Psalm 1: Delight in the Law

I’m beginning a new blog series today, simply working my way through the Psalms. I invite you to join me in reading one Psalm each day for the next 150 days. Who knows how richly God will bless us through such simple mustard seed faithfulness!

The translations I’m using through this series are my trusty ESV but also Jon Goldingay’s “The First Testament.” It’s a fairly recent translation from a leading Old Testament scholar. But there’s a freshness to the language here that is really helping me as I read through passages both familiar and unfamiliar.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…

but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)

Psalm 1 speaks of the flourishing life, an idea Jesus develops further in the Sermon on the Mount’s Beatitudes. The Psalmist tells us that true flourishing occurs when we delight in the instruction of God (Goldingay uses the personal name, “Yahweh.”) This blessed one “murmurs about [Yahweh’s] instruction day and night” (The First Testament translation of Psalm 1:2).

The metaphor of an established tree bearing fruit in season further develops the idea of flourishing. This is straightforward enough: human flourishing cannot occur apart from the wisdom and instruction of Yahweh. This calls to mind what Jesus says in John 15, Apart from me you can do nothing.

Some questions for reflection:

  • Am I delighting in the instruction of the Lord? Or do I find my greatest delight elsewhere?
  • Do I truly believe that human flourishing is impossible apart from the wisdom and instruction of Yahweh?
  • Read John 15:1-5. What does Jesus mean when he says that apart from Him, we can do nothing?
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