It occurs to me that Book I (Psalms 1-41) opens and ends on a similar note, one of blessing. Psalm 1 begins with a blessing for the one who delights in the Lord and His will:
Blessed is the one who
— does not walk in step with the wicked
— or stand in the way that sinners take
— or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
— and who meditates on his law day and night.
In short, the book of Psalms opens with a call to love the Lord our God and His ways.
It turns out that Psalm 41, the last psalm of Book I, also opens with the word “Blessed.” This time the blessing is for those who defend the powerless:
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
— the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
I see Psalms 1 & 41 as bookends. Taken together, they foreshadow Jesus’ summary of the law which Psalm 1 upholds:
“The most important [command],”
answered Jesus, “is this:
— ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
— Love the Lord your God with all your heart
— and with all your soul
— and with all your mind
— and with all your strength.’
The second is this:
— ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Together Psalms 1 & 41 reveal the secret to a blessed life, a life marked with joy and meaning: It’s an other-focused life. Instead of focusing on myself and pursuing my own happiness, I’m called to focus on God and focus on others. Loving and serving God together with loving and serving others – that’s where I (together with God’s people for millennia) have found the blessed life.