Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
— Psalm 1
In this passage, we are struck by the either/or nature of the text. It seems to be saying, blessed are these people, and wicked are these other people. I don’t know about you, but that sort of either/or-ness rubs me wrong. I like to think of myself as a both/and thinker. I like to think that I try to see nuance and try not to get stuck in black and white thinking.
But here is the thing, if we read this text moralistically we would interpret the first 3 verses as talking about the “good people,” and the last 3 verses as talking about the “bad people.” And if we do that, we miss the point of the passage and the point of the gospel altogether.
Jesus came to show there is only one who is good – and that is God. We don’t come to God by doing everything right; that is moralism; that is religion. We come to God by doing things all wrong and then falling upon His mercy, grace, and forgiveness available in Christ Jesus over and over again.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. There is perishing and there is life. These are dichotomies. There is the person who is planted by the spring of water and there is the chaff who gets blown away. But the difference does not have to do with anything we have done – the difference has to do with the grace we have received.