Psalms 1:2-3

2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

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Psalms 1:2-3 Meaning and Commentary


The title of this book may be rendered "the Book of Praises", or "Hymns"; the psalm which our Lord sung at the passover is called an "hymn", Mt 26:30; and the one hundred forty fifth Psalm is entitled hlht, "an Hymn of David"; and the psalms in general are called "hymns" by Philo the Jew {a}, and songs and hymns by Josephus {b}; and to these several names of this book the apostle manifestly refers in Eph 5:19 Col 3:16. The Jews divided the writings of the Old Testament into three parts: the first division is the Law, or five books of Moses; the second is the Prophets, former and latter; and the third, the "Hagiographa", or holy writings; to which division Christ has a regard in Lu 24:44; and because the book of Psalms stand first in the last division, the whole goes by its name. This book by the Apostle Peter is entitled as here, Ac 1:20; the title in the Syriac version is,

``the Book of the Psalms of David, King and Prophet,''

with which agrees the Arabic version. As to the divine authority of it, that it was written by inspiration of God, we have not only the testimony of David, who says, "the Spirit of God spake by me", 2Sa 23:2; but the testimonies of Christ and his apostles, \Mt 22:43 Ac 1:16 4:24,25\; and, as Aben Ezra {c} observes the whole of it was spoken vdwqh xwrb, "by the Holy Ghost". Concerning the penman or amanuensis, employed by the Spirit of God in writing it, there are different opinions. The Jews make mention of ten, which are differently reckoned by them. According to Jarchi {d}, they were Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. According to Kimchi {e}, they were Adam, the first, Melchizedek, Abraham, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, Moses, and the three sons of Korah; Asir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. Some ascribe all the Psalms to David {f}, and think that those which are said to be a psalm of Asaph, or of Heman should be rendered "a psalm to Asaph", &c. and only signify that they were psalms delivered to them, to be sung in a public manner. But the truest opinion seems to be, that the greater part of them were written by David, and for the most part those that have no title; and the rest by those whose names they bear. Some were written at and after the Babylonish captivity, as Ps 126:1-6 and Ps 137:1-9. The manner or form in which they were written was metre {g}, though some deny it that the Jews had metre: as appears by the different accentuation of them from other writings, and from their being sung vocally and on musical instruments. Josephus {h}, the Jewish historian, says, that

``David being free from war, and enjoying a profound peace, composed songs and hymns to God, of various metre; some trimeter, and some pentameter;''

that is, some of three feet, and others of five feet: for the Psalms of David are thought to be of the "lyric" kind; and Gomarus, in his Lyra, has given many instances out of them, which are of the "iambic", "trochaic" kind though the Jews for many years have lost the knowledge of the sacred poetry. R. Benjamin {i} indeed says, that in his time there were at Bagdad R. Eleazar and his brethren, who knew how to sing the songs, as the singers did when the temple was standing. The subject matter of this book is exceeding great and excellent; many of the psalms respect the person, offices, and grace of Christ; his sufferings and death, resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God; and so are exceeding suitable to the Gospel dispensation. The whole book is a rich mine of grace and evangelical truths, and a large fund of spiritual experience; and is abundantly suited to every case, state, and condition, that the church of Christ, or particular believers, are in at any time.

{a} De Mutat. Nom. p. 1062. {b} Antiquitat. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3. {c} Praefat. in Psalm. {d} Praefat. in Psalm. {e} Praefat. in ibid. {f} R. Hona in Midrash Tillim, fol. 2. 1. {g} Vid. Lowth de Sacr. Poes. Heb. Praelect. 3. s. 32 {h} Ut supra. (Antiquitat. l. 7. c. 12. s. 3.) {i} Itinerar. p. 70, 71.


This psalm, though without a title, may reasonably be thought to be a psalm of David; since the next psalm, which is also without a title, is ascribed to him, Ac 4:25; and since both are joined together as one psalm by the Jews {k}; \\see Gill on "Ac 13:33"\\; and since this is the general preface to the whole book, which is chiefly of David's penning, it is entitled, in the metaphrase of Apollinarius,

``a Song of David, the Prophet and King.''

{k} T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 9. 2.

Cross References 9

  • 1. Psalms 112:1; Psalms 119:16,35; Romans 7:22
  • 2. Psalms 19:7; Psalms 119:1; Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 18:17
  • 3. S Genesis 24:63; Joshua 1:8
  • 4. Psalms 52:8; Psalms 92:12; Psalms 128:3; Jeremiah 11:16; Zechariah 4:3
  • 5. Psalms 46:4; Psalms 65:9; Isaiah 33:21; Jeremiah 31:9
  • 6. S Numbers 24:6; S Job 14:9; S Ezekiel 17:5; Jeremiah 17:8
  • 7. Psalms 92:14; Ezekiel 47:12
  • 8. Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 64:6
  • 9. S Genesis 39:3
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