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7. Psalms and the Message of the Bible: A Word about Themes

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ESV Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

I. Two Themes of Psalm 1

Psalm 1 stands at the head of the entire Psalter and introduces the whole. This occurred by design of God through the human editor (Bullock, 58-59).

A. The “blessed man” of Psalm 1 introduces the theme of Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, his Messiah.

B. The “law” (vs 2) stands as one of the most important factors about God, who gave it, and his people, who receive it.

II. A Word about Law

To the postmodern ear, the concept of “law” for the most part has extremely negative connotations. If someone were to ask, “How can I best relate to God?” and the given reply is, “By seeking to follow his law,” all kinds of negative thoughts, negative cultural memories, and images of cold harshness and stern, pleasureless persons would pursue.

Yet in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms, the law is benign; it’s a blessing; it’s a means of knowing God’s will and obtaining his favor.

ESV Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

NIV Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

In the gospels of the New Testament, Jesus himself held the law of God in highest regard (remember, he is the blessed man of Psalm 1 who perfectly keeps the law.)

ESV Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

ESV Matthew 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Why the Law?

Why law? Why is law so central to all of the Bible?

ESV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created…

ESV Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God, as creator, created man in his own image for his own pleasure.

KJG Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure [by your will] they are and were created.

 

 

According to the Bible, God’s desire is to bless humankind.

ESV Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…”

God blesses people with himself, since as God, he himself is the greatest possible blessing. To know God and to be in a good relationship with him is the greatest possible blessing a human being can ever have. God’s law, according to the scriptures quoted above and many like them, is the means to the greatest possible blessing of having a good relationship with God.

 

 

III. Tragedy Strikes

A. The Old Testament is the historical record of how humankind in general and one special, called people in particular, failed to follow God’s law and thereby failed to receive God’s blessing of an ongoing, fruitful relationship with himself.

B. In the Old Testament human will and raw obedience were the only means at people’s disposal for following God’s law. In spite of God’s gracious provision of a sacrificial system to make amends for people’s failures to follow the blueprint he gave them in order to build a blessed relationship with himself, they still failed.

The Old Testament can be summarized as: The Law and Humankind’s Failure to Follow It

IV. A New Way

The New Testament can be summarized as: The Law and Humankind’s Success in Following It

A. God didn’t quit: he gave people a new way to obey his principles and to come into a blessed relationship with himself.

B. He sent the perfect man who did follow his law, the blessed man of Psalm 1.

C. Jesus Christ fully obeyed God’s law and became the human sacrifice that opened the door to mankind’s restored relationship with God.

ESV 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

D. God provided that simply by believing in Christ–by saying yes to Christ–that Christ’s obedience to the Law would apply to everyone who accepts Christ as the solution to their lives.

E. God also gave his Holy Spirit to live on the inside of those who receive the solution of Christ. The Holy Spirit helps people to follow God’s law the way Christ did, which means pleasing God and being blessed in relationship with him.

ESV John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

ESV John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

NLT Romans 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Psalms is where the life of Christ–his obedience to the Law, his prayers of praise and supplication for help, his sacrificial death, his resurrection and final victory–is played out in Hebrew poetic prophecy.

 

 

 

 

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