Theme: The Two Final Ends
In this week’s studies we learn how the doctrine of the two ways is described, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who perfectly fits the description of the righteous man of Psalm 1.
Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6
Verse 6 is a fitting end to the psalm and a proper thematic statement from which to proceed into the Psalter. It distinguishes between the final end of the righteous and the final end of the wicked saying, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. The verse describes the destiny of these two groups of people. King Solomon wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12). That is the way of the wicked.
The way of the righteous is the way of the Lord Jesus Christ, who described himself as “the way” (John 14:6) and promised always to watch over those who follow him (Matt. 28:20). I do not want to read too much prophecy into these psalms, though there is some, and I do not want to suggest that the author of this psalm, whoever he may have been, was looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when he wrote it. I do not believe he was. Nevertheless, it is hard not to notice, as Arno C. Gaebelein, an excellent devotional writer on the psalms, said, that “the perfect man portrayed in the opening verses…is…the Lord Jesus.”1
Let me close with this story. Harry Ironside, the Bible teacher, told of a visit to Palestine years ago by a man named Joseph Flacks. He had an opportunity to address a gathering of Jews and Arabs and took for the subject of his address the first psalm. He read it and then asked the question: “Who is this blessed man of whom the psalmist speaks? This man never walked in the counsel of the wicked or stood in the way of sinners or sat in the seat of mockers. He was an absolutely sinless man. Nobody Spoke. So Flack got explicit: “Was he our great father Abraham?”
One old man said, “No, it cannot be Abraham. He denied his wife and told a lie about her.”
“Well, how about the law giver Moses?”
“No,” someone said. “It cannot be Moses. He killed a man, and he lost his temper by the waters of Meribah.”
Flack suggested David. It was not David. There was silence for a long while. Then an elderly Jew arose and said, “My brothers, I have a little book here; it is called the New Testament. I have been reading it; and if I could believe this book, if I could be sure that it is true, I would say that the man of the first Psalm was Jesus of Nazareth.”2
Jesus is that man, of course. He is the only perfect man who ever lived, and he is the Savior. It is he who stands at the portal of this book to show us the way to live and help us do it.
Where else in Scripture do you find this teaching about the two final destinies of both the righteous and the wicked?
Give specific examples from the Gospels of how Jesus perfectly demonstrated the teaching of Psalm 1.
Application: In what ways might you at times appear more like chaff than the fruitful tree? What do you need to stop doing, and what do need to begin doing, in order to better apply this psalm to your life?
For Further Study: To see how Paul discusses the doctrine of the two ways, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from Romans 2, “Good for the Good, Bad for the Bad.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
1Arno C. Gaebelein, The Book of Psalms: A Devotional and Prophetic Commentary (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux, 1965), p. 18.
2 H. A. Ironside, Studies on Book One of the Psalms (New York: Loizeaux, 1952), pp. 9-10.