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Psalm 16:5-11 1
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

clip_image105Background

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.

Psalm 16 typically finds its place in the readings of the Easter period because of v. 10: “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” This could be understood to refer to resurrection. This was the understanding of the writer of Acts 2:24-32; 13:32-39 as they read the latter part of Psalm 16 in relation to God raising Jesus from the dead.

Biblical Truths

In vv. 5-6 the metaphor is that of the land or property. The words ‘portion’, ‘lot’, ‘boundary line’ and ‘inheritance’ all come from this area. The background of this language is, in part, the division of the Promised Land in Joshua, where each tribe receives a portion as inheritance (see Josh 13:7; 14:2). The words ‘portion’ and ‘inheritance’ also have covenantal connections. In the psalm the Lord is the psalmist’s portion. This invokes thoughts of the gift of the land, its provision of all that is necessary for life, the fulfillment of promise and the close covenant relationship. With this image in mind the psalmist can freely say that ‘the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places’ (v. 6). In addition, thoughts of the Lord as the portion and inheritance of the Levites also come to mind (cf. Deut 10:9 and Num 18:20). The priests of the tribe of Levi did not receive a portion of the Promised Land but carried out their priestly duties in or close to the sanctuaries of the Lord.

Verses 7-8 moves on to the concept of being taught by our Lord. The near presence of the Lord ‘at the right hand’ means the psalmist shall not be moved (v. 8). Moreover, the psalmist is so near the Lord that even their own meditations serve as an opportunity for instruction (v. 7). The result of this in vv. 9-10 is that both internally and externally the psalmist is glad and rests secure (v. 9). In this context the psalmist could seek deliverance from premature death in v. 10. Alternatively, he could be proclaiming boldly that not even death would separate him from the joy of God’s presence. This is not a statement of belief in resurrection or immortality of the soul or other similar thought. Those come much later in biblical and other writings. For the psalmist we must remember that the most threatening thing about death was separation from God (cf. Ps 6:5). In Psalm 16 we may have an early expression that not even the overwhelming power of death can ‘separate us from the love of God’ which Paul much later sees embodied in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:35-39).

The psalmist finishes with the wonderful statement that the Lord shows them the ‘path of life’ and in the Lord’s presence there is ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasures forevermore’ (v. 11). The metaphors and images of earlier verses are brought together in this climactic statement: the pleasures and benefits of the land, the privilege and joy of serving in the temple, and the constant guidance of the law.

Items for Discussion

  • Why do you or others create wills and trusts?
  • What does the metaphor of an inheritance remind you of when you apply it to the Christian life today?
  • How do people gain the confidence in their God that is exhibited in this Psalm by its writer?

Colossians 1:3-6
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

Background

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

These words are from the opening section of Paul’s letter. Because this was a church battered by false teachings, competing ideas, legalism and internal strife, Paul wanted to remind them up-front (before he has to deal with some tough issues) that it was their faith and their love that laid the foundation for the gospel to bear fruit among them. It was these qualities that gave them hope for the future.

Biblical Truths

Paul was an apostle (an official spokesman) of Jesus Christ (who we find later is imprisoned—see 4:10). The audience was a group of Christians in who came to faith in Christ through one of Paul’s workers, Epaphras.

Epaphras had concerns about their spiritual welfare. Colossae was a hot-bed of religious pluralism and syncretism. Syncretism is the process by which elements of one religion are assimilated into another religion resulting in a change in the fundamental tenets or nature of those religions. It is the union of two or more opposite beliefs, so that the synthesized form is a new thing. Originally a political term, “syncretism” was used to describe the joining together of rival Greek forces on the Isle of Crete in opposition to a common enemy.

Paul’s friends were excited about spirituality, but in danger of spiritual deception by listening to purveyors of alternative spirituality (2:4,8a). He reported his concerns to Paul and asked him to write this letter to provide guidance through this maze. All of this makes this letter extremely contemporary.

Items for Discussion

  • How does trusting God with our future impact how you make decisions and choices today?
  • In verse six of Colossians we read that the gospel is bearing fruit in them. What do you think that fruit might be?
  • How do we teach our children to become bearers of fruit?

Discussion Challenges

  • In an amazing and unexpected turn of events, our society has become extremely interested in spirituality. 25 years ago, it was very difficult to find anyone (except hippies) who would admit that they were seeking spirituality. Today it is difficult to find people who claim they aren’t! Secularism is out and spirituality is in.
  • Like the Colossians, we live a religiously pluralistic and syncretistic society. There are dozens of spiritual options available to us, and we are urged to sample and mix our own unique style of spirituality that suits our own unique tastes and needs (“SMORGASBORD SPIRITUALITY”).
  • Where should we look for spiritual guidance (SCRIPTURES; SPIRIT GUIDES; GURUS; OMENS)? What exactly is spirituality, anyway? How does one become more spiritual (MEDITATION; VISION QUESTS; DIET; RITUAL & LITURGY)? According to Paul, this is not a smorgasbord, but rather a maze with many blind alleys where you can get mugged and kidnapped (read 2:8)!
Additional Study Notes

Items for Discussion in Psalm 16:5-11

  • Why do you or others create wills and trusts?
    • The desire to spare our heirs problems later after death
    • To pass on our property and possessions to those we care about
    • To share generously with others
  • What does the metaphor of an inheritance remind you of when you apply it to the Christian life today?
    • It is the way ownership and rights are passed from one to another
    • One must die to pass the rights to another
    • With an inheritance, come responsibilities – one becomes an executor of an estate
  • How do people gain the confidence in their God that is exhibited in this Psalm by its writer?
    • This psalm is a true song, sung from the heart about confidence in God. Put God in your heart and the confidence comes naturally.

Items for Discussion in Colossians 1:3-6

  • How does trusting God with our future impact how you make decisions and choices today?
    • Offering all we hope to be to God is yet another level of our spiritual growth. It seems to be a level that many Christians never reach, even with all the talk of heaven and “the sweet by and by” many of us heard growing up. Offering our futures to God has less to do with where we spend eternity (because that’s in God’s hands anyway). Rather, it has much to say about how we live in the world today. With our futures confidently placed in God’s care, much of that which plagues many people today, such as uncertainty and fear, is gone for us. We can live our lives in joyful expectation and hope no matter what life may dish our way.
    • When we look at the world today, it is filled with disease, crime, poverty, bigotry, and war. It can be very discouraging for even the most positive person. The key seems to be where we place our hope. If we place our futures in the hands of God, He can ground us in a reality that supersedes all the distracting realities around us. For Christians, “all that we hope to be” is in God’s hand.
  • In verse six of Colossians we read that the gospel is bearing fruit in them. What do you think that fruit might be?
    • Is it your fruit?
    • Is the fruit in others?
    • Is it always visible?
  • Why do we refer to it as fruit?
  • How does trusting God with our future impact how you make decisions and choices today?
    • Help make our church and its family an open and engaging second home for our children
    • Do not hide either our difficulties or our blessings – reflect our faith in our households
    • Hand our own fruits off to our children – do not be selfish and hold them only for ourselves

Items for Discussion

  • How does trusting God with our future impact how you make decisions and choices today?
  • In verse six of Colossians we read that the gospel is bearing fruit in them. What do you think that fruit might be?
  • How do we teach our children to become bearers of fruit?

Discussion Challenges

  • In an amazing and unexpected turn of events, our society has become extremely interested in spirituality. 25 years ago, it was very difficult to find anyone (except hippies) who would admit that they were seeking spirituality. Today it is difficult to find people who claim they aren’t! Secularism is out and spirituality is in.
  • Like the Colossians, we live a religiously pluralistic and syncretistic society. There are dozens of spiritual options available to us, and we are urged to sample and mix our own unique style of spirituality that suits our own unique tastes and needs (“SMORGASBORD SPIRITUALITY”).
  • Where should we look for spiritual guidance (SCRIPTURES; SPIRIT GUIDES; GURUS; OMENS)? What exactly is spirituality, anyway? How does one become more spiritual (MEDITATION; VISION QUESTS; DIET; RITUAL & LITURGY)? According to Paul, this is not a smorgasbord, but rather a maze with many blind alleys where you can get mugged and kidnapped (read 2:8).

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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