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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-6

Psalms 1:1 . Man, אישׁ Ish, a prince, a ruler, a patriarchal or family man, a man of high degree, as in Psalms 62:9. This is a running word in the psalms, while Adam, the word of contrast with Ish, is used for men of low degree; for common men, for worms of the dust.


This beautiful psalm has strong claims to be placed first, because it is a psalm of piety, illustrated by just ideas, by impressive figures, and by contrast with characters of impiety, who form the dark shades to give more expression to the portrait of the virtuous. The happy man is here said to refrain from walking with the wicked. He seeks their company no farther than impelled by the duties of life, for he who goes beyond this line imbibes their spirit, and presently is entangled in their sins.

He despises the counsel of the ungodly; for they imagine wickedness, and practise it. He obeys the first dictates of conscience, which are always the purest, and would shun an idle thought as actual transgression.

He abhors the seat of the scornful; for this is the sin which consummates the character of bad and hardened men. To mock at reform, to sneer at religion, and contumeliously abuse the righteous, is to give latitude to the baseness of the heart, and to offer the most daring insult to heaven. Indeed, it is generally the last stage in which God suffers the wicked to live. When the idolaters mocked the bald-headed prophet, going up to the temple to worship, two she-bears commissioned with divine fury, tore forty two of the scoffers in pieces.

His delight is in the law of the Lord; and that word signifies here the whole of religion. The law being the moral image of God, its promises and threatenings; and all the glory of grace and justice open an expanse to the meditation of the soul, wide as the immensity of the divine nature. There is no subject but this, to which the conscious mind can be lastingly attached. The news of the day, the vicissitudes of life, are subjects to which the mind lends merely a glance; but when contemplating the immensity of God, in his works of nature, of providence and grace, the good man says, my heart is fixed: oh God, my heart is fixed. The bustle of life fatigues the mind, but here the soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when we remember the Lord in the watches of the night.

The good man shall be as a tree planted by the rivers of water. In the torrid zones, after the rainy season, vegetation leaps into the most luxuriant appearances, and clothes the wide-spread earth with verdure, bloom, and beauty. But after awhile, the scorching heats turn the earth to a brown and parched appearance. The shepherds drive their flocks to the brooks, and follow the streams, where the trees and vegetation preserve their beauty all the year, while the trees on the parched hills seem ready to die. This is a true portrait of the good man. His soul, watered by the streams of paradise, knows not the parched season of the sunburnt heath. His works also prosper as well as his soul. The light of God is on his habitation, and righteousness looks down upon him from the skies.

The ungodly are not so. When arraigned at the bar of justice, they cannot meet the accusation; when sickness comes, they wither as the parched ground. They all perish as the faded leaf, and go down to the abyss. Be wise, then, oh my soul: shun the society of the vain, delight thyself in the law of the Lord, and in all the sublime of psalmody which celebrates his name.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-1.html. 1835.
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