Psalms 1 and 2 present two conflicting images of the good life that compete throughout world history: an image of a tree that flourishes under the rule of God, and an image of God’s rule as oppressive and tyrannical. The wicked’s counsel is, the only way to flourish is to burst the bonds of God’s rule and cast off his cords. What is the righteous counsel? Psalm 2:10–12 tells us:
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
This is the counsel of the Torah. This is an accurate image of what it will be like if you resist the rule of God as king. Remember what the last line of Psalm 1 promised: the way of the wicked will perish.” And so the Torah counsels, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way.” Acknowledge him as King, accept that image, or you will not stand in the judgment.
You see, if your image of the rule of God is that it is thing to be broken and cast off because he is a terrifying king, then that’s the image that will actually come to pass. You resist his rule as something oppressive, then you will experience oppression. You break his bonds? He will break you.
Again, your image of the blessed life and its relationship to the rule of God will determine how you live and will determine your ultimate destiny.
But if you kiss the Son, if you serve him with fear because you know that his commandments are not burdensome, you don’t imagine God as a tyrannical despot, you imagine him as a Shepherd-King, as your Redeemer—if that’s your image, then you will be blessed.
Blessed is the man, Psalm 1 tells us, whose imagination is shaped by delighting in the Torah rather than wicked counsel.
And look at the final phrase of Psalm 2. This is put here intentionally by the editors of the Psalter to form a bookend with Psalm 1:1: Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Here is the final fundamental truth that you will find over and over in the Book of Psalms: take refuge in him. If you imagine God correctly, as formed within your heart by his Word, then you will fly to him for refuge, you will see him as the source of true blessedness and as the one who will provide safety and comfort and protection in the midst of a wicked world.
You want to know what hope there is in a dark and wicked world? Take refuge in him. How can we praise God when we are being attacked by enemies from without and our own sinful flesh within? Take refuge in him. You want to have a truly good life?
Take refuge in him.