Psalm 1: My Rite of Passage

The Verse of the Day for November 19, 2020, comes from the first two verses of the First Psalm (KJV):

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

When I think of the First Psalm, I recall the first passage of scripture I ever committed to memory more than 65 years ago, back in the day, in what we called “junior high school.” I remember that Mrs. Little, the local undertaker’s wife, gathered kids from the neighborhood and told us to memorize Psalm 1.

About eight years ago, Apostle John Tetsola commented about the power of “The First Word,” and his remarks inspired this poem which makes reference to the First Psalm, the “First Word” for me:

The First Word

When you’re in a difficult situation,
go back to ‘the first word.’ It still works.

Apostle John Tetsola

Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.
Just like Samuel, I clearly heard God speak to me:
I still remember the power of “the first word.”

The desire to read and to learn by heart God’s Word:
Planted deep within my soul seeds of destiny.
Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

Early years of famine and drought God has restored.
My Shepherd ever sets a table before me.
I still remember the power of “the first word.”

From an early age, God became my shield and sword,
As the Psalms enflamed a passion for poetry.
Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord.

The sound words of the First Psalm could not be ignored:
“Planted by the rivers of waters, like a tree. . .”
I still remember the power of “the first word.”

Striving toward the finish, ever pressing forward,
I now fondly recall glimpses of God’s glory.
Though only a child, I heard the word of the Lord:
I still remember the power of “the first word.”

The Verse of the Day floods my mind with fond memories of the power of “the First Word.” Now that I think about it, that experience occurred around the same time as another related event when I asked if I could “join the church.” In order to become a member of the church, you had to be at least twelve years old. Shortly after turning twelve, on a bright and sunny Sunday morning, I walked down the aisle at Carter Chapel C.M.E. Church in Gary, IN and shook the minister’s hand, but I recognized, even then, that something significant had happened that was more than just a formality.

In the Jewish tradition, there is a rite of passage called the bar mitzvah for young men and the bat mitzvah, for young girls. This religious initiation ceremony is conducted for a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is regarded as ready to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship.

My experience with memorizing the First Psalm as an adolescent, represents a kind bar mitzvah for me connected to expressing my desire to “join the church” around the same time when I became of age. Psalm 1, which I still know by heart, continues to be a source of encouragement and strength, and inspiration, as reflected in this original psalm:

Talk about a Man
Psalm 1


Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

Talk about a man that show is blessed—I’m the man.

At first, I couldn’t, but now I see God’s master plan.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

To study the Word of Life show is my delight.

I’m all the time thinking about it—day and night.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

Planted by the rivers of water, my roots reach deep.

By the still waters, the Good Shepherd leads his sheep.


In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

In God, all His promises are yes and amen.

I have been so blessed since I can remember when.

The Word of God soothes my soul like a healing balm.

I’m the man they are talking about in that First Psalm.

To close our time of reflection here is a musical rendering of Psalm 1 offered by the Sons of Korah:

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