I preach through Psalm 1 once a year. This is the outline I used a few years ago. Remember that a sermon is not a sermon until it’s preached so you’ll have to have more than this to preach it but this one received a good response so I put it here for my readers to use as guides for their own.
Exegetical Idea: The contrast between those who practice righteousness and the wicked is demonstrated in their ultimate end.
Homiletical Idea: Enjoy the blessings of the Lord.
1. Be blessed by practicing righteousness (1-2).
- The righteous do not live as the ungodly and do not find pleasure in the ways of the wicked (1).
- The righteous find pleasure in knowing and keeping God’s Law (2).
- The righteous will be fruitful in their obedience (1a, 3).
Application summary: We must avoid the temptation to see this blessing wholly in terms defined by this world. The righteous are not always blessed with material prosperity but enjoy the covenant blessings in the age to come. Those who are truly righteous find delight in keeping God’s Law, not in using obedience as a tool to manipulate God to receive earthly blessings (e.g., the prosperity teachers).
2. Be blessed by realizing the futility of a life without God (4-5).
- The ungodly live lives of no lasting or eternal value (4).
- The ungodly will not enjoy the blessings of the righteous (5).
Application summary: The psalmist is not necessarily speaking of those who commit gross or heinous sin, but of those who live without God. The lives of the ungodly often have value in this world and they often teach even the righteous things that bring joy and help in this life. The psalmist, however, is speaking in eternal terms. Without God there is truly no hope and all is vanity: emptiness and meaningless.
3. Be blessed by remembering your ultimate end (6).
- The Lord orders the way of the righteous to bring blessing to them (6a).
- The Lord allows the ungodly to go to their end (6b).
Application summary: The ungodly will not enjoy the eternal blessings the righteous will enjoy; their joy and the fruit of their legacy will not last beyond this life. The righteous, however, not only have their lives ordered by the lord in this life, he faithfully keeps his covenant promises and brings them through the Day of Judgment to enjoy eternal blessing.
Conclusion: Augustine begins his exposition of this psalm by stating: “This psalm is about our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man.” As New Testament believers we read this psalm and recognize that Christ is the ultimate righteous man who despised evil and delighted in God’s law. The righteous will stand in the Day of Judgment and not perish because of Christ.