Almighty God, you are my help and confidence. Without your assistance, I cannot see your workings or hear your voice.
Read 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’1
The book of Psalms opens by declaring the blessing that flows from a life immersed in God’s teaching. While ‘law’ (v 2) can refer to specific legal instructions, here it’s more likely to refer to Scripture generally, as it illuminates God’s wisdom and provides guidance for living.2 The psalmist depicts the flourishing that emanates from choosing to learn from God, rather than from those who have no regard for God’s teaching (vs 1–3).
The psalm sharply distinguishes ‘the wicked’ and ‘the righteous’ (vs 1,4,5,6). You might wonder if you are in the ‘wicked’ camp if you miss a day’s Bible study, but that would be to misinterpret the psalm’s purpose. It doesn’t set out to encourage legalism, or to demonize those whose desire to read and study the Bible is thwarted by life’s circumstances. Equally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that God can never use non-biblical sources to communicate wisdom. Rather, this distinction is a rhetorical device intended to emphasize how vital – and wonderful it is to dwell on God’s Word. The tree flourishes because it is deliberately planted beside irrigation channels (v 3): equally, if we intentionally soak ourselves in Scripture we can expect to grow in wisdom and understanding. If we neglect Scripture, over time we will become spiritually dry and uncertain (v 4).
Assertions of God’s blessing (v 1) lead us to wonder: what about the righteous who suffer or the wicked who seem to lead blessed lives? Other psalms will address these questions. This psalm affirms the fundamental truth that living in connection with the one who gives life is itself the means of blessing. God watches over the way of the righteous. Do you need to remind yourself that you are known and loved by God?
When you read the Bible, linger on a phrase or word that you feel drawn to. Remember it during the day.
Powerful One, when the world has done its worst: pressured me, tempted me, I can plunge into despair. Thank you, Lord; your word and presence sustain me.
1 Ps 119:103 2 James L Mays, Psalms (Interpretation commentary), John Knox Press, 1994, p41
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