Observing the Sabbath Every Day

Pentecost 16 Sunday

Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the godless, walk the way of the sinners, or sit where the mockers sit but delights in the law of the Lord and talks about his law by day and night.”

This first psalm belongs to the Third Commandment, for it lauds and praises for us the study of the divine Word, saying that we should gladly hear, learn, and read the same. For this is what hallowing the Sabbath day actually means, to spend the holy day with God’s Word, because everything is sanctified by it. Thus, when the Word is taught, the hour, day, and place are sanctified, as well as the person who preaches or hears the Word. This is why Christians must observe the Sabbath every day, that is, they must deal with God’s Word at all times. Yet those who teach lies against God’s Word sin against the Third Commandment and desecrate the Sabbath day; for without God’s Word, nothing is holy. Thus, this first Psalm teaches that we should eagerly hear God’s Word; then everything will become holy for us and succeed. “Oh what a blessed man is he,” says the Psalm, who avoids desecrating the Sabbath. For the godless have their own sermon called “counsel”, that is, their own dreams about which they blather by day and night, as those who teach wrongly about the sacraments as well as the Muslims do–they all desecrate the Sabbath. The psalm also praises him who does not live according to this misleading counsel of the godless, as those do who break and desecrate the Sabbath also by their lives. For the Hebrews call “way” what we call “manners, customs, and habits,” as in “being in the habit of doing something.” The Latin translator of the first verse does well when he states, “he does not sit on the chair lest he become a teacher of the godless teaching.” Thus, the verse distinguishes three degrees of relating to false teaching: First, hearing and accepting godless doctrine. Second, living according to false doctrine. Third, teaching others false doctrine. This teaching then results in mockers who make a mockery of God’s Word and blessed living. When they are confronted about it, it is for them as if a goose honked at them…In this way those who deny the sacraments ridicule us and everything we teach; they are blasphemers and desecrators of the Sabbath. Yet the psalm says: “May God protect us from this,” as if it wanted to say that there are many such godless people…The delight in the law is directed particularly at the Ten Commandments. Oh what a great grace and gift of God it is when a person gladly hears, writes, chats, and sings of God’s Word! “Oh how blessed is the man,” says the psalm; all will be well with him; he will have success.

St. Louis ed., 4:1356-1359.

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