“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).”
This is a powerful psalm. You can almost feel the outcry of King David as he makes a distinction between living righteously versus living wickedly. Those who live righteously obey God’s law, they delight in knowing the Torah and yield positive fruit. The righteous also refrain from following the path of the wicked. They are wise to know this leads to destruction.
King David shows how the wicked are mockers. They do not delight in the law. They do not meditate on the wisdom found in Scripture. They are like chaff. They are easily blown away because they have rejected God as their chief foundation.
For these reasons, wicked people will not be able to stand confident in God’s judgment. They will not be able to yoke with righteous people. God does not protect wicked people but will judge them according to their sins.
The Hebrew word for blessed מְהוּלָל means to be praised, eulogized, illustrious, respected, and admired. David is stating in Psalm 1, from the very beginning, that a blessed man is one who is honored by others. The blessed person has a good reputation. They are highly esteemed.
What does this look like in modern life? As believers, we are called to live in the world, but not be of the world. While we interact with our unbelieving friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members, we are not to participate in their sinful activities.
For instance, if a co-worker is gossiping about a certain person, you are not to sit with them or join in their mocking. Instead, you should either walk away from those situations or advise them to talk to the person they are gossiping about.
In the next verse, David makes it clear that the blessed man is the one who meditates on the law of the Lord. Scripture says that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Ps. 19:7). God tells us in Deuteronomy to teach God’s precepts every day to our family:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”-Deut. 6:6
Finally, Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). We live in a post-modern Christianity that oftentimes forgets its Judaism roots. Modern evangelicals need to be gently reminded that Jesus was a Jew. He observed the Sabbath. He followed the commandments of Scripture. He followed the dietary laws. Jesus even prefaces that comment by saying “Do not think I have come to abolish the law.” This means there is a tendency for people to believe he has, when in fact this is not the case.
Furthermore, King David states that those who observe God’s law and meditate on it will be like a tree planted by streams of living water. This blessed person will indeed produce fruit. And the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22).
Our goal as Christians should be to cultivate these positive attributes for the glory of God. The way we do this is heeding to God’s commands and obeying His righteous decrees.
In the final verses, David shares how the wicked are like chaff. They are easily blown away because they have no foundation. Jesus tells a parable of the wise and foolish builders that correlate to the distinction between the righteous and wicked found in this psalm:
“Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall (Matt. 7:24-27).”
When the wicked do not trust in the Lord and disobey His righteous commandments, they will utterly perish. The wicked will not be able to stand confident on the day of judgment. In fact, Scripture makes it clear they will be terribly afraid in Revelation 6:16:
Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”
This is a fearful passage. I can’t imagine how dreadful that day will be for the lost. That’s why we are called to love our enemies. As Christians, we must pray daily for our unbelieving friends. God says from His word that He is not willing that anyone perishes, but that all come to repentance and faith.
Yes, God gave free will. Yes, people will choose to disobey and be like chaff on the day of judgment. But this is not God’s desire. His desire is for all to come to the knowledge of the truth.
In conclusion, Psalm 1 demonstrates the strong contrast between the righteous and the wicked. It alludes to the notion that the law has not been abolished. In fact, Jesus upholds the Law and we are to obey its truths.
Yes, we are saved by grace through faith. It is a free gift, not of works, lest anyone should boast. But this does not nullify the law. We keep the law not to be saved. Rather, we keep the law because we are saved. This is an important truth to meditate on.
Moreover, Psalm 1 is a warning to mockers and unbelievers who are trying to find hope in something or someone other than God. If they don’t repent and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, there will be no shield to protect them from God’s wrath. Psalm 1 should, therefore, encourage believers to share their faith and be bold with inner convictions.
Let’s pray for God’s blessing upon us.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the blessed life. When we obey your word, meditate on your precepts, and reject the lifestyle of the wicked, we will be blessed. Help us to cultivate the fruit of the spirit. Give us wisdom to share our faith with boldness. Protect us from the evil one. In Jesus name, Amen!