Psalm 1 is a magnificent gateway to the ancient collection of the Psalms because it presents to us the doctrine of the “Two Ways of Life” which is found throughout the Scriptures. For example, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of the man who trusts in man as being cursed, and the man who trusts in the Lord as being blessed (Jer. 17:5-8). Our Lord also spoke of the “Two Ways of Life” in Matthew 7:13-14 and used this concept to warn mankind not to walk the path that leads to destruction. This question needs to be posed: “Which path are we walking in life?” There are only two paths in life: Satan’s and God’s. The psalmist begins this psalm with the statement, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers” (1:1).
The word “blessed” is from the Hebrew word “esher” and means “happy is the person” who finds spiritual contentment in the spiritual realm. This is a wisdom psalm because it teaches us what God expects of the righteous. Therefore, we could have used the title, “Supremely Happy and Contented Are the Righteous.” I believe most people want to be happy and contented, but this psalm makes it crystal clear that the unrighteous will never find such happiness in the path they are walking. There is a progression in this first verse (walk, stand, sit). The writer tells us that one is happy if he/she does not walk in the counsel of the wicked by accepting their advice. The wicked are always ready to give advice and counsel to those who will listen so as to persuade others to follow them. Are you monitoring the input that’s coming into your life through the advice of the wicked? This advice will eventually lead one to “stand in the way of sinners” and to imitate behavior (Cf. Job 20:5). Eventually, the person who accepts the ungodly philosophy of life, and then acts in disobedience to God’s commands, will ultimately resort to mocking truth and those who embrace the truth.
The psalmist continues with the positive by saying, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psa. 1:2). The word “delight” means to take great pleasure in. It has the idea of a consuming passion that controls our life. David said, “For I delight in Your commands because I love them” (Psa. 119:47). The contrast between the two ways may be put like this: It is the difference between those who are in love with sin and those who are in love with God and walk in His Word. The psalmist uses two images to show the result of these two ways. “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 wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” (v. 3-5). What a blessed thought that the psalmist ends with: “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (v. 6; Cf. Isa. 57:20-21). This distinguishes between the final end of both the righteous and the wicked. If you would have the happiness this psalm promises, then you must spend time in the word of God and walk the path of the righteous.
–Walnut Street Church of Christ