Walking in the light of God’s countenance implies upholding God’s law. Equally, walking “in the law of the Lord” involves seeking God with the whole heart (Ps. 119:1, 2, 10).

Being “undefiled in the way” is another way the Psalms describe the righteous life (Ps. 119:1). “Undefiled” describes a sacrifice “without blemish” that is acceptable to God (Exod. 12:5). Likewise, the life of the righteous individual is a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). Thus, a love for sin must not defile it. A life devoted to God is also a “perfect way,” meaning that the person assumes a right direction in life that is pleasing to God (Ps. 101:2, 6; see also Ps. 18:32).

Keeping God’s commandments has nothing to do with a legalistic observance of divine rules. On the contrary, it consists of “a good understanding” of the difference between right and wrong and good and evil (Ps. 111:10; see also 1 Chron. 22:12), and involves the whole person, not merely outward actions. Being “undefiled,” keeping God’s commandments and seeking God with the whole heart, are inseparable attitudes in life (Ps. 119:1, 2).

God’s commandments are a revelation of God’s will for the world. They instruct people on how to become wise and to live in freedom and peace (Ps. 119:7–11, 133). The psalmist delights in the law because the law assures him of God’s faithfulness (Ps. 119:77, 174).

“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165, NKJV). The image of stumbling depicts moral failure. As the lamp to the psalmist’s feet (Ps. 119:105), God’s Word protects us from temptations (Ps. 119:110).

How did Christ demonstrate the power of God’s Word in His life (Matt. 4:1–11)? What should this tell us about the power that comes from a heart set on obeying God’s law?

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19th of March

Teach Us to Number Our Days

Read Psalm 90, Psalm 102:11, and Psalm 103:14–16. What is the human predicament?

Fallen human existence is but a vapor in the light of eternity. A thousand years in God’s sight is “like a watch in the night,” which lasted three or four hours (Ps. 90:4, NKJV). Compared to divine time, a human lifetime flies away (Ps. 90:10). The strongest among humans are analogous to the weakest among plants (Ps. 90:5, 6; Ps. 103:15, 16). Yet, even that short life is filled with labor and sorrow (Ps. 90:10). Even secular people, who have no belief in God, mourn and lament the shortness of life, especially in contrast to the eternity that’s out there and that, they know, threatens to go on without them.

Psalm 90 places the human predicament in the context of God’s care for people as their Creator. The Lord has been the dwelling place of His people in all generations (Ps. 90:1, 2). The Hebrew word ma‘on, “dwelling place,” portrays the Lord as the shelter or refuge of His people (Ps. 91:9).

God restrains His righteous wrath and extends His grace anew. The psalmist exclaims, “Who knows the power of Your anger?” (Ps. 90:11, NKJV), implying that no one has ever experienced the full effect of God’s anger against sin, and so, there is hope for people to repent and gain wisdom for righteous living.

Wisdom in the Bible depicts not merely intelligence but reverence for God. The wisdom that we need is knowing how “to number our days” (Ps. 90:12). If we can number our days, it means that our days are limited and that we know that they are limited. Wise living means living with an awareness of life’s transience that leads to faith and obedience. This wisdom is gained only through repentance (Ps. 90:8, 12) and God’s gifts of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy (Ps. 90:13, 14).

Our fundamental problem stems not from the fact that we are created as human beings but from sin and from what sin has wrought in our world. Its devastating effects are seen everywhere and in every person.

Thanks to Jesus, however, a way has been made for us out of our human predicament (John 1:29, John 3:14–21). Otherwise, we would have no hope at all.

No matter how quickly our life passes, what promise do we have in Jesus? (See John 3:16.) What hope would we have without Him?

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20th of March

The Lord’s Test

Read Psalm 81:7, 8; Psalm 95:7–11; and Psalm 105:17–22. What does divine testing involve in these texts?

Meribah is the place where Israel tested God by challenging His faithfulness and power to provide for their needs (Exod. 17:1−7; Ps. 95:8, 9). Psalm 81 makes an intriguing reversal and interprets the same event as the time when God tested Israel (Ps. 81:7). And, by their disobedience and lack of trust (Ps. 81:11), the people failed God’s test.

The reference to Meribah conveys a twofold message. First, God’s people must not repeat the mistakes of past generations. Instead, they are to trust God and to walk in His way (Ps. 81:13). Second, although the people failed the test, God came to their rescue when they were in trouble (Ps. 81:7). God’s saving grace in the past gives an assurance of God’s grace to new generations.

Psalm 105 shows that the trials were God’s means of testing Joseph’s trust in God’s foretelling of his future (Gen. 37:5−10, Ps. 105:19). The Hebrew tsarap, “tested,” in verse 19 conveys a sense of “purging,” “refining,” or “purifying.” Thus, the goal of God’s testing of Joseph’s faith was to remove any doubt in God’s promise and to strengthen Joseph’s trust in God’s guidance.

The goal of divine discipline is to strengthen God’s children and to prepare them for the fulfillment of the promise, as shown in Joseph’s example (Ps. 105:20−22).

However, rejection of God’s instruction results in growing stubbornness and hardening of an obstinate person’s heart.

“God requires prompt and unquestioning obedience of His law; but men are asleep or paralyzed by the deceptions of Satan, who suggests excuses and subterfuges, and conquers their scruples, saying as he said to Eve in the garden: ‘Ye shall not surely die.’ Disobedience not only hardens the heart and conscience of the guilty one, but it tends to corrupt the faith of others. That which looked very wrong to them at first, gradually loses this appearance by being constantly before them, till finally they question whether it is really sin and unconsciously fall into the same error.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 146.

What has been your own experience with how sin hardens the heart? Why should that thought drive us to the Cross, where we can find the power to obey?

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21st of March

Deceitfulness of the Wicked Way

Read Psalm 141. What does the psalmist pray for?

Psalm 141 is a prayer for protection from temptations from within and from without. The psalmist is not only endangered by the schemes of the wicked (Ps. 141:9, 10) but also is tempted to act like the wicked. The first weak point is self-control in speech, and the psalmist prays that the Lord will keep watch over the door of his lips (Ps. 141:3). This image alludes to the guarding of city gates that, in biblical times, protected the city.

The temptation is also whether God’s child will yield to the counsel of the righteous or be lured by the delicacies of the wicked (Ps. 141:4, 5). The psalmist depicts his heart as a primary threat because there the real battle happens. Only unceasing prayer of complete trust and devotion to God can save God’s child from temptation (Ps. 141:1, 2).

Read Psalm 1:1 and Psalm 141:4. How is the progressive and cunning character of temptation depicted here?

Psalm 141:4 depicts the progressive nature of temptation. First, the heart is inclined toward evil. Second, it practices evil deeds (the meaning in Hebrew underlines the repetitive character of the action). Third, the heart eats of the delicacies of the wicked, namely, accepts their evil practices as something desirable.

Likewise, in Psalm 1:1 the temptation comes to prevent God’s child from walking in the Lord’s way by causing him to walk with the wicked, stand in the path of sinners, and, finally, sit with the scornful. Sinners, wicked, and scornful: we are not to be like them or let them lead us away from the Lord.

These psalms describe the progressive, alluring, and cunning character of temptation, which underscores the fact that only total dependency on the Lord can secure one’s victory. They stress the importance of the words that one speaks, and listens to, amid temptation. The end of both the wicked and the righteous should teach the people to seek wisdom from God (Ps. 1:4–6, Ps. 141:8–10). Yet, in both psalms, the final vindication of God’s children remains in the future. This means that the believers are called to patiently trust God and to wait upon Him.

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22nd of March

Blessings of Righteous Living

Read Psalm 1:1–3, Psalm 112:1–9, and Psalm 128. What blessings are promised for those who revere the Lord?

Of the many blessings promised to those who revere the Lord, peace is perhaps one of the greatest. Psalm 1 depicts the righteous by a simile of a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither (Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:7, 8; Ezek. 47:12). This simile identifies the source of all blessings, namely, abiding in God’s presence in His sanctuary and enjoying uninterrupted and loving relationship with God. Unlike the wicked, who are portrayed as chaff, with no stability, place, and future, the righteous are like a fruitful tree with roots, a place near God and eternal life.

Psalm 128:2, 3 evokes the blessings of the Messianic kingdom, where sitting under one’s own vine and fig tree is a symbol of peace and prosperity (Mic. 4:4). The blessing of peace upon Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6−8; Ps. 128:5, 6) conveys hope in the Messiah, who will end evil and restore peace in the world.

“In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called ‘a country.’ Hebrews 11:14–16. There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God’s people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 675.

The New Testament describes the fulfillment of that hope in Christ’s second advent and the creation of the new world (Matt. 26:29, Revelation 21). Therefore, while the righteous receive many blessings in this life, the fullness of God’s favor awaits them when God’s kingdom is fully restored at the end of time.

Why is the Cross, and what happened there, the guarantee of the promises found in the New Testament of what God has in store for us? How can we get comfort from those promises even now?

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23rd of March

Further Thought

In these modern times, obtaining wisdom seems not to be so desirable as achieving happiness. People would rather be happy than wise. However, can we truly be happy and live a fulfilled life without godly wisdom? The Psalms clearly say that we cannot. The good news is that we are not asked to choose between wisdom and happiness. Godly wisdom brings genuine happiness.

A simple example from the Hebrew language can illustrate this point. In Hebrew, the word “step” in plural (’ashurey) sounds very much like the word “happiness” (’ashrey). Although we miss this association in English translations, it conveys a powerful message: “steps” holding to God’s path lead to a “happy” life (Ps. 1:1, Ps. 17:5, Ps. 37:31, Ps. 44:18, Ps. 89:15, Ps. 119:1). In the Bible, neither wisdom nor happiness are an abstract concept, but a real experience.

They are found in relationship with God, which consists of revering, praising, finding strength in, and trusting God. Psalm 25:14 says that “the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (NKJV).

“Thank God for the bright pictures which He has presented to us. Let us group together the blessed assurances of His love, that we may look upon them continually: The Son of God leaving His Father’s throne, clothing His divinity with humanity, that He might rescue man from the power of Satan; His triumph in our behalf, opening heaven to men, revealing to human vision the presence chamber where the Deity unveils His glory; the fallen race uplifted from the pit of ruin into which sin had plunged it, and brought again into connection with the infinite God, and having endured the divine test through faith in our Redeemer, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and exalted to His throne—these are the pictures which God would have us contemplate.”—Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 118.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can God’s Word become the source of one’s delight and not merely instruction? How is feeding on God’s Word related to abiding in Jesus Christ, the Word (John 1:1; John 15:5, 7)?
  2. What happens when people consciously and constantly reject God’s teaching (Psalm 81, Psalm 95)? Why do you think that happens?
  3. Why can the way of the wicked sometimes appear more desirable than the counsel of the righteous (Psalm 141)? That is, how do we deal with the apparent fact that oftentimes the wicked seem to be doing very well?
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Inside Story

Sabbath Farewell Party: Part 4

By Andrew McChesney

Inside Story Image


Inside Story Image


Two weeks after Sekule’s baptism, the Bosnian War erupted. Sekule fled his boarding high school in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and went into hiding for 15 days.

When he returned to the dormitory to retrieve his possessions, he found the building had been torched by soldiers. A small library of religious books that he had collected while seeking to find truth had been dumped in the middle of his room and set on fire. He had lost everything. He returned to his home village in Montenegro.

News that Sekule had joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church did not sit well with his family. Father could not understand why he had stopped eating meat and took him to a physician. Mother thought a spell had been cast on her son and sought help from someone who practiced black magic. When their attempts failed, they sent Sekule to the military. It was 1992, and the Bosnian War was raging. To enlist a son was to send him to war.

In those days, families threw big celebrations for newly enlisted soldiers. Sekule’s parents planned his party for a Sabbath in December. Two hundred guests were expected. But Sekule went to church.

When the winter sun set around 4 p.m., he returned home. He didn’t know what to expect. He thought that the house would be filled with relatives from across the country and beyond. He thought he would face criticism for not only arriving late to his own party but also for showing disrespect as the eldest grandson.

He found his grandfather on the front porch.

“Did the people come?” Sekule asked.




“Why not?”

“No one knows why.”

Then people started coming. Sekule asked them, “Why are you coming now?”

They all replied in the same way: “Somebody told us to come after 5 p.m.”

“Who told you?” Sekule asked.

No one knew.

At that moment, Sekule understood that God would protect him. He went to the military.

Sekule Sekuli´c is an affluent entrepreneur and faithful Seventh-day Adventist in Montenegro. Read more of his story next week. Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offerings that help spread the good news of Jesus’ soon coming in Montenegro and around the world.

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