|Volume 23 Number 11 November 2021
Brian R. Kenyon
Psalm 1 is one of the most recognizable psalms! In many ways, it could be considered an introduction to the entire God-inspired collection. One thing, for sure, is that it shows two distinct classes of humanity in relation to each class’s ultimate fate. The psalm starts out with the phrase, “Blessed is the man,” which is a spirited declaration of blessedness that could be expressed, “Oh, the blessedness of the man!” The “blessed man” about to be described is a rare jewel compared to the masses of the general population. Only one class of people is given this designation of blessedness, both now and in eternity. Interestingly, this psalm was alluded to by Jeremiah when describing the apostate people of Judah and the consequent doom coming upon them (Jeremiah 17:5-8). If only they had applied this psalm! Let us note three truths about the person who is blessed according to this psalm.
Recognizes the Danger of Sin
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1). In recognizing the danger of sin, a person must be aware of the deceptive nature by which it traps – by subtle degrees. The “blessed” person “does not walk” in the plans or ideas of the ungodly because he knows their schemes lead to destruction (Isaiah 57:20-21; Jeremiah 7:24). He does not “stand in the path of sinners.” He does not “sit in the seat of the scornful.” The “scornful [scoffers, ESV]” refers to those who mock, or those who make divine truth and holiness a subject of derision (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-4). Scoffers are enemies of truth (Proverbs 22:10; 29:8). There are differences in degrees in both the action and the type of people with whom the blessed person refuses to associate. Three degrees in action are: (1) “walks,” which figuratively means agreeing with or at least, entertaining the ungodly people’s ideas; (2) “stands,” which indicates fixing one’s character upon that of sinners, and (3) “sits,” which means to become wholly a part of the scornful people’s world. Three degrees in types of people are: (1) “ungodly [wicked, ASV],” those who may or may not be fixed in their position of irreverence toward God; (2) “sinners,” who habitually continue in transgression, and (3) “scornful [scoffers, ESV],” who not only continue in sin but are proud of it, mocking anyone who, in their mind, would be addicted to religion.
It is impossible to end up sitting with the scornful without first heeding the counsel of the ungodly and then stopping to associate with sinners! God’s people today must keep progressing along the way that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:14)! They cannot stop the pursuit of Christ to dabble in the world! Yet, for some reason, God’s people sometimes think there are no consequences in attempting to split time between Christ and the world. “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24)! Let’s be people blessed and keep ourselves from digressions!
Stabilizes Himself with God’s Word
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:2-4). The person who is blessed takes “delight in the law of the Lord”! When a person is said to “delight” in something, it means he enjoys the activity so much that it becomes his preferred business or occupation. The chief interest of the blessed person is to fulfil the law of God (Psalm 19:7-10; Joshua 1:8)! Furthermore, the blessed person is likened to a well-watered tree. “Planted” indicates a deliberate nourishing and strengthening, not something growing wild. This is a person who has been carefully cultivated by God’s Word. This is a picture of stability and prosperity!
This deliberately planted person is unlike the ungodly, who are led by the counsel of the wicked, who involve themselves in the way of sinners and become comfortable in the seat of the scornful. The wicked are like chaff that is blown away. They are without root below or fruit above. They have no delight in God’s law. They may prosper for a while, but at the first indication of drought, they shrivel up (cf. Matthew 13:4-5). To use another, well-known comparison, when faced with storms of judgment, “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 7:27)! Let’s be deliberate in cultivating God’s Word in our lives (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15)!
Finds God’s Approval
“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:5-6). The wicked cannot endure the judgments of God (Psalm 37:9, 13, 15, 17, 35-36). Though in the eyes of men a person may seem to belong to the “congregation” of the Lord, God knows better. He cannot be deceived (cf. Galatians 6:7). Paul said on one occasion, “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). The apostle also wrote, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His’” (2 Timothy 2:19a). The Lord “knows” those who truly belong to Him! In Psalm 1:6, the word “knows” means more than mere intellectual knowledge. It also carries the idea of approval, carrying through (Psalm 31:7), and identifying with (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6). The way of the righteous is the only way that leads to eternal life. People belonging to God must depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19b). “The Lord knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever” (Psalm 37:18). The way of the wicked will always end in eternal separation from God (Matthew 7:23).
The only way to endure the judgments of God is to be in harmony with His will. Today, that means to be a faithful Christian! Paul wrote, “For you died [referring to baptism, Colossians 2:12], and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4). When the Christian keeps focused on “things which are above” (Colossians 3:1-2), God will look upon him through the cleansing blood of His Son!
What a contrast between “blessed” (Psalm 1:1) and “perish” (Psalm 1:6). The “blessed” person recognizes the danger of sin, is stabilized with the Word of God and is approved of the Lord. The ungodly are as weak as wind driven chaff, are unable to stand in God’s judgment and are destined for destruction unless they repent! Into which category of people do we find ourselves? Are we among the blessed or are we among those whom the Lord disapproves? May we always delight in God’s ways!
Whom My Soul Loves
In the Song of Solomon 3, the Shulammite refers to Solomon with the phrase, “Whom my soul loves,” four times (3:1-4. She also uses it in 1:7.). It is interesting that this phrase occurs mostly in this “dream story” where the Shulammite is concerned about Solomon’s level of commitment to her. Yet, the phrase all by itself says a lot about the Shulammite.
First, the Shulammite was not ashamed to openly declare her love. This was her man, and she would tell anyone (including the watchmen of the city, 3:3) that she was in love with him.
Second, she loved genuinely and deeply. The use of the word “soul” here is significant. It has the idea that “in the depth of her being” she was in love with Solomon. People can fake love, pretending that they really care for someone, but the Shulammite was as sincere as one can be.
Third, this expression shows that it was not a shared love. There is only room for one man with this kind of love. The Shulammite did not have other “love interests,” other men that she “kept on a string” just in case things didn’t work out with Solomon. She was madly in love with him, and only with him. Couples who succeed in marriage have this kind of love. They don’t have eyes for anyone else. They don’t want anyone else.