The Two Roads of Psalm 1


On my way to a speaking engagement one weekend I missed a critical turn. Thankfully, I hadn’t gone too far before I realized my mistake and pulled into a gas station where some of the locals helped me find my destination. In that case, taking the wrong turn wasn’t that big of a deal. After all, I arrived on time. But what about taking a wrong turn onto the road labeled anger, beauty, drugs, entertainment, idolatry, envy, food, power, position, prestige, or sensuality?

The day I took a wrong turn onto the road labeled thinness became years of walking on the wrong road. At first I just walked in the counsel of the older girls on my cross-country team who closely counted calories. But it wasn’t long before I stood with them in their convictions, not wanting one ounce of fat to cross my lips. Finally, I sat down and ignored those trying to change my sinful ways, thinking my ways were better than theirs.

Change didn’t come through nutrition counseling, but Scripture. The words of Scripture cut through my seductions, put salve on my sores, cleansed my corruptions, revealed my rebellion, and strengthened my starved soul. In the end, the Lord buried my addiction to thinness with His gracious shovel and put me on the right road again.

Scripture has something specific to say about right and wrong roads. Today I want us to look briefly at Psalm 1.

The Righteous Road (Psalm 1:1-3)

The opening verses of Psalm 1 remind us that there is no true happiness apart from the righteous road. The righteous man is compared to a tree that is continually nourished by the plentiful waters of a stream, so that its fruit never fails and its leaves never languish. The one who is constantly nourished on the steadfast words of the Lord is one who bears good fruit and whose source of strength never shrivels.

The Enemy, the world, and our own flesh will try to capture us by counsel of a different kind. The wicked will tell us that God’s way won’t lead to power, prestige or position. They will try to get us to walk with them, and before we know it we will be standing the same way sinners do, secretly looking for the next seduction that seemingly satisfies. Finally, it won’t be long before we actually sit down and stay awhile, scoffing at the righteous road and pitying those who walk on it.

There is only One man who has never walked in the counsel of the wicked, stood in the way of sinners, and sat in the seat of scoffers. Jesus Christ delighted in the law of the Lord and meditated on it day and night as He lived a life of perfect obedience, died a cursed death for you and me, rose again as the firstfruits of the resurrection, and ascended into heaven where He is exalted at the right hand of God the Father. As those who are in Christ, we are to walk on the road of righteousness by enjoying God, loving Him, trusting Him and obeying Him. How are you walking today?

The Rebellious Road (Psalm 1:4-6)

In stark contrast to the righteous road is the rebellious road. It seems prosperous, fruitful, and lucrative, but like the threshing floor that sifts out the good grain from the useless grain, it reveals rebellion, doesn’t get you anywhere or anything in the end—except burned.

On judgment day, when Jesus returns, the rebellious won’t be able to stand secure in His presence. Instead, they will seek shelter in anyone or anything they can find, but it will be a futile attempt, because the Judge of all the earth knows our hiding places. When He returns there will be a great divide, displaying which road was right. The righteous will be with Christ for all eternity, but the wicked will be separated from Him forever.

Perhaps you can relate to my wrong turn on the road labeled thinness, or another road with the same alluring power. Today the Lord offers us a better road and a perfect Redeemer. Jesus Christ has come to free us from false, futile, foolish roads in order to put us on the right road where we can persevere in faithfulness because we are preserved by the faithful One. No matter what suffering is on your road today, or what sin you’ve committed, or what service you are struggling to complete, the Lord beckons you to choose the right way, the way that will not only delight Him, but will delight you as well. Man’s chief end is not just to glorify God, but also to enjoy him forever.

Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina and is a member of Christ Covenant Church. She is the author of Hebrews: His Hope, An Anchor for Our Souls; Revelation: Let the One Who Is Thirsty Come; Judges & Ruth: There Is A Redeemer; 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith; and The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community (forthcoming).