Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity: Part I

Introduction: The denial of the truth of the Trinity is common through the ages. The standard used for its denial is man’s sin-tainted and corrupted reasoning. The truth of the Trinity is embedded throughout the Bible including Psalm 1. The four-part series: Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity helps unpack truths regarding Himself as the three-in-one God. It is not by accident that the organizer of the Psalter begins in this way.

v.1: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers.
v.2: But his delight is the law of the Lord and on his law he mediates on it day and night.
v.3: He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. What he does prospers.

The doctrine of the Trinity is exclusively a Christian doctrine. Throughout the ages, mankind using reason divorced from biblical truth has attacked the truth of the Triune God. They have tried to fit God into their framework and understanding. Through the centuries the Church has stood firm in the Three-ness of God in His Oneness – diversity and unity. Yet even with this history, churches and individuals fall prey to relying on human logic divorced from biblical truth: “If it does not fit my understanding then it can’t be.” Moreover, Bible-believing Christians can think and function in an anti-Trinitarian manner without actually denying the doctrine of the Trinity. They do this by focusing on the Father and or the Son with little reference to the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is certainly difficult (no doubt impossible) for a person to fathom using natural reason and especially since man’s reasoning a capacity is affected by sin. But the doctrine of the Trinity is not self-contradictory. God knows who He is!

There is no word Trinity in the Bible and there is no one “proof text” for its fact. Yet the truth of the Trinity is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. Examining the Bible in its entirety is the key principle for proper interpretation of any truth. The Bible is not wax that can be turned any way to match man’s sin-cursed reasoning (theologians speak of this fact as the noetic effect of sin. As a result of Adam’s sin, man’s thinking is disoriented in terms of the diagnosis, definition, description, and direction of and for a solution to man and his problems. Nous is the Greek word translated as mind). Man is to discover the mind of God – His thoughts – as He has revealed Himself in His word and by the Word – Jesus Christ.

In the Garden Pre-fall, Adam and Eve were to interpret God and His word and the world from God’s perspective. After sin, they interpretation of God, themselves, and the creation is a sinful manner. Man was designed interpret God’s revelation from God’s perspective. This is a supernatural activity which God has graced the believer to accomplish. But there was no sin in the Garden Pre-fall. So pre-fall, Adam and Eve did not need saving grace. But they did need enabling grace to rightly interpret God and His world.

Post-fall, they lost the ability to rightly interpret God’s revelation. They relied on their own wanting and thinking. Their thinking and wanting was not godly; it was satanic: for me, to me, by me. They bought the lie. Only by saving grace in a person with a changed heart would enable a person to rightly interpret God, self, others, and the world.

Psalm 1 and 2 are critical for understanding the Psalter. Moreover, Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity  offers insights into the presence of the Triune God in the Old Testament. They focus on the importance of the law and law-keeping (Psalm 1) and a person – King Christ and the lesser king, David (Psalm 2). They focus on the kingdom – God’s perpetual dynasty and dwelling place mirrored in the theocracy of Israel which would give way to the Church after Jesus came (Galatians 3:29; 6:16; Ephesians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 2:9-10).

Throughout the Psalter, you encounter the truth that two kings and two kingdoms merge into one – God’s kingdom headed by King Christ. The Holy Spirit is not missing from God’s covenantal kingdom activity. Thus, it should not surprise us that the psalms, some more than others, bear the marks of the Trinity. Psalm 1 is one of those psalms. This series: Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity helps shed light on the truth of the Trinity.

Psalm 1 and 2 form a unit. They present the Law (Torah – God’s word) and the person- predominantly the king – speaking, receiving, heeding, and applying it to himself and the people. Psalm 1 emphasizes God’s word from the Triune God to the lesser and greater David and the nation of Israel. Thus, Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity helps view monotheism through the grid of the three-in one God. It also emphasize the lesser David’s words as the king of Israel. Psalm 2 highlights the king/King – God’s representative – who is to establish a kingdom of knowledge, righteousness, and peace. In Israel as the king went so went the nation. Surely the people bore responsibility for their own sins but the king was God’s man to lead the people as God’s prophet, priest, and king. His sin brought corporate and individual repercussions.

Psalm 1 has profound significance for individual believers as they move through life. But the psalm must be considered in a broader, redemptive-historical context. In that sense, the psalm focuses primarily on the messiah and ultimately the Messiah – Jesus Christ. However, Psalm 1: Its significance and the Trinity is also seen in the context of the Trinity. Jesus Christ is the one who read, delighted in, mediated on, and applied the Torah – God’s word – through the agency of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-5; Matthew 3;17). He was discipled by the Father and lived by the very word of God again through the agency of the Spirit (Matthew 4:4: Jesus answered: it is written: Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God). His relationship with the Triune God motivated His thoughts, desires, and actions. Jesus delighted in the Word of God because of the indwelling Holy Spirit (at His baptism and in the wilderness).

1. The Psalter is composed of 150 Psalms about half of them authored by David. Psalms 1 and 2 form a pillar for the Psalter.
a. The emphasis of Psalm 1 is what and on whom?
b. The emphasis of psalm 2 is what and on whom?
c. What is your response?
2. Verses 1-3 of Psalm 1 describe a supernatural activity:
a. What is it and what are its results?
b. Verses 4-6 focus on whom?
3. The picture of water and fruit bearing in Psalm 1 pictures the result of God’s grace in the believer’s life. How do these verses apply to Jesus and to you?

Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity: Part II
The Man of Psalm 1

Continuing the series: Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity, it is important to recognize that  Psalm 1 does not simply describe “everyman” – the individual believer. As should all the Psalms, the text is to be understood within the history of Israel and as a tool for revealing God’s redemptive story. God gave Israel a king as a prelude to the greatest gift – King Jesus Christ, the greater David of the Church and all of creation. Of note, David imperfectly and Jesus perfectly did more than simply represent the Triune God and His rule. The privilege and burden of being God’s man was part of the fabric of their being and their role as king/King. David imperfectly and Christ perfectly was the man blessed as given in Psalm 1 (v.1-2). Because of the coming Christ, the concept of kingship and kingdom in Israel continued long after kings no longer existed in Israel.

Rightly interpreted, the theocracy even at its loss looked forward to and anticipated the Church and the true king, King Jesus. Christ is the ultimate man who was not influenced (verse 1: he did not walk, stand, or sit in the position and influence of those opposed to God. Opposing to God is defined as by that anti-god and self-pleasing thoughts, desires, and action. Rather, He was the Man par excellence who delighted in and mediated on God and His word (verse 2). As a result He was the Victor who secured victory His way for the Triune God, Himself, and His people (verse 3). Jesus was a winner even though He came to earth and was considered a loser (Isaiah 52:14-53:10)!

Jesus could never get enough of the Father – they were One both in function and harmony and in essence (John 10:30). Jesus proclaimed this truth regularly only to be met with hatred and disdain. Jesus was the essence of light in contrast to darkness, truth in contrast to falsehood, wisdom in contrast to foolishness, and trust in the Lord in contrast to trust in self. King David, the lesser David, was a man after God’s own heart and one anointed by the Spirit (Psalm 89:20; 1 Samuel 16:13; Psalm 78:70-72; 89:20; Acts 13:22). Yet he was not Jesus!

Jesus, too, was a man after God’s own heart who had been discipled by the Father from eternity past (John 4:31-34; 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:26; 9:4; 10:37-38; 12:49-50; 4:31; 15:30; 17:14). Israel’s king was to imitate King Christ and rely on the law of the Lord and make it his delight (Deuteronomy 17:14-20 especially verses 18-19). So, too, are believers in every age.

By the Triune God’s eternal design, the kings including David failed which set the stage for the coming of the true King, Jesus Christ. The Trinity was at work. Just as Jesus and the Father are One, so, too, are He and the Holy Spirit One (John 10:30; 14:15-17). Just as the Father is truth (John 4:23-24), so, too is Christ (John 8:31-32; 14:6) and the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:12-13). Similarly, just as God is light (1 John 1:5), so too, is the Son light (John 8:12; 9:5) and the Spirit gives light (Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:14-19). The activity of any member of the Trinity especially the Spirit is never done independently of the Triune God (John 16:13). One is Three and Three is One! The Son ushered in the Kingdom age. The truth and significance of His coming as the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan was clarified by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Acts 2). God saves and sanctifies as the Triune God. These truths are a blessing to all believers in every age and are to be used well.

1. Describe the two men in Psalm 1.
2. Each man had certain characteristics: what were they?
3. How did David as king though imperfectly fit the description? How did Jesus fit the description?
4. Psalm 1 focuses on a mindset: what is it?

Psalm 1: Two Ways of Living: Part III

v.1: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of scoffers.
v.2: But his delight is the law of the Lord and on his law he mediates on it day and night.
v.3: He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. What he does prospers.

We continued the series Psalm I: Its significance and the Trinity. Embedded in the six verses of Psalm 1 is also a picture of mankind: the people; their path or way; and their prospect or destiny (verses 1-3 and verses 4-6). This short psalm draws attention to the doctrine of two ways which is a universal theme in the Bible: the wise man and the fool. Jeremiah 17:7-8 highlights and proclaims this truth to rebellious Israel (But blessed is the man who trusts in Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the streams…). Solomon via the Holy Spirit proclaims this truth in Proverbs 3:5-8. Trust in the Lord is relational and manifested by trust in His Word including the Torah and resultant faithful, loving obedience.

Psalm 1 presents an antithetical way of life as it describes two groups of people (righteous who are headed by Christ or the wicked who are headed by Satan); their respective paths (trust and fear of God and love of the law as imitators of Christ or trust in self and a disdain for God and His law following Satan); and their prospect or destiny (blessedness in this life and the next in the eternal presence of God or misery, curses, and condemnation now or in hell).

The psalm is simple in one sense and quite profound in another. The righteous and wicked are deemed such and are judged on the basis of their response to God and His revealed truth which is ultimately Jesus Christ and the Bible (John 8:31-31; 17:17). Their response is evidence of their heart. Continued competition with God reflects an unchanged heart or at least one still hard. Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity helps believers grasp the perspective that the truth – the Torah and the Doer of it are activities of the Triune God.

Isaiah wrote that the Messiah, as was the lesser David, would be empowered by the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit would rest on (or be deposited) in Him. Jesus was secured in and by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-5; 1 Samuel 16:13). The Spirit would be one of wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Jesus was some kind of Messiah because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are One AND Three! Based on the promise of God’s presence and the indwelling Spirit, Israel and her kings should have looked forward to and imitated the greater David. What they failed to do the Son through the Spirit accomplished in and by His Messianic ministry. He was the true King and the new Israel.

Verse 1 of Psalm 1 highlights the truths that there is one Blesser – The Triune God – often considered as the Father; and one who is blessed – His Son and His children both individually and corporately. The term blessed refers to God’s activity. It refers to God’s gift to a person – initiated and given by God. It is something God does to and for the person. John 6:37-43 records the Intratrinitarian transaction in which God the Father gifted Christ with a people who He would not lose. Secure in the Holy Spirit, He would precede His people into heaven as the Author and Perfecter of faith. Jesus leads His people to the heavenly tabernacle not made by human hands in order for them to be with and to enjoy glorious fellowship with Triune God eternally (Hebrews 6:13-20; 9:11-14;10:19-22).

To bless in the Old Testament carried the idea of enduing with power, success, and prosperity. It carries the idea of an abundant life from the hand of a loving, faithful God. It speaks to God’s covenantal faithfulness – God makes and keeps promises to Himself as the Triune God and to His people and even to His enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

No matter how many promises God has made in eternity past, their fulfillment is yes in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Christ is God’s yes. One of Christ’s greatest desires was expressed in His prayer to the Father (John 17) which also helps to understand Jesus’ words recorded earlier in John 6:37-43. The night before the cross Jesus prayed and requested that His people would behold and experience God’s glory: Father I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world: 17:24.

The word behold indicates more than a mere purely sensual experience. It indicates depth and understanding of the reality and nature of the Triune God based on saving faith biblical truth. Jesus’ prayer has an eternal perspective but it also has a temporal fulfillment. For the believer, resurrection life begins in the temporal world at regeneration (John 17:3; Romans 6:1-10).

What was the glory that John and the apostles “saw” on this earth and how did they see it? It was not His outward appearance because Jesus had veiled His glory when He took on a body at the Incarnation (Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3; Philippians 2:5-8). Nor was it His essential, eternal glory for no one can see it in in this world and live. Rather, John writes that they were to see with spiritual eyes – the eyes of saving faith: 2 Corinthians 5:7. With physical eyes, they saw sensually – with their spiritual eyes but they interpreted what they saw. They saw a man named Jesus but they also saw the Messiah – Christ the Person. They began to see through the physical to the reality of who He was.

They began to rightly understand His Messianic work as they would view Him through the grid of saving and sanctifying grace received by saving faith through the activity of the Spirit (John 1:17; 3:3-8). Truth was their interpretative grid for Christ, His work, and themselves. Beholding the glory of God is one of the greatest privileges God’s children have. This beholding is a result of the work of the Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and the second Paraclete sent by the Father and the Son (John 14:16, 26; 15:26-27; 16:13).

Jesus anticipated that the apostles would be encouraged and comforted by the truth of beholding the glory of God. He had been encouraged and comforted by this truth throughout life on earth as the Messiah. It was unthinkable to that Jesus and the Triune God was not in sync. He knew He would return to glory as the first fruits and as the exalted Lord of lords and King of kings (Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 12:1-3).

Jesus thought Intratrinitarian continually. A good example of this fact is recorded by John. Philip spoke to Jesus and said that the apostles would be satisfied and contented if Jesus would just show/demonstrate to them the Father (John 14:6-9). At that point, the apostles had missed the truth of the Triune God much as would Pilate with his unchanged heart (John 18:36-39). Truth personified was before Pilate and the apostles. God was being revealed by the Son through the Holy Spirit to the apostles (John 1:14, 18). Each missed the reality of the glorious God, Pilate apparently forever and the apostles for only a time.

The Holy Spirit was to bring the fullness of the truth and the glory of God through Christ to His people (John 14:16-18; 15:26; 16:13-15). The fullness of His work was first made manifest at Pentecost which in itself expressed the unity of the Trinity (Acts 2). The One God was always One but as God unfolded His redemptive plan the Oneness was in evidence in God’s Three-ness. Each person of the Trinity functioned to bring the new creation and new creatures (John 1:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Life and light came to individual believers and to Israel and the Church (Ephesians 2:18). They also came to the world which remains in darkness unless the Holy Spirit works within the people of the world. The world is that system characterized by pro-self, anti-God and arrogantly and ignorantly attempts to suppress truth of and about God and self. It is doomed for misery and failure in this life and the life to come.

1. The Trinity speaks of the Three and Oneness of God. Intratrinitarian harmony is evidenced in the making of the plan, in working the plan, in accomplishing its purpose, and in glorifying in its effectiveness.
a. Jesus was discipled by the Father: What does that mean and of what is it a sign?
b. Where does the Holy Spirit fit into that “process?”
2. What comfort do you have for knowing that salvation and life after salvation (growth in Christ) is an Intratrinitarian activity?
3. How do you function as one who believes in the Trinity and its significance?

Psalm 1: Its significance and the Trinity: Part IV
Jesus as the Man in Psalm 1

This is the conclusion of the series: Psalm 1: Its significance and the Trinity. Earlier in his gospel, John wrote that The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen the glory of the One and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (1:14). The Father’s glory is the Son’s glory and vice versa. John continues: Jesus is the Revealer and Explainer of the Father: No one has ever seen God but God the One and Only who is at the Father’s side has made him know (1:18). How is that possible? The Triune God makes it clear. We have to have eyes to see and ears to hear which requires the monergistic, sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 1:15-18; 3:14-19; Titus 3:5).

As the God-man, Jesus required the presence of the Holy Spirit but not for regeneration. Isaiah helps clarify the work of the Spirit in the Messiah long before Jesus came to earth. The Messiah was prepared by the Holy Spirit who equipped Jesus for His task as the Peacemaker and Peace-bringer (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 11:1-5). We also know that the Son was discipled by the Father (John 4:31-34; 5:19, 30 to mention a few references).

It is amazing to think that the Triune God in eternity past was functioning as Teacher-Student. It is not a matter of subordination. It is a matter of functionality and explaining to mortal, sin-cursed people that the Trinity is, has been, and will continue to eternally. It also points to the tremendous preparation for Jesus’ Messianic coming. Perhaps you, as I have, assumed that Jesus “one day jumped out heaven” to become man on earth.However, thinking as a Trinitarian, we know that Jesus was being prepared for this heaven-shaking, earth-shattering event that we call the Incarnation. Moreover, on earth, Jesus is Immanuel, the Prince of Peace who is present – God with us (Matthew 1:23). He is the Suffering Servant through the agency of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-5; 53:1-11; Matthew 1:21, 23; 3:17; Ephesians 2:14-15). He is the Victor sustained in life and death by the Holy Spirit.

John further described the work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit rested on Jesus (John 1:33; 14:16-17; also see Colossians 1:19; 2:9). This is not a simple influence or force but the third person of the Trinity who was distinct from the Father and the Son. Both John and Isaiah are not referring to the human spirit but to the Holy Spirit. Luke emphasized the necessity of the Spirit for Jesus’ Messianic ministry in Luke 4:18-19 when Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61.

The presence and work of the Holy Spirit is at least twofold: Jesus required the activity of the Spirit. Jesus was indwelt and anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 9:6; 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17; 4:1; John 1:32-33; 16:13-14) as was the lesser David (1 Samuel 16:13). The establishment of the Kingdom was a supernatural activity. It required a King, a king, a Kingdom, and a kingdom. Jesus was designated, qualified, and equipped for His Messianic task of establishing the Kingdom. King David was a non-redemptive and imperfect picture of the king. He was a type of Christ but he was not Christ. Israel’s king was not to function as prophet and priest. Uzziah discovered the consequences of this truth (2 Chronicles 26:19). The offices were separate pointing to the one true Prophet, Priest, and King – Jesus Christ.

As prophet, Jesus was most qualified having been discipled by the Father and influenced and even illumined by the Spirit. Only the true Prophet could fully explain who the Father is (John 1:18). As a result, Jesus loved the law, He mediated on it constantly, and He applied it constantly influenced by the Spirit (Psalm 1:2-3). So, too are believers (Psalm 119:47-48, 97-105)

Second, the Spirit is the regenerating Spirit so that God’s people have eyes to see and ears to hear. The disciples beheld Christ’s glory but only because of the Spirit’s work in them individually as believers and as God’s agents to deliver the good news to all people. They were slow to grasp these truths but grasp them they did after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2)!

Consider verse 2 of Psalm 1: But his delight is the law of the Lord and on his law he mediates on it day and night. Why would the organizer of the Psalter place this statement so early in the Psalter? Moreover, how is it possible for someone to enjoy and delight in the law of God such that it his constant companion? Psalm 1 begins by drawing a sharp contrast between the mindset of God’s man – the king (Israel’s temporal kings) and the King – Jesus Christ. There were no good kings in the Northern Kingdom (they did evil in the eyes of the Lord was a constant refrain) and there were a few good kings in the Southern Kingdom: he did what was right in the eyes of Lord as his father David had done).

The kings pointed to Christ and what a true king is and should be. Jesus delighted in the Lord and His word. He was discipled by the Father and energizes and equipped by the Holy Spirit such that He “ate” the word (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). It was His main course as He taught the disciples as recorded in John 4:31-34 and the Devil in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. His food and His life was one of pleasing the Father as taught in the Word of God. He ingested God – Psalm 34:8 – when He ingested the word! Relationships matter!

As I have mentioned, Psalm 1, as well as other Psalms, are much like Matthew 5:3-12. They can be considered as referring to the individual believer. While individual comfort, courage, and contentment flow from all the Psalms and the verses in Matthew 5, the Psalms abundantly unfold the picture of God’s redemptive reality in Christ by the Spirit as designed in eternity past. In the opening verses of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) Jesus describes Himself. He is the One who set aside His position and glory and took up the redemptive mantle of the Triune God – a simple Jewish man (Philippians 2:5-8). He was the ultimate person who was poor in spirit because He was poor in Himself! Consequently, He is the one blessed by the Father and from whom all blessings come.

The Triune God’s redemptive design is played out in the life of Jesus Christ as applied by the Holy Spirit to Christ. He was the true and ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. He was the true and last Adam and the greater David, Solomon, and Jonah. How can it be? Jesus was the God-man. As such, the Holy Spirit was Christ’s constant companion. Because believers are in Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the constant companion of the Church and individual believer (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 for applications).

Jesus is the man pictured in the Beatitudes (5:3-12) and He is the man who delights in His God and Father and His Word (Psalm 1:1-3). By the work of the Spirit, God’s redemptive plan becomes a reality for God’s people. But the best is yet to come. Jesus will return to call His people home to enter into the presence of the Triune God. In the meantime, by the work of the Spirit, the believer and the Church live as a child of God imitating the Son by growing in the character of Christ while never minimizing the work of the Spirit (Colossians 3:1-3; 1 John 3:1-3). Psalm 1: Its Significance and the Trinity helps explain that the Trinity is alive and well!

1. Psalm 1 coupled with Psalm 2 set the structure and message for the Psalter. For Israel, she was to reflect on the fact that God was one and He was personal. The Triune God was active in creation (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 104:30-31), in redemption (Ephesians 2:18; 3:12), and in sanctification (Ephesians 1:15-17; 3:14-19):
a. How do those truths influence your understanding of who God is and who you are?;
b. How was the Holy Spirit active in Christ’s life?
c. What comfort and hope does that give the believer?
2. The work of the Spirit in Christ is to be comfort to the believer who is also indwelt by the Spirit. How does that truth comfort you?