As a person grew older and more experienced, his/her perspective changed. There were some things the person knew, but the more he/she knew the more his/her personal struggle deepened and intensified. Things he/she did not even know to ask as a young adult became daily mysteries that often plagued his/her life. For example, he/she knew God was holy, completely void of any sin. He/she also knew that he/she was sinfulmore sinful than he/she ever saw or acknowledged as a young adult.
The struggle: how does the God in whom there is no sin associate with a human who has abundant sin? He/she trusted God, but when does God react to ones trust and when does God react to ones sin? How were difficult situations and moments to be understood in light of this disparity between Gods holiness and any humans sinfulness? How does this disparity figure in regarding bad happenings or situations? Thus, the more a person knew as he/she aged, the more he/she trusted God, and the more aware he/she became of personal sinfulness. The result: the more he/she struggled with the disparity between Gods holiness and personal sinfulness. It was a vicious cycle that seemed to never end!
The Psalm began with an affirmation: I trust God! Without reservation I give Him my life! May I never be ashamed of my relationship with God, and may Gods enemies never defeat me! May the righteous never be ashamed! May the treacherous be shamed! May You, God, champion the righteous and give the treacherous what they should receive!
Note the psalmist spoke of shame, not pain. Although it is obvious in the Psalm that the psalmist dealt with pain-filled situations, the greater suffering was the result of shame, not of physical pain. Only for comparative purposes, note how often the New Testament spoke of the shame of Jesus cross rather than the pain of Jesus cross. The American Christian mindset is more touched by physical suffering than by shame. Yet, even now shame often causes intense suffering.
Next, the psalmist affirmed lifes answers lie in Gods teachings. If one wanted to live life meaningfully, he/she allowed God to be in the role of supreme teacher. Passionately, he wished to know Gods ways. He wanted to know Gods paths (note such knowledge was not intuitive, it did not just happen.) He knew God saved him from the difficulties he faced, and he was patient enough to wait on God instead of impetuously making up his own mind and charging ahead. Yet, he knew he was not deserving of Gods consideration. He sought for Gods compassion and mercy (the kindness that came from Gods love), not for what he deserved. He was quite aware of his past sinfulness when he lacked judgment to pursue Gods ways! If he knew of his past sins, God surely knew! He needed and pled for divine mercy!
The psalmist knew God. He knew God well enough to describe Him.
1. God is good and upright.
2. He is not ashamed to instruct sinners.
3. He will bring justice to the afflicted (the humble).
4. He will guide those He leads to mercy (lovingkindness) and truth.
Put those characteristics together. None needs to be terrorized of God or His destination for those who follow Him. The imperfect can follow God! If a person honored his/her agreement with God, that person would be accompanied by mercy and truth as he/she followed Gods ways.
Please note one followed God to honor God! One allowed God to be his/her teacher for the sake of Gods goodness (verse 7). One followed Gods ways for the sake of Gods name (verse 11). The plea WAS NOT lead me follow You so I can satisfy my personal ambitionsit was not a self-centered following! It WAS the plea to allow sinful me to honor You, God. May my life and the way I use my life never detract from Your goodness or shame Your name!
Who is the person who fears (reverences) God?
1. This person made his choices by understanding Gods instructions.
2. He lived in Gods definition of good.
3. His descendants would continue after he died.
4. Gods purposes will be to such peoples benefit.
5. Gods protection would be over such people.
The Psalm ended with a focus on the psalmists struggle. The psalmist knew who God was and what God did for those who followed Him. Yet, the psalmist struggled with reconciling what he knew about God and his current circumstances.
1. Because he was lonely and afflicted, he asked for God to be gracious to him.
2. Because his internal troubles were huge, he asked for help with his distress.
3. Because his affliction was burdensome, he asked for forgiveness.
4. Because his enemies were numerous and vicious, he asked for God to be his refuge.
Though all of this was true of his situation, He knew his preservation was in Gods integrity and uprightness. He understood that he must be patient. He understood that the situation was bigger than just himthus he asked God to redeem the nation of Israel.
In this Psalm, recognize these things:
1. The struggle for the believer between an understanding of Gods character and the reality of the believers circumstances is ancient.
2. Never come to the conclusion you have God figured out.
3. Refuse to allow your situation to be a faith in God crisis.
4. Realize the need for patience.
5. Realize all problems are bigger than just you.
Always remember the enormous blessing we have living on this side of Jesus cross!
1. Discuss the struggle caused by knowledge of Gods character and the reality of our situations.
2. Discuss why a person follows Gods values and paths.
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 10
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