English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): Not so the ungodly;-- not so: but rather as the chaff which the wind scatters away from the face of the earth.
Amplified: Not so the wicked [those disobedient and living without God are not so]. But they are like the chaff [worthless, dead, without substance] which the wind drives away. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
NET: Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff. (NET Bible)
NJB: How different the wicked, how different! Just like chaff blown around by the wind (NJB)
Young's Literal: Not so the wicked: But--as chaff that wind driveth away!
THE WICKED ARE NOT SO BUT THEY ARE LIKE THE CHAFF WHICH THE WIND BLOWS AWAY: (Like chaff - Ps 35:5; Job 21:18; Is 17:13; 29:5; Hosea 13:3, Mt 3:12)
A STRIKING CONTRAST
The wicked - The psalmist addresses them and their effect on the godly and their ultimate fate (Ps 1:1, 4, 5, 6). Clearly the "wicked" represent those who do not believe in Jesus (see their eternal fate in Ps 1:6b).
Wicked (07563)(rasha') is an adjective meaning unrighteous, unjust, an evil person, wrong wicked, guilty (legally not innocent of a violation of the law - Ex 23:1, Ps 109:7), in the wrong, criminal, transgressor. Rasha' often describes unbelievers, who hate God and are habitually hostile toward Him. The wicked/ungodly conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for Him.
Spurgeon - In this verse the contrast of the ill estate of the wicked is employed to heighten the coloring of that fair and pleasant picture which precedes it
Note that it takes two verses to describe the secret of the godly life but it only takes two words to describe the life of the ungodly - not so! The English rendering of the Greek Septuagint is even stronger - Not so, the ungodly, not so!
Not so - Not what? They are led by the counsel of the wicked, in the way of sinners, in the seat of scoffers. Not blessed. Not like trees firmly planted. Not bearing (spiritual) fruit in season. Not remaining "green" in times of drought. Not prospering in all they do (speaking primarily of spiritual prospering for the things of this world will pass away, but only those things done in the saint abiding in the Vine of Christ Jesus will endure. Cp John 15:5)
What a contrast. Godliness is gain here and glory hereafter. Purity pays in this world and paves the way to Paradise in the world to come.
Guzik -Everything true about the righteous man (stable as a tree, continual life and nourishment, fruitful, alive, and prosperous), is not so regarding the ungodly. It may often seem like the ungodly have these things, and sometimes it seems they have them more than the righteous. But it is not so! Any of these things are fleeting in the life of the ungodly; it can be said that they don’t really have them at all.
Ray Pritchard - The whole truth about the human race is found in just two words: “Not so.” Not so the wicked. They are not like the righteous and therefore have no part in the promised blessing. Because they do not follow God’s Word, but have chosen a different path, God’s estimation of them is entirely different.
Steven Cole - The psalmist describes the wicked in contrast to the righteous. The righteous is like a sturdy tree--rooted, firm, fruitful. The wicked is like chaff from the wheat--rootless, weightless, useless. This is not man’s view. From our viewpoint, many who leave God out of their lives are glamorous, powerful, exciting people. Rather, this is God’s view, as verse 6 shows. God’s view takes eternity into account and says, “Those who leave Me out of their lives are like chaff.” They have no sub-stance. They may be great before men, but before God they will be blown away like chaff in the final judgment. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )
Matthew Henry sums up the entire life and accomplishments of the ungodly man or woman (the unsaved or unregenerate person)…
But - Always be alert for this term of contrast, and at the bare minimum ask "What is the writer contrasting?" (Why?, What is the change of direction?, etc).
Scott Grant - Chaff, unlike a firmly planted tree, is separated from its source of life. A tree bears fruit, but chaff is disconnected from the fruit it surrounded. The destiny of chaff, unlike the leaves of the firmly planted tree, is to wither. The psalmist compares impotent activity with fruitful contemplation.
Ray Pritchard - The wicked are ultimately insubstantial. Chaff refers to the husk or hull that surrounds a nut or a kernel. It seems quite strong, but once the nut has been removed, it is light and insubstantial. Take a peanut in the shell and crack it open. After you eat the peanut, what do you do with the shell? If you are at a ballgame, you toss the shells on the ground where they are pulverized into dust. That’s what the wicked are like in the eyes of the Lord. They look so powerful on earth, but to God they are like dust that is quickly blown away. And their “wisdom” is like chaff, changing every day, new theories, new ideas, new beliefs. Nothing solid, nothing definite. Because the wicked live for themselves, they don’t know right from wrong or good from bad. Learn from this that life without God is useless, empty, trivial, and worthless. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. If a man lives for a hundred years and yet does not know God, he is just a piece of useless chaff! Blown away and forgotten!
Richard Baxter offers an interesting thought on chaff…
Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary has this note on the definition of chaff…
Which the wind blows away - Spurgeon writes that chaff is “Intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away.”
Guzik - Chaff was light enough that it could be separated from the grain by throwing a scoopful into the wind and letting the wind drive away the chaff. This is how unstable, how lacking in substance, the ungodly are.
Matthew Henry - they are like the chaff which the wind drives away, the very lightest of the chaff, the dust which the owner of the floor desires to have driven away, as not capable of being put to any use. Would you value them? Would you weigh them? They are like chaff, of no worth at all in God's account, how highly soever they may value themselves. Would you know the temper of their minds? They are light and vain; they have no substance in them, no solidity; they are easily driven to and fro by every wind and temptation, and have no stedfastness. Would you know their end? The wrath of God will drive them away in their wickedness, as the wind does the chaff, which is never gathered nor looked after more. The chaff may be, for a while, among the wheat; but he is coming whose fan is in his hand and who will thoroughly purge his floor. Those that by their own sin and folly make themselves as chaff will be found so before the whirlwind and fire of divine wrath (Ps. 35:5), so unable to stand before it or to escape it, Isaiah 17:13.
In summary, the psalmist draws out a dramatic horticultural contrast between a well watered tree and worthless chaff! This picture should jog anyone's attention to pay attention to the wisdom of the psalmist. But of course not all will read and heed because of their stubborn, rebellious will. When I was in elementary school I memorized a poem by Robert Frost which greatly disturbed me (I was not yet a believer at the time), especially his closing stanza…
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Frost's secular poem certainly mirrors the overall theme of Psalm 1 and also brings to mind Jesus' haunting words on a series of "two's"…
Matthew 7:13 (note) "Enter (aorist imperative = Do this now! It is urgent!) by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.
14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
Matthew 7:15 (note) "Beware (present imperative) of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:21 (note) "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does (present tense = not perfectly but as their general lifestyle) the will of My Father Who is in heaven.
Matthew 7:24 (note) "Therefore everyone who hears these words (Sermon on the Mount - see notes Matthew 5:1ff) of Mine, and acts (present tense = as their lifestyle - the general "direction" of their life) upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.
M R Vincent writes that…
"The ungodly are not so." That "not" contains the germs of all moral disaster. We have set forth under this figure three aspects of the ungodly character.
I. Its instability. Take a life away from God, and you take from it unity of impulse. Passion, pride, selfishness, drive it hither and thither as the winds drive the dismantled ship. Nowhere but in God does man find a consistent law.
II. Its worthlessness. Chaff! The wind drives it away, and the husbandman is glad to have it driven away. An ungodly life is a worthless life, because, whatever it may be, however busy and bustling, it is not so. It is not used under God's direction and for God's uses.
III. Its insecurity. The contrast is between the tree, safe in its enclosure by the watercourses, watched and tended by the gardener, its fruits safe from the plunderer, and the chaff, loosely lying on the exposed threshing-floor, where the first blast can drive it no one cares whither. How safe is the man who abides in God, while he who puts himself outside of the restraints of Divine law forfeits likewise its protection. (M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 21)
English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just.
Amplified: Therefore the wicked [those disobedient and living without God] shall not stand [justified] in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
NET: For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment, nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. (NET Bible)
NJB: the wicked will not stand firm at the Judgement nor sinners in the gathering of the upright. (NJB)
Young's Literal: Therefore the wicked rise not in judgment, Nor sinners in the company of the righteous,
THEREFORE THE WICKED WILL NOT STAND IN THE JUDGMENT: (Ps 5:5, 24:3, Lk 21:36, Jude 1:15)
Therefore - Develop the discipline of pausing to ponder key "connectives" (in this passage a term of conclusion) like therefore, asking your Teacher the Spirit to lead you into all the truth (cf 1Cor 2:12-16; Ps 119:18). Here the psalmist amplifies what he has just stated about their being driven away by the wind. The wicked like chaff do not the weight to resist God's "winds of judgment" and thus are blown away and unable to stand in the judgment.
Note that will not stand in the judgment does not mean they will be absent from judgment but that they will not be able to endure the judgment and will have no adequate defense. When they are brought before the judgment bar of God, they have no retort to God’s just condemnation of their ungodliness
Guzik - Because the ungodly have no “weight,” they will be found lacking on the day of judgment. As it was said of King Belshazzar in the book of Daniel, You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting (Daniel 5:27).
The wicked will stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment but they will not have a "leg to stand on" in terms of God's strict requirement for perfect righteousness (available only by grace through faith in Christ, our Righteousness!).
The apostle John records this sobering, sad event…
Pritchard - When the time for judgment comes, the wicked will not stand because they have no roots. Everything about them is blow and show, froth and worldly pomp, bluster and brag, and ego. But there is nothing of lasting value. With one breath, the Lord will blow all the wicked into hell.
Matthew Henry writes that the wicked…
Spurgeon explains that the wicked…
NOR SINNERS IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: (Ps 26:9; Mal 3:18; Mt 13:49; 25:32,41,46)
The writer of Hebrews describes the assembly of the righteous writing that believers…
Instead as Paul explains sinners will
In the new creation sinners will be excluded from the assembly of the righteous as John explains noting that
John Trapp solemnly quipped that…
Pritchard - the righteous will stand because they are like trees by the stream, with deep roots in the Word of God. The tree stands, the chaff disappears. That’s why sinners won’t be in the assembly of the righteous. They won’t be there because the winds of judgment will already have removed them.
Matthew Henry writes that sinners will not be in the…
Spurgeon explains this straightforward passage writing…
Fruit Or Chaff? - Two well-known people—John Wesley and Mark Twain—vividly exemplify the contrast between the godly and ungodly as portrayed in Psalm 1. When Wesley, who had been joyous, energetic, and effective even in his 88th year, was dying, he suddenly sat up, looked at the people weeping at his bedside, and said, “Best of all, God is with us.”
English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Amplified: For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly [those living outside God’s will] shall perish (end in ruin and come to nought). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
NET: Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. (NET Bible)
NJB: For Yahweh watches over the path of the upright, but the path of the wicked is doomed. (NJB)
Young's Literal: For Jehovah is knowing the way of the righteous, And the way of the wicked is lost!
FOR THE LORD KNOWS THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS: (Ps 37:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,24; 139:1,2; 142:3; Job 23:10; Nahum 1:7, Jn 10:14,27; 2Ti 2:19-note)
For (term of explanation) - Always seek to determine what the writer is explaining when you encounter a "for" (or "because"). In this context, the psalmist is helping us understand the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, elaborating on their respective destinies. In sum the writer he now gives the reason of this great difference between the righteous and the wicked, expressed in the foregoing verses.
Knows (yada) can mean simply to know, learn, perceive, discern, experience, to know people relationally, to make oneself known, to make to know. One of the main senses and the one that applies in the present passage is to know relationally and experientially. And so yada is also used for for intimacy between a man and a woman as when Adam knew Eve his wife…
Yada is translated by the Greek verb ginosko in the present tense which speaks of the Lord's continually (experientially) knowing the state of the righteous.
Jehovah knew Moses by name and face to face…
Jehovah even knew David’s sitting and arising…
In sum yada speaks of God knowing man intimately and in Hebrew is a participle which represents an action or condition in unbroken continuity. Knows then pictures God's continuing intimacy with, caring for and watching over His own.
As Jesus said in the gospel of John…
Paul echoes the assurance that believers can have that the Lord God knows them and they are safe in Christ…
In Psalm 37 David presents a similar contrast between the fate of the godly and ungodly but that He knows the godly..
The prophet Nahum (in the context of a description of the Judgment of God on the earth says)
Job suffered incredible trials and afflictions and in Job 23 even cried out…
Nevertheless Job persevered because he understood the truth in Psalm 1:6 affirming that even though he could not see God, he knew God could see Him declaring…
Spurgeon elaborates on the phrase "He knows… " writing that in the original Hebrew it reads more fully…
The way of the righteous - The way refers to their entire life, and they had entered into this life journey through Jesus, the Way. Jesus said to His disciples…
Guzik comments that…
How did they become righteous in the Old Testament? Was it by keeping the law? Was it by carrying out the prescribed sacrifices? No, neither of these ways leads to the kingdom of heaven. The OT saints entered this way in the same manner NT now enter, by grace through faith. Those who have believed in the promised Messiah or the Messiah Who has come, died, was buried and has resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
Abraham is the prototype of an OT saint who was righteous
Deep Roots - Some friends of mine planted two trees of the same kind and age. The first was set in level ground in the middle of the yard, where its roots went deep into the ground to soak up water. The second was planted at the bottom of a steep bank. When it rained, the water rushed past it to the street.
Deep Roots - In my orchard are two pear trees. Last summer was extremely dry, yet one of the trees was unaffected and remained green and yielded luscious pears. The other tree did not do so well. Its leaves turned yellow, the fruit shriveled, and the leaves and the fruit both dropped to the ground. The tree seemed to be dead.
Then came the rains, and the ground was soaked with moisture. The tree that seemed to be dead sprang to life again. Soon it was covered with leaves, and (believe it or not) in the latter part of August it burst into full bloom. Little pears came into view, but then came the frost and no fruit matured.
One tree thrived and produced delicious fruit in season. What made the difference? Its roots had grown deep, where they found plenty of water. The other had shallow roots and depended on the uncertain rains. The one was like the tree David described, “planted by the rivers of water” (Ps. 1:3). The other, with belated bloom, bore no fruit.
Which kind of a tree are you? Do your roots go deep into the underground streams of the Word of God, or is your devotional life shallow and only occasional? Dig deep, friend, deep into the Book, and your life will produce abundant spiritual fruit.— by M.R. De Haan
But the way (term of contrast) - The dramatic contrast and finale of those who have shunned, sinned against, scorned and scoffed at God.
Solomon writes of the self-deception of the way of the wicked…
Jesus gives a command to enter the only way which will not perish…
The way of the wicked and all they have ever accomplished (the sum total of their life) is like an apple that falls off the apple tree and lies on the ground in rot and decay thus loosing any chance of ever fulfilling its full potential as an apple. The way of the wicked is a state of total disintegration or collapse.
Perish (06) (abad, cp Abaddon 011) is a verb meaning to perish, to be destroyed, to be ruined, to be lost, to in a state of ruin and destruction pertaining to an object, including the death (Ex 10:7). Abad can mean literally to die, or, in the case of things, reputation, etc., to pass away. In a causative sense, abad means to destroy, to reduce to some degree of disorder. God’s destruction of evil, both threatened (Lev. 26:38) and realized (Nu 17:12); Israel’s destruction of the Canaanites and their altars (Nu 33:52; Dt. 12:2, 3); the perishing of natural life (Ps. 49:10; 102:26; Eccl. 7:15); the perishing of abstract qualities such as wisdom and hope (Isa. 29:14; Lam. 3:18); and an item or animal being lost (Dt. 22:3; Eccl. 3:6)
Stephen Renn - Abad - It is first of all predicated of God’s people under divine judgment for rebellion against him, under the covenant curse. In particular, abad constitutes the inevitable fate of the Israelite people, who will perish in the process of being sent into exile (cf. Lev. 26:38; Dt 4:26; 8:20; 30:18; Jos. 23:13; Jer. 4: 9; 27:10; Eze. 25: 7). The people will also perish on account of their idolatry (cf. Dt 8:19; Jos. 23:16). Individuals or groups of people are also said to “perish” at the hand of God - Korah (Nu. 16:33); Ahab’s dynasty (2Ki 9: 8, cp Ps 2:12; Jer. 6:21; Mic. 4: 9; Jon. 3: 9. Nu 17: 2 expresses the fear of perishing. The enemies of Yahweh are said to perish as a consequence of judgment pronounced on them (cf. Nu 21:30; Jdg 5:31; Ps 9: 3, 6; 37:20; Isa. 41:11; Jer. 51:18 [Babylon]; Amos 1: 8 [Philistia]). General references to people dying or perishing are found in Job 4: 7; Ps 49:10; Pr 31: 6; Jon. 1: 6. Such a fate includes the wicked (cf. Ps 1: 6; 37:20; 83:17; Pr 28:28; Jer. 48: 8); as well as the righteous (cf. Eccl 7:15; Isa. 57: 1; Mic. 7: 2). Job 4:11 refers to animals perishing. In Esther 4:16 “If I perish, I perish” Abad also refers to that which is “ruined.” = the land of Israel (Jer 9:12 cf. Joel 1:11; Amos 3:15; Jonah 4:10). Abad is used metaphorically -- Job utters a curse in Job 3:3, where he expresses a desire to have the day of his birth “perish.” “Perish” can express the sense of “disappear” = wisdom of the wise (Isa. 29:14; Jer. 49: 7), law of God (Jer. 18: 8; Ezek 7:26); truth (Jer. 7:26).
James Swanson summarizes abad - 1. (piel) destroy, annihilate, exterminate, wipe out, i.e., cause to destroy an object (Nu 33:52); (hif) destroy (Dt 7:10); 2. (qal) not exist, i.e., have a state no longer existing (Ezek 19:5); 3. (qal) be lost, i.e., be in a state of wandering, in which the whereabouts of an object is unknown, so in a state lacking knowledge about an object (1Sa 19:3); 4. (qal) wandering, act. as a nomad, i.e., to go from place to place with no particular plan, as a lifestyle of some groups of people (Dt 26:5); 5. (piel) squander, waste, i.e., showing a total lack of value for the object wasted (Pr 29:3) 6. (piel) expel, i.e., to drive one by force from an area (Eze 28:16); 7. (qal) lose courage, formally, ruin of heart, i.e., be in a state of hopelessness, lacking confidence in a future situation (Jer 4:9); 8. (qal) internal corruption, formally, ruin the heart, i.e., engage in a behavior which is a moral deviation from what is right (Eccl 7:7)
NAS Usage: annihilate(2), annihilated(1), been lost(1), broken(1), corrupts(1), destroy(33), destroyed(15), destroying(2), destroys(2), destruction(2), dying(2), fail(1), fails(1), give up as lost(1), lacking(1), lost(12), make vanish(1), makes to perish(1), no(2), obliterate(1), perish(61), perished(16), perishes(7), perishing(2), ruined(4), surely perish(3), take(1), utterly destroy(1), wandering(1), wastes(1), wiped(1).
Abad - 175v - Ex 10:7; Lev 23:30; 26:38; Num 16:33; 17:12; 21:29f; 24:19; 33:52; Dt 4:26; 7:10, 20, 24; 8:19f; 9:3; 11:4, 17; 12:2f; 22:3; 26:5; 28:20, 22, 51, 63; 30:18; 32:28; Josh 7:7; 23:13, 16; Jdg 5:31; 1Sa 9:3, 20; 2 Sam 1:27; 2Kgs 9:8; 10:19; 11:1; 13:7; 19:18; 21:3; 24:2; 2Chr 22:10; Esther 3:9, 13; 4:7, 14, 16; 7:4; 8:5, 11; 9:6, 12, 24; Job 3:3; 4:7, 9, 11, 20; 6:18; 8:13; 11:20; 12:23; 14:19; 18:17; 20:7; 29:13; 30:2; 31:19; Ps 1:6; 2:12; 5:6; 9:3, 5f, 18; 10:16; 21:10; 31:12; 37:20; 41:5; 49:10; 68:2; 73:27; 80:16; 83:17; 92:9; 102:26; 112:10; 119:92, 95, 176; 142:4; 143:12; 146:4; Pr 1:32; 10:28; 11:7, 10; 19:9; 21:28; 28:28; 29:3; 31:6; Eccl 3:6; 5:14; 7:7, 15; 9:6, 18; Isa 26:14; 27:13; 29:14; 37:19; 41:11; 57:1; 60:12; Jer 1:10; 4:9; 6:21; 7:28; 9:12; 10:15; 12:17; 15:7; 18:7, 18; 23:1; 25:10, 35; 27:10, 15; 31:28; 40:15; 46:8; 48:8, 36, 46; 49:7, 38; 50:6; 51:18, 55; Lam 2:9; 3:18; Ezek 6:3; 7:26; 12:22; 19:5; 22:27; 25:7, 16; 26:17; 28:16; 30:13; 32:13; 34:4, 16; 37:11; Joel 1:11; Amos 1:8; 2:14; 3:15; Obad 1:8, 12; Jonah 1:6, 14; 3:9; 4:10; Mic 4:9; 5:10; 7:2; Zeph 2:5, 13; Zech 9:5
The Septuagint (LXX) translates abad in Psalm 1:6 with the Greek verb apollumi (see notes) which speaks of destruction but not annihilation. Apollumi basically has to do with that which is ruined and is no longer usable for its intended purpose. All men and women are created in the image of God and have the potential to bring glory to God, but this is only possible if one is born again ("re-created" as it were in Christ). Only the redeemed can properly bring glory to their Creator. Isaiah speaks of this privilege believers have to bring glory to God writing that…
All men are born in sin in Adam and if they fail to be born again by grace through faith they remain dead in their trespasses and sins and when they die, they soul and their way (everything that they have every done while alive) will perish forever.
Apollumi is the verb Jesus used to describe those who are thrown into hell (Mt 10:28). As He makes clear elsewhere, hell is not a place or state of nothingness or unconscious existence, as is the Hindu Nirvana. It is the place of everlasting torment, the place of eternal death, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (see Mt 13:42, 50). All people are created by God for His glory, but when they refuse to come to Him for salvation they lose their opportunity for redemption and for becoming what God intends for them to be. They are then fit only for condemnation and eternal destruction. This truth should motivate every believer to seek to present the gospel with their life and then their lips to all around them who are still dead in their trespasses and sins.
To reiterate, destruction for an unsaved sinner does not result in annihilation or extinction. When their life ends on earth, it is not followed by the loss of being, but of well-being. The Gospel promises everlasting life for all who believe in Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Dear reader if you are not saved listen to the Savior's own words…
Steven Cole writes that…
Spurgeon emphasizes that the psalmist is saying that…
In short, while God knows the way of the righteous, in stark contrast He does not know the way of the wicked as Jesus warns at the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount…
As to their doom, they shall be forgotten in the annals of eternity in the ages to come, leaving no trace, taking no root and forever excluded from the other world.
Ray Pritchard offers a practical, pithy summation of Psalm 1…