Monday, November 16, 2015

Psalm 1 and Proverbs 1:1-7

Last year I blogged a 40 Day read through the New Testament. Then I blogged through Genesis. I'm thinking about doing another book. I thought I'd work through Psalms and Proverbs. So that's a chapter of Psalms a day (when I can) and six verses of Proverbs each post. Feel free to read with me!

Psalm 1
1. I suspect that Psalm 1 was added as an introduction when Psalms reached something like its final form. Psalms 1 could of course be an introduction to Book I of the Psalms. The Psalms are made up of five books. The first 41 psalms make up Book I.

Psalms is the lead off hitter to the third section of the Jewish Bible, the "Writings." At the time of Jesus, the Old Testament was grouped into three parts: The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. In the Christian Bible, Job is the first of the "poetic books" (with Psalms second). But Psalms begins the Writings in the Jewish Bible (see Luke 24:44).

2. The first psalm is a wonderful presentation of two ways. There are those who delight in the Law of the LORD (1:1-3), and there are those who are wicked, who do not follow God's Law (1:4-6).

The blessed do not follow the advice of the wicked. They do not take the path of sinners. We should not read Pauline debates in here. Sinners are people who violate the Law, and the standard is such that the Law can be kept. The psalmist believes it is fully possible not to be a sinner and, indeed, we must not be.

The Law here is likely a reference to the Law of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy. That suggests that this psalm is post-exilic. The fact that the Psalms as a whole are in the Writings also suggests that they reached their final form after the exile.

3. The wicked will perish. The psalmist means in this life. This is deuteronomistic theology. The wicked generally face judgment and punishment in this world. Again, the psalmist fully believes it is possible not to be wicked. Indeed, we must not be.

The judgment in Psalm 1:5 was not originally the final judgment, although we are free to read it this way as well. There is no sense of a final judgment, not in context, anywhere in the Old Testament apart from Daniel 12:2.

Proverbs 1:1-7
Verse 7 is the key to the whole book of Proverbs: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge."

We are told that as we read the Proverbs, we will learn wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity. We will gain wisdom and insight. Read on!

Hard to know when 1:1 was added as the heading to the book. Since it tells us about Solomon, it is not likely Solomon who wrote Proverbs 1:1. Proverbs is clearly a collection of individual proverbs, not a book that was written in one sitting. And there are proverbs from individuals other than Solomon as well (e.g., Prov. 31).

No comments: