I. The blessed man is described in this verse by negatives. We are told what he does not do. It so happens that we cannot understand some of the very highest things in life except they are put to us in precisely this way. There are more ways of saying "Thou shalt not" than there are of saying "Thou shalt."
II. But a man who is thus instructed in negatives occupies a very peculiarly perilous position. Man has energies; he must be doing something, must be affirmative, practical, energetic. Therefore we await some further instruction as to the way in which to direct our life. We have it in ver. 2: "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night." God does not destroy our powers; He does not quench our aspirations and turn us into nonentities. He lays His hand upon the strength we are misusing and says, "You must use this strength in another direction and for another purpose." What is the happy man doing? He delights in the law of the Lord.
III. What will be the consequence of this delight? "He shall be like a tree," etc. Beauty is always associated with righteousness in the highest quarters. Then there comes the great promise, "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." The great principle of the text is right as honour, truth as crown, goodness occupying the throne.
IV. "The ungodly are not so," etc. The sinner has a brief day. There is no life in the ungodly that abides; there is surface, there is no vitality; there is an outward attitude and display of comfort and enjoyment, but there is at the heart that which will give way under pressure.
Parker, City Temple, vol. iii., p. 289.
References: Psalms 1:1.—E. C. Wickham, Wellington College Sermons, p. 203; A. Mursell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 269; C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons chiefly Practical, p. 245.
I. We have here a twofold declaration of God's great purpose in all His self-revelation, and especially in the Gospel of His Son. Our first text may be translated as a joyful exclamation; our second is an invocation or a command. The one then expresses the purpose which God secures by His gift of the law, the other the purpose which He summons us to fulfil by the tribute of our hearts and songs—man's happiness and God's glory. (1) His purpose is man's blessedness. That is but another way of saying that God is love. His purpose is not blessedness anyhow, but one which will not and cannot be given by God to those who walk in the way of sinners. His love desires that we should be holy and followers of God as dear children, and the blessedness which it bestows comes from pardon and growing fellowship with Him. It can no more fall on rebellious hearts than the pure crystals of the snow can lie and sparkle on the hot black cone of a volcano. (2) God seeks our praise. "The glory of God" is the end of all the Divine actions. His glory is sought by Him in the manifestation of His loving heart, mirrored in our illuminated and gladdened heart. First He showers down blessings, then looks for the revenue of praise.
II. We may also take this passage as giving us a twofold expression of the actual effects of God's revelation, especially in the Gospel, even here upon earth. (1) God does actually, though not completely, make men blessed here. With all its sorrows and pains, the life of a Christian is a happy life, and the joy of the Lord remains with His servants. (2) So, too, God's gift produces man's praise. He requires from us nothing but our thankful recognition and reception of His benefit. The echo of love which gives and forgives is love which accepts and thanks.
III. We have also a twofold prophecy of the perfection of heaven. (1) It is the perfection of man's blessedness. The end will crown the work. (2) It is the perfection of God's praise. Our second text opens to us the gates of the heavenly temple, and shows us there the saintly ranks and angel companies gathered in the city whose walls are salvation, and its gates praise.
A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester, 3rd series, p. 225.
I. This law, which we have to learn, and by keeping of which we shall be blessed, is nothing else than God's will. If you wish to learn the law of the Lord, keep your soul pious, pure, reverent, and earnest; for it is only the pure in heart who shall see God, and only those who do God's will as far as they know it who will know concerning any doctrine whether it be true or false, in one word whether it be of God.
II. This law is the law of the Lord. You cannot have a law without a Lawgiver who makes the law, and also without a Judge who enforces the law; and the Lawgiver and the Judge of the law is the Lord Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ.
III. Christ the Lord rules, and knows that He rules; whether we know it or not, Christ's law still hangs over our head, ready to lead us to light, and life, and peace, and wealth; or ready to fall on us and grind us to powder, whether we choose to look up and see it or not. The Lord liveth, though we may be too dead to feel Him. The Lord sees us, though we may be too blind to see Him.
C. Kingsley, Westminster Sermons, p. no.
References: Psalms 1:2.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 359; Ibid., vol. i., p. 350; E. C. Wickham, Wellington College Sermons, p. 209; M. G. Pearse, Some Aspects of the Blessed Life, pp. 1, 17.
In the figure of ver. 3 there are revealed three aspects of godly character.
I. Its variety. The comparison is with a fruit-tree, not of any particular kind, but one of that large class of trees. The variety which God stamps upon nature He means to have reproduced in character.
II. Its Divine culture. The godly man is not like a tree that grows wild. He is like a tree planted, and that in a place which will best promote its growth. Godly character is developed under God's special supervision and with God's own appliances.
III. Its fruitfulness. God's tree by God's river must be a fruitful tree. Notice: (1) The words are "his fruit," not any other tree's fruit. (2) "In his season." The seasons are different for different fruits. The latest fruit is usually the best. But, early or late, the fruit of godly character is seasonable.
M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 3.
The spiritual plant of God is placed by the running waters; it is nourished and recruited by the never-failing, the perpetual, the daily and hourly, supply of their wholesome influences. It grows up gradually, silently, without observation; and in proportion as it rises aloft, so do its roots, with still less observation, strike deep into the earth. Year after year it grows more and more into the hope and the posture of a glorious immobility and unchangeableness. What it has been, that it shall be; if it changes, it is as growing into fruitfulness, and maturing in its fruit's abundance and perfection. Nor is that fruit lost; it neither withers upon the branches nor decays upon the ground. Angels unseen gather crop after crop from the unwearied, never-failing parent, and carefully store them up in heavenly treasure-houses. The servant of God resembles a tree (1) in his graciousness; (2) in his fruitfulness; (3) in his immobility.
J. H. Newman, Sermons on Various Occasions, p. 243.
References: Psalms 1:3.—H. P. Liddon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 100; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 73; G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, pp. 79, 122; G. Orme, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 334; E. Johnson, Ibid., vol. xx., p. 347. Psalms 1:3, Psalms 1:4.—H. Macmillan, Two Worlds are Ours, p. 203; A. Blomfield, Sermons in Town and Country, p. 313. Psalms 1:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 280.
I. Let us, first, find out who are the characters intended in our text. An ungodly man is simply a man who tries to get through the world without God. All he has to do to earn the title is to leave God out of his love. (1) A man may be most moral and yet most ungodly. For one that is dragged down to perdition by the millstone of vice, there are hundreds who are taken in the meshes of the net of a Christless virtue. (2) A man may be most religiously active and yet be ungodly.
II. Notice the description given of them. They are the very opposite of all that a godly man is. You have simply to take the picture of the saved man and then after every particular write, "The ungodly are not so." (1) Look at the first word of the Psalm. The Christian is "blessed," but the ungodly are not so. (2) The godly are like trees planted. A Christian is an evergreen; his joys in Christ last, though all his other pleasures be taken from him. But the ungodly are not so.
III. Notice the end of the ungodly. "They are like the chaff," etc. (1) There will be separation from the righteous. (2) Notice how sweeping and irresistible is the ruin. What can a feather-weight of chaff do against the wind? That great wind will catch all excuses from your lips, and before you have time to give God one of your paltry lies you, with them, will be swept with the speed of a hurricane into perdition. There will be only one thing that will stand that mighty tempest, and that will be the soul that rests upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
A. G. Brown, Penny Pulpit, No. 767.
"The ungodly are not so." That "not" contains the germs of all moral disaster. We have set forth under this figure three aspects of the ungodly character.
I. Its instability. Take a life away from God, and you take from it unity of impulse. Passion, pride, selfishness, drive it hither and thither as the winds drive the dismantled ship. Nowhere but in God does man find a consistent law.
II. Its worthlessness. Chaff! The wind drives it away, and the husbandman is glad to have it driven away. An ungodly life is a worthless life, because, whatever it may be, however busy and bustling, it is not so. It is not used under God's direction and for God's uses.
III. Its insecurity. The contrast is between the tree, safe in its enclosure by the watercourses, watched and tended by the gardener, its fruits safe from the plunderer, and the chaff, loosely lying on the exposed threshing-floor, where the first blast can drive it no one cares whither. How safe is the man who abides in God, while he who puts himself outside of the restraints of Divine law forfeits likewise its protection.
M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 21.
Reference: Psalms 1:6.—G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 10.
Ver. 1. There are cases in which without a figure "ignorance is bliss." Observe that all the characters mentioned here may have their excellences and their attractions; for example, the ungodly may be rich, the sinners may be convivial, the scornful may be brilliant: yet blessed is the man who has nothing to do with them.
Ver. 2: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord," etc. The idea is that of a man who sees the law of the Lord in all nature, in all history, all life, everywhere and always, and delights to trace its beneficent and almighty power.
Ver. 3: "And he shall be like a tree," etc. A man's life should be rooted in God, in God's law, in God's service. It should not be as a plucked flower, but as a flower unplucked growing on the eternal stem.
Ver. 4: "The ungodly are not so," etc. To know whose they are, you must know where the wind is—the wind of popularity, the wind of success, the wind of Divine visitation.
Ver. 5: "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment," etc. These are the true and final tests of character. At present judgment is partial and uncertain, and at present society is mixed; but the time of judgment and separation is coming.
Ver. 6. Mark the three characters: the godly, the ungodly, the Lord! The final award is not with man, but with God. The destiny of the righteous and the ungodly is as distinct as their characters. There is no blending of one into the other—the one lives; the other perishes.
Parker, The Ark of God, p. 113.
References: Psalm 1—I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 74; S. Cox, Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 81; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 123.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany