Day 43: Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is 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 leads to destruction.
We often think of the Psalter as a book of prayers, laments, and praises. Psalm 1 is neither a hymn nor a prayer, but a statement about human existence. We enter into the Psalms with a beatitude whose emphasis is that the way we live life is decisive for how life turns out. Psalm 1 is a contrast between the righteous and wicked. The righteous live connected to the source of life as directed by the law. In our time law is understood as a set of legal rules and conditions; however, the word we find here is torah, which refers to the direction or instruction in the way and will of God. Torah is more about a covenantal, marriage-like way to live. The torah way of life is ‘like a tree planted by streams of water,’ bearing fruit and not wasting away.
In contrast to the righteous, we see the wicked. In the Psalter, the wicked are characterized by their utilitarian approach to humanity – using, abusing, and undermining the innocent for their own gain. They are mockers of the righteous. The wicked live rooted in the way of themselves, guided and grounded in their understanding and passion.
The beatitude in Psalm 1 does not apply righteousness and wickedness through a ‘grade.’ What we find is a sobering reality that life is either in the right with God or it is not. The Psalter has not left room for ambiguity but affirms the future teaching of Jesus: ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’ (Luke 11:28).
Pause this moment. Pray for the Spirit’s leading as you examine your ‘way’ of life. Commit yourself to discovering and living in the way of torah, connected to God – the source of life.
Phil Starr | Student Ministries Pastor, Lima Community Church