Psalm 1 contrasts the destructive “way of sinners” (verse 1) with the successful “way of the righteous” (verse 6) and extols the blessings of godliness. According to the psalmist, happiness, joy, and success come to those “whose delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalm 1:2, ESV). The righteous person “walks not in the counsel of the wicked” (verse 1). In other words, he does not follow the world’s advice but takes pleasure in obeying God and His Word.
The word law here means “a collection of teachings, instruction, or direction.” The “law of the Lord” is often associated with the Ten Commandments or the books of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament called the Pentateuch). Yet the term can also encompass the whole revelation of truth in the Word of God, as in Psalm 119:1: “Blessed are those . . . who walk according to the law of the LORD”; the “law” here broadly refers to “the precepts and revealed will of the LORD,” according to the Amplified Bible. The author of Psalm 1 appears to have the same expanded meaning in mind. A godly person receives instruction and direction from the full counsel of God’s Word.
The original Hebrew word translated as “delight” indicates “a feeling of extreme pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.” Reading, studying, and applying God’s truth to one’s life is the pleasure and joy of the righteous.
A godly person’s relationship with the Word of God should be like being in love. People who are in love delight in each other. They want to spend time together. They drink in every word they speak to each other. When they are apart, they long to be in each other’s company. That is an illustration of how we should feel about God’s Word.
Believers delight in the law of the Lord by meditating on God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8). We consult it often, letting it become a guiding light and roadmap for our journey (Psalm 119:35, 105). We delight in God’s Word because we know it has the power to sustain us with joy through times of despair (Psalm 119:92); to give comfort (Psalm 23:4; 27:13–14), hope (Psalm 119:81), protection (Psalm 119:114), and victory over sin (Psalm 119:11); and to lead us securely to our eternal home (Psalm 32:8; 37:23).
Delighting in the law of the Lord means honoring and cherishing God’s Word (Psalm 119:47–48, 159) because it is an irreplaceable treasure more precious than “thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72); an ever-present companion and friend (Proverbs 6:20–22); the theme of our song throughout life (Psalm 119:54); sweet and satisfying nourishment for the soul (Psalm 119:103; Job 23:12); a light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19); “my heritage forever” and “the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111); and a life-giver (Psalm 119:25, 93; 1 Peter 1:23), life-sustainer (Matthew 4:4), powerful force (Hebrews 4:12), liberator (John 8:32; James 1:25), and teacher of wisdom (Psalm 119:66, 98–100).
We delight in the law of the Lord by making God’s Word a daily part of our lives; by receiving its “message with great eagerness” (Acts 17:11); reading our Bibles (2 Timothy 3:16); studying and searching “the Scriptures day after day” (Acts 17:11, NLT); letting the Word “correct us when we are wrong” and teach us “to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:15–17, NLT); hiding it in our hearts to keep us from sinning (Psalm 119:11); trusting in it (1 Thessalonians 2:13); and obeying it (Psalm 119:4; James 1:22).
Love is at the core of delighting in the law of the Lord as God and His Word become what we are most passionate about in life: “Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long” (Psalm 119:97, NLT). God desires to capture our whole hearts with His Word (Deuteronomy 30:6; Psalm 119:10; Matthew 5:8; 22:37; James 4:8). The picture is one of mutual joy and pleasure in our relationship with the Lord. God delights over His people by blessing them with spiritual abundance and prosperity, “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3). And we, in turn, delight in God by loving Him with all our hearts and doing what He says in His Word.