Psalm 1 – Wisdom and Torah

If you read here, you know the interest in Wisdom Literature that we have.  What is interesting to note in Psalm 1 is how it intertwines Wisdom themes with the Torah, and this at the head of the Psalter.

Like Proverbs, for example, Psalm 1 speaks of two paths, two results (prosperity or destruction), certain characters to avoid (sinner, wicked, mocker), vivid metaphor (tree, chaff), which are both natural images (wisdom embedded in creation), and logical processes of choice and consequence.  So Wisdom themes run from the first to the last.

Like the Prophets, Psalm 1 stands in judgment over us depending on how we respond to the words of the LORD, the covenant making God.  Wisdom usually avoids such strongly worded covenantal language as law, judgement, assembly and even the LORD’s name.

The focus of Wisdom is not always directly focused on God’s word.  It is also found in God’s word in nature, (go to the ant, O sluggard).  Here in Psalm 1 the focus is on a meditative and obedient relationship to the God of the covenant through the scriptures.  (“Law” means more than commandments, it certainly includes all of the “Torah”, but also all scripture).

We circled words about Wisdom in green and about Law/Covenant in red and they were intertwined through the Psalm.   So here lies one clue to drawing the two threads of scripture together.

The Fear of the Lord is a key idea in Wisdom Literature, and Psalm 1 links that to the Word of the LORD.



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