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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Psalms 1

 

 

Verses 1-6

THE PSALTER

FIRST BOOK

Psalm 1-41

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Psalm 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.

2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord;

And in his law doth he meditate day and night.

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.

4 The ungodly are not so:

But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous;

But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Division and Composition. Four Codd. Kennic, and 3 De Rossi, as many of the Jews and the Fathers take the first and second Psalm together as one whole; comp. Wetstein on Acts 13:33, where the Apostle Paul cites a passage from our second Psalm as from the first Psalm (according to the corrected reading). This however does not decide, for two Codd. De Rossi do not number our Psalm at all, and the Apostle Paul may have shared that conception, in accordance with which Basil calls it a “short preface” which the compiler placed before as an introduction (Calvin, Amyrald [Hupfeld, Riehm, Hitzig, et alii]). Besides some similarity in the structure of the strophes, there are, it is true, turns in the closing verse of the 2 d Psalm which are strikingly similar in part to the beatitude with which the 1 Psalm begins, and in part to the threatening with which the 1 Psalm closes; and in the hagah, Psalm 2:1, there is an antithetical reference to Psalm 1:2. These facts cannot be overlooked. But with the diversity of subject and treatment which otherwise prevails, they do not even justify the conclusion of one and the same author, whom Hengstenberg supposes to be David, Hitzig the compiler of the Psalm. These are not without predecessors. Nevertheless, design may be acknowledged at any rate only with reference to the arrangement, and not with reference to the poetry. This is clear from the following facts: (1) that two Psalm, without titles, should stand at the beginning of a group of Psalm which have David’s name in their titles, the second of which carries out into a concrete historical situation the truth expressed in Psalm 1in general terms; (2) that the entire first book is opened (1:1; 2:12) as well as closed (40:4; 41:1) by two Psalm, with אַשְׁרֵי ashrê. But Psalm 32of the same book likewise begins with ashrê, so also Psalm 112; Psalm 119; Psalm 128 in a later book.

Again, the mention of David as the author by some of the Fathers and of the MSS. of the Septuagint has no historical foundation. The historical application of the subject to the persecution of David by Saul (Venema) or to the rebellion of Absalom, is a false use of history. So likewise the explanation from the circumstances of the Maccabean age (Rüdinger, Olshausen,[FN1]Hitzig). We would urge against so late a composition not so much the simplicity and freshness of the Psalm (Köster) as the following considerations: 1) The designation of the scorner leads to the sententious style of the age of Song of Solomon, to which also the loose structure of the strophes points [Delitzsch]. 2) Psalm 1:2 decidedly looks back to Joshua 1:8, whereas Psalm 1:3 is carried further out in Jeremiah 17:5-8. Ezech19:10, 11expresses only a corresponding thought in a similar form [Riehm]. The same idea is particularized, Psalm 92:12. There is a possible allusion, 2 Chronicles 22:5.

[Ewald supposes this Psalm to be an introduction to a more ancient and smaller collection of Psalm, giving the pith of many of them, the disposition with which an ancient poet selected and grouped them, and the spirit with which he would have them read. Delitzsch says that the collections of the prophecies of Isaiah and the Psalm are alike in that they both begin with a prologue. Barnes considers it as a general introduction to the book of Psalm, stating the general principle of the Jewish theocracy, “that a righteous life will be attended with prosperity and happiness, and that the life of the wicked will be followed by sorrow and ruin.”[FN2] The true view is this: The Psalm was probably composed as an introduction to the earlier collection of the Davidic Psalm, made in the age of Song of Solomon, perhaps under his direction, retaining its place at the head of the entire collection after it had been formed.—C. A. B.]

Of the three verses of the 1 strophe, two are of many members; those of the 2 d strophe are all of two members, but they run along entirely parallel in their subject, that is: the description of the righteous and the wicked according to their respective behaviour and destiny.

Str. I. Psalm 1:1. אַשְׁרֵי = Ashrê, etymologically, from the signification of the straight and direct course, gives the idea of welfare, grammatically, it is an exclamation of congratulation, or rather a declaration of recognition and of praise: beatitudines illius viri.[FN3] The substantive renders the language more emphatic than the verb fin, Psalm 41:2, or the partic, Proverbs 3:18. Luther aptly: “The prophet, when he sees that there are few such people on earth, suddenly bursts forth and says, ‘Blessed is the man.’ ”

The use of the plural to mark the abstract with emphasis is ancient, especially in the Hebrew (Ewald, Ausführliches Lehrbuch VII. Ausg. § 179).

Walketh—standeth—sitteth,etc.—The three perfects in Psalm 1:1, the change of the verbal into a nominal sentence in Psalm 1:2 a, the future (correctly called imperf. by Ewald) in Psalm 1:2 b give a shading to the thought. This shading cannot be entirely expressed in translation owing to an entire difference between the Hebrew and the English conjugations. It is effaced by the remark of Aben Ezra that the Hebrew authors used for the present partly the preterite and partly the future. [The perfect is used to give the abstract present of our language, indicating an already long-continued and still enduring condition or characteristic, vid.Ges.Heb. Gram., edit. Rödiger XX. Auf. § 126. Ewald, § 135. Barnes: “It is the characteristic of the Prayer of Manasseh, always and habitually that he does not thus walk.”—C. A. B.]

It is questionable whether the three members of Psalm 1:1 form only three parallel clauses of like signification as poetical variations of the thought that we must have no intercourse at all with evil in any way (Musculus, Rosenm, De Wette, Hengst, Hupf.), or whether there is not illustrated in the choice of expression an intensification of the possible participation in the chief forms of iniquity (Aben Ezra, Stier, Delitzsch, Hitzig [Barnes)] somewhat after the type impii corde, peccatores opere, illusores ore. By the former view we are usually referred to the assertion of David Kimchi, that going, standing, and sitting are the three chief conditions of the human body when awake. The latter view is not shaken by the fact that we cannot ascribe to רשעrâsha’, etymologically the meaning of wild restlessness, and passionate agitation, whence follow disturbances of the peace (Geier et alii). Hitzig supposes from the Æthiopic that the fundamental meaning is forgetfulness (of God). Böttcher (Neue exeget. crit. Aehrenlese, II:220), likewise from the Æthiopic interprets it as greasy, stained, soiled, and hence derives the idea of guilty. Hupfeld finds in the idiomatic use of the word a simple contrast to צדיק. This general meaning, extending far beyond the idea of guilty (Sachs), suits very well the use of the word in the 2 d strophe of the Psalm. In any case the characteristics of rasha’im, given in Isaiah 57:20, remain essentially indisputable, and the statement is of a עצה = council of these same persons who might serve as a model and measure for the walk of others. This is shown by the construction of halach with ב. This expression always refers to the sphere of sinful emotions of the heart whether we are to think of the resolutions of the will formed within the heart or the counsel imparted to others. [Hupfeld states that עצה, like the Latin consilium, has a twofold meaning: 1) absolutely, a resolution formed within the heart; 2) relatively, working upon another either as example or advice. He thinks that it is here used in the relative sense especially as example.—C. A. B.] There is no occasion for the correction עדהêdah = congregation, company (Olsh,Emendationen zum A. T, 1826). For there is no reference to place except in moshab, whether this word denotes dwelling (Köster), or seat (Sept, Vulg, Hengst, Schegg) as 1 Samuel 20:18; 1 Samuel 20:25, or session (Syriac, Arab. et al.) as Psalm 107:32 [A. V, assembly.—C. A. B.] For derech is a figurative designation of manner of acting, conduct.

We cannot see why ’amad, with ב, should not retain the meaning of stand fast, persevere in, the more since, according to Hupfeld, we need not infer with De Wette from the fundamental meaning of חטא, “slip, fall,” that of “evil from weakness or ignorance;” but rather are brought to that of “sinning habitually.”

Moreover the description of the scorner in the proverbs of Solomon (appropriately explained by Hupfeld) reaches the climax of wickedness. In the pictorial description, however, we are not to take every expression as dogmatic. The translation of לֵץ by pestilence, which expression Schegg applies to the influence of the devil, has no support in the language. Neither is the fundamental meaning that of turning (Paulus), but partly of lisping and stammering, partly of laughing and mocking. [Hupfeld: “This is not a scorner of religion in our sense, nor one who says there is no God, because the religion of the Old Testament was not theory, but essentially disposit on, practice. He is one who is frivolous, disregarding the Almighty, making sport of all things, of the worst class of the wicked.” Barnes: “We have here a beautiful double gradation or climax, in the nouns and verbs of this verse, indicating successive stages of character; walking, standing, sitting; irreligious men in general, those who disregard known duty and violate human obligation, and those who openly mock at virtue and scoff at the claims of religion.” Hengstenberg says that “scorners of religion are as old as the fall. Isaiah 5:19; Jeremiah 18:15.” Ewald: “He who meditates evil is already a רשע, one driven by passion, he who does the advised evil is חטא, a sinner, he who is already so accustomed to suppress a good conscience that he scorns and perverts good in society, is לץ, a scorner.”—C. A. B.]

Psalm 1:2. On the contrary.—כִּי אִם, literally, “but if,” after negative sentences introduce the contrast with emphasis (Ewald, § 354 a). With Joshua 1:8 in view, which is anticipated, Deuteronomy 6:6 sq.; Deuteronomy 11:18; Deuteronomy 17:19, we cannot doubt that the thôrah (literally instruction) does not mean here the revelation in general (Michaelis, Stier) but the written law of Moses [De Wette, Hupfeld, Hengst, et al.] ( Psalm 40:7, the volume of the book). The repetition of this word in the second member of the verse is not tautological, so that we could be induced to regard thôdah=praise (Paulus), and not the thôrah, as the subject of the meditation.

The remarks of Geier: “Repetitur denuo nomen legis ceu rei adeo caræ ac pretiosæ cujus vel solo nomine intime delectantur pii,” certainly misses the sense. Hagah might, in itself, be a poetical designation of discourse, Psalm 35:28, especially as the etymology leads back to the idea of murmuring, and has formed the meaning of thinking, meditating, only from the point of view of discourse within the soul. But the latter signification is set aside, not so much by its connection with ב as by the phrase day and night; for there is no reason to understand the phrase as figurative of happy and unhappy times. But it does not mean a brooding over the letter in the sense of Judaism, nor any other kind of theoretical contemplation, as is shown partly by the mention of delight (literally inclination), partly from the context which is throughout practical (Clauss against De Wette) [Delitzsch beautifully: “The quiet soliloquy of investigation and meditation.”—C. A. B.]

[Day and night.—Hupfeld regards it as the usual formula for continual, perpetual, as in all languages, Psalm 32:4; Psalm 42:3.—C. A. B.] The expression “night” has a special appropriateness here, in that among the Jews the night was from6 o’clock in the evening till6 o’clock in the morning.

Psalm 1:3. And so he is like a tree planted by brooks of water.—The perfect with vav consecutive shows that we have here not the reason of the beatitude, but a further expansion of it by a statement of the consequences of the conduct of the pious, just described. The etymology of פלגי (Alex. διέξοδοι) does not compel us (Hupfeld) to think of canals (De Wette). [Hupfeld: פּלג = cleave, divide. The usual name of brooks in Hebrew, as in Arabic and Æthiopic, for streams. Riehm: “Because brooks and streams cleave and divide the surface of the earth.”—C. A. B.] The double plural refers partly to the abundance of water, which is very important in the Orient; partly to the rich distribution of brooks for the fructification of every tree of that kind.[FN4] Luther reminds us of the ever green date palms in the Jordan valley at Jericho, Sirach 24:18; Deuteronomy 34:3.[FN5] [Delitzsch: “In the relative clause the emphasis is not entirely upon בְעִתּוֹ (Calvin) but פִרְיוֹ is the first and בְעִתּוֹ the second emphatic word. The fruit expected, it affords, and indeed at the proper time, without ever in the course of the seasons disappointing the hopes.” “The fresh foliage is a figure of faith, which changes the water of life of the divine word into sap and strength, and the fruit is the figure of works which gradually ripen and spread their blessings around.”—C. A. B.]

כל cannot be nominative, for the intransitive meaning of the following verb (Sept, Vulg, Vatabl, Rosenm.) rests only upon the doubtful pointing of Judges 18:5. The subject of the sentence is either in the causative signification Jehovah, or since this is too distant, and the transitive signification is the usual one, the pious. Some suppose that tree is the subject because עשה and צלח are used with it, Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 37:31; Ezech17:9, 10; but such a repetition would be feeble and cold [Hupfeld].

Str. II. Psalm 1:4. Not so.—These words are repeated at the end of the first member of Psalm 1:4 by Sept, Vulg, and Syr. The following figure describes not only the destiny, but, at the same time, the condition of the wicked contrasted with the figure of the righteous, which likewise embraces both points. If this be overlooked, we mistake the close connection with Psalm 1:5.

[Hupfeld, נדף = drive, or chase away. In the East the threshing-floors are in the open air, upon heights ( Isaiah 17:13), on which the winds more readily blow the chaff away. (De Wette and Barnes, in loco; also RobinsonBib. Researches, I:550, II:83; SmithBib. Dict. ‘Agriculture.’) “Hence it is the usual figure of the rapid and traceless destruction of the enemies of God and the ungodly. Psalm 35:5; Job 21:18; Hosea 13:3; Matthew 3:12. There is here also an illustration of their inner condition, their emptiness and nullity, in contrast with the good grain, which remains behind and abides.”—C. A. B.]

[Therefore. Hupfeld: “not a consequence of the moral condition of the unrighteous, as indicated in the figure of the chaff, but rather a logical consequence from Psalm 1:4. From the general statement of the destiny of the unrighteous follows the special: that they are by Divine judgment severed from the congregation of God.”—C. A. B.]

Many of the older interpreters suppose that there is in קוּם an exclusion of the wicked from the resurrection (Sept. οὐκ ἀναστήσονται). But this is against the meaning of the word and the context. The judgment is not directly nor even exclusively the Messianic (Chald. and the Jewish exegetes), still less human judgment or judgment in civil cases (Rosenm.), but it is the Divine judgment, Psalm 1:6. For it is made prominent in Jehovah, as well by the participle as the characteristic attribute, that He knoweth the way of the righteous. That this knowing is not only a theoretical knowledge, but a nosse cum affectu et effectu, is involved in the fact that it is Jehovah of whom this is declared. Therefore it gains the closer meaning of “acknowledge in loving care.” Yet this meaning is not to be brought into the vocabulary of the word (Kimchi, et al.). Since now the participle precedes, Psalm 1:6 a merely confirms the consequences threatened before, the sure occurrence of which rests upon the fact that error and deception are excluded by the idea of Divine judgment. The most of the interpreters push inio the text itself that which should only be its consequences as a comforting application to the pious. Moreover, they often give to way, Psalm 1:6, a different meaning from that of Psalm 1:1, viz. (quite frequently), that of destiny, the way in which they are led. But they thereby sensibly weaken the last member of the verse, with its dreadful closing word, which leaves nothing for the way of the wicked but the prospect of Abaddon ( Proverbs 15:11; Job 26:6; Job 28:22).

The Codd. and the ancient interpreters of the Vulgate do not read in Psalm 1:5 in concilio, as the later editions corrected according to the Hebrew; but in consilio, according to the reading of the Septuagint, ἐν βουλῆ . The Vulgate follows the Sept. version likewise in Psalm 1:4 b, only that, weakening the proper figure still more, it understands χνοῦς the dust; ὅν ἐκρίπτει ἄνεμος ἀπὸ προσώπου τῆς γὴς. According to our exegesis the verse does not treat of a sudden, still less of a premature, but rather of an inevitable ruin of the ungodly, bearing the character of just punishment brought on by Divine judgment; and the closing verse contains not only an expression embracing both sides of the fundamental thought, rounding off the Psalm, but it directs its glance to the inevitable and endless destruction of the wicked. [Delitzsch: “This same fearful תֹּאבֵד closes Psalm 112, which begins with אַשְׁרֵי.”—C. A. B.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. For ethical and religious consideration there is only one, yet a decided contrast among men, before which all other differences retire, that is: the contrast between the ungodly and the righteous. Their lot in time and eternity corresponds with their disposition towards God.

2. The ungodly, even, partially and for a while unite with one another, come together in societies, in which they converse about evil things to their heart’s desire, plunge ever deeper into sin, and mutually strengthen one another in their wickedness by evil counsels, bad examples, and cunning wiles. Yet only the righteous form a congregation, that is: a people of God, organized according to Divine order, based on Divine institutions, governed according to the word of God.

3. As long as the congregation of God remains in this world it is opposed not only by external bands of the wicked, but it has sinners in its own midst, partly because its true and living members are not yet perfect and sinless saints, partly because there are false brethren, hypocrites, apostate and wicked men mingled with the congregation in its external appearance, as it presents itself in moral and human forms under the influence of its relations to this world.

4. On this account the external society, connections, and points of contact are more extensive than the internal membership relations and influences. Yet this does not cause a perplexity of conscience, or a suppression of the righteous, or an equality in the lots of the evil and the good. But there are characteristics which mark the ungodly and the righteous, as well as a Divine saving and sifting judgment, and a reward corresponding with the moral and religious conduct of men.

5. The marks of the righteous are negatively, principally, their turning away from the counsels, the walk, and the companionship of the wicked; positively, their joy in the revealed word and will of God, and their occupation in meditating upon the testimony of the Lord given as the rule and guidance for our faith and life, and this without regard to the changes of the hours. Contrasted with this are the counsels of the wicked, wherein they disclose the thoughts of their heart, as their walk is opposed to the manner of life ordained by the law of the holy God, and their assembly is the opposite of the assembly for the worship of God. They are to be earnestly avoided; for it is much easier and more frequent for men, when in the circle of the scorner, to be ruled by the prevailing tone of the company, and even to be carried away with it, than to withstand it, and witness against it, and confess the Lord as those who love His word and His way.

6. The ungodly are not always, and especially not immediately at the beginning, in the lowest grade of wickedness, in which the scorner Isaiah, who cannot be taught or improved, but in the overflow of haughty presumption ( Proverbs 21:24; comp1:22; 9:7, 8; 13:1; 15:12, etc.) hates correction, and scorns discipline, and replies with scoff and persecution, and in the intoxication of boasting, treats everything except himself with petulance, and especially makes sport and scorn of holy things. But the gradations of evil pass ever into one another, and often tread closely upon one another. Even the first steps are already in opposition to the will of God, and evil thoughts are no less worthy of condemnation and dangerous than evil deeds. Those only can be called happy who do not associate in any way with the ungodly, or their practices, devices, or efforts.

7. Piety gives the righteous the power to withdraw from the society of the wicked, and to withstand their temptations. It nourishes him in the marrow of his life, and strengthens him by the supply of heavenly nourishment; whilst by his absorption in the holy law of God, it sinks the roots of his life into the revealed ground of salvation, and by his delight in the instruction of the Lord, affords the constant supply of the streams of grace, which make the man who belongs to God to grow and mature in fruits of righteousness.

8. Consequently man is righteous, not by birth, or nature, or through his own power, skill, or activity, but by the Divine agency, through the means of grace which Divine mercy has established for us; as a tree planted by an abundant and flowing brook, if Hebrews, like the tree, take up into his own life from the means afforded him by God, that which is necessary to his life and growth. Then he has the experience described in 1 Timothy 4:8, of the blessings of righteousness.

9. Although the ungodly are in similar circumstances with the righteous, yet they derive no profit from this favorable circumstance. They are spiritually dead and withered. That which has matured in them has faded prematurely; for they have not appropriated to themselves the nourishment of life, and they have not formed in themselves the faculty for this appropriation. Without root and without sap they have not attained any vigor, nor brought forth any fruit, ( Matthew 21:19). Thus they have ripened only for distruction; unsubstantial and worthless as chaff; the sport of the wind, until scattered by the storm they go to destruction, and leave no trace behind but the way on which they are whirled away to a ruin whose misery is inconceivable; for the way proves itself a “lost way.”

10. This sad condition of the ungodly, as well as their terrible fate, may be for some time concealed from themselves and others, but both will be disclosed by the divine judgment, which has its foundations in the ever ruling righteousness of the Almighty, its execution in the judgment of the world; yet its operation already appears in history, judging and sifting in theocratic acts, yea, according to the threatening ( Leviticus 20:2) with respect to certain kinds of wickedness, already vindicates itself in bitter earnest in the regular administration of justice. “If the Scriptures speak of the ungodly, then see to it that you do not refer it to the Jews, or the Heathen, or any other people, but tremble yourselves at this word, for it concerns you and means you.” (Luther).

11. There is here a strong encouragement on the one side to turn away from all kinds of iniquity, and on the other to continue in righteousness by a conscientious use of the means of grace in the possession of the congregation. For God desires a pure and holy congregation ( Leviticus 11:44; Ephesians 6:27), and He knows the way of the righteous. There is no reference here to the well-known heathen maxim: that it must fare well with the good, and ill with the wicked; but the emphasis is upon this fact that Jehovah, the God of historical revelation, who has ordained and called His people to be a righteous congregation, is also the experienced Guardian of the purity of this congregation, and the infallible Judge and Rewarder. There is a striking parallel in the New Testament, 2 Timothy 2:19. Now, since no one except Jesus Christ is perfectly righteous, the most of the ancient interpreters have by direct Messianic interpretation, referred the first strophe to Him, as the ever green tree of life; and since no one is justified by fulfilling the law in his own strength but by faith in Jesus Christ, many, especially of the Evangelical interpreters (Calov. Bib. Illust.) have referred to the close connection between the first Psalm, the summa legis, with the second Psalm, the summa evangelii.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Either blessed or lost—so God’s word declares, so God’s judgment warns.—The pious and the wicked are together in the world; but their ways are entirely different from beginning to end.—Man’s lot is not determined by chance, but by righteous and infallible judgment.—It is not enough to avoid this or that single sin, we must walk in the way of life.—The Divine law shows the way in which the pious walk, and keeps God Himself in view as knowing that way.—He who would remain in the congregation of the righteous must avoid the society of the wicked, whilst he must use diligently the means of grace entrusted to the congregation of God. All things finally redound to the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of the wicked. He who is planted where the waters of life flow, should appropriate them in order that he may grow as a tree of life, and bring forth fruit in his season.—The lot of the pious is as delightful as that of the wicked is terrible.—Tell me the way in which you walk and the company you keep, and I will declare to you the end which you will attain.—The things in which you delight will either make you blessed or destroy you.—Divine judgment comes certainly, strikes surely, judges righteously, and decides our everlasting weal or woe.—He who diligently seeks communion with God, will earnestly avoid intercourse with the ungodly.—How shall we distinguish between the righteous and the wicked? The one keeps God’s law with Deuteronomy -light, the other transgresses it with contempt: the one associates with scorners, the other remains in the congregation; the one prospers with God’s assistance, the other perishes by God’s judgment.—True fear of God receives the noblest praise, the best blessing.

Starke: A Christian is not only to avoid the commission of sin, but as far as possible is to avoid temptation.—Sin grows constantly: At first we pass it by, then we stand still, then we sit with seornera. Blessed are those who shun the beginning ( Sirach 21:2; Job 4:6).—It is true, believers have their greatest pleasure in the Gospel, yet the law is likewise agreeable to them in Christ, for they are freed from its curse, and it is their joy by it to know God’s will, and to fulfil it with the power given unto them.—Among other characteristics of a state of grace is this: that we have a heartfelt desire for the word of God, and indeed that we are no more tired of it than a sound body is of its daily bread. As with a palm tree, all that is in it is profitable, leaves, wood, and fruit, so also with the Christian, all that he does is to redound to the honor of the Divine name, and the benefit of his neighbors.—It is as foolish to rely upon the ungodly as to fear them—they are like chaff.—Choose in time, and prudently, the society in which you wish to remain forever.—Luk. Osiander: To err and fall is human, but to continue in error and sin is the work of the devil.—One thing is necessary; to hear and learn the word of God ( Luke 10:42; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16).—Selnekker: Piety and the fear of God mean: (1) to avoid false doctrine and a scandalous life; (2) to desire the law of the Lord; (3) to freely and openly confess and speak of it.—No one can know the nature and the will of God without the Divine word.—Where there is no fear of God nor truth, talent and intellect are mere poison.—We must, as the fig and palm trees, show the fruit before the leaves.—Four promises are given to those who desire and love the word of God: 1) The grace of God; 2) fruitfulness and usefulness in their calling; 3) a sure and constant employment; 4) blessing and success.—Geier: We all naturally seek happiness; but only those attain it, who seek it in the revealed word of God. All depends upon the way we choose ( Matthew 7:13).—Renschel: Avoid evil and keep God’s word, then you will be happy in this world and the next.—Frisch: Thou standest between two ways which lead to everlasting weal or woe. Open your eyes and choose the best.—The Psalm begins with blessing and glory, but it ends with woe, in order that where the hope of blessedness is not strong enough to encourage us to the service of God and piety, the fear of the unhappiness and misery to be endured may deter us from wickedness.—Rieger: The fear of God teaches the righteous to avoid evil, whether quiet as a counsel, or common as a way, or fixed as a seat.—Without attachment to the good the hate of wickedness is not constant.—What is there in an ungodly man? A counsel and trust in his deceit; a way and a defiance of the crowd which travel in it; a seat from which he will not be driven. But what will become of him? Because he has no weight of truth from the Divine word in himself, he will be driven away as chaff. Since he has made so light of it in his mockery, he will be obliged to experience how incapable he is of standing in the judgment. Since he has ever sought only the society of sinners he will not then remain in the congregation of the righteous when he most desires to retain a place with them. So long as they are in the way many may think that they are as good as those who are called righteous, who likewise have their faults; but the issue will be different from what they expect—Otto von Gerlach: The ungodly maintain their position by chance because it is calm, and outward circumstances are favorable to them; but since they have no vital power, no support in God, the first misfortune drives them away.—Tholuck: He who has nothing sure in heaven can have nothing firm on earth.—Taube: He who has pleasure in God’s word, exercises himself therein without ceasing.

[Matt. Henry: The ungodly are forward to give their advice against religion; and it is managed so artfully that we have reasons to bless ourselves from it, and to think ourselves happy if we escape being tainted and ensnared by it.—We must not only set ourselves to meditate upon God’s word, morning and evening, at the entrance of the day and the night, but these thoughts should be interwoven with the business and converse of every day, and with the repose and slumbers of every night.—Barnes: If a man desires permanent prosperity and happiness, it is to be found only in the ways of virtue and religion.—Spurgeon: Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man’a mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man’s crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.—The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth, and sows a harvest there, which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments of eternity; but as for the wicked he ploughs the sea, and though there may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves pass over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more forever. The very “way” of the ungodly shall perish.—C. A. B.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - This Olshausen is an entirely different person from the author of the well-known commentary on the New Testament.]

FN#2 - Wordsworth regards the two first Psalm “as distinct, and as constituting a general introduction to the whole book, and as addressed to the whole world; and as the whole book is a composite one, not due to David alone, these two Psalm, which are a prologue to it, are not identified with him. These two Psalm form a pair. The first of them looks backward to the law of Moses ( Psalm 1:2); the second looks forward to the Gospel of Christ. They join the two Testaments together. Both of them speak of the blessings of obedience, and of the malediction which is reserved for rebellion against God. They stand at the beginning of the Psalter, like a Gerizim and an Ebal;—and they reveal the awful transactions of the Great day of Doom, when the Judge will gather all nations before Him, and place some on the right hand and others on the left.”—C. A. B.]

FN#3 - Hupfeld: Like the formula of the beatitudes, Matthew 5:8-11—C. A. B.]

FN#4 - Barnes supposes that there is an allusion to the Oriental method of making artificial rivulets to irrigate their land. He refers to the practice in Egypt and in the gardens of Damascus. This Isaiah, however, a great mistake The Psalmist alludes to those brooks or streams which, having their source in some perennial fountain, flow through the wadies and valleys, fertilizing the land. Wherever these brooks are found, as at Engedi and in the wady Urtas, their banks are crowded with a rich luxuriance of plan’s and trees. These were the favorite streams in the time of Song of Solomon, and the Psalmist probably had them in mind, vid. Robinson Bib. Researches, l, 477, 505. Psalm 46:4; Psalm 65:9; Song of Solomon 1:14; Song of Solomon 4:12-16, etc. It is true these brooks were diverted into many channels in order that their blessing might be more widely diffused, as is the case with the Abana at the present day. Its waters are divided by art into a hundred water courses, using every drop of water to fertilize a hundred villages. But this is a derivative idea, and was not the Psalmist’s ideal, which was the living brooks from the perennial fountain—an allusion to the garden of Eden with the river of life and the tree of life, frequently alluded to in the Psalm vid, Psalm 36:8 sq.; Psalm 46:4, etc.—C. A. B.]

FN#5 - The fertility of the plain of Jericho is caused by the large fountains of Es Sultân and Dûk, with the streams they pour forth over the land, vid. Rob. Bib. Researches, I, 556.—C. A. B.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 1:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-1.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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