In these writings we have a wealth of insight not only in seeing the Lord as our great example - the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2) - but also as seeing Him as our only Savior from our sin (Acts 4:12).(2)
With that in mind, I think it's helpful to study the Psalms to see how they relate to our gracious Lord and Savior. And what better place to start than Psalm 1?
As I go through the text I plan to make general applications at first. But then afterward I hope to go even deeper, and show how the text clearly and wonderfully points us to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The whole text in its entirety can be found on esvbible.org. As for my part, I'd like to go through the commentary in three sections and then finish it with seeing the Lord Jesus Christ as the person to whom the Psalm ultimate points us.
So without any more delay, here is The Lord Jesus Christ in the Psalms, Chapter 1.
Psalm 1 - Devotional Commentary
Blessed is the man
If we truly feared God as we should (Prv. 1:7; Isa. 66:2), these first two verses alone ought to be motivation enough for us to meditate on His Law (and by extension His entire Word) day and night. Yet even so, God graciously gives us practical motivation in the verses that follow.
But as for these first two verses, there a couple of key words to notice. The first is "Blessed," which generally means "happy." Another way of translating it could be "Happy is the man...[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord."
It's not always natural to feel "happy" about meditating on the Law of God - especially day and night. It should be, mind you - to our new selves, "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). But to our natural selves, the selves with the remnant of that sinful nature, it is not a delight at all, but a tremendous burden. That part of us rejects the Law of God at the outset (Rom. 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14).
Nonetheless, the Scriptures never fail.
The man whose delight is in God's Word is truly a happy man, a blessed man. And that's the other word worth mentioning in this post - delight. This Psalm 1 man, who is able to avoid being taken in by the counsel and wicked ways of unbelievers, he doesn't simply do so by tolerating the Law of God.
No, he delights in it! It's no wonder that he is able persistently to meditate on it day and night; his delight is so great that he would rather not do anything else (cf. Ps. 84:10; Ps. 119:92, 97).
Point of Application: If your delight is in the Law of God, then you are a happy and blessed person indeed! You are so satisfied and content in the presence of the Almighty that you meditate on His Word day and night rather than keeping close company with those who would keep you away from our Savior.(3)
But bear in mind, if your delight is not in the Law of God, then pay urgent attention to your walk (Gal. 6:1; Rom. 8:7-8). The Psalmist only gives us two options: we are either walking with sinners (Prv. 13:20) or delighting in the joy of our God (Ps. 37:4). And of course, we should always choose the latter.
But let us read on...
He is like a tree
This man, whose delight is in the Law of God, is more than a happy, blessed man. He is a profitable man. But we would do well to pay attention to what the text is saying here in this analogy about prospering.
Firstly, he yields fruit in season. No tree bears fruit all year long (at least not in the context of this Psalm). Sometimes a season will last longer than anticipated. Other times it will be shorter. But regardless of how long it lasts, when that fruitful season comes, the tree planted by streams of water will indeed be fruitful!
Even so, there are seasons in our lives. And like seasons in the weather, they are limited in duration yet reoccurring. God does not promise to the godly man that every season of life will bear fruit (at least in a way we expect or can see). But he does promise that for the one who delights in His Law, that man will be fruitful in season.
Now some may think, aren't all trees fruitful in season? Well, no. Not if they're not watered enough (in this case planted by streams of water), or if they're overtaken by some kind of disease, or if they're otherwise neglected or in an environment not conducive to growth. In that case even in a fruit bearing season they will not produce fruit. Yet that's the very thing that meditating on the Word of God day and night prevents - an unfruitful yield in a fruit bearing season.
But another thing to keep in mind in this passage is the idea of prospering. While it often does mean prospering financially (Ps. 112:1, 3) and in establishing a family (Ps. 127:3-5), the Bible doesn't always mean with material or physical things when it comes to prosperity. Sometimes the wicked will prosper in those areas, while it is the one who is saved by God's grace that is still accounted as being more prosperous (for a truly worshipful experience in this, read Psalm 73:1-28).
For those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation - we are eternally saved (Jn. 17:3). Material and physical prosperity will come in its season (Mt. 6:33; Mk. 10:29-30). But regardless of that, we are guaranteed spiritual prosperity over and over again (Jn. 1:16; Eph. 3:14-21) progressing to the point of our glorification (Rom. 8:30 ; Phil. 3:20-21).
The wicked are not so (again, see Ps. 73:16-17). They will not be around forever - joining in league with Satan (2 Cor. 11:14-15) doing their best to overcome God's people. To God they are as worthless as chaff, which is left for the wind to blow away.
Which brings us to the final section...
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Those who do not look to Jesus Christ for their salvation will meet a much darker gloom than being driven away in the wind; they will not stand in the judgment of God (Rev. 20:15). They will not be in the glorious kingdom of those who are made righteous by the blood of the Lamb, but will be outside the dwelling place of God (Rev. 21:8, 27).
This is a terribly sobering fact, but also a very gracious work of God. There will never again be war or pestilence or hunger or famine or sorrow or pain from those who hate God or for those whom God has put in His congregation of the righteous. Why? Because the way of the wicked will come to a complete end. There will be no more persecution of God's people. For He will make all things new and wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4, 5).
And let me explain the rest of this passage in this final section, in which we can see the very deep and wonderful news of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 1 - Seeing the Lord Jesus Christ
This is such a great Psalm and very instructive to the Christian life.
But on the other hand, if we're honest with ourselves, we need to ask and answer some tough questions.
Who among us delights in God's Law day and night?
Who among us does not walk in the way of the sinner?
Who among us can say we are worthy to belong in the congregation of the righteous?
I hope we all answer those questions with the sobering reply of "None of us."
In and of ourselves, we do not delight in the Law of God. We do not avoid the ungodly counsel of and friendship with unbelievers (Jas. 4:4). Therefore we are not, in and of ourselves, trees planted by streams of water. We do not, in and of ourselves, bear fruit in season. And we will not, in and of ourselves, stand in the congregation of the righteous. We are wholly and utterly NOT Psalm 1 people!
What then can we do?
Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is and does all these things!
Jesus demonstrated an unceasing delight in the Law of God!
(Mt. 5:17-19; Lk. 4:18-21; Jn. 6:38; Heb. 10:5-7)
Jesus did not seek counsel from the wicked, nor did He walk in the way of sinners.(4)
(Mt. 8:22; Lk. 5:16; Jn. 2:24-25; Heb. 7:26)
Jesus is the only One qualified to belong to the congregation of the righteous...
(Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 Jn. 3:5)
In short, Jesus is the Blessed Psalm 1 man; yet He so graciously shares His Psalm 1 righteousness and benefits with all who call upon Him (Rom. 4:22-5:1, 5:6; 10:13)! Even more, because He was raised from the dead, that same power is at work within us who believe in Him (Eph. 1:19-23). Therefore, abiding in Christ - the true Psalm 1 man - as our source for everything (1 Cor. 1:30-31), we are able, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us (Rom. 8:11), to bear fruit for Him (Jn. 15:5), doing the works for which He created us (and regenerated us) to do (Eph. 2:8-10; Ti. 2:11-14).
As for those who will never trust themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Be assured dear Christian that "the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous" (Ps. 1:5). Indeed, in regards to God's judgment the wicked can do only one thing: shout at the top of their lungs to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Rev. 6:16-17).
Who can stand in the judgment?
The apostle John answers that very question in just the next chapter over:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The ones who can stand in the judgment are surely Psalm 1 people - but not by nature. Their battle cry is and forever will be: "Salvation belongs to our God!"
Dear Christian, salvation belongs to our God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Only because of Him are we in the congregation of the righteous. And only because of Him can we delight in His word, bear fruit in season, and prosper in all the ways He's planned for us.
Look to Jesus. He is the true Psalm 1 man. And He is the One who gives us life and righteousness that we are able to follow Him in the Psalm 1 walk, if only we trust in His saving power!
(1) Thanks to whoever it was at Living Word Bible Church that compiled this list I found here.
In the Psalms alone there are nearly thirty explicit references to Jesus Christ.
Ps. 2:7 - Heb. 1:5 | Ps. 8:2 - Mt. 21:15-16 | Ps. 8:4-6 - Heb. 2:6-11 | Ps. 16:10 - Acts 2:25-31, 13:25, 15:12-17 | Ps. 22:1 - Mt. 27:46 | Ps. 22:7-8 - Mt. 27:39; Lk. 23:35 | Ps. 22:15 - Jn. 19:28 | Ps. 22:16 - Jn. 20:27 | Ps. 22:18 - Mt. 27:35; Jn. 19:23-24 | Ps. 22:22 - Heb. 2:12 | Ps. 34:20 - Jn. 19:31-37 | Ps. 35:11 - Mk. 14:57 | Ps. 40:6-8 - Heb. 10:5-7 | Ps. 41:9 - Lk. 22:48 | Ps. 45:6-7 - Heb. 1:8-9 | Ps. 68:18 - Eph. 4:8 | Ps. 69:4 - Jn. 15:25 | Ps. 69:9 - Jn. 2:17; Rom. 15:3 | Ps. 69:21 - Mt. 27:48 | Ps. 69:25 - Acts 1:20 | Ps. 89:4 - Lk. 1:32-33, 69; Acts 13:23 | Ps. 102:25-27 - Heb. 1:10-12 | Ps. 109:8 - Acts 1:20 | Ps. 110:1 - Mt. 22:44; Acts 2:33-35, 5:30-31; Heb. 10:13 | Ps. 110:4 - Heb. 5:6, 6:19-7:28 | Ps. 118:22-23 - Mt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:7 | Ps. 118:26 - Mt. 21:9
(2) It's interesting to me that in Acts 4:12 when Peter says, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," directly before that he is referencing a Psalm (Ps. 118:22 to be exact).
(3) Keep in mind there is still a need to go out into the world to reach unbelievers (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Yet we are never to leave Christ behind when doing so (Col. 2:8-10). And while we should develop friendships with unbelievers - for the sake of reaching them with the gospel and/or its blessings - we certainly are not supposed to have close relationships with those outside of Christ (Prv. 13:20; 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
(4) While He was clearly a friend of sinners (Lk. 11:34), they were always repentant sinners (Lk. 5:8) whom He always called to repentance (Jn. 5:14, 8:11). He never sought the advice or counsel of God's enemies, or kept close company with the unrepentant wicked of His day, but pronounced woes upon them (Mt. 23:13ff; Jn. 6:64-65).
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