Psalm 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 7, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
(Psalm 1)

As I start digging into the Psalms for my blog posts in 2019, what better place would there be to start than at the beginning? There are 150 psalms in the Bible. Doing a nearly 3-year series on all 150 psalms seemed pretty overwhelming, so over the course of this year I’ll be writing on about a third of them. If you have a favorite you’d like me to write on, leave a comment to let me know and I’ll see if I can include it, or it may even already be on my list.

Psalm 1 is one of my favorites because of its stark contrasts and imagery, and how it gives a great overview on how to live our lives in relationship with God.

In verse 1, we see that we are blessed when we follow God. We are warned of a three-fold danger of things that will pull us away from God: walking with the wicked, standing with sinners, and sitting with mockers. The original Hebrew more literally says “walk in the counsel of the wicked,” meaning taking their advice to do what they do. This is following the ways of the world that go against God. Standing in the way of sinners doesn’t mean standing against them but rather agreeing with them. We generally become like those we hang out with. Sitting in the company of mockers means we’re joining in with what they do.

Notice the progression in verse 1, from walking to standing to sitting. As we move from walking to sitting, it gets more difficult for us to change course. If you’re walking, it’s pretty easy to turn around and go the other way - away from sin and toward God. If you’re standing, turning around is still pretty easy, but you don’t have the same momentum you had when you’re walking. If you’re sitting, it’s much more difficult to change your direction. By that point, we’re firmly entrenched in the ways of the world and going against the blessed ways of following God.

Verse 2 starts with a strong contrasting conjunction (“but”), showing the major difference between a person fully following the world versus one who is following God. As a Christian, we should have delight in the Word of God, not the ways of this world! God’s Word should be exciting, delightful, and inspirational to us. We must move against the tide to make God’s Word our delight. We have to intentionally work on this in our lives, lest we get sucked into the world we live in. We should study the Word, pray on it, hear it preached, and have faith in it - day and night!

In the English of verse 2, we see the phrase “meditate on it.” In the Hebrew, that verb means to constantly mutter it under your breath. We should always keep God’s Word in our hearts and minds, even muttering it to ourselves so we don’t forget.

Verse 3 gives us a picture of what that looks like - being like a tree planted by streams of water. The tree reaches its roots down into the stream drawing life from the water. We were planted like that tree when we became believers in Jesus Christ, and we need the water of the Holy Spirit to keep us nourished. The tree here bears fruit - just like the fruit of the Spirit we see in Galatians 5:22-23, which the Spirit produces in our lives. It’s not the fruit of our own actions; we’ll fail if we try to do all these things in our own power. But if we’re living with God’s Word as our delight, we’ll be filled with His Spirit and the fruit will be evident.

This verse doesn’t necessarily refer to prosperity like the world sees it with material possessions, but as God sees prosperity - furthering God’s Kingdom and being obedient to what He wants us to do.

So after 3 verses of descriptions of what it looks like to live a Godly life, verses 4-5 are much more abrupt in describing the judgment of the ungodly. The tree of the Godly person is strongly rooted, whereas the chaff of the wicked is very light and will simply be blown away. The chaff is with the wheat until the wind blows, just like the righteous and wicked people are all together here on earth until the day of judgment.

In Biblical times, if you went before a judge after being accused of a crime, you had to either stand or sit. If you stood, it meant you believed you were innocent. If you did not stand, you believed you were guilty. Only the righteous can stand to declare their innocence. The wicked will not be able to stand in the day of judgment, because they know they have gone against God’s ways. You don’t want to be one of those ungodly ones who are judged, and don’t let your friends be those either! There is only bad in store for them, even if it seems they may have happiness for now in this lifetime.

In verse 6, we see in the English, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous.” In the Hebrew, the word for “watches over” can also be translated as “knows,” and it’s the most intimate, close way of knowing someone. God doesn’t just know your name, He knows YOU! He knows everything about you - everything you’ve ever said or done, your deepest longings, and your greatest joys. If we have faith in God, then we are considered righteous and God knows us that intimately, but if we are wicked then our way leads to destruction rather than God.

How can we approach this almighty God so easily? It’s only through His Son, Jesus. It’s only because of Jesus that we can stand on the day of judgment and declare our innocence, and it’s only because of Jesus that we as sinners can approach our perfect God and not be destroyed.

Do you see the difference between the blessed man and the ungodly? The ungodly are not blessed by God; they do not have delight in God's Word, and they will not bear fruit by the Holy Spirit. The ungodly shall not stand in the day of judgment. But those of us who have faith in Jesus and who are covered by His blood, we will have blessing from God! We will stand in the day of judgment. We will study His Word and bear fruit.

Take a good look at your life this week. Where do you see yourself at in this psalm?

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