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Psalm 1: The Blessed Man


How blessed is the man who does not walk in the
image" />counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of
water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

The Psalm begins with a description of the general state of the righteous: blessed. Thomas Watson wrote, “This Psalm carries blessedness in the frontispiece; it begins where we all hope to end . . .” Now, one might think that this blessedness is consequential to the traits of the righteous described in the verses that follow. Certainly, there are benefits that proceed from godly living; but I think it is better to see those traits as the blessings themselves. To see righteousness as the cause of blessedness is to forget that the only righteousness we possess is a righteousness that is not our own.

The Psalm then contrasts the righteous and the wicked. The wicked and righteous are separated, first ethically, and then judicially.*

Ethical Separation

The Righteous

The righteous man does not keep company with the wicked. This is not to say that he has no association with them. It is to say that he does not look to them for wisdom (walk in the counsel), and that they are not his friends. He may be a friend, to them, in the same sense that Jesus was called a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), but he does not look to them for friendship (James 4:4). “Walk,” “sit,” “stand” may be seen as a progression from casual friendship to finally settling in and becoming one of them.

The righteous man delights in God’s law. This is not to say that he is legalistically obsessed with rules and regulations. He simply loves God and wants to know him. He is driven by a desire to know God, and takes great pleasure in knowing and pleasing him. He loves God and his Word so much that it is always on his mind (meditates day and night).

The righteous man is planted. He did not spring up wild, or of his own accord. He was intentionally planted, and nourished by streams of water. He will not be moved, and he will receive all the nourishment he needs for healthy life and growth. Consequently, he will bear the fruit that is expected (in its season) of a healthy, thriving tree. We are also reminded that the “streams of water” supplied by our Lord are “living water.” Like the living water promised by Jesus (John 4:7–14; 7:37–38), its effect is permanently life-giving’’its leaf does not wither.”

The result is that “in whatever he does, he prospers.” This is not a reference to anything so superficial as physical or material health and prosperity. Success for the Christian is measured by one result only: that he bears good fruit and so displays the glory of God.

The Wicked

The wicked are not so. After nine lines describing the righteous and his fruit, the poet emphasizes the stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked by describing the wicked in only two. Theologians often define sins into two categories, sins of commission, and sins of omission. These are useful categories, but here we are reminded that all sins are sins of omission. All sin is simply not being righteous, or, as Question 14 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” So after a more lengthy description of the righteous, it is enough to state simply, “The wicked are not so.”

Consequently, while the righteous “yields fruit,” “does not wither,” and “prospers,” the wicked “are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” Chaff is the husks of grain, bits of straw, and other debris that survive the initial harvesting process. But it is not grain, which contains the germ of life. It is dead and useless, and is blown away during the grain cleaning process, to go back into the ground and rot.

Judicial Separation

The Wicked

The wicked will not stand in the judgment. The wicked will be judged. Their true character, which is not always discernible to us, is never hidden from God. It will will be brought to light, and a “guilty” verdict will be rendered.

Sinners will not stand in the congregation of the righteous. the wicked will be separated from the righteous.

Matthew 13, Parable of the Wheat and Tares

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The way of the wicked will perish. They will be burned as the tares in the preceding parable.

The Righteous

The Lord knows the way of the righteous. This time, it is the righteous of whom little is said, only one line for three describing the fate of the wicked. But it is not really so little. “The Lord knows” is a phrase that is loaded with meaning. Being “known” by the Lord indicates a relationship of profound intimacy, love, and trust. It signifies sonship, having been adopted and made a joint heir with Jesus to eternal life. Being known by the Lord makes all the difference. There are no more fearful words than the sentence “I never knew you” from the mouth of Jesus.

* Outline adapted from the MacArthur Study Bible.



Posted 2009·02·02 by David Kjos
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