New English Translation
2 Instead[a] he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;[b]
he meditates on[c] his commands[d] day and night.
3 He is like[e] a tree planted by flowing streams;[f]
it[g] yields[h] its fruit at the proper time,[i]
and its leaves never fall off.[j]
He succeeds in everything he attempts.[k]
4 Not so with the wicked!
Instead[l] they are like wind-driven chaff.[m]
- Psalm 1:2 tn Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki ʾim, “instead”) introduces a contrast between the sinful behavior depicted in v. 1 and the godly lifestyle described in v. 2.
- Psalm 1:2 tn Heb “his delight [is] in the law of the Lord.” In light of the following line, which focuses on studying the Lord’s law, one might translate, “he finds pleasure in studying the Lord’s commands.” However, even if one translates the line this way, it is important to recognize that mere study and intellectual awareness are not ultimately what bring divine favor. Study of the law is metonymic here for the correct attitudes and behavior that should result from an awareness of and commitment to God’s moral will; thus “obeying” has been used in the translation rather than “studying.”
- Psalm 1:2 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the characteristic behavior described here and lends support to the hyperbolic adverbial phrase “day and night.” The verb הָגָה (hagag) means “to recite quietly; to meditate” and refers metonymically to intense study and reflection.
- Psalm 1:2 tn Or “his law.”
- Psalm 1:3 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries the same characteristic force as the imperfect in the preceding verse. According to the psalmist, the one who studies and obeys God’s commands typically prospers.
- Psalm 1:3 tn Heb “channels of water.”
- Psalm 1:3 tn Heb “which.”
- Psalm 1:3 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 draw attention to the typical nature of the actions/states they describe.
- Psalm 1:3 tn Heb “in its season.”
- Psalm 1:3 tn Or “fade”; “wither.”sn The author compares the godly individual to a tree that has a rich water supply (planted by flowing streams), develops a strong root system, and is filled with leaves and fruit. The simile suggests that the godly have a continual source of life which in turn produces stability and uninterrupted prosperity.
- Psalm 1:3 tn Heb “and all which he does prospers”; or “and all which he does he causes to prosper.” (The simile of the tree does not extend to this line.) It is not certain if the Hiphil verbal form (יַצְלִיחַ, yatsliakh) is intransitive-exhibitive (“prospers”) or causative (“causes to prosper”) here. If the verb is intransitive, then כֹּל (kol, “all, everything”) is the subject. If the verb is causative, then the godly individual or the Lord himself is the subject and כֹּל is the object. The wording is reminiscent of Josh 1:8, where the Lord tells Joshua: “This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper (literally, “cause your way to prosper”) and be successful.”
- Psalm 1:4 tn Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki ʾim, “instead,” cf. v. 2) introduces a contrast between the prosperity of the godly depicted in v. 3 and the destiny of the wicked described in v. 4.
- Psalm 1:4 tn Heb “[they are] like the chaff which [the] wind blows about.” The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the typical nature of the action described.sn Wind-driven chaff. In contrast to the well-rooted and productive tree described in v. 3, the wicked are like a dried up plant that has no root system and is blown away by the wind. The simile describes the destiny of the wicked (see vv. 5-6).