I fell in love with the Psalms when I was in high school. I didn’t understand their true depths, but I knew I felt better after read them. Since that time I have spent years reading, praying, singing and trying to understand them more deeply. They seem to have no limits to its depths.
For years I have known about the importance of Psalm 1 & 2. These two Hebrew poems set up the whole collection. What I had not known were their connection to Joshua 1. Thanks to the academic work of Seth Postell, former professor of Old Testament at the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies and current lecturer in Biblical Studies at Israel College of the Bible in Netanya, Israel, my eyes have been opened to see this amazing connection.
Joshua opens with the death of Moses as the mantel has been passed to his protégé – Joshua the son of Nun. He will lead Israel across the Jordan to the land promised hundreds of years before by his ancestor Abraham. Yahweh speaks to him directly:
Joshua 1:6-8, Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success (שבל) wherever you go (הלך). This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate (הגה) on it day (יומס) and night (לילה), so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous (עלח), and then you will have good success (שבל). (emphasis mine)
Let’s compare with Psalm 1:
Psalm 1:1-2, Blessed is the man/ who walks (הלך) not in the counsel of the wicked,/ nor stands in the way of sinners,/ nor sits in the seat of scoffers; bur his delight is in the law of the LORD,/ and on his law he meditates (הגה) day (יומס) and night (לילה)./ He is like a tree/ planted by streams of water/ that yields its fruit in its season,/ and its leaf does not wither./ In all that he does, he prospers (עלח). (emphasis mine)
Do you see it?
Let’s talk about Psalm 1 & 2 for a moment. As mentioned in the outset, these two poems are linked to share an important message. Let’s notice the similarities:
- נתן – yields (1:3); makes (2:8)
- הגה – meditates (1:2); plot (2:1)
- דרך – the way (1:6; 2:12)
- אבר – perish (1:6; 2:12)
- ישב – sits (1:1; 2:4)
- אשרי – Blessed (1:1; 2:12)
They have some matching words – so what?
They are bound together as an introduction to the Psalms. They speak about the blessed man (1:1) who is the Anointed Son of Yahweh (2:3, 7). The one God planted by streams of water (1:3) is the one He has set as His King (2:6). Both Psalms speak of the wicked (1:1) who plot and take their stand against Yahweh and His anointed (2:2). But the one who delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night (1:2) will prosper (succeed, thrive), based on the success of the anointed of God, which is military success against the enemies of Yahweh (2:8). The heritage of the raging nations will be given to the anointed king and his people.
Are you starting to see it?
Even though Israel did not have a king at the time of Joshua, laws had already been given when time came (Deut. 17:14-20). He is the chosen of Yahweh who is to revere Him by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them. Just as Joshua was not to turn the right hand or to the left (Josh. 1:8), the same was spoken of Israel’s kings (Deut. 1:19-20). This was the key to prosperity and good success.
Joshua and the psalms man (Ps. 1:1) are royal, conquering figures. Joshua 1 opens by linking Psalm 1, which pulls in Psalm 2, to Israel’s new leader. Joshua is depicted as the anointed “king” who will conquer the enemies of Yahweh. In return, the good land of the opposing nations will be given to Joshua and the people. Joshua 1:5 and Psalm 2:2 speak of the enemies of the LORD who take their stand against (יעב) His conquering chosen leader. The Book of Joshua, as Psalm 1 & 2, foresee the conquering of the nations as judgment on the rebellious rulers who opposed the divinely chosen “king” of Yahweh.
However, the blessed and anointed of God has a responsibility. He must meditate on the law (Torah) everyday. It makes him wise and successful. Joshua and the man of Psalm 1, display the wise man who meditates daily on the will of God in Torah.
All of these point to the Anointed (Heb. Messiah) of Yahweh who would come into our world as the ultimate King. He conquers the greatest enemy of humanity – sin and death. And His name? Jesus, the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua (יהושוע). The Law of Yahweh never leaves Him, as He is the Word of God in the flesh (Jn. 1:1)! His whole earthly life was exemplified by following the will of the Father. In the end, His divine enthronement became the victory of the great enemy of God. But it did not happen by defeating physical armies on a battlefield. It happened on a cross. And rather than defeating the nations of the world, the Messiah provided a way for all the nations of the earth to be blessed and brought into the kingdom of God. A Promised Land is coming when Jesus descends once more. The rebellious nations of the world will finally be destroyed as the kingdom of God fully reigns. No more war. No more death. No more enemies. In its fulfillment, the kingdom will be a place of peace and justice. We will be in the presence of the great God King who saved us from our greatest enemies. Until then, we continue to meditate on the will of God day and night. Striving to be become the wise man who does not go the path of the wicked or join with those who would mock God. Rather, we worship the One enthroned in the heavens!
**All Scripture quoted from the English Standard Bible
**Blog resources: Adam as Israel by Seth D. Postell; Ancient Israel by Robert Alter; The Pentateuch as Narrative by John H. Sailhamer