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Psalms 1:1-2

Context

Book 1
(Psalms 1-41)

Psalm 1 1 

1:1 How blessed 2  is the one 3  who does not follow 4  the advice 5  of the wicked, 6 

or stand in the pathway 7  with sinners,

or sit in the assembly 8  of scoffers! 9 

1:2 Instead 10  he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; 11 

he meditates on 12  his commands 13  day and night.

1 sn Psalm 1. In this wisdom psalm the author advises his audience to reject the lifestyle of the wicked and to be loyal to God. The psalmist contrasts the destiny of the wicked with that of the righteous, emphasizing that the wicked are eventually destroyed while the godly prosper under the Lord’s protective care.

2 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see v. 3; Pss 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15).

3 tn Heb “[Oh] the happiness [of] the man.” Hebrew wisdom literature often assumes and reflects the male-oriented perspective of ancient Israelite society. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, we translate the gender and age specific “man” with the more neutral “one.” (Generic “he” is employed in vv. 2-3). Since the godly man described in the psalm is representative of followers of God (note the plural form צַדִּיקִים [tsadiqim, “righteous, godly”] in vv. 5-6), one could translate the collective singular with the plural “those” both here and in vv. 2-3, where singular pronouns and verbal forms are utilized in the Hebrew text (cf. NRSV). However, here the singular form may emphasize that godly individuals are usually outnumbered by the wicked. Retaining the singular allows the translation to retain this emphasis.

4 tn Heb “walk in.” The three perfect verbal forms in v. 1 refer in this context to characteristic behavior. The sequence “walk–stand–sit” envisions a progression from relatively casual association with the wicked to complete identification with them.

5 tn The Hebrew noun translated “advice” most often refers to the “counsel” or “advice” one receives from others. To “walk in the advice of the wicked” means to allow their evil advice to impact and determine one’s behavior.

6 tn In the psalms the Hebrew term רְשָׁעִים (rÿshaim, “wicked”) describes people who are proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander (Ps 50:16-20), and cheat others (Ps 37:21).

7 tn “Pathway” here refers to the lifestyle of sinners. To “stand in the pathway of/with sinners” means to closely associate with them in their sinful behavior.

8 tn Here the Hebrew term מוֹשַׁב (moshav), although often translated “seat” (cf. NEB, NIV), appears to refer to the whole assembly of evildoers. The word also carries the semantic nuance “assembly” in Ps 107:32, where it is in synonymous parallelism with קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”).

9 tn The Hebrew word refers to arrogant individuals (Prov 21:24) who love conflict (Prov 22:10) and vociferously reject wisdom and correction (Prov 1:22; 9:7-8; 13:1; 15:12). To “sit in the assembly” of such people means to completely identify with them in their proud, sinful plans and behavior.

10 tn Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-im, “instead”) introduces a contrast between the sinful behavior depicted in v. 1 and the godly lifestyle described in v. 2.

11 tn Heb “his delight [is] in the law of the Lord.” In light of the following line, which focuses on studying the Lord’s law, one might translate, “he finds pleasure in studying the Lord’s commands.” However, even if one translates the line this way, it is important to recognize that mere study and intellectual awareness are not ultimately what bring divine favor. Study of the law is metonymic here for the correct attitudes and behavior that should result from an awareness of and commitment to God’s moral will; thus “obeying” has been used in the translation rather than “studying.”

12 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the characteristic behavior described here and lends support to the hyperbolic adverbial phrase “day and night.” The verb הָגָה (hagag) means “to recite quietly; to meditate” and refers metonymically to intense study and reflection.

13 tn Or “his law.”



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