How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1, NASB
Psalm 1 is an example of what Walter Brueggemann would call a psalm of orientation. In this psalm the world is nice and orderly. But, what I like about this psalm is that it perfectly reflects the upbringing that most of us have. That is why there are more people (I would say 99.99% of the world) doing the right thing rather than the wrong things. This is the reason why the world is not in total chaos or lawless no matter what our evening news or other sources of information tell us.
Let us look at the first two verses. It gives us two contrasting ways of living. Those who raised us whether they were mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother or even the neighbor who lived next door always told us to stay away from the “troubled and bad people or those who were doing the wrong thing.” We were told that if we hung around them, we would either get in trouble because we were with the bad person or even become like that troubled person. But, instead if we did the right thing, then we would be blessed.
Blessings for those who shaped and molded us did not always mean material things like the word blessing often means today. Blessings for them included a good family, respect, love, favor with others, peace, joy, along with the material things. They knew that living life by cheating or doing the wrong things meant that we would be like “like chaff which the wind drives away.” They knew that these people always lived in fear that someone would always be looking to take it all away. Our ancestors believed that “the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” Our ancestors did not just believe this for those who lived in their time frame, but for future generations like ours.
Our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and those who love us would tell us Psalm 1 is still a good guideline for raising healthy families. Our ancestors would tell us it is still a good recipe for living our entire lives. Try it! Meditate upon the law/word of the Lord for at least thirty, fifteen, or even ten minutes per day. Watch how your life changes! You will find the ancestors were right.
Walter Brueggemann, Spirituality of the Psalms (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002).