Psalms 1 – Just Two Kinds of People
It’s all laid out before you in black and white. The very first Psalm paints two graphic pictures: one of the “righteous” and another one of the “unrighteousness” .There are no descriptions or pictures of the “in-betweens”. No grey areas!
Psalms 1:1 begins by proclaiming a blessing! Not a blessing on what a person does but on what he doesn’t do. This blessed person doesn’t “walk” in the counsel of the ungodly. He doesn’t “stand” in the path of sinners. And she doesn’t “sit” in the seat of the scornful. This person doesn’t walk, stand, or sit anywhere near evil. He doesn’t believe, behave or belong to the realm of the wicked. Deep within a person either wants to follow God’s ways or he doesn’t. Psalm 1:1 is a description of one who wants to stay far away from un-just and un-loving ways, – even in his thought life. Here is how Psalms 1:1 reads: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful:”
The sin of being scornful or critical or having a mocking spirit is specifically mentioned here in this first Psalm and also in other Bible passages. Doesn’t a scornful or cynical outlook cause one to have less sensitivity and less love for others? Doesn’t Scripture tell us that a habit of mocking others is offensive to God? But it’s so easy for a critical spirit to creep up on us and Scripture warns us not to sit in the seat of the scornful. Do we need to be on guard against this?
And the second verse describes not just what this blessed one doesn’t do but also what he does do. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:2. Now we have it, - the blessing falls on what this person does do as well as what he doesn’t. She does delight in God’s Word and she reads and meditates on God’s laws constantly. And since God’s Word is alive and powerful, the person who immerses himself in it is changed and blessed.
This seeker of God is so blessed that Psalms 1:3 gloriously describes him as: “He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.” What an amazing picture of the person who loves God’s Word and tries to stay away from evil. He is like a fruitful tree that Someone has purposefully planted by a river of water. His leaf will never wither or his life will never run dry because he draws his life and strength from the Water of Life. And her life will be fruitful or productive – so much so that everything she does will prosper!
This picture of the one who seeks after God goes right off the scale! He isn’t living out his life on his own but God’s Hand is all over him! Planting him, feeding him, making everything he does prosper! This amazing picture shows more than we could ever ask or think! He plants us right by the River. We draw our very life from the water that won’t run dry. Our leaf never withers and everything we do prospers! He speaks in mysteries, too marvelous to comprehend.
And then Psalms 1 continues by describing the “unrighteous”. Not much to say about them. Blunt and to the point Psalms 1:4 declares that “the ungodly are not so. But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” Those who seek after God are like a planted tree fed by the rivers, but those who don’t seek after God are like empty husks which are easily blown away. These two pictures –the prosperous tree and the dead chaff-described in Psalm 1 are in stark contrast to one another.
The last two verses of our Psalm close with more condemnations on the “ungodly”. Verse 5 and 6 end with “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Not only are the ungodly like chaff that the wind blows away, but they won’t be approved when they are judged. They won’t share with the righteous in their congregation, and their ways aren’t known by the Lord. So they will perish.
The picture in Psalm 1 of those who refuse God’s Way is as bad as it gets. The last verse says it all, “But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”. And the picture of those who allow God to plant them by His River – is too wonderful for our small minds to be able to take in. Just two pictures are set before us here in this little Psalm: pictures of a tree and of chaff. Of life and of death. Let’s choose life.