The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 6: Psalm 88


Structure Psalm 88 is the darkest of all the psalms, a prayer for help, ending without resolution.  The psalmist cries out, with images providing an unflinching view of someone who feels as if God has not only abandoned him but is even behind his predicament. Psalm 88 has three sections: The first (vs. 1-8) and third […]

Church, State, and the Voting Booth


“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21).  Jesus’ words reveal that we live our lives in two kingdoms: The kingdom of earthly power (the government), and the kingdom of God (the Church). The Church is not the state, and the state is not the Church.  So, […]

Romans, Lesson 9: The Hope We Have in Christ


Paul showed the absurdity of turning what God originally did to bring someone into His Old Covenant into what people did for God.  “If the adherents of the Law are to be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is nullified” (Romans 3:14).  Someone is an heir because he inherits, not by what he does.  […]

The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 5: Psalm 51


Structure This psalm is a straightforward confession of rebellion against God with a plea for Him to restore David and the promise of a faithful life in the future.  Intimacy with God reigns within this psalm: It is in direct address, with 45 appearances of either the pronoun “You” or an imperative verb directed to […]

Romans, Lesson 8: Not Works but Faith


Earlier in Romans chapter 3, Paul transitioned from using “Law” to mean “Torah” (when he was addressing the Jewish Christian in the congregation) now to mean “God’s standard of righteousness for everyone” (Romans 3:19).  Paul’s point?  No one, whether Jew or Gentile, is righteous before God by what he does because no one can meet […]

The “Lament” Psalms: Lesson 3, Psalm 32


Structure This psalm has a pattern, revealed by its grammatical switching of “person”: Verses 1-2: Being blessed. This is the “third person,” which refers to someone else, not the writer or the audience (you). Verses 3-5: Confession and forgiveness. This is in the “first person,” from the writer of the psalm speaking to the congregation. […]

Romans: Lesson 7: God’s Righteousness for Us


In Romans 3:1, Paul started focusing on the Jewish Christians’ sin of insisting on circumcision when Christ fulfilled it on the cross, then instituting His baptism.  The Jewish Christians’ insistence reveals that a works righteousness had taken hold of them.  They saw circumcision as their work for God (viewed from an Old-Covenant template) instead of […]

The “Lament” Psalms: Lesson 2, Psalm 6


Structure This psalm has a four-part pattern.  The psalm’s first part consists of 24 words in the Hebrew, which make up the first three verses.  The second part contains 15 words, made up of two verses.  Part three is, again, 24 words, consisting of three verses.  The final part comprises 15 words, the last two […]

Romans, Lesson 6: Circumcision and the Christian


The overall culture in the church at Rome is one of division between the Jewish and Gentile Christians.  The Jews want the Gentiles to follow the Old-Covenant rituals, as they do.  The Gentiles saw this as no longer needed, being fulfilled by Christ.  A resultant casualty of this rejection was also a rejection of the […]

The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 1: Introduction


The “lament” psalms are a group of psalms that grieve, and or complain, expressing deep sorrow for the travails of a person or nation (Israel).  The psalms also ask for God’s blessing or intervention. We find few psalms with a happy disposition.  Many are laments, which grumble to God about some experience of trouble, which […]