Vol. 2 - No. 4
The Happy Man of The First Psalm
by Robert Goodman
The Psalms are classed with the poetic books of the Bible. The term "Psalm" means praise which is a frequent theme of the book. The book is a collection of poems which were used in temple praise as well as for private devotion. They cover the wide spectrum of human emotion. They range from the depths of despair to the heights of God's heart and heaven. They are quoted more in the New Testament than any Old Testament book with the possible exception of Isaiah. While the elements of the law of Moses in them are not binding, the truths about God and His dealings, man's needs and devotions are for our profit and comfort.
Psalm one has been called the "Preface" and "Threshold" Psalm. It serves as a door of introduction to the ancient inspired hymnal. It is also called the "Epitome" Psalm. It sums up the great message, not only of the Psalms, but of the entire Bible. It portrays two ways of life and the great destiny of each. If this is not sufficient to arouse interest, we call attention to the word "prosper." This Psalm tells us how to prosper.
The word "blessed" is plural. Thus it points out the righteous are blessed in many ways. It means happiness and more. Man was made to be happy and was before sin entered Eden. This is the great desire of all mankind so the Psalm has a message for all. The book of Ecclesiastes and our experience show people seek happiness in the wrong ways. This Psalm stands as a "Signpost" pointing to happiness and prosperity. It begins as does the Sermon on the Mount. Here in six verses we have more about real happiness than in all the writings of human philosophers.
"Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly." Here is evil beginning. The "ungodly" is one who is "loose." He is loose from God and restraints. He is one who forgets God or leaves Him out. He may not be vicious, but this is the condition from which all sin proceeds. Those thus described have their "counsel." They seek to justify their lives and influence others. To walk in their counsel is to pattern our lives after theirs. The ungodly today offer their counsel freely and without shame.
"Nor stands in the path of sinners." This is evil developing. It is occupying the same position and losing sensitiveness to sin. One may be a sinner by omission (James 4:17), commission (1 John 3:4) or by lawlessness (Matthew 7:23). Once one develops loose, ungodly thinking, it is easy to pass to unrestrained living.
"Nor sits in the seat of the scornful." Here is evil consummated. It is the lowest position possible. It indicates one who has become hardened to sin. It is the position of the mocker and bitter critic. God scorns such (Proverbs 3:34). This description shows how progressive sin is -- how subtle and prolific. It begins in a small, deceptive way, but is so fruitful, enslaving and deadly.
"His delight It is not enough to read the Bible as our duty. We must cultivate a delight in it (Psalms 119:35, 47, 92). The righteous man in our text found delight in a small portion of the Bible -- several books of the Old Testament had not been written yet. Those in existence did not reveal the good news of Jesus Christ and the promises of life and immortality. If you have trouble finding delight in your Bible study, consider that it is the great God and Father speaking and that through His word we can have Divine fellowship.
"In His law he meditates It is when we meditate that we develop delight as we see the beauty and worth of God's word. While there are times we can skim a chapter or a book, we will come to understand and appreciate it more when we meditate on it. There are values in it that can come only by meditation. Like a rose or sunset, the Bible does not become stale to those who meditate on it.
Like A Tree
The righteous one is likened to "a tree planted by the rivers of water." This tells us much. It indicates purpose. God has a great purpose for us. (Ephesians 1:3-4). It indicates that which is fixed or steadfast. Some float around from one congregation to another and fail to grow. This tree is one that is cultivated. It is nourished continually by never failing water. We must take care to be Divinely planted (Matthew 15:13).
"Brings forth fruit…" It is useful. Fruitfulness is both the evidence and requirement of discipleship (John 15:2, 8; Galatians 5:22-23). "Whose leaf shall not wither." Trees are among the most beautiful things of God's creation. What a good figure to illustrate the beauty of a godly life. Dorcas may not have been the most beautiful or best dressed woman in Joppa, but there was a beauty about her that reached beyond life. The beauty of the godly is that which does not "wither." They, like the evergreen, thrive even in a harsh environment.
"Shall prosper." This is an arresting word. He does not promise that the righteous will prosper financially without fail. Even in trials, losses and sorrows, the godly continue to bear fruit. Job, in spite of losses and trials, prospered. Every faithful child of God can and will prosper.
Contrast With Ungodly
The ungodly are utterly unlike the fruitful tree. They are like worthless chaff so light that the wind blows them away. That which the world is so concerned about will be driven away to destruction.
Both the godly and ungodly face judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10). The ungodly will not stand. They have no Savior or Advocate. All their excuses will be swept away. Sometimes, despite teaching and discipline, sinners are numbered with the local congregation. Such will not stand with God's congregation in Heaven (Revelation 21:27). Inspiration is emphatic. "The way of the ungodly shall perish." All their thoughts, plans and deeds have been built on sand. All will fail. The popular side will be the losing side.
How comforting it is that "the Lord knows the way of the righteous." This means more than that He is aware of the righteous. It means He approves and will approve. This gives a blessedness the world does not have. What "blessed assurance" it is to know that the Lord looks with favor on us and will one day say, "Well done…" This Psalm says so much that is needed today about the way of blessing or happiness.