As we transition from our readings of James and as we prepare ourselves for Hebrews, we thought it might be a good idea to change things up for a week or so…each day we will introduce an example of each of the Psalms (Wisdom, Royal, Prayer of Lament, Song of Praise, Confession of Trust, Thanksgiving, Pilgrim Song, Penitential). We begin with Psalm 1 – a Wisdom Psalm.
The introduction to the Psalter…simple yet straightforward…it summarizes the two ways open to people, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. It may be classified as a wisdom psalm because of its emphasis on these two ways of life, the use of the similes, the announcement of blessing, and the centrality of the Law for fulfillment in life. As you read the psalms you will see the themes in this psalm recurring over and over.
Like a tree planted by a stream…bearing fruit…even in a brutal environment…prospering. Beautiful words of encouragement. One of the benefits of looking to the original Hebrew language comes through in this psalm. The Hebrew word used for “blessed” doesn’t carry the same understanding we give it today but is very important for a deeper meaning of this psalm – this word “blessed” is not a state of being but means a journey toward what an individual can become – sort of like a work in progress to use a current day phrase. The blessed do not stay in place but walk forward in a particular way – those whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night”.
We do not know how long the journey will be…how long our individual work in progress will take and, as subsequent psalms reveal, we must trudge on through dark days and terrifying nights, surrounded by evil and confronted by opposition. We can only do so because we know that God “watches over the way of the righteous” and that Gods judgment of the wicked will come at its appointed time.
Simple…straightforward…transforming…like a tree planted near a stream bearing fruit! Psalm 1 invites us to take up a spirituality pilgrimage…it places before us an itinerary of behavior as a map to guide our way. The destiny of the righteous in this psalm is to know, and be known, by God…drawing life from God and bearing fruit for God.