1.  Blessed is the man

The word “blessed” in Psalms means, as a rule, “how happy.”  It indicates something that will indeed bring a person happiness.  In this case we shall learn first what a “how happy” person will not do, and then what he will do.

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Walking indicates doing.  This how happy person does not do what the ungodly would suggest he should do.  This is a solemn lesson for us today.  Many are the counsels of the world around us about how we should live.  Tolerance, sexual freedom, non-judgmentalism…many are convinced that these things are right and good, and many are the counsels telling us of their benefits and how great it would be to follow them.  A truly happy person will not walk after these counsels, however, for he will know whence they will lead him.

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

One who starts to walk will soon stand.  Standing indicates not just individual acts, but rather settled habits.  Once we start walking down the road of sinful behavior, soon these behaviors will become a habitual manner of life.  They are grafted into our thinking and become part of our being.  Thus we stand not as righteous but as sinners, convinced that the counsels of the ungodly that led us to this point were right.  Far better that we never do the singular actions that would lead to this sort of settled lifestyle.  Nevertheless, many believers let themselves slip and find themselves standing in this pathway.

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Once one is firmly established in the paths of sin, when one looks back on the way of righteousness it looks like foolishness.  Thus, one who is settled in the path of sinners soon will sit in the seat of those who scorn the righteous way and the Word of God that promotes it.  Many in our world view the Bible and its teachings as foolishness.  This is not because of any actual intellectual flaw in the Word, but rather because it is contrary to their sinful lifestyles.  Thus they sit and mock at it, all the while not realizing that the seat in which they are sitting is a trap to keep them from becoming how happy people.

2.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

Now we learn what the how happy person does do.  First of all he delights in the LORD’s law.  Many in our day view the law as something negative or bad, and often rejoice that “we are not under law, but under grace.”  This is true and is a good thing, but nevertheless we do not seem to realize that the law reveals to us righteousness.  It is this truth that serves to keep us from walking after the counsels of the ungodly, or standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of the scornful.  It is this law that helps us become “how happy” people.

And in His law he meditates day and night.

To meditate means to think extensively on a thing. This psalmist thinks extensively on the Scriptures. He ponders them, whether books, passages, verses, or words. He considers them and what they say, running over them in his mind. He does this at all times of day, both day and night.

This indicates a settled behavior and an idea grafted into one’s thinking, just as the “path of sinners” does for the one who ignores the law.  One who meditates on the law day and night is one who incorporates the righteous judgments of God into His actions and activities.  By the means of the counsels given in that law he will ever avoid the seat of the scornful, and will end up being a “how happy” person.

3.  He shall be like a tree

The word “like” here indicates a figure of speech “Simile” or “Resemblance,” wherein one thing is declared to resemble another.  In this case the man is declared to resemble or be like this tree.  Let us see how a how happy person is like a tree.

Planted by the rivers of water,

We are to think of a desert or wasteland type environment wherein only by the river would a tree be assured of survival.  So this how happy person draw strength, support, and life from the waters of the sure law of righteousness by which he is planted.

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

The how happy person not only benefits himself from the law of the LORD, but he also produces fruit from his meditation on that law.  This fruit could be his literal offspring who benefit from his wise example and teaching, but more likely it is the righteous acts that he commits resulting from the nourishment he receives from his meditations on the Word.

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

The ways of the sinner lead to death, but the rivers of the law lead only to continued life.  Many are those aged men who have abided long in sin for whom the result of their lives is only bitterness and regret.  Their lives have withered away and left them with nothing.  But I have also seen those who enter their old age having lived lives of righteousness, and even in the end of life their spring of happiness does not dry up.  This tree, planted by the water, is assured of health as long as it lives due to the nourishment of the waters.

And whatever he does shall prosper.

The simile ends here, as the tree, of course, can “do” nothing.  But the man who meditates on the law does many things according to their counsel, and this leads him to prosperity.  This may not be the prosperity of the world, but rather the prosperity of happiness, of fruit, of a satisfying life.  Moreover, this man has the assurance of a life to come.

4.  The ungodly are not so,

This happy outcome will not be for those who walk after the counsel of the ungodly.

But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.

The ungodly and all their works come to nothing, and they are ultimately disappointed.  Moreover, these have no hope of the life to come.  Like the tree whose source of water has dried up, these lose all supply of happiness and end life withered and destroyed, left with no root and no hope but to be blown away by the wind.

5.  Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

This transfers this Psalm from present realities to future ones, of which the rest of the Psalm speaks.  Because they reject the truth the ungodly not only lose out in this life, but also they will not stand in the coming day of judgment.  In this case “stand” indicates being justified, and these ungodly ones will not be able to claim the gift of God’s grace, but rather will fall under the condemnation of the guilty.  But the judgment here might also be a title for the coming Kingdom of God, as hinted at in the next line, in which case stand would mean that they will not LIVE at all in that time, as they will not be raised from the dead to enjoy it.

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

“Congregation” is the word edah in Hebrew, and is not the more technical word qahal, but is just the simple word for a gathering or assembly.  The ungodly shall not live when all the righteous assemble together in that coming joyous day.

6.  For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

His ways are his actions.  The LORD knows them, and He will teach them to all men in the future.  Then those who in this life have struggled to know the Word and follow the righteous teachings in it will have their way laid out for them so that they can follow the truth to the fullest.

But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

This way is still widely practiced in our day.  Nevertheless in God’s future government this way will come to an end forever.  No one will practice this way anymore.  No longer will its counsels be popular.  In that day indeed all men on earth will qualify as the “how happy.”  May God speed the day!

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