These psalms together announce what it takes to be “happy” as a child of God (1:1; 2:11)–to meditate on God’s law (PsalmA psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 1) and to take refuge in God’s rule (Psalm 2).
Scholars see Psalms 1 and 2 as a deliberate psalm pair, meant to introduce the entire PsalterThe psalter is a volume containing the book of Psalms (see Psalm). In the early Middle Ages psalters were popular and contained - in addition to the psalms - calendars, litanies of saints, and other devotional texts. More with important themes. The term “happy” (or sometimes “blessed”) at the beginning of Psalm 1 and the end of Psalm 2 functions as an inclusioInclusio is a literary device in which a writer places similar material at the beginning and ending of a work or section of a work. For example, Mark's gospel contains an inclusio in which Jesus is recognized (at his baptism and crucifixion) as God's Son. More, bringing the two psalms together into a single unit. Neither psalm has its own title or heading, suggesting that the two together function as a kind of “title” for the whole book.
Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteousA righteous person is one who is ethical and faithful to God's covenant. Righteousness in the Old Testament is an attitude of God; in the New Testament it is a gift of God through grace. In the New Testament righteousness is a relationship with God... More (vv. 1-3), who meditate on God’s law or instruction (TorahThe Torah is the law of Moses, also known as the first five books of the Bible. To many the Torah is a combination of history, theology, and a legal or ritual guide. More) day and night, and the way of the wicked (vv. 4-6), who do not follow God’s path.
Psalm 2 introduces God’s anointed (messiahThe Messiah was the one who, it was believed, would come to free the people of Israel from bondage and exile. In Jewish thought the Messiah is the anticipated one who will come, as prophesied by Isaiah. In Christian thought Jesus of Nazareth is identified... More), the earthly king, whom God calls “my son.” God rules through the king and provides a place of refuge for God’s people.
Together, Psalms 1 and 2 provide a lens or window through which the reader is invited to read the entire Psalter: as a way to meditate on God’s instruction (Psalm 1) and in hope for God’s messianic reign of peace and justice (Psalm 2).