Much like Robert Frost’s highly praised “The Road Not Taken,” the Psalter opens with a presentation of two diverging paths, the road of the righteous and the road of the wicked. Humanity is beckoned, and an individual can travel one way and one way only. They are free to do as they please; yet the direction they choose has major implications, both present and future. The first Psalm, then, sets the tone for the entire Psalter and, more than that, it is representative of all written revelation and redemptive history. Man must choose between the blessing and life that characterizes the righteous road and the death that accompanies the wicked one. It is those who cannot see past the here and now, failing to discern the end of their travels, that chose the evil path. Having no spiritual eye, they see only the present triumphs of the wicked. They perceive favor with the disobedient. The righteous way seems hard, narrow, dangerous, and indeed it is.
The psalms wrestle with this hardship and the apparent injustice involved. Few take the righteous road because of it. But, they that do take this path have God as their guide. They embark on the righteous way in complete dependence, and they are “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” They shall not be disappointed. The wicked are their own guide. They may gain the world, but they ultimately perish. They may be shown favor, but they do not learn righteousness. In the land of uprightness they deal corruptly, and they do not perceive the majesty of the LORD. You must choose. Will you take the easy way that leads to death or the hard one that leads to life? Which road will you take?