Instructions for Inductive Study Guide on Psalms 90-92


1. General Instructions.

The study guide is due on, at the beginning of class on March 5. It is worth 50% of the course grade, so a suitable amount of time and effort should be devoted to it. It is strongly urged that work on this begin immediately, rather than put off until the last week or two of the term.

The study guide is to be neatly typed, in any form that will make it "user-friendly" to lay people using it. Dot-matrix printers are acceptable, provided the draft mode is not used. Please number the pages, and include an annotated bibliography of "Works For Further Study," which should represent the works you yourself consulted. The guide is to be in a ready-to-use form, i.e., in a form that you could pass out next week in your own church. There is no suggested page limit or suggested time length for the study; what is crucial is that Psalms 90-92 be treated adequately according to the instructions here.

2. Intended Use.

The target audience and occasion for use should be an adult, college-age, or youth group that is meeting in a Sunday School class, in-church or home Bible study, mid-week teaching service, etc. The study should extend over several weeks.

3. Features.

The study guide must include the following features.

A. Introduction.

1) Briefly explain the method of inductive Bible study, emphasizing the text-based nature of the approach. Give any helps as to how to use this guide, your goals as author/leader of the study, and desired outcomes for the users of the study.

2) Introduce the user to the book of Psalms. Include discussion of the following:

  • Name of the book
  • Canonical placement (Hebrew and English Bibles)
  • The nature of the Psalter as a collection
  • Introduction to Hebrew Poetry
  • Genres of the Psalms
  • Authorship issues
  • Brief outline of the book
  • Major themes (Theology) of the book

B. Study Questions and Helps

(1) Questions. This section is the heart of the study guide. Please give careful consideration to your questions. They should be questions that force readers into the text, as well as stimulate readers' interest. You should avoid overly subjective questions such as "What do you think about this passage?" on the one hand and "wooden" questions such as "What does verse 3 say?"

Each question must include a textual reference, such as "According to verse 4..." or "Look up Deut 33:27. How do Moses' words here bear upon his words in Ps 90:1?" or "What is the issue in verse 14?" or "In what ways do verses 11-16 direct us to the thoughts expressed in Ps 92:1-4?"

(2) Study Helps. These are to supplement the study questions, and should include such things as additional references that are relevant to the verse, phrase, word, or concept at hand, a chart, a time line, and/or suggestions as to where further information may be found. This last suggestion will begin to force the students into such reference works as concordances, Bible dictionaries or encyclopedias, etc. Be sure to give them ones that will likely be found in a typical (or your) church library.

(3) Leader's Guide. You must also supply a Leader's Guide with the study guide, containing brief answers to all of the questions, as well as suggestions for leaders that go beyond what you want to include in the study guide itself. You should not include too much substantive material about the Psalms here - i.e., be sure to include most background, contextual, and other such information in the student guide, not just the Leader's Guide. Rather, mainly include here suggestions to the leader for leading the discussion or for further reading on particular points.

Special Note. Remember that this study is of a group of psalms. The study guide should introduce students to the principles and techniques of reading psalms in their literary contexts, and it should force them to consider the ways in which these psalms build upon and comment upon each other. Reserve some questions to ask about connections between specific verses in adjacent psalms, or about larger inter-psalm links. Also include questions forcing students to deal with the psalms preceding and following Psalms 90-92.

C. "Principlized" (Theological) Outline

The entire section (Psalms 90-92) should be outlined, according to the natural units. This should be fairly detailed. A one-sentence summary of each Psalm's message should be included, as well as one for the theme of each psalm section, emphasizing the theological relevance of each (i.e., the main theological principles of each). This outline may be placed separately, by itself in the study guide, or it may be incorporated into the discussion questions in a running fashion.

D. Suggested Applications

You should be sensitive to relevant applications all along the way in this study, and should pass these along to the reader at appropriate points. These applications should be adduced from the "principlized" outline. Naturally, there will be some major applications to make at the conclusion of the study, but help the reader to see the relevance of the message as s/he goes.

4. Concluding Comments and Pep Talk.

You will not begin to understand and assimilate the message of these psalms until you have read them through many times (including in Hebrew, if you know this language). You should read through Book IV of the Psalter (Psalms 90-106) several times, as well as Book III (Psalms 73-89) at least once or twice, in order to understand Psalms 90-92 in their proper literary context.

Feel free to be creative in layout, presentation, or approach, within the above guidelines. Think of a real-life church situation in which you might use this. Please be careful to let the text itself determine your literary units, including the length and content of each lesson. The study should be detailed enough as to allow for several (or many) weeks of study for a study group. The actual decision on how many that will be and what they will cover is left to you.

Above all, remember that you are reading and dealing with God's Word. Ask him to teach you, as you go about the task of preparing a study guide to teach others. It is a wonderful privilege we have to devote concentrated time and study to God's very words. Let none of us take that for granted. Dig in, and enjoy!