I have to say, this has to be one of my favorite Psalms. Opening up to it for me is like entering Cedar Point, and checking out the large main map which is my guide for the park. These rides lead to fun, those rides lead to lame. Anyways...We had to memorize this Psalm for Hebrew class at Martin Luther College, and recite it to the class at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. The Hebrew is elegant, concise, and holds nothing back. And it’s very Jewish (not to say this Middle English here isn't, but...yea...). Now, you might be saying, “Duh, it’s in the Bible.” But let me explain.
It reminds me of the beginning the Didache, which is the earliest Christian “church order.” Jewish catechetical instruction (teaching-centered instruction) characteristically started off with two ways of life, one leading to death, the other to life. And the one you followed depended on your response to God’s Word. And so it is here. Now, of course here in the Psalms God’s Word is primarily his “Torah,” which means his instruction, which is something God has revealed. If anyone ever said meditation is a quirky “Buddhist” or “Eastern” thing, look no farther than Psalm 1:2. The Hebrew יֶהְגֶּ֗ה often refers to muttering…Now, I should say that meditation here is outward focused on God’s Word, and not our own feelings or thoughts.
I like how most translations say, “Blessed…” The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible [though there is some Aramaic…]) uses the same word (Μακάριος) Jesus does in Matthew 5 in his so called “Beatitudes” to start off his Sermon on the Mount where he calls for Israel to be Israel. Quite woodenly literal the word אַ֥שְֽׁרֵי means “Happinesses of...”
Anyways, the Psalm has a well-thought out ebb-and-flow. You see, following the way towards death starts out walking along, then standing with, and then sitting down with. Then the two ways are contrasted in harvest terms, one bearing fruit, and the other blown away like chaff. And with that word for blow away, תִּדְּפֶ֥נּוּ, we see one of those infamous “energic nuns.” I think they’re just euphonic, though the grammatical term implies energetic, right?
Now, I can’t not mention the theme of judgement, which prevalent also throughout the Bible. Judgement is the essential part of God’s justice. Judgement is a good word “since Yahweh knows the way of the just.” There will be a final judgement where God’s people will be vindicated, and as the New Testament made clear, at this judgement there will be a resurrection of the dead (some to life, others to punishment)! It’s God’s way of dealing Yahwith evil and setting things aright in the world since, “the way of the guilty will perish.”