Blessed is the Man Who Does Not Walk in the Counsel of the Wicked–Psalm 1:1-3
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk
in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the way of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers.
2 Rather, the Law of the Lord is his joy;
and on His Law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever he does prospers.
Want to be blessed?
‘Blessed is the man…
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked;
nor stand in the way of sinners,
nor sit in the company with scoffers.
Rather, the Word of God is his joy;
on His Word he meditates day and night’ (v 1-2).
The Word of God does not mince words. It tells us exactly what to do and when to do it. It is the complete guide book on how to best navigate through this life and unto the next.
Psalm 1, a preface to the entire Book of Psalms, contrasts the final destiny of the ‘good’ and the ‘wicked’. In essence, it views life as a continuous activity of choices — choosing either the way of the good (the way of God; good moral conduct), or the way of the bad (the way of the world; the godless). Each “way” inevitably will bring its consequences. The wise, through their good actions, will experience rootedness (balance) and life to the full (peace, harmony and joy). The wicked (those who, by their own choices and actions, distance themselves from God’s life-giving presence) will experience rootlessness (lawlessness and destruction) and, ultimately, death (spiritual death; loss of salvation, i.e. eternal life).
This psalm serves as a kind of gateway to the rest. In its simplicity, it lays out the paths available to every human person. We can choose either the way of goodness and life by seeking the Lord and living according to His will, or we can go our own way, the way of the flesh and of evil, living according to our own will and desires, and ultimately suffer its grave (and inevitable) consequences. It is the same simple expression Moses put before the Israelites in the desert: “I have set before you [the choice of] life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19).
The Psalms as a whole reflect in poetry and song both the blessedness of walking the path of Truth and the sad consequences of preferring the darkness of sin. Israel’s experience (as verbalized in the Psalms) parallels the joys and sufferings we currently face in our own lives due in large part to our own (moral) choices. Thus, we can identify with the people of ancient Israel as we struggle to choose rightly, and to love and serve God day by day.
As you prayerfully mediate on this powerful Psalm today, think about your daily choices. And then, reflect upon how very much God loves you (Jn 3:16).