The Wheat and the Chaff

The Wheat and the Chaff (Psalm 1:4-6).


Having described the nature and blessing of the righteous, being like a blessed, upright, strong, tree planted by God's River of Life (1:1-3), the Psalm declares: "No so, the ungodly, not so!" (v4). He then compares the ungodly to the CHAFF, which the wind drives away (1:4). We describe the process of threshing, when the chaff is separated from the wheat, and winnowing, when the wheat and chaff are thrown up into the air together, and the chaff is carried away by the wind. This describes what happens at the judgment of a man immediately after his death. The threshing, which physically separates the chaff from the wheat, corresponds to physical death, and the winnowing describes what happens after death, when the chaff is blown away by the wind to a place of judgment, to be burnt. Whereas the wheat (believer in Christ) continues to stand in God's Kingdom, the chaff (unbeliever) cannot stand before God, and is blown away into God's fire (Hades and then the Lake of Fire). This process of judgment will be brought to its climax and completion by Christ at the Day of Lord: “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). Interestingly, the word for threshing sledge is 'tribulum' - where we get the word 'Tribulation.'


The chaff (the thin skin around grain of wheat) is dry, empty, weak, unstable, and worthless, once separated from the wheat. God gives all men a measure of goodness in this life (common grace), but if they reject God, then at death His grace is removed and they become what they have chosen to be, an empty shell, separated from God's presence, life, goodness and glory (substance). The substance and value of our life comes from the Presence of God, so those who die ungodly will immediately discover who they are in themselves, without God - worthless chaff, only good to be thrown into God's fire, for they are useless to God, for they have refused to fulfil the purpose for which they were created - to glorify God, choosing rather to be their own gods. Thus the nature and destiny of the cursed, weak, unstable chaff is opposite to the believer, who is like a tree, which is strong and stable, and stands forever.  At this time sinners and hypocrites can join in the congregation of the righteous, but when judgment day comes, sinners will find they cannot stand before God with the righteous (those who have right-standing with God through the righteousness of Christ), and they will be separated from the righteous and removed - blown away to a place of fiery judgment (1:5). 


The Psalm concludes in 1:6 by contrasting the way and destination of the righteous and the way of the ungodly: "For the Lord knows (watches over) the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish (end in destruction)." The reader is invited to choose to which of these 2 groups he will belong. The Psalm describes these 2 groups and their 2 corresponding ways of life, to help us identify to which group we actually belong. The Way of the righteous is Christ Himself (John 14:6), so to walk in this Way, means walking with Christ, in fellowship with Christ. The statement that the Lord KNOWS the way of the righteous, in a way that He does not know the way of the ungodly, speaks of His personal relationship and involvement with them - that He is walking with them, and watching over them in love, and making sure that they will reach their glorious destination together. (In Biblical language, if someone says 'I am the way' he means he will personally lead you to your destination). On the other hand, the ungodly choose to go their own way, apart from God (Isaiah 53:6), and Jesus will say to them "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23), and as a result their way will end in ruin. Jesus is the narrow Gate and Way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). We enter through the narrow Gate when we believe in Him and His death and resurrection, and receive Him as our Lord and Saviour. Then we enter into the narrow Way, of walking in fellowship with Him, trusting in His leadership.  If you are righteous in Christ, you are on the Way of righteousness, which means you are travelling on a very different road through life than the multitudes of ungodly people, who are on the broad road that leads to destruction (see 1:1).


Finally, we point out there is only ONE PERSON who has perfectly fulfilled Psalm 1 - JESUS.  This is a portrait of Jesus Christ.  He is the Blessed Man of Psalm 1. This is why 'the blessed man' is in the singular, and the 'ungodly' is plural. Without Christ, we would all be useless chaff destined for the fire. But He has made a way for us to be put into Christ and to receive His righteousness. Since Psalm 1 is fulfilled in Christ, when you are put into Christ, then Psalm 1 also becomes true for you ,because you are in Christ - you become a blessed man in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), planted (in the new birth) by the River of the Holy Spirit, with full access to His Grace, enabling you to grow spiritually become fruitful, as you meditate on the Word of God and develop strong faith roots to draw upon the life of God.

21 Nov 2022

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