Insight from Psalm 1

My wife and I were reading Psalm 1 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the way it chose to translate the familiar verse Psalm 1:2 yielded a small insight.

This is how I memorized Psalm 1:2 in the KJV:

His delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psa 1:2)

This is how the HCSB translates it:

His delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (Psa 1:2)

A distant authority you never meet can hand down laws (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it’s from person to person that instruction flows. The underlying Hebrew word (torah—perhaps you’ve heard it) can be translated either way, and I would actually lean toward the KJV rendering. But the difference sparked a thought, that indeed God does love me enough to give instruction and not merely impersonal law.* As T.D. Bernard so wisely pointed out, the NT epistles train us in how to think; they don’t just tell us what to do or what not to do (though they do do that!).

*I’m not down on law. As John Frame has pointed out, law and gospel are not finally separable. The law contains good news, and the gospel carries demands.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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