Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.
The book of Psalms is a collection of prayers and praise that were set to music and used for worship by the people of God. King David authored many of them, but Asaph, Solomon and Moses were also authors, along with a few others.
The Psalms date from 1500 to 500 BC, and the book was put into its final form in the 300’s BC. The Psalms express the full range of religious emotions, from breathtaking highs to suffocating lows. They articulate the religious feelings of believers throughout the ages, in many of life’s circumstances.
The first word of the first verse of the first Psalm is the word blessed. The Hebrew word can also be translated happy, so the point of the first psalm is to direct our feet into the way of happiness. All men seek happiness. There are no exceptions. However different the means they may employ, they all strive towards this goal (Blaise Pascal).
The reason some people go to church is to be happy, and the reason some people stay home is to be happy. The reason some people get married is to be happy, and the reason some people get divorced is to be happy. I have been on several diets over the years, and I always start because I think that being thinner will make me happy. But when I get hungry enough, I think that eating will make me happy. Whether I eat or not, I do both for the same reason. Psalm one tells us how to be happy in God.
Psalm 1:1b [He] does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
Few things will influence our lives, for good or evil, more than those around us. This is why parents are concerned about what kind of friends their children make. I was thirteen years old when I began to run with the wrong crowd, and my mother expressed her concern. I said, The reason I run with them is to be a good influence. But I was lying through my teeth and she knew it. She shook her head and said, Tell me who you run with, and I’ll tell you who you are.
A young lady was also going out with the wrong crowd, and she told her parents the same lie. They said, If you are going out with unbelievers, make the ratio three to one: three friends who are on the right track for every one who is not. That is good advice. The sinful nature is so powerful that it is easier to be influenced toward evil than to influence others toward good. Your best friends are those who bring out the best in you, and Jesus Christ is the best friend you can ever have.
Psalm 1:2 . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
We do not know the author of Psalm One, but he clearly loved the Bible. He did not merely read the Bible; he made it his meditation. A good way to meditate on God’s word is by committing it to memory. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11), wrote the Psalmist. As we memorize the word of God it seeps into our soul and helps us throughout the day.
Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Israel’s climate is mostly hot and dry, so it is not always easy to make things grow. But everything grows nicely along the Jordan River because of the constant water supply. The writer is saying, poetically, that the closer you are to God, the more you will flourish.
A young missionary, who would later die for his faith, wrote these words: I walked out on the hill just now and it is exalting. It is delicious to stand and be embraced by the shadow of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens tugging at your heart. To gaze and glory and give oneself again to God. What more could a man ask. The fullness, pleasure, and sheer excitement of knowing God on earth (Jim Elliot). This is the kind of spiritual flourishing God wants for all of us.
Psalm 1:3b . . . whatever they do prospers.
Prosperity does not come easily in a fallen world. Some people prosper financially, but their relationships are a mess. Others prosper relationally, but their finances are a mess. Others prosper outwardly, but inwardly they are a mess. And some people are just a mess. But here we learn that prosperity comes from knowing God’s word, and being among his people.
Whenever you buy something that requires assembly, it is wise to read the instructions. Otherwise you may assemble it incorrectly, and it will not work the way it should. God knows how life is supposed to work, and has given us instructions in his word. Living as God intended is the only way to true prosperity.
Psalm 1:4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
In some parts of the world, wheat and chaff are still separated the way they were in the Bible. Both are tossed into the air, and because the chaff is lighter, the wind blows it off to the side. The wheat is stored in a barn, and the chaff is burned in a fire.
John the Baptist used this image to describe how Christ will separate the righteous from the wicked. [H]e will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12), he warned. The wheat and chaff are together now, but will be sorted then.
Psalm 1:5-6 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.
This psalm begins with the word blessed, and ends with the word destruction. Those who belong to Jesus Christ will enjoy eternal blessedness, and those who die apart from Christ will face eternal destruction. The Bible teaches us how to be happy in this life, and in the one to come.
Reflection and Review
Why is it important to be happy in God?
How is the Bible like an owner’s manual?
Do God’s people always prosper?