Psalm 1 – The Man of Righteousness

salms online, free psalm tunes online, free psalter online, book of psalms for worship free, psalm 1a tune, ps 1a songToday we begin our journey into psalm-singing. If you recollect, I had promised in an earlier post that I would start teaching you to sing the psalms that would greatly enrich your personal devotions and times of family worship. This series is a deliberate effort to offer you what has been a great source of blessing in our family.

We’ve often heard the psalms being read during responsive reading in our local church. We’ve been told psalms are wonderful to quietly meditate on, or use in personal prayer and devotion. Some contemporary bands have also put to tune certain portions of psalms, but singing whole psalms has never been done in India, atleast as far as my knowledge goes. A friend once exclaimed, when I told her I sing the psalms everyday “Can they even be sung?!”  This brings to memory a peculiar habit we have in India, especially in some brahmin households.As a child, I’ve seen my grandma dexterously handle an iron hand-press called acchhu (mould) to make a variety of delectables ranging from a delicious rice-strings-dish called idiyappam to sun-dried vadaams ( an ethnic rice-based crunchy snack ).

vadaams, brahmin vadagamvadaam acchu, vadaam mould, idiappam acchu, idiyappam press, idiappam mouldTwo generations down the line, that hand-press, now rusty and seemingly obsolete, has found its place in a dusty nook on our upper lofts, usually a place for antique junks.

As our children grow, we tell them about the popular hand-press and how our grand-moms used them to make yummy foodstuff our kids can only dream of. But use that rusty ol’ press today? Nay. “It’s archaic. It’s irrelevant.” It’s useless. I presume such notions often cross our minds even when we think of the psalms. Like that rusty old press, the psalms need to be dusted off from modern-day misrepresentations and revived to be that fitting song it was always meant to be.

Why sing psalms when there are thousand other songs?

There are four straightforward, biblical reasons why we must sing the psalms:-

  •  The OT church sang them ( 1Chr 16:7,41,42; 1Chr 25; Ps 42-50; Ps 62; Ps 73-83 )
  •  Jesus sang them ( Mk 14:26; Mk 15:34; Matt 27:46 )
  •  The NT church sang them ( Acts 16:25; Acts 4:24-26 )
  •  Paul exhorts us to sing them ( Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16 )

One of the biggest reasons for singing the psalms, apart from the above, is because it is inspired and canonical. Our minds crave for man-made inventions and often exchange these for divine designs. We prefer our golden calves and holy cows to God’s prescription for worship. Micheal Lefebvre in his book Singing the Songs of Jesus traces the history of song in the life of the church and notes how the church, right from Adam through David, Christ and the Apostles, sang songs that were penned by authoritative prophets of the times, which later became canonized. The Book of Psalms is the only canonical song book that we still have today and that, right in the middle of the Bible.  All these are sure reasons for us to not keep silent in proclaiming His words and works in the assembly of God (Ps 40:9,10)

Psalm 1: Introduction

The Psalms hold a certain charm with me. When I was still a pagan, God put Psalm 1 on my lips during a Scripture class in my school. After the teacher gave ten minutes to all the students, she challenged us to recite the first three verses of Psalm 1 before the entire class. Amidst many christian children, I bravely stretched out my right hand and recited the entire section without a stutter. From my tongue God transferred that psalm to my heart when I became a Christian. Truly, I became that blessed man of which the psalm speaks!

Psalm 1: Brief Commentary

ps1, ps1a, psalm 1, psalms tunes, psalter, ps1 commentaryPsalm 1 isn’t Psalm 1 by taxonomical accident. Some scholars¹ suggest that Psalm 1 is a window into the entire book of Psalms, the call to “meditate on the law day and night” is a call to take to our lips all of the Psalms which is the Law of the Lord in a nutshell, or how else are we meditate on the law day and night? A cursory glance at this psalm gives us the impression that the psalmist talks about how a man is righteous before God, i.e. how he stands before God (Ps1:5). This is true in one sense, but not another. If any man believes that performing all the psalmist’s directions for the righteous makes him “blessed”, then he’s missing the point. Isa 64:6 is a great text to show that our righteous acts are like filthy rags before God, and we are indeed like a leaf that withers, a chaff blown away. Wicked is our name according to Psalm 1 and Isa 64:6.

The Blessed Man that is spoken of in this psalm is firstly Christ Jesus, for he himself notes in Luke 24:44  that the Psalms “speak of me”. He is that man who always walked the way of righteousness, savoring it and suffering for it. This psalm is not really prescriptive, but descriptive of the Righteous Branch, the Root of Jesse. So the question is: how can we too be blessed? By trusting in this Blessed Man and putting Him on through faith (Jeremiah 23:6 ,Jeremiah 33:16). This is then, how we stand before God. Even as Christians, we mustn’t try to keep this Psalm as a mere Law-word, rather we must seek to see the face of Christ in this Psalm and trust Him to make us like that tree of righteousness. Then are we too partakers of His blessedness, and this Psalm perfectly describes our lives too.

Often in a world shaped by dualistic presuppositions, most of us observe life, people, circumstances and ideas as grey rather than “black and white”. Not so with God. This Psalm reflects the mind of God, of stark contrasts and clear judgments. God sees us as those who either listen to the advice of wicked (v1) or listen to the His Law (v2); we are either a fruitful tree (v 3) or a rootless chaff (v4) ; we will either stand before Him or fall (v5) ; the world is unworthy of the righteous and the wicked are unworthy of heaven (v5); we either drink from his cup or from the cup of demons (1 Cor 10:21 ). Finally, the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (v6).

As you sing this psalm, may the words of this song, the very Word of God awaken you, stir you, strengthen and sanctify you, and thus make you a partaker of that blessedness!

Ps 1A – That Man is blessed
Gesangbuch der Herzogl 1784       ELLACOMB CMD
Performed by Sarmishta Venkatesh
Taken from the Book of Psalms for Worship. Used by Permission.

Download Ps 1A lyrics

Commentaries for further study

  1. Michael Lefebvre’s brief commentary on Psalm 1
  2. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David
  3. Matthew Henry on Psalm 1
  4. Calvin’s Commentary on the Psalms

Footnotes

  1. Chapter 5 -Singing the Songs of Jesus, Michael Lefebvre; Psalm 1 commentary -The Treasury of David, Charles Haddon Spurgeon; Calvin’s introduction to Psalm 1
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7 thoughts on “Psalm 1 – The Man of Righteousness

  1. Dear Sarmishta,
    Thank you for your message on Psalm 1.
    A few comments:
    1. The Anglican Church always sang the Psalms in the Morning Service. We sing some of them at my church, St. John’s., on the third Sunday. We have a book “PSALMS PRAISE” from England with most of the Psalms to music in the original and modern versions.
    2. In Clarence School the KG children are made to memorise the WHOLE of Psalm 1 (not just 4 verses). Both my children learnt it at 5 years old. That is why this Psalm is so precious to me.
    3. I do not think you are right to say this Psalm is ONLY about the Lord Jesus. He may be the supreme example. But it is about ordinary people and points out what a person who follows Gos (the “righteous man”).should be and compares him with the “wicked man”.
    I enclose an extract from the NJHew International Bible Commentary on this for you:
    The psalm may be divided into two main parts (although some prefer three: cf. Weiser). Verses 1-3 paint the portrait of the righteous person: negatively, he does not follow the advice, share the way of life, or adopt the attitudes of the wicked; positively, he relies on the guidance of God and therefore fulfils his Godintended function. In contrast vv. 4-6 depict the doom of the wicked: they are empty, worthless, unstable and impermanent; their chosen way inevitably ends in ruin. The black and white division of manking into righteous (Heb. saddîqîm) and the wicked (Heb. resa‘îm), both words in the plural in v. 6, corresponds to the ultimate distinction between those who stand in a right relationship with God, with His law, and with their fellowmen, and those (whether Israelites or Gentiles) who deliberately reject these standards.

    Yours in His service,

    Dr. Peter S. C. Pothan

    • Pothan Uncle, thank you for you invaluable comments as always. I’m glad to know that you get to sing the Psalms in your church. When I was in school I was “accidentally” in a Scripture class, just once, and I heard the Psalms being read and memorized. Perhaps the other children were ahead of me, in that they may have learnt the whole psalm 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts on the exemplification of the Psalms. I agree with you that the Psalms don’t talk ONLY about Christ, but with Christ as that Mediatorial King, it also talks about his kings and priests ( Rev 5:10 ). i.e. the elect saints of God. But I do believe they are more descriptive rather than prescriptive, and that the only prescription for becoming that blessed man it describes is through faith in Christ. I take your point and will correct the post accordingly. Thanks uncle!

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