Psalm 27:1-4; 13-141NIV New International Version Translations
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
We do not know when David wrote Psalm 27. Some believe that he wrote it in 2 parts, writing verses 1 – 6 when life was good and God was answering all his prayers. Perhaps it was after he had killed Goliath. (See Psalm 27:2). He wrote verses 7-12 when life was difficult, when David thought that God was hiding from him. Perhaps it was when Saul was fighting him. (See Psalm 27:12). He wrote verses 13-14 when he put the 2 parts together.
Others also believe that David wrote it all at the same time. In the past God had been good to him. Why was God not good to him now? He would still believe in God and wait for his help. In Psalm 27 we learn that for David life had its ups and downs. The ups were the good times. The downs were the difficult times.
The ups and downs of life also happen to us. When life is difficult, our challenge is to remember the good times. When we think that God has forgotten us, we must remember the times when He did not forget us. We must be like David in Psalm 27:14. We must wait for the Lord. One day he will give us help. If we believe this, it will make us strong.
Items for Discussion
- What kinds of things make up the ups and downs of life?
- What is life like without any “UPS?”
- How do people handle life without any ups in it, only “DOWNS?”
- What makes a down an up?
- What role does confidence in the Lord play in handling life’s ups and downs?
- What role does patience play in handling life’s ups and downs?
- Exactly what is the CONFIDENCE that David had in the Lord and why is this important?
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Let’s set the stage here. While Jesus is in Bethany, He goes to the house of Simon the leper for dinner. As Jesus is eating, a woman comes in with an alabaster cruse (long necked container) of ointment of pure nard that was very costly. She breaks the cruse, and poured the nard over Jesus’ head. The apostles start to chide her for wasting something that is so costly, claiming they could have sold it and gotten a year’s wages for the nard.
We do not know exactly who Simon the leper was. Since Jesus did not go to heal Simon, we must assume that Jesus had healed him earlier. This household had been united with the household of Lazarus (John 12:2). The woman is Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 12:3). Jesus rebukes those who are only thinking of the money.
We know many things about the woman but we learn them from the other Gospels. The Bible tells us who she was (John 12:3). And we know many things about her family (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44). But Mark only tells us how she showed her love for Jesus. She gave something that was both beautiful and expensive. And she gave it all up. Some disciples thought that Jesus would be angry. They were not rich men. They knew that the gift was expensive. They wanted to use the money so that they could help poor people. And they thought that the woman had wasted her gift.
But the woman did not waste her gift. She had a short time to show her love to Jesus. And she showed that she loved him completely. Soon Jesus would die.
Those disciples knew that poor people needed money. But they did not know what God was doing. By her gift, the woman showed that she knew. She was preparing Jesus’ body for his death. That is why it was right to give this gift. It was right to give an expensive gift because Jesus is a king. And the woman had to give it before Jesus’ death. The women would not have the time to give these gifts after his death (Mark 16:1-8).
Items for Discussion
- What effect do you think Mary’s experiences in her life, the things she saw, would have had on her faith?
- By Mary’s actions, what did she demonstrate to those who were watching that evening?
- While the gift of nard was expensive, it was not the value of the gift that made her an effective witness. What was it that made Mary’s actions such an effective testimony?
- The Apostles were motivated by good things, helping the poor. So what is it about the example of Mary that they missed?
- How does the modern church set examples that are as effective as Mary’s example?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations