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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 10/8/14

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

 

http://www.presbyterianmission.org/devotion/daily/2014/10/8/

PSALM 1

1   Happy are those 
          who do not follow the advice of the wicked, 
     or take the path that sinners tread, 
          or sit in the seat of scoffers; 

2   but their delight is in the law of the LORD, 
          and on his law they meditate day and night. 
3   They are like trees 
          planted by streams of water, 
     which yield their fruit in its season, 
          and their leaves do not wither. 
     In all that they do, they prosper.

 

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 watches over the way of the righteous, 
          but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

 אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ -- 'esher haish'

 

Hebrew is read right to left. For left-handed writers, you don't have to worry about the ink smearing as you write. On the other (right) hand, we righties would smear our aleph's and shin's. The first two words in Psalm 1 say literally, 'happy is the man'. King James Version translates it as "blessed is the man"; NIV translates, "blessed is the one." The NRSV (above) translates "happy are those." All these are fine translations.

 

I do like the NRSV translation of 'esher' as "happy," rather than "blessed," mainly because the word 'blessed' is a term that for many Christians is tired and worn out. What does it mean to be "blessed"? 

 

The word 'happy' is more specific and gets to the heart of what it means to be "blessed." To be blessed by God means to be deeply satisfied, fulfilled, and lavished upon by God. To be right with God is a happy thing. Being right with God and being sad and grumpy do not go together. 

 

So, who is "happy"? Those who delight in the "law of the Lord." The Torah/Law stands for (1) the Ten Commandments, (2) the Mosaic Law, (3) the Scriptures. The Scriptures have always been understood as the Word that's been spoken by the Living God. The Word enlightens us, the Word guides us, the Word instructs us. The Law itself, however, is insufficient. The Law/Word must be combined with the Spirit in order for deep transformation to take place in our hearts.

 

As the Apostle Paul makes clear in many places in the NT, it is the Spirit of God living in us that fulfills the Law. A heart transformed by the Spirit enables us to live out the Law/Word. Without the Spirit, attempts to live out the Law becomes a matter of works-righteousness. We become religious but not spiritual. We live enslaved (even to the Law) but not free.

 

Therefore Psalm 1 itself awaits a greater fulfillment for those who will be truly happy: those who live in the reality of the Word and Spirit.

 

Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for Psalm 1 and other Psalms that declare that the way of the wicked is not satisfying nor fruitful. There is only one way that is truly satisfying -- happy -- and fruitful. That is the way of life of walking with you in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word. And it is not only the written Word, but the Living, Incarnate Word, who is Jesus. So help us today, to abide in the Living and written Word through the Living Spirit of God. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

 

L'Shalom,

pjohn