Saturday, January 14, 2006

Psalm 1: The Way of the Blessed

1 Blessed are those
who do not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but who delight in the law of the LORD
and meditate on his law day and night.

3 They are like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will be destroyed.


(Good material, reflected here, from Gerald H. Wilson, The NIV Application Commentary: Psalms Volume 1)

This psalm is likely an introduction to the book of Psalms. And it has that dynamic for God's people to all of Scripture. It talks of two ways, found in wisdom literature, in prophetic writing, and in Jesus' teaching- in principle throughout Scripture. The way of blessing for the righteous. The way of curses for the unrighteous. Verses one and two contrast the practice of the two, in describing the blessed person. Verses three and four compare the contrasting worth of the two ways of life. Verses five and six their final outcomes.

Verses one and two show the blessed as the one who neither walks in step with, stands, or comes to sit with those who live in defiance of God. This speaks of no openness to agreeing with them in their way of life. Instead the blessed one finds delight in the law (tora) of YHWH. In the context it would probably refer to the psalms to follow, especially if this psalm was meant to be an introduction to this book of Psalms. But also it would surely include the pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and come to mean all of Scripture. This delight in God's word makes meditating on it a priority.

The blessed one meditates on this law day and night. In it are instructions and wisdom that need to be worked into living. This takes time and effort. Time to see from God what is taught, and time to work it into one's heart and life. Those whose way of life the blessed avoid are called "the wicked", "sinners" and "mockers".

Verses three and four compare the contrasting worth of the two ways of life. The blessed are like "hardy", fruitful, perennial trees, close to streams of water. All they do prospers. In contrast the wicked are nothing more than worthless chaff to be blown away by the wind. Their way of life is worthless (certainly not they as created persons).

Verses five and six talk about final outcomes. The wicked and those living as sinners will find no favor in God's judgment. They are separated from the assembly of the righteous. And their way of life will be destroyed. But the righteous will stand in the judgment. YHWH watches over their way. He lovingly protects and blesses them.

We find in God's "law" (meaning Scripture here) that Jesus came eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, outcasts in Israel. This is a way of life in Jesus that we are to embrace. This is an important aspect of how we are salt and light here. For us as God's people today it is part of living the "blessed" life described in Psalm 1. This blessed life given in Scripture, we find, in Jesus befriends all. And in that friendship we want them find the same blessedness we've found in Jesus our Lord.

May God help us as lights in Jesus, on the narrow way together, to see many turn from the broad way to destruction to join us in this way of blessedness and abundant life in Jesus. Amen.

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