Sunday, January 21, 2018

Psalms: A Guide To Prayer And Praise - Session 1 Psalm 8

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group studying the book Psalms: A Guide to Prayer and Praise by Ron Klug. The Psalms are some of the most widely read and best-loved portions of the Bible. For thousands of years these songs of faith have spoken to the hearts and minds of people around the world. The Psalms are songs–music our spirits sing to the Creator. They are poems–full of vibrant imagery and strong rhythms. And they are prayers–our deepest emotions expressed to the Lord who feels with us. Most importantly, the Psalms are God’s Word to us, revealing the truth about him and our relationship with him. Study along with us by getting a copy of the book by clicking this LINK or the image of the book at the end of the study notes. You can also hear the audio of each session of the study by clicking on the YouTube Thumbnail

Don't Heap up Empty Phrases in Prayer?

Mike Fabarez

Jesus said that when we pray we should “not heap up empty phrases” (Matthew 6:7). Later he lamented a hypocritical form of worship by quoting the indictment that first came through Isaiah: “These people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew15:8).

We must be so careful when we bow our heads to pray, or lift our voices to sing. God is not impressed when we utter mere words such as “Praise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah!” He is looking for worshippers whose spirits (i.e., minds, hearts, and thoughts) are engaged in expressing the meaning of those words

John 4:23 NIV Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

It is easy to melodically recite lyrics of Christian songs, but it takes concentration, sincerity and thoughtfulness to truly worship in song. We should never hide behind fine sounding words while our minds wander through a set of thoughts about something else.

This is a special challenge when someone else is leading us in prayer during a church service or at a Bible study. Those words coming from the one composing and vocalizing the prayer must be echoed in our own minds and then thoughtfully directed to God from our own hearts. When we are leading in prayer or praying privately, we must be careful to never “heap up empty phrases” which our minds never grasp or our hearts never direct to God.

Real prayer and real worship require our minds. Don’t switch them off. Don’t let them wander. God deserves our full attention and desires our attentive communication.

Taken from “Empty Phrases ” by Focal Point Ministries (used by permission).


The book of Psalms was the hymnbook of the Old Testament. The word psalm comes from a Greek word that means “songs sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments.”

The book of Psalms is sometimes also referred to as the Psalter, which comes from a word for a stringed instrument or songs accompanied by stringed instruments.

Psalms were sung in the temple in Jerusalem and later in synagogue worship. Since New Testament times, psalms have also been at the center of Christian worship. Martin Luther turned psalms into hymns to be sung by the congregation. In our day composers have set psalms to folk or jazz or rock music.


C. S. Lewis wrote: “Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems, as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood.


Almost all psalm verses are divided into two parts. Often the second half of a verse repeats the thought of the first half, expressing the thought in a parallel but slightly different way. A few examples will make this clear:

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalm 2:4)

The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

Sometimes the second half of a verse, rather than repeating the thought of the first half, offers a contrast:

For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6)

At other times the second statement merely completes the thought of the first one:

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. (Psalm 19:7)


Simile (comparisons with as or like):

Psalm 1:1‭-‬3 NIV Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord , and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

As the deer pants for streams of water,so my soul pants for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

Metaphor (direct comparison):

The LORD God is a sun and shield. (Psalm 84:11)

Hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point):

All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. (Psalm 6:6)


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian pastor executed by the Nazis in 1945, called Psalms “the prayer book of the Bible.” In the psalms God speaks his Word to us, and we in turn can use psalms to speak his Word back to him in prayer.


Psalms are more than beautiful poetry and lovely songs. For thousands of years people have heard God speaking to their human situations through psalms. They tell us the truth about ourselves, our nature, our troubles, our hopes, our frustrations, or pain. They tell us the truth about God—what he is like and what he wants of us and for us. And perhaps more than any other part of the Bible, the book of Psalms speaks of our relationship with God, the intimate personal knowing that can happen between a human being and the God who is Creator and Lord of all.

Like all of the Bible, psalms are the Word of God expressed in the words of people. God used human writers in a variety of situations to express his truth. Almost half of the 150 psalms are attributed to David.

Scholars have recognized that psalms can be divided into various literary types. Some of the main styles include:

  • hymns of praise 
  • laments (a cry of pain or struggle from an individual or group)
  • penitential psalms (a cry of remorse, seeking forgiveness)
  • songs of thanksgiving 
  • songs of trust
  • wisdom psalms (expressing truths about life)
We are going to look at examples of each style throughout the study.

Psalm 8:3-4

A Psalm of praise.

1. How has nature helped you think about and/or worship God?

Looking at the oceans or the mountains especially after it snows, or a beautiful valley like the one that I saw in Arizona after cresting a mountain highway and looking out over the view, or I look at the sky at night especially away from the city. it shows how great a creator God is and how insignificant I seem.

Psalm 8:1-9 (NKJV)1 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,7 All sheep and oxen-- Even the beasts of the field,8 The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

2. What is the theme of this psalm as stated in the opening and closing verses?

The Theme is the majesty of God. The greatness of God’s name.

The Hebrew word translated excellent is ʾaddîr (pronounced ad-deer) means wide or (general) large; figurative powerful :- excellent, famous, gallant, glorious, goodly, lordly, mighty (-ier, one), noble, principal, worthy.

Magnificent" or "majestic" would be a better translation than excellent and it’s translated that way in many translations

impressively beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant; striking.
synonyms: splendid, spectacular, impressive, striking, glorious, superb, majestic, awesome, awe-inspiring, breathtaking

very good; excellent

Psalm 8:1‭-‬9 NIV Lord , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Lord is translated Jehovah or Yahweh in some translations so it Jehovah or Yahweh our Lord how excellent or magnificent is your name.

His name refers to the perfection of His attributes and the mightiness of His deeds. In other words, God’s name refers to who He is and what He has done, as revealed in His Word. David also says that the majesty of God’s name is seen in all the earth and above the heavens.

What do these words mean to you personally?

3. How could the praise of children be a defense against God’s enemies (verse 2)?

We praise God for who He is so children would recognize that. Just as they look at their parents to protect them from everything they have no doubt that they can’t protect them. Their parents have protected them in the past so they don’t give it a second thought. Confidence can be a big defense especially against God’s enemies because all they have in their arsenal is fear, and praise can destroy fear because it’s entire focus is on God.

Matthew 21:15-16 (NKJV)15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"

4. Why may children be able to perceive God’s glory more readily than adults?

Children aren’t looking for anything special. They are just in awe of what the see. They are not looking under the rocks or behind the trees trying to find the source of all the glory they just accept it.

Thus the Lord overcomes His enemies by the marvel of little children and the praise that they sing in their simple faith.

God uses otherwise weak things to display His glory and strength.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NKJV)
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Have you seen this happen in your own experience with children? Give examples.

We have seen examples here at CDG with our children. They are eager to learn more about God and to be more like Him in their interaction with others. We also see how enthusiastic they are in preparing and then performing at Christmas and Easter.

5. When the psalmist contemplated the moon and stars, what question came to his mind?

When man (ʾenôsh, frail man) is compared with all of the expanse above, now insignificant he seems. He is truly just the son of mankind (ʾādām, generic man).

6. Why might the stars make a person feel small or insignificant?

With the naked eye, one can see about 5,000 stars. With a four-inch telescope one can see about 2 million stars. With a 200-inch mirror of a great observatory, one can see more than a billion stars. The universe is so big that if one were to travel at the speed of light, it would take 40 billion years. Considering the heavens makes us see the greatness of God.

David also considers God’s splendor above the heavens. Of course, he had no telescopes to show him how big the universe is. What would he have thought if he knew what we know! The sheer vastness of outer space and the coordination of it all is astounding. If you could travel at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 8 minutes to get to the sun. To go from the sun to the center of the Milky Way would take about 33,000 years. The Milky Way belongs to a group of some 20 galaxies known as the Local Group. To cross that group, you’d have to travel for 2 million years. The Local Group belongs to the Virgo Cluster, part of an even larger Local Supercluster, which is a half-billion light years across. To cross the entire universe as we know it would take you 20 billion light years (National Geographic World [Jan., 1992], p. 15)!

Compared to the vastness of the universe, what is man that God thinks of us, much less that He cares for us!

7. What answer did the psalmist give to his own question in verse 4?

The question in verse 4 is with all the vastness of creation why is man so significant? Why do You even spend time with him. The answer that David gives to his own question is that God has really elevated man. The fact that he is just a little lower than the angels puts him up pretty high in status On top of that He has given man dominion over everything connected with the earth. All the plants and animals.

What other answers to this question might be given by a scientist, a philosopher, or a person on the street?

Man has accomplished some remarkable feats in gaining dominion over creation. Think of all of the wonders of modern science, including the advances in medical science. And yet, all of these accomplishments are tainted by sin. Proud man boasts in them and does not acknowledge that the ability to discover scientific facts has been given to him by God. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, proud modern man uses his scientific breakthroughs to proclaim his independence from God. With a few more breakthroughs, we can cure all our diseases and live forever!

But science cannot reconcile us to God. So what did God do? He sent His own Son, the Son of Man, to provide the sacrifice for our sins and to fulfill Psalm 8 in a way that we cannot. Hebrews 2 cites Psalm 8:4-6 and then applies it to Jesus (Heb. 2:9): “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Leupold summarizes (p. 101), “man as created reflects God’s glory. But the Son of man, in whom the original pattern is more fully realized, reflects this same glory far more perfectly.”

So David tells us to worship the Lord because although we are puny and insignificant, He has graciously thought of us and cared for us. Although we marred God’s image through sin, God has restored it in Jesus Christ. In Him, we are again crowned with glory and majesty. - From a commentary on - God’s Majesty and Ours

8. What does it mean for us to rule over God’s creation?

Good rulers care for their subjects. They protect them and provide for them in times of need. They are really stewards or managers (administrators).

9. How does our ruling over nature relate to current ecological problems and the use of Earth’s resources?

We are not doing a very good job. We are not replacing what we use. We are over using some of our natural resources and wasting others.

10. After describing our exalted role in the universe, to what theme did the psalmist return?

Yes God exalted us to the role of caring for His creation but He is still the Creator and He is majestic.

Why did he stress that the God of creation is our Lord?

The refrain calls man back to the majesty of God lest he become absorbed in thoughts of personal grandeur. Man has dignity, but God alone is majestic.

11. How could the psalmist have such a positive and high view of human beings?

12. In what way does this passage change or affect your own view of humanity?

13. What insights does this psalm give you into the purpose of your life?

Bible Study Audio

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