for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of wicked will perish.
Psalm 1:6 ESV
After all has been said in the first five verses of Psalm 1, this sixth and final verse gives us the fitting concluding contrast between the blessed and the wicked. The blessed, here synonymously called the righteous just as the wicked and sinners are used interchangeably, are known by the LORD, while the wicked are doomed to perish. Of course, when the psalmist states that the LORD knows the way of the righteous, he does not simply mean an intellectual knowledge, for we know that the LORD knows all things. He has numbered each hair, each heartbeat, each breath, of both the righteous and the sinner. No, an experiential knowledge is being described here; He has a personal knowledge of the righteous, whereas the wicked perish by being cast out of His sight.
Yet notice that the psalmist is not really speaking of the righteous nor the wicked directly. Instead, ‘the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.’ The path of the righteous is always in the LORD’s blessed sight, as David rightly said: “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). That is the reality being conveyed here. Even when the righteous fall, they do not come to ruin, for the LORD continues to uphold them. In Christ, we have the even deeper promise that God will work our sufferings and trials for our ultimate good, just as earthly fathers discipline their children for their ultimate good. So it is with the straight, narrow, and difficult path to life. Even when walking that way requires everything of us, it is walked before the loving face of our God. It is the life of divine favor or, to return us back to verse one, the blessed life.
The wicked are not so. Nor is their way, their path. The broad and easy road does not simply lead to destruction; soon the entire path will perish. Again, David assures us, “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there” (Psalm 37:10). That day is swiftly coming. Indeed, even if Christ does not return for another millennia, each of us will surely see His face, in either grace or judgment, within the next century. But we certainly do long for the day when the very path to destruction itself will be destroyed.
Although there is much more that we could say regarding this verse, let me simply commend you to read all of Psalm 37 with this verse in mind, to read it as David’s own inspired meditation on Psalm 1:6.
The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.
But the wicked will perish;Psalm 37:18-20
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish–like smoke they vanish away.
Amen and amen.