Bible reading for April 1 -- Leviticus 4; Psalms 1-2.
The two-year M'Cheyne reading schedule (arranged by D. A. Carson) covers the NT + Psalms + 1/2 OT. The second year is the same but with the second half of the OT. The Psalms reading is the second reading of the day for the next several weeks, and once we finish the Psalms we go back to the NT readings. You can download a PDF of this reading schedule here.
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:1-2)
Israel's hymnbook. The Psalms are prayers, laments, and praise to God written in Hebrew poetic form. This was Israel's hymnbook and was sung or recited in worship, both congregational and private. Most of the Psalms were written by King David (c. 1000 BC), though other authors are included, such as Moses, Asaph, and the sons of Korah. We should read the Psalms a bit differently than law or history because of the use of figures of speech, imagery, and poetic repetition. Most of the verses are written in couplet form (or triplet), where the first statement is rephrased in the second, or a contrast is given, or there is some build-up of ideas. More on this as we go through the Psalms together.
The first two psalms introduce us to the book of Psalms. The first psalm describes the blessedness of walking in the way of the Lord: "Blessed is the man..." (1:1) The second psalm speaks of the blessedness of finding refuge in God's Son, who is King over all the nations: "Blessed are all who take refuge in him" (2:12). The focus of the first psalm is the Law and of the second is the King. Together they teach us that we are blessed when we walk in the ways of the Lord and take refuge in his Son! Like the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy) the Psalms are organized into five collections, or books.
Psalm 1. The two primary images here are, first, the tree planted by flowing streams of water (v. 1-3) and secondly, the chaff, or outer husks of wheat or barley which are blown away by the wind (v. 4-6). They contrast two ways of living, and describe two ultimate destinies. We are blessed (that is, we have a glorious future ahead) if we turn aside from worldly thinking and meditate upon God's word. An important note here for all of us who read our Bibles: it is not ten or fifteen minutes each morning, reading a passage and then ticking it off our schedule, that is commended here. It is taking delight (loving the Word) and meditating (thinking deeply about it) and doing this "day and night" (continually through the day into the evening). Let's never view our Bible reading as a box we check off. For me, journaling, memorization, and sharing with others what I have read help me to keep God's word fresh in my mind.
En Gedi, in the photo above, was a place in the barren wilderness of Judea where David would find refuge from his enemies. Many streams in Israel are seasonal, but En Gedi has a strong flowing water supply. People could plant date palms and fig trees nearby such streams for food. When David was hiding out or exiled -- not unlike our shelter-in-place quarantines today -- there was not much to do but rest and meditate upon the word of God. (No internet!) Perhaps it was in this location that David first thought that meditating on God's word was being "like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season..." (Ps 1:3). So, how are you spending your exile? Let's not waste our quarantine!
Psalm 2. We are blessed if we walk in God's ways, and we are blessed when we honor, submit to, and seek refuge in God's Son, the King. David was aware that one of his descendants will rule the nations. This "anointed one" is called the Messiah (Hebrew term) or the Christ (Greek term). This psalm teaches us that, despite the rebellion of the nations against God, the divinely appointed King will inherit and rule the earth. At first reading, verse 7, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you", may sound like it speaks of the relationship between the Father and Son before time began, or perhaps at the incarnation, when Christ took on human nature at his birth. But most likely this is to be understood as the King's enthronement, as seen in the previous verse: "I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill" (2:6). This is further explained by the Apostle Paul as being Christ's resurrection: "...this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" (Acts 13:33). Also, that Jesus "...was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead..." (Rom 1:3-4).
The Law and the King! These first two psalms teach us the inseparability of God's Word and God's Son. We should not study the Scriptures without personal trust in, and allegiance to, Christ himself as Lord and Savior. Nor should we think that we can follow Christ our King without continued study and application of God's written Word. They go together in the life of the believer.
Image credit: Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, photo from land-of-the-bible.com.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.