1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) The Psalms begin with this paradigm psalm. It sets the stage for the rest of the book. All the major themes are here; communion with God, the pursuit of the righteous, the conflict with the wicked, and the hope of final judgment for the wicked and salvation for the righteous. Like the beginning of Joshua (Jos 1:8), the worshiper is called to meditate on the law day and night with the promise of God’s help along the way and ultimate salvation in the end. And in this psalm, the path to blessing from God begins with whose word you choose to follow, the wicked or the Lord’s.
2) Some choose to listen to the counsel of the wicked, but where does their counsel ultimately lead? Notice the progression here, from walking, to standing, to then sitting. Also notice the progression of rebellion from wicked to sinner to scoffer. The path to rebellion against God is usually one of gradual hardening in sin and the person may not even be aware of it himself. That is how it the deception works. At first, you are walking in conversation with the wicked, but over time you are more influenced and convinced of that rebellious way of thinking until you are a scoffer, one has planted himself among the wicked and mocks and ridicules God and those who follow him. The counsel of the wicked is nothing to play with. You must treat it as it really is, a pathway to death.
3) The other voice to follow is the law of the Lord. The man truly blessed by God “delights” in the law. The law here refers to the whole of Scripture at this point in time. And what does the man find in God’s law? There he finds out who his creator is and how that creator has called him to live. There he finds how this Creator designed man to live in this world and to enjoy fellowship and blessing with God. By living the way God designed he finds true joy and human flourishing. And ultimately, he finds the story of redemption, how God calls sinners to come back to him for salvation. The man who plants himself there in the Scriptures is like a tree planted by the riverside, given constant supply of water which enables him to grow and thrive no matter what the conditions are like in the rest of the land. This would have been a familiar picture in Palestine, where much of the land was often dry and barren except for along the rivers.
4) The Psalm ends with the certainty of judgment. For now, the righteous and wicked must coexist. But a day is coming when the great separation will occur. God will “blow away” the wicked like chaff. But God will gather the congregation of the righteous to himself and they alone will endure on the earth with him. This is a glimpse of the resurrection hope that is woven throughout the psalms. The way of the righteous may be difficult, but in the end it leads to eternal life with our covenant God and his people. The way of the wicked may seem easy and fun and even strong as they look down upon the righteous, but in the end, they will be easily removed from the land forever in the final judgment. So, some questions to ask yourself today: Which path are you on? Which people do you choose to dwell with? Who’s counsel do you listen to? Are you delighting in and meditating on the Scriptures every day? Do you always keep in the back of your mind this inevitable day of separation from the wicked and salvation for God’s people?