*These are my notes for an adult Sunday school class lesson on Psalm 1. You’ll see the questions I asked the group as we went through the Psalm verse by verse. Psalm 1:5 always confused me, until I prepared this lesson! Now it finally makes sense! The creative reading of the Psalm went really well and effectively made the point. I am not creative enough to think something up like that on my own. Source below.*
Intro question: Being or feeling blessed. If we say that we have been blessed, or another person is blessed – what type of life circumstances or situations are we typically referring to? What lead us to say that we have been blessed?
(Typically, when we speak of being blessed, we are referring to things like: our family, our employment, a nice home, good health. Something good happened to us. We dodged the bullet. Stayed safe. )
Hand out Psalm 1. Take a minute for class to read it quietly for themselves.
Brief comment on Wisdom Psalms/literature: Psalm 1 is a wisdom Psalm. These psalms have similarities to Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, often with a focus on the righteous versus the wicked, and the two ways or paths we can follow in life.
Do the below creative reading of the Psalm. (I read the response, and chose 2 people in the class to be the chorus – reading it together.)
Chorus: Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
Response: I never do anything like that.
Chorus: or stand in the way that sinners take
Response: I never do things like that either
Chorus: or sit in the company of mockers,
Response: Well, hardly ever
Chorus: but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
Response: The Bible really is a wonderful book
Chorus: and who meditates on his law day and night
Response: Someday, after I retire, I’m really going to take more time to read the Bible
Chorus: That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
Response: That sounds like a slow process
Chorus: and whose leaf does not wither—
Response: Leaves? Fruit?
Chorus: whatever they do prospers.
Response: Now that’s the part I like!
Chorus: Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Response: Serves them right
Chorus: Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
Response: It is nice to know that God is going to give them what is coming to them
Chorus: For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Response: I’m glad you know which of us are righteous, God. If only everyone were as good as I am.
FROM: Creative Teaching Methods by Marlene LeFever
Questions/teaching notes, going through the Psalm verse by verse
?? Looking at verse 1, what does the blessed person not do?
Note the progression of walking to standing to sitting in the verse.
?? What significance do you see in that progression? How is the person moving along?
It begins with casual influence and moves into full collusion with the wicked. We usually spiritually drift, not jump all at once. We drift. Slowly we move in the wrong direction, and “suddenly” wake up where we did not intend to be. While we have not gotten to the tree illustration yet, our spiritually landscape begins to erode.
?? Looking at verse 2, what is the source of delight for the one who is blessed?
(The Law of the Lord.) The way this phrase is used in the OT, it is referring generally to Scripture – God’s Word – not exclusively to the actual laws.
?? If your child came to you when they were younger and asked you what the word delight means, besides telling them to look in the dictionary, how would you define the word delight for them? (really pleases you, makes you happy, gives pleasure)
Now, just a convicting question for personal reflection – do we delight in God’s word?
Reading the Bible shouldn’t be a duty or a chore, but something we desire. And I think just about all of us can falter in our Bible reading, at least if we are honest.
?? What are some reasons or excuses we give for not being in the Bible?
(Lazy. Lack a plan. Lack understanding. Overwhelmed. )
I shared some personal thoughts about Bible reading. Some of our reasons/excuses may have an easy remedy. Have a plan, or not. Some need a flexible approach. Pray for a desire to be in God’s Word. (See my blog posts on Bible reading)
?? Looking at verse 3, what will a blessed person be like?
A tree is the central metaphor of the Psalm.
?? What are the four traits of this tree?
(Firmly planted, fruitful, nourished – not withered leaves, prosperous)
I think there are many points that could be drawn out here. Recommend this book.
Where a tree is planted is important and can determine how well it will grow. Is it getting water, sunlight, nutrients from the soil? A tree needs these things and will make efforts to get them. A tree can send out its roots in a certain direction or its branches in a particular direction in order to reach toward the water or the sun.
?? What spiritual implications do you see here? How do we put down spiritual roots? How do we become firmly planted as a believer? What is our spiritual source of water and nourishment?
John 15:5-6; 1 Peter 2:2; John 7:37-39
Someone read John 15:5-6. While there are things we need to do, we also want to be sure that we are depending on God and not on ourselves. It is easy to drift into self-reliance and self-sufficiency. But as Christians our reliance and sufficiency should be in Jesus and the Word of God. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. I think we can easily reverse it: I am the vine and Jesus the branches.
As we continue in Psalm 1, look at verse 4 which provides a contrast to being a firmly planted tree. What happens to the wicked?
?? Looking at verse 5, what will not happen to the wicked or sinful?
Is anyone else confused about what it means that the wicked will not stand in the judgment? This used to cause me confusion. It almost sounds like the wicked will not be judged.
The word stand in verse 5 is a different word in Hebrew than the word stand in verse 1. Stand is being used in a different sense in verse 5. Essentially here in verse 5, it means that the wicked or sinful will not have a leg to stand on in the judgment. It will not go well for them. The second phrase of verse 5 and then verse 6 brings clarity too.
?? In the final verse, verse 6, how are the righteous and the wicked contrasted?
There are 2 ways: way of righteous and wicked.
As Christians, how will we stand in the judgment because we still sin – none of us are perfect? Think of the sermon from 2 weeks ago on Ephesians chapter 2, particularly verses 8-9. How is it that we will stand in the judgment as believers?
(We will stand in the righteousness of Christ, not our own righteousness. Saved by grace through faith in Christ.)
At the beginning of the lesson, I asked you about how we typically think of blessing.
?? How did those answers compare with how this Psalm portrays blessing?
There are striking parallels or similarities between Psalm 1 and Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. To bring things to a close, I will read Matthew 5:3-11 and 7:13-14 (the beginning and end of the Sermon on the Mount.)
Jesus tells us what being blessed is about, and speaks of 2 paths that lead to life or destruction. We are blessed if we are poor in spirit, meek, merciful, persecuted…This week contemplate this biblical view of blessing as portrayed in Psalm 1 and the Sermon on the Mount.