In recent years there has been pushback on the idea that every Psalm is Messianic. Perhaps it is born out of a failure to understand the typological nature of the Old Testament saints and their experiences (e.g. that of David), or perhaps it is for fear of undermining the experiential value of the Psalms or the call to holiness for believers contained in them under an assumed imbalanced view of justification by faith alone. Whatever the reason, such argumentation fails to take into account the fact that 1) Jesus was an Israelite, born under the Law to redeem us from the curse of the Law, and 2) that Jesus is the source of all righteousness and life for us. He is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). In short, Jesus is the foundation of both imputed and imparted righteousness–in our justification and sanctification. He is, at ground zero in our experience of redemption, the Righteous One. In seeking to understand how to read the Psalms in light of the Person, work and reward of Christ, Andrew Bonar, in his outstanding Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, left us a beautiful inlet into the Christology of Psalm 1 when he wrote:
We have noticed that our Lord seems to quote one of the expressions of this Psalm; and let us see how we may suppose it all read by him in the days of his flesh. We know He read it; his delight was in the law of the Lord; and often has he quoted the book of Psalms. As he read, it would be natural to his human soul to appropriate the blessedness pronounced on the godly; for he knew and felt himself to be indeed the godly, who ‘had not walked in the counsels of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.’ He felt himself able to say at all times, ‘Thy law is within my heart!’ Was He not the true palm-tree? Was He not the true pomegranate-tree? Can we help thinking on Him as alone realizing the description in this Psalm? The members of his mystical Body, in their measure, aim at this holy walk; but it is only—in him that they see it perfectly exemplified. ‘His leaf never withered;’ ‘he did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22); ‘he yielded his fruit in its season,’ obeying his mother Mary, and being found about his Father’s business; going up to the feast ‘when his hour was come,’ and suffering, when the time appointed came; everything ‘in season.’ And ‘all he did prospered;’ he finished the work given him to do (John 17:4), and because of his completed work, ‘therefore God hath highly exalted him,’ (Phil. 2:8, 9).
We who are his members seek to realize all this in our measure. We seek that everything in us should be to the glory of God—heart, words, actions—all that may adorn the gospel, as well as all that is directly holy. Having the imputed righteousness of this Savior, we earnestly long to have his holiness imparted too; though conscious that He alone comes up to the picture drawn here so beautifully. In either view, we may inscribe as the title of this Psalm, ‘The blessed path of the Righteous One.'”1
1. Andrew Bonar Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1859) p. 3