Blessed is the Man

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
     nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
     and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
     planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
     and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
     but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will 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 wicked will perish.

The Book of Psalms has been the prayer book of God’s people for somewhere around three thousand years. It’s full of both beautiful imagery and striking honesty, as the psalmists praise God with arresting eloquence but also wrestle with him with a candidness and raw sincerity that can seem irreverent. And yet it’s included in Scripture, held up as a model for us. If you don’t know what to pray, if you don’t have the words, look to the Psalms. Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you need to say to God, it’s probably in there.

The Psalms were all written by various authors; many by David, but others are accredited to Asaph, the Sons of Korah, and others of whom we have varying knowledge. But someone, we don’t know who, compiled all of these songs into the volume of 150 that we know today, and they did so in a very ordered and intentional way. The psalms are divided into five books, each concluding with a doxology, or words of praise, and the fifth ending in five doxologies. This pattern of fives is a reference to the five books of the Law, Genesis through Deuteronomy, and it communicates that the worship of Israel in the psalms is rooted in and responding to God’s word to them.

All of these five books of the psalms begins here in Psalm 1, and everything that follows is cast through its lens, this dichotomy of two paths: that of the righteous and the wicked. The way of the righteous delights in the law of the Lord. The psalmist paints the righteous person as a tree. Its roots are deep, and though the soil is dry, it soaks up rich life from the stream it is near. It is fruitful, and yet a tree doesn’t bear fruit for itself. Its prosperity is not to its own gain, but the benefit of others.

On the other hand, you have the contrast of the way of the wicked. They are like chaff, the inedible husk of wheat that is thrown into the air when the kernel is removed at threshing. Of no benefit to anyone, and only driven away by the wind. Their lives amount to nothing that lasts, and when the judgement comes, they will not endure it.

And yet even from its beginning, this psalm anticipates the only man who was perfectly blessed. The very idea of blessing in Scripture always implies the redemptive presence of God, the same presence that was realized in Mary who was called blessed among women. If you would be like this tree planted by the water, if you would follow in the way of the righteous, then you must delight yourself in the Word made flesh.

Reflect

  • Where are you tempted to find fulfillment apart from God?
  • How can you surrender that to him today, that by the grace of Jesus, you may learn to walk in the way of the righteous?

Pray

Father, teach me to delight in you, in your Word, and in the person of Jesus. May your Holy Spirit guide me in the way of the righteous, that I may find life in you and, bear much fruit. Amen.
Taylor Whitson, October 20, 2020
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