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The Courage to Read: Reflections on Psalm 1

Brian D. Russell


(Third of a three-part series. For parts one and two, see here and here.)

The vision of life we find in Ps 1 is more than a self-help plan or self-empowerment. It lifts up a moment-by-moment reflection on Scripture as our roadmap for the journey of faith. A Scripture-saturated and -shaped life is one that prospers in advancing God’s kingdom. It offers us the security of a moment-by-moment relationship with God that empowers us to live in the now of the present as God’s hands, feet, and mouthpieces of his grace, love, and justice.

Psalm 1 ends with an assurance of the future:

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will be destroyed. (TNIV)

A Secure Future

Evil and wickedness will not be the final word. God’s ways of righteous will stand the test of time. This is not triumphalistic in the sense of reveling in the destruction of enemies. It’s a word to us in the present to bolster our courage and confidence to walk in God’s ways with Scripture as our guide. It recognizes that the way forward as God’s people is not always easy. There will be desperate times ahead. In fact, beginning with Ps 3, we find some of the most desperate prayers imaginable as God’s people cry out to God for help as they seek to walk faithfully through the world as God’s witnesses.

God Is with Us

Verse 6 ends with a key reminder of the agent of success and security. It is God. Scripture serves as our guide only because it grants us access to God. God is the one who secures our future and blesses our lives. The spiritual life is never a 2 + 2 = 4 proposition. It is dynamic and relational as we live and breathe and walk moment-by-moment with God. The way of the wicked ultimately ends because the way of wickedness and evil is purposeless and without meaning.

The view of life we find in Ps 1 is audacious even in its presentation. The first word on the Psalm in Hebrew begins with aleph, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The last word in v. 6 beings with tav, the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This is a poetic way of declaring that the Psalm’s vision of two ways is all-encompassing. Verse 6 reminds us that it is the God of the exodus who is the decisive factor. As followers of Jesus, we have now experienced God’s climactic act of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as the fullest expression of God’s power to save and guarantee the future. Jesus is the living and breathing Word who calls us to follow him into the world on mission.

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments serve as our map for this life. Psalm 1 reminds us that the journey to true success begins word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase as we come to Scripture expecting delight and breathing in its life-giving message. This will give us the foundational roots to live as the people whom God created us to be.

How Rooted Are You?

When I first moved to Florida in 2000, there was the threat of a hurricane. It ended up as only a tropical storm by the time it reached shore, but being new to the state I listened to the news anchors and moved all loose yard items either into the garage or onto the patio. This included a number of potted plants that decorated our yard at the time.

I had just purchased three beautiful Jasmine plants that I intended to plant in our front yard. I put them on the patio for safe-keeping from the storm and went to bed. During the night, the storm weakened and amounted to nothing. It caused zero damage. My dog, McKenzie, though, decided that the Jasmine looked appetizing. So when I awoke the next morning I found our patio covered with dirt and the three Jasmine plants eaten all the way down to the root ball. Only about an inch of stem remained above the root ball and the plants were strewn across our backyard.

The nursery had said the plants were guaranteed for a year but I didn’t think that the guarantee extended to damage from a crazy dog. So I simply picked up what was left of the Jasmine — the root system. I replanted it and watered it. And it grew back. These plants look absolutely beautiful to this day.

How is your root system?

Prayer

Lord,
As we read Scripture, grant us ears to hear, minds and hearts to believe, and hands and feet to move forward in faithfully. Thank you for guiding us into the world. In Jesus’ name: Amen

Posted Mar 02, 2015       /      /   Google Plus    /  

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