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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 1

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-6

This Ps. forms an appropriate introduction to the whole Psalter. In some Hebrew MSS it is not numbered with the Psalms, but stands before them as a prologue, and in others it is combined with Psalms 2. It is one of the ’orphan’ psalms, and the want of a title indicates that it did not originally belong to the Davidic collection, 3-41. The subject of the Ps. is the blessedness of the righteous man who studies the Law of Jehovah, as contrasted with the unhappy end of the ungodly. It consists of two strophes, Psalms 1:1-3 and Psalms 1:4-6, the former describing the character and destiny of the righteous, and the latter the character and destiny of the wicked.

1. Blessed] EM ’happy.’ The first of the Old Testament beatitudes. Walketh not] There seems a gradual progression intended in the three clauses of the v.: walk, stand, sit, and wicked, sinner, scoffer.

2. Law] the whole revelation of God’s will as made known in the sacred writings, especially the Pentateuch.

Doth.. meditate] lit. ’crooneth over,’ repeats again and again in a low tone.

3. And he shall be] better, ’for he becomes,’ i.e. in consequence of his constant study of God’s law. Like a tree, etc.] cp. Jeremiah 17:7-8, where the illustration is more fully developed, and the character of the wicked is similarly illustrated (Psalms 17:5-6); and Ezekiel 47:12. And whatsoever, etc.] The illustration is dropped at this stage, and the words apply to the righteous man. Shall prosper] the simple faith of the pious Israelite, which no adversity was able wholly to overcome: cp. Psalms 112 and see Psalms 37, where the problem of the suffering of the righteous perplexes another Psalmist.

4. Chaff] A common OT. type of the wicked: cp Psalms 35:5. Threshing-floors were usually on high ground, where the wind would easily catch the chaff when it was beaten from the corn and drive it away (Isaiah 17:13). Driveth away] PBY adds, ’from the face of the earth,’ following LXX and “Vulgate. 5. The judgment] every visitation of God’s providence, or perhaps the final judgment. Congregation] the faithful people of Israel.

Verses 1-13

Book 1

The Pss. in this book are probably among the earliest in the Psalter, and include most of those generally regarded as Davidic. They seem to have existed separately as an early hymn-book, which, with some slight additions from the final editor, was used as the nucleus of the entire collection. They have two wellmarked characteristics: (1) the constant use of the name Jehovah (rendered the Lord), and the comparative absence of the name God (Heb. Elohim); the former occurring 272 times, the latter only 15 times: and (2) the description of them all, with the exception of Psalms 1, 2, 10, , 33, as ’of David’ (Heb. Le David), a fact which has been taken to indicate their derivation from a still earlier collection which bore David’s name. The first two Pss. seem to have been prefixed to the others when the present Psalter was formed. Historical notices are attached to some of them, connecting them with the life of David, but these are of doubtful importance. Most of the Pss. contained in the book are spontaneous and unaffected in their style, but a few of them are of artificial construction, Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, , 37 being acrostics.

The contents are exceedingly varied, and the same Ps. sometimes expresses such diverse feelings as joy and sorrow, bitter disappointment and lofty aspiration. Usually, however, there is some great thought more or less prominent, which enables us to make the following rough classification of their subjects:—(a) the contrast between the righteous and the wicked, 1, 5, 10, 37; (b) the cry of the righteous in presence of trouble, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 13, 22, 31, 38, 39, 40; (c) the glory of God in nature, 8, 19, 29; (d) the law, 1, 19; (e) the king, 2, 18, 20, 21; (f) the future life, 16. In addition, there is a reference to sacrifice in Psalms 37, an allusion to the Temple services in Psalms 24, and a foreshadowing of the Messianic hope in Psalms 2, 20, 28, , 40. The following Pss. are either quoted from or distinctly referred to in NT.: 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 32, 34, 40, 41. In several instances the NT. writer finds the fulfilment of the OT. passage in Christ. Thus Psalms 2, with its defence of Jehovah’s righteous King, of whom He says, ’Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee,’ is regarded as descriptive of Christ in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5 and Psalms 22, with its pathetic presentment of the suffering Servant of Jehovah, is reported to have been actually quoted by Christ upon the cross (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:34), and Psalms 22:18 is asserted in John 19:24 to have been literally fulfilled in one of the incidents of His crucifixion.

The moral teaching of this first book of Psalms is simple and emphatic. It rests upon an unswerving belief in the will and power of God to uphold the moral values of life, and mete out punishments and rewards according to personal desert. In whatever circumstances they may be placed, the writers never lose hold of their conviction of the ultimate prosperity of the righteous and destruction of the wicked. Appearances may seem to contradict their faith, but they cling to it all the more strenuously, and insist that in the long run the balance will be redressed. The ideal’ character portrayed by them is that of the good man, defamed, wronged, and oppressed by irreligious foes, but holding fast his faith in God, and trusting confidently that, in His own good time, He will deliver him. Sometimes there is a note of joy and thankfulness at the accomplishment of the deliverance; and this leads on to the anticipation of a time when, throughout the whole world, the justice of God will be manifested, and His power felt.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/psalms-1.html. 1909.
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