Psalm 1 is a favorite of just about everyone and one many Christians have memorized. The Psalm sets forth a series of comparisons or contrasts with the first being between two groups of individuals, those identified in verse 6 as “righteous” and those identified in the same verse as “wicked.” In all there are at least 5 comparisons that are made either directly or indirectly in this Psalm regarding those two groups.
Psalm 1, like all of Scripture, presents only 2 alternatives for one’s life because God has on only two classifications. One either belongs to Him via his acceptance of Jesus and is therefore viewed as “righteous” or one is a sinner separated from Him by sin and, therefore, viewed as “wicked.” Read Matthew 7:13-14.
The second comparison in this Psalm found in the 1st verse when the Psalm introduces “righteous” as the ones who are blessed. Implied, although not specifically stated, is that one is either blessed because he is “righteous” and doing what this Psalm describes, or one will not know that blessing. The word “blessed” is actually plural in the Hebrew and is also translated as “happy.”
Men and women will do just about anything to find happiness only to discover that nothing this world has to offer will meet that need. The Bible says real and lasting happiness is found in living God’s way. Incidentally, there are so many similarities between Psalm 1 and the Beatitudes of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that many feel as if Jesus had this Psalm in mind when He gave us that teaching on being blessed or happy.
The third comparison is between the lifestyle of the righteous and that of the wicked with the lifestyle of the wicked being the total opposite of that of the righteous. In verse 1 the Psalmist wrote that the righteous do “not walk in step with the wicked, stand in the way that sinners take,or sit in the company of mockers.” Instead, according to verse 2, they “delight in the law of the Lord,and meditates on his law day and night.”
The idea of “delighting in the law of the Lord” is important. To the Psalmists the Scriptures centered on the Torah, that is the first 5 books of the Old Testament or as it was thought of, the law. With the giving of additional revelation by God the idea of “the law of the Lord” would have to be expanded to read, “A righteous man delights in the whole Bible as the Word of God.” That certainly stands in contrast to the individual who, if not rejecting the Bible completely, feels free to pick out what he wants to accept and then writes the rest off.
The fourth comparison is between the difference one’s lifestyle makes in the value of a life from God’s perspective. The righteous person is, according to verse 3, “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” In contrast the wicked are described as “chaff that the wind blows away.” Both of those illustrations were pictures easily understood to those in Old Testament times and easily understood by anyone familiar with farming today.
The righteous individual or the Christian has a source of inner happiness, strength, peace, purpose etc. that does may not make a lot of sense in a world that sees only barrenness. In the midst of what seems like barrenness, the righteous person or Christian bears fruit that makes no sense to the world but shines as a testimony to the love and care of our God.
In contrast to that, a sinner who may appear initially to have it all together, is in the end simply chaff. The sinner’s life is worthless and will ultimately be blown away regardless of how well he supports his family and the community or how many toys he collects.
The fifth contrast/comparison notes that because the commitments and lifestyle of the righteous are radically different from that of the wicked, their ultimate ending is different. Verse 6 records that the “the Lord is watching over the way of the righteous” but for the wicked, their end is destruction. Read John 3:36.
In a world that seeks happiness at any cost and in just about every conceivable way, the Bible is clear that true happiness is found in a right relationship with God with a vital part of that relationship being right living described in verses 1 and 2. True happiness is found in avoiding sinful ways while delighting in God’s Word and following it in every aspect of life. That is the source of real happiness and the goal each of us should have.
1. Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.