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Psalm 125 1
1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. 3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. 4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. 5 But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers. Peace be upon Israel.

clip_image108Background

The title of this Psalm is “A Song of Degrees.” While there is no direct proof that David was its author, it does seem provable that all the Pilgrim Psalms were composed, or, at least, compiled by the same writer, and as some of them are certainly by David. Therefore, we conclude that this Psalm too must be from him. The Psalm has four sections: First we have a song of holy confidence (Ps 125:1-2); then a promise, Ps 125:3; followed by a prayer, Ps 125:4; and a note of warning.

Biblical Truths

If we were to dissect this Psalm, we might read the Psalm like this:

The psalmist affirms his confidence in the Lord’s protection and justice. The precise significance of this Psalms title is not made clear to us. Perhaps worshipers recited this Psalm when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. The “scepter” symbolizes royal authority; when used closely with “wickedness” the phrase refers to an oppressive foreign conqueror. Our psalmist is reminding us that a wicked king who sets a sinful example can have an adverse moral and ethical effect on the people he rules.

The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance. A sinful lifestyle is compared to a twisting, winding road. The Psalm ends as a prayer (see Ps 122:8 for a similar prayer for peace).

Items for Discussion

  • How would you interpret the metaphor of “mountains” used in this Psalm?
  • How does the sinfulness of a leader affect those he/she may lead?

 

1 Peter 1:3-9
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Background

The first letter of Peter was addressed to those who were believers living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were all provinces in the region of Asia Minor. This appears to be the area in which the Apostle Peter labored. Paul was not permitted by the Holy Spirit to enter into this region at the outset of his second missionary journey. Paul would not go into an area where another apostle was ministering. Peter may have been ministering in the area during Paul’s first and second missionary journey.

There is controversy over whether Peter actually wrote this letter. This is based on an interpretation that the Greek used in the letters was of a style and of a sophistication that would have been inappropriate for Peter, an unskilled fisherman. However, Peter could have dictated the letters.

Biblical Truths

The basic theme of first Peter is that of suffering and tribulations. The Christian life is never presented in the Bible as a problem free existence. To counter this problem Peter points to the joy of the Christian life. Peter instructs them about how to act in light of the persecution. The Christian participates in the sufferings of Christ when he experiences suffering.

Peter begins verse 3 with a song of praise and with this statement; Peter acknowledges the divinity of Jesus. Similarly, his reference to “our” Jesus affirms His humanity. The impetus for his praise is God’s “great mercy.” God’s mercy or kindness has resulted in the Christian’s new birth and subsequent adoption into the family of God. More importantly, our hope of eternal salvation is founded on our relationship with the living Savior.

Items for Discussion

  • Why is it important to reflect on both the divinity and humanity of our Christ?
  • Can you describe how you created a relationship with someone else?

Discussion Challenge

  • What would change in our society today if we considered the morality of our leaders before we supported them?
Additional Study Notes

Items for Discussion from Psalm

  • How would you interpret the metaphor of “mountains” used in this Psalm?
    • Mountains do surround Jerusalem
    • Mountains protect the city naturally
    • In spite of man, the mountains will remain. They are immovable, impossible to destroy; they exist in spite of man. This is just like the protection from our God.
  • How does the sinfulness of a leader affect those he/she may lead?
    • The nature of a leader is to establish a position that one aspires to.
    • The decisions of a leader affect the subjects under that leader.
    • In a free society, a leader remains in power because of the people. Therefore, the “sin” and its accountability seem to also rest with those who have place the leader in power.

Items for Discussion from 1 Peter

  • Why is it important to reflect on both the divinity and humanity of our Christ?
    • We cannot relate to God directly but we can to a God in human form.
    • Christ’s humanity means that He understands our suffering because He experienced it Himself.
    • Divinity is mystical but humanity is real.
  • Can you describe how you created a relationship with someone else?
    • Relationships take time.
    • Relationships require an investment.
    • Risks need to be taken.
    • They must be founded on trust.
    • Strong relationships have shared similar suffering.

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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