Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Hey proclamation group, is a joy for me tonight to be able to kick off this study of the Psalms.
We are looking tonight at the first chapter of Psalms. Some Bible teachers say that Psalm 1 is a summary of the whole Book of Psalms. Whether that is true or not, I don’t really know.
What I do know is that Psalm 1 is tailored towards some really important questions that I believe every single person has. Psalm1 talks about blessings and cursings; blessed people and blessed pathways. What could be more pertinent to us than the hope of being a blessed person or on a blessed pathway? On the flip side, if we are or were heading towards down the wrong pathway or setting ourselves up for the wrong life, wouldn’t we want to know that?
This Psalm addresses two of the most basic questions that face every human being: who am I and where am I heading? These are the concerns of Identity…. and of meaning.These questions will come up in one form or another many, many times in our lives. These questons will haunt us in our darkest hours and the answers we have to these questions will either provde the sustaining content of our lives, or if not, then the doubt, the in decision they leave in their wake will fuel our greatest point of failures. What kind of person will I be, what will my identity be, and what pathway will my life take?
And so, God could not be giving us anyhting more helpful than the answers He gives to these two questions. Also, I think it is useful to note that this Pslam is descriptive, not prescriptive. It describes the life of the blessed person, it doesn’t prescribe it. It takes a photograph of the blessed man or puts a camcorder on the blessed person. And as so often happens in Scripture, God wants us to see, to understand, before He asks us to do anything and to do implement something.
My goal tonight will simply be to walk you through this description of the blessed person who travels along a blessed pathway.
Along the way, it would not be at all helpful or balanced to talk only of blessing. That would be to miss about one-half of what this Psalm tells us. And so we will talk also about the flip side of blessing in order to do two things, to draw into even sharper relief the source and substance of blessing and to reprove and reveal the darkness of our sin as it continues to have way too much sway in us.
My hope is that God would use this Psalm to woo us to Himself, to find increasing delight in Him especially as we realize the alternatives to being a blessed person or on a blessed pathway.
So, let’s talk about what it is to be a blessed man or woman and what it is to be cursed.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
“Blessed” is the man. If I were to say here happy is the man or joyful is the man or sorry is the man or sad is the man, you would know instantly what this word meant. The meaning of “Blessed” is partially veiled word to our ears, we’re not quite sure if we’ve gotten it right. Does blessed mean happy? If every level of satisfaction that a human being could experience meant “happy”, I suppose we could say that “happy” is a ready substitute. What about the peace that one might expectedly feel in the loss of a job? Would that be happy? I’d be hard-pressed to say I’m happy about losing my job unexpectedly. But, I would certainly say that if that moment was grounded on confidence in God’s care for me and if the prevaiiling feeling and thought in that moment were strength and confidence then I would feel completely comfortable with callign that moment blessed
I have no special word from the Lord on what “blessed” means but I have this strong sense that we had better include God in any definiation we might give to the word. And I think Biblically, we do find this pattern that “blessed” is more often than not painted against the backdrop of a seeing and a caring God who is in the picture. The blessed man, as we will talk about in a minute, is someone who is in commniion with the God of the universe
And so, a sharp contrast is drawn between the one who is called “blessed” and presumably, the one who is not blessed. There are three things mentioned here that are contrary to the patterns of the blessed man.
The blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. When I was a very young man, I could never understand how anyone could become a criminal. How could anyone be so established in something that most people know is wrong? It just didn’t make sense to me. But over the years I slowlly developed an understanding of this thing, criminality. The criminal becomes a criminal by walkign down a certain pathway, one step at a time, one bad step at a time. No one enters into a life of crime fullblown, but through a series of steps, and a repeated series of steps that eventually become a direction.
Not only does the blessed not walk in the way of the wicked, they also do not stand in the way of the sinner. Notice that the Pslam-singer says the sinner stands “in a way”. He is still talking about the pathway where one walks. And while the pathway is the same, but now the posture of the person has changed. They are standing. Once someone is moving down the pathway of evil, it is only a matter of time before the brazen voice of sin eventually calls out, “you are driving yourself crazy always being in motion.” Take a stand somewhere. You’re already on the pathway. You’ve already given in to temptaton. Now stand there. That way you’ll be able to fully drink in the surroundings. That is how the flesh and Satan come after us. It starts to work on our reason. It is not enough to taste the pleasures of sin, the voice of temptation starts to reason with us and say, “you know, you could just hang out here.” Just stand here in your temptation.
And then, the final thing the blessed man does not do is he does not sit in the seat of the mocker.
This is what inevitably happens when sin is full-blown. James puts it this way:
But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
Do you see the progressiveness of sin? The last stage is sittng down in our sin. And once you are sitting down in temptations any possibility of inertia of movement away from there has become progressively harder. And in these advanced stages, sin is not just a temptation, it finally jades and corrupts our personality. And what the sinner before was doing, they now become established in, and habitually performing to their full-fledged ruin. At the end of the Psalm, it tells that the way of the wicked leads to death. The wicked finally sit in the most permanent seat undesirable seat of all, death.
What pathway does the blessed man walk in? That is made very clear. He walks in utter delight in the law of the Lord, he meditates on it day and night. He walks in the counsel of the Lord and in the Lord’s law.
The Scriptures are replete in talkng about the “walk” of the believer. He walks in the counsel of the Lord. There is nothing more beautiful in Scripture than this wonderful picture of man walking with God and walking in the counsel of God. This is where Adam and Eve began, before they sinned against God. They walked with Him “in the cool of the day”. What does it say about Enoch? He walked with God and then he was not because God took Him. The Christian life is a walk. Galatians 5:16-17 says , “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
And the walk certainly involves the ethical choices we make, the direction we take through life in the knowledge of God’s will, and God’s precepts. But here in Psalm 1 the walk is portrayed in terms of the daily time we have in conversation with God’s word. This is daily activity, and day and night activity. This is perpetual, at least it is meant to be.
But the really significant thing about all of this is not amount of activity that goes on. The operative thing is that he “delights in”. Any time you find someone delighting in something, it is no longer a matter of rules and regulations and discipline but all of the normal barriers that limit us are removed. If we delight in anything we no longer given no-hold barred entry into the thing of our delight.
How wonderful it when God and God’s law is our delight. It allows us to overcome whatever obstacle would bar us or shut us out from God. In Pslam 42, the Psalm-singer says, “Like the deer pants for streams of water, so my sould pants for you oh God.” This is the indestructble, eternal life that God has planned for his children, a life of satisfaction in Him.
This Psalm does not lay any command on us, it is giving a picture of the blessed person to minster to our souls. But although it is not stated explicitlly, this picture of a God who is worth delghting in, a God who secures for himself a productive place of fruit-bearing are meant to draw us in the cords of love towards that wonderful God.
Our walk in God is not yet a complete work. We need to stay in motion, ever heading towards the goal and prize in Christ Jesus.
The blessed man walks in the way of delight in the God of the universe.
The blessed man also does not stand in the way of sinners. But there is a place that He does stands. Where does he stand? At end of life it tells us in verse 5 where he will stand. It says there that the wicked does not stand in the judgement. The implication, the inference there is that the righteous DO stand in the judgmeent. They are able to stand. They will be judged as righteous.
But the blessed man is able to take a strong stand in this life too. The blessed one is pictured here as like a tree standing by streams of water. There is a wonderful picture of the believer, the Christian disciple:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
The life of the blessed man is planted by streams of water, not a stream but many streams. The life of the blessed man is productive, fruit-bearing and sustained in that productivity and fruit-bearing. The leaf does not wither.
Everythign about this picture ought to produce hope in us. The life of the blessed man is a result of being “planted” and being placed where we are! This is not our own doing. The blessed man was planted. Somebody else was superintended over that planting. God himself planted us. As it says later in the final verse of the Pslam, “God watches over the way of the righteous.” And in the English, I know that “watches over the way” sounds very passive. The thought form is not at all passive in the Hebrew. It really mean the God providentally works in the way of his chosen, his blessed people. He plants us! He waters us, He cultivates us.
Where does he plant us? In a luscious, a well-watered place. A place where life, where growth, where productivity is assured. And let’s not carry too much baggage in to this metaphor of a tree. It we are a tree, we are an active tree, it is a life where we sweat, we cry, we bleed, but we also are providentially provided for to make it through. Because, as it says in Phillipians, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
What a contrast though is the life of the cursed one. It say he is like the “chaff”. What is chaff? Well it is term that has to do with harvesting. And when the wheat is being harvesting, it is thrown up in the air so that the “husk” the container of the wheat can be removed from the fruit, the grain part of the plant. And the chaff is lighter than the fruit and so it blows away so that the product can be purified.
The contrast you see is between a living, sustainable, fruit-bearing, pleasing thing like a tree and an empty thing like a husk, a shell, a mere empty contaiiner. This is the great contrast that exists in our world. Outside of life in Christ the only prospect for the human race is to be a husk, to be merely a human container with no hope of the Spiritual life that the beleiver has in Christ, no real blessedness, no real future prospects.
Our world is completely sold out to an idea of humanity that amount to no more than living as glorified “husks”. The world tries to make the dying part of our humanness, our physical pleasues, the pride of life, and all of fruitless and futile parts of our humanity into somethiing wonderful. But is never really resonates, because those things are ultiimately unsatisfying, unproductive and cursed.
Do you see the contrast, between the blessed person and the one who is on the path of futility?
And so, in conclusion, let me try to pull together this all together. We have here in Psalm 1 the most helpful and the most hopeful message that it has ever been privileged for man to hear. It shows us, it tells us that this world is not a mere container of material matter evolving into into ever higher forms wih the blind action of flesh and blood creature merely playing out the surivival of the fittest behavior. It is not a universe void of God. No, this world is superintended by a gracious and compassionate God who has cared so much to give us a wonderful message about what is going on here, and on what kind of people populate this world.
God has given us a wonderful opportunity to be identified with him as a man or woman of blessing, a fruit-bearing, productive, God-delighting life, heading toward a wonderful and glorious future of righteousness in the assembly of the righteous.
The hunger of the human heart, as I have said, is to find a worthwhile identity. This identity is revealed in this Psalm by God and found in the most simple and unencumbered of human action: the act of delighting in God with a lifelong dependence and delight in God himself. The blessed person sees themselves primarily in relation to the God of the universe. Thiis is what makes a blessed man or a blessed woman. Happiness is not the goal, blessedness is the goal, delight is the goal, identification with the God of the Universe is the goal
The hunger of the human heart also is yearning to find a meaning, a purpose, a direction that is worthwhile. That pathway is the pathway of communion with and delight in God himself. It is arriving at a place of rest in Christ, a place of standing in the place of the righteous, and most profoundly in being seated in the assembly of the community of God.
There is no program that I can dictate to you to make this happen. There is no improvement plan to get you there. Meditate on God’s word day and night? Is that the application? Is that the improvement plan? That is putting the cart before the horse. Psalm 1 is not prescribing a pattern of conduct for us. It is descrbing the reality of the blessed man.
This is grounded in a relational reality, not in a pattern of do this and do that. It is asking us to see the God who is behind all things. It is intended for us to see the One who confers such good gifts on the human race, who is inviting man into a relatiionshp wth himself. It is to woo us, to pursue us, to point us an eternal source of blessing, way better than happiness, way more diverse, way more sustainable, way more durable.
Against the backdrop of the full counsel of God’s word, against the broader picture of man’s dseased and ruined conditiion in Adam we know that the fullfillment of all of this, this backdrop of a luscious pasture with many waters flowing was provisioned by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He stood as a oak of righteousness in enduring the scorn of the cross of Calvary. He bought for us the very possibility and the very actuality of the blessed state that God is callng people into.
And the cross of Christ is really in essence the pathway which the blessed man must travel down.
Let us brothers and sister live our lives unto God through Christ, let us glue ourselves to His pathway and find our pathway, our place to stand and our place of perfect rest in Him.