I wanted to provide a bit of additional information about Psalm 1. While the previous post on establishing the text applies obviously to Psalm 1, the chapter itself is a peculiar chapter. It was most likely written after the completion of the rest of the text and added as an introduction to the book. Furthermore the book of Psalms is actually a collection of 5 books, arranged not in chronological order, but instead by purpose. We don’t know what person or people arranged the books, but can only attribute it to the work of the Holy Spirit. The first 8 chapters of the Psalm 1 function as an introduction to the greater work. Also in it we will see the first major theme introduced. I can think of no better extra-biblical introductory chapter that ties together the origin of such a number of teachings and themes.
The Hebrew Bible is divided into three parts; the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Psalms begin the third division. In the complete Bible, the Psalms are the central part. Every type of human experience is covered within those pages, chosen to be included by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Psalms were written by many different authors, among them are praise, prayers, descriptions, and prophecy, written by king David, Asaph, the children of Korah, one by Moses, perhaps two by king Solomon, and many with no name attached.
The Psalms are helpful in times of sorrow. They are comforting. They produce deep devotion, worship, and dependence on God. Strikingly, though written in a seemingly haphazard non-chronological order over a period of at least 1000 years B.C., the entire set of 150 poems is arranged and divided into 5 books, each corresponding in theme with the books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy).
The Psalms provide an (a surprising amount to me) amount of prophetic content. In the course of this study, we will try to establish what was the original intent of each chapter/passage, and then where necessary and fitting make proper application. We will seek to avoid making non-contextual based application, even if it contradicts popularly held opinions of the religious. Our purpose is to seek truth. Journey on!
Once upon a time…I didn’t have a very high opinion about the book of Pslam. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. I just didn’t find it very important. I figured the book was merely a book of poetry, and some of it so antiquated that it really wasn’t all that useful to me. Why would I want to hear someone else’s whining? Oh yeah…I thought that there was a lot of whining in it.
Since those days I’ll say like many other thoughts I’ve had on the Bible, my view of the Psalms has changed drastically! For that to happen, I had to suspend my preconceived notions and study in context with my mind set on truth. I hope if you have not found how helpful this book is, that you will join this journey and discover its immense worth as well.
In recent weeks I’ve had some distractions, but I’m glad to begin this study in earnest. By now you might be wondering what “before the text” is. Allow me to explain.
When studying the Bible, we each read it through the lenses of our past experiences, church background (if any), religious beliefs, and moral character, perhaps among other things. Such lenses color our understanding of the Biblical text. We usually try to make Scripture say one thing or another, perhaps using proof texts, or bending the text to fit our beliefs.
This is not what the Bible is for. It is a standard by which we should change our understanding. The original authors wrote their words, inspired by God, to a specific audience, in a specific time, with a specific meaning in mind. Often that true, original meaning is lost to us because we don’t understand all that was involved. In order to truly understand, and later apply Scripture, we should seek to understand the conditions in which it was written, to whom, and why. Then we can make proper application when fitting (and it usually is proper to make application).
That being said, before we read Psalm chapter 1, I want you to consider your background, and what influences your understanding of the Bible. Make a list of all of the related experiences and question each one of them. This exercise will be highly personal. My hope is it will set you into a pattern of self-examination before studying of each chapter and/or section of this endeavor.
May we each be objective and find Truth.