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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-6


Psalms 1:0

Theme (Predestination) The theme of Psalms 1:0 is that the Lord has predestined mankind to live under His divine blessings if we will meet the condition of desiring and obeying God’s word. The book of Psalms is written from the perspective of the passions of the heart. Thus, note how Psalms 1:0 emphasizes the condition of the heart in order to receive these blessings. Man is to delight in, or to become passionate about, the Word of God. Within the book of Psalms, we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son by delighting in His Word (Romans 8:29-30). Jesus Himself was passionate about God’s Word. At the age of twelve, he was in the Temple discussing the Word with the priests (Luke 2:46). After His resurrection He explained the prophecies of Scripture that He fulfilled to the disciples (Luke 24:45-46). Throughout His ministry, Jesus continually discussed God’s Word to those who would hear.

Luke 2:46, “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”

Luke 24:45-46, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:”

Psalms 1:0 is followed by Psalms 2:0, which emphasizes God’s call to the nations to repent and bow down to His Son, exalted as King over all nations. Thus, Psalms 1:2 serve as an introduction to the book of Psalms in that they give us the first two phases of God’s plan of redemption for mankind, which are predestination and divine calling. The rest of the psalms in book 1 will express David’s cry for righteousness to be established upon the earth through judgment upon the sinner, and deliverance to the upright.

Our passion for God’s Word opens the book of Psalms, and it seems to reach a climax in Psalms 119:0.

Summary of Psalm One There is a clear progression in the life of the righteous in Psalm One. The man who shuns bad counsel and ungodly fellowship (Psalms 1:1) finds his delight in God’s Word (Psalms 1:2). As God’s Word takes priority in this man’s life, his character becomes strong, symbolized as a tree (Psalms 1:3). His prosperity is reflected in the illustration of the tree being planted by the river bearing an abundance of fruit (Psalms 1:3). The ungodly are contrasted by their instability and ultimate, illustrated as chaff blown by the wind and eventually burned (Psalms 1:4).

Psalms 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Psalms 1:1 Comments - Man is a three-fold creature. He is a spirit, he has a soul, or mind, and he lives in a body and he fulfills God’s commission with prosperity. Thus, the word “blessed” that opens and closes Psalm One involves wholeness in the four areas of man’s life: spiritual, mental, physical and financial. We see this three-fold pattern of man’s make-up in Psalms 1:1.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly” - Comments - When a person walks in the counsel of the ungodly, he is giving his mind over to such thoughts, and experimenting with such counsel. He hears the words of the ungodly and observes their lifestyle of greed through the sense gates of his eyes and ears. He is making decisions to follow the ungodly.

“nor standeth in the way of sinners” - Comments - When a man stands in the way of sinners, he begins to practice those ungodly acts by giving his body as a servant to sin.

“nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” - Comments - When a man sits in the seat of the scornful, he gives place in his heart, or spirit, to such a lifestyle. Then who is the scorner despising? If he is walking with the ungodly, it is not them. The scorner is despising the law of God, yes, even God himself, and all of those who fear God. He is lifted up with pride against God and the children of God.

Psalms 1:1 shows us that when we meditate upon evil counsel, or suggestions, we open the door to developing evil desires. Ungodly desires produce evil desires. Evil desires give birth to sinful acts. Sinful acts result in death, in the judgment of God (James 1:13-16).

James 1:13-16, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.”

Therefore, a man must be careful who he befriends, who he takes counsel from, who he follows and ultimately who he serves. Psalms 1:1 gives us a pattern of how sin envelops our lives so subtly. If we give our thoughts to ungodly counsel, we will consider those ways. Then we begin to practice those ways. Finally, our heart accepts those ways, and they become a part of our lifestyle. This is how a person becomes a scorner, despising, or scorning, the things of God.

Illustration - An illustration of how a person gives place to sin through his sense gates is given by Kenneth Hagin. The Lord gave him a vision of a person who was being tempted by demons. In this vision, he saw the demons sitting on someone's shoulder, whispering thoughts into her mind. This Christian resisted the demons for a while. One day this person meditated on those evil thoughts, and acted on them. Hagin saw a black spot form in this person’s head. As this person continued in this sin, the Holy Spirit would deal with him. Finally, this person rejected the Holy Spirit's conviction, and gave himself over to this evil lifestyle. At this point, Bro. Hagin saw this black spot move from his head to his heart. This showed that the person had given himself, his heart over to the sinful habit, and willingly rejected the will of God. [15]

[15] Kenneth Hagin, I Believe In Visions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1984, 1986), 76-7.

Psalms 1:1 Comments - I woke up in the early afternoon with these words in my spirit, “I have raised you up to stand among the elders of the land, who also have the Word of God in them, and I have raised you up to sit as a king and decree judgments, and I have raised you up to walk in victory.” (August 19, 2007)

Psalms 1:1 Scripture References - Note a similar passage in Psalms 26:4-5.

Psalms 26:4-5, “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.”

Note a similar verse:

Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.”

Psalms 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psalms 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD” Comments - Everyone who is born again has a divine desire to know more about the Lord, to know His Word. A new believer must begin to feed this desire with God's Word. He must protect this holy desire, lest they become quenched by the cares of this world.

The phrase “the law of the Lord” is not limited to the Mosaic Law, or to the Pentateuch. It is a summary of writings of the entire Old Testament. We see an example of this in Nehemiah 9:3, when it is called “the Book of the Law of the Lord.” The Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity had been reading from the Book of the Law for days. What Old Testament books were included in the phrase, “Book of the Law of the Lord”” Since the entire Old Testament history of Israel is reflected in the prayer that they prayed in chapter 9, it is proper to assume that most of the Old Testament books were being read to the Jews under the description “Book of the Law.” No single Old Testament book would give them this much history of Israel. This prayer is a summary of what the Jews had been learning during the past month of assemblies.

In John 10:34, Jesus quotes from the book of Psalms by calling it the “Law.”

John 10:34, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

At other times, Jesus groups the Old Testament into the Law, the writings, and the prophets (Luke 24:44).

Luke 24:44, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms , concerning me.”

It appears that the Jews in the Old Testament referred to the entirety of their sacred writings as “the Law.” By New Testament times, these books were grouped into three categories, the Law, the Writings and the Prophets. Yet, the term “the Law” is still used in the New Testament to refer to all the Scriptures, being carried over from the Old Testament. The Law is an abbreviated form of the three categories that are sometimes used.

Therefore, the Psalmist is referring to the entire Old Testament. In light of this fact, the Lord spoke to me one morning, as I had been meditating on this Psalm, that a person who delights in the law of the Lord is a person who is also looking to the hope of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that the people that Jesus taught in the Gospels were eagerly awaiting the Messiah.

The purpose of the Law was to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Psalms 1:2 “and in his law doth he meditate day and night” - Comments - In contrast to the counsel of the ungodly in Psalms 1:1 that entraps our minds, the Psalmist instructs us to protect our thought life by meditating on God's Word. The books of Psalms, by their very nature as poetic literature, require meditating in order to understand their meanings. This is more true for the Hebrew poetic literature than for the books of the Law, history and prophecy.

Illustration - When people are trained to detect counterfeit money, they are not exposed to numerous fake bills, but instead, they carefully study a genuine bill, so that they might be able to recognize any thing that is not genuine.

Psalms 1:2 Comments - Through the purity and passion of a man’s heart for the ways of God (Psalms 1:0:2s), a man allows God’s Word to enter his mind through the sense gates of his eyes and ears. As he meditates upon the Word of God, his mind is renewed and he makes decisions base upon the divine principles of the Word (Psalms 1:2 b). As the Word guides his decision, he follows a path that leads to prosperity (Psalms 1:3).

Psalms 1:2 Illustration - While meditating on Psalms 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night,” Evaluating my life, I began to realize that everything I had done since rededicating my life to the Lord at the age of twenty-one was for the purpose of having time to read study God’s Word. I remember in 1980, I injured my leg on a construction job and had to set out of work for one week. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my life as I read the word day and night for several days. This experience only made me hunger for God’s word even more. I soon enrolled in Seminary and was in class by August 1980. I spent every free moment studying God’s Word, and took as many classes on the Bible as the school curriculum would allow. I remember one day while reading the book of Isaiah, how the words became so powerful and overwhelming that I had to shut the Bible and stand back. I stood in awe at the power of God’s Word. Within three years of beginning my theological studies, I embraced the Full-Gospel message of divine healing and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This compelled me to leave the Southern Baptist seminary and take an opened door to pastor a Charismatic church. I later returned to Seminary and finished my Master’s degree, but always loved to study the Bible. In 1997 my wife and I were sent to the African mission field. I was able to get a laptop computer, and spent the rest of my spare time gathering digital commentaries and reference books and studying the Word of God on the computer. Each time I set down with the Word of God in a quiet place, it comes alive. I take notes as quickly as possible, and return for more, as long as time allows. It is such a passion that I find it difficult to think about or talk about other topics. Of course, I do struggle to balance this desire with my wonderful wife and family. (10 April 2010)

Psalms 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalms 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water” - Comments - In nature, there is nothing that illustrates stability and longevity more than a tree growing strong and standing tall in a fertile, watered land.

Psalms 1:3 “that bringeth forth his fruit in his season Comments - Just as plants and animals are guided by the seasons of nature, so does mankind have seasons of life. The blessings of the one who delights in the law of the Lord have seasons as well. If the Lord blessed us in certain areas before we are mature enough to manage these blessings, then the blessings could become a hindrance to our spiritual growth. Thus, we are to continue to walk in the Word of God knowing that He will orchestrate our seasons of blessings for us. We need not be anxious nor envy the wicked in their prosperity (Psalms 37, 73).

Psalms 1:3 “his leaf also shall not wither” - Comments - A tree that is planted by a constant source of water will always be green and flourishing, despite the dry, harsh environment around it. The arid, dry land of the Middle East is a great example of how a tree can stay green and healthy in a dry land. It symbolizes the fact that a bless man will walk in blessings even when adverse circumstances befall those around him.

Psalms 1:3 Comments - Trees are often symbolic of men throughout the Scriptures (Psalms 92:12-14, Isaiah 44:0; Isaiah 4:0, Jeremiah 17:8, Ezekiel 17:7-8; Ezekiel 19:10, Jude 1:12). Psalms 1:1-3 clearly uses this simile.

Psalms 92:12-14, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;”

Isaiah 44:4, “And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.”

Jeremiah 17:8, “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”

Ezekiel 17:7-8, “There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation. It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.”

Ezekiel 19:10, “Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.”

Jude 1:12, “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;”

While every species of tree is unique in its characteristics, they all have the common trait of seasonal fruit, for this is what they have been created to do, which is to bear fruit each season. Besides their genetic traits that determine their fruit-bearing seasons, the environment plays an important role in determining their potential of fruitfulness. Water is the single most important ingredient for a tree’s prosperity. In a similar way, Psalm One tells us that God’s Word is our source of “watering,” causing us to prosper. Although we are all unique in our genetic make-up and gifts and callings, we all must continually feed our spirits upon God’s Word in order to bear fruit, which is what we were also created to do.

Psalms 1:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Psalms 1:4 Comments In contrast to the righteous meditating upon God’s Word, the ungodly do not “water” their lives with the same. However, they do bear the fruit of unrighteousness, so that God, in accordance with His divine nature, judges their evil works. As the wind purges the winnowing of the grain harvest, so does the Lord judge the works of the unrighteous.

The chaff is the empty husk of grain that is perishable, and blown to and fro by the wind. There is no better illustration in nature of instability and destructibility than the chaff of grain. Its purpose is fleeting and short lived. Once the grain of seed matures in the field, it is harvested and threshed. The purpose of chaff is ended. It is only to be discarded. John the Baptist used chaff to illustrate God's judgment (Matthew 3:12). The psalmist refers to the judgment of sinners in Psalms 1:5 alongside the simile of chaff in Psalms 1:4.

Matthew 3:12, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

Psalms 35:5, “Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.”

Psalms 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Psalms 1:5 “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment” - Comments - On the great Day of Judgment, the righteous will still be able to stand before God, but the sinner will be taken away to destruction. The children of God will be saved, so as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

1 Corinthians 3:13-15, “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Psalms 1:5 “nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” - Comments - Just as chaff does not stay in the gathering of the grain basket, so does the sinner not stand with the congregation of the righteous. Psalms 1:5 suggests that the righteous will be a part of the judgment, referring to the Great White Throne Judgment. In fact, Paul tells us that the saints shall judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2).

1 Corinthians 6:2, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”

Psalms 1:5 Comments - Psalms 1:5 uses poetic Hebrew parallelism to equate “the congregation of the righteous” with divine judgment. We can conclude that judgment upon depraved humanity can proceed from God’s people. In other words, God judges the sinner through His people. We find many biblical examples of this in the Scriptures, as God raises up prophets, priests, and kings as instruments of His divine judgment, so that the men in these offices represent and serve as the voice of the congregation of the righteous.

Psalms 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalms 1:6 Comments - Through God’s omniscience He blesses and curses mankind. His divine law of blessing and cursing has been predestined upon every man since the time of the fall. This law is reflected throughout the book of Psalms. God knows the righteous man’s ways because they have been ordained by God himself. The righteous have followed His way in obedience and walk in the laws of divine blessing. In contrast, the ungodly are subjected to the laws of divine judgment.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/psalms-1.html. 2013.
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