Not in Horse or Human Legs – Sunday School Lesson: Psalm 147
The Psalms are full of wonderful reminders of God’s power and love. Psalm 147 is a beautiful picture of the remarkable things that God has done and how He cares for us in many wonderful ways. This lesson highlights how He does not delight in the accomplishments that we achieve or the things that we do, but in who we are as His children and how we love and fear Him. God loves and saves us unconditionally, and not by any merit of our own. This should be a comforting thought for us, especially in a world of competition and success emphasis. Psalm 147 reminds us of God’s power and generosity, and of how He cares for us in great and praiseworthy ways. We look to God with respect and fear (the healthy kind of fear). We acknowledge that He can do anything and controls everything around us, but rejoice that He cares for us as individuals and sent His Son to die for us and rescue us.
Passage: Psalm 147:1-20
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Musical instruments; trophy/achievement certificate; construction paper; decorative supplies; glue; markers or crayons; tape; scissors; paper plates; cotton or cotton balls; band-aids; string; Bibles.
Lesson Opening: This passage emphasizes God’s power and might, and how we can praise Him for His wonderful works. He delights in those who love Him and is pleased when we offer Him praise. Start with an activity that uses these themes and gets kids thinking:
- Make a joyful noise: many of the psalms call on us to praise the Lord. Have students praise Him with various methods such as playing instruments, cheering, and singing. Discuss talents and how we can use them for the Lord.
- “His delight is not in the legs…” Discuss accomplishments and achievements, encouraging kids to brag about things that they have done or do well. Then remind them that God’s delight is in our hearts, not in what we do.
- Broken hearts relay: To celebrate how God binds and heals the broken-hearted, have a relay race to “fix hearts.” Provide students with band-aids and have several heart papers cut in half on one end of a playing area. Have students line up in two teams and race to put a band-aid on the hearts and “heal” them.
- Number the stars: Look at pictures of space or constellations, discussing some of the science of astronomy. Have students create their own “constellations” with star stickers and chalk. For a more edible version, use toothpicks and mini marshmallows to make 3-D constellations. It’s a snacktivity!
- What does it eat? The Lord gives to all animals their food. Play a guessing game to discuss animal diets. Show various animals and have students match them to food sources to guess what each one eats.
- Snowball fight: Have an indoor snow party in any weather, using paper or cotton balls to throw “snow.” Then take a look at various weather patterns around the world, appreciating how God makes and controls the weather.
The Psalms teach us how amazing and worthy of praise the Lord is. Remind students of what Psalms are and their place in Scripture. Explain that they’ll be “unpacking” one in particular that highlights God’s care and protection.
This passage does not lend itself to role playing or interactive elements as much, but is easy to read aloud and discuss, with focus on important attributes of God. You might provide interactive elements with some of the weather and animal descriptions, if desired.
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
This psalm opens with a positive reminder that God is worthy of praise. He heals us, not only physically but He heals our heart hurts. He wants to help our spiritual pain and bring us back to Himself. Because of this, we should be happy to sing praises to God.
Ask: When have you felt sad? How did God help you?
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
God is great and mighty. He has made everything in all creation and knows it. Even the stars have names that He has given and knows. These verses emphasize how His understanding and power are great “beyond measure.” We can’t even fully comprehend how great He is. There is great poetry in the psalms. We see a contrast between things that appears repeatedly. God is great and mighty, but also loves and cares for small things. He honors the lowly and not the wicked.
Ask: If you could name a star or make up a creature, what would you call it?
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love. -Psalm 147:7-11
This is a key passage to the psalm. It encourages us to give thanks to God and for very good reason. There is a fun progression of power in creation here. God makes the clouds that bring the rain that waters the earth that grows the grass that makes food for the animals! The food chain, the water cycle, and all of our scientific ecosystems are created and controlled by Him.
And yet, even though God is strong, His delight is not in animal or human strength. We should be encouraged to know that it doesn’t matter how strong or swift we are physically. It’s not bad to be talented in those ways, but that’s not what brings delight to God. His pleasure is in our hearts. He wants our love and respect. Note for kids that “fear” in the context of fearing God refers to honoring and revering Him, recognizing the great things He can do.
Ask: God makes everything! What is something that He does that amazes you?
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly. -Psalm 147:12-15
These verses remind us that God blesses us individually, too. He gives us food and peace and blessing. He strengthens and helps us in every way imaginable.
Ask: How do you give praise to God? (Sing, play an instrument, tell others about Him, etc.)
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord! -Psalm 147:16-20
God controls the weather and the seasons. Even weather we might not like much is by His design. And yet God loves His people. He designates nations and cares for them. He loves us and deals with us according to His will and word.
Ask: What is your favorite season? How can we thank God for His mighty work, even when we might not like it as much? (Can we give thanks for ice storms??)
God controls everything in the world, including us! But even though He has great power and might over all things, He loves us as individuals. He cares for each part of His creation, especially for people. He calls us to give Him praise because He is worthy and deserving of it. We can do that through our talents, time, love, and devotion to God and to others. Give Him thanks and praise in all things!
Close with prayer, thanking God for His awesome power and His love.