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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

The Hebrew title of this book is 'The Book of Praises'. The term "Psalms" is Greek [psalmoi], taken from the Septuagint, and meaning songs sung to musical instruments. This psalm is a preface to the collection. Hence, in the oldest reading of Acts 13:33, our second psalm is quoted as "the first psalm." One psalms is prefixed as a compendious summary of the whole-God's appointment of salvation to the righteous, perdition to the ungodly, in spite of all present appearances to the contrary.

Blessed - literally, 'Oh the happinesses of the man!' etc. Not merely happy in one respect, but in countless ways (marked by the abstract term, implying that happiness finds its realization only in Him; and by the plural number, implying the manifold aspects of his happiness). [The Hebrew, 'ashreey (H835), happiness, is distinct from baarak (H1288), bless and blessedness].

Walketh ... ungodly ... standeth ... sinners ... sitteth ... scornful - answering respectively to one another in poetical parallelism of thought (the Hebrew principle of versification: see Introduction to Poetical Books); and forming a climax: from "walking in the counsel" (i:e., according to the counsel or plans, Micah 6:16; Psalms 81:12), in the downward steps of sin, one goes on to "standing in the way;" and from this to "sitting in the seat" (Psalms 26:4-5). From associating with the "ungodly" or 'wicked' [margin, rªshaa`iym (H7563), the root ides of which is disturbance; restlessness (Isaiah 57:20), impelling to continual fresh misdeed: hence, transgression, in act of God's law], one passes to the way of "sinners" [ chªTaa'iym (H2400): literally, those deviating from the straight course; erring, from estrangement of heart and principle]. The crowning of this awful declension is sitting, as in one's habitual place, among. "scorners" (2 Peter 3:3; Isaiah 5:19; Psalms 50:20; Psalms 69:12; Jeremiah 15:17; Jeremiah 17:15). Sitting is the attitude of drinking boon companions. Wine itself is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).

Verse 2

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

But - Hebrew, kiy (H3588) 'im (H518), but if; i:e., But who (if there be anything in which he) delights (Romans 7:22), (it is) in the law ( towraah (H8451), literally, the directory, from a root, yaarah (H3384), to point the way or direct; the law of Moses: the representative of the whole inspired volume) of the Lord. So Maurer. Thus even the Psalms are called "the law" of the Jews (John 10:34; John 15:25). Jesus, the faultless model-man, pre-eminently could say, "I delight to do thy will: thy law is written within my heart" (Psalms 40:8). The renewed and believing man delights in God's law sincerely, though in a lower degree (Romans 7:22; cf. Psalms 119:16; Psalms 119:35; Psalms 119:47).

The Lord - Hebrew, Yahweh (H3068). So the English version is to be understood wherever the LORD is in capital letters. Compare as to the meaning of the name, Exodus 3:14-15 ("I am that I am;" or, 'I shall be (always) that I am (now),' according to Gesenius), and Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8, notes.

Meditate day and night - alluding to Joshua 1:8. Meditation upon, is to reading the Word what digesting is to eating. Without the slow and lengthened process of digestion, food would not nourish the body: without meditation, the Word read will not nourish the soul.

Verse 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.

Tree planted by ... waters - alluded to in Jeremiah 17:8, the prophet thereby sealing the inspiration of the Psalmist. Not accidentally growing there, but "planted" by the heavenly Husbandman (Psalms 80:8; Matthew 15:13) in His electing love (Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:3).

Rivers - palgee; literally, 'divisions:' the Eastern mode of watering trees in a garden being by dividing the water from the cistern or well in the midst into rivulets, to run along the rows of trees, and so, in the absence of rain, provide a constant artificial supply for irrigation.

His fruit - its proper fruit (cf. Revelation 22:2). A special beauty of the believer's fruits of righteousness is, they are not only good in themselves, but also are in season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; contrast Matthew 21:19).

His - its.

Leaf - not only the fruit of the believer, but even the leaf has its beauty and its use (Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2). Even the minor exhibitions of his character are perfect after their kind, and his smallest undertaking is blessed: as explained in the next clause.

Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. So the English version rightly (Maurer and Hengstenberg). In this fourth member there is a transition from the tree to him whom it represents. The parallelism is sufficiently maintained by the correspondence between the image and the thing represented-namely, the godly man. The tree's leaf (in the third member of the parallelism) answers to "whatsoever he (the godly man) doeth," even his most minute and ordinary acts (in the fourth member); "not wither," to "prosper." Joseph realized this picture (cf. Genesis 39:3-4, from which the language here seems to be drawn). DeBurgh prefers, on the authority of the Targum, 'whatever it (the tree) produceth shall flourish.'

Verse 4

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

(Job 21:18; Hosea 13:3; cf. Matthew 3:12.) In the East threshing floors are placed on a height; the threshed grain is thrown aloft for the wind to carry the chaff away.

The ungodly are not so - the negation of all that characterizes the righteous; saying more than the most detailed description. "Not so" in character; "not so" in destiny (DeBurgh).

Verse 5

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Therefore - because they are unstable as "the chaff which the wind driveth away" (Psalms 1:4), and because God is about to have a judicial sifting (Ecclesiastes 12:14), wherein the fruit (Psalms 1:3) shall abide, and the chaff be driven away.

Shall not stand - literally, rise up: the Septuagint, 'rise again.' Thus the ultimate meaning designed by the Spirit will be, The ungodly shall not rise up to partake of the first resurrection with the righteous (1 Corinthians 15:23; Philippians 3:11; Luke 20:35; Revelation 20:5-6). If the English version be retained, "not stand in judgment" does not contradict Romans 14:10, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ" (cf. Acts 24:15); but "stand" - i:e., be justified-is opposed to falling - i:e., being condemned (cf. Psalms 18:38; Psalms 20:8; Malachi 3:2, "Who shall stand when He appeareth?" Revelation 6:17). The parallel clause, "in the congregation of the righteous" (the full number of the elect gathered together unto Christ at His coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:1; cf. Psalms 50:5), favours the former view, whereby "stand" or 'rise in the judgment' refers to the elect rising and sharing with Christ in His reign in judgment or justice. (Psalms 9:7-8; Psalms 96:13): not the last "judgment," but the millennial reign; as "judge" is often used for righteous rule (Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 23:5).

In the congregation of the righteous - "the congregation of the righteous" in its true ideal, from which every ungodly element is removed, about to be realized at Christ's second coming (Malachi 4:1-3; Matthew 13:41). The Israelite congregation, "holy" to the Lord, was the type (Psalms 111:1; Numbers 16:3; Ezekiel 13:9). Korah and his company, destroyed "from among the congregation" (Numbers 16:33), typify the sinners who "shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous."

Verse 6

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

Way ... way - not used in different senses, but in the same: the portion or lot (Psalms 37:5; Psalms 37:18; Psalms 37:23) which results from the course of the unrighteous and ungodly respectively. God knows the way of both by His omniscience: that of the righteous with approving favour (Psalms 101:6; John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19): the result, therefore, must be, as He governs and judges righteously, that blessing must attend the righteous, and destruction the wicked, whatever appearances there now may be to the contrary. God accurately discriminates between the two classes, though man now confounds them. God know His people, however hidden from man's observation (Psalms 83:3), and marks them out for special honour (Genesis 18:17-19). God knows the ungodly, and shall judge them accordingly (Isaiah 3:10-11).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-1.html. 1871-8.
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