What is the meaning of Psalm 1?

Carla Paton

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Psalm 1 is a beautiful Psalm found in the Bible, specifically in the Hebrew Scriptures, otherwise known as the Old Testament. Although one of the shortest Psalms, it is packed with meaning. This Psalm has been interpreted in many different ways over the years, and its true meaning may never be fully understood. This article will discuss the history and significance of Psalm 1. We will also discuss the genre of the Psalm.

Psalm 1 is considered a wisdom psalm because it focuses on the difference between the virtuous and the wicked. The Psalmist begins by praising those who are righteous, or in other words, those who live according to God’s law. According to the Psalmist, they are like trees planted by streams of water and bear fruit in due season. By contrast, the wicked are like chaff blown away by the wind. Therefore, they will not stand in the judgment and will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Psalm 1

1 Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. (The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (Washington, DC: National Council of Churches of Christ, 1993), Ps 1:1–6.)

As mentioned, the genre of Psalm 1 is wisdom literature. This genre of literature focuses on the contrast between good and evil or right and wrong. This type of literature often uses metaphors and similes to make its point. Wisdom literature is found throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Psalm 1 was likely written during a time of national crisis, such as a time of war or famine. This is because the Psalmist speaks of the wicked being blown away by the wind, which could be a metaphor for destruction. Conversely, the righteous are like trees that are planted by streams of water. This could be a metaphor for life-giving water, or it could simply say that the righteous will weather any storm. No matter the specific meaning of Psalm 1, we can appreciate its beauty and timelessness.


K. M. O’Connor. The Wisdom Literature. Vol. 5. Message of Biblical Spirituality. Wilmington, 1988.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (Washington, DC: National Council of Churches of Christ, 1993), Ps 1:1–6.

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Colorado Highland cattle rancher. Writer and lover of nature and animals.

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