The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is a collection of prayers and songs that show us what it looks like to live a life with God. The psalms were used in the worship of the people of Israel, both in the Temple and later in the synagogues. The Christian church continues to utilize the Psalms as avenues of prayer and worship to God.
This week, I want to walk through some reflections on Psalm 1. This psalm sets the tone for the entire book of Psalms by contrasting two different ways of life: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. Or, to put it more plainly, the way of growing life with God or the way of atrophy apart from God. Let’s look at the first verse:
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.
Psalm 1 begins with an important biblical word: blessed. The word ‘blessed,’ as one Bible teachers says, basically “means ‘happy’ in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical wellbeing.”
Being ‘blessed’ is to have the fullness of God’s joy brought into our lives.
Throughout the psalms this idea of being blessed shows up in relation to the way a person lives their lives:
- “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)
- “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud.” (Psalm 40:4)
- “Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.” (Psalm 94:12)
Throughout the psalms, both in these other places and in Psalm 1, the concept of being blessed is a gift from God. On the one hand it is a direct gift from God of His goodness into our lives, while on the other hand it is the indirect result of God’s guidance when we live life in a way that reflects God’s truth. Either way, whether directly or indirectly, blessing is a gift from God.
In Psalm 1, the emphasis found in the contrast calls us to a recognition of a powerful idea: there is a way of living that actually brings us into God’s greatest generosity and goodness to us. As we continue with Psalm 1, we will receive an even more full picture of the blessed life.
[This is the first in a series of posts on Psalm 1.]