Read – Background On Psalms 1

This first Psalm stands as a kind of introduction to the rest of the Psalms. Its subject matter is very general and basic, but it touches on two subjects that continually occur throughout the Psalms. It declares the blessedness of the righteous and the misery and future of the wicked.

Man’s spiritual life is set forth negatively and positively, inwardly and externally, figuratively and literally. Above all else, it summarizes all that is to follow in the rest of the Psalms, and, for that matter, in the rest of Scripture.

It presents two ways of life: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. However, the key subject is the centrality of God’s Word to the life and fruitfulness of the righteous who truly love His Word. Two great thrusts flow out of this: (a) the importance and absolute necessity of the Scripture, and (b) the changed character, stability, and fruitfulness it promises to those who make Scripture the core of their lives.

Note how this Psalm drives home its truth by the use of contrasts.

(1) There is the way of the godly and their blessedness in contrast to the way of the ungodly (1:1-6).

(2) The way of the godly is set forth by way of a contrast: negatively, what the godly do not do (1:1), and positively, what the godly do (1:2).

(3) Then there is the contrast between the results of the two ways of life; the godly are stable and fruitful, but the ungodly are unstable and face sure judgment. Here is a contrast between character and destiny.

Psalm one is a wisdom Psalm. There are praise Psalms, lament Psalms, and enthronement Psalms and all contain wisdom, of course, but as an introduction and door to the rest of the Psalms, this Psalm declares in just a few words some of the most basic but profound truths and propositions of the Bible.

In essence, God says there are two ways of life open to us: one means blessedness, happiness, and fruitfulness, but the other means cursedness, unhappiness, and judgment. The choice is ours. Blessedness is a choice, but to be blessed, one must by faith obey the conditions; he must pursue the way of blessedness as described in this Psalm.