Saturday Psalm Series: The Blessed Man, The Blessed Life, The Blessed Word—Psalm 1 (Part 4)

Since we have given this wonderful Psalm an exegetical, expositional, and pastoral survey in our previous three installments, we return one last time for a fourth wherein we consider some further implications of this psalm. With great indebtedness to the pastoral insight and style of the nineteenth-century Presbyterian William S. Plumer, in his seemingly exhaustive commentary on the Psalms,1 we now take a few moments to offer some practical applications that Christians might use to implement the Holy Spirit-inspired wisdom of Psalm 1 in their own lives:

  1. It is said that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33) and that wisdom is most certainly epitomized in Psalm 1. The wise one, the godly one, then, would do well to forsake the company of the wicked, lest he follows them to walk, stand, sit, and eventually be undone like them, following them to their ultimate end: perdition.
  2. There is a great divide, a great partition, between the friends and enemies of God, and the people of God would do well to bear this in mind. The wisdom of Psalm 1 gives further elucidation to that great biblical-theological theme: that there is a perpetually parallel lineage between the seed of God and the seed of the serpent, which has been out-flowing since Genesis 3. Saints vs. sinners, sin vs. holiness is as stark a contrast as up vs. down and only eternity will fully bear out how great the difference is.
  3. As noted earlier in our series, sin is never content with a mere détente. It always increases its aggression, and once it gets its hooks into a man’s heart, it seeks to take over and occupy and corrupt more and more of him. We noted this with regard to how the psalmist outlines the digression of the wicked: they grow from bad to worse in their complacency (walking), to their indulgence (standing), and finally to their utter delight with sin (sitting and scoffing). Those who do not know and love Christ are here warned: “Scorning is an old artifice to keep conscience quiet. . . All sin hardens the heart, stupefies the conscience, and shuts out the light of truth.”2
  4. A further warning to the wicked is enjoined here: simply because your non-Christian friends and neighbors are not concerned at their condition, simply because they give no thought to their spiritual state or predicament, is no reason for you to be complacent about such things, or to delude yourself into a false sense of spiritual security. The proverbial notion of the “calm before the storm” is applicable with respect to the unregenerate. Let every one take heed lest he fall. What God’s people are called to do to one another in terms of vigilance against creeping sin, all men would do well to observe: “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’” (Heb 3:13, 15).
    Plumer observes that seldom do the wicked forsake a wicked life until they are utterly confronted and convinced of its misery.3 Even in the stark warnings of this psalm, there is a great mercy to the wicked as God seeks to arrest their attention with his holy admonitions: wickedness will bring your ruin, so flee from it while there is still yet time!
  5. Let us all be thorough students of the Word of God. There is great Spirit-imbued power in the Holy Scripture and it is to our great spiritual health and advantage to give ourselves over to a familiarity and frequent study of it. He who would be truly blessed must be a student of the Word (Ps 1:1–2, “Blessed is the man who. . . on [the law of the LORD] meditates day and night.”). God’s Word is powerful, it can make us wise unto salvation, and there is no substitute for it.
  6. Related to the above point, let us make sure that it is not only our minds that are engaged and given over to a holy obsession with God’s Word, but our affections as well—heart and mind. “We must love as well as know.”4 As the psalmist says, God’s Word must not just be a thing of our intellectual interest or curiosity, it must be our “delight” (Ps 1:2).
  7. Note again the language of delight in God’s Law. It is reminiscent of the pervasive attitude in Psalm 119: “Oh, how I love your law!” (Ps 119:97). As frequent readers of The Heidelblog will know, it is imperative that we keep that right, biblical, and Reformed understanding of Law and Gospel front and center. Do we love God’s Law? Do we have that proper understanding and appreciation of the classic Reformed Third Use of the Law as part of the arsenal for our piety? Do we cherish the Lord’s commands as our guide on the path of life? “Any religion which sets aside God’s law, is spurious. It is not the religion of the psalmist, v. 2. It is not the religion of Jesus Christ.”5
  8. Though Psalm 1 is realistic about the fact that sometimes, in this life, from a worldly vantage point, the wicked do seem to prosper and flourish and the righteous are trodden upon and hard-pressed, at the same time Psalm 1 reminds us that biblical piety really does afford God’s people delight in this life. “Nothing in the service of God’s people is degrading.”6 For the godly, the virtues of truth, duty, justice, and interests of God are on their side. To pursue piety as God would have us do, biblically, is to have these incalculable—if intangible—blessings in spades.
  9. In contrast to the righteous (and related to the above point), note from this psalm how deceptive to the wicked temporal tokens of goodness can be. All may seem to be going well for them, and even for a long time. In the end, however, it is all for naught. Though they may delude themselves into thinking that they “have it all” and that they have the “good life,” it is an illusion. One is reminded of the bleak reality for those outside of Christ, as Paul expounds in Ephesians 2:12—they are “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” “Even that which the wicked seem to have, shall presently be taken away; all their works and expectations shall be driven away like chaff.”7
  10. Inasmuch as this psalm is an incentive to godliness and a glorious reminder of the Christ (the archetypal “Blessed Man”) who makes his people righteous in Him, it is just as much a reminder of the doctrine of judgment. This is a reminder that the doctrine of coming judgment is no innovative boogeyman of late-era fundamentalism, nor is it a doctrine novel to the New Testament, but one which finds great pedigree in the Old Testament. Justice, being among God’s attributes,8 demands judgment. Unless the wicked take refuge in Christ (Ps 2:12) they will “perish in the way” (Pss 2:12; 1:6). While on this earth and in this life there is much intermingling between the congregation of the righteous and the wicked, a great sifting and separation are coming. This seems plain from even a cursory reading of Psalm 1, and “the plain and clear teachings of Scripture are the weighty matters, claiming immediate and universal attention.”9 This warning is yet another mercy of God to the unregenerate to flee to Christ for mercy while it is still yet called “today.”
  11. Conversely to the above point and in thinking of the righteous/God’s people: what a day of rejoicing it will be when all the saints are assembled together. What a splendid thing on that Great Day when the sheep of God’s fold are gathered to that great green pasture and all the Father’s children welcomed into His house, when the communion of the saints—church militant and church triumphant—shall, at last, be one! Because the Lord “knows the way of the righteous” (Ps 1:6) and because on that day we shall, finally, “know fully, even as [we] have been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12), there is cause for joyful anticipation of the Last Day. Perhaps the blessed result of the Last Day—namely the Great Ingathering of all God’s Lambs; the great amassing of all the Church—is a doctrine and event upon which we would do well to meditate and for which we ought to long.
  12. Finally, Psalm 1 reminds us of the good and aged practice of “applying God’s Word to our own cases.”10 With all the necessary qualifications about not ripping a verse out of its context, not unduly “spiritualizing” a text, giving our due diligence to all the necessities of hermeneutics, etc., there is much profit to our piety when we learn to rightly apply the Scriptures to our own souls. The famed nineteenth-century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne was known to turn each verse of Scripture into a prayer as he would go about his readings and meditations. Applying the wisdom of Psalm 1—in fleeing wickedness, pursuing godliness, and laying hold of Christ our Savior by faith—will only serve us well. After all, a great end of applying Scripture is well-described elsewhere by the Psalmist,

“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!” (Ps 119:9–12)

May the Lord bless the truths of Psalm 1 to our hearts and minds—to our piety, our practice, and our eternity.

You can find the whole series here.

©Sean Morris. All Rights Reserved.


  1. W. S. Plumer, Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2016), 32–36.
  2. Plumer, 32–33.
  3. Plumer, 35.
  4. Plumer, 33.
  5. Plumer, 33.
  6. Plumer, 33.
  7. Plumer, 35.
  8. Westminster Shorter Catechism #4: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”
  9. Plumer, 36.
  10. Plumer, 36.


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Posted by Sean Morris | Saturday, May 13, 2023 | Categorized Biblical Exposition, Biblical theology, Psalms, Saturday Psalm Series | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Sean Morris

Sean was educated at Grove City College, Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), and the University of Glasgow (Scotland). He is an ordained teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, and serves as a minister at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN. He also serves as the Academic Dean of the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sean lives in Oak Ridge with his wife, Sarah, along with their children and useless beagle.