The audio for this series is a 3-part lecture series delivered by Gwynne Johnson at the Women’s Retreat of Northwest Bible Church, Dallas TX, April 20-21, 2007.
Lecture #1: Introduction to Psalms and Psalms for “The Comfort Zone”
The psalms are “songs for the journey”—a wonderful gift from the Lord. They help us express our emotions in a God-honoring way and help us put words to life’s experiences. Psalms for “The Comfort Zone” form a foundation for living through future crisis, reminding us of God’s canopy of certainty amidst the uncertainty of life. Five types of comfort psalms include those of: orientation (Ps. 115); creation (Ps. 104); Torah (Ps. 119, 145); wisdom (Ps. 37, 14); and well-being (Ps. 131).
The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is “Praises” [Heb tehillah (root: halal))—to praise, celebrate, glory, sing, boast], and praise and its cognates are mentioned in the Psalms over 180 times, more than in any other book. God is to be praised for His awesome character and mighty works by all of His creatures and creation, regardless of the triumphs, tragedies, sorrows, or joys of this temporal life. The Greek title “Psalms” [Gk psalmos—to twang or pluck] includes the concept of singing accompaniment with a stringed instrument, and the Psalms remain the primary hymnal of the people of God.
Hallelujah combines praise with the covenant name of God [Heb halal and Yah—YHWH, Yahweh, or Jehovah] producing the exclamation “Let us praise Yahweh” or “Praise the LORD.”
Reflection: What aspect or lesson from last week’s introduction for this series most encouraged or challenged you?
Psalms for the comfort zone record reflections upon God’s faithfulness in history and promises for wisdom today. Remember to begin your study in prayer for His wisdom.
1. Name the three subject categories of the Psalms discussed last week. How does this increase your understanding of Psalms?
2. Psalms of orientation provide a worldview that includes God in our thinking. Each of the following three Psalms teaches us something that will give our lives stability today.
A. Read Psalm 114. What do you learn about the power and care of God from this Psalm? How might this affect the way you view life?
B. Read Psalm 115. What do you learn about God’s care for His own? What do you learn about those who trust in gods of their own making?
C. Read Psalm 116. Where does the psalmist go in trouble? What comfort and encouragement might you discover from this for times of difficulty in your own life?
3. Read Psalm 145. List at least three attributes of God’s character that you find in this Psalm.
4. Which attribute of God’s character did you need to remember this week? Why?
Which were you tempted to forget as a result of present circumstances?
B. What additional insights do you gain from the cross references on praising God for His character, attributes, and activities in the Optional Studies for Personal Enrichment?
5. List three promises from Psalm 145 to those who fear the Lord.
6. Read Psalm 119:1–8. List several benefits of an obedient walk. How have you experienced any one of these? What does that imply about a disobedient walk?
7. Read Psalm 119:9–16. What keeps our life pure, according to these verses? Paraphrase and summarize these verses in your own words below.
8. Read Psalm 119:89–104. What are several benefits of the law of God? How have you experienced one or more of these? Which benefit was most important to you this week or in the recent past?
9. What commitment would you like to make regarding the Word of God as a result of reading these verses? Write it in a prayer to God below.
10. What hope and encouragement do you find in Psalm 119:114? Have you ever experienced this personally?
11. What one insight or lesson do you want to remember from this week’s lesson? Note it below and on the journal page entitled “Songs for My Soul” at the back of the workbook
Choose one verse from this week’s lesson to memorize. Write it here and meditate on it. Or write it on a card and place it in a prominent place to review this week.
All of creation, including the sun and moon, and every creature in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth will ultimately praise the Lord. The psalmist declares in Psalm 103:1, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, praise His holy Name!” Understanding God’s character enables us to praise Him more completely. List the insights you gain about God from the related scriptural cross references. How do these insights enhance your understanding of the character of God and stimulate your response of faith in praise to our awesome God, Savior, and Lord?
Ps 16:7; 111:10
Ps 28:7; 59:17
Ps 103:1–3, 10–12
Ps 104:1,14; 136:25
Ps 107:8; 136:1
Ps 9:1; 111:1; 119:7
Ps 35:28; 71:6, 14
Ps 63:5; 98:4
Resolve to praise the Lord this week for who He is and for all that He has done and is continuing to do for you!