The Overview of the Chapter: The Biblical book of Psalms is composed of poetical writings which are to be set to music. Psalms is a collection of writings/songs by at least six men—David, Asaph, Korah, Solomon, Ethan, and Moses. David is the most prominent, for some 75 of the Psalms are attributed to him. The first psalm is a good preface to the entire book. It presents the case of the righteous man and the wicked man, their conduct and consequences.
The Outline (Main points) of the Chapter:
Psalm 1:1-3, 6
The book of Psalms opens like the Sermon on the Mount with "Blessed." The "blessed" is plural which the godly shall enjoy. Spurgeon says we could read it, "Oh the blessedness" of the godly. Four important things are said about the "blessed."
The blessed man is the separated man. The separation spoken of here shows the progress of evil. It starts with steps, then standing, then sitting. If you do not take the first step, you will not be guilty of taking the next steps. We separate from evil or evil will destroy us.
• The steps in separation. "Walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1). The blessed or godly person walks in the commandments of the Lord not the counsels of the world.
• The standing in separation. "Nor standeth in the way of sinners" (Psalm 1:1). The blessed/godly person does not keep company with the wicked.
• The sitting in separation. "Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful" (Psalm 1:1). The scornful mocks God. The scornful is the atheist, the infidel. The godly do not settle down in this company. "The seat of the scornful may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell" (Spurgeon).
The blessed/godly person is distinguished by his close relationship to the Word of God.
• His delight in the Scripture. "His delight is in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 1:2). At church, he prefers a sermon in the sanctuary to a supper/social in the fellowship hall.
• His devotion to the Scripture. "In his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2). His delight is confirmed by his devotion to the Word of God. This devotion is steadfast, continual, not a spasmodic, passing fad.
The godly/blessed person is a successful person in God's sight and this success is compared to a healthy tree.
• The planting of the blessed. "Like a tree planted by the rivers of water" (Psalm 1:3). Two important factors are involved in this planting. First, the place of its planting. "By the rivers of water." The tree needs water to be healthy. Being by a river assures it of ample nourishment. Second, the preservation in the planting. From the New Testament we learn that "every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matthew 15:13). The godly are planted by the Lord, and this guarantees Divine protection and preservation.
• The productiveness of the blessed. "Bringeth forth his fruit in his season" (Psalm 1:3).The blessed/godly person is a productive person. He grows spiritually and so produces fruit such as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Some church members evidence no fruit of the believer. "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).
• The perpetuity of the blessed. "His leaf also shall not wither" (Psalm 1:3). The blessed/godly person is faithful. His profession of faith will be steadfast, continuous, perpetual.
• The prosperity of the blessed. "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). Men may not call it prosperous or give rewards for this success, but God calls it prosperity. The inward heart, not the outward performance, is in view, here for outwardly many saints are judged failures by the world.
"The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous" (Psalm 1:6). Two thoughts are in this statement, both blessed for the godly.
• The cognizance of the godly. "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous." This is a great encouragement for the righteous for he is often obscure in the world. But God is cognizant of the lifestyle of the godly and will reward them accordingly in due time regardless of obscurity or how the world treats them.
• The caring for the godly. "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous." Hebrew scholars tell us that this knowing also involves caring for the righteous.
There are only two classes of men in the world. They are the godly (the blessed) and the ungodly (the cursed). This psalm speaks of the godly in the first half of the psalm then speaks of the ungodly in the last half of the psalm. The contrast in the two classes is very great and will be great throughout eternity.
"The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away" (Psalm 1:4). The description of the ungodly is certainly different than the description of the godly.
• The comparison of his value. "Like the chaff which the wind driveth away." The blessed/godly were compared to a healthy tree but the ungodly are compared to chaff. First, the inferiority of chaff. "Like the chaff." Chaff is useless. It bears no helpful fruit. It is separated from grain because it has no nourishing value. The godly may be high up in the world, but they are useless for God and eternity. Second, the instability of chaff. "Wind driveth away." Chaff is unstable; it does not abide firmly anywhere. The slightest wind drives it where it will.
• The cause of his value. "Not so." The reason they are of no value is because they do not have any valuable characteristics like the godly. The wicked may be powerful, but he is valueless because of his decrepit character. The least saint is more valuable to society than the highest worldling.
The verdict for the ungodly is devastating. The verdict is bad and condemning.
• The prospect in the verdict. "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" (Psalm 1:5). The ungodly will never win in the court of heaven. The ungodly is doomed. He may stand tall in the world, but in eternity, he will wilt in the Divine court.
• The prohibiting in the verdict. "Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous" (Psalm 1:5). The sinner will not be in the congregation of the godly in heaven. Sinners are prohibited from this congregation but will be in the congregation of the condemned.
• The perishing in the verdict. "The way of the ungodly shall perish" (Psalm 1:6). This sums up the judgment upon the ungodly. They will perish for all eternity. Their eternal future is one of ruin. They may laugh their way through this life, but eternal ruin is no picnic. Thousands every day are perishing without Christ because they have chosen to walk the path of the ungodly. It will be a terrible jolt to come to their senses in hell and realize they are ruined for eternity.