Friday, October 12, 2012

Psalms and Politics

Image from the Sunday Drive Home blog
Adapted from Eugene Peterson studies on the psalms, particularly Where Your Treasure Is, using materials from Rev. Deanna Wildermuth.

After we read each psalm, let’s share what we noticed and what we might have had questions about. If we didn’t cover them already, then we can look at the questions.

Read Psalm 2
1)    Do you feel like the nations still rebel against the Lord?
2)    What is the comfort for believers here?

Read Psalm 14
3)    To us this sounds like atheism. Would it have meant the same thing then?
4)    Do verses 2 and 3 include us? Does this psalm tell us to do anything?

Read Psalm 46
Peterson writes about Psalm 46: “Healthy prayer does not withdraw. But neither does it confront. It is not so much a dealing with what is wrong with the world or myself as a way of dealing with God in the world and in myself. Evil (in the form of violence in the psalm) is dealt with indirectly: it is absorbed into the forms and ceremonies of prayer. Prayer frees us from the assault of brute experience by setting us in the energies of grace experience. In the process, violence itself is changed.”
5)    How do you think violence is changed through prayer? What are the “energies of the grace experience”?
6)    Psalm 46 starts with the opposite of positive thinking. How does the worst case scenario prepare us to say in the midst of the inevitable crisis, “We will not fear”? Does it change your attitude regarding violence and evil?

Read Psalm 62.
7)    If someone’s telling you to wait on the Lord, or to trust in God only, it implies you’re not trusting God only or not waiting on Him. What tempts Christians away from trusting ad waiting on the Lord?
8)    How can we balance the need to take action (being the body of Christ) with the idea of waiting on the Lord?

Read Psalm 77.
9)    That sounds like self-pity at the beginning. Is it okay to complain in prayer? What good does it do?
10)    How does the psalmist get out of their self-pity?
11)    Dealing with politics, it can be easy to doubt. Has there been a time that caused you to doubt? How did you deal with it?

Read Psalm 82.
12)    “Among the gods” and “You are gods”?? What’s up with that?
13)    (Might be too political) Verses 3 and 4 prompt the question: what role should Christians want our government to have for the oppressed and the poor? Is this telling us to do something for the poor and the oppressed?

Read Psalm 110.
14)    Might sound familiar. It was the most referred to psalm in the New Testament; quoted 7 times, alluded to 15.  Examples of texts: Matthew 22:42-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 1 Peter 3:22. Also in the Apostle’s Creed.
What makes this psalm so important?
15)    Does this psalm refer to things that Jesus has already done, is going to do, both or neither?

Read Psalm 114.
Psalms 113 to 118 are used at festivals. For example, this song is sung before the Passover seder.

Peterson writes about Psalm 114: “Prayer that enters into relationship with earth and sky, sea and mountains plays. It skips and dances. We do not live in an iron clad universe of cause and effect. In the presence of the God of Jacob there is life that is beyond prediction. There is freedom to change, to become more than we were in the presence of the God who ‘turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.’ ”
16)    How does he get that we do not live in an ‘iron clad universe of cause and effect’ from this psalm? What might he mean? Do you agree?
17)    Have you ever experienced prayer as playful?

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