Summary: We all want to be blessed. How does one come to be blessed?
Blessed is the Man
The influence of the first Psalm has been great for the better part of 3000 years. We are not sure when it was written, but it could go back to the times of David. Theologians are undecided if it is a separate psalm as well. Some hold it to be the introduction to the book as a whole and servs as a summary to the Psalms. Some versions have actually put Psalms 1 and 2 together as one pslm and attribute it to David. Those who hold that view see Pslm one as being the wisdom of the divinely chosen king. The king whom god chooses will follow the path of the wise and not of the wicked.
However, I think it best not to speculate too much on these matters. The first psalm is indeed a psalm in itself, whether it serves as an introduction to the book or not. And the wisdom of the first psalm would apply to the king as well as anyone else who would be godly. Si I plan to treat this psalm more generically. As God’s inspired word, it applies to every human being.
The Psalm begins with the verb translated “blessed.” The Hebrew says “ashre ha is hasher which gives a sense of poetic rhyming. The word “blessed” which is in the construct state with “man” is actually plural, although it is usually translated in English with the singular “blessed.” It could also be translated “most blessed.” The person who is God’s man or woman and conducts himself or herself in the path of true wisdom is indeed blessed.
It seems a bit odd that rather than starting with what the blessed man does that it starts with what the blessed man does NOT do. I would suppose that because we are all born sinners that what has to happen first is to turn away from the proclivity we have to sin. These evil practices must stop so that we can undertake what we should do. All who come to God have to be redeemed. We all go down the wrong road. If we are to find the true wisdom from God, we need to change the road we are on.
Some commentators see a downward progression of the man on the wrong road. At first, he is walking down the road and taking the advice of the ungodly. At some point, the destination is reached, but they are still standing. There is time to walk away. They are standing with other wicked persons. The last step is when they sit down and are settled in their disposition to do evil. They become scoffers of those who would do good. Not only this, they become guides to others going down the wrong road. This is indeed a dreadful curse. If someone who does not go down this road is most blessed, how cursed are those who come to the end of this road! Who can turn us from the path of destruction?
The only way to escape this curse is by the grace of God who sends His own guides to confront those who are on the wrong way as they ravel down the road. These prophets call out to the sinners to turn from the evil way and turn to the road of blessing. Ultimately it is Jesus Himself who calls us to repent and believe the good news. He has sent apostles and preachers after Him to proclaim the news. The good news actually begins with the admonition to get off the road to destruction. So preaching the impending judgment of God upon sin and unrepentant sinners becomes the start of the good news. As Luther puts it, the gospel has to be preceded by the preaching of the Law.
Once one has gotten off the wrong road, the person who is most blessed has to be taught the right way. The Law of the LORD has to become their delight which motivates them to meditate on it day and night. The Hebrew word for Law is “Torah.” This word can be used in a technical sense referring to the ten commandments for example. It is also used for the name of the first five book in the Bible which do have a lot of legislation in them. But Torah can used in a general sense to refer to instruction proper. It is far more than a list of do’s and don’t do’s. That would be legalism. One could hardly find delight in that. So in this sense, the Christian equivalent is involved in study of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. It should be a delight and not a burden. When one realizes the grace that has been bestowed on the chief of sinners (him or her) and that they have been saved from the road which leads to eternal destruction with its weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, that person would want to know more about the One who saved them. Bible study is simply not an optional practice for the person on the road to blessing. It is both a blessing and the means of blessing.