Psalm 1 Part 3 of 3 Series: Preaching Psalms

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

The first half of the psalm describes the godly person, while the last half focuses on the ungodly, the people the godly must seek to reach with the Gospel. How desperately these people need to know God and receive His blessings in Christ! The wicked are pictured in many ways in Scripture, but the image here is chaff. In contrast to the righteous (The righteous are those who have been given the righteousness of Christ by virtue of their faith in Him.), who are like trees, the ungodly are rootless, dead, blown about, and destined for the fire. Chaff is worthless. When the wheat is winnowed, when wind blows the chaff away, and any chaff that remains is thrown into the fire. The image of the godless as wind-driven chaff can bring to mind the ultimate futility of the life that has no steady God-reference. John the Baptist used these same images of a tree, fruit, and chaff to warn sinners to repent (Matt. 3.7-12). The wicked of this world seem rich and substantial, but from God’s point of view, they are cheap, unsubstantial, and destined for judgment (See Ps. 73.).No wonder Jesus used the garbage dump outside Jerusalem (gehenna) as a picture of hell, because that’s where the cheap waste ends up in the fire (Mark 9.43-48). The chaff is co near the grain, but in the end, the two are separated, and the chaff is blown away or burned. But until that happens, we have the opportunity to witness to them and seek to bring them to Christ.

There is a day of judgment coming, and the Lord, the righteous Judge, will separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and the trees from the chaff, and no unbeliever will be able to stand in the assembly of the righteous. The basis of God’s judgment is His knowledge of them; the Lord knows everything, and he has personal intimacy and involvement with His righteous ones. The wicked will hear the Lord say, “I never knew you! As far as their doom is concerned, they shall be forgotten on the earth, leaving no trace, taking no root; and in the other world, they will be forever excluded from the happy host of the redeemed (Matt. 13.30xxviii; Rev. 21.27xxix).

Two men, two ways, two destinies. One is a dead-end street; it leads to death. The other leads to life. God says what is right and what is wrong. We are living in a day when people are not sure what is right and what is wrong. God is sure. His Word does not change with every new philosophy that comes along. The Word “way” means one’s whole manner of life including what directs it and what it produces. The worthless life of the ungodly will not endure.

6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

This final verse brings the psalm to a fitting conclusion. The way of the righteous persists because it exists in the mind and will of God; but the way of the ungodly is not even known to him: it is outside the patient process of the divine order. Therefore, let all men fear Him, and let Christian men rejoice.

God knows all men; he knows the way they go, though their way may be dark and difficult. Nothing is hidden from Him who bottles out tears (Ps. 56.8xxx); and He will not let us be overburdened. And though the ungodly may appear to prosper at the expense of the righteous, it shall be only for a moment: Ultimately the way of the ungodly shall perish (See Ps. 37.). Therefore, rest in the Lord. Your blessedness is better than the ill-gotten gains of the ungodly, and will last longer.
The verb knoweth (knows) doesn’t mean that God is aware of them intellectually and has the godly in His mind. Rather, it means that God has chosen them and watched over them and brought them finally to his glory. The word “know” is used as it is in Amos 3.2, to mean, “to choose, to enter into covenant relationship with, to be personally acquainted with. “The Jewish Publication Society translation of Amos 3.2 is, “You alone I've singled out of all the families of the earth.” That same translation renders verse 6 as, “For the Lord cherishes the way of the righteous . . .” At the last judgment, Jesus says to the wicked, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7.23).
Perish simply means “lost.” It is a word of finality, if you please. The wicked are going to perish: Proverbs 10.28 tells us: “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” We are cautioned: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7.13, 14). The wide, broad way is like a funnel in that you enter at the big end, as you continue, it becomes narrower and narrower, and finally leads to death. You enter the

narrow way by Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. As you continue, the way becomes broader and broader, and this way leads to life. In John 10.10, Christ says, “. . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” What a glorious picture of the blessed and happy man is presented in the first psalm!
This psalm begins with “blessed” and ends with “perish.” True believers are blessed in Christ (Eph. 1.3xxxi). They have received God’s blessing, and they ought to be a blessing to others, especially the chaff that will one day be thrown into the fire. Let’s seek to win as many of them as we can.

Endnotes:
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i And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son. And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name ASHER.
ii Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
iii The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
iv But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
v Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
vi I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
vii How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
viii I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
ix Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
x And drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
xi How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
xii Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
xiii They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
xiv "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
xv Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."
xvi The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
xvii So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
xviii Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
xix The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
xx I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
xxi But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
xxii So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.
xxiii And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
xxivThrough Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name.
xxv He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.
xxvi Let my persecutors be put to shame, but keep me from shame; let them be terrified, but keep me from terror. Bring on them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction.
xxvii Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
xxviii Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
xxix And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
xxx Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
xxxi Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

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