Lesson 25: “Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 117–22


Purpose

To help class members show their gratitude for the Savior and for the many blessings that he and our Heavenly Father have given us.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the scriptures discussed in the lesson and as much of the book of Psalms as you can.

  2. 2.

    Study the lesson and prayerfully select the scriptures, themes, and questions that best meet class members’ needs. This lesson does not cover the entire book of Psalms. Rather, it deals with a few of the important themes that are expressed throughout the book.

  3. 3.

    If you use the first attention activity, bring a picture of the Savior and four or five items that represent things for which you are grateful, such as the scriptures, a picture of a loved one, an item that represents one of your talents, or an item of food. If you use the second attention activity, ask one or two class members to prepare to share a favorite psalm and tell why it is important to them.

  4. 4.

    Bring one or more pictures of temples.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use one of the following activities (or one of your own) as class begins. Select the activity that would be most appropriate for the class.

  1. 1.

    Show a picture of the Savior and express your gratitude for his life and mission. Display the items that represent other things for which you are grateful. Express your gratitude for each one. Then ask the following questions:

    • What gifts and opportunities from the Lord are you especially grateful for? How would your life be different without these blessings?

    Explain that many of the psalms express gratitude for blessings the Lord has given. Part of this lesson focuses on those blessings and on what we can do to show our gratitude for them.

  2. 2.

    Ask a class member to read Psalm 23 aloud. Then ask the following questions:

    • What feelings are expressed in this psalm? What are your feelings as you read or listen to this psalm?

    Ask one or two assigned class members to share a favorite psalm and tell why it is important to them.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

Explain that the book of Psalms is a collection of poems originally sung as praises or petitions to God. Many were written by David. This book is like a hymnal from ancient Israel. Its lyrics constitute some of the world’s best inspirational literature, expressing faith in the Lord and an earnest desire to live righteously.

1. Prophecies of the life and mission of Jesus Christ

Many psalms prophesy of Christ’s mission as the Messiah. The resurrected Savior declared, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). Discuss the fulfillment of a few of the following prophecies about Christ that are written in the book of Psalms:

Prophecy

Fulfillment

Psalm 107:23–30

Matthew 8:23–27. Jesus calmed the winds and the waves.

Psalm 69:8

John 1:11; 7:5. Jesus was not received by his own people.

Psalm 41:9; 55:12–14

John 13:18, 21. Jesus was betrayed by a friend.

Psalm 69:20

Mark 14:32–41. Jesus suffered alone in Gethsemane.

Psalm 22:7–8

Matthew 27:39–43. Jesus was mocked.

Psalm 22:16

Mark 15:25. Jesus was crucified.

Psalm 22:18

Matthew 27:35. The soldiers cast lots for Christ’s clothes.

Psalm 22:1

Matthew 27:46. Jesus asked the Father why he had forsaken him.

Psalm 69:21

John 19:28–30. Jesus was given vinegar for his thirst.

Psalm 34:20

John 19:33–36. None of Jesus’ bones was broken.

Psalm 31:5

Luke 23:46. Jesus commended his spirit to the Father and died.

Psalm 16:10

Acts 2:31–32; 13:34–35. The Savior’s flesh did not see corruption, being raised up in the Resurrection.

  • Jesus Christ is the only person whose birth, life, death, and resurrection were prophesied before his birth. Why do you think such detailed prophecies were given about the Savior’s life? (These prophecies made it clear that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.) How were these prophecies a blessing to those who received them? (The prophecies helped people learn of the Savior and gain testimonies of him even before he was born [see Mosiah 3:13]. The prophecies also helped some people recognize him when he came.)

2. “The Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7).

In addition to prophesying of the Savior’s life and mission, many psalms express gratitude for blessings such as the creation of heaven and earth; the Savior’s mercy, forgiveness, and love; the scriptures; and the temple.

The Creation of Heaven and Earth

Discuss the following psalms that express gratitude to the Lord for the creation of heaven and earth:

  • How does the creation of heaven and earth testify of God’s power and love? (See Alma 30:44; Moses 6:63.) How can we show gratitude for the gift of the Creation?

The Savior’s Mercy, Forgiveness, and Love

Discuss some of the following psalms that express gratitude to the Savior for his mercy, forgiveness, and love:

  • What can we learn about the Lord from these psalms? Invite class members to tell how they have come to know of the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness, and love.

  • What impresses you about David’s plea for forgiveness in Psalm 51? What does this psalm teach us about repentance and forgiveness? (Note the first words in verses 2, 7, and 12. These words describe important aspects of repentance. Note also verse 17, which describes the condition of heart we must have to truly repent.)

The Scriptures

Discuss the following psalms that express gratitude to the Lord for the scriptures:

  • What words did David use in Psalm 19:7–10 to describe the scriptures? (Synonyms for the scriptures include law, testimony, statutes, commandment, and judgments. Adjectives describing the scriptures include perfect, sure, right, pure, true, and righteous. The scriptures are also described as more desired than gold and sweeter than honey.)

  • What blessings can the scriptures bring into our lives, as recorded in Psalm 19:7–11? You may want to list these blessings on the chalkboard:

    1. a.

      They convert our souls (verse 7).

    2. b.

      They make the simple wise (verse 7).

    3. c.

      They cause our hearts to rejoice (verse 8).

    4. d.

      They enlighten our eyes (verse 8).

    5. e.

      They give us warning (verse 11).

  • How have the scriptures blessed your life in these or in other ways?

  • The Psalmist exclaimed to the Lord, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97; see also verses 15–16, 33–35, 40, 47–50, 72, 92, 104, 174). How can we develop such a love for the scriptures?

  • How are the scriptures like “a lamp unto [our] feet, and a light unto [our] path”? (Psalm 119:105).

The Temple

Discuss some of the following psalms about the temple. You may want to display one or more pictures of temples as class members read these psalms:

  • What can we learn about the temple from these psalms? What can we learn about preparing ourselves to go to the temple?

You may want to have class members sing or read the words to “We Love Thy House, O God” (Hymns, no. 247), or invite some Primary children to come to class and sing “I Love to See the Temple” (Children’s Songbook, 95).

3. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)

  • In Psalm 116:12, David asked, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” How did David answer this question? You may want to list each of David’s statements as shown below:

    1. a.

      “I will take the cup of salvation” (116:13).

    2. b.

      “I will … call upon the name of the Lord” (116:13).

    3. c.

      “O Lord, truly I am thy servant” (116:16).

    4. d.

      “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (116:17).

    5. e.

      “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house” (116:18–19).

  • How can we apply David’s answers in showing gratitude to the Lord?

4. “Trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5)

  • “Trust in the Lord” is one of the most common admonitions in the book of Psalms (Psalm 4:5; 5:11; 9:10; 18:2; 56:11; 62:8; 118:8–9). How do we place our trust in the Lord? How have you been blessed as you have trusted him?

Conclusion

The psalms bear powerful witness of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. They also remind us of the great blessings that he and our Heavenly Father have given us. And they suggest ways we can express gratitude for those blessings.

You may want to invite class members to read the final Psalm (Psalm 150) to summarize the message of the book of Psalms. Add your own testimony of praise and thanksgiving.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Latter-day hymns inspired by Old Testament psalms

Explain that the hymnbook could be viewed as our latter-day equivalent of the psalms. You may want to have class members sing a latter-day hymn that was inspired by an Old Testament psalm. Some of these hymns are “The Lord Is My Shepherd” (Hymns, no. 108; Psalm 23), “The Lord Is My Light” (Hymns, no. 89; Psalm 27:1), “How Great Thou Art” (Hymns, no. 86; Psalm 8:3–9; 9:1–2), and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Hymns, no. 72; Psalm 23:6; 150).

2. Blessings of singing hymns

  • What are some of the main topics of our latter-day hymns? (Answers may include the Savior, our duties as Church members, enduring to the end, faith, home and family, love, missionary work, prayer, priesthood, prophets, the restoration of the gospel, the sacrament, service, enduring trials, and Zion.) How does singing hymns bless us? (See D&C 25:12.)

    Discuss some of the following ways that singing hymns can bless us:

    1. a.

      Hymns lift our spirits.

    2. b.

      Hymns inspire us to live more righteously.

    3. c.

      Hymns remind us of our blessings.

    4. d.

      Hymns give us an opportunity to sing praises to the Lord.

    5. e.

      Hymns give us a way to bear testimony.

    6. f.

      Hymns help us recommit ourselves to the Lord.

    7. g.

      Hymns help us feel the Spirit.

    8. h.

      Hymns help us be more in tune with our Heavenly Father.

    9. i.

      Hymns help us learn and teach the gospel.

    The First Presidency said:

    “Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.

    “Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end” (Hymns, ix).

  • Several psalms speak of singing as making a “joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 98:4; 100:1; see also 66:1; 95:1–2). How can we make better use of hymn singing in our Church meetings and homes, ensuring that it is joyful and meaningful?

  • At the Last Supper, Jesus and his Apostles sang a hymn (Matthew 26:30). How do you think singing a hymn helped Jesus and his Apostles prepare to fulfill the work that was before them?

  • Just before the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred in Carthage Jail, he asked John Taylor to sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29; see also B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 2:282–84). How do you think the singing of this hymn helped the Prophet?

3. Poetic parallelism in the psalms

Your study of the psalms may be enriched by an understanding of the poetic techniques that David and other Hebrew poets used. One of these techniques is parallelism. One common characteristic of parallelism is the repetition of a thought in different words. Such repetition expands or intensifies the meaning of an idea. One example of this kind of parallelism is Psalm 102:1–2, in which the same thought is expressed in different words five times (“hear my prayer,” “let my cry come unto thee,” “hide not thy face from me,” “incline thine ear unto me,” and “in the day when I call answer me speedily”). Point out how repetition intensifies the message.