A Study Of PSALM ONE

 

Many Christians do not realize the significance and importance of figures of speech used in the Bible. Figures of speech are the Holy Spirit’s markings as to what is important in the Word of God. At a glance, I can see five (5) figures of speech in only six (6) verses of Scripture in Psalm 1. We are going to study some of these figures in detail as we study this Psalm. Figures of speech are designed to make you stop and think about what you are reading. Do you remember this example?

"The ground is dry."

"The ground is thirsty."

The former is a normal statement without a figure of speech. The second is a more vivid description making use of a figure of speech. I studied Bullinger’s Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible for about 1 & 1/2 years. It was one of the most memorable, exciting and profitable times I have ever spent studying God’s Word. I plan to rework this book again in the future.

Psalm 1: 1 – Blessed is  the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly [or wicked], nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

One of the greatest tricks the adversary pulls on true Christians is to make it appear like the ungodly are blessed because they may prosper financially. So often, I have wondered why so many ‘successful’ people are checking into drug and alcohol rehab centers or even committing suicide. Many of these people are ungodly in many ways and live a miserable existence. God’s Word has no place in their life. But the enemy wants it to appear  like they are prospering and have everything a person could want. This enemy wants you to imitate and worship these people instead of God. That is the reason for this deception.

In contrast, God says that a man who does not fellowship with these people is blessed. God warns us about fellowship with darkness in many parts of His Word.

II Corinthians 6: 14 -- Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?

Ephesians 5: 11 -- And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

It also states in the Bible that if you have too much money, you will forget God. If you don’t have enough money, you will curse God. Obviously, you want to be somewhere in between. Also, a person who has too much financial prosperity cannot sleep at night. This is stated in the Bible. They simply have so much on their mind, they have no peace. I know of a person who prospered to a great extent in the field of nutritional products that had to take sleeping pills and eventually died mixing them with alcohol in a desperate attempt to sleep. Can you imagine what it is like to live like that?

We, as believers, are much better off, if only we would realize it, keep it simple, and be thankful. That is why God gave us His blueprint for living. When we study and APPLY it to the best of our ability, we will never experience the problems of the ungodly. Let’s get back to Psalm 1: 1.

There is an interesting figure of speech here called Anabasis or Gradual Ascent. This is "An Increase of Sense in Successive Sentences." The writing ascends up step by step. Let’s repeat the verse so you can see it more clearly:

Psalm 1: 1 – Blessed is  the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly [or wicked], nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Look closely at the pattern after the words "Blessed is the man . . . . "

The next three (3) successive sentences INCREASE the emphasis or sense.

1)  that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

2)  nor standeth in the way of sinners,

3)  nor sitteth in the way of the scornful.

The first are impious, as to their mind; the second are sinners, who not only think, but carry out the workings of their evil minds; the third are scorners, glorying in their wickedness and scoffing at righteousness.

You should be able to easily recognize the gradual ascent in the verse pertaining to the wickedness of these ungodly people.

Psalm 1: 2 – But his delight [pleasure, desire] is  in the law of the Lord; and in his law [His Word] doth he meditate day and night.

There is a great key in this verse on how to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ promised in John 10: 10b.

John 10: 10b -- . . . . . . . I [Jesus Christ] am come that they might life and that they might have it  more abundantly.

The man described in Psalm 1: 2 keeps God and God’s Word first in his life. It is his pleasure, it is his desire, it is what he lives for – to do God’s Will. What is one of the ways he does this? The verse tells us that "in his law doth he meditate day and night."

Do you understand what this means? The word ‘meditate’ literally means he "says it to himself".  In our renewed mind efforts, this is something we can work on. It is referred to as Scripture retemory or memorizing Scriptures. In my walk with God, it is one of my strong points. I may know 100 Scriptures by heart. I may not be carrying my Bible around with me, but the Word of God is in the fleshly tables of my heart. This is an effective way to defeat your personal adversary. Learn different Scriptures for different situations and emotions by heart.

I am human just like you and I am no more important to God than you are. At times I do feel discouraged. These thoughts and emotions do not come from the true God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is only one thing that DEFEATS the devil and all his devil spirits and that is the Word of God rightly divided. So I say the Word to myself from memory.

Galatians 6: 9 – And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not [in our minds].

See the teaching "Meditating Upon God’s Word" for some help with this very important principle. Although I found it interesting and a challenge to learn Scriptures by memory, some people may find it to be work. It takes a lot of time and effort but you will see that it is well worth it. Begin with one Scripture and go from there. Scripture retemory allows you to meditate upon God’s Word day and night.

Psalm 1: 3 – And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his [its] fruit in his [its] season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

If you feel in doubt as to whether God is guiding you, this verse contains a figure of speech that will comfort you and assure you that God is taking care of you. Remember, He will never leave you nor forsake you. He loves us more than we can comprehend. Since this verse is one of the center points of this teaching, let’s also include a different translation from George M. Lamsa – from the ancient eastern Aramaic text.

Psalm 1: 3 -- And he shall be like a tree planted by a stream of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaves fall not off; and whatsoever he begins he accomplishes. – George M. Lamsa’s Aramaic text

A quite interesting figure of speech, in its most basic form in this verse, is called an "Ellipsis" and the more explanatory English name would be "Omission." There are many figures of this type in God’s Word and they mean that there is a gap somewhere in the Scripture -- a word or words are left out  or omitted.  I am going to supply you with this extra information which will make the verse come alive for you. [See verse six (6) for a much simpler example of "Omission".] There are many different types of figures involving Omission, but let’s keep it simple for now.

Another foundational point that needs to be understood are the customs and peculiarities of Eastern culture better known as Orientalisms. In the above verse (King James Version), the phrase "rivers of water" is in the Hebrew “palgey mayim”.  ‘Palgey’ means ‘divisions of’ and ‘mayim’  is referring to any small artificial channel. So "palgey mayim" are little channels or gullies of water which divide the Eastern garden into small 12 foot squares, FOR PURPOSES OF IRRIGATON. We know now that the phrase "rivers of water" are channels by which the water is distributed or divided, especially the channels which divide up the Eastern garden.

In Psalm 1: 3 , the man who meditates on God’s Word is like a tree planted by the palgey mayim, i.e., in a garden, where it will have an adequate supply of water AND THE CONSTANT CARE OF THE GARDENER. It is not left out in the plain to care for itself; to thrive if it gets water, or to die if it does not.

Each little channel in the garden was filled by the gardener with water from the spring, or well, or fountain, which every Eastern garden must possess. Do you know how the water was distributed? By the simple movement of the gardener’s foot, the water was sent first into one channel, then into another. By simply moving His foot, he damned up one little stream, or by a similar movement, he released the water in another.

Just as this garden is taken care of by the gardener, God is taking care of us in like manner. He protects us by damming up a certain area (gully) that could bring harm to us. In areas where we need more guidance and instruction, He allows irrigation to flow freely through that gully. We should not ever again limit God’s Almighty’s power by our doubt, worry, and fear, but BELIEVE in a positive manner. So often when we feel we cannot accomplish a goal, it is because God knows we are not ready to yet accomplish that goal. He is trying to keep us out of trouble or excessive stress by making us wait until the exact right time. It takes a renewed mind to understand this and the renewing of our minds is a very difficult and slow process. Remember, it is God’s Almighty power that is required to turn the heart of man. Remember that God’s Almighty hand can turn around the most difficult situation just as the palgai mayim is turned by the simple movement of the gardener’s foot. Next time, you are in a difficult situation, put that image in your mind of God’s foot damming up certain gullies and opening up others FOR OUR BENEFIT – BECAUSE HE LOVES US. Father knows what is best for us. Many times, we cannot understand how or why He works in certain ways. Remember, the man who meditates on God’s Word is planted and protected, just as a tree in a garden is cared for, in contrast to the "tree of the field" which is not. Overall, it is a beautiful illustration and one that I pray always stays in your memory.

Psalm 1: 4 – The ungodly are  not so: but are  like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

The contrast between the chaff in the wind and the "planted" tree is striking and solemn. Remember, don’t think the ungodly are prospering no matter how they may appear to act. God cannot protect them by their own free will actions as compared to the person who meditates on God’s Word night and day.

Can you see a different figure of speech in verse four (4) that is also in verse three (3)? The word that is identical is the word "like". This indicates the Figure of Speech that is called a "Simile" or "Resemblance". However, in this example, it is not a declaration that one thing resembles another except for the words themselves. In this situation, the figure is an illustration of a resemblance between WORDS, and not things. There can be up to forty (40) variations on only one type of Figure of Speech.

Psalm 1: 5 – Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

God will see to it that we will never have to be in the company of the unbeliever and the unrighteous and the sinners. In this Administration of the Church of Grace Administration, God asks us not to do so [see verses II Cor. 6: 14 and Eph. 5: 11 above] by our own free will. After Jesus Christ returns, we won’t have to be concerned with this.

The Aramaic text and the New English Bible give very similar translations as the King James Version. Psalm 1: 5 is self-explanatory.

Psalm 1: 6 – For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Remember the Figure of Speech "Omission" from verse One (1). This will be a much simpler example of this figure. Again "Ellipsis" or "Omission" means that a word or words are left out or omitted. Let me supply these words that are latent in each statement. As Bullinger states it: “In the former sentence we have the cause,  in the latter, the effect".  If you do plan to study Bullinger’s Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, I should point out to you that he goes into very much intricate detail at times. Do your best with the work – it is the most exhaustive study on Figures in the Bible anywhere. Don’t get stymied on too many details. Some explanations you will not completely understand. Remember ‘diagramming’ from high school English classes. He actually diagrams many Scriptures.

Now here is Psalm 1: 6 with the omissions supplied and put in brackets so that you can easily recognize the words that are added to the original Scripture. In this example, I would say that these words added are necessary for the grammar, but not absolutely necessary for the sense. They will help you to understand the Scripture from a grammatical standpoint, but are not necessarily a part of the original God-breathed Word given to holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. For unknown reasons, Bullinger omits the word "For" at the beginning of the verse. ‘For’ is a conjunction. I will include it.

Psalm 1: 6 – For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous [and it shall not perish,] but [the Lord knoweth] the way of the ungodly [and it] shall perish.

Using either translation, we are assured that those who are righteous born-again believers WILL NEVER PERISH. In contrast to the ungodly who reject God’s Word and will perish, we have eternal life and all hell cannot stop us. It is my prayer for you that you remember some of the benefits of God and stand strong with God and God’s people. God needs you. Thank you for your prayers.

Psalm 103: 2 – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

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