Scripture: Psalm 119:97-112

מ Mem

97 Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
    so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
    for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

נ Nun

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end

Main Point: God’s law is important, and it is important that as disciples we take the time to know, to keep, and to find joy in following God’s rules.

Learning Game: Zendo

Zendo is a game of logic and reasoning. It played three to five players,  but it can work very well with teams of two. Zendo uses very beautiful pieces that come in different shapes and colors.   One person will be “the master” and they will use these pieces to build a structure that follows a rule. The game comes with cards that helps provide choices and keeps the rules from getting to obscure.  For instance the rule might be something like the structure must have a red piece on top of a yellow piece.

The other players on their turn will then use pieces to build a structure of their own, and the master will tell them if their structure follows the rule or not.  Instead of building a structure a player may attempt to guess the rule. If they are wrong the master must build a new structure that follows the rule and also disapproves the guessed rule.

The first player to figure out the rule wins the game.    Zendo is available from specialty game stores. It has a retail price of $40, but it can be found at online stores for $28.   For a cheaper option there is a similar came that uses a deck of playing cards called Eleusis. It does not have the beautiful table presence of Zendo, and if playing by the rules the scoring system of Eleusis is somewhat convoluted.  Either game works for the purpose of this lesson. If you want to explore the option of using playing cards and Eleusis instead you can learn about the game here: Elusis link

Post Game Discussion

The scripture is all about God’s rules and how we know them.  To get the students thinking in the right direction, a good starting point is discussing the nature of learning rules in the game they just played.  Throughout this lesson several of the questions have “facilitator instructions”. These are meant to be helpful tips for the person guiding the conversation.   Use the following questions to start discussion:

1.    How did you go about figuring out the rule?   Was it easy or hard to do so?

2.    How did knowing the rule change how you play the game?

Facilitator Instructions:  The game requires trial and error plus learning from those errors and observation.  Before knowing the rule players are a bit aimless in their play never knowing what is right, but once they begin to get an idea about the rule their play becomes very focused and directed.   This point needs to be explicitly said now, so that it can be referenced in discussing the scripture.

Biblical Discussion (25 minutes)

Begin by giving the students some background on the scripture.   Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible, and it is an acrostic poem that goes through the Hebrew alphabet.  They are only going to read a small part of the whole poem, so they should know the overall theme of the poem is the word of God and how God is the God of the word.   The scripture they are looking at comes from the middle of the Psalm Read Psalm 119:97-112, and use the following questions to prompt discussion:

1.   What do you think it mean to love God’s law?

2.   What does it mean that your word is a lamp to my feet?

Facilitator Instructions:  Both of these questions point to an internalization of God’s commands.  Loving God’s law means finding joy and satisfaction in following them. It may be worthwhile to ask how someone could do that.   Practically, God’s law guides our actions and gives us direction on how to act right much like a lamp provides guidance of where to walk in the darkness.

3.    What are the laws or rules  of God that are being referred to who here?

Facilitator Instruction:  It is possible that students might mention things like the Ten Commandments.  That is good if they do, but they should be reminded that Jesus said the two greatest commandments are love God and love neighbor.  These two commands sum up all of the others.

4.   Look at verses 98-100, how can knowing God’s law make one wise?

Facilitator Instruction:  Wisdom is knowledge applied. This ties back to the game, when the rule is not known the players are being wise in the cards they are playing.  Knowing God’s law and then consistently applying them in all situations of life is wisdom. Just like knowing the rule in the game provides direction and purpose, consistently following God’s rules provides direction to how we live our lives, everything we do is based in love, and it provides purpose because we seek to honor God above all else.  

5.   What does it mean to meditate on God’s statues?

Facilitator Instruction: Meditating on God’s statues means giving real thought to their meaning and application. This can connect back to the game. In the game real thought and effort is put forth to find the rule. In the same way, we should use that kind of intentional thought in understanding God’s rules.

6.   Look at verses 104 and 112, do you feel that way about following God?  Why or why not?

Facilitator Instruction:  This scripture can be convicting, because it can confront us with the fact that we do not take following God seriously enough.   Often we seek joy and fulfillment from other things in life and we put following God on the back burner. However, this scripture points out that loving God and loving others consistently brings us fulfillment and joy like nothing else.  

7.   You know God’s commands, so how are you going to follow them this week?

Facilitator Instruction:  This ties back to the game.  In life we are at the point in the game where we have a really good idea about what the rule is so  we have to start applying the rule. Not seeking to love God and love others daily is like purposely building a structure in the game  that one knows violates the rules.

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