March 12, 2023 – Psalm 119:9-40

Lesson Date: March 12, 2023

Focal Scripture Passage: Psalm 119:9-40

AIM: To lead students to discover the extent of the psalmist’s longing for God’s Word, and to ask God to give them greater desire and hunger for the Bible.

 

Before class: Read the introduction to Psalm 119 and the notes on Psalm 119:9-40 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the words “Longing,” “Desire,” “Hunger,” “Yearning,” and “Delight” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Place a copy of theA Day Offhandout on each of the chairs in your classroom.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct everyone’s attention to theA Day Offhandout.  Read aloud the text at the top of the handout.  Do it in an excited and animated manner, as if the students were actually being given tomorrow off from work and all other responsibilities.  Tell them to honestly think about how they would spend their day off and to check or write in their responses on the handout.  They might plan to do several things on their day off.

Ask: “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about how to spend your day off?” (allow a moment for responses).

Ask: “Is it fair to say that things you do on your day off are things you want to do?” (yes).  Ask: “Given free time to use as you want, you don’t intentionally do things you hate, do you?” (no).

State that we all have responsibilities such as work, schoolwork, and housework; but when our work is finished, we do things we want to do.  Direct the students’ attention to the words on the board.  Tell them in our free time we do things we desire, hunger for, and delight in.

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is Long for God’s Word.  Tell them we will discover today that the psalmist had a great desire for God’s Word, and we will also evaluate our hunger for it.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review of Psalm 19 and Introduction to Psalm 119.
    • Be sure everyone has a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly.
    • Remind them that last week’s lesson was from Psalm 19.
    • Ask: “What two types of revelation did we learn about?” (general revelation and special revelation).
    • Ask if any volunteers would quote either of last week’s memory verses (Ps. 19:1, 14).
    • Using information from page 11 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly, briefly introduce the study of Psalm 119.
    • Name all the different words used to refer to the Bible.
    • Tell the class we will spend three weeks studying Psalm 119.
    • Verses 1-8 describe some of the blessings of obeying God’s Word.
  2. Long for God’s Word to Keep You from Sin.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 119:9-11.
    • Tell the class that we live in a very wicked and morally corrupt world: sin, flesh, and worldliness are pushed at us from all sides.
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, how can we possibly stay clean and pure in such a sinful world?” (by listening to and living according to God’s Word).
    • Ask: “According to verse 10, how strong was the psalmist’s desire for God?” (he sought God with His whole heart).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word Desire” on the board.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – what do you seek with your whole heart?”
    • Explain the following:
      • The psalmist’s request in verse 10 reveals that we can easily wander from God’s commandments.
      • The word hid in verse 11 means to hoard and protect.
      • We hide God’s Word in our heart by memorizing it.
    • Ask: “Why should we memorize God’s Word?” (to keep ourselves from sin).
    • Ask the students to tell how Bible verses we have memorized can keep us from sin.
    • Read Psalm 119:12-16.
    • Ask: “What did the psalmist ask God in verse 12?” (to teach him God’s Word).
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, how much did he value the Bible?” (as much as riches).
    • Ask: “In verse 15, what did the psalmist say he would do?” (meditate on God’s Word).
    • Ask: “What do you think it means to meditate?” (to ponder, muse, or think).
    • Explain the following:
      • Meditation is very popular today, but most of what we see is based on eastern religions.
      • Meditation does not mean to sit in a funny position, hum, and empty one’s mind.
      • To meditate on the Bible is to think about and ponder what you read in the Bible.
    • Tell the class there are words in verses 14 and 16 that indicate the psalmist got pleasure from God’s Word.
    • Ask: “What are those words?” (rejoiced and delight).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Delight” on the board.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – what things bring you joy and delight? Does the Bible bring you joy and delight?”
    • Summarize: The psalmist longed for God’s Word because learning it and obeying it could keep him from sin. We ought to desire it for the same reason.
  3. Long for God’s Word to Bless and Guide You.
    • Read Psalm 119:17-19.
    • Ask: “What did the psalmist ask God in verse 17?” (to bless him so he could live and obey God’s Word).
    • Ask: “What did he ask the Lord in verse 18?” (to open his eyes so he could understand His Word).
    • Explain the following:
      • Remind the class of the encounter between the two disciples and the resurrected Christ on the road to Emmaus, described in Luke 24:13-32.
      • Jesus opened their eyes so they could recognize Him.
      • 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us the things of God are not naturally discerned.
      • We need God to open our eyes so we can understand His Word.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 119:20-24.
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Longing” on the board.
    • Ask: “According to verse 20, how intense was the psalmist’s longing for God’s Word?” (he felt he would break or be crushed without it).
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – do you long to read the Bible, or is it a chore?”
    • Tell the class to notice in verses 22-23 that people were attacking the psalmist.
    • Ask: “What did he do when he was attacked?” (he meditated on God’s Word).
    • Ask: “What two words did he use to describe the Word of God in verse 24?” (his delight and counselor).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Delight” on the board.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – do you go to the Bible for counsel and guidance?”
    • Summarize: The psalmist longed for God’s Word because understanding it and obeying it brought him blessing and guidance. We ought to desire it for the same reason.
  4. Long for God’s Word to Strengthen You.
    • Explain that while the previous section described a desire for and delight in God’s Word, the next section portrays a desperate need for it.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 119:25-28.
    • Ask: “According to verse 25, how badly did the psalmist need the Word of God?” (he felt like a parched man dying of thirst in a desert).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the words “Hunger” and “Yearning” on the board.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – have you ever felt that desperate to read the Bible?”
    • Ask: “What two things did he ask God in verses 26-27?” (to teach him His Word and to enable him to understand it).
    • Tell the students we should ask God the same two things.
    • Ask: “According to verse 28, why did he need strength from God’s Word?” (he felt like he was melting under a heavy burden).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 119:29-32.
    • Tell the class when some people are burdened or troubled, they drop out of church and turn away from God’s Word, seeking help and comfort from friends and human counselors.
    • Ask: “According to verses 29-32, what did the psalmist do when he faced trouble?” (he sought God’s truth, clung to it, and ran to do God’s will).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Yearning” on the board.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – when trouble comes do you recognize your need for God’s Word or do you seek help and strength from other sources?”
    • Summarize: When the psalmist was troubled or burdened, he longed for God’s Word because he knew it would strengthen him. We ought to desire it for the same reason.
  5. Long for God’s Word to Teach You.
    • Tell the class that in each of the next verses the psalmist made a specific request of God.
    • Read Psalm 119:33-36.
    • Ask: “What did he ask in verse 33?” (teach me your Word).
    • Ask: “What did he promise?” (to obey it).
    • Ask: “What did he ask in verse 34?” (make me understand your Word).
    • Ask: “What did he promise?” (to obey it wholeheartedly).
    • Ask: “What did he ask in verse 35?” (for the enablement to obey God’s Word).
    • Ask: “Why did he ask that?” (because he delighted in God’s Word).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Delight” on the board.
    • Ask: “What did he ask in verse 36?” (for an inclination and desire for God’s Word).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Psalm 119:37-40.
    • Explain the following:
      • In verse 37, the psalmist asked God to keep his eyes from vain, worldly things.
      • He also asked God to give him life and strength to walk in God’s ways.
      • In verses 38, he asked God to establish him and strengthen him in God’s Word.
      • In verse 39, he asked God to protect him from the fear of attack.
    • Ask: “According to verse 40, what did the psalmist long for?” (God’s Word).
    • Direct the students’ attention to the word “Longing” on the board.
    • Tell the students in verse 40 he also asked the Lord to quicken him (make him alive) to God’s righteousness (see 2 Cor. 5:21).
    • Explain that in verses 33-40, the psalmist longed for God’s Word to teach him so he could obey God, turn way from sin, and live in God’s righteousness.
    • Ask: “Be honest with yourself – do you long for the Bible to teach you how to obey God and live for God, or do you prefer the sins and pleasures of the world?”
    • Summarize: The psalmist longed for God’s Word to teach him how to obey God and live a life pleasing to God. We ought to desire it for the same reason.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention once again to the words written on the board.  Tell them the verses we studied today reveal that the psalmist had an intense “Longing,” Desire,” “Hunger,” and “Yearning” for the Word of God.  He got “Delight” from God’s Word, realizing it would:

  • Keep him from sin,
  • Bless and guide him,
  • Strengthen him, and
  • Teach him to obey and live for God.

Ask: “Do you need any of those things?”

Tell the class the psalmist realized the value of God’s Word, so longed for it.  Ask: “Be honest with yourself – do you have that kind of longing for the Bible?” (probably not).

Tell the students the solution to that problem involves two steps:

  1. First, recognize that there is a problem; in other words, admit to ourselves and to God that we don’t long for God’s Word as we should. We often value other things, such as pleasure and entertainment, more than we value time spent in the Bible.
  2. Second, ask God to give us greater desire and hunger for His Word.

Ask: “Do you think that’s the kind of prayer God would like to answer?” (yes).

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Encourage them to ask God to give them hunger, desire, and longing for His Word.  Tell them to ask God to give them joy, satisfaction, and delight through His Word.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Psalm 119:9 and 11.  Tell them to schedule time each day to read the Bible and meditate on what it says.  It may be necessary to sacrifice other, less-important activities to make time for the Bible.  A good place to start reading the Bible is to follow the Daily Bible Reading Guide found in the Sunday School Member Quarterly.

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