“Lesson 111: Psalms, Part 2,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 111,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
This lesson is the second of three lessons on the book of Psalms and focuses on Psalms 24, 33, and 51. Psalm 24 teaches what we must do to be worthy to enter the Lord’s house and dwell in His presence eternally; Psalm 33 declares that the earth is full of the Lord’s goodness; and Psalm 51 contains David’s pleas for forgiveness of his sins.
Ask students what they think might be required to gain entrance to the following: a movie theater, an office building with security, a public sporting event, and a prestigious university.
Why are there requirements for entering these or other places?
Invite a student to read Psalm 24:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for another place we can enter only after we have met certain qualifications.
What do you think the phrases “the hill of the Lord” and “his holy place” refer to? (The temple or the Lord’s presence. You may want to explain that the temple in Jerusalem was built on top of a hill.)
Ask a student to read Psalm 24:4–5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for what we must do to qualify to worship in the Lord’s house and be prepared to dwell in His presence.
According to verse 4, what must we do to qualify to worship in the Lord’s house and be prepared to dwell in His presence? (Using students’ words, write a principle similar to the following on the board: To be worthy to worship in the Lord’s house and to be prepared to dwell in His presence, we must have clean hands and a pure heart.)
What do you think it means to have clean hands and a pure heart?
In what ways can unrighteous influences make it difficult for us to have clean hands and a pure heart?
Assure students that although it may be difficult for us to keep our hands clean and our hearts pure because of the evil influences that often surround us, it is possible to do so because of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (You may want to provide students with copies of this statement.) Encourage students to find and mark phrases that help them understand the Savior’s role in helping us to have clean hands and a pure heart.
“Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength” (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 82).
What phrases in this statement help you understand what we must do to have clean hands and a pure heart?
How does the Savior help us in this process?
Invite students to read Psalm 24:3–5 again silently and to ponder how well they are meeting the Lord’s requirements to enter His temple and ultimately dwell in His presence. Testify of the Savior’s role in helping us to be worthy to dwell with Him and our Father in Heaven. Encourage students to do whatever is necessary for them to be able to stand before the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.
Ask students to tell about a time when they have been in awe of the beauty or enormity of God’s creations. You might also share a personal experience. If you have a picture that illustrates your experience, you could show that also.
Explain that part of Psalm 33 is a song praising the Lord for His power and goodness, which are manifest in His creations. Invite students to read Psalm 33:1–3 silently, looking for what the writer of this psalm wants us to do.
What does the writer of this psalm want us to do?
Invite a student to read Psalm 33:4–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why the people of the earth should praise the Lord and sing to Him. Ask students to report what they find.
What do you think it means in verse 8 to “fear the Lord” and “stand in awe of him”? (In this context, to “fear the Lord” means to respect or reverence Him and His power. To “stand in awe of him” implies that we should praise and admire Him and His creations.)
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: Pondering about the Lord and His creations can lead us to …
Based on what you have read in Psalm 33, how would you complete this statement? (The following is one way students might complete the principle: Pondering about the Lord and His creations can lead us to praise and revere Him. Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board.)
Give students a few minutes to ponder about the Lord and what He has created for them. Consider singing as a class a hymn or song of praise such as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Hymns, no. 72), “For the Beauty of the Earth” (Hymns, no. 92), or “My Heavenly Father Loves Me” (Children’s Songbook, 228–29). Invite students to share why they are thankful for the Lord and His creations.
What are some of the great things David did in his life?
What are some of the sinful things David did in his life?
Invite students to imagine how David may have felt about his sins involving Bathsheba and Uriah. Explain that David’s sincere remorse for these sins is recorded in Psalm 51. Although David “hath fallen from his exaltation” because he had planned the death of Uriah (D&C 132:39), he received a promise that his soul would not be left in hell (see Psalm 16:8–10; History of the Church, 6:253). David’s humility and heartfelt desire to be restored to God’s grace and acceptance are examples of true principles of repentance. (See Bible Dictionary, “David.”) As students study Psalm 51, invite them to consider what lessons they can learn about repentance and about the Lord from David’s pleas for forgiveness.
Divide students into groups of four. Ask each group to assign each person in the group to look for answers to one of the following questions (you may want to provide each group with a copy of the following questions or write the questions on the board). Invite students to read Psalm 51 aloud in their groups. Invite them to mark in their scriptures or write on a piece of paper words and phrases that help answer the following questions:
What is unrepented sin like?
What is repentance like?
What is forgiveness like?
What are some of the characteristics of God?
After students have read the psalm, invite them to share their answers to their individual questions with the other students in their group. You might suggest that they mark in their scriptures or write on their papers words and phrases shared by others in the group. Then ask the class:
What doctrines and principles can we learn from Psalm 51? (Write the doctrines and principles that students identify on the board. Their responses could include principles such as the following: If we acknowledge our sins and offer the Savior a broken heart and contrite spirit, then He can make us clean. As we understand the merciful character of God, we will have confidence to turn to Him to seek forgiveness of our sins and help with our troubles.)
What does it mean to offer the Savior a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
If possible, provide students with copies of the following statement by Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy. Invite a student to read the statement aloud. Ask the class to look for and mark what Elder Porter teaches about having a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
“Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the Atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur” (“A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 32).
What can we do to receive a more broken heart and contrite spirit?
Share your testimony that the Lord can make us clean if we acknowledge our sins and come before Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
Invite students to consider what they will do to offer the Lord a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Encourage them to turn to the Lord and trust that the Lord will forgive them of their sins and help them with their troubles.
To help students memorize Psalm 24:3–4, divide students into pairs and ask each partnership to read the verses aloud together three times. Invite the class to close their scriptures. Give each partnership a piece of paper, and ask them to help each other write out the verses as well as they can from memory. After sufficient time, ask a few pairs to read what they wrote. Allow students to open their scriptures and determine how well they wrote out the verses. After a few students share their responses, read the verses in unison as a class.