Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. —Psalm 1:5-6
Psalm 1 invites us to read the Psalms as real people in a real world. For as much as these words set our eyes on Jesus, they also direct our steps here and now. The contrast between the righteous and the wicked is a key tool to help us. There is a way to live in this world, and there is a way not to live in this world. And our calling to live by faith in the LORD is met with the tension of how things appear now. For all that we know of God’s design, when we look around it appears that the wicked are doing just fine (Psalm 10).
But although evil people exist, wisdom calls us to remember their end (Psalm 73:16-17). The wicked will not stand in the judgment. They will perish because God is righteous. Things will not always be what they are now.
But we ask with the psalmist, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3). And then with David we confess that the blessed one is him whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32:1).
Now we get it: apart from Jesus we would be standing on the wrong side come that last day. Our discerning the end of the wicked is interwoven with our recollection that such was our destiny (Ephesians 2:1-3). That is, our destiny until God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7).
This is how we live: not simply as “righteous rather than wicked,” but as forgiven by the cross of Christ, once wicked but now righteous in him. Psalm 1 takes us there. Just keep reading.