“Lesson 110: Psalms, Part 1,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 110,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
The book of Psalms is a collection of sacred songs, poems, and prayers. This is the first of three lessons on the book of Psalms. The psalms discussed in this lesson include songs of praise to the Lord and prophecies concerning Jesus Christ’s suffering and death. This lesson also discusses Psalm 23, which teaches about the Lord’s care and protection over us.
You may want to begin the lesson by asking students to raise their hands if they enjoy music. Invite several students to explain why they enjoy music. (You may want to point out that music can help us express our feelings.)
Invite students to look through their hymnbooks to find a hymn that expresses their feelings about the Lord. Ask a few students to tell the class which hymn they selected and why.
Explain that the book of Psalms is a collection of sacred songs, poems, and prayers to God. In ancient times, the Israelites would sing or recite the psalms as part of their worship of the Lord.
Invite a student to read Psalm 9:1–2, 9–10, 13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phrases that may reflect their feelings for the Lord.
What phrases in these verses reflect some of your feelings for the Lord?
To prepare students to study some of the psalms that contain prophecies of Jesus Christ, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Jesus Himself quoted the book of Psalms more than any other Old Testament text. Beyond the Savior’s own use of these writings, the authors of the four Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John] drew heavily on the psalms as they strove to document His life and ministry, particularly those excruciating hours of His arrest, trial, and Crucifixion” (For Times of Trouble , 7–8).
To remind the class of the events surrounding Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from the following scripture passages: Matthew 27:26–43, 46; Luke 23:46; John 19:31–33, 36. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the specific experiences Jesus Christ had leading up to and during His Crucifixion.
Explain that following His Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His Apostles and taught them that He had fulfilled the prophecies concerning Him that were written in the psalms and other Old Testament passages (see Luke 24:44–46). To prepare students to study some of the psalms the Savior may have referred to, write the following scripture references on the board:
You may want to study these scripture references as a class, or you could assign students to read them silently or with a partner. Ask students to look for phrases that relate to the Crucifixion of the Savior. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.
What truths can we learn from studying these psalms and learning about how they were fulfilled? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truths: Prophecies of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death were given long before He was born on earth. The prophecies of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death were fulfilled.)
How can our faith in Jesus Christ be strengthened by knowing that prophecies of His suffering and death were given long before He was born on earth and that these prophecies were fulfilled?
Write the following words randomly on the board:
Ask students to reflect on the last time they experienced or worried about any of the challenges listed on the board.
Explain that Psalm 23 teaches how the Lord can help us when we experience difficulties. This psalm is widely regarded as one of the most beloved scripture passages in the Bible. Because Psalm 23 is a poem, it contains vivid images and symbols.
Invite a student to read Psalm 23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the images and symbols in this poem.
What is the Lord compared to in verses 1–4?
In what ways are we like sheep in need of a shepherd?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Holland:
“We need a shepherd because in innocence or ignorance—but on occasion willfully and against counsel—we turn ‘every one to his own way’ and as a result ‘have gone astray’ [Isaiah 53:6]. We wander here and scamper there, inspect this and nibble at that, until at some point we look up and realize we are either lost or about to be destroyed. We realize that we, or others who affect us, have done either something stupid or something wrong—which are so very often the same thing. We realize we desperately need help; we are in trouble and frantically look about for our shepherd, our defender, our savior” (For Times of Trouble, 204).
Invite students to review Psalm 23:1–4, looking for phrases that teach what the Lord does for us as our Shepherd. Ask students to report what they find. As they do so, you may want to ask follow-up questions such as the following:
What do you think that phrase means?
When have you felt the Lord bless you in that way?
To help students understand the images of the rod and staff in verse 4, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Holland:
“In ancient days the only instruments a shepherd carried were a rod and a staff. The rod was a short, stout, club-like weapon used to defend oneself or the flock from an intruder. It was meant to be—and to convey—strength and power in the hand of a strong shepherd who knew how to use it. …
“The staff was a longer, lighter piece, usually with a hook (or crook) on the end used for rescuing a stranded sheep. It, more than the rod, is associated in both art and myth with the shepherd and his vigilant watchcare. … Everything about the staff speaks of safety and care. It is the great scriptural instrument of rescue and redemption.
“In life we need defending and we need rescue. One way or the other, we are vulnerable. Whether it be in threatening confrontations or routine wandering, we are blessed and protected by God’s vigilant care. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (For Times of Trouble, 217–18).
Explain that in Psalm 23:5, the image of the Lord changes from a shepherd to a host who provides a feast for us. Invite students to review verses 5–6, looking for phrases that indicate how the Lord is like a host who serves and feeds us. (You may want to explain that in ancient times, hosts would anoint the heads of their honored guests with expensive perfumed oil.)
What phrases indicate that the Lord is like a host who serves and feeds us? (As students respond, ask them to explain how these phrases help us understand what the Lord does for us.)
How would you summarize a principle that we can learn from Psalm 23? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we trust in the Lord, He will lead and care for us.)
How has the Lord led or cared for you as you have trusted in Him?
Ask students to ponder experiences they have had when they trusted in the Lord and felt that He led or cared for them. You may want to invite several students to share their experiences with the class. Consider sharing an experience of your own as well.
Invite students to apply what they have learned by encouraging them to always trust in the Lord, their Shepherd.
To help students increase their understanding of scripture mastery passages, give them an opportunity to create their own questions about the passages. Invite students to work together, as a class or in small groups, to write clues that point to specific scripture mastery passages. (You may want to select a group of passages that you would like students to learn or review.) Then ask them to read their clues to you. Points are awarded to you if you guess a scripture mastery passage correctly. Points are awarded to the class if you are unable to guess correctly.
Note: If you do not have time to use this activity as part of this lesson, you may use it for a different lesson. For other review activities, see the appendix of this manual.