A simple summary of Psalm 1 might read, “Happy are those who delight and meditate on the law of the Lord … The wicked will not withstand the coming judgement and will eventually perish.” This dualism permeates the Psalms and is a perfect introduction to the Psalter as a whole.
The righteous followers of the law are introduced as happy, or blessed. And, in Psalm 1, their actions directly impact their happiness. The simile of the fruit tree is the proof: A tree far from water or adequate rain will grow only so large and produce only so much fruit. However, a tree planted by a stream will naturally produce more fruit and grow healthier. This is a direct result of its environment. Likewise, people who truly meditate on the law will naturally flourish and gain blessings—not as a reward, but as a natural result of their focus upon the law.
For us, the law could mean the actual Torah (first five books of the Old Testament). It could be the entire Old Testament. Or it might be a combination of all the written scripture and biblical teachings.
The life of the righteous is affected by what they do, but equally so by what they abstain from. A righteous person meditates upon the law and avoids the advice and lifestyle of the wicked. The wicked are compared to chaff—the useless, lightweight portion of a crop that is easily blown away with the wind. This is a powerful image.
The fruit produced by the righteous can withstand the judgment of God, while the wicked will be blown away.
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How can meditation upon scripture lead to happiness? What activities in our lives are like chaff that cannot withstand the judgment of God?
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, thank you for your word. Teach me your ways and your statutes and help me to observe them all the days of my life. My soul yearns for your salvation; I hope in your word. Let your mercy come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. Amen.
READ THE SCRIPTURE IN CONTEXT:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.