“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;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.“
– Psalm 1:1-2 –
Commentary by Enduring Word
Blessed is the man: Blessed translates the Hebrew word “esher,” which has the idea of happiness or contentment. Esher comes from the Hebrew word ashar, which in its root means “to be straight” or “to be right.” Blessed is the man speaks of the happiness, the blessedness, the contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The righteous man will be a blessed man, a happy man.
“Blessed means supremely happy or fulfilled. In fact, in Hebrew the word is actually a plural, which denotes either a multiplicity or blessings or an intensification of them.” (Boice)
“It is not ‘Blessed is the king, blessed is the scholar, blessed is the rich,’ but, ‘Blessed is the man.’ This blessedness is as attainable by the poor, the forgotten and the obscure, as by those whose names figure in history, and are trumpeted by fame.” (Spurgeon)
Walks not… nor stands… nor sits: The blessed man does not do certain things. There is a way he will not walk, a path he will not stand in, and a seat he will not sit in.
We can say these speak of thinking, behaving, and belonging. The righteous man and the ungodly man are different in how they think, how they behave, and to whom they belong.
Others have also seen in this a progression of sin. “The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.” (Clarke)
Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly: The ungodly have counsel, and the righteous man will not walk in it. With all the advice that comes to us, from so many different sources, the righteous man knows how to stay away from the counsel of the ungodly.
First, it means the righteous man knows how to discern the counsel of the ungodly. Many fail at this point. They do not even consider if counsel is godly or ungodly. They hear advice, or theories about their problems, and they find themselves agreeing or disagreeing without considering, “Is this godly or ungodly counsel.”
The righteous man is also discerning enough to know the counsel of the ungodly can come from one’s own self. Our own conscience, our own mind, our own heart, can give us ungodly counsel.
The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors (Psalm 119:24). God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.
Nor stands in the path of sinners: Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that path. Path speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners.
The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it (Matthew 7:13).
The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. God has a path, and it is a good road to take.
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful: The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat!
When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful.
Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ. “Be out-and-out for him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me . . . but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)
What the righteous man does.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
His delight is in the law of the Lord: Throughout the Psalms, the phrase law of the Lord is used to describe God’s entire word, not only the “law” portion of the first five books of the Bible. The righteous man is delighted with the word of God!
What makes you happy? What gets you excited? This is a good way to see what is important to you. If personal pleasure is the only thing that makes you happy, then you are a selfish, self-centered person. If being with your family or friends delights you, that can be better, but it still falls short. The righteous man finds his delight… in the law of the Lord.
Luther said that he could not live in paradise without the word of God, but he could live well enough in hell with it.
“Man must have some delight, some supreme pleasure. His heart was never meant to be a vacuum. If not filled with the best things, it will be filled with the unworthy and disappointing.” (Spurgeon)
If a person delights in something, you don’t have to beg them to do it or to like it. They will do it all by themselves. You can measure your delight for the word of God by how much you hunger for it.
In His law he meditates day and night: The righteous man ponders the word of God. He does not just hear it and forget it, he thinks about it. Christians should meditate on God’s word!
In eastern meditation, the goal is to empty the mind. This is dangerous, because an empty mind may present an open invitation to deception or a demonic spirit. But in Christian meditation, the goal is to fill your mind with the word of God. This can be done by carefully thinking about each word and phrase, and applying it one’s self and praying it back to the Lord.
“Meditation chews the cud, and gets the sweetness and nutritive virtue of the Word into the heart and life: this is the way the godly bring forth much fruit.” (Ashwood, cited by Spurgeon)
Many lack because they only read and do not meditate. “It is not only reading that does us good; but the soul inwardly feeding an it, and digesting it. A preacher once told me that he had read the Bible through twenty times on his knees and had never found the doctrine of election there. Very likely not. It is a most uncomfortable position in which to read. If he had sat in an easy chair he would have been better able to understand it” (Spurgeon).
The righteous man only has God’s word on his mind two times a day: day and night. That about covers it all!