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 #3: Psalms for “The Discovery Zone” (Saturday Evening)
As we go through The Danger Zone in obedience, we discover new freedom and new joy. The Discovery Zone leads us to praise, which is thanksgiving spoken aloud. Psalm 30 takes us from the pit (representative of powerlessness) to praise. Psalm 66 is a command to worship God, both communally and personally. Our worship serves as a witness to others. God is our place of safety in a world of chaos, and our certainty in a world of uncertainty.
A fortress [Heb mesudah— castle, fortress, stronghold, strong place] characteristically combines features of difficult access, powerful defenses, and a place of security from enemies. Eagles build their nests on inaccessible cliffs for security and protection of their young (Job 39:28–29). Cities were walled and fortified to protect their inhabitants from invasion.
Masada is a boat-shaped rock formation overlooking the western shore of the Dead Sea, towering 1,200 feet above the surrounding Judean desert wilderness. Masada was fortified by King Herod, and later besieged by the Roman legions for seven months before falling in A.D. 73. Masada may have temporarily sheltered David during his years of pursuit by Saul, providing a dramatic visual of the LORD as “my rock and fortress” (2 Sam 22:1–2; 23:14; Ps 18:2).
The LORD is a fortress to those who fear Him!
Reflection: What aspect or lesson from last week’s lesson or lecture most encouraged or challenged you? Why?
Psalms from the Discovery Zone reveal a new understanding and new orientation in the life of the psalmist. They tell the story of “going into trouble and coming out of trouble.” As a result, the psalmist discovers truth about God and better understands himself.
1. Read Psalm 61.
A. When troubles come, why is a refuge important? How can we discover the refuge of God in our 21st century world? Where might it be and how do you get there?
B. Read verse 5. How would you describe the heritage of those who fear the Lord? What do you think it means to “fear the Lord”?
2. Read Psalm 46.
A. In light of present world circumstances, how does this Psalm comfort you this week? Be specific.
B. How do you understand verse 1? What do you think a “present help” (KJV) means?
C. Why is verse 10 so important today in our personal worlds? What could you do this week to apply this principle?
3. Read Psalm 30.
A. How would you describe the emotional state of the psalmist? Based on his words, what has changed in his circumstances?
B. What does this Psalm teach about God?
C. What additional insights do you gain from the cross references on the various pictures of God in the Psalms in the Optional Studies for Personal Enrichment?
D. What promise do you find to claim for yourself?
4. Read Psalm 34.
A. List at least three praise statements that are true for you.
B. What do you think the psalmist means in verse 8? (Compare with Luke 6:38 and Romans 12:1)
5. Read Psalm 40.
A. According to verses 1–3 what is the result of persevering in faith through trials? How might that encourage you?
B. As a result of his experience, list some things the psalmist has learned about God. Which of those attributes would be important to you this week?
C. What has the psalmist discovered about himself according to verses 12 and 13?
D. Choose a promise from this Psalm, or memorize a favorite verse.
6. From any of the Psalms in this lesson, what do you discover about God’s mercy?
7. Write a Psalm of Discovery using the praise and worship aspects of the Psalms just studied. Use your own words and contemporary circumstances.
8. 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. Review this week by sharing your verses with your family or friends.
God is pictured in the Psalms as the fortress refuge of the obedient, oppressed by external trials and enemies, as well as for the disobedient who, having repented of personal sin and temptations, experience His grace and forgiveness. The world caricatures God as an impotent old man on a rocking chair uninvolved with His creation, or as an impersonal “force” striving with its evil side, or as a poor barefoot man in a robe holding children on his lap. The psalmist records numerous visual images of God. List the insights about God’s true character that you learn from the related scriptural cross references.
Ps 7:11; 50:6
Ps 17:8; 57:1
Ps 18:2, 31:3; 144:2
Ps 18:2, 31, 46
Ps 22:4; 37:40
Ps 23:1; 80:1
Ps 26:1; 43:1
Ps 27:1; 18:28
Ps 30:2; 103:3; 147:3
Ps 32:7; 119:114
Ps 34:7; 91:11
Ps 46:1; 118:8
Ps 65:5; 85:4
Ps 65:7; 107:29
Ps 103:19; 113:5
Ps 106:10; 107:2
Ps 115:15; 121:2
Ps 127:1; 78:69
Which picture of God is most meaningful to you?