Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“I will cry to God with my voice, and He will give ear and hearken to me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord, in the night my hand is stretched out in prayer without slacking up…I earnestly remember God…I call to remembrance my song in the night…I will recall the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember the wonders. I will meditate also upon all your works and consider your mighty deeds…You have with Your mighty arm redeemed Your people. Calmly think of that.”
“It is extremely doubtful if a soul can really know the love of God in its richness and in its comforting, satisfying completeness until the skies are black and lowering. Light comes out of darkness, morning out of the womb of the night.”
Malcolm J. McLeod
Today’s Study Text:
“Blessed is the man and woman”
“God’s Doorway to Life”
Psalm 1 Part 1
“What is more pleasing than a psalm? A psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people, praise of God, the assembly’s homage, a general acclamation, a word that speaks for all, the voice of (God’s children), a confession of faith in song.”
At what times in my life have I read the Psalms for comfort and courage?
How have I found God as I’ve read the Psalms?
“Every Psalm either points directly to Christ, in His person, His character, and offices, or may lead the believer’s thoughts to Him.”
“The Psalms propel us into the deepest questions about ourselves, about others, and about God. As we let them expose the depths of our emotion, they will lead us to the God who reveals Himself in the midst of our struggle.”
Dan Allender and
Tremper Longman III
Today we open the door on the Book of Psalms which is composed of 150 individual books. Several weeks ago, on August 31 to be exact, as I reflected on my dad’s birth date, I turned to Psalm 1 for on many occasions, I remember my father taking one of his many well-worn Bibles and reading the words of Psalm 1 for our family worship as this was his favorite Psalm.
I’m not certain why my father found this portion of Scripture to resonate within his own life. But I have a feeling that the clear difference expressed between the life of the righteous and the wicked, provided my father with a well–outlined map for his own life.
Before we get into our verse-by-verse examination which is the way we study the Bible here in Transformation Garden, I thought it would be wise to look at Psalm 1 as a whole because theologians have spent a great deal of time reviewing the particulars in this psalm which is referred to as the cover or preface of the entire book of the Psalter. I especially like the way Pastor Pablo Jimenez describes this portion of the Psalms: “The most common mistake made by those who (study) the Psalms is forgetting that the 150 psalms comprise a single book. This explains why (we) tend to study each psalm as an independent literary unit, disregarding their place in the Psalter. The study of Psalm 1 can help us correct this common mistake.”
I must admit that frequently in my own personal inquiry into different chapters in the Psalms, my study has been disconnected and even haphazard. I have to admit that I will usually choose an individual Psalm because there is a message which I feel I need. However, as I have realized that there are not only words in each Psalm which are inspired but the orderly placement of each Psalm is as well, a clearer revelation of the total content in the Psalms has filled my thoughts. As Pastor Jimenez continues with his thoughtful comments on this first Psalm he observed that “the first Psalm besides being a beautiful example of poetry, is also the prologue or introduction to the book of Psalms as a whole. Its message is the door that grants us access to the message of the rest of the poems and songs. In this sense, we may affirm that understanding correctly any other psalm is impossible if we do not understand Psalm 1.”
How exciting to think that as we open the door on Psalm 1, we will come upon a treasure-trove filled with heavenly wisdom which will guide us throughout our future study of all the Psalms.
Actually, Psalm 1 is a blueprint which lays out, as Professor Carolyn Sharp explains, “a sharp contrast between the righteous and the wicked, noting the fruitfulness of the righteous person’s life in community and the emptiness of the efforts of the wicked.” What a wonderful beginning to the insights found in the Psalms.
Keeping with this line-of-thought, Professor John C. Holbert underscores the fact that Psalm 1, “is not an easy sell in the ambiguous, gray-area world in which we find ourselves, a place where right and wrong have often become a matter of opinion. The first psalm is the first psalm, precisely because it wants to announce in no uncertain terms how persons of faith are to navigate life’s choppy waters.”
When I was a young teen, a new phrase came to be identified with shifting standards. This phrase was “situational ethics.” I remember many heated discussions about the necessity for unheeded and unneeded “rules” which only seemed to limit rather than expand life. And yet, not too many years in the future, so many of what had been viewed as cramping “standards” actually were proven to be effective deterrents to initial heartache and life-long sorrow.
This is why the message found in Psalm 1 is so appropriate today, especially in a society where everyone appears to do what is right in their own eyes. The book of Judges begins with the words: “After the death of Joshua” (Judges 1: 1, K.J.V.). Apparently once the Godly and courageous Joshua died, there was a lack of strong leadership. Until we finally read at the very end of the book of Judges that “in those days there was no king in Israel: every man (and woman) did that which was right in (their) own eyes (Judges 21: 25, K.J.V.). If this scenario sounds familiar, I’m not the least bit surprised. Today our world is filled with the same spirit – “I will do exactly as I please. Whatever is right in my own eyes is perfectly fine.” Sadly, it’s very difficult at times to distinguish right from wrong; good from evil; and righteousness from lawlessness.
This brings us back to the words of David found in Psalm 1. Commenting on Psalm 1, Pastor Ruth Boling’s thoughtful expressions throw open the door to insight and wisdom for our daily lives. As she effectively shares: “Psalm 1 does not tell us what to do in any given situation, but it offers us a process in which we take our cues for living from our understanding of who God is and what God intends for human life on this planet. Delighting in God’s word and meditating on it are dynamic processes that continually inform our choices, turning us toward the good and rooting us in pleasant places where God’s grace and God’s blessings are accessible.”
How comforting that the very first word in Psalm 1 tells us that with Godly choices, our lives will be truly blessed.
Come In At My Door
“Lord, I am here, a wretched mortal,
That for Thy mercy doth cry and call
Unto Thee, my Lord celestial,
See who is at Thy window, who? –
Remember thy sin, remember thy smart,
And also for thee what was My part,
Remember the spear that pierced My heart,
And in at My door thou shalt go.
I ask nothing of thee therefore,
But love for love, to lay in store.
Give Me thy heart; I ask no more,
And in at My door thou shalt go.
Who is at my window? Who?
Go from my window! Go!
Cry no more there like a stranger,
But in at My door thou go!”
(written about 1500 A.D.)
First Grade Teacher
Psalms In Ordinary Voices
“The Lord lifts up the person who will
not tolerate an unkind word.
The Lord rejoices in the one who refuses to
allow remarks which marginalize any
of His children.
Our God holds high those people who walk
away from any gathering that excludes
the poor, the unfortunate, the unforgivable.
Each of us will be honored and judged equally
if we practice and believe in justice and
fairness to all.
We must contemplate and move toward this end.
Our Savior will guide us, even nourish
us throughout this struggle.
We will rise like the evergreen, planted by
the water, no matter what the season is,
true to form.
When faced with discrimination, God’s path
will lead us to do what is just, what is right.
Our courage will allow others to follow suit,
growing to become a groundswell.
The unkind and uninformed will linger,
weak and eventually lost like the chaff
from the wheat.
Our Lord knows that this is a difficult task
and will be our wellspring along the way.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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