PRINCIPLES AND METHODS
Observations on Psalm 1
The following is an example of only one possible way to make observations of a portion of the Bible. This is only a sample. You must analyze and research the Bible for yourself.
1) The word "blessed" is further clarified in Matthew 5:3-11; so a line was drawn to the margin with the Matthew passage written down for future reference.
2) The words "walk," "stand" and "sit" form a progression which is described above the Psalm to the right. The progression describes a deeper and deeper entrenchment into sin. Men never stand in one spot. They either go from faith unto faith or, as we observe here, they go from wickedness to greater wickedness. Romans 6:19 was written down to support this observation. The symbol "c.f." means "compare." Symbols are a valuable shorthand. We may make up our own symbols, but the key thing is to be consistent, so that we can understand years later what we observed today.
3) A companion progression was written down above the Psalm, too. A few words to added to add some insight to the prpgressions.
4) The word "not" was circled and a line drawn above to observe that the contrast is expressed in a negative. The contrast is not a matter of degree but of kind. This is a heightened contrast and motivated us to write a few words of application: "there must be a difference," implying that there must be a difference in behavior between Christians and non-Christians.
5) The word "way" was thought to be significant. Two observations were made and a verse was written down to support each one. Acts 9:2 connects the word "way" to the Gospel. John 14:6 connects the word "way" to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The three dots that form a triangle are a symbol that means "therefore."
6) The words "but" and "not" were connected since it was observed that they support each other. The three verbs in verse l are really negative verbs. The word "not" explains each one, so that the emphasis is upon the blessed man and what he does "not" do. Therefore, the word "but" is related to the word "not" because it introduces a contrast in verse 2, namely, what a blessed man does do compared to what he does not do.
7) The word "delight" was observed to be significant. The reference Romans 7:22 was written down to indicate what was thought to be important about this word. A few words were written down to suggest a possible insight.
8) Similarly, the words "day and night" were underlined with the word "and" circled for further emphasis. Nothing else was noted, but a line could have been drawn to the word "delight" and then to the margin, to indicate a possible relationship, such as: what we spend time on indicates what we delight in.
9) The words "like" and "tree" were tied together to point out the logic in this verse. The psalm does not say the blessed man is a tree, but rather "like" or similar to a tree. This observation is a reminder that Christians are like something else, namely, Christ. Revelation 22:2 was written down to support this.
10) The word "planted" was underlined with a line drawn to the words in the margin, "God's doing," which is the observation that it is a transitive verb. Trees do not plant themselves. They must be planted by someone else. The reference Psalm 92:11,12,13 was written down without comment for perhaps some future study.
11) The word "fruit" was circled and a line drawn to the margin to the verses Galatians 5:22-23. These verses were written down as possible clues for later investigation.
12) The word "whatsoever" was tied to the words "in God's will" written beneath it. This comment limits the meaning of "whatsoever" to those things which are in God's will. The comment is not an observation but a conclusion which we might make, based on our past experience with the Bible. We must be careful with comments like this since they tend to be interpretations. However, they can sometimes be helpful in analyzing a verse. The symbol "i.e." means "that is."
13) The word "chaff" was circled. A line could have been drawn to the word tree in verse 3, to emphasize a contrast. But lest the Bible page become too confusing to look at, a line was drawn instead to the margin. This connected it to the observation that "chaff" is a dead thing and in that sense the opposite of the word "tree." The verse Ephesians 2:1 was written down to make a spiritual observation about deadness.
14) The word "therefore" was circled simply for emphasis.
15) The word "ungodly" was underlined, with a line drawn to the symbol 4X below it. This symbol indicates that we observe the word "ungodly" 4 times in this short psalm (vs. 1, vs. 4, vs. 5 and vs. 6). Sometimes the observation won't mean anything to us at the time, but just noting it will help us think things out in the future.
16) The verb "knoweth" was underlined and tied to the verse II Timothy 2:19 written below the verse. II Timothy 2:19 is a comment on one possible meaning of that word; and the word "salvation" was added to clarify why that verse was cited. Also the words "pres. tense" were written to observe that the verb is in the present tense.
17) The word "way" was circled both times it occurred in verse 6. Furthermore, a few words were added to emphasize that they are not referring to the same thing. One refers to the way of the righteous, the other to the way of the ungodly. The symbol "cfvl" means, "compare verse l," that also contains the word "way."
18) The explanation, "God knows Christ," refers to the observation in logic. The phrase, "the Lord knoweth," refers not to the "righteous," but to "the way. " The three dots, again, are a symbol that means "therefore." This symbol introduces the conclusion that our security first of all is based upon Christ's relationship with His Father.
19) The word "perish" is linked to the verse John 3:16; and the word "hell" written below it narrows the choices we have in the future when we return later to analyze this psalm.
20) After all the details were noted, at the very top of the Psalm an attempt was made to grasp an overall picture of Psalm 1. Since both godly and ungodly men were described, and since their present life as well as their future was described, the whole Psalm was synthesized into one statement. The statement was hopefully general enough in order not to steer our minds away from anything else the psalm might be teaching, and meaningful enough to help us make some sense out of the many different parts of the psalm.
At this point it is appropriate to add a word of caution. The marks and notes in your Bible will cause you to think in the same way each time you look at the page. These marks are good for reference if they are well done. But they are bad when we wish to do some new research on the same passage. Therefore it is wise sometimes to pick up an unmarked Bible for a fresh look at an old passage, without any notes or marks to distract us.
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