The Blessed Path of the Righteous

a brief study of Psalm 1, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 28 April 2006

King David is known as the sweet psalmist of Israel. But David wrote in the Spirit of Christ so that the psalms are not just the songs of David, but the songs of Christ, the greater David. Writing to the Colossians, the apostle Paul says:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col 3:16).

The Greek terms, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs were all used in the Septuagint to refer to the psalms. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament used by most of the apostles and apostolic believers.

The Holy Spirit would have us fill our hearts with the word of Christ in the psalms so that we may sing not only in worship, but in admonishment and instruction to one another. Can you find an uninspired song in which there is a word of admonishment? I don’t know any.

The apostles quite clearly think of all the psalms as messianic. They quote them either as referring to Christ or as spoken by Christ. This is the case even in the psalms, which do not at all appear to be messianic on the surface such as psalm 8 and 19.

In this short study, beginning with the first psalm, we want to take a look at the psalms again with this understanding.

This series is not intended to be a detailed exposition, but a Christological exposition.

Psalm 1 speaks about the righteous man in contra distinction to a wicked man. It is seldom regarded as a Messianic psalm.

When we read this psalm, most of us would have the tendency of thinking of the righteous man as a believer and the wicked man as an unbeliever. I would like you however, to consider for a moment if you know any person with such a degree of righteousness as described in this psalm?

I think if you are honest with yourself, you will quickly realise that you fall so far short of this righteousness. And if you think about it further, you will quickly realise that there is only one man who matches the description of the righteous man in this psalm, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore we may think of this psalm as describing the Lord Jesus Christ absolutely. But since believers are united to Christ, this psalm also describes believers subjectively and indirectly.

So when we talk about the Righteous or Righteous One in this psalm, we are speaking about Christ, and what Christians, or the righteous ones who are united to the Righteous One covenantally and mystically ought to be.

This psalm says 3 things about the Righteous One, namely: his conduct, his attitude and his value.

1. His Conduct

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

In the first place, the righteous does not take advice from the ungodly on how to live. He does not walk with them, i.e. he does not go along with them. He would not live like the ungodly nor conduct himself in the way that the ungodly does.

The righteous in this world would have ungodly neighbours and relatives. By the providence of God, he is often required to be in the same place doing the same things as them. But he would not to allow himself to drift along with them in many things that they engage in.

The righteous, moreover, does not stand in the way of sinners. Not only does he not go along with sinners, he does not agree with them. He does not take a stand with them.

The righteous, moreover, does not sit in the seat of the scornful. That is, he does not judge anything according to the ungodly standards of the wicked. The wicked often does not only have a low regard for the law of God, but actually despises God’s Word. And therefore his judgement is always wicked, whereas the righteous would judge righteous judgement.

The Lord Jesus did dine with sinners and publicans and even with Pharisees, but he would never take his stand with them nor walk in their ways nor judge anything according to their standard. Instead he exposes their wickedness by his righteousness. This is why Malachi calls him the Sun of Righteousness.

Our Lord alone fits the description of the righteous in the opening verse of the book of psalms.

But we who are united to him and who name his name must imitate him and we will by God’s grace, become more and more like him, little by little.

As believers in this world, though we are not of this world, we are bound to have interactions with the wicked. The question is: are you like the Lord Jesus—refusing to take a stand with the wicked, to walk in his ways or to judge according to his standard? Are you striving to be holy as Christ is holy?

Not only is the behaviour of the righteous different. His attitude is also different from that of the wicked.

2. His Attitude

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The righteous differs from the wicked very fundamentally in his attitude towards God’s Word.

The wicked has no regard for God’s Word. He either ignores it, or he pours scorn on it. He refuses to obey God’s law.

Not so the righteous. The righteous delights in the law of the LORD. He thinks about God’s Word. He meditates on it day and night.

Christ our Lord was clearly like that. He is called the Word of God (Jn 1:1). He was full of the Word of God. He no doubt meditated on the Word of God. He spoke the Word of God in all situations. He interpreted and applied the Word of God. He obeyed the Word of God. He fulfilled the Word of God. He lived the Word of God. He is the Word of God.

Christ Jesus our Lord is the only one I know who fulfils the second verse of the psalm absolutely and perfectly.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

I don’t think anyone of us can honestly say that we meditate on the law of the LORD day and night!

But I believe that all of us who name the name of Christ, ought to imitate the Lord and will by God’s grace become more and more like the Lord day by day, little by little.

Little by little, day by day, the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us hate sin and love God more and more.

When you are in love with someone, you will keep thinking about him or her. You can’t get him or her out of your mind. When you wake up in the morning, you are thinking about the person. Before you sleep you are thinking about the person.

The righteous does not only have a high regard for the Word of God. He is in love with Christ and his word. The cry of the Psalmist is the cry of the righteous: "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Ps 119:97).

Now, my question to you, beloved brethren and friends, is, "What is the law of God to you?" "What is the Word of God to you?" If you cannot say that you meditate on it day and night. Can you at least say, "I read it daily"? "I think about it and I pray about it. And I desire to read more of it." Righteous ones must strive to be like the Righteous One. The Christian must strive to be like Christ.

But now finally, the righteous contrasts with the wicked in terms of his significance or his value…

3. His Values

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The Righteous One is like a tree. But it is not just any tree. He is not a tree which bears no fruit and sheds its leaves in winter. He is not like the Oak Tree which bears a fruit which is more or less useless except to squirrels and at the same time sheds its leaves in winter.

The righteous is an evergreen tree. He does not shed his leaves in winter and he bears useful fruits. He is like an Olive Tree which is evergreen and bears a sweet and useful fruit.

Indeed, Christ is more than an Olive Tree. He is rather closer to the Tree of Life described by the apostle John in Revelation 22—

"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month [including the winter months]: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev 22:2).

The Tree of Life in Revelation 22 may not be Christ himself, but it is certainly a symbol and type of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ alone fully and perfectly fulfils the analogy of the fruitful evergreen tree by the river.

During his earthly ministry he bore much fruit with his life. The blind were made to see, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the dumb spoke. And sinners were converted. Whatever he did prospered in the hands of God. And God was greatly glorified. The Father was pleased with him. He was reliable and trustworthy.

And he was consistently so. Even his death brought much fruit, for it is by his death, that we have life.

Who but Christ truly fulfils this 3rd verse of the book of psalms?

But thank God that those who are united to Christ and bear his name have the ability to imitate him. Those who are living in imitation of the Lord would be valuable members in society, in their families, in their schools or workplace, in their church and indeed in the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the ungodly is like the chaff (v. 4). You know what is the chaff don’t you? It is the bits of seed head or husks that must be separated from the seed before they are used for food.

In ancient days, when a wheat farmer harvests his crop, he would not only thresh the sheaves to get the grain. He would winnow what remains. For after threshing, a lot of chaff and straw is left in the grain pile still. What the farmer then does is to rake away the straw and wait for the wind to blow. When the wind starts to blow, he would cast the grain into the air. The wind will blow away the light and valueless chaff.

The wicked are like the chaff. They are ultimately light and valueless. They do not produce any truly useful fruit in God’s eyes.

They can be a pain to be around with, for their pride and selfishness is evident to all.

Therefore, says the Psalmist, they "shall not stand in the judgement, nor… in the congregation of the righteous" (v. 5). In the day of judgement, they would not stand with the congregation of the righteous on the right hand of the throne of Christ. They will stand on the left hand. Nay, they will be bowing down, and cringing in shame and fear. For they know that they have wasted their lives away and they have no answer to give to the Lord.


Beloved brethren and children, tonight I must ask you: Are you striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ that you may be an evergreen fruit tree by the riverside? By nature, we are all useless bits of chaff tossed to and fro by the wind. But in Christ we can be a useful, evergreen and fruitful tree by the riverside.

All believers have been planted by the riverside. We can draw refreshment and strength from the Spirit of Christ. We have been blessed that we may be a blessing. Only when we are a blessing to others will we be truly happy for only then will we be living a life that counts.

Shall we not strive to be like the Righteous One that we sing about in this psalm? Amen.

— JJ Lim

"Can we help thinking on Him as alone realizing the description in this Psalm? 
The members of His mystical Body, in their measure, aim at this holy walk; but it is only in Him that they see it perfectly exemplified"

by Andrew A. Bonar, 
Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms [Tentmaker Publications, 2002 r. 1859], 3.