The book of Psalms is the most read book in the Bible. Jews and Christians have sung and prayed the psalms for thousands of years. It is the original prayer book that taught Jesus how to pray and can teach us how to pray. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said:
“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”
Walter Bruggemann highlights how the Psalter is a beautiful, creative and artistic book that takes us on an emotional journey of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. But before we can enter the sanctuary of the Psalter we need to go through the gatekeeper psalms, of Psalm 1 and 2. A wisdom and royal psalm that are to be read together as an introduction to the book.
PSALM 1 – TWO WAYS TO LIVE
Psalm 1 draws in the human heart with the words “Blessed is the man…“. In our culture blessed means ‘lucky’ but in Hebrew culture the word blessed means ‘soul-satisfying happiness’. How do we find such happiness? Psalm 1 gives us two paths - one path to avoid and one path to pursue. It’s a beautiful psalm that rhetorically asks the reader which path are you walking? The path of righteousness, happiness, delight and prosperity or the path of wickedness, destruction and judgement. Choose wisely. Choose to be like the blessed person. Choose to delights in the instruction of the LORD. Choose to be like the beautiful tree that can sustain the storms of life rather than the chaff that is blown away. Learn the discipline of delighting in God’s word, and avoiding the ways of the wicked. Then you will become like the blessed person who prospers rather than the wicked person who perishes.
PSALM 2 – ONE KING TO FOLLOW
Psalm 2 is a royal psalm, that was read during the coronation of kings. It’s a key Old Testament passage because it unpacks for us how the promised Messiah, is also a King, and the Son of God. This Psalm makes it clear to God’s enemies, if you reject God’s messiah you reject God himself. A rejection that you shouldn’t take lightly, because this King will bring the fury of God, he will judge the nations. Psalm 2 rhetorically asks who will be the king of your life, you or the Messiah. It pleads with you to kiss the Son.
What the world and what the Psalms says to you…
The world will say to you that happiness and security, blessing and refuge is found in money, mortgages, independence and freedom, but Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 says to you…
Blessed is the man who delights in the Law of the LORD
Blessed are all who take refuge in the Son.
There’s only two ways to live. And one true king to follow.
Which path will you take? Which king will you bow down to?
Joel Deacon is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Wollongong. He is firmly convinced that we are designed for community, especially in a big and sometimes lonely city like Wollongong. Before becoming a pastor, Joel worked as a Civil Engineer and is always up for a chat about roads and bridges. But his greatest passion is talking to people about Jesus. Joel is married to Emma, and they have three kids Elijah, Isaac and Lily. An ideal day off for Joel would include coffee with his wife, smelling flowers with his daughter, wrestling with his boys, reading, and staying up late to watch EPL.