God’s Life-giving Word
(1) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor (stands) in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of mockers. (2) Rather his delight is in the law (Torah) of Yahweh, and in his law he meditates day and night. (3) He (is) like a tree planted by channels of water which bears its fruit in season and whose foliage does not fade. All that he does prospers. (4) Not so the wicked: they are like the chaff which 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.
Several words are repeated for emphasis in this very first psalm. “The wicked” occurs four times (vss. 1, 4, 5, & 6). “The way” is mentioned three times. Twice it is “the way of sinners/wicked” (vss. 1 & 6) and once “the way of the righteous” (vs. 6). The contrast between “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked” brings the psalm to its climax in the final verse.
“The law” (Torah) is used twice (vs. 2). “The righteous” also occurs twice (vss. 5 & 6). These repetitions suggest that the author is presenting us with two contrasting approaches to life, one righteous and the other wicked, one that leads to prosperity and permanence and the other that leads to futility and death. What makes the difference is the Word of God.
I. Focusing on those who delight in God’s law (1-3)
II. Focusing on those who do not delight in God’s law (4-6)
How we relate to God’s Word determines the value of our present lives as well as our eternal destiny.
Psalm 1 serves as the entryway to the entire Book of Psalms. It bears testimony to the value of devoting ourselves to a study of the Scriptures, first to the Torah, the first five books of Moses, which are mentioned specifically, and then, by implication, to the 150 psalms found in the Psalter, all inspired poetic meditations based on the truths revealed in the Torah.
Just what are the benefits of such a study? The psalmist mentions two great blessings for which all our hearts yearn, prosperity and permanence. The first speaks of fulfilling our potential during the brief years we spend on earth. God promises that he will prosper us if we assimilate his Word into our lives. Just as a tree, planted near water in nutritious soil flourishes and bears abundant fruit for many years, so we flourish and bear much spiritual fruit for the duration of our lives on earth if we devote ourselves to his Word.
The second blessing anticipates an even greater attainment, namely, the prospect of eternal life in God's presence forever. The statement, “For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous” (vs. 6), implies that God not only knows everything about our lives here on earth but has also determined our future destiny. Consider God’s promise expressed through Jeremiah: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11). The more we assimilate God’s Word into our lives, the more prepared we will be to live our lives to the full both here on earth and in our future heavenly home.