February 12, 2017
A note to readers: Today’s post begins a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 1 (NIV)
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 1 is the doorway into the entire Psalter, for in this first psalm, the grand theme of the psalms is revealed: the two paths—the path of the righteous and the path of the wicked. This psalm marks the beginning of the greatest journey of life. Even in this first psalm, we begin to see why the psalms are known as the “sung Torah.”
All the great themes of the Old Testament find their way into this book of worship. The Torah set forth the “way of the life and the way of death.” The psalm sings of these two ways. Likewise, the book of Proverbs is the “wisdom” of the Torah, setting forth the way of the wise and the way of the foolish. Psalm 1 sets forth the basic world-view of worship, which reminds us that the way of the wicked is filled with the ungodly who scoff at God’s law. If followed, these wicked ones will lead us astray. The psalm shows us, in advance, what the final end or trajectory of the wicked will be; namely, they will be like chaff which the wind drives away and they will not be able to stand in the Day of Judgment (vv. 4, 5). In contrast, the righteous are like a fruitful tree which prospers and is steadfast (vv. 1-3).
Hymns and choruses frequently celebrate the way of the righteous, but a proper understanding of the way of the wicked has been lost. As Christians, we need to understand both trajectories. We must see the final end of the wicked. We must also recognize that only Jesus has steadfastly walked in the way of the righteous. The two paths of righteousness and wickedness remain far apart except for the one point in history where they converge; namely, at the cross of Jesus Christ. It is there that Jesus took upon himself all the shame, guilt and judgment of wickedness. Yet, he remained the Righteous One.
It is at the cross that we who have traveled the way of wickedness can finally cross over through grace to the path of righteousness. It is, therefore, by grace that we are found “in him” and we are enabled to sit, walk and stand on the narrow way which leads to life, not the broad way which leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13, 14).