“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers” (Psalm 1:1)
We have been much impressed by the fact that the wondrous and precious Psalter opens with the word “Blessed,” and yet a little reflection shows it could scarcely begin with any other. As most of our readers are doubtless aware, “Psalms” means “Praises,” and the key note is here struck at the very outset, for it is only the “Blessed man” who can truly praise God, as it is his praises which are alone acceptable to Him. The word “Blessed” has here, as in so many places in Scripture (like Matt. 5:3-11), a double force:
First and primarily, it signifies that the Divine benediction—in contrast from God’s curse, rests upon this man.
Second and consequently, it denotes that he is a happy man.
“Blessed is the man,” not “blessed are they”—the singular number emphasizes the fact that piety is strictly a personal and individual matter.
It is very striking to observe, that God has opened this book of Psalms by describing to us, the one whose “praises” are alone acceptable to Him. In all that follows to the end of verse 3, the Holy Spirit has given us a portrait (by which we may honestly compare ourselves) of the man on whom the Divine benediction rests—the only man who can worship the Father “in spirit and in truth.” The outstanding features in this portrait of the “blessed” man, may be briefly expressed in three words—
his separation (v. 1)
his occupation (v. 2)
his fertilization (v. 3)
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.” As most readers are doubtless aware, the best of the commentators (as Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”) take as the leading thought of this verse, the downward course of the wicked—walking, then standing (a more fixed state), and ending by sitting—thoroughly confirmed in evil; tracing a similar gradation of deterioration in their “counsel,” “way” and “seat,” as also in the terms by which they are designated, “ungodly—sinners—scornful.” But personally, we do not think this is the thought of the verse at all, for it is irrelevant to the passage as a whole, and would destroy its unity.
No, the Spirit is here describing the character and conduct of the “blessed man.” How very significant it is to note—how searching for our hearts—the first characteristic of the “blessed man” to which the Spirit here called attention is his walk—a walk in SEPARATION from the wicked! Ah, my reader, it is there, and nowhere else, that personal piety begins. There can be no walking with God, no following of Christ, no treading of the way of peace — until we separate from the world, forsake the paths of sin, and turn our backs upon the “far country.”