Psalm 1 - Psalm of Wisdom

Psalm 1 - A Psalm of Wisdom


What is it about?

In summary is is a warning to be careful who you spend time with in your life. It is an antithesis of a righteous man vs a wicked one and the verse structure is described as a ‘inclusio’ i.e. the poem begins and ends with the same character.

This Psalm is written very much similar to some in the book of Proverbs. Many Jewish commentators see this Psalm as studying keeps people away from the wicked i.e. studying the Torah of Gods law, a lot of rabbis know the Psalms off by heart and study them and in synagogues, Psalms are read or sung as part of the service.

The Psalm is weighted in terms of words and verses more toward the righteous than the wicked in its structure in terms of weight given to words assigned to each type of person.


Interesting aspects of this Psalm

This is known as one of the messianic Psalm as the word ‘blessed ‘ is also used when Jesus addressed his followers on Mouth Hattin to proclaim the righteousness of the new kingdom, aka Mount of Beatitudes which means the mountain of the blessed as in Matthew 5:3-12. This is like an introduction to the character of David as a portrait in terms of the good and wicked things he did. Whoever follows these guidelines will flourish and walking in a particular way is a metaphor for life’s moral choices we have thanks to the gift of free will given to us at birth, and as we know free will can take us one of two ways,

  1. Accept Gods will as in the Lord’s prayer

  2. Do it your own way and fail

Within the Psalm there are various aspects of motion i.e. walking, standing, sitting like a person’s movement. 


VERSE 1 - Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful .


In summary this verse is could be a way of not cursing people who don’t walk in the way of the wise but showing people how they should behave like the parallelisms of the book of Proverbs


Paul talked about If you mingle with sinners then it can rub off on you and verse in Titus.

Titus 3:10 - Warn a divisive person once, then a second time; and after that, have nothing more to do with him.  

Blessed has been translated as “Happy “ – the Hebrew word is Hebrew word ‘Esher’ or in this context ‘Ashre’ which is plural hence there are multiple blessings form God.

The word ‘walketh’ is the verb used to signify the wicked as they are always on the move and are not content and it usually means people are not happy with themselves and are in search of gratification.

“Standeth in the way of sinners” – stand against them with God beside you and you are not doing it alone as in verses 5 and 6.

The way or the path of the wicked as in Matthew 7:13


There are points to make about the word scornful. Firstly some of its definitions are full of contempt, derisive, mocking, snide, disparaging, superior, dismissive. Also scornful  can actually be translated as haughty i.e. he looks down on others and the bible tells us the chief scorner was satan whose sin was one of pride.

Isaiah 14: 13-14 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  

14.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

How does God treat scornful people ?

Proverbs 3:34 – 35 - The scornful he scorns, but gives grace to the humble.  

35. The wise win honor, but fools win shame.

The word “Session” – refers to a meeting to gossip and slander people , who has ever been out to dinner and the topic of conversation and somebody is the topic all evening who is absent ?


VERSE 2 -  But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The word “law” also translates in Hebrew as guidance, teaching or instruction. The words “Law of the Lord” is God’s word, “his law” translates as the law of God which is the word of God which means after studying it and acknowledging it is the law,  he now understands and is considered his possession.

Moses successor Joshua was told to “ Meditate” “Day and night”

Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success .

Another place where this was used was in Isaiah where he looked at the people who used to be important in life, they are now gone.

Isaiah 33:18  Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?


VERSE 3 - And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither ; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Some commentators talks about wicked people in terms of where their eyes are focused. “The wicked are considered planted here by their enchantment with their earthly treasures and their eyes are fixed on material things”

If you look at the illustration here of fruit and foliage balance each other out such as “sun kills the foliage but ripens the fruit”  -  an analogy that the Godly may wither in the face of pressure  hence this is served as a warning.

What fruit is he talking about ? The righteous man bears fruit, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Plant analogy is also referenced in with reference to the wicked bearing fruit and David in many of his Pslams makes pleas to God asking him how long the wicked will propser as does Jeremiah

Jeremiah 12:1-2  Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously ?

2.Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.

And in addition uses the imagery of plants being fed as a way of highlighting spiritual growth.

Jeremiah 17:8 - For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh , but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.


VERSE 4 - The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away

The reference to chaff and the wheat is also used in the New Testament

Matthew3:12 - Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

(N.B. Throughly also translates as “thoroughly “)

One point to note is that chaff will fly for a long time as it is so light it is driven by the wind that can find no rest. Also Chaff has had every drop of nutrition extracted from it hence it  has no value to your sustenance. The wicked have no root and no connection to the source of life hence eventually are blown away


VERSE 5 - Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous

“Shall not stand in judgement” in another version is “shall not be vindicated”

i.e. shall not be acquitted ,cleared, absolved or declared innocent

The word ‘stand’ is at contrast with the movement of daily life i.e. the motions we go through compare against verse 1.

the “court of judgement” is where the wicked will not be able to stand


VERSE 6 - For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish .

Hebrew translates as 'The Lord is knowing the way of the righteous’ where God is constantly looking and knows and is an ongoing activity both in the present and future tense.

The word “way” is used in Acts as to call Christianity by Paul a number of times ..3 in total.

God is acknowledging his faithful servants (i.e. the righteous )in this verse and and the Lord knows his sheep as in ;

John 10:27  - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.


If you think about David’s other Psalms he continually asks God why the wicked prosper as In Psalm 73 and David always asked God to deal with his enemies.

Hebrew for perish is “doomed” as in doomed to fail



One commentary summarises this Psalm as ”We all have been given free will in life and have all been given choices but with those choices comes the burden of responsibility.”

With free choice you can go one of two ways in life i.e. upward or downward spiral

Three words here which express the downward descent in stages or spiral of an evil man i.e. how a man goes along the path of corruption.

  1. Ungodly

  2. Sinner, i.e. putting your ungodliness into action (putting it into practice)

  3. Scornful i.e. complete rejection of God


Or you can be blessed and you know the reason David I believe was blessed was he constantly asked Gods will and asked God what he should do next. Davids heart was for the Lord as in Psalm 139: 23-24

Our Lord Jesus talks about the blessed as after casting out demons he explained about the words of his Father about the blessed ;

Luke 11: 28 - But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.