One of, if not my favorite book of the Bible is the book of Psalms. In the first six psalms, as David reflected on Yahweh’s instruction (Deut 17:14-20), David established the individual and corporate daily need of King Yahweh.
In Psalms 1-6, we see constant meditation on King Yahweh’s instruction, immediate submission to King Yahweh, and daily confidence in King Yahweh.
Constant Meditation on King Yahweh’s Instruction
In Psalm 1, the psalmist contrasts the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. A major characteristic of a righteous man is seeking to understand Yahweh’s instruction (cf. Deut 17:18-20). In Psalm 1:2 the psalmist states, “Instead, his delight is in the Yahweh’s instruction, and he meditates.” The word for meditate means “to mutter.” It is used of animals which coo and growl. In Psalm 1 the word means to read in an undertone and paints the picture of muttering while meditating. It’s like when you are thinking about a situation so much that you’re almost talking to yourself. The word is a picture of more than just meditating but also pictures murmuring or whispering (Craigie, 58.N2a). It is the same word in Psalm 2:1 when David states, “Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain?”
- it “begins with the memorization of divine instruction so that along the way by day, or on the bed at night, one could recall it and think about”
- it “requires a full understanding of” divine instruction
- it allows one to “speak to God about the word, turning its ideas and concerns into prayer”
- it “concludes with self-exhortation-rebuking, exhorting, or encouraging”
These four marks have to identify our meditation in God’s word.
Immediate Submission to King Yahweh
Psalm 2 is placed after Psalm 1 for a number of reasons that we won’t get into here but on major reason is the call to immediate application of meditating on King Yahweh. Psalm 2:10-12 calls for immediate reaction to King Yahweh. We should daily immediately “be wise; receive instruction…Serve Yahweh with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son” and know that “All those who take refuge in Him are blessed.”
Daily Confidence in King Yahweh
In Psalm 3-5 David not only expresses his individual need for King Yahweh but as the King of Israel he speaks for the national need of King Yahweh. These chapters establish our need and our longing for King Yahweh in our own lives. These chapters form a series that is connected by two main characteristics: (1) their genre classifications; and (2) their usage.
First, consider the genre classification of the four Psalms. All four psalms are classified as “A psalm of David” (Yes that small font that is not in italics or bold is part of the inspired Hebrew Text and we should read it when we read the psalms).
- Psalm 3 begins “A psalm of David when he fled from his son Absalom” and ends with “For the choir director: with stringed instruments.”
- Psalm 4 begins “A Davidic psalm” and ends “For the choir director: with the flutes.”
- Psalm 5 begins “A Davidic psalm” and ends “For the choir director: with stringed instruments, according to Sheminith.”
- Psalm 6 begins “A Davidic psalm.”
Secondly, consider the use of the four Psalms. Psalm 3 serves as a morning prayer. Psalm 3:5 states, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because Yahweh sustains me.” Psalm 4 is an evening prayer as David states, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Yahweh, make me live in safety” (Ps. 4:8). David then supplies a morning psalm and states in Psalm 5:3 “At daybreak, Yahweh, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.” The last of the collection is an evening psalm as David states, “I am weary from my groaning; with my tears I dampen my pillow and drench my bed every night” (Ps. 6:6).
Psalm 3 has been noted “is most appropriately placed after Psalm 2 when one considers it in the light of 2 Sam 7:11-16 and 12:10-14” (Grogan, 46). The psalm is significant as the first psalm after the introductory psalms (Pss. 1-2) as it reflects an attitude toward God “that will be repeated time and again” (Grogan, 46). The psalm is significantly places as Book I of the Psalter (Psalms 1-41) emphasizes the continual nature of the righteous one to seek and to know the refuge and relationship of King Yahweh.
Psalm 4 maintains similar motifs. In Psalm 3 David states, “I lie down and sleep, I wake up again” (3:5) whereas in Psalm 4 David states, “I will both lie down and sleep in peace” (4:8). Both Psalms express confidence in Yahweh’s refugee (3:7-8; 4:5,7-8). Perowne suggests, “The interval between the two Psalms or the occasions to which they refer may only have been the interval between the morning and evening of the same day” (Perowne, Psalms, 1:126). Although there are similarities between the psalms there is nothing that demands that Psalm 3 and 4 be connect in their individual historical contexts. There does seem to be a different historical context (Anderson, Psalms, 1:76). However, the similarity in themes allows for David as the compiler of Book I of Psalms to place the two psalms together for his own theological reasons.
Psalm 5 is a morning prayer like Psalm 3 but in Psalm 5 the David faced a different threat. In Psalm 3 the threat was Absalom but in Psalm 5 the threat is a group of people lying maliciously about him. The juxtaposition of morning-evening psalms continues to emphasis the emphasis of seeking Yahweh continually, both morning and evening. Although the group of people is different than in Psalm 3, the advisories demonstrate continuity between Psalm 4 and 5. Psalm 4:2 states, “How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted? How long will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie?” David states in Psalm 5, “You destroy those who tell lies; Yahweh abhors a man of bloodshed and treachery” (v. 6). In Psalm 5, David concludes, “But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, Yahweh, bless the righteous one; You surround him with favor like a shield (vv. 11-12). The psalm reminds and teaches us that we need to call for the protection of King Yahweh every morning (cf. Ps. 3:3, 5; 5:3, 12).
Psalm 6 is an evening psalm like Psalm 4. Both Psalms begin with the psalmist calling for God to be gracious to him (cf. 4:1; 6:2). But in Psalm 6 David responds to God’s severe chastening. In Psalm 6, as in Psalms 3-5, “Confidence in divine help overcomes the dangers of illness and of an unjust society that ignores the weak” (Gerstenberger, Psalms, I:63). Psalm 6:8-10 serve as a conclusion to Psalm 3-6 as it expresses assurance in Yahweh’s reception of prayer (6:8-9) and confidence that Yahweh will act against of the psalmists oppression (6:10). Thus in Psalm 6, as well as Psalms 3-5, “The psalmist’s faith, in other words, outstripped the reality of any change in his physical condition” (Craigie, Psalms, 1:95). These psalms then point us to King Yahweh and to have faith in Him in any circumstance.
Whatever our situation may be, the betrayal of a close relative or friend, the oppression of the wicked, liars who come against us, or God’s chastening, we have a daily need for King Yahweh in our lives. These psalms refocus us on King Yahweh. We need to constantly meditate on King Yahweh’s instruction, immediately respond to King Yahweh, and have daily confidence and faith in King Yahweh.