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; but his delight is in the instruction of Yahweh, and on his instruction he meditates day and night…(Psalm 1:1-2).
You have probably learned that the Book of Psalms is a collection of poems, prayers, and songs meant for the praise of God and the instruction of his people. It is a truly wonderful and useful collection of 150 such writings, written by multiple authors over hundreds of years. We hear words from a Psalm every Sunday when we speak responsively the words of the Introit (pronounced IN-tro-it). Even though the words of every Psalm were written before the birth of Jesus, they are still for Christians considered to be the “Prayer Book of the Bible.”
It is the first Psalm the sets the tone for the rest of the book. Perhaps surprisingly, Psalm 1 does not speak of God’s mighty deeds in history, nor does the author praise God for his glorious majesty shown in creation and redemption. Instead, the first word of the Book of Psalms is Blessed. That is to say, the very first Psalm shows us how we can find blessing. Indeed, it shows us the only place we can find blessing – in the Word of God.
It is easy to take God’s Word for granted. God’s Word is there when we may need it, but otherwise our Bibles oftentimes sit and gather dust. Just think, though, of how Christians from the past 2,000 years would think of us if they saw such a reality! You may remember that one of the main reasons the Reformation happened in the 1500s is that the church hierarchy had fallen into many abuses, in part because people did not have access to the Word of God – whether in their own language or not. But, with the invention of the printing press, and even more, with Luther’s translation of the Bible into the language of the people (and other reformers’ subsequent translations into other languages), people finally had access to God’s Word themselves. This did not mean that they could interpret it any way that they wanted to! Instead, it meant that they had for themselves – in their own churches, homes, and languages – God’s life-giving Word.
God’s Word giving life is exactly what Psalm 1 describes with beautiful imagery. The one who delights in God’s Word 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 (1:3). God’s Word is our delight because it gives us life. How? By it we hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the world – your sins – and who rose again to begin God’s reign in a new creation. God is making all things new in Christ, and he does so in you by the power of his Holy Spirit, who works through his Word. If we ignore God’s Word, the Psalm implies that we are becoming like the wicked, who are like chaff that the wind drives away (1:4). Even more, those who forsake God’s Word will find themselves in the most terrible situation of all – separated from God’s Word of forgiveness, life, and salvation forever when Jesus returns to judge all people (1:5-6). God save us from such apathy and from such judgment!
What can you do to be in the Word of God more? At Immanuel, we are blessed to have any number of opportunities to study God’s Word. Adults and children alike gather on Sunday mornings to hear the story of God’s salvation for all mankind. There are weekly and monthly opportunities outside of Sunday morning to gather and study God’s Word and to discuss what it means for our lives. Confirmation students daily have the opportunity to read the Bible with their families. Whoever you are, there are opportunities for you to be in God’s Word daily and weekly. We rejoice that God has given us such opportunities, and, as the people of God, we can and should take every opportunity to be in his life-giving Word.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!