260 – Psalm 1 – Planted
I think the modern-day believer often treats the book of Psalms like spiritual comfort food. When laziness strikes or one doesn’t want to take the time to prepare a scriptural meal and sit down to a more formal dining experience, enter the Psalms. For the most part, each Psalm is a self-contained song in the form of Hebrew poetry and is easily digestible. When the reader feels they need comfort or encouragement or they want to provide the same to another, the Psalms is the likely “go-to” book of the Bible.
While I agree the Psalms are packed with great comfort and encouragement, I would caution us to not adopt a casual or whimsical opinion of the Psalms. After all, the Psalms are the very word of God and therefore subject to, for example, the truths of Hebrews 4:12.
Hebrews 4:12 (LEB)
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow, and able to judge the reflections and thoughts of the heart.
Let’s consider the six short verses of Psalm 1.
Psalm 1:1-6 (LEB)
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the advice of the wicked; nor does he stand in the way of sinners; nor does he sit in the assembly of mockers.
2 Instead, in the law of Yahweh is his delight, and on His law he meditates day and night.
3 And so, he is like a tree planted by streams of water that gives its fruit in its season; its leaf also does not wither. Therefore all that he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked. Instead, they are like the chaff that the wind scatters.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for Yahweh knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Clearly, this Psalm contrasts men (mankind) who have two and only two different statuses. There are the “blessed” and the “wicked”. Why do I say “statuses”? Well, because the first verb we encounter is the passive word “is” which communicates a current state of being or a status.
We learn first about the blessed. Verse one tells some detail as to why a given person is known as blessed. Oddly enough the author does start with what the blessed man has done or is doing, but rather with what He does not do.
The verbs used are all active. First, the blessed man does not [actively] walk in the advice of the wicked. Advice is an interesting word that includes plans, decisions, and council. The word walk of course is a metaphor that could be replaced by “living in” or “operating by” the wicked’s schemes. To continue the metaphor, the path of the blessed is not laid out by the wicked.
Notice the contrast. What does the blessed do instead of walking in wickedness? Look at verse 3. He doesn’t walk, he’s planted! This notion seems to communicate a contrast between what the wicked do and what the blessed is. What does a tree do? It gives fruit. That’s it. Nothing more. Fruit is simply a natural product of being a tree. Having said that, the idea of being a tree in verse three is a summary or end result of delighting by mediating constantly in the law of Yahweh. I think it is not a stretch to say this passage is constructed in such a way that the streams of water are a stand-in for the law of Yahweh (His word).
Next, nor does he [actively] stand in the way of sinners. Interesting choice of words here wouldn’t you say? Why did the author choose the word “stand”? Wouldn’t it have been better to say, “walk in the way of sinners”? The context doesn’t support the idea of standing in opposition to the wicked’s way. So what does it mean? The use of the word stand here communicates a positional decision. It simply communicates the idea that the blessed man has not adopted a position or a lifestyle of walking in the way of the sinners. By the way, the word sinner is introduced as a synonym for the wicked. What makes a man wicked is that he is a sinner.
We should also observe that the use of the word “way” communicates, metaphorically, living consistently by a given set of practices. It doesn’t seem to mean they “occasionally” sin, but rather have chosen a lifestyle of sin.
Subsequently, the blessed “nor does he [actively] sit in the assembly of mockers”. He actually congregates with the righteous. Righteous here can be taken as a synonym for blessed.
There is so much more we could observe in these power-packed verses. I hope you’ll take the time to continue making observations in Psalm one. As we wind down our observations together notice a contrast between the blessed and the wicked. The blessed are described as living, thriving, fruit-giving trees. The wicked are associated with death. They are chaff of the field scattered by the wind. The blessed produce fruit that others can be nourished by, but the wicked have nothing life-giving to offer.
Colossians chapter one is an excellent passage we could read alongside Psalm one. It clearly communicates to us that the wicked can have a status change. The “wicked” can become “the blessed”!
Colossians 1:13-14 (LEB)
13 who has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins,
How can the wicked be transferred into God’s Kingdom?
Ephesians 2:8-9 (LEB)
8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
Isn’t God good?? He and He alone truly is worthy of all praise, worship, and adoration!