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Psalms 1-2 – An Introduction to the Psalms


These psalms together announce what it takes to be "happy" as a child of God (1:1; 2:11)--to meditate on God's law (Psalm 1) and to take refuge in God's rule (Psalm 2).


Scholars see Psalms 1 and 2 as a deliberate psalm pair, meant to introduce the entire Psalter with important themes. The term "happy" (or sometimes "blessed") at the beginning of Psalm 1 and the end of Psalm 2 functions as an inclusio, bringing the two psalms together into a single unit. Neither psalm has its own title or heading, suggesting that the two together function as a kind of "title" for the whole book.

Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous (vv. 1-3), who meditate on God's law or instruction (Torah) day and night, and the way of the wicked (vv. 4-6), who do not follow God's path.

Psalm 2 introduces God's anointed (messiah), the earthly king, whom God calls "my son." God rules through the king and provides a place of refuge for God's people.

Together, Psalms 1 and 2 provide a lens or window through which the reader is invited to read the entire Psalter: as a way to meditate on God's instruction (Psalm 1) and in hope for God's messianic reign of peace and justice (Psalm 2).

The Psalms


(Psalms 1-41)

Psalm 1

The Two Ways

1 Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed

1 Why do the nations conspire,
   and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
   and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
   and cast their cords from us.’

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
   the Lord has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
   and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
   today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
   and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
   and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
   be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
   with trembling 12kiss his feet,*
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
   for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 1

Psalm 2

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