The Psalms kick off with just 6 short verses. It makes for quite quick reading, but I often find shorter bible readings can grab my attention and get me thinking in-depth a lot more.
Psalm 1 offers brilliant contrasts between the blessed/righteous and the wicked/sinners. It starts off by stating that we are “blessed” if we don’t operate in the same way as the
wicked/sinners/mockers, but instead delight in and meditate on the Lord’s law. There are a couple of things to unpack there:
- We are Blessed
What does it mean to be blessed? The Lord blesses us with success, with provision, with relationships, with joy/happiness/content/grace, etc. And it’s important to remember that blessing isn’t like a feeling – it’s not a case of “feeling” blessed (feelings can be fickle, misguided, unhealthy or wrong) but a matter of fact that we are blessed. We are also blessed in ways that benefit us for our own good (which can contrast with what we want) – be mindful that whilst situations may not “feel” like a blessing, God blesses us in the way He knows we need it most.
- The Lord’s law
Often the Bible mentions the law in a couple of different ways. This is not a specific reference to the Mosaic Laws (remember we are no longer under the Law, but grace, as Jesus came to fulfil the law on our behalf), but rather a reference to all of God’s word. We are encouraged to delight in God’s word and meditate on it regularly. Or more simply, we should aim to enjoy/love/rely on God’s word and read/learn from it.
It goes on to explain how the blessed are prosperous and fruitful, whilst the wicked are blown away like chaff (i.e. the useless part of corn which is thrown away). This makes it sound like following God’s word will lead to success in our lives. So I know what you’re thinking; “I follow God, so why aren’t I a millionaire?” – well, the issue here is the definition of “success” – you may want a fancy car or your dream job, but ultimately you do NOT know what’s best for you (certainly not on the global all-encompassing level that God does). God promises you will prosper and succeed, sure, but this is an the eternal/general sense, and whilst it’s fine to “want” things, God wants you to find a sense of purpose and success from the much deeper/eternal things He has to offer you (which are of course, infinitely more valuable than a new car or nice job).
The last part of the reading caused me a little confusion, as my translation says “the wicked will not stand in the judgement”, which sounds like a good thing (like they won’t be judged). This was a good example of why looking at different versions is important – doing so revealed that a better translation would be “the wicked will not have a leg to stand on during judgement” – God watches out for the “Righteous” (followers of His word), but the actions of the wicked will lead to destruction.
This sounds harsh, but like many things, context helps – God has given us all the FREE but OPTIONAL gift of salvation through His grace. God wants us all to accept this free gift, offers it to all, but loves us too much to force it upon us (this would make us mindless puppets). Instead, He asks us if we want Him to watch out for us, or if we want to continue to be wicked.
I could talk a lot more about this – it’s amazing how a small piece of God’s word has so much depth and can be such an encouragement to us. Reading this scripture, you are meditating on God’s word and are truly blessed – our loving God is “watching over [your] ways” and has saved you from “destruction”.