The Sweetness of Biblical Authority

March 22, 2017

by David Garner

The first Psalm sets the stage for the entire Psalter. Its attention on the covenant God and covenant blessing and cursing, as well as its preoccupation with God’s Word as the source for our understanding, focus the entire Psalter. In fact, as scholars like O. Palmer Robertson have contended, Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the “pillar or gates” to the whole edifice of the Psalter. They are the great building blocks that support the whole.

The Psalms, as Luther contended, do even more. He loved the Psalms, and in his study of them, found in them a snapshot of the whole of the first testament of divine revelation. He understood the book of Psalms to summarize the entire Old Testament.

If the Psalms express the treasures of the entire canon of God’s first words to his people, and Psalms 1 and 2 support the weight of the entire Psalter, these opening words deserve particular attention. On its own, Psalm 1 calls us compellingly to soak our hearts in God’s Word. Understood as the architectural footer for the entire book of Psalms, the Psalm’s call to meditate on the Word of God “day and night” (v. 3) delivers even greater urgency. And as the Psalmist will have us know, neither biblical meditation nor biblical satisfaction is optional!

Let’s get more specific here. Why must we attend to this Word? Why must we “delight in the law of the Lord” (v. 3)? The answer is built right into this description itself. We must relish it, precisely because of what it is. While the Psalm offers words of ultimate benefit from immersion in Scripture (vv. 3–6), the ultimate reason for our holy absorption in God’s instruction is because it is the Lord’s. Because God is God, we must meditate on this personal Word, relish in it, listen to it, and walk by it.

My life consists of a great deal of travel. Those who don’t travel often believe travel is glamorous. Those who do travel regularly know it is not. But for me there is at least one very big plus, a travel perk towering above any other. This benefit comes from no airline mileage account, no hotel point program, no car rental agency trying to persuade me that I am a five-star customer, and certainly no airport restaurant offering me a sorry excuse for a meal that is triple a reasonable price.

The benefit is far more personal than any capitalist enterprise could offer. Sometimes I find it in my suitcase. Sometimes it appears in my Yahoo inbox. Wherever it appears, it brings contentment, joy, and even palpable strength for the journey. My wife often takes time to write me notes—some long, some short. All of them are worthy of close attention and often multiple re-readings. Why do they compel me so much? Because of their author. These words deliver sustenance and encouragement, because the one whom I love and who loves me has written them. My love has taken time to speak, and I cannot wait to listen. . . .

. . .continue reading at Place for Truth.

David Garner

Dr. Garner (PhD, Westminster) is associate professor of systematic theology and vice president for advancement at WTS.

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