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Psalm 119:33-40 1
33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. 36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. 38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. 39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. 40How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

clip_image013Background 2

Psalm 119 (Greek numbering: Psalm 118) is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. It is referred to in Hebrew by its opening words, “Ashrei temimei derech” (“happy are those whose way is perfect”). It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law.

This psalm is one of about a dozen alphabetic acrostic poems in the Bible. Its 176 verses are divided into twenty-two stanzas of eight lines each, and in Hebrew forms an acrostic, with each stanza starting with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet (alef (or aleph), bet, etc.). Further, within each stanza, each line begins with that same letter.

Employed in almost (but not quite) every verse of the psalm is a synonym for the Torah, such as dabar (“word, promise”) mishpatim (“rulings”), etc.

The acrostic form and the use of the Torah words constitute the framework for an elaborate prayer. The grounds for the prayer are established in the first two stanzas (alef and beth): the Torah is held up as a source of blessing and right conduct, and the psalmist pledges to dedicate himself to the law. The prayer proper begins in the third stanza (gimel, v. 17). Like many other psalms, this prayer includes both dramatic lament (e.g. verses 81-88) joyous praise (e.g., verses 45-48) and prayers for life, deliverance and vindication (e.g., verses 132-134). What makes Psalm 119 unique is the way that these requests are continually and explicitly grounded in the gift of the Torah and the psalmist’s loyalty to it.

Biblical Truths and Theology 3

Verse 33-40 – Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding. But the Spirit of revelation in the word will not suffice, unless we have the Spirit of wisdom in the heart. God puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The sin here prayed against is covetousness. Those that would have the love of God rooted in them must get the love of the world rooted out; for the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Quicken me in thy way; to redeem time, and to do every duty with liveliness of spirit. Beholding vanity deadens us, and slackens our pace; a traveler must not stand gazing upon every object that presents itself to his view. The promises of God’s word greatly relate to the preservation of the true believer. When Satan has drawn a child of God into worldly compliances, he will reproach him with the falls into which he led him. Victory must come from the cross of Christ. When we enjoy the sweetness of God’s precepts, it will make us long for more acquaintance with them. And where God has wrought to will, he will work to do.

Items for Discussion

  • Our psalm is comprised of many requests to God but each appears to be proceeded by some action on our part – What are those requests and what is our responsibility with each?
  • How does God teach, provide understanding, direct, turn toward good things, turn eyes, preserve life, keep his promises, and take away disgrace?
  • What is the one you have the hardest time accepting?

 

Luke 15:11-20
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Background

Luke was a doctor and it is only logical that medical matters should be stressed. (Luke 4:38; 7:15; 8:55; 14:2; 18:15; 22:50) Luke was not a Jew and directed his message to Greeks, as a Gentile speaking to Gentiles. He writes in an orderly fashion giving careful attention to historical details. Luke stresses events which point to Christ’s humanity and uses the phrase the Son of Man rather than the term Son of God. He places more space and emphasis on the birth of Christ than any other writer. There is a special emphasis on individuals and prayer, the sick, women, poverty and wealth. The compassion of the Son of Man is displayed everywhere.

Biblical Truths

The parable of the prodigal son has many truths and symbolism. Lets look at just some of them:

The first theme is historical – the theme of God’s chosen people and the pagans. The elder son in the parable could be an image of Israel, and the younger son that of the pagan nations. It is possible to clarify for oneself the significance of the Old Testament period, when men, having committed the original sin, withdrew from God. “The Father grieves over the departure of the beloved son. But, not infringing upon his filial dignity and filial freedom, He waits until the son himself, on having come to know all the bitterness of evil, and having remembered his past life in the Father’s home, begins to yearn for this home and opens his heart to the Father’s love. Thus it was with the human race”.

The second theme is about the nature of sin, about preparing yourself for cleansing from sins through the endeavor [podvig] of repentance.

Repentance is the third theme. Nowhere better does the Gospel disclose to us what the essence of repentance is, than, namely, in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It reveals to us the gradual, inner process of the sinner’s turnabout and the fullness of repentance, which consists of consciousness of one’s fall, sincere remorse and turning humbly to the Heavenly Father.

The fourth theme is the Church and her liturgical life. The best robe, in which the father arrays the son who has returned, can be interpreted as Baptism; the ring – as the seal of the Holy Spirit; the feast with the eating of the fatted calf – as the Mystery of Communion. The music and dancing are the symbol of the Church’s celebration on the restoration of her fullness and oneness.

The fifth theme that we encounter in the parable of the Parable Son is the Savior Himself, Who appears here in the image of the slaughtered calf, for, He is referred to in Scripture as the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The image of the elder son reveals the theme of envy, self conceit, legalism and the theme of the necessity for mutual, brotherly forgiveness.

The younger, prodigal son is a symbol of all fallen mankind, and, at the same time, of each individual sinner. The portion of goods that falls to him, that is, the younger son’s share of the property – these are God’s gifts, with which each man is endowed. These are the mind and heart, and especially the grace of the Holy Spirit, given to each Christian. The demand made of the father for the portion of goods falling to the son in order to use it arbitrarily is the striving of man to thrown off from himself submissiveness to God and to follow his own thoughts and desires. In the father’s consent to hand over the property there is depicted the absolute authority with which God has honored man in the use of God’s gifts.

Items for Discussion

  • Who do you relate to the most in the parable, the prodigal son, the faithful brother, or the father?
  • What is amazing about the father’s generosity and forgiveness?
  • How would this parable relate to those in our church who fall away and come back?
  • Why is it hard for us to be like the father?
  • What is it we need to practice at so that we are like him?
  • Why is it so hard to be like the prodigal son?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does a church to become like the father?
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