Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land

Lesson 5, 1st Quarter January 27- February 2, 2024.

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Sabbath Afternoon, January 27

Memory Text:

“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” KJV — Psalm 137:4

Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition. AA 11.3

During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts. AA 12.1

Sunday, January 28

The days of evil

Read Psalm 74:18-22 and Psalm 79:5-13. What is at stake here?

“From among the faithful in Israel, who had long waited for the coming of the Messiah, the forerunner of Christ arose. The aged priest Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth were ‘both righteous before God;’ and in their quiet and holy lives the light of faith shone out like a star amid the darkness of those evil days. To this godly pair was given the promise of a son, who should ‘go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways.’” DA 97.1

“In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers, they will be forbidden to buy or sell. It will finally be decreed that they shall be put to death. See Revelation 13:11-17. But to the obedient is given the promise, ‘He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’ Isaiah 33:16. By this promise the children of God will live. When the earth shall be wasted with famine, they shall be fed. ‘They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.’ Psalm 37:19. To that time of distress the prophet Habakkuk looked forward, and his words express the faith of the church: ‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.’ Habakkuk 3:17, 18.” DA 121.3

“Satan is a diligent Bible student. He knows that his time is short, and he seeks at every point to counterwork the work of the Lord upon this earth. It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celestial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God. By means of the angels there will be constant communication between heaven and earth. And Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. God's people will not find their safety in working miracles, for Satan will counterfeit the miracles that will be wrought. God's tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31:12-18. They are to take their stand on the living word: “It is written.” This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. Those who have broken their covenant with God will in that day be without God and without hope.” 9T 16.1

Monday, January 29

At Death’s Door

Read Psalm 41:1-4; Psalm 88:3-12; and Psalm 102:3-5, 11, 23, 24. What experiences do these texts describe? In what can you relate to what is said here?

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” Isa. 58:7.

This challenge, Brother, Sister, cannot be met unless all wisely help in whatsoever capacity possible, remembering that no effort but that which demands a sacrifice, is rewarded...

When Christianity fully awakes to this great necessity and does something about it, “then,” promises the Lord, “shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isa. 58:8-11.

“In the midst of his prosperous reign King Hezekiah was suddenly stricken with a fatal malady. ‘Sick unto death,’ his case was beyond the power of man to help. And the last vestige of hope seemed removed when the prophet Isaiah appeared before him with the message, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.’ Isaiah 38:1. PK 340.1

“The outlook seemed utterly dark; yet the king could still pray to the One who had hitherto been his ‘refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ Psalm 46:1. And so ‘he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.’ 2 Kings 20:2, 3. PK 340.2

“Since the days of David there had reigned no king who had wrought so mightily for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God in a time of apostasy and discouragement as had Hezekiah. The dying ruler had served his God faithfully, and had strengthened the confidence of the people in Jehovah as their Supreme Ruler. And, like David, he could now plead: PK 340.3

“‘Let my prayer come before Thee: Incline Thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: And my life draweth nigh unto the grave.’” Psalm 88:2, 3. PK 341.1

Tuesday, January 30

Where is God?

Read Psalm 41:1-3, Psalm 63:1, and Psalm 102:1-7. What causes great pain to the psalmist?

“There is need of prayer,—most earnest, fervent, agonizing prayer,—such prayer as David offered when he exclaimed: ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.’ ‘I have longed after Thy precepts;’ ‘I have longed for Thy salvation.’ ‘My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.’ ‘My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments.’ This is the spirit of wrestling prayer, such as was possessed by the royal psalmist. 4T 534.2

“Daniel prayed to God, not exalting himself or claiming any goodness: ‘O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God.” This is what James calls the effectual, fervent prayer. Of Christ it is said: “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly.’ In what contrast to this intercession by the Majesty of heaven are the feeble, heartless prayers that are offered to God. Many are content with lip service, and but few have a sincere, earnest, affectionate longing after God.” 4T 534.3

“In his long life, David found on earth no resting-place. In his manhood a hunted fugitive, finding refuge in the rocks and caves of the wilderness, he wrote: ST July 22, 1908, par. 1

“‘O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is....Thou hast been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.’” ST July 22, 1908, par. 2

Wednesday, January 31

Has His promise failed forevermore?

Read Psalm 77. What experience is the author going through?

“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Psalm 77:11, 12. CTr 153.1

“Be careful how you interpret Scripture. Read it with a heart opened to the entrance of God's Word, and it will express Heaven's light, giving understanding unto the simple. This does not mean the weak-minded but those who do not stretch themselves beyond their measure and ability in trying to be original and independent in reaching after knowledge above that which constitutes true knowledge.... CTr 153.2

“The psalmist David in his experience had many changes of mind. At times as he obtained views of God's will and ways, he was highly exalted. Then as he caught sight of the reverse of God's mercy and changeless love, everything seemed to be shrouded in a cloud of darkness.... When he meditated upon the difficulties and dangers of life, they looked so forbidding that he thought himself abandoned by God because of his sins. He viewed his sin in such a strong light that he exclaimed, “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?” CTr 153.3

“As he wept and prayed, he obtained a clearer view of the character and attributes of God, and being educated by heavenly agencies, he decided that his ideas of God's justice and severity were exaggerated.... As David considered His [God's] pledges and promises to them [Israel], knowing they were for all who need them as much as for Israel, he appropriated them to himself.... CTr 153.4

“As David appropriated these promises and privileges to himself, he decided that he would no longer be hasty in judgment, becoming discouraged and casting himself down in helpless despair. His soul took courage as he contemplated the general character of God as displayed in His teaching, His forbearance, His surpassing greatness and mercy, and he saw that the works and wonders of God are to have no confined application. CTr 153.5

“But again David's experience changed. As he saw that transgressors and sinners were allowed to receive blessings and favors, while those who really loved God were compassed with difficulties and perplexities that the open sinner did not have, he thought that God's ways were not equal....“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.... They are not in trouble as other men.” CTr 153.6

“David could not understand this till he went into the sanctuary of God, and then, he says, ‘Understood I their end.’ ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.... It is good for me to draw near to God.’—Manuscript 4, 1896.” CTr 153.7

Thursday, February 1

Lest the Righteous be tempted.

Read Psalm 37:1-8; Psalm 49:5-7; Psalm 94:3-7; and Psalm 125:3. What struggle does the psalmist face?

“The psalmist says, ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’ Psalm 37:3. “Trust in the Lord.” Each day has its burdens, its cares and perplexities; and when we meet how ready we are to talk of our difficulties and trials. So many borrowed troubles intrude, so many fears are indulged, such a weight of anxiety is expressed, that one might suppose we had no pitying, loving Saviour ready to hear all our requests and to be to us a present help in every time of need.” SC 121.2

“In the forty-ninth psalm we read: ‘They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever).’ If all would bear in mind, and could in a small degree appreciate, the immense sacrifice made by Christ, they would feel rebuked for their fearfulness and their supreme selfishness. ‘Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people. Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.’ Because of selfishness and love of the world, God is forgotten, and many have barrenness of soul, and cry: ‘My leanness, my leanness.’ The Lord has lent means to His people to prove them, to test the depth of their professed love for Him. Some would let go of Him and give up their heavenly treasure rather than to decrease their earthly possessions and make a covenant with Him by sacrifice. He calls for them to sacrifice; but the love of the world closes their ears, and they will not hear.” 2T 197.2

“In his dealings with the Philistines, God had shown how easily at his appointed time he can overthrow the stronghold of superstition, and sweep away the refuge of lies. The Lord often employs his bitterest enemies to punish the unfaithfulness of his professed people. The wicked may triumph for a time as they see Israel suffering chastisement; but let them be assured that the wrath of God will ere long fall with crushing weight upon themselves. However the sinner may now rejoice in the rewards of unrighteousness, the blind eyes will yet see, the hard heart one day fell, that a life of rebellion against God has been a terrible mistake.” ST January 12, 1882, Art. A, par. 8

Read Psalm 73: 1-20, 27. What is the end of those who trust in futile things?

“The psalmist David had this experience. When he looked upon the flourishing condition of the wicked he was envious of their success, and said, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued.” But when he went into the sanctuary, and communed with the Lord, he no longer desired the portion of the wicked; for then he understood their end. He saw that their way led to destruction at last, and their pleasure was but for a season. Envy had no more a place in his heart. His rebellious spirit bowed in humble submission to his God, and he declared, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” He saw that the guidance of the Lord was of infinitely more value than all the temporal prosperity of the world; for the way of the Lord kept the feet in the paths of righteousness that lead to eternal glory.” ST February 3, 1888, par. 3

Friday, February 2

Further Thought

“Some are always fearing, and borrowing trouble. Every day they are surrounded with the tokens of God's love; every day they are enjoying the bounties of His providence; but they overlook these present blessings. Their minds are continually dwelling upon something disagreeable which they fear may come; or some difficulty may really exist which, though small, blinds their eyes to the many things that demand gratitude. The difficulties they encounter, instead of driving them to God, the only source of their help, separate them from Him because they awaken unrest and repining. SC 121.3

“Do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare. We should not allow the perplexities and worries of everyday life to fret the mind and cloud the brow. If we do we shall always have something to vex and annoy. We should not indulge a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials. SC 122.1

“You may be perplexed in business; your prospects may grow darker and darker, and you may be threatened with loss; but do not become discouraged; cast your care upon God, and remain calm and cheerful. Pray for wisdom to manage your affairs with discretion, and thus prevent loss and disaster. Do all you can on your part to bring about favorable results. Jesus has promised His aid, but not apart from our effort. When, relying upon our Helper, you have done all you can, accept the result cheerfully.” SC 122.2