Summary: Psalm 1 and 2 serve as an introduction to the Psalter. This is the third sermon in the Psalms series.
Psalms: Songs of Orientation 2
Psalm 1 is an introduction to the entire Psalter. It is placed over against Psalm 2 on purpose. Psalm 1 is a "Torah Psalm." The word "torah"' means "instruction." Here it most likely does not have reference to the law of Moses but to the book of Psalms. Psalm 2 is a "Royal Psalm" or "Messianic Psalm." This is a pattern that is repeated throughout the Psalter. It can be seen Psalm 19 being placed directly before Psalms 20-21, Psalm 119 is connected to the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120-143). One ancient way of interpretation was by attachment. The attachment of the Messianic psalms to Torah psalms tells us teaches us that the purpose of the written instruction of the Lord is to lead us to a relationship with the Living Word.
Psalm 1 begins the Psalter by pronouncing a blessing on those who meditate on the law (torah; instruction) of the LORD. Psalm 2 ends by pronouncing a blessing on those who put their trust in the Son, the Messiah.
The idea is that meditation on Scripture (the Psalter) leads to trust in the Messiah.
Jesus told the scribes in John 5:39 ESV, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. " They had Scripture, but they did not have Jesus.
The rich young ruler had a relationship with the written ordinances of the LORD's instruction. He was a keeper of the law, but He did not have a relationship of trust in the Messiah. Jesus told Him that it was great that he kept the 10 commandments, but He lacked one thing. It was not so much about the young ruler selling his possessions, or in giving it to the poor, although those were important acts of devotion for him. Jesus was showing this young man that his meditation of the Torah had led Him to the Messiah and now it was time to trust and follow Him. It was an invitation into a relationship with the Son (Mark 10:17-22).
After His resurrection, Jesus instructed the disciples from the three sections of the Hebrew Bible (Luke 24:45-53). His purpose was not so that they would be able to win debates with the Pharisees, rather it was so that they would know Him better. So as you compare the words of the Psalter with the writings of the NT, think about the fact that Jesus opened their understanding to understand the Psalter in this way. And the way they used the Psalms was to invite everyone they met into a covenant relationship with Jesus and that relationship is on that is based upon "trust."
The word translated "trust" or "take refuge in" at the end of Psalm 2:12 has the same meaning as the word "faith" that we read so often in the NT. It means to believe, to trust.
Faith, or trust, is not some kind of mental ascent or magic that manipulates God to act. Faith as the Bible uses it, is trusting in God and taking refuge in Him in times of trouble, and believing that He is Who He claims to be and that He will do what He promises that He will do (Segraves, p. 26). In order for this to be true, it takes a relationship. This relationship is one that goes through the hills and valleys of life.
Psalm 1 is a Psalm of orientation. If we read it only at a surface level we might think that its main teaching is that Israel's worship life is obedience, "to order and conduct all of life in accordance with God's purpose and ordering of the creation" (Brueggemann, p. 38-39). It tells us that a life lived delighting in and meditating on the instruction of the LORD is one that will be "happy" and has "well-being," a blessed life. "Blessed is the man..."
The psalm presents a contrast between the wicked and the righteous. There is no middle ground. The psalm presents life in either/or categories. Like much of the wisdom tradition and Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, it presents two paths.
1 Blessed is the manWho walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
There is a progression from motion to a stationary posture. A person tries sin, then becomes accustomed to it, and finally, it becomes a lifestyle or habit. There is a contrast to the positive commandments of Deut 6:4-9.
“Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. 8 You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. 9 You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.