The following are my sermon notes and commentary on Psalm 1, for our Sunday School class. By the grace of God, the glory of God, the exaltation of Christ, and the edification of His church.
This first Psalm was most likely written by David, and was written over 1,000 years before Christ’s birth.
This first Psalm is known as the “preface Psalm,” or the Psalm that is a preamble to the whole book of Psalms. Today our more orthodox churches use the Psalter solely as their lyrics during worship via singing.
But it is not enough to understand the Text, it is important to apply the Text. Explanation and application.
We will break this chapter into two parts.
• In verses 1-3 David lays-out the blessings (or joy) of the obedient Godly man or woman (the elect).
• In verses 4-6 he tells the character & consequences of the ungodly man or woman (the non-elect), and their dim future.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Again, the first 3 verses are a description of the Godly man (or women).
Verse 1 says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;”
This word “blessed” (‘esher) means a happy man, or how happy is the man. This word walk in the Hebrew (halak) means to go, walk, or come. It also means to depart from, to proceed, to move, or to go away.
The phrase “the ungodly” here (râshâ‛), are those that are morally wrong, an actively bad person, one that is condemned, guilty, wicked, or that did wrong, or the non-elect.
Though we all know or work with ungodly (non-Christian people), we are not to be known as being yoked with them or the world. We are not to emulate their lives or their counsel. They have a non-biblical world view. We better have a biblical Christian worldview. If we walk with the world, we will be miserable, if we do not, we will be happier in the Lord, or blessed by the Lord.
In vs 1b says blessed is the man who does not “stand in the path of sinners.”
This word ‘stand’ (‛âmad) means to ‘stand with’ or to ‘take a stand.’ We’re not to sinfully stand in the path ‘with’ sinners, were to take a stand on the Rock. Though all Christians are still sinners, we’ve become saints, ambassadors of Christ, we belong to His royal priesthood.
But this word sinners chaṭṭâ’ are sinful sinners, a sinful man, a sinful kingdom, or sinful people groups. They are those that are still under condemnation, they are offenders. Notice how man can go on a downward spiritual spiral. He went from walking, to standing, and now sitting.
In vs 1c he said blessed is the man that does not “sit in the seat of the scornful;”
This word to sit (yâshab) means to “to dwell, sit, abide, inhabit, or remain.” So as we explain the Text, let us apply the Text – explanation application. Who are we walking, standing and/or sitting with? Is there areas in our lives where we need repentance and improvement?
Does anyone have more input before we move onto verse 2?
Verse 2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”
Vs 2a says we will be delighted, we’ll have good pleasure in the “Law of the Lord.”
This Law is the Hebrew word tôrâh. The tôrâh is a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch. The Torah is a compilation of the first five books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This Law is our teaching and instruction from our Lord.
Proverbs 13:14 says, “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
Speaking of a Godfearing woman. Proverbs 31:26 says, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
The prophets called Israel to repent, and today God is calling the church, and all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
In Matthew 22 the Scribes asked Jesus about the Law. And Jesus responds telling them the Two Greatest Commandments. By the way, the two Greatest Commandments are a summarization of the Ten Commandments. The First Greatest Commandment is a summary of the First Four Commandments. And the Second Greatest Commandment is a summary of the Fifth thru Tenth Commandments.
Let’s look at this summarization.
Matthew 22:34-40 says, “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Though we are no longer bound by the Levitical or ceremonial law, we are to love and obey the law, lest we become antinomians.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Let’s talk Septuagint. The Septuagint (or in the Latin – septuaginta) is the translation of the OT into Greek. It was often used in the early church. The Septuagint translates tôrâh as nomos (as law or rule), or nomimos ( as conformable to law or lawful).
The opposite of believing in, loving, or obeying this Law of God, is a dangerous teaching called antinomianism (or anti-law).
This antinomianism is popular amongst new covenant theology, or new covenant theologians. Though I am a covenant theologian, and I love covenant theology, we need to be cautious of NEW covenant theology. We should rejoice with those that love His Law, and mourn for those that do not.
Psalm 119:136 “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.”
Verse 2b says “and in His law he meditates day and night.”
This word meditate is hâgâh (dog-aw) which is a verb, and means to murmur (in pleasure or anger), to ponder, to mourn, mutter, to roar, to speak, study, talk or utter. And we’re to love and meditate on His Law day and night. Or as Paul said in 1 Thess 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Moving onto verse 3.
”He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
Verse 3a describes the elect, or a righteous man or woman as a tree. A man cannot become righteous without the imputed righteousness of Christ, via the salvific monergistic work of the Triunity of the Godhead.
As William Swan Plumer said, “The righteous is a tree planted. No man is by nature a friend of God, a tree of righteousness. The wild olive must be grafted before it will be fruitful. Rom. 11:17–24. By nature we are all outcasts. It is grace that makes us the planting of the Lord.”
It is only because of Christ, that we might have the righteousness to enter heaven. When the Lord effectually calls His elect (or a tree), he will plant them well-rooted on solid ground.
In vs 3b he is fruitful. Or as Jesus said in His Parable of the Vine in John 15, the elect will bear good fruit. And the water is indicative of the Holy Spirit.
In vs 3c his leaf will not wither. A leaf, like the branch on the Vine in John 15 is representative of Christ in Him, that by God’s grace he will persevere to the end.
And in vs 3d “And whatever he does shall prosper.” This word “prosper” has been misused by the prosperity gospel movement. The Godly man or women is in covenant with God. This covenant is not a vain thing (vanity), but rather he or she is fruitful. And the elect, by God’s grace, will prosper and persevere onto glory, that’s prosperity.
Moving onto part two, verses 4-6, the character & consequences of the ungodly man (non-elect), and their dim future.
Verse 4-6 says ”The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
In verse 3 we saw the tree (or Godly man) planted by the rivers of waters. But not in verse 4, “the ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.”
Spurgeon used harsh words to describe the ungodly.
“Here is their character—“they are like chaff,” intrinsically worthless, dead, unserviceable, without substance, and easily carried away. Here, also, mark their doom—“the wind driveth away;” death shall hurry them with its terrible blast into the fire in which they shall be utterly consumed.”
Today many in our buildings that we call “church” have this “chaff” in them. We also call the chaff false converts, goats, or wolves.
Paul warned us to be mature and serious about doctrine. The following verses are only a tip of the iceberg, of what God says about Doctrine.
Ephesians 4:14-15 “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”
Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
1 Timothy 4:13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
1 Timothy 1:10 “The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,”
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
I haven’t learned this concept until moving to rural Tennessee. But this chaff is as worthless as the stubbles, growth, shanks, thorns & thistles that we grind down with our tractors bushhogs. We bushwack our chaff, and sometimes we burn it. In the end, God will bushwack and burn the non-elect; and the fire in their hell is eternal. Only by the grace of God so go the elect into the glory of heaven.
Verse 5 said “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
Every man will stand before God and give an account. But the chaff (ungodly) will not be able to stand. They will be judged, but not acquitted, they will suffer eternal contempt and damnation.
Christians have been acquitted by Christ, the elect have Christ as our defense.
1 John 2:1-2 says to the elect, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
Christ advocates (defends) His bride of Christ – the church. It says He is the “propitiation” for their sins. This word ‘propitiation’ is the Greek word ‘hilasmos’ which means an atonement,’ i.e. an expiator, to appease, or the means of appeasing.
But what is it, that’s getting ‘appeased’? Propitiation means to ‘appease’ Gods wrath on behalf of the sinner, whom Christ’s saves from their sins.
Propitiation is where Christ ‘fully satisfies’ Gods wrath & God’s punishment that was due to sinners (specifically His elect). The prefix is ‘pro’ – pro what?’ Christ’s propitiation puts His bride in a good standing with God.
When I speak of myself here, I am speaking on behalf of all of Gods elect, aka the bride of Christ, or church.
Before I was saved, I was an enemy of God, a son of perdition, and a child of His wrath. But because of Christ’s propitiation, I am now in favor (or pro favor) with God.’
So now because God chose His elect, and Christ propitiated their sins, God is now ‘pro’ expiation of His church (or children).
You ask “what is “expiation?” Earlier I stated expiation is a part of the Greek definition of ‘propitiation.’ The prefix ‘Ex’ in expiation, means something which ‘comes from’ or ‘out of.’
Propitiation is a ‘vertical’ element of atonement, where Christ placates Gods wrath (and punishment), which was due to me for my sins. But expiation manifests itself ‘horizontally,’ where He removes ‘the guilt’ of my sins.
In short, Propitiation removes the punishment, expiation removes the guilt.
Verse 5b said “nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”
Again, our church buildings all over America have goats in them. Though they may sit and blend in. They will not be able to stand on Judgement Day, nor will they be able to dwell with the elect in heaven.
On the contrary. The Lords elect are scattered all over this world. And one day He will gather them to congregate together. These are those the Lord speaks of in John 3:16, for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. Christ atoned & died for the sins of the elect. And the only righteousness this saved sinner has, is the imputed righteousness that Christ transferred to me (and His elect).
Verse 6 “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Christ is omniscient, He knows whom His bride is. But He also knows who is not.
Jesus warned in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
In closing, let’s have conversation how we can apply this Text to us today.