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31 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 80 — Psalm 103

Study 80 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 103

  1. List the spiritual blessings mentioned in this psalm. Are you enjoying them yourself? Are you a mindful of their source, and as grateful to God, as the psalmist was?
  2. What is emphasized by the mention of God’s ‘steadfast love’(verses 4, 8, 11, 17)? How is it demonstrated? What corresponding activity is demanded of those who would enjoy it? See verses 11, 13, 17, 18.
  1. Verse 5. ‘Like the eagle’s: better, as in rv, ‘like the eagle’. The meaning is ‘made strong as an eagle’. Cf. Is. 40:31.
  2. Verses 11, 13, 17. The ‘fear of the Lord’ in the Bible does not refer to an abject, servile terror of the unknown or the terrifying. It is basically and consistently moral (see Ex. 20:18-20), based on knowledge (see Pr. 9:10), and means ‘due reverence and awe’.

30 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 79 — Psalm 102

Study 79 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 102

This psalm probably written towards the close of the exile (see verse 13 and cf. Je. 29:10; Dn. 9:2). A description of the present distress (verses 1-11) is followed by a vision of a restored Zion (verses 12-22). The closing verses record the psalmist’s assurance of the changeless character of God (verses 23-28).
  1. What does this psalm teach us to do in time of trouble? See the title, and cf. Ps. 62:8.
  2. ‘For I… but thou’ (verses 9-12). Contrast with the extreme misery of verses 1-11 the vision of faith in verses 12-28. What has happened? Where is your gaze fixed—upon earth’s sorrows, or upon God? Cf. 2 Cor. 4:8, 9, 18.
Note. Verses 19, 20. Cf. Ex. 3:7, 8. As then, so now.


29 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 78 — Psalm 101

Study 78  From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 101

Luther called this psalm ‘David’s mirror of a monarch’. Though the themes of the psalm are general, 2 Sam.6:9 may provide the clue to the historical situation—at the beginning of David’s reign.
  1. Verses 1-4. David could not sing to God without being aware that worship must have some effects upon his character and actions. Ponder the verbs of these verses. Is your Christian life as definite and decisive as this?
  2. Verses 5:8. What company did David seek and shun? To what strenuous and sometimes violent action is the Christian similarly called? Cf. 2 Tim. 2: 14, 16, 19, 21-23.

28 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 77 — Psalms 99 and 100

Study 77  From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 99 and 100

  1. 99. In what ways is the holiness or distinctive character of God here said to be demonstrated? What comfort and what warning can we take from the fact that God’s holiness is not abstract but active? Do you share the psalmist’s passion to see God publicly exalted in holiness? Cf. Rev. 15:3, 4. Do you know what it means to call on His Name and to find that He answers (verses 6-8)?
  2. 100. What does this psalm declare that we know about the Lord? And what should this knowledge make us do? In what spirit do you ‘serve the Lord’ (verse 2)?
Note. 99:3. ‘Terrible’: i.e., awe-inspiring. The same word is used in Dt. 10:17;  Ps. 76:7, 12.

27 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 76 — Psalms 97 and 98

Study   From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 97 and 98

  1. 97. What aspects of the Lord’s character are revealed here, and what are the several effects of this revelation? Do they characterize your reaction in the presence of God? E.g., note verse 10a, mg; cf. Rom. 12:9.
  2. 98. What acts pf the Lord, past and future, cause the psalmist to praise Him? Does your worship begin and end with thoughts of God, and does it find similar vocal and audible expression? Cf. Eph. 5:19, 20.

26 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 75 — Psalms 95 and 96

Study  75 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 95 and 96

These two psalms seem to have been associated with the new year festival. The renewal of the covenant was a special feature of this festival, and God was celebrated as Creator, King, and Judge. Ps. 95 summons God’s people to worship Him, a summons enforced by a grave warning against disobedience. Ps. 96 bids the whole creation join in worship of the Lord.
  1. What is said in these two psalms to show that worship from all creation is the Lord’s due? List the reasons why He ought to be worshipped. How should such worship find expression?
  2. What special reasons are given in Ps. 95 why ‘we’ should worship God? Who constitute the ‘we’? Of what danger are we warned to beware, and when, and why? Cf. Heb. 3:7-15
  1. 95: 3; 96:4 (cf. 97:9 ). The monotheism of the Old Testament is on the whole practical (e.g., Ex. 20:3) rather than theoretical. But, 96:5 expresses the logical conclusion of Old Testament as well as New Testament belief-that ‘all the gods of the peoples are (literally) nothings’. Cf. 1 Cor. 8:4-6.
  2. 95:6. ‘Our Maker’: i.e., the Maker of Israel as a nation-to be His people.

25 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 74 — Psalm 94

Study  74  From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 94

  1. How does the psalmist find hope and comfort when oppressed by evil men? List carefully both the grounds and the content of his confidence.
  2. What rebuke does the psalmist give to those in Israel who may have thought that evil men were right when they said (see verse 7) that God was indifferent to His people need? What purpose does he see in the nation’s present sufferings? See verses 8:15; cf. Pr. 3:11, 12; Is. 49:14-16.
  1. Verses 1, 2. The fact that ‘God of vengeance’ is parallel to ‘judge of the earth’ shows that the former is not such and unpleasantly vindictive expression as the English might suggest. Both phrases indicate that God is concerned with the upholding of the moral order.
  1. Verse 16. A court scene. ‘Who is my counsel for the defence?’ Asks the psalmist. Cf Rom. 8:31, 33.

24 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 73 — Psalms 92 and 93

Study 73  From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 92 and 93

  1. 92. The psalmist’s eyes have been opened to discern the principles of God’s working, which are hidden from those who have no spiritual understanding. What are these principles? How are both the emotions and the mind stirred?
  2. Consider the picture of the life of the godly, as described in 92:12-14. What is the secret of their vigour and beauty? Cf. Ps. 1:3; Je. 17:7, 8; Is. 40:29-31.
  3. 93. Might alone did not distinguish Israel’s God from those of surrounding nation. What two unique features does this psalm mention? Cf. Ps. 90: 2c; Dt. 33:27 and Ex. 15:11b; Ps. 47:8.
  1. 92:1. ‘To give thanks’ means much more than ‘to say ‘thank you’. It involves public acknowledgement of God’s grace by word, and probably with thank-offering.
  2. 92:6. ‘This’ refers, as the colon shows, to the contest, of verses 7 and 8.
  3. 92:10. Horns symbolized power. Cf. Zc. 1:18ff; Ps. 75:10. The figure is one of reinvigoration and reconsecration.
  4. 92:12. ‘Flourish’: the same word as ‘sprout’ in verse 7.

23 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 72 — Psalm 91

Study 72 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 91

The theme of this psalm is the security and blessedness of a life lived under God’s protection. The change of pronouns has been variously explained. In verses 2 and 9a (see mg). a solo voice declares its trust (in the first person singular), after which the choir respond with renewed assurance. Finally, in verses 14-16, God Himself speaks in words of gracious promise.
  1. Life and health were insecure in ancient times. The world was haunted by unseen, malevolent powers. How does the psalmist’s faith in God transform the situation? What comfort does the psalm bring to (a) the sufferer, and (b) one who anticipates suffering? Cf. the fuller statement in Rom. 8:16-18, 28, 31, 35-37.
  2. Verses 14-16. Note here seven gracious promises of God. Can you bear witness to heir truth from your own experience and from the experience of other believers? Cf. 2 Peter. 1:2-4.
  1. The evils mentioned in verses 3, 5, 10, 13 refer to all kinds of adversity. Insidious and hidden, or open and visible, explicable or inexplicable. Verse 13 refers not to Tarzan-like exploits, but to deliverance from dangers, natural and supernatural, not by magic (as in Egypt), but by faith.
  2. Verse 14. I will protect’: ‘literally. I will set him inaccessibly high’.

22 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 71 — Psalm 90

Study 71 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 90 

  1. In verses 2-11 what is said about (a) man and (b) God? In view of these facts, what should be man’s attitude (verses 11, 12)? What is meant by a heart of wisdom? Cf. Pr. 9: 10; Je. 9:23, 24; Jas. 4:12-16.
  2. Set down in your own words the petitions of verses 13-17. What convictions do they reveal concerning God’s character and actions? Can the petitions be transposed into a Christian key?
Note. Verse 11. It is only those who truly reverence the Lord who consider the reality of God’s wrath against sin in all its intensity.


21 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 14 — Nehemiah 13

Study 14 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 13

With this study we end the book of Nehemiah. Tomorrow we will stop once again in the book of Psalms.

Nehemiah at some point in his governorship returned to King Artaxerxes, and later came again to Jerusalem (see verses 6 and 7), only to find that during his absence various abuses and backslidings had taken place.
  1. Note in this chapter (a) five references to definite actions taken to deal with unsatisfactory features in the conduct and condition of the people; (b) the way in which Sanballat and Tobiah succeeded at last in gaining a footing in Jerusalem. What may we learn from these?
  2. Have you the main sequence of events after the exile sorted out in your mind? In the light of 1 Cor. 10:11, what seem to you the main lessons to be learnt from this period in the history of God’s chosen people?

20 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 13 — Nehemiah 12

Study 13   From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 12

1.      How did the people celebrate the completion of the wall? See the further reminder in Lk.17:15-18. As you read this passage, following in imagination the two companies as they marched in procession, remember Nehemiah’s solitary journey as described in 2:12-15. Consider also how much you owe to God. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; Rom. 12:1.
2.      ‘Nehemiah the governor’ and ‘Ezra the priest the scribe’ (verse 26). Consider and contrast the office and character of these two great men, and how both alike were needed in this critical period of Jewish history. Have you discovered your gift and call of God or your variety of service for the common good? Cf. Rom. 11:29; 1 Cor.12:4-7.
Note. Verse 30. ‘Purified’: by sprinkling the blood of sacrifices. Cf. Ezk. 43:19,20.             

19 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 12 — Nehemiah 11

Study 12  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 11

  1. Though the Temple had been rebuilt and the city walls, repaired, Jerusalem remained unattractive to dwell in (cf. 2:3, 17), and the bulk of the people preferred to live in the country. By what two methods (verses 1, 2) were more inhabitants for the city secured? Are you willing to volunteers to serve in the place of greatness need? Cf. Is. 6:8
  2. In verses 3-24 is given a list of those who dwelt in Jerusalem, in the following categories: (a) heads of families of the tribe of Judah (4-6); (b) of the tribe of Benjamin (7-9); (c) officials of the Temple-priests (10-14), Levites (15-19), other attendants, including singers (20-24). Try to picture the life of the city. Observe the prominence given to the house of God and its worship. Others helped in other ways, and some of them are described as ‘valiant’ or ‘mighty men of part in the community to which you belong, helping it to become strong? Cf. Ec. 9:10a; 1 Cor. 15:58.

18 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 11 — Nehemiah 9: 38 - 10: 39

Study 11  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9: 38 - 10: 39

1.     Make a list of the seven specific ordinances included in the general covenant to walk in God’s law(10:28) and not neglect the house of God (10:39).

2.     What did the people agree (a) to give up, and (b) to give, that they might ‘observe and do all the commandments of the Lord’?  What does this teach us about the meaning of whole-hearted consecration? Cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-7; Pr. 3: 9, 10; Mal. 3:10; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2.

1.     10:29. ‘Enter into a curse and an oath’: ie., pledged themselves by an oath, invoking divine vengeance upon themselves, if they failed to observe it.
2.     Verse 31b. Cf. Ex. 23:10, 11; Dt. 15:1-3.
3.     Verses 35-39 give a general summary of such laws as Ex. 23:19 and Nu. 18:8-32.

17 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 10 — Nehemiah 9:22-37

Study 10  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9:22-37

1.     Analyze this summary (verses 6:37) of the history of God’s people. What may we learn here about the heart of God, and the heart of man?
2.     The Jews had learnt by bitter experience that disobedience brings penalty. Yet had God acted only in punishment? Cf. Ps. 130:3, 4. What may we learn from this chapter about the principles of God’s action towards His people when they sin? Cf. also Phil. 1:6; 2 Jn. 8.

16 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 9 — Nehemiah 9:1-21

Study 9   From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 9:1-21

 1.     What marks do you find here of a genuine repentance? Cf. 2 Cor. 7:10, 11.
 2.     Meditate upon God’s great kindness and many mercies, in spite of great provocation, as seen in this passage. How much cause have you for similar recollections, repentance and gratitude to God?

15 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Nehemiah 8

Study 8  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 8

1.     Chapters 8, 9 and 10 describe a remarkable revival. What was its first manifestation, and what further characteristics developed from this?
2.     Consider how great a change of heart had taken place since before the exile. Cf. Je. 11:6-8; 32:36-40; Ne. 1:5-11. How are these verses an illustration of Ps. 119:71 and Heb. 12:11
2.     Verse 10. ‘Send portions…’: cf. Dt. 16:11, 14; Est. 9:19-22.
1.      Verse 17. The Feast of Tabernacles had been observed (see, e.g., 2 Ch.8:13), but not, it seems, the making of booths.

14 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7  — Nehemiah 7

Study 7  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 7

1.     What further steps did Nehemiah take in ensuring an orderly life in Jerusalem? Why was Hananiah put in charge of Jerusalem? Remembering that you may be called to responsibility in your work for God, what are you doing to develop these same qualities
2.     What makes a register of names so important? See verses 64, 65; and cf. Rev.20:15; 21:27; Lk. 10:20.
1.     Verse 2. The ‘he’ refers to Hananiah. Possibly the appointment of two men in charge of the city means, as in 3:9, 12, that each was ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.
2.     Verses 64, 65; cf. Ezr.2:62, 63. The need was for a priest able to obtain guidance to decide whether these men were entitled to enjoy priviledges as priests or not. For an example of the way in which Urim and Thumim were used, see 1 Sam. 14:41.

13 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Nehemiah  6

Study  6 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 6

1.      Nehemiah’s enemies now tried intrigue. The proposal to confer together is often an attractive one. What made Nehemiah persistently refuse it?  Contrast Eve’s folly in discussing the question raised by the serpent (Gn. 3:1-5). Do you ever parley with questions that should never be allowed consideration?
2.      What were the special subtleties of the attempts to ensnare Nehemiah? Notice how Nehemiah’s singleness of purpose and loyalty to God were as a shield about him. What may we learn from this?
Note.  Verse 5.  ‘An open letter’: so that others besides Nehemiah might see its contents.                 

12 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Nehemiah 5

Study 5 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 5

1.      What social evil did Nehemiah put right (see verses 1-13)? And how did he do it?
2.      What features of his conduct made Nehemiah an excellent governor? Are we developing similar characteristics?
3.      What considerations ought to keep God’s people from doing some things which others do as a matter of course? Cf. verse15 and 1 Cor. 8:13.
Note. Verse 1-5. The wealthier Jews were evidently demanding repayment at high interest of money lent by them to their poorer brethren, and were seizing the lands and property, and even the persons of the debtors whenever their demands were not met.

11 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Nehemiah 4

Study 4  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 4

1.      The successful progress of the work brought increasing opposition. Picture the Characters concerned in the various scenes.  What kinds of discouragement did Nehemiah meet, and how did he deal with each?
2.      In verses 19-23 notice how Nehemiah shared in the hard work. Where did he plan to be if fighting broke out? What does this teach us about leadership?

10 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Nehemiah 3

Study 3 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 3

Contrast the busy scenes of this chapter with the picture of the walls and gates lying desolate, broken and burned, in 2:13, 14. What brought about the change? (Examine, if possible, a plan of the city as this time.)
  1. Note how all classes in the city took part in the work, each being assigned his special place and task. What may we learn from this chapter of the value of (a) thorough organization, and (b) willing co-operation on the part of all?
  1. Verse 5. The word ‘Lord’ should probably be ‘lord’, the reference being to Nehemiah. For the metaphor see Je. 27:12.
  2. The century Bible divides the chapter as follows: Verses 1-5, the north and north – west wall; verses 6-12, the west, the west wall; verses 13, 14, the south wall and gates; verses 15-27, the south-east wall and gates; verses 28-32, the north-east wall.

09 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Nehemiah 2

Study 2  From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 2

1.      What is the order of events following Nehemiah’s prayer? What difficulty did he have to face at each stage?
2.      What light does the chapter throw on Nehemiah’s secret communion with God? What grounds was he confident that God would prosper him in his work? Are such communion and confidence lacking in your life?
1.      Verse 3. Nehemiah had probably broken court etiquette in letting his grief be seen in the king’s presence.
2.      Verse 10. ‘Sanballat’: an important official, probably governor of Samaria. Tobiah may have been his secretary.

08 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Nehemiah 1

Study 1 From the Book of Nehemiah is: Nehemiah 1

1.     How long did Nehemiah brood over the news about Jerusalem before he took action (see Note 1 below)? Note the sequence of events---one which is often seen when God calls His servants to a particular task.
2.     What can we learn from the example of Nehemiah’s prayer? Note his attitude, his knowledge of the Scriptures, his grounds for expecting prayer to be answered. Dt. 7: 9-12; 29; 30 provide a background to the prayer.
1.     Verse 1. The month Chislev correspond to our November-December, and Nisan (2:1) to our March-April.
2.     Verse 11. ‘Cupbearer’: a high official, who had the duty of tasting wine before it was handed to the king, lets it should have been poisoned.

07 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Ezra 9 and 10

Study 7  From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 9 and 10

With this study we end the book of Ezra and will delve into Nehemiah
1.      For the background to this incident see Dt. 7:1-4. In what ways had the people of God sinned? In what ways is it possible for Christians to commit similar sin today?
2.      What can we learn from this chapter about (a) the responsibilities of leadership; (b) prayer and confession; (c) God’s faithfulness; (d) the cost of repenting?

06 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Ezra 8

Study 6 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 8

1.      How many males, all told, were with Ezra?  These with women and children (verse 21), would make a large company. They had also their goods and provision for the way, many precious vessels and much silver and gold.  The journey was long (7:9) and dangerous (8:31). Would it have been wrong for Ezra to ask the king for an escort? Cf. Ne. 2:9. Why did he not do so? Are we as careful as he to live out what we profess?  
2.      From Ezra’s actions before setting out, what may we learn regrading undertaking work for God? See especially verses 15-20, 21-23, 24-30, 33-35, 36; and contrast Jos. 9: 14; Is. 31:1; Je. 48:10a; Mt. 25:3.

05 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Ezra 7

Study 5  From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra  7

This chapter begins the second period covered by this book (see introduction). Some sixty years have elapsed since the end of chapter 6.
1.      What do we learn about Ezra from this chapter?  Note particularly the order of the aims in verse 10, and consider the evidence which shows that he accomplished these aims. Have you any similar aims?
2.      What called forth the doxology in verses 27 and 28? Cf. 2 Cor. 3:5.

04 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Ezra 5 and 6

Study 4  From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 5 and 6

1.      When the work of rebuilding the Temple had ceased for many years (4:24), by what various means did God cause it to begin again and bring about the fulfillment of His purpose? How does dedication strengthen faith and give guidance for prayer? Cf. Gn. 50:20; Pr. 21:1; Hg. 1: 14; 1 Tim. 2:2.
2.      Note the joy, dedication and worship when the task was completed (6:16-22). Cf. Jn. 17:4; Acts 14:26; 20:24; Col. 4:17; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 3:2.

03 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Ezra 4

Study 3 From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 4

1.      Is not co-operation with others in work for God most desirable? Why then did the Jews refuse to co-operate with those who claimed to share their faith and who offered to help them to achiever their great spiritual objective? Cf. 2 Ki. 17:24, 32, 33. See also Mt. 7:15; and contrast 3 Jn. 8 with 2 Jn. 11. 
2.      What was the reaction of the frustrated adversaries? Cf. Am. 7:10; Lk. 23:2; Acts 17:7 for similar incidents. What price did Zerubbabel and his fellow-Jews have to pay for their faithfulness? Do you know of any modern parallels? Note Eph. 6:18-20.
1.      Verses 1-3. ‘The proposal to unite in building the temple was a political move; for in old -world ideas, co-operation in temple-building was incorporation in national unity. The calculation, no doubt, was that if the returning exiles could be united with the much more numerous Samaritans, they would soon be absorbed in them’
2.      Verse 5. ‘Until the reign of Darius’: (cf. verse 24. It was a period of a bout sixteen years.)
3.      Verse 6:24. Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes are kings who succeeded Darius (cf.7:1). This indicates that these verses refer to a later period than do verses 1-5, and this is confirmed by the fact that the letters of verses 11-16 and 17-22 concern the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, not of the Temple. Some think the passage belongs chronologically to the time between Ezr. 10 and Ne. 1.

02 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Ezra 3

Study 2  From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 3

1.     As background to verses 1-6, see Lv. 23:23-43. What were the motives and purposes in the hearts of the returned exiles at this time?
2.     In what further ways was the Lord put central in this settling down period? Consider what challenge this study presents to you personally.

01 August, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Ezra 1 and 2

Study 1  From the Book of Ezra is: Ezra 1 and 2

1.     First, what definite acts of God can be seen in bringing about this return to Jerusalem? With 1:1, cf. Je 29:10. Then fill in the outline given here, by trying to imagine the feelings and actions of the people concerned. Note, e.g., 1:5, 6; 1:7-11; the links with specific ‘home towns’ and positions; the claims in 2:59-63; the scene in 2:64-67; the generosity and contentment of 2:68-70.
2.     In the light of these two chapters meditate on Jos. 23:14.