Today's Daily Bread
INTRODUCTION TO THE PSALMS
The Psalms are Hebrew poetry. Many were written to be sung. Hebrew poetry does not rhyme; its chief characteristic is parallelism. In other words, ideas or thoughts which have nearly the same meaning--many times with a little progression added--are repeated (Psalm 4:1). Some psalms are like envelopes--they end with the same phrase with which they began (Psalm 103). Some are structured as acrostics--the beginning of each verse or section follows a letter in the Hebrew alphabet (Psalm 119). King David wrote so many of the psalms that frequently he is spoken of as the author of Psalms. He is the one who brought music and psalms into temple worship. He organized the temple worship and appointed the Levites as musicians. Moses also wrote many psalms; others were written by the prophets, and others by various musicians serving in the temple.
The Psalms flow through the course of Israel's history. They constitute a kind of inner history which runs parallel to the recorded events. Most of them consist of prayers and praise to God. They tell us that God is intimately involved in Israel's history. He is the Creator of heaven and earth; he is the Redeemer; he is the Ruler of history; he is the one worthy of praise and honor and thanksgiving. As we study the Psalms, let us turn our hearts to him and learn from the Psalmists to praise and thank him and to lay before him all of our fears and anxieties. Let us worship God.
TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE
First, a fruitful life (1-3). This Psalm describes two kinds of people. The first one is happy because his life is fruitful. He became this way because he knew what to avoid and what to do. He does not accept the counsel of wicked men. He does not hang around people who are looking for trouble. He does not join in with the smart, sophisticated people who mock God or his people. Like a fruitful tree that puts down deep roots by a stream of water, he puts down roots in God's word. He fills his mind and heart with God's word. A tree bears fruit in season because its roots drink from an ever-flowing stream. A person bears good fruit if his roots are in the word of God.
Second, chaff (4-6). A person without roots thinks he is smart and free--but he is neither. The Bible calls the rootless man wicked. He will perish in the judgment. Like the restless wanderer Cain, he is rootless, fruitless and miserable.