February 6: Psalm 1


February 6: Psalm 1

The way of the righteous and the way of the wicked

Common meter 86.86            Azmon (O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing), p. 49

New Britain (Amazing Grace), p. 29
St. Anne (O God, Our Help in Ages Past), p. 39

O greatly blessed is the man

who walketh not astray

in counsel of ungodly men,

nor stands in sinners’ way.

Nor sitteth in the scoffer’s chair,

but places his delight

upon God’s law, and meditates

on His law day and night.

He shall be like a tree that grows

set by the water side,

which in its season yields its fruit,

and green its leaves abide.

In all he does, he prospers, but

the wicked are not so;

They are like chaff which by the wind

is driven to and fro.

In judgment the ungodly shall

not stand or e’en draw near;

Nor in assembly of the just

shall wicked men appear.

Because the way of godly men

is to Jehovah known,

Whereas the way of wicked men

shall quite be overthrown.

It is significant that the Book of Psalms commences with a consideration of certain wisdom themes. Just what does the just one do? “He delights in the law of the Lord, and on that Law does he meditate day and night.” And to what does this meditation lead? “He shall be like the tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season.” The habit of prayer, this incessant meditation on God’s Law, is not always something immediately useful. Trees do not bear fruit right away. They first must eat amply of the earth and drink deeply of its water. Such nourishment must serve first to build up the tree. The fruit will come later on, when it is supposed to. The life of Christian prayer and meditation knows nothing of instant holiness; it is all a matter of perseverance and patience. The contrast is between the wicked who perish and the just who abide. The Law of the Lord, which is to be our delight and meditation day and night, finds its meaning only in Christ. He is the one who fulfills it, and He is the key to its understanding. (Reardon, p.1-2)

To “walk in the way of the righteous” is to abide in the only “Righteous One” who said of Himself, “I am the Way.” The contrast between the “way of the righteous” and the “way of the wicked” is a recurring theme in the psalms, and so we commence our singing of psalms with a meditation upon that way of life eternal, a way that involves daily choices of walking, sitting, standing, and taking delight in God’s way, as we abide in Christ Jesus.