Monday, 2 September 2013

Psalm 1 and two ways to live

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish. (NASB)

I've studied this Psalm both in biblical counseling but also in a course in OT wisdom literature, and it is one I often come back to when pondering my own sinfulness and wanting to reorient myself.

It's split in half, considering the role of the wicked. This might seem rather black and white to some, but to the Psalmist, life is about either following the law of the Lord (Torah) or not. Being bible based has a long history in both Jewish and Christian communities. All complexities of interpretation vanish from view here, it is about fundamental orientation in life.

The three-fold walk, stand, sit in verse one cautions us against pulling it apart too much, all of life is to be about avoiding bad advice and counsel and soaking ourselves in the bible (v2). Avoid wicked advice, sinful habits and scoffing at the righteous. Discernment in what is right and what is self-righteous and legalistic is important, and this will result from a daily, deep reflection on the law, prophets, gospels and epistles as we seek the whole counsel of God.

This Psalm is wisdom literature in that it tells us what should be, but isn't always. Meditating on the bible waters us like a tree in the desert, and we do not wither, but don't always prosper. Indeed to be watered by God is to be withered by the world at times. The perishing of the wicked shifts into the future; no blessing without judgement it seems. Yet grace abounds, be wary to call for someones perishing when God wants them to prosper.

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