nature of God
Week 33 is scheduled for study August 8-14, 2022. Throughout the Psalms the nature of God, and our relationship to Him is talked about over and over again.

Day 1

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

Psalms 1; 23; 26-28; 46 – The Psalms teach us to trust the Lord.

I would like to make a random observation here. Hopefully you will see how it fits with the title of today’s lesson.

Think about the world’s many religions. In all my exposure over the years to the gods of the many religions of the world, I don’t know of one whose god is currently alive (body and all) and actively working with the human family to make them better people for some grand goal in the afterlife. I remember stories about ancient gods who put the stars in the heavens, gods of nature who control specific aspects of life, gods of life, gods of death, gods who govern, or did govern most every aspect of life. I’ve even heard of animals who did all those things. But only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same Man who created the universe and the world on which we now live, still working with us, His children, to help us become like Him.

Our God is a God who seeks to replicate His own joys in His children. His goal was to send us to this planet as a teaching and developmental tool to show us how to become like Him. Have you ever heard of a god from any other church or religion declare that their whole purpose in creating the universe was to make more of Himself, and to teach others to live after the manner of happiness the Creator of all things enjoys?

Psalms, as a collection of songs about God, teach some basic things over and over again. They teach that God can be trusted, that He loves His children, His people. God is protective of us, and will, when we are obedient, fight for us, defend us, and protect us. The book of Psalms is an active promotion of how God loves and blesses His children. The book points us to Christ as our shepherd, our guide and protector. They knew Jesus as the Lord or as Jehovah, but we know they are talking about Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

I believe that when we read Psalms we should be thinking and believing that we are reading a book of rejoicing in the God of the Universe, and the man who is our Savior. It should be read with gratitude and a thankful heart. With these things in mind, I encourage you to reread any Psalm of your choosing. Look for the messages of hope and thanksgiving. Even the Psalms where David is seeking forgiveness for his sins you can see his hopefulness that forgiveness is always an option. His hope in God’s willingness to forgive and heal the wounded soul never flags or wanes. He knows that God never tires of welcoming His children whenever we show even the weakest desire to return to His embrace.

Day 2

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

Psalms 2; 22 – The Psalms point our minds to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

I tried something different this time when reading these two psalms. Try making the speaker Jesus, instead of yourself or even king David. Put Christ at the center of the narrative and see if you can see in Psalm 2 that Jesus is speaking of himself and his Father. Now read Psalm 22 and make Christ the speaker. It is almost as though he is speaking while on the cross. In verse eight he talks of the derision of those who hated him. Verses 9-21 Jesus talks about his faith in his Father, and how God never forsakes him, no matter what happens to him. Verse 22 through the end is Christ’s praise to his Father, stating that all will bow before Him eventually. These verses also work if you put David as the speaker and Jesus as the object of the discourse.

I am undone

Let’s look for a moment at verses 14-15.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

This portion of the psalm is describing the dire circumstances in which Christ found himself while on the cross. At these final moments of his life, with those who hated him mocking him, deriding him, and doing all they could to make him suffer, his own Father withdrew Himself, leaving Jesus utterly alone to finish the work he had been sent to do. Do these verses paint a picture of someone completely undone, left alone, and abandoned?

What is our body, but water and bones? Think of your body as a pot holding that life sustaining liquid within it. When Christ suffered for us in the garden then on the cross he reserved nothing for himself, nothing of himself. He gave us his all. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

And what is a pot if not dried up mud. While it is whole it can hold liquid within it, but once broken, the shards of clay, the potsherds are useless and can offer no support or strength to help with anything. Once Christ gave himself as the last and great sacrifice, he had no more strength left. “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.”

In my mind, these two verses beautifully describe the totality of Christ’s offering to redeem us. He literally gave all he had, all he was, to pay the price required for our salvation. When he had finally paid all of God’s price, and had done what God required of him, there wasn’t anything left of him to sustain himself, but he didn’t stop seeking to do the Father’s will until he was sure that he had paid the price in full, and that God was satisfied with his sacrifice. Then and only then did he give up his life and pass into the spirit world to continue his labors on our behalf there until he could be resurrected and finally present himself to the Father. The next time you participate in the sacrament, let these verses trail through your mind. Could he possibly have given any more of himself than to pour himself out like water? Could he have possibly have sacrificed more of his flesh than to have all of his joints figuratively out of joint, or to have his heart melt within him?

Day 3

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

Psalms 8; 19; 33 – The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

Have you ever seriously sat and contemplated your position before the Lord? Do you see how privileged you are, and how all your needs are met through your worship of our God? This can be difficult to do. When you are in a position of privilege that privilege often blinds you to others lack of privilege. For example, referring to the verses in the three Psalms in today’s lesson, God has given us dominion, or power and control, over all the beasts of the earth. We can decide for ourselves how we will use the resources of this planet. And God has provided for all our needs in plentiful fashion. All we need to do is work with what He has given us to provide for ourselves.

Have you considered what else the Lord has provided for you? We have animals, and plants in dizzying varieties. The whole earth is filled with variety in climate, temperatures, environments, and varying types of beauty. All of this is self existing, just waiting for us to go to each place and discover for ourselves the beauty those places hold, and the opportunities each terrain and climate provides for us. There is a whole world to discover and use as we see fit.

As you read Psalms, note how much gratitude is expressed for all these many blessings. Try counting all the ways in which the Lord blesses those who choose to honor God and obey His commandments. Have you attempted keeping track of all the ways in which God blesses his people? The Psalms are full of examples just waiting for us to recognize and feel them.

Besides acknowledging the blessings of those who recognize God’s goodness, the Psalms also acknowledge that God confounds the proud, the disobedient, and the rebellious. We are taught in these verses of God’s infinite wisdom and ultimate knowledge, and how the wisdom of man is utter foolishness to God. Fortunately, the Psalms teach us to be grateful to God and to seek His wisdom. One of His greatest abilities is His power to change the kind of people we are, teaching the simple minded soul wisdom and the weak sinner strength. There is good reason to look forward to reading the Psalms with rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Day 4

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

Psalms 19:7-11; 29 – The word of the Lord is powerful, “rejoicing the heart.”

Here is an exercise for you. Imagine, if you will, what life would be like if everyone around you was completely blind. The only one who had sight was you. The whole world would be living based on what their other senses “showed” them. Sight in this society is difficult to describe, because no one has it. You would have to use words that describe other senses to try to describe what you are able to comprehend because you have a way of perceiving things no one else is capable of.

If you think about it, the example above is actually what exists in our world. Spiritual things are unseen and incomprehensible to those who are spiritually blind. They walk in darkness, for there is no comprehension. All of us come to earth spiritually blind, yet with an almost infinite capacity to comprehend the spiritual. We are, after all, the children of God, for whom all things are spiritual. Our life on earth describes our journey or process of gaining spiritual sight once again. That spiritual sight is what enables us to comprehend God and all that gods do and are about.

When we encounter the Holy Ghost for the first time, and we feel things we haven’t felt before, and we comprehend things we have never considered before, that is like introducing the first glimmering rays of light and its comprehension to someone who has gone their whole life in a world of darkness. It literally begins to light up their world and change their life. It really does change how that person now views life and understands it.

God uses faith, which is belief coupled with work, to open the eternal worlds to our view. It is only when we are willing to choose to believe in what He wants to teach us then live our life in accordance to that belief that He is able to physically change our emotions, our desires, and reveal new abilities that were hidden to us before. This is the power of God, the ability to take one who is blind to His world and open it to them here a little and there a little, until they comprehend God in full. This process of discovering spiritual enlightenment, and the changes that come into our lives through that enlightenment is what the gospel of Christ is all about. It is designed to change us from one who wanders in the darkness of spiritual ignorance into one who sees and comprehends the visions of eternity and the true destiny of all mankind.

The changes required to take us from a world of spiritual darkness, pure mortality, into one who comprehends the life of those who live in the celestial worlds, and the capacities they possess, takes time, work, obedience, and dedication. The vehicle God has given us for this change comes in several parts, two of which are the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the scriptures. The scriptures are the repository of God’s words and teachings from the beginning of the world until now. Their truths are not in chronological order, but are sprinkled throughout with all the various stories, lessons, doctrines, and laws we need to learn about. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to bring what we have studied back to our minds when we are prepared to understand a principle we need to know, or to learn a lesson that will help us. This is why we are told that we will come to comprehend God’s light here a little and there a little, one precept or principle at a time.

Let’s look at just a couple of verses from today’s lesson to see what they reveal. Here are the verses as found in the scriptures.

The law of the Lord is perfectconverting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pureenlightening the eyes.

Now let’s add some commentary and rewording.

The law of the Lord is perfect (meaning whole or complete, nothing lacking)converting the soul (The power of obeying the laws of God is that they can literally change and enhance our abilities, our desires, and our personal power. Conversion means to change from something we are or something we believe in to something else, presumably better.): the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (In other words, the knowledge of the Lord is trustworthy in that it never fails us. Learning the ways of the Lord makes even the simplest among us more wise, for as we become more like God, we adopt His wisdom and His ways of thinking.)

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart (God’s laws are a secure foundation for our lives. Living God’s laws bring us happiness, because that is the nature of the laws God lives by.): the commandment of the Lord is pureenlightening the eyes. (The purity of commandments God has given us creates the ability to receive and comprehend the spiritual things His laws can reveal to us. There is no falsehood in the commandments, no misguided assumptions, no deceptions. God’s commandments clean our soul of corruption and enable us to be prepared for us to be taught His ways, which are pure.)

I recommend spending some time considering all the other verses in today’s lesson. There is a wealth of possibilities as to what the Spirit might reveal to you as you try this exercise for yourself.

Day 5

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

Psalms 24; 26-27 – Entering the Lord’s presence requires purity.

Today’s lesson title is a statement of fact, so there isn’t much for me to say about that, since it speaks for itself. My question to myself was, “What do I need to do in order to become pure before God?” The answer is found in chapters 26-27. Here is my own summary of these two chapters. I strongly recommend you read and reread them to see what you would change, add, or remove from the following three paragraphs. Here is the gist of what David is saying in these chapters.

‘Lord, my desire is to walk with integrity. I want to shun those who bribe, do, and speak evil. I want to celebrate you among the Congregation. I want to have clean hands and a pure heart in my worship. Keeping your commandments is how I prefer to live my life. I love thy house, the place where people go to honor you.

Whom shall I fear, for in the times of war you will hide me and protect me. My desire is to spend my days in your holy temple worshiping you. I will spend my days celebrating your greatness and goodness.

My own parents may desert me, but my God never will. He has told me to seek His face, and I will go to the temple to do just that. When the world combines against me, I can trust that my God will come to my aide. Have faith in God and He will give me the strength to go on when I feel feint. The Lord will strengthens my heart.’

Did you notice how many times in these verses David said that his joy was serving in God’s temple, that his hope came from what he experienced in the temple? See if you can find some of the quotes from our current Prophet about the importance of spending more time in the temple. What promises does the Prophet make to us if we will spend more time serving in the temple?

Day 6

Don’t feel limited to the selection of Psalms or the principles suggested in this outline. Let the Spirit guide you to truths that help you feel closer to the Lord.

This is my own selection, because I thought it fit well here.


FHE/Personal Study

Psalm 46:10 – Be still

One of the most terrifying things you can do to a person today, especially to young people, is to make them go any length of time in silence. No ear piece, no Internet, no television, no conversation, nothing. They are mortified by the thought of having to be alone with their own thoughts. Things like pondering and meditating are completely foreign to many in today’s world.

Why do you think people have become afraid of silence? In my opinion, it is because Satan has been working hard for years and years to fill our lives with so much noise that noise has become the default, and preferred, way of living. He knows that the Lord is difficult to communicate with when we are too distracted to feel anything from the Spirit. So he has filled our lives with noise and confusion.

Learning to be alone with your own thoughts has to be taught, and it is best taught to the very young, so they grow up seeking opportunities to be alone and to be able to think things through in their own head. Once a child has become an adult, without ever having learned to appreciate the silence needed to think clearly, it becomes an almost traumatic experience to be alone with your own thoughts the first few times it happens. You have to either be taught explicitly how to handle it, or you have to be willing to deal with the silence in your head until you figure out on your own how to handle it.

The nature of the Spirit is to be attracted to calm and quiet. It doesn’t matter what is going on outside of our head, just what matters what is going on inside our head. As long as there is noise and confusion inside our soul/head, the Spirit is kept at bay. I have mentioned many times before that many of the leaders of the Church sleep with pen and paper next to their bed specifically so that when the Spirit wakes them in the middle of the night they are prepared to write down what comes to their minds. Even the leaders of the Church sometimes need to have time to clear their heads before the Spirit can get through the noise of the day. Nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that when the Spirit is ready they want to be ready too.

We have to be deliberate about becoming still, quiet, and at peace in our soul. It may take prayer, meditation, extended periods of silence, or help from a trusted friend to clear our head. We do whatever is needed. Some people take a long walk. Some have a special place that calms their soul, some make an effort to go out into nature for the calming effect it has on them. Some read scriptures, Conference talks, or other words of the prophets. We each do whatever it takes to quiet the agitation in our soul. For some it will take just a few moments, for others it may require days to calm down from what has happened in life. Just know that whatever you do to find that quiet place inside, when the Spirit comes, it will have been worth whatever you needed to do to get there.

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OT33-2022 – The Lord Is My Shepherd

Week 33