BIG IDEA: An introduction to the book of Psalms and a look at the first Psalm, which tells us that living and praying are intertwined. Trees are a beautiful and wondrous picture of what life lived in Christ should look like.
SERIES: Summer of Psalms – In many ways, the Psalms are at the heart of Scripture, but we often disregard them. Let’s reclaim the wonder of the Psalms! Let’s reclaim this God breathed collection of 150 poems of the people of God sung aloud for thousands of years by the Hebrew people, inspiring and teaching generation after generation of Jewish children to communicate with Yahweh the one true God. Written prophets, poets, reflecting upon life with God between the Time of King David and the exile to Babylon, collected and organized for us by Spirit led scribes so that all people might have access to them, memorized and used for God’s people, including Jesus and his followers as “THE” vital connecting point for the hurting, praising, suffering, confused, joyful considerers. We must reclaim the Psalms if we want to learn to pray, to live, to connect with God.
SCRIPTURE: Psalms 1
1 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.
3 He 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
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
- Context: The Psalms are a collection by many authors, but King David wrote the majority of them. We look at him as the grand master of psalm-writing. Jesus loved the Psalms. As we see in scripture, he leaned on them constantly. Christians throughout history have used them as a means of worship, prayer, and getting to know the heart of God.
- Psalms are always rooted in real-life experience: which is why they are so useful to us. They are raw, unfiltered expressions of the people of God during times of ease and times of trial. They are a picture of how to live in communion with God. They aren’t rooted in sentimentalism. Though, historically, it is difficult to link the Psalms with the actual historical life experience taking place in the life of the author.
- King David: was not only a King, but he was also a shepherd, aid, outlaw, poet, musician, warrior, saint, etc. He was a man of many different roles and life experiences, just as the other psalmists were. The vastness of their experiences makes them that much more relatable to us.
- The Psalms are for us: they were written out of deeply human experiences, and they are for us in our deeply human, deeply flawed experiences and emotions. It’s for that reason that we turn to the Psalms to learn how to pray through our circumstances. You will see yourself in them. They can even become the best expressions of our feelings when we don’t have words to express them ourselves.
- God’s okay with this? You will find things written in the Psalms that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in the Bible. But that’s part of God’s intention! When man honestly cries out to him, God receives it and hears it as holy, even if the cry is “how could you?” If you’re cries to God are honest, they are appropriate.
- The Psalms, carefully considered will help us see all things in the light of God.
- Psalms 1
- Not actually a psalm: It’s more like a proverb and a preface to the entire book.
- Prayer is life: It’s a proverb about life, not prayer. Prayer is life, and life is prayer: this is the logic of Godly living. Prayer is a microcosm of life. When we stop to pray, we are experiencing life in a microcosm.
- We’re not good at the microcosm: we’re ready to let anything get in the way of prayer. If we struggle with the microcosm, how can we expect to do the real thing – real life – well? How do I start praying when I don’t know how to live? How do I starting living when I don’t know how to pray? What do I do when I can’t get solid footing in either area?
- Turn to the Psalms: If you are struggling to pray, pray and live the Psalms. If you are struggling to live well, live and pray the Psalms. They are the Grand Master; let them teach you.
- Juxtaposed postures of living: Blessed is the man who….
- Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked: who do you go to for advice or when you have a big decision to make? If you don’t have people that you explicitly go to, then you might be seeking your counsel from the wrong places because you’re just taking in whatever the world is giving.
- Stands in the way of sinners: don’t make decisions that are not of God or that do not follow his laws, standing for something unholy.
- Do not sit in the seat of scoffers: don’t take on a habitual lifestyle of sin or the ways of the world. Do not become comfortable in that kind of behavior.
- This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a community of unbelievers, it just warns you to be careful that you don’t adopt their ways and that you seek to learn how to live from God and from fellow believers.
- “How man are wont to turn aside little by little from the right way.” – John Calvin
- Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord: this is the way of Godly living.
- Two kinds of people:
- Chaff People: “chaff” is the unwanted husk around grains of wheat. In order to separate the chaff from the wheat, you would thresh the wheat by throwing it up in the air and letting the chaff blow away in the wind, leaving the wheat. People who seek only the counsel of the ungodly, etc. are like chaff; they will be blown away by the winds of the world. Chaff People cannot withstand the weather.
- Tree People: these people plant themselves next to a stream. Even when there’s a drought, trees remain nourished because they draw their nourishment from the ground, and the closer they are to a stream, the more easily they are nourished. The waters are God’s laws, and if we are planted close to that stream, then we are never without nourishment. Even in a drought, we grow stronger because we have to, like trees, dig our roots deeper. Tree People can withstand the weather.
- The Stream is the Law of the Lord. This includes,
- The Torah
- The Psalms
- All of Scripture
- Every law of the Lord is good:
- There’s no cherry-picking. If he has given us his law, then we know it is good.
- Despite how we, as humans, may feel about it. Living in the law of the Lord is not going to always feel It might even hurt a little. Just like vaccines or bad-tasting medicine that are for our health.
- If you live by the wisdom of trial by fire, you may get back up after hitting the bottom, but you may not. Figuring it out for yourself is not the holier way to go about life.
- Trust that God will guide you and that he has your best interest in mind, and follow his laws. One day we will know the full extent of God’s goodness. That is living in wisdom.
- “Delight”: sometimes there is pure joy in trusting someone enough to know that they will take care of you, that you can just. trust.
- There’s something delightful to giving up control: it’s such a freeing feeling knowing that we don’t have to make every decision on our own. And the best part? God will never let you down.
- Variety of choice is not the answer: this can be a paralyzing thing! With such variety, how do we ever decide on anything? Imagine if God took the anxiety out of decisions for us? He does! That doesn’t excuse you from making decisions, but we know and trust that God will guide us through those decisions. And THAT, is delightful.
- “Prosper”: By planting yourself by the stream, everything will prosper. That doesn’t mean health, wealth, and material prosperity or a life without hardship. This means that you will bear fruit in proper season. If we’re filled with the living water of God, then we will bloom and bear fruit that will fall on the world around us.
- Jesus is the greatest tree: He filled himself with the flowing river of God’s law and then died on a tree. They pierced his side and water poured out of his body. We may feel like this is what will happen to us – that we will be drained dry. But in the moment before he died, Jesus quoted the Psalms.
- Psalms 22
- This is not just a Psalm of despair, but also one of rejoicing and declaration of God as victor.
- He is the tree of salvation.
- Read through the Psalms:
- Be Tree People and plant yourselves near the stream, near the law of the Lord.
- Delight in trusting the law of the Lord to guide you.
- Plant yourself next to Jesus: when you feel you’re falling, lean on Jesus. Enter the grand orchard of life eternal, life with God, and you will never be blown over.
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