1 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,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 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.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalms 1 acts as a preface to the whole book of Psalms. This psalm offers 2 different ways of life and their results. But doing so the psalmist wants to reader to be aware of the dangers of a ruthless life and the profits of a righteous life and choose wisely the way and direction of life. The psalms interestingly starts with the word “blessed” which Jesus also uses in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 as Jesus begins His earthly ministry.
Matthew Henry in his commentary outlines this Psalms into 3 parts –
I. The holiness and happiness of a godly man (vs. 1-3)
II. The sinfulness and misery of a wicked man (vs. 4-5)
III. The ground and reason of both (vs. 6)
Matthew also adds that,” it is absolutely necessary to the acceptance of our devotions that we be righteous before God (for it is only the prayer of the upright that is his delight), and therefore that we be right in our notions of blessedness and in our choice of the way that leads to it. Those are not fit to put up good prayers who do not walk in good ways.”
Verse 1 talks about 3 different spiritual postures – Walk, Stand and Sit. As referred before the verse starts with “Blessed”. In this verse the psalmist wants to offer the reader the way to blessing. There are usually two different types of commands. One is “do” and other is “do not”. In this verse, it is a do not. A blessed person is someone who does not do the following things. When a person’s life enters sin it follows this order-walk, stand and sit. There are ways that a person should not walk, when he breaks it and walks in that particular way, after a while he tends to find something attractive and stands to watch it and later he is captivated by false beauty and sits there.
For a person to be not pulled in to this “unblessed” way of life, the psalmist offers a new way of life. He not only points out the way which a person should not walk, but he also points out to the way the he should walk. Man either walks in the way that leads to life or he walks in the way that leads to death. There is nothing called as neutral in spiritual life. Man’s heart is always pulled towards joy, happiness and love. His heart longs to be filled with eternal love. It is very crucial what he fills this longing with. In verse 2 the psalmist says his delight should be in the law of the Lord. When a person’s heart is captivated by the law of the Lord, he meditates on it day and night. His desire is to meditate on God’s law day and night.
Such person will be like the trees planted by the streams. But this psalmist wants to draw a picture of spiritual prosperity and freshness. The person who dwells in Lord’s word will be someone who is fresh and prosperous in spirit. Secondly he will be someone who bears fruit in season. Think about the time when Jesus cursed the fig tree for no fruits in the tree. He will not be like that but his life will be filled with fruits that himself and others can taste. Thirdly he will not wither. The trees without water wither. But the trees that are planted by the streams will never wither. Similarly the one who dwells in the word of God, which is the living water, he will never thirst.
In verse 4 the psalmist brings out the one who walks stands and sits with the wicket. They are like the chaff, meaning they are not firm in their lives. Their lives are shaking and faltering. When a wind blows – when temptations come – they easily fly away along with the wind.
Therefore the wicked and the sinners whose life is not built on the word of God cannot stand on the Day of Judgment which can both be perceived as the day of temptation or the final judgment and the wicked cannot stand together with the righteous. When light comes, darkness has to leave.
The final word is – the Lord will watch over the way of the righteous but the way of the sinners will lie in ruins and misery will follow them all the days of their lives.