Psalm 1 is a psalm that is very black and white. It contrasts the righteous with the wicked, the just with the unjust, good with evil. It paints a picture of the “way” that God watches over and the “way” that will ultimately perish. It uses stark categories that leave many readers wondering if it’s a bit unrealistic. Life is more messy than the picture presented in the Psalm. “Good” people are only really authentic if they have a shade of brokenness, a dark past, some fatal flaw or inconsistency. We don’t buy the squeaky clean type because experience tells us that they don’t really exist. Life is more conflicted. So is Psalm 1 simply overstating the matter? Painting pictures in an ideal world? Or something else?
Well, consider this: Shortly after Jesus’ baptism, Matthew, the gospel writer, records the following event for us (Matt 4:1-11)…
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
See here is the conflict between the word-soaked righteous man and the wicked. In the Bible you can’t really get more wicked than Satan – he is the very essence of evil. And here he comes to present Jesus with an alternative worldview. Here he comes and he offers wicked counsel, he tries to get Jesus to see the world from his point of view (taking him up on the mountain), he’s even a mocker of sorts in the way he twists the Scriptures.
But Jesus delights himself in the Word of God. Everything Satan throws at him he rebuffs with God’s view of the world – with Scripture – God’s Word. And so in the end Jesus, like a rooted tree, is left standing, attended by angels, and Satan, like chaff, drifts away.
“The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1:6)
Jesus is the blessed man of Psalm 1. He is the righteous one. In him there is no sin, there is no wickedness. In Jesus we find the one place in this world that is black and white like Psalm 1 paints it.