Psalms 1

Verse 34. He is a king over all the children of pride.] There is

no animal in the waters that does not fear and fly from him. Hence

the Chaldee renders it, all the offspring of FISHES.

Calmet says, that by the children of pride the Egyptians are

meant; that the crocodile is called their king, because he was one

of their principal divinities; that the kings of Egypt were called

Pharaoh, which signifies a crocodile; and that the Egyptians were

proverbial for their pride, as may be seen in Eze 32:12. And it

is very natural to say that Job, wishing to point out a cruel

animal, adored by the Egyptians, and considered by them as their

chief divinity, should describe him under the name of king of all

the children of pride.

Houbigant considers the livyathan, the coupled dragon,

to be emblematical of Satan: "He lifts his proud look to God, and

aspires to the high heavens; and is king over all the sons of

pride." He is, in effect, the governor of every proud, haughty,

impious man. What a king! What laws! What subjects!

Others think that MEN are intended by the sons of pride; and

that it is with the design to abate their pride, and confound them

in the high notions they have of their own importance, that God

produces and describes an animal of whom they are all afraid, and

whom none of them can conquer.

AFTER all, what is leviathan? I have strong doubts whether

either whale or crocodile be meant. I think even the crocodile

overrated by this description. He is too great, too powerful, too

important, in this representation. No beast, terrestrial or

aquatic, deserves the high character here given, though that

character only considers him as unconquerably strong, ferociously

cruel, and wonderfully made. Perhaps leviathan was some extinct

mammoth of the waters, as behemoth was of the land. However,

I have followed the general opinion by treating him as the

crocodile throughout these notes; but could not finish without

stating my doubts on the subject, though I have nothing better to

offer in the place of the animal in behalf of which almost all

learned men and critics argue, and concerning which they generally

agree. As to its being an emblem either of Pharaoh or the devil, I

can say little more than, I doubt. The description is extremely

dignified; and were we sure of the animal, I have no doubt we

should find it in every instance correct. But after all that has

been said, we have yet to learn what leviathan is!




Chronological Notes relative to the Psalms written by David,

upon the supposition that they were all composed in a period

of about forty-seven years. See the Introduction.

-Year from the Creation, 2942-2989.

-Year before the birth of Christ, 1058-1011.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 1062-1015.

-Year since the Deluge, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 1286-1333.

-Year from the destruction of Troy, according to Dionysius of

Halicarnassus, 123-170.

-Year before the first Olympiad, 286-239.

-Year before the building of Rome, 309-262.

-Year of the Julian Period, 3652-3699.

-Year of the Dionysian Period, 460-507.


The blessedness of the righteous shown, in his avoiding every

appearance of evil, 1.

In his godly use of the law of the Lord, 2.

This farther pointed out under the metaphor of a good tree

planted in a good well-watered soil, 3.

The opposite state of the ungodly pointed out, under the

metaphor of chaff driven away by the wind, 4.

The miserableness of sinners, and the final happiness of the

godly, 5, 6.


Verse 1. Blessed is the man] This Psalm has no title, and has

been generally considered, but without especial reason, as a

preface or introduction to the whole book.

The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly

in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an

exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who

has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And

the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a

thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God

created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a

desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness

is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted

is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be

found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to

communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.

That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly] There is a

double CLIMAX in this verse, which it will be proper to note:-

1. There are here three characters, each exceeding the other in

sinfulness. 1. The UNGODLY reshaim from rasha, to

be unjust; rendering to none his due; withholding from God,

society, and himself, what belongs to each. Ungodly-he who has not

God in him; who is without God in the world. 2. SINNERS,

chattaim, from chata, "to miss the mark," "to pass over the

prohibited limits," "to transgress." This man not only does no

good, but he does evil. The former was without God, but not

desperately wicked. The latter adds outward transgression to the

sinfulness of his heart. 3. SCORNFUL, letsim, from

latsah, "to mock, deride." He who has no religion; lives in the

open breach of God's laws, and turns revelation, the immortality

of the soul, and the existence of an invisible world, into

ridicule. He is at least a deist, and endeavours to dissolve, as

much as he can, the bonds of moral obligation in civil society. As

the sinner exceeds the ungodly, so the scornful exceeds both.

The second climax is found in the words, 1. Walk; 2. Stand; 3.

Sit: which mark three different degrees of evil in the conduct

of those persons.

Observe, 1. The ungodly man-one uninfluenced by God. 2. The

sinner-he who adds to ungodliness, transgression. 3. The

scornful-the deist, atheist, &c., who make a mock of every thing

sacred. The UNGODLY man walks, the SINNER stands, and the SCORNFUL

man sits down in the way of iniquity.

Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and

conduct. 1. The ungodly man has his counsel; 2. The sinner has

his way; and, 3. The scorner has his seat.

The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither

zealous for his own salvation, nor for that of others: and he

counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his

plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading,

repenting, &c., &c. there is no need for such things; live an

honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well

enough at last. Now, "blessed is the man who walks not in this

man's counsel;" who does not come into his measures, nor act

according to his plan.

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a

drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to

every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor

drunkenness; many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of

others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the

prophet, let the wicked forsake HIS WAY. Now, blessed is he who

stands not in such a man's WAY.

The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion

and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down-is utterly confirmed

in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared; and

he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits

not down in his SEAT.

See the correspondent relations in this account. 1. He who walks

according to the counsel of the ungodly will soon, 2. Stand to

look on the way of sinners; and thus, being off his guard, he will

soon be a partaker in their evil deeds. 3. He who has abandoned

himself to transgression will, in all probability, soon become

hardened by the deceitfulness of sin; and sit down with the

scorner, and endeavour to turn religion into ridicule.

The last correspondency we find is:-1. The seat answers to the

sitting of the scornful. 2. The way answers to the standing

of the sinner; and 3, the counsel answers to the walking of the


The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is

progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who

acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons

himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from

God. "When lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin

is finished, it brings forth death." Solomon the son of David,

adds a profitable advice to those words of his father: "Enter not

into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men;

avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away;"

Pr 4:14, 15.

As the blessedness of the man is great who avoids the ways and

the workers of iniquity, so his wretchedness is great who acts on

the contrary: to him we must reverse the words of David: "Cursed

is the man who walketh in the counsel of the ungodly; who standeth

in the way of sinners; and who sitteth in the seat of the

scornful." Let him that readeth understand.

Verse 2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord]

chephtso, his will, desire, affection, every motive in his

heart, and every moving principle in his soul, are on the side of

God and his truth. He takes up the law of the Lord as the rule

of his life; he brings all his actions and affections to this holy

standard. He looketh into the perfect law of liberty; and is not a

forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word; and is therefore blessed

in his deed. He not only reads to gain knowledge from the Divine

oracles, but he meditates on what he has read, feeds on it; and

thus receiving the sincere milk of the word, he grows thereby unto

eternal life. This is not an occasional study to him; it is his

work day and night. As his heart is in it, the employment must

be frequent, and the disposition to it perpetual.

Verse 3. Like a tree planted] Not like one growing wild, however

strong or luxuriant it may appear; but one that has been carefully

cultivated; and for the proper growth of which all the advantages

of soil and situation have been chosen. If a child be brought up

in the discipline and admonition of the Lord, we have both reason

and revelation to encourage us to expect a godly and useful life.

Where religious education is neglected, alas! what fruits of

righteousness can be expected? An uncultivated soul is like an

uncultivated field, all overgrown with briers, thorns, and


By the rivers of water] palgey mayim, the streams or

divisions of the waters. Alluding to the custom of irrigation in

the eastern countries, where streams are conducted from a canal or

river to different parts of the ground, and turned off or on at

pleasure; the person having no more to do than by his foot to turn

a sod from the side of one stream, to cause it to share its waters

with the other parts to which he wishes to direct his course. This

is called "watering the land with the foot," De 11:10, where see

the note.

His fruit in his season] In such a case expectation is never

disappointed. Fruit is expected, fruit is borne; and it comes also

in the time in which it should come. A godly education, under the

influences of the Divine Spirit, which can never be withheld where

they are earnestly sought, is sure to produce the fruits of

righteousness; and he who reads, prays, and meditates, will ever

see the work which God has given him to do; the power by which

he is to perform it; and the times, places, and opportunities for

doing those things by which God can obtain most glory, his own

soul most good, and his neighbour most edification.

His leaf also shall not wither] His profession of true religion

shall always be regular and unsullied; and his faith be ever shown

by his works. As the leaves and the fruit are the evidences of

the vegetative perfection of the tree; so a zealous religious

profession, accompanied with good works, are the evidences of the

soundness of faith in the Christian man. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi

gives a curious turn to this expression: he considers the leaves

as expressing those matters of the law that seem to be of no real

use, to be quite unimportant, and that apparently neither add nor

diminish. But even these things are parts of the Divine

revelation, and all have their use; so even the apparently

indifferent actions or sayings of a truly holy man have their use;

and from the manner and spirit in which they are done or said,

have the tendency to bear the observer to something great and


Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper] It is always healthy; it is

extending its roots, increasing its woody fibres, circulating its

nutritive juices, putting forth fruitbuds, blossoms, leaves, or

fruit; and all these operations go on in a healthy tree, in their

proper seasons. So the godly man; he is ever taking deeper root

growing stronger in the grace he has already received, increasing

in heavenly desires, and under the continual influence of the

Divine Spirit, forming those purposes from which much fruit to the

glory and praise of God shall be produced.

Verse 4. The ungodly are not so] The Vulgate and Septuagint,

and the versions made from them, such as the AEthiopic and Arabic,

double the last negation, and add a clause to the end of the

verse, "Not so the ungodly, not so; they shall be like the dust

which the wind scatters away from the face of the earth." There is

nothing solid in the men; there is nothing good in their ways.

They are not of God's planting; they are not good grain; they are

only chaff, and a chaff that shall be separated from the good

grain when the fan or shovel of God's power throws them up to the

wind of his judgments. The manner of winnowing in the eastern

countries is nearly the same with that practiced in various parts

of these kingdoms before the invention of winnowing machines. They

either throw it up in a place out of doors by a large wooden

shovel against the wind; or with their weights or winnowing fans

shake it down leisurely in the wind. The grain falls down nearly

perpendicularly; and the chaff, through its lightness, is blown

away to a distance from the grain.

An ungodly man is never steady; his purposes are abortive; his

conversation light, trifling, and foolish; his professions,

friendships, &c., frothy, hollow, and insincere; and both he and

his works are carried away to destruction by the wind of God's


Verse 5. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand] This refers to

the winnowing mentioned in the preceding verse. Some of the

versions have, The ungodly shall not arise in the judgment-they

shall have no resurrection, except to shame and everlasting

contempt. But probably the meaning is, When they come to be

judged, they shall be condemned. They shall have nothing to plead

in their behalf. That the impious were never to have any

resurrection, but be annihilated, was the opinion of several among

the Jews, and of some among Christians. The former believe that

only the true Israelites shall be raised again; and that the souls

of all others, the Christians not excepted, die with their bodies.

Such unfounded opinions are unworthy of refutation.

Verse 6. The Lord knoweth] yodea, approveth the way,

aloweth the way, Coverdale, of the righteous, tsaddikim,

from tsadak, to give even weight; the men who give to all

their due; opposed to reshaim, Ps 1:1, they who

withhold right from all; see above. Such holy men are under the

continual eye of God's providence; he knows the way that they

take; approves of their motives, purposes, and works, because they

are all wrought through himself. He provides for them in all

exigencies, and defends them both in body and soul.

The way of the ungodly shall perish.] Their projects, designs

and operations, shall perish; God's curse shall be on all that

they have, do, and are. And in the day of judgment they shall be

condemned to everlasting fire in the perdition of ungodly men. The

wicked shall perish at the presence of the Lord. Reader take



The τοκρινομενον in this Psalm is, Who is the happy man? or,

What may make a man happy?

I. This question the prophet resolves in the first two verses:

1. Negatively. It is he, 1. "That walks not in the counsel of the

ungodly." 2. "That stands not in the way of sinners." 3. "That

sits not in the seat of the scornful." 2. Positively. It is he. 1.

"Whose delight is in the law of the Lord." 2. "Who doth meditate

in the law day and night."

II. This happiness of the good man is illustrated two ways: 1.

By a similitude. 2. By comparing him with a wicked man.

1. The similitude he makes choice of is that of a tree; not

every tree neither, but that which hath these eminences: 1. It is

"planted; " it grows not of itself, neither is wild. 2. "Planted

by the rivers of water," it wants not moisture to fructify. 3. It

doth fructify; "it brings forth fruit;" it is no barren tree. 4.

The fruit it brings is seasonable; "it brings forth fruit in its

season." 5. It is always green, winter and summer; "the leaves

wither not." Clearly, without any trope, Whatsoever this good man

doth, or takes in hand, "it shall prosper."

2. He shows this good man's happiness by comparing him with a

wicked man, in whom you shall find all the contrary.

1. In general. Not so. As for the ungodly, it is not so with

them: not so in the plantation; in the place; in the seasonable

fruit; in the greenness; in the prosperity. So far from being like

a tree, that they are like, 1. Chaff, a light and empty thing. 2.

Chaff which the wind whiffles up and down. 3. Chaff which the

wind scatters or driveth away. 4. And never leaves scattering,

till it has driven it from the face of the earth. So the Vulgate,

Septuagint, and Arabic.

2. And that no man may think that their punishment shall extend

only to this life; in plain terms he threatens to them, 1.

Damnation at the great day: "They shall not stand in judgment;"

though some refer this clause to this life. When he is judged by

men, causa cadet, he shall be condemned. 2. Exclusion from the

company of the just: "Sinners shall not stand in the congregation

of the righteous."

III. In the close he shows the cause why the godly is happy, the

wicked unhappy: 1. Because "the way of the righteous is known to

God;" approved by him, and defended. 2. But the way, studies,

plots, "counsels of the wicked, shall perish."-DAVID'S HARP STRUNG

AND TUNED. See the introduction.

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