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Psalm 23 1
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3a he restores my soul. 3b He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. 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 love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

clip_image107Background

The name Psalms or Psalter come from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where they originally referred to stringed instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute.

The author is King David, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Born in 907 B.C., he reigns as king of Israel for 40 years, dying at age 70 in 837 B.C.

Biblical Truths

This type of Psalm is called a song of trust. It is an expression of confidence in God’s protection. The Lord is compared to a shepherd. The word “soul” means vitality, life. “Paths of righteousness” or “of rightness,” that is, right paths which suits the context better. “Shadow of death” is the translation we read, but “deep darkness” is the better interpretation from the Hebrew. The Lord is compared to a gracious host. “Dwell in the house of the Lord” means to worship in the temple. “Forever” is Hebrew for “length of days,” meaning “as long as I live.”

The psalm has two basic divisions, each one providing part of the answer to our question about worry. The first four verses focus on God as the faithful and good Shepherd of his people. It calls us to trust Him as such. The second section made up of the last two verses, focuses our attention on God as a gracious host, preparing a splendid meal for a guest, and results in our rejoicing over His grace toward us.

Items for Discussion

  • What is the different between the concept of a Shepard and that of a Master or King?
  • How should people respond to problems and pain in their life?

Colossians 3:16
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Background

The Colossian church was founded by Epaphras, one of Paul’s converts. Paul’s letter was written from prison around 62 A.D.

Colossae was located twelve miles from Laodicea and about a hundred miles east of Ephesus in the valley of the Lycus River. Colossae was on the main trade route and had a diverse population of Greeks, Jews and Phrygians. The mixture of backgrounds made the city an interesting cultural center where all sorts of new ideas and doctrines from the East were discussed and considered. Because of these ungodly influences, the Colossian church was faced with the creeping influence of false teaching. Paul’s letter stresses the true gospel: Jesus is absolutely central.

Biblical Truths

Note the word “let.” The word of Christ is ready and willing to dwell in us. The only issue that remains is our willingness. The Word will indwell us if we let it. God manufactures the Word of Christ in our hearts.

The word “dwell” means to keep house. We should live in the Word of God like we live in our homes.

It is not enough to let the Word of God dwell in us; we must let it dwell richly, not meagerly. “Richly” is an idiom for abundantly — abundantly to the point of wealth.

“Wisdom” has to do with the application of truth. It is not enough to treat the Word of God theoretically. When the Word of God dwells in us it makes us wise in the way God does things. It means to move truth from the mind into experience.

Three words in verse 16 end in “ing:” “teaching,” “admonishing” and “singing.” If the Word of God finds lodgment in our souls, then we will teach, admonish and sing. These three characteristics will trend in our lives and will become a pattern. It will not be sporadic or intermittent.

Paul employed “teaching and admonishing one another “with the same meaning as above. Here, however, he adds that we are to do this in music. “Teaching” has to do with the communication of truth. If we are going to teach we must learn. If we are going to talk we must listen. If we speak we must hear.

“Admonishing” has to do with showing someone else how to execute the Christian life. “Admonishing” means to place in the mind personally. Sometimes the New Testament translates it “warn” (Acts 20:31).

“One another” means mutual help in applying truth to experience. We have a responsibility to one another (Gal. 6:10; Heb. 6:10). Most of us know of our obligation to get the gospel out to the non-Christian. Few of us know of our obligation to the Christian. God has given us a ministry to one another.

It is great to learn truth but we must celebrate it as well. We celebrate it in worship of praise. Truth and the celebration of truth are a great combination of praise. Two operating principles must guide Christian music: content and worship.

“Psalms” has to do with content of Scriptural truth

“Hymns” was originally a heathen word for a song for a god or hero after death. The New Testament confines the meaning to direct address of praise and glory to the living God.

“Spiritual songs” are compatible with Scripture but they are not Scripture itself. These songs do not state their lyrics in biblical language; they do not quote the Bible.

We do not truly sing until we sing with “singing with gratitude in your hearts to God”. This is the song of the soul. The person may not be able to sing very well but a song breaks out in the heart. That is why the Bible says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Some can carry a tune and others cannot but the point is the expression of the heart.

Items for Discussion

  • If you compare “dwelling in us,” with our lives in our own homes, what kinds of Christian attitudes do you think the Apostle Paul intended by his metaphor?
  • Most of us know of our obligation to get the gospel out to the non Christian. Few of us know of our obligation to the saint. How can Christians get involved in encouraging other Christians?

Discussion Challenges

Which each generation of children developing differing attitudes concerning music style and substance, how can the Church today keep its worship services relevant to all generations?

Additional Study Notes

Items for Discussion in Psalm 23

  • What is the difference between the concept of a Shepard and that of a Master or King?
    • The motivations of a Shepard are intended to keep you in good health and content, to allow you to grow to full potential (to increase the value of the flock) while the motives of a master are to provide services and pleasure to himself. A master’s acts of kindness may very well be practical responses to maximize his personal gain.
    • A Shepard would die for his sheep while a master with many slaves would never consider such an action. Kings would send off men into battle for the safety of the kingdom but a Shepherd dies for just one of his flock.
    • A Shepherd guides his flock to fertile fields and into safe pastures while a master may use his subjects as a shield to protect himself. Guidance is not the role of a master, just supervision of his subjects.
  • How should people respond to problems and pain in their life?
    • The first portion of the psalm encourages us to trust in God as the faithful Shepherd, rather than allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed with anxiety.
    • David’s example also encourages us to rejoice in God’s grace to us.
    • God spares no blessing (verse 5)
    • Because it Results in Constant Fellowship with Him (verse 6)

Items for Discussion in Colossians 3:16

  • If you compare “dwelling in us,” with our lives in our own homes, what kinds of Christian attitudes do you think the Apostle Paul intended by his metaphor?
    • We are familiar with our home where all the closets are, where we have items stored.
    • We must thoroughly acquaint ourselves with the Word.
    • The Word should become so familiar to us that we know it like the back of our hand. The idea is to let the Word of God dwell inside and live at home in our lives.
    • The Word of God needs to inhabit us.
    • This is more than just reading the Bible.
  • Most of us know of our obligation to get the gospel out to the non Christian. Few of us know of our obligation to the saint. How can Christians get involved in encouraging other Christians?
    • God has designed the Christian life in a way that we need others to help us apply Scripture to our experience. So first, we need to help other Christians to understand God’s Word.
    • In a world of busy lives, we may have to change our priorities.
    • We need to recognize that Church is not just on Sunday.

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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