Psalms 1 – “Didactic Psalm: The Righteous and the Wicked”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The righteous are blessed but the wicked are doomed.

II. Photo
The psalmist praises the righteous: “He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever it produces thrives.” (v. 3)

III. Select Verses
(The entire chapter)
1-3: Happy is the man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked, or taken the path of sinners, or joined the company of the insolent; rather, the teaching of the LORD is his delight, and he studies that teaching day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever it produces thrives.
4-5: Not so the wicked; rather, they are like chaff that wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners, in the assembly of the righteous.
6: For the LORD cherishes the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is doomed.

IV. Outline
1-3. Beatitude for the just man
4-5. Denunciation for the wicked man
6. Summary statement

V. Comment
Collins makes two interesting points in his introduction to Psalms, and the first has to do with the name of the book: “The name ‘Psalms’ is derived from the Greek Psalmoi (Latin Psalmi), from the verb psallo, to sing to the accompaniment of a harp or lyre. In Hebrew tradition the book is called tehillim, ‘praises.’ The root word, hll, is reflected in the acclamation ‘Hallelujah,’ which in the Hebrew Bible occurs only in the Psalter, at the beginning or end of several psalms. The closest Hebrew equivalent for ‘psalm’ is mizmor, which occurs fifty-seven times. Individual psalms are also called shir (song) or even tephillah (prayer), among other terms, some of which are no longer intelligible, such as miktam.” (461)

The second point describes the shape of the book: “The book of Psalms as found in the Hebrew Bible is divided into five books: 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150. Each book ends with a doxology, or short hymn of praise: 41:13; 72:20; 89:52; 106:48. Psalm 150 is a doxology in its entirety, to mark the end of the Psalter… Nonetheless, there is evidence that this arrangement of the Psalms was made at a relatively late time. One indication of this is the presence of several smaller clusters that reflect earlier groupings of psalms, such as the Psalms of Asaph and of the Korahites, noted above, or the ‘Songs of Ascent’ (130-134). In the first book (1-41), all but 1, 2, 10, and 33 have superscriptions that mention David. Another cluster of psalms with Davidic superscriptions is found in Psalms 51-70 (of which only 66-67 are exceptions). Moreover, Psalm 72 is followed by an epilogue, which says that the prayers of David, son of Jesse, are ended. This statement would seem to mark the end of an earlier collection. Psalms 42-83 (that is, the second book and most of the third) are sometimes called the Elohistic Psalter, since in these psalms God is called ‘elohim  more than four times as often as YHWH, whereas the latter name predominates in the rest of the Psalter by a ration of better than 2:1. It should be noted that this Elohistic Psalter overlaps the second and third books of the canonical collection.” (462)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo taken from