Happy are those.
By defining happiness (
) over against the wicked, sinners, and scoffers, the poet heightens the contrast between two different ways or lifestyles. Scoffers refuse to accept instruction (Prov 1.22
). The happy are those who are constantly open to God's instruction (Josh 1.8
). The Hebrew word translated here as law is “torah,” which would be better translated “instruction” or “teaching.” “Torah”
can designate particular legal stipulations, but it can also refer more broadly to the entire tradition of God's revelation.
These central verses each contain a comparison. What characterizes trees planted by streams of water is their stable rootedness (Jer 17.8
). Prosperity should not be understood as a reward but rather as the result of being connected to God. Such rootedness is
exactly what the wicked lack; they are easily blown away.
It is unclear whether judgment should be understood as “the final judgment.” In any case, the wicked have no foundation. Lack
of connection to God means death, the ultimate contrast to happiness.
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