Before starting this study, take a moment to read Psalm 1. Although I’ll primarily be using the NIV version for the preparation of this study, you can read from whichever version you prefer.
Each Wednesday, I’ll be sharing a Bible study from the Psalms. Psalm 1 is described by different scholars as either a wisdom psalm or a Torah psalm. While some psalms might be psalms of praise or psalms of lament, wisdom psalms aim to help the reader know what the path of righteousness looks like.
Psalm 1 is the gateway to the Psalms. In fact, in the earliest compilations, it is used as an introduction instead of the first official psalm. When you read Psalm 1, you’re reminded that that Psalms have wisdom to impart. The way of the wise can be learned in these pages.
The Way of the Wicked
Psalm 1 compares two different paths readers can take: the way of the wicked and the way of the wise. The psalmist warns that those who are wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away (verse 4). To avoid falling into their ways, God’s people are warned not to walk in step with the wicked, stand in the way that sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers.
These word choices are very intentional and may describe a descent into wicked living. However, the psalmist is not describing contact with sinners. After all, Scripture reminds us that Jesus ate with sinners. Instead, the psalmist is writing about contact that influences us to accept and emulate others’ wicked ways.
As someone who tends to be a bit on the snarkier side, I was taken aback by the word “mockers” in my most recent reading. It’s important to note that the Hebrew word translated “mockers” was not about people who joke but people who flaunt their sinful lifestyles and antagonize God’s people. Gerald H. Wilson describes them as those who “actively seek through their mockery to express disdain for right living and seek to belittle and undermine those who want to be righteous.”
The Way of the Righteous
This Psalm paints a picture of a person whose ways are righteous. Surprisingly, they don’t list the good things the person does. Instead, the way of the righteous is formed by a person’s desire to delight in the Law of the Lord.
Walking a path of righteousness doesn’t just happen from our own willpower. When a person walks a path that’s pleasing to the Lord, that path is shown to them as they listen to God’s Word and the Spirit’s leading.
Take a moment to meditate on this image of a tree planted by streams of water. The water and nutrients it needs come to it because of its location. In the same way, when we place ourselves in the right places, the nourishment God intends for us will come. We are nourished and yield fruit when we receive what God has for us.
This psalm is a call to sit and absorb the words of Scripture. We are formed by the things around us. If all of our advice and shaping comes from the wrong people, we’re a lot more inclined to walk down the wrong path.
But when our thoughts and actions are formed by the words of Scripture, we become more loving and Christlike people. God’s Word has the ability to transform our minds and make us into new people. However, it can only do that when we take the time to study it.
Today, I encourage you to spend some time in Scripture. Let it shape you into the person of God you’re meant to be. When you make room to hear from God, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much harder it is to hear the bad influences in your life.