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Sermon: Introduction to the Psalms and Psalm 1

Updated on February 7, 2017

David the Psalmist


Psalm 1's Genre

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Introduction to the Psalms

As we start a new series today, I would like for us, first of all, to take a brief look at how the Psalter appears in Scripture. It was compiled in five books of unequal length, and accumulated in stages over a long period of time. Various writers penned the Psalms. Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm. Wisdom psalms are concerned with how one should skillfully negotiate life.

Before we begin our study of Psalm 1, we now need to review a screen that shows some comparisons and contrasts between Psalm 1 and Psalm 2.

Book 1: Psalms 1-41—Examples: Crucifixion (22), Shepherd (23), King (24)

Book 2: Psalms 42-72—David’s Prayer of Repentance (51)

Book 3: Psalms 73-89—“I Will Sing of the Mercies of the LORD Forever” (89)

Book 4: Psalms 90-106— “The Eternity of God and Man’s Frailty” (90)

Book 5: Psalms 107-150— Meditations on the Word of God (119)

Authors of Psalms/Numbers Written

Number of Psalms Attributed
1 (Psalm 90)
1 (Psalm 127)
The Descendants of Korah
Heman the Ezrahite
1 (Psalm 88)
Ethan the Ezrahite
1 (Psalm 89)
2 (Psalm 126, 137)

Basic Outline: Psalm 1

I. What the Righteous Man Does Not Do (v. 1)

II. What the Righteous Man Does Do (v. 2)

III. What the Righteous Man is Likened to (v. 3)

IV. What the Wicked Are Likened to (v. 4)

V. What the Wicked Shall Not Do (v. 5)

VI. What the LORD Knows (v. 6)

Psalms 1 and 2 Compared and Contrasted

Neither Psalm 1 not Psalm 2 contains a superscription. Or you might want to call it a “title.”

The person who arranged Book One (possibly David) placed Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 together because of the framing device. Psalm 1 begins with “blessed,” and Psalm 2 ends with “blessed.”

While Psalm 1 fits into wisdom literature and Psalm 2 fits into prophetic scheme, they serve together as a foreword to an anthology of Psalms.

Psalm 1 is a psalm emphasizing the instructional value of the Psalter (teach YHWH’s word), while Psalm 2 is a prophecy, stressing Messianic themes.

Psalm 1 presents an “either/or” situation; you are either righteous or wicked. It reminds you of the Epistles of John. “He who practices righteousness is righteous” (1 John 3:7). “He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Psalm 1 is concerned for Torah itself; Psalm 2 is concerned for Torah in terms of the Son’s rule.

Psalm 2 is known as an “indirectly Messiah” psalm. The writer had in mind a current Israelite king first, and awaited final fulfillment in the ultimate King (cf. Psalm 45, 72).

Psalm 2 provides no explicit identification of historical background or authorship.

Possible historical background: when kings were rebelling against Israel’s king.

Israel’s king is styled as a son of Yahweh by the word of Yahweh.

Acts 4:25—Spirit spoke through David;

Acts 13:33—the “second Psalm”: David’s words of assurance to Solomon. Connection with 2 Samuel 7: son of the father.

I. What the Righteous Man Does Not Do (v. 1)

  • O the Happinesses (plural of intensity: calls to mind the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and the “Blessed is the man” in James 1:12); describes the inner condition.

  • the man (ish—speaks of nobility rather than frailty)

A. Three Degrees of Departure from God He Does Not Follow

1. Walk (Live) according to the way of thinking of the wicked ones in the Israelite world—The Hebrew word for “wicked ones” speaks of moral corruptness and instability of character. The righteous man does not live like the unregenerate Israelite because he does not think like him (Eph. 4:17-18, 22-24).

Joshua 1:7—“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Ask: Who gives advice in the world today?

Humanistic psychology vs. Nouthetic Counseling

Rogers, Maslow, Freud, Jung—Client-centered; "man has all the answers within him"

noutheteo- to warn, admonish, reprimand, chastise—the sufficiency of Scripture—homework given; accountability

2. Associate with those who habitually miss the mark—The word “sinners” is associated with the slingshot. See 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

3. Keep company with those who mock religious things (Cf. 1 Cor. 5:11). “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionist—not even to eat with such a person.”

(TS: Having seen how the righteous man does not behave, let’s now learn what he does do.)

II. What the Righteous Man Does Do (v. 2)

But—contrastive conjunction

Torah—better translated “instruction” rather than “law.” The Pentateuch (the first five books of Moses) were the Israelites’ rule of life. It gave them opportunities for free, personal response.

1. Delight: Speaks of full commitment coming from a favorable disposition. They do not keep Torah to become God’s people; they keep it because they already belong to Him.

Plaque: “I’d rather be learning Torah.”

Parallelism is characteristic of Hebrew poetry. Various kinds of parallelism appear in poetry; antithetical and synonymous are just two. Project Panel 5.

Panel Five

Examples of Synonymous Parallelism

Psalm 5:1—“Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my meditation.”

You can see how two synonyms appear in each of the sections of the parallelism:

“Give ear” corresponds to “consider,” and “to my words” corresponds to “my meditation.”

Psalm 24:1—The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they they dwell therein.”

“earth” corresponds to “world,” and “fullness” corresponds to “they they dwell therein.”

In Psalm 1 we appear to see synonymous parallelism with the word “meditate.” It advances the thought of how the blessed man delights in Torah.

2. Meditates: The verb indicates that meditation is a practice that progresses into the future because it becomes a daily habit.

  • Contrast with Eastern meditation ™. Meditation—An Eastern religious method to seek the truth; a technique used to contact “spirit” or inner guides to gain supernatural knowledge or power (“tapping into one’s infinite inner potential”).

  • Packer’s discussion of meditation in Knowing God (18-19).

  • Compare similar verb in 2:1—The people imagine, plot, meditate upon, devise vanity or emptiness.

  • Contrast purpose: However, while the blessed man meditates upon Torah, the Gentiles meditate upon emptiness. The righteous man wants to deepen his fellowship with and understanding of the LORD, the wicked want their independence, so they rebel against the LORD’s anointed.

(TS: We’ve seen what the righteous man does and does not do. As the result of these actions, let’s now read what God likens him to.)

© 2014 glynch1


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