In Psalm 1, the reader is presented with two ways of life. The ESV translators included an added title accurately describing this section as “The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked.” We have the freedom to choose which path we will travel in this life. The Psalmist encourages the reader to travel the way of the righteous by listing some qualities of the righteous person.
The Righteous Person is Not Easily Influenced by the Wicked (Psalm 1:1): “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers…”
Notice the progression in this verse. It says the righteous person does not walk, stand nor sit in the presence of the wicked. This is a Hebrew poetic feature stressing the point that often times those who are righteous are slowly influence by the wicked. It does not usually happen over night.
Can you relate? At first you thought you were completely untouched by the world, but then you started walking closer to those of the world. You did not think much of it because you were just walking near them and not participating in their lifestyles. After spending sometime walking near them you suddenly found yourself standing with them and even imitating some of their behavior. But you still thought you were in control. Then the next thing you knew, you found yourself seated in their presence and you were there to stay.
The Psalmist warns the reader to not even walk near them! Paul’s words ring true: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).
The Righteous Person Finds Joy in the Word of God (1:2): “… but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Specifically the Psalmist says that the righteous person “delights in the law of the Lord.” If you are like the average person then you probably struggle with keeping a consistent routine of reading the Bible each day. You genuinely want to study, read and meditate on the word of God, but it seems so hard to keep a reading schedule. I have been there too.
I honestly believe that part of the problem is that we see reading the Bible as a chore. I do not necessarily mean this in a bad way. For example, working out and taking care of your health is a really great thing. It can be very relaxing and it will make you feel better in the long run. However, it too can easily feel like a chore. We know reading the Bible is good for us and will help us grow, but sometimes it still feels like a chore. In the verse above we often focus on the latter part of the verse. We want to get to a place where we are meditating on God’s word daily. However, we will never be successful in this if our “delight” is not in the word of God to begin with.
Does reading the Bible really bring us joy? Many of us have hobbies that bring us joy, so we continue to do them. My favorite hobbies include: tennis, playing guitar and fishing. I will never stop doing those things because they bring great joy in my life. I must check my heart and ask “Do I delight in the word of God” and go from there.
The Righteous Person Lives a Fruitful and Productive life (1:3-4): “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
When I find my delight in the word of God and actually begin to meditate on it daily, that is when God uses His word to create fruit in our lives. The Psalmist compares the passionate reader to a “tree planted by streams of water.” Just like a tree needs water to grow, we need the word of God. Here the Bible is identified as our life-source.
When we joyfully meditate on the word of God, we will grow to be the people He intended us to be. When we neglect our life-source, the leaves fall off our tree and the wind blows our shriveled limbs away. No doubt this is what happens to the person who stops seeking truth in the word. The result is a person who has fallen off the righteous path.
The Righteous Person Will Spend Eternity with God (1:5-6): “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The time for analogies is over. The Psalmist transitions into very clear language: the wicked will perish and the righteous will know the Lord for all eternity.
This is a reminder that we will all appear before the judgment seat of God (2 Cor. 5:10). The wicked will be cast away from God’s presence for all eternity (2 Thess. 1:9). The righteous will be able to stand before His throne of grace with confidence for all eternity (Heb. 4:16).
Psalm 1 is a beautiful Hebrew poem about a decision we must all make. What will you choose? Will you go the easy way of the wicked that is filled with destruction (Matt. 7:13)? Or will you travel the narrow path of the righteous, humbly submitting to God’s grace (Matt 7:14)? The choice is yours.