Psalm 1:2
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
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(2) But.—The Hebrew is an elliptical expression implying a strong contrast, “nay but,” “on the contrary.”

The positive side of a good man’s character is now described according to the standard which prevailed when the written law first came truly into force.

In the law of Jehovah is his delight.—Or, to the law of Jehovah is his inclination. The Hebrew word means primarily “to bend.”

Meditate.—Literally, murmur (of a dove, Isaiah 38:14; of men lamenting, Isaiah 16:7; of a lion growling, Isaiah 31:4; of muttered charms, Isaiah 8:19). (Comp. Joshua 1:8, which might have suggested this).

Psalm 1:2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord — In the study and practice of it, as appears from the context. Having described the character of the truly blessed man negatively, in the preceding verse, he, in this, speaks of it positively. The law of God may be here understood of the whole doctrine delivered by God to his church, consisting of doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatenings, &c.; or more particularly of the preceptive part of it, which is commonly called his law; and so this is recorded as the particular character of a good man, that he takes delight, not only in God’s promises, which a bad man may delight in, but even in his commands, which are unwelcome and disagreeable to the wicked. In his law doth he meditate — The word יהגה, jehgeh, implies that he exercises a deep, serious, and affectionate thoughtfulness about it; and by this it appears that his delight is in it, for what we love, we love to think of. Day and night — Not seldom and slightly, but diligently and constantly. Thus the Psalms, “like the sermon on the mount,” says Dr. Horne, “open with a beatitude; for our comfort and encouragement directing us immediately to that happiness which all mankind, in different ways, are seeking and inquiring after. All would secure themselves from the incursions of misery; but all do not consider that misery is the offspring of sin, from which it is therefore necessary to be delivered and preserved, in order to become happy, or blessed.”

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.But his delight - His pleasure; his happiness. Instead of finding his happiness in the society and the occupations of the wicked, he finds it in the truth of God. The law or truth of God is not distasteful to him, but he so delights in it as to desire to become more and more acquainted with it, and to have its truths impressed more and more on his heart.

In the law of the Lord - The law of Yahweh - the small capitals in the translation indicating here as elsewhere that the original word is Yahweh. The word law in the Scriptures is used in a considerable variety of significations. The Hebrew word תורה tôrâh, properly means instruction, precept; and then, an injunction, command, law, in the usual sense of the word. It was applied particularly to the Pentateuch, or law of Moses (compare the notes at Luke 24:44), as containing the first written and recorded laws of God; and then the word came, in a more general sense, to be applied to all the books of the Old Testament, as being an exposition and application of the law. Here the word undoubtedly refers to the written revelation of the will of God as far as it was then made known. On the same principle, however, the declaration here made would apply to any part of a divine revelation; and hence, the sentiment is, that a truly pious man finds his highest delight in the revealed truths of God. This is often referred to as characteristic of true piety. Compare Psalm 19:10; Psalm 119:97, Psalm 119:99.

And in his law - On his law, or his truth. "He doth meditate." The word used here, הגה hâgâh, means properly to complain, to mutter; then, to speak; then, to utter in a low complaining voice, as is often done by a person in deep meditation; hence, in the usual sense, to meditate on anything; to think of it. So Joshua 1:8 : "Thou shalt meditate therein (the law) day and night." Psalm 77:12 : "I meditate on all thy work." Proverbs 15:28 : "the heart of the righteous meditateth what to answer." The meaning here is, he thinks of it; he endeavors to understand its meaning; he has pleasure in reflecting on it. It is not a subject which he puts away from him, or in respect to which he is indifferent, but he keeps it before his mind, and has satisfaction in doing it.

Day and night - That is, continually - as day and night constitute the whole of time. The meaning is:

(a) he does this habitually, or he intentionally forms the habit of meditating on divine truth, by disciplining his mind in order that he may do it;

(b) he takes time to do it - designedly setting apart suitable portions of each day, that, withdrawn from the cares of life, he may refresh his spirit by contemplating divine truth, or may become better acquainted with God, and with his duty to him, and may bring to bear upon his own soul more directly the truths pertaining to eternal realities;

(c) he does this in the intervals of business, the moments of leisure which he may have during the day - having thus an unfailing subject of reflection to which his mind readily reverts, and in which, amid the cares and toils of life, he finds relaxation and comfort; and

(d) he does it in the wakeful hours of night, when sick and tossed upon his bed, or when, for any other reason, his "eyes are held waking." Psalm 63:5-6 : "my soul shall be upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches." Psalm 119:54 : "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." Compare Psalm 119:23, Psalm 119:43; Psalm 143:5. It is probable that the psalmist had the injunction in his mind which is contained in Joshua 1:8.

2. law—all of God's word then written, especially the books of Moses (compare Ps 119:1, 55, 97, &c.). In the law, i.e. in the study and practice of it, as appears from the context. The law of God may be here understood of the whole doctrine delivered by God to the church, consisting of doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatening, &c.; as it is taken Psalm 37:1 58:1 Isaiah 51:7 John 10:34; or more particularly of the preceptive part of it, which is commonly so called; and so this is noted as the peculiar character of a good man, that he delighteth himself not only in the promises, which a bad man may do, Matthew 13:20, but even in the commands of God, Psalm 112:1 119:47 127 143 1Jo 5:3, which are unwelcome and burdensome to a wicked man.

The word

meditate implies a deep, and serious, and affectionate thoughtfulness about it: see Psalm 19:14 49:3 Proverbs 24:2 Isaiah 33:18.

Day and night; not seldom and slightly, as hypocrites do; but diligently, frequently, constantly, and upon all occasions.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,.... Not the law of nature, which was inscribed on Adam's heart in innocence, but now greatly impaired by sin, and become very imperfect and very insufficient to make men happy, or to lead them to true felicity; nor the law of Moses, which is a fiery law, and works wrath, accuses of sin, pronounces guilty, curses and condemns to death; and therefore cannot be delighted in by a sensible sinner, unless as it is in the hands of Christ, and as fulfilled by him, who is the end of it; and as it is written on the heart of a regenerate man, who, so far as it is, delights in it after the inward man, and serves it with his spirit: but rather the Scriptures, as much and as many parts of them as were written in David's time; particularly the five books of Moses, which are called the Law and the Testimony of the Lord; which being inspired by God, were profitable and delightful to read, and to hear explained; and as they were David's delight, and the men of his council, Psalm 119:24; so they were the delight of every good man, there being many things in them concerning the Messiah, his grace and kingdom; see Luke 24:44. Moreover the word here used, signifies "doctrine", and may intend the evangelic doctrine, as it does in Psalm 19:7; which is a psalm concerning the doctrine of the apostles that went into all the world; and in like sense is the word used in Isaiah 2:3; of the doctrine of the Messiah, that is, the Gospel; and is the same with the law, or doctrine of faith, in Romans 3:27. And this may be called the doctrine of the Lord, because he is the author of it; it came by him, he revealed it; and because he is the subject of it; it is concerning him, his person, office, grace, and righteousness; and so far as it was published in the times of David, it was a joyful sound, good news and glad tidings, and the delight of good men;

and in his law doth he meditate day and night; as Joshua was directed to do, and David did, Joshua 1:8. This is to be understood of a diligent reading and serious consideration of it; and of the employment of the thoughts, and of deep study upon it, in order to find out the sense and meaning of it; and which is to be done constantly, every day, as often as there is leisure and opportunity for it; or, as Kimchi on the place observes, whenever a man is free from the business of life; unless this should be taken figuratively, of the day of prosperity and night of adversity, whether in things temporal or spiritual, which are each of them proper seasons to meditate in, upon the word of God and Gospel of Christ.

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

(b) In the holy scriptures.

2. The positive principle and source of the righteous man’s life. The law of the Lord is his rule of conduct. It is no irksome restriction of his liberty but the object of his love and constant study (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). True happiness is to be found not in ways of man’s own devising, but in the revealed will of God. “The purpose of the Law was to make men happy.” Kay. Cp. Deuteronomy 33:29.

his delight] The religion of Israel was not an external formalism, but an obedience of the heart. Cp. Psalm 37:31; Psalm 40:8; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 119:35; Psalm 119:97.

the law of the Lord] The Hebrew word tôrâh has a much wider range of meaning than law, by which it is always rendered in the A.V. It denotes (1) teaching, instruction, whether human (Proverbs 1:8), or divine; (2) a precept or law; (3) a body of laws, and in particular the Mosaic law, and so finally the Pentateuch. The parallel to the second clause of the verse in Joshua 1:8 suggests a particular reference to Deuteronomy; but the meaning here must not be limited to the Pentateuch or any part of it. Rather as in passages where it is parallel to and synonymous with the word of the Lord (Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 2:3) it should be taken to include all Divine revelation as the guide of life.

meditate] The Psalmists meditate on God Himself (Psalm 63:6); on His works in nature and in history (Psalm 77:12; Psalm 143:5).

Verse 2. - But his delight is in the Law of the Lord. The righteous man is not described positively, under two heads.

(1) He delights in the Law (camp. Psalm 109:16, 47, 77; Romans 7:22).

(2) He constantly mediates in it. The "Law" intended - תורה, not התּורה - is probably not the mere Law of Moses, but God's law, as made known to man in any way. Still, the resemblance of the passage to Joshua 1:8 shows the Law of Moses to have been very specially in the writer's thoughts. In his Law doth he meditate day and night; compare, besides Joshua 1:8, the following: Psalm 63:6; Psalm 119:15, 48, 78, 97. Constant meditation in God's Law has characterized all saint. Psalm 1:2The exclamatory אשׁרי, as also Psalm 32:2; Psalm 40:5; Proverbs 8:34, has Gaja (Metheg) by the Aleph, and in some Codd. even a second by שׁ, because it is intended to be read asherê as an exception, on account of the significance of the word (Baer, in Comm. ii. 495). It is the construct of the pluralet. אשׁרים (from אשׁר, cogn.ישׁר, כּשׁר, to be straight, right, well-ordered), and always in the form אשׁרי, even before the light suffixes (Olsh. 135, c), as an exclamation: O the blessedness of so and so. The man who is characterised as blessed is first described according to the things he does not do, then (which is the chief thought of the whole Ps.) according to what he actually does: he is not a companion of the unrighteous, but he abides by the revealed word of God. רשׁעים are the godless, whose moral condition is lax, devoid of stay, and as it were gone beyond the reasonable bounds of true unity (wanting in stability of character), so that they are like a tossed and stormy sea, Isaiah 57:20.;

(Note: Nevertheless we have not to compare רעשׁ, רגשׁ, for רשׁע, but the Arabic in the two roots Arab. rs' and rsg shows for רשׁע the primary notion to be slack, loose, in opposition to Arab. tsdq, צדק to be hard, firm, tight; as Arab. rumhun tsadqun, i.e., according to the Kamus Arab. rmh ṣlb mtı̂n mstwin, a hard, firm and straight spear. We too transfer the idea of being lax and loose to the province of ethics: the difference is only one of degree. The same two primary notions are also opposed to one another in speaking of the intellect: Arab. hakuma, wise, prop. thick, firm, stout, solid, and Arab. sachufa, foolish, simple, prop. thin, loose, without stay, like a bad piece of weaving, vid., Fleischer's translation of Samachschari's Golden Necklace pp. 26 and 27 Anm. 76. Thus רשׁע means the loose man and indeed as a moral-religyous notion loose from God, godless comp. Bibl. Psychol. p. 189. transl.].)

חטּאים (from the sing. חטּא, instead of which חטא is usually found) sinners, ἁμαρτωλοί, who pass their lives in sin, especially coarse and manifest sin; לצים (from לוּץ, as מת from מוּת) scoffers, who make that which is divine, holy, and true a subject of frivolous jesting. The three appellations form a climax: impii corde, peccatores opere, illusores ore, in accordance with which עצה (from יעץ figere, statuere), resolution, bias of the will, and thus way of thinking, is used in reference to the first, as in Job 21:16; Job 22:18; in reference to the second, דּרך mode of conduct, action, life; in reference to the third, מושׁב which like the Arabic mglis signifies both seat (Job 29:7) and assembling (Psalm 107:32), be it official or social (cf. Psalm 26:4., Jeremiah 15:17). On הלך בּ, in an ethical sense, cf. Micah 6:16; Jeremiah 7:24. Therefore: Blessed is he who does not walk in the state of mind which the ungodly cherish, much less that he should associate with the vicious life of sinners, or even delight in the company of those who scoff at religion. The description now continues with כּי אם (imo si, Ges. 155, 2, 9): but (if) his delight is, equals (substantival instead of the verbal clause:) he delights (חפץ cf. Arab. chfd f. i. with the primary notion of firmly adhering, vid., on Job 40:17) in תורת ה, the teaching of Jahve, which is become Israel's νόμος, rule of life; in this he meditates profoundly by day and night (two acc. with the old accusative terminations am and ah). The perff. in Psalm 1:1 describe what he all along has never done, the fut. יהגּה, what he is always striving to do; הגה of a deep (cf. Arab. hjj, depressum esse), dull sound, as if vibrating between within and without, here signifies the quiet soliloquy (cf. Arab. hjs, mussitando secum loqui) of one who is searching and thinking.

With והיה,

(Note: By the Sheb stands Metheg (Gaja), as it does wherever a word, with Sheb in the first syllable, has Olewejored, Rebia magnum, or Dech without a conjunctive preceding, in case at least one vowel and no Metheg-except perhaps that standing before Sheb compos. - lies between the Sheb and the tone, e.g., ננתּקה (with Dech) Psalm 2:3, ואענהוּ Psalm 91:15 and the like. The intonation of the accent is said in these instances to begin, by anticipation, with the fugitive ĕ.)

in Psalm 1:3, the development of the אשׁרי now begins; it is the praet. consec.: he becomes in consequence of this, he is thereby, like a tree planted beside the water-courses, which yields its fruit at the proper season and its leaf does not fall off. In distinction from נטוּע, according to Jalkut 614, שׁתוּל means firmly planted, so that no winds that may rage around it are able to remove it from its place (אין מזיזין אתו ממקומו). In פּלגי מים, both מים and the plur. serve to give intensity to the figure; פּלג (Arab. fal'g, from פלג to divide, Job 38:25) means the brook meandering and cleaving its course for itself through the soil and stones; the plur. denotes either one brook regarded from its abundance of water, or even several which from different directions supply the tree with nourishing and refreshing moisture. In the relative clause the whole emphasis does not rest on בּעתּו (Calvin: impii, licet praecoces fructus ostentent, nihil tamen producunt nisi abortivum), but פּריו is the first, בּעתּו the second tone-word: the fruit which one expects from it, it yields (equivalent to יעשׂה it produces, elsewhere), and that at its appointed, proper time ( equals בּעדתּו, for עת is equals עדת or עדת, like רדת, לדת, from ועד), without ever disappointing that hope in the course of the recurring seasons. The clause ועלהוּ לא יבּול is the other half of the relative clause: and its foliage does not fall off or wither (נבל like the synon. Arab. dbl, from the root בל).

The green foliage is an emblem of faith, which converts the water of life of the divine word into sap and strength, and the fruit, an emblem of works, which gradually ripen and scatter their blessings around; a tree that has lost its leaves, does not bring its fruit to maturity. It is only with וכל, where the language becomes unemblematic, that the man who loves the Law of God again becomes the direct subject. The accentuation treats this member of the verse as the third member of the relative clause; one may, however, say of a thriving plant צלח, but not הצליח. This Hiph. (from צלח, Arab. tslh, to divide, press forward, press through, vid., Psalm 45:5) signifies both causative: to cause anything to go through, or prosper (Genesis 34:23), and transitive: to carry through, and intransitive: to succeed, prosper (Judges 18:5). With the first meaning, Jahve would be the subject; with the third, the project of the righteous; with the middle one, the righteous man himself. This last is the most natural: everything he takes in hand he brings to a successful issue (an expression like 2 Chronicles 7:11; 2 Chronicles 31:21; Daniel 8:24). What a richly flowing brook is to the tree that is planted on its bank, such is the word of God to him who devotes himself to it: it makes him, according to his position and calling, ever fruitful in good and well-timed deeds and keeps him fresh in his inner and outward life, and whatsoever such an one undertakes, he brings to a successful issue, for the might of the word and of the blessing of God is in his actions.

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