Written by Dave Lamb
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 00:00
Writing a blog is painful. Part of what makes it painful for me is deciding what to write about each time the deadline rolls around. To simplify the process I decided to write a series of blogs. Since I’m Biblical’s Old Testament professor it made sense to focus on an OT book. But then another problem arises. I only post for Biblical’s blog about once a month so it could be hard to give my book series any sense of continuity. What OT book has chapters that basically stand alone so readers won’t have to go back to the post I wrote four weeks earlier to understand what I’m saying? The book of Psalms.
Not only was it the logical choice, but I also love the Psalms.
While I’ve already written posts for my own blog on the first psalm, it would be wrong to begin a series of blogs on the Psalms starting anywhere else. The Psalms help us worship (e.g., 8, 117), they help us lament (e.g., 13, 22), they help us repent (e.g., 38, 51), but Psalm 1 doesn’t focus on any of those important themes.
The first psalm focuses on motivation: the rewards (blessing, fruitfulness and prospering) and the consequences (withering, falling and perishing) for those who delight in the law of the LORD (they get the rewards) and those who don’t (they get the consequences).
Psalm 1 is set up as a contrast between the person focused on the Torah of YHWH (“the law of the LORD”) and everyone else. Notice in the first verse the Torah seeking person is alone but the non-Torah seekers are plural: wicked, sinners and scoffers (these synonyms are repeated 7 times in this 6-verse psalm). Sometimes the person focusing on God’s word can feel alone or isolated and there is a temptation to join in (to walk, stand or sit) with the crowd that seems to have better things to do. To defeat that temptation, we need to remember that there are painful consequences from not seeking God’s law.
The second verse is the crux of the psalm. The blessed one will delight in the Torah of YHWH, and meditate on it 24/7.
What things do you delight in? A chocolate truffle? The Eagles crushing the Cowboys? A beautiful sunset? Many of us would say “yes” to at least one of these things. What about the laws of Leviticus? Probably not. The psalmist, however, was obsessed with God’s word, even God’s laws, even Leviticus. They are better than truffles, an Eagles victory or the best sunset. Jesus loved Leviticus—he knew it included one of the greatest commands, to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18; Mark 12:31).
Every time I read this psalm I’m convicted. I’ve given my life to study and teach God’s word, but meditating day and night on Scripture? That doesn’t happen very often.
That’s why I need to be reminded that blessings and rewards come from delighting in God’s word. I suspect I’m not alone in this regard.
Ultimately, the biggest reward from meditating on Scripture is that one becomes more deeply connected with God.
God, help us connect to you from your word, even your laws.
What rewards do you experience as you meditate on God’s word?
David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.