The Book of Psalms has been called the Hymn Book of the Church. 150 songs that encompass the whole range of human experience. There are songs of love and hate, of joy and sorrow, of deep intimacy and of profound disillusionment with God. We love the Psalms because we can find a song to sing for every occasion.
But God doesn’t want just anyone to pick up His song book – just as the Royal Opera House would be displeased if you decided to join in. . Only certain people are invited to sing at the Opera House, and similarly, only certain people are allowed into the Psalms.
That’s why Psalms 1 and 2 are often called “the gateway to the Psalms.” Before we start singing these songs for ourselves, we’re stopped at this checkpoint. And these two Psalms will instruct us in the basics. Only certain people can proceed. And Psalms 1 and 2 will tell us, who’s in and who’s out.
The person who is ‘in’ is called “blessed.” (Psalm 1:1; 2:12)
It’s just like the sermon on the mount. As Jesus begins to preach, He uses the beatitudes as a gateway, explaining the kind of person who is in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 5:1-12). They are called “Blessed.”
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 5:3)
The one who’s blessed is the one who belongs. In both Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) and Greek (the language of the New), it’s a word that means “happy” or you might say “flourishing.”
So who is blessed? Who is allowed to sing these songs? The book of Psalms opens like this…
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3)
You might think that the Psalm is “blessing” all those who say “no” to peer-pressure and “yes” to Bible study. You might think it’s promising prosperity to those who keep their noses in the Scriptures and out of trouble. But look again.
Only one person is described here: “the man.” What a title! I rarely venture to call myself a man. But here is the man – the definition of man, the one to whom all other men are only relative.
In the Bible, “the man” is often used to refer to a ruler (e.g. Joseph, Genesis 42:30). And in many parts of the English speaking world we’ve maintained that same sense: “Stick it to the man”, “the Man is keeping me down.” In Northern Ireland (where my wife is from) they will often refer to “your man” as a reference to your boss or your head of state.
Well “the man” of Psalm 1 meditates on the Bible day and night. That’s something that was the particular provenance of the King. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). For instance, Joshua is told to meditate on the Bible day and night so that he would prosper (Joshua 1:8). In the Bible trees, vines and branches are particularly associated with kings.And here in Psalm 1 “the man” will be a prosperous tree.
So, by now we should get the idea, “the man” is a king.
And when we turn to Psalm 2, we encounter a king who is called the Christ (Anointed One), the Son of God.
So when you put all this together, you start to see that “the Man” of Psalm 1 is in fact the King of Psalm 2. The Man of Psalm 1 is Psalm 2′s Anointed One (or Messiah or Christ, it’s all the same word). The Man is the Christ, the Son of God.
In both Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 we have a contrast – but not between one group of good guys and another group of bad guys. In both Psalms we have one man, the King – who is God’s Righteous, Anointed, Blessed, Beloved Son and then we have the wicked – the other kings of the earth, the sinners, the mockers, the rebels. The message of these Psalms is not ‘Don’t belong to the bad guys, belong to the good guys.’ The message of these Psalms is ‘Don’t belong to the wicked, belong to the Blessed Man.’ Belong to the Christ, the Son of God.
If we take the beginning and end of these two Psalms together we see the whole message of the Bible in a nutshell:
“Blessed is the Man” (Psalm 1:1) and “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2:12).
Before the world began, the Father was blessing His Son – anointing Him with the Holy Spirit. Now the invitation goes out to all the world – “Put your trust in the Blessed Man and find God’s blessing in Him.”
Once we get beyond the gateway, the rest of the Psalms will preach to us this same message. In all the Psalms there are 4 basic characters:
1) The LORD / God / the Father
2) The Man / The Christ / The Son of God / The Righteous King
3) Those who put their trust in the King
4) Those who refuse the King / the wicked
Some Psalms are prayers of the Christ to God. Some are the declarations of God to the world about His King. Some are the prayers of sinners, asking for refuge in the Christ. But in all these interactions, all the Psalms are proclaiming the gospel to us: Blessed is the Man, and blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)