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;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night. Psalm 1
Two Sundays ago, I invited people to begin reading the book of Psalms. One of the reasons why I decided to do this is because of the very first word, "Happy". We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about happiness today. Often, that happiness depends on something outside of us. We will be happy if that coworker leaves...that neighbor moves...that new car suddenly appears in our drive way.
Happy is a word that will appear 25 times in the 150 psalms, that is significant. I am sure in the course of 150 conversations, I talk about happiness at least 25 times.
What makes you happy?
Where do you long for more happiness?
The psalm does not come out and give us a five point plan for happiness or even guarantee that we will have our best live ever right now. Instead, first, the psalms tells us to be careful who we listen to, which paths we take, and where we sit. Because those things matter and make a difference. If we only listen to people who are cynical, or we only travel down paths have thorns/thistles, or if we only sit with folks who don't see hope that impacts us perhaps more than we know.
It can impact our relationship with God.
The psalmist does give us some very practical advice to meditate day and night on God's law. Or another translation of that would be to murmur on God's Torah day and night. So, my invitation is quite practical too. Read one psalm in the morning and one psalm at night. As with all good suggestions there is a lot of room to roam here. I have actually found it is easier to read my two psalms together in the morning. It is a good time to center myself before the day gets going and leads naturally into prayer. However, you can decide how to do this in a way that works best for you. As a psalm comes up that stirs my soul, I will offer a comment here.
Two quick comments: 1). The psalms are brutally honest in their poetry and prayer. They talk of revenge and God lashing out at enemies. We are not use to that in our polite church prayers today. But, we do sometimes think that especially with that coworker...neighbor...family member who gets on our nerves. And the psalmist believes God can handle those emotions that we think, but don't always say aloud.
2). The psalms are poetry and prayer which cannot be read the same way you read a novel. It is good to slow down and let each word linger on the tip of your tongue, speaking deeply to your heart.
I pray you will accept this invitation. Or perhaps you can enjoy the next several posts that about psalms.
May we sense more than a trace of God's grace in our connecting with these prayers and poetry.