IN THE PSALMS
Blessing (bless, blessed) is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses - with approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify - as an aside this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that God blesses and how this blessing is manifested. See all uses in "Wisdom" Literature - Job, Psalms, Proverbs)...
Donne - How abundantly is that word Blessed multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.
Let us take a moment to scan over some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ...
Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their trust) in Him!
Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: -- "Lord, increase our faith." (Spurgeon)
Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.
This is a promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness. (Spurgeon)
Psalm 24:5 (Context for who "he" is) He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God's demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)
Ps 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
Blessed. Like the Sermon on the Mount (see notes Matthew 5:1ff), this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The first Psalm (see notes Psalm 1) describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God's book, is here a suppliant at God's throne accepted and heard.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness. To hear from God's own Spirit the words, "absolvo te" is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin.
A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner's hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word rendered forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?
Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ's atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.
Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul words it, "Righteousness imputed without works." He is blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil's children, but he who is washed from sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the volcano's brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their meaning. (Spurgeon)
Ps 34:8 O taste (imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and see (another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!
O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan's honey, enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.
Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Faith is the soul's taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the exhortation contained in the first sentence. (Spurgeon)
Ps 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, "Oh, the happiness of the man." God's blessings are emphatic, "I wot ( know) that he whom Thou blesses is blessed," indeed and in very truth. Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)
Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!
Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord's worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul? (Spurgeon)
What is the blessing associated with or "effected" by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:7, 8). Faith. Believing (see word study on verb pisteuo). For example, do you really believe God has granted you "everything (how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!) necessary for life (zoe = not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus' desire for us, Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition "dia" = the conduit through which "life and godliness" flow, so to speak) the true knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily "eating" His pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life - 1Pe 2:2-note, Mt 4:4, Dt 8:2, 3, 16, Php 2:16-note) who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2Pe 1:3-note)? Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren (Jas 1:22-note, Jas 1:25-note; see related discussion re the NT phrase the obedience of faith)
Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man (Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;
Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O LORD. The psalmist's mind is growing quiet. He no longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God's sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes Hebrews 12:5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11). The psalmist calls the chastened one a "man" in the best sense, using the Hebrew word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)
Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!
Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happiness. The way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road, and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would not only be just, but "keep judgment"; we would not be content with occasionally acting rightly, but would "do justice at all times." (Spurgeon)
Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised.
That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so:
Holiness is his happiness,
Devotion is his delight,
Truth is his treasure.
He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight.
is the only acceptable obedience
He who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.
Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed. The psalmist is so enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,
Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God.
True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy.
This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them.
As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day. Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in conformity to the command of the Lord.
Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God's glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed.
Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them.
We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.
God's word is His witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers.
There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power.
Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business.
If we keep God's testimonies
They will keep us
They will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: "in keeping of them there is great reward."
We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master's house, as a steward husbands his lord's goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer's flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God's word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psalms 119:168 he says, "I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies," and in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, "This I had because I kept thy precepts." Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves.
And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the Lord's testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel.
"O that I knew where I might find HIM,"
will be our wholehearted cry.
See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself, and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and seeks Him still.
Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely, to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.
God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain:
We must seek him with the heart.
Love reveals itself to love: God manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24-note; cp one thing I do - see Philippians 3:13-note). God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father's face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology,
a heart may be divided and not broken, and it may be broken but not divided; and yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken.
When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, "as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole."
That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, "With my whole heart have I sought thee." It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself.
If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?
"To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus -- what it is,
None but His loved ones know."
Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him, for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies, neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself, endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah!
Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt (See Trumbull's Covenant of Salt). Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure.
In each of the two titles here given, namely, "the God of Jacob", and "Jehovah his God", there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in the fact that he was Jacob's God. But when by faith we know the Lord to be ours, then we are "rich to all the intents of bliss."
HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN: (Ps 2:12; 32:1,2; 34:8; 84:12; 106:3; 112:1; 115:12, 13, 14, 15; 119:1,2; 144:15; Ps 146:5; Dt 28:2-68; 33:29; Jer 17:7, 8; Mt 16:17; Lk 11:28; Jn 13:17; Jn 20:29; Rev 1:3, 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14)
How blessed - This phrase appears 23x in 22v in the Psalms - This makes an interesting devotional or Sunday School study - What does God say about "how blessed"? - see Ps 1:1; 2:12; 32:1, 2; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4, 5, 12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1, 2; 127:5; 128:1; 137:8, 9; 144:15; 146:5. (And for "extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase "how blessed" 2Ki 10:8, 2Chr 9:7, Pr 3:13; 20:7; 28:14; Isa 30:18; 32:20; 56:2; Da 12:12)
THE ONE WHO
READS & HEEDS PSALM 1
Lk 11:28 (Jesus said) Blessed (makarios) are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.
Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are blessed (makarios) if you do them.
James 1:22 (note) Prove (present imperative = as your lifestyle or regular practice) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates - like those who audit a course for non-credit!) who delude (paralogizomai = literally to reason alongside; present tense = continually in a state of spiritual delusion) themselves
1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to disobedient King Saul from whom the "blessing" would be removed) Has the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm 1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
At the outset note that the promise of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart. As Jesus' Words emphasize in Luke 11:28 obedience is the key to blessing in both the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed, blessed.
Observe in Psalm 1 we encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed) and the end (perish)! Take your choice!
In verse 1 we observe the practice of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his "permanence". This beatitude psalm describes the "be attitude" man, the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!
You may have read in Spurgeon's comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon on v1; Verse 2) where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in Psalm 1. And indeed there is for Psalm 32 speaks of blessings which are a result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation of God's imputation (reckoning, placing on one's account) of confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!
Psalm 1 contrasts the two life styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).
Steele (1674) speaks of the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature noting that...
He that would be wise, let him read the Proverbs
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.
Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1...
This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists' desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (Psalms 1:1-3) David (Ed: the author is actually not stated) sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (Psalms 1:4-6) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.
Warren Wiersbe rightly states that...
Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.
BLESSED IN DUPLICATE!
Blessed (0835) ('esher/'eser related to the verb 'ashar = to go or be straight, to go on, to advance, to be right) and always refers to people but never to God. Vine writes that "Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself = Dt. 33:29. The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy” = (Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22). God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” = 1Ki 10:8."
'Esher speaks of the inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a blessed man. 'Esher describes "a person's state of bliss (Ed: Webster = complete happiness. yjr highest degree of happiness; especially heavenly joys)" (Baker)
In Psalm 1:1, the Hebrew literally reads "blessed, blessed", the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we might attempt to translate as "blessednesses". The word blessed ('esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being.
'Esher - 42 OT uses (See notes above for more exposition of some of the Psalms that use 'esher) - Deut. 33:29; 1 Ki. 10:8; 2 Chr. 9:7; Job 5:17; Ps. 1:1; 2:12; 32:1f; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4f, 12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1f; 127:5; 128:1f; 137:8f; 144:15; 146:5; Pr. 3:13; 8:32, 34; 14:21; 16:20; 20:7; 28:14; 29:18; Eccl. 10:17; Isa. 30:18; 32:20; 56:2; Dan. 12:12. NAS Usage: blessed(41), happy(4).
One person has written "The word happy is a good rendition of blessed ('esher), provided one keeps in mind that the condition of "bliss" is not merely a feeling. Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered "blessed" from God's perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away."
A number of the translations render 'esher with the English word "happy", but I prefer the word blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I'm happy if what happens is good. I'm not happy if what happens is bad. However that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one's state or condition rather than one's feeling. To be sure, the blessed person can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.
As Spurgeon so eloquently expresses blessed in the plural "Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!"
John Piper adds that the Hebrew word 'esher "means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being."
The other Hebrew word for bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb 'ashar used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1, the noun chosen is 'esher, speaking of the blessing from the Most High God to mankind.
In the Septuagint (Lxx), the Greek word for blessed is makarios (see word study) and can be summed up as describing the man who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense), independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the "blessed man" (or "blessed woman"), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains strong, stedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The blessed man knows that he is safe in "the Ark" of Jehovah, the One Who declares I Am... I Am anything and everything you will ever need (not want but need! cp Php 4:19, Ps 23:1, Ps 84:11, Mt 6:33, Lk 12:30, 31, 32, Ro 8:32, 2Co 9:8, He 13:5, 6 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:28, 6:22 Ps116:4- ; Ps 120:1)
Adam Clarke - The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.
In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.
Martin Luther comments that ""blessed" is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, "All things are well with that man who," etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one!"
Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.
“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”
Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
John Trapp - The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand.
Richard Baker - Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man within.
Ray Pritchard - In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)
God delights to bless His children, but we must be "blessable." We must have discernment (discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the steps that lead to sin -- considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you want to be blessed!
Spurgeon calls us to observe "how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes beginning with Matthew 5:3) The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, "Oh, the blessednesses!" and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man's felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!
And so this "Beatitude Psalm" opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths therein, but closes with a "curse" (perish) for those who fail to heed these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to deceive one's self and to miss God's blessing. James warned his readers "prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (see paralogizomai) themselves. (James 1:22-note)
The Greek word for hearers in James 1:22 is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.
John MacArthur - Tragically, most churches have many “auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when, in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application of it.
Alexander Maclaren - Its theme, the blessedness of keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.
Wiersbe emphasizes that "First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He (Ed: Describes Peter - and note what resulted = denial of Jesus - Lk 22:56-58. Sin is valuing anything as more glorious than Jesus!) is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees (Ed: Illustration = frog in the kettle, slowly increasing the cooking temperature!). We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world (contrast James 1:27); we love the world (1Jn 2:15-17, James 4:4), become conformed to it (Ro 12:2) and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin (Ed: But he was a believer so he was not condemned (Ro 8:1) but he surely did suffer loss of reward (1Cor 3:10-15). When we seek earthly rewards, we often forfeit heavenly, eternal rewards! Mt 6:19-21 Be careful how you walk! Eph 5:15, cp 2Peter 2:6-9).
Lot was righteous and thus saved but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be separated and instead "assimilated" with the world! Dear believer, could it be that we are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because we are not willing to separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?
Alan Carr - THE PATH OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER
A. The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.
1. He doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little higher!
2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man has been put forever away!)
3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.
B. Ill. The downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took – Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)
C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives accordingly! (Sermons and Outlines)
WHO DOES NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED: (Ps 81:12; Ge 5:24; Lev 26:27,28; 1Ki 16:31; Job 31:5; Pr 1:15; 4:14,15; Pr 13:20; Ezekiel 20:18; 1Pe 4:3)
Does not walk (01980)(halak) is a common OT verb (1340 verses) which literally denotes physical locomotion meaning to go (426x), going (30x), goes (22x), walk (142x), act (5x), came (13x), come (82x), depart(14x), departed (55x), went (309x), flow(6x), led (14x), march (4)x, travel (3x). The basic idea of halak is that of movement of something - flowing of a river = Ge. 2:14, descending flood = Ge 8:3, crawling beasts = Lev 11:27, slithering snake = Lev 11:42, blowing wind = Eccl 1:6, tossing sea = Jonah 1:13.
Halak is often used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one's behavior or conduct. How one walks (eg, walking in sins 2Ki 13:11, follow the example - 2Chr 17:3) is how one lives his or her life (1Sa 8:3, Dt 28:9).
Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (give me an undivided heart is the idea, cp Mt 6:24, James 1:6-7) (Ps 86:11)
The first use of halak is actually to describe the motion of a river (Ge 2:14), but the second use describes God walking in the Garden after Sin came into the world (Ge 3:8). The third use describes the curse to the Serpent (Satan) = "on your belly you will go (halak) and dust you will eat all the days of your life." (Ge 3:14). In the next use (Ge 5:22) we see halak with its metaphorical meaning (as it is used here in Psalm 1), where is speaks of one's conduct. For example, the phrase walking with or before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David, all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the blessednesses of Jehovah. Cp Ge 5:22, 24, 6:9, 17:1, 24:40, 48:15, Ps, 26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )
Vine - God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Ps. 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Ex. 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2Sa 7:23), and to come to save them (Ps. 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Ex. 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Dt. 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Dt. 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk…after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jer. 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isa. 33:15), in humility (Mic. 6:8), and in integrity (Ps. 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Ge 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Gen. 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him. (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)
In Hebrew the verb walk is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one's walk or conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was started in the past and has continued into the present or which is started in the present and continues into the future. The point is "Don't take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world's wisdom"! James paints a striking contrast between the world's counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)...
This wisdom (worldly) is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18)
To be a blessed person means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first misstep.
Solomon in the so called wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations...
Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,
Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on. (Read that verse again - count the admonitions! Those of us who are older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)
Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Dwight Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our traveling companions in our life journey...
Is this person's goal in life holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading world? How serious is this person's commitment to the cause of Christ? Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true fellowship is to "stimulate (lit. "create a fever for") one another to love and good works" (see Hebrews 10:24-note; Heb 10:24-note); not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the guise of "Christian fellowship." One of the most moving illustrations of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship is found in 1Samuel 23:16, "So Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God." Who do we have to help us "strengthen our hand in God"? To whom do we do the same? (2 Timothy Call to Completion)
LOT'S EXAMPLE OF
HOW NOT TO BE BLESSED
First note God's assessment of Lot in 2 Peter...
He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds) (See notes 2 Peter 2:7; 2:8)
What's the "key word" in these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages (one used by Paul also in Romans 4:3,9) that explains how Lot was saved is the description of Uncle Abraham's salvation, Moses recording that...
Then (see when or what "then" refers to by reading the preceding context -Genesis 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it - placed it on his "spiritual" bank account) to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:6)
With this background read Moses' description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to experience blessing from the LORD...
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere -- this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah -- like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. (Ge 13:10-12)
Ge 13:10 - Lot Looks
Ge 13:11 - Lot Chooses
Ge 13:12 - Lot Sits
Lot looked toward Sodom, then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed man is careful about where he walks, stands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot ended greatly vexed (2Pe 2:7-note) and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8-note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said "Remember Lot's wife" (Lu 17:32 - her disobedience was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot's choice! Lot choose to enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it difficult to depart from the wicked...sinners...scoffers so that the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though a genuine believer (righteous) was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot of Lot in a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in blessing upon blessing from Jehovah, the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).
Does not walk - Does not go along with.
Pr 1:10 "If sinners entice you, do not give in to them."
Ps 119:115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.
Counsel of the wicked - (Ps 64:2, Ge 49:6, 2Ch 22:3, Job 10:3, 21:16, Lk 23:51)
Counsel (06098) (esah) means counsel (52x), advice (11x), viewpoint or way of thinking, as when one thinks about a course of action (often including consultation with an advisor). It is a state of mind that affects the decisions that we make. Esah speaks of God's counsel (the best but not always followed) in Ps 73:24, 106:13, 107:11, 119:24, Pr 1:25, 30, 8:14
Counsel is advice; opinion, or instruction, given upon request or otherwise, for directing the judgment or conduct of another; opinion given upon deliberation or consultation. It is the act of telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme (2Sa 15:34)
Advice is an opinion recommended, or offered, as worthy to be followed.
Psalm 1:1 instructs us to not listen to their advice especially in the moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the ungodly.
WHO influences you? Are you letting the world's way of thinking influence you?
NAS Usage: advice(11), consultation(2), counsel (52), counselor*(1), counselors*(1), counsels(1), designs(1), plan(8), plans(2), purpose(6), scheme(1), schemes(1), strategy(1).
Esah - 85v - Dt 32:28; Jdg 20:7; 2Sa 15:31, 34; 16:20, 23; 17:7, 14, 23; 1Kgs 1:12; 12:8, 13f; 2Kgs 18:20; 1Chr 12:19; 2Chr 10:8, 13f; 22:5; 25:16; Ezra 4:5; 10:3, 8; Neh 4:15; Job 5:13; 10:3; 12:13; 18:7; 21:16; 22:18; 29:21; 38:2; 42:3; Ps 1:1; 13:2; 14:6; 20:4; 33:10f; 73:24; 106:13, 43; 107:11; 119:24; Pr 1:25, 30; 8:14; 12:15; 19:20f; 20:5, 18; 21:30; 27:9; Isa 5:19; 8:10; 11:2; 14:26; 16:3; 19:3, 11, 17; 25:1; 28:29; 29:15; 30:1; 36:5; 40:13; 44:26; 46:10f; 47:13; Jer 18:18, 23; 19:7; 32:19; 49:7, 20, 30; 50:45; Ezek 7:26; 11:2; Hos 10:6; Mic 4:12; Zech 6:13
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. Rasha' describes someone as evil with a focus on their being guilty or in the wrong (2Sa 4:11). Rasha' is the opposite of righteous (06662).
Rasha' is found 249 times translated evil(1), evil man(1), evil men(1), guilty(3), man(1), offender(1), ungodly(1), wicked(228), wicked man(21), wicked men(2), wicked one(1), wicked ones(3).
The majority of the uses of Rasha' occur in the Psalms (4x in Psalm 1) and Proverbs (see below), which would make an interesting study, which would give you a "descriptive" definition of one who is wicked or what characterizes their behavior (this would help us avoid such people!)
Vine writes that "Rasha' generally connotes a turbulence and restlessness (cf. Isa. 57:21) or something disjointed or ill-regulated. Thus Robert B. Girdlestone suggests that it refers to the tossing and confusion in which the wicked live, and to the perpetual agitation they came to others."
The Greek translates rasha' in Psalm 1:1 with asebes which means ungodly (765) (asebes from a = w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude. Click in depth study of the related word ungodliness (asebeia). Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious.
Rasha' - 249v - Ge 18:23, 25; Ex 2:13; 9:27; 23:1, 7; Nu 16:26; 35:31; Dt 25:1f; 1Sa 2:9; 24:13; 2Sa 4:11; 1Kgs 8:32; 2Chr 6:23; 19:2; Job 3:17; 8:22; 9:22, 24; 10:3; 11:20; 15:20; 16:11; 18:5; 20:5, 29; 21:7, 16f, 28; 22:18; 24:6; 27:7, 13; 34:18, 26; 36:6, 17; 38:13, 15; 40:12; Psalm 1:1, 4, 5, 6; 3:7; 7:9; 9:5, 16f; 10:2ff, 13, 15; 11:2, 5f; 12:8; 17:9, 13; 26:5; 28:3; 31:17; 32:10; 34:21; 36:1, 11; 37:10, 12, 14, 16f, 20f, 28, 32, 34f, 38, 40; 39:1; 50:16; 55:3; 58:3, 10; 68:2; 71:4; 73:3, 12; 75:4, 8, 10; 82:2, 4; 91:8; 92:7; 94:3, 13; 97:10; 101:8; 104:35; 106:18; 109:2, 6f; 112:10; 119:53, 61, 95, 110, 119, 155; 129:4; 139:19; 140:4, 8; 141:10; 145:20; 146:9; 147:6; Pr 2:22; 3:25, 33; 4:14, 19; 5:22; 9:7; 10:3, 6f, 11, 16, 20, 24f, 27f, 30, 32; 11:5, 7f, 10f, 18, 23, 31; 12:5ff, 10, 12, 21, 26; 13:5, 9, 17, 25; 14:11, 19, 32; 15:6, 8f, 28f; 16:4; 17:15, 23; 18:3, 5; 19:28; 20:26; 21:4, 7, 10, 12, 18, 27, 29; 24:15f, 19f, 24; 25:5, 26; 28:1, 4, 12, 15, 28; 29:2, 7, 12, 16, 27; Eccl 3:17; 7:15; 8:10, 13f; 9:2; Isa 3:11; 5:23; 11:4; 13:11; 14:5; 26:10; 48:22; 53:9; 55:7; 57:20f; Jer 5:26; 12:1; 23:19; 25:31; 30:23; Ezek 3:18f; 7:21; 13:22; 18:20f, 23f, 27; 21:3f, 25, 29; 33:8f, 11f, 14f, 19; Dan 12:10; Mic 6:10; Hab 1:4, 13; 3:13; Zeph 1:3; Mal 3:18; 4:3
Guzik - The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) (See Spurgeon's note) God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.
William Heslop - "Walketh, standeth, sitteth," reveals a growth in evil just as "ungodly, sinners, and scornful," shows a fearful downward trend.
From thinking like the world we begin to act like the world.
The righteous (by grace through faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God's blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive, destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or advice.
Gill - "not to walk" herein is not to hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it, and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men, yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.
Pastor Steven Cole offers five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the wisdom of God...
(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16-note; 2Ti 3:17-note) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.
(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:8; 1Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.
(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (see notes Romans 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16-note). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.
(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:34; 12:29, 30, 31). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )
From Grace Gems...
BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on earth.
A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.
Consider this in the choice of your company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings. How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy? This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace Gems)
NOR STAND IN THE PATH OF SINNERS: (Stand Ps 26:12, Ro 5:2, Eph 6:13) (Path - Ps 1:6; 36:4; 146:9; Pr 2:12; 4:19; 13:15; Mt 7:13,14)
Paul gives believers a similar warning in the NT...
Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = command to stop being led astray): "Bad company corrupts (Note that use of the Present tense = continually! The verb phtheiro means to cause good morals to "decay," to "waste away") good morals." (1 Cor 15:33)
Comment: Stop believing their falsehoods such as "you only go around once, grab all the gusto you can get!!!" - lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one's life.
Stand (05975) in the path (01870)- This means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure and holy, don't put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.
Sinners (02400) (chatta'/hatta') is an archery term which meant “to fall short, miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16-note).The mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our sin so we might have His righteousness.
David Guzik - Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that path. Path speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners. The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." (see Matthew 7:13-note) The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (See Spurgeon's note). God has a path, and it is a good road to take.
Steven Cole - The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word... If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”! On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1Cor. 5:9, 10, 11). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 1- How To Live Happily Ever After)
Observe the progression in which patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin the downgrade by listening to the world's wisdom especially in the moral/ethical sphere ("It's okay to sleep together if you are engaged and soon to be married." = "counsel of the wicked"!). And from listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon we act like the world, because what a man believes will always determine how he behaves. Sin's natural direction spiritually speaking is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression, deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of Hebrews warned that we should...
encourage (present imperative = command to make this your habit - Why? we are in continual need for we are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen world) one another (which implies  we need each other and  we need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No "lone ranger" Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of apate) of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to ensnare] - cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling, cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring, trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative) See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin
So the effect of sin is to bring about a gradual "build up of plaque" (using a medical analogy) producing spiritual "arteriosclerosis" or hardening of one's heart and this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think "That could never happen to me!" ("Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed [present imperative = command for continual vigilance against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature] lest he fall." 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive "warning" study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence - Haman in Esther 3-5, Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah 37:36, 37, 38; Peter in Luke 22:33, 34, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, the churches at Sardis, Laodicea -- Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17 see notes Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17.
NOR SIT AT THE SEAT OF SCOFFERS: (Ps 26:4,5; 119:115; Jer 15:17) (scoffers: Pr 1:22; 3:34; 9:12; 19:29)
Sit (03427) (yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns. In the present context this verb pictures the idea of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.
In Numbers we see an instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of Israel...
While Israel remained (yashab) at Shittim (the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)
Comment: Sit (Yashab) here in Numbers 25 is not the same word as 'camp' which is what they should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case) and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read the full story in Numbers 25)
In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later...
Now these things (referring to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved...11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Seat (04186) (moshab from yashab = to sit, remain, dwell) means a seat (1Sa 20:18, 25), assembly, dwelling place, dwelling (a settlement, a place to live - Ge 10:30), dwellers, a site, a session; an abode (the place or the time). The idea is not only ‘seat’ or ‘place of sitting down’ but also ‘session’ or ‘assembly.’” Zion is called the dwelling place of Yahweh (Ps 132:13). houses are sometimes called dwellings (Lev 25:29; Exo 12:20) and the people in them were called inhabitants, or dwellers (2Sa 9:12). In sum, moshab means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is settled or established.
NAS Usage - Usage: dwelling(3), dwelling place(1), dwelling places(5), dwellings(9), habitation(1), habitations(2), inhabited(3), inhabited places(1), lived(1), seat(8), seating(2), settlement(1), settlements(3), situation(1), time(1), where they lived(1), where you are to live(1).
Moshab - 43v - Ge 10:30; 27:39; 36:43; Ex 10:23; 12:20, 40; 35:3; Lev 3:17; 7:26; 13:46; 23:3, 14, 17, 21, 31; 25:29; Nu 15:2; 24:21; 31:10; 35:29; 1Sa 20:18, 25; 2Sa 9:12; 1Kgs 10:5; 2Kgs 2:19; 1Chr 4:33; 6:54; 7:28; 2Chr 9:4; Job 29:7; Ps 1:1; 107:4, 7, 32, 36; 132:13; Ezek 6:6, 14; 8:3; 28:2; 34:13; 37:23; 48:15
Scoffers (03887) (lis/luwts) means to mock, to deride, to speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. This verb frequently means to deride or boast in such a way as to express contempt (Pr. 9:7, 8; 13:1; 20:1). "By extension the word is used to signify ambassadors (2Chr 32:31);, interpreters (Ge 42:23); and spokesmen (Isa 43:27)." (Baker) "To talk big, i.e., speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object, with a possible focus of speaking in the situation with confidence and authority." (Swanson)
Walter Kaiser - Fools scorn and mock at sin (Pr 14:9) and judgment (Pr 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Pr 21:24), incorrigible (Pr 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Pr 9:8; 15:12), and hating any rebuke (Pr 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Pr 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled as odious to all men (Pr 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Ps 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Pr 19:25; 21:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Pr 22:10). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Pr 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Pr 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
Scoff = To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision; with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness. To show contempt by derisive acts or language; stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision
Scorn = open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy; show disdain or derision; to regard as unworthy of one’s notice or consideration & implies a ready or indignant contempt.
Lis/luwts- 26 v - Ge 42:23; 2Chr 32:31; Job 16:20; 33:23 (lis/luwts = intercessor, mediator, i.e., one who helps parties to come to an agreement); Ps 1:1; Ps 119:51; Pr 1:22; 3:34; Pr 9:7,8, 12; 13:1; 14:6, 9; 15:12; 19:25, 28f; 20:1; 21:11, 24; 22:10; 24:9; Isa 28:22; 29:20; 43:27 Usage: carry on as scoffers(1), deride(1), envoys(1), interpreter(1), makes a mockery(1), mediator(1), mock(1), mocker(1), scoff(1), scoffer(10), scoffers(5), scoffs at the scoffers(1), scorner(1), spokesmen(1). Below are some representative uses...
Ge 42:23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.
2Chr 32:31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.
Comment: envoy, spokesman, go-between, i.e., a person who relates messages between parties, including language interpreting or a focus on the message’s content (see also Isa 43:27)
Pr 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?
Pr 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.
Comment: Lxx translates scoffer with antitasso (in present tense = their habitual attitude/action) which means to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward. Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning "to range in battle against" and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to "to be an enemy of" or "to resist with assembled forces."
Ps 119:51 The arrogant (Lxx = huperephanos) utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.
Comment: Note the implication - the arrogant have no desire for God's Law, His Word of Truth.
Isa 29:20 For the ruthless (Lxx = anomos = lawless, behaving contrary to the law) will come to an end, and the scorner (Lxx = huperephanos) will be finished (Lxx = exolethreuo = utterly destroyed, completely cut off from God's presence - cf 2Th 1:6-9) Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off. (More literally in Hebrew this last phrase is "and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off." )
Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.
Whenever possible, avoid associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His teachings.
Solomon records of God that
Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr 3:34).
God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.
Guzik writes that...
The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful. Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.
“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me... but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, - “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)
Walk...stand...sit pictures a process of spiritual "retrogression" which is the ever present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God's Word. The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand, sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we are prone to wander as the hymn writer says, turning aside little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns of the deadliness of sin...
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin)
Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
He is easily influenced by the way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow attitudes.
Scott Grant - In Psalm 1, the blessing first of all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them. The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law, even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word)
Paul gives an apt description of scoffers in Romans that...
although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice (continually) them. (see note Romans 1:32)
Piper - So, instead of finding his pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked, the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word and the ways of God.
The description of the godly begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the "blessee" must first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.
Solomon gives us good advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us to...
Watch (An imperative - it is imperative that we continually guard our heart from "intruders") over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.")
O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind--
Your Father wants you set apart. --Fasick
John Flavel very wisely observed that,
The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.
Pritchard calls us to...
Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance.
The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:
Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.
Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Let us be clear on this point. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love the Lord...
Sin never stands still. It always moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in the past. (Ibid)
Adam Clarke sees Psalm 1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting that...
The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.
Steven Cole comments...
Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.
The seat of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!
Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.
There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:
(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk--you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand--you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit--you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.
(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked--those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners--those who openly violate God’s commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers--those who openly reject the truth.
(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel--you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path--you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat--you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!
(1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said ...?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.
(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )
Thomas Brooks has an interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men...
Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as: lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness, scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles,
brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.
You may know well enough what is within them,
by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.
By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society. Such monsters are wicked men--which should render their company to all who have tasted of the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.
Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.
First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it...
Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to "digest" the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.
Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.)
God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God's blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3-notet)
Alexander Maclaren explains the order of negative preceding positive...
It is usually taken as an exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against the stream; dead ones go with it.
The tender graces of the devout soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The negative clauses present a climax, notwithstanding the unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and “sinner.”
Increasing closeness and permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking to standing and from standing to sitting.
Increasing boldness in evil is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in. But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.
Maclaren goes on to make a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one abstains. He writes that...
these positive characteristics (in verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh and the devil.)
Spurgeon writes that...
He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist's scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God's presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:
He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.
When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God -- the evil is rather practical than habitual -- but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God's commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.
Adam Clarke writes...
Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and conduct.
The ungodly man has his counsel.
The sinner has his way; and
The scorner has his seat.
The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repentance, etc., etc.; "there is no need for such things; live an honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last." Now "blessed is the man who walks not in this man's counsel," who does not come into his measures, nor act according to his plan.
The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the prophet, "Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY." (Isaiah 55:7) Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man's WAY.
The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down -- is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT.
Thomas Adams wrote of the scoffers that...
when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?" Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1Kings 22:18), because he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him "bald pate." Here is an original drop of venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents' poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall "laugh you to scorn," (Psalms 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment.
Warren Wiersbe sums up Psalm 1:1 noting that...
God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step! (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)
The happy man (Lachlan MacKenzie, "The Happy Man")
The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment.
He was educated at the School of Obedience —and often does jobs of Self-denial.
He wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ's Righteousness.
He is necessitated to travel through the world on his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast as he can. All his business along the way—is to make himself and others happy. He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.
He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and sups every evening on the same. He has food to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.
Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.
Happy is he who has . . .
Gospel submission in his will,
the love of God in his affections,
true peace in his conscience,
sincere Divinity in his breast,
the Redeemer's yoke on his neck,
the vain world under his feet, and
a crown of glory over his head!
Happy is the life of that man who . . .
watches his heart,
guards his senses,
redeems his time,
loves Christ, and
longs for glory!