Blessed is the one who walks not
in the counsel of the wicked.”
In thinking about the meaning of Psalm 1 and its appropriation, two features should be kept in mind. One is the way the psalm richly illustrates the conception of form and content, the contribution of poetic features to the communication of the word of the text to the reader (see chap. 3 on Ps. 1:1). The second feature is contextual, the fact and significance of the placing of Psalm 1 as an introduction to the Psalter. Attention to both of these dimensions will enrich one's hearing and understanding of this psalm.
The poetry of Psalm 1 is reflected not only in the rich parallelism (see chap. 3) but also in the structure and movement of the psalm as a whole and the two similes of the tree and the chaff that stand at the center of the psalm. The movement of the psalm revolves around and demonstrates the contrast of two ways of life: the way of the righteous (vv. 1-3) and the way of the wicked (vv. 4-5). The last verse (v. 6) provides the final contrast and a true conclusion in the formal sense (i.e., the psalm comes to an end there) and in the material sense (i.e., the way of the wicked comes to an end). Even within the two parts of the psalm, however, the contrast is made and the psalm constantly sets these two ways off against each other by a number of stylistic features. The righteous one does not “stand” in the way of sinners (v. 1) as the wicked do not “stand” in the judgment or place of judgment. The expression “council of the righteous” (RSV: “congregation of the righteous”) in v. 5 is as