Introduction: “Remember the thief on the cross!” In the
debate over what righteousness by faith means, the
experience of that thief gives us confidence that our works
will not save us. Have you ever heard a Christian who
argues the importance of right living say, “Remember the
thief on the cross?” If you think about this, that thief is
a powerful lesson about how our life can be if we ignore the
teachings of the Bible on right living. That thief ended
life on earth with the most embarrassing and painful death.
Let’s jump into our study of the Psalms to learn more about
how life is better if we follow God’s rules!

I. The Walk

A. Read Psalm 119:1-3. These verses use the term
“walk” twice. What does it mean to walk “in the
law,” and to “walk in His ways?” (Walk refers to
the direction of your life. The blessed person
moves forward in a way consistent with God’s law.)

B. Read Psalm 119:4-6. Do you like to be embarrassed?
What does this teach us about how to avoid
embarrassment? (We will not be “put to shame” if
we are focused on God’s laws.)

1. Think about the time when you felt most
embarrassed? Was it because you were obeying
God’s commands?

C. Read Psalm 119:7-9. How can we know how to keep
God’s law? Is there a learning curve? (There is a
learning curve. The psalmist writes about learning
the “righteous rules.” Those rules are found in
God’s Word – the Bible.)

D. Let’s skip down and read Psalm 119:32-34. Verse 32
has an unusual phrase: “when you enlarge my
heart.” What do you think it means for God to
enlarge our heart with regard to His law? (Our
natural heart is not in accord with God’s law. We
not only need to learn God’s law, but we need a
change of heart. We need the Holy Spirit to change
our heart so that we can “run” with our “whole

1. Have you been involved in a situation where
you wanted God to ignore one part of your
life? God could have your life, just this one
little part you would like to keep? (The
psalmist tells us the goal is to turn over our
entire heart to God’s leading.)

E. Look again at Psalm 119:34. The psalmist links
“understanding” with “whole heart” observance. Do
you see Christians who misunderstand the meaning
of a commandment?

1. Read Matthew 5:27-28. What is Jesus doing
here? How is He helping us to better
understand the seventh commandment? (Jesus
gives us a deeper understanding of what God
has in mind for better living.)

II. Counting

A. Read Psalm 90:10-12. Moses (who lived a lot
longer) tells us that our lifespan is 70 years, or
80 if we are strong. That is worrisome news to me!
What point do you think Moses is making when he
tells us to consider the power of God’s anger and
wrath? (If you look at the lifespan of humans
before the Flood, you see that they lived much
longer. Moses’ point is that God holds the key to
longevity. That is power.)

1. How does the instruction “teach us to number
our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”
fit into Moses’ statement about longevity? (We
have limited time on earth. We need to make
the best of it. Part of our goal in our
limited time is to become wise.)

2. What do you think Moses means when he tells us
to “get a heart of wisdom?” What does “wise”
mean? Is he talking about our relative
intelligence? (No. He is telling us that
understanding God’s will, and acting in
accordance with it, is wisdom. Wisdom can be
learned. This can impact the length of our

3. My step grandfather was a great man for the
short time I knew him. However, he had
previously spent decades as a drunk. The
Salvation Army and the Holy Spirit rescued him
and he began to preach and teach. I recall him
telling me how he regretted all the lost years
to alcohol. Do you take your years seriously?

B. Read Psalm 81:6-7. Scan the prior verses in Psalm
81 and tell me what you think verse six means?
(God is speaking about the time when His people
were slaves in Egypt.)

1. What does the reference in verse 7 to Meribah
mean? (Read Exodus 17:4-7. This reference is
to the time when the people so distrusted God
that they were threatening to stone Moses.)

2. When Psalms 81:7 refers to the people being
“tested” at Meribah, do you think that God
withheld water from them as a test? (If you
read Exodus 17:2 Moses says that the people
are testing God.)

3. With all of these charges about “testing”
being made, what do you think is the real
issue? (Trusting God.)

4. Step back a moment. If you trust God, will
your life be better? (It will be more

C. Read Psalm 81:11-16. What aspect of counting our
days do these verses address?(When we count our
days, we not only consider how we are spending our
time, but we have the opportunity to increase the
enjoyment of life. Would you like your remaining
days to be excellent?)

D. Read Psalm 112:7-8. Compare this description of
the righteous with the problem at Meribah. What
makes the difference? (Trusting God. What a
glorious description of the attitude that we need
to acquire from God. We are not afraid of bad
news. Our heart is steady. We look forward to
winning in the end.)

III. The Consideration

A. Read Psalm 141:3-4. What about our lips are we
watching? Are we trying not to swear? Are we
trying not to lie? (While those are important, I
think the bigger issue is reflected in verse four.
We need to watch our influence. Is our influence
to incline others to evil?)

B. Read Psalm 141:5. How do you like an unexpected
blow to the head? When I worked on construction I
hated it when I unexpectedly hit my head on a
board I had not noticed.

1. Oil on the head is a great thing. How is
getting hit on the head by a righteous rebuke
like oil? (David admits that sometimes he just
needs to get hit with a rebuke.)

2. Does this raise a modern culture versus the
Bible issue? If anyone rebukes sin, especially
in the church, this is considered by many to
be a grave error. We are told to be
“welcoming.” What do you think?

3. I am a leader in a “welcoming” church. We
believe in being kind to sinners, and avoid
kicking them around. Personally, I feel better
being kind than being harsh. How about you?

4. Is there a way to resolve this conflict? (This
is King David writing about himself. David is
a man who was close to God and should have no
excuses for bad behavior. Jesus was often kind
to sinners. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to
give us the right approach to sinners.)

C. Read Psalm 141:6. What does David have in mind for
evil judges? (They should be tossed off a cliff.)

D. Read Psalms 141:8-10. We have much discussion here
about dangerous things. David says that the wicked
have bad things in mind for him. Is it appropriate
to spend our remaining days looking for harm for
our enemies and safety for ourselves? Except, of
course, where we need to take a hit to help us to
get back on track? (We naturally seek safety. The
ultimate point being made by David is that God is
our safe harbor. He can save us and give the
wicked what they had in mind to harm the

E. Friend, while our ultimate salvation is the most
important goal, do you want to spend 70-80 years
having an unpleasant time? Do you want to be
unhappy and afraid? Constantly complaining about
how God and others have let you down? We do not
want to live the life that led the thief to the
cross. Instead, we need to follow God’s commands
and live a confident, trusting, wise, and happy
life. Will you choose to follow God’s commands?

IV. Next week: Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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