As the Five Books of Moses are the Torah for the mind, so the Five Books of Psalms are the Torah for the heart; God intends for this collection of psalms to form and shape our image of what it means to be blessed, our image of what it means to flourish as we meditate on these songs, as we muse on the music of God-inspired psalms.
God has given us the psalms to form our hearts, which in turn lead us on the path to true blessedness. As James Sire argues, it is heart orientation that “provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”1 The inner image of the world formed within us—sometimes called our moral imagination or worldview—interprets reality and thus affects how we evaluate and respond to what we encounter. It is what motivates and moves us to act in certain ways within the various circumstances of life. This is why the Bible commands, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov 4:23). As David Naugle suggests,
From a scriptural point of view, therefore, the heart is responsible for how a man or woman sees the world. Indeed, what goes into the heart from the outside world eventually shapes its fundamental dispositions and determines what comes out of it as the springs of life. Consequently, the heart establishes the basic presuppositions of life and, because of its life-determining influence, must always be carefully guarded.2
Evangelicals today love to talk about Christian worldview, what will guide us to live according to Scripture. But the common evangelical discussion of worldview focuses primarily or even exclusively on what we think. Thinking is important; doctrine is important. But to focus exclusively on the mind misses what Psalm 1 is setting up as the fundamental purpose of the psalms: they don’t primarily inform our minds, like the Prophets do, or our wills, like the Law does—the psalms form the innate inclinations at our core, what James Sire calls the “fundamental orientation of the heart.”3
This is important since our imagination is the way we interpret facts and is thus the way we make sense of God’s world. George MacDonald explains:
To inquire into what God has made is the main function of the imagination. It is aroused by facts, is nourished by facts, seeks for higher and yet higher laws in those facts; but refuses to regard science as the sole interpreter of nature, or the laws of science as the only region of discovery.4
Our perception and interpretation of the world around us depends upon our imagination of the good life. Leland Ryken helpfully explains how imagination affects how we view truth and what we do with truth:
It is a fallacy to think that one’s worldview consists only of ideas. It is a world picture as well as a set of ideas. It includes images that may govern behavior even more than ideas do. At the level of ideas, for example, a person may know the goal of life is not to amass physical possessions. But if his mind is filled with images of fancy cars and expensive clothes and big houses, his behavior will likely follow a materialistic path.