This is the first of a series of Psalms, I.-VIII., under the heading MAN, and the SON OF MAN. This is most appropriate, in that it is the beginning of the first, or Genesis, section into which the 150 Psalms are divided. (For further details and structures see the Companion Bible, pp. 720 and 721).
Here we have a psalm of contrasts. The subject is the behaviour and reward of the godly man and the ungodly. 1t considers their characters and their entity in both positive and negative aspects, holding one over against the other.
Verses 1-3 concern the godly man, whilst verses 4-6 deal with the ungodly, in the main.
The first two verses reflect on the godly, righteous or justified man's
behaviour in life, first negatively:
"Blessed is the man
Blessed is the man (ISH), the word used of a male of the human species, a husband, like the word ANER in the Greek. In this sense of 'man' the woman was to learn of him, imitate and follow his example. Of course she could not then exercise freedom of outside life as is the case in these modem times, though sometimes authority did fall to their lot.
Blessed is the man that walketh not. This, and the two other verbs in this sentence, standeth and sitteth, look back upon the life of the man. "Blessed is the man that never did walk,that never did stand,—that never did sit. . . ." This man who never did walk,— (HALAK), never travelled along the path that was advised (ETSAH) by the ungodly (RASHA), the wicked or lawless ones, for he never did seek their advice, though it may have been thrown at him in derision. This was done when the Lord Jesus hung on the cross; "And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided Him, saying, He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the chosen of God. "And the soldiers also mocked Him. . . saying, If Thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself."
Blessed is the man. . . that never did stand (AMAD), stand fast, in the sense of establish himself, as in any partnership. The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (vi. 14) said, " Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God."
He that never did establish himself in the way (DEREK), the trodden path, the recognised route of sinners (CHATTA), erring ones, those who have missed the mark. These are those "Gentiles (who) walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."
Blessed is the man that. . . never did sit (YASHAB), sit down deliberately, of volition and right, in the seat (MOSHAB), a word that is sometimes used of a habitation or dwelling and implies taking up permanent residence, not sitting as in a seat for rest. This is what Lot did, when he went down to Sodom. "And Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed East. . . and Lot dwelled in (or among) the cities of the Plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom . . . and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom," and Lot said to the two angels, "Turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night." "God delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." He was unable to quit and he was impotent to witness. Not only that, but he lost all that he had, his wife, two or more sons and their wives and children, and two or more daughters, their husbands and children, and finally, from contamination of the society in which they lived, his own integrity and the purity of the two remaining daughters through the practice of incest whilst drunk. In the seat of the scornful (LUTS), the contemptuous, who look down on the righteous as a foreigner.
Thus the negative, and now, in the second verse we are given
He doth meditate (HAGAH), mutter to himself whilst turning the words over and over in his mind. He doth meditate in His law, in the Word of God, "thinking on these things" that are true, honest, just, pure, virtuous and praiseworthy, and" Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord!' This meditation is to take place day and night. There is to be no letting up, the Word of God should be our constant thought, spiritual food to be spiritually digested, unconsciously, as normal digestion takes place in our bodies, sleeping or waking. "I will bless the Lord, Who hath given me counsel; my reins (by figure of speech, thoughts) also instruct me in the night seasons." The Apostle Paul exhorts us to "Pray without ceasing," and says that he "prays always" and "ceases not to pray" for the Colossian saints. All this adds up to the fact of continuous communion with God.
The centre of this Psalm switches from plain description to
covering both the end of the first half and the beginning of the
second, dealing with both godly and the ungodly. Again the positive and
the negative aspects are shown. These two verses (3, 4) may be laid out
in a similar fashion to the first two verses, and like the former deal
with past, present and future.
The godly are like
It is to be observed that this tree is planted and is not, therefore, the wild or 'tree of the field.' It is planted in a particular place and for a particular purpose. . . This is chosen because of the rivers of water (literally—divisions of water). This refers to the irrigation channels in a walled garden, the controls of which are manipulated easily by the foot of the gardener—he did not even need to stoop—so that each tree or shrub would have a daily sufficiency of nourishment (c.f. Provo 21:1 and Deut. 11:10-12).
Not only does fruit reproduce life in due course by its death, but in its ripeness it maintains life by giving sustenance to the hungry and refreshment to the thirsty, whilst still retaining its fundamental function in its seed of life, the stone or pip. Fruit and chaff both fall to the ground and rot, the former to bring forth new life in abundance, the latter to dissolve, resolving itself into its elements and thus forming humus. The former speaks. to us of resurrection and the latter of disintegration. In the sense that its elements form the food of the growing plant, it may be said that it becomes reintegrated eventually.
Whereas we have seen that to the godly man have been
positive and negative actions, only negative ones are ascribed to the
ungodly, but to him it is imputed that he is the sinner, the scornful.
In the same way he is the one who. does not delight in the law of the
Lord and meditate therein.
Thus, the ungodly are not so
May not the question now be put that was written in 2. Corinthians 2:16, "And who is sufficient for these things"? Who indeed? "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." There is only one answer to that question—God Himself, in the Person of His Son, as we see in the following passages:—1. Timothy 3:16, Philippians 2:5-11 and 2. Corinthians 5:14-19. God's motive we read in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Though in ourselves we stand condemned; yet in Him we are justified and will take our place in the assembly of the justified ones.
The Psalm has therefore pointed to Adam, the ungodly, in whom we all die, but it points also to Christ, in Whom we are all made alive, by grace, through faith in Him.
J.G.H.S. Last updated 13.4.2006