Sunday, January 23, 2011

Psalm 1 - The Blessed versus The Wicked

LINK: Psalm 1

BACKGROUND

Psalm 1 is undated but is usually thought to have been written late in Israel's history, perhaps after the exile. The time of Genesis is probably NOT the time for Psalm 1, but it is so perfect for kicking off the first month of the Bible Book Club and realizing the importance of God's Word in our life!

You will get through the whole book of Psalms by the end of YEAR TWO of the Bible Book Club. They are all mixed up in the schedule. If you prefer to read the Psalms in numerical order, go to Psalms in Numerical Order at the top of the blog page, but it is so much more fun to read them in their historical context!

For the most part, I will try to fit Psalms within the chronological history books. For example, we will be meditating on many of David's 73 Psalms when we cover his life in 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles. Many Psalms are undated. So, I will fit them in when they are appropriate! 


Here are definitions of a few Hebrew words in Psalm 1 with most from The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament unless otherwise specified:
Blessed ('asar) - This "blessed" in not like the Hebrew word barak which is used by God when He blesses someone and we bless Him. 'Asar is reserved for man, and a word of "envious desire." So, another way to say Psalm 1:1 would be: ". . . to be envied with desire is the man who trusts in the Lord." 
Wicked (rāšāʿ) - This means "hostile to God. People described by rāšāʿ are not in covenental relationship with God; they live according to their passions. They are not godly. They may do kind and charitable deeds, but God's evaluation of them is that they are without eternal merit" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary). 
Stand (amad) - remain, continue, abide
Sit (yashab) - dwell, have one's abode
Scoffers (liyliyth) - "Lilith" is the name of a female goddess known as a night demon who haunts desolate places of Edom.
Meditates (hagah) - to devise, muse, imagine. Implies a definite focusing of one's thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply. 
An English dictionary can be helpful in understanding also.  The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition says meditate means "to engage in contemplation or reflection, to focus one's thoughts on, reflect on or ponder over, to plan or project in the mind."  Ponder means "to weigh in the mind: appraise, to think about, to reflect on; to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply."

REFLECTION

We have seen two lines going in two different directions in our Genesis reading: one line "walked with God" and one went "the way of Cain" (Genesis 4:8; Jude 11; 1 John 3:12). Psalm 1 punctuates this by contrasting the "blessed man" and the "wicked."


In 1981, I spent five weeks in an intense summer training program at Multnomah School of the Bible where the theme was "The Word." We immersed ourselves in it "day and night." We worked together (painted the buildings) and played together too, but our whole time was centered around time in God's Word. At the end of the time, my parents picked me up and took me down to California for a little vacation. We had such a delightful time together before I went back to Oregon. At the end of the time they said, "You are a different person, Carol. What has happened to you?" I could only attribute the growth and change in me to that extended time in God's Word allowing the Holy Spirit to change me. It was there and then that I decided that my path of life would be one that included a passion and love for God and His Word; spending time meditating on it and applying it to my life. 


APPLICATION

This Psalm says it all; we need to "extend our roots by the stream" of God's unlimited, life-giving Word in order to bear fruit. Let's apply this throughout our time in the Bible Book Club and beyond!


Meditation can be such a rewarding experience. Try some of the suggestions here and have fun!  My oldest son memorized this Psalm when he was six years old. The picture of him in our hot Southeast Asian school room acting out this Psalm will be burned in my memory forever. I wish I had recorded it. It is a crack-up!  He used his stuffed animals as the fruit from his arms extended as branches.

A wonderful way to meditate on God's Word is by writing poems. Below are two of them derived from Psalm 1 from two former Bible Book Club members, Becky and Susanne!


Psalm 1 by Becky

Parched ground,
Withered tree,
Water near,
How can it be?

Roots grow deep;
Water seeps.
Never fear
God is here.

Leaves do show;
Fruit will grow.
Dig in deep.
You will reap

Fruit that feeds,
Brings forth seed,
Leaves to heal,
Spirit's seal.

Musings on Psalm 1 by Susanne

My delight springs
from His Holy Word.
As the cooling waters
of His Truth
envelop my roots,
I am blessed --
renewed --
strengthened --
enabled to stand firmly
against wind and storm.

Reaching toward the Light,
my leaves stretch forth
with surety and wellness,
anchored by the Word made Flesh.


PRAYER

"Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16). Lord, I pray that You will teach us more and more how to delight and drink deeply in Your Word so that we might be transformed from the inside out. Amen
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