God in the Psalms No.1
Psa 1:6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
In this very first psalm we are introduced to a very basic concept in respect of the Lord: the Lord sees the affairs of men. The reality is that God IS there and He DOES see all that is going on in the affairs of the earth. Now if that is all it was, we might be able to be complacent, thinking that God is ‘out there’ but powerless to do or affect anything we’re involved in, but this verse doesn’t allow us that complacency.
The verse says first that God watches over some people but that other people will perish. In other words the implication is that God DOES something when He looks and sees. The clear implication is that the latter group of people will perish because GOD destroys them! Now because one group is being contrasted with the other, then when it says “God watches over” the clear meaning must be that He sees AND ACTS in such a way as to preserve them. So one group He preserves and the other group He destroys.
It is somewhat important therefore that we understand who these two groups are, for it suggests that we can either feel secure in the knowledge that God will look after us or, if we are in the other group, we should fear because the warning is that He will destroy us!
So, let’s look at group one, first of all. This group is simply referred to as ‘the righteous‘. This description occurs many times in the Bible. Put in its simplest form, we might refer to those who are living in ‘right-ness’, whose lives are declared right because they are living in the way God has designed them to live. Abraham was declared righteous when he simply believed God (Gen 15:6 / Gal 3:6). Righteous is therefore a term used to describe those who respond well to God, those who live in relationship to God.
By comparison ‘the wicked‘ are those who ignore or reject God and live as they want and live lives quite contrary to the way the Lord designed them to be. When they ‘do wrong’ it is because it is contrary to God’s desire. ‘Wrong’ is that which is contrary to God’s goodness.
Now notice the use of the phrase ‘the way of‘ which is used of both groups. An individual doesn’t just do one or two good things in respect of God, or one or two bad things in respect of God. We LIVE in these ways. The righteous is the man or woman who has come into relationship with God and that means in every area of their life. The wicked have every area of their life ruled by ‘self’ and every area is tainted by wrong. Thus when the psalmist refers to ‘the way of‘ he is meaning the whole of the life of that individual.
So it is that the Lord guards the life of the person who has turned to Him and put their life under His rule. So also, it is that the Lord deals with that person who is daring to live in God’s world contrary to God’s design for them, ignoring or rejecting Him and, even more, living in disharmony with others, causing harm to others. That is why the Lord will deal with them, because, left to their own devices, they will harm God’s world. In His wisdom, the Lord may allow them leeway, space in which to repent (2 Pet 3:9), but if repentance does not come, their end is decreed. They perish!
Thus this simple verse in this first psalm reveals to us a God who distinguishes between right and wrong and who comes down and responds to people according to the way they have chosen to go. The challenge is, which way have we chosen?