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Psalm 1 Application

Nahum O'Brien on March 1, 2018


How then should we apply Psalm 1? In my estimation there are two primary applications of this passage. First, we may look at this psalm prescriptively. This was probably the psalmists original intent. Likely written sometime after the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, Israel would have been intimately familiar with the blessings that accompany obedience to God and the withholding of blessings that accompany disobedience to God. Thus, the author may have been writing this as a reminder to himself and the people of the blessings that accompany righteousness and the withholding of blessings that accompany wickedness. The one who is blessed by God is he who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, etc. The righteous are blessed. The righteous will prosper. The righteous will be known by the Lord. In contrast, the wicked are not blessed. The wicked will not prosper. The wicked will perish. Thus, the psalmist may be reminding and encouraging Israel to take the way of the righteous. We would do well to heed the psalmists advice.

The second application would be to look at this psalm descriptively. This is, I believe the greatest application to us today. This psalm describes two types of people: the wicked and the righteous. The wicked walks in the counsel of the wicked, stands in the way of sinners, and takes up the seat of scoffers. The righteous delights in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. The wicked will be like the chaff, tossed about wherever the wind blows. The righteous will be like a wisely planted tree, producing much fruit and sustained by streams of water. The wicked will not be able to stand in the final judgment, but will ultimately perish. The righteous will prosper, for the righteous are known of the Lord. 

Now, this descriptive application presents one major problem. Who among us is righteous? Who among us has not walked according to the counsel of the wicked? Who among us has not stood in the way of sinners? Who among us fully delights in the law of the LORD? In some sense, this psalm was designed to strike fear in the heart of the wicked. If we are honest, in and of ourselves, we could never be counted among the righteous. 

Psalm 14:2-3 - The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is one who does good, not even one.

Who then are the righteous? It is those who God has made righteous through His son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

1 Corinthians 1:30 - But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.

Philippians 3:9 - and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

This is true of all people who are able to stand righteous before God.

James 2:23 - and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 

1 John 2:29 - If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

To God be the glory, we who were once counted among the wicked, may stand before God in the righteousness of Christ. Furthermore, only in Christ may we walk in and be found in the way of the righteous. 

The question before us then is this: are we counted among the righteous or the wicked? Do we walk in the way of the righteous or the wicked? The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall perish. 

“May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous.” - Spurgeon