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CHARACTERS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED
Psalms 1:1-4. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful: but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so.
THE Psalms were chiefly, though not exclusively, written by David: some were written, one at least, many hundred years before him; and several many hundred years after him. It is supposed that Ezra reduced them to the order in which they stand. We are sure that, in the Apostle’s days, the Second Psalm occupied the same place that it does now; because it is quoted by him as “the Second Psalm.” They are quoted continually in the New Testament as inspired of God: and so fully do they speak of Christ, that an account of his life and death, his work and offices, might be compiled from them almost as clearly as from the Gospels themselves. The psalm before us seems properly placed, as a kind of preface to the whole; inasmuch as it contains a summary description of the righteous and the wicked, both in their character and end. We will consider,
The description of the godly—
We are not to expect in a composition of this kind a full and accurate delineation of men’s characters, such as we might look for in a set discourse: nevertheless, in the brief notices here given us, we have what is abundantly sufficient to distinguish the saints from all other people upon the face of the earth. They are here described,
In plain terms—
[Two things we are told concerning them, namely, What company they affect, and, What employment they delight in. They have no pleasure in the society of ungodly men. They are aware that “evil communications will corrupt good manners;” and that the surest way to avoid infection, is, to come as little as possible in contact with those who are diseased. They see how fatal, and yet how common, is the progress of sin; that to walk, however occasionally, in the counsel of the ungodly (who are destitute of any religious principle), is a prelude to standing in the way of sinners (gross, open sinners), and, at last, to sitting in the seat of the scornful, who despise and deride all true piety. Hence, fearing lest, by unnecessarily associating with the wicked, they should be drawn to adopt their principles, and to imitate their conduct, they either withdraw from them altogether, or contract their intercourse with them, as much as will consist with a due discharge of their social and relative duties.
Privacy, and reading of the Holy Scriptures, are more congenial with their feelings, than the noise and vanity of the world. In the blessed word of God they see all the wonders of redeeming love: in that, they find the charter, by which they are entitled to an everlasting inheritance. There they behold thousands of exceeding great and precious promises, which are as marrow and fatness to their souls: there also they see marked out to them the way in which to please, and honour, and glorify their God: and, by meditating on these various precepts and promises, they find their souls cast, as it were, into the very mould of the Gospel, and gradually transformed into the image of their God. Hence they delight to ruminate on the word of God; yea, “day and night” they make it their meditation and their joy: like Job, they “esteem it more than their necessary food.”]
By a beautiful comparison—
[In consequence of thus “eschewing evil and cleaving unto that which is good,” they become like a tree planted by the canals in Eastern countries, which flourishes with incessant verdure and fruitfulness, whilst all that are less favourably situated, are parched and withered by drought. The godly are “trees of righteousness, of the Lord’s planting:” their roots are constantly watered by that “river which makes glad the city of God:” and by the fertilizing influences of the Spirit of God they bring forth in rich abundance “the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God.” A diversity of seasons they doubtless experience: but never is their profession tarnished by openly visible decays, or by a want of such fruits as the peculiar season calls for. On the contrary, the winds and storms, and heat and cold, all tend to further their stability and fruitfulness; insomuch that “whatsoever they do,” or whatsoever is done to them, “they prosper [Note: Romans 8:28.].” See them in the diversified seasons of prosperity and adversity, they shew by their conduct “whose they are,” even Christ’s, “of whose fulness they continually receive,” and “of whom all their fruit is found.”]
In perfect contrast with this is,
The description of the ungodly—
Exceedingly pointed is that expression, “The ungodly are not so.” No, indeed: they “are not so,”
In their character—
[The ungodly, instead of shunning the company of those who fear not God, prefer it; and would far rather associate with an avowed infidel, or a notorious libertine, than with one who was distinguished for the most exalted piety. They do not all proceed to the same extent of open profaneness; but all, without exception, “love darkness rather than light;” yea, “they hate the light, and will not come to it, lest their deeds should be reproved.”
And as they prefer the society of them that know not God, so they prefer any other book, whether of science or amusement, before the sacred volume. They may study the Holy Scriptures indeed with a view to head-knowledge; but not with any desire to imbibe the spirit of them in their hearts, or to have their lives conformed to them. In this there is an extremely broad line of distinction between the two characters: to the godly the Scriptures are “sweeter than honey, or the honeycomb;” but to the ungodly they are insipid, and are either not perused at all, or studied only for the purpose of exercising a critical acumen. There is nothing in the sacred volume that is suited to their taste: the wonders of redemption do not affect their minds; nor are the precepts of the Gospel palatable to their souls.
Would we but candidly examine ourselves by these two marks, we should soon discover to which of these parties we belong.]
In their condition [Note: Nor in the “blessedness” of the saints have they any part or lot.]—
[To such a tree as has been before described, the ungodly bear no resemblance: their root is fixed in the world: their fruit is no other than “grapes of Sodom and clusters of Gomorrha.” But there is an appropriate comparison for them also; “they are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Truly, they are as light and worthless as chaff. No solid principle of piety is found in them; nor is there any thing in their character which God approves. To a superficial observer they may appear like wheat: but the fan or sieve will soon discover how empty and unsubstantial they are: or, if they continue mixed with the wheat in this world, the separation will speedily and infallibly take place in the world to come. The Judge of quick and dead will come, even He, of whom it is said, “His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire [Note: Matthew 3:12.].” Amongst the wheat, not an atom of chaff will then be found; nor amongst the chaff, one grain of wheat [Note: Amos 9:9.]. This, divested of metaphor, is plainly declared in the psalm before us; “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [Note: Psalms 1:5.].” Ah! what an immense difference is here in the conditions of the two parties! the one approved of their God, and made partakers of everlasting felicity; the other, abhorred of him, and plunged into everlasting perdition [Note: Psalms 1:6.]!]
To young people—
[To you it appears but a small matter whom you choose for your associates. But, if you consider how much we are influenced by the sentiments and examples of others, and what awful consequences will follow from the conduct we pursue, we shall see the necessity of selecting those only for our friends, who, we have reason to believe, are the friends of God. Let not then the rank or talents of men, and still less their gaiety and dissipation, attract your regards; but let the piety of their hearts and the holiness of their lives, be their highest recommendation to your friendship. As our blessed Lord “was not of the world, so neither must ye be;” but you must “come out from among them, and be separate,” and choose for your companions “the excellent of the earth, and such as excel in virtue. [Note: Proverbs 4:14-15. Jam 4:4. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.]”]
To those who profess godliness—
[It is not by speculative notions that you are to judge of your state, but by your spirit, your temper, your whole conduct and conversation. “The tree must be known by its fruit.” Now, as the ungodly form a perfect contrast with the godly, so let your spirit and conduct be a perfect contrast with theirs. Are the ungodly following the course of this world, and minding only the things of the flesh? Let it be said of you, “They are not so:” “their conversation is in heaven;” their delight is altogether in spiritual things; and “their fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” In a word, endeavour to be as different from the ungodly world around you, as a verdant and fruitful tree is from one which is withered and dead; and know, that, if you are looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for fresh supplies of his Spirit and grace, you shall receive from him such rich communications as shall be abundantly sufficient for you [Note: Hosea 14:4-7.] — — —]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 1". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent