Reflections on Psalm 1

Happy is the person who does not walk in the way of sinners. . . .

Happiness comes from acting according to God’s will. This simple truth is so obvious and necessary, it should so drive all human actions and thoughts, that the alternative should appear nonsensical. And yet the alternative is what drives humans forward in time, confronting the everyday with their own actions, their own will, contrary to God’s will, God’s law.

Other living creatures are not like this. Other creatures live according to God’s will and law. Their choices are restricted to nature’s mandates. They eat, sleep, hunt, live, and die, according to what God has willed. They don’t contrive self-devised opposites, of living in an unnatural way, staving off death as long as possible, eating more than what nature mandates, seeking to break from nature by creating as artificial an existence as possible.

Humans are cursed with the ability to choose. They are cursed with apparent free will. They have convinced themselves that they can order their lives, control their destinies, make choices without (or ignoring the) consequences, tempt fate in so many ways, and live almost as gods. When it all comes crashing down, they are shocked, surprised, horrified, feel ill-used, curse God, fate, or the heavens, all the while taking no responsibility for what they themselves contrived.

Meditate on God’s Law day and night. . . .

God’s law, God’s word, comes in so many forms, it is impossible, as Paul said in his Epistle to the Romans, to be unaware, or pretend unawareness, of God’s Creation, God’s actions throughout time in human and natural experience. Nature is filled with the writing of God. Human history is a narrative of God’s will. Each life, human as well as others, are contrived by, designed by, God, and it takes very little thought, from humans who are otherwise so reflective and ruminating, to see the hand of God in each day of our existence.

God’s law is natural law, it is the law of the heart and soul, and we scarcely need to be told what is obvious in our deepest intuitions. As Richard Hooker, the Anglican theologian, wrote: “nature teaches men to judge good from evil, as well in laws as in other things” by “the force of their own discretion.” It follows then that “whatsoever we do, if our own secret judgment consent not unto it as fit and good to be done, the doing of it to us is sin, although the thing itself be allowable.”

Hooker said further respecting the laws of God and humans, that God is a law unto Himself, in that He is both the Author of Law and the Doer of Law, both equally in perfection. Human natural and civil laws are learned from nature, learned from God, not original to humans, who perceive disorder and chaos because we are ignorant of God’s true purposes and His eternal laws: all things work according to His will, which is good and perfect.

It follows that all things yearn for what is more perfect, all things therefore yearn for Goodness, and by this yearning, all things are good. All things therefore yearn for God.

God knows the way of the righteous, who thrive next to clear waters, as well as the way of the impious, who will perish like a tree in the desert lacking moisture.

As Hooker wrote, “the general and perpetual voice of men is as the sentence of God himself. For that which all men have at all times learned, Nature herself must needs have taught; and God being the author of Nature, her voice is but his instrument. By her from Him we receive whatsoever in such sort we learn.”

By listening to the voice of reason and the authority of teaching over time we know the Good and are able to withstand the temptations inherent in the passing moments of fads and whims.

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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