Aim: To gain an understanding of what Psalms are. In doing so, the aim would be to encourage a deeper, more real relationship with God. Introduction: The Book of Psalms is perhaps not as easy’ to teach to children as an Old Testament story or New Testament parable. However, in some ways, Psalms is a book decidedly in touch with real life. Whether the writers were praising God or crying out to him in desperation (both of which are considered in the activities below), we can learn both something about the character of God, and something about our relationship with him. Taken from the BB Junior Pro Pack S-2-7
• Bible for each child or projector/screen
• Whiteboard or flipchart
Writing a Psalm template
Activity 1 - Getting Real With God
To realise that God wants us to be real with him, however we are feeling.
• Ask; What are the favourite bands/songs at the moment. Do they know what song is number 1 in the charts? Explain that the bible has a ‘songbook’ in it, including songs about love, failure, forgiveness and all other sorts of things. They tell us a lot about how we can interact with God. While many were written when everything was going well and sing God’s praises, others were written in darker times.
• Read Psalm 22:145. It would be helpful if either a) all the children had a copy of the passage in front of them; or b) it was displayed/projected electronically.
• Consider the ‘strong language’ in the passage. E.g., forsaken, groaning, cry, worm, scorned, hurls insults, roaring lions tearing...
• Draw out what this person might have been feeling? Impress that they were being honest with God, even if that means being angry. There are psalms expressing all these emotions and more. We have made prayer into a polite, formal thing and it doesn’t have to be either of these things. When Jesus prayed, he did so passionately, with emotion and being extremely truthful.
• Jesus experienced dark times too. In fact, when he was being crucified, one of the final things he said was “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Sound familiar? It would have been instantly recognisable to the people listening. Not only was it an expression of the pain he was both physically and spiritually feeling, but it was a final demonstration that He was the fulfilment of all the prophecies that had come before him.
Activity 2 - The Lord Is My Bodyguard, I shall Not Want......?
To introduce the 23rd Psalm and explore how it is still relevant today.
• Psalm 23 is arguably one of the most famous passages in the Bible. When it was written, the Shepherd/sheep analogy would have been something that immediately resonated with anyone hearing it. Nowadays, the analogy might not be so clear.
• In this activity, the children will modify Psalm 23 with updated words. Introduce Psalm 23, explaining that it is a Psalm which talks about the comfort and security we can find in God. We are compared to sheep, and him to the Shepherd. In that way he protects and guides us (rod and staff), feeds and nurtures us (fields and water) and protects us from people who seek to hurt us. Explain that their challenge is to make it relevant to them.
• Share the template with the children - look at the key words that might be changed.
• Ask the children to read out their new versions.
• Conclude by reflecting back on the original words: Even though the analogy might be old, we know that God’s character never changes. Therefore, the same reassurance can be found today, whether we think of God as our Shepherd, or our bodyguard!
Activity 3 - Writing A Psalm
To spend some time exploring their idea of God through the medium of creative writing.
• Explain that there are 150 Psalms in the Bible, and they are all conversations between a person and God. Today, the children are going to have a go at writing a Psalm.
• Emphasise that it doesn’t have to rhyme or follow any kind of pattern, but should be a true expression of what they are thinking/feeling.
• Run through the ‘pointers’ on the template with them before they start writing:
• include one sentence in this format He is as ___________ as a ___________ E.g., He is as big as a mountain
• Think of one thing to thank God or praise Him for.
• Is there anything you want to ask God for?
• Tell God something you have learned about Him / from Him.
• include the words “Me”, “My” or “I” at least 5 times to make it personal.
• Decide whether it would be more appropriate to have individual psalms or the children working in groups.
For full details see the BB Junior Pro Pack S2-7