Tom LaPorte

Every Word Counts

Psalm 1 Chagall

 

Psalm 1 King James Version

1Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.2But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.4The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.5Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.6For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Reading the Bible can be regarded as prayer to many Jewish people, so I was instructed in a Jewish Studies class. I found myself reminded of that notion as I read verse 2 of Psalm 1. For many, myself included, reading the Bible, and meditating on its words sustains their prayer life, a delightful undertaking indeed. Ah and all the more enticing to be as a fruitful tree without any concern or fear, not even the mighty wind. Visions of paradise come to mind with the description of a river of fresh water, unyielding bounty of the earth and meditating on the law of God. This is no Eden lost; the utopia detailed here can be lived today. Psalm 1 doesn't tell of a paradise of the past, a time to come or paint visions of the afterlife. The writer meant for the words to be understood in the present.

Psalms serve many purposes in contemporary worship, including lectionary readings, hymns, litanies and formal prayers. Many a scholar have opined on the structure and style of the Psalms. Some suggest the Psalms are meant to be chanted, set to music or recited as rhythmic poetry. No matter the method, the best part is reading them. Written for a variety of reasons and life experiences, the Psalms hold the power to make a difference in the lives of the readers. Here, Psalm 1 differentiates between the ungodly and the righteous. Most of us have spent time on both sides of the aisle, which adds to the clout to this and other Psalms. There are Psalms for most occasions in life, read them prayerfully. Hear the word of God. Live in a blessed paradise here and now.