Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – November 27, 2016
Theme: A Call to Christian Commitment – 1 & 2 Timothy
Topic: Bless The Lord O My Soul
Main Texts: Psalm 103:1-22
Key Verse: Psalm 103:1: “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, we discussed what it means to “Follow After Righteousness: Flee Youthful Lusts” – a meditation on 2 Timothy 2. Our key learning from that study include:
- The Christian must have absolute clarity on the essential gospel and hold on to it as non-negotiable, and must resist pressures from the world or the environment to water it down to make it more “acceptable”.
- The Holy Spirit ministers to Christians in various ways, and may give us different perspectives of the same issues. So long as such points are not fundamental to the core gospel, we must not allow the differences to cause divisions in the body of Christ.
- If we desire to be “vessels of honour” used by God to do exploits, we must purge ourselves of all that defile and be humble enough to admit that we are not always as great as we would like to think we are, or that those around us think we are!
This Thanksgiving Sunday, we are breaking from our quarterly theme to meditate on the psalmist’s command to himself in Psalm 103: “Bless The Lord O My Soul”. We will undergo some personal soul-searching as we follow the psalmist to identify some specific things that God has done:
- For us – things He does for our personal benefit or for those for whom we have immediate responsibility.
- For or through other people – His interventions to secure justice for the oppressed, His grace in not destroying the wicked but giving them a chance to repent, His all-encompassing forgiveness of sins which even the sinners struggle to forgive themselves, etc.
- In our environment and in His creation that make everything work together. (Even the unpleasant things in our world are within His overall dominion, and we should see them as pieces in His overall masterplan)
King David was obviously enamoured and in an exuberant mood as he wrote and sang Psalm 103. He wrote and sang this and several other Psalms praising and thanking God. On one occasion, as he danced vigorously in praise to God, one of his wives despised him for “embarrassing his kingly status” by so dancing in public. That wife’s remark was to her peril (2 Samuel 6:12-23). In verses 3 to 5 of our text Psalm, David names specific things God had done for him, for which he is thankful. Each of these reasons implies that David had difficult times in which God intervened. “Who forgives all your sins” implies that there were times David sinned but God forgave him. “(Who) heals all your diseases” means there were times David was plagued with diseases but God healed him. “Who redeemed your life from the pit” implies that there were times David was in the pit awaiting possible death, but God saved him.
1. Let each participant give two specific personal reasons for which he or she is particularly thankful for God’s intervention.
While we can readily cite God’s intervention in our personal lives and in the affairs of our loved ones for which we are thankful, we less readily think of the ordinary affairs of mankind in which He intervenes for the overall integrity of His creation. This is the perspective David brings in verses 6 to 14. We may not be personally oppressed, but He “works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” (v6). We see many human failings and outright disobedience for which we think He would mete out instant punishment, but He “is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (v8). We may continue to accuse ourselves of sins He has forgiven us, but “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever” (v9). God’s specific acts of goodness for which we are not personal beneficiaries hardly occur to us when we go to Him in praise and thanksgiving. We need to awaken ourselves to, and appreciate Him for the broader scope of His goodness.
2. Let each participant give specific acts of God’s goodness to mankind or other people for which they should thank Him.
When we experience what seems to be bad governance that puts people through severe suffering, it becomes difficult for us, especially those bearing the brunt, to thank God. Could anyone have thanked God for Hitler? Yet the psalmist says “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” (v19). Daniel, through revelation said something similar when he said: “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.” (Daniel 4:17). The implication of these scriptures is that even the wicked rule is within God’s overall dominion. David’s vision of God’s sovereignty went beyond his small world – he saw the God to whom everything in the universe is subject. That is why (vv19-21) he called for unqualified praise and thanks to God.
3. (a) How is it possible to praise and thank God in a situation where it seems He allows wickedness to thrive, leading to suffering? (b) Does praising God in all circumstances mean the Christian should not pray for change?
Father, open our eyes to see beyond our small worlds, so that we will praise and thank You, not only for the pleasant things, but also for difficult times that we may not understand, in Jesus’ name. Amen