Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
By: Michael Anderson - http://prodigalmike.com
How much do you know? (Answers at the end of the lesson)
1. Where would you find these verses? "I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of
heaven and earth."
2. How many psalms are there?
3. Which is the longest psalm (also the longest chapter) in the Bible?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:1-3 NLT).
What would it have been like to have been there… In the beginning? Let’s use the Scriptures and imagine what it might have been like… We would be in a place of brilliance, wonder and unimaginable beauty, we would see someone sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up (Isa. 6:1)! It is the Most High God in all of His Power and Glory and Honor sitting upon His Throne (Rev. 5:13)! We would do our best to try to comprehend the splendor of His Beauty and the Majesty of His presence but His greatness cannot be measured (Ps. 145:3, Isa. 55:8-9). But try not to look to close! As we are now, in this present body, we would not be able to look at His face with our frail and fleshly human eyes because the Glory emanating from His very presence! Any one of us who would dare to try to look upon His face would not survive (Ex. 33:20). He is the Awesome, Majestic, All Powerful LORD God who alone is worthy of praise and honor and blessing! Who was, is and always will be the center of all of the worship happening around His throne (Deut. 10:21, Rev. 4:11, 5:12)!
Imagine seeing what appears to be an incredible light, but, somehow it is more than just light… coming from the Lord Himself (Ezek. 1, Rev. 4:5, 22:5)! Majestic and wondrous angels are everywhere serving the Lord! Luke 2:13 mentions a vast host, but we do not know their number (Heb. 12:22). But the number is finite - a set number of angels. (Remember one-third followed Lucifer in rebellion, so there cannot be an infinite amount.) We cannot be sure exactly when the Lord made the angels, but I would say it must have been after Gen. 1:3 when God created light. Paul refers to angels of light in 2 Cor. 11:14 and an angel emitted bright light in Acts 12:7, so, you cannot have angels of light before there was light! The Bible gives us a picture of angels as being unique and diverse in appearance, function and even personality. The sheer diversity of the imagination of God in His created beings is awesome and unimaginable for us! Some have four faces! Faces like a man’s face! Faces like lions, eagles and bulls! Some have multiple wings and others are described as flying fiery serpents. In Isa. 6 - there are “seraphim”. That word literally means “fiery serpents.” That does not mean they looked like snakes. No one is sure exactly what they look like, but we do know that these angels have six wings, can fly, can speak and they have hands. They are burning fiery beings… that makes sense when you see one of the seraphim fly over to Isaiah with a hot coal in his hand to press against Isaiah’s lips.
We can see from the Scriptures that some of the angels cover their faces and feet with their wings. Some fly back and forth raising voices of praise for God’s Holiness! Some hold swords and they wield them in the service of the King of Kings! Some have wheels with eyes on every side (Ezek. 10:12)! Some are as bright as lightning! We tend to think of the Devil and those angels who followed him, but as we have already seen, God made some to be flame and fire (Heb. 1:7)! And they are all praising God!
Yet, even with multitudes of multitudes of spiritual beings praising Him - He still made… us! He has all of those beautiful, powerful angels and He still desires my praise! The All Powerful, Almighty God wants to hear from me! That is amazing. And even more amazing is the fact that we bring Him so much joy that He sings over us... “‘For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs’” (Zeph. 3:17 NLT). Do you get this? The angels rejoice over the Lord and the Lord rejoices over you. How can you not rejoice over Him?
Isa. 62:5 speaks of God’s joy for His people, “Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride” (NLT). He rejoices over us. But we were made for a two way relationship. He desires for us to rejoice over Him and to help us do that, He has given us the Book of Psalms containing wonderful, beautiful songs of the heart like the Psalms of the Ascent...
In Part 3 of Understanding the Psalms, students will gain a better understand of the Book of Psalms by examining the Psalms of the Ascent. Students should realize more than ever that praising God is something everyone must do regardless of talent or ability to sing or play an instrument.
Everyone will praise the Lord whether here in this life or in judgment - Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.
Families are the place where learning to praise God begins.
The Psalms of the Ascent are as relevant and useful in the church today as they were to Israel the day they were written.
Introduction - The Psalms of the Ascent - Ps. 120-134
There is a reason we sing at birthdays! There is a reason we sing on holidays and weddings. We sing Christmas carols together. We chant together at the ball drop on New Year’s. I remember the first Major League Baseball game my dad took me to (1970) where “Take me out to the Ballgame” was being played on the organ and the crowd sang along! Cheering for the Cubs as they played the Oakland A’s at Wrigley Field in Chicago when I was about eight years old! Ernie Banks was playing for the Cubs, Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter were playing for the A’s and I wanted to catch a fly ball so bad! I can still hear the organ playing and people chanting in my head nearly fifty years later!
inging and chanting together draws people closer to each other. We tend to develop a sense of a common cause and support as we sing with a group or count down together to the end or the start of something exciting. That is how the Psalms of the Ascent worked for Israel as they made their way together up to the top of Mount Moriah to worship at the Temple for one of the three yearly festivals. These psalms gave the people a connection to the Lord and to each other as they traveled. A common connection in purpose, joy and even in sorrow.
1. The Pilgrim Songs - What are They?
I HOPE FOR THE MEMORIES
By: Michael Anderson
I hope for the memories I could leave behind
By walking with Jesus, letting His light shine.
When my life is over and all said and done
The mourners passed by, the last song is sung
May it be said, he loved faithful and true
Because Jesus in his heart he faithfully knew.
He gave to others without thought of return
His friendship and love never had to be earned.
I hope for the memories I could leave behind
By walking with Jesus, letting His light shine
Four of the Psalms of the Ascent are attributed to King David (122, 124, 131, and 133) and one to Solomon (127). The other ten are anonymous. The psalms cover a wide range of emotions and circumstances for those who would sing them on the ascending road to Jerusalem. Here is a list of the emotions and message of each psalm - at least, as I see it…
What do you think?
2. The Pilgrim Songs - Who are They About?
That’s easy! They are about the Lord! Yes, they do run the gamut of human emotions! They are full of requests for peace, joy and forgiveness, but they are ultimately about Him! The people were taught, as are we, time after time after time that He is the source of our salvation. He is the source of our peace! He is the source of our beginnings and our endings!
So, let’s put it all together...
“I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer” (Psalm 120:1 NLT). “The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade” (Psalm 121:5). It is His House - “the house of the Lord” (122:1). He is, “God, enthroned in heaven” (Psalm 124:1). He is on our side, “Our help is from the Lord” (124:8), “The Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever” (Psalm 125:2). What amazing things the Lord has done” (126:2). “Unless the Lord builds a house the work of the builders is wasted” (127:1), It’s “the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him” (128:4). “The Lord is good” (129:4). “With the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows (130:7)...
You get it? Right? We so often think that the Lord has given us life to live and it’s all about us! But, the truth is that the Lord has given you life - to live for Him! IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM!!!
3. The Pilgrim Songs - What do they do?
The Psalms of the Ascent is home to the famous Ps. 121. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Williams, at Southside School, near Shiloh National Park, was a godly lady. She was the first teacher I ever had that spoke openly about the Lord. Prayer had been removed from schools ten years earlier by the Supreme Court, but at Southside School, they prayed anyway and she spoke about the Lord anyway. One of the assignments she assigned to us was to memorize Ps. 121 in the King James and then recite it in front of the class. I was just too ADHD to actually make it through the whole thing on my own, but Mrs. Williams tenderly helped me to get through reciting it in front of the class. I didn’t know the Lord yet and I had never memorized any Scripture before. Not even John 3:16! But I remembered the wonderful picture that Ps. 121 painted in the overactive imagination of an eleven year old boy who loved being out in the sun playing in the pigpen with the young pigs, chasing chickens around or playing out on the hillsides watching the deer and squirrels in the eighty acres behind our house in Counce, Tennessee… That was my Eighty Acre Woods! (If you know Winnie the Pooh?)
1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
I accepted the Lord as my Savior in April during my sixth grade year. Mrs. Williams and Ps. 121 were a big part of that! The Psalms of the Ascent introduce people to the Lord. They grow people in knowledge of the Lord and His tender mercy and love. They teach us about our need for His protection and for His forgiveness. They touch our hearts in an unexplainable way and that causes us not only to be drawn closer to God, but also to be drawn closer together. Families become united as they sing together and children learn to worship the Lord without shyness or shame. They are the songs of the pilgrim and we are pilgrims passing through this world on our way up to the Temple of God. Over half of them are cheerful and all of them offer hope! They speak of Christ and they are used by the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts. They inspire us to express our poetry of the heart that God built into us and they do so much more! They are as relevant and useful in the church today as they were to Israel the day they were written. At least, that’s what they do if we read them!
Application - Finding Jesus on Every Page
What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
Did Jesus sing the Psalms of the Ascent? We do know that Jesus and the disciples sang as they left the Last Supper to go to the Mount of Olives, so, to think He did not sing would be foolish. The Psalms of the Ascent were sung by individuals, groups and families as they walked up the hills and mountains in the land of Moriah approaching Mount Moriah and the Temple for any one of the three feasts listed in Deut. 16:16. Jerusalem was the place v.16 speaks of! (Abraham and Isaac made a similar journey to the same place to worship God in Gen. 22.)
Even in the time of Christ, the feasts - Passover/Unleavened Bread (which were viewed as one celebration), came first and then First Fruits (Pentecost) occurred fifty days later. The third solemn feast was the Feast of Harvest in the fall. Every Jewish male was required to attend these feasts and make their way to “appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses” (Deut. 16:16). Jesus, nor His family, would have been an exception! Jesus would certainly have obeyed the law and went at the appointed times. We know His family attended at least some of the feasts and possibly all of them, but we are not sure how many. Did they sing the Psalms of the Ascent as this large family approached the Temple mount? We know that twelve year old Jesus visits the Temple during Passover with a large group of His extended family to celebrate the Passover. On their way home, His parents realize Jesus is missing one day into the journey back, at which point a panicked couple hurried back to Jerusalem. They found Him three days later, sitting in the Temple talking and asking questions with the religious leaders. I think we can safely assume that Jesus and His family attended every year and that Jesus grew up singing these songs.
Jesus was probably in the habit of going to the feasts because His family took Him as He grew up. They even took Him there as a baby. It was something that had been ingrained into Him by His parents. They took Him to worship. That is a lesson for so many parents today. The Scriptures never teach that parents are to give their children a choice when it comes to the corporate worship of God. At twenty-five, living in my house, my boys did not have a choice. They would be at worship unless they were sick. I have the God given position of being their parent - not their friend. As a Youth and Education Pastor, I see that it is so common today for so many parents to feel that worship is not a top priority. Often it is the parent who is actually making that choice to have their children participate in things that separate their child from the corporate worship of God. I know this is true because it is not uncommon for young people to confide in me that they do not want to play all of the sports, dance or other activities and rather be in church, but they would never tell their parents that because they feel that they would let them down. And parents will be the ones responsible to answer to the Lord for that, whether good or bad, just as I am concerning my own sons. We are raising a generation of children and teenagers who have no qualms about missing church, but they would never miss a practice, going hunting or fishing or a chance to work at McDonald’s or someplace else that would keep them from church. Are they being raised to think gas money made on Sunday is more important than church? That the team is more important than the Body? How will this affect the church in years to come? The bigger question - How will this affect the rest of their lives?
How did Jesus’ upbringing affect Him? I think we can safely assume that part of the reason He continued to go as an adult was because His Father and Mother had trained Him to do so. If you think He did it just because He was the Son of God, then you are forgetting He was also 100% man and was tempted to stay home instead of going to worship just like many of us are (Heb. 4:15). He also did as His Father in Heaven had commanded all males to do through Moses, attend the three feasts (Deut. 16), but we also see Him attending weekly Synagogue and you can be sure He did all of that because of the fact that He remained perfectly sinless by obeying the Word of God! But it wasn’t because He was not tempted to put something else before worshiping God with other believers! He just chose to put the Father first. Of course, that is another lesson…
We know from the Gospels that during His public ministry of about three years, Jesus attended at least three Passovers in Jerusalem. I think it was four. He attended Passover at the beginning of year one, then the beginning of year two, then the beginning of year three and then then the Passover that occurred at His death. (Although He was in the grave that day.) But, that is also for another lesson… He even attended some of the feasts in secret when He knew the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill him (see: John 7:1-13). The last time He ascended to Jerusalem, He was coming from Jericho and a great number of people were with Him. It would be a strange thing in that day and time if they did not sing from the Psalms of the Ascent as they approached.
God speaks through the Psalms of the Ascent to all people of all ages in all ages.
God acts by inspiring songs that touch the very soul of man.
God reveals our need for Him, His protection and His salvation through the Psalms of the Ascent.
What do the psalms mean to you personally?
Have you ever used the psalms in a family setting to communicate the Word of God to your family?
Which psalm has touched your heart more than any other?
Answers: How much do you know?
1) Psalm 121
Copyright © 2018 Michael & Angela Anderson - Prodigalmike.com, Connections Bible Study - Connecting God's Word From Cover To Cover - Finding Jesus on Every Page! "We receive no compensation from any websites listed in this site or from any part of this website. We just love Jesus and want to spread his Word! All opinions in the website are my own! Always check the things we say against what the Bible says and decide for yourself." - Mike & Angie - All Rights Reserved.
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