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Divine JoyAbiding in the Grace of Gods Joyful Embrace Week Eight Study Guide Shout joyfully to God, all

the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. (Psalm 66:1-2) What better way to conclude our study of Divine Joy than to make His praise glorious with joyful exuberance. This anonymously written song underscores for readers today that in order to testify to Gods goodness, we first need to glorify Him through exaltation and magnify the wonders He has done on behalf of His children. As you read through the 20 verses of this final Psalm for our study, may the cry of your heart be an echo of verse 16 which confidently states, Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul. (NASB) Reflection Questions 1. By now for many of you, seeing the word joy in a psalm is not at all new scriptural territory! It is believed this song was originally penned following a great victory in battle. The opening two verses of Psalm 66 certainly illuminate that assumption. As we have previously seen in several of the other psalms we have studied, the call to praise means to shout in triumph over enemies and to shout in applause. After reading through the text in its entirety, return to the first two verses and savor them. How has the study of praise in this and other psalms weve pondered over the several weeks influenced your approach to God in worship? (Whether in a corporate setting or alone.)

2. Verses 3 and 4 certainly glorify God by focusing solely on Him and His awesome deeds. Take a moment to count the number of times the words you and your appear in just these two verses alone. Also note the frequency with which the words me and mine are used. (Hint: Okay, one of those is a trick request!) Please write these numbers below. What do you find striking about this focus on God in contrast to our culture today?

In verses 3 and 5, we come across the word awesome an apt description of Gods deeds that is for sure! In the original Hebrew, this word carries the connotation of reverential fear, honor, respect and even astonishment. We also see at verse 3 a mention of Gods great power. What do Psalm 89:13 and 2 Chronicles 20:5-6 declare about Gods power? How are these gentle reminders about Gods unequaled power? How might your answer presently influence your walk of faith with Him? Please jot your thoughts in the space provided.

Also worth noting in this portion of scripture is the word Selah which appears in the right-hand margin alongside the text. Some commentators believe this word is translated, pause and calmly think of that, and may represent a crescendo or musical interlude. That little nugget is worth remembering! As you read through the psalm, be sure to note this word in the margin. Take a moment to pause and think calmly about what you are reading in other words, meditate on the Word of God. Remember, this is not considered a fast food experience. Theres no drive-up window to the Word. It is always a banquet its up to you to determine how many courses youre able to digest!

3. Beginning at verse 5, we see an enthusiastic call to recognize exactly what God has done on behalf of those who follow Him. The New Living Translation (NLT) renders this verse, Come and see what God has done, what awesome miracles he does for his people! (Several translations also end this verse with an exclamation mark.) Look up Psalm 77:14. How does this verse mirror verse 5 of Psalm 66?

4. Psalm 77 and Psalm 66 do reveal some interesting similarities. Begin by reading through verses 1015 of Psalm 77. To what does the writer Asaph appeal at verse 10? What does he deliberately remember in verse 11? What does he choose to meditate on and consider in verse 12?

In light of a circumstance you are currently facing, why would reflecting on Gods past deeds in your own life prove beneficial? Please write your answer below. If you feel so inclined, detail a recent instance where you saw Gods hand at work on your behalf personally (within the last three months).

Look up Numbers 29:19 and Hebrews 13:8. What characteristics of God and Jesus do these verses underscore for you?

5. In verses 6 and 7 of Psalm 66, the writer is recounting the miracle of God parting the Red Sea during the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. (For those of you who want to take a look, this is also paralleled for us by Asaph in Psalm 77:15-20.) According to one commentator, The story of this incredible miracle was handed down from generation to generation, continually reminding the Israelites of Gods power, protection and love. Turn to Exodus Chapter 13:17 and read through this remarkable account, which concludes at Chapter 14:31. The following questions pertain to Exodus Chapter 14: *What did the LORD instruct Moses to do at verses 15 and 16?

*What did the LORD indicate He would do to the hearts of the Egyptians in verse 4 and again in verses 17 18? What was His purpose in doing so? What do the Egyptians acknowledge at verse 25?

*How are Gods awesome deeds and great power mentioned in Psalm 66, demonstrated dramatically in verses 19 31 of Exodus Chapter 14? List some below. (For example, the pillar of cloud cited at verse 19 stood between the armies of Egypt and Israel, bringing darkness to one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. (v.20 NIV) This miraculous intervention protected the Israelites and allowed them to cross through the sea unharmed!

One of my favorite parts of this account is recalled at verses 21, 22 and again at verse 29. Can you guess what that is? I personally love the fact the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground always remember that our God doesnt take half measures! They didnt slog through puddles or muddy, wet sandy soil to get to the opposite shore. Nor did they have to wade through shallow water. Which verse in Psalm 66 also makes mention of this fact? Jot the number of the verse here: ____

Not surprisingly, Psalm 77:19-20 also references the crossing of the Red Sea. Our writer Asaph, however, mentions this from a little bit different angle. What analogy does he use in these verses when referencing the Lords involvement? Whose footprints were not seen? Please jot your answers in the space provided.

One interesting thing to note is that shepherds in the Eastern Hemisphere typically did not drive their sheep from behind, but led them by literally walking before the flock to ensure safe passage into a new pasture. This is the hallmark of a responsible, caring shepherd and of course aptly describes our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. (See verses 11 and 14 of John Chapter 10.) How does knowing God goes before His children through their circumstances resonate with you at this present time?

6. At verse 8 of Psalm 66, the psalmist once again encourages Gods people to praise Himand not silently either. This portion of scripture declares, And sound His praise abroad, in the NASB translation, and let the sound of his praise be heard, in the NIV version. Verse 9 speaks to why we are to praise God. What does this verse say the Lord has done for His people?

7. How do verses 23 and 24 of Psalm 37 affirm what our anonymous writer penned in Psalm 66:9? Please write your response below.

The word delights found in verse 23 of the NIV and NASB translations, means to take pleasure into be pleased with in the original Hebrew language. In other words, those who follow the LORD are assured of His direction and protection as they step out in faithmuch like the Israelites crossing the dry ground of the parted Red Sea. Interestingly, delights also means to bend down which I find to be an ideal word picture of our heavenly Father gently stooping down to comfort His sometimes befuddled children! Selah!

8. While verses 8 and 9 of Psalm 66 speak of the heavenly alignment of our feet (so to speak), verses 1012 refer to our refinement! Recalling the LORDs faithfulness with honest transparency includes not minimizing portions of walking with God that are just plain hard. Sometimes circumstances seem out of our control and dont make sense to us this side of eternity. Having learned long ago during a personal health crisis that sometimes God allows hardships for my good and His glory helped me to open my eyes to how God chose to preserve my own life and keep my feet from slipping. It seems the more challenging the circumstance, the finer the refining! How does Malachi 3:2-3 describe God? How is this similar to what is recorded for us in Psalm 66:10?

According to commentators, In the process of refining metals, the raw metal is heated with fire until it melts. The impurities separate from it and rise to the surface. They are skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Without this heating and melting, there could be no purifying. As the impurities are skimmed off the top, the reflection of the worker appears in the smooth, pure surface. Think of someone in your own life who you know has been refined by the hand of God how does this person reflect the face of Jesus through his or her life?

9. Verses 13 through 15 of Psalm 66 speak of intentional thankfulness toward God for His awesome deeds and great power on behalf of His beloved. In other words, the psalmist doesnt have an attitude of glibly thanking God once the crisis has passed, and going on his merry way without giving God a second thought. Instead, what does the writer indicate he is going to do? Why is this important in light of what Ecclesiastes 5:2-5 states? What does that mean for you today?

10. Detection and Inspection . Verses 16 and 17 of Psalm 66 focus on openly declaring the goodness of God by telling others what he has done for me. Our testifying to His awesome deeds and great power demonstrated through the circumstances in our own lives magnifies and glorifies Him in the eyes of those around us. In other words, we are declaring that He lives! Paraphrasing the words of the Reverend Tony Evans, When we pass a test given to us by God, we have something to testify about! (See verse 10!) Please use the space below to write what you feel God has done for you through our eight-week study of Divine Joy. Perhaps you were especially touched by a particular portion of scripture, study guide question, small group sharing time, prayer or teaching segment. How has God revealed Himself to you through the past eight weeks? How has your concept of joy changed through this study? How awesome are His works on your behalf? Selah!

Prayer Request Please jot down any prayer requests you may have and bring it to your small group for sharing.

Sources used in writing this study guide include: Blueletter; Life Application Study Bible NIV commentary notes; Amplified Bible commentary notes; Nelsons Three-in-One Bible Reference Companion.