Psalm 1: Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. 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 watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (NRSV)
Summary: There is a lot of advice floating around in the world. There are self-help sections in bookstores and libraries; entire magazines devoted to telling you one hundred and one ways to do this or that; and then, if all else fails, you can just “research” it on the internet. Of course, not all of this advice can be trusted. Psalm 1 presents us with two fundamental options for life: we either ground ourselves upon the law of the Lord or we don’t. For when we do, we are better equipped at judging those other various advice and paths in this life. Not only that, but our lives will have stability and worth as the Lord watches over us. But in sharp contrast, for those who do not listen to God; they are like chaff blown in the wind and perish under judgment.
Insight: The stability and success of our lives is measured a bit differently then we might suppose. But Psalm 1 makes two general points about measuring life: First, God’s advice is the only life-giving approach to life. The Apostle John is even more explicit in this week’s epistle reading: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:12). In other words, we are either dead or alive; grounded upon the Creator and his guidance or left suppressing his existence, and so, making up self-serving advice as we go along. That is no way to be stable. Second, only true happiness and joy are found in him. In fact, it is Christ’s own joy in us. Listen to his prayer to the Father: “But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves” (Jn. 17:13). God himself lived among humanity and shared true life and true joy with us; that is something to meditate upon day and night.
Child Catechism: Where is wisdom found? In the only Creator of the universe, who spoke by the prophets and by his Son; and has given us guidance by his Spirit’s written Word.
Discussion: Psalm 1 says that God’s law combats bad advice, what would be an example of bad advice? Can even sinful people often good advice? Consider what James says about doubt and instability in his epistle (cf. 1:5-11), what was his answer towards doubt? How does prayer strengthen our devotion and understanding of God and his word?
Father, May Christ’s joy and wisdom enter our hearts and minds, that those of who doubt may ask in only faith, that we might speak truly and loving to the unstable world, in the power of your life-giving Spirit and Son, you lives and reigns with you, Amen.