Week 1 Lent Bible Study: The Psalms in Light of the Lord's Prayer

 February 10, 2016

BibleOur Father in Heaven

Psalms of confidence and trust

3, 4, 11, 16, 23, 27, 62, 115, 121, 125, 129,131

How do you image God? Growing up during the 1960’s, my dad was of the mindset, he took care of the money and mom took care of the kids and home. Because of this I didn’t have a strong image of God as Father. Rather, God as Mother was the stronger image for me. Years later, my image of God as Father has grown and developed, as well as other images of God.

We start our Bible study with looking at our image of God through the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father in Heaven. This phrase speaks of our identity as God’s children and reminds us that we can approach our God with confidence and trust.

Long before Jesus instructed us to call God Father, the writers of the psalms approached God with boldness and confidence because of God’s loving kindness expressed in his covenant with his people. The psalms associated with this phrase are the psalms of confidence.

Included in this grouping is the 23rd Psalm – the Lord is my shepherd, perhaps the most well-known of all of the Psalms. This psalm encourages us to depend on our God as the sheep depend on the shepherd. Without the shepherd they are lost, vulnerable to prey, without food. With the shepherd they are protected and provided for.

God as shepherd provides all we need, even more so, “my cup overflows,” (5) it knows no bounds, spills over in blessings. God knows our need for rest to restore us–“he makes me lie down in green pastures.” (2, RSV) He knows our need for guidance –“You guide me along the right path.” (3b) God is a gracious host setting a table before us. Confident of God’s providential care we know that “only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (6)

Other psalms include Psalm 27 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” Psalm 121 – “I raise my eyes towards the mountains,” and Psalm 125 – “As mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds his people both now and forever.” The last psalm in this section, Psalm 131, is a psalm of quiet trust that invites us to rest in the Lord like a child on its mother’s lap. “I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child, like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.” (vs. 2) God is imaged as light to lead us, mountains that protect us and finally as a loving mother, all inviting our trust.

As we begin this Bible study, I invite you to “still your soul,” as in Psalm 131. Try to find some time during the craziness which is life to rest in quiet confidence knowing you are loved. Read through the psalms in this group. Reflect on what it means to call God Father, loving parent, Abba.

And so, we begin our journey through the Psalms by reflecting on “who we are” and “whose we are” – beloved children of God and members of one family. A good starting place for prayer. If we don’t know who we are and “whose” we are, to whom we belong, how do we pray?

Further Reflection:

What does it mean to say God is Father? How do the Psalms of Trust enhance your understanding of God as Father?

Choose one of the Psalms and quietly reflect on it, slowly going over the words, one line at a time.

A number of images for God are mentioned in these Psalms: light, mountains, mother, shepherd. If God as Father does not speak to you, pick one of these images that does speak to you and reflect on that image.

Please consider sharing your reflections in the comment section. I would love to hear from you.

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