Psalm 1

Tim: The biblical book of Psalms is a collection of 
ancient Israelite poems. Jon: The first poem in this collection is Psalm 1. Tim: Psalm 1 is a reflection 
on two different ways of being human. Tim: There's the person who's like a blossoming tree of life 
planted by a stream. Then there's the person Who's like chaff that's blown away in the wind. Jon: The poem begins, "Blessed is the man who …" But what does That even mean, to be blessed? Tim: Well, when we see the 
word "bless" in our Bibles, it could be translating One of two different Hebrew words. There's barukh, 
which describes a person who is experiencing God's Favor and abundance in their lives. This usually 
gets translated as "blessed." But Psalm 1 begins With a different word, ashrey. This word refers 
to what people say about a person who is barukh. It's a way to express how desirable and good it 
is when someone experiences God's blessing. It's Like saying, "Hey, that person over there, they 
have the good life." Jon: So it could be translated "oh the good life of the man." Tim: Exactly. And that good 
life results from three choices this person makes. Jon: It's the man who "doesn't walk by the council of 
the wicked, doesn't stand in the path of sinners, And doesn't sit in the seat of mockers." Tim: Notice the progression here. The man goes from walking, then To standing, then to sitting. Jon: It's a progression 
from movement towards becoming stuck. Tim: Right. And these three words are three destructive ways 
of being human that you can get trapped in. So "the wicked" is the kind of person who is morally 
backwards—they think that evil is good and good Is evil. "Sinner" is a word that refers to missing 
the target. And in the Bible, the target is loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. So sin 
is a failure to love others well. And "the mocker" Is somebody who can't even appreciate goodness 
or beauty anymore. They're so jaded all they can Do is show contempt for anything that's not like 
themselves. Jon: So this is an invitation to stop and meditate on how our choices slowly shape us over time. Tim: Right, and speaking of meditating, that's where The poem goes next. "Rather, his delight is in the 
instruction of Yahweh, and on his instruction, he Meditates day and night." That word "instruction" is 
the Hebrew word torah, which means God's teaching Or wisdom. And notice the symmetry of this sentence. 
"He delights in the instruction; on the instruction, he meditates." Jon: I meditate on what I delight in.  Tim: And the more I meditate, the more I delight. These two lines are like an infinity loop. Now, 
this word "meditate" is the Hebrew word haga. It's

Used elsewhere to describe the sound of a pigeon 
cooing or of a bear moaning as it chews its food. For humans, it means quietly reciting the words 
of Scripture aloud or in your mind as a way to Focus your attention so that these words become 
part of you. Jon: And that kind of meditation is the pathway to the good life? Tim: Apparently. Let's read on 
to see why. Jon: "And he will become like a tree planted By streams of water, which gives its fruit in its 
time, and its leaf does not wither, and everything He does, he makes it successful." Tim: So earlier in the 
poem, there was a "planting yourself" that leads to Ruin. But through meditating on God's instruction, 
you can plant yourself in a way that brings life. And noticed all the garden of Eden language—a 
tree growing by streams of water, abundant fruit, Leaves that never wither. Jon: This is like being a tree of life. Tim: Yes. When humans meditate on and live by God's instruction, they begin to taste  Abundant life for themselves and for others. And that's why it's called "success," which links 
us back to the opening word, ashrey. God's wisdom Leads to the good life. And with that, the poem's 
first part comes to a close, and the second part begins. Jon: "But not so the wicked; rather, he is like 
chaff that the wind drives away." Tim: So notice the contrast. One kind of person is like a tree Firmly planted, full of fruit, while the other person is Like an empty husk of wheat that flakes off and 
blows away. Jon: "Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous." Tim: Remember, the meditator decides not to stand in the path of sinners, And that contrasts now with the wicked who are unable to stand when God brings justice. Jon: "Because Yahweh knows the path 
of the righteous, but the path of the wicked will perish." Tim: And so we end where we began, choosing 
between two paths—two ways of being human that Lead to flourishing life or withering ruin. Jon: And the difference is about what you meditate on. Tim: Yeah. This poem, and all of God's instruction, are designed for A lifetime of meditation, reading and re-reading slowly, allowing it to guide all of our choices. And the result is to become a tree of life for others.

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