Psalms 1-10
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Psalms 1-10

Original Publication Date
June 17, 2017
Updated
May 18, 2023 3:48 AM
Tags
Chapter StudyPsalmsBook 1Messianic ProphecySymbolismProphecyCovenantJusticeDavid
Bible References
Psalms 1-10
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Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on June 17, 2017 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

This post covers the first 10 Psalms of the book of Psalms. All 10 of these Psalms belong to what scholars identify as Book I.

Psalm Summaries

Psalms 1 and 2: An Introduction to Psalms?

The first two Psalms are some times set apart from Book I. They are unique in that they serve as an introduction to Psalms as a whole and if compared/contrasted one can pick up discussion of the old covenant in Psalm 1 and discussion of the new covenant in Psalm 2.[8]

Psalm 1

Psalm 1 compares us to trees; the comparison between man and trees is common in the Bible; it occurs again in Psalm 92 and Jeremiah 17. This comparison is often followed by a statement about the fruit we bear. John 15 is another comparison of men and trees, and John 15:5 tells us that only those who trust in God can bear fruit. a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Psalm 1 introduces this idea, by informing us that the man who delights in God's law will be a prosperous tree. This person will not wither, but will remain strong.

I think there are several things to point out from this. First, the psalmist is referencing a man who delights in God's law. Many people feel the law is burdensome or a chore, but when we truly surrender our heart to God, the law become something we want to follow. God doesn't want us begrudgingly keeping His commands.

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An important thing to note about Psalm 1 is that it describes the righteous as someone who delights in the law of God; they are separated from the wicked by their obedience. This person meditates on the law day and night. This mirrors the covenant God made with Israel at Sinai. They were to bind the law to their forehead (mind) and hand (actions), teach them to their children, and read them each Sabbath. It is for this reason that people connect this Psalm with the old covenant and see it as a representative of the Old Testament

Another thing to note is the notion of being fruitful even during the winter. I have seen commentaries that suggest this passage is about skipping seasons. In Believers Bible Commentary, William MacDonald suggests people who follow God will be like evergreen trees. While this may be a valid comparison, I want to point out that Psalm 1:3 does say "bringeth forth his fruit in his season." This seems to corroborate Job's situation that we have seasons of blessing from God. We may not lose anything during the "off" season (i.e., never wither), but we may not produce fruit all year, either.

For a Jewish perspective on the Old Testament's comparison of men to trees, see this article from Aish.com.

Psalm 2

Psalm 2 seems to focus on leadership in the world. It starts by asking us the simple question: "Why do the heathen rage?" Anger is not of God, and yet, it permeates through our society. Even I have been known for my short temper, unfortunately.

However, this psalm is focused on heathen kings who are coming together against God. Likely, the psalmist was referencing the nations that literally fought against Israel throughout his time. When reading the books of history (

through
📕
Nehemiah
), it is obvious that many nations not only attacked Israel, but created alliances with other nations in an effort to destroy God's nation. It could also be prophetic or symbolic of future nations or people that come against God’s people.

God laughs at the world's foolish attempt to dethrone Him. He has already set a King on the throne for His nation and only those who serve Him will be prosperous.

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Psalm 2, in contrast to Psalm 1, speaks of people being blessed by their obedience to Messiah, the King God has appointed to His city. There is even a reference to “the Son” in the last verse. In this passage the nations of the earth are rallying against God—this could be interpreted as the battle of armageddon, literally discussing the nations of the psalmist’s day, or both. In this passage we see more new covenant language with the promise of the Messiah. This psalm is thought to represent the New Testament in this introductory pair.

Acts 4:25 designates authorship of this psalm (based on the opening line) to David.

Psalm 3

Psalm 3 follows the theme of Psalm 2, in that armies gather against God's people. The psalmist says that he is not afraid of 10,000 men that have placed themselves in opposition to him because he trusts in God. Many times the world feels exactly like this when we follow God's Will; it feels as though every one is against us and we are surrounded by an army. Like the psalmist, we can survive if we trust in the Lord.

🙏🏾 Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Interestingly, Psalm 3:5 may be the origin of the famous prayer we were all taught as children. There are several versions of this prayer (many listed here), but the one shown to the above is the version I learned as a child. A similar phrase is repeated in Psalm 4:8.

.

Psalm 4

Psalm 4 is a prayer. The question asked in this psalm is "how long will ye turn my glory into shame?" Since we were created in the image of God (or at least we were before sin was introduced into our lives), each time we sin we turn His glory to shame. The psalmist continues this idea by referencing vanity and leasing. The ESV translates the second half of the verse to vanity and lies. The NIV translate these words to delusions and false gods. The NKJV uses worthlessness and falsehoods.

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What is leasing? The KJV accuses the people of “leasing” which is lumped in with the sin of vanity. The original Hebrew translated here is כָּזָב, which means to lie or present a falsehood. It is interesting to me that today we used the term to refer to a process of owning something with out actually owning it (e.g., leasing a car, leasing a building, etc.)

The psalmist concludes that God has put gladness in his heart and that he has found safety in God.

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 talks about iniquity and the flattering tongue. Iniquity is disobedience to God; therefore, iniquity is sin.[3] Sinfulness often causes us to say things we have no business saying! God hates this behavior. We should follow His word, and in this, we need to watch what we say. We shouldn't speak falsely or angrily.

Psalm 6

Psalm 6 is a plea for deliverance from sin. The psalmist is struggling with something, we aren't told what, and confesses to being weak. He prays that God will have mercy on him to deliver him from this burden.

Psalm 7

Psalm 7 discusses the judgement of God on those who do wickedly. The psalmist notes that if he has done wrong, he expects to be judged by God accordingly. Near the end of the psalm, we are reminded that the wicked dig their own graves. When we turn away from God, we put ourselves in harms way; we need Him to steer us to safety and to protect us from harm.

Psalm 8

God created everything, including the stars, the planets, and the moon. So why are we special?

Psalm 8 tells us that we were made just "a little lower than the angels," yet we were still crowned with glory and honor (or are we? See the Messianic Prophecies below). How amazing is it that out of all we see, God regards us as special?

God gave us dominion over the Earth and over all He created on the planet. God has dominion over us just as we have dominion over the Earth; He has delegated this role to us. However, we should remember that just as God is just and merciful, so should we be toward our home. We should not be treating the Earth poorly or abusing the animals God gave us dominion over. I'm not God, so I can't speak for Him, but I'm sure if we aren't willing to take care of this Earth, He won't want us present in His new, perfect Earth...

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Checkout out the podcast episode
🎙️
Climate Change and Christianity
for more discussion on how we treat the planet.

Psalm 9

Psalm 9 declares that God is a refuge for those who believe in Him; that would make us refugees. I find this language interesting considering the current political climate in which many people want to deny refuge to refugees. Psalm 9 is a declaration that God will provide for the needy and the oppressed; many passages in the Old and New Testaments call us to do the same. So why is there confusion over helping those in need?

There is a pastor, whom I won't put on blast, that often disparages refugees from Syria (and other Middle Eastern countries) because they are Muslim. He believes that they're all agents of ISIS and the devil sent them to further corrupt the Western world and bring about Sharia law. When stacked up against God's Word, however, his logic doesn't hold. God never commands us to prevent the end of the world, in fact, the last words of the Bible are urging Jesus to come back quickly. As believers we should want suffering to end! Further, Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and our enemies. We are told to care for our neighbors, and here we are being told that God acts as a refuge for those in need. What's more, is that we are to spread His Light and His Word to others. It seems to me that it is obvious we should offering safety to those in need. We should be taking the opportunity to show the world God's love and hope that love wins hearts for God.

On a side note, Psalm 9:16 contains the word "Higgaion." Scholars aren't sure what the word means, but the closest they've come up with, given that it's paired with the enigmatic "Selah," is that an instrumental interlude was to be placed there.[7]

Psalm 10

The first thing I noticed about Psalm 10, was that the saying "I shall not be moved" was attributed to the wicked. "I Shall Not Be Moved" is also a hymn we sung in church when I was young. Immediately, I was confused. If this was a saying of the wicked, why would we sing it? To claim that one will not be moved, is to claim rightness and confidence. I can say that I will not be moved concerning my faith in God, or I could say that I will not be moved from committing sin. Throughout Psalms we see the act of not being moved flip from that of the righteous (who will not be moved from righteousness) to that of the wicked (who will not be moved from sin). The wicked possess the attitude that they will not be moved because they are vain and believe in themselves. The righteous are not moved because they trust in the Lord who steadies them.

Like Psalm 9, Psalm 10 reminds us that God hears the humble and looks out for the oppressed. The wicked are described as being set against the poor and the fatherless (orphans). The law commanded the Israelites to look out for the poor and Jesus reiterated these commands for believers today. This is stressed once again in Psalms 10, so it must be important.

Messianic Verses

2 of the 10 psalms in this group have Messianic prophecies in their verses: Psalm 2 and Psalm 8.

Psalm 2:7

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

📚 Psalm 2:7 KJV

In Psalm 2:7, the psalmist declares that God has a Son who was begotten. Jesus is referred to as God's only begotten son in John 3:16. Also, in Matthew 3:17, after Jesus is baptized, God speaks from Heaven and acknowledges Jesus as His son. Leading in to Psalm 2:7, Psalm 2:6 discusses a king God has set on the throne; this king is obviously His Son, Jesus. Some have suggested these words to be about David, since kings were seen as gods or sons of gods by many cultures. However, scholars overwhelmingly agree that these words seem to more likely to be about Jesus.[1]

The Psalm ends by instructing us to kiss the Son and promising that those who place their faith in Him (the Son) will be blessed.

Some suggest the entirety of Psalm 2 is prophetic.[4] The psalm tells us kings gathered against the King, just as people came against Jesus before He was crucified and just as they will again at the battle of Armageddon. A complete comparison of Messianic prophecies in Psalm 2 can be found at Messiah Revealed.

Psalm 8

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

📚 Psalm 8:2 KJV

Upon reading Psalm 8:2, I certainly wouldn't think of this as a Messianic prophecy. However, most study Bibles, commentaries, and websites, list it as a prophecy. Why is this listed?

In Matthew 21:16, Jesus quotes this exact verse. Prior to quoting the verse, Jesus heals the blind and the lame, and the children cry out praises for Jesus which upsets the chief priests. When confronted, Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2.

Psalm 8:2 tells us that God gave these children strength because of His enemies—these enemies would be the chief priests who were teaching and following man-made laws.

I don't know if this verse is foretelling that Jesus would be praised by the children, or simply establishing the fact that God reveals true praise through children. Whichever the case, it has been proven that children as young as 3 years old can tell if a person is trustworthy or not![5]

Psalm 8:6

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

Earlier, I pointed out that the idea that God created us a little lower than the angels comes from Psalm 8:5. Just before this verse, in Psalm 8:4, there is reference to the son of man. In the New Testament, Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man 88 times![6]

Is Psalm 8:4 referring to the descendants of men or of Jesus? If we're talking about Jesus, it is Jesus who was created a little lower than the angels. Before we get really confused, this would be in reference to His time as a man, not to His existence in general (obviously Jesus is much higher than the angels!) Following this psalm with "son of man" referencing Jesus, we get to Psalm 8:6: this would then be a statement of Jesus' reign as king over all.

Matthew 28:18 and Hebrews 2:6-9 seem to be given to directly confirm this view of the text and show that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies. Hebrews 2 actually quotes Psalms 8.

The Meaning of Selah

Scholars are unsure what selah means; it appears frequently in Psalms and occasionally in Habbakuk, but no where else in the Bible. It is thought that the word was derived from Hebrew words meaning "to praise," "to lift up," and "to pause." Since the psalms are often prayers and songs, it is possible that selah was a musical instruction for performers.[2]

References and Footnotes

  1. "Psalm 2:7". Bible Hub; visited June 2017
  2. "What does selah mean in the Bible?". GotQuestions.org; visited June 2017
  3. "What is iniquity according to the Bible?. GotQuestions.org; visited June 2017
  4. "Psalms". Messiah Revealed; visited June 2017
  5. Emma Innes. "Toddlers DO know best: Children as young as three can tell by a person's face if they're trustworthy". Daily Mail. March 6, 2014
  6. "What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of Man?". GotQuestions.org; visited June 2017
  7. "Higgaion". Bible Study Tools; visited June 2017
  8. “The Book of Psalms”. The Bible Project. visited April 2023

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