Notice how the first verse of Psalm 1 begins. It says, Blessed is the man. This word man is singular and masculine. Who is this righteous man, anyway? To whom does the man refer? Often, our first instinct is to think of ourselves as the righteous man and then read it like a checklist: I dont walk in wicked counsel, check. I flee from sinners and from sin, check. I never mock, check. I always delight in Gods law, check. I read my Bible every day, in the morning and at night, check. I have family devotions, check. Is this your response to this psalm?
If this checklist way of thinking or living is how we read Psalm 1, then we have missed the meaning of the psalm completely! The man in Psalm 1 is not just any man. It is a very particular man. The man is referring to the one Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. Gods Law, which is to be our delight both day and night, only finds its meaning in HimJesus.
At first glance, Psalm 1 doesnt look like a Messianic psalm. Theres no mention of a king or of a kingdom like we see in Psalm 2 or Psalm 110. There is nothing that ties the psalm directly to the suffering work of Jesus Christ as in Psalm 22. Psalm 1 looks like its just about any Israelite who is given the basic instruction to follow the Torah (the Law). But if we look at it again, we see something else. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus taught his disciples how to read the Bible. In Luke 24:44, he claimed that the whole Bible is about himself. This means that even all of the Psalms are ultimately about him.
In the structure of the Psalter, Book I (comprising Psalms 141) has a strong Davidic emphasis. All of the psalms except for a few are attributed to King David. Psalm 2 is a royal psalm. So theres good reason to think that the man of Psalm 1:1 is referencing the Davidic king. Furthermore, we know from Deuteronomy 17:19 that if Israel is to have a king, the king must keep a copy of the law and read it all the days of his life. Thats what a king over Israel is required to do. And, of course, no king over Israel ever met this requirement: not Saul, David, or Solomon. No king has ever obeyed all of God's law perfectly. In fact, there were numerous kings before Josiah's reforms who had lost the book of the law (2 Kings 22:8-13). How could they have followed it, much less have kept it, if they couldn't even read it!?
Yet, Jesus did. The only king who fulfilled all righteousness was Jesus Christ. He is the man of Psalm 1:1. It was Jesus who did not walk, did not stand, and did not sit in the seat of scoffers. It was Jesus who meditated on the law day and night, often withdrawing from the crowds and from his disciples to pray. It was Jesus food to do the will of the One who sent him. He delighted in the law of God always. And Jesus, although perfectly righteous, was counted as one who was wicked, so that we would be counted as righteous if we receive him by faith alone.