1 How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! 2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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Psalm one should be read as an introduction to the book of Psalms. This introduction is a wisdom Psalm, characterizing the ways of godliness and contrasting it with the ways of wickedness. It introduces the central theme of the book: meditating on God’s Word as the spiritual practice of God’s righteous people.
There are two portraits painted in this poetic passage of Scripture, the elegant brush strokes of the righteous and the spattered ways of the wicked. By continuing to think in depth about God’s word, one is able to receive the blessings and avoid the consequences of the way of the wicked.
I’m not an artist nor do I have an “eye” for the aesthetics of artistry. Sadly, art appreciation has never come easy to me. I never excelled in art class in high school. However, I do remember one assignment that I placed “my heart and soul” into creating. I chose to draw a portrait of a NBA basketball player who had recently died from a heart attack on the basketball court, Boston Celtic’s Reggie Lewis.
The portrait took me a whole semester to complete. For hours, I had to look carefully at a Sport’s Illustrated article that profiled a picture of Reggie Lewis. I observed every crease in his face, the way the light highlighted features of his smile, shadows that contoured his face, and all of these details were essential in capturing his appearance and his persona.
Since the project was one of the main grades of the class, I worked on it day and night in order to carefully reflect who Reggie Lewis was. He was not only a basketball player, but also a role model whose life ended tragically short.
This Psalm is an art gallery of two portraits, one of the “blessed man” and the other of the “wicked man.” The portrait of the “blessed man” paints the picture of the essence of the Good Life. He’s the one who takes pleasure in and reads carefully or meditates on the Law of the Lord (verse 2). He or she carefully observes the wisdom from God’s Word and thinks about it all the time and how to apply it to his or her situation in life. The result of this attentive thinking on God’s Word is “fruitful” or successful living in God’s kingdom.
The world has skewed the practice of meditation. Eastern practices feature meditation as the process of emptying your mind of thoughts, whereas Judea-Christian practice aims to fill your mind with God and Scripture. This Psalm is filled with instruction and incentives for observing and applying the rich wisdom of God’s Word.
Think about these rewards for being like the righteous man, who continually meditates on God’s Word:
- You will always be stable, refreshed, and productive as you think about God’s Word (verse 3).
- The wicked man will have no stability or productivity (verse 4).
- Yahweh knows how the righteous ones are living and will not allow the wicked to succeed (verses 5-6).
- What typically consumes your thought life throughout the day? List them on a piece of paper or in your prayer journal.
- Can you recall an experience that you had where you were using God’s Word for a key decision in your life? Write a few sentences about that experience in your journal.
- Memorize Psalm 1:2-3 this week, use a 3x5 card or put it on your phone.