READ PSALM ONE
When we read Psalm One, we’re reminded of God’s incredibly high standard of holiness for His people. When we consider the purpose of Psalm One, this comes more starkly into view. As a book of worship laid out for the people of Israel, Psalm One depicted for them (and for us) the life of the person who followed the book of worship perfectly. It forecasted what their lives would look like as they used the Psalter for their daily practice of worship.
And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past several days studying the righteous and the wicked with one thing clearly in mind: I don’t measure up.
When I read the description of the life of the Ideal Israelite, I am well aware that I am not that person. I have failed. I do not meditate on the Word of God all the time, and, more often than not, I do not find my delight there. I am not flourishing in my spiritual life, rooted in the Word of God, bearing spiritual fruit and living in spiritual abundance. I am often not rooted in God’s Word, but am more like the wicked – driven by the whim of the world, always unstable and easily pulled up. I walk in the counsel of the wicked, I have stood in the way of sinners, and more times than I can count, I have found myself sitting deliberately in the seat of those who scoff at God.
When I look at myself and at the standard set out for us in God’s Word, I am well aware: I do not measure up.
Read Isaiah 11. Who is Isaiah prophesying about?
You and I have not lived up to the description given of the Ideal Israelite in Psalm One, because the only Ideal Israelite is Jesus Christ! Jesus is the One who kept the Law of God perfectly, fulfilling it and bringing it into its fullest form in His death and resurrection. He was the shoot that grew out of Jesse that would grow into a giant oak, with roots going down into the Law of God, and herald in salvation for all who come to Him.
For you and me, Psalm One presents our need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who qualified on our behalf. Christ is the Righteous One who makes us righteous through faith. Christ is the Holy One who makes us holy through faith. Christ is the One who sends His roots down into the fertile soil of God’s Law and invites us to come and live in His shade.
You may have noticed that we started our study of the book of Psalms with a psalm that isn’t particularly prayerful. And you’re right! Psalm One is not a prayer like the rest of the chapter we will look at in the coming weeks. So, why would we start a study on prayer with a psalm that isn’t formatted for prayer? Because the Psalmist knows something about the human condition that we would do well to remember: we’re not often ready to pray. When we think about prayer, all our needs for things and hope and encouragement come rushing to mind. We’re too eager to get God to respond to us that we neglect the formative habit of being reminded of the nature of our relationship to God: as those who have been qualified because of Christ.
In the weeks to come we are going to look at prayerful psalms. We are going to study them and pray them, but we must never forget Psalm One because it teaches us who we are and who God is. We are unqualified, but God has qualified us in Christ. This will always be our first supplication: “God, only you can save!” And our submission: “God, only you can save!”
Pray & Reflect:
Supplication: Confess to God the ways you have forgotten the good news of the Gospel. Ask Him to sink the truth of His salvation into your heart and mind today.
Submission: Confess to Him that He alone is your salvation! That only He can save you from your sin.