Sabbath Slow-Down: a Psalm reflection for Sunday, June 15 (’14): The Faith of a Blessed Man
Read Psalm 1
This psalm is arranged in three parts: The faith of a blessed man (1-2), the results for that blessed man (3-4), the redemption of a blessed man (5-6). For this Sabbath, the faith of a blessed man.
“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 law (torah) of the LORD (“Yahweh”), and on his torah he meditates day and night.”
Our best bet is that Ezra (the scribe and the man who recorded the Old Testament book bearing his name) wrote this psalm and placed it as an introduction to the book of Psalms. It’s likely he wanted the Israelites in exile in Babylon to have a cohesive book teaching them how to worship when their 600-700 year-old religious institutions had been eradicated: the Temple, the sacrifices, the great Feasts. Everything was gone. This was more important than sentimentality or tradition. For faithful Israelites (of which there were few), this was catastrophic because they tied God’s presence to location: Zion. There was little hope for “The Israelite Dream” of a life of comfort and divine favor in their present circumstances in Babylon. But was that ever the promised-point anyway?
Ezra knew what all God’s people must know: we are God’s remnant people, and he is ours, even when it doesn’t look like it. Even if all the world crumbles around us, these truths don’t change. Ezra gave the people a book to guide their worship in exile, away from everything they associated with God’s favor, his presence, and his power. And he began that 150-Chapter book by reminding them what choices are made by a man called “Blessed”:
He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
He does not stand in the way of sinners.
He does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
Just as a fool makes a progression (he walks, then stands still) that culminates in permanence (he sits), so the blessed man has a progression: Day and night, he churns over, ponders, loves, and delights in God’s story of redemption, the torah, and awaits that same God, Yahweh, to show up and redeem them from exile yet again.
The blessed man is one of absolute Faith. Remind you of anyone?
Suggested Family Prayer:
“Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name we approach your throne of power and grace. We know we have broken your laws too often and have failed to love one another the way we should. We are thankful and filled with joy that Jesus kept the law when we could not. We give you thanks that the blood of Christ has cleansed our guilt and shame, and we thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to keep and guard us until the day you take us home to you. Protect us from the Evil One, and fill us with loving, kind, and generous hearts towards our friends and enemies. Keep us on the path of righteousness, and increase in our hearts and minds a love for your law, a life that lives your law every day, and lips that are thankful and give praise for you and your law. Amen.”
Next Friday, part 2: the results of a blessed man.