Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight s in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. -Psalms 1:1-2
Psalm 1 begins the whole book to convince us of a truth that we put out of mind over and over: “God’s story has everything to do with what I am doing right now.” That’s the sense of Psalm 1, but we might get hung up on a some of the old-sounding words in the first poetic reflection in Psalms. I would paraphrase the first verse like this:
Happy is the person who isn’t controlled by his/her broken desires or naïvely guided by neighbors who are controlled by their broken desires.
The next verse has an old-sounding word that might hold something rich for us. “But his/her delight is in the law of the LORD, and in that law he/she meditates day and night.”
Instruction over Legalism
Did you know that the Hebrew word translated “law” is Torah? It means “instruction” and comes from the verb that means “to teach,” not the one that means “to become a legalist who lives in fear and quells fun and joy.” Torah was the instruction one generation passed on to the next, telling them what God had done to redeem his people, how he continued to care for them, and what kind of life he wanted his people to lead.
Winning the War
Putting those two ideas together: Scripture’s grand story and all the gritty details equip us to put our internal desires in proper perspective—to hear from God what he thinks about what is most urgent in my mind, my body, my circumstances. Scripture gives us ideas to bring back to God, as we compare our impulses to God’s word. And it’s a daily, personal war. Today, either I see things through God’s faithfulness or follow my inner world. Either I put to death the ways that the old me would have me walk, or I keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Every day either I kill sin with the truth about God and about me, or sin kills me. It’s daily and personal, but it’s not private.
When we share our faith stories to the generations, we bear one another’s burdens. We trust one another to speak the truth in love, to help us deal with ourselves honestly. Since we often become charmed by our own desires, we help one another see things from God’s perspective. As you win, you walk in freedom to serve others in love. As you win your daily war, we all win.