Monday, October 27, 2008

pSunday Psalms: The Torah of the King (Pss 1-2)

Psalms 1-2: Doorway to the Psalms
In the final shape of the Book of Psalms, Psalms 1-2 form an introduction. These two psalms are meant to be read together, and as a unit they show us the nature of this book and the primary message it teaches. Today we explore the main themes that Psalms 1-2 introduce.

First, let's examine the psalms themselves and note some parallels between them that bind Psalm 1-2 together:
  • Neither psalm has a heading. Headings begin with Psalm 3. This supports the idea that they are introductory.
  • Ps 1 begins with "Blessed is the man..." while Ps 2 ends with "Blessed is the man..." This "frames" the two psalms into one.
  • Ps 1 portrays those who "stand in the way of sinners" while Ps 2 speaks of the kings "taking their stand"
  • Ps 1 warns against "the counsel of the wicked" while Ps 2 speaks of the rulers that "take counsel together against the Lord."
  • Ps 1 speaks of "scoffers" while Ps 2 says that "the Lord scoffs" at those arrayed against him.
  • Ps 1 commends "meditating" on God's Torah, while Ps 2 pictures the peoples "devising" (same Heb word) vain things.
  • Ps 1 warns that "the way of the wicked will perish" while Ps 2 warns those who may "perish in the way."
Now, let's note what these psalms teach.
Psalm 1 describes how the Book of Psalms should be read:
  • We are to read it as God's Torah, in which we should delight, and upon which we should continually meditate.
  • Those who do are portrayed as dwelling in an Eden-like garden, experiencing God's blessing in the good land (compare 1.2-3 with Joshua 1.8).
  • Those who fail to do so, who rely on the counsel of the wicked rather than God's Torah, will perish from that good land (compare 1.6 with Deut 30.15-20).
Psalm 2 sets forth the main message of the Book that we should receive:
  • The Lord reigns.
  • The wicked are engaged in a continuing war against the Lord and his rule.
  • The Lord will conquer through his Son, the Messiah, who will be installed in Zion.
  • Those who take refuge in him will be blessed.
  • Those who fail to do so will perish.
The Book of Psalms is God's Torah about God's King. Originally these songs and poems were words that God’s people spoke to him in worship. Now they function primarily as God’s Word to us, to be studied and meditated upon, that we might follow our Father’s instruction (Torah) for our lives. The main message of this Torah is that we should learn to take refuge in the Lord who rules over all, and take hope in his promise of Messiah and ultimate victory.

As Moses gave us a Torah of five books about the covenant God made with his people on Mt. Sinai, so in the Book of Psalms we have The Torah of the King, a five-fold book about the covenant God made with David (2Samuel 7).

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