Staying Planted “Psalm 1”
“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.”
I’m on vacation this week and reflecting on this classic Psalm. I love the tone that the book of Psalms begins with through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in this passage. It’s incredible to think about the fact that just like we feel oppressed and challenged by unrighteousness and unrighteous people (ourselves included), God’s covenant people were in the exact same place thousands of years ago. One of the many lies we tell ourselves is that we are ‘different’ and ‘unique’ and so are our problems but the Bible shows us over and over that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl.1:9), including our problems.
But like usual God doesn’t just leave us with the realization that we’re stupid (HUGE thanks for that!), he points to the source of our peace, hope, joy and life for our eternal benefit and His ultimate glory. The hebrew of the first clause is incredibly simple but unbelievably profound in its import to our lives. The reality that we are blessed by choosing to abstain from certain things…and certain people is certainly not a current or popular reality today but it’s the key to the passage. The world is full of relationships and so are our lives but when we allow relationships and their direction to be dictated by people that are already in pain and headed for more because of their sin we are beyond foolish. Our relationships, particularly our close ones need to be intentional and have more purpose in them than what comes naturally.
But even more directly to the passage we see the idea that our counsel and advise definitely shouldn’t be coming from people choosing to live their life in ways that seem right in their own eyes (Pr.21:2). Our advise and closest company should be made up of people that know and love Jesus and desire to pursue closer walks with him. It’s interesting how quickly we move to considering who ‘qualifies’ for this new found role but the text doesn’t ask for perfection, merely life trajectory. What is the general trend of a persons life taking them to? We DEFINITELY need to have relationships with those outside these guidelines for life but those relationships should be CENTERED around the Gospel, we should be planting seeds for the Gospel in the lives of those around us at every interaction and if you think you are building some random bridge relationally through 5 years of gaming together or gossiping about people…you’re not. Relationships are either building you up or tearing you down, your choice.
David continues by telling us what it means to be blessed. We should consider God’s Word as something we delight in, the picture here isn’t the ideal timing for our quiet time or daily devotional but rather a lifestyle picture of consuming God’s Word in every way throughout the day. He specifically refers to meditation but we can also certainly include; reading, studying, praying through, memorizing, etc. When we make the counsel of God’s Word our primary source rather than the counsel of idiots in our lives we head in a much different direction. We’re like plants by the source of our life, constantly being refueled. Perhaps you think, as many do, that you get ‘recharged’ or ‘refueled’ once a week at church, and while that time of fellowship should be sweet it certainly shouldn’t be your primary spiritual nourishment.
Then very reminiscent of a proverb we see the consequences of both groups, the wicked and the blessed. The blessed will prosper in the things they pursue (prosperity defined by God for His glory, not by us for our lust and sin). When God gives us vision and we pursue it according to His Word and will we are unbelievably blessed. I love the promise that what God sets us to do for Him will last when so much of this life is filled with things that won’t (Lord grant us that perspective!).
The fate of the wicked is quite different; judgement and death. The interesting twist is that the judgement they receive they’ve already been handed down and the judgement of the righteous referred to in this passage is irrelevant to them and therefore withheld. So often we look at the life of someone who is successful but sinful and we can’t wait till they get ‘judged’ but the Bible is very clear that without Jesus we are all already judged. God help us from being a people that point fingers at ‘those kinds of people’ and chastise them for choices that are different than ours but no different in severity than our own personal sin. The ultimate truth is that we are all sinners deserving death right now (Rom.3:10-12,23), that the only way out for any of us is the work that Jesus did for us while we were still sinners (Rom.5:8) and that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that He is Lord we can be rescued from the eternity we have whole-heartedly earned (Rom.10:9).
We all want God’s blessing in our life and the great news is that the biggest part of that blessing has already been accomplished for us by Jesus on the cross, make this the best Easter yet and make a decision to begin your spiritual journey with Christ now.