Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers."
The word "blessed" may be read as "happy"; and the three words referring to the unrighteous are synonyms, all of them carrying the same basic meaning, namely, the people who do not love and serve God.
From Genesis to Revelation the Holy Bible recognizes only two classes of people -- the same two classes that are identified in this verse, that is, the servants of God and the enemies of God.
In the New Testament especially this dual classification of all mankind appears many times, as in, the sheep and the goats, the wise and the foolish virgins, the builders upon the rock and the builders upon the sand, the faithful servant and the wicked servant, those upon the right hand and those upon the left hand, the wheat and the tares, the wheat and the chaff, doers of good and doers of evil, the fruitful tree and the unfruitful tree, etc.
Only in Jesus' parable of the sower does there appear several classes of the unfruitful soil, but even there the two simple divisions of the unfruitful and the fruitful hearers of God's Word are clearly visible.
Notice also that the happy man is described negatively as one who does not do certain things. Nothing could be farther from God's truth than the notion that only the positive declarations are sufficient. Even in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount there are no less than ten negative commandments in Matt. 6 alone. Without any doubt whatever, serving God is eternally identified with not doing many things.
Another interesting revelation of this verse is the characteristic of wickedness that it is able to exercise an increasingly strong power over any person indulging the least toleration of it. Walking in the counsel of the wicked is soon followed by standing in the way of sinners, and that leads to sitting in the seat of scoffers.
Alexander Pope in his Essay on Man, line 217, described this characteristic of evil thus:
"Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
But his delight is in the law of Jehovah;
And on his law doth he meditate day and night."
In the last analysis, it is what men desire in their hearts that determines destiny. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).
Men who do not actually desire the glory of God and the ultimate triumph of truth and righteousness shall, of course, never attain any status of being acceptable to God.
But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night.
This earmark of any servant of God is precisely the reason why it is so difficult for men to be saved, and the primary reason why the majority of mankind, as Our Lord declared, shall never enter the narrow gate nor travel the straitened way, but shall travel the broad way to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
How can any person whomsoever meditate upon the word of God "day and night?" It is a manifest impossibility for one who spends five times as much time every day reading the current newspaper as he spends reading the Bible, who spends ten times as much time watching sports contests on TV as he does in the worship of God, or who thinks about worldly and temporal things fifteen hours a day and thinks about God and spiritual things less than ten minutes a day, to follow such a pattern as is seen here.
Satan is making so much noise with all of his devices deployed in all directions, shouting and screaming for our attention, that it becomes increasingly difficult to focus our minds upon the Creator and our obligation to love and serve Him.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water,
That bringeth forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also doth not wither;
And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
The first three lines here are a simile comparing a righteous person with a favorably planted fruit tree, the constant nourishment of which is supplied by the streams of water; and just as the drying up of those streams would destroy any such tree, the intended lesson for men is that any cessation of reading, hearing and meditation upon God's Word will likewise diminish or destroy Christian fruitfulness.
Here lies the absolute necessity for attendance of regular public worship on the part of any person who desires the ultimate accolade, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant"!
And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
It has been true in all ages and is true today that honesty, sobriety, virtue, diligence, truthfulness, and fidelity are human qualities eagerly sought and rewarded in the business endeavors of the world, these being almost exclusively the traits of God's people; and while there must certainly be exceptions to this general rule, it is nevertheless the truth.
The wicked are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous."
The simile of the chaff is found often in the Bible and is drawn from the old method of threshing grain, the chaff being worthless was blown away by the wind or burned. The New Testament use of this same figure begins with John the Baptist's declaration with regard to Jesus Christ, that, "He will gather his wheat into the garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12).
Verses 4, 5
The wicked are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
Not only will the wicked be unable to stand in the judgment of the Last Day, but they will also be unable to maintain themselves as stable members of the believing children of God through Christ. Here is the explanation of why so many fall away from their faith and drop out of established congregations of the faithful.
For Jehovah knoweth the way of the righteous;
But the way of the wicked shall perish."
It is not stated here that wicked men shall not prosper, because it is a sad truth that they often do prosper; but their ultimate total destruction is certified upon every page of the Bible.
There will come a time when God in righteous anger shall arise and cast evil out of his universe; and all who have given themselves to wickedness shall partake of the destruction that shall characterize that Day.
Footnotes for Psalms 1
(There are no endnotes to Ps. 1)