IN THE PSALMS
Blessing (bless, blessed)
is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses - with
approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God
blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify - as an aside
this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that
God blesses and how this blessing is manifested.
See all uses in "Wisdom" Literature
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs)...
How abundantly is that word Blessed
multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of
that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the
first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.
Let us take a moment to scan over
some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we
prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ...
Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son,
lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may
soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their
trust) in Him!
Have we a share in this
blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a
spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The
more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may
therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: -- "Lord,
increase our faith." (Spurgeon)
Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou
who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround
him with favor as with a shield.
This is a promise of infinite
length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness.
Psalm 24:5 (Context
for who "he" is) He
shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from
the God of his salvation.
He shall receive the blessing from
the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the
saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is
a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord
as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but
a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a
blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a
blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God
first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not
obscured by God's demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see
it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white
linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)
Ps 32:1 How blessed is he
whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How
blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and
in whose spirit there is no deceit!
Blessed. Like the Sermon on the
Mount (see notes
this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of
benediction. The first Psalm (see notes
describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second
details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full
growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in
the first Psalm is a reader of God's book, is here a suppliant at
God's throne accepted and heard.
Blessed is he whose transgression
is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor,
or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy
is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only
and sure way to happiness. To hear from God's own Spirit the
words, "absolvo te" is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in
this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for
then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by
grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees
have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the
word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and
A full, instantaneous, irreversible
pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner's hell into heaven, and
makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word rendered
forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away,
as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It
cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him
His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but
what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?
Whose sin is covered.
Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was
covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of
the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the
sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the
spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will
appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ's
atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin;
where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now
accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness
which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the
text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the
blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of
knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.
Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto
whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in
the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the
bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words
so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and
iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our
glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own
believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of
heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer
sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain
divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be
it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul
words it, "Righteousness imputed without works." He is blessed indeed
who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts
may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is
pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself,
his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it
brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception
and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell
with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot
conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are
justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a
forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation,
are lineaments of the devil's children, but he who is washed from sin
is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no
blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling,
and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease;
their house is built on the volcano's brink, and eternal destruction
must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and
the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their
Ps 34:8 O
(imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and
(another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is
the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!
O taste and see. Make a
trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You
cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall
see, for this, like Jonathan's honey, enlightens the eyes. That the
Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by
experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat
things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their
sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of
grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.
Blessed is the man that trusts
in Him. Faith is the soul's taste; they who test the Lord by their
confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed.
The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the
exhortation contained in the first sentence. (Spurgeon)
Ps 40:4 How blessed is the
man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud,
nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Blessed. This is an
exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, "Oh, the happiness of
the man." God's blessings are emphatic, "I wot ( know) that he whom
Thou blesses is blessed," indeed and in very truth. Is that man that
maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single
eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be
as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as
lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on
God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered
among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has
no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)
Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts
Here is the key of the Psalm. The
worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to
believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must
know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true
rejoicing in the Lord's worship, his house, his Son, or his ways.
Dear reader, how fares it
with thy soul?
What is the blessing associated with
or "effected" by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:7, 8). Faith. Believing (see word
study on verb
For example, do you really believe God has granted you "everything
(how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!)
necessary for life (zoe
= not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus' desire for us,
Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition "dia" = the
conduit through which "life and godliness" flow, so to speak) the true
knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily "eating" His
pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life - 1Pe 2:2-note,
Mt 4:4, Dt 8:2, 3, 16, Php 2:16-note)
who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2Pe 1:3-note)?
Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an
active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results
in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave
according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this
dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived,
beloved brethren (Jas 1:22-note,
see related discussion re the NT phrase the
obedience of faith)
Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man
(Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare
and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful
warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You
chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;
Blessed is the man whom Thou
chastens, O LORD. The psalmist's mind is growing quiet. He no
longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to
softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted
believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting
under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in
God's sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him,
and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes
11). The psalmist
calls the chastened one a "man" in the best sense, using the Hebrew
word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the
teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)
Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice
righteousness at all times!
Blessed are they that keep
judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are
the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers
of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at
all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happiness.
The way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road,
and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows
is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way
of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of
folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections
of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a
being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes
of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he
was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O
could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would
not only be just, but "keep judgment"; we would not be content with
occasionally acting rightly, but would "do justice at all times."
Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears
the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.
Blessed is the man that feareth
the Lord. According to the last verse of
the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore,
has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness,
and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be
feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and
He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened
into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means
engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but
that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is
infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men
with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in
consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and
especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His
favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages
gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised.
That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only
studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but
rejoices to do so:
is his happiness,
Devotion is his delight,
Truth is his treasure.
He rejoices in the precepts of
godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known
hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments.
Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but
only a gracious man will observe them with delight.
is the only acceptable obedience
He who obeys reluctantly is
disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is
truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves
described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God,
for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of
which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he
who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the
Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in
the law of the LORD.
Blessed. The psalmist is so
enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest
ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the
beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and
outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,
Blessed is the man whose life is
the practical transcript of the will of God.
True religion is not cold and dry;
it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of
God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of
its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the
undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such
ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly
This first verse is not only a
preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text
upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction
of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there
is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one
point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see
some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as
David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be
David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we
cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and
even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to
contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved
to seek after them.
As David thus begins his psalm, so
should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence
their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day.
Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom
of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in
innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed
again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in
conformity to the command of the Lord.
Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
who seek Him with all their heart.
Blessed are they that keep his
testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed
whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God's glory. In
the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted
that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended
by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that
which was implied is expressed.
Blessedness is ascribed to
those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied
that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of
them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice
We must first get a thing before we
can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it:
we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced
by the affections.
God's word is His witness or
testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our
relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should
believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should
hold it fast against all comers.
There is a doctrinal keeping of the
word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping
of it when we actually live under its power.
Revealed truth is precious as
diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the
heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this
however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and
therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a
line of business.
If we keep God's testimonies
They will keep us
They will keep us right in opinion,
comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in
expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful
person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their
designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but
by a persevering keeping of them: "in keeping of them there is
We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his
testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to
keep them as a watchman guards his master's house, as a steward
husbands his lord's goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer's flock.
We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the
gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a
good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this
end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God
unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a
blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief
in God's word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed
them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness
which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psalms
119:168 he says, "I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies," and
in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this
same keeping of the law, and he confesses, "This I had because I kept
thy precepts." Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience
And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the
Lord's testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is
precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal
dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have
allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we
once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the
"O that I knew where I might
will be our wholehearted cry.
See the growth which these
sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then
finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking
after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul
advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an
outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the
treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself,
and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and
seeks Him still.
Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely,
to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His
mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all
that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and
for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is
only a paradox.
God is not truly sought by the
cold researches of the brain:
We must seek him with the heart.
Love reveals itself to love: God
manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we
endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by
affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the
Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24-note;
cp one thing I do - see Philippians 3:13-note).
God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken
heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its
seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment
sighs and cries after the great Father's face. It is the divided heart
which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in
a heart may be divided and not
broken, and it may be broken but not divided; and
yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole
until it is broken.
When our whole heart seeks the holy
God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, "as many
as touched Him were made perfectly whole."
That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth,
where he says, "With my whole heart have I sought thee." It is well
when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who
do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be
likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another
blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to
gaining the same grace for himself.
If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those
who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?
"To those who fall, how kind
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus -- what it is,
None but His loved ones know."
Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God
Happy is he that hath the God of
Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness
indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is
the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the
tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob
is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out
of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him,
for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies,
neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself,
endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah!
Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present
and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in
Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt. Happy is he when others
are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are
discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we
have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a
happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond
conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our
present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven
in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with
Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure.
In each of the two titles here given, namely, "the God of Jacob", and
"Jehovah his God", there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them
has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without
the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in
the fact that he was Jacob's God. But when by faith we know the Lord
to be ours, then we are "rich to all the intents of bliss."
HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN:
(Ps 2:12; 32:1,2; 34:8; 84:12; 106:3; 112:1; 115:12, 13, 14, 15;
119:1,2; 144:15; Ps 146:5; Dt 28:2-68; 33:29; Jer 17:7, 8; Mt 16:17;
Lk 11:28; Jn 13:17; Jn 20:29; Rev 1:3, 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6;
How blessed - This phrase appears
23x in 22v in the Psalms - This makes an interesting devotional or
Sunday School study - What does God say about "how blessed"? - see Ps
1:1; 2:12; 32:1, 2; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4, 5, 12; 89:15; 106:3;
112:1; 119:1, 2; 127:5; 128:1; 137:8, 9; 144:15; 146:5. (And for
"extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase "how
blessed" 2Ki 10:8, 2Chr 9:7, Pr 3:13; 20:7; 28:14; Isa 30:18;
32:20; 56:2; Da 12:12)
THE ONE WHO
READS & HEEDS PSALM 1
Lk 11:28 (Jesus said)
are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.
Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are
(makarios) if you do
James 1:22 (note)
= as your lifestyle or
word, and not
- like those
who audit a course for non-credit!) who
literally to reason alongside;
= continually in a state of spiritual delusion)
1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to
disobedient King Saul from whom the "blessing" would be removed) Has
the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm
1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice
of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
At the outset note that the promise
of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these
beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart.
As Jesus' Words emphasize in
obedience is the key to blessing in both
the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because
they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in
Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through
believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this
great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted
which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day
as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more
apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these
precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we
might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in
Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed,
Observe in Psalm 1 we
encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is
especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed)
and the end (perish)! Take your choice!
In verse 1 we observe the practice
of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his
"permanence". This beatitude psalm describes the "be attitude" man,
the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!
You may have read in Spurgeon's
comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon
where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in
1. And indeed there is for Psalm 32 speaks of blessings which are a
result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation
of God's imputation (reckoning, placing on one's account) of
confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes
possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness
called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and
are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater
blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed
that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even
blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!
Psalm 1 contrasts the two life
styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the
choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).
Steele (1674) speaks of
the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature
He that would be wise, let him read
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.
Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1...
This Psalm may be regarded as
the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the
entire Book. It is the psalmists' desire to teach us the way to
blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This,
then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in
some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up
a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first
1:1-3) David (Ed: the author
is actually not stated) sets out wherein the
felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises
are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second
1:4-6) he contrasts the state and
character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in
telling language, his ultimate doom.
Warren Wiersbe rightly
Two of the most popular words in
the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God
wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels
of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He
has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.
related to the verb 'ashar = in its root means to be straight,
to be right) in Hebrew is literally "blessed,
blessed", the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we
might attempt to translate as "blessednesses". The word blessed
('esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being. 'Esher speaks of the
inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or
“straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a
Blessed - 'Esher - 42 OT
uses - Deut. 33:29; 1 Ki. 10:8; 2 Chr. 9:7; Job 5:17; Ps. 1:1; 2:12;
32:1f; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4f, 12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3;
112:1; 119:1f; 127:5; 128:1f; 137:8f; 144:15; 146:5; Prov. 3:13; 8:32,
34; 14:21; 16:20; 20:7; 28:14; 29:18; Eccl. 10:17; Isa. 30:18; 32:20;
56:2; Dan. 12:12
One person has written...
The word happy is a good
rendition of blessed ('esher), provided one keeps in mind
that the condition of "bliss" is not merely a feeling. Even when the
righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered "blessed" from
God's perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative
feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away
A number of the translations
render 'esher with the English word "happy", but I prefer the word
blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general
feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I'm happy if
what happens is good. I'm not happy if what happens is bad. However
that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one's state
or condition rather than one's feeling. To be sure, the blessed person
can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed
person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still
experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as
the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree
firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed
about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person
has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of
blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.
As Spurgeon so eloquently
expresses blessed in the plural...
Oh, the blessednesses!
The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!
John Piper adds that the
Hebrew word 'esher...
means happy in
the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and
physical well being.
The other Hebrew word for
bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man
blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb 'ashar
used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1,
the noun chosen is 'esher, speaking of the blessing from the
Most High God to mankind.
The Greek word for blessed
makarios (see word study)
and can be summed up as describing the man
who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense),
independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the
winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the
"blessed man" (or "blessed woman"), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains
strong, stedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The
blessed man knows that he is safe in "the Ark" of
the One Who declares I Am... I Am anything and everything you
will ever need (not want but need! cp Php
4:19, Ps 23:1, Ps 84:11, Mt 6:33, Lk 12:30, 31, 32, Ro 8:32, 2Co
9:8, He 13:5, 6 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:28, 6:22 Ps116:4- ; Ps 120:1)
Adam Clarke adds...
The word ashrey, which we translate
blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be
considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of
the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the
man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one
among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which
God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a
desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is
the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the
human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in
things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The
true way of obtaining it is here laid down.
In context, the psalmist expands
the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture
language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a
striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly
valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant
pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is
pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering
leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed!
And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of
all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of
standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed
man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present
and his future.
Martin Luther comments that...
is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all
blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away,
etc.; as though it were said, "All things are well with that man who,"
etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man
has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be
separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that
man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all
blessednesses but will never find one!
Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that
they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it
is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a
blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of
life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot
plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality.
Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but
they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to
be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted,
and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They
are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it.
It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in
word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.
“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”
Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously
blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows.
They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black
despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as
they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly
light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are
opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are
blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens,
and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and,
best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the
perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all
they that put their trust in him.”
John Trapp wrote that
The psalmist saith more to the
point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the
philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush,
God hath here put the bird into our hand.
Richard Baker adds that..
Where the word blessed is
hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man
Ray Pritchard writes...
In biblical terms to be blessed
means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and
you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that
this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it
doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by
seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things).
The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise
man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from
you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes
and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New
Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to
another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting
contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)
God delights to bless His
children, but we must be "blessable." We must have discernment
(discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the
steps that lead to sin -- considering sin (walking), contemplating sin
(standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you
want to be blessed!
Spurgeon calls us to
how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even
as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes
The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is
plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or
a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings
which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the
perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might
read it, "Oh, the blessednesses!" and we may well regard it (as
Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man's
felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!
And so this "Beatitude Psalm"
opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths
therein, but closes with a "curse" (perish) for those who fail to heed
these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and
New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the
psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching
blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to
deceive one's self and to miss God's blessing. James warned his
prove yourselves doers of the word,
and not merely hearers who delude (see
) themselves. (see note
The Greek word for hearers
is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively
and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable
to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the
result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course
material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not
held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks
down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the
profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.
As John MacArthur
Tragically, most churches have many
“auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching
and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to
alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of
hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed
consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not
Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely
hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when,
in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are
never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine
acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application
Alexander Maclaren writes
Its theme, the blessedness of
keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply
contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and
each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.
First, we must be separated from
the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God
or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact
without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the
gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54),
standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly
is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the
world; we become spotted by the world; we love the
world, become conformed to it and end up condemned with
it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward
Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and
ended in sin.
Lot was righteous and thus saved
but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be
separated and instead "assimilated" with the world!
Dear believer, could it be that
you are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because you are not willing to
separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?
Alan Carr - THE PATH OF
THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER
The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.
doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their
counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little
2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man
has been put forever away!)
3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels
out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.
B. Ill. The
downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took
– Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)
C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference
between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives
WHO DOES NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL
OF THE WICKED: (Ps 81:12; Ge 5:24; Lev 26:27,28; 1Ki 16:31;
Job 31:5; Pr 1:15; 4:14,15; Pr 13:20; Ezekiel 20:18; 1Pe 4:3)
Does not walk (01980)
is a verb which literally denotes physical locomotion but is often
used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one's conduct or how
one lives his or her life. For example, the phrase walking with or
before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this
positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David,
all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the
blessednesses of Jehovah. Cp Ge 5:22, 24, 6:9, 17:1, 24:40, 48:15, Ps,
26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )
In Hebrew the verb walk
is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one's walk or
conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration
of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was
started in the past and has continued into the present or which is
started in the present and continues into the future. The point is
"Don't take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world's
wisdom"! James paints a striking contrast between the world's
counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)...
This wisdom (worldly) is not
that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and
every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits,
unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is
righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James
To be a blessed person
means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do
something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we
can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery
and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when
we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are
believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first
Solomon in the so called
wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations...
Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk
the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,
Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path
of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it,
do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on.
(Read that verse again - count the admonitions! Those of us who are
older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)
Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise
men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our
traveling companions in our life journey...
Is this person's goal in life
holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will
count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading
world? How serious is this person's commitment to the cause of Christ?
Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but
relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true
fellowship is to "stimulate (lit. "create a fever for") one another to
love and good works" (see Hebrews 10:24-note;
not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the
guise of "Christian fellowship." One of the most moving illustrations
of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between
David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship
is found in 1Samuel 23:16, "So Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went
to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God." Who do we
have to help us "strengthen our hand in God"? To whom do we do the
Timothy Call to Completion)
HOW NOT TO BE BLESSED
First note God's assessment of
Lot in 2 Peter...
He rescued righteous Lot,
oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he
saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt
his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless
deeds) (See notes
2 Peter 2:7;
What's the "key
these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is
emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely
believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and
work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all
seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the
description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages
(one used by Paul also in Romans 4) that explains how Lot was saved is
the description of Uncle Abraham's salvation, Moses recording that...
Then (see when or what "then"
refers to by reading the preceding context -Genesis 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it -
placed it on his "spiritual" bank account) to him as righteousness. (Genesis
With this background read Moses'
description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the
conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to
experience blessing from the LORD...
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw
all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere --
this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah -- like the
garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot
chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed
eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the
land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word
that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had
settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his
tents as far as Sodom. (Genesis 13:10-12)
Verse 10 - Lot Looks
Verse 11 - Lot Chooses
Verse 12 - Lot Sits
Lot looked toward Sodom,
then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in
Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed
careful about where he walks, stands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was
the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails
to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot
ended greatly vexed (2 Pe 2:7-note)
and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8-note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said
"Remember Lot's wife" (Lu 17:32 - her disobedience
was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot's choice! Lot choose to
enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it
difficult to depart from the wicked...sinners...scoffers so that
the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though
a genuine believer (righteous)
was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot of Lot in
a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in
the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in
blessing upon blessing from
the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).
Does not walk - Does not
go along with.
Pr 1:10 "If sinners entice
you, do not give in to them."
Ps 119:115 Depart from me,
evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.
Counsel of the wicked -
(Ps 64:2, Ge 49:6, 2Ch 22:3, Job 10:3, 21:16, Lk 23:51)
The counsel (06098) - viewpoint
or way of thinking…a state of mind that affects the decisions that we
make. It means don't listen to their advice especially in the
moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the
ungodly. WHO influences
you? Are you letting the world's way of thinking influence you?
describes unbelievers, those who hate God and are habitually hostile
toward Him. The Greek translates rasha' in this Psalm 1:1 with
asebes which means
from a =
w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who
expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and
lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude.
Click in depth study of the related
Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to
deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God)
conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for
Guzik notes that
The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your
testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm
Spurgeon's note) God’s
Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors
will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants
William Heslop writes
"Walketh, standeth, sitteth,"
reveals a growth in evil just as "ungodly, sinners, and scornful,"
shows a fearful downward trend.
From thinking like the world we
begin to act like the world.
The righteous (by grace through
faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world
but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can
be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in
the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of
the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its
purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not
isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then
there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God's
blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while
not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive,
destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or
"not to walk" herein is not to
hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it,
and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall
in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men,
yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.
Pastor Steven Cole offers
five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the
wisdom of God...
(1) The counsel of the wicked
denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of
the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer
for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16-note;
and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of
the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt,
anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts.
“Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these
problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often
stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.
(2) The counsel of the wicked
exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The
Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:8;
1Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the
need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily
(3) The counsel of the wicked
denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting
either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and
impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly
wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to
ourselves (see notes
The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
(4) The counsel of the wicked
denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human
“goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of
holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16-note).
Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too
“idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as
“love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness,
rather than submitting to the true God.
(5) The counsel of the wicked
focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The
world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and
others as of first importance (Mark 8:34; 12:29, 30, 31). Often the world’s
wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his
problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live
in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of
all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t
love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm
1 How To Live Happily Ever After
BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE
UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary
dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not
from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is
the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would
dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the
drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones
who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with
people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from
heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on
A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by
nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from
flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just
as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily
be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.
Consider this in the choice of your
company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the
weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings.
How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an
excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy?
This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the
formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven
while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with
those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and
dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our
happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in
living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace
NOR STAND IN THE PATH OF
SINNERS: (Stand Ps 26:12, Ro 5:2, Eph 6:13) (Path - Ps 1:6;
36:4; 146:9; Pr 2:12; 4:19; 13:15; Mt 7:13,14)
Paul gives believers a
similar warning in the NT...
Do not be deceived
negative = command to stop being led astray): "Bad company corrupts
good morals." (1 Cor 15:33) (Comment: Stop believing their
falsehoods such as "you only go around once, grab all the gusto you
can get!!!" - lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one's
Stand (05975) in the path
means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do
their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure
don't put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.
(chatta'/hatta') is an archery term which meant “to fall short,
miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16-note).The
mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the
transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever
misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all
sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we
ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our
sin so we might have His righteousness.
David Guzik writes
Sinners have a path where
they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on
that path. Path speaks of a way, a road, a direction,
and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as
The righteous man is not afraid to
take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing,
happiness, and eternal life. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is
the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are
many who go in by it." (see Matthew 7:13-note)
The righteous can have the
confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures
Spurgeon's note). God
has a path, and it is a good road to take.
Steven Cole comments
The path of sinners refers
to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners
means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word
“sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers
to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word... If we
run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be
wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut
off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you
back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be
On the other hand, we are not
supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they
make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out
of the world (1Cor. 5:9, 10, 11). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas
before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their
evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to
seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Observe the progression in which
patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin
the downgrade by listening to the world's wisdom especially in the
moral/ethical sphere ("It's okay to sleep together if you are engaged
and soon to be married." = "counsel of the wicked"!). And from
listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon
we act like the world, because what a man believes will always
determine how he behaves. Sin's natural direction spiritually speaking
is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression,
deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of
Hebrews warned that we should...
command to make this your habit - Why? we are in continual need for we
are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen
world) one another (which implies  we need each other and  we
need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No "lone ranger"
Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day
after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you
be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of
apate) of sin. (see note
(Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to
ensnare] - cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling,
cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring,
trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe
something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative)
See Related Discussion:
The Deceitfulness of Sin
So the effect of sin is to bring
about a gradual "build up of plaque" (using a medical analogy)
producing spiritual "arteriosclerosis" or hardening of one's heart and
this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think
"That could never happen to me!" ("Therefore let him who
thinks he stands
take heed [present
= command for continual vigilance
against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature]
lest he fall." 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive "warning"
study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence - Haman
in Esther 3-5, Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah
37:36, 37, 38; Peter in Luke 22:33, 34, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60,
61, 62, the churches at Sardis,
Laodicea -- Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17 see notes
NOR SIT AT THE SEAT OF
SCOFFERS: (Ps 26:4,5; 119:115; Jer 15:17;
scoffers: Pr 1:22; 3:34; 9:12; 19:29)
(yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and
emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled
down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns.
In the present context this verb pictures the idea
of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual
influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.
In Numbers we see an
instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of
While Israel remained (yashab)
(the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to
play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the
people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed
down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and
the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)
Comment: Sit (Yashab) here
in Numbers 25 is not the same word as 'camp' which is what they
should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to
pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or
tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case)
and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read
the full story in Numbers 25)
In his first letter to the
Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later...
Now these things (referring
to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave
evil things, as they also craved...11 Now these things happened to
them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon
whom the ends of the ages have come.
(moshab) means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is
settled or established
Scoffers (03917) (luwts)
means to deride, speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The
activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The
scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning
Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the
Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. (Ge 21:9).
(Asaph speaking of arrogant and
wicked men) They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression. They
speak from on high. (Ps 73:8) (Spurgeon's
Unlike the good man, who walks
the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the
path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.
In Webster's 1828 Dictionary (an
excellent resource even retaining many Scriptural uses as examples)
scoff is defined as...
To treat with insolent ridicule,
mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision;
with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme
weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness.
Whenever possible, avoid
associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His
Solomon records of God
Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr
God is opposed to the scornful,
and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.
Guzik writes that...
The scornful love to sit and
criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man
will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it
is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there
are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong,
because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful.
Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.
“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl
your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to
all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the
followers of Christ, pour them out upon me... but know this – ye shall
hear it whether you like it or not, - “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)
pictures a process of spiritual "retrogression" which is the ever
present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God's Word.
The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk
and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three
degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand,
sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path
of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we
are prone to wander as the hymn writer says, turning aside
little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled
in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns
of the deadliness of sin...
But encourage one another day after
day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be
hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note
The Deceitfulness of Sin)
Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
He is easily influenced by the
way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow
Scott Grant observes
In Psalm 1, the blessing first of
all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A
progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of
offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the
previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the
offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them.
The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law,
even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of
evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but
also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word, Psalm 1) (Meditate
on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)
Paul gives an apt
description of scoffers in Romans that...
although they know the ordinance of
God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are
worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but
also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice
(continually) them. (see note
So, instead of finding his
pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked,
the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word
and the ways of God.
The description of the godly
begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive
teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the "blessee" must
first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the
world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we
delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.
Solomon gives us good
advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us
(An imperative - it is imperative that we continually guard our heart
from "intruders") over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from
it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point "Above
all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.")
O child of God, guard well your
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind--
Your Father wants you set apart. --Fasick
John Flavel very wisely
The greatest difficulty in
conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty
after conversion is to keep the heart with God.
Pritchard calls us to...
Consider the progression involved:
Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road.
Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to
be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship
with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a
declaration of personal allegiance.
The “counsel of the wicked” means
the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes
the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners”
involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to
have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly
reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:
Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.
Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Let us be clear on this point.
Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t
do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people
and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they
don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very
careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love
Sin never stands still. It always
moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to
increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there
is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own
inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to
us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought
possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in
the past. (Ibid)
Adam Clarke sees Psalm
1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting
The great lesson to be learned from
the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to
another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who
abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy
Steven Cole comments...
Scoffers have rejected God and His
Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that
which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God.
They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from
church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.”
Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen,
invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be
their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want
God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.
The seat of scoffers refers
to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their
godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff
at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in
their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy
is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!
Before we leave verse 1, please
note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause
a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.
There are degrees of departure from
God, as implied in three sets of three words:
(1) Walk > Stand > Sit.
First, you walk--you’re still moving, but now in the wrong
direction. Then, you stand--you’re lingering in sin. Finally,
you sit--you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.
(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers.
First, you’re with the wicked--those who hang loose about God.
Then you’re with sinners--those who openly violate God’s
commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers--those
who openly reject the truth.
(3) Counsel > Path > Seat.
First, you listen to counsel--you begin thinking wrong
thoughts. Then, you stand in the path--you engage in wrong
behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat--you belong to the wrong
crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s
(1) Guard your mind! Satan
begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said ...?”). Wrong thoughts
lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth.
Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It
means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s
Word of truth.
(2) Guard your friends!
Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the
things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co
6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at
Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which
will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books
you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your
friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After
Thomas Brooks has an
interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men...
Always look upon wicked men, under
those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as:
lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their
hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness,
scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles,
brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.
You may know well enough what is
by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.
By looking upon them under those
names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may
preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting
in their society. Such monsters are wicked men--which
should render their company to all who have tasted of the
sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.
Two of the most popular words in
the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless
His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing.
God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us
certain conditions for receiving blessings.
First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is
anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him.
Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is
usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in
verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then
sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by
degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the
world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned
Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever
delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by
meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the
body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within
us to "digest" the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in
the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.
Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a
blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters,
is the topic of our next devotional.)
God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving
blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in
the Word, we may expect God's blessings. Resolve to meditate on the
Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see
explains the order of negative preceding positive...
It is usually taken as an
exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and
declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The
characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described
negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much
evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be
largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are
different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against
the stream; dead ones go with it.
The tender graces of the devout
soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and
unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The
negative clauses present a climax, notwithstanding the
unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has
been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and
Increasing closeness and
permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking
to standing and from standing to sitting.
Increasing boldness in evil
is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and
thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are
formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they
have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison
in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity
with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the
hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in.
But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their
efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young
plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.
Maclaren goes on to make
a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is
manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one
abstains. He writes that...
these positive characteristics (in
verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only
basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of
little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in
another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism
which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh
and the devil.)
Spurgeon writes that...
He is a man who does not walk
in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in
the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are
paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word
of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is
a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when
ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in
the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was.
Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened
by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace
of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with
the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat
of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist's scoffings. Let
others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the
Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the
infidel, and has too much sense of God's presence to endure to hear
His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it
is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall
soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits
therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:
He walketh not in the counsel of the
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.
When men are living in sin they go from bad
to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and
ungodly, who forget God -- the evil is rather practical than habitual
-- but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in
the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's commandments; and
if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves
pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the
seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as
true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by
others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all
the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such
characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts
away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes
out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the
reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.