Sunday School Lesson

May 27

Lesson 13 (KJV)

Rejoicing in Restoration

Devotional Reading: Hebrews 7:20-28

Background Scripture: Leviticus 16; Psalm 34; Hebrews 2:5-18

Psalm 34:1-10

A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour
before Abimelech; who drove him away,
and he departed.

1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

Hebrews 2:17, 18

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Key Verse

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.Psalm 34:8

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the connection between Psalm 34 and Hebrews 2:17, 18.

2. Give examples of God’s desire and ability to provide for His people.

3. Encourage one person in the week ahead who feels as though God doesn’t care about his or her suffering.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Father of the Afflicted

B. Lesson Background: Psalm 34

C. Lesson Background: Hebrews

I. Call to Praise (Psalm 34:1-3)

A. Personal (vv. 1, 2)

At All Times

B. Public (v. 3)

II. Caring God (Psalm 34:4-10)

A. God Delivers (vv. 4-7)

B. God Provides (vv. 8-10)

III. Compassionate Savior (Hebrews 2:17, 18)

A. He Relates to Us (v. 17)

B. He Supports Us (v. 18)

One Who Can Relate

Conclusion

A. Son of David

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

 

A. Father of the Afflicted

A Christian girl soaks her pillow with tears. Her prom date drives away with another girl who won’t refuse him. An unemployed father hangs his head in shame. Christmas won’t seem so merry because he refused to lie for the good of his company. A faithful family spends another night in the shelter. Speaking publicly about one’s Christian faith is not welcomed in their village.

The apostle Paul referred to himself and the other apostles in very unflattering terms, as “the filth of the world” (1 Corinthians 4:13). Through the years, many followers of Jesus have felt much the same. They stuck to their faith whether popular or not. They have proclaimed Christ unswervingly even when it led to abandonment, poverty, and homelessness. This world does not claim them. It does not appreciate their integrity and commitment to purity and truth. But God claims them. He recognizes them as His children, for He is the father of the afflicted.

In the midst of rejection and scornful treatment from the world, it can be hard to sense God’s parental love. We are more likely to feel anger and resentment. In times like these, we can know that the pain is only temporary. We are encouraged by those who have been there and persevered. We can use examples like David and Jesus, who faced affliction, experienced God’s favor, and left behind a powerful witness and testimony.

B. Lesson Background: Psalm 34

Psalm 34, one of many written by David, is an alphabetic acrostic poem. This means that each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in consecutive order. In English this would mean beginning the first verse with A and beginning the last verse with Z. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, thus there are 22 verses in Psalm 34. A more elaborate acrostic is Psalm 119. Its first 8 verses begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the second set of 8 verses begin with the second letter, and so on until all 22 letters are used 8 times for a total of 176 verses in the psalm.

Some psalms include a heading that provides the setting. Psalm 34 has such a heading. It mentions a time in David’s life “when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.” This account is in 1 Samuel 21:10-15, when David was fleeing from jealous King Saul, who wanted to kill him. David came to the territory of the king of Gath, but his reputation for killing “ten thousands” of Philistines had preceded him. To avoid suspicion, David acted as if he were insane. The king berated his servants for bringing such a man into his presence, and David was allowed to leave. It was a time of great distress for David, one when he desperately needed God’s help.

The contents of Psalm 34 do not fit neatly into any one category. The first 10 verses contain elements of an individual thanksgiving hymn. The remaining verses contain strong wisdom elements. The verses in our printed text fall within the thanksgiving section.

C. Lesson Background: Hebrews

The two verses from Hebrews come from a different setting altogether. The book of Hebrews was written to Christians from a Jewish background who were suffering their own version of rejection: being ostracized for choosing to follow Jesus as Messiah. The pressure to return to Judaism was intense.

The writer, who is not named in the book, urges them not to do so, lest they abandon all they have received in Christ (example: Hebrews 10:32-39). This is why the word better occurs so often (13 times) in Hebrews: the writer is trying to persuade his readers that what Christ provides through the new covenant is much better than what the old covenant was able to provide. The portion of our printed text from Hebrews 2 is part of the writer’s case for why Jesus is the better (in fact the perfect) high priest.

How to Say It

AbimelechUh-bim-eh-lek.

CorinthiansKo-rin-thee-unz (th as in thin).

GathGath (a as in bath).

GethsemaneGeth-sem-uh-nee (G as in get).

HerodHair-ud.

JudaismJoo-duh-izz-um or Joo-day-izz-um.

PhilistineFuh-liss-teen or Fill-us-teen.

SinaiSigh-nye or Sigh-nay-eye.

I. Call to Praise

                                                                  (Psalms 34:1-3)

A. Personal (vv. 1, 2)

1. I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

First to note here is the defining characteristic of Hebrew poetry: parallelism. This means making a statement and then repeating the thought in slightly different words. We should not understand the author to be talking about two different topics. The action of the first half of the verse is the same action in the second half.

David maintains that he has chosen to adopt a posture of continual praise to the Lord. David is not claiming that he lives in a nonstop state of praise. Rather, he is emphasizing that situations of distress and despair (such as the one described in the psalm’s heading) are occasions when God should be blessed and not discarded. This is a powerful thing for a man on the run to say. He is not singing this song from a padded pew in a beautiful sanctuary. He sings a song of praise when others would be tempted to curse their enemies and feel sorry for themselves. David strives to exalt God at all times—even the worst of times.

What Do You Think?

What would our neighbors notice about us if we were committed to praising God at all times?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In speech and demeanor when times are good

In speech and demeanor when times are hard

At All Times

The lead singer of the popular Christian band Casting Crowns heard back from his doctor after a routine visit for heartburn. Apparently the tests discovered a cancerous tumor on his kidney. After the initial shock, Mark Hall’s deeply ingrained faith in Christ kicked in. “My feelings kept slamming up against something solid in me, and that was the roots of my faith. The fact that I’ve been in the Word for years. The fact that I’ve been following Jesus for years, and the roots of my faith were reminding me: God is who He says He is.”

Though on the run from King Saul, David likewise found the ability to praise God despite his circumstances. To be determined to “bless the Lord at all times” is not denial or escapism; rather, this is the normal response of someone who has been grounded in the Lord and knows that God will be faithful, regardless of difficulties.

When was the last time you praised God while you were in a difficult situation?

—D. C. S.

2. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

David eventually escapes his perilous surroundings, but he doesn’t dwell on his own ingenuity. Instead he directs all glory to God. In addition, he does not keep his rescue to himself. He wants others to know about it. This verse therefore introduces another party who will be present throughout the verses to follow.

The plural Hebrew word translated humble appears also in singular form in verse 6, below. There it is translated “poor”; see commentary on that verse.

B. Public (v. 3)

3. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

More parallelism presents itself as David invites others to join him in praising the Lord. The word magnify appears numerous times in the psalms, and that word causes us to think of magnification or enlargement. Of course, we cannot do anything to “enlarge” God’s status. Neither can we exalt his name in the sense of lifting it any higher than it already is.

What we can do, however, is magnify God and exalt His name in the sense of changing our perspective. Our perspective must always be that He is the transcendent, eternal Creator, Redeemer, and Ruler—and we are not.

What Do You Think?

What practical steps would help our church members to exalt God’s name together?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

During corporate worship

While participating in shared ministries

In group Bible-study settings

Other

II. Caring God

                                                                   (Psalm 34:4-10)

A. God Delivers (vv. 4-7)

4a. I sought the Lord, and he heard me.

We begin to see in this verse a repeated poetic pattern. David began this psalm by speaking of himself. Then in verse 3, just considered, he addresses an audience (which may be his band of 400 followers noted in 1 Samuel 22:2). This is evidence of the psalm’s being a communal invitation rather than an individual meditation.

Again the psalmist shares his own testimony and indirectly invites his audience to seek God. The Lord is responsive when His people seek Him out (Jeremiah 29:13).

4b. And delivered me from all my fears.

David doesn’t list specific fears. But judging from the psalm’s superscription, we may surmise that he feared being killed either by King Saul or King Abimelech (see the Lesson Background).

David probably knows of the times when Abraham and Isaac felt threatened by a Philistine king, so both spoke to him deceptively (Genesis 20:2; 26:7). They were found out, but God protected them nonetheless. David has had good reason to fear; yet he has had even better reason not to fear: God can deliver him. And He has done so.

What Do You Think?

How did a time of God’s deliverance from a fearful season prepare you for future challenges?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Lessons learned about God

Lessons learned about fellow Christians

Lessons learned about yourself

5. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

Although God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), He is especially interested in providing for all of His faithful ones. Abraham and Isaac revealed character flaws in speaking deceptively. God knew what was going on, of course (see Genesis 20:3-7), but He was merciful.

God’s people have hope as long as they look unto him. That hope is not rooted in their own worthiness, but in the worth that God attributes to them. Though disdained by the world, they have no reason to be ashamed. By contrast, David prays in Psalm 40:14 that those who intend to harm him “be ashamed and confounded together.”

6. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

This verse may seem redundant in light of verse 4. One suggestion is that its function is to maintain the acrostic structure of the psalm as a whole (see the Lesson Background).

Even so, there seems to be one point of additional emphasis. Notice that the verse begins with the specific this poor man. That means David is talking about himself, thus identifying with the poverty of his audience. The word poor is the singular version of the plural word translated “humble” in verse 2, above. David himself is from a lowly background. He was watching his father’s sheep when the prophet Samuel came to Bethlehem seeking one of Jesse’s sons to anoint as the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:11). No one considered David, the youngest, as a possible candidate. No one, that is, except God.

7. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

The language of this verse presumes a more military context. The angel of the Lord forms a protective perimeter around those who fear God. Fear is a term of reverence and respect for God. The passage is reminiscent of Joshua 5:13-15 where Joshua encounters the captain of the Lord’s army. Joshua wants to know whose side the angel is on. The angel refuses to pick sides; God’s angel simply fights for or against whomever God says. If we want God to fight for us, we must fear Him. Only then can we be confident that He will deliver us. The Lord’s protection may not take a visible form (compare 2 Kings 6:15-17), but it is there.

B. God Provides (vv. 8-10)

8. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

In verse 3, above, David has invited listeners to join in magnifying the Lord. Now he invites them to enter into a personal relationship of trust in God and to experience Him firsthand.

If life is likened to a choice of banquets, we can picture several hosts who beckon us to eat at their respective tables. Some offer us wealth and privilege. Others offer us friendship in idolatry. Those meals may please our palate for a brief moment, but in the end they make us sick. David invites us to eat at the Lord’s table, for only He truly satisfies. Peter uses similar language when he encourages believers to crave the milk of God’s Word, “if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2, 3; contrast Hebrews 6:4-6).

The state of being blessed that is experienced by those who trust God is one of sustained satisfaction and contentment. The Psalms begin with this same word (Psalm 1:1).

9. O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Proverbs 9:10 teaches that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fearing God includes believing that what He says is true. When He says that certain actions will yield certain negative consequences, we must believe Him. In other words, we should fear what God says we should fear.

Corresponding with that is the understanding that we should not fear what God says we should not fear. There are many commands throughout Scripture that instruct us in that regard (example: Matthew 10:28). If we live as God desires, we have nothing to fear because He created us and knows what is in our best interests. He knows all our needs and will provide for them (compare Matthew 6:25-34).

10. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

David in his day knows as well as we do in ours that lions stand at the top of the land-animal food chain. They are quite skilled at acquiring food, and David has had personal experience in protecting sheep from them (1 Samuel 17:34-37). They are extremely self-sufficient. But they can and do suffer hunger at times in spite of that self-sufficiency. Yet in David’s experience, those who seek the Lord will lack for nothing they need. David said the same thing more famously in Psalm 23:1: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

What Do You Think?

What life-lessons have you learned about God’s provision?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In regard to your faith

In regard to God’s character

In regard to your fellow believers

Other

III. Compassionate Savior

                                                              (Hebrews 2:17, 18)

A. He Relates to Us (v. 17)

17. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Psalm 34 focuses on God’s desire and ability to provide for those in need. David experienced this and eagerly invites his followers to trust the Lord in a similar fashion. But one might reasonably ask how God can know what we really need since He himself has never needed anything (Psalm 50:9-13). One might respond by pointing out that since God created us, of course He knows what we need. As a car designer knows what it takes to keep an automobile running, so also God knows what we need to flourish.

Even so, it is particularly reasonable to ask how God knows what it is like to suffer oppression. No one can oppress God. His greatest enemies tremble before Him. He may know what our bodies need on a biological level, but how can He relate to us on an emotional level? How could He identify with being afflicted?

The author of Hebrews provides a most convincing reply. When God became flesh in Jesus, He entered personally into all the frailty of human existence. In the flesh, He suffered hunger, poverty, neglect, betrayal, torture, and a horrendous death. What God knew to be true as the all-knowing God, He experienced as a vulnerable human.

That experience qualified Jesus to be the perfect high priest to mediate between humanity and God. Like us, He experienced temptation; unlike us, He remained faithful and did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Thus Jesus could become the perfect sacrifice for our sins, unlike the high priests of the old covenant, who had to offer sacrifices for their own sins (7:26, 27).

God then raised Jesus from the dead. Now, having ascended into Heaven, Jesus intercedes on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Though our sin separates us from God, Jesus has provided reconciliation with God by taking the punishment for our sins upon himself at the cross.

What Do You Think?

How should a Christian’s life change when becoming fully convinced that Jesus is the merciful and faithful high priest?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding prayer interactions with God

Regarding interactions with other believers

Regarding interactions with unbelievers

B. He Supports Us (v. 18)

18. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Some might suggest that Jesus cannot relate to our spiritual poverty because He himself never sinned. The writer of Hebrews disagrees with this kind of reasoning. One does not have to sin to relate to sinners. It is enough that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). He faced a period of severe temptation following His baptism (Matthew 3:13-4:11). The spiritual warfare that occurred during that experience must have been intense to a degree we cannot fathom. Jesus also wrestled in Gethsemane with carrying out the Father’s plan for Him to drink the bitter cup of suffering just ahead. But Jesus fully surrendered to His Father’s will (Matthew 26:39).

By overcoming temptation, Jesus became someone who is able to succour (help) those who are tempted. That, of course, includes us all.

One Who Can Relate

Jordan Rogers has a responsible position as a brand manager at a company that produces athletic apparel. But his ability to perform at this level wouldn’t have been possible without Christ’s intervention over the power of heroin. In an “I Am Second” video, Jordan shares how Christ helped him overcome the temptation of a raging drug habit, resulting in 13 years of sobriety.

Jordan first experimented with heroin at age 15, and by the time he was in his early 20s he was a full-blown addict. In reference to his ever-worsening addiction, Jordan says, “I had this black hole in my soul and just wanted to change the way I felt.” His attempted solution was to get high in as many new and different ways as possible.

Jordan hit rock bottom when he found himself in a jail cell. There he thought to himself, “This is not what I was made for. I absolutely deserve to be here, but I don’t belong here.” As two of his cell mates argued over a roll of toilet paper, Jordan cried out to God: “Whoever You are, whatever You are . . . I need help.”

God is able to come alongside and help those who are being tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Lord used a mentor who entered Jordan’s life, showed him the love of Christ, and helped him find recovery and freedom from temptation. Remember: the Jesus you take to someone this week is the Jesus who suffered the temptations that the one you help does.

—D. C. S.

Conclusion

A. Son of David

From a genealogical perspective, Jesus was clearly a descendant of David. We can trace his ancestry using the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3. But when we read Hebrews alongside Psalm 34, we see Jesus linked with David in a different way. David suffered oppression. He had to escape the wrath of one, possibly two, jealous kings. Not only did he trust God for deliverance, but he encouraged others to do the same.

Visual for Lessons 2 & 13. Point to this visual as you ask, “Which verse of today’s lesson reflects these thoughts most closely? Why?”

Jesus too faced oppression. The paranoid King Herod tried to kill the infant Jesus. Religious and secular authorities eventually succeeded in putting Him to death. But Jesus was not someone who obsessed about the injustices surrounding His trial and execution. Rather, He used His experience to identify with us in the many forms of affliction that beset us in a fallen world. His perfect example of faithfulness even in the face of death encourages us to hold fast. Though the world may appear to get the best of us, the God who vindicated Jesus by raising Him from the grave will raise us too; and we will reign victorious with Him!

B. Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are humbled by Your concern for us. We are so small in the grand scheme of things! Yet You love us beyond our ability to comprehend. We thank You for delivering us from the evil that surrounds us and the evil that lies within us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”—Psalm 34:8


June 3

Lesson 1 (KJV)

Justice and Sabbath Laws

Devotional Reading: Psalm 10

Background Scripture: Matthew 12:1-14

Matthew 12:1-14

1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;

4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?

5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.

8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:

10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.

14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

Key Verse

If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.Matthew 12:7

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Summarize the incidents in today’s text and Jesus’ response in each case.

2. Explain why mercy trumps sacrifice.

3. Plan a merciful act toward a specific person in the week ahead.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. The Best Rest

B. Lesson Background

I. Law and Temple (Matthew 12:1-5)

A. David in the Temple (vv. 1-4)

Have Hat, No Service

B. Priests in the Temple (v. 5)

II. Sabbath and Messiah (Matthew 12:6-8)

A. Greater Law (vv. 6, 7)

For Lack of Track Shoes

B. Greater Authority (v. 8)

III. Ritual and Humanity (Matthew 12:9-14)

A. Trick Question (vv. 9, 10)

B. Bold Response (vv. 11-14)

Conclusion

A. No Longer Sick and Tired

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary KJV (2017-2018).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless