Sabbath School Lesson for February 17-23, 2024

Overview of Lesson 8, Wisdom for Righteous Living

Memory Text: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NKJV

What this verse says is that we should live each day as if it’s our last. It speaks volumes for how each of us are to live our whole lives in a way that glorifies our heavenly Father.

Many of the psalms help us deal with our emotions, both positive and negative ones: anxiety, guilt, sorrow, gratitude and joy. What many of us overlook though is what we can learn from them about the wisdom it takes to live happy, meaningful, productive lives, bringing us more of those positive emotions.

For this, we can go to the wisdom, or sapiential, literature of the Bible: the books of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. Several psalms, however, also contribute to our understanding of the experience, knowledge, and good judgment required to live righteously. These psalms include: Psalms 1, 19, 32, 34, 37, 49, 73, 112, 119, 127, 128, and 133.

What to expect from this study about wisdom in the book of Psalms:

  • Sunday: Your Word I Have Hidden in My Heart–What value is there in memorizing Scripture, a way to hide His word in our heart? (Ps. 119:11)
  • Monday: Teach Us to Number Our Days–How and why should we number our days? (Ps. 90:12)
  • Tuesday: The Lord’s Test–In what ways do we test God? (Ps. 95:8, 9)
  • Wednesday: Deceitfulness of the Wicked Way–What kind of temptations do we face in life? (Ps. 141:4)
  • Thursday: Blessings of Righteous Living–What are the benefits of living wisely before God? (Ps. 1:3)

Sunday: Your Word Have I Hidden in My Heart (Ps. 119:11)

The major theme of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is the Torah, or God’s Law. It isn’t limited to the Torah portion of Scriptures though, but seems to include all of God’s word. In other words, the whole Bible is helpful in understanding how we are to live our lives wisely and righteously.

Walking “in the law of the Lord” can only be done effectively when we do it with our whole heart (Psalm 119:1, 2). Verse 1 mentions being “undefiled”, a word that described the animal sacrifices brought to the sanctuary. Keep in mind that we are to give ourselves to Him as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), and are therefore to be “undefiled”, or as perfect as possible. We can only do this with God’s law in our heart. He gives us the strength to keep His law.

Hiding His word in our heart is mentioned in Psalm 119:11. We remember what we value, and memorizing Scripture is a worthy practice. Those things we value and have memorized will be remembered more easily when we need them. Just like how Christ withstood Satan’s temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), we, too, need to “hide” God’s word in our hearts, so we can handle temptations that come our way.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalms 119:1-16, 161-168

Why do so many people hate God’s law, rather than love it?

It seems that even Christians are hesitant to talk about the Law. Why isn’t the Law more popular than it is?

Monday: Teach Us to Number Our Days (Ps. 90:12)

Wisdom is achieved by first recognizing our weak, limited condition as humans. Many times, the psalmists compare us to grass. Grass, which is probably the weakest of all plant life, comes and goes quickly (Psalm 90:5, 6, 103:15, 16). This is why we are admonished to “number our days”, similar to what one would do if they knew they had but a short time to live (Psalm 90:12).

The fact is, all of us do have but a short time to live. Seventy or eighty years is mentioned as the amount of time we usually have (Psalms 90:10). Before we know it, we are seniors, wondering where all the years have gone. Compared to God’s eternity, our short lifetime is nothing–like a watch in the night, typically three or four hours long (Psalm 90:4).

No wonder we are to cherish each moment and make the best of the short time we have on earth. With this humbled mindset, we are ready to tackle our circumstances using wiser, healthier, more thoughtful attitudes and actions. Having humility is a great way to get ourselves on the path of wisdom.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 90

Why is it helpful for those living in the last days to remember that God’s timetable is different than our own? (Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, 9)

What does it mean to “fly away” as mentioned in Psalm 90:10?

How does numbering our days bring us a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)? How does it usually change how we live and think?

Tuesday: The Lord’s Test (Ps. 105)

When we think of the Lord’s test, what usually comes to mind is how God tests us through our trials and difficulties. These tests are valuable in building our faith and preventing us from repeating mistakes in the future. Many stories in the Bible are about people who were tested by God (Psalm 81:7, and 105:17-19).

Failing the Lord’s test by rejecting His guidance can have disastrous results. Our disobedience not only grows our stubbornness, but hardens our heart, sometimes even destroying the faith of those around us.

There’s another kind of test we mustn’t forget. The Lord is tested, too, by our willful disobedience (Psalm 95:8, 9). We challenge His patience and love all the time, and yet God always passes His test by continuing to draw us to Him, and forgiving us when we repent.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 81:7, 8 and 105:17-22

What other examples are there of God’s testing us?

  • Psalm 95:7-11

How and why is God tested? What’s the main difference between His test and ours?

Wednesday: Deceitfulness of the Wicked Way (Ps. 141)

Psalm 141 is a prayer, asking that we be kept safe from Satan’s alluring power to attract us to life practices that are harmful. Interestingly, the first thing the psalmist mentioned was a need for a guard over his mouth (Psalm 141:3). Letting things slip out of our minds through our lips is just as dangerous as letting unwanted things slip into our minds through our eyes and ears.

James declared that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). Out of the mouth come both blessing and cursing, so we definitely need God’s help to conquer our tendency to express evil, negative thoughts.

Understanding the progressive nature of sin is needed, if we are to successfully stay clear of its clutches. We must be especially aware of our inclination to do wrong by straying from God’s law. Next thing we know, our one evil thought or deed is repeated. It is easier to sin after we start. We need to seek God’s help before we start practicing it in a way that is harmful, not just to ourselves, but to our family and friends.

Our final step in developing sinful ways is when we desire and accept that hurtful practice. At that point, we no longer want God to intervene and eradicate it from our lives. It’s very difficult, but not impossible, for God to work with us when we’ve reached such an intensified level of disobedience and denial.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 141

Why is the tongue and mouth so important in keeping away from evil (v. 3)?

What can we learn about the progression of evil in v. 4?

Why is keeping our eyes on God so important as we struggle with sin (v. 8-10)?

Thursday: Blessings of Righteous Living (Ps. 128)

Our mortal lives were compared to grass in Psalm 90:5, 6 and 103:15, 16. Grass is something that doesn’t last very long in the plant world, and is weak enough to often be cut down or eaten by animals.

But those who live righteously, who try to model the example of God’s Son, are compared to trees, a much stronger species of plant. And not just any trees, but ones that are planted by a river–those that live the longest and produce lasting benefits, such as shade and fruit (Psalm 1:3).

Living the kind of life that God outlines in His law brings countless blessings to us personally–such as peace, prosperity, strength, and hope for a better future in eternity. Living righteously also makes us a blessing to those around us. This, too, brings a special kind blessing of satisfaction and peace to our hearts.

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 128

Who are the ones who have the kind of blessings mentioned in this Psalm (v. 1)? What are some of those blessings?

Why aren’t those who live righteously always  blessed with prosperity and happy families, like this psalm suggests? Why do evil people sometimes receive these same blessings?

What does all of this say about the truth of the so-called “prosperity gospel”? What might be the motive behind this kind of preaching, and what does it lead to?

Friday: Final Thoughts

Most cultures today value happiness, rather than wisdom.  To them, to be happy is more important than being wise. What they fail to recognize is that godly wisdom is the only way true happiness is achieved. If we seek wisdom, we will be happy–genuinely happy. We don’t have to choose one or the other. The wisdom that comes from God and His word comes as a package. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom…” (Proverbs 3:13).

The book of Psalms is packed with ways to be wise. Reading the psalms can bring us closer to a righteous life, under God’s loving, protective care. And it doesn’t stop there. Others are blessed now, and long after we live, by our wise, godly living. One day at a time, as we number our days spent glorifying Him.

A few hymns that remind us to live wisely and humbly before God are…

  • “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”, #567″
  • “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior”, #569
  • “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee”, 574

Next Week: Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

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