Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Blessed.—The Hebrew word is a plural noun, from the root meaning to be “straight,” or “right.” Literally, Blessings to the man who, &c.

Walketh . . . standeth . . . sitteth.—Better, went, stood, sat. The good man is first described on the negative side. In the short summary of evil from which he has been saved, it is the custom of commentators to see an epitome of the whole history of sin. But the apparent gradation was a necessity of the rhythm. The three terms employed, however, for evil have distinctive significations. (1) The ungodly. Properly, restless, wanting in self-control, victims of ungoverned passion, as defined in Isaiah 57:20. (2) Sinners. General term for wrong-doers. (3) Scornful. A proverbial word, defined in Proverbs 21:24 : Aquila has “mockers;” Symmachus “impostors;” the LXX. “pests;” Vulgate “pest.” The words expressing the conduct and the career, “counsel,” “way,” are aptly chosen, and correspond with “went,” “stood.” Possibly “seat” should be “assembly.” (Comp. Psalm 107:32.) It has an official sound, and without unduly pressing the language, we think of the graduation in vice which sometimes ends in deliberate preference for those who despise virtue. (Comp. Psalm 26:4-5.)

Psalms

BLESSEDNESS AND PRAISE

Psalm 1:1 - Psalm 1:2
. - Psalm 150:6.

The Psalter is the echo in devout hearts of the other portions of divine revelation. There are in it, indeed, further disclosures of God’s mind and purposes, but its especial characteristic is-the reflection of the light of God from brightened faces and believing hearts. As we hold it to be inspired, we cannot simply say that it is man’s response to God’s voice. But if the rest of Scripture may be called the speech of the Spirit of God to men, this book is the answer of the Spirit of God in men.

These two verses which I venture to lay side by side present in a very remarkable way this characteristic. It is not by accident that they stand where they do, the first and last verses of the whole collection, enclosing all, as it were, within a golden ring, and bending round to meet each other. They are the summing up of the whole purpose and issue of God’s revelation to men.

The first and second psalms echo the two main portions of the old revelation-the Law and the Prophets. The first of them is taken up with the celebration of the blessedness and fruitful, stable being of the man who loves the Law of the Lord, as contrasted with the rootless and barren life of the ungodly, who is like the chaff. The second is occupied with the contemplation of the divine ‘decree’ by which the coming King is set in God’s ‘holy hill of Zion,’ and of the blessedness of ‘all they who put their trust in Him,’ as contrasted with the swift destruction that shall fall on the vain imaginations of the rebellious heathen and banded kings of earth.

The words of our first text, then, may well stand at the beginning of the Psalter. They express the great purpose for which God has given His Law. They are the witness of human experience to the substantial, though partial, accomplishment of that purpose. They rise in buoyant triumph over that which is painful and apparently opposed to it; and in spite of sorrow and sin, proclaim the blessedness of the life which is rooted in the Law of the Lord.

The last words of the book are as significant as its first. The closing psalms are one long call to praise-they probably date from the time of the restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah, when, as we know, ‘the service of song’ was carefully re-established, and the harps which had hung silent upon the willows by the rivers of Babylon woke again their ancient melodies. These psalms climb higher and higher in their rapturous call to all creatures, animate and inanimate, on earth and in heaven, to praise Him. The golden waves of music and song pour out ever faster and fuller. At last we hear this invocation to every instrument of music to praise Him, responded to, as we may suppose, by each, in turn as summoned, adding its tributary notes to the broadening river of harmony-until all, with gathered might of glad sound blended with the crash of many voices, unite in the final words, ‘Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.’

I. We have here a twofold declaration of God’s great purpose in all His self-revelation, and especially in the Gospel of His Son.

Our first text may be translated as a joyful exclamation, ‘Oh! the blessedness of the man-whose delight is in the law of the Lord.’ Our second is an invocation or a command. The one then expresses the purpose which God secures by His gift of the Law; the other the purpose which He summons us to fulfil by the tribute of our hearts and songs-man’s happiness and God’s glory.

His purpose is Man’s blessedness.

That is but another way of saying, God is love. For love, as we know it, is eminently the desire for the happiness of the person on whom it is fixed. And unless the love of God be like ours, however it may transcend it, there is no revelation of Him to our hearts at all. If He be love, then He ‘delights in the prosperity’ of His children.

And that purpose runs through all His acts. For perfect love is all-pervasive, and even with us men, it rules the whole being; nor does he love at all who seeks the welfare of the heart he clings to by fits and starts, by some of his acts and not by others. When God comes forth from the unvisioned light, which is thick darkness, of His own eternal, self-adequate Being, and flashes into energy in Creation, Providence, or Grace, the Law of His Working and His Purpose are one, in all regions. The unity of the divine acts depends on this-that all flow from one deep source, and all move to one mighty end. Standing on the height to which His own declarations of His own nature lift our feebleness, we can see how the ‘river of God that waters the garden’ and ‘parts’ into many ‘heads,’ gushes from one fountain. One of the psalms puts what people call the ‘philosophy’ of creation and of providence very clearly, in accordance with this thought-that the love of God is the source, and the blessedness of man the end, of all His work: ‘To Him that made great lights; for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that slew mighty kings; for His mercy endureth for ever.’

Creation, then, is the effluence of the loving heart of God. Though the sacred characters be but partially legible to us now, what He wrote, on stars and flowers, on the infinitely great and the infinitely small, on the infinitely near and the infinitely far off, with His creating hand, was the one inscription-God is love. And as in nature, so in providence. The origination, and the support, and the direction of all things, are the works and the heralds of the same love. It is printed in starry letters on the sky. It is graven on the rocks, and breathed by the flowers. It is spoken as a dark saying even by sorrow and pain. The mysteries of destructive and crushing providences have come from the same source. And he who can see with the Psalmist the ever-during mercy of the Lord, as the reason of creation and of judgments, has in his hands the golden key which opens all the locks in the palace chambers of the great King. He only hath penetrated to the secret of things material, and stands in the light at the centre, who understands that all comes from the one source-God’s endless desire for the blessedness of His creatures.

But while all God’s works do thus praise Him by testifying that He seeks to bless His creatures, the loftiest example of that desire is, of course, found in His revelation of Himself to men’s hearts and consciences, to men’s spirits and wills. That mightiest act of love, beginning in the long-past generations, has culminated in Him in whom ‘dwelleth the whole fulness of the Godhead bodily,’ and in whose work is all the love-the perfect, inconceivable, patient, omnipotent love of our redeeming God.

And then, remember that this is not inconsistent with or contradicted by the sterner aspects of that revelation, which cannot be denied, and ought not to be minimised or softened. Here, on the right hand, are the flowery slopes of the Mount of Blessing; there, on the left, the barren, stern, thunder-riven, lightning-splintered pinnacles of the Mount of Cursing. Every clear note of benediction hath its low minor of imprecation from the other side. Between the two, overhung by the hopes of the one, and frowned upon and dominated by the threatenings of the other, is pitched the little camp of our human life, and the path of our pilgrimage runs in the trough of the valley between. And yet-might we not go a step farther, and say that above the parted summits stretches the one overarching blue, uniting them both, and their roots deep down below the surface interlace and twine together? That is to say, the threatenings and rebukes, the acts of retributive judgment, which are contained in the revelation of God, are no limitation nor disturbance of the clear and happy faith that all which we behold is full of blessing, and that all comes from the Father’s hand. They are the garb in which His Love needs to array itself when it comes in contact with man’s sin and man’s evil. The love of God appears no less when it teaches us in grave sad tones that ‘the wages of sin is death,’ than when it proclaims that ‘the gift of God is eternal life.’

Love threatens that it may never have to execute its threats. Love warns that we may be wise in time. Love prophesies that its sad forebodings may not be fulfilled. And love smites with lighter strokes of premonitory chastisements, that we may never need to feel the whips of scorpions.

Remember, too, that these sterner aspects both of Law and of Gospel point this lesson-that we shall very much misunderstand God’s purpose if we suppose it to be blessedness for us men anyhow, irrespective altogether of character. Some people seem to think that God loves us so much, as they would say-so little, so ignobly, as I would say-as that He only desires us to be happy. They seem to think that the divine love is tarnished unless it provides for men’s felicity, whether they are God-loving and God-like or no. Thus the solemn and majestic love of the Father in heaven is to be brought down to a weak good nature, which only desires that the child shall cease crying and be happy, and does not mind by what means that end is reached. God’s purpose is blessedness; but, as this very text tells us, not blessedness anyhow, but one which will not and cannot be given by God to those who walk in the way of sinners. His love desires that we should be holy, and ‘followers of God as dear children’-and the blessedness which it bestows comes from pardon and growing fellowship with Him. It can no more fall on rebellious hearts than the pure crystals of the snow can lie and sparkle on the hot, black cone of a volcano.

The other text that I have read sets forth another view of God’s purpose. God seeks our praise. The glory of God is the end of all the divine actions. Now, that is a statement which no doubt is irrefragable, and a plain deduction from the very conception of an infinite Being. But it may be held in such connections, and spoken with such erroneous application, and so divorced from other truths, that instead of being what it is in the Bible, good news, it shall become a curse and a lie. It may be so understood as to describe not our Father in heaven, but an almighty devil! But, when the thought that God’s purpose in all His acts is His own glory, is firmly united with that other, that His purpose in all His acts is our blessing, then we begin to understand how full of joy it may be for us. His glory is sought by Him in the manifestation of His loving heart, mirrored in our illuminated and gladdened hearts. Such a glory is not unworthy of infinite love. It has nothing in common with the ambitious and hungry greed of men for reputation or self-display. That desire is altogether ignoble and selfish when it is found in human hearts; and it would be none the less ignoble and selfish if it were magnified into infinitude, and transferred to the divine. But to say that God’s glory is His great end, is surely but another way of saying that He is love. The love that seeks to bless us desires, as all love does, that it should be known for what it is, that it should be recognised in our glad hearts, and smiled back again from our brightened faces. God desires that we should know Him, and so have Eternal Life; He desires that knowing Him, we should love Him, and loving should praise, and so should glorify Him. He desires that there should be an interchange of love bestowing and love receiving, of gifts showered down and of praise ascending, of fire falling from the heavens and sweet incense, from grateful hearts, going up in fragrant clouds acceptable unto God. It is a sign of a Fatherly heart that He ‘seeketh such to worship Him’. He desires to be glorified by our praise, because He loves us so much. He commences with an offer, He advances to a command. He gives first, and then {not till then} He comes seeking fruit from the ‘trees’ which are ‘the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.’ His plea is not ‘the vineyard belongs to Me, and I have a right to its fruits,’ but ‘what could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it?-judge between Me and My vineyard.’ First, He showers down blessings; then, He looks for the revenue of praise!

II. We may also take these passages as giving us a twofold expression of the actual effects of God’s revelation, especially in the Gospel, even here upon earth.

The one text is the joyful exclamation built upon experience and observation. The other is a call which is answered in some measure even by voices that are often dumb in unthankfulness, often broken by sobs, often murmuring in penitence.

God does actually, though not completely, make men blessed here. Our text sums up the experience of all the devout hearts and lives whose emotions are expressed in the Psalms. He who wrote this psalm would preface the whole book by words into which the spirit of the book is distilled. It will have much to say of sorrow and pain. It will touch many a low note of wailing and of grief. There will be complaints and penitence, and sighs almost of despair before it closes. But this which he puts first is the note of the whole. So it is in our histories. They will run through many a dark and desert place. We shall have bitterness and trials in abundance, there will be many an hour of sadness caused by my own evil, and many a hard struggle with it. But high above all these mists and clouds will rise the hope that seeks the skies, and deep beneath all the surface agitations of storms and currents there will be the unmoved stillness of the central ocean of peace in our hearts. In the ‘valley of weeping’ we may still be ‘blessed’ if ‘the ways’ are in our hearts, and if we make of the very tears ‘a well,’ drawing refreshment from the very trials. With all its sorrows and pains, its fightings and fears, its tribulations in the world, and its chastenings from a Father’s hand, the life of a Christian is a happy life, and ‘the joy of the Lord’ remains with His servants.

More than twenty centuries have passed since that psalm was written. As many stretched dim behind the Psalmist as he sang. He was gathering up in one sentence the spirit of the past, and confirming it by his own life’s history. And has any one that has lived since then stood up and said-’Behold! I have found it otherwise. I have waited on God, and He has not heard my cry. I have served Him, and that for nought. I have trusted in Him, and been disappointed. I have sought His face-in vain. And I say, from my own experience, that the man who trusts in Him is not blessed’? Not one, thank God! The history of the past, so far as this matter is concerned, may be put in one sentence ‘They looked unto Him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed,’ and as for the present, are there not some of us who can say, ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles’?

Brethren! make the experiment for yourselves. Test this experience by your own simple affiance and living trust in Jesus Christ. We have the experience of all generations to encourage us. What has blessed them is enough for you and me. Like the meal and the oil, which were the Prophet’s resource in famine, yesterday’s supply does not diminish to-morrow’s store. We, too, may have all that gladdened the hearts and stayed the spirits of the saints of old. ‘Oh! taste and see that God is good.’ ‘Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.’

So, too, God’s gift produces man’s praise.

What is it that He desires from us? Nothing but our thankful recognition and reception of His benefits. We honour God by taking the full cup of salvation which He commends to our lips, and by calling, while we drink, upon the name of the Lord. Our true response to His Word, which is essentially a proffer of blessing to us, is to open our hearts to receive, and, receiving, to render grateful acknowledgment. The echo of love which gives and forgives, is love which accepts and thanks. We have but to lift up our empty and impure hands, opened wide to receive the gift which He lays in them-and though they be empty and impure, yet ‘the lifting up of our hands’ is ‘as the evening sacrifice’; our sense of need stands in the place of all offerings. The stained thankfulness of our poor hearts is accepted by Him who inhabits the praises of eternity, and yet delights in the praises of Israel. He bends from heaven to give, and all He asks is that we should take. He only seeks our thankfulness-but He does seek it. And wherever His grace is discerned, and His love is welcomed, there praise breaks forth, as surely as streams pour from the cave of the glacier when the sun of summer melts it, or earth answers the touch of spring with flowers.

And that effect is produced, notwithstanding all the complaints and sighs and tears which sometimes choke our praise. It is produced even while these last; the psalms of thanksgiving are not all reserved for the end of the book. But even in those which read like the very sobs of a broken heart, there is ever present some tone of grateful acknowledgment of God’s mercy. He sends us sorrow, and He wills that we should weep-but they should be tears like David’s, who, at the lowest point of his fortunes, when he plaintively besought God, ‘Put Thou my tears into Thy bottle’-could say in the same breath, ‘Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto Thee.’ God works on our souls that we may have the consciousness of sin, and He wills that we should come with broken and contrite hearts, and like the king of Israel wail out our confessions and supplications-’Have mercy upon me, O God! according to Thy loving-kindness.’ But, like him, we should even in our lowliest abasement, when our hearts are bruised, be able to say along with our contrition, ‘Open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.’ Our sorrows are never so great that they hide our mercies. The sky is never so covered with clouds that neither sun nor stars appear for many days. And in every Christian heart the low tones of lamentation and confession are blended with grateful praise. So it is even in the darkest moments, whilst the blast of misfortune and misery is as a storm against the wall.

But a brighter hope even for our life here rises from these words, if we think of the place which they hold in the whole book. They are the last words. Whatever other notes have been sounded in its course, all ends in this. The winter’s day has had its melancholy grey sky, with many a bitter dash of snow and rain-but it has stormed itself out, and at eventide, a rent in the clouds reveals the sun, and it closes in peaceful clearness of light.

The note of gladness heard at the beginning, ‘Oh! the blessedness of the man that delights in the law of the Lord,’ holds on persistently, like a subdued and almost bewildered undercurrent of sweet sound amid all the movements of some colossal symphony, through tears and sobs, confession and complaint, and it springs up at the close triumphant, like the ruddy spires of a flame long smothered, and swells and broadens, and draws all the intricate harmonies into its own rushing tide. Some of you remember the great musical work which has these very words for its theme. It begins with the call, ‘All that hath life and breath, praise ye the Lord,’ and although the gladness saddens into the plaintive cry of a soul sick with hope deferred, ‘Will the night soon pass?’ yet, ere the close, all discords are reconciled, and at last, with assurance firmer for the experience of passing sorrows, loud as the voice of many waters and sweet as harpers harping with their harps, the joyful invocation peals forth again, and all ends, as it does in a Christian man’s life, and as it does in this book, with ‘Praise ye the Lord.’

III. We have here also a twofold prophecy of the perfection of Heaven.

Whilst it is true that both of these purposes are accomplished here and now, it is also true that their accomplishment is but partial, and that therefore for their fulfilment we have to lift our eyes beyond this world of imperfect faith, of incomplete blessedness, of interrupted praise. Whether the Psalmist looked forward thus we do not know. But for us, the very shortcomings of our joys and of our songs are prophetic of the perfect and perpetual rapture of the one, and the perfect and perpetual music of the other. We know that He who has given us so much will not stay His hand until He has perfected that which concerns us. We know that He who has taught our dumb hearts to magnify His name will not cease till ‘out of the lips of babes and sucklings, He has perfected praise.’ We know that the pilgrims in whose hearts are the ways are blessed, and we are sure that a fuller blessedness must belong to those who have reached the journey’s end.

And so these words give us a twofold aspect of that future on which our longing hopes may well fix.

It is the perfection of man’s blessedness. Then the joyous exclamation of our first text, which we have often had to strive hard not to disbelieve, will be no more a truth of faith but a truth of experience. Here we have had to trust that it was so, even when we could scarce cleave to the confidence. There, memory will look back on our wanderings through this great wilderness, and, enlightened by the issue of them all, will speak only of Mercy and Goodness as our angel guides all our lives. The end will crown the work. Pure unmingled consciousness of bliss will fill all hearts, and break into the old exclamation, which we had sometimes to stifle sobs ere we could speak on earth. When He says, ‘Come in! ye blessed of My Father,’ all our tears and fears, and pains and sins, will be forgotten, and we shall but have to say, in wonder and joy, ‘Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be still praising Thee.’

It is the perfection of God’s praise. We may possibly venture to see in these wonderful words of our text a dim and far-off hint of a possibility that seems to be pointed at in many parts of Scripture-that the blessings of Christ’s mighty work shall, in some measure and manner, pass through man to his dwelling-place and its creatures. Dark shadows of evil-the mystery of pain and sorrow-lie over earth and all its tribes. ‘We look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.’ And the statements of Scripture which represent creation as suffering by man’s sin, and participant in its degree in man’s redemption, seem too emphatic and precise, as well as too frequent, and in too didactic connections, to be lightly brushed aside as poetic imagery. May it not be that man’s transgression

‘Broke the fair music that all creatures made

To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed,’

and that man’s restoration may, indeed, bring back all that hath life and breath to a harmonious blessedness-according to the deep and enigmatical words, which declare that ‘the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God’? Be that as it may, at all events our second text opens to us the gates of the heavenly temple, and shows us there the saintly ranks and angel companies gathered in the city whose walls are salvation and its gates praise. They harmonise with that other later vision of heaven which the Seer in Patmos beheld, not only in setting before us worship as the glad work of all who are there, but in teaching the connection between the praises of men, and the answering hymns of angels. The harps of heaven are hushed to hear their praise who can sing, ‘Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood,’ and, in answer to that hymn of thanksgiving for unexampled deliverance and resorting grace, the angels around the throne break forth into new songs to the Lamb that was slain-while still wider spread the broadening circles of harmonious praise, till at last ‘every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them,’ join in the mighty hymn of ‘Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.’ Then the rapturous exclamation from human souls redeemed,-’Oh! the blessedness of the men whom Thou hast loved and saved,’ shall be answered by choral praise from everything that hath breath.

And are you dumb, my friend, in these universal bursts of praise? Is that because you have not chosen to take the universal blessing which God gives? You have nothing to do but to receive the things that are freely given to you of God-the forgiveness, the cleansing, the life, that come from Christ by faith. Take them, and call upon the name of the Lord, And can you refuse His gifts and withhold your praise? You can be eloquent in thanks to those who do you kindnesses, and in praise of those whom you admire and love, but your best Friend receives none of your gratitude and none of your praise. Ignoble silence and dull unthankfulness-with these you requite your Saviour! ‘I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out!’Psalm 1:1. Blessed is the man — The Hebrew words are very emphatical: Blessedness belongs to that man; or, O the blessedness of that man! Blessedness here means happiness. And the character of the truly happy man is described in this Psalm both negatively, in his abstaining from sin; and positively, in his practice of a most important duty, introductory to all other duties. It is then illustrated by a beautiful similitude, borrowed from vegetation; and, lastly, contrasted with the opposite character of the ungodly. In this verse we have the negative part of his character in three particulars: 1st, He walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. The word רשׁעים, reshagnim, here rendered ungodly, according to Aben Ezra, signifies inquietos, qui nunquam in eadem constitutione permanent, the restless, who are never at one stay; according to Isaiah 57:20 : “Those,” says Henry, “who are unsettled, aim at no certain end, and walk by no certain rule;” who may indeed be moral in their conduct toward their fellow-creatures, and outwardly unblameable, but live without a due regard to God and religion, which all unconverted persons do. Now the man that is truly pious, and therefore happy, doth not walk in the counsel of such; doth not lead his life according to their advice, or manner of living; doth not associate with them, give ear to their suggestions, or follow their example. This part of the happy man’s character is put first, because those that would keep the commandments of their God must say to evil-doers, Depart from us, Psalm 119:115, and because wisdom begins in departing from evil. 2d, Nor standeth in the way of sinners — Of open and notorious sinners, to be picked up and gathered with them: but he avoids as much as may be the company of such, lest he should be insnared by them, and drawn by degrees into an imitation of their practices. He keeps at a distance from them, as he would from persons or places infected with the plague, for fear of the contagion. Or, standing in their way may imply a continuance in their manner of conversation. 3d, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful — Of those who make a mock of sin, and of God’s threatenings and judgments against sinners: who deride all wholesome reproofs and counsels, and scoff at goodness and good men. So that there seems to be a double climax, or gradation, in this verse, each following clause exceeding the former in two respects. For standing, or delaying, in an evil course, implies a greater degree of guilt than being occasionally entangled and induced to walk therein, and sitting denotes a more settled and resolved perseverance than standing. Again, the term sinners, in Scripture language, implies more wickedness than the word ungodly, and the scornful are the worst of sinners. Observe, reader, by what steps men arrive at the height of impiety. Nemo repente fit turpissimus: No one becomes very wicked all at once. They are ungodly first, casting off the fear of God, and living in the neglect of their duty to him. But they rest not there; when the services of religion are laid aside, they come to be sinners, that is, they break out into open rebellion against God, and engage in the service of sin and Satan: omissions of duty make way for the commission of crimes, and by these the heart is so hardened that at length they come to be scorners: they openly defy all that is sacred, scoff at religion, and make a jest of sin. Thus is the way of iniquity down hill; the bad grow worse, and sinners become tempters to others and advocates for Baal.1:1-3 To meditate in God's word, is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close application of mind and fixedness of thought. We must have constant regard to the word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the spring of our comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no time is amiss.Blessed is the man - That is, his condition is a happy or a desirable one. The word used here, אשׁר 'esher means properly, "happiness" or "blessedness." It is found, however, only in the plural form and in the construct state, and takes the nature and force of an interjection - " O the happiness of the man!" or "O happy man!" Deuteronomy 33:29 : "happy art thou, O Israel!" 1 Kings 10:8 : "happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants!" Job 5:17 : "happy is the man whom God correcteth!" Psalm 2:12 : "blessed are all they that put their trust in him!" See also Psalm 32:1-2; Psalm 33:12; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 40:4; Psalm 41:1; Psalm 65:4; Psalm 84:4-5, Psalm 84:12, et al., where it is rendered "blessed." The word is of the most general character, and, in itself, would embrace all that is supposed to constitute real happiness. The particular kind of blessedness referred to here, as explained in the subsequent part of the psalm, consists in the fact that he avoids the companionship of the wicked; that he has pleasure in the law of the Lord; that he will be prospered in this world; and that he will not perish at lasts. The word "man" here, also, is of the most general character, and is designed to include all people, of all times and of all conditions, who possess the character referred to. The term is applicable to the poor as well as to the rich; to the low as well as to the exalted; to the servant as well as to the master; alike to the aged, the middle-aged, and the young. All who have the character here described come under the general description of the happy man - the man whose condition is a happy and a desirable one.

That walketh not - Whose character is that he does not walk in the manner specified. Prof. Alexander renders this, "Who has not walked." But it implies more than this; it refers to more than the past. It is the characteristic of the man, always and habitually, that he does not thus walk; it has not only been true in the past, but it is true in the present, and will be true in the future. It is that which distinguishes the man. The word "walk" is often used in the Scriptures to denote a way of life or conduct - since life is represented as a journey, and man as a traveler. Psalm 15:2 : "who walketh uprightly." Compare 1 Kings 9:4; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 28:9; Psalm 81:12-13; Isaiah 33:15.

In the counsel - After the manner, the principles, the plans of this class of men. He does not take counsel of them as to the way in which he should live, but from the law of the Lord, Psalm 1:2. This would include such things as these: he does not follow the advice of sinners, 2 Samuel 16:20; 1 Kings 1:12; he does not execute the purposes or plans of sinners, Isaiah 19:3; he does not frame his life according to their views and suggestions. In his plans and purposes of life he is independent of them, and looks to some other source for the rules to guide him.

Of the ungodly - The wicked. The word used here is general, and would embrace all kinds and degrees of the unrighteous. It is not so specific, and would, in itself, not indicate as definite, or as aggravated depravity, as the terms which follow. The general sentiment here is, that the man referred to is not the companion of wicked men.

Nor standeth - This indicates more deliberation; a character more fixed and decided.

In the way - The path where they are found, or where they usually go. His standing there would be as if he waited for them, or as if he desired to be associated with them. Instead of passing along in his own regular and proper employment, he stations himself in the path where sinners usually go, and lingers and loiters there. Thus, he indicates a desire to be with them. This is often, in fact, illustrated by men who place themselves, as if they had nothing to do, in the usual situation where the wicked pass along, or where they may be met with at the corners of the streets in a great city.

Of sinners - חטאים chaṭṭâ'iym. This word means literally, those who miss the mark; then, those who err from the path of duty or rectitude. It is often used to denote any kind or degree of sin. It is more specific than the former word rendered "ungodly," as denoting those who depart from the path of duty; who fail in regard to the great end of life; who violate positive and known obligations.

Nor sitteth - This implies still greater deliberation and determination of character than either of the other words employed. The man referred to here does not casually and accidentally walk along with them, nor put himself in their way by standing where they are ordinarily to be found; but he has become one of them by occupying a seat with them; thus deliberately associating with them. He has an established residence among the wicked; he is permanently one of their number.

In the seat - The seat which the scornful usually occupy; the place where such men converse and sit together - as in a ball-room, or in a "club," where wicked men hold their meetings, or where infidels and scoffers are accustomed to assemble.

Of the scornful - לצים lētsiym. This word properly means those who mock, deride, scoff; those who treat virtue and religion with contempt and scorn. Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 9:7-8; Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 15:12, et saepe. It denotes a higher and more determined grade of wickedness than either of the other words employed, and refers to the consummation of a depraved character, the last stage of wickedness, when God and sacred things are treated with contempt and derision. There is hope of a man as long as he will treat virtue and religion with some degree of respect; there is little or none when he has reached the point in his own character in which virtue and piety are regarded only as fit subjects for ridicule and scorn. We have here, then, a beautiful double gradation or climax, in the nouns and verbs of this verse, indicating successive stages of character. There is, first, casual walking with the wicked, or accidentally falling into their company; there is then a more deliberate inclination for their society, indicated by a voluntary putting of oneself in places where they usually congregate, and standing to wait for them; and then there is a deliberate and settled purpose of associating with them, or of becoming permanently one of them, by regularly sitting among them.

So also it is in regard to the persons with whom they associate. They are, first, irreligious men in general; then, those who have so far advanced in depravity as to disregard known duty, and to violate known obligations; and then, those who become confirmed in infidelity, and who openly mock at virtue, and scoff at the claims of religion. It is unnecessary to say that, in both these respects, this is an accurate description of what actually occurs in the world. He who casually and accidentally walks with the wicked, listening to their counsel, will soon learn to place himself in their way, and to wait for them, desiring their society, and will ultimately be likely to be feared identified with open scoffers; and he who indulges in one form of depravity, or in the neglect of religion in any way, will, unless restrained and converted, be likely to run through every grade of wickedness, until he becomes a confirmed scoffer at all religion. The sentiment in this verse is, that the man who is truly blessed is a man who does none of these things. His associations and preferences are found elsewhere, as is stated in the next verse.

THE BOOK OF PSALMS Commentary by A. R. Faussett

INTRODUCTION

The Hebrew title of this book is Tehilim ("praises" or "hymns"), for a leading feature in its contents is praise, though the word occurs in the title of only one Psalm (the hundred forty-fifth). The Greek title (in the Septuagint, a translation made two hundred years before Christ) is psalmoi, whence our word "Psalms." This corresponds to the Hebrew word mizmoi by which sixty-five Psalms are designated in their inscriptions, and which the Syriac, a language like the Hebrew, uses for the whole book. It means, as does also the Greek name, an ode, or song, whose singing is accompanied by an instrument, particularly the harp (compare 1Ch 16:4-8; 2Ch 5:12, 13). To some Psalms, the Hebrew word (shir) "a song," is prefixed. Paul seems to allude to all these terms in Eph 5:19, "singing … in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs."

Titles.—To more than a hundred Psalms are prefixed inscriptions, which give one or more (and in one case, [Psalm 60], all) of these particulars: the direction to the musician, the name of the author or the instrument, the style of the music or of the poetry, the subject or occasion. The authority of these inscriptions has been disputed by some writers. They say that the earliest translators, as the Greek and Syriac, evince a disregard for their authority, by variations from a proper translation of some, altering others, and, in several instances, supplying titles to Psalms which, in Hebrew, had none. It is also alleged that the subject of a Psalm, as given in the title, is often inconsistent with its contents. But those translators have also varied from a right translation of many passages in the Bible, which all agree to be of good authority; and the alleged inconsistency may be shown, on more accurate investigation, not to exist. The admitted antiquity of these inscriptions, on the other hand, and even their obscurity, raise a presumption in their favor, while such prefaces to a composition accord with the usages of that age and part of the world (compare Isa 38:9).

"The Chief Musician" was the superintendent of the music (compare "to oversee," 1Ch 15:21, Margin). "To" prefixed to this, means, "pertaining to" in his official character. This inscription is found in fifty-three Psalms and is attached to Habakkuk's prayer (Hab 3:1-19). The same Hebrew preposition is prefixed to the name of the author and translated "of," as "a Psalm of David," "of Asaph," except that to "the sons of Korah," it is translated "for," which is evidently wrong, as the usual direction, "to the chief musician," is given, and no other authorship intimated. On the apparent exception to this last remark, see below, and see on [567]Ps 88:1, title. The explanations of other particulars in the titles will be given as they occur.

Authors.—This book is often called "The Psalms of David," he being the only author mentioned in the New Testament (Lu 20:42) and his name appearing in more titles than that of any other writer. Besides about one-half of the Psalms in which it thus appears, Psalms 2 and 95 are ascribed to him (Ac 4:25 and Heb 4:7). He was probably the author of many others which appear without a name. He used great efforts to beautify the worship of the sanctuary. Among the two hundred eighty-eight Levites he appointed for singing and performing instrumental music, we find mentioned the "sons of Korah" (1Ch 9:19); including Heman (1Ch 6:33-38); and also Asaph (1Ch 6:39-44); and Ethan (1Ch 15:17-19). God was doubtless pleased to endow these men with the inspiration of His Spirit, so that they used those poetic talents which their connection with the kindred art of music had led them to cultivate, in the production of compositions like those of their king and patron. To Asaph are ascribed twelve Psalms; to the sons of Korah, eleven, including the eighty-eighth, which is also ascribed to Heman, that being the only instance in which the name of the "son" (or descendant) is mentioned; and to Ethan, one. Solomon's name appears before the seventy-second and hundred twenty-seventh; and that of Moses before the ninetieth. Special questions respecting authorship will be explained as they arise.

Contents.—As the book contains one hundred fifty independent compositions, it is not susceptible of any logical analysis. The Jews having divided it into five books, corresponding to the Five Books of Moses (First, Psalms 1-42; Second, Psalms 43-72; Third, Psalms 73-89; Fourth, Psalms 90-106; Fifth, Psalms 107-150), many attempts have been made to discover, in this division, some critical or practical value, but in vain. Sundry efforts have been made to classify the Psalms by subject. Angus' Bible Hand Book is perhaps the most useful, and is appended.

Still the Psalms have a form and character peculiar to themselves; and with individual diversities of style and subject, they all assimilate to that form, and together constitute a consistent system of moral truth. They are all poetical, and of that peculiar parallelism (see [568]Introduction to the Poetical Books,) which distinguished Hebrew poetry. They are all lyrical, or songs adapted to musical instruments, and all religious lyrics, or such as were designed to be used in the sanctuary worship.

The distinguishing feature of the Psalms is their devotional character. Whether their matter be didactic, historical, prophetical, or practical, it is made the ground or subject of prayer, or praise, or both. The doctrines of theology and precepts of pure morality are here inculcated. God's nature, attributes, perfections, and works of creation, providence, and grace, are unfolded. In the sublimest conceptions of the most exalted verse, His glorious supremacy over the principalities of heaven, earth, and hell, and His holy, wise, and powerful control of all material and immaterial agencies, are celebrated. The great covenant of grace resting on the fundamental promise of a Redeemer, both alike the provisions of God's exhaustless mercy, is set forth in respect of the doctrines of regeneration by the Spirit, forgiveness of sins, repentance toward God, and faith toward Jesus Christ, while its glorious results, involving the salvation of men "from the ends of the earth" [Ac 13:47], are proclaimed in believing, prophetic prayer and thankful praise. The personal history of the authors, and especially David's in its spiritual aspects, is that of God's people generally. Christian biography is edifying only as it is truth illustrated in experience, such as God's Word and Spirit produce. It may be factitious in origin and of doubtful authenticity. But here the experience of the truly pious is detailed, under divine influence, and "in words which the Holy Ghost" taught [1Co 2:13]. The whole inner life of the pious man is laid open, and Christians of all ages have here the temptations, conflicts, perplexities, doubts, fears, penitent moanings, and overwhelming griefs on the one hand, and the joy and hope of pardoning mercy, the victory over the seductions of false-hearted flatterers, and deliverance from the power of Satan on the other, with which to compare their own spiritual exercises. Here, too, are the fruits of that sovereign mercy, so often sought in earnest prayer, and when found, so often sung in rapturous joy, exhibited by patience in adversity, moderation in prosperity, zeal for God's glory, love for man, justice to the oppressed, holy contempt for the proud, magnanimity towards enemies, faithfulness towards friends, delight in the prosperity of Zion, and believing prayer for her enlargement and perpetuity.

The historical summaries of the Psalms are richly instructive. God's choice of the patriarchs, the sufferings of the Israelites in Egypt, their exodus, temptations of God, rebellions and calamities in the wilderness, settlement in Canaan, backslidings and reformations, furnish illustrations of God's providential government of His people, individually and collectively, tending to exalt His adorable grace and abase human pride. But the promises and prophecies connected with these summaries, and elsewhere presented in the Psalms, have a far wider reach, exhibiting the relations of the book to the great theme of promise and prophecy:

The Messiah and His Kingdom.—David was God's chosen servant to rule His people, as the head at once of the State and the Church, the lineal ancestor, "according to the flesh" [Ac 2:30; Ro 1:3], of His adorable Son, and His type, in His official relations, both in suffering and in triumph. Generally, David's trials by the ungodly depicted the trials of Christ, and his final success the success of Christ's kingdom. Typically, he uses language describing his feelings, which only finds its full meaning in the feelings of Christ. As such it is quoted and applied in the New Testament. And further, in view of the great promise (2Sa 7:12-16) to him and his seed, to which such frequent reference is made in the Psalms, David was inspired to know, that though his earthly kingdom should perish, his spiritual would ever endure, in the power, beneficence, and glory of Christ's. In repeating and amplifying that promise, he speaks not only as a type, but "being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne," he "foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. His incarnation, humiliating sorrows, persecution, and cruel death are disclosed in the plaintive cries of a despairing sufferer; and His resurrection and ascension, His eternal priesthood, His royal dignity, His prophetical office, the purchase and bestowal of the gifts of the Spirit, the conversion of the nations, the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Church, the end of time, and the blessedness of the righteous who acknowledge, and the ruin of the wicked who reject this King in Zion, are predicted in the language of assured confidence and joy." While these great themes have supplied the people of God with a popular theology and a guide in religious experience and Christian morality, clothed in the language of devotion, they have provided an inspired liturgy in which the pious, of all creeds and sects, have, for nearly three thousand years, poured out their prayers and praises. The pious Jew, before the coming of Christ, mourned over the adversity, or celebrated the future glories, of Zion, in the words of her ancient king. Our Saviour, with His disciples, sang one of these hymns on the night on which He was betrayed [Mt 26:30]; He took from one the words in which He uttered the dreadful sorrows of His soul [Mt 27:46], and died with those of another on His lips [Lu 23:46]. Paul and Silas in the dungeon [Ac 16:25], primitive Christians in their covert places of worship, or the costly churches of a later day, and the scattered and feeble Christian flocks in the prevalence of darkness and error through the Middle Ages, fed their faith and warmed their love with these consoling songs. Now, throughout the Christian world, in untold forms of version, paraphrase, and imitation, by Papists and Protestants, Prelatists and Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Methodists—men of all lands and all creeds, in public and private worship, God is still adored in the sentiments expressed in these venerable Psalms. From the tone of sorrow and suffering which pervade their earlier portions we are gradually borne on amid alternate conflicts and triumphs, mournful complaints and awakening confidence; as we approach the close the tones of sorrow grow feebler, and those of praise wax louder and stronger—till, in the exulting strains of the last Psalm, the chorus of earth mingles with the hallelujahs of the multitude, which no man can number, in the sanctuary above.

Angus' or Bickersteth's arrangement may be profitably used as a guide for finding a Psalm on a special topic. It is a little modified, as follows:

1. Didactic. (1) Good and bad men: Psalms 1, 5, 7, 9-12, 14, 15, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34, 36, 37, 50, 52, 53, 58, 73, 75, 84, 91, 92, 94, 112, 121, 125, 127, 128, 133; (2) God's law: Psalms 19, 119; (3) Human life vain: Psalms 39, 49, 90; (4) Duty of rulers: Psalms 82, 101. 2. Praise. (1) For God's goodness generally to Israel: Psalms 46, 48, 65, 66, 68, 76, 81, 85, 98, 105, 124, 126, 129, 135, 136, 149; (2) To good men, Psalms 23, 34, 36, 91, 100, 103, 107, 117, 121, 145, 146; (3) Mercies to individuals: Psalms 9, 18, 22, 30, 40, 75, 103, 108, 116, 118, 138, 144; (4) For His attributes generally: Psalms 8, 19, 24, 29, 33, 47, 50, 65, 66, 76, 77, 93, 95-97, 99, 104, 111, 113-115, 134, 139, 147, 148, 150. 3. Devotional—expressive of (1) Penitence: Psalms 6, 25, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143; (2) Trust in trouble: Psalms 3, 16, 27, 31, 54, 56, 57, 61, 62, 71, 86; (3) Sorrow with hope: Psalms 13, 22, 69, 77, 88; (4) Of deep distress: Psalms 4, 5, 11, 28, 41, 55, 59, 64, 70, 109, 120, 140, 141, 143; (5) Feelings when deprived of religious privileges: Psalms 42, 43, 63, 84; (6) Desire for help: Psalms 7, 17, 26, 35, 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 89, 94, 102, 129, 137; (7) Intercession: Psalms 20, 67, 122, 132, 144. 4. Historical. Psalms 78, 105, 106. 5. Prophetical. Psalms 2, 16, 22, 40, 45, 68, 69, 72, 97, 110, 118.

Note.—The compiler of the following notes has omitted all references to authors, as needlessly encumbering the commentary. He has had before him the works of Calvin, Scott, Poole, Ainsworth, Cobbin, Geice, Vatablus, Tholuck, J. H. Michaelis, Rosenmuller, and Alexander. To the two last named he has been particularly indebted for the parallel passages. He has made a free use of the views advanced by these authors, and claims no credit for anything in the work except the conciseness united with fullness of exposition. Whoever attempts it will find it far easier to write a long commentary than a brief one.

PSALM 1

Ps 1:1-6. The character and condition, and the present and future destiny, of the pious and the wicked are described and contrasted, teaching that true piety is the source of ultimate happiness, and sin of misery. As this is a summary of the teachings of the whole book, this Psalm, whether designedly so placed or not, forms a suitable preface.

1. Blessed—literally, "oh, the happiness"—an exclamation of strong emotion, as if resulting from reflecting on the subject. The use of the plural may denote fulness and variety (2Ch 9:7).

counsel … way … seat—With their corresponding verbs, mark gradations of evil, as acting on the principles, cultivating the society, and permanently conforming to the conduct of the wicked, who are described by three terms, of which the last is indicative of the boldest impiety (compare Ps 26:4, 5; Jer 15:17).

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" - see how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! 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 blessedness!" 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!

Here the gracious man is described both negatively (Psalm 1:1) and positively (Psalm 1:2); 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.

And now mark his positive character. "His delight is in the law of the Lord." He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out of the same book. "The law of the Lord" is the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David's day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim to the benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask you - Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God's Word? Do you make it the man of your right hand - your best companion and hourly guide? If not, this blessing belongeth not to you.

PSALM 1

THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm was put first as a preface to all the rest, as a powerful persuasive to the diligent reading and serious study of the whole book and of the rest of the Holy Scripture, taken from that blessedness which attends upon the study and practice thereof.

The godly blessed, Psa 1:1. Their delight in God's law, Psa 1:2. Their fruitfulness, Psa 1:3. The wretched course and condition of the ungodly, Psa 1:4-6.

The Hebrew words are very emphatical, Blessedness belongs to that man, or, Oh the blessedness of that man Thrice blessed is that man; who is here described negatively, and in the next verse positively.

That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, i.e. that doth not lead his life according to their counsel, or course, or manner of living; that doth not associate himself with them, nor follow their evil instigations or examples. Walking notes choice of it, and continuance or process in it; otherwise good men do sometimes step aside into an evil action. For the explaining of the phrase, see Gen 49:6 2Ch 22:3-5 Pro 1:15 4:14 Mic 6:16.

Nor standeth; which notes a more settled abode, hardness, and obstinacy in it.

In the way, i.e. in their course or manner of conversation; in the practice of those things which they choose and use to do; which is called a man's way, Psa 5:8 25:4 2Pe 2:2,15.

Of sinners; emphatically so called here, as also Psa 26:9 Ecc 9:2 Mat 26:45 Luk 7:37 Joh 9:16,31, who give up themselves to the power and practice of sin, making it their great business and their delight.

Nor sitteth in the seat; which notes their association or incorporation of themselves with them; a constant and resolved perseverance in their wicked courses, with great content and security; and a great proficiency and eminency in the school of wickedness, and an ability and readiness to instruct others therein. Of the scornful; of those who are not only diseased, but reject, despise, and scorn all remedies; who make a mock of sin, and of God's threatenings and judgments against sinners; who deride all wholesome reproofs and counsels, and make it their trade to scoff at goodness and good men. Divers have observed a gradation in this verse; the following clause still exceeding the former, for standing is more than walking, and sitting more than standing. And

the way or course may seem to be worse than the counsel or design, and the seat is worse than the way; and sinners, in Scripture use, are worse than the ungodly, and the scornful are the worst of sinners. But I would not lay great stress upon such observations. Blessed is the man,.... This psalm begins in like manner as Christ's sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:3; setting forth the praises and expressing the happiness of the man who is described in this verse and Psalm 1:2. The words may be rendered, "O, the blessednesses of the man", or "of this man" (l); he is doubly blessed, a thrice happy and blessed man; blessed in things temporal and spiritual; happy in this world, and in that to come. He is to be praised and commended as a good man, so the Targum:

"the goodness, or, Oh, the goodness of the man;''

or as others,

"Oh, the right goings or happy progress, or prosperous success of the man (m),''

who answers to the following characters; which right walking of his is next observed, and his prosperity in Psalm 1:3. Some have interpreted this psalm of Christ, and think it is properly spoken of him (n);

that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly: all men are by nature and practice ungodly, without God, without the true knowledge, fear, and worship of God and are at enmity against him. It is a character that belongs to God's elect as well as others, while in a state of nature; and is sometimes used illustrate the love of Christ in dying for them, and the grace of God in the justification of them, Romans 4:5. But here it describes not such who are wicked in heart and life in common only, but the reprobate part of mankind, profligate and abandoned sinners, such as Jude speaks of, Jde 1:4; and for whom the law is made, and against whom it lies, 1 Timothy 1:9. The word (o) here used signifies such who are restless and continually in mischief; who are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, ever casting up mire and dirt: they are always disquieted themselves, and are ever disquieting others; nor do they cease from being so till they are laid in their graves. And to these "counsel" is ascribed, which supposes capacity and wisdom; as, generally speaking, such are wise and prudent in natural and civil things, and are wise to do evil, though to do good they have no knowledge: and counsel implies consultation and deliberation; they act deliberately in sinning, they cast about in their minds, form schemes, and contrive ways and means how to accomplish their vicious purposes; and sometimes they enter into a confederacy, and consult together with one consent, and their counsel is generally against the Lord, though it does not prosper and prevail; and against his Christ, his people, truths and ordinances: it takes in both their principles and practices; and the sum of their counsel is to indulge themselves in sin, to throw off all religion, and to cast off the fear and worship of God, Job 21:14. Now "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. This may be applied to the times of the Messiah, and the men of the age in which he lived; and the rather, since the next psalm, in which mention is made of the counsel of the ungodly, manifestly belongs unto them. The men of that generation were a set of ungodly men, who consulted against Christ to take away his life; and blessed is the man, as Joseph of Arimathea, who, though he was in that assembly which conspired against the life of Christ, did not walk in, nor consent unto, their counsel and their deeds, Luke 23:51;

nor standeth in the way of sinners; all men are sinners through Adam's disobedience, and their own actual transgressions, and such were the elect of God, when Christ died for them; and indeed are so after conversion, for no man lives without sin. But here it intends notorious sinners, who are open, bold, and daring in iniquity; the word (p) signifies such, who in shooting miss the mark, and go aside from it, as such sinners do from the law of God; proceed from evil to evil, choose their own ways, and delight in their abominations. Now their "way" is not only their "opinion", as the Syriac version renders it, their corrupt sentiments, but their sinful course of life; which is a way of darkness, a crooked path, and a road that leads to destruction and death: and happy is the man that does "not stand" in this way, which denotes openness, impudence, and continuance; who, though he may fall into this way, does not abide in it; see Romans 6:1. The Pharisees in the time of Christ, though they were not openly and outwardly sinners, yet they were secretly and inwardly such, Matthew 23:28; and the way they stood in was that of justification by the works of the law, Romans 9:31, but happy is the man, as the Apostle Paul and others, who stands not in that way, but in the way Christ Jesus, and in the way of life and righteousness by him;

nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful; by whom may be meant proud and haughty persons, in opposition to the humble and lowly, as in Proverbs 3:34; such who are proud of their natural abilities, knowledge, and wisdom, of their honours and riches, or of their own righteousness, and despise others; or such who are desperate in wickedness, of whom there is no hope; see Proverbs 9:7; and Deists and atheists, who scoff at divine revelation, and mock at a future state, at death, hell, and judgment, as in Isaiah 28:14. Now happy is the man that does not sit or keep company with such persons; who comes not into their secret and into their assembly; does not associate himself with them, nor approve of their dispositions, words, principles, and actions; see Psalm 26:4. Such were the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's time; they derided him and his doctrines, scoffed at him when he hung upon the cross, and despised him and his apostles, and his Gospel; but there were some that did not join with them, to whom he, his ministers, and truths, were precious and in high esteem, and to whom he was the power and wisdom of God.

(l) "beatitudines illius viri", Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus. (m) "Recti incessus, felices progressus, ac prosperi successus", Michaelis; so Piscator. (n) Justinian. in Octapl. Psalt, in loc. Romualdus apud Mabillon. Itinerar. Ital. p. 181. (o) "significat eos qui sine quiete et indesinenter impie degunt", Vatablus. (p) "qui longissime aberrant a scopo legis"; Gerjerus.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the {a} counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

The Argument - This book of psalms is given to us by the Holy Spirit, to be esteemed as a precious treasure in which all things are contained that bring to true happiness in this present life as well as in the life to come. For the riches of true knowledge and heavenly wisdom, are here set open for us, to take of it most abundantly. If we would know the great and high majesty of God, here we may see the brightness of it shine clearly. If we would seek his incomprehensible wisdom, here is the school of the same profession. If we would comprehend his inestimable bounty, and approach near to it, and fill our hands with that treasure, here we may have a most lively and comfortable taste of it. If we would know where our salvation lies and how to attain to everlasting life, here is Christ our Redeemer, and Mediator most evidently described. The rich man may learn the true use of his riches. The poor man may find full contentment. He who will rejoice will know true joy, and how to keep measure in it. They who are afflicted and oppressed will see what their comfort exists in, and how they should praise God when he sends them deliverance. The wicked and the persecutors of the children of God will see how the hand of God is always against them: and though he permits them to prosper for a while, yet he bridles them, so much so that they cannot touch a hair of ones head unless he permits them, and how in the end their destruction is most miserable. Briefly here we have most present remedies against all temptations and troubles of mind and conscience, so that being well practised in this, we may be assured against all dangers in this life, live in the true fear and love of God, and at length attain the incorruptible crown of glory, which is laid up for all who love the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(a) When a man has once given place to evil counsel, or to his own sin nature, he begins to forget himself in his sin, and so falls into contempt of God, which is called the seat of the scorners.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. More exactly:

Happy the man who hath not walked in the counsel of wicked men,

Nor stood in the way of sinners,

Nor sat in the session of scorners.

Blessed] Or, happy: LXX μακάριος. Cp. Matthew 5:3 ff. The righteous man is first described negatively and retrospectively. All his life he has observed the precept, ‘depart from evil’ (Psalm 34:14).

the ungodly] Rather, wicked men: and so in Psalm 1:4-6. It is the most general term in the O.T. for the ungodly in contrast to the righteous. If the primary notion of the Hebrew word râshâ is unrest (cp. Job 3:17; Isaiah 57:20-21), the word well expresses the disharmony which sin has brought into human nature, affecting man’s relation to God, to man, to self.

sinners] Those who miss the mark, or go astray from the path of right. The intensive form of the word shews that habitual offenders are meant. Cp. Proverbs 1:10 ff.

the scornful] Better, as the word is rendered in Proverbs, scorners: those who make what is good and holy the object of their ridicule. With the exception of the present passage and Isaiah 29:20 (cp. however Isaiah 28:14; Isaiah 28:22, R.V.; Hosea 7:5) the term is peculiar to the Book of Proverbs. There ‘the scorners’ appear as a class of defiant and cynical freethinkers, in contrast and antagonism to ‘the wise.’ The root-principle of their character is a spirit of proud self-sufficiency, a contemptuous disregard for God and man (Proverbs 21:24). It is impossible to reform them, for they hate reproof, and will not seek instruction (Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 15:12). If they seek for wisdom they will not find it (Proverbs 14:6). It is folly to argue with them (Proverbs 9:7-8). They are generally detested (Proverbs 24:9), and in the interests of peace must be banished from society (Proverbs 22:10). Divine judgements are in store for them, and their fate is a warning to the simple (Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 19:25; Proverbs 19:29; Proverbs 21:11).

The three clauses of the verse with their threefold parallelism (walk, stand, sit: counsel, way, session: wicked, sinners, scorners) emphasise the godly man’s entire avoidance of association with evil and evil-doers in every form and degree. They denote successive steps in a career of evil, and form a climax:—(1) adoption of the principles of the wicked as a rule of life: (2) persistence in the practices of notorious offenders: (3) deliberate association with those who openly mock at religion. With the first clause and for the phrase counsel of the wicked cp. Micah 6:16; Jeremiah 7:24; Job 10:3; Job 21:16; Job 22:18 : for stood &c., cp. Psalm 36:4. For both clauses cp. the concrete example in 2 Chronicles 22:3-5. With the third clause cp. Psalm 26:4-5.

1–3. The happiness of the righteous.Verse 1. - Blessed is the man; literally, blessings are to the man. But the Authorized Version exactly gives the sense (comp. Psalm 2:12). That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. The margin gives, "or wicked," and this is probably the best rendering of the word used (רשׁעים). The righteous man is first described negatively, under three heads.

(1) He "does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly:" i.e. he does not throw in his lot with the wicked does not participate in their projects or designs;

(2) he standeth not in the way of sinners; i.e. he does not take part in their actions, does not follow the same moral paths; and

(3) he sitteth not in the seat of the scornful; i.e. has no fellowship with them in the "scorn" which they cast upon religion. The word used for scornful (לֵצ) is Solomonian (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 13:1), but in the Psalter occurs only in this place. The author now describes the manner of Job's being blessed.

12 And Jehovah blessed Job's end more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand she-asses.

The numbers of the stock of cattle, Job 1:3,

(Note: Job, like all the wealthier husbandmen in the present day, kept she-asses, although they are three times dearer than the male, because they are useful for their foals; it is not for the sake of their milk, for the Semites do not milk asses and horses. Moreover, the foals are also only a collateral gain, which the poor husbandman, who is only able to buy a he-ass, must forego. What renders this animal indispensable in husbandry is, that it is the common and (since camels are extremely rare among the husbandmen) almost exclusive means of transport. How would the husbandman, e.g., be able to carry his seed for sowing to a field perhaps six or eight miles distant? Not on the plough, as our farmers do, for the plough is transported on the back of the oxen in Syria. How would he be able to get the corn that was to be ground (tachne) to the mill, perhaps a day's journey distant; how carry wood and grass, how get the manure upon the field in districts that require to be manured, if he had not an ass? The camels, on the other hand, serve for harvesting (ragâd), and the transport of grain (ghalle), chopped straw (tibn), fuel (hatab), and the like, to the large inland towns, and to the seaports. Those village communities that do not possess camels for this purpose, hire them of the Arabs (nomads). - Wetzst.)

now appear doubled, but it is different with the children.

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