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Study the Book of Psalms

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Once again, it is my privilege to present a great opportunity to enrich your faith life by auditing a course to be taught by Wesley Biblical Seminary President Dr. Matt Ayars. The title of the course is simply “The Book of Psalms.” I shared an excerpt from one of his lessons last week on The Stand which you can read/reread HERE. A second lesson excerpt is below. I hope you see that it will be well worth participating in this course that delves into the book that Jesus quoted from the most. 

The Psalms as Torah: Psalms 1 and 2

Matt Ayars 

Psalm 1 is one of my favorite psalms. It’s also one of my most studied psalms. What most people miss about Psalm 1 is that it is intended to be read in tandem with Psalm 2. These two psalms together function as the introduction to the book of Psalms at large. 

At first glance, these two psalms seem unrelated other than their juxtaposition. Upon a closer look, however, one notices several common dimensions between these two psalms. First, there is reference to both good and evil in both psalms. 

In Psalm 1, the good is he who finds pleasure in the Torah (“law”, “instruction”) of YHWH and therefore meditates on it day and night. Such activity makes the one who is good healthy and blessed (compared to a healthy tree via metaphor). In Psalm 2, the one who is good is the Messiah (e.g., the “Anointed One”) who YHWH (YHWH, as opposed to Elohim (Eng. God), is used in both Psalms to refer to God) has chosen to subdue and rule the nations. 

The wicked in Psalm 1 refers rather generally to individuals who are evil, sin, and mock God. The wicked in Psalm 2 are also individuals, but specifically rulers of ungodly nations. 

With this, both psalms begin and end with reference to the wicked, namely, the plight of the wicked. Both psalms also end with mention of benediction/blessing through the Hebrew word ashre, which really means “happy” rather than “blessed” (Heb. baruk). 

Okay, this is all good, but how do these two psalms correspond beyond these dynamics? More specifically, in what way do these two psalms function to introduce the book of Psalms at large?

To begin, Psalm 1’s emphasis on the Torah calls attention to the fact that the book itself can be understood as God’s instruction for His people. The Torah proper designates the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy). However, we must keep in mind that the book of Psalms is also divided into five parts (Books I-V). This intentionally reflects the five books of the Torah (or the “Five Books of Moses”). Once again, the point of all of this is to say that the book of Psalms serves to function as a source of instruction for God’s people. If we meditate on the psalms day and night, we will be like a tree planted by streams of water that bear fruit in our season and has success in all we do. This is instruction for the well-being of the individual member of the people of God. 

Psalm 2, then, expands this very concept to designate how well-being comes to the whole of God’s people: through the reign of the Chosen One, through the governance of the Messiah; through Jesus. When God’s people, as individuals, prayerfully study God’s word, specifically the Psalms, they will have fruitful lives. When God’s people as a community invite Jesus to reign and rule, the community, just as well, will be fruitful. 

Psalms 1 and 2 invite the reader to understand that it is the written Word and the living Word together that bring blessing in the life and community of God’s people. 

You can audit this course for only $250. It will be offered on Thursday nights from 6:30-9:30 p.m. CST from August 20 through December 3. Click HERE to complete a 2-minute application (and then click "Audit").

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