The book of Psalms as it appears in the Old Testament is the result of many years of compiling and organizing. Like any hymnal, it doesn’t contain all the psalms written, but it does have the ones the Holy Spirit saw fit to include in the collection of scriptures. Somewhere along the way, the Psalms were arranged into five small books. No one is sure why this was done, but the divisions are obvious. Each book ends with a small doxology.
The Psalms were favorites of the Jewish community to the extent that they were memorized and were sung in their various meetings. These same psalms were being sung when Jesus entered the world, and after his departure, they were used by the early church. Many of them are quoted in the New Testament, and for the next few weeks, we will be looking at those verses and how they are interpreted by the New Testament writers.
“… but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night.” (Psalm1:2)
This psalm is all about the difference between the righteous person and the wicked person. The verse we are looking at seems to hold the secret for the success of the righteous man. There are several words that seem to stand out to me in this short psalm of six verses. These words are in the second verse. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Delight is the first word. It is used to describe the feeling the righteous man experiences when he reads the words of God. In this Old Testament setting, the law is used, but we understand the principle the psalmist is using. God’s word is everything to the righteous person. The righteous person finds his happiness in reading and absorbing God’s divine message. Some read and study the word out of duty or a sense of responsibility. Some may do so to prove their own understanding of the text. Others read out of habit, perhaps early in the morning or before bed. The righteous one in the psalm delights in the words. It is a great pleasure to him/her. The righteous can’t get enough of the word.
Meditates is the second word that speaks to me in this psalm. It is a word seldom heard in modern times. We read the scripture, we study the scripture and then we mostly close the book and set it on the shelf. Perhaps we discuss what we have read in a Bible class, but that often comes from a quick reading just before the discussion. I have personally heard teachers begin a Bible class by asking the class where they left off the week before. Not much time is given to encouraging believers to meditate on the word of God. Meditation may well be a lost art. We are too busy in this fast-paced world, and we don’t like to think about things too much. We fill our ears and minds with music and hours of television, but we don’t think long about any of it.
Day and night are the last words that appeal to me in this psalm. Day and night specify a period of time, and it seems to indicate more than a casual approach to the task at hand. To the righteous person, the word of God is so vital to their lives that they keep it on the surface of their thinking. It guides them in decisions and influences their speech and actions and that not on occasion but on a regular basis. The word is always at the front of their thinking, motivating every aspect of their life. The result of this constant, consistent meditation on the word is that they have been called righteous by God.
Task for Today: As we begin our journey through the Psalms the first one is giving us a great clue to successful discipleship and the way to achieving real righteousness. Perhaps it would be a good time to take a personal inventory or our own interaction with the word of God. There are three important considerations we have looked at. Does looking at the scriptures bring us great happiness? Be honest. Would you rather read the word or a novel? Study the scriptures or put on a hot album of our favorite artist. Open the word or turn on the television? Secondly, do we do more than read the Bible on the surface and then move on? When was the last time you sat and thought about what you had read? Third, how often do you think about the word you did read? Is the message from the God of heaven with you day and night? Make some changes if you need to.