When God Winnows: A Study of Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish. [1]

Mary told her farmer-husband Rick that see wanted to bake him a loaf of fresh bread. She explained to Rick that she did not have enough wheat to prepare a whole loaf. Being a good husband that he was, Rick decided that he should get her some wheat, especially since he could already taste that sweet, warm bread. So Rick went out to the grain fields, he cut down a few stalks and wrapped them in a bushel. Rick then to the bushel to the threshing floor. He laid the stalks out on the floor, and took he trident fork and began agitating the stalks. Over and over again he would throw these stalks in the air. Most of the stalk blew away with the wind, but the little seeds of grain fell back to the floor. After he was satisfied with the amount of grain he collected, he put it all in his sack and took it to his wife. Later that day, he enjoyed a nice slice of fresh baked bread.

What does this have to do with Psalm 1? In so many words, I have described the process of winnowing- the separation of the wheat from the chaff. It is an enduring process that requires faithful attention and persistence. There is a clear end goal. As we turn to the text, the Psalm writer has given a snap shot view of the winnowing process in the kingdom of God. Similar to Rick’s process, God puts his people through a winnowing process in order to produce a proper/necessary result. Psalm 1 describes for us the results of God’s winnowing process. Rick produced two things as a result of his winnowing process- chaff and seed. Likewise God’s process produces two results- the Blessed and the Wicked.

The Blessed vv.1-3 Psalm 1 can effectively be separated into 3 divisions, the first division describing those who are called Blessed. The psalmist begins by identifying things that blessed people avoid. Vv1. Walking, standing, or sitting with the sinner, or mockers. The idea here is progressive. It is one thing to walk among the scornful, but it another to sit (rest) among the scornful. Sitting or resting has the idea of being in collusion with these wicked men. Blessed is the man who is not in collusion with the wicked against the righteous one, not even easily influenced. vv.2 The blessed man is not influenced by the wicked, but is influenced by his meditation of the Word of God. This means that there is a intentionality behind his study of God’s word. Joshua 1:8 says “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success”. [2]

A blessed man is intentional about doing all according to the Word of God. As a result of his intentionality, the Lord establishes his “blessedness” like a tree planted by the river (it has access to all the water it needs), like a tree that brings forth fruit in its intended season (functions properly), whose leaves do not wither but prospers in all that he does. The idea is not prosperity in a carnal sense, but every God-controlled activity that this blessed individual does will come to complete divinely directed fulfillment. The Wicked vv4 The Psalmist draws a distinct separation between the blessed and the wicked introducing us to the second division. The wicked are individuals who are not in covenant relationship with God. They are empowered and driven by the own desires, pleasures, and lusts. The wicked live according to their own passions.

Yesterday, I was on HBO to Go and I decided to watch “What’s Love Got to do with it” starring Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishbourne. I have seen this movie probably a hundred times, but as I watched it last night I could help but to notice how evil Ike Turner was portrayed in that movie. There was one scene in the movie- Anna Mae had tried to commit suicide by taking to many pills. On the ride to the hospital, as the EMT’s are doing their best to pump the pills from her stomach, Ike leans in over Anna Mae, and whispers in her ear “If you don’t make it, I’ll kill you”. The statement is obviously foolish, but he showed just how evil Ike was- in Tina’s lowest and most vulnerable moment, Ike only concern was for himself. Maybe you know someone who lives for themselves. Maybe there are a few here whose hearts are postured only towards self. The Psalmist informs us that these wicked, and evil people are like the chaff in the winnowing process- absolutely good for nothing. They are the worthless husks that are blown by the wind, never to amount to anything.

The Judgment vv5-6 Verses 5-6 bring us to the last division of the chapter. The psalmist fast forwards us to the end process of the winnowing of God- the Judgment. God knows all things- no thing is hidden from him. Rick’s winnowing process what incomplete- some seed was left behind. But God’s process is absolutely complete. There will come a day when God will separate the wheat from the chaff. God knows who are his, those who has embraced the covenant from his/her heart, and has done all according to his Word. Paul says it this way. “ But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” [3] God will save you from the impending destruction of the chaff. He will save you because you have committed your lives to him and have produced fruit that will last eternally.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Ps 1:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jos 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (2 Ti 2:19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s