Recall the things from the introductory lesson that you wanted to keep in mind as you study the text of Psalm 119.
Don’t forget to read in complete sentences instead of stopping at the end of each verse.
Recall the themes you’ve been noticing in Psalm 119. Watch for those themes to be repeated in today’s and future passages. You may wish to make a list of those themes to refer to throughout this study.
Questions to Consider
1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson. Does that passage relate to this week’s passage? How? Do you notice any repeated words, thoughts, or themes?
2. In lesson 5, we saw the psalmist “holding God to His promises”. What was the outcome of that according to 65?
3. Previously, the psalmist has said he “loves,” “treasures,” “desires,” etc. God’s commands. Verse 66 is the first and only place in Psalm 119 in which he says, “I believe in Your commands.”. What does it mean to “believe in” God’s Word? What is the posture of heart of someone who believes in God’s Word? Does believing God’s Word require accompanying action on the part of the believer? If we don’t act in response to and in accordance with God’s Word, do we really believe it? How do our actions demonstrate our belief in God’s Word?
4. Examine what the psalmist is saying about “affliction” in 67, 71, 75 in light of 69-70, 78. Is he talking about a) God disciplining him for his sin, b) the type of persecution from others that results from living a godly life, or c) “regular” life suffering (i.e. illness, being the victim of a crime, losing your job due to downsizing, etc.)? It may help to examine the Hebrew word עָנָה (ʿānâ), which is translated as “afflicted” here.
Why did the psalmist consider this affliction to be “good” for him? Because it was a pleasant experience? Because he was a martyr, or because his suffering earned him brownie points with God? Notice that he gives the reasons in the second half of verses 67 and 71. What did God accomplish in the psalmist’s life through this affliction? What did the affliction teach him about God’s Word and about how to respond to God’s Word?
What did the affliction teach the psalmist about God Himself (68)? Consider not only verse 68, but also these passages. What does suffering teach us about God and His Word? Respond to this statement in light of all of these passages: “Even in suffering, God is good, He is doing good, and the ultimate results are good.”
What is the psalmist’s response to the result of the good work (teaching him to learn and obey God’s Word) God did in his life? (72)
Notice the wording of 75. Some people think the existence of suffering and evil demonstrates that God is either powerless to stop it, or that He isn’t good because He doesn’t stop it. This is called theodicy, or “the problem of evil”. Others think everything “good” that happens is from God and everything “bad” that happens is from Satan. What does verse 75 tell us about God’s sovereignty, power, and goodness in affliction? Why did God cause the psalmist – obviously a godly man who loved the Lord and was pursuing holiness – to be afflicted? Why does He cause godly people today to be afflicted? How have you seen God’s goodness and sovereignty in your own suffering?
5. Notice the clear line of distinction between those who fear the Lord and “the insolent” (those who don’t fear the Lord) in this passage. Identify the verses that describe each of these groups. How does the psalmist characterize these two types of people? Have you found this characterization to be true in your own life?
6. Consider the concept of shame in verses 78 and 80. What role does sin play in shame? Compare what you’re seeing about shame in this passage to these passages. Why is it biblically appropriate for lost people to feel the weight of their shame before a holy God? Why is it biblically inappropriate for saved people striving for holiness to stand in shame before God? You may (especially if you’re saved and struggle with guilt and shame) wish to read my article Guilt and Shame- Burden or Blessing?
Praying Psalm 119
Have you ever tried praying the psalms? I want to encourage you to try praying part of Psalm 119 back to God each week of this study. (If you’re familiar with my other studies, this will take the place of the weekly “Homework” section.)
The psalms are uniquely suited for praying back to God, both verbatim and conceptually, because they are often written as prayers – as though the psalmist is talking to God. Did you notice that about today’s passage? In which verses?
What is a concept or thought for your own life that the Holy Spirit impressed on your heart or convicted you about from today’s passage? Is there a particular verse(s), or maybe the whole passage, that you would like to pray back to God verbatim? Whatever your “prayer point” from today’s lesson, pray it at least daily until we get to the next lesson.