— Charles Hodge, the opening lines from his inaugural address as Professor of Oriental and Biblical Literature at Princeton Seminary as cited in The Life of Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1880), 94; freely available via Google Books.
Someone wrote me today (presumably following up on my review of the Essential Guide to the Psalms) and asked if I could recommend some free commentaries on the Psalms. However, the e-mail address bounced back with an error (a typo, I presume); so, I have decided to post my reply here.
For non-technical commentaires, see:
The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms: Key Insights for Reading God’s Word
By Brian L. Webster and David R. Beach
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010
ISBN: 9780310286899 (WorldCat, Google Books, Book Mole)
Summary: This book provides a beginner’s guide to several basic literary features of the Psalms and to the basic message of each individual Psalm.
What is this book?
This book attempts to fill a unique niche: it is neither a full-blown commentary nor a detailed study bible. Rather, the authors explain the purpose of this book as even more basic than these standard tools:
While we do not aim to explain every poetic line, we do hope to help you select where to visit and to provide a basic orientation as you read each psalm. We point out essential elements and shed light on occasional phrases or identify relevant information about the setting. (p. 11)
In the main section of the book, each psalm is evaluated succinctly (i.e., in one page) according to the following schema (p. 12):
- Theme (the main idea)
- Type (genre). The authors provide a brief overview of the following psalm types that they employ throughout the book (pp. 15-18):
- Hymns of praise
- Hymns of thanksgiving
- Hymns of praise/thanksgiving
- Hymns of the Lord’s kingship
- Hymns: Zion songs
- Laments/cries for help (individual and communal)
- Psalms of confidence
- Royal psalms
- Liturgy psalms
- Instructional and wisdom psalms
- Structure (the stanzas and basic thought flow)
- Special explanatory notes
- Reflection (the significance of the psalm for today)
For whom is this book?
The authors do not specify their target audience. In my estimation this book would be useful to any Christian, junior-high-school age or above, who has never studied the Psalms before and who would like a very basic introduction to each Psalm. The two most helpful features of this book for new students of the Psalter are its basic introductions to
- the different types or genres of psalms (pp. 15-22)
- and how Hebrew poetry is represented by indentation in English Bibles (pp. 23-24).
- the Psalms are the most frequently referenced OT book in the NT (e.g., Acts 1-2; Hebrews 1-2, etc.),
- Jesus said the Psalms were written about him (Luke 24:44),
- and Protestants have a long history of interpreting the Psalms in light of Christ and the NT (e.g., Martin Luther, David Dickson, the Puritans, etc.),
it is disappointing that the authors make almost no attempt whatsoever to connect the Psalms to either Christ or the New Testament. For example, the reflection for Psalm 2 invites the reader to reflect abstractly upon the “freedom and security” that “are found under the authority of God” (p. 38) without any thought to how God has exercised his authority concretely by exalting his Son, Jesus Christ, to king David’s throne (see Acts 13:33 and Heb. 1:5, both of which cite Psalm 2:7; cf. Rom. 1:4).
Without such connections, the section, “Personalizing the Psalms” (pp. 25-26) in the introduction and the “reflection” sections within the overviews of all 150 Psalms risk subjectivity. If any respect is to be given to how the NT itself uses the Psalms, then the Psalms ought not be treated merely as an invitation to abstract, generic, subjective spirituality–a spirituality with no connection to Christ; or, a spirituality that is quick to “add lines [to the Psalms] that are specific to our situation” (p. 26) without first looking to how Christ himself has fulfilled several of the Psalms in his own humiliation and exaltation. The subjective finds its truest and fullest freedom when it is grounded in the objective, rather than vice versa; the redemption accomplished by Christ always precedes and grounds the redemption that Christ applies to his church by his Spirit.
Additionally, the pictures–all of which are cheesy stock photographs culled from online databases such as istockphoto.com–add zero value to the book. Hebrew poetry does not need “help” from such trite modern illustrations as:
- a muddy hand from someone presumably drowning (or already drowned?) in a river (p. 76),
- an angry, old white man in a suit (p. 144),
- a female jogger in a spandex suit hunched over in a field (p. 177).
Summary: Campbell’s brief blook provides eight succinct, concrete, and realistic strategies for developing one’s Greek (and Hebrew) skills after seminary. Maintenance requires at least 10 minutes per day. Development requires a bit more. Either way both can be done, and Campbell shows how.
Many seminarians encounter the biblical languages in much the same way that the hare encounters his race with the tortoise in Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare: The life-long marathon that is learning biblical Greek is treated as a sprint race, and hence the would-be sprint runner is defeated before he or she has even begun.
Typically, after graduation one’s use of the Greek New Testament slowly subsides. Mild guilt fuels random flashes of review, but such reviews quickly fade into straight neglect. Neglect breeds a flash or two of envy, and after envy has run its course one finally utters self-justifying phrases to themselves (and to others–funny how one cannot keep such sentiments to one’s self), such as: “Why do I need Greek when I have [insert expensive Bible software of choice here]?”
In this light the most important part of this book is found in the parsing of its title: Present, active, imperative. To keep your Greek is to guard it from atrophy. Use it or lose it.
Doubtless this quip has been the hallmark of Greek teachers for countless eternities. My college and seminary Greek professors all said it to me. As a post-grad seminarian I find myself saying the same thing to seminary greenhorns, to pastoral colleagues, and even to myself. So, if this well-worn imperative is not new, then what is so special about Campbell’s formulation of it?
First, “keep your greek” still needs to be said. Language acquisition truly is a marathon, not a sprint, and when it comes to Greek the tortoise really is the victor over the hare. Since repetition is the mother of learning, seminarians need to be reminded that if they hope to maintain their language skills they must walk repetition’s way like the tortoise–slow and steady. Learning Greek and Hebrew is a way of life, a daily habit. It is achieved in small steps over long periods of time.
Campbell not only reiterates this point–one that every Greek student already knows–in a fresh and non-patronizing way, but also he provides eight concrete strategies for accomplishing this goal. Thus, if you are in a rut, Campbell shows you how to get moving. And if you are lost, he shows you the map.
Second, the imperative has not changed, but the tools of the trade have. Campbell deals frankly with how the digitization of linguistic tools has affected the method of learning the biblical languages. His approach is neither that of a luddite nor a technophile but a realist. Additionally, he includes a useful annotated list of digital language-learning tools at the end of the book.
Third, Campbell provides much needed hope for those whose former Greek skills have gone stone cold. The road back is tough, he admits, but it is doable (see ch. 9).
Anyone who has completed formal coursework in Greek and/or Hebrew will benefit from Campbell’s succinct, well-written, and realistic strategies for maintaining one’s facility in the biblical languages throughout a lifetime of ministry.
In this paper I attempt to unpack the covenantal dynamics of Hosea’s call to repentance in Hosea 14. My goal is to help modern readers of Hosea apply the call to repentance within today’s dispensation of the covenant of grace: the church age, or the time between Christ’s first and second advents.
Read and Respond
I welcome any critiques, comments, suggestions, etc., as I seek to study Hosea’s prophecy further with the particular goal of making plain the application of Hosea’s message for today.
(Art of Hosea from the Web Gallery of Art.)
(To see the Hebrew text you need the free Ezra SIL SR unicode font.)
We have seen that the blessed man is like a tree. Now the text invites us to explore further into the nature of the blessings attained by “treeness.”
שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם
Specifically, the blessed man is like a tree which “was transplanted by channels of water.” First, what does it mean to be planted/transplanted?
Qal Passive Participle: “to be planted/transplanted” (שָׁת֪וּל)
The blessed tree is one that is planted. (The verb can mean both “plant” and “transplant.” Here it is likely the former. See TWOT, II:960.) The passive participle used here as an adjective to describe the tree implies that there is a planter. Who, then, is the planter? The following factors help to answer this question:
- Common sense (i.e. trees do not plant themselves),
- the grammar of the passive participle,
- the transplanted tree imagery as it is used in the prophets (i.e. Ezekiel 17; Ezekiel 19; Hosea 9:13),
- and the same imagery used elsewhere in the Psalter (i.e. Psalm 92:12-15 ) all lead the reader to the answer: Yahweh is the sovereign Planter who plants the blessed tree.
What might first appear to be a minute grammatical point about a passive participle yields an important truth about man’s relation to God: No man plants himself by God’s life-giving waters; rather, God Himself plants His own blessed trees. Let no man think he can take initiative on his own in becoming a Torah-keeper (i.e. a covenant of works); God of His own initiative transplants dead, Torah-breaking stumps from their dry desert graves to His lush, life-giving riverbanks (i.e. a covenant of grace). In Matthew Henry’s words:
The divine blessing produces real effects. It is the happiness of a godly man, [1.] That he is planted by the grace of God. These trees were by nature wild olives, and will continue so till they are grafted anew, and so planted by a power from above. Never any good tree grew of itself; it is the planting of the Lord, and therefore he must in it be glorified. Isa. lxi. 3, The trees of the Lord are full of sap.
In the next post we’ll look at the next qualifier of the blessed man’s “treeness”: What does it mean to be planted “by rivers of water”?
(To see the Hebrew text you need the free Ezra SIL SR unicode font.)
וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֘ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם
“He is [or will then be] like a tree, transplanted by channels of water,”
WCP Verb: “He is [or will then be]” (וְֽהָיָ֗ה)
Following Futato’s grammar (p. 164) on the use of a WCP verb ( וְֽהָיָ֗ה) that follows an imperfect verb (יֶהְגֶּ֗ה in verse 2), I think it is possible to read the transition from verse 2 into verse 3 as a conditional clause: “If he meditates on God’s Torah day and night, then he will be like a tree…” But even if the conditional element is not as strong as my if/then paraphrase indicates, the WCP verb indicates a continuation of the thought from verse 2, connecting verses 2 and 3 together (in contrast to how verses 1 and 2 are set against each other as a strong contrast). So, verse 3 introduces the rewards of the blessed man who lives according to God’s Torah.
Simile and Imagery: “like a tree” (כְּעֵץ֘)
The preposition connected to the singular noun introduces a simile (“like/as a tree”), the purpose of which is to give the reader a mental image of the blessed, Torah-keeping man. How shall we describe him? He is like a tree….
While one must avoid wild, groundless speculations on the usages of biblical imagery, at the same time the author’s intentional use of the tree image/simile causes the reader to wonder where the image comes from. What questions, then, can we ask of this text (and of the wider scope of the Holy Scriptures) that will help us to understand the imagery?
First, a grammatical question may help: Is this exact phrase (כְּעֵץ֘) used anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures? It is used 5 times:
ESV Job 19:10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
ESV Job 24:20 The womb forgets them; the worm finds them sweet; they are no longer remembered, so wickedness is broken like a tree.’
ESV Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
ESV Jeremiah 17:8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
ESV Lamentations 4:8 Now their face is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as wood.
These highlighted instances seem to indicate that a simple simile is being used, simple in the sense that the authors wrote “a tree,” not “the tree.” So, it appears at first glance that, grammatically speaking, a specific/special biblical tree is not in view, but rather a generic tree image is being called to mind by the author.
Did you notice the strong parallel text in Jeremiah 17? Perhaps the Psalmist used Jeremiah’s imagery as a source book when crafting Psalm 1. We will definitely need to explore this interesting Jeremiah text further.
But, before we explore textual allusions in Psalm 1:3, we need to ask our second grammatical question: How is the simile, “like a tree,” qualified by the rest of the first life of verse 3? This question will lead us into our next post.
וּֽבְתוֹרָת֥וֹ יֶהְגֶּ֗ה יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה׃
“and on His [Yahweh’s] Torah he [the blessed man] meditates both day and night [at all times].
To Meditate (יֶהְגֶּ֗ה)
The whole of verse 2 is a poetic line with two parallel cola. (See Futato’s Interpreting the Psalms, pp. 26ff., for more on the structure of Hebrew poetry.) So, we have to think of 2b in its connection with 2a. As we noted about the preceding parallel phrase of 2a (“But his delight is in the Torah of Yahweh”), the “delight” is a statement about the blessed man’s heart/affections. Accordingly, in the subsequent parallel phrase of 2b the verb “to meditate” refers to the heart’s inner thoughts; the literally translated actions of the verb, “to mutter,” or “to moan” or “to devise,” are overflows of the heart’s inner thoughts. To attempt a word picture, if the heart is a slow cooker, to meditate is to cook something slowly in the heart. (See TWOT, I:205 on the connection of “meditate” with heart and on the literal renderings of the verb.)
The act of meditating may involve reading the Torah out loud (ibid). Such an action would make sense due to the connection often made in Scripture between words and thoughts (Psa. 19:14), words and actions (Col. 3:16), or meditating in one’s heart and speaking with one’s lips (i.e. Josh. 1:8). John’s Revelation even adds a specific blessing for reading the book out loud (Rev. 1:3). Perhaps you could say putting God’s Word often on your lips helps it to slow-cook or percolate into your heart.
In Scripture, reading God’s Word aloud is not limited to individual, private reading. In fact, a good case could be made that more Scriptural examples exist of reading God’s Word aloud in the corporate worship context rather than in the individual, private context (i.e. Nehemiah 8). Accordingly, Reformed theology views the public reading of God’s Word in worship as a means of grace (WLC 155, WSC 88-89). The public and private reading serve and enrich each other; the one feeds the other, and vice versa.
In short, meditating on God’s Word means bathing your heart over and over in the ocean of God’s Word both the corporate and private context.
Interesting Messianic Connection between יֶהְגֶּ֗ה in Psa. 1:2b with and וְהָגִ֤יתָ in Joshua 1:8
After Moses’ death, God speaks to Joshua, preparing him to lead the people into the Promised Land. As a part of this preparation, the Lord commands Joshua to “meditate” on the Book of the Law “day and night” (Joshua 1:8). The language finds a direct parallel in Psalm 1:2, “meditate day and night.” Such a connection is not coincidental. For, not only is the command parallel, but also the reward: Compare the last phrase in Josh. 1:8 to Psalm 1:3.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:3 ESV).
For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Josh. 1:8b).
In my mind such a strong connection between Joshua 1 and Psalm 1 coupled with the fact that (in terms of typology) Joshua is the most pristine Old Testament prototype of the New Testament Messiah (i.e. one of my pastors mentioned recently that no evil deed committed by Joshua is recorded in the Old Testament, as opposed to Moses, David, etc.) yields a strong case for interpreting Psalm 1 Christologically. I will explain what I mean by “Christologically” later, but I wanted to introduce the idea here at a point where the typological allusion to Christ is strong, in my opinion
The idiom, “day and night” (יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה)
This phrase, literally “daytime and nighttime” is used as an Hebrew idiom for “all the time.” Compare, for example, the usages of this phrase found elsewhere in the Psalter (Psa. 32:4; Psa. 42:4; Psa. 55:11) with a specific poetic connotation of “all the time.”
It would be too much to force this idiom into a hyper-literal prescription that Christians must be reading, reciting, and memorizing, etc., God’s word every waking and sleeping moment as in every literal second of every 24 hour day. For, (a) such a feat is physically impossible; (b) such a hyper-literal interpretation contradicts Scripture’s proclamation that there is a time and season for all things (i.e. Eccl. 3:1); (c) such a hyper-literal hermeneutic cannot be applied consistently throughout the Psalter: Does Psa. 1:1 refer to exclusively literal physical walking, standing, and sitting, for example?
Nonetheless, although the idiom ought not be interpreted hyper-literally, neither should the heavy force of the idiom be avoided. Believers are to live always and at all times according to God’s self-revelation in the Holy Scriptures. Within our world of darkness, only in God’s light do we see light (Psa. 36:9). To attempt to live otherwise is foolish and fatal, for the blessed-by-God man who is constantly ruminating dependently on God’s Word is set against the description of the not blessed-by-God autonomous man.
To contrast the blessed and not-blessed man, Psalm 1:1 begins with three strong negatives (not walk in sinful counsel, not stand in the sinners’ way, not sit in the scorners’ seat); thus, the representative blessed man is set immediately in an antithetical relationship with the non-blessed man. (Perhaps such a relationship, set as it is in the first verse of the Psalter, sets the tone for the entire Psalter.) This irreconcilable enmity ought not surprise us since this antithetical state of affairs between God’s seed and Satan’s has existed since Adam’s Fall:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15 KJV; emphasis mine).
“Day and night” as a Biblical Theological Motif
יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה conjures up allusions worth exploring further, though all I will do now is mention the starting points for further digging:
- Creation (Genesis 1 and 2): In terms of cosmology, day and night form part of the ontological framework within which the created order exists.
- Christology: The Mediator’s office of King is exhibited in His guiding Israel out of Egypt via the glory cloud’s covenantal presence “by day and by night” (Exodus 13:21; Jude 1:5).
- Eschatology: At the parousia, the New Creation enters eternal day, for “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5 KJV). It is interesting to think of Psa. 1:2 in this light . . . the need to meditate on God’s Torah day and night is only temporary.
- Covenant: Related directly to the previous thought on eschatology is the New Covenant promise that in the ultimate fulfillment of the Covenant, God’s Torah will be written on our hearts and we will not have to teach anyone to know it for all will know the Lord (Jer. 31:31f.). Thus the exhortation to be meditating on Torah has an end in sight—the ultimate fulfillment of parousia at Christ’s Second Advent.
Again, these notes are jumping off points for further study, not firm conclusions. I am not trying to read extra meaning into a simple idiom, but simply trying to look at where the idiom is located and how it is used in the unfolding scheme of redemptive history.
וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֜צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃
“and in the assembly of the scorning ones [he] does not dwell.”
The seat, or assembly, (מוֹשַׁ֥ב) spoken of here is not a plastic or wooden or any other kind of chair. Rather, the language is regal; it refers to “a sitting or even an assembly of officials … [such as] … the wicked (Ps 1:1), or elders (Ps 107:32).”2 The seat in view here is a sort of United Nations Against God gathering, representing mankind’s scorning rebellion against the Almighty. Who then are the members of this “seat”?
Those who scorn (לֵ֜צִ֗ים) God3 are the members of this wicked assembly. The root for the verb “to scorn” is used only one other time in the Psalms (Psa 119:51). However, it appears frequently in the Proverbs. Accordingly, the scorner can be described as follows:
Fools scorn and mock at sin (Prov 14:9) and judgment (Prov 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Prov 21:24), incorrigible (Prov 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Prov 9:8; Prov 15:12), and hating any rebuke (Prov 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Prov 14:6).
So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled [sic] as odious to all men (Prov 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Psa 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded [sic] naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Prov 19:25; Prov 21:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Prov 22:16). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Prov 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Prov 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20).4
The verb “to sit” (יָשָֽׁב) is used frequently in the Psalter.5 It is used here in the sense of “dwelling” or “remaining.” So, the meaning is that the happy/blessed man is he who does not dwell/remain in the official assembly of those who mock God.
While it may not be wise to make much of cognate relationships, it is interesting to see in this phrase (1:1c) that the verb (יָשָֽׁב) and the noun (מוֹשַׁ֥ב) come from the same root. Perhaps this is a technique in Hebrew poetry—I’ll have to do some digging. At any rate, the literary structure of this phrase is quite beautiful.
From the context-of-Psalms perspective, another striking relationship of יָשָֽׁב is worth mentioning. The next time this verb is used is in Psalm 2:4 in which God mocks His enemies, a powerful reversal/inversion of Psalm 1:1c.
Happy is he who does not align himself with those who mock God!
- To see the Hebrew text you need the free Ezra SIL SR unicode font. [↩ back]
- TWOT 1:412 [↩ back]
- Notice the participial form used as an adjective; this form is described in the TWOT quote. [↩ back]
- TWOT 1:479 [↩ back]
- Ps. 1:1; 2:4; 4:9; 9:5, 8, 12; 10:8; 17:12; 22:4; 24:1; 26:4f; 27:4; 29:10; 33:8, 14; 47:9; 49:2; 50:20; 55:20; 61:8; 65:9; 68:7, 11, 17; 69:13, 26, 36; 75:4; 80:2; 83:8; 84:5; 91:1; 98:7; 99:1; 101:6f; 102:13; 107:10, 34, 36; 110:1; 113:5, 8f; 119:23; 122:5; 123:1; 125:1; 127:2; 132:12, 14; 133:1; 137:1; 139:2; 140:14; 143:3 [↩ back]
וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד
“…and in the way of sinners [he] does not stand”
As we enter the next phrase of v. 1, we begin to see a pattern in the Hebrew text. The person who is blessed by God is the one who (a) avoids a fealty-motivated, loving (i.e. loyal) action within (b) a context antithetical to or set against the One True God. For example, in 1:1a the heart-motivated action is “walking,” used metaphorically for living (as in a total way of life), and the antithetical context in which this blessed walker is to avoid is walking “in the counsel/advice/way-of-thinking of the wicked.” Now in 1:1b, the action is “standing” and the antithetical context is “in the way of sinners.” Let’s unpack this latter action and context.
“Not stand.” The verbal concept of “standing”dips deep into biblical imagery. Standing is not seen in the abstract, as if the physical action in and of itself is important. Rather, what is in view is the relational (covenantal) aspect of the standing. One of these powerful images is “standing before God” as in a mediatorial role. Many times the mediator must stand before God on behalf of the people, such as when Abraham, Moses, and Samuel “stood before God” (Gen. 18:22; Gen. 19:27; Deut. 4:10; Jer. 15:1).1
An important correlation is that not only did the mediator stand before God, but God’s people also stood before God via the representative head/mediator. As such it is important to pause and ponder before Whom humanity stands—the majestic Lord of Heaven and Earth:
As Joseph stood before Pharaoh (Gen 41:46), David before Saul (1Sam 16:21), Abishag and Bathsheba before David (1Kings 1:2, 28), and Nebuzaradan before Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 52:12); so the believer stands before Yahweh in a position of obedience, respect, and readiness to serve. Such a position is noble in proportion to the majesty of the one served. When a person stands before Yahweh for service, there is no higher honor to which he may aspire.2
Much more could be said about “standing.” (One interesting comparative usage of “stand” to note, for example, is Psalm 33:11. This verse uses both “stand” and “counsel,” the same two words we see in 1:1.) An important aspect to note for our reflection is that standing involves loyalty. You always stand before someone or something loyal to some foundation, whether it be yourself, a club or society, a religion—you’re feet are always planted somewhere. The man who would be blessed by God cannot plant his feet in the camp of the wicked; rather, the blessed man must plant his feet in the Lord’s camp.
“In the way of the wicked.” From the Fall (Gen. 3) onward, there have been two “ways”3 in which man can live: in obedience to God or in disobedience to God. At every point God’s people are faced with the fundamental choice: Do I believe God and follow His way of life in obedience, or do I disobey God and follow my own way.
The choices are mutually exclusive. Jesus boldly proclaimed: “I am the way,” precluding any other way to God4 In Acts believers’ identity itself is tied directly to being followers of “the Way.”5 The blessed man cannot follow the world’s wicked way of life since he is rather to be following God’s way. The cursed man is he who, having begun to listen to “the counsel of the wicked,” now is “forgetful of himself” and “grows hardened in wickedness”; It becomes easier and easier to sin and harder and harder to hear God’s counsel and to live in obedience to it.6
3 “Way” is “the customary mode or manner of living.”
4 John 14:6
6 Calvin points out the progression of sin: from listening to wicked counsel (walking with the wicked) to taking action upon that counsel (standing with the wicked) to scorning those who oppose the wicked (sitting in the seat of the wicked). John Calvin, commentary on Psalm 1.