Psalm 1 is the first Psalm in the entire book, and in many ways sets the stage for the rest of the book of Psalms. As we meditate upon God’s word tonight, we'll see how the verses of Psalm 1 apply not just to the other 149 Psalms, but to the entire Bible.
Psalm 1 describes the blessed man. Before we go on, let's first understand what the bible means when it speaks of a blessed man. The Bible, when it speaks about blessing, always considers the curse from Gen 3. Blessing is always related to the idea of reversing the curse. From Gen 12:1-3, we also see that there are 3 aspects of blessing here which the Lord proclaims to Abram -- that he will be the father to a great people, that through him all the peoples of the earth will be blessed, all of this is sealed by a covenant between God and Abram. Notice the language used, where the Lord himself contrasts his blessing to Abram with the warning of a curse against those who are not of Abram’s covenant.
To be blessed according to the Bible doesn’t just mean an outer state of happiness or even an inner state of joy. It means to have the promise of God’s covenant, the covenant that reverses the curse laid upon the creation because of our sin. The blessed one is one that that God is working in you to reverse the curse (whose end result is death).
(A) The blessing of spiritual growth: spiritual fruit and maturity in Christ. (Ps 1:3)
The tree is a recurring metaphor in the Bible, and we see it in Ps 1:3. Let's take a look at some other verses in the Bible to try to understand this metaphor.
|Phrase from Ps 1:3
|"planted by streams of water"
||Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:13-14)
We pick out the idea of constant nourishment. Notice how Jesus speaks specifically of a stream of water that wells up to eternal life.
|"yields its fruit in its season"
||"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
The nature of the tree is know by its fruit. Good fruit is borne by those with good treasure of his heart.
|"its leaf does not wither"
||"For you shall be like an oak,whose leaf withers,,and like a garden without water. And the strong shall become tinder,,and his work a spark,,and both of them shall burn together,,with none to quench them." (Isaiah 1:30-31)
This doesn’t give us
the immediate answer, but it tells us what happens when a leaf does wither. The idea that it will not be destroyed or
|"in all that he does, he prospers"
||"He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matt 13:31-32)
It starts small, and begins in an insignificant manner, but eventually it grows and prospers. This growth also leads to blessing of those around.
Ps 1:3 tells us a bit more of what it means to be blessed. It means that we have a spring within, to help us yield fruit in its season. It means that we will not be defeated, but will also prosper in a way that will bless others too. Paul, in Eph 4:11-16, describes for us the actions that a prosperous Christian perform, and the traits that he or she possesses. The prosperous (mature) Christian performs works of ministry and builds up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12), speaks the truth in love (Eph 4:15a). This Christian will contribute to unity in the faith, be mature in the faith, possess knowledge of Jesus, speak the truth in love and is also loving (Eph 5:16) and is stable, no longer tossed by the waves.This is what a mature, blessed person in Christ looks like. The blessing is not merely limited to an individual, but also impacts and changes the whole congregation, for we are different members of one body.
The blessing of the Bible is one of spiritual prosperity. It starts small, like a seed but grows and grows until it becomes a blessing. Like a tree with a spring within, this tree is secure and will not be defeated, and will yield good fruit in time. What is this good fruit? Eph 4 shows us some of the traits and characteristics of such a mature Christian. Certainly, we should not forget the fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22. Therefore, the first blessing of the Bible is one of spiritual growth.
(B) The blessing of judgment: a warning against sin and assurance for our faith. (Ps 1:4-6)
Verse 4 draws a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. It tells us that the fruit of the wicked is chaff. The chaff is husk around the grain kernel of the wheat that farmers do noth ave a need for. The chaff is left on the threshing floor after the grain is removed, left for the wind to blow it away. This is the metaphor that is used in Psalm 1. Where the righteous person bears good and valuable fruit, the wicked person produces useless chaff.
In Matt 7:15-20, Jesus himself says that a healthy tree bears good fruit and a good fruit cannot be borne from a diseased tree. These verses also contain a word of judgment, against those that do not bear good fruit. These verses call us to consider our own hearts, and to evaluate our "fruit". What kind of fruit are you bearing? But it is equally important to remind ourselves that, if we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we are forgiven. We don’t have to strive for our own righteousness because Christ himself is our righteousness in every single one of our broken places. We are also reminded through the words of the song that we sang tonight -- "His endless mercy follows me" -- that in Christ, we have a security and assurance that is secure. it is good to remind ourselves of the seriousness of the Lord’s judgement.
The end of Psalm 1 describes two different temporal aspects of judgement. Ps 1:5 speaks of the judgment on judgment day, which serves as a warning to the wicked and gives hope to the righteous. In Ps 1:6, the judgment being spoken of is more of one that takes place now. It is an ongoing path and trajectory that is being followed now, that leads to the day of judgment.
Do you fear and feel intimidated by judgment? Judgment should give the Christian hope, for it is ultimately it is a good thing. But, it also gives us meaning to our lives everyday. If there was no one to judge at the end all things, what does it mean for life? We can live any way we want, but everything is meaningless, because things don't amount to anything. It is also hope, because we know that the Lord knows our ways now. He watches and this is both a scary and encouraging thought. It is scary because it does mean that he knows all our sins. But as a sinner who professed faith in Christ, we know that our sins have been paid, and our judgment borne in full, and now we only have complete assurance in Christ. This assurance of justification is with us everyday, and cannot be taken away from us! Everything we do now is watched by our great high priest who ever lives and pleads for us. God doesn't look at us with condemnation reserved for the wicked, but with love and mercy because He sees the Son. Now our lives have meaning.
So when you feel dejected, hopeless, under assault, and crushed by life circumstances; or even if life circumstances are great but you are crushed by the weight of the guilt of your own sinfulness, remember that you have a holy and righteous and gracious judge sitting on the throne of heaven, watching you attentively, with love and mercy, because you have been justified by Christ. Because you have been justified you have been judged worthy and righteous. Therefore, your life is a life with an eternal weight of meaning and significance.
(C) How to get the blessing of the Bible: repent (Ps 1:1-2)
If we go back to the beginning of Psalm 1, we'll see how a righteous person lives. It shows us what the righteous person does not do, and also what the righteous person does. The righteous person does not behave in the way the wicked behaves, and does not associate and identify himself with sinners and scoffers. He does not subscribe to worldly wisdom. Note the increasing severity of the actions of the wicked (walk --> stand --> sit), describing how the person is becoming increasingly entrenched in the lifestyle.
Instead, the righteous person delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on his law day and night. What does meditating mean? The Bible does not mean that we should clear our minds and start doing deep breathing exercises. Instead, the one who meditates on the law, according to the Bible, is one who enjoys reading the law of the Lord and actively thinks about it day and night! And we can do so together in community too, during Bible studies like these. Notice also how these things are done with great joy. We ought to obey God's will with delight, and remember that all these words are not just words in a book that we keep by our bedside, but these are the words of God.
These 2 actions -- not taking the wisdom of the world and meditating on the word -- describes for us repentance. This 2-step active process of repentance is not only marked by a turning away from the world but also has a corresponding turning towards the word of God.
From tonight’s passage alone, we see that the Bible guarantees at least two blessings for those who pursue Christ’s righteousness.
- It leads us to spiritual prosperity and maturity in Christ.
- It guarantees judgement on us as well as on the world, which gives us hope and assurance
But both of these blessings are bound up with a much greater blessing, which is the Gospel. This is actually the third blessing, and an important one. We started our study establishing the fact that the blessing is a reversal of the curse, and indeed the gospel achieves this for us, to bring about the greatest blessing for us. God, who is holy and loving, judged our sin and rebellion with death. We had no escape, but for the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, who justifies us by his death, we have been freed from sin. Thus, our response is to repent, and we can apply ourselves in our spiritual lives, so as to have these blessings of the Bible. Only because of the good news of what Christ has done can we now begin meditating upon the word of God. Some other ways that we can delight in the law of the Lord is just like what we’re doing now -- reading and discussing, thinking and learning. God speaks to us through his holy word. Christ whispers to us, the Holy Spirit guides us in our understanding. And as you learn, you will be more able to take pleasure and delight in both learning the law of God, as well as practicing the law of God.