The ending of Psalm 1 provides great hope for those who delight in the instruction of the Lord:

Not so the wicked;
rather, they are like chaff that wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment,
nor will sinners, in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord cherishes the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked is doomed.
— Psalm 1:4-6 (NJPS)

My assumption has always been that the judgement and "assembly of the righteous" look forward to a day in the future such as described in Daniel 12:1-3. But thinking about the Psalm itself, there's no indication that this doesn't provide more immediate hope for those looking for justice. It might be that I'm reading into the Psalm from other (later) writings that were themselves influenced by this Psalm. In other words, Daniel and other authors might have reinterpreted Psalm 1 (and other promises like it) to be about a future event since it does not seem to be fulfilled in the current age.

Can we know if the idea of a final judgement was embedded in Psalm 1?

  • What do you mean be 'can we know'? Are you asking about textual evidence, or about doctrinal interpretation? Just trying to figure out if I have anything to offer.
    – user947
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:06
  • And you might find it interesting to do the concordance thing on kahal hasidim (assembly of the righteous), the other usages might shed some illumination.
    – user947
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:07
  • @bmargulies: I don't have any particular preference. I wouldn't complain about a concordance answer if there was analysis thrown it. ;-) Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:11
  • 2
    I'm on vacation operating from memory, but I seem to recall a population of occurrences of that phrase in Psalms. For what it's worth, I think you're unlikely to find much evidence of a 'final judgement' in Psalms anywhere; some Psalms have an expectation of justice in the near term, other's complain of its absence, but I don't think that any look to the eschaton.
    – user947
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:15

3 Answers 3


There are two passages that mention "the congregation" and the "judgment"

Numbers 35:12 (NKJV),

"12 They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment."

Joshua 20:6 (NKJV)

"And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled.' " Solomon, the wise king makes judgment (I Kings 3:28)

Neither of these appear to be speaking of the end time judgment except by extension foreshadowing what is to come.

Other than In Job 36:17 "the judgment due the wicked," it seems as though "the" end time "judgment" you speak of is depicted by the prophets as "the day of YHWH" and talk of it in terms of "the judgment" springs onto the scene with the NT.


The Psalm follows Israel's festal calendar (although you are probably getting sick of hearing that from me now). The judgment here is the Day of Atonement, the division of those who have kept their Covenant vows from those who have not (by vows, I mean Israel corporately promising to obey the Law and trust God). Of course, it was a goat that was expelled, not actual Israelites.

But Israel's annual calendar was a pattern for her entire future. Her great Day was the one spoken of by Malachi and heralded by John the Baptist. So there is an annual application and also a national one. Jesus, as High Priest, came to bring a sword, cutting Judah in two with the gospel, as she had torn Him like a veil. The Last Supper follows the same pattern, and Jesus expels Judas. The first century history also follows the pattern, and Jesus expels unbelieving Judah, which by this point consisted of those who had rejected Jesus for 40 years.

I have a structural analysis of the Psalm here. What blows me away is the subtle use of the Creation week as a description of the abundance of the righteous Man.

  • Is your 'matrix' hermaneutic something you discovered on you own or have you picked it up from someone else?
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 15:30
  • It was formulated after listening to James Jordan's lecture series on the Revelation, where he notices the Creation week (tied to the Tabernacle furniture and feasts) as a common literary and historical pattern (I don't think it's original with him either, but he is an amazing interpreter). I gave the steps some names and started noticing it at a micro level, as 7 x 7 patterns. So it's really just Jordan formulated and treated as an all-pervasive "weaving" of the text rather than as an occasional or casual literary device. The other gent doing work on this is a Jewish scholar at www.chaver.com
    – Mike Bull
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 4:23
  • Ok thanks. BTW not my downvote I just find it hard to comprehend (at all) what you are saying so was wondering why? I think I understand where you are comming from more now.
    – Mike
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 4:35
  • Cool. No one can tell you what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. ;)
    – Mike Bull
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 5:26

It seems best to take 'judgement' as including a eternal aspect. Common sense about judgment and the text before us lends itself to this conclusion.

For the textual argument I think Spurgeon finds it for us:

Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there, "nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." All our congregations upon earth are mixed. Every Church hath one devil in it. The tares grow in the same furrows as the wheat. There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from chaff. Sinners mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God's precious diamonds still lie in the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this side heaven continually vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in "the general assembly and church of the firstborn" above, there shall by no means be admitted a single unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven.

From a logical approach, since many wicked grow rich and powerful, while the righteous are poor and afflicted, logic sort of demands the final judgment to be included in 'judgment'. The Psalm is not really true if you limit it to what happens on the earth. Sooner or later the wind will finally blow beyond and above all the commotions in this world. Then and only then will winds of judgment truly blow the chaff. All the wealth, wisdom, pride and accomplishments of the wicked will be shaken and blown utterly away. Nothing will remain standing, but the houses of the faithful who have built their house on a solid foundations and will stand.

This is pretty much a joyful hope held out to the righteous who often suffer in this world.

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