(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

 

 

                                                            Psalm 1

 

 

IT is remarkable that neither the first nor the second psalm has any title.  Titles are so

much the rule in the first and second books of the Psalter, that, when they are absent,

their absence requires to be accounted for. As thirty-eight out of the forty-one psalms

in this section are distinctly assigned to David, we must suppose that the compiler did

not view this psalm as his. Perhaps he did not know the author. Perhaps, if he was

himself the author, he shrank from giving himself the prominence which could not

but have attached to him if his name had, in a certain sense, headed the collection.

Reticence would have specially become Solomon, if he was the author.

 

Commentators have generally recognized that this psalm is introductory and

prefatory. Jerome nays that many called it “the Preface of the Holy Ghost.” Some of

the Fathers did not even regard it as a psalm at all, but as a mere preface, and so

reckoned the second psalm as the first (in many manuscripts of the New Testament,

the reading is “first psalm” instead of “second psalm” in Acts 13:33). The composition

is, a short compendium of tile main subject of the Psalms, viz. that God has appointed

salvation to the righteous and perdition to the wicked.  The psalm divides naturally

into two nearly equal portions. In vs. 1-3 the character and condition of the righteous

are described, and their reward is promised them. In vs. 4-6 the condition of the

wicked is considered, and their ultimate destruction predicted.  It is the psalmists’

desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction

of sinners.

 

v. 1 - “Blessed is the man-  literally, blessings are to the man. But the Authorized

Version exactly gives the sense (comp Psalm 2:12).  "BLESSED" - see how this

Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our

Lord upon the Mount!  The word translated "blessed" is a very expressive one.

The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or

a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall

rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of

the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, "Oh, the blessednesses!" and we

may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man's

felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!  that walketh not in the counsel

of the ungodly” -  The margin gives, “or wicked,” and this is probably the best

rendering of the word used (μy[vr). The righteous man is first described

negatively, under three heads:

 

  • He “does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly:” i.e. he does not

            throw in his lot with the wicked does not participate in their projects or

            designs;

 

  • he “standeth not in the way of sinners” -  i.e. he does not take part in

            their actions, does not follow the same moral paths; and

 

  • he sitteth not in the seat of the scornful i.e. has no fellowship with

            them in the “scorn” which they cast upon religion. The word used for

            scornful (xle) is Solomonian (Proverbs 1:22; 3:34; 13:1), but in the

            Psalter occurs only in this place.

 

Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively

(verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He

takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God.

To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps

are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked

devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward

walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note

next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer

sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood-washed

sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the

rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd

with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, "nor sitteth in the seat of

the scornful." He finds no rest in the atheist's scoffings. Let others make a

mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this

man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too

much sense of God's presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The

seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell;

let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow

up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

 

  • He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
  • Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
  • Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.

 

When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely

walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God - the evil

is rather practical than habitual - but after that, they become habituated to

evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's

commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become

themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in

the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true

Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as

Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings

of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He

keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as

garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and

goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be

thus separate from sinners.  (such was Jesus Christ – Hebrews 7:26)

 

v. 2 - “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord-  The righteous man is now

described positively, under two heads:

 

  • He delights in the Law (comp. Psalm 119:16, 47, 77; Romans 7:22).

            And now mark his positive character. "His delight is in the law of

            the Lord." He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is

      in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life!

 

  • He constantly mediates in it. The “Law” intended — hrwOt, not

       hrwOTh — is probably not the mere Law of Moses, but God’s law, as

            made known to man in any way. Still, the resemblance of the passage to

                        Joshua 1:8 - “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but

            thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to

            do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make

            thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” - shows the

            Law of Moses to have been very specially in the writer’s thoughts.In His

            Law doth he meditate day and night”  compare, besides Joshua 1:8, the   

            following: Psalm 63:6; 119:15, 48, 78, 97.  He delights, moreover, to

            meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text

            and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep

            forsakes his eyelids, he muses upon the Word of God. In the day of his

            prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his

            affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. "The

            law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David's

            day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely

            anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should

            we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all

            our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We

            are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. (Acts 17:10-11)  How few

            among us can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you

            can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the   

            ungodly; but let me ask you — Is your delight in the law of God? Do you

            study God's Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand — your best     

            companion and hourly guide? If not, this blessing belongeth not to you.

                Constant meditation in God’s Law has characterized all saints.

 

 

 

v. 3 -  "And he shall be like a tree planted" — not a wild tree, but "a tree

planted” -  chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from

the last terrible uprooting, for "every plant which my heavenly Father hath

not planted, shall be rooted up:" (Matthew 15:13). "by the rivers of water” -

so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the

rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ,

are never-failing sources of supply. He is "like a tree planted by the rivers of

water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season”-  not unseasonable graces,

like untimely figs, which are never full-flavored. But the man who delights in God's

Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in

the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential

quality of a gracious man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable. "His leaf also

shall not wither"-  his faintest word shall be everlasting; his little deeds of love shall

be had in remembrance. Not simply shall his fruit be preserved, but his leaf also. He

shall neither lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness. "And whatsoever he doeth shall

prosper."  Blessed is the man who hath such a promise as this. But we must not

always estimate the fulfillment of a promise by our own eye-sight. How often, my

brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of

Jacob, "All these things are against me!" (Genesis 42:36)  For though we know

our interest in the promise, yet we are so tried and troubled, that sight sees the very

reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and

by it we perceive that our works are prospered, even when everything seems to go

against us. It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it

is soul prosperity which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships to go to

Tarshish for gold, but they are broken at Ezion-geber; (I Kings 22:48) but even here

there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul's health that we would be poor,

bereaved, and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a

curse wrapped up in the wicked man's mercies, so there is a blessing concealed

in the righteous man's crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are

a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.

 

v. 4 - “The ungodly are not so” or, the wicked (see the comment on v. 1.  We have

now come to the second head of the Psalm. In this verse the contrast of the ill estate

of the wicked is employed to heighten the coloring of that fair and pleasant picture

which precedes it. The more forcible translation of the Vulgate and of the Septuagint version

is"Not so the ungodly, not so." And we are hereby to understand that whatever

good thing is said of the righteous is not true in the case of the

ungodly.  Oh! how terrible is it to have a double negative put upon the promises!

and yet this is just the condition of the ungodly. Mark the use of the term "ungodly”,

 for, as we have seen in the opening of the Psalm, these are the beginners in evil, and

are the least offensive of sinners. Oh! if such is the sad state of those who quietly

continue in their morality, and neglect their God, what must be the condition

of open sinners and shameless infidels?  The first sentence is a negative description of

the ungodly, and the second is the positive picture.  but are like the chaff which the

wind driveth away” -  “Chaff” is used throughout  Scripture as an emblem of what is

weak and worthless (see Job 21:18; Psalm 35:5; Isaiah 5:24; 17:13; 29:5; 33:11; 41:15;

Jeremiah 23:28; Daniel 2:35; Hosea 13:3; Zephaniah 2:2; Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17).

In ancient times it was considered of no value at all, and when corn was winnowed, it

was thrown up in the air until the wind had blown all the chaff away.  Here is their

character "they are like chaff," intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable,

without substance, and easily carried away. Here, also, mark their doom, "the

 wind driveth away;" death shall hurry them with its terrible blast into the fire

in which they shall be utterly consumed!

 

v. 5 - Therefore the ungodly (or, the wicked) shall not stand in the judgment” –

the main idea must be that the wicked shall not be able to “stand,” or” rise up,” i.e.

hold up their heads”  in the last day.  They shall blush and be covered with eternal

contempt.  nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” - All our

congregations upon earth are mixed. Every Church hath one devil in it. The tares

grow in the same furrows as the wheat.  There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly

purged from chaff. Sinners mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God's

precious diamonds still lie in the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this

side heaven continually vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in

"the general assembly and church of the firstborn" (Hebrews 12:23) above,

there shall by no means be admitted a single unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven.

They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the

wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even

if he could be allowed to enter; but such a privilege shall never be granted to the man

who perseveres in his iniquities. May God grant that we may have a name and a place

in His courts above!

 

v. 6 – “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous. God is said to “know” those

of whom He approves, and. on whom He “lifts up the light of His countenance.” (ch.

6:4) The wicked he does not “know;” He “casts them out of the sight of His eyes” —

casts them behind His back;” refuses to acknowledge them. God “knows the way

of the righteous,” and therefore they live and prosper; He does not know the way

of the wicked, and therefore the way of the (wicked, or) ungodly shall perish (compare

the beginning and end of Psalm 112.).  Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, "The

Lord is knowing the way of the righteous." He is constantly looking on their way,

and though it may be often in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it

be in the clouds and tempest of affliction, He understandeth it. He numbereth the hairs

of our head; He will not suffer any evil to befall us. "He knoweth the way that I

take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10.) "But the

 way of the ungodly shall perish." Not only shall they perish themselves, but their

way shall perish too. The righteous carves his name upon the rock, but the wicked

writes his remembrance in the sand. The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth,

and sows a harvest here, which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments

of eternity; but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though there may seem to be

a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass over it, and the place that knew

him shall know him no more for ever. The very "way" of the ungodly shall perish. If

it exist in remembrance, it shall be in the remembrance of the bad; for the Lord will

cause the name of the wicked to rot, to become a stench in the nostrils of the good, and

to be only known to the wicked themselves by its putridity. May the Lord cleanse

our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom of the ungodly, and

enjoy the blessedness of the righteous!

 

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

 

vs. 1-2 - The Godly Man.  This psalm nobly fills the place of prologue to the whole

Book of Psalms. It reminds us of our Savior’s words when Nathanael drew near:

“Behold an Israelite indeed!”  (John 1:47)  With that marvellous, condensed fulness

and graphic force which peculiarly mark the Scriptures, it, draws the portrait of the

godly man. If we compare the Old Testament picture of an Israelite indeed with the

New Testament picture of the true believers “a good man full of the Holy Ghost

and of faith” (Acts 6:5)  we find no discord, only a fullness, richness, tenderness,

power, in the latter, this was impossible before the Light of the world shone on

human hearts and lives. The one is like a clear, perfect outline; the other, like the

painting which adds to the outline color, light, and shadow.

 

  • The godly man is described NEGATIVELY, in sharp contrast with the

            ungodly. They are as little to his mind as he to theirs. The Revised Version

            here gives a stricter rendering — “wicked.” But our English word

            ungodly expresses the real essence of all wickedness, the secret spring of

            sin (comp. Psalm 54:3; 36:1; Jeremiah 2:13).

 

ü      He is not guided by this world’s maxims, walks not “in the counsel”

      by the rule, of those who leave God out of their reckoning.  The

                        chief thing in life is the counsel — plan, ruling principles, and maxims –

                        by which it is guided. E.g. one man’s aim in life is “to die rich;”

                        another’s motto, “Short life and merry;” another’s, “To me to live is                                  

                        Christ.”

 

ü      His conduct, therefore, openly contrasts. “Nor standeth,” - Closely

                        associated, it may be, in business, society, public affairs; for else he

                        must needs go out of the world” ( I Corinthians 5:10); yet, as his

                        aim is not theirs, so their means are not his means, nor their path his

                        path  (Proverbs 4:14, 15). Business life has temptations from which                              

                        recluse life is free, but also opportunities for witnessing for truth and                              

                        Christ.

 

ü      His chosen company corresponds with counsel and conduct. “Nor

                        sitteth,” - Not frequenting their haunts, sharing their revels, making

                        them his bosom friends (Proverbs 1:15; 13:20).A steady progress in

                        sin is indicated — walking, standing, sitting. First, stepping

                        aside from the right path into crooked ways in compliance with

                        evil counsel; secondly, continuing a line of conduct conscience                                         

                        condemns; at last, sitting down at the banquet of sinful pleasure,                         

                        conscience drugged or scared, God openly despised. A picture of

                        how many lives once bright with hope!

 

ü      Compare the case of Lot and the stages of his backsliding in

      Genesis 13-19 -

 

Ø      Lot:

 

o       “lifted up his eyes and beheld (Sodom) – ch. 13:10 –

o       “chose (Sodom) – 13:11

o       “dwelled (near Sodom)….and pitched his tents

      toward Sodom” – 13:12

o       “sat in the gate of Sodom” (as a leader)  – 19:1

o       lost his influence with his family – 19:14

o       had to be literally drug out of Sodom – 19:16

o       lost his wife in the destruction of Sodom – 19:26    

o       committed incest with his daughters – 19:33-38

 

                        The New Testament says that by living in Sodom that the inhabitants                             

                        vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful

                        deeds” – (II Peter 2:8) – {in other words it bothered Lot but not

                        enough to skip town – Dwight Moody said that “It is much easier to

                        lead your children into Sodom than to get them back” -CY – 2009}     

 

 

  • POSITIVELY, by one unmistakable, distinguishing mark: delight in

            God’s Law.

 

ü      The written Word is dear to him. The primary reference is, of course,

      to the Law of Moses, of which every letter was dear and sacred to the

      devout Israelite. How much dearer should the completed Scriptures be

      to the Christian (John 1:17)!

 

ü      The deep spiritual truth of God’s Word engages his profound study, is

                        the rejoicing of his heart” (Jeremiah 15:16; Colossians 3:16). Take

                        Psalm 119. as the consummate expression of the value of God’s Law to

                        a mind taught by God’s Spirit. Note the great principles embodied —

                        that God rules by law; that each of us stands in direct relation to God,

                        as subject to His Law; that this Law is plainly revealed!  No Israelite,

                        however ungodly, could call in question the fact that God spake to and

                        by Moses, without pouring contempt on the law and constitution of his

                        country; this was the cornerstone.

 

 

ü      He loves God’s Law as the practical guide of his life (comp. John

                        8:12, 31, 32).

 

  • CONCLUSION. This picture is realized in ideal perfection in our Lord

            Jesus. All the severity of vs. 4-6 is found in His denunciations of the

            impenitent cities, of guilty Jerusalem, of the hypocritical scribes and

            Pharisees, of wilful unbelievers (John 12:48). But joined to this is the

            tender, sympathizing compassion, gracious humility, Divine love and

            forgiveness which made him “who knew no sin” the “Friend of sinners”

            able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” as well as “able to

            save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25, 26; 4:15; Matthew 9:10-13).

 

v. 3 - “He shall be like a tree”

 

  • THE SECRET OF A GODLY LIFE. Source and sustenance. “Planted,”

            not self-sown, not dropped into its place by chance — planted by God’s

            own hand (James 1:18). “By the waters,” drawing life and freshness

            from an unfailing source Some lives that make a fair show are like trees

            whose roots run near the surface — the storm uproots them. The soul “rooted

            in Christ (Colossians 2:7) is as the pine, sending down so strong a tap-root that            

            the avalanche may break the trunk, but cannot uproot it.

 

  • ITS FRUITFULNESS. Bringeth forth,” (comp. II Peter 1:8; contrast Jude 1:12;

      see Galatians 5:22). Good deeds are fruitful deeds. “The season” may

      tarry, but it will come (James 5:7; Galatians 6:9-10). But if we “abide in

      Christ,” our fruit will be always in season!

 

  • ITS SECURITY AND VIGOR. “Its leaf shall not wither.” Evergreen.

      The primary reference may be to outward prosperity, like Joseph’s (Genesis

      39:2-5, 23; see I Timothy 4:8). Sickness, accident, hard times, losses through

      the failure or dishonesty of others, may befall the child of God as well as the

      child of the world; but the natural tendency of thorough integrity, of the

      diligence of one who does everything with his might as unto the Lord, and of

      the wisdom, courage, and good temper which are among the fruits of the Spirit,            

      and the guidance of God’s providence in answer to prayer, is to bring prosperity           

      (Psalm 37:4-7; Philippians 4:4-7). Yet observe, the Old Testament, as fully as

            the New, teaches the need and benefit of adversity (Proverbs 3:11-12; Psalm   

            34:17-19). But there is prosperity that fears no change, glory that fades not,

            labor that cannot be lost (III John 1:2; I Peter 1:4; 5:4; I Corinthians 15:58).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vs. 4-6  - CHARACTER AND DESTINY OF THE WICKED.

 

  • Intrinsic Worthlessness. (v. 4.) Dead, unserviceable, without substance,

            and easily carried away” — dispersed by the wind. This is only a negative

            description, as a contrast with the living tree and its fruit. It says nothing of

            such a man’s poisonous influence.

 

  • Unable to Endure the Scrutiny of the Great Lawgiver. (v. 5.) One

            inquiring glance of God shatters the whole structure of his life. God does

            not “know” his way. “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23)

 

  • Their Relation to the Church only an Outward One. (v. 5.) Though

      they mingle with the congregation, they do not really “stand with them.”

 

  • Their Habits of Life are Destructive. (v. 6.) Their “way” is not the way

            everlasting, but leads to perdition!

 

 

 

"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."