Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Meditations on Psalm 1

Psalm 1 is the preface to the Book of Psalms, and describes how the collection as a whole. Here are some thoughts on how that works, with a few selected references (not exhaustive by any means) for each:

  • "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" - The Book of Psalms is concerned with the antithesis, or what we would call the division between good and evil. There is a lifestyle of righteousness, and there is a lifestyle of wickedness. The Psalms teach us the difference. (Psalm 15, 37, 73)

  • "But his delight is in the Torah of Yahweh, and in His Torah doth he meditate day and night" - The most obvious relation to the book as a whole. The man who reads, studies, meditates upon, and delights in the Psalms will be greatly blessed. Note the word Torah, which has a richer meaning than the translated word "law". It means the loving instruction of a father, our father Yahweh. (Psalm 19, 119)

  • "And he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water... The ungodly are not so, but are like chaff which the wind driveth away" - Both of these images refer to the effects of wind. The first describes the transplanting of a tree from rocky, barren soil to deep, rich soil, so that wind will not uproot the tree, but will strengthen it by making it take root. And chaff is separated from wheat by the action of the wind as well. The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs of struggle, sung by righteous men who are afflicted by the "Wind of God". The promise here and throughout the book is that Yahweh will deliver and prosper the righteous, but His Wind will destroy the wicked. (Psalm 11, 23, 142)

  • "Which bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." - After trial, the righteous man receives glory to the praise of God. The Book of Psalms describes those trials and battles, but ends in glorious praise of God, with no troubles in sight. (Psalms 145-150)

  • "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" - This is a promise to godly men that the writers shall remember and bring to God frequently. There are many prayers that claim this promise in this book, Psalms that we call imprecatory. This is a promise that God hears those prayers and takes vengeance for His people. (Psalm 35, 58, 69)

  • "Nor sinners in the congregation of the upright" - There is a congregation of the upright, and righteous men will arrive there. Some of the most beautiful Psalms in the book are in Songs of Ascent, Psalms that pilgrims would pray as they approached Jerusalem for the holy day congregations (Psalms 120-134). "The righteous shall compass me about, for thou shalt deal bountifully with me" (Psalm 142:7)

  • "For Yahweh knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish - The Psalm writers were Calvinists, or better to say that Calvin was a Psalmist. When troubles come in the Psalms, they come from the Hand of God (Psalm 88, 89). But Yahweh knows us in our troubles (Psalm 139, 142), and delivers us from them all.

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