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5 Psalm 1: Introduction to the Psalter

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Outline of Series

ESV Psalm 1:1 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.

I. Observations

  • This psalm lends itself to study by phrases rather than individual words.
  • Phrases indicate two contrasting categories.
  • What are they?

II. Two Contrasting Categories

 

Psalm 1: the Righteous (Vs 6) – Positive

 

Psalm 1: the Wicked – Negative

blessed (1-2)

[synonyms:] wicked, sinners, scoffers

     action: walks not

in the counsel of the wicked

     action: stands not

in the way of sinners

     action: sits not

in the seat of scoffers

     action: delights

in the law of the Lord

     action: meditates

on the Lord’s law day and night

the righteous is like (vs 3):

wicked are not like the righteous

     a tree planted by streams of water

wicked are like: chaff

          yields its fruit in season

     the wind drives the chaff away

          leaf does not wither

[results stated negatively:]

will not stand in the judgment

[restatement:] in all that he does he prospers

will not stand in the congregation of the righteous

[conclusion:] (6) for the Lord knows the way of the righteous

[results stated positively:]

the way of the wicked will perish

Paraphrase of final outcome for righteous:

The righteous will prosper.

They will live in the company of the Lord

and in the company of the other righteous.

Life, Inclusion

Paraphrase of final outcome for the wicked:

The wicked will not prosper.

They will die.

They will be excluded from the Lord’s presence

and from the collected gathering of the righteous.

Death, Exclusion

III. Questions and Response

1. Verse 6 says, “for the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” What does it mean for the Lord to “know the way of”? What is involved here?

a. to see, be aware of, be intimately acquainted with: ESV  Psalm 31:7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,

b. to know something in its entirety from beginning to end; this includes the element of knowing the future: ESV  Psalm 37:18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever;

c. to know in the sense of receiving and treating someone as a friend, to approve: ESV  Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

d. Jesus uses the word in the sense of receiving, owning (as the shepherd a sheep), protecting, guarding, watching over carefully: ESV  John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

e. to be able to distinguish from among many others and to acknowledge this friendship publicly: ESV  2 Timothy 2:19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (quoted from NET Numbers 16:5)

f. “the way of”: “NET Notes: ‘way of the godly’ is not their behavior, but their course of life or destiny;”

g. “The Lord knows the way of the righteous,” could be paraphrased as, “The Lord is intimately acquainted with every detail of the heart and life of the righteous person from start to finish; he approves of this person, lays claim to him or her as his own, and promises to look after her in an all powerful, protective way, even up to and including eternity.”

2. What does “perish” mean in verse 6?

perish: to be ruined, broken, carried off, lost, destroyed, exterminated2. Do the categories seem black and white to you? How do you feel about that?

3. Does God’s word change because we don’t like it? What might be a wise course for us?

4. Do you think there might be a “fudge factor” within the categories? What might be a theological word to describe God’s “fudge factor?”

5. Reread verse 6: for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Do you think this might be a good thematic summary of the entire Psalter? Why or why not? Do you think this one verse sums up the message of the entire Bible? Defend your position one way or the other.

IV. What other questions do you have? As we read more of Psalms, we will come to a better understanding of what the words “righteous” and “wicked” mean within the context of Psalms. In brief, these terms describe a person’s attitude (what is in a person’s heart, the person’s desires and motivations) toward the Lord God and his Word, rather than a person’s actions. Action follow attitude.

V. Christ in Psalm 1

While it cannot be “proven” academically that Christ is “the man” of Psalm 1, nothing prevents the Holy Spirit from revealing Christ as such in the hearts of believers.

ESV  Psalm 1:1 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;

ESV  Psalm 80:17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!

ESV  Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

ESV  John 19:5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

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