Studies in the First Psalm – Part 2

The Blessed Man

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not

in the counsel of the ungodly,

nor standeth in the way of sinners,

nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD;

and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Blessed is the man…

The Hebrew word eh’-sher, here rendered “blessed”, and sometimes translated “happy”, has nothing to do with the subjective emotional state. It refers to objective well-being, which in Scripture is always the result of being in a right relationship with the God who rules all our lives by His providence. The blessed man is the one for whom all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), because God is his own God, bound by His word of promise to do him good. He is the man to whom God has sworn with an oath, saying, “Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee!” (Hebrews 6:14)

The world has its own standard of well-being. Material prosperity is the measure of security and stability for worldly men. But that is an illusion, as events will certainly reveal — for the rich cannot evade death, any more than the poor. And then what good will be those riches to the man who heaped them up?

The word used here, ish, like the English word, “man” applies primarily to male humans, but can be used in a secondary sense that is inclusive of all humans. The latter is the sense here, and the use of the masculine pronoun throughout this passage should not obscure its applicability to females.

that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

The godly character of the blessed man is marked, first, and negatively, by his separation from the world. Solomon tells us, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20) That man is blessed who steadfastly refuses to receive advice from or to be influenced by ungodly men, or even to familiarly associate with sinners, much less, to join in mockery with scorners.

Calvin comments:

“Commencing with a declaration of his abhorrence of the wicked, he teaches us how impossible it is for any one to apply his mind to meditation upon God’s laws who has not first withdrawn and separated himself from the society of the ungodly. A needful admonition surely; for we see how thoughtlessly men will throw themselves into the snares of Satan; at least, how few comparatively there are who guard against the enticements of sin. That we may be fully apprised of our danger, it is necessary to remember that the world is fraught with deadly corruption, and that the first step to living well is to renounce the company of the ungodly, otherwise it is sure to infect us with its own pollution.”

This is an artful construction, with a twofold progression that seems designed to suggest the downward steps that lead a man to spiritual ruin:

1. The progression from the incidental contact to the occasional liaison, and finally to the established friendship — Walk…Stand…Sit.

2. The progression from the merely “ungodly” to open and habitual “sinners”, and then to the openly “scornful”.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The second, and positive mark of the godly man’s character is his attitude and action with respect to the written word of God.

The law of the LORD is mentioned twice in verse 2 for emphasis — the writer might have used the personal pronoun (it) in the second instance, but he chose not to. The man is said to “delight” in the law, and he is said to “meditate” in it “day and night”, that is, constantly.

The reason that this is so important is because relationships depend on communication, and consequently our relationship with God depends on us communicating with Him in prayer, and Him communicating to us through His word. We can be sure that a wife who does not cherish communications from her husband, especially when they are separated from each other, is no longer in love with him. If you love God, you love His Word. It becomes central to your life.

Many who profess Christianity have no interest in God’s word. They are so far from finding it a delight that they never read it unless at church. They say that they have no time for reading, and this may be true. But if it is true, then it is the result of the way they have chosen to live their lives, and what priorities they have set for themselves.

The blessed man of our psalm read his Bible! How else could he know what it said, so he could meditate on it? What else would a man do who delighted — took pleasure in God’s word? I have known men who go fishing every chance they get. They delight in fishing, and it is never far from their minds. Sit down with such a man at lunchtime, and he will want to talk about fishing. While he is working, he is planning his next fishing trip.

If we would be blessed of God, we must become people of the Book. We need to read it continuously — every day — not just picking out passages at random, but reading consecutively through whole books, and thinking about what we have read, and studying to find the answers to our questions about it. We need to pray over it, begging for wisdom and strength to apply it correctly in our lives. We need to talk about it with fellow Christians in a way that furthers our understanding, and to exhort each other to obey it (Malachi 3:16). We need to administer teaching and correction to the ignorant and the out of the way in a spirit of meekness, so that our tongue becomes a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4).

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