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Psalm 1

By: Scott Morton

Author Note: This is the first in what will be an occasional series of articles on this subject. This is a book that most people who rightly divide the Scripture will not look at. While there are some chapters that believers are familiar with, this cannot be said of the book as a whole. It is my hope that we can take the instructions of Paul that all Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and will endeavor to take a closer look at texts that we are not as familiar with.

The first Psalm starts off the first of the five books that are contained in the book of Psalms. This psalm lays out some important doctrine that the believer should have had as part of the knowledge that was gained from the Scripture.

This Psalm does not have an author identified. This is true of 50 of the 150 individual psalms. There are some that attempt to attribute this Psalm to David, as he is the author of a number of psalms. However, it is important to note that the introduction of the psalms that he wrote identify the fact that he is the author (see the introduction to Psalm 3 as an example). Since this is not the case in this psalm, we cannot make this conclusion.

The main purpose of this psalm was to help the believer have an understanding of their state before God. This is done by the contrast between the godly (those that were following the instructions that God had laid out) and the ungodly (those that were not following the instructions that God had laid out). The contrast is made throughout the entire text and will be the theme of the discussion that is made related to this psalm.

It was important for the nation of Israel to want to know what they had to do in order to be righteous in God's eyes, as they were functioning under a performance system where they had to do things in order to prove that they were righteous. We can contrast this with what the Apostle Paul states about a believer today. We are considered righteous in God's eyes because we have placed our trust in the gospel for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A text that we can use to show this truth that Paul points out for us are the following verses:

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24]Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Paul states that we are justified (or made right) by the fact that Christ did the work for us. We only have to place our trust in what He did and cannot do any work in order to attain this (Romans 4:5). However, the believers under the prophetic program (the program where God was dealing with the nation of Israel through the prophecies that were given and the covenants that He had established with them) could not state this was true of them. They had to make sure they were following the Word of God that had been given to them, which included the fact that there were works they had to do.

This psalm is going to have a particular importance for those that are going through the 70th week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). The main reason for this is that the people who are going through this are going to have only one chance to get things right. If they mess up and walk out of the path that God has laid out for them, then they are not going to have another chance to get this right. This is what Hebrews 6:4-6 is dealing with. Those that have tasted of the gift (having salvation) are not going to be able to partake of it again if they leave the path that God has laid out for them (which we will cover as we take a look at the psalm). An example that can be used to show this would be Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, as they had tasted of this gift. Hebrews 6 has no application to a believer today, as we have been given the gift of the seal of the holy Ghost, which will keep our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). This is truly a glorious thing that we have and hopefully this allows us to be able to appreciate what God has done for us.

The believers at this time are going to need this information in order to make sure that they are walking right. They also are going to need something that is going to help them identify the true believers at this time. This is the purpose of 3 John, as this is a practical book that identifies how a true believer will be functioning, along with how someone that is not following God's program and how they would be functioning.

We are now going to take a look at the text of the Psalm in order to see the doctrine that is contained in this text.

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.

The very first word in this passage is the word blessed. Blessed brings out the idea of being happy or prosperous. This word is used in a few other passages in the psalms. It is used at the end of Psalm 2, leading some people to believe that there is a connection between these two psalms. The word is also used at the end of the first book of Psalms, as it helps to close out the purpose of this book. Some of the things that are described as being blessed in the book of Psalms are those that sins are covered (Psalm 32:1-2), the one that is trusting in God (Psalm 34:8, 84:12, see also Jeremiah 17:7), those that do righteous at all times (Psalm 106:3), Israel and those that fear the Lord (Psalm 115:12-15), and those that walk in the law (Psalm 119:1-2). There are also certain blessings that come upon the nation of Israel as a result of their following the law (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). There is also a blessing that comes from hearing the Word of God (Luke 11:28). How truly glorious is this blessing, as any believer can attest.

The author of this passage starts immediately in with identifying how the righteous man is supposed to function. In this verse, he is focusing on the things that a righteous man is not supposed to do. If a person follows what the author of this psalm has laid out, it will put the person in direct opposition to the course of this world. I am sure that everyone that is reading this could identify someone that they know that would be identified with one of these things, if not more. However, all of these things are identified as being outside of what God would have a person to do. There are many passages that are contained in the Scripture that identify that a person should not be doing these things.

Proverbs 4:14-15

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. [15] Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

Solomon identifies that a person should not enter into the path of the wicked. This path would be the path of the unrighteous. There cannot be a mix of righteousness and unrighteousness, as if someone tries to make an attempt to do so, the righteousness does not survive being mixed in and all that is left is unrighteousness. The problem that people have is that those who are following the path of unrighteousness will not leave someone who is trying to do the right thing alone. Solomon identifies that they will attempt to get the person to follow this path as well (Proverbs 1:10-15).

Psalm 119:101

I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

What a glorious verse this is! The reason they were to stay away from all of these things is to keep the Word of God. This is something that God always wants believers to do, as He puts a high value on His Word and would like for all of man to do.

If we take a look at Genesis 37:18-35, we can see what truly happens with this. Reuben is the only one of the 11 brothers that seems to have a sense that what they are planning to do to Joseph is wrong. He therefore has an opportunity to not go along with them and to try to stop their plan. He does not do so and instead ends up going along with the plan that they had. The only thing he accomplishes is that he is able to make a small modification to their plan. He ended up going along the way of sinners as a result of deciding to remain with them.

The idea that comes from walking is the actions that a person takes. God does not want those that are believers to be doing the unrighteous things. We see that the cycles of judgment are brought about as a result of Israel not walking properly (Leviticus 26:27-28). Only God can be the one that actually judges this and determines if a person is doing this (Job 31:4-6). Those that are companions of fools (walking with the unrighteous) shall be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20). Anyone that God ends up giving up walk after their own counsels and not after God (Psalm 81:12).

The author does bring up the idea of not sitting in the seat of the scornful. What is being made reference to here is that a person should not have fellowship with those that are contrary to the will of God. The idea of sitting refers to identification with. When a person has regular contact with someone, others start to have the idea that you are like this particular person. A young child is often told something similar to this as they are being instructed to choose their friends wisely. People do not look at the particular individual very often, but will attribute the things they see in a group of people to all members of that group. This is why the author is making sure to reinforce this idea.

We also see this idea in Psalm 26:4-5 where David states that he hates the congregation of evil doers and will not sit with them. Jeremiah is another example of this. We see in Jeremiah 15:17 that he states he is sitting alone. This is because he is the only one that is following the program of God that has been laid out. He did not have anyone to associate with, because they were all identified as the scornful. In 3 John 10, we see that those who are doing wicked works are cast out of the church in order for the church to not be identified with what this person has been doing.

Verse 2

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

Instead of what we have seen in verse 1, now the author starts to talk about what a believer is to do. He puts the focus of a believer onto the law, as this was the program that was in place for them. The law that they are dealing with in this text is the Mosaic law that was given to Moses starting in Exodus 19. This was something that the nation of Israel said that they would be able to keep and follow, but it is clear from their history that they were not able to do this.

When we are talking about the law, we are talking about the entire law that has been given. Some people try to divide this law into several sections in order for them to state that a person needs to follow these parts of the law (whatever it is that they want a person to do) and they do not have to follow the other parts. However, the Word of God states that a person needs to follow all parts of the law (Deuteronomy 27:26, Matthew 5:19, Galatians 3:10, James 2:10).

God does put a lot of delight in a person wanting to follow His Word. The Word of God is placed in a position of authority for individuals, no matter what dispensation they are living in. One text that we can take a look at related to the Word of God can be found in Psalm 119. This psalm talks about the importance of the Word of God. The author of that Psalm clearly talks about how much delight there is in following the law. This can be found in verses 1, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 111, 143, and 174. It doesn�t appear that can be made any clearer than this. We can also see in Psalm 112:1 that blessed is the man that fears God and delights in His commandments. We also see from Deuteronomy 31:26 that the Word of God would be a witness against them. This is because if they had an understanding of the law, there could be no excuse for them if they did something wrong. Job talks about how the Word of God is valued more than food, which is something that is necessary to keep a person alive (Job 23:12). The reason this can be said is that the Word of God provides spiritual nourishment for a person in order for them to be following the program God has laid out. It is because a believer loves God that he follows the law (1 John 5:3) during the dispensation that the law is given. We must always remember that we are not under the law at this time (Galatians 3:13, Romans 3:24-26).

David also talks about how important the law is to him. A reading of Psalm 40:8 shows that David delighted to do the will of God and the law was written in his heart. He had such a close relationship to the law that he tried to make it a part of him in order to make sure that he would be able to follow the law. This is not what is being made reference to in Jeremiah 31:31-34. At the point when the New Covenant is put in place, the law will be written in the heart of the believer. This will cause the believer to keep the law, as it will part of them and they will be unable to break it.

The author of the text also states that a person needs to meditate on the law day and night. This means there needs to be a study of this law in order to have a clear understanding of it:

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.

God instructs a person to meditate on the law. When a person does this, the law will not depart out of their mouth (for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh- Matthew 12:34). It is also indicated that meditation on God would be considered sweet to the person that does it (Psalm 104:34). A believer needed to make sure that they were keeping the law in order to be prosperous in God�s eyes. Many people can be said to be prosperous in the eyes of men, but it more important to be prosperous in the eyes of God.

An example to show the prosperous nature would be the kings of the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 17:18-19, we see clear instructions on what the king was supposed to do. They were write their own copy of the law, keep it, and to read it all the days of their life. This would be for them to keep this law and they would be able to see the nation doing the same thing. All of this would lead to them being prosperous in the eyes of God. If you read the books of Kings and Chronicles, you will not find this happening too often. In fact, most of the kings are described as doing evil in the sight of God. However, there are times that a king did find the Word. One example was Josiah in 2 Kings 22 and 23. He takes over the throne at the age of 8 and starts trying to do the right thing. The law is brought to him in 2 Kings 22:8-13. It is read before him and he rents his clothes, a sign of distress. He sees what has become of the nation because they had not followed the Word. In chapter 23, he causes the law to be read to the people and they start following the commandments that have been given to them.

The study of the Word of God is important. The Apostle Paul gives us some instructions in 2 Timothy 2:15 on how we are to study the Word. It is only through the study of the Word of God rightly divided that there can be any glory to God and God will only delight in the study of the Word of God this way.

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.

The author of the Psalm switches into a comparison that he is going to make between those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous. He is going to use plant life in order to make this comparison. The believer is described as being a tree which has been planted. In order for a plant to be successful, it has to be rooted in something. The righteous person has been rooted in the Word of God, which is something that had been discussed in the previous verse. The root system gives a solid foundation that helps the tree to stay upright. There are many things that attempt to cause a person to stray from the foundation they should be on. This is the reason why the author is trying to make sure that a person does not take themselves away from the Word. We also see this description being given in the following passage:

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. [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.

Jeremiah also uses this same description related to a tree. He points out this idea with the roots. It is only through the root system that a tree gets the nourishment that it needs. This, along with the stabilization provided, is the importance of the root structure a believer needs.

The tree (believer) needs to be planted by the rivers of waters. Water is described as being the source of life. We can see from the following text that there is going to be a water that is going to come for this:

John 4:13-14

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: [14] But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Jesus Christ is going to be the source of eternal life for them. It is also said that those who would believe on Christ would have rivers of living water flowing from them (John 7:38). This can be confusing to some people, as they wonder what this can be making a reference to. Proverbs 18:4 describes the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. Jesus Christ, who is the living Word, is the source of life. The Word of God is the source of wisdom for a believer. This is where all of the growth for an individual comes from. There is nothing else that can bring forth the life that a person is supposed to be experiencing with God. It is the water that causes a tree to bud and start to bring forth fruit (Job 14:9). Israel is described as having been planted in the right spot in order to bring forth this fruit (Ezekiel 17:8). It will be in the later times that God pours water out on Israel in order to bring the spiritual life they need (Isaiah 44:1-4).

The author of the psalm talks about the fruit that comes from the tree. This is the works that a person brings forth. Under the law program, the evidence that a person was following the Word of God was the works they were demonstrating. This is why the author states that a person needs to bring it forth. Jeremiah had stated that a person (tree) should never cease from bringing forth this fruit (Jeremiah 17:8). Israel truly had a works based system in order to have the approval of God. Fruit will even be brought forth during old age (Psalm 92:14).

This is why you see the account in the gospels of Jesus cursing the fig tree due to the fact that it was not bringing forth fruit (Matthew 21:19). The fig tree is found to be used to describe Israel in several different passages. Jesus Christ had been with them for the course of three years. He was looking for their works in order to see evidence in them that they had been saved. Unfortunately, He did not see these works in them. Since they had not brought forth the fruit, there was no evidence that they had been saved. Therefore, since they were not saved, He brought forth a curse upon them.

The leaf is also described as not withering. The reason that a leaf would start to wither is that they have stopped receiving nourishment. The author is making sure that a person does not pull themselves way from this nourishment and keeps themselves grounded in the Word.

The last part of this description is that whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. In the program under the law, this is how things worked. If a person was carrying out the will of God (following the program of the law), then good things were going to happen for this individual. We see that Isaiah also states that it will be well for those that are doing the will of God (Isaiah 3:10). An example that we can see is what is said of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:21).

Another example that we can use to see this is that of Joseph in Genesis 39. He is living in Egypt after he had been sold into slavery there. He has been following what God has instructed him to do. As a result of this, he starts to gain favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and is given authority over various things. When Joseph is given this authority, things start to prosper (Genesis 39:2, 23).

Verse 4

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

The author, now continuing with the same plant analogy that was being used, switches to the ungodly and how they would be described. One of the key things to understand with this is there is no fruit that comes from them. They are not doing the works that God has prescribed and have been described as chaff. The following definitions for chaff come from the Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

Chaff

CHAFF, n.

1. The husk, or dry calyx of corn, and grasses. In common language, the word is applied to the husks when separated from the corn by thrashing, riddling or winnowing. The word is sometimes used rather improperly to denote straw cut small for the food of cattle.

2. Refuse; worthless matter; especially that which is light, and apt to be driven by the wind. In scripture, false doctrines, fruitless designs, hypocrites and ungodly men are compared to chaff. Psalm 1:4; Jeremiah 23:28; Isaiah 33:11; Matthew 3:12.

We see from this description that there is nothing good that can be said about this. It is worthless material that the farmer does not care for and is easily taken away by the wind, as verse 4 tells us. This is not something that any believer would want said of them, as it means there is nothing good within them.

This is a concept that is used to describe the unbeliever in many passages. Job uses this to describe the people that reject God (Job 21:18). David asks for those that are fighting against him (the enemies of God, as he was following what God had told him to do) to be made like chaff and for the angels to chase them, presumably to pour out the wrath upon them (Psalm 35:5). The terrible ones are described as being like the chaff (Isaiah 29:5). We also can see this being used to describe those that have been participating in the false worship of Baal (Hosea 13:3).

It is also used in terms of the judgment that is going to come to the nations that are going to be against God during the 70th week of Daniel. In Isaiah 17:13-14 we see a description of nations being made like the chaff, as they will be driven away. We also see this concept in the following verse that talks about the end of the kingdoms in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 2:35

Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

How terrible it would be to be described in this manner. There is no redeeming quality that can be given to this. The believers at this time could not say they were in God's will if this was being used to describe them. They truly would have to say that they were is danger of not being saved, as we will see from the next verse in this psalm.

Verse 5

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

The author starts coming to the conclusion of what is going to happen to those that are unrighteous. The hope that Israel had was the establishment of the kingdom upon the earth. It was only those that were righteous in the eyes of God that could actually take part in this kingdom.

The author starts out with the idea of the judgment to come. He states that the unrighteous will not even be able to stand in this judgment. It almost seems, from a casual reading, that the unrighteous are not even going to have to face a judgment. However, there is a judgment that they are going to have to face.

Revelation 20:12-15

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The people that are described here have not been found in the book of life. The book of life is a book that contains the names of all those that are saved. There are going to be those that are righteous that are going to take part in a resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) that do not have any worries. Those that are standing here in the event that we are describing here do have a lot to worry about. They have not done the things they were supposed to in their life in order to be part of the book of life. There is no second chance for them to do good. They have had their chance and have failed, now having to face the consequences of their actions. The consequence is that they will be separated from God for all eternity. This is truly a dire consequence for any believer to face in any dispensation.

We see David in Psalm 5 state that the foolish cannot stand in the sight of God (Psalm 5:5). The reason for this is that God hates all workers of iniquity, as we shall see below. David is also questioning who will be able to stand in the holy place of God (Psalm 24:3). The reason that he even has to ask this question is that only people who are walking right in God�s eyes are able to stand before him.

The author then goes on to say that there will not be any sinners in the congregation of the righteous. There are numerous passages that describe how Israel was to separate themselves from all unrighteousness. The law contains many precepts about how a person that was found in sin had to be kept outside of the camp, as long as the sin was not one that required a punishment of death.

A key concept that needs to be understood is that God cannot have anything to do with unrighteousness. God is just and has no unrighteousness in Him. In order to allow unrighteousness to become part of the congregation, He would have to give up this aspect of his Deity. If that were to happen, then God would no longer be righteous. God will not do something that will compromise Himself.

There has to be a discernment between those that are sinners and those that are righteous. Malachi 3:18 describes the fact that they will be able to do this and will determine who is truly righteous. This is part of the coming judgment and something that is seen described by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. One of the passages that this is seen in is the following:

Matthew 25:32

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

There will be a separation of the nations during the Second Coming of Christ to the earth. There will be sheep nations (those that have been following the program of God and are considered righteous) and those that are goat nations (those that have not been following God's program). Just as a shepherd is able to tell the difference between sheep and goats and is able to separate them, the same will be done at this time. The end result of both of these groups is described in Matthew 25:46.

When the believers are made part of the kingdom on the new earth, there is going to be something that happens to them as well. They will have the law written into them (Jeremiah 31:31-34) as part of the New Covenant. This will keep the members of the nation of Israel from being able to break the law. They will be righteous for all eternity, as God follows through with his plan of being able to reconcile both heaven and earth unto Himself (Ephesians 1:9-10).

Verse 6

For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

We see here the author is coming to the conclusion of the psalm. He has already established the differences between the righteous and the unrighteous. The only way that a person can be considered to be righteous is if they are following the Word of God, which is His way that we should be following. It does not matter what dispensation a person is in. They need to follow God in order to be considered righteous.

Isaiah 60:21

Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.

Isaiah describes the true blessing that those who are following God's will are going to receive. The promises that God has given to them are going to be fulfilled. The promise listed in this verse is that the Abrahamic Covenant will be followed through with.

We also see from numerous passages that this is also the case. Jesus Christ stated that He was the Good Shepherd and that He knows the sheep, the true followers (John 10:4, 14, 27). Nahum also states that the Lord knows the way of those that know Him (Nahum 1:7). We even see David state this, as he says that God knows the ways of the upright and the inheritance will be forever (Psalm 37:18).

The way of the ungodly can only produce death. This is a concept that is also repeated by Solomon in Proverbs 14:12. When a person is not following God�s instructions, there inevitably is sin in the picture. We know from Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. This is not physical death that is being talked about, as the context of the gift of God in the same passage is eternal life. Paul is talking about a person experiencing eternal death or separation from God. The end result of this can be seen in the following passage, which we did look at previously:

Revelation 20:12-15

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. [15] And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Apostle John is identifying the second death here as the eternal separation from God. This is what happens when a person is tossed into the lake of fire, as God will no longer be dealing with them. They have to endure all of eternity without God, which is truly a hopeless situation.

The author of this psalm has written all of this material in order to try to call the members of the nation of Israel into the position that they should have as true followers of God. The conclusions that he comes to about the way of righteous being made known by God. We can see this if we take a look at what some other authors have written about the topic as we conclude this article:

1John 5:12

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Habakkuk 2:4

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Matthew 7:13-14

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: [14] Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

There is only way that any believer can enter the way of God, which is considered to be righteous. That is for the person to follow whatever instructions have been given to him or her through the Word of God for their particular dispensation. For the nation of Israel, this was for them to follow the Mosaic Law. For us as members of the Body of Christ, we are to put our trust in the gospel that has been given to us through the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).



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