The Psalms have been collected and organized into five books, which reflect the five books of Moses. The Psalms and the Pentateuch are connected. The Psalms are the Spirit-inspired and Spirit-given vocabulary of prayer and praise. They teach us how to address God in prayer and praise God in song. The prayers and songs of the Psalms are guided and directed by God’s law and they call on the worshipper of Yahweh to be guided and guarded, shaped and sustained, by God’s law.
In the Psalter’s introductory Psalm, we read,
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. (Psalm 1:1-2)
The five books of Psalms begin with a benediction and a warning. The blessing is for those who stay clear of the counsel and company of the wicked. The warning is that we can easily be drawn into the counsel and company of the wicked. Verse 1 warns of a wayward progression in three aspects (1) in action, from walking to standing to sitting; (2) in location, from counsel to way to seat; and (3) in company, from wicked to sinners to scoffers.
First, the wicked are the ungodly, unbelievers, those outside of Christ. We’re blessed if we don’t walk or wander in the counsel of the wicked. Don’t give a listening ear to the advice or counsel of the wicked, as though we need to balance or supplement the counsel of God’s word with the counsel of the world.
Second, sinners are those who clearly break God’s law. The counsel of the wicked may appear neutral or compatible with God’s law. If we wander in the counsel of the wicked we may soon find we’re standing in the way of sinners. What we thought was compatible is actually a compromise, but now we’re standing in the way of sinners and questioning God’s law. Blessed is the man who does not stand in the way of sinners.
Finally, scoffers are those who not only break God’s law, but openly ridicule and mock it. Walking in the counsel of the wicked leads to standing in the way of sinners, and finally, taking your seat among the scoffers. Compromise leads to contempt. Blessed is the man who does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
The benediction of Psalm 1 has two verses and two parts. The first part in verse 1 is negative. You’re blessed if you don’t do this. The second part in verse 2 is positive:
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
The law of the Lord refers to Torah, the five books of Moses. Torah contains commandments, narrative history and testimony, genealogies, prophecy, and songs and psalms. As Christians, we can apply the benediction of Psalm 1 to all of Scripture. Meditation upon God’s law produces delight in God’s law. The more we study, memorize, and keep the law of the Lord, the greater our delight in his law. In Psalm 19, David gives us reason to meditate and delight on the law of the Lord. Over the next several weeks, I want to meditate upon the law of the Lord, by meditating upon Psalm 19. In the meantime, I encourage you to memorize and meditate upon Psalm 19. I’m praying that your delight in God’s word will increase. Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.