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This Psalm was put first as a preface to all the rest, as a powerful persuasive to the diligent reading and serious study of the whole book and of the rest of the Holy Scripture, taken from that blessedness which attends upon the study and practice thereof.
The godly blessed, Psalms 1:1.
Their delight in God's law, Psalms 1:2.
Their fruitfulness, Psalms 1:3.
The wretched course and condition of the ungodly, Psalms 1:4-6.
The Hebrew words are very emphatical, Blessedness belongs to that man, or, Oh the blessedness of that man Thrice blessed is that man; who is here described negatively, and in the next verse positively.
That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, i.e. that doth not lead his life according to their counsel, or course, or manner of living; that doth not associate himself with them, nor follow their evil instigations or examples. Walking notes choice of it, and continuance or process in it; otherwise good men do sometimes step aside into an evil action. For the explaining of the phrase, see Genesis 49:6; 2 Chronicles 22:3-5; Proverbs 1:15; Proverbs 4:14; Micah 6:16.
Nor standeth; which notes a more settled abode, hardness, and obstinacy in it.
In the way, i.e. in their course or manner of conversation; in the practice of those things which they choose and use to do; which is called a man's way, Psalms 5:8; Psalms 25:4; 2 Peter 2:2,2 Peter 2:15.
Of sinners; emphatically so called here, as also Psalms 26:9; Ecclesiastes 9:2; Matthew 26:45; Luke 7:37; John 9:16,John 9:31, who give up themselves to the power and practice of sin, making it their great business and their delight.
Nor sitteth in the seat; which notes their association or incorporation of themselves with them; a constant and resolved perseverance in their wicked courses, with great content and security; and a great proficiency and eminency in the school of wickedness, and an ability and readiness to instruct others therein. Of the scornful; of those who are not only diseased, but reject, despise, and scorn all remedies; who make a mock of sin, and of God's threatenings and judgments against sinners; who deride all wholesome reproofs and counsels, and make it their trade to scoff at goodness and good men. Divers have observed a gradation in this verse; the following clause still exceeding the former, for standing is more than walking, and sitting more than standing. And
the way or course may seem to be worse than the counsel or design, and the seat is worse than the way; and sinners, in Scripture use, are worse than the ungodly, and the scornful are the worst of sinners. But I would not lay great stress upon such observations.
In the law, i.e. in the study and practice of it, as appears from the context. The law of God may be here understood of the whole doctrine delivered by God to the church, consisting of doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatening, &c.; as it is taken Psalms 37:1; Psalms 58:1; Isaiah 51:7; John 10:34; or more particularly of the preceptive part of it, which is commonly so called; and so this is noted as the peculiar character of a good man, that he delighteth himself not only in the promises, which a bad man may do, Matthew 13:20, but even in the commands of God, Psalms 112:1; Psalms 119:47; Psalms 127:0; Psalms 143:0; 1 John 5:3, which are unwelcome and burdensome to a wicked man.
meditate implies a deep, and serious, and affectionate thoughtfulness about it: see Psalms 19:14; Psalms 49:3; Proverbs 24:2; Isaiah 33:18.
Day and night; not seldom and slightly, as hypocrites do; but diligently, frequently, constantly, and upon all occasions.
And, or for, as this particle is oft used, as Psalms 60:12; Psalms 108:13; Proverbs 4:17; this being the proof of that blessedness of a good man, which he had only asserted, Psalms 1:1.
By the rivers, i.e. a river; the plural number being put for the singular, as it is Judges 12:7; Jonah 1:5, and oft elsewhere.
In his season, i.e. in the time of fruit-bearing; which being applied to the good man, notes either,
1. His active goodness, that he seeketh and improveth all opportunities for the doing of good, exercising godliness, justice, temperance, charity, patience, &c., according to the several occasions offered to him. Or rather,
2. His certain prosperity and happiness, as may be gathered from the end of this verse, and the opposite state of the ungodly, Psalms 1:4,Psalms 1:5; that he shall have the fruit or benefit of his godly life in due time, or when it is expedient for him; possibly in this life, but assuredly in the next life.
His leaf also shall not wither; his happiness is not short and transitory, as all worldly felicity is; but fixed and everlasting, like those trees which are continually green and flourishing: or, and (like a tree) whose leaf never withers. Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper; all his actions shall be crowned with success, and a blessed end or effect: see Romans 8:28.
The ungodly are not so; their condition is far differing from the former.
But are like the chaff; in regard either,
1. Of their sinful disposition. They are vain and frothy, unprofitable and hurtful, without any root of true and solid goodness, without any certain end or constant course, tossed to and fro with every wind of their own lusts or temptations. Or rather,
2. Of their wretched condition. They are restless and unquiet in their own minds and consciences; their seeming felicity, in which they please and pride themselves, hath no firm foundation, but quickly vanisheth and fleeth away, as chaff doth before the wind, and their end is to be burned: see Job 21:8; Psalms 35:5; Matthew 3:12.
Therefore, to wit, because they are ungodly; or because, as this particle is sometimes used, as Genesis 38:26; Numbers 10:31; Numbers 14:43; Psalms 42:6; for this verse is added to enforce or prove what he said in the former.
Shall not stand, i.e. not subsist or endure the trial; or not be justified, or carry his cause, as this word is oft used; being opposed to falling, as Psalms 18:38; Psalms 20:8; Malachi 3:2; Luke 21:36; Romans 14:4; Ephesians 6:13.
In the judgment; either,
1. In the time of temporal calamities, when God shall arise to judge and punish them; for then the hearts of the wicked fail, and their consciences are filled with horror. Or,
2. In that great and general judgment of the whole world, called here
the judgment emphatically; in that solemn and general congregation of all mankind, as the next words express it. In the congregation of the righteous, i.e. In that society which shall consist of none but righteous persons, or amongst the righteous ones on Christ’s right hand, Matthew 25:32.
For; he now gives a reason of this great difference between the righteous and the ungodly, expressed in the foregoing verses.
The Lord knoweth; either,
1. Properly and speculatively; he searcheth and knoweth all their hearts and ways or actions; and therefore will preserve, prosper, and bless them; which may be gathered out of the following and opposite clause of this verse, and out of Psalms 1:1,Psalms 1:2. Or,
2. Practically and affectionately, as words of knowledge in Scripture do frequently imply affection, as Exodus 1:8; Psalms 31:7; Psalms 101:4; Hosea 8:4; Amos 3:2. He approveth, loveth, and delighteth in them, and in the course of their lives, and therefore will recompense them; or, he careth for and directeth their actions to a blessed issue.
The way of the ungodly shall perish; all their wicked designs and courses shall come to nothing, and they shall perish with them.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/