INTRODUCTION TO NOVEMBER LESSONS
If our hearts are rooted in God (October lessons), then they will be godly. November, like February, is a good month to think of “heart” matters. Having a thankful heart, especially during this month of Thanksgiving, helps us develop a godly heart. Through our Bible study this month, students will learn that a godly heart seeks after God, humbles itself before God, strives to be strong and courageous for God, and gives thanks and praise to God.
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Unit: Psalms (Part 2)
Theme: Godly Heart
Lesson Text: Psalm 63:1-8; Psalm 105:1-4
Supplemental Text: Acts 13:22; Hebrews 11:6; James 4:7-10
Aim: Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the Study by Mark Scott, Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_November6_2022.
Send an email to [email protected] to receive PDFs of the lesson material each month.
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By Mark Scott
Seeking God and his kingdom should come first in our lives (Matthew 6:33). Seeking God should be done now while he can be found (Isaiah 55:6). Seeking him should involve the whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). And seeking God promises great reward and his presence (James 4:8; Hebrews 11:6).
The theme of seeking God unites sections of Psalms 63 and 105. In strong parallelism and with beautiful pictures, the psalmists told us where God could be found and what that would mean for the whole world.
In the Desert
King David might have reigned over Israel for 40 years in Hebron and Jerusalem, but he spent much time in the desert. Much of his desert ministry was spent running from King Saul and other enemies. The hot Judean wilderness is filled with rocks, sand, and often a deafening silence.
David acknowledged God (Elohim) as his God, and that he was earnestly (or “early,” as some Bible versions translate it) seeking him. David described this desire for God (or this Longing for God, as the title of J.K. Jones’s book puts it) like being thirsty. The barrenness of his soul mirrored the barrenness of the desert. Like a desert-bound castaway searching for a mirage, David was driven to find God.
In the Sanctuary
David never saw Solomon’s temple, even though he made some provisions for it. But David did have the sanctuary (ark of the covenant within a tent of meeting). It was God’s sacred space on earth. David could feel God’s presence there; it was a place he enjoyed spending time. He could sense God’s power and glory there.
In the sanctuary David could feel the love (chesed, loving-kindness or loyal love). He acknowledged that God’s love was better than life. This inspired David to exercise spiritual gymnastics. He would lift up his hands and lips toward the heavens. He became satisfied (filled to the brim) deep in his soul, as if his body had experienced the richest of foods.
In His Bed
At day’s end, maybe after being in the desert and spending time in the sanctuary, David would retire. Similar to many of us, however, he put his body to bed, but his mind would begin to race. It ran first to the character of God. As the watches of the night ticked by, David was consumed with God being his helper (ezrah).
His bed became a place of singing and security. He would sing of God’s protection (shadow of his wings), and he would feel—figuratively, at least—upheld by God’s right hand. In the verses that follow (vv. 9-11) David acknowledged that some wanted to destroy him. But he knew that if he sought God with all of his heart, God would allow himself to be found.
Among the Nations
David is clearly acknowledged as author of Psalm 63. But an unknown voice sang Psalm 105. God’s faithfulness to Israel was the motivation for this psalm. The final 40 verses of this psalm (vv. 5-45) describe how God cared for Israel throughout their “salvation history.” This singer’s recounting of God’s care for his people is similar to Psalm 78.
This psalm’s verbs are especially significant (give praise, proclaim, make known, sing, tell, glory, rejoice, look, and seek). Give praise means to “give thanks” or “confess.” Making God known is not a matter of private worship; rather, it is for the nations (literally “peoples”). Singing and giving glory are two of the best ways to advertise for God among the nations. This is more a ministry of affirmation than of interpretation. God’s deeds are described as wonderful acts. No doubt these are God’s redemptive deeds done in time and space, such as the exodus.
The psalmist calls upon Israel to glory in God’s name. The writer has “verbed” a noun (taken a word that is typically a noun and turned it into a verb). In using glory, the writer means the people are to praise God for his weighty presence and his shining brilliance. Before describing the history of God’s faithfulness to Israel, the psalmist called his congregation to look to the Lord and seek his face.
We consume whatever garners our attention. Our focus drives so much of our lives. When God receives our undivided attention, the natural result is to “let our lights shine for the nations.” He is, after all, not far from us. having determined our “appointed times in history” and our “boundaries” so we can seek him (Acts 17:26-27).