Father, I am standing at a great crossroads, and many paths lie before me. This one is most inviting, and I know a lot of people who think I should choose it. That one has a lot of famous, wealthy, and interesting people on it. The next one looks easy and, honestly, probably a lot of fun. That last one looks hard, and from what I can tell, I don’t think it’s the path for me.
But you’re telling me something else. You’ve given me Christ to forgive me of all my failures, missteps, and wrong choices. You’ve given me your Spirit to keep my feet moving forward. And you’ve given me your Word to show which road has been blessed by you.
I want your blessing! I want to succeed in the things that matter! I want stability, confidence, faith! I want to hear myself pronounced “Righteous” on the day of judgment! I want to take my place among your glorified saints! I want to live every day in your presence, with each step bringing me closer to your likeness!
And where my desires for these things are too weak, when I could be satisfied by the dust clouds, dead ends, and degenerate friends that those other roads offer, Lord increase my thirst for you.
Open my heart to love your Word. Open my schedule to read its lines. Open my eyes to understand what it says. Open my mind to remember it all day long. Open my ears to hear it spoken by your people. Open my life to enjoy every new glimpse it gives me of your glory.
Psalm 1 provides a fitting introduction to this book of worship because it presents the reader with two roads. Like he does in Psalm 2 (originally part of this psalm) the Psalmist forces us to choose. Whom and how will we worship? If we would worship God, then these six verses teach us that perhaps he is more interested in what we do with our lives than what we say with our lips.
It may be easy to offer prayers and sing praises, but will they be heard? The path we are walking will affect the answer to that question. God links our worship to his Word. If we are not listening to him, why are we so sure that he is listening to us? And we should also ask, If we are not listening to him, then to whom are we listening? Our lives are filled with voices, all competing for our attention and allegiance. There are many paths that we might choose, many opinions we might take for truth, many companions we might trust, many guides we might follow. And every one of them becomes a potential rival to God! (More on this in Psalm 2)
But the Psalmist simplifies things for us. Rather than presenting the bare choice between God and another, he gives us the choice between blessing and oblivion. The image of the tree in verse 3 expresses this. In the semi-arid climate of the Psalmist’s world, one would find vast areas of grasses and low vegetation. But only near the rivers and irrigation canals supplied by annual rainfall and snowmelt, could one find tall, strong trees with deep roots and an abundant supply of fruit. This is the person who comes to God’s Word to guide and shape his life.
This is blessing. The first word of all the Psalms tells us that this is a life to be envied above all others. The Hebrews could use this word like we say, “Congratulations!” It was the word Moses used in Deuteronomy 33:29 to praise the condition of Israel when she had the Lord for her God and her enemies lying prostrate at her feet. It even translates to the word Jesus used in the Beatitudes, where he applies it to the citizens of his Kingdom. Here the Psalmist uses it to describe the life of one who delights in the Law of the Lord and savors it all day long.
Of course, for the Christian this poses an initial problem because our relationship to the Law has been altered by Christ. We couldn’t fulfill it, and it could only serve to highlight our sin and need for a Savior. But the problem isn’t as bad as it seems. Christ fulfilled it, and by his death and resurrection he saved us from our sins. Now, the Law – and the rest of Scripture – serves to reveal God’s character to us, even as his Spirit forms it in us. A life of blessing indeed, for it is marked by an increasing knowledge and growing intimacy with the Lord himself!
This post is part of an experiment I have been encouraged to take up. For a period of about three years, I took our church through the Psalms, using them as guides for prayer. In fact, I encouraged our church literally to pray the Psalms. Sometimes this would mean praying them right off the page; other times it would mean contextualizing them for ourselves first. Here on the blog, I thought I would demonstrate a little bit of this process to see how people responded. Specifically, I want to know, is this a help to you?
I’ve added an “Explanation” section following the prayer to try and show where the thoughts come from, or why this prayer comes from this psalm. However one uses it, I hope simply to show that I have not imposed my own thoughts upon the Scriptures but have allowed the Scriptures to shape my thoughts. Perhaps you can let me know if I’ve been successful.
I don’t know how many of these I will do. I may stop at 1! But I would appreciate any comments or feedback you may have along the way.