Friday, 19 September 2014
Psalm 1 when the power goes out
I was sitting down to write this post Thursday when pfffffft…my computer screen went black. Oh, no, what did I do this time, was my low-tech ability response. Coming out of his office, Mark reassured me that I hadn’t done anything wrong. The power indeed had gone out.
No problem I thought. I’ll just work on my laptop. It’s fully charged. But as I pulled it out, I realized that I couldn’t access the internet because our modem was down. No problem. I’ll just head over to Starbucks. But as I hit the garage door button, I realized that it wasn’t going to let my car out. No problem. I’ll just walk. But no sooner did I get outside when a neighbor informed me that power was out all over the county, even into the next.
It seems that most of the “blessings” I take for granted in my life come from the power grid. This suddenly struck me as an apt analogy for Psalm 1.
Blessed. That is the first word in the entire Psalter. It is a good word. It is also a religious word. In fact saying that word in public is a dead giveaway that you are a Christian or at least go to church a lot. It is religious language for “something good just happened to me.” A secular person might say, I was lucky or fortunate or got a great deal. A Christian says I was blessed. What’s the difference?
Psalm 1 gives the answer. It not only tells us who is blessed (vv. 1-2) and what it looks like to be blessed (vv. 3-4), it also reveals where the blessing comes from (vv. 5-6). And it does so in precise yet pregnant poetic phrases. Let’s follow the trail of hints:
Hint #1: “Blessed is the man…his delight is in the law of the LORD and in this law he meditates day and night.” Apparently blessing comes into my life through the law of the LORD. This law is not just words, but his words. His words show me his ways, which are the pathway of life. His life flows through his word into my life.
And apparently the Bible comes into my life through meditation. It’s like the Bible is the power grid and each verse is an outlet. Meditation is how I plug into the power and receive the benefits.
So far so good, except that the word “meditation” immediately fills me with guilt because I don’t do it well and resolve because I ought to do it better. I’d better add one more item to my “be a good Christian” to do list.
Hint #2: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water….” This analogy supports our first idea. The tree has to “plug in” to its source of life, by sending its roots down into the streams of water. So I have to “plug in” to my source of life, the LORD, by sending my thoughts down into his word. This compelling picture reinforces my desire to meditate. It also takes my attention off of mere duty and makes me contemplate the results: stability, fruitfulness, flourishing, productivity. Beautiful.
I’m definitely more motivated, but the burden is still on me. I’d better get connected!
Hint #3: “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous…” As the psalmist wraps up, we learn the outcome of these two ways. The wicked, not plugged into the source of life, loses his life. Not surprising. I would assume that the righteous gain life because they are so well plugged in to the Life. Right? No, here we learn the secret. The righteous live, not because they know the LORD, but because he knows them. This knowing is intimate and loving, not distant and scrutinizing. He knows us first, and we know him back. He is not The Force, passive and available if we choose to plug in. He is I AM, pursuing us in order to give us his life.
My meditation is a simply a response to him. This replaces my burden with delight. Does it do the same for you?