The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Psalm 1

Psa 1:1

Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in the Bible, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations not to be discovered, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and hence he is all the more expressive a type of our Lord. David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men. Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown; the lowly worker has his cares, and David handled a shepherd's rod; the wanderer has many hardships, and David abode in the caves of Engedi; the leader of men has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him. The psalmist was also tried in that his friends, his counselor Ahithophel forsook him: "He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me." His worst foes were they of his own household: his children were his greatest affliction. The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honor and reproach, of health and weakness, all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace, and from within to mar his joy. David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another; no sooner emerged from one season of depression and fear, than he was again brought into the lowest depths, and all God's waves and billows rolled over him. It is probably from this cause that David's psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians. Whatever our frame of mind, whether on the heights or in the depths, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart, because he had been tutored in the best of all schools -- the school of heartfelt, personal experience. As we are instructed in the same school, as we grow matured in grace and in years, we increasingly appreciate David's psalms, and find them to be "green pastures" where the weary lamb may lie down for a moment in peace.

"The Psalms are the heartbeat of the Scriptures, containing the delightful songs of David. The Psalms present the harmony of faith, guiding emotions and feelings along the channel of divine Truth. The book opens with the picture of the Garden of Eden in parable, but affected by the impulses of wickedness. The man is blessed when he seeks the obedience and the glory of unity with the Creator. The wicked seek an alternative pathway, and refuse to submit to the divine requirement" (GEM).

Psa 1: Only two ways: that of death, and that of life; Spirit/flesh; sheep/goats; good fish/bad fish; vessels to honor/vessels to dishonor. The character of God and the character of man (Isa 55:8,9). The narrow way and the broad way (Mat 7:13,14). No title. Written specially as a formal introduction to the Psalms.

Vv 1-3: The godly
Vv 4,5: The ungodly
V 6a: The godly
V 6b: The ungodly.

Notice 3 triple parallels in v 1: walk/stand/sit; counsel/way/seat; wicked/sinners/mockers. Note the progressive nature of the 3 parallels.

Historical allusions: (a) Korah and his company (Num 16:18-27)? (b) The exhortation to Joshua (Jos 1:7,8).

Messianic reference: The perfect man (singular)!

BLESSED: "Happy" (NEB), not in the sense of aimless frivolity, but in the sense of spiritual contentment. Cp beginning of Psa 41. And see also Psa 2:12. The "Beatitudes" in the Psalms: Psa 1:1; 2:12; 32:1,2; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4,5,12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 118:26; 119:1,2; 128:1,4.

THE MAN: "Ish", a strong vigorous man, ie Christ. Blessed because of his actions, in ct to the man ("adam") of Psa 32:1,2, who is blessed, derivatively, because his sins are forgiven. In fact, the "adam" is forgiven his sins only because of the "ish"!

WHO DOES NOT WALK: "Live fish swim against the stream. Dead ones go with it." Ct of light and darkness in 2Co 6:14-18, and note the positive sequence in Isa 40:31.

THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED: "Counsel" is similar to Heb for "tree" (v 3) and to "chaff" (v 4). Consider Luk 23:51; Psa 119:63; 26:3-5.

WALK... STAND... SIT: Three stages of retrogression in Peter's experience: Mat 26:58,70-73. A steady descent from casual contact to close cooperation. See the Psalmist's response to this: I did not walk/sit/stand: Psa 26:3,4,12.

Psa 1:2

DELIGHT: Heb "inclination". Esp true of Jesus: Psa 40:8; Heb 10:7-9; cp Psa 19:8a; Joh 7:17.

ON HIS LAW HE MEDITATES: Cp 1Ti 4:15. Heb "meditate" is related to speech, not just thoughts (Psa 37:30; 35:28; 71:24; Isa 59:3,13). Note the bad use of sw in Psa 2:1.

DAY AND NIGHT: Thus covering an entire day.

Psa 1:3

A TREE PLANTED BY STREAMS OF WATER: Like the tree of life in the garden: Gen 49:22; Rev 22:1,2.

See Editorial, "As the days of a tree...".

PLANTED: The tree does not plant itself. It has to be put there; it is transplanted (Psa 80:8; Isa 60;21; Mat 15:13; Eph 3:17). Christ the perfectly righteous man is like a tree -- or cross -- "planted" in a hole on Golgotha. The dead cross on which his body was impaled becomes a "tree" of life (Act 5:30; 13:29; 1Pe 2:24). "Cursed" is the man who dies on a tree (Gal 3:13; Deu 21:23), yet "blessed" is the man who, dying, becomes a tree of life -- sending forth rivers of healing waters (Joh 7:37,38; 19:34; 1Jo 5:6; 1Co 10:4; Zec 13:1).

STREAMS OF WATER: Irrigation? Allusion to the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:10,15)? Cp Psa 36:8.

WHICH YIELDS ITS FRUIT IN SEASON: Joh 15:5,8,16 suggests that the "fruit" are converts. Jude 12 speaks of trees with "withered (useless) fruit, and without (good) fruit". The Judaizing element in the early ecclesia; cp the cursed fig tree of Israel (Mat 21:19,20). And see also Pro 11:30; Mat 12:33; Gal 5:22,23.

WHOSE LEAF DOES NOT WITHER: Hard seasons may come, but no permanent damage. Even in heat of persecution or trial, this "tree" will still be green and fruitful (Psa 63:1; Jer 17:7,8; Amo 8:11).

WHATEVER HE DOES PROSPERS: Gen 39:3,23 -- a link with Joseph. 3Jo 1:2: the well-loved Gaius.

Psa 1:4

LXX: "Not so, the ungodly, not so!" Very emphatic.

LIKE CHAFF THAT THE WIND BLOWS AWAY: A repeated figure for the spiritually lightweight and worthless wicked: Psa 35:5; Job 21:18; Isa 29:5; Dan 2:35; Hos 13:3; Mat 3:12; Luk 3:17; 1Co 3:12,13. The chaff is only for the passing benefit of the seed, and at the harvest is disposed of without regret or loss.

Psa 1:5

THE WICKED WILL NOT STAND: Without a leg to stand on! "Stand" = "stand approved" ("stand firm": NEB), as in Luk 21:36. LXX uses the NT word for resurrection. Sw also used of the Israelites who could not "stand" or "rise up" before their enemies (Jos 7:12,13; cp Nah 1:6; Mal 3:2), but being defenseless were put to flight.

IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: Just as the righteous has no wish to share the fellowship of the ungodly (v 1), so the ungodly will not be allowed in the fellowship of the righteous. "Not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom 9:6).

Psa 1:6

THE LORD WATCHES OVER THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: He understands, and supervises (Phil 2:13), their way, for they are His (2Ti 2:19; Num 16:5.
Pro 3:6). Everything is directed by God for their ultimate benefit (Rom 8:28,31). "He knows my way; when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: Name given to the Christian movement in the Acts (Act 9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; etc.).

THE WAY OF THE WICKED WILL PERISH: Also, their "desire" shall perish (Psa 112:10), and they shall have an "end" (Psa 73:3,5,16,17,19).

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