Sabbath School Lesson for February 10-16, 2024
Overview of Lesson 7, Your Mercy Reaches Unto the Heavens
Memory Text: “I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds.” Psalm 57:9, 10 NKJV
The psalmists not only praised God for His justice, but His mercy was not overlooked as they recounted all He had done and would do for His people. The Lord pities us (Psalm 103:13), and was seen as the Father of the fatherless and Defender of widows (Psalm 68:5). Pointing to creation and all through the history of the Israelites, God’s mercy and lovingkindness were described in glowing, thankful tones by the authors of the Psalms.
Many different Hebrew words convey the multi-faceted character of God’s mercy. It was expressed as His lovingkindness (hesed), His warm compassionate care (raham), His gracious generosity (hanan), and His forgiveness that purifies and restores us to His favor (selihah).
Six psalms, in particular, highlight these many attributes of God’s mercy. Our study focuses on Psalms 51, 103, 113, 123, 130, and Psalm 136. These praiseful psalms bring us comfort and hope, and inspire us to love our God in return by surrendering to Him in humility and gratitude.
What to expect from this study:
- Sunday: His Mercy Endures Forever–Psalm 136
- Monday: Create in Me a Clean Heart–Psalm 51
- Tuesday: “If You, Lord, Should Mark Iniquities”–Psalm 130
- Wednesday: Praise to the Majestic and Merciful God–Psalm 113 and 123
- Thursday: Forget Not All His Benefits–Psalm 103
Sunday: His Mercy Endures Forever (Ps. 136)
Every verse (all 26 of them) in Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “For His mercy endures forever”. The enduring, everlasting nature of God’s mercy is not to be ignored or forgotten by His created beings. These repeated reassurances add to our feelings of peace and reliance on God’s gracious love. Even when times get hard, we can count on Him to be by our side and to intervene in amazing ways that we can only imagine.
God has proven over and over that His way is best. He knows how to deliver us from the enemy and always keeps His promises of the covenant, when we are faithful to our covenant with Him.
There are many reasons to give thanksgiving for God’s mercy, and Psalm 136 mentions many of them in glowing, grateful terms. Let’s never forget that God’s mercy never changes and we can never praise Him enough. Even 26 times in a row barely covers our need and desire to thank Him for His mercy!
- Psalm 136
What are some of the reasons we find in this psalm to praise God?
Why is it important to remember that God’s mercy is always there, that it endures forever?
Monday: Create in Me a Clean Heart (Ps. 51)
Psalm 51, David’s well-known prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba, is so beloved that many have memorized it. Several of its verses are most likely already known to us.
David poured out his heart and soul in this prayer, appealing to God’s mercy to not only forgive him, but to cleanse and restore him to all their relationship had been and could be in the future.
This restoration is exactly what God longs to do for each of us, who humbly confesses our faults and mistakes. He longs to forgive, but also to create lasting changes in our lives that will testify to others the ability of God’s amazing grace to uplift and transform us to His image.
- Psalm 51
How do you understand the fact that we are all born in sin (Psalm 51:5)?
How does our forgiveness lead to the conversion of others (Psalm 51:13)?
What kind of sacrifice does God accept from His followers (Psalm 51:17)?
Tuesday: “If You, Lord, Should Mark Iniquities” (Ps. 130)
When we discover that God knows all our faults and shortcomings, we can’t help but be amazed that He is so willing to erase them from our record. None of us deserves the least of His favors, and yet He showers us with lovingkindness, despite our most despicable thoughts and actions. When we confess our sinful deeds, He is more than ready to forgive us for them, and to cleanse us from them (1 John 1:9).
Psalm 130:4 indicates that we should admire God for His mercy. We should fear, or worship Him, because of His forgiveness. In other words, love inspires love. This is what true worship is made of. We love God, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Psalm 130:5, 6 describes waiting for the Lord. The Hebrew word for “wait” in this case is qawah, which means “to stretch”, and is the root word for “hope”. Our waiting for the Lord then is more than passive surrender, sitting there twiddling our thumbs, so to speak. Our waiting expresses an eager anticipation and hopeful desire for the Lord’s merciful intervention. It is grounded in God’s promises, not on any personal optimism we can create for ourselves.
In the end of the psalm (Psalm 130:7, 8), Israel, the community of the psalmist, is included in this hope. There is value in being part of a community of believers, when it comes to serving and waiting on the Lord.
- Psalm 130
Why are we all counted as sinners (Romans 3:23 and Psalm 51:5), and are, therefore, in need of God’s mercy (Psalm 130:3)?
Wednesday: Praise to the Majestic and Merciful God (Ps. 113 and 123)
It’s good to read Psalm 113 and 123 together. They complement each other. Psalm 113 joyfully praises the forgiving mercy and humility of our majestic God, and Psalm 123 is a prayer that recognizes our great need of that mercy.
Our praises must be intertwined with our prayers for forgiveness. God is both majestic and merciful. He deserves our praise. But without humbly recognizing and confessing our shortcomings, and receiving His forgiveness ourselves, our praise here on earth will sound hollow and our love for Him will not be as deep as it should be.
Looking back at the cross of Calvary, it’s easy to see the loving God we adore and how He sacrificed everything to win our love and praise. His everlasting mercy reached down all the way from heaven to touch our hearts. He deserves all the praise we can give Him, all through eternity!
- Psalm 113
How are God’s condescension and majesty both described here?
What are some of the reasons we praise Him?
- Psalm 123
Even though others hate us, how do we know that God still loves us?
Thursday: Forget Not All His Benefits (Ps. 103)
At the beginning and end of Psalm 103 is the invitation for us to “bless the Lord.” How are we mere mortals to bless God, you may ask. Surely, He’s the one who blesses us, and this psalm is full of blessings that God confers on us.
The answer is simple: God blesses us with good things, and we bless God by praising the good that is in Him. Both parties are blessed by each other, and that’s just how the Lord designed it to be. God remembers His promises to us, blessing us in so many ways. And we remember God’s mercy and respond to it with our thankful praise and surrendered, obedient lives.
Remembering God’s bountiful blessings is more than a cognitive activity. It leads to a commitment on our part that is more than words of praise. “Actions speak louder than words” is never more true than in the loving way we conduct ourselves after meditating on God’s manifold, merciful blessings.
A Christian author, Ellen White, wrote: “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ” (The Desire of Ages, p. 83). Surely, there is no better example of God’s mercy than in the life of His own dear Son.
- Psalm 103
How has God shown mercy to you personally?
In what ways can we bless God in return for His blessings?
Friday: Final Thoughts
When we consider the merciful nature of God, we are inspired to praise Him. But our praise must go beyond contemplative thoughts and words about God’s mercy. It must include our heartfelt confessions and steadfast obedience to His word. God pledges to respond to our cries for merciful intervention, and we respond with acknowledgement of our shortcomings and the renewal of our pledge to follow Him wherever He leads.
Just because God’s love and mercy are everlasting doesn’t mean we can continue living apart from Him without consequence. When His amazing grace, coming all the way from heaven, touches us, we must respond by being as merciful and kind to our neighbors as He is to us.
Some songs that describe His mercy include…
- “Marvelous Grace”, #109
- “It Took a Miracle”, #111
- “Amazing Grace”, #108
Next Week: Wisdom for Righteous Living
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