In Psalm 1, the psalmist contrasts the way of the righteous and the way of the ungodly. The first word of the psalm, “blessed”, is translated from the Hebrew word “esher” which has the idea of “happiness” or “contentment”. “Esher” is a form of the Hebrew word “asher” which means “to be straight” or “to be right.” By exploring the original language of the first few words of the psalm, we can see that “blessed is the man” conveys a picture of a man that is content, happy, straight with God (right with God).
The psalmist then provides the characteristics of the life of the man that is blessed. The man that is blessed does not take advice of wicked individuals, does not hang out with sinners, and does not participate with the scornful or mockers. Instead, the blessed man takes pleasure in a constant exposure to Godly influences.
Read through the six verses of the psalm…
Psalm 1 – The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
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 ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall 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 ungodly shall perish. (Psalm 1)
The psalmist uses a picture of a tree planted by a river to illustrate the life of the blessed, righteous man. A tree planted by the river has a constant supply of water and nutrients necessary to not only survive, but to thrive… to grow and flourish. The tree by the river has strong roots, a strong and healthy trunk, and a full lush canopy. Then, when the season comes, it produces a large crop of healthy fruit that becomes a blessing to all that come around the tree. This tree, with a constant source of water and nutrients is consistently healthy and prosperous.
The blessed, righteous man has planted himself along constant sources of godly counsel and education in God’s law (His Word). He becomes steadfast in his righteousness and a positive, encouraging influence to his environment. Then, when the season comes, he produces fruit by becoming a source of nourishment and Godly counsel for those that he encounters. This man, with a constant source of godly counsel and constantly growing in the Lord, is consistently healthy and prosperous.
In contrast, the wicked isolates himself from godly counsel and rejects the law of God. The psalmist tells us that the wicked will be blown away like the worthless, dried up chaff.
In the closing verses of the psalm, we are reminded that only God is able to provide eternal refuge and stability. God knows and watches over those that identify and align themselves with Him. The man that this nourished through godly counsel and the study of God’s law (God’s word) is a man that is blessed: happy, content, and right with God. His life is prosperous and he becomes a blessing to those that enjoy fellowship with him. When the time comes, the blessed man will take his place in the glory that awaits in his heavenly residence.
In contrast, the ungodly are on a natural path of destruction as they continue down their chosen path of isolation from God and rejection of His word.
There is often a sense that the life of the blessed man is one of isolation and loneliness. While this can be the situation in certain seasons, it’s not the true picture of the life a godly man. Look at the image of the tree in the title picture. You see a single tree in the foreground next to the river. This represents the individual accountability that we each must answer for regarding our relationship with Jesus. Only through a relationship with Jesus can we obtain the eternal fellowship with God. However, in the background of the picture, notice the innumerable individual trees along the banks of the river. This represents the multitude of individuals that have chosen to establish a relationship with Jesus.
The godly avenues of life attract godly individuals. We should be identifying the godly individuals in our lives by their godly counsel, hunger for the law of God, and the fruit produced in their lives. This fruit, in its season, is the ultimate tell of a godly individual. Surround yourself by these individuals. Provide godly counsel to one another and encourage one another in clinging to the law of God. As you fill your life with godly individuals, the ungodly influences will begin to fade.
He [the blessed man] 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.
May you be nourished and grow daily in godly counsel and the study of God’s word.