Sabbath School Lesson for July 20-26, 2019


Both King David and his son Solomon share many thoughts about the mercy and justice needed to help those who are oppressed.

  • Psalm 9 is a prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s mercy and justice (Sunday)
  • Psalm 82 is a plea to God for mercy and justice (Monday)
  • Psalm 101 is a promise by King David to rule with mercy and justice (Tuesday)
  • Psalm 146 is a praise for how mercy and justice connect us with God (Wednesday)
  • The Book of Proverbs shows us the need to demonstrate both mercy and justice in our daily lives (Thursday)


Both Psalms and Proverbs are very descriptive of the human condition, with much practical wisdom in how we can emulate God’s justice and mercy for the world. We are constantly made aware of the plight of the oppressed, and are encouraged to work with God in doing all we can to help the needy.

Memory Text: “Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3, 4 NKJV

Our assistance certainly contributes to their deliverance from their adversaries, especially Satan. Seeing God’s love in action is often all that’s needed to make them free from the tight grip he has on souls.

David, himself suffering oppression as he tried to stay clear of King Saul’s anger and vengeful spirit, knew all too well what justice was all about. He knew from those days of flight that only through God would things be made right again. He was powerless on his own to bear the burden of leadership.

After learning about justice though, David still had much to learn about God’s mercy. His experience with Bathsheba, as he temporarily lost sight of God’s goodness and love, caused him to renew his commitment to make God’s mercy forefront in his reign. Mercy and justice, the chief attributes of God, must go together, if God is to be represented properly to a dying world.

David’s son Solomon saw the mistakes of his father repeated in his own lifetime. And, thankfully, this king also shared valuable counsel for us in his book of Proverbs. Both of these books of the Bible are handy tools for equipping us to minister to “the least of these”.

Sunday: Psalms–Songs of Hope for the Oppressed

The many songs or psalms of David reveal the emotional journey one has on this earth to achieve the balance of justice and mercy needed to survive the powers of sin all around us.

God provides us with hope that one day right will triumph over wrong. His justice and mercy demand such an ending for those who are caught up in the oppression that exists for so many of earth’s inhabitants.

Psalm 8 is notable in the first part of the Book of Psalms as praising the just and merciful acts of God.  He will “judge the world in righteousness” (Psalm 9:8 shows His justice). He is a “refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9 shows His mercy).

In the psalms we are given every reason to believe that although sin and evildoers may seem to flourish, God will demand justice for all who trust in Him. The final judgment is not something to be feared, but to long for. When you hear the word judgment in the Bible, think justice.

Discussion Questions:

Read Psalm 9:9, 10, Psalm 91:14, and Matthew 7:22, 23. What does it mean to “know His name”?

Read Psalm 9:13, 14. What did David have to praise God for, even with all his troubles in life?

Read Psalm 9:15, 16. How are the wicked judged by God?

Monday: “Do something, God!”

Psalm 82:1 might be a bit confusing to the reader. Who are in the “congregation of the mighty” and who are “the gods” mentioned here? Since we are speaking of the times in which God’s judges and kings were leaders in fighting oppression, we might understand this to be speaking of the religious and political leaders of that time, who actually filled the role of judges. In fact, the Hebrew elohim might be translated mighty ones, that is, the judges.

The next few verses seem to support this. The psalm is a plea for earthly judges to use the justice and mercy of God as a model for their courts. They are told to “defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy” (v. 3).

The psalm ends with a cry for God to judge the earth. We long for the day when God will “inherit all nations” (v. 8) and the final judgment of the wicked will be over, once and for all.

Discussion Questions:

Read Psalm 82:1, 6 and 2 Chronicles 19:5, 6. How was God involved in the justice system of Israel? Is He still active in the justice systems of nations today?

Read Psalm 82:2, 3. What are ways that judges should carry out their duties, if they want to judge fairly?

Read Psalm 82:5 and 1 Corinthians 3:11. Why are these judges not doing their job? What foundation do they need in order to be good judges?

Tuesday: A King’s Promises

Thought to have been written soon after David began his reign as king, Psalm 101 reveals a great commitment to serve God with the same mercy and justice shown to us by God. As a matter of fact, the song begins with a praise to God for His mercy and justice (Psalm 101:1).

David had high hopes of ruling wisely, with a perfect heart. He expressed his hatred of wickedness, with a resolve to stay away from those who slandered, were proud, or deceitful (Psalm 101:4, 5, 7). He promised instead to encourage the faithful to serve him (Psalm 101:6).

These were all good principles with which to rule the land, and should be considered by every Christian, no matter what position they may hold in society. In order to resist temptation, we must also “set nothing wicked before” our eyes (Psalm 101:3). Those with whom we spend our time are important, if we want to remain faithful to God and manifest the same mercy and justice God is praised for.

Discussion Questions:

Read Psalm 101:1. Why is it important to sing praises to God? How does praising God change our relationship with Him? What is it about music that makes it a good tool for this?

Read Psalm 101:5, 8, 3, 4 and Psalm 119:115. How do we know when God intends us to depart from evil and when evil must be destroyed? At what special times does God seem to demand the destruction of evildoers, as He instructed Elijah in dealing with the Baal priests on Mount Carmel?

Read Psalm 101:3. How does what we view on media of any kind “cling” to us? And how can we avoid this from happening?

Wednesday: Walking With the Lord

David’s last five psalms all begin with “Praise the Lord”. The first one, Psalm 146, praises Him as our Helper, Hope, Creator, Judge, Provider, Redeemer, Healer, and King.

God is seen as One who watches over and protects the oppressed, hungry, prisoners, the blind, disabled, strangers, the fatherless, and widows, in addition to loving the righteous. Therefore, when we take up these causes and minister to others, we are helping God achieve His purposes.

What better way to know and walk with the Lord than to join in His fight for the oppressed and needy. This kind of ministry grows our love and sense of justice, the two chief attributes of God. We are never closer to Him than when we are serving others in real and practical ways, demonstrating His sense of honest justice and everlasting mercy.

Discussion Questions:

Read Psalm 146:3, 4 and Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6. Why are we not to put our trust in man? What does it mean that his “plans perish”?

Read Psalm 146:5, 6 and Revelation 14:7. Why is it important to remember that God is our Creator, when we think of Him as our hope for the future?

Read Psalm 146:8-10. If God is looking out for the needy, why do we need to engage in “help ministries”? How can man be any help in undertaking such a seemingly endless task as caring for the poor?

Thursday: Mercy on the Needy

Proverbs has a lot to say about being rich or poor, about justice and injustice. Life is certainly complicated, with different choices being determined by different circumstances. The book of Proverbs covers life from many perspectives, allowing the reader to gain wisdom by remaining faithful to God, the source of all good choices.

Solomon reminds us that people usually become poor because of:

  • unfortunate circumstances (often beyond their control),
  • making bad decisions (lack of planning, for instance, or desire to work), or
  • from being exploited by some outside force (when vulnerable people are taken advantage of by those more well-off).

Gaining wealth may also be the result of our good or bad choices.

  1. Riches, gained honestly, are a blessing from God to be used for the uplifting of those less fortunate.
  2. But often, they are the result of exploiting or taking advantage of others (through dishonesty and the desire for excessive luxuries).

Most of all, we are made aware through these proverbs that those who are faithful to God will be compassionate agents for those in need, using their wealth to further God’s will.

Discussion Questions:

Read Proverbs 10:4, 19:15, and 21:5. How are laziness and hastiness (or a lack of planning) both responsible for many financial problems in the world? What are some other reasons, however?

Read Proverbs 19:17. What’s the difference between pity, compassion, and empathy? Which do people usually prefer? How does God pay back this kind of loan?

Read Proverbs 22:2 and 29:13. Why should there not be class differences, with either the poor or the rich striving against each other? How can we overlook someone’s economic status and treat everyone the same, without judging or malice, and why is it important that we do so?

Final Thoughts

David is called “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). Music, by nature, appeals to the emotions and enables us to remember the messages it imparts. Thus, the book of Psalms has proven a valuable tool for helping Christians remember spiritual truths.

At the same time, Proverbs are pithy sayings, both concise and forcefully expressive. They invite us to memorize and share their lessons of truth with others. They also have been a source of wisdom, helping mold the actions of Christians everywhere.

Since God’s mercy and justice are His supreme qualities, David and his son Solomon have found ways to suggest actions for us to imitate them, and thus become more like the God we worship. Ministering to the needy is one of the most immediate actions we have to further the mercy and justice of God.

Many questions are also raised in Psalms about the logic of God’s justice, however. Why does sin and evil seem so powerful in our lives? Why doesn’t God intervene more than He does to avert disasters and protect His followers? Where is God in His plans to rescue the world?

David found the answer to these questions by looking to the plan laid out in the sanctuary. See Psalm 73:17. We, too, would do well to look deeply into the symbols that abound in that wilderness temple, and attempt to see the plan of salvation that is laid out for us there.

Knowing that there is a great controversy between Christ and Satan helps answer many of our questions about God’s justice, freeing us to play our part in God’s overall plan to free the world from Satan’s oppressive rule.

Next Week’s Lesson: The Cry of the Prophets

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to

Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at