Psalm 37:1-11 Study Guide

By October 2, 2016October 6th, 2016Small Group Study Guide

Pick one “P” to touch on this week in group.

  1. Pray for relationships
  2. Prepare – Understand the Gospel
  3. Pursue trust relationships
  4. Proclaim – Identify with Christ
  5. Plan to include others

Intro: Emotions and the Complexity of Systems

A farmer has a problem with bugs eating his crop. He’s convinced that if he kills the bugs, he’ll increase his crops. However, the pesticide that kills the insects also kills other insects that eat the crop-eating insects! Now, more of the crop-eating insects are at work eating his crops and have developed a resistance to the insecticide.

Bottom line: The action intended to solve the problem actually made it worse by way of unintended side effects.

Many times our problems are complex, but our solutions are often driven by a desire for simplicity and expediency.

Take a moment to contemplate: Think of a situation where your actions had unintended side effects.

Did your actions come from a desire for a solution that was simple and quick? What were the unintended side effects?

Take a moment and share your story with the group.

Question: Generally, why do we want to solve problems easily and quickly?

Over the next month, we are going to be examining our emotions by spending time in the Book of Psalms.

True or False: Emotions are one of the least reliable, yet most influential forces that guide our lives.
Share with the group the reason for your answer.

The Psalms can help us to use our feelings as warnings signs, causing us to take a look deeper into our lives. We may find ourselves asking reflective questions like: “Why do I feel this so strongly? What does it indicate?”

Study Guide Objective: To examine the emotion of anger. Understand what unrighteous anger is and what drives it in our lives. Finally, look at what Psalm 37 says in regard to anger and what we can take away from it.

Read / Understand: 

Note: Use this section to walk through the passage with your group members. The comments and questions in this section are there to highlight points made in the sermon and intended to help you make personal application for your group members. You don’t have to cover all the passage or questions. Use as little or as much as you want and tailor it to fit your group.

 Anger: Louie Zapernini’s story…

  • Olympic miler… WWII bombardier whose plane crashed in the pacific.
  • He was adrift on a raft for a record 47 days…picked up by the Japanese and taken to a POW camp where he was tortured terribly. Nemesis was a guard nicknamed “The Bird.”
  • He was both kept alive by his hatred of The Bird and was being slowly killed by that same hatred.
  • Post rescue, with his life and marriage in shambles, he attended a Billy Graham crusade where he heard and responded to the gospel. There he was forgiven and was able to forgive.
  • The hatred and anger had been transformed. Louie went to Japan in 1998 to run a leg in the Olympic Torch relay. While there, he tried to meet with The Bird to offer forgiveness; the bird refused.
  • Louie lived as a free man to the age of 97 and died a free man in 2014…not just free from physical prison…

If anyone had reason for anger, it was Louie; but that same anger had been destroying him.

Take a moment to contemplate:

Louie’s story is a good illustration of how anger can destroy a person from the inside out, but his story can be somewhat removed from us personally. Take a moment and think about a time in your life when you’ve experienced or personally witnessed the kind of anger Louie felt. What was the result? What role did the gospel play, if any?

Key Point to remember: Unrighteous anger is a refusal to wait for justice; it is the demand that life and God get on our schedule.

If the statement above is true, then what provokes this kind of anger?

Terry gave us two basic or typical ways we might see unrighteous anger manifested:

  1. It could be anything that interferes with our own satisfaction.
  • Could be a slow car in the wrong lane
  • A loud patron in a theater
  • A cruel spouse, a defiant child, a hard to deal with co-worker
  • Physical problem

Question: Why do these seemingly petty things get us so “wrapped around the axle”?

  1. Unjust assault

Read: 

Psalm 109:1-3   

O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, 2for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 3With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.

Take a moment to contemplate: Reflect on Psalm 109:1-3. Think of a time in your life, the life of a family member, or the life of a friend, when you or they had been treated unjustly. How did it make you feel?

Question: Why does injustice make us angry?

This kind of anger (anger against injustice) can do one of two things: it can energize our hatred of sin (not sinners), or it can be ugly and vindictive and can consume us as we try to play God’s role in the world.

Question: How can we keep from being consumed with the wrong type of anger?

Look at Allendar’s definition of Unrighteous Anger: Unrighteous anger demands for “the self” a world under our control. We cannot wait for God’s redemption; we do not want to groan, to be put out or put off. Our timing is what matters and immediate justice is our demand. When that demand is not met, anger is our response.

Take a moment to contemplate: Take a moment and think about how “unrighteous anger” consume others and goes about condemning others. Share your thought with the group.

Question: How can unrighteous anger ultimately make us furious at God for not fulfilling our demands now?

In what ways have you seen this kind of anger destroy a person?

If you’ve not seen this happen, take a moment and think through the possible results.  Share your thoughts with the group.

Righteous Anger: An assault against injustice.

Eph. 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” This verse states clearly that not all anger is unrighteous.

Key Point to Remember: When injustice happens, the lack of anger is a sign of something being terribly wrong. This can be in a society or in a heart. Righteous anger grieves and struggles with God, asking questions “What are you doing? Why are you not doing something? When are you going to do something about this?”

Look at Psalm 77:6-11 First, the psalmist struggles with God, then he remembers to remember.

Psalm 77:6-11

I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired:  7Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again?  8Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time?  9Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld His compassion?’ Selah 10Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.’  11I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

It is right to be angry with injustice; it is right to take that anger to God. Then, move out into the world in ways that are God-honoring.

Question: How differently would it look if real and perceived injustice in our cities were dealt with in God-honoring ways?

How can we move out into the world in ways that are God-honoring?

Look at the following Psalms:

  • Ps. 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”
  • Ps. 33:20 “We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.”
  • Ps. 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

Question: Can you see where hope in God and a willingness to wait on Him are linked? Share the ways with the group.

Why is it important for us to see this?

Psalm 37:1-7

1Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; 2for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.  3Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  4Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:  6He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  7Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  8Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil.

Notice what the Psalm says we do when we are angry? 

We can:

  • Refuse: To fret yourself.
  • Reflect: Get perspective.
  • Wait: Be still before the Lord.
  • Delight: Delight yourself in the Lord.

Take a moment to contemplate: Take time to discuss with your group how you can move forward in righteous anger while bearing in mind the truth found in Psalm 37. Discuss how the gospel is the solution to injustice. And lastly, discuss what it means to live the gospel in the world.

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