For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. ~Proverbs 23:7
I really enjoy reading the Bible in different languages because it often gives me a new perspective on familiar passages. Some time ago I was reading the book of Psalms from my Greek Old Testament (LXX) and I noticed a connection between Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 that I had never seen before. I guess I had always assumed that these two psalms were more or less independent of one another. Psalm 2 came after Psalm 1, but that was really all the though that I had put into it. Now I am convinced that these two psalms actually represent opposite sides of the human heart.
Psalm 1 is all about the righteous man. He does not lead a sinful life, but avoids ungodly mindsets (1:1). The righteous man is a prosperous man, one who brings forth spiritual fruit and receives nourishment by the river [symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit] (1:3). Such a man is the antithesis of a wicked man (1:4). The Lord has his eyes on this kind of a righteous man, and knows his way (1:5). Rather than listening to what ungodly, sinful scorners think (1:1), this man gets his philosophy from Jehovah: “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (1:2).
This is where I noticed the connection. In the LXX, the Greek word for “he meditates” is μελεταω (meletaō). It just so happens that this is the exact same word that is used in Psalm 2 where it says, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine [μελεταω] a vain thing?” (2:1). Upon further inspection I realized that the original Hebrew uses the same word (הגה, hagah) in both places as well.
This is the defining difference between the righteous man and the wicked man. A righteous man spends his time meditating in the law of the Lord, but the wicked man spends his time meditating on vanity and mischief.
The righteous man concerns himself with submitting to the Lord, while the wicked say, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (2:3). The wicked “take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed,” and this is exactly the type of counsel that the righteous man tries to avoid (1:1)! Rather than blessing them and making whatever they do prosperous, God “shall speak unto [the wicked] in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure” (2:5). God looks at the righteous man to protect and bless him; but God only threatens destruction for those who oppose him (2:9).
Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 are contrasting pictures of humanity. Both think: the righteous man meditates about the Law of God, and the heathen contemplate how to overthrow God’s authority in their lives. Psalm 1 talks about a single man, but Psalm 2 talks about a group of people. I wonder if this is because unrighteousness will always be the majority opinion.
What we think about matters. Are we thinking about the word of God? Or are we thinking about vain things, empty things, things with no substance? Our answer to this question will determine whether we are a righteous man who pleases God, or a wicked man who opposes him. When it comes to the content of your inmost meditations—what do you think?