Reflections on Psalm 1: How to live a blessed life
Last week I was meditating on Psalm 1, and I want to share some of my observations. Later this week I will continue the series on Faith and Works.
The basic structure of the Psalm is a comparison of two ways of life, one leading to blessing and the other leading to destruction. In verse 1 the person who receives God’s blessing is described negatively, in terms of not living the lifestyle of the wicked. Then in verse 2 we find the only positive description of the person who will be blessed: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” What follows in verse 3 is a description of the secure and fruitful life that comes about as a result. The wicked are contrasted in verse 4, and the remaining two verses describe the ultimate outcome of each way of life.
My focus is on verse 2, because I think that it provides the key to living a blessed life. The person who will be blessed delights in “the law of the Lord.” In the Old Testament, the word “law” is used in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is used in a more narrow sense to describe the laws for human conduct given in the first five books of the Bible, which are also called “the Law.” But at other times the word “law” is used more generally for God’s word. God’s word is a “law” because it provides the standards for our conduct and the guide for our lives. Calling God’s word “law” gives recognition to its authority in our lives and affirms our obligation to submit ourselves to God.
The blessed man does not need to force himself to read the Bible, because he delights in it. It is a joy for him to read it and he naturally finds himself thinking about it often. The second part of verse 2 is almost a result of the first half of the verse. He meditates on it day and night because he delights in God’s law. Of course there is a need for a certain amount of discipline in the Christian life, but discipline alone is not enough. Our attitude toward God’s word is crucial.
So my question is, how can we become the sort of people who delight in God’s word? That is probably the subject for another post, but I welcome your thoughts. It seems to me that an important part of developing a delight for God’s word is learning to meditate on it. And since we cannot meditate on something unfamiliar to us, we need to read the Word often and commit portions of it to memory.
I think it is time to revive my practice of memorizing Scripture. . .