This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
Psalms 1–2; 8; 19–33; 40; 46
We don’t know for certain who wrote the Psalms. Some have been attributed to King David, but for most of them, the writers remain anonymous. Yet after reading the Psalms, we may feel as if we know the hearts of the Psalmists, even if we don’t know their names. What we do know is that the Psalms were an important part of worship among the Israelites, and we know that the Savior quoted them often. In the Psalms, we get a window into the soul of God’s ancient people. We see how they felt about God, what they worried about, and how they found peace. As believers today, all over the world, we still use these words in our worship of God. The writers of the Psalms seem to have had a window into our souls and seem to have found a way to express how we feel about God, what we worry about, and how we find peace.
Over the years I have listened to many different general conference talks and I regularly read the official church magazine. But, to be honest, rare are those times when I remember a leader focusing on the Psalms. There is a lot of richness in these wonderful chapters and I’m glad to see what will be said in the next three lessons.
Psalms 1; 23; 26–28; 46
The Psalms teach us to trust the Lord.
You might notice as you read the Psalms how often the writers express fear, sorrow, or anxiety. Such feelings are normal, even for people of faith. But what makes the Psalms inspiring is the solutions they offer, including complete trust in the Lord.
Ahh, I agree. Never once does the Psalmist say “trust in the one true church,” “trust in revelation,” or “trust in temple work.” Yes, we must trust completely 100% in the Lord and not in man.
Psalms 2; 22
The Psalms point our minds to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Several of the Psalms point to the mortal life of Jesus Christ. Christians in New Testament times saw these connections too—for example, they recognized in Psalm 2 a reference to Jesus’s trials before King Herod and Pontius Pilate (see Acts 4:24–30). Consider reading Psalms 2 and 22 along with Matthew 27:35–46; Luke 23:34–35; and John 19:23–24. Look for connections between the words in these psalms and the life of the Savior, and keep looking for similar connections as you study the book of Psalms throughout the next few weeks.
Indeed, the Psalms do have prophecies about Jesus that were fulfilled in the events of His life. How people can see these Psalms and other prophetic passages that are so crystal clear.
Imagine that you were a Jew in Jesus’s time who was familiar with the Psalms and saw connections to the Savior’s life. How might this knowledge have been a blessing to you?
Some in Jesus’s day did see, but most did not, especially the religious leaders. The Bible says it is impossible to comprehend God’s ways without the help of the Holy Spirit. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
He added in the following chapter:
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
When I share my faith with a Latter-day Saint, I have to keep in mind that it’s not about me and what I bring to the table that can change a person’s mind and, ultimately, the heart. Rather, only God Word and the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to do this. I am told to present the case and then let the Lord handle it from there. So even when the Bible is so clear in what it teaches about the appearance of Jesus as the Messiah of the world, the person with a stubborn heart is not capable of seeing what seems so plain to the Spirit-filled individual.
Psalms 8; 19; 33
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.”
Reading Psalms 8; 19; and 33 may inspire you to consider the Lord’s many wonderful creations. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings as you do. How do the Lord’s creations “declare the glory of God” to you? (Psalm 19:1).
General revelation shouts out the existence of a higher being whom we know as “God.” These are some wonderful passages for us to reflect on the majesty of the One who created out of nothing and with no predecessor (Is. 43:10; 44:6-8; Ps. 90:2; Mal. 3:6).
Psalms 19:7–11; 29
The word of the Lord is powerful, “rejoicing the heart.”
In the Psalms, words like testimony, statutes, commandment, and judgments can refer to the word of the Lord. Keep that in mind as you read Psalm 19:7–11. What do these verses suggest to you about the word of the Lord? What does Psalm 29 teach you about His voice? In your experience, how has the word or voice of the Lord matched these descriptions?
In Psalm 119, there are 8 sections containing each of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with each verse containing words such as testimony, statute, and commandment. In these verses as well, the commands of God are “radiant,” as verse 8 puts it. However, there is no way to be justified by keeping the laws of the Lord. Notice what Galatians 2 says:
15 We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
I’m not 100% sure what the writer(s) of this curriculum are saying, but I fully agree the law of the Lord is perfect. God is just. But He is also merciful, and only through having faith in Christ can sins be forgiven.
Psalms 24; 26–27
Entering the Lord’s presence requires purity.
Because the temple at Jerusalem was built on a hill, the phrase “hill of the Lord” (Psalm 24:3) may refer to the temple or to the presence of God. What does this add to your understanding of Psalm 24? What does it mean to you to have “clean hands, and a pure heart”? (Psalm 24:4).
Of course, this paragraph was included as support for the 172+ Mormon temples and the temple recommend that is required in order to enter and do the work for both the living and the dead. Unfortunately, even the person who has a temple recommend still has bad thoughts and other sin patterns. The only way to have true clean hands and a pure heart is to have the blood of Jesus imputed into your account with the full assurance of the forgiveness of sins.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
To emphasize the importance of having clean hands and a pure heart, you could read Psalm 24:3–5 while family members wash their hands. What might hands represent in this psalm? What could the heart symbolize? What can we do to spiritually cleanse our hands and purify our hearts?
The obvious requested response is to attend church regularly, keep the Sabbath day holy, get married in the temple, and continually keep all the commandments. Yet this illustration fails. While a person can wash her hands, not every speck is removed from under the fingernails. Immediately after washing the hands, contamination takes place immediately upon touching the doorknob!
Hebrews 10:14 says that Jesus, by a single offering, “has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Verse 17 adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” This involves more than a “hand washing” but rather required the skills of the Master.
One thing I saw most stressed in this chapter was how cleansing ourselves is something we do, as if we can be good enough to accomplish what God has laid out for us to receive eternal life. Yet this is not the way of the Bible. I rejoice that forgiveness of sins comes not by what we do but by what He did–forgiveness of sins that is worthy of our adoration and praise.