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The Book of Psalms: Chapter 1

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True Happiness in God's Law

I

1Happy those* who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, Nor go the way* of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers. a Pss 26, 4–5; 40, 5 . 2Rather, the law of the LORD * is their joy; God's law they study day and night. b Jos 1, 8; Ps 119; Sir 39, 1 . 3They are like a tree c Pss 52, 10; 92, 13–15; Jer 17, 8 . planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; Its leaves never wither; whatever they do prospers.

II

4But not the wicked!* They are like chaff driven by the wind. d Pss 35, 5; 83, 14–16; Jb 21, 18 . 5Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners in the assembly of the just. 6The LORD watches over the way of the just, e Ps 37, 18 . but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

Notes:

a: Pss 26, 4–5; 40, 5 .

b: Jos 1, 8; Ps 119; Sir 39, 1 .

c: Pss 52, 10; 92, 13–15; Jer 17, 8 .

d: Pss 35, 5; 83, 14–16; Jb 21, 18 .

e: Ps 37, 18 .

Text Commentary view alone

Ps 1 :

A preface to the whole Book of Psalms, contrasting with striking similes the destiny of the good and the wicked. The psalm views life as activity, as choosing either the good or the bad. Each “way” brings its inevitable consequences. The wise through their good actions will experience rootedness and life, and the wicked, rootlessness and death.

1, 1 :

Those: literally, “the man.” That word is used here and in many of the Psalms as typical, and therefore is translated “they.”The way: a common biblical term for manner of living or moral conduct (Pss 32, 8; 101, 2. 101, 6; Prv 2, 20; 1 Kgs 8, 36 ).

1, 2 :

The law of the Lord: either the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, or, more probably, divine teaching or instruction.

1, 4 :

The wicked: those who by their actions distance themselves from God's life‐giving presence.

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