How to Understand Psalms 1 and 2
I don’t know about you, but when I pick up my Bible, more often than not, I am immediately drawn to the Psalms. Maybe because they are easy to read and I’m easily encouraged by them.
But there is so much more to the book of Psalms than beautiful poetry and seemingly one-off chapters, easily read alone. The structure of the book itself is encouraging (read why here). And, I’ve found that the first two chapters are especially encouraging. Not only do Psalms 1 and 2 open and introduce this wonderful book of the Bible, they also introduce the two major themes that carry the book. And furthermore, they teach us the importance of studying God’s Word and trusting in God’s sovereign plan.
Psalms 1 and 2 Introduce the Psalter
The book of Psalms takes you through all of redemptive history, from David, the messianic king to the return of the THE Messianic King, Jesus. (Read about the whole structure here.)
But these first two chapters reveal what the book is all about. O. Palmer Robertson, a Christian theologian, says that Psalms 1 and 2 “escort the reader into the temple of the book of Psalms… taken together these two very brief psalms anticipate major themes that permeate all five books.” [The Flow of the Psalms, Pg. 13].
Psalm 1 has a major focus on the Torah, the law of God, His Word. In the first two verses we see a stark contrast, a setting apart, of those who love God’s Word and those who do not. This contrast is carried throughout the book of Psalms. And this is as it should be, for God promised all the way back in Genesis 3:15 that there would be a struggle, a tension, between those who follow God and His Word and those who do not follow God and His Word.
This tension is found all throughout the book of Psalms. In fact, it is this tension that drives the book to the conclusion of looking forward to the coming Messiah and the powerful hallelujahs in the last chapters that welcome Him (see the Structure of the Psalms here).
Psalm 2 focuses on the Messiah, the coming King who will fulfill all of God’s covenants and rule the world righteously, Jesus. This Messianic Psalm points to Christ as the one who will judge all the enemies of the Lord and bring an end to the tension found in chapter 1. Psalm 2 also brings an invitation to all the nations of the world, that they would pay homage to Jesus with a kiss and join His ranks as His children.
Psalm 1 Teaches Us to Study God’s Word
The first chapter of Psalms shows just how important it is to study God’s Word. Psalm 1:3 says that “he (or she) who delights in the Law of the Lord will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
And it could not be plainer, God promises that those who delight in the Word, who study it daily, who can’t get enough of the Bible, will be firmly planted like a tree by a river. Picture that, a big tree, planted on the side of a river, some of the branches hang over the water, the bark is thick and rough, there are long, beautiful limbs filled with fruit. And this tree is sturdy, kids could easily climb in it, you are not worried that it will fall down in a storm, it’s alive and thriving.
That’s what we are like when we delight in God’s Word. Studying the Bible makes us like strong, sturdy trees, producing fruit and providing shade.
Contrast this picture with the wicked, they are described as chaff. That’s nothing close to a tree! Think “tumbleweed” that just rolls along with no grounding, no attachment to the earth, and easily consumed with the wind’s gusts.
Which picture would you rather be? I hope you’d say, “the tree!”
Friends, we must make the study of God’s Word a priority so that it becomes a delight. And, this is difficult as mamas, trust me, I know. There are so many things, and babies, pulling for our attention. But isn’t it so worth it to be firmly planted in God’s Word so that we can face whatever God may send our way? So that we can stand firm in the midst of trials and temptations? So that we can bear good fruit? Yes!
I wrote some practical tips about fitting in Bible reading here. And I also wrote about How to Read Your Bible as a Busy Mom here.
But we’re not done yet with these two Psalms. Let’s see how God’s Sovereignty is revealed in Psalm 2.
Psalm 2 Teaches Us to Trust God’s Sovereignty
The second Psalm of the Psalter opens with concern as to why the enemies of the Lord are scheming against Him. And then verses 6-12 look forward to God’s Messiah who will be the God’s King set up in His holy mountain, and He will conquer the enemies and subdue the earth.
We know that this Psalm speaks of the Messiah, Jesus, and not just David from verse 7 especially. The fact that God has “begotten” Him sets Him apart as the Messiah and not just the messianic king, David.
Jesus is the Messiah that we are waiting for who will come back to rule.
What does that mean for us today?
When it feels like the world is getting worse and worse, evil is growing, enemies are everywhere, sin abounds, and sorrow overruns, do not lose hope. God is sovereignly in control.
These verses remind us that God will fulfill His covenant with David (see 2 Samuel 7:8-16) and He will make all things right in the end (see Revelation 22:1-5). They assure us that Jesus Christ will come again, He will judge the earth, and He will bless all those who have taken refuge in Him as verse 12 says, “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”
Verse 4 says that He even laughs at the folly of the wicked’s ways because they will only end in destruction. That verse is comforting to a believer in that God could not laugh if He was not in sovereign control. But it is also a solemn reminder of the consequences waiting for those who are enemies of God because they will only receive judgment.
This passage expressly shows that we can trust God and His plan for our world. So the next time you are feeling the weight of the world or you’re tempted to worry, remember that our Father’s Son, Jesus, will return in the end.
And “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” [This is My Father’s World.]
I hope you’ve seen just how important and encouraging these first two Psalms are to the whole book. If you’d like to memorize them or meditate on their words, I’ve created a printable version of both Psalms 1 and 2 for you to download and print!
The free print is ready to help you memorize and delight in God’s Word. You simply have to hit the subscribe button below and download.
The Structure of the Psalms
How to Read Your Bible as a Busy Mom
The Best Christian Books to Read Every Day
This post contains affiliate links, find my full disclosure here.