Life’s Two Ways
Rubel Shelly   -  




Text for This Study: Psalm 1

1. What is fatalism? Why is the biblical worldview clearly and emphatically anti-fatalistic? Put into your own words how the biblical view of freedom and choice opposes a what-will-be-will-be attitude toward life.

2. Charles Spurgeon once said that Psalm 1 is the text upon which the remainder of the Book of Psalms is a sermon. Why would that be a reasonable view of this psalm?

3. What is the negative counsel of Psalm 1? Its positive counsel? How does one’s choice between these two options (directions) for a life set the tone for all other decisions?

4. This psalm contrasts “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked” (v.6) as the choice before every person. This motif runs throughout the Bible. Identify it in each of the following Scriptures: Gen 2:9; Deut 30:15-16; Josh 24:15; Matt 7:13-14; Rom 7:13.

5. Read verse 6 as an instance of antithetical parallelism. What is the significance of seeing this poetic device at work in this verse?

This psalm draws a distinction between two kinds of persons: the “God-fearer,” who delights in God’s Torah day and night and who therefore is like a tree whose roots are nourished by life-giving waters, and the “wicked” person or the “fool” (Ps 14:1), who vainly lives by self-chosen standards, without dependence upon God. Remember that when the Israelites thought of God’s “law,” they did not think of a heavenly police officer who coldly enforces statutes. Rather, they confessed their relationship to the God who had graciously given them “teaching” or “direction” (the proper translation of the Hebrew word torah) in the way they should walk. From the very first, the covenant and the Torah were linked together. . . . Reading the Torah psalms (Pss 1; 19:7-14; 119) will disclose that Judaism found God’s Torah a delight, “rejoicing the heart” (Ps 19:8). The chief concern was that of glorifying God in all daily actions and relationships:

Oh, how I love your law [torah]!

It is my meditation all the day.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,

For it is always with me. (Ps 119:97-98)

[Bernhard W. Anderson, The Unfolding Drama of the Bible, 4th ed (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), p.60.]