Lifeway Christian Resources’ January Bible study, “Psalms: The Character of God,” can be a great way to start the new year.
The Character of God
The Psalms teach believers how to pray, communicate with God the Creator. The psalmists show that prayer can be elegant, using metaphors, similes, and rhythmic prose:
- “He [the godly man]is like a tree planted by streams of water, which bears fruit in season…” (Ps. 1:3).
- “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” (Psalm 23:1-2).
- “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27:1).
The psalmists also show that prayer can be poems or songs of praise to God, thanking him, celebrating his goodness and his strength:
- “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth…. Worship the Lord with joy; come before him with joyful songs…for the Lord is good and his love lasts forever…” (Ps. 100:1, 2, 5).
- “O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty… I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live…” (Ps. 104:1, 33).
The psalmists most often show, however, that prayer can be awkward or intimidating, especially for the Christian new to the discipline. They give believers today permission to ask deep and troubling questions, to express anger and resentment.
King David and the other psalmists show that prayer is not always a perfect, polished, polished masterpiece. It doesn’t have to be. Often the prayer is urgent and raw, as frantic as someone shouting from the top floor of a burning building. Prayer can be an earthly, frantic, ASAP call for help:
- “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with grief, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; My strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak…” (Psalm 31:9-10).
- “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my call for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in trouble…” (Ps. 102:1-2).
Prayer can be a heartfelt call from a frightened, lonely, confused or frustrated person. It may be a mother’s plea for her sick newborn; the tears of someone who has lost a loved one; the why?” of a terminal diagnosis. It may be the utterance of a suffering person, expressed in foul or angry language.
- “I say to God my Rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I have to mourn, oppressed by the enemy?’ (Ps. 42:9).
- “You have made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us” (Ps. 44:10).
By studying the Psalms and becoming “friends” with the psalmists, Christians learn not only to pray, but also to worship, to better appreciate the Heavenly Father, and to better understand God’s love and character.
Psalmists write the words that are often difficult for believers to form and say. The Psalms captivate and engage, overflow the heart and bring believers to their knees, as they have done for previous generations and will do in the future.
How to Lead a Bible Study Group
- Decide where to meet: Some like to meet in a home, but a classroom in the church building may be more beneficial – everyone knows the place; it offers a safe and familiar setting; and, in the event of accident or injury, the church holds appropriate insurance.
- Decide if you want to meet during the day or in the evening, and set a certain start and end time, respecting it scrupulously.
- Name the Purpose: The purpose of Lifeway’s January 2022 Bible Study is to “gather together”, learn more about the character of God as revealed in the Psalms, study what it means live as people of God demonstrating character in a fallen world, and relax and fellowship, strengthen friendships.
- Have everyone seated, serve refreshments as appropriate, and ask each participant to introduce themselves.
- After the introductions, ask the leader to introduce the Bible study, sharing the materials, the study process and procedure, and the purpose and objectives.
- Invite everyone to participate. Make sure those who wish to contribute are authorized to do so. Ask participants to keep their comments brief and consider others who wish to share.
- Begin and end each meeting with prayer.
- Bible Study Resource: Produced by Lifeway, “Psalms: The Character of God Personal Study Guide eBook,” includes electronic content for seven sessions, applicable scriptures, and learning activities.
Leader and study guides
“Psalms: The Character of God” January 2022 Bible Study: Leader’s Guide, $13.99
“Psalms: The Character of God” January 2022 Bible Study: Personal Study Guide eBook, $8.99