=STORIES BEHIND THE PSALMS=
Objects to have:
A happy face, stuck to the back of a sad faceóboth mounted on the end of a stick, so that by simply turning the stick, one face or the other is turned toward the children
Introducing the lesson:
(While saying the following, turn the appropriate face toward the children.) The people in our Bible story today are first happy, then sad; then they are happy, then sad again, and then they are happy. (Put down the stick with the faces on it. Pick up your Bible.)
(Hold up your Bible, which is open to Psalm 126.) This is the book of Psalms. Our pastor has chosen a few Psalms from this book for us to study in our Sunday school lessons. There is a reason why each Psalm was writtenóthere is a story behind each Psalm. Psalm 126 is a very short Psalm. Listen to it. (Read the Psalm to the children, having rehearsed well the reading of the Psalm so that you can read it with meaning to the children.)
(Put down your Bible and pick up the stick so that the happy face is turned toward the children.) How happy they were! Godís people, that is. They were living in the land that God had given them. There was plenty of food for everyone to eatóthere were lots of fruit trees and grain growing in many fields. The daddies would harvest the grain and the mothers would make cakes and breads and cereals from them. There were lots of fields where big flocks of sheep could eat. There were many other kinds of animals, too. There were also rivers and streams from which the people could get water for drinking and cooking and washing. The people had homes in which to live, and they had nice clothes to wear.
They also had a large building in one part of their country; they called this big, beautiful building the temple. Some of the people lived close enough to the temple so that they could walk there any day they wanted to. Many people in the country had to travel a long ways to go to the temple. However far they had to go, they all liked to go there. They loved to meet their friends there. They loved to sing songs about God. They loved to hear a teacher teach the Word of God. They loved to pray, and they loved to tell each other about the answers to prayer that they had. How happy they were!
But, Psalm 126 has the word "captivity" in it. (Turn the stick so that the sad face is toward the children.) Captivity! Why were the people captive?
Godís people had forgotten to be grateful to Him! Godís people had stopped praying! Godís people stopped learning about God!
Telling the story:
God said to His people who were called the Israelites, "There are people all around youópeople who are not My people. They will not trust Me; they will not obey Me. Do not make friends of these people. Do not go places with them. Do not go to their homes. Do not allow your children to play with their children. Keep yourselves separated from these people."
Godís people obeyed Him for awhile. The children of Godís people played only with each other. The young men dated only the young ladies who were Godís people. On the days when they were supposed to go to the temple, they were happy and delighted to do so. On other days, the families of Godís people gathered around in their homes at the close of each day and they prayed and they talked about God, and they talked about how they should not sin.
After awhile the men of Godís people started to talk to the men who were not Godís people. They thought, "Those are nice men. Why do we have to be separated from them? Weíll work with them; weíll have long talks with them." Some of the men who were not Godís people began to say to the men who were Godís people, "How can you talk to a God whom you cannot see? You should think about our godsówe can see them. When we pray, we keep our eyes open, and we look at the statues that are our gods. Come see our gods."
Godís people should not have done it, but they went to look at those false gods. The Israelites wanted gods they could see, so they made some statues out of stone, and they made some statues out of woodósome to look like men and some to look like women. They called these things gods, and they bowed down and prayed to them. They even put some of them in the temple where they were supposed to pray to only the true, living God. In the yard in front of the templeócalled the courtóthey prayed to the sun, the moon, the starsócalling them gods. Some men and some women became fortune tellers. Godís people were doing awful things. And God saw it all.
There were some people who still loved God and who still obeyed Him. They were Godís preachers. God said to His preachers, "Tell My people to turn from their wicked ways." The preachers preached to the people, but most of the people would not listen. Most of the people would not stop their sinning. God said to His preachers, "All right, now I have to punish My people."
And so it was that God let enemy kings and enemy armies come to the country where Godís people lived. The enemy armies killed many of Godís people. Many of Godís people were taken captive by the enemy armies. They were taken away from their home and made to go to the country where the enemy lived. What a terribly sad time that was! God was allowing it all to happen because His people had disobeyed Him. They had stopped being grateful for what He had done for them. They had stopped studying His Word and praying to Him. They made false gods.
How sad the Israelites were in the country of the enemy! They were captives there. Then they remembered their sin. Then they asked God to forgive them.
(Turn the happy face toward the children.) Then one day their sadness was turned to joy. They were going to get to go home! A few of the men made the long journey back to Godís country. They went back to Jerusalem and to the land around that city. There they built up the walls again and built the temple again and built houses. The women and the children came back, too. It was all like a wonderful dream. They were no longer captives. Then were their mouths filled with laughter and their tongues with singing. The people who lived around themópeople who had never trusted Godósaid, "The Lord hath done great things for them." And Godís people said, "The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."
And then Godís people were sad again. (Turn the sad face toward the children.) They thought about all the people around them. They thought about how they did not know God as their God, and they began to cry about this. They said, "The true, living God is the only God. We have remembered that. We want other people to know it, too."
Many people will die and not go to Heaven because they have not trusted Jesus as their Saviour. Thatís a very sad thought. Because of that sad thought, Godís people want other people to know how to be saved. And so they go to the people who need to know Jesus as their Saviour. Godís people say, "Please listen to me. I am here to tell you how you may know how to go to Heaven. Please understand that everybody is a sinner. You are a sinner, too. Sin has to be punished. Jesus paid that punishment for everybody. If you believe that, and trust Jesus as your Saviour, you can go to Heaven when you die, too."
(Turn the stick so that the smiling face is toward the children.) Some people listen, and some people ask Jesus to be their Saviour. Godís people who were crying because of those who were going to Hell, were then rejoicing because the people who got saved will go to Heaven when they die. They are happily bringing to church those who have asked Jesus to be their Saviour. They are happily bringing them down the aisles. They are happily saying, "These people have asked Jesus to be their Saviour. Isnít that wonderful!"
There are only six verses in this chapter in the book of Psalms. The chapter has a number. It is called Psalm 126. Letís remember it. First, Godís people were happy and grateful to God for all His blessings. Then they decided to go their own way in sin and not obey God. How sad they were to be taken captives! Anyone who follows the Devil is a captive of the Devil and of sin. Then Godís people turned back to Him, and they were free. Then they were sad to think of the people who did not know God, and they wanted them to know Him. Just as we tell others about Jesus so that they can be saved, so did Godís people want those who lived around them to know Him, too. As they saw others trust Him as their Saviour, then they were happy, and that is the story behind Psalm 126.
LEARN OUR BIBLE VERSE: Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."