“Day and night” in the Bible
Main point summary
Blessed is the man who delights in God's word, whereas the wicked will perish in judgment.
“Day and night” in the Bible
The Bible is filled with passages which lay out for us a choice of two ways to live. Not least among them is Psalm 1. Here, we discover two kinds of lives with two very different destinations. Each person either settles into sin—the end of which is judgment—or diligently dedicates himself to God's word. It is this latter path alone which will leave him happy (“blessed”) as one cared for by the Lord himself. As John Bunyan wrote in the cover of his Bible, “Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” But to diligently dedicate oneself to the scriptures sounds a bit like striving, yet surely that cannot be. For the picture of the righteous one in this psalm is that of a healthy, well-watered tree bearing fruit—an image that reminds us of strength and rest, not striving. Still, how does this fit with “day and night” meditation on God's word? Certainly the phrase “day and night” often conveys great labor, but not always. It depends what it is connected to. If I am slaving away day and night, then certainly I am striving. But if I am relaxing day and night, I most certainly am not. (Rather, I am being lazy.) And then there are those subject matters that could go either way. If I told you that I have been reading day and night, this is not enough for you to know the nature of my activity. I could be studying for an exam, in which case I am most certainly striving with hard effort. But I also could be captivated by novel and thus reading all the time simply because I want to—because doing so is my delight . That is the picture we have here. The blessed man's secret is delight—delight in every word that comes from the mouth of God. It is his food and as he longs for a meal throughout the day, so he longs for God's word to feed his soul. And a happy man he is. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)
Blessed is the man
This is the happy man:
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
The one who is not going with the ideals of the wicked masses.
אֲשֶׁ֤ר׀ לֹ֥א הָלַךְ֮ בַּעֲצַ֪ת רְשָׁ֫עִ֥ים
nor stands in the way of sinners,
The one who is not joining the indulge-in-sin club.
וּבְדֶ֣רֶךְ חַ֭טָּאִים לֹ֥א עָמָ֑ד
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
The one who is not settling himself into mocking/scoffing arrogance.
וּבְמוֹשַׁ֥ב לֵ֝צִ֗ים לֹ֣א יָשָֽׁב׃
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
No, this man's heart is in God's Word.
כִּ֤י אִ֥ם 1 בְּתוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָ֗ה חֶ֫פְצ֥וֹ
and on his law he meditates day and night.
and therefore, as a necessary inference and evidence of this reality, his constant attention is on the Word.
וּֽבְתוֹרָת֥וֹ יֶהְגֶּ֗ה יוֹמָ֥ם וָלָֽיְלָה׃
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
This man is like a tree tapped into the life-giving water of the Word.
וְֽהָיָ֗ה כְּעֵץ֮ שָׁת֪וּל עַֽל־פַּלְגֵ֫י מָ֥יִם
that yields its fruit in its season,
The result of which is sweet fruitful in his life,
אֲשֶׁ֤ר פִּרְי֨וֹ׀ יִתֵּ֬ן בְּעִתּ֗וֹ
and its leaf does not wither.
and (spiritual, ultimate) health that is not corruptible.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Simply said, this is a gloriously prosperous man.
וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה יַצְלִֽיחַ׃
The wicked are not so,
Alternatively, there are the wicked
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
who are as nothingness.
כִּ֥י אִם־כַּ֝מֹּ֗ץ אֲֽשֶׁר־תִּדְּפֶ֥נּוּ רֽוּחַ׃
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
And as such [wicked nothings], they will not be standing on judgment day.
עַל־כֵּ֤ן׀ לֹא־יָקֻ֣מוּ רְ֭שָׁעִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
And these sinners will not be welcomed into the great party of the righteous.
וְ֝חַטָּאִ֗ים בַּעֲדַ֥ת צַדִּיקִֽים׃
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
Because, while the Lord intimately knows (meaning “has care for” and “deems significant”) the life of the righteous Word-lover,
כִּֽי־יוֹדֵ֣עַ יְ֭הוָה דֶּ֣רֶךְ צַדִּיקִ֑ים
but the way of the wicked will perish.
He does not look this way on the wicked, but rather their end is (eternal) death.
וְדֶ֖רֶךְ רְשָׁעִ֣ים תֹּאבֵֽד׃
This person is growing more and more comfortable with his sin.
Notice the contrast... live in sin OR love God's Word. (I.e. There is no such thing as someone not living in sin and not loving God's Word.)
Notice that the wicked are just an anonymous plural, while the righteous are singled out and known by the Lord.