"Blessed is the man who does not walk
in the counsel of the wicked." Psalm 1:1
Apparently, there's some question about the first word of the book of the Psalms. There's little question about the wrod itself, of course--it's blessed, at least in most translations.
The long-standing question about the word is (at least) grammatical. Is blessed, as used in Psalm 1:1, an adjective or a noun? Does the word simply describe a condition, or is it a condition its own right?
I have been teaching English for forty years, but on this question I don’t have a clue, nor, as they say, do I have a dog in the race. I like the question, however, because it’s a win/win. Every last one of us would love to be described by use of the word as an adjective—as in “hers is a truly blessed life”—or to be granted the honor of usage as a noun—as in “that man with the ascot--I know him. He is truly blessed.”
We all want to be blessed; the end is not in question. What differs, of course, is the means. Happens to me every morning with e-mail notes about this or that priced with Grand-Canyon-like discounts. “If I only had iPad, I’d be truly blessed.” Tell you what--fill in the blank with your dream.
This grandpa remembers a time when his daughter told my wife and I that our only grandson has been diagnosed with asthma. The little guy didn't know the language yet back then, so he didn’t hear the prognosis himself—but then again, he knew he woke up at night and he knows what it's like to wheeze. He didn’t know the word asthma, but back then, he likely knew its symptoms far better than I do.
Like just about all parents on this green earth, the Schaaps already had enough to worry about. We didn’t need the little guy’s asthma, and of course neither did he.
I’ve had a receding hairline forever, it seems. Not long ago some sweet dental hygenist told me I have receding gums, too. Results of age, I guess, in general just diminished capacity. I'm getting flat like an old tire.
But what doesn’t seem to diminish as I get older is the receptacle in which I lug around my worries. Sometimes, it seems worrying has become a calling. Grows on me like a paunch, weighs on my shoulders like an overstuffed backpack I carry along, morning and night, as if I were some perverse Santa, dark and heavy-laden with voluminous anxiety. And it just seems as if there’s nothing in it to give away.
Psalm 1 says blessed are those who won’t take advice from sinners, from liars or connivers or purveyors of agendas other than what is “of the Lord.” Seems like fairly straight-forward advice, but does that include, let's say, Oprah?
Honestly, in this life, where do we go for counseling? When I hear my grandson has asthma, a squirt who thinks walking is the greatest invention since the bathtub, and I don’t feel at all like Atlas, my knees buckling with worry, where should I go for help? How can I be blessed when worries come up around me like a boa constrictor?
Maybe, just maybe, I’m thinking, I might listen to the Psalms. I’m not always sure about Oprah, but the Psalms really do have an out-of-this-world track record.
I need to listen—that’s clear, but to whom?
Maybe I ought to try the voice of the Lord.