or stand in the pathway 7 with sinners,
and its leaves never fall off. 19
He succeeds in everything he attempts. 20
1:4 Not so with the wicked!
nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. 26
but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. 29
For the music director; by David.
How can you say to me, 32
“Flee to a mountain like a bird! 33
they put their arrows on the strings,
the Lord’s throne is in heaven. 43
A whirlwind is what they deserve! 57
he rewards godly deeds; 60
the upright will experience his favor. 61
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 (rÿsha’im, “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.
11 tn Heb “his delight [is] in the law of the
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.”
14 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.
15 tn Heb “channels of water.”
16 tn Heb “which.”
18 tn Heb “in its season.”
19 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.
20 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.”
22 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).
23 tn Or “Therefore.”
24 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”).
25 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).
26 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).
27 tn The translation understands כי as asseverative. Another option is to translate “for,” understanding v. 6 as a theological explanation for vv. 3-5, which contrasts the respective destinies of the godly and the wicked.
28 tn Heb “the
29 tn Heb “but the way of the wicked perishes.” The “way of the wicked” may refer to their course of life (Ps 146:9; Prov 4:19; Jer 12:1) or their sinful behavior (Prov 12:26; 15:9). The Hebrew imperfect verbal form probably describes here what typically happens, though one could take the form as indicating what will happen (“will perish”).
31 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.
33 tc The MT is corrupt here. The Kethib (consonantal text) reads: “flee [masculine plural!] to your [masculine plural!] mountain, bird.” The Qere (marginal reading) has “flee” in a feminine singular form, agreeing grammatically with the addressee, the feminine noun “bird.” Rather than being a second masculine plural pronominal suffix, the ending כֶם- (-khem) attached to “mountain” is better interpreted as a second feminine singular pronominal suffix followed by an enclitic mem (ם). “Bird” may be taken as vocative (“O bird”) or as an adverbial accusative of manner (“like a bird”). Either way, the psalmist’s advisers compare him to a helpless bird whose only option in the face of danger is to fly away to an inaccessible place.
34 tn In the psalms the “wicked” (רְשָׁעִים, rÿsha’im) are typically 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). They oppose God and threaten his people (Ps 3:8).
35 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form depicts the enemies’ hostile action as underway.
36 tn Heb “a bow.”
37 sn In the darkness. The enemies’ attack, the precise form of which is not indicated, is compared here to a night ambush by archers; the psalmist is defenseless against this deadly attack.
38 tn Heb “pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).
39 tn The precise meaning of this rare word is uncertain. An Ugaritic cognate is used of the “bottom” or “base” of a cliff or mountain (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 47, 159). The noun appears in postbiblical Hebrew with the meaning “foundation” (see Jastrow 1636 s.v. שָׁת).
40 tn The singular form is used here in a collective or representative sense. Note the plural form “pure [of heart]” in the previous verse.
41 sn The quotation of the advisers’ words (which begins in 11:1c) ends at this point. They advise the psalmist to flee because the enemy is poised to launch a deadly attack. In such a lawless and chaotic situation godly people like the psalmist can accomplish nothing, so they might as well retreat to a safe place.
43 sn The
45 tn The two Hebrew imperfect verbal forms in this verse describe the
46 tn Heb “eyelids.”
48 tn Heb “test the sons of men.”
51 tn Heb “his [very] being.” A נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being, soul”) is also attributed to the Lord in Isa 1:14, where a suffixed form of the noun appears as the subject of the verb “hate.” Both there and here the term is used of the seat of one’s emotions and passions.
53 tn Heb “the wicked [one] and the lover of violence.” The singular form is used here in a collective or representative sense. Note the plural form רְשָׁעִים (rÿsha’im, “wicked [ones]”) in vv. 2 and 6.
54 tn The verb form is a jussive, indicating that the statement is imprecatory (“May the
55 tc The MT reads “traps, fire, and brimstone,” but the image of God raining traps, or snares, down from the sky is bizarre and does not fit the fire and storm imagery of this verse. The noun פַּחִים (pakhim, “traps, snares”) should be emended to פַּחֲמֵי (pakhamey, “coals of [fire]”). The rare noun פֶּחָם (pekham, “coal”) occurs in Prov 26:21 and Isa 44:12; 54:16.
57 tn Heb “[may] a wind of rage [be] the portion of their cup.” The precise meaning of the rare noun זִלְעָפוֹת (zil’afot) is uncertain. It may mean “raging heat” (BDB 273 s.v. זַלְעָפָה) or simply “rage” (HALOT 272 s.v. זַלְעָפָה). If one understands the former sense, then one might translate “hot wind” (cf. NEB, NRSV). The present translation assumes the latter nuance, “a wind of rage” (the genitive is attributive) referring to a “whirlwind” symbolic of destructive judgment. In this mixed metaphor, judgment is also compared to an allotted portion of a beverage poured into one’s drinking cup (see Hab 2:15-16).
58 tn Or “for.”
59 tn Or “righteous.”
60 tn Heb “he loves righteous deeds.” The “righteous deeds” are probably those done by godly people (see v. 5). The Lord “loves” such deeds in the sense that he rewards them. Another option is to take צְדָקוֹת (tsÿdaqot) as referring to God’s acts of justice (see Ps 103:6). In this case one could translate, “he loves to do just deeds.”
61 tn Heb “the upright will see his face.” The singular subject (“upright”) does not agree with the plural verb. However, collective singular nouns can be construed with a plural predicate (see GKC 462 §145.b). Another possibility is that the plural verb יֶחֱזוּ (yekhezu) is a corruption of an original singular form. To “see” God’s “face” means to have access to his presence and to experience his favor (see Ps 17:15 and Job 33:26 [where רָאָה (ra’ah), not חָזָה (khazah), is used]). On the form פָנֵימוֹ (fanemo, “his face”) see GKC 300-301 §103.b, n. 3.