The conflict between the righteous and the ungodly will always exist in the world until the final judgment. It will culminate in a final world power-grab by Satan and those of the human race who join him, and then at the end of Christ’s Millennial reign, a last desperate effort.
It will seem worse at times then other times, but schemes of the devil are always there, seething, waiting, plotting, and anticipating the right conditions for his final push to full control.
As for us, we have to keep seeking the treasures in Christ, living in complete submission to the Father no matter what happens, and not compromising the truth when we are persecuted for His name’s sake. We are not to live in fear no matter what comes, and when it comes, we are to be seen living the same Christ-like life. Our reward is finding more of Christ and with that our true selves.
Psa 1-2 are the introduction to the entire Psalter. Their theme runs all through.
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [unbeliever, ungodly],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
Psa 1 begins by reminding the reader that those who order their lives by God’s word will find prosperity in their lives, not a guarantee of material prosperity, but where is counts, in the soul. They will be like a tree firmly planted, always watered by the word of God, always full of life and gratitude and graciousness and chastity, meaning virtue in all things.
This, along with Psa 2, the salvation that the righteous have in their divinely chosen King, is the theme of the entire psalter.
The righteous are like a firmly planted tree while the wicked are like chaff.
Pic: Threshing floor
Chaff has no value. It is the husk separated from the grain by being thrown up in the air from the threshing floor with a winnowing fork. The gathering of the grain apart from the chaff was always a time of great celebration for the harvest was finally giving its product. Our lives in Christ are like a continuous threshing floor, throwing up and away the chaff of self and retaining the fruit of the new self, the fruit of the Spirit, the life of Christ.
The Temple was built on a threshing floor that David was instructed to purchase from a Jebusite named Ornan, 1CH 21:18.
Just prior to the command to buy the threshing floor, David was moved by Satan and made the grave error of counting the army. This sin eventually enacted the justice of the Lord to bring a pestilence upon Israel killing 70,000 and to send an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but the Lord repented and told the angel:
"It is enough; now relax your hand." And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem.
David bought this threshing floor and so a Jew and a Gentile were brought together to co-operate in the dedication of the Temple-site.
This was the site up on which Abraham was instructed to offer his son Isaac. His Son, David’s Son, the Son of God, would purchase our very lives on that same spot, once a threshing floor, throwing off the chaff and bearing fruit as the choice vine.
The word “law” is torah. It is related to its verb yarah, which means “to show, point, direct.”
That verb in the qal stem was used for shooting arrows or rain shooting down. In the hiphil it means to point the way, as in God pointing out to Moses a tree that would make the bitter waters sweet.
Both meanings of yarah [verb of torah or law] 1) pointing out and 2) shooting a straight arrow, give to us the richer meaning of God’s law: pointing out to us the straight and narrow path.
Notice in vs. 2 that the law is his delight. In Psa 19 the law is sweeter than honey and opened the way to a full and happy life.
He also meditates on it day and night, i.e., all the time. Along the way by day and on the bed at night, one could recall the word of God and think about it. It is hiding the word of God in your heart, trying to gain full understanding of it, speaking to God about it in prayer in the quest of understanding. This is in contrast to the concerns and worries of the world (parable of the sower: sown among the thorns). Meditating on the word of God, I cannot enwrap myself in the worries of the world.
The first line states that the righteous are blessed. We know by now that this doesn’t mean material blessing. It may include material and it may not, but material doesn’t affect the blessing. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. The blessing refers to the spiritual condition of those who are walking with God and the pleasure and satisfaction that is derived from it. The word blessing is an abstract plural, stressing the fullness of joy. We will see this very thing in Eph 5.
The life ordered by the word of God in all things is one of the fullness of joy, PSA 1:1.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
EPH 5:19 is a wonderful way of depicting the Christian life of unity in the body and inner joy. All from simply taking our rightful place as subjects of the King, following His authority in everything, and resting in His power and grace to bless our hearts with the treasures of Christ.
“The translation ‘happy’ does not capture the sense very well; happiness can be superficial feeling based on what happens. This word refers to that sense of joy and satisfaction that comes with knowing that one is right with God - in spite of what happens.” [Ross, Commentary on the Psalms]
Who is the one who is filled with joyous satisfaction?
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [unbeliever, ungodly],
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Who is the one filled with joyous satisfaction? He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of [redeeming] your time, because the days are evil [surrounded by evil].
Notice in PSA 1:1 that the three terms for the people increase in force: wicked, sinners, scoffers. And also, the verbs do as well: walk, stand, and sit.
Walk: living according to the advice of the ungodly.
Stand: halting to consider the life-style of the sinner.
Sits: joining in collusion with the scoffers.
The one who walks, stands, and sits with God is wise, subjecting himself to God alone, and in our age, filled with the Spirit and experiencing inner joy and satisfaction.
The ungodly have a counsel, a way [path], and assemblies [seat]. Satan, the god of this world, has ministers who portray themselves as agents of light (2CO 11:13-15) and who assemble to deliberate on how best to give the world the counsel of their way.
In the final couplet: The Lord knows the way of the righteous. Righteous has to do with conforming to the standard, which alone is divine revelation of God’s word. The righteous have entered into a covenant with God by faith. The word also describes the way people are to live to please God, and in that it is often linked with truthfulness in the OT.
To do righteousness and justice
Is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice.
With all this in mind we see how this psalm provides a fitting part of the introduction to the collection. Throughout the Psalter the reader will be confronted with the tension of living in a world that is not only alienated from God but antagonistic towards God and His people. They must, therefore, find their direction and confidence in His word. And in so doing they will find inner joy and satisfaction, despite the craziness and sins and evils that surround them, knowing also that someday God is going to judge the world and vindicate His saints.
But we’re not done with the introduction to the Psalms.
The second half of the introduction, God coronates His Son as King.
How is God going to vindicate the righteous? How will He, in fact, make them righteous? How will He judge the ungodly or unbelieving? His Anointed is going to make judgment a matter of grace: accepted or rejected.
Man’s fallenness will not be the point of judgment, but rather, the rejection of grace given in the Person of the Anointed, the Messiah.
It begins with the useless nature of their schemes and attacks.
1 Why are the nations in an uproar,
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His
The church in Jerusalem sang these lines when Peter and John were released from jail. They were declaring, just days into the beginning of the church, if people opposed the Messiah - Jesus, they opposed the God who sent Him. In short, they had become enemies of God who declared that Jesus Christ would reign forever. This gave them courage, for if the church was attacked and opposed it was really Jesus who was opposed and the Father who sent Him, so what did they have to fear? By arresting Peter and John, the authorities were arresting God.
3 "Let us tear their [God the Father and Son] fetters apart,
And cast away their cords from us!"
4 He who sits in the heavens [as opposed to “kings of the earth”] laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury: [they will be judged]
6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, 'Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee.
For to which of the angels did He ever say,
"Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee"?
'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.
9 'Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron,
Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.'"
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth [He will put down all rebellion].
11 Worship the Lord with reverence,
And rejoice with trembling [fear].
12 Do homage to the Son [kiss: surrender to His authority], lest He become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“Show discernment,” (vs. 10) means to be wise. Those who worship the Lord with reverence will be wise. “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Putting the verses together, we discover that we have to worship Him to be wise; to discover the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To have a divided allegiance is to remove yourself from this hope. The price is too high. It’s not worth it.
For believers, the introduction to the Psalter is one of great comfort. The antagonism in the world to God in general and to Christianity specifically will end. We only need to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and run the race set before us, no matter what the people of the world devise in their counsels.