May 6, 2001 Psalm 1
1 Blessed the man who has not walked by the counsel of the wicked,
and has not stood in the way of the sinful,
and has not sat in the gathering of scoffers.
2 But in the Lord’s Torah is his delight
and in his Torah will he muse by day and night.
3 So shall he be like a tree,
transplanted by running waters,
which shall yield its fruit in its season,
and its foliage shall not wither.
So, in all that he shall do, he shall prosper.
4 Not so the wicked!
But they are like the chaff that wind tosses.
5 Therefore, the wicked shall not rise up in judgment,
nor sinners in an assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord protects the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked shall perish.
Counsel/council – fellowship of, sit under instruction of/influence of (relationship)
Way – dominion or power or throne, or the place where dominion is exercised as in the assembly, perhaps in the sense of dominion of deity (power)
Gathering – seat, session (place)
Walked-stood-sat = progression
Counsel-way-gathering = parallel progression
Relationship/power/place = meaning
Truth: beware of how and where you begin since there you may remain, but the idea may not be progressive but rather synonymous, showing the different ways evil should be avoided by the righteous (all)
Scoffers – babble or talk loosely (note parallel progression wicked/sinful/scoffers where scoffers have come to totally reject truth and even belittle it)
Delight – meditating, murmuring/whispering
Running Waters – fed by irrigation channels of constant supply
Yield its fruit – refers to the man rather than the tree
In judgment – place of judgment where the wicked will have no place or respect
Protects – to know in the sense of protecting or guarding
This psalm expresses with remarkable clarity the polarity of persons and their destinies.
The structure of the psalm may be set forth as follows:
(1) the solid foundation of the righteous (1:1–3);
(2) the impermanence of the wicked (1:4–5);
(3) a contrast of the righteous and the wicked (1:6).
An understanding of Torah contributed to long life, peace and prosperity (Prov 3:1–2), for in its words God has set down the nature of a life which would reach the true fulfillment for which it was created.
The happy estate of the righteous is illuminated in v 3 by the simile of the tree. A tree may flourish or fade, depending upon its location and access to water. A tree transplanted from some dry spot (e.g. a wadi, where the water runs only sporadically in the rainy season) to a location beside an irrigation channel, where water never ceases to flow, would inevitably flourish. It would become a green and fruitful tree. The simile not only illustrates colorfully the prosperity of the righteous, but also make a theological point. The state of blessedness or happiness is not a reward; rather, it is the result of a particular type of life. Just as a tree with a constant water supply naturally flourishes, so too the person who avoids evil and delights in Torah naturally prospers, for such a person is living within the guidelines set down by the Creator. Thus the prosperity of the righteous reflects the wisdom of a life lived according to the plan of the Giver of all life.
The “lightness” of the wicked is then elaborated in v 5. The two lines of v 5, in synonymous parallelism, reflect essentially the same thought, namely that the wicked hold no weight or influence in the important areas of human society. Where the righteous meet for the pursuit of justice and government, the wicked have no place and are not recognized. They live for themselves and cannot participate in the affairs of those who live for others and for righteousness.
The contrast (1:6). And so, in the last resort, human beings are of two kinds. They may be righteous; if so, God protects their way. But they may be wicked, and for the wicked, the final destiny is doom. The doom of the wicked, as it is expressed in this psalm, is not primarily a punishment, any more than the happiness of the righteous is a reward. Each is presented as the natural outcome of a way of life which has been chosen.
The wisdom, as expressed in this psalm, is essentially related to the present life; the psalm does not clearly evince any doctrine of future. The anticipated prosperity is in the present life, just as the failure of the wicked is to be a present reality.
The contrast between the two ways (1:6) is illuminated further in the words of Jesus in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 7:13–14). Jesus speaks of two gates, a broad gate giving entrance to the “way that leads to destruction” and a narrow gate giving entrance to “the way that leads to life.” (Alternatively, the text could be interpreted to mean that there are two ways, one leading to a broad gate, the other leading to a narrow gate). The principles of Jesus’ teaching are essentially those of the psalm, yet there is an eschatological element in the words of Jesus (see also Luke 13:24), for the kingdom of God, represented by the way of life associated with the narrow gate, has both a present and a future dimension of reality.
There is a further aspect of this psalm which is relevant to its application. In the last resort, the principal wisdom of the psalm can be reduced to v 2; the prosperity and happiness of the righteous depends upon their finding “delight” in the Lord’s Torah. But how is such delight to be found? In practical terms, it is achieved by constant meditation upon the Torah (v 2b), which is God’s instruction. As instruction, it contains guidance from the Creator as to the meaning of creation. Life is lived in futility if its fundamental purpose is never discovered. It is the meaning of human existence which is enshrined in the Torah, and it is the discovery of that meaning which flows from meditation upon Torah.
Expositional Outline of Psalm 1:
Big Question: How is it possible to be truly happy in life?
Big Idea: True Happiness comes from walking with the Lord. Success and meaning in life come from fulfilling God's purpose.
I. True happiness is found in the way of the righteous. (vv. 1-3)
A. The way of the righteous is an abiding relationship with God.
1. It is not in the advice of the wicked.
2. It is not in the adoration of sinners.
3. It is not in the arena with mockers.
B. The way of the righteous is an obedient relationship with God.
1. It is in utter devotion to God's Word.
2. It is in utter desire of God's will.
C. The way of the righteous is a productive relationship with God.
1. It is continually bathed in the blessings of nourishment.
2. It continually builds toward the blessings of maturity.
3. It is continually beautified by the blessings of health.
4. It continually benefits from the blessing of purpose.
II. True happiness in not found in the way of the wicked. (vv. 4-5)
A. They have no substance.
B. They have no standard.
C. They have no stability.
III. The way of the righteous and the wicked have different destinations. (v. 6)
A. The Lord takes responsibility for the righteous.
B. The Lord rejects responsibility for the wicked.
I. How to walk with the Lord
A. Do not follow evil (1)
1. In Thinking—(counsel)
2. In Behaving—(way)
3. In Belonging—(seat)
B. Form your mind (2)
1. Delight in God’s directions
2. Let His word guide your steps
C. Strive for results (3)
1. Produce beautiful fruit
2. Be free from the draught that sin will cause in your life
3. Seek excellence
II. How to stay away from the wicked (4-6)
A. Recognize their lack of roots in God
B. Recognize the useless fragments in their lives
C. Recognize their ultimate demise
1. No legs to stand on
2. No place among the righteous
3. No protection from destruction
The Message (Peterson)
How well God must like you-
you don't hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don't slink along Dead-End Road,
you don't go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to Yahweh's Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You're a tree planted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.
You're not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust-
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.
Yahweh charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.