Sunday, June 30, 2013

Decisions Determine Destiny

I just spent the last two hours or so studying Psalm 1. It’s only six verses long, but I have to admit there is quite a lot packed into those verses! I found it to be very interesting and insightful, and I’d like to share a summary of what I took away from this brief study. If you have a Bible, check out the Psalm first.

Before I get to my thoughts on this first chapter, I wanted to share something I found in my research about the Book of Psalms as a whole:  as you may already know, it’s divided into five smaller “books”, each beginning and ending with similar patterns, etc. If you aren’t familiar with this construction, I recommend checking it out, it’s a great base to build on. What I just discovered, however, is how the Book of Psalms in five parts parallels the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, Genesis thru Deuteronomy).

This first book (Psalms 1-41) deals with humanity, our blessing, fall, and redemption, much like the Book of Genesis. It was mostly written by King David, so it’s very personal and passionate, full of emotion and energy. I love literature and all the amazing things you can find in it! (I’ll share about the other four books and their parallels as I get to them in my study, unless you want to know now, in which case you’ll have to leave a comment and ask me [smile]).

Following is how I summarized my study for today in my quiet time journal. I’m just going to copy it as I wrote it, which means there will be definitions/clarifications/ synonyms, etc. in parentheses. That helps me get a clear image of what I’m reading (I actually looked all this stuff up, it was really fun!)

The righteous (morally right, justifiable) person is blessed (happy, content) and gets extreme satisfaction and joy (delight is the word used in the Psalm, but these are more powerful for me) from the teachings, instruction, and commands (referred to as the law here) of God, and who meditates (ponders, studies, contemplates, reflects on, gives serious and careful thought to) God’s law day and night (all the time, consciously and subconsciously).

This person does not walk with (take advice from, make plans with) the wicked (disobedient), stand with (be submissive and inactive around) sinners (those who have not accepted God’s forgiveness), or sit with (in the company of) mockers (scornful, treat others with contempt, ridicule).

Instead, this person is like a tree (I imagine something tall, strong, weathered; of course if you've been following me or know me at all, you know I love trees!) in a good position (relating to our place in life as well as in our relationship with God, by streams of water, able to grow and thrive), productive (growing fruit in season, in God’s timing, sometimes years later), perpetual (continuing forever, not withering, not losing vitality or force), prosperous (successful, again in God’s time, sometimes as an end result, this doesn’t mean immune to hardship, difficulty, trial, loss), and planted (in a chosen place for optimum growth, on a solid foundation).

In contrast, the unrighteous (not blessed) person does the opposite:  walk with the wicked, stand with the sinners, sit with the mockers; not delighting in the law or meditating on it at all. Therefore, they are like chaff (debris separated from the grain, comparatively worthless) blown away by the wind (difficult times, trials, loss, etc., unable to walk), not able to stand (in the judgment, not justified in the eyes of God), not able to sit (in the assembly of the righteous, in the presence of God).

Our decisions determine our destiny:  God watches over the righteous, destroys the unrighteous. Amen!

One other thing I want to take a closer look at, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this process:  when referring to chaff, wheat, threshing, etc. in the Old Testament, here’s how it works – wheat is beaten on a hard surface to dislodge the grain, and then tossed into the air. The grain (the good part) falls to the ground to be gathered up and used, the chaff is blown away by the wind. I love all the great analogies/metaphors and imagery from nature in this Psalm!

I would like to leave you with one final thought, taken from verse 3:  whatever your circumstances may be, no matter how long your tough times may have lasted, wherever you may be today, remember:  the stronger the winds, the deeper the roots, the longer the storms….the more beautiful the tree.

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