Psalm 1: Blessed!

Welcome to our fall study and our first psalm!  If you are joining us for the first time, glad you are here!  If you are coming back from last year, welcome back!  (Ok, though the enthusiasm is genuine, I have now used up all of the allotted exclamation points for this post….)

If you missed the Sept 1 post, take some time to read it this week.  It provides the basic approach we will be taking to the Psalms plus a schedule for the fall.  My plan is to post on Monday with some background on the Psalm plus questions to guide you as you study.  Then on Friday I’ll wrap up the week with a personal response from me or a guest blogger.  During the week I hope you’ll feel free to drop us a comment or question.  I love it when we get a bit of a discussion going.

One more bit of housekeeping before we begin.  Some of you may be asking, “Hey, what happened to doing a book a month?  Are we slacking off?”  Not at all.  We’re just changing our pace.  The guideline I recommended last year was to study a book/month, alternating between Old Testament and New Testament books.  That’s a tool I’ve found personally helpful for many years.  But remember, “it’s a tool, not a rule.”  Rules restrict; tools serve.  This summer I slowed my pace and went deep instead of fast.  I found it so refreshing that I thought we’d try it together this fall.  In the spring we will probably return to a book/month.

By the way the Psalms is a great place to chew slowly and digest.  Saints and scholars have thought so throughout church history.  The early church leaders thought the Psalms were “uniquely a microcosm of the Bible.”  Athanasius (c. 296-373) compared them to “the variety of a botanical garden.”  Basil the Great (c. 329-79) likened them to “a great storehouse.”  I like to think of them as a full pantry or refrigerator, stocked with all of my favorite foods.  So let’s “stop and savor” instead of “grab and bolt.”

Entering the Psalter through Psalm 1

The Psalms are a work of art.  Each one is a poem, consciously and skillfully shaped by a poet.  The whole Psalter  is also a work of art.  The order of the individual Psalms is not random, but chosen by a human editor, an artist.  Psalm 1 was selected to open the book.  Why do you think that is?

Well, generally, the Psalms are the place where we meet God, where we respond to Him.  Worship, prayer, shouts, cries, songs, tears are all found there.  All are directed to God in a very personal way.  The Psalms are about relationship—an unequal relationship between the Great One and the small ones.  We might feel awkward about joining this conversation.  Do I measure up?  How can I know that it’s ok to pour out my soul to such a Famous Friend?

Psalm 1 spells out what God thinks of his friends.  And what it looks like to be his friend.  By making clear the way of friendship, it invites us to enter.  Psalm 1 is “the main entrance to the mansion of the Psalter” as Jerome (342-420) put it.  Let’s knock on the door, and see who opens it for us.

Questions for the week

1. First read to hear the Psalmist’s voice.

  • Though David isn’t mentioned as the author, there was a human author.  What was the psalmist’s main thought?
  • Why do you think he wrote this Psalm?
  • What is the structure of the psalm?  (Try contrasting the righteous and wicked in two columns.  Which one is emphasized?)
  • Is this Psalm descriptive or prescriptive? Is it telling us what to do or painting a picture that draws us to what is good?

2. The second time read to hear Jesus’ voice

  • Can you imagine Jesus memorizing and reciting this Psalm as a young boy?
  • How might he have understood or applied this Psalm as an 8 year old?
  • As a 30 year old beginning his ministry? Does this Psalm remind you of any of his teaching?
  • What might this Psalm have meant to him in Gethsemane? On the cross?
  • What might this Psalm have meant to him after the resurrection?

3. The third time read it to hear your voice.

  • What does “blessed” mean to you personally? How do the other benefits of this psalm affect you?
  • What is something you “delight in” and “meditate on”? (for me it is pictures of my grandchildren =)  Do you tend to think of Scripture meditation as a chore or a delight?  Does this psalm help you see the delight in it?
  • Who is the only “Man” who perfectly fulfilled this psalm?  Was he blessed?  Or cursed?
  • I know I fail to perfectly delight in and meditate on the law of the LORD.  How can you and I possibly enjoy this blessed life?

Read the Psalm one last time as a song of praise to the One who fulfilled it for you!

9 comments on “Psalm 1: Blessed!

  1. Meredith says:

    I am really excited about this slower pace! Stop and savor is wonderful for me right now, especially while in the Psalms. I also wanted to let everyone know that there is an excellent (and free!) software package that you can download that gives you access to commentaries and other study tools if you want to go deeper. The two I use the most are the commentaries of Charles Spurgeon on the Psalms (The Treasury of David) and The Matthew Henry Commentary. The website to check this out is http://www.e-sword.net. It’s been a great resource for me personally so I wanted to pass it along!

    • rondi says:

      Thanks for sharing that resource, Meredith. Glad you will be savoring with us…

  2. CecileRose says:

    I am so glad that you chose Psalm 1 to be on the list. It is one to which I have gone back again and again. How meaningful it will be to go through selected psalms slowly, especially with your suggestion on hearing it through different voices. I am looking forward to it.

    • rondi says:

      So glad you are joining us, CecileRose. Please pass along any thoughts or questions that come to you along the way.

  3. Monica says:

    I am going to really try and keep up this time. I had good intentions last time and ended up falling off the wagon. I definitely notice a difference when I am in the Word and when I am not.

    I feel like the Lord is leading me to wake up really early in the morning to do my devotion and go running. Maybe you ladies could help keep me accountable?? This will be really hard for me to do because I am not a morning person at all and would much prefer to sleep in, especially with Callie still waking up 2-4 times a night.

    Anyways, I am looking forward to getting back into the Word. I love having the structure 🙂 Thank you Rondi for investing your time to serve the ladies of Grace…..totally appreciated!

    • rondi says:

      I appreciate your desire to stay in the Word and get exercise. Both are important to keep us healthy and happy! But are hard when your sleep is constantly interrupted by little ones.

      I remember deciding at that stage in my life to alternate exercise and devotions so that I didn’t need to get up quite as early. 3 days a week was just about right for working out, and 3 days a week seemed to give me enough of God’s truth to chew on for the week. God gave me much peace–and fruit–with that plan. Just thought I would pass it on.

      Also it will probably be easier to “get back up on the wagon” if you fall off (!) since the Psalms stand alone. So if you miss a week due to sickness or whatever, just come back in the next.

      • Monica says:

        Thanks for your encouragment and wisdom Rondi! Alternating is a really good idea 🙂

  4. Nichole says:

    Rondi-
    I like how you spoke of Psalm 1 as an “invitation” rather than a list of rules. Very cool. I have always read it as rules only… better not sit, stand, or walk in the path of sinners or else! Although, I think it could definitely have prescriptive benefits as well. I am wondering what it looks like in the Christian life.

  5. rondi says:

    Great question, Nichole. I have always read Psalm 1 the same way, as prescriptive not descriptive. But its moral force comes from the picture of the tree, doesn’t it? That’s a good reminder to us as parents, to woo our children with beauty, instead of always just commanding them (though commands are needed, too)

    There are 2 ways presented, and a choice involved. The progression is clear. Where we invest our thought life affects all of our behavior. Thoughts always lead to words and actions. That’s why meditating on God’s word is so valuable for our daily life.

    But even deeper than thoughts is values. We will naturally think about what we value. We won’t have to put it on a schedule; it will just happen. For example, I don’t have to plan to eat dessert, I like sweets so desserts “happen.” My sweet tooth occurred naturally, but “delighting in the law of the LORD” occurs supernaturally. It is evidence of the new birth. Regeneration has given me a taste for God’s word.

    So for parents, we can encourage our children to read, understand, and memorize Scripture as a childhood discipline. But we can’t force them to delight in it. That’s God’s work. We can only pray.