Psalm 1

Notes (NET Translation)

There are a couple early Jewish and Christian traditions that suggest Ps. 1 and Ps. 2 were once joined together (Ber. 9b; Acts 13:33). The term “blessed” begins Ps. 1 and ends Ps. 2, thus forming an inclusio.

1 How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers!

The Psalter appropriately opens with a description of what makes for the blessed (happy) life. Verse 1 states what the blessed man does not do. He does not follow the advice of the wicked. He does not stand in the pathway with sinners, meaning he does not partake in their way of life. The assembly of scoffers is a dark parody of the elders at the city gate. It refers to taking part in their deliberations. Scoffers (lesim) are fools (Prov. 9:8; 14:6) who do not respond to instruction (Prov. 9:7; 15:12) but rather stir up strife with their insults (Prov. 22:10).

2 Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.

The blessed man does not find pleasure (delight) in merely knowing the Lord’s commands (teachings), but in doing them. The Hebrew word translated “meditates” implies some kind of utterance. It might be better translated as “murmurs” or “whispers”.

3 He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts.

In a Middle Eastern climate, the long dry season comes when a fruit tree most needs water as its fruit grows to maturity. It therefore needs to be planted near a water supply toward which its roots can reach. “Water channels” could then denote natural streams or irrigation ditches (cf. Prov. 21:1). (Goldingay 2006, loc. 1742-1744)

The blessed man succeeds, or thrives, in everything he does, like the tree which yields fruit.

4 Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff.

Chaff is, in such a setting, the ultimate of what is rootless, weightless (cf. the ‘vain and light persons’ of Judg. 9:4, AV) and useless. The figure is that of winnowing, in which the threshed corn is tossed up for the husks and fragments of straw to blow away, leaving behind only the grain. (Kidner 2008, p. 65)

5 For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment, nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly.

The judgment in question could be earthly, human judgment. The courts of law are where justice is meted out. The wicked cannot expect a favorable judgment in courts of law. Where the godly meet for the pursuit of justice, the wicked cannot enter.

6 Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction.

The Hebrew verb yada literally means “know”. The NET translates it as “guards” because it is an expression of God’s covenantal commitment to the godly.


Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


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