Commentary Ps 1

David the Psalmist









Ps 1 Commentary

Commentary, setting and recording by Dr Noel Donnelly.

Just imagine you are asked to be the music-librarian in the Hebrew Temple; you just have come back from exile in Babylon to find the Temple in ruins. Around you the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah are encouraging everyone to re-establish the official “service of songs” and the harps which had hung silent by the rivers of Babylon are to resound with their ancient melodies.  

Imagine you are presented with 150 hymns: your task is to put them in order for the official publication of the Temple hymn book. Which one will you put first? What we now call psalm One wins! Why? Because it gives us the ideal picture of the happy human being as God’s foremost creation: it proclaims the happiness for which we are made. But it also stresses the way to keep such joy on the boil: how?  By walking in the way God made us! As such, this psalm serves as a beautiful introduction to the whole collection of psalms.

It starts with a joyful exclamation: “Oh the happiness of the person whose delight is to walk in the laws of the Lord!”    Count your blessings, it says; be happy and live the way God made you to be happy. Such a person is like a healthy fruit-bearing tree, thriving beside a life-giving stream of fresh water. The scornful sneering of the cynics then becomes like mere chaff that is blown away in the wind.  It’s our inner strength that matters! All the psalmist asks for is for us to meditate, to reflect on the love of God who made us to be happy and who offers us the Law as a steady fruitful way for inner peace and contentment. So, our psalm is now number one single on the Temple’s chart!