The Tree

Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Additional notes:

1. Counsel may not be the most desirable rendering here, for it generally brings to mind what would be more in the line of “advice.” “Counsel” (Hebrew, `etsah) can mean specific advice (1 Kings 12:8, 13), or, more broadly, a plan (Ex. 18:19), but here it seems to refer to the principles which determine one’s actions. If this is the case, the godly will not only reject the advice of the wicked, but they will also avoid the philosophical and moral principles which lead to such conclusions. In other words, the godly will not adopt a humanistic world view which is the source of ungodly actions.

2. If the “counsel” of the wicked is a humanistic view of life, the “way of sinners” is a worldly lifestyle. In the first instance our attention is drawn to the principles by which wicked men live; in the second, we take note of the practices which stem from worldly principles. If we should not think the way the wicked do, neither should we act as they do. The term “way” occurs frequently in both Psalms and Proverbs, and often it is a reference to a man’s characteristic lifestyle, his habitual, predictable, pattern of behaving. The term “walk” has a similar connotation. So the righteous is not to walk in the way of the wicked. Our lifestyle must not imitate that of the wicked.

3. Man has created many grey-areas to justify himself, right and wrong, good and evil. With the Lord, however, there is righteous and unrighteous,  nothing in-between. The “wicked” hence, are those who have rejected Him as Lord and God over all- whether they be good or moral human beings, according to our judgement.

4. It must be pointed out that blessing comes not only from what we do, but also from what we avoid. Prohibitions are not punishment, but a divine protection. Adam and Eve were given great liberty in the Garden of Eden, but they were forbidden to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We now know why. Walking in the way of the righteous necessitates forsaking the way of the wicked. While the essence of our faith is not negative, some of its expressions are, and for our own blessing. Praise God for what He prohibits, as well as for what He provides!

(For more on Psalm 1, click here.)

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