Lesson 5. Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land
Lesson 5 takes us into the deep emotions of the Psalms, sung by the children of God in the midst of suffering, injustice, and doubt. In this lesson, we explore how the psalmists coped with their crises, found comfort through a change in perspective in the sanctuary, and hoped in God’s justice. These Psalms not only provide insight into the human experience but also demonstrate how faith in God’s character and the promises of God’s judgment bring comfort and hope to believers in the midst of difficulties. Let’s dive into the profound words of these Psalms and be inspired by their wisdom for our own faith journey.
5.1 The Days of Evil
Read Psalm 74:18–22 and 79:5–13. What is at stake here?
The two passages from Psalms, Psalm 74:18–22 and Psalm 79:5–13, address the sufferings of the people of Israel in the face of destruction and threat. The psalmist laments the calamity that has befallen Jerusalem and the temple, seeking understanding for the suffering of his people. Here are some key points at stake:
God’s Honor and Power: The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is seen as an attack on God’s honor. If the enemies go unpunished, it could create the impression that God is powerless or not fulfilling His commitments. The defense of God’s character in the world is at stake.
Covenant Faithfulness: The psalmist acknowledges that the sins of the people have damaged the covenant relationship with God. The future and survival of the people depend on God’s merciful intervention and the restoration of the covenant. God’s faithfulness to His promises is in focus.
Testimony for God: The actions of the people have repercussions on God’s testimony and reputation in the world. Wrong behavior by believers can lead others to turn away from faith. Testifying for God is crucial, and wrongful actions can have spiritual consequences.
God’s Heritage and the End-Time Dimension: The people of Israel are considered God’s heritage, and there is an end-time dimension regarding the nations that will ultimately serve God. The threat against the people of Israel jeopardizes these divine promises and has far-reaching implications for God’s plan for the future.
Turning Away from God through Believers’ Behavior: The psalmist reflects on how the actions of people professing the name of God can cause others to turn away from faith. Wrong actions can affect spiritual testimony and the missionary mission.
The Psalms emphasize the close connection between the actions of the people, the covenant relationship with God, God’s character and honor, and testimony for God in the world. They remind us that the consequences of actions not only affect individual destiny but also influence the people’s relationship with God and the testimony of God’s power and faithfulness.
“The honor of the Father and the honor of Christ are involved in the perfection of His people’s character” (SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 655). How do you understand this important truth, and what should it mean in your life as a Christian?
The quoted statement, “The honor of the Father and the honor of Christ are involved in the perfection of His people’s character” (SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 655), expresses a profound theological truth. Here are some aspects of understanding this statement and what it could mean for a Christian’s life:
Honor of the Father and Christ: The “honor of the Father” refers to the honor of God as the Father, and the “honor of Christ” refers to the honor due to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Both honors are closely connected and depend on the perfection of the character of God’s people.
Perfection of Character: The perfection of character refers to the process of sanctification and spiritual maturity, where Christians increasingly conform to the image of Christ. This involves growing in holiness, love, righteousness, and faithfulness in the lives of believers.
Communion with God: The honor of God and Christ is revealed not only through ritual acts or external forms of piety but primarily through the inner transformation of character. The perfection of character reflects a deeper communion with God.
Testimony to God’s Work: As the character of believers becomes perfected, it becomes an effective testimony to God’s transformative power. Others can see the changes in the lives of believers and recognize the reality of their relationship with God.
Responsibility for God’s Honor: As Christians, we bear responsibility for the honor of God and Christ in the world. Our actions and character should reflect God’s honor and draw people to Christ.
For the life of a Christian, this truth means that the pursuit of spiritual maturity and the development of a Christ-like character are not only personal goals but also directly impact the honor of God and Christ. Every step toward the perfection of character is simultaneously a step toward honoring God and Christ in the world. It underscores the close connection between individual spiritual growth and the greater divine reality. Therefore, a Christian should strive to promote the honor of God and Christ through personal sanctification and the pursuit of a Christ-like character.
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