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Psalm 50:1-6 1
1 The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. 2 From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. 4 He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” 6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge.

clip_image063Background

Asaph was one of King David’s music leaders. Either Asaph wrote this psalm, or someone wrote it for him. Or perhaps someone wrote it long after his death, for singers that lived after him. The psalm is very *like Isaiah 1:11-20, and Micah 6:6-9. Isaiah and Micah wrote their books about 250 years after David and Asaph died. Psalms 73-83 are also psalms of Asaph. The psalm is a picture of a Court of Law. This is a place where people decide whether someone has done right or wrong. If they have done wrong, the Court can send them to prison, or worse. In the psalm, Israel is in Court. God is telling them what they have done wrong. Everything in the sky and on earth must decide whether Israel has done right or wrong. God says that they have done wrong and that he will punish them if they do not obey him.

Biblical Truths 2

The Psalm has two general parts:

  • The majesty and authority of the person who is to judge this debate, ver. 1- 6.
  • The sentence which he pronounces, ver. 7-23.

The prophet begins with calling an assize, a special kind of jury or inquest. He summons a court, presents us with a judge, produces witnesses, and cites those who are to answer. And the prophet, having seated the Judge on his throne, gives forth his charge. He presents:

  1. The Judge, in authority and majesty: “The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken,” ver. 1.
  2. The place to which he comes to hold his court-the Church
  3. Those who are cited to appear before him-his saints-those who had undertaken to worship him as he had appointed.
  4. Against these he produces his witnesses, whom he collects:
    1. From heaven;
    2. From earth.

Next follows the charge given by God himself the Judge; and, to engage attention, he issues a proclamation.

  • “I am God;” therefore, worship and obedience are due to me from all creatures.
  • “I am thy God; and thou art my people;” therefore, due from thee especially.
  • “I will speak.” I will judge and determine this controversy about my worship.
  • “I will testify against thee,” and convict thee of what thou hast done amiss.

It was the duty of the people to bring the sacrifice, and perform the ceremonies appointed by the law: but God is not pleased with the outward act merely; nothing pleases him where the heart and affections are wanting.

Items for Discussion

  • Take your experience with judges and juries. How does a repentant defendant willing to make restitution affect the typical justice handed out?
  • What is the difference between restitution and generosity described in this psalm?
  • If restitution can impact justice, how do you think generosity would impact a judge and jury?
  • How would you think a judge and jury would respond to a wealthy person making restitution versus a poor person making restitution?
  • How are the opinions formed around generosity impacted by the abilities of the individual to part with their gifts?
  • Now if we cannot purchase favor with God, if we cannot influence the judgment with generous gifts even in the form of restitution, what is it that God is looking for in each of us?

Acts 3:1-10
1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Background

The traditional name for this book is “Acts of the Apostles,” but a more accurate name might be “A Few Acts of a Few of the Apostles.” Peter and Paul are particularly prominent; the other apostles play little or no role. The book describes some developments in detail, but sometimes skips several years at a time.

“Acts of the Risen Jesus” might also be an appropriate name for this book. Luke tells us that his first book (the Gospel of Luke) was “about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:1-2). Acts, the second volume of Luke’s history-writing project, is about what Jesus did after his ascension into heaven — he directed and taught the apostles through the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus had promised (John 16:7, 13), he sent the Spirit to guide the apostles after he returned to heaven. Since this book frequently reminds us that the actions of the apostles were inspired and guided by God’s Spirit, “Acts of the Holy Spirit” has also been suggested as a descriptive title.

Biblical Truths

This section presents a series of related events: the dramatic cure of a lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10) produces a large audience for the discourse of Peter’s teachings of Christ (Acts 3:11-26). The Sadducees, taking exception to the doctrine of resurrection, have Peter, John, and apparently the beggar as well, arrested (Acts 4:1-4) and brought to trial before the Sanhedrin. The issue concerns the authority by which Peter and John publicly teach religious doctrine in the temple (Acts 4:5-7). Peter replies with a brief summary of the theology, implying that his authority is prophetic (Acts 4:8-12). The court warns the apostles to abandon their practice of invoking prophetic authority in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:13-18). When Peter and John reply that the prophetic role cannot be abandoned to satisfy human objections, the court nevertheless releases them, afraid to do otherwise since the beggar, lame from birth and over forty years old, is a well-known figure in Jerusalem and the facts of his cure are common property (Acts 4:19-22). The narrative concludes with a prayer of the Christian community imploring divine aid against threats of persecution (Acts 4:23-31).

Items for Discussion

  • Where are the two apostles going, and why? v. 1. Note: The temple in Jerusalem was the center of community life in the city. It was often crowded with thousands of worshippers, merchants and even Gentiles.
  • Who is placed at the temple gate daily and for what purpose? v. 2. Can you describe the man’s physical and emotional condition? Note: The Beautiful Gate was one of the passageways leading from the court of the Gentiles into the inner courts of the sanctuary.
  • Seeing Peter and John, what does the man ask for? v. 3. Why? How does Peter first respond to the man? v. 4. What does the man then do and with what attitude? v. 5. Why do you think this was so important?
  • What negative reply does Peter give the man first? v. 6. Why? What positive declaration and command does Peter then give the man? In what name is this miracle proclaimed? Why? See Acts 4:8-12.
  • What happens next? vv. 7-8. Do Peter and John just walk away after proclaiming the word? Explain their follow-up with the man. Describe the man’s renewed physical, emotional and spiritual condition.
  • What is the reaction of the people at seeing the once crippled beggar as a radically changed person? vv. 9-10. What was the one thing that the renewed man was continually doing? Why?

Discussion Challenge

  • Are there beggars at the front doors of today’s Christian churches?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. Clarke’s Commentary
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