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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6




Because David was the chief writer or compiler of the Psalms they are properly referred to as "The Psalms of David," inspired by the Lord, often quoted and sanctioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:46; Luke 24:44. Seventy three (73) Psalms are attributed to David; Twelve (12) to Asaph, his chief musician; Eleven (11) to the sons of Korah; Two (2) to Solomon (Psalms 72, 127); One (1) to Moses, (Psalms 90); One (1) to Ethan (Psalms 89); and Fifty (50) are anonymous. Of 283 New Testament quotations from the Old Testament 116 are from the books of the Psalms, attesting our Lord, the Apostles, and His church’s considering them to be inspired, trustworthy, and profitable. So must true men of God accept them today, John 5:39; John 10:35; Luke 24:25-27; Luke 24:44-45; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:16; Revelation 22:19.


As Psalms of personal address there are two primary classes of people addressed: 1) First, some are addressed directly, exclusively, and restrictedly to Israel, regarding her covenant relationship with Jehovah, Psalms 20:1-3; Psalms 149:1-9; Psalms 149:2) Second, some are addressed to all "who have breath," inclusive of Gentiles of this age, Psalms 150:1; Psalms 150:6; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16.


Four tunes recur throughout the Psalms:
1) Trust, 2) Praise, 3) Rejoice, and 4) Mercy.

First, whatever the occasion of David’s experience, of joy, sorrow, pain, or loss, it drove him to trust in the living God. Second, he repeatedly asked God for help and strength, always following it with gratitude of praise, with all his soul. Third, he repeatedly rejoiced, even in the midst of what seemed to be unending trouble. He would "sing and shout for joy," in spite of life’s cares and burdens and disappointments. And Fourth, he marveled at the mercy that God’s grace gave him. Tho he wrote much about God’s righteousness and wrath, he never ceased glorying in His mercy!


From Moses to Ezra, a period of about one thousand years, the various Psalms were written. They were written and compiled beginning with Moses’s successful crossing of the Red Sea, as recounted Exodus 14, 15, to the restoration of the order of Temple worship, after Israel’s exile, as recounted Nehemiah 12:45-47.


Various Psalms were written, as inspired, for special occasions and special purposes as follow:

1) Moses wrote, sang and taught the people to sing for victory, Exodus 15; Deuteronomy 32.

2) Israel sang on her Promised Land Journey, Numbers 21:17.

3) Barak and Deborah sang praise to God for their battle triumph, Judges 5.

4) David sang psalms with "all his heart," Psalms 104:33.

5) Hezekiah’s singers played music and sang the words of David, 2 Chronicles 29:28-30.

6) Nehemiah’s singers sang loudly, Nehemiah 12:42.

7) Jesus and the disciples sang at the last supper, Matthew 26:30.

8) Paul and Silas sang in prison, Acts 16:25.

9) Members of the Corinth church sang Psalms, 1 Corinthians 14:26.

10) At Creation’s dawn "The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy," Job 38:7.

11) In heaven all redeemed creation 10,000 times 10,000 join in singing the mighty redemption chorus, Revelation 5:11-13. In heaven everyone can and will sing, and none will grow tired of singing.


1. Definitions.

(1) The word "Psalms" is derived from the Gr. "psalmoi" or "psallein" which means to play on a stringed instrument. The Psalms were written in poetic form to be sung in accompaniment with instrumental music in worshipping and praising Jehovah God.


(2) The term "Selah," frequently found in the Psalms, is an anglicized term that means "singers pause." The word is not to be read aloud, as one reads the Psalms orally, any more than one would stop and say "quarter note, half note, or whole note" when he comes to such in singing. (3) The term "Higgaion-Selah" is another term found in the Psalms that, too, is to go unpronounced in reading aloud. The term means "instrumental interlude."

2. Composition.

The Psalms were composed or written by at least seven writers over a period of some 1,000 years, from the time of Moses to Ezra. Known writers of various psalms were: Moses, Asaph, Etham, Heman, sons of Korah, Solomon, arid David. It is believed that the Book of Psalms, in its present form, was collected and arranged by Ezra in the 5th Century B.C.

3. Divisions.

According to the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Latin-Vulgate Bibles the Book of Psalms has five distinct divisions, often referred to as five books of the Psalms. Of the Psalms it is believed that Books I, and II were written and compiled by David; Book III was arranged by Hezekiah; and Books IV, and V were arranged by Ezra. Contents of the five books are: Book I, Psalms 1-41 (41); Book II, Psalms 42-72 (31); Book III, Psalms 73-89 (17); Book IV, Psalms 90-106 (17); Book V, Psalms 107-150 (44). Attention will be called to these five books of the Psalms in the following chapters as they are examined, psalm by psalm.

4. Subject Matter.

Every type of human problem and every phase of human life is discussed in the poetic psalms. Conflicts and struggles of human experiences of fear and frustration are here met. The poems are brief and colorful. A Divine Messianic solution for every human problem is presented through faith in and obedience to Jehovah God. Simple graces are described in language easy to be understood. This is a treasure house of rich gems for hours of fears and frustration. Its instructions followed will "calm every doubt and fear." There are truly "Pearls In the Psalms."

All of the 150 psalms are inspired of the Lord. There are 70 direct quotations of them in the New Testament; eleven references are made directly to them; and eight allusions are found also. All of the psalms but 33 have a definite title. These 33 are referred to in the Talmud as "orphan psalms." All are inspired and God-speed you in a study of them. Colossians 3:16; Psalms 119:160; Luke 24:25-27; Luke 24:44-45; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Special Beatitudes of David

2. Psalms 2:12, "Blessed are they that put their trust in Him."

3. Psalms 32:1, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."

4. Psalms 33:12, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

5. Psalms 34:8, "Blessed is the man that takes refuge in the Lord."

6. Psalms 41:1, "Blessed is he that considers the poor."

7. Psalms 84:4, "Blessed are they that dwell in the Lord’s House."

8. Psalms 84:5, "Blessed is the man whose strength is in the Lord."

10. Psalms 112:1, "Blessed is he that fears the Lord."

11. Psalms 119:2, "Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, that seek Him with the whole heart."



I Psalms 1-41; (41 Psalms) - Genesis.

II Psalms 42-72; (31 Psalms) - Exodus.

III Psalms 73-89; (17 Psalms) - Leviticus.

IV Psalms 90-106; (17 Psalms) - Numbers.

V Psalms 107-150; (44 Psalms) - Deuteronomy.

From ancient times this arrangement of five books of the Psalms has been indicated, both in the Hebrew and in the Septuagint. It has been compared with the five books of the Pentateuch, called "The Law of Moses."

The Book was written and compiled from David to Ezra, for purposes of worship, teaching, and praise to Jehovah. The Psalms were both used in singing and chanting praises to God, by Divine command in connection with the use of mechanical musical instruments.


These songs of trust and hymns of prayer and devotion were written for both private and public worship. They have been known as Israel’s Hymn and Prayer Book, called in the Hebrew the "Book of Praises." They set forth an account of every human emotion of the musical scale, as experienced by Israel during her most glorious feats and her Golden age.

They were used both in vocal and in mechanical instrumental praise to God, in public and private worship and praise. David was an inventor of instruments, "to praise the Lord therewith." At one time he had an orchestra of 4,000 musicians who accompanied vocalists in praising the Lord, as the glory of the Lord came down to sanctify the occasion and the people, 1 Chronicles 23:5; Hezekiah also served the Lord in restoring such holy worship and praise to the House of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 29:25-30. And Solomon dedicated the temple in an high hour of praise of songs of praise, accompanied with musical instruments, when the Shekinah glory of the Lord came over them, 2 Chronicles 5:12-14.

There is no reputable anthology of great poetry of the ages in which the Psalms of David are not honored. Little wonder that Paul commanded and charged New Testament churches to use the Psalms and "the music of Psalms," (instrumental music), in their worship, teaching, and praise, 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16.

Of their structure and subject matter some are historical; some are theocratic; some are acrostic; some are imprecatory; some are penitential; some are hallel; and others are hallelujah Psalms.

The 119th is the longest Psalm, with most verses in the Bible. The 117th is the shortest Psalms, with fewest verses, as well as the middle chapter of the Bible. While Psalms 118:8 is the middle verse of the Bible.


Listed here are musical titles given to numerous Psalms and Liturgies. They are very ancient alphabetical titles, given prior’to the Septuagint, with their possible meanings.

1) Aije-loth-Shahar (Psalms 22): time note? Or, name of melody.

2) Alamoth (Psalms 46): a chorus of young women.

3) AI-tash-hith (Psalms 57-59, 79): Destroy not.

4) Gittith (Psalms 8, 81, 84): Musical instruments, or melody, of Gath.

5) Hig-gal-on (Psalms 9:16): A meditation? Or interlude?

6) Je-du-thun (Psalms 39, 62, 77): One of David’s music leaders.

7) Jonath-elem-rechokin (Psalms 56): Name of melody?

8) Ma-ha-lath (Psalms 53): A melody tune?

9) Ma-ha-lath-loon-noth (Psalms 88): A song for sickness.

10) Mas-chit (Psalms 32), and other Psalms: of didactic, reflective nature.

11) Mich-tam (Psalms 16, 56-60): A jewel, or golden poem?

12) Muth-lab-bon (Psalms 9): Believed to be the name of a melody.

13) Negi-noth (Psalms 4, 6, 61): A stringed instrument.

14) No-hil-oth (Psalms 5): Probably a flute?

15) Selah (Psalms 32), used 71 times, means pause, rest, or interlude, for reflection, meditation, or heavy drama effect?

16) Shem-in-ith (Psalms 6, 12): Believed to be a male choir?

17) Shig-gai-on (Psalms 7): Wild and mournful melody?

18) Shu-shan-nim (Psalms 45, 69, 80): Lilies: A bridal song?

19) Shu-shan-eduth (Psalms 60, 80): Lily of testimony: A melody?

20) For the chief musician, heading of 55 of the Psalms.


Many Psalms allude to Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah, that are wholly inapplicable to any other person in history. Some that mention David seem also to point to the coming King in David’s family lineage. In addition to the ten clearly Messianic Psalms listed below there are numerous veiled allusions that also refer to the coming Messiah.

1. His Deity and universal reign, Psalms 2.

2. Man through Him to become Lord of creation, Psalms 8.

3. His triumph over death and the grave, Psalms 16.

4. His suffering definitively foretold, Psalms 22, 69.

5. His royal wedding and eternal throne, Psalms 45.

6. The glory and eternality of His reign, Psalms 72.

7. The Messiah’s throne eternal (endless) upon God’s oath, Psalms 89.

8. The Messiah as eternal Priest and King, Psalms 110.

9. The Messiah was to be rejected by His own nation’s leaders, Psalms 118.

10. The Messiah is eternal inheritor of David’s throne, Psalms 132



Revelation 19:10 c reads, "The testimony of Jesus is (exists as) the Spirit of prophecy," certified as follows:

1. Psalms 22:16, prophecy: "They pierced my hands and my feet." Fulfilled John 20:25, "Except I see the print of the nails, I will not believe."

2. Psalms 69:9, prophesied: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." Fulfilled John 2:17, "His disciples remembered it was written (of Him, the Messiah)," "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.„

3. Psalms 40:6, prophesied: "Lo, I am come to do thy will, O God." Fulfilled, Hebrews 10:7.

4. Psalms 45:6, prophecy: "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." Fulfilled, Hebrews 1:8.

5. Psalms 22:8, prophecy: "He trusted in God; Let God deliver him." Fulfilled, Matthew 27:43.

6. Psalms 8:6, prophesied: "Thou hast put all things under His feet." Fulfilled, Matthew 27:46.

7. Psalms 22:1, prophesied: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Fulfilled, Matthew 27:46.

8. Psalms 2:7, prophecy: "Thou art my Son: This day have I begotten thee?" Fulfilled, Matthew 21:9.

9. Psalms 118:26, prophesied: "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord." Fulfilled, Matthew 21:9.

10. Psalms 69:21, prophesied: "They gave me gall, in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." Fulfilled, Matthew 27:34; Matthew 27:48.

11. Psalms 41:9, prophesied: "My own familiar friend, who did eat my bread, lifted up his heel against me." Fulfilled, John 13:18.

12. Psalms 22:18, prophesied: "They part my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots." Fulfilled, John 19:24.

13. Psalms 110:4, prophecy: "God has sworn, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek." Fulfilled, Hebrews 7:17.

14. Psalms 118:22, prophesied: "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner." Fulfilled, Matthew 21:42.

15. Psalms 110:1, prophecy: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand till I make thine enemies thy footstool." Fulfilled, asserted, Matthew 22:44.

16. Psalms 16:10, prophesied: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy one to see corruption." Fulfilled, certified. Acts 2:27.

Psalms 1


Of world literature none excels the pearls and treasures to be found in a diligent study of the Inspired Psalms. The Hebrew name of this book is "Tehillim," which means "Praises;" while the Greek (Septuagint) title is "Psalmoi," meaning "Songs sung or odes chanted to the accompaniment of musical instruments."

Like the fragrance of the rose and the honeysuckle, the sweet fragrance of Jehovah’s love, mercy, compassion, and redemption flow forth from each Psalm, to offer hope and help to every person who seeks the Lord. Life’s cares, sorrows, griefs, anxieties, fears, and times of despair, may be relieved and dispelled by faith and hope in the sure promises of David’s deliverer, Jehovah, even the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May this pilgrimage study help you, strengthen you, enrich you in pearls and treasures of Divine aid along life’s rugged ways, to ultimate victory and a warm "well-done-welcome-home," at the end of the journey, to enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Ways of the Blessed and Ungodly Men

Verses 1-6:

Verse 1 introduces a contrast between the way (course of life) of the godly and ungodly man. The Hebrew plural term "Blessed," literally means "spiritually prosperous," or "prosperous in many ways," in many aspects, he is happy. The idea is "of the happiness of the man," the godly man.

This godly man will not:

1) "Walk on," or in a colleague, company, or counsel relation with the ungodly. The term "ungodly" is derived from the Heb word "rasha," and the Gk. term "asefon," each of which means a "restless or unstable" man, one out of touch with God, void of any peace in his soul, Isaiah 57:21; Romans 3:17. In union or company with such, the good, ideal, or godly man will not "walk on," or continually associate himself, 2 Corinthians 6:17; Micah 6:16; Psalms 81:12.

2) The blessed, godly man will neither "walk on" nor "stand around," habitually, in the way (environment) of the wretched, restless, sinner (morally and ethically) lawless one. He will not veer, turn aside into the course of conduct of the sinner (Gk. hamartolon), the one out of harmony with God in his thoughts (continual) and deeds of evil, Genesis 6:5; Joshua 1:7. The blessed or spiritually prosperous one may go among sinners to witness but not just "stand there," in their environment, as if to sanction their way of life, Romans 12:1-2.

3) He will not "habitually" sit in or keep company with, settle. down in the seat or sitting place of the scorner, scoffer, or the one who derides God, holy things, and holy people. In such is no happiness, peace, or spiritual prosperity, Isaiah 57:20-21; See also Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:19; Jeremiah 15:17; Jeremiah 17:15; 2 Peter 3:3. The three downward steps of a) walking, b) standing, and c) sitting in the course of evil must be avoided, shunned by the blessed or spiritually prosperous one, Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:6.

Verse 2 asserts positively that this blessed or much prosperous spiritual man will experience delightful pleasure in the law (Heb torah) law-directory that points out the way of righteousness. The Heb word "yarah" here translated law of the Lord (Jehovah) means "to teach." In the teaching of Jehovah he delightfully meditates, day and night, making his life blessed or prosperous thereby, as described Joshua 1:8; Psalms 119:16; Psalms 119:35; Psalms 119:47; Romans 7:22. Meditating on the word of God is a parallel to digesting food that has been eaten. As digestion of the food feeds the body with gradual nourishing, so meditation on the word of God nourishes, refreshes, and empowers the soul of man, to a fruitful life.

Verse 3 declares that this blessed man who meditates in the law (teachings) of Jehovah (who is now what He will always be), shall be like a fruitbearing tree planted by rivers or oasis of water, that sustain it in continually bearing fruit in its seasons, like the date ­palm that grows by rivers and oasis. The ideas is that the godly, blessed man draws continually from the well that will never go dry, John 4:14. His life so rooted, as a plant in the garden (family) of God, survives with vigor, the storm and the heat, without withering, and never ceases in bearing fruits of righteousness, so that whatever he does shall prosper! Joshua 1:7-8. As one is a "doer of the word," not a "hearer only," he shall have spiritual prosperity, be a blessed man in this life, and be rewarded for services, when the judgment hour of rewards shall come, James 1:22; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 22:12, 2 Timothy 4:8.

Verse 4 uses an Hebrew "double-negative" adversative to contrast the vanity and doom of the ungodly with the spiritual prosperity of the righteous. Literally the phrase says, "not so! not so! the ungodly (the one out of touch with or who has never known God)." He shall not, in his ungodly state have happiness, spiritual prosperity, or a good fruitbearing life. Neither in character nor in destiny shall he be blessed, in a spiritual sense. He is rather like wind-blown chaff, carried away by the storm of God’s wrath, to find his eternal doom in hell, Proverbs 29:1; Hebrews 9:27-28; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10. See also Job 21:18; Hosea 13:3; Matthew 3:12.

Verse 5 concludes that because of the obstinate, sin-following way of the ungodly one, who is out of harmony with God, in nature and in deed, he shall not be able to stand, (stand up) to be justified, in the day of judgment, Romans 14:12; John 12:48. Nor shall this habitual offender of God who veered away from God, rebelled against Him all his life be able to appear any more in the congregation of the righteous. The hypocrites may hide what they are at heart, appear in the church as deceivers today, they can not beyond death, for their doom is then sealed.

They who are unrighteous among the people of God down here will be eternally separated from them in death, "to be damned forever," Mark 16:16; As Korah and his company were destroyed from the holy congregation of Israel, and as Ananias and Saphira were destroyed from the congregation at Jerusalem, so shall all who die in impenitence be separated from the fellowship of the redeemed of God, to spend their conscious eternity in hell, separated from God, His Son, Holy people, and the Holy angels; A judicial sifting of the chaff awaits every sinner, Ecclesiastes 12:14; Numbers 16:13; Acts 5:1-11; Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.

Verse 6 finally affirms that the living, omniscient God knows, comprehends the way, course of life, of the righteous, to reward him, 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Psalms 101:6; John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19. He knows His own, tho their nature may be hidden from man’s observation. He marks out, keeps record of His own for special favors, Psalms 133:3; Genesis 18:17-19; He also knows, keeps a record of the ungodly, for their due punishment, Ecclesiastes 12:14; Isaiah 3:10-11.

He who builds a life on sinking sand shall come to a fateful end, to damn himself in cries and torments of fire forever and ever, Matthew 7:24-27; Revelation 14:1; Luke 16:25. He comes to the end of this life, to endure conscious, self-accusing torments of remorse and regrets in eternity, with no anchor, no rest, no peace, no hope, no light, and no God, forever. Relief from such doom may be found so long as there is life here, even now for those who seek righteousness through repentance toward God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in such a chosen way may one live and die as a blessed, ideal, or spiritually prosperous one, Romans 10:8-13; Proverbs 3:3-5.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Psalms 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/psalms-1.html. 1985.
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