The Choice of Psalm 1
Sunday we will recite together Psalm 1 (click here to read it). It is not an accident that this is the first Psalm. I can’t say that every Psalm is in a particular order, but certainly the first and the last are. Psalm 150 (the last Psalm) is a song of praise, the only appropriate and final response to what we learn and know of God in the Psalms. The first Psalm lays out the basic choice of life as our starting place: either we live by God’s ways or we do not.
Everyone must make that choice every day. It is the choice marked by the Jewish Rite of Bar Mitzvah (for boys) or Bat Mitzvah (for girls). The term actually translates to “son/daughter of the law,” and the ceremony is normally done at about 13 years of age. It marks the time when a person becomes accountable for their choices and commits to being guided by the law of God.
Psalm 1 presents this as a rather stark and all encompassing choice. The author, of course, is not so foolish as to think that we simply follow the law or not. We are a mixed bag and the story of the Old Testament (indeed, all of Scripture) is the story of God’s constant desire to restore us to Himself and to the ways of the law, not as a petulant parent but as One who loves us and knows that this is truly the most fulfilling and satisfying life.
Even understanding that we are all a mixed bag, I think most of us know that we generally work toward God and His ways, or we work toward something else. Psalm 1 is a call to be deliberate about that choice and to remember that it is, indeed, our choice. Your choices are not the responsibility of your parents, your circumstances, or what others do to you, but they are your choices and you are responsible for them. Your choices will not threaten God’s love for you, but they will determine how much you live in and enjoy the love of God.
Which choice are you making today?
This column appeared in the May 16, 2021 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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