Psalm 1

Psalm 1: The Orphan Bookend

Psalm 1
(1) Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked 
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 
(2) but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
(3) That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

(4) Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
(5) Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

(6) For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, 
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

What even are the psalms?

The Book of Psalms is a collection of poems and songs written throughout the history of God’s people. They are God’s inspired words. He wants us to read them, to know them, and there are a lot of them- 150! Many speak of times and events in the past, many refer to Jesus in prophesy, and all can teach us something about how to live and walk with the Lord today. They give us strength and purpose and they remind us of God’s covenant love and faithfulness throughout time and even today.

Studying the Book of Psalm allows us to learn more about God’s heart, and why this ancient book was- and is- so important to the children of God and the church today. The Book of Psalms, or the Psalter as it’s often referred to, was probably compiled by post-exilic Jewish temple priests or servants during the 4th century BC. As the people returned from seventy years of captivity in Babylon, they set to rebuilding the city of Jerusalem and the temple on Zion. It was probably a very exciting time. The people gathered back home in Jerusalem, together again to rebuild the city and the temple, to worship, to celebrate. God had given them another chance. And although the city was in ruins, they knew what they had to do. The story can be read in the book of Ezra.

The Book of Psalms is a wonderful collection of ancient Israel’s most important prayers and praises. These songs or poems were used in worship, in the temple (after Solomon) and the tabernacle prior. Before they were written down, they were sung or recited regularly to keep the stories alive.

One hundred of the one hundred and fifty psalms are signed. Seventy-three are signed by David, scholars believe many of the unsigned fifty may also be David’s words. David’s son Solomon wrote two. Ethan and Heman wrote one each and are believed to be wise men from David’s time. Asaph, one of the tabernacle’s worship leader’s also during David’s time, wrote twelve psalms. Moses wrote Psalm 90. The Sons of Korah (Korah’s descendants) wrote eleven psalms.

Psalms 1 & 2 are not signed.

Bible scholars often refer to them as “books ends,” kind of like an introduction to the entire book. Psalm 1 is a “book end” or introduction to the first 41 psalms, called Book 1 of the Psalter.

In other translations, Psalm 1 is titled, The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked (ESV); The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly (NKJV); and simply, Two Ways to Live in the International Children’s Bible.

It is the psalmist’s desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Psalm 1 opens with the word “blessed.”

bless-ed (adjective): made holy; consecrated
consecrated (adjective): having been made or declared sacred
sacred (adjective): connected with God

Do you wish to be blessed, declared sacred, and connected with God?

The author here of Psalm 1 clearly explains the way to be blessed,

1) Don’t keep walking in sin, or hanging out with sin, or sitting in the company of sin. (Note: we all sin, but this says don’t keep sinning)
2) Revere the Lord and His Word. (Revere: to feel deep respect or admiration for).
3) Study God’s Word. Not only “read it,” but know it.

The author goes on to say the one who does these things- the blessed one- is like a tree with fruit and beautiful leaves that lives by streams of water. And everything that tree does prospers. These are poems or songs that will often use metaphors to paint a picture. This one uses the metaphor of a tree.

How often do we feel like a healthy, well-watered tree? How often do we feel like a strong tree living our best life next to the water? How often do we feel like all we do each day is prosperous?

Or do we more often feel like the chaff that’s so easily blown away by the breeze?

Do you sometimes wonder what you’re doing day in and day out, and who even cares anyway? Does it ever seem like, at the end of the day, when you fall into bed exhausted, that all you did that day was not enough? That you are not enough?

Friend, if you were to tell me that all you did today was take care of a sick child or parent or make meals that weren’t appreciated and you didn’t even have any time to care for yourself, I would tell you that you are worthy and you are loved. If all you did was go to work and barely make it through the day, I would tell you that you are loved and watched over.

If you feel meaningless, useless, unworthy- if you feel like chaff blowing in the wind, this is the psalm for you.

Friend, God loves you. He sees you. Your work is valued in His eyes. And He will daily sustain you.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

We may not feel like the tree with fruit and beautiful leaves, with cool crisp running water. We may not feel that all we do “prospers,” but that is up to God. We just need to show up. We just need to revere His word and not sin, or not keep sinning. We just need to seek the Lord and work for the Lord with each and every task. The fruit, therefore, is in His hands.

And, oh, are they qualified and capable hands. They are trustworthy hands.

God is seasoning the fruit of our lives. He is using our fruit, or He will, in His time. We just need to show up. Put one foot in front of the other. And trust in Him. Our Father in heaven is working. He is moving. He is using us, even in our daily, mundane, boring, tiresome tasks. The tasks that feel like no one cares, no one helps, no one knows- He does.

There is a lesson in this psalm for you and me, and the end says it clearly. Are you the fruitful tree drinking of the sustaining water? Or are you the chaff blown in the breeze?

We may feel like chaff blowing in the breeze. But Psalm 1 is saying that if you are a child of God and you are working for Him each and every day, you are the righteous. You are the tree. He is sustaining you. He is growing your fruit. He is watering your soul.

The Lord watches over the path of the righteous. The wicked blow away like chaff in the wind.

Even when we don’t feel Him working or sustaining or growing us, He is. Trust in Him.

When life is hard. When being parent and spouse and sibling and friend is hard. When you are thirsting for love, for acknowledgment, to know your worth . . . Drink of the water and know it will sustain you as your fruit grows and in God’s eyes, all that you do prospers.

Do each daily task with the knowledge that your Father in heaven sustains you. He sees you. He walks with you.

To drink of the water and be blessed- run from sin and run to God.

Father, sustain us with Your living water. As we struggle to be all that You ask of us, sustain us. When it feels that all we do all day long is to give and give and give, sustain us. Father, thank You that our worth is in You, that You love us and walk beside us, that You are growing our fruit and using all that we do to further Your Kingdom.  Strengthen us to love and encourage each other, and to continue to give of ourselves even when we feel like we are empty. Amen.

Heidi xoxo

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