Like a Tree By the Waters

A verse-by-verse commentary on Psalm 1

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

True joy and success belong to the one who is dedicated to uprightness. He does not listen to every piece of advice, but weighs it carefully in wisdom, choosing not to act upon the promptings of the foolish or wicked. He does not stand for what is wrong, but boldly stands for what is right. He does not make friends with those who mock the truth – rather, he is mocked and rejected because of his stand.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

Here lies the secret to his success. The reason he does not live like the world is that he has made the conscious choice to seek after God. He steeps himself in the Word so that he knows what is right and true. And it’s not just empty tradition or a boring chore that he must force himself to do – it is his earnest desire and his greatest delight to spend time in the Word, and not just to read it, but to study it and think on it until it saturates his mind and heart and permeates every aspect of his life.

He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.

The man who does what God wants will be blessed in what he does. He may not have all the wealth and fame that the world considers success, but his success is eternal. He does not simply survive – he thrives. He bears fruit because he abides in the Vine, and his reward is imperishable – no one can take it from him.

The ungodly are not so,

But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

In contrast to the righteous man who has built his house on the rock, is the wicked man who has built on a foundation of sand. Though the unbeliever may gain the whole world, he shall lose his own soul. In the end, what has he accomplished? His life has been lived in vain – useless, fleeting. His success lies only in the material world, in the temporal, perishable “stuff” that provides no more lasting value or worth than the chaff from the grain, that is left to blow away in the wind.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Those who scorn truth and point fingers at the righteous, will one day face judgment – by the very ones they mocked. The tables will turn, and the humble shall rule the proud. The wicked who rejected God’s rule will find themselves rejected.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

God knows His people. The Shepherd knows His sheep, and they know His voice, and they follow Him. But the wolves who prey on the sheep, and those who refuse to listen to God’s voice, will ultimately be destroyed by the Shepherd – while those who belong to Him shall be with the LORD and remain with Him forever.