Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Psalm 1

Psalm 1
1 Congratulations to all who do not entertain the priorities of those who do not belong to YHWH,
or dabble in their practices,
or have their passions corrupted by those who disdain YHWH.

2 They, however, have hearts captured by the Instruction of YHWH;
and saturate themselves in it.

3 Well-cared for, thoroughly nourished with gifts and graces, these folk are both effective and constant in their service for YHWH.

4 Those who oppose YHWH are not so, but are like dust the breeze blows off to nowhere.

5 They will not stand YHWH’s scrutiny, nor will they be allowed a foothold among YHWH’s people;

6 for YHWH keeps watch care over his people, but the lives of all who oppose him will come to a bad end.
Psalm 1, along with Psalm 2, introduces the book of Psalms as a whole. Psalm 1 presents the "Way" YHWH's people are to live in he world. It is an ideal type. No one fully lives up to this nor experiences it in exactly this fashion in this life. It is a template for how things are when god fully rules which comes only with Christ's return.

The integrity which God requires and we long for can be described as a rope made out of three strands wound tightly together. These three strands are our

1. PRIORITIES - the deepest convictions we hold and hope to live out in life
2. PASSIONS - the drives and energies that move us to live out our priorities
3. PRACTICES - attitudes and actions that reflect and exhibit our priorities and passions

Psalm 1 reflects the life God intends for his people. I've reflected that in my paraphrase of v.1. What integrates our priorities, passions, and practices according to the psalmist is God's "Law," the Torah, or as I put it, "Instruction." Since Jesus is himself the figure to whom God's Instruction pointed and who fulfills it, that is, shows us what it is really all about, this psalm ultimately points to him as the final arbiter of our priorities, passions, and practices. Jesus aligns the 3 P's around his message of the dawning of God's kingdom. To experience such integration and alignment, the psalmist invites us to "delight" and "meditate" on this divine "Instruction." Taking joy in this gracious gift of God and committing to intentionally focus on it at the core of our lives is the response God expects from us.

This response, however, is premised on grace. In the imagery of v.3, the healthy tree (the person who is to be "congratulated," the person who responds appropriately) is one "planted" or even "transplanted" by irrigating waters planned for and provided by a wise and loving planter (God). This imagery of grace is particularly poignant to those Middle Easterners who livved in a dry, arid region.

Those who respond to such grace are promised here that their life lived for YHWH's sake and service will be both fruitful and constant (v.3). They will fulfill the purposes for which YHWH created and redeemed them.

By living one's life apart from and/or in opposition to YHWH's will and way results in an insubstantial life, one thata a mere breeze can dispel! This is their destiny both in final judgment and in life. In both cases they have no place among God's people. But those who seek to align and integrate themselves with his will and way may be assured of their place amng God's people, now and forever.

This simple portrait of the "Two Ways" so characteristic of both Old and New Testament writers needs to be kept in the back of our minds to sustain us in the dark and difficult times we all must endure. This psalm functions like a GPS for us. We can always discover how we need to go, no matter where we find ourselves. Or. to put it another way, YHWH can be trusted to find and deliver us even in the most seemingly "god-forsaken" situations of our lives.

Lee Wyatt