Hymn writers for today’s church can learn from the introduction to this Jewish hymn book.

Key Scripture

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 1
Hymn writers for today’s church can learn from the introduction to this Jewish hymn book.

It teaches us that the content of the songs should remind us of;

  • God’s faithfulness in the past, the blessings for obeying his instructions and the curses that follow when we disobey.
  • God’s presence with us in every present moment when we live lives of worship to Him
  • God’s promises for an eternal future with Him.
What were the blessings and curses for Israel in this context?
  • They remembered the covenant God made with their ancestors and when they entered the Promised Land they renewed their own covenant with Him.
  • They would likely be remembering the dramatic scenes on Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim (Deuteronomy 27.1 – 28.19) where the whole nation agreed to be blessed if they kept God’s law, but they also accepted the curses that would come if they disobeyed.
  • The ungodly, we are told, will be destroyed.
  • Sharing these songs in the temple worship or in their homes kept their national history in the forefront of their minds as they worshipped.
  • It also warned them not to take ungodly advice, stray into sin, or find themselves mocking what God had asked them to do. It also gave them hope for the future as they trusted in His promises to prosper them and make them fruitful like the trees in vs 3 as they inhabited their ‘Promised Land’.
So, how do they apply to us today?

As I read this psalm,

  • I am reminded of my own past encounters with God through His Holy Spirit, the landmarks of my own spiritual journey – reminders of His faithfulness to me. It is too long a journey to recount here, except to note how important it is that we share our stories with each other as part of our worship. Also to note the importance of memorizing scripture so that we ‘hide His word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him’ (Ps 119)
  • It is vital to feel the presence of His Spirit touching my own soul afresh in the present moment and keeping my relationship with God alive. Surely that’s why we attend services, home groups, go on conferences etc – this is part of ‘offering up our bodies as a living sacrifice – this is our spiritual worship to God’ (Romans 12.1)
  • By reading scripture and singing ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’ and engaging in this process I am encouraged to press on in faith to receive His promises and in the future, to become like the tree that will bear good fruit for God in due season. I long for the day when the church as the family of God would be described in those terms too.

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