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;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Though not supplied with a heading, this Psalm may be definitively identified as an utterance of David since it is structurally “of a piece” with Psalm 2, which latter is explicitly attributed to David (albeit as the medium of expression employed by the divine Author) in Acts 4:25-26. — Wechsler, page 15.
The first Psalm sets the tone for the entire Psalter because of its concern for God, for godly living, and for the hope of the godly in the realization of the promises of the covenant.
Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm and shares many features common to the book of Proverbs and to other psalms designated as wisdom psalms (34; 37; 49; 73; 111-112; 119; 127-128; 133) — Barker, page 793
The contrast between the condition of the righteous (blessed, v.1) and ungodly (perishing, v.6) are set forth in the first and last words of the Psalm.
blessed (v.1) = lit. “Oh, how very happy!” — The Hebrew is plural. This isn’t material or circumstantial blessing but an enduring blessing of peace with God and life with Him for eternity.
Blessedness is obtained from avoiding the bad (v.1) and entering into the good (v.2).
counsel (v.1) = advice, plan
Sin (ungodliness) is a habit — walk, stand sit (v.1)
sinners (v.1) — The Hebrew indicates an individual with a known trade (like fisherman or thief).
sits (v.1) = to sit down, to settle, to remain
scornful (v.1) = lit. “to make mouths at” — scoffers, mockers
So, verse 2 depicts those, not who never sin, but who are in the habit of meditating on the Law of the Lord.
law (v.2) = Torah, Pentateuch, the five Books of Moses
meditates (v.2) — not emptying the mind, as in current use, but filling the mind with the Word and considering its meaning and application — study
shall prosper (v.3) = success, specifically success in understanding and obeying the Law of the Lord.
The Hebrew expression translated “will prosper” primarily refers here, not to immediate material prosperity (as the English expression “will prosper” might suggest), but to success — that is, success in applying and adhering to the Law of the Lord (v.2) in every aspect of his daily life. On occasion this may in fact entail certain hardship and affliction, the most vivid example of which is Christ Himself, to whom the same Hebrew verb is applied in Isaiah 53:10 to characterize the result of God’s “good will” as accomplished in the “crushing” and “putting to grief” of Christ as our “guilt offering” (hardly a picture of immediate material prosperity or ease). — Wechsler, page 17
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).
the ungodly are not so (v.4) = lit. “Not so the ungodly, not so”
the judgment (v.5) — the Great White Throne (Matthew 12:41-42; Luke 10:14; 11:31-32; Revelation 20:11-15).
knows (v.6) = thorough, intimate knowledge — God does not know of, but has thorough, experiential knowledge.
The overarching purpose of the book [of Psalms] is indicated by the first two psalms, which were intended to be read together as an introduction to the entire book of Psalms, and which, like any proper introduction, informs the reader of the overall purpose, or “direction,” of the work that follows. These two psalms, one will observe, are framed by the same word — a favored literary technique in the Hebrew Bible known as “inclusio” (or “bookending”), whereby the identical term or expression is intended to highlight the main theme of the “framed” unit — in this case, “blessed” (lit., “O, the blessedness of”; health (not necessarily happiness), equivalent tot he blessedness indicated by Jesus in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). — Wechsler, pages 7-8