Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;† 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.† 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.† 4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.† 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.† 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
This first Psalm is a great introduction to the book of Psalms, and it is a classic example of the parallelism that the Jewish writers use. If you were here for the overview for the book of Psalms, I pointed out that there are 3 different types parallelism that they use in these Psalms and the one being used here is Antithetic parallelism because the writer contrasting the righteous with wicked.
Every person can be divided into these two general categories because you are either righteous or wicked. Not only does the OT teach us these two categories it is taught throughout the NT as well. For example, there is the sheep and the goats, wise and foolish virgins, the one who build on the rock and the one builds on the sand, the faithful and wicked servant, the fruitful and the unfruitful, tares and wheat and so on. We all have a choice of which road we choose to travel down, but you cannot go down both roads at the same time. The difficult road is the way† to heaven and the broad roads is the way to hell.
You might want to mark this in your Bible because there is a similar passage that contrast the righteous with the wicked in Jeremiah 17:5-8, but Jeremiah does the comparison in the reverse order of Psalm 1.
Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD.† 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.† 7 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.† 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Since David wrote nearly all the Psalms in the first book of Psalms, it is believed that he is the author of Psalm 1, but we are not told who the author is. Now let examine the Psalm one verse at a time.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
We could substitute the word the blessed with happy. True happiness can only be found when we live our life for God. The writer gives us three ways in which sin progresses in our lives that will lead us down the wrong path that will make us an enemy of God.
First, a blessed or happy person will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. This means the righteous person is to avoid those who are teaching wicked things. We should not allow ourselves to participate with such people because if allow their worldly words to sink into our hearts, they might persuade us away from Godís truth and we might soon find ourselves walking with them down that wide road the leads to destruction.
Second, if we do take heed to what the council of the wicked says we will find ourselves standing in the pathway of the sinners. This is bad position to be in because if you are in pathway of the sinners, your on the wrong path.
Third, if you continue to stand in the pathway of sinners then it wonít be long until you are sitting seat of the scornful. The scornful describes those who mock holy things and who oppose the way of God. They have no reverence for God, and they will speak of righteous things as being detestable.
As Christians, we should avoid these stages that lead to utter rebellion against God and the reason we should is because when we put our trust and faith God, we will be happy and content no matter what is going on around us. As Paul said:
Philippians 4:11 for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:† 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.† 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.†
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
In verse 1, we learn what the righteous person is suppose to avoid, but in verse 2, we learn what the righteous person is suppose to do.
First, his delight, which means his pleasure or his desire, is to be in the law of the Lord. When our delight is His law, then this means we are going mediate on it day and night.
The word meditate means: to moan, growl, utter, muse, mutter, meditate, devise, plot, speak.
To mediate on Godís Word day and night does not necessarily mean that we will have Godís Word in hand day and night, but that His Word and His ways will be on our minds in everything we do. When we love God and His Word, we are going to spend time in studying His Word and we are going to spend time thinking about His Word throughout our day. Godís Word should be one of our main priorities because we were born again through the message of Godís Word and it teaches us everything we need to know to please God and to be happy and content with our lives.
Some other great verses that go along with the idea are:
Psalm 119:47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. 48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.
Psalm 119:72 The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.
Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
This is an easy idea for us to understand because is natural for you to want to spend as much as time as you can doing those things you delight in. For example, if you love your family, you are going to spend as much quality time with them as you can, if you love fishing, hunting, or any other activity, you are going to make time in your life so that you can enjoy it.
Well, the same thing is true when it comes to the law of God. Every Christians should find great delight in studying and meditating on Godís Word. If you do not, then you need to reevaluate your life and your love for God. We are supposed to grow as Christians in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord, but if we stop growing and we lose our pleasure in the law of God, then we will find ourselves drifting away from God because our spiritual health will suffer just as we would suffer if we stopped eating food to sustain us.
As the writer of Hebrews warns:
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.† 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,† 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,† 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
If we do delight in the law of God and mediated on it day and night the writer says:
Psalm 1:3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Here the writer use a simile to describe the righteous man. When a person delights in the Word of God and does not follow the wicked way then he is like a tree. This gives us a image of stability because a tree that is growing close to a river is going to have deep roots and it will stand up against the storms of life.
Since it is next to a river, it will always have the food it needs to thrive and to produce fruit in its season and its leafs will not wither.
As Christians, we are like this tree as well because Paul said:
Colossians 2:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,† 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Whenever we made the decision to love God enough to obey His commands and become a Christians, we were given stability because we were put into Christ where all the spiritual blessing are found. Jesus is the chief cornerstone and His church is built on a rock that will not fail. As Jesus told Peter:
Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
When we root ourselves in Christ, our foundation will stand forever. Just like the river feeds the tree so that it continues to grow, the Word of God will continue to give us the nourishment we need to keep our strength and faithfulness. As Peter taught,
1 Peter 2:1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,† 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,† 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;† 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
As long as the river doesnít dry up the tree will never run out of food, and as long we continue to open our Bibles and study them and mediate on what we read, we will never run out of spiritual food and we will never wither away into a life of sin.
Just as the tree is able to produce fruit in its season, we will be able to produce fruit for the Lord.
Paul describes it this way:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,† 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,† 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.† 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,† 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.† 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.† 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
As Christians, we are taught to produce fruit, but we can only produce fruit that is pleasing to God when we are rooted and grounded in Christ and His Word. The writer also adds: And whatever he does shall prosper.
What does this mean? Well, I can tell that it does not mean that you will successful at everything you do, nor does it mean that you physically rich if you are faithful. All you have to do look at some the examples in the Bible of those who walked with God and you will see they were not always in the greatest situation, but they still prospered spiritually no matter what their situation.
Think about Daniel, he started out as a slave, and then was promoted because the ability God gave him, but later on he was thrown into a lions den. Think about Daniels three companions, they were given high positions of power as well, but when they would not bow down to the kings image, they were thrown into fiery furnace.
Paul is great example of
a righteous man who did great things for the
2 Corinthians 11:24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.† 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;† 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;† 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness --††
Even though he went through all these bad situations, he prospered spiritually and he knew at the end of his life that he had fought the good fight of faith that the crown of righteousness would be his, which is also available to all who remain faithful to God.
Of course Jesus is the greatest example because we know that He prospered spiritually because He is sitting at the right hand of God and He is the head of the church, yet He had to suffer a cruel death on the cross. While you may prosper physically by living an honest life as a Christian, true prosperity comes from being content with whatever you have or whatever your situation may be knowing that you are fighting the good fight of faith.
4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Again, we have another simile. The writer compares the wicked to the useless chaff. When the grain was threshed, the chaff would be allowed to blow away in the wind. We also see a contrast between being rooted and having stability as righteous person and how the sinner has no stability in their life because they are just tossed to and fro. No one can find stability or true happiness outside of Christ.
About the only use for chaff was to burn it, and John the Baptist used this thought to describe what will happen with the wicked.
Matthew 3:12 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The Godly are the wheat that will be gathered into heaven, but the ungodly are the chaff and they will be burned with unquenchable fire in hell.
Finally the writer states:
Psalm 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.† 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
When it comes time for the judgment day, the wicked will not be able stand before God because they will have nothing to stand on. Since they choose the wicked way, they will not have Christ on their side being the advocate, they will only be able to accept their eternal punishment they will face in hell.
Even those sinners who live a moral life and surround themselves with righteous people will not be able to stand before God because we be judged by what we have done in the body of Christ and not by who we rubbed elbows with.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
As verse 6 of our Psalm says, the Lord knows the way of the righteous. This word know means that He knows us intimately. In fact,
Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.†
God knows when we are walking on the right pathway and we will prosper spiritual when we do, but He also knows those who are walking on the broad road that leads to destruction, and their way will perish because they will be condemned to hell forever.
Even if the wicked prosper materially for a while, they cannot prosper spiritually and all their material things will be meaningless when they die.
In conclusion, we have learned that there are two roads to choose from, we can either choose the difficult road that leads to eternal life in heaven or we can go down the broad road that leads to destruction. If you want true happiness in your life you must take the difficult road by staying away from the sinful way, by delighting in Godís law and living your life by it and by meditating on it day and night. While the ungodly may prosper for a season, we can know that we will prosper for eternity in heaven when we choose the righteous path. So, I hope that each of will choose the difficult road.