The Life God Blesses: Psalm 1

Dr. Jerry A. Collins



How blessed is the man [person] who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [the ungodly] nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (verse 1).

Here is a summary description of the untarnished life of the devout person.

·         There is the announcement of blessing how blessed, and then three clauses that qualify this blessed life.

·         Blessed, refers to the conditions and situation of the one who is right with God and the pleasure and satisfaction that is derived from that. It’s that sense of joy and satisfaction that comes with knowing that one’s life is pleasing to God no matter what situations are being faced in life.


There is a gradual intensity in the verse:

First, note the words used for the unrighteous.

·         We start with the ungodly, the person who is just the worldly pagan, who has no part in the covenant, who stands as guilty in the eyes of the Lord.

·         Next, we have the sinners, those who are willfully and/or ignorantly violating the Law of God and have chosen a lifestyle in that opposition.

·         Finally, we have the scorners, a type of sinner not happy to live and let live, but ridicules the righteous by attempting to destroy their faith and service. 


Second, there is intensification in the verbs.

·         We start with walks which signifies living life and living according to the advice of the ungodly person.

·         Next is the verb stands which indicates a pause to deliberate and consider the way of the sinner.

·         Finally, we have sits, which would indicate joining in collusion with the scorners, sitting with them in their assemblies and being identified with them.

PT: A good illustration of this progression is Lot in Genesis. He (1) simply pitched his tent next to Sodom (Genesis 13:12), then (2) he moved into the town (Genesis 14:12), and (3) he actually became a magistrate in the evil town (Genesis 19:1), condoning some sins and being disturbed by others.


Third, the nouns in the prepositional phrases match these intensifications.

·         We start with counsel, a general word for advice. 

·         We next have way, that describes conduct or how one lives. The blessed person does not stand to consider living a life in the way that sinners do.

·         Finally, we have seat, a figure to indicate joining with and even planning with the scorners who gather to talk about their conquests and their ambitions.

PT: This threefold trilogy shows that if one begins (1) by taking the advice of the unbeliever, (2) he will move to consider living that way, and (3) after a while be so much a part of it that he will be with the scorners of the faith more than the righteous. You will not find the righteous characteristically living like that, or following the world’s directions, or being part of a group that ridicules and mocks virtue and goodness and kindness.



But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night (verse 2).

We have just read what the righteous, that is, the blessed of God, do not do. Now we will learn what they do to be blessed and to lead exemplary lives in the world.

·         This verse forms a powerful contrast to the rejected life mentioned in verse 1, but his delight. The person who is blessed (right with God and pleasing to God) does not live according to the advice, way of life, and plans of the world, but rather according to the Law of the Lord. 

·         What does it mean that his delight is in the word of God? It means he meditates in it constantly (day and night is a merism, meaning all the time).


The righteous focus on the word of God.

·         The law of the Lord can refer to the commandments, to the books of the Law, to the Scriptures as a whole, and even to individual teachings from the Bible. 

·         The verse itself makes clear that he meditates in the word, but this first half of the verse tells us it is his delight, or his desire, to meditate.

·         This person is no legalist. The law is not a burden to this one. There is a delight in studying and obeying God’s word. The second half of the verse specifies what the delight accompanies—he meditates.


The activity of meditation in the Book of Psalms involves about four steps.

·         First, you memorize the passage of Scripture so that in the way, or on your bed in the night, you may recall it and think about it.

·         Second, you analyze the passage in great detail so that you fully understand it and can rethink the meaning when recalling the words.

·         Third, you speak to God about the passage, turning its ideas and concerns into a prayer.

·         Finally, you speak to yourself about the text, rebuking, exhorting, or encouraging yourself as needed.

PT: The point is if people would do this with the Scripture, they would not be caught up in the philosophy and wisdom of the world, but would gain victory over the world.



He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season; And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (verse 3).

The psalm gives a lovely picture of the success of the person who loves to be faithful to the divine will. The tree represents a flourishing and fruitful life. The righteous will be like a fruitful tree, but in what way?

·         First, the tree is planted by channels of water, or irrigation ditches. If the tree represents the one who is blessed, then the water represents the Word of God, for as the water makes the tree grow, the Word causes the person to grow spiritually. 

·         Secondly, the tree will bear fruit in its season--not all the time, but when it is supposed to bear fruit. People that spend time in the Word will bear fruit, namely, righteous acts and spiritual characteristics. If believers are in the Word, they will be spiritual and produce righteous acts. 

·         Third, the text says its leaf does not wither. This tree firmly planted by a water supply will not dry up and wither away. If it is well-watered with the Word of God, that life will not only exist, but flourish and thrive. The truth intended by the emblem of the tree is everything he does will prosper (or succeed).


PT: This is not a blanket statement saying that whatever the person does, good or bad, will be successful. The context restricts the application because if the individual is living by the Word of God, that will mean that what he does is in harmony with the will of God, and therefore it will succeed. Why? Because it is the will of God. No one can “claim” this verse as a promise if his or her life is not being directed by Scripture. But the believer trying to live the way God wants them to live, may be assured that God will prosper them on their way. In the Bible success is in knowing and doing the will of God. Being successful with God is the goal. 



The wicked [ungodly] are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away (verse 4).

We have our word the ungodly again used in verse 1 and this life is ultimately valueless.

·         People would be wise to avoid the advice of the ungodly in matters of ethical, moral, or spiritual concern. Why? Because their way of life is unproductive—it is worthless.

·         They may be nice people on the surface, but they do not understand the covenant, and have no intention of living by the laws of God. What could they possibly say that would assist the believer in doing the will of God, which is a successful life?

·         Everything has to be tested by the revealed will of God, which they reject.


The psalmist compares the ungodly to chaff.

·         Chaff is the worthless husks that are to be separated from the good grain through the process of winnowing. 

·         Chaff is worthless and have to be removed. So the psalmist is saying that the ungodly are not only of no value, but they will eventually be separated from the good grain at “harvest time.” 

·         The imagery of the harvest, winnowing, and good grain and chaff provided the biblical writers with many ideas for the theme of judgment. The ungodly do not take God into account, nor understand God or His word to be true.

·         So their counsel and lives lived by that counsel are worthless.



Therefore, the wicked [ungodly] will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous (verse 5).

Ungodly sinners may be decent folk, but they are just not godly.

·         They are unbelievers, people who remain guilty sinners before God because they have never sought forgiveness from the provisions of the covenant.

·         They will not be able to rise will not stand, unable to even be left standing at the judgment—they will not survive.

·         On the other hand, carnal believers who chose to live as the world, can also expect accountability.


PT: The psalm is ambiguous on what judgment is meant. One normally thinks here of the last judgment, the great harvest of people, when God will separate between the wheat and the chaff, the righteous and the unrighteous at the end of the age. For unfaithful believers, those adopting worldly thinking, it would be the judgment seat of Christ.



For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (verse 6).

The righteous love the Law of the Lord.

·         They live their lives according to it. They remain untarnished from the world. They flourish in their lives and produce righteousness, and that saves them from judgment because the Lord knows the way of the righteous.

·         They are people who have entered into covenant with God by faith and have committed themselves to worshiping and serving the Lord. 

·         They are not sinless people, but when they sin they know how to find forgiveness, and will not find inner peace until they do. They have refused the pathways of the ungodly life.

PT: The word way is very common in the whole Bible. It signifies the course of action that people follow in their lives, and this usage includes why they live the way they do (either their faith, or lack of faith). The ungodly and all they do will perish. but the righteous and the righteousness they produce will live forever in God’s favor.

NB: The righteous avoid judgment by living exemplary lives, consistent with their meditations upon God’s Word, so they flourish in life with God’s favor. So, why not pursue this kind of living!



·         Don’t live the way the world lives. Don’t take their advice, and don’t join them in their profane enterprises, especially ones that scorn goodness and righteousness.

·         Do study the Word of God in order to live an exemplary and productive life for God. And that life will be evidence of a living faith that will escape the judgment of God.