Sabbath School Lesson for January 20-26, 2024

Overview of Lesson 4, The Lord Hears and Delivers

Memory Text: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 NKJV

This short verse says a lot about our Creator. As mighty a Sovereign as He is in the universe, He is still One who is interested in our troubles on earth, large and small. He’s a personal God who longs to answer our cries to Him and have a relationship with His people.

God is seen as both far and near to us. He sits upon “His throne in heaven” (Psalm 103:19), while at the same time, He is “near to all who call upon Him” (Psalm 145:18).

The Hebrew word for “hears” implies more than just hearing. It involves action. In English, the word “listen” can carry more than just doing it with our ears. When we say that someone “listens to me”, we often mean they are actively interested in our words, even to the point of doing something about them. It surely makes us feel more than just heard.

Our natural response to His efforts to hear and deliver us is to hear and obey His words, His commandments. This also involves action. His desire is to deliver us out of ALL our troubles. And indeed, His “end-game plan” will do just that. In return, however, we can do no less than to obey ALL His commandments, out of love and respect for Him (John 14:15). This is what the covenant is all about. It’s a two-way street.

What to expect from this study:

  • Sunday: My Frame Was Not Hidden From You–He has knowledge of us. (Psalm 139)
  • Monday: Assurance of God’s Care–We know He cares about us. (Psalm 121)
  • Tuesday: The Lord Is a Refuge in Adversity–He is our protection. (Psalm 91)
  • Wednesday: Defender and Deliverer–We know He will deliver us, either now or in the future. (Psalm 114)
  • Thursday: Help From the Sanctuary–We can “come boldly to the throne of grace”. (Hebrews 4:15, 16)

Sunday: My Frame Was Not Hidden From You (Ps. 139)

God may at times seem hidden from us. Jesus felt that way on the cross, when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). But the comforting thing is that we are not hidden from God. At no time, does He forsake His people. We are never out of His sight.

His creatorship allows Him to know us intimately. Even while we were hidden in our mother’s womb, He was aware of the human we would become (Psalm 139:13, 15). He, likewise, sees us as we wait for Him in the grave, or sheol in Hebrew (Psalm 139:8). His perfect knowledge of us, coupled with His infinite ability to help us, make Him the logical One we cry out to when our troubles become overwhelming.

There is no place in the universe that we are out of God’s reach. It makes sense to cry out to such a God. He hears our cries, and acts on them.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 139:1-6

What do these verses tell you about God’s power?

  • Psalm 139:7-12

What do these verses tell you about God’s presence?

  • Psalm 139:13-18

What do these verses tell you about God’s goodness?

  • Psalm 139:23, 24

Why should we desire God’s scrutiny over our lives?

Monday: Assurance of God’s Care (Ps. 121)

Psalm 121 is a great example of the psalmist’s undying trust in God’s care for him. But assurance of His protection and care are found all through the Psalms. Familiar are the words in Psalm 40:1-3 (He sets our feet upon a Rock), Psalm 50:15 (we can call upon Him in the day of trouble), and Psalm 55:22 (the righteous shall not be moved). These and many more verses in Psalms have been the inspiration for many of our Christian hymns and songs today. We love to see these thoughts expressed poetically in our own language this way.

Celebrating our assurance in God’s power to save us brings us feelings of security and a spiritual shelter in our tumultuous world. No matter what your circumstances, it’s important to be reminded of God’s power and love. The psalmists do a very good job of providing us with the hope and confidence in God that we need to see us through our worst situations in life.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 121:3, 66:9, and 93:1

What is the meaning of the image of a foot not being moved? How do you see it?

  • Psalm 121:5, 6 and Exodus 13:20, 21

Why was shade an appropriate image of God’s care for those living in that culture?

  • Psalm 121:5

Why is the right hand used in this image, rather than the left?

Tuesday: The Lord Is a Refuge in Adversity (Ps. 91)

Psalm 91 is a favorite psalm to read and even memorize. It speaks of the Lord as our mighty Protector. The many images it presents are comforting to us when our troubles multiply and we feel there’s no escape from them.

The imagery in this psalm was especially meaningful to those living in that ancient culture. In the first verse, we read about abiding in the “shadow of the Almighty”. Wherever there is unbearable heat, finding a place of shade is not only a pleasurable relief, but in their climate and culture, it was also a means of survival. The Lord guided the Israelites in the wilderness with “a pillar of cloud”, a welcome relief from the heat of the day. (Exodus 13:21).

Another meaningful image of finding refuge in a “fortress” is found in the second verse. When armies of war threatened them, they looked for a fort or walled city to provide a safe haven for their families, a place where God would shield them from their enemies (Psalm 91:2).

Being covered “with His feathers” and finding protection “under the wings” of the Almighty (Psalm 91:4) was a beautiful metaphor of God’s loving protection.  Numerous times, the psalmists spoke of hiding under His “wings” (Psalm 17:8), of making them their refuge (Psalm 57:1), and rejoicing there (Psalm 63:7). Even Jesus used this image of wings when speaking of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37: “How I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings”.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 91:1-4

How were the images here especially meaningful to the psalmists who lived in that culture?

  • Psalms 91:11, 12, Exodus 19:4, and Deuteronomy 32:11

Besides a hen and her chicks (Matthew 23:37), how does the behavior of the eagle show us God loving care and protection?

Wednesday: Defender and Deliverer (Ps. 114)

There are two forces of nature that can be life-threatening obstacles to our safety and well-being: waters that separate or flood us, and mountains that are treacherous to cross and sometimes tremble from earthquakes or volcanoes. We admire the beauty of our oceans and mountain ranges, but at the same time recognize the harm and disasters they often bring to mankind.

The story of the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt, however, showed us how God can use these seemingly insurmountable obstacles to save, rather than destroy His people. The parting of the Red Sea, and later the Jordan River, allowed them to cross safely away from their enemies. The mountains, which were not so easy to cross either, became a hiding place where live-saving water flowed from a rock, and the holy place where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 114 brings to mind the power of God in delivering His people during their Exodus. Coming out of Egypt so miraculously was a massive metaphor depicting God’s power to save any who call on His name for deliverance. He does not forsake any who desire an escape from temptation or trials.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 114 and Psalm 121:1

How can meditating on scenes of nature provide strength and comfort when we are down?

How have you seen the power of God work in helping you escape painful events in your life?

Thursday: Help From the Sanctuary

The reason the sanctuary is a place of refuge, where deliverance is possible, is because it is a place where God dwells, either symbolically in the earthly sanctuary or in the heavenly sanctuary, called Mount Zion, His holy hill, where the throne of grace is found.

We find this sanctuary dwelling place of God mentioned in Psalm 20:1-3, 27:5, 36:8, 61:4, and 68:5, 35.  Thankfully, we have access to God’s holy place, where grace and deliverance may be received for the asking. Hebrews 4:15, 16 assures us…

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace [through prayer], that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We are sometimes left with the impression that forgiveness for sin is the only thing received through the sanctuary, but the word “sanctuary” itself implies that it is also a place providing defense and deliverance from our enemies.

Today, we are familiar with the concept of a wildlife refuge or sanctuary, where certain species of plants and animals are protected from their most harmful predatory enemies, mainly humans. So it is with the sanctuary of God, which also was and is a place of refuge for the human race from our enemy Satan.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 20:1-3, 27:5, 36:8, 61:4, and 68:5, 35

How do these verses assure us that God has a place where we can find help in time of need?

  • Hebrews 4:15, 16

How does this provide confirmation of what the psalmists have told us about the existence of a dwelling place for God, and how are we given access to that place?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Knowing God as our Deliverer is what strengthens our trust in Him. Many times we tend to trust in our own wisdom and power to change situations in life that go wrong. But the psalmists remind us that God is the one we should go to for real solutions to our problems.

The Lord has demonstrated time and again that He is the champion Defender of His people. He can deliver us from our enemies, from sin, from our anxieties, even from Satan himself. He deserves to be the first one we go to for protection and deliverance, when anything happens that threatens our covenant relationship with our loving Creator and Redeemer.

Here are some hymns that speak of our topic this week. Find more of them in the “Scriptural Allusions in Hymns” index in the back of your church hymnal:

  • “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”, #506
  • “A Shelter in the Time of Storm”, #528
  • “He Hideth My Soul”, #520

Next Week: Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land

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