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Psalm 1 : Clean and Unclean Animals?!

Kind of a strange title “Psalm 1:Clean and Unclean Animals.” How in the world is Psalm 1 related to the animals section in Duet 14? The passage does not even mention once animals, of any kind.

First of all you have to think like a Hebrew. Think pictures. Backing ourselves into the Hebrew mindset: God had written on the culture in numerous pictures knowing that man is a picture type individual.

What I mean by that is that man gets the complexity of an idea through a “picture.” The phrase, we have heard many times “a picture says a thousand words” rings in our ears. If you want to have a good presentation of a complex idea, give pictures or at least paint picture with your words.

The Hebrew mindset is pictures, like we have said about the language, every letter has a picture, every word has a picture. In passages of Hebrews, as well, there is a picture that is being painted.

The Biblical Hebrew makes a tapestry or mosaic in his language that starts with a picture and wraps up the passage with a picture.

So lets dig into the passage…

Psalm 1 starts out talking about a Blessed man and ends up with a Blessed people. In between it talks about the Blessed man and the Cursed man.

The passage starts out….

Blessed is the man that

- Walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly
- Standeth in the way of sinners
- Sitteth in the seat of the scornful

Many commentators grasp the progression of Walking, Standing, then Sitting, but fail to see the deeper importance of the progression.

Starting with the Law of God we see that a clean animal does all of these things, walks, stands, sits. As we pointed out about in the “cloven hooves section”, the particular walk, stance and sitting is pretty important to a clean versus unclean animal.

We also noted that the man who eats these animals is merely picturing an ethic. He is not cleaned by these animals, he is what he eats. The animal is a picture of God’s making about an ethic, or way of life.

The Christian man, as the Psalmist so well points out does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He will follow a difficult course of action, that sometimes is treacherous and hard. 

Take Moses for example. He followed the hard counsel (Gods counsel from the burning bush). He was almost stoned several times. He followed the counsel of God and it was hard, but he did not follow the wicked in their counsel schemes.


No Standing in way of sinners. The way of sinners is contrary to God and righteousness. It often involves theft, lying and killing (on the installment plan of course, most men are not bold enough to kill outright). Way of sinners is like Josephs brothers, or the way of Korah, the way of King Saul. The way is often easy. 

But a picture that is worth noting is that Joseph, and Moses both stood before kings, and literally stood in their way. If they progressed contrary to their counsel, the nation would perish!

Joseph Standing Before Pharoah

The Children's Bible in 365 Stories, by Mary Batchelor, Copyright 1985, page 51

No Sitting in the seat of the scornful. When see sitting is put before us, we should see kings in judgment. A place of sitting infers immobility, or rootedness. But God despises a king that scorns the righteousness and plays games with judgment. 

Pilate for example when he says “What is truth?” or Pharoah who says “Who is God that I should obey him?” A sitting scorner is an implacable individual who looks at life and says “righteousness is a joke, I will live life as I please: I am the master of my fate.”

What is Truth? Pontius Pilate And Christ.

Veritas Press Copyright 2005 History Card



A Hebrew would pick up a subtle connection between the clean animal and the walk, but the Psalmist is not done yet. He adds the second part which is very important to the clean animal: what he eats.

The Psalmist says “But his delight is in the Law of God, and in this law doth he meditate day and night.”

The key to understanding this passage is the word “meditate.” The words means to ponder or think about. Remember in the “clean vs unclean section” we discuss how the clean animal chews the cud. The chewing of the cud is well thought out, or “pondered” digestion. The implication here is a chewing all day and night. The life of the man is “bathed” in the law of God. More specifically, that is all the man sustains his life on: “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The man who loves God would wish to die before abandoning the law of God.

The clean animal is characterized by its:

  • Walk

  • Eating 

We almost forget, that the walk comes from the eating. What is being drawn is a picture that surrounds the Word of God by the blessings that emanate from it, because the following verse then says “For he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

What is being described is the Christian life. A walk of faith based on the Law of God. This walk is then rewarded with blessing by God. It is a justice principle: You walk in the law of God, God will in return bless your walk so you can continue to walk.

The walking, eating animal is just a picture of the Christian life in the earth, and was always intended as a picture lesson for the Hebrew. Just as the Ox that treads out the corn was not to be muzzled, so God does not muzzle us, or curse our existence from being. He blesses us so that we can continue in the walk.

The ultimate goal of all of this of course is Christ and His righteousness in the earth. The blessed walk can only be attained by those who “walk by faith, not by sight.” 

1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The Righteousness of Christ must permeate the earth, and this is accomplished as the Psalm 1 passage finishes off :

Psa 1:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 
Psa 1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 
Psa 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. 

“The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous”, because he is ordaining and rooting us in the earth to plant His civilization in the earth, hence the “congregation and the judgement.” The congregation will produce judgment or the rooting of righteousness in the earth.

The clean animal again, is a picture of the righteous walking about the earth and working in it.

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