Scripture References: Psalm 1
IV. The Contrast to the Happy Man
What a contrast this next verse is. “The ungodly are not so . . .” This is a very brief transition. The contrast is so brief we might be prone to think, Well, why doesn’t he go into more detail? The brevity of this contrast magnifies the difference in these two people. Here is perhaps the greatest contrast in the entire Bible. In the New Testament, for instance, there is the contrast between the wheat and the tares. The wheat is likened unto God’s children; the tares, to the ungodly. There is also contrast between the sheep and the goats. The sheep are likened unto God’s people; the goats, to the ungodly. Try to keep the flourishing tree in your mind. “The ungodly are not so.”
What are they like? The ungodly “are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The chaff is the hull, the waste material, of the grain. The grain is encased in a hull, a leafy material. When farmers would harvest the grain they would spread it onto the threshing floors. Threshing floors were nearly always on the crest of a hill. Even today the process is pretty much the same. Israeli growers throw the grain onto the threshing floor, trample it to separate the grain from the chaff or hull, and, then with a shovel or a rake, throw it into the air, where the wind blowing across these hilltops will carry the chaff away, and the heavier grain will fall back to the floor. Finally, all the chaff is blown away, and only the grain remains. Then they use the grain which is a blessing to them.
There is nothing much more worthless than chaff. Whatever chaff was left on the floor would be piled up and burned. At threshing time the atmosphere would be filled with the tiny particles of chaff. You will remember that Jesus talked of the man who was concerned about the mote in his brother’s eye. The mote was perhaps a little piece of chaff that irritated one’s eye. It was a nuisance. Nothing is more worthless than chaff. The contrast is evident.
The godly man is like the tree the psalmist mentioned, sturdy, strong, fruitful, with verdant foliage. The ungodly man is like the chaff, worthless, useless, dead, dry, helpless, hopeless. What a contrast. Doom is inevitable; the wind will drive it away. The ungodly person is like a house build on the sand. When the winds and rains come, it will fall (see Matthew 7:26–27). Contrasted to the happy man is that person who has no room for God in their life.
Job had another vivid description along these lines. Job described streams in the desert and the people who live like those streams.
My brothers have dealt deceitfully like a brook, like the streams of the brooks that pass away, which are dark because of the ice, and into which the snow vanishes. When it is warm, they cease to flow; when it is hot, they vanish from their place. – Job 6:15–17.
Those streams wound out into the desert where the intense heat dried up the water. Those who followed those streams perished. Notice also verse 18: “The paths of their way turn aside, they go nowhere and perish.” Worthless. What a picture of those without God. That comparison, like the chaff, highlighted individuals who thought they could handle life apart from God, without obeying God, without delighting in the things of God. They went their own way; they didn’t want to be bothered by or with God. They thought they were going to have happiness from their own making, but God’s Word verifies that their end was and is destruction and doom, and their lives were and are destined to be worthless. What a vivid contrast with a healthy tree!
Verse 5 makes it plain that the ungodly person is under condemnation. “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” Two facts are stated here. The writer was not saying that the ungodly person will not appear at the judgment. He will definitely appear, but the phrase “shall not stand” literally means “shall not maintain himself.” In other words, he will not survive the judgment. He will stand before God without excuse and defense. The ungodly will stand before God, and will be condemned without reprieve. There is no mercy for the person who lives without God. Flimsy excuses and pious rhetoric will not help in the judgment.
To Be Continued