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Psalm 1:4 - The wicked are not so...

Nahum O'Brien on February 26, 2018


The wicked are not so,

But are like chaff that the wind drives away.


The psalmist now directs our attention to the wicked. Up till this point, the psalmist has only described the righteous. However, through inference he suggests that the wicked was everything the righteous was not, and vice versa. This would be equally true of the illustration of the tree. The wicked is not a tree planted by streams of water. The wicked will not prosper. The psalmist says this explicitly, “The wicked are not so.” The wicked are like chaff that the winds drives away. As most of you are probably well aware, chaff is the husk that surrounds a seed, take for instance a grain of wheat. This chaff is dead and worthless to the farmer. In Old Testament times, the chaff would be separated from the seed through a process called winnowing. On a windy day, the grain and chaff would be sifted through the air allowing the chaff to be carried away by the breeze, while the grain fell to the ground. This is the sustainability of the wicked. Plumer notes, “The wicked are not blessed in anything, a sad and utter defeat awaits the ungodly.”

While the righteous are compared to a living fruitful tree, the wicked are likened to a dead worthless by-product that is soon to be cast away. This picture of the chaff is reference in Matthew 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”