Some Meditations on Psalm 1

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jw

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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.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:
but the way of the ungodly shall perish.​

He is a happy man, a man with a peaceful conscience, who:

1. Does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. That is, he is not customarily influenced by the ungodly in their counsel, or -by implication- the sometimes ungodly counsel of those who otherwise are godly. Why? Discussed below.

2. Does not stand in the way of sinners. That is, he is not found in their ways, their paths, their endeavors, which are not only the heavenly way to the eternal Zion. If ever he finds himself near or in the wake of their trail, he bemoans himself chastised of the Lord (Jer 31.18), asks "What more have I to do anymore with idols?" (Hos. 14.8), and follows up with "Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?" (Ps. 119.9), and answers how. Discussed further below.

3. Does not sit in the seat of scorners. That is, he does not take up the office of scorner, whether from being a hater of righteousness, or a practitioner of self-righteousness. He values all those made in God's image, and any reproofs, rebukes, or corrections are always with an eye of love toward his brother (Lev. 19.7), and with a hope that his brother would do the same (Ps. 141.5).

4. Delights in the law of the Lord. That is, he has a right understanding of the Law of God: not as a means of salvation or personal sanctification, but as (1) Initially: A proclamation of God's requirement of perfection for communion with him. And thereby, he is shut up to faith in the work of the coming Messiah alone, as illustrated by the sacrifices in the worship of God, then (2) As a rule of life, while he works his feet on that path to the eternal Zion, an expression of his thankfulness to God, knowing that such obedience is imperfect, halting, and in no way contributory to his eternal standing with the Lord.

5. Meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. It must be the case, then, that the happy man has a saving understanding of the Law, else he could not delight in it, in the inner man, since a perfect keeping of it is unattainable to fallen or regenerate man. Instead, he cries "O! how love I thy law!" (Ps. 119.97), taking in all its teaching, making him wiser than all his enemies, and giving him more understanding than all his teachers (Ps. 119.98-99). With this comfort, then, He makes a proper use of it in the Beloved, and delights in it, meditating upon it day and night.
How, then, is this man blessed? Well, in the same way a tree planted near water is firm, grounded, well-fed, and -thereby- fruitful, so is he -by his delight in and meditation upon the Law of God- firm, grounded, well-fed. The happy man's avoidance of the those mentioned in 1-3 above are primarily consequent of his own understanding and practice mentioned in 4 and 5. The tree cannot be easily uprooted, since the roots are strong, well-watered, and entrenched. The happy man will not be easily uprooted, because he delights in the Law of the Lord in such a way that he meditates upon it day and night. And this meditation assumes -at least in some part- a memorization of the law, such that he can carry on this meditations in whatsoever circumstance he finds himself throughout the day. Because he is so well-fed, the tree's leaves will not wither. So the happy man's faith will not wither.

Contrast, then, the happy man with the ungodly. Because the happy man has a right understanding of the Law, he puts no confidence in the flesh. He places no eternal hope in his own law-keeping or righteousness. He is grounded in the alien righteousness of a perfect Mediator, and thereby is not driven away as chaff with the wind. The ungodly -whether denying God's existence, or scoffing at God's standard of perfection required for communion, or trusting in his own filthy-ragged fig-leaf righteousness- well, he has no grounding. The winds come, the waves crash, and his foundation of sand erodes away. After drying up, pieces of him scatter ever which way by the forces.

The happy man can stand in the congregation of the righteous, and he will also stand in judgment. Why? Because of his own righteousness? Because of his delight in the Law of the Lord? Absolutely not. Because of the strength of Another. Because of the keeping of the Law perfectly by the Lord Jesus Christ. The ungodly cannot stand with his jellowed-legs in the judgment. Nor can he stand in the congregation of the righteous, because he has no access to it. His foundation of pseudo-righteousness, or altogether unrighteousness, or altogether denial of truth, has been found out, shattered, scattered, and without support.

The Lord knows the way of the righteous. That is, God the Father is pleased with the humiliation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection of our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is happy with the Beloved, and all the elect in Him, as His seed.

And, lest the happy man ever be tempted to think highly of himself in his condition, let him remember the reason for his saving knowledge:

Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts," (Ps. 65.4)​
 
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