What is the paradox that is found in the first Psalm?

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Psalms one

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalms 1).

Rewards and punishments

Psalm one is a poetic expression that speaks of the good rewards of the man who lives a life wholly consecrated to God, and the utter destruction that awaits the man who rejects God.  In other words, righteousness succeeds and unrighteousness fails.

The Psalm starts with the words, “Blessed.”  Happiness grasps both material and spiritual blessings. This same word “blessed,” is used in the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3–11). The child of God experiences happiness because he avoids associating with evil-doers, avoids corruption with evil, and he says No to that which is not wright. Rather than doing these sins, he finds continual joy in reflecting on God’s law (or His will) day and night.

Promises of blessings to the righteous

And with such preoccupation, the righteous reaps the following benefits: (1) he produces the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23; Hebrews 12:11); (2) he is constantly energetic (Psalms 92:12, 13); and (3) he ultimately succeeds in whatever he does.

As the tree is rooted in the solid earth and draws its water from the ever-flowing stream, so the godly man sends his roots and derives nourishment from the water springs of salvation. He is unwavering and secure in God. And though he may be attacked by hardships and trials, he stands firm. In fact, the bigger the trial, the deeper the root and the stronger his reliance on God is.

Then, the psalmist shows the result of a life of the wicked who are resembled by the chaff that has no root. For the evildoers don’t have stability and cannot stand against the storms. They are at the mercy of the wind and storms.

The paradox

The paradox that is found in Psalm one is in the use of the two figures of speech. Outwardly, the tree appears to be a prisoner but in reality, it is free, it grows, and it bears fruit. Outwardly, the chaff appears to be free but in reality, it is a prisoner to the atmosphere. Therefore, the Christian, when connected to God, is free. He grows and produces fruit but the chaff, disconnected from God, produces nothing, and disappears (Matthew 25:31–46). Thus, the world is built on moral basics: in the long run it is life for the righteous and in the long run it is death for the wicked.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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