Starting our Summer off with a journey into the vast emotional truth’s that are seen in the Psalter.
Week in and week out in both corporate and personal worship we are encouraged to think biblically about the words we sing, and to approach the Lord in proper adoration and thought. Most of the times this is easy and filled with Joy or hopefulness, yet there are seasons of life where things get cloudy God seems far off and the words don’t come as easy or seem veiled to us. In these seasons we can easily get confused but our own thoughts as to how best to worship… because at the core we understand that the words we sing are formative and need to be a reflection of the truth of scripture, that worship should be centered on God alone and sung with hearts that reflect that truth, and so did God.
This Summer we will approach the truth of Sung worship through the first hymnal given to the faith, the Psalter. Through the 150 Psalms we experience the whole of the human condition and from highness of swelling joy to the depths of human sadness and despair. In every season of life and moment of our day there is a psalm that captures the truth of that moment and gives us words to express the feelings that are going on inside of us.
This Summer we will spend 8 weeks look at 8 distinct Psalms and reflecting how they give words to our emotions. They will teach us how to pray in times of wonderful praise such as in Psalm 46 they will also shows us the faith in the midst of darkness seen in PS 88.
In the continued divide that exists over musical style at the heart should be a proper view of God’s word driving our worship, and today we will begin to see that that begins in His Songs written for us. His words for the most joyous and miserable of Christians to be sung and experienced.
And to begin to see the full reality of this we must begin of course at the beginning. Ps 1
Now unlike most of the Psalter Ps 1 a Psalm of wisdom the throughout History has been called the Prologue to the Psalter. As one Commentator put it: “it is a text of which the remaining psalms are essentially exposition.” (James M. Boice)
We cannot come to the Psalms without out first entering in through the knowledge found in the First psalm
This text will lay before us the foundation by which each psalm is to be sung and the heart that will guide the words to follow
Join me in Ps 1 as we begin to see the truth of this….
Psalm 1 ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 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. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
So How do We enter into the Psalter —-Through Delight in God
I. Through delight in God (1-2)
Psalm 1:1–2 ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.
The Psalm begins with the description of one who’s life is blessed…
-What is important to know as we journey down this road is that the blessed life is a result of the life. What this means is that blessings are not the reward of accomplishing something they are the nature of the acts themselves.
Jesus uses the same word as he begins the sermon on the mount. Here too he spoke of the blessed life:
Matthew 5:1–12 ESV
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The blessing is seen in the life, in the choices they are natural fruits not exceptional rewards.
So, when we think of the blessed man who we see in this psalm we see that he is blessed in how he lives.
A. Not Through Worldly Means
We begin here by seeing the progressing of the psalmist parallel structure.
Each section builds on the one before it, showing an ever more progressive nature diving deeper into sin.
- Walks-in their counsel (Means to make choices based on their advice)
When we think about this clearly where is our source of knowledge. When making decisions about life where do we turn to find our source of knowledge. Whom do we take counsel from?
Walking then turns to standing….
- Stand in the way of the sinner (Their means of life and practice become acceptable to you)
The use of the term way is common throughout the scripture to refer to how one lives their life. In the sermon on the mount Jesus Speaks clearly of 2 ways….
Matthew 7:13–14 ESV
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Or think of the famous Robert Frost Poem
Psalms, Volume 1: (Psalms 1–41): An Expositional Commentary Divergent Ways
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
The means of travel speaks of the journey of life…. the way one goes is the path his life will take. Wicked counsel accepted will lead to a way of life marked by sin, finding fulfillment in joining in the mockery.
- Sit in the Seat of Scoffers.
-Scoffers in wisdom literatures is one of the worst groups of sinners. (Waltke text)
The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary 1. Renouncing Sinners v. 1
The most hardened apostates are the “mockers” (lēṣîm), a word that occurs fourteen times in Proverbs and twice outside of it (Ps. 1:1; Isa. 29:20, a wisdom pericope). The noun, “mocking” (lāṣôn), occurs three times in the Old Testament (Prov. 1:22; 29:8; Isa. 28:14). The mocker is the antithesis both of the wise (Prov. 9:12; 13:1; 20:1; 21:24), whom he hates (9:7–8; 15:12), and of the discerning (14:6; 19:25); he or she is lumped together with fools (1:22; 3:34–35; 14:7–8; 19:29), gullible (1:22); they are proud and haughty (21:24). Their spiritual problem is rooted in their overweening pride (21:24). Supercilious arrogance blocks them from wisdom (14:6). They have a genius for invective and denigration that impresses the gullible as long as they have their way (19:25; 21:11). They open their big mouths and, unleashing the tensions and strains in a community, set the whole community at loggerheads (22:10; 29:8) and destroy it (21:24; 22:10; 29:8). Their bad influence is plain to most (24:9). “No man earns more universal detestation or deserves it more than he who wears a perpetual sneer, who is himself incapable of deep loyalty and reverence and who supposes that it is his mission in life to promote the corrosion of the values by which individuals and society live.” To restore order, they must be driven out of the community by force (22:10). God himself ultimately scoffs at them, and so they will disappear (Isa. 29:20).
This Psalm begins by showing us that there are only two ways to enter into the Psalter either as a wicked person whom has no knowledge of what is to be found here or as one who is blessed.
There is a righteous way and a wicked way. And as we see the blessed way is found in delighting in God
B. Through Gospel Delight
Psalm 1:2 ESV
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.
Here is the truth both of this Psalm and the whole psalter it is hose who mediate on the Law of God whom are blessed. Their life is filled with the knowledge of God and are filled with faith no matter the circumstances.
-The Delight in the Law of the Lord is key to our understanding of God’s purpose throughout the scriptures:
The OT in its original form is divided up into 3 Sections:
The Torah (The Law)
The Nevi’im (The Prophets)
& The Kethuvim (The Psalms/Writing)
Here we see that the Psalms actually begins for us in a similar way as the Prophets: for Joshua 1:8 states:
Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
And as we know from Jesus own Words in Matt
Matthew 5:17–19 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is the one whom the OT has continually pointed to as the true fulfillment of the OT Law and in that the one on whom our mediation and recitation finds fulfillment.
Luke 24:27 ESV
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
We mediate on His words from Genesis to revelation. HE is the one whom we see in the Word, He is the one whom is on our lips as we speak. Those whose way are in him are those who are blessed.
So rather than a way of life marked by the world ours is one marked by Christ…. So, the opening couplet gives us a warning before we would journey forward to observe our lives…. what is it that marks who we are is it the world or is it Christ?
Whom do we serve…?
For what we see as we continue through the text is that the results of the blessed life is the work of God and there for us to understand the whole of the Psalter, we must enter in Through the work of God
II. Through the Work of God (3-4)
Psalm 1:3–4 ESV
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Here the life of the blessed is explained in one of the most beautiful descriptions of creation a tree planted by a flowing river.
Again, the tree doesn’t choose where to be planted he is given his spot by the gardener whom wishes to see it nourished and grown.
Here the way of life for those who are in Christ is seen to be as a tree planted near flowing streams.
-Trees and flowers along a river verses one in pots in front of the church one never ceases to be cared for; the water is never ending in its flow. It has no fear that it will not receive the nourishment, while the plants in front of the church are purely dependent on an uncertain future
-Those whom find their lives in Christ do not need worry about their lives, for in all of time Christ is theirs. They know this they have read his word; they have experienced his salvation and no matter what comes their way this will never cease to be true.
Again, the key here is that when seen in the whole of the Psalter this prosperous life is one that is seen in growing in their love of God in faith in Him, Seeking and eternal hope that sees more than today. For as we journey through the Psalter over the coming weeks, we will see Psalms that express some pretty dark places and reflect times that many would say are anything but blessed. But as we will see those who delight in the Lord their trust is in the
Their life is un moving, their way is strong as a tree it is nourished and un moved by life’s trials and the wicked ways of men: I reminded of a quote from a captain America movie (all truth is God’s Truth)
Captain America Civil War: Sharon Carter” Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, you move’.”
The blessed know their God, they know he is the one who nourishes their souls, they know that no matter the movement of the world their God is never changing and every before them. Their song knows that God is good no matter the world around them, he is sovereign from creation to the end of time.
The Wicked on the other hand are marked by a constant changing. They have no grounding thy are blown to and fro by the wind. without root or stump they know no security. Every day is a search for a new hope when all else has failed, only to find that way also leads to nothing.
The Lord is making a very power statement in this simple comparison especially when coming at things from a worldly perspective. Those who faith is in God are viewed as weak and feeble compared to the world with its bold “wisdom.” However, their bold wisdom is every changing those heralds of wisdom are now seen as backwards and out of touch. the heroes of one generation are cast off quickly for new and better ideas, who also will be sept away in the next.
I don’t claim that we have always been perfect, but our God has never failed, and we have never a need for a new word or a new hope. Our delight has remained the same from generation to generation. the faith is nourished by our God not the winds around us. Our way is Christ not a passing fade. Our salvation is in Him alone, not our own strength and wisdom.
rather in the End the Truth is we are Known by God and that has made all the difference. and that is ultimately the hope we have in entering into the Psalms.
III. Through Being Known by God (5-6)
Psalm 1:5–6 ESV
Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
this is how the Psalm ends and leads us into the rest of the Psalter with eh truth that the lasting nature of God’s blessed children is seen in his knowledge of them.
The wicked have no place among His people.
The wicked cannot Hide, their way of life is known and, in the end, will be left without defense on the day of judgement. there is no lasting status of those who are apart from Christ their ways are temporary and in the whole of God’s plan fail, while those who are in Christ are known but Him.
The use of the term know here denotes an intimacy, God is acquainted with and in communion with those who are righteous. Again, this righteousness we see ultimately comes from God is experienced by those who’s delight is in Him alone.
Those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Those whom he has opened their eyes and turned their hearts away from the World.
As we rest in this final stanza this here is what should bring us the lasting Joy as we journey week to week in life and song and that is the truth that God knows us. Those who are his He knows them and their ways. This should also give us pause to reflect on the truth of whether we are known by God. Jesus wraps up the Sermon on the mount in a similar way:
Matthew 7:21–27 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”