As a worship musician and lover of Scripture, the book of Psalms ranks high on my list of Bible favorites. Filled with songs of praise, Psalms is considered to be the songbook of the Bible.
According to the notes of bible scholar Tom Constable, the title of this beloved book of the bible is Tehillim in Hebrew, meaning “praise songs.” The translators for the Greek Septuagint used the word Psalmoi, meaning “songs to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument.” Over time the meaning morphed to simply “Songs of Praise”, dropping the stringed accompaniment reference. Our modern English bibles transformed the Greek Psalmoi to Psalms.
While not all the psalms indicate authorship, modern Bible scholars have credited David with writing 73 of the 150 Psalms found in our bibles. Psalm 90, written by Moses around 1405 B.C, is considered to be the earliest psalm written. Bible scholar Eugene Merrill has narrowed down the dates that majority of psalms were written to 970 and 550 B.C. From a historical perspective, the psalms cover a period of about 1000 years.
Book 1 of Psalms includes Psalms 1-41 and is known as the book of personal experience. Almost all the psalms in Book 1 are attributed to David.
Psalm 1 is the perfect door leading into the treasure trove of psalms.
The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm One, one of the best known and most beloved psalms, summarizes the two paths of life open to people: a) the way of the righteous and b) the way of the wicked.
The psalm brings forth the importance of how we contemplate God, describes godly living and contrasts it with the perils of an ungodly lifestyle. It reminds the original audience of their hope in the Mosaic Covenant.
For us today, it paints a picture of two roads in life, proclaiming the blessings of the right road and declaring the consequences of going down the wrong path. Right living brings God’s favor. Ungodly living yields the bitter fruit of sorrow and destruction.
In the first half of the psalm, we read about the good fruit that a righteous life produces. It declares that the righteous person is influenced by the Word of God more than the schemes of the wicked. The Word of God shapes the righteous person’s conduct and directs their behavior. Godly people respond to life in light of God’s Word. A life of obedience brings us blessings, gives us good spiritual health, and transforms our character and actions to that which is pleasing to the Lord. Without a healthy root system grounded in the Word, we are as sure to die spiritually as a tree is certain to rot.
The wicked have little, if any regard, for God and do not live to please the Lord but to please themselves and satisfy their passions. While they may not be as evil as they could potentially be, they live life with no regard for the spiritual life.
The psalm closes with a warning that a future day of judgement is coming. In executing his winnowing judgement, the Lord will separate the godly from the ungodly, the righteous from the wicked, and the wheat from the chaff.
Psalm One is a stern reminder warning us to live our life in light of a final judgement by God. It also directs us to live life today trusting in the Lord and in obedience to all He commands.
As a worship musician, Psalm One is a steadfast measuring stick directing me in the ways of the Lord and guiding me toward a path of humility, trust, and obedience. Anchored in Psalm One, I can rest assured that my mind and heart will be focused on providing my Creator an offering whose sweet fragrance is pleasing to Him. Through heeding the words of Psalm One, I can live a life reflecting the light of God shining through me.