Aspects of Psalm 1 -- By: Bruce C. Stark
ATJ 1 (1968) p. 19
Aspects of Psalm 1
Because they reflect the deepest personal experiences of men of all ages, the Psalms are the most widely read and most deeply appreciated of all the Old Testament literature. They possess a peculiar warmth that is not to be found in such generous abundance anywhere else in the canonical Old Testament. There are many ponderous questions in reference to the Psalter which cannot presently be a part of our concern. Theories of the origin and growth of the book are diverse and intricate. Classification schemes are myriad, and none are totally satisfactory.
Psalm 1 offers an interesting object of study for various reasons, including the fact that it comes first. We shall comment on this shortly. The formal analysis of the Psalm is designated by Briggs as two antithetical strophes of six tetrameter lines each.1 It should be noted, however, that he considers verse three a gloss and does not integrate it into the formal arrangement noted above. The present writer feels no constraint to follow him here.
There is no designated author and no superscription to assist us in reconstructing the historical situation in which the poem was composed. Little help is found in the text either, since the references are rather general. These facts, however, may assist us in our efforts to interpret the psalm, for the very lack of knowledge of a specific historical milieu may properly encourage us to keep the application of the message broad.
Psalm 1 bears close connection contextually with Psalm 2. Some have felt this so strongly that they are willing to believe
ATJ 1 (1968) p. 20
that they are, in fact, one. In pointing out the striking similarities between these two psalms, Hengstenberg is most helpful, and the reader is referred to his discussion for more elaborate treatment.2 Briefly, however, we may notice here the facts that Psalm 2 begins with judgment where Psalm 1 ends, and Psalm 1 starts with a benediction parallel to the end of Psalm 2. Also, there is a clear parallel between the expression in Psalm 1:6 “…the way of the ungodly shall perish,” and the rebels of Psalm 2:12 who are said to “ …perish in the way.” We linger only to observe the further point that the “meditated” ...
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