Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer both assert we are wise to pray the psalms. Bonhoeffer writes with real passion about the fact Jesus would have learned the psalms as his prayer book during his upbringing in Nazareth. It is, therefore, easy to imagine Jesus was praying psalms when the disciples from time to time searched for Jesus and found him praying.
Yesterday, April 17, our pastor preached from Psalm 23, and he repeated Continue reading Pray a Psalm
My shepherd will supply my need,
Jehovah is his name;
In pastures fresh he makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wand’ring spirit back
When I forsake his ways;
And leads me, for his mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.
When I walk through the shades of death,
Thy presence is my stay;
A word of thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread,
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.
The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days:
O may thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home.
By Isaac Watts
In the Public Domain
- This hymn is based on Psalm 23. How do verse 1 and 2 of the hymn enhance the thoughts inspired by Psalm 23:1-3?
- Isaac Watts faces his fears emboldened and comforted by God’s presence. The psalmist relied on the shepherd’s rod and staff. What encourages Isaac Watts?
- Enemies may be individual people, or they may be forces at work in the culture. What enemies besiege you when you are enjoying the fellowship of the Lord?
- Surveys in contemporary culture reveal that few people consider weekly worship in a building with other worshipers to be a big priority. Compare the view of worship described by Isaac Watts with the psalmist’s description. Compare these views with comments people of your acquaintance make about worship. Why do Christians need to gather with other Christians for worship? How would you explain that need to a secular thinker?
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
- The psalmist did not turn to a government or a relative or a rich friend to provide for him. To whom did he turn?
- Experience teaches us that walking “in paths of righteousness” is not always the easiest way to go. Why does the psalmist celebrate God’s leadership?
- What does the psalmist “get” when he “gives” his submission to God’s leadership?
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
- The psalmist is walking on righteous pathways. Why doesn’t he escape “the shadow of death?”
- What political and cultural evils do you observe every day? How do they affect your life?
- Secular thinkers believe that the things that make them happy must be considered good, even if they are made happy by things the Bible considers evil. How does calling good evil and evil good affect the society we live in?
- How did the psalmist respond to evil that surrounded him?
- Whom do you trust when you confront evil?
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
- You are invited to a “table” overflowing and abundant every time you worship. Do you have the sense that enemies surround that table? Who are they?
- In what way are you “anointed” when you visit that table?
- How can it be said that you “dwell in the house of the Lord forever”?
- How do you explain to secular thinkers what you mean about “dwelling in the house of the Lord forever”?