For the next two weeks, we will continue studying various Psalms. The LDS resources are organized according to groups of psalms based on themes. We will include some of their main discussion points as we go.
The following “Witnessing Christ from the Old Testament” study covers Psalms 49–51; 61–66; 69–72; 77–78; 85–86.
You can find the LDS outline of study and resources here.
LDS Study Focus
LLDS study material follows the theme, “I Will Declare What He Hath Done for My Soul.”
The writers of the Psalms shared deeply personal feelings in their poetry. They wrote about feeling discouraged, afraid, and remorseful. At times, they even seemed to feel abandoned by God, and some psalms carry a tone of frustration or desperation. If you’ve ever had feelings like these, reading the Psalms can help you know that you aren’t the only one. But you’ll also find psalms that can encourage you when you’re having such feelings, because the psalmists also praised the Lord for His goodness, marveled at His power, and rejoiced in His mercy. They knew that the world is burdened by evil and sin but that the Lord is “good, and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5). They understood that having faith in the Lord doesn’t mean that you’ll never struggle with anxiety, sin, or fear. It means that you know Who to turn to when you do.
Psalms 49; 62:5–12
LDS Focus: Redemption comes only through Jesus Christ.
Psalm 49, written by the Sons of Korah, causes the reader to reexamine his relationship with riches. Riches do not just refer to financial wealth, but they also may include anything that makes us feel comfortable, safe, appreciated, respected, or loved.
Riches, therefore, may consist of your wealth, health, reputation, or family, which are blessings. However, no earthly riches will give us lasting purpose and meaning. Means may make us enjoy our lives on earth, but they will not influence our eternity with God.
Mormons often quote, “The best are blessed.” For many, this means that those who are faithful to God and covenants will receive physical comforts and riches in this world. Psalm 49 begs to differ and explains that wealth can be a blessing but also demonstrates why it can be a curse. Suppose one looks to their earthly possessions as an indication of their standing with God. In that case, they are basing their hope for eternal life on something other than the redemption provided by Jesus’ blood, a treasure far more precious than any earthly riches.
- Take a closer look at Psalm 49:5–9. What do the Sons of Korah say happens to those “who trust in their wealth”? Why can’t earthly wealth redeem someone from God for eternity?
- What would be your most challenging blessing to lose? Or asked another way, what loss in your life would make you angry with God? Does this question help you reveal idols in your life?
What does the saying, “You can’t take it with you,” mean? Long before it became a modern proverb warning about the dangers of misplaced trust in the riches of this world, the Sons of Korah wrote Psalm 49. Listen to this version of Psalm 49 by Jason Silver and think about the dangers of earthly wealth and the redemption of souls that comes from God alone.
Listen to Psalm 49 as it is sung by Jason Silver.
What phrase in Psalm 49 is most striking to you and why?
Psalm 62 is a display of David’s beautiful confidence in God. Considering David’s many terrifying threats during his life, his trust in God is remarkable. This trust gave him a reputation as one after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
- David describes proper rest as being found in God alone. So how do we find rest in God?
- Why did David describe God as a rock and fortress?
- Psalm 62:12 is tricky, considering what we know about David’s sins. In this context, David highlights the act of trusting God. How does trusting God affect our reward?
Is your soul longing for rest? Ponder these powerful life-giving words from Aaron Keys and Stewart Townend’s rendition of Psalm 62.
I’ll set my gaze on God alone
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.
Listen to Psalm 62 as Aaron Keys sings it.
What phrase in Psalm 62 is most striking to you and why?
Psalm 51; 85–86
LDS focus: Because of the Savior’s mercy, I can be forgiven of my sins.
Psalm 51 is David’s confession after Nathan confronts him about adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah.
This section may generate an interesting discussion about forgiveness. Doctrine and Covenants 42:18 states that killing is unforgivable. According to Mormon teaching, David might be pardoned in eternity, but he will never be forgiven.
LDS resources focus on repentance. Repentance is defined as the changing of one’s mind. However, the article posted does not explain how the mind is changed. Instead, they focus on how our actions are changed.
The Bible teaches that repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to sinful hearts. It causes one to understand the depth of their sin, the damage it causes, and the destruction of one’s relationship with God. As a result, a repentant mind and heart turn from trusting in one’s abilities to make themselves right to trusting in God.
- What conditions are placed upon the reception of forgiveness in these psalms?
- What does it mean to be cleansed from our sins? (Psalm 51:2)
- When did we start sinning? (Psalm 51:5)
- Who is being asked to do the work of forgiveness in Psalm 51?
Psalm 51 is not pretty, nothing like David’s Psalm 23, yet it bears and bares the heart and soul of a sinner/saint who has drunk deeply from the well of God’s mercy and grace. As you ponder these words with King David, stand, sit, or kneel before the throne of God, who alone can restore to you the joy of his salvation.
Read Psalm 51 in the Bible and then listen to Psalm 51, sung by Shane & Shane, which focuses on the concept of “wisdom in the secret heart.”
What phrase in Psalm 51 is most striking to you and why?
Psalms 51:13–15; 66:16–17; 71:15–24
LDS focus: My testimony of Jesus Christ can help others come unto Him.
Ponder how you gained your testimony of Jesus Christ and His atoning power. Then, as you study Psalms 51:13–15; 66:16–17; 71:15–24, think about how you can invite others to “come and see the works of God” (Psalm 66:5). What does it mean to you to “talk of [His] righteousness.LDS Study Resources
Psalms 51, 66, and 71 all focus on God and his incredible attributes. Studying these psalms with LDS friends will provide opportunities for showing how much more remarkable and grander God is than we are. Make efforts to demonstrate the vast divide between man and God.
This week I have been reading about God’s incredible attributes in Psalms 66 and 71. I was reminded, once again, that God is God, and I am not and never will be.
As you read those psalms, which of God’s attributes was most comforting and why?
Please share your thoughts on Psalms 66 and 71 below. Then marvel at God, the Ancient of Days, by reading the prayer below and listening to the song Ancient of Days by CityAlight.
Ancient of Days, we read of your great works and miraculous provisions throughout the generations. Remembering the days of old is a glimpse of your sovereignty as you led your people out of captivity through famine and flood, wars and mighty storms. We are not self-sufficient, but our sufficiency relies on you, the Ancient of Days! You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even as you brought your people through in the days of old, you will see us through all the way to the other side of eternity! We thank you for Jesus, our solid Rock, and Mighty Fortress. In him will I trust, and through him will I persevere. Amen.
Ancient of Days by CityAlight
- Which attributes of God can you identify in these psalms?
Psalms 63; 69; 77–78
LDS focus: The Lord will help me in my time of urgent need.
Several psalms describe, in vivid language, what it’s like to feel distant from God and to desperately need His help. You might consider looking for such descriptions in Psalms 63:1, 8; 69:1–8, 18–21; 77:1–9. What do you find in Psalms 63; 69; 77–78 that gave these psalmists reassurance?
When you are distressed, how does it help you to “remember the works of the Lord” and His “wonders of old”? (Psalm 77:11). Some of those wonders are described in Psalm 78. As you read about them, ponder what helps you “set [your] hope in God” (verse 7). What experiences from your family history inspire you?LDS Study Resources
Does honest faith ever make you uncomfortable? Here, the psalmists deal with feelings, fears, and doubts. The doubtful style of these prayers is not one most Christians will ever hear in church. Usually, we feel the need to keep the desperations of our faith hidden. However, psalms like these teach us that God isn’t afraid of our struggling faith, and we can openly express our fears before him.
When we are hurting, it is comforting to know that believers from the past have gone through similar struggles. We have a God who is more patient than we are and is comfortable with long-suffering (think of Abraham waiting for a son and Israel enduring 400 years of slavery). When our faith grows faint, we reflect on the promises he has kept in ages past and the sure hope we have for our future.
Mormons will likely feel uncomfortable with these prayers too. LDS doctrine teaches that feelings are messages from God. Therefore, if one feels like God is distant, he is.
But you have a God that always keeps his promises despite our feelings or doubts.
- What do you think of the psalmist’s expression of doubt? Do you feel free to express your doubts, or are you more comfortable hiding them?
- What does it mean when God feels distant?
- Name ways God was faithful to his people in the Old Testament. How do they comfort you?
Psalm 63 and other psalms like it help me see the struggle that people have had for thousands of years to understand the ways and workings of God during times of trial and tribulation. Psalms like this also help me see how past people looked in trust to God to comfort them with his power and glory in the face of uncertainty. Are you thirsty for the kind of refreshment that only God can provide? Are you longing for the type of love that only God can offer?
Read Psalm 63 and then listen to Shane & Shane sing Psalm 63 (Better than Life).
What phrase in Psalm 63 is most convicting, and which is most comforting? Why?
O God, You’re my God, I seek You
O my soul, it longs for You
My flesh faints for You in this land
This dry land where there is no drink
I’ve looked upon You in this place
Beholding Your power and glory, Lord
— Better Than Life by Shane & Shane
We want to hear from you:
What questions and comments for witnessing do you have about the Psalms? We would love to hear from you. Please email us or share in the comments section below.
Are you formerly LDS? We would love to read your insights into how you would have understood these chapters and what you have come to appreciate or see differently about them now. Please email us or share in the comments section below.