I will not be observing merely the first two Psalms in this blog, rather an overview of the entire book with a special emphasis on Psalm 1.
The book of Psalms is generally regarded as the most widely read book of the Old Testament, and its authorship spans nearly 1,000 years from Moses, to Asaph, to David, to Solomon, and beyond. It is a collection of hymns, songs, prayers, laments, and more, all of which praise the Lord in a variety of different ways.
Whether it is a hymn of thanks, a plea from utter darkness, or a quiet reminder to trust the Lord, the Psalmists continuously affirm the goodness of God on a tapestry of raw human emotion. Indeed, even the giants that went before us felt despair, suffered humiliation and grief, felt bewildered and perplexed, and everything in between – therefore we can find solidarity in their words by the power of the Holy Spirit, who comforts, guides, and strengthens us day by day.
If you have trouble praying, read the Psalms! There is inspiration packed into each page, and it provides a model on how to navigate the treacherous waters of this world while remaining humble, thankful, and joyful in the Lord.
The very first Psalm is one of my favourites, pointing to a blessing for those who do not walk with the wicked or stand with sinners or sit with scoffers, but delights in and meditates on the law of the Lord. It goes on to describe those who do as a tree planted by streams of water that yield fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, who prospers in all their ways.
I love the imagery used here of a tree planted by streams of water and the instruction it provides. Plants are all about environment, and in many ways so are our own souls. If a tree is bought and kept in the wrong environment, it dies. At best it may sit around for a year or so before slowly withering, but it cannot grow. However, a tree planted in the right conditions cannot help but grow and flourish and bear fruit. It is not a matter of effort on behalf of the tree, nor does it toil or stress about growth. Rather, being planted near streams of water and with the sun shining down, it will steadily and deeply burrow roots down and push its branches up. It is effortless, inevitable growth. That is what the tree was meant to do.
Likewise, we can choose where we put our roots down and we can choose the sort of soil we pack around ourselves. Will we choose rocky ground and shallow puddles as our home, or richer soil and deeper streams that nobody can see? Psalm 1 tells us that the man who delights in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it daily is putting roots deep underground to the precious living water that is the Word of God. He will not whither or fade. He will always bear fruit in season. And so our own lives, deeply rooted in Scripture with the Son shining down on us won’t be able to help but grow and bear fruit. It is not terribly complicated, and it is not always easy, but it is what we are meant to do.
The Psalms are a wonderful place to help you put down roots. They tell of what was and what was to come; to remind us constantly of the goodness of our God and how He is carefully tending even you, today, right now. This image is meant to relax you, to stop your striving for His approval. God already delights in you and takes special pride in you, His beloved child! You cannot earn more, and you cannot make His love less. Just take some time and focus on slowly burrowing your heart into His precious word, His priceless love. Feel the Son’s warmth this day and turn your face to Him, for this is what you were meant to do.
If I could have one thing, it’s that each of us would seek the Lord in the Psalms every day. Take a pen and paper with you each time you crack open this magnificent book and just start reading. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you read, to open your eyes and ears and heart – then dive in. When you come across something that catches your eye, write it down. Even if it is just one or two verses. Carefully copy out each word that resonated with you and allow it to settle in your mind. This is both mediation and worship, dwelling on the word of God and giving it proper time to drop from your head to your heart. It keeps your eyes from rushing from page to page and lets it all sink in – something we could all use a little more of!
I cannot think of a more practical way to apply Scripture than this. The Psalms are perfect, for they cover a whole host of topics and situations, plus they always push us to call out to the Lord in thanksgiving. As you learn to meditate on Scripture, as you pray and practice sitting with the Lord Jesus in some quiet place, as you make space for the Holy Spirit to work and sanctify, you will experience growth. It is not terribly complicated, and it is not always easy. Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Take the time today to sit with Jesus Christ and His written word!
What methods or structures do you have in place to help you engage with Scripture? How important is the Bible to you in your everyday life?
Lord, we thank you for tending us and growing us. We thank you for grace upon grace as we walk through the works you laid out for us ahead of time. Thank you for always having your hand upon us and for the gift of salvation! We pray that we might learn to put down roots in your written and Living Word, that we might prize Jesus Christ above anything this world has to offer, and that He will always be first in our hearts. Amen!
Song: Shane and Shane - I Will Wait For You (Psalm 130)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.