Christ in the Psalms: the Lord’s voice is over the waters

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Feb. 12). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning from Psalm 29. This sermon is a part of the series entitled The Christ in the Psalms and the Psalms in the Christ. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

Our Lord rules. Over everything, everyone, and everywhere. And he always has and he always will!

Word

You, divine beings! Give to the LORD—give to the LORD glory and power! Give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bow down to the LORD in holy splendor!

The LORD’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the LORD is over the mighty waters. The LORD’s voice is strong; the LORD’s voice is majestic.

The LORD’s voice breaks cedar trees—yes, the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox. The LORD’s voice unleashes fiery flames; the LORD’s voice shakes the wilderness—yes, the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The LORD’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare,

but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the LORD sits enthroned—king forever!

Let the LORD give strength to his people! Let the LORD bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Are you scared of lightning and thunderstorms or do such tend to enthrall you?

2. Tell us of a time you were in the midst of nature, observing creation, and felt great awe of God?

Dig

These questions are intended to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon.

1. To whom is this psalm addressed (vs. 1)? Note the phrase “divine beings” (vs. 1). It’s a translation of the Hebrew word elim (literally, “sons of gods”). See this word’s use in Ps. 82.1,6; 89.7.

2. This psalm’s imagery is of a strong storm tracking south across Lebanon (the ‘Galilee’ of Jesus’ time) or perhaps (depending on which “Kadesh” is in view; vs. 10) even all of Palestine (Israel). How could this storm’s path affect this psalm’s meaning?

3. What do you recall elsewhere in Scripture of “the cedars of Lebanon” (vs. 5b).

4. How many times is God’s name (Yhwh; “LORD”) used in these eleven verses? How many times does the phrase “the Lord’s voice” appear? What part does this frequent repetition play?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. If you were to compose a psalm extolling God’s power and glory, what imagery would you use?

2. This psalm’s poetry is extremely similar to ancient Canaanite hymns to their (false) god Baal. This psalm is likely an Israelite adaptation of such a hymn. Can you name any songs (music or words) we sing in worship today that didn’t have the living God in mind when first penned?

3. What things, people, or events tend to diminish or block out your vision of the Lord as greatest?

4. Compare the following with Ps. 29: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation, because all things were created by him: both in the heavens and on the earth … Whether they are thrones or powers, or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. He existed before all things, and all things are held together in him.” (Col. 1.15-17)

5. Complete this sentence with Ps. 29 in mind: “When I hear the Lord’s voice, I should ______.”

6. How do we “give to the LORD the glory due his name?”

this went thru my mind

 

Advice: Best Advice I Ever Got

“… we asked a host of influential leaders to share with us the wise words that changed their lives forever.”

Bible reading: Reading the Bible for Understanding and Not Just Information [quote]

“One enemy of good reading is confusion about which mode of attention is appropriate to a given book. I am certain that this very confusion makes it almost impossible for anyone to read—genuinely to read—the Bible. In both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, narrative and other more-or-less literary forms are dominant, which seems to call for a strategy of reading for understanding similar to what one might use in an encounter with, say, Homer; but these books’ status as sacred text suggests, to many modern readers anyway, that their purpose is to provide information about God and God’s relation to human beings. “Strip-mining” the Psalms, or the Song of Solomon, or even the more elevated discourses of the Gospel of John, “for relevant content” might not seem like a promising strategy, but many generations of pastors have pushed it pretty hard, as though the Bible were no more than an awkwardly coded advice manual.” (Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, p.99)

Churches of Christ: * 102,000 fewer people in the pews since ’03: Churches of Christ in decline * Why Should I Stay?

* “Another striking number: 708 fewer Churches of Christ in the U.S. in the last nine years. The nation’s 12,447 congregations represent a 5.4 percent decline since 2003.”

* “… this is an important question for any Christian Fellowship to answer: ‘why should I stay?”

Compassion: Seeing Her by Richard Beck

“Two weeks ago I was asked by our Psychology Club to share a few thoughts for their Club chapel. The theme for the chapel this semester is to share about characters in the Bible who have affected or inspired your spiritual walk. I selected the unnamed concubine from Judges 19. Judges 19 is, perhaps, the most horrific episode in the Bible. I expect this may be the first, last and only time the students hear a message from this text. I started by reading the whole chapter. When I ended it was pretty quiet in the room.”

Criticism: A Passing Thought on Receiving Criticism by Dane Ortlund

“Seems to me there are two wrong ways to receive criticism and one right way.”

Garbage/trash: What’s In Your Trash? [infographic]

“The average family of four throws out 880 pounds of food a year; that’s about the weight of an adult cow.”

Immaturity: “I’m Not Being Fed” (and other stupid things Christians say) by Brian Jones

“Show me someone who keeps whining about not singing enough worship songs, or “being fed,” or doesn’t want the church to focus on evangelism, or missions, or feeding the poor, or singing secular music on Sunday, and I’ll show you a freakishly immature Christian. The sad, and sometimes scary thing, is that 99 times out of 100 they simply don’t realize it.”

Men & women: On Jesus’ Choosing Twelve Males by J. Daniel Kirk

“According to the economy of the world, with its measures of greatness, to be the twelve is to be exemplary, in the place to lead, to exclude others from leadership, to stand close to Jesus and guard the gates of who else can draw near. And to the extent that we look to Jesus’ selection of them, and the apparent marginalization of the women, as paradigmatic for male leadership in the church, we show ourselves to be people whose minds have not yet been transformed by the very story to which we are appealing.”

Politics & race: Race, Politics, and Christianity in the American South by Richard Beck

“… sociologist Bradley Wright cites statistics that show evangelical Christians to be one of the most racist groups in America. To be sure, only a minority of evangelicals fall into this category, but relative to other Christian groups as well as to non-Christians evangelical Christians are the most likely to hold a candidate’s race against them in a political election. And as most people know, evangelicals tend to vote Republican and are plentiful across the American South. This racist strain in southern Christianity greatly disturbs me as I encounter it frequently where I live. So what changed in the South? … The American Civil Rights Movement.”

Prayer: Six Ways to Help People Pray by Michael McKinley

“Pray big prayers. Think beyond the hospital visitation list. Pray prayers that reflect God’s sovereignty over the whole world. Pray for the spread of the gospel in foreign nations; pray for an end to human trafficking worldwide; pray for religious freedoms to spring up in oppressive regimes.”

Singing: Singing in Worship – Cause or Response? by Paul Smith

“You see, we teach that our songs and prayers and sermons and fellowship are all “worship.” We go to extravagant lengths to make the “worship” meaningful. But, if we have not prepared the gift long before we arrive, all we are doing is manipulating our fickle human emotions with gimmicks, whether we use instruments, praise teams or simple acappella singing.”

Singles: One’s a Crowd by Eric Klineberg

“More people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant.”

Visitors: 6 Reasons Why I Do Not Attend Your Congregation by Chris Gallagher

“This is written from the perspective of a visitor. Last year, my family and I took the entire month of February away from local ministry and traveled to various congregations, both near and far, and enjoyed some time visiting. We learned much about the attitudes of congregations towards visitors and it is reflected in the words below.”