Thinking about a Life-Time of Bible Study
Opening question: go around the room and have everyone name a movie they have watched more than once (more than twice ... well, ok, far too often). Ask them if, the later times, they had noticed anything in the movie that they had missed before. Everybody said yes. (The Star Wars fans tell me that in Star Wars III, E.T. makes a brief appearance in the council-hall scene ... I'll have to watch that again.)
Ask for a show of hands for how many people have figured out why that's the opening question. Several hands are raised. Yes, they figured it out correctly: when you re-read parts of the Bible you've read before, you notice things you didn't notice before.
Studying a Book of the Bible
Ask for a show of hands: Who knows who C.S. Lewis is? All the hands are up; everybody has read at least one of the Narnia books, two have read all the Narnia books, and all have seen the first of the Narnia movies.
Mention that C.S. Lewis wrote books for grown-ups also, and he's still a good writer on that level too. I've brought some samples: Reflection on the Psalms which is a Bible study book he wrote on the book of Psalms, and Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. I also showed them two study books on Psalms that our pastor keeps in his library and allows people to borrow. I just want them to be aware that, if they ever want to get into more in-depth studies on their own, there are some materials out there they might want to consider.
Split up the reading around the classroom and have them read the following Psalms.
Psalm 51: Ask who knows the back-story about David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. Most of them do, but we go over it to make sure the details are fresh: David had slept with another man's wife, gotten her pregnant, then killed her husband. You can't go too much lower. Ask for a show of hands who has ever done something they wish they could take back. Everybody's hands are up, some more slowly than others. We read Psalm 51. They recognized various parts of it, especially "Create in me a clean heart" which we sing fairly regularly in church. This is a psalm to read through and pray through when you've done something you're ashamed of doing.
Psalm 119:94-105: After this set of verses is read (and after I get them to stop singing that Amy Grant song based on verse 105), mention that I really admire the psalmist's dedication to God's word, and that this section is a prayer for when it feels like someone is out to get you, just won't leave you in peace. A few of them know what that's like by now.
Psalm 127: After this one is read, mention that the most-remembered and most-quoted part is how if God's not on our side, if we ever find ourselves working against God or ignoring God, it doesn't help us how clever and careful our plans are.
Psalm 22: After this one has been read, one of the students has picked up on this being a prophetic psalm already. Mention that this psalm works on a couple of levels. First, for our own use, it's good for times when we feel that life is horrible and God doesn't care. Ask for a show of hands who has been there. Most of the hands go up. Interestingly, one of the students who usually pretends things are fine comes clean first on this one. He recently had a grandfather die.
Next had the students stay on Psalm 22 while I read from Matthew 27 so they could see how it worked on a prophetic level.
Psalm 150: This one is for celebrating, and I wanted to end on a high note.