I begin today a series on Psalms, which promises to be a long, long series. One a day for four days a week would take almost 40 weeks, and I won’t get close to one psalm a day. One psalm a week would take three years, and I won’t take that long. So, hang on and join us in the middle of the day for some reflection on the Psalms. Our focus will be on the “God of the Psalms.” Our standard reference book will John Goldingay, Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)
The Psalm opens with an important word: “Blessed” (ashre). The word makes sense only in a world shaped by thinking of God, by thinking of what God thinks of oneself, and by thinking that living in light of what God thinks matters most. The one truly “blessed” by God is the one whose life is lived in obedience and whose life avoids sin and the company of the sinful.
Goldingay says it’s a poem that would fit in Proverbs; it’s not technically a prayer or a song. He says it’s a good introduction to the Pentateuch and Exodus.
The blessed person is the one who doesn’t care how others live; this person lives before God by doing God’s commands. And here “blessing” is about flourishing (v. 3). Instead, this person “finds pleasure” in obedience — and out the door goes the idea that Law is bad and that Law leads only to guilt. The ancient Israelite ideal was delighting in the Torah, not dreading it.
1:1 How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand in the pathway with sinners,
or sit in the assembly of scoffers!
1:2 Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;
he meditates on his commands day and night.
1:3 He is like a tree planted by flowing streams;
it yields its fruit at the proper time,
and its leaves never fall off.
He succeeds in everything he attempts.
1:4 Not so with the wicked!
Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.
1:5 For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment,
nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly.
1:6 Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly,
but the way of the wicked ends in destruction.