1. Psalm 1: Just like a tree that’s planted by the waterside…
Bible passage: Psalm 1
Key message: Studying the Bible helps you grow roots and bear fruit
Synopsis: There are many reasons why it’s a good habit to study the Bible regularly. One of them is the central message of this Psalm. If we ‘delight’ in God’s Word, we grow roots that will last a lifetime and make our faith stand strong, even in times of drought. What does it mean to delight in God’s Word? It means reading, studying, meditating (= thinking about it) and then applying it. How do you score on these four and what could you do to grow in this area? How strong are your roots right now? And what does it mean to bear fruit? This is mostly about character, a godly character that will be blessed by God.
Tips: There are a couple of good cross-references possible here, for instance to Psalm 119, Galatians 5:22, 23 (fruits of the Spirit) and Jeremiah 17:7,8. Be sure to make it practical, teens have often heard they need to read the Bible more but have trouble actually doing so. My biggest challenge with topics like these is always to inspire and encourage teens to read the Bible, without guilting them into doing so.
2. Psalm 8: Dust in the wind
Bible passage: Psalm 8
Key message: Mankind is the crown on God’s creation
Synopsis: God’s character and His greatness is clearly visible in His creation. But what’s humbling to realize is that we humans are the crown on God’s creation. Compared to God and the massive universe out there, we are but dust in the wind, yet God has given us authority to rule. It says a lot about how God sees us…and about how much He loves us. Our response should be like David’s: praise.
Tips: This is an excellent topic for some creative and interactive elements. You could let the teens write their own psalm about how cool God’s creation is, have them make a drawing or painting to praise God, use video clips from nature themed dvd’s like the fabulous Planet Earth Series etc. Obviously, there are specific songs that would work well here as well, with ‘How great is our God’ being the most obvious choice.
3. Psalm 51: Create in me a clean heart
Bible passage: Psalm 51
Key message: If we confess our sins and mean it, God will forgive us
Synopsis: David wrote this Psalm after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had lost his infant son as a result. David knew God’s character from a lifetime with God (he mentions specific attributes of God) and puts his trust in Him. He puts all his hope in God’s character. His confession of sin is real and deep. His request is not just for forgiveness, but also for a clean heart. The heart is where sin originates (see Mark &;14-16 and Proverbs 4:23). David also trusts in God’s salvation, a thousand years before Jesus was born. How do we deal with sin, do we honestly confess and trust in God’s forgiveness? Do we know Him well enough to trust Him that way?
Tips: You could follow up this sermon with a visible action to confess sins, for instance writing them on paper and burning it, or writing them on balloons and letting these go. Make sure there is no group pressure, the confessions have to be real. You could also offer teens to talk with leaders about sins they struggle with.
4. Psalm 56: They’ve spun a web for me…
Bible passage: Psalm 56
Key message: We can cry out to God when we’re facing opposition or enemies
Synopsis: David wrote this Psalm when Saul was trying to kill him. He was an innocent man, the anointed king who was chosen by God, yet he had to run for his life. But David kept trusting God. He even had the chance to kill Saul, but he didn’t because he wanted to wait for God to make him king and not take matters into his own hands. We may face opposition as well, enemies even, in our lives. What do we do then? Do we cry out to God and put our trust in Him to deliver us? Do we know Him well enough to trust Him?
Tips: This sermon really needs some background and context. Don’t assume your teens will be familiar with the story of Saul and David. This sermon is also well suited for using a narrative form. In that case, you could consider using an easier translation from this Psalm to integrate it in your narrative. Also, make the ‘enemies’ and the ‘opposition’ practical for your teens, what would that look like for them? Spend some time figuring this out so it will connect with what they’re experiencing in real life.