Psalm One by Rev. Charlie Dupree
Lucky for you, I try not to preach on ALL of the readings prescribed on a given Sunday. So, since I may not get to it in the pulpit this Sunday, I want to touch on the Psalm.
Why? Because it’s the first one. “Psalm One” doesn’t have the familiar ring of the “Twenty-Third Psalm” or “Psalm 121.” It is simply the first psalm. But as many of my scripture professors say, “Firsts matter.” What’s important about this psalm? Notice that the word that begins the whole psalter – the first word of Psalm One is the word “Happy.”
“Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful! Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and they meditate on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1: 1-2)
What does this first psalm have to say as it sets the stage for the 150 psalms that follow? The psalmist talks about the decision that each of us has to make . . . a decision to follow God, or follow some other path. You can either walk in the way of the Lord or linger around with that which distracts you and pulls you away from your focus. If we choose wisely. We will become, the psalmist-like, like trees planted by streams of water.
Isn’t it beautiful to gaze at streams planted by water? There’s something special about those trees. They seem settled, grounded, and peaceful. Their roots are deep, drinking from a source that we may not be able to see. I imagine a giant willow stirred by the breeze, but unworried.
The trees are “happy,” or, more accurately translated, the trees are “content.” God’s wants us to be happy, but I believe that God is more interested in our contented-ness – a sense of knowing who we are, that we are not thrown off-base by the winds, that we are flexible and willing to bend and twist, but firmly rooted in and aware of the living waters that come from God. I think of the line from that other psalm, “My cup overfloweth.”
In your own life, is there a difference between being happy and being content? Does one have more spiritual weight than the other? Give it some thought.
See you in church, (OK . . . maybe I’ll do a little preaching on Psalm One!)