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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

Today's first psalm is psalm 1.

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinner, nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the torah of the Lord and they meditate on His torah day and night.

The Torah is called 'the Law.' Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible; much of which is narrative. Law, therefore, is but one translation and probably not the best. The word torah means instruction or direction and comes from a root word which means throw, cast, shoot, pour, dirt, teach instruct. It is easy to see how the active verbs came to mean instruct, give guidance.

We are told to meditate on God's instruction. The word 'hagah' (meditate) also means to howl, moan, mutter, meditate, devise, plan. [Lest we think this is odd, remember that the English word light can mean 'not dark' or 'not heavy.'] One recommendation for the Bible reader is to find the other ways that a word is used in the Bible. There is often times a focus on the first and last. The first use of the word 'hagah' is in Joshua 1:8  Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

In its final appearance, the word is found in Jeremiah where he groans/moans mourns over his people in their exile. The interplay of those two meanings of the word (looking at the first and last use) remind us that the meditation on God's revelation (and faithful obedience) result in blessings (prosperity, Kingdom Shalom)---and it demonstrates that the opposite is true. Infidelity creates chaos and instead of meditation, there is moaning!
It is said that the psalms are a summary of the Jewish Bible and here is an example. This beatitude (happy/blessed are they who have not walked...) is a praise of obedience to God's command to His people; "read My instruction and ponder it." Whatever 'the end of the Law' may have meant to Paul (and early Christians), it never meant that we are free to blow off the words of God. 

In 2015, we will see the consequences of ungodliness. We will see it on the news, but also in our own lives. We are destined to moan and mourn many times in the next year. Good News! There will also  be great blessing and abundance. We have options. We can meditate on the Word. 

To open our minds and hearts to its life giving power. 
To think and ponder about "the way of righteousness" and to remind ourselves "the way of the wicked is doomed." (psalm 1:6)
It is a daily choice we all must make. 

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