It’s been a year since I last wrote here. Not that anyone is still reading. My plan is to update this once a week, mostly with thoughts that come from devotionals with the Psalms. So here goes.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 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, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
This psalm is the first (duh), and I wonder why it was put first. Probably not because it was written first. I think it was important for those who worshiped Yahweh to see from the get-go that they were not as strong as they thought they were. They could be one of two people: righteous or wicked. They could be influenced by the Torah, God’s Word, or by other wicked people. No one was immune to becoming like chaff that blew away in the wind.
They needed to know that digging deep into God’s Word was the only way they would be righteous. Odds are this psalm was written during or after Israel’s exile to Babylon, around the time the synagogue was starting. The synagogue was THE place to hear the words of God, and also the place to sing some of the other psalms. This psalm was a call to worship, to participate in the communal praise of Yahweh. Get this and you get the rest of the psalms.
I think this psalm also is supposed to put an end to any doubts of those Jews who may have wondered if following Yahweh was the best way. They were living in a foreign land with foreign people worshiping foreign gods. And all these people seemed to be doing better than them. Yet this psalm says whatever the righteous do will prosper, and the way of the wicked will perish (vv. 3, 6). Its saying that even though things seem to be just the opposite, walking in the ways of God is still worth it. Not just worth it, but its the best way and the ONLY way to live. Not really a message that preaches well in today’s culture.
So the next question logically for me is, What is Yahweh’s way? Where else does the Bible speak of God’s “way”? A question for next time.