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Psalms 1:3-5

Context

1:3 He is like 1  a tree planted by flowing streams; 2 

it 3  yields 4  its fruit at the proper time, 5 

and its leaves never fall off. 6 

He succeeds in everything he attempts. 7 

1:4 Not so with the wicked!

Instead 8  they are like wind-driven chaff. 9 

1:5 For this reason 10  the wicked cannot withstand 11  judgment, 12 

nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. 13 

1 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries the same characteristic force as the imperfect in the preceding verse. According to the psalmist, the one who studies and obeys God’s commands typically prospers.

2 tn Heb “channels of water.”

3 tn Heb “which.”

4 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 draw attention to the typical nature of the actions/states they describe.

5 tn Heb “in its season.”

6 tn Or “fade”; “wither.”

sn The author compares the godly individual to a tree that has a rich water supply (planted by flowing streams), develops a strong root system, and is filled with leaves and fruit. The simile suggests that the godly have a continual source of life which in turn produces stability and uninterrupted prosperity.

7 tn Heb “and all which he does prospers”; or “and all which he does he causes to prosper.” (The simile of the tree does not extend to this line.) It is not certain if the Hiphil verbal form (יַצְלִיחַ, yatsliakh) is intransitive-exhibitive (“prospers”) or causative (“causes to prosper”) here. If the verb is intransitive, then כֹּל (kol, “all, everything”) is the subject. If the verb is causative, then the godly individual or the Lord himself is the subject and כֹּל is the object. The wording is reminiscent of Josh 1:8, where the Lord tells Joshua: “This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper (literally, “cause your way to prosper”) and be successful.”

8 tn Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-im, “instead,” cf. v. 2) introduces a contrast between the prosperity of the godly depicted in v. 3 and the destiny of the wicked described in v. 4.

9 tn Heb “[they are] like the chaff which [the] wind blows about.” The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the typical nature of the action described.

sn Wind-driven chaff. In contrast to the well-rooted and productive tree described in v. 3, the wicked are like a dried up plant that has no root system and is blown away by the wind. The simile describes the destiny of the wicked (see vv. 5-6).

10 tn Or “Therefore.”

11 tn Heb “arise in,” but the verb is used metonymically here in the sense of “stand”; “endure,” as in 1 Sam 13:14 and Job 8:15. The negated Hebrew imperfect verbal form is here taken as indicating incapability or lack of potential, though one could understand the verb form as indicating what is typical (“do not withstand”) or what will happen (“will not withstand”).

12 tn Heb “the judgment.” The article indicates a judgment that is definite in the mind of the speaker. In the immediate context this probably does not refer to the “final judgment” described in later biblical revelation, but to a temporal/historical judgment which the author anticipates. Periodically during the OT period, God would come in judgment, removing the wicked from the scene, while preserving a godly remnant (see Gen 6-9; Ps 37; Hab 3).

13 tn Heb “and sinners in the assembly (or “circle”) of [the] godly.” The negative particle and verb from the preceding line are assumed by ellipsis here (“will not arise/stand”).

sn The assembly of the godly is insulated from divine judgment (Ps 37:12-17, 28-29).



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