The first Psalm 1 is considered “the entryway into the sanctuary of the Psalms.” 1 It is a wisdom Psalm in the sense that it is meant to teach human beings what is good, what is bad, what pleases God, what does not, and the consequences of going one way or the other, both positive and negative. It is, as we have seen, much more than just a Wisdom Psalm. It is a Psalm about grace, and all that small yet infinite word entails.
This is a Psalm of black and whites. Nothing is relative or left to each person to decide. This is God himself establishing what pleases Him and what does not. What better way to begin the Psalms? What better than instructing us in the way of godliness and its importance? What better way than to start off a collection of songs and praises by reminding us of the grace of God in planting us by streams of living water (Christ) and granting us the ability to be fruitful?
It is also a Psalm of very sharp contrasts; I liken this Psalm to a roller coaster ride, many sharp drops, turns, and rises that all add up to the harmony and beauty of this Psalm. We are not to trust our own counsel (doctrine) and way, but rather, we are to put our absolute and complete faith and trust in the doctrine of God as revealed in Scripture. Only by meditating on it day and night and making it our absolute delight and joy will we be planted firmly in Him so that we are nourished to such an extent that our leaves do not wither, nor do they fall. Human counsel damns; divine doctrine gives life. Human way kills; divine knowing and predestining in love give eternal life.
We looked deep into the nature of blessedness: what it is, what it is not, its source and standard, and the recipients of blessedness. These are not there to just suck up nutrients, but to evidence their life by giving fruit, and fruit in abundance for the glory of God.
The wicked are not blessed because they look to themselves and willfully reject God and Christ. This leads to the realization that judgment and wrath are real, that Christ himself will burn the wicked, and that we, though forgiven and redeemed, are not to single ourselves out of the category of “ungodly,” for we are still sinners reminded of the grace of God in saving us every day.
Finally, only those who are from all eternity known by the Father as the Father knows the Son and the Son the Father will not perish, but have eternal life. Not all are given to the Father because we know that not everyone will go to heaven and because we know that none of those whom the Father has given Christ will perish. Thus, Christ secured the salvation only of those whom the Father has given Him and these Christ laid down His life for and He will lose none of them. Those, however, who have not been known by Christ will perish.
The whole Psalm is one of GRACE, and it is, beyond a Psalm of Wisdom alone, a Psalm that sets forth not only His grace and infinitely divine love in knowing us intimately, but one that shows the terror of His holiness, justice, and wrath.
Let’s hear from the pen of Dr. Martin Luther in his final words on this Psalm,
“First, exercise thyself in one Psalm, nay in one verse of a Psalm. Thou hast done much if thou hast learned to make one verse in a day, or even in a week, a living and breathing word by being felt in thy affections. And when thou hast attained unto this beginning all the rest will follow, and there will open unto thee an overflowing treasure of knowledge and affection; only, take heed that thou be not frightened away from beginning by any weariness or despair. This is truly to harp, or, as the scripture saith of David, to strike the harp-strings with the fingers. For the nimble fingers of the harpers which run over the strings and strike them, represent the affections running over the words of the Psalms and being moved by them; and as the strings do not sound without the fingers, so neither is the Psalm read or sung unless it touch the affections.
I wished thus to premise these things once in this first Psalm, that I might not have occasion to repeat the same through every Psalm. Though I know very well, that if any one be exercised in this matter, he will of himself find more in the Psalter than all the commentaries of all commentators put together can give him.” 2
In Christ alone,
1 The Reformation Study Bible. Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005. Print.
2 Luther, Martin, 1483-1546; Lenker, John Nicholas, 1858-1929. Luther’s commentary on the first twenty-two Psalms : based on Dr. Henry Cole’s translation from the original Latin (Kindle Locations 1157-1159). Sunbury, Pa. : Lutheran’s in All Lands Co..