Peter Parker and Psalm 1

IMG_0350It has been quite awhile that I wrote a blog and I apologize for not writing as much. My wife and I felt as if God was calling us to a new school and so we transferred to another seminary. I would be lying if I said everything was easy; there were some objections, but when God calls we must answer that call. But here is something a little bit different I have never done before on this blog and hope many of the readers will enjoy. Throughout this blog we will look at Psalm 1 and compare the creation of Peter Parker becoming Spiderman in Amazing Fantasy number 15. I do not own the rights of Peter Parker or any of the marvel characters mentioned.

Psalm 1 in the NRSV states, “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like tress planted (transplanted) by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (PS 1:1-6).” The Psalter starts off with the Psalm of wisdom (Mitchell Dahood Anchor Bible pg. 1). From the canonized scripture according to Christians Job is the last book before the Psalms.  The book of Job is classified as wisdom literature. According to wisdom tradition, the wicked will not prosper while the righteous will prosper in this life.  The author or authors of Job show that is not always the case. But Job’s friends throughout the book make it clear that is the theology they ascribe too. To sum this up in today’s theology this seems to suggest some of the charismatic movement and the prosperity gospel. But just for information the Hebrew cannon right before Psalms is introduced “The book of Malachi” is placed right before the Psalter.  Which we are not here here to argue which cannon is right, but in defense of  Christianity we end with Malachi to suggest that there is a coming king that is coming.

C.S. Lewis states, “The dominant impression I get from reading the Psalms is one of antiquity. I seem to be looking into a deep pit of time, but looking through a lens which brings the figures who inhabit that depth up close to my eye” (NRSV C.S. Lewis Bible 565). The Psalms is an ancient book that allows us to see the ancient times of how those worshiped God and places these past figures in our eyes. Psalms is one the books of the Bible that almost is one of the most honest books of the Bible.

In the Spiderman origin story, Peter Parker is made fun of as trying to be a smart teenager. The only people that actually care about him is his teachers and his amazing aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Ben. During an Atomic science demonstration Peter is bitten by a radioactive Spider and has to leave because his head “is feeling strange” (Amazing Fantasy #15, pg. 4).  Of course when this happens the other scientists make fun of Peter and think that the atomic science demonstration has made Peter feel queasy. Oh, but they are so wrong.

What in the world does all of this have to do with Psalms 1 you might be asking? The Psalmist whoever he or she is states, “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers” (Ps 1:1) The HCSB states the last part of this verse as “or join a group of mockers.” In the story arc you see that Peter is surrounded by people always making fun of him. He still goes on his merry way and finds ways to do good in his life. Augustine Pagolu states, “Mockers are proud and self-sufficient who refuse to take instruction or correction from God or anyone else (South Asian Bible commentary 618). Those that mock God are actually believing in their own morality that they think they know better and they know better which in reality they do not.

Soon after getting his powers, Peter ends up showing up at a wrestling match where a criminal steals something; where a cop is chasing after the thief gets away.  The cop questions the now Peter Parker dressed up as Spiderman, “What’s with you Mister?? All you Hadda do was trip him, or hold him just for a minute.” Peter replies, “Sorry Pal! That’s your job! I’m thru being pushed around by anyone! From now on I just out for number one that means ME” (Amazing fantasy #15 pg 9)! Peter has joined the crowds of the mockers and found a way to only care about himself.

But talking about the man that is blessed in verse the Psalmist goes on to continue to say, “They are like tress planted by streams of water which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all they do, they prosper” (Ps 1:3). Mitchhell Dahood is correct when he states, “Commentators are correct in insisting that satal properly means “to transplant,” rather than “to plant” (Mitchell Dahood Anchor Bible commentary Psalms 1-50, pg 3). The Hebrew word is not how the NRSV states it as plant. but means to transplant oneself into the commands of God. According to google the definition of transplant is “move or transfer (something) to another place or situation, typically with some effort or upheaval.” While the word plant means, “place or fix in a specified position.” As one can see transplant shows that the Psalmists shows that those that follow God go against those that are mocking and are placed inside of God’s flowing nature.

Soon after Spiderman allows the thief to escape he heads home to find his Uncle Ben killed by someone. The cops easily give up to the location of where the criminal is located at; when Peter arrives he sees that it was the man that he let escaped. Eaten up by guilt he realizes if he would have done the right thing his uncle would be alive. From the start of Spiderman to his normal day appearances this is a common thread with the Spiderman story arc. Peter struggles making the right choices, do we not all do this?

But if we place ourselves in the “delight of the Lord” (PS 1:2) we see that we care about others. In the Western culture today it is so easily to see conservatives and liberals fight and declare hatred to each other so easily. As Christians something we must not do is being intrigued into this conversation that lean to one side. Our conversations should be focused on the Lord. Once again C.S. Lewis states, “Lead us not into temptation” often means, among other things, “Deny me those gratifying invitations, those highly interesting contacts, that participation in the brilliant movements of our age, which I so often, at such risk, desire” (C.S. Lewis Reflection of the Psalms 74). It is so easy for us to get wrapped into one mindset, but instead our mindset should to be flee through this. Lewis goes on in this section of his books to show that he is amazed that the Psalms contain more about calming the tongue then talking about swords or knives. If one takes Christianity to be serious we realize that words do matter and we will proclaim it to others.

Will we learn from Peter Parker and see that it is better to be transplanted towards God? Or will we just plant ourselves into our own culture and ignore what the Psalmist is trying to tell us? When it comes to following God he never shows that it is easy. Instead he shows the opposite not because He wants it to be that way; but because our desire is not to follow his ways. My prayer is that while you read this I hope you place your faith upon the one true God. But also that you will continue to grow towards him and care more about him daily. Also, I would love to hear some of your feedback if you enjoyed this or if you did not.


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