Creation 2.0: Questions for the lesson October 28, 2012

UCC members: The materials these questions relate to will be emailed to you immediately after the October 28, 2012 class. Please reflect on the passages cited and try to answer the questions on your own.

Other readers: See the Creation 2.0 page to find the materials these questions relate to.

1. Many of us know the 23rd Psalm by heart. It’s a psalm of great beauty and comfort, but we rarely study it in any real detail. For example, what does “house of the LORD” refer to? Where was David in his life story when he penned this?

Think about David in Jerusalem, anointed king after Saul’s death (he was, of course earlier anointed by Samuel, too) and having recently conquered Jerusalem and brought the ark there.

Imagine him reflecting back on his days in the Judean wilderness (a desert by American standards) when Saul was pursuing him to kill him as a threat to Saul’s throne. Imagine David hiding out, fearful for his life, viewing a shepherd herding sheep in the wilderness, with barely enough grass to feed the sheep in any one spot for a day, with water sources widely scattered and just barely sufficient to keep the sheep alive — if they follow the shepherd.

Imagine David feeling like a sheep being led by God as shepherd, away from ambushes by Saul’s army — and yet in the desert with barely enough food to survive the day — counting entirely on God to make provision the next day’s food and water.

This is a psalm about the desert, where a man can survive but only if he’s well guided, where choosing your own path can lead to a sudden death around every turn — a place where reliance on God is intense and real.

The first part of the psalm isn’t about David at ease in his palace. It’s about needing God’s help to survive one day at a time. As a result, even when David can finally live at peace in Jerusalem, his heart turns to the presence of God at the “house of the LORD,” the place where the ark of the covenant sits. This is where David, even as the anointed king, continues to receive God continued guidance and comfort. The desert has taught David to live one day at a time, even in a palace.

With that picture in mind, read the psalm as though for the very first time –

Psa 23:1-6 ESV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

3 He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

2. Why do the Scriptures refer to David as a man after God’s own heart? How are David’s heart and God’s heart similar? Can you recall any events in David’s life that remind you of the heart of God?

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3. God made a covenant with David that the Messiah would come through him. In fact, the Messiah is sometimes called “David” by the prophets. What was there about David that made him like Jesus?

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4. How could David be a man after God’s own heart and a archetype of Jesus given how badly he sinned with Bathsheba?

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5. David likened himself to a sheep under God’s guidance — an image of submission. How is it possible that David finds “goodness and mercy” and an overflowing cup in a life committed to submission?

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6. We often find great comfort in Psalm 23, recognizing the blessings received from God in that psalm. But what must we do to receive those blessings? What is the cost of being a sheep in God’s herd? What must real sheep do in response to their shepherd?

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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