The psalms have been described as the prayer book of the Jews for 3000 years and the Christians for 2000 years. Dr. Bill Creasy noted that “in the Psalms we encounter every possible response one can have to God, from profound love to deep disappointment, from great joy to heartbreaking sorrow, from soaring praise to quiet adoration. In the Psalms we probe the depths of our own hearts as we seek to understand both God and ourselves. In the Psalms we look into a mirror and we see reflected back the very depths of our own souls.”
Psalm 1 had been described by St Jerome as the ‘gateway of the psalter” with the “blessed man” forming one pillar and the “godless man” the other. The rest of the psalms capture the experiences of man’s relationship with God in the grey area between the blessed man and the godless man.
The most important lesson of Psalm 1 is the warning not to walk in the counsel of the godless but to walk by the Spirit. Instead of standing with sinners, we are to be singing with the saints. Instead of sitting and grumbling with scorners, we are to delight in the Word of God and fill our hearts with gratitude.
It is foolish to ignore or underestimate the reality of evil. In John 10:9-10 Jesus tells us he is the gate to the sheepfold to keep the sheep safe from thieves who steal, kill and destroy. From her experience with her husband's addiction to pornography, Laurie Hall found that evil is not “an abstract intellectual concept but a bone chilling reality which more real than intellectual.”
Many people do not understand that the bible is a record of the spiritual warfare between good and evil. It is a story of God's love for mankind who has rejected Him. It is not a book of rules that we must follow in order to please God. It is a treasure of the principles of truth to live by so that we will not live according to what we feel is right. Hence it is a delight to meditate in the law of the Lord day and night.
The written Word of God is to also to draw us to Jesus Christ the Living Word and the Shepherd of our souls. We are to feed on the Word of God to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father so that we will be transformed from inside out.
We will then be evergreen trees planted along the river of life which will beat fruit in all seasons of life. For God will be the Gardener of our souls carefully watching over our paths. We will not be blown away like chaff in the wind of God's judgment.
In Psalm 2, the psalmist warns against the futile rebellion of those who see life as slavery to God and seek to live without God. When we turn away from God, we will face the anger and fury of God against evil. But God’s anger and fury is from the depths of His compassion as He seeks to deliver us from evil. We read in Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome of God's anger against evil:
"But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness." (Romans 1:18)
There is also a warning to rulers and kings for them to act wisely. In the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Elizabeth, she was described as a queen who reigned as a servant of God. She is not a figure head of Parliament but the symbol of God's sovereignty of the lives of the people in the United Kingdom as well as the Comnonwealth.
Laurie Hall has drawn attention to the important difference between positional authority and functional authority. Those in positional authority have the responsibility to earn the respect of those who are under them and to avoid the temptation to abuse their authority. At the same time those under authority needs to choose to honour those who are in positions above them - their parents, bosses and leaders of government. We will not be able to subject ourselves to the sovereignty of God if we do not learn to honour our human leaders by seeing their position as being ordained by God. They will be accountable for their actions to God just as we will be accountable to God for ours.
But more importantly, the psalmist points us to the Kingdom of God where Jesus the Son of God reigns. In God's kingdom we all have the functional authority of servant leadership. This is the authority, to quote Laurie Hall, that comes through act of caring and kindness we do for others. Jesus has given us a very clear picture of true leadership:
"You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. “ (Matthew 20:25-27)
True leadership is inspiring people to want to do what their selfish human nature do not want to do. Hence everybody in God’s Kingdom is “a leader without a title” for we will be encouraging one another to be kind to one another. As we live in God's Kingdom in the here and now we will find refuge and unspeakable joy. Our lives will be filled with songs of praise that will lift the hearts of many to God and deliver our nations from evil:
"We have a song to be sung to the nations,
That will lift their hearts to the Lord
A song that will conquer evil
And shatter the spear and sword
And shatter the spear and sword.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning
And the dawning to noonday bright
And Christ's great Kingdom shall come on earth
The Kingdom of love and light.