Book V of The Psalms

Discovery for Teachers

Book V of The Psalms

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Psalms 107:1 through 150:6

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13)

BACKGROUND

Psalms 107 through 150 make up the fifth and final section of the Book of Psalms. Many of the forty-four psalms in Book V are thought to have been written after the Babylonian exile; Bible scholars concur that the final psalms may have been written more than a thousand years later than the earliest one.

Most of the psalms in this part of the Book of Psalms are considered liturgical in nature, meaning they were designed for use in public worship. Fifteen of them are ascribed to David, one to Solomon, and the rest remain anonymous.

The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is in this grouping, as is the shortest chapter, Psalm 117. Psalm 117 is also the middle chapter of the entire Bible, the very center of 1,189 chapters spanning Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. Of the 31,173 verses contained in the Bible, Psalm 118:8 is the middle verse.

According to Jewish tradition, Book V relates to the Book of Deuteronomy since it speaks of a new beginning in the Promised Land. These psalms express the thoughts, prayers, and experiences of the captives at their return to Jerusalem. Jehovah is used as the divine name in this last section of the Book of Psalms.

SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS

  1. Book V begins with Psalm 107, which centers on divine intervention in the affairs of men. Verses 4 through 32 give four examples of troubles in which man could find himself: homelessness and wandering (verse 4), imprisonment (verse 10), life-threatening affliction (verses 17-18), and physical peril (verses 25-27). How did the individuals react in each situation, and what did God do in response?

    In each case, the afflicted individuals reacted to trouble by crying out to the Lord (see verses 6, 13, 19, and 28). Your class should understand that crying out to the Lord for deliverance is always what we should do in times of trouble, rather than trying to devise our own solutions.

    In response to homelessness and wandering, God was a Guide leading to a “city of habitation.” In response to imprisonment, God set the captives free, cutting away the “bars of iron.” In response to affliction, God healed. In response to physical peril, God calmed the storm and delivered those in danger from distress, bringing them to their desired haven. Your group should conclude that God is able to help us with any situation that comes our way. There is nothing too difficult for Him! You may want to ask your class members to share personal accounts of times when God gave deliverance from troubling situations.

    Conclude discussion of this question by directing your students’ attention to the chorus that is repeated four times in this psalm (verses 8, 15, 21, and 31). It says, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” The point should be made that when God brings deliverance from trouble, we must always be sure to thank and praise Him.

  2. Psalm 110 is one of the most outstanding Messianic and prophetic passages in the Old Testament, and is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other psalm. What roles of the Messiah are alluded to in verses 2, 4, 5, and 6?

    Verse 2 refers to His role as Ruler, verse 4 refers to His role as Priest, verses 5 and 6 refer to His role as Conqueror and the One who implements final destruction of the wicked, and verse 6 refers to His role as Supreme Judge.

    You may wish to amplify this discussion by pointing out that Jesus quoted from this psalm and applied its words to Himself (Matthew 22:41-45). Hebrews 1:13 uses quotes from it to prove that Jesus is greater than any angel because He alone reigns in Heaven. Additional New Testament references are 1 Corinthians 15:25, and Hebrews 5:6-10 and 7:17-21.

  3. Psalms 113-118 are liturgical or Hallel (praise) psalms that were a part of the great annual festivals of Israel. These particular psalms were also sung in the home during the Passover meal. Psalm 113 opens with the Hebrew word hallelu-Yah, which means “Praise the Lord!” God is to be praised because of His glory, greatness, and mercy. What groups of people are especially noted in Psalm 113:7-9 as being the recipients of God’s mercy? What principle(s) does this teach us?

    Psalm 113 refers to God’s mercy to the poor and needy (verses 7-8) and to the barren (verse 9). Class discussion may bring out that a person’s worth in God’s eyes has nothing to do with that individual’s financial resources or position in society (barrenness was considered a reproach in Biblical times). God takes those who are rejected or lowly, and sets them among the rulers of the people. Another thought that could be developed is that God meets the needs of those who are in want.

    No wonder the psalmist concluded this psalm with a repetition of the phrase it began with — “Praise the Lord!” God’s compassionate care for the lowly certainly is a motivation for worship.

    As a follow-up thought, ask your class how we can demonstrate by our actions that all people are valuable and useful in God’s sight. Thoughts brought out may include being careful not to use derogatory words, treating others with compassion, responding to physical needs when possible, being verbally appreciative of others, etc.

  4. Bible scholars indicate that Psalm 118 was sung by the restored exiles when they laid the foundation of the second Temple in Jerusalem (see Ezra 3:10-11). It is also thought to have been among the concluding hymns sung at Christ’s last supper with His disciples, before He went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. In verses 5-13, the psalmist focused on his trust in God. What examples did he give of ways the Lord had sustained him? In verses 8-9, what conclusion did he draw regarding the security God offers?

    The psalmist offered several examples of ways the Lord had sustained him. He said that when he was in distress and called upon the Lord, the Lord answered and set him in a large place (verse 5). He indicated that the Lord was on his side (verse 6), and took his part (verse 7). When he was surrounded by enemies, the Lord helped him overcome (verses 11-13). As a result of this divine assistance, he concluded that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put one’s confidence in man, or even in princes (verses 8-9). Finally, he announced that the Lord was his strength, his song, and his salvation.

    While the psalmist penned his words from a personal perspective, the personal pronouns “me” and “I” also may have personified the nation of Israel. Examples certainly could be recounted of times when Israel relied upon the Lord and found Him to be their Savior and Deliverer. That is true of other nations as well.

    If you wish to cite an example, some of history’s most stunning evidences of divine intervention occurred during World War II. One is the event commonly referred to as “The Miracle of Dunkirk.” In the summer of 1940, the Germans had pushed 400,000 Allied troops to the coast near Dunkirk, France. Allied forces feared the greatest disaster in their military history. However, Hitler unexpectedly halted the advance of the German tanks just as they were closing in for the kill. The King of England called for a National Day of Prayer, and thousands of British citizens gathered in churches across their nation to pray. During the nine days of the Dunkirk evacuation, the normally stormy English Channel remained calm. At the same time, a storm grounded Germany’s airplanes. These unexpected events allowed nearly the whole Allied army to survive and fight again — an amazing development which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called a “miracle of deliverance.” Thousands of Englishmen gave the credit to God.

    The conclusion should be reached that there is no substitute for trusting God, either as individuals or as nations.

  5. Some Bible scholars suggest that Psalms 126, 127, and 128 relate successively to the return of the exiles from Babylonian captivity, the process of rebuilding, and the repopulating of Jerusalem. After enduring seventy years in captivity, the themes of return and restoration would have been very close to the heart of the Jewish people. Psalm 126, which probably was written at the beginning of the return which started in 538 B.C., captures many of the emotions likely felt by the exiles. While release from physical captivity is cause for great joy, what other type of deliverance could be celebrated by verses 1-3 of this psalm?

    While these words could be used any time God delivers us, there is a clear parallel to the joy that is felt at spiritual deliverance — the most critical deliverance of all. God’s ability to revive, renew, and restore a life ruined by sin is beyond our finite understanding. The change may be so remarkable that even the “heathen” or the ungodly will have to acknowledge that “the Lord hath done great things for them.” When God radically transforms a life, instantly breaking the chains of habits and addictions that have bound an individual, there is no way to account for it except divine intervention.

    This might be a good time to refer to some of the well-known testimonies in Apostolic Faith circles of hardened sinners who were completely transformed by the power of God.

  6. What theme is developed in Psalm 133? Why is the condition described in these few verses so important among Christian believers?

    The theme developed in Psalm 133 is unity, or the blessing of harmonious relationships. While identifying the topic is not challenging, it can be challenging at times to put unity into practice! However, there is no question about the fact that it is vital among Christian believers.

    In response to the second question, class discussion could bring out some of the following points:

    • Unity makes the church a positive example among a world full of unbelievers.

    • It helps us to work together effectively in the spread of the Gospel.

    • It helps us present a united front against Satan, who seeks to destroy all believers, but especially preys upon weak and isolated individuals.

    • It helps us focus our energy and attention toward spiritual matters rather than being sidetracked by tension and friction.

    • It eliminates obstructions which could hinder the flow of God’s Spirit among us.

    • It brings a sense of completion or wholeness, making us feel good and happy.

    You might wish to point out to your class that the word pleasant in verse 1 means “delightful, lovely, or beautiful.” It is heartwarming to think about the divine approval which rests upon a group of sanctified, unified, believers, and should inspire all of us to make every effort to preserve this condition
    .
  7. In our day, the practice of abortion is an evil that has claimed the lives of millions of innocent babies. What does Psalm 139:13-16 teach about God’s role in the creation and formation of an unborn child?

    These verses indicate that God has an active role in the creation and formation of an unborn child. They provide a solid basis for the Biblical truth that life begins at conception and continues to develop in the womb where God himself superintends the development and maturation of the unborn child.

    Point out to your class that David did not say God created his inward parts at birth, but before birth. In verse 13, he specifically alluded to God’s care of him prior to birth, stating that “thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” The word translated “covered” has the sense of something that is interwoven or knit together. The implication is that God put the parts of the body together as one who weaves a cloth. Every child in the womb is God’s handiwork and part of His plan. Verse 16 also indicates that the formation of the bones, tissues, and organs of each individual unborn child are under the direct control and care of God. There are no accidents or mistakes with Him, for He is omnipotent!

    You might follow up by asking your class why understanding this truth should offer encouragement to those who consider themselves of little worth. They should conclude that if the all-knowing and all-powerful God was so personally concerned with each one of us before we were even born, we can be certain that we continue to be of great value and importance to Him throughout our lives. Other passages in this psalm assure us that He knows all about us (verses 1-4), He keeps His hand over us (verse 5), He is always aware of our whereabouts (verses 7-10), and He thinks of us continually (verse 17-18). Clearly, each one of us is special and unique in God’s sight, and He has a plan for our lives. See also Jeremiah 1:5 for an additional supporting Scripture.

    In view of God’s intimate knowledge and concern, the psalmist’s closing prayer in verses 23-24 was very appropriate. Ask your students to relate what three things David asked God to do (to search his heart, to know his thoughts, and to lead him) and discuss why this should also be the prayer of our hearts.

  8. As we conclude our study of the Book of Psalms, what particular verse or passage from this book has been significant in your life, and why?

    This question should provide you with a good way of wrapping up your class study of the Book of Psalms. No doubt every person in the class can point to a particular psalm that has been a blessing and encouragement to him or her.

CONCLUSION

Like men and women through the ages, we can turn to the Book of Psalms for encouragement, comfort, guidance, and hope. And perhaps there are no more fitting words to conclude our study than the closing words of the final psalm, “Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).