“Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV).
We often think that there many types of people in the world. Yet the Bible is clear that there are only two types of people: the righteous and the unrighteous. That’s it. It’s that simple. We see this all throughout scripture, and we find this very specifically in Psalm 1. This will be the focus of our study today in a new study series that we are launching here at Reading for the Glory, titled Ancient Songs: A Study in Psalms.
Psalm 1 begins with by calling the righteous person “blessed” (lit. happy). For the righteous person truly is blessed and happy in the Lord. The psalmist starts out in the negative, providing three examples of ways the righteous person abstains from wickedness. (1) “walks not in the counsel of the wicked”, (2) “nor stands in the way of sinner”, (3) “nor sits in the seat of scoffers”. Each of these three are a gradual progression that lead further away from righteous living. The psalmist then provides the positive way the righteous person keeps his way pure and abstains from wickedness. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night”. Whenever you hear of a person who lives to be over 100 years old, there is always a secret to their ability to live that long. They ate a stick of butter every day, or they drank a glass of red wine with dinner, or they walked three miles every day, etc. Most of the time these “secrets” likely have nothing to do with their longevity. In Psalm 1, the psalmist shares the secret of righteous living. What is the righteous person’s secret? He “delights in the law of the Lord”.
To delight in the law of the Lord is to be “like a tree that is planted (lit. transplanted) by streams of water”. The idea conveyed here is that by meditating on the law of the Lord day and night, the righteous person drinks deeply from the well of living water that will not run dry (John 4:7-15). By growing deep into the river of life, the righteous person bears the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). In John 15 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (v.5). We abide in Jesus by resting in his work on the cross in our place. Apart from Christ working in us through the Spirit, we can do nothing. The righteous person is not righteous in themselves, but only in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus is the only man who has delighted in and kept the law of God perfectly. He took on flesh so that he could walk in the shoes of the wicked, stand in the place of sinners on the cross, and he now sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession on our behalf. For this reason, whoever abides in Jesus will not wither, but will flourish.
Juxtaposed to the righteous person, “the wicked are not so” (v. 4). In contrast, the wicked person not planted deeply in the law of the Lord. For this reason, the wicked person is like chaff. Chaff is the husk of the wheat plant. At harvest time the wheat is threshed, thereby loosening the wheat grain from the husk, the chaff. In order to separate them, the farmer would throw up wheat and the wind would carry away the chaff because it is light, and the heavier grain would fall to the threshing floor ready for use. The wicked person is like chaff, in the end they are carried away by the wind and come to nothing. The psalmist is clear that they will not be able to “stand in the judgement”, they cannot because they have no roots.
The psalm ends with a choice. The psalmist asks the reader to look in the mirror, as it were and examine oneself (2 Corinthians 13:5). This brings to mind the prayer of David is Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts! and see if there be any grievous in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (ESV). The choice is simple. We are either righteous or unrighteous. We are either delighting in the law of the Lord or we are not. We are either abiding in Christ or we are not. There is not another option. Take the time today and prayerful consider this question: which of the two types of people are you?
Hymn of Worship
Zach Kendrick is the editor of Reading For The Glory.
To view more articles in this series, please check out the Ancient Songs page.
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