And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed… blessed… blessed…” Matthew 5:2 and following
Psalm 1 is considered an introduction to the Book of Psalms. Charles Spurgeon calls it the “Preface Psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire book.” Eugene Peterson characterizes it as a “preface to prayer” and the “preparation for a life of prayer.” It sets the tone for Psalms, modeling concern for God, God’s Word and godly living, and revealing a sure expectation of justice toward all who reject God and His ways and do what is right in their own eyes.
Psalm 1 is a study in contrasts. The choice is clear. Read the Psalm and look at the various contrasts. What do the words “walk,” “stand” and “sit” bring to mind? As you walk in the world, where are you offered counsel by the ungodly, or are invited to hang out with sinners, or might be encouraged to join in with the scoffers? Can you see such influences around you? The psalmist must have seen such in his day, even if in ours they might seem more pervasive. What can we do? How do we escape evil influences? Look at verse 2. God’s Word is not only to be prized and obeyed, but delighted in, meditated on. This is the key. This is the message from God that we respond to in prayer.
For such a person, who delights in God’s law, the psalm offers “blessednesses” (Spurgeon’s interpretation of the fact that the Hebrew word is plural). It goes on to paint a glorious picture of those “blessednesses.” Think about the image of the tree. There is a lot of description of that tree. What are some things you notice about it? This description encourages each of us to picture ourselves like that tree, planted by God. Can you see yourself growing and prospering and bearing fruit under the care of the Gardener? Or do you have a brown leaf sometimes and fruit that isn’t all it should be? The good news is that God has provided the perfect solution to those problems. Just wait. Trust.
Consider the fate of the ungodly. They have no gardener and no good root. Though our trees may not be full grown yet, there is assurance in this Psalm and countless other scriptures that God knows His people and will keep working on them and in them until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). Turn to Jeremiah 17:5-8. The prophet provides a contrast similar to that in Psalm 1: a bleak picture of the man who trusts in himself and an image of fruitfulness for the one who trusts in God. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can choose to trust and dwell secure in Christ, no matter what the scoffers may say, no matter how tiny our trees might be today.
As we listen to what Randall Gruendyke will teach us in Psalm 1, let us remember that in Christ, we are the blessed man, whether we quite look like it yet or not. We can pass the allures of culture by and be guided by the Word of God, chewing it over and over, savoring its goodness, letting it fill us and make us grow. Let us pray for Randall and the Word he will bring us, and for each of us who will hear, that we will grow green and fruitful in the coming week. Amen.