Psalm 1: An In-Depth Bible Study on Life’s Two Paths

Sharing is caring!

Psalm One illustrates two paths a man can take in life.

The first Psalm serves as a perfect gateway to begin the Old Testament Book of Psalms as it depicts two distinct paths in stark contrast with each other.

The author of Psalm 1 is unknown, but the theme is crystal clear: There are two possible paths (or ways) in life.

Way of the wicked person vs way of the righteous

Let’s take a moment to define the righteous and the wicked as seen through the lens of Scripture. 

The righteous person

A person is NOT righteous because of anything they DO.

The description of the godly man is NOT by his or her merit, good works, family lineage, or because they are in good standing as a citizen!

A person is NOT able to live a righteous life because of his or her good standing in a community or because they deserve it based on an upstanding reputation.

A person can only be righteous IN CHRIST.

As New Testament believers, we acknowledge the only way a person is declared righteous in God’s sight is by having the righteousness of Christ; therefore, there can be no pride associated with this, only humility in understanding God’s grace is what makes the difference. 

At the moment of conversion when a sinner repents and professes Jesus their Savior, they have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

No one is righteous apart from Christ, and to be on the way of the righteous (or path of the righteous) is only possible by the grace of God. 

The wicked person

In this text, wicked people are not described as such merely because they do bad things: wicked individuals are those who have not declared Jesus Christ as Lord.

After all, all of us were once on a different path before we surrendered to the Lordship of Christ… and it was that of the wicked…

The words of the apostle Paul come to mind, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God  – not by works so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

This Bible study is available on YouTube if you’d prefer to listen!

Blessed is the man

Psalm 1 begins with a promise of blessing, “Blessed is the man”.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the literal Hebrew word meaning for the word blessed in this context is translated to, “Happiness; how happy.” 

This can be understood, as “How happy is the man”.

This “happy man” doesn’t measure their happiness based on external variables such as:

  • Having wealth, possessions / great things
  • Declaring to have a “good life” because certain circumstances go the right way according to their own desires
  • Declare to have a blessed life based on their specific situation as being preferable and meeting their expectations and desires.

The happy person refers to an inner, abiding joy of the Lord that is not reliant on external variables. 

Their abundant life results from abiding in Christ.

It’s interesting to note that the psalmist begins with a few things the blessed man does NOT do. 

Notice the progression in the downward spiral as he writes:

“Walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”

Let’s dissect this verse taking note of the spiritual erosion being described.

Walk in the counsel of the wicked

Walk in this context refers to casual movement along the way. 

The literal word for counsel in this verse according to Strong’s concordance is, “advice, advisement, counsel”

There is a word of caution here for you and me. 

We need to be cautious whose advice and counsel we seek and follow. 

Here is the NLT translation of verse 1, “Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.”

It’s so important for us to seek counsel and advice from people who will point us to Christ – even if it’s not what we want to hear!

Stand in the way of sinners

The literal term for stand is, “to stand” – literal and figurative. (Strong’s Concordance)

No longer casual movement, the person has chosen to stand. Stop. Consider. Contemplate.

Note where he stopped: in the way (or path) of sinners

Sit in the seat of scoffers (mockers)

Sit in this context means “to sit down and dwell, to remain, to settle.”

The location where he has chosen to dwell and settle is in the seat of mockers. 

A mocker makes light of what is sacred. This is a blasphemous crowd.

Charles Swindoll remarks on the progression noted in this second line of the psalm:

“The psalmist had spiritual erosion in mind. The word pictures illustrate how easily our intentions toward righteousness slow to a standstill or a complete stop as they are worn away by the company we choose to keep.”

Points of Application to Life

The above instruction is not an excuse to head for the hills and find a cave to hide in an attempt to flee from sinners! 

We are called to make disciples – not to disengage completely with those who do not follow the Lord!

However, we have also been called to be separate! While we live in this world we are not to engage with them in sinful ways! 

Jesus told us we are salt and light and we have been commissioned by Him to make disciples of all nations, however, we have also been told to be separate!

Ephesians 4:22 tells us: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to PUT OFF your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to PUT ON the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Now that the psalmist instructs the reader what not to do, he changes the tone to reveal what the righteous person should do.

He Delights and meditates on the Law of the Lord

The literal term for delight according to Strong’s concordance is “pleasure”, he sees God’s Word as valuable and he “meditates on it day and night.” (v. 2)

To use my cave analogy once again, to meditate on the Word of God day and night does not mean we need to isolate ourselves from people and life to accomplish this! God’s Word is practical!

Warren Weirsbe offers this insight regarding what meditation is and how to accomplish this:

 “Meditation is to the soul what digestion is to the body.”

Meditation is a process.

We “chew on” the truths from Scripture, ponder, reflect, seek to understand with increased clarity and depth, and then apply what we know to be true. 

In this process, the Word of God becomes a part of us as it

The Word of God guides us as we navigate through life as we prioritize its place in our life and is evidenced in different ways, such as:

  • How we treat other people
  • The decisions we make
  • Directions we take
  • Words we speak
  • ​Our attitude

Remember as we meditate on the Bible, there is a blessing for us! Verse one began with “Blessed is the man”.

The abiding joy that results is not something we conjure up for ourselves, it’s a byproduct of God’s working in us! It’s the work of the Holy Spirit!

God’s Word contrasts the resulting fruit of the two paths of life 

Two similes are used to depict the way of life of the two paths

A Righteous Person

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Ps. 1:3)

This tree is planted – it has roots.

Roots ensure a firm foundation.

This tree isn’t just left in the middle of nowhere to fend for itself – notice it’s by “Streams of water”, which means it is being nourished. 

Water is necessary for the tree to grow, flourish, and bear fruit – if the water supply wasn’t there – it would not be prospering!

If there was an issue where the leaves and fruit weren’t flourishing, this would be indicative of a problem with the ROOT… NOT THE FRUIT! 

The roots nourish the tree…

God’s Word nourishes you and me, my friend. 

We need the Word of God to grow and produce fruit!

Did you notice when the fruit was yielded? 

In season

“In season” implies it is not necessarily an instant byproduct.

The psalmist continues depicting the fruit tree as one whose leaf never withers, and everything this person does prospers. 

We need to pause here for another moment of application. 

It would be a gross misinterpretation of the text to take this verse and think believers in Christ can walk around with a proverbial “gold finger”, and anything we set out to do, or anything we want is guaranteed to succeed. 

Nor is this a blanket statement ensuring we can have guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity regarding anything we want…

We will be prosperous in the way God desires to use us and when we walk forward with a mindset that seeks not our own initiative, but looks to surrender and follow God’s direction with our tasks and callings. 

As I went through this lesson on YouTube I encouraged everyone listening to put a star by this next sentence, because I think it’s a key concept to this text:

We need to focus on our roots, not our fruits.

In other words, focus on your roots being nurtured in God’s Word, and the prosperity and fruits will result!

We’re tempted to do the opposite. 

God is the One who will take care of the fruit and they will result as we’re in God’s Word, meditating on it, allowing it to direct our steps, and seeking to yield to the Holy Spirit’s authority as we follow Him, step by step in obedience.

We will yield fruit as we abide in Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him He will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

The fruit of the Spirit will be evidenced in and through us as we surrender to the Lord’s will and way and strive to walk in step with what He is calling us to do. 

The lack of fruit of the wicked man

Read the depiction of the lack of fruit from the wicked man, “They are like chaff that the wind blows away” (Ps. 1:4)

Chaff is the outer shell that must be removed to get to the valuable kernels of grain on the inside and it is removed during a threshing process.

Chaff is light and is blown away by the slightest wind. 

Chaff is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of the tree planted, bearing fruit by a stream of water.

Unlike the depiction of fruitful trees that bear fruit, I could not find one useful means for chaff. Seems like after the threshing process it’s just thrown to the ground… 

Take note – wind comes against both the tree and chaff, and the result is the polar opposite. 

The trees roots enable it not to be moved from its foundation. The chaff blows at the slightest whiff when the wind drives against it.

Winds in life are sure to come and blow against our lives, and in those moments we cry out to God knowing He alone can provide the help we need.

The end result of the righteous person and the wicked man

“For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction” (Ps. 1:6 NLT).

The wicked man

For the wicked person, the end of his days is destruction.

He will perish.

The righteous person

The righteous are promised eternal life.

Both conclusions are certain and are determined based on whether or not a person proclaimed Christ as their Savior while on Earth. 

When the last breath is taken our fate is sealed.

My dear friend, make sure you are on the right path.

Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart! None of us know when the last time we inhale will be our last.

Concluding Thoughts on Psalm 1: Bible Study

This in-depth look through Psalm 1 no doubt touched every person reading differently; here are 4 things to consider:

1. What Path are You on?

If you have not yet come to a place of repentance and confessed your sin and professed Jesus Christ your Savior, don’t wait! 

The message of Psalm 1 is clear in the depiction of two paths: God’s Way vs the Lost Way!

Jesus told Nicodemus in his conversation with him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)

2. Delight in God’s Word and Meditate on it

Maybe as you read this article you recognize that while you do see God’s Word as valuable, you don’t delight in it like you’d want… 

Perhaps you struggle to read it, understand what it says, or don’t have a desire to read it…

The best suggestion I have is to ask the Lord to give you this desire. Pray and ask God to:

  • Give you a delight for His Word
  • Give you an increased desire to read and understand it
  • Reveal His truth to you and help you know God more and have a deeper relationship with Him. 

The Holy Spirit enables us to understand Scripture, not our own intellect!

Pray and ask God to do what only He can – help you know and understand His truth.

Be honest with the Lord and pour out your heart to Him regarding these things; He already knows you’re struggling with them!

3. Consider if you’ve been walking, standing, or sitting where you shouldn’t

Perhaps as you read the progression of what “blessed” people are NOT to do you felt a sting of conviction regarding:

  • Walking in the counsel of the wicked and seeking their counsel and it is not pointing you to Jesus.
  • Standing in the way of sinners and you’ve paused to contemplate things you shouldn’t.
  • Sat down among scoffers, and you know it’s past time you get up and out of that situation. 

If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of any of the above I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to help you align yourself according to what He reveals to you!

4. Your focus

Has your focus been tending to your roots ensuring they get the nourishment they need, or has it been trying to produce good fruit while neglecting your roots?

​I’m so excited to show you a picture a friend of mine was inspired to draw after listening to the video version of this study. 

The large tree is shown accessing the rivers of water by the strong, large roots being nourished by them. 

From the roots, a cross goes up into the tree where the lush leaves and fruit grow. 

drawing of a tree with roots growing into a stream and a cross coming up from the roots into the leaves of the tree, a heart is drawn around the entire tree

Focus on your roots, my friend, and the Lord will take care of your fruits as you seek to follow and surrender to Him.

Will you pray with me?

Lord God, we are so thankful for your Word that directs, guides, convicts, and restores. Thank you that you have made a way for us to be on a righteous path through your Son, Jesus Christ. For any person reading this prayer who has not yet declared you as their Savior, I ask your Holy Spirit would drive this person to repentance declaring themself a sinner, and proclaim Jesus their Lord. Show us how you want us to apply the wisdom psalm one brings to our daily life. Help us to focus on our roots, seeking you in your Word and in prayer and trust that you will take care of our fruits as we do. Help us to surrender to your authority and follow you as you lead us – convict us, Lord, if we are walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or if we have sat in the seat of mockers… Convict us Lord if we’ve gone our own way and give us the strength, courage, and desire to follow you.  It is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

sand path with lush greenery on both sides of the trail and bright blue sky with white clouds. Text overlay reads In-depth Bible study on Psalm One, Life's Two Paths

Psalm 1 contrasts two paths: The path of righteousness and the path of wicked.

Related Posts to Bible Study of Psalm 1

35 Psalms of David: Praise and Prayer

The Reap and Sow Principle: Biblical Principle in God’s Law 

Bible Study Lesson on Prayer for Adults

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *