Text Psalm 1
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;
2)but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3) 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. 4)The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5)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.” (Psalms 1:1-6 ESV)
The source, way and outcome of the godly and wicked
This psalm serves as an introduction and summary to the whole book of psalms, all 150 of them, or we can say the five books in the psalms. It sets forth the way of blessing and the way of cursing or damnation. It helps us to understand the two main categories of people in the world, the godly and ungodly or the righteous and the wicked or the saints and the sinners. That is what the whole book of psalms is about. Much of it is wisdom literature and although we find different types of psalms, like psalms of praise, or of complaint or prophecy and so on, the psalms help us in our devotional lives. They give us words to pray when we have no words and it helps us to identify with the saints in ages gone past. They help us see we are not alone in our difficulties and fears and failures.
In this psalm we see the way of blessing set forth. We see where the way of happiness and joy is found, lasting happiness. The constant pursuit of all men is the pursuit of happiness. That is why many greet each other in the beginning of every year with “happy new year.” I like to tell people when they greet me with happy new year, “blessed new year” because the word happy to me has less meaning than blessed. I pray that everyone who listens to this message today will find blessedness in this year and not mere happiness. We think many times when things go our way or when we don’t have many trials or when we have enough money or when we are given gifts and when we experience comfort we have happiness. But to be blessed means something different. To be blessed means you have a happiness that transcends your particular circumstances. Being blessed means that no matter your circumstances and situation in life you have lasting joy.
This psalm and the whole Bible helps us to find the way of lasting happiness, blessedness, and fullness of joy. Psalm 1 directs us to the source of blessedness, the way of blessing and the outcome of blessedness. Early in my Christian walk I have memorized this psalm and I believe by God’s grace He has helped me to internalize this psalm and make it my way of living and as a result I have experienced the benefits of doing what is commanded here and the fulfillment of the promise we find in this psalm. And today I want to encourage you to obey the way of blessing set forth in this psalm if you haven’t done so yet, and if you have I want to encourage you to keep obeying until the day you die!
So let us start and see what is the source of blessing and cursing:
1. The source of the godly and wicked
The source of the godly
Is the law and word of God
Now when this psalm was written down, by David we presume, he mentioned that the way of blessing is to delight and meditate on the law of God. That is the word mentioned in Psalm 1. The law of God referred to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The word for law in the Hebrew is “Torah.” That is the book that the people of God used at the time. More Scripture was written down century by century, but we know that the Torah was there, the Book of Moses, in David’s time. Now the psalmist tells us here that only the Torah was enough to give a life of blessing. He was telling us here that this Torah, the Book of Moses, by delighting in it, and meditating on it, in other words, knowing it, is the source of blessing. There was enough in the Torah to direct and guide the Israelite to a life of blessing.
But this word can definitely and must be applied not only to the Torah or the first five books of the Bible! Because we know today that we have more than five books from God. We have the full revelation and word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments! How much more blessed should we be in the 21st century now that we have God’s revealed word in the Old and New Testaments! It shocks me we when I hear of people who have access to the word of God and the will of God but never reads it. For centuries past in the Middle ages the common people in the world had no access to the word of God. Only priest and monks who could read it in Latin and those who stayed in monasteries could read and study the Bible. But then came the invention of the Printing press in the 15th century and then the first Book that was ever printed was the Bible! But the common people in Europe could still not read it. It was only when giants of the faith like Martin Luther and William Tyndale and then others translated the Scriptures into German and English and other languages that the Bible became accessible to ordinary people like you and me. But there was great persecution because of the availability of the word of God and many, many believers in Christ, were martyred because of the word of God.
And today the word of God and the law of God has never been so accessible and available in so many languages in history. But then when you ask people in Western countries: have you ever read the Bible? They reply: no! This is shocking! The only source of eternal blessing is veiled from their eyes. If I would ask: Have you ever watched a football game they would say: yes! If I would ask: have your ever watched: “The Lord of the Rings?” or “Star Wars?”, they would say: yes. Or have you ever read a newspaper? They would say: off course! But if I ask them: have you ever read the Bible? They say: No! The only source of lasting blessing however is the word of God, the law of God, the Bible!
Is the God of the Bible (John 4:14; John 7:37) rivers of water
You would ask me: why is it that the Bible or the word of God is the only source of blessing? The Bible is the only source of blessing because whom it reveals! God! It is the Holy Spirit who gave us the Bible. All of Scripture is breathed out by God is is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and instructing us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). In the Bible we find the character of God revealed. We find the will and purposes of God revealed. We find the way of blessing revealed! We find the way of salvation revealed and we find the nature of man revealed. The Bible is a book of blessing because it reveals to us the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ! It reveals why we need salvation and it reveals how we can receive salvation. There is no other book like it! The sacred Scriptures is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). That is why it is called the word of truth (Ephesians 1:13) and the word of life (Philippians 2:18). By it be are born again, made alive, strengthened, sanctified, purified and edified. By it our faith becomes strong and by the word, saving faith is created (Romans 10:17). The Bible is the source of blessing because it leads us the Rivers of Living Water, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
The supremacy and excellence of God and his word
The word of God is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). It cannot be destroyed. By the word every person will be judged one day. There is nothing more precious than the word of God. It is more precious than all the gold put together in the world. It is more valuable than all the jewel and precious stones and possessions and products put together. By the word be are warned of coming judgment. By the word, promises are given of eternal life. By the Word we find direction in life and comfort and medicine for our souls. The word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It is more relevant than the daily newspaper. No book in the word has sold so many copies. No other book in the world have been translated in so many languages. More books have been written about the Bible than any other book. This book is banned in many countries today and yet it cannot be chained. Because it is God’s Book and because God is the primary author of the 66 books we find in the Bible. It is the most important book in the world and it will remain the most important book for all eternity. And it is the most important book in the world because it is trustworthy and truthful in all it affirms about life, death, righteousness, salvation, the world and humanity in general. It is God’s inerrant, authoritative and eternal word to the human race.
The source of the wicked
Is the counsel of men
We see in the first verse that the godly does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. But the ungodly follow the counsel of the ungodly. And we find the counsel or the philosophy or thoughts and intentions of the ungodly everywhere. We find the counsel of the wicked in the newspapers and sometimes in church counsels, in liberal theologian publications, in curricula of state education, in textbooks of psychology in bookstores and on the radio and on the Television and many times in news reports. We find their counsel in sophisticated language and in crude language in the streets in Kempton Park. We find the counsel of the ungodly between some family members and sometimes from State Presidents. If any person’s mind is not controlled by the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ, we find ungodly counsel. Ungodly counsel means by definition where God’s counsel is rejected or ignored. Where homosexual unions or marriages are condoned, where abortion on demand and sexual deviancy and immorality and idolatry and gambling are approved there we find the counsel of the ungodly. The source of the ungodly is the system of the world.
Is his own sinful inclinations and heart
The human heart is deceitful above all else (Jeremiah 17:9) and it is desperately wicked. Even if you take all the magazines and newspapers and Televisions and Radios and Internet and books and human philosophy away you will still have your own ungodly thoughts to contend with. The mind of the flesh is in direct opposition to the mind of the Spirit. As Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 said: the inclinations of the human heart is only evil continually from its youth. We counsel ourselves in the wrong direction. We are by nature self-centered and preoccupied with our own interests and desires. By birth and by nature we are the ungodly and if we listen to the world or if we listen to own hearts or if we follow our own hearts we are doomed! So please I plead with you in the new year: don’t listen to your heart if you don’t have a new heart in Christ! But even if you have a new heart, be aware your old self. It still needs to be put to death daily!
Is the way of the world
The source of the ungodly is the counsel of worldly men, men devoid of the wisdom and knowledge of God. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many go that way..” The wisdom of this world will not lead you to salvation and blessedness. It may make you rich in early goods. It may lead you to success in business or in the corporate ladder. It may lead you to have a big family and to be a well adjusted individual in society or it may not, nevertheless, it will not lead you to lasting blessing. You may end up doing Yoga and in some spiritual form of religion like Buddhism or New Ageism or whatever form of asceticism, but it will not lead you to lasting blessing and holiness. Hedonism, asceticism and atheism, consumerism or adventurism or all the “isms” that the world puts forth as the way to happiness cannot lead you to blessing because it rejects God and righteousness and leaves Christ out of the equation.
2. The way of the godly and wicked
The way of the godly
He separates Himself from ungodly counsel, sinners and mockers
The first thing the godly considers is the outcome of the ungodly and when he realize their fate and where the way of the ungodly leads he fears. Because the end of the ungodly is destruction, damnation and hell. The godly knows this and therefore separates himself from the wicked counsel of the ungodly. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what is evil and ungodly, it means he doesn’t follow the advice of the ungodly. He doesn’t stand in the way of sinners. He doesn’t become too acquainted with sinners. Bad company ruins good morals. Birds of a feather flock together. Iron sharpens iron. The godly don’t flock with the ungodly. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know unbelievers personally or become friends with them. But we should be careful not to be influenced by their talk and jokes and sinful behavior. The mark of a converted man is that he separates from evil company. He does not sit in the seat of the scornful. Sin has progressive levels. First it allures you, and tempts you, then it makes a “nest on your head” and then you dive into that lifestyle. The godly has turned from the ways of the world, the counsel of the world, the pleasures of sin, and the mocking of Christ and God and righteousness. He has seen the destructive effects of sin and ungodliness, he has felt it in his own life, and therefore turned from it and is ever turning from it towards God. Biblical repentance is the trademark of the godly. Conviction of sin, contrition over sin, confession of sin, and conversion towards God, from the world to God characterizes his life.
He meditates on the Word day and night. He not only reads or scans it
Verse 2 tells us in the text that the blessed man, the godly man or woman, meditates over the law and word of God. It is interesting that the Bible doesn’t say here that a man is blessed when he only reads the word of God. Just reading the Bible won’t make you blessed. But without reading it you won’t be blessed either. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day knew the Torah. They memorized the Torah. But they were not blessed because they didn’t obey the word! The Bible tells us in Psalm 1 that a man will only be blessed when he turns from ungodliness towards the Word and meditates on it. But we must start with reading. We can’t meditate on the word of God if we don’t read and know it, can we? So we must read it, first and foremost. For the last 15 years of my life I have read through the Bible once a year. And I think it is a good practice. Many Christians read through the Bible once a year, some read through it twice or even three times a year. But many times reading it can become a mechanical practice, a sort of legalism. We think just because we read the Bible regularly we will be helped. But in this psalm it is clear that the man who is blessed not only reads or listens to the Bible being read, but meditates on the word. If the Bible is the most important book in the world and if the way of blessing and the way of cursing and the way of eternal life and eternal damnation is clearly and truthfully taught in this book, then we owe it to ourselves not only to read, but to meditate and ponder and study this Book. That is why we have Bible studies at churches. And I want to encourage you today not only to be a reader of the Bible, and that you must be, but to be a pondered and meditator and a Bible student for life. Nothing is more critical for you to know and understand the contents of Holy Scripture. Because without knowledge of the way of salvation and blessing you cannot be blessed!
He finds joy and delight in the Word (Psalm 19)
But it doesn’t end there! The psalm tells us that God blesses a man who delights in the word and meditates on it day and night. In other words, the words of God is his constant and daily companion. He doesn’t only come to the Bible and quickly reads a few chapters and and then go on with his daily activities and work duties and forgets what he has read. We are not saying that all Christians must study the Bible five or ten hours a day. What this Psalm is telling us is that we must feed and be nourished by the word of God. Man does not live by bread alone but my every word that proceeds from the month of God (Matthew 4:4). Blessed is the man who receives his strength from the Bible. Blessed is the man who delights in the word of God as if he has found a great treasure!
Let’s be honest today:
Do you find pleasure in reading and thinking about God’s word?
Or is reading the Bible a boring exercise that you quickly want to get over with, and tick it of your “do to list” for the day?
Let’s be honest! Off course there are more exciting parts of Scripture than others, but in general, are you excited about the contents of Scripture?
Why should we find delight in the word of God?
Here are a few reasons:
In it we find the nature and character of God on display, our Creator, we find supreme worth and beauty on display
In it we find unchangeable and eternal truth that will shape the destinies of men forever, for bad or for worse
In it we find the way of salvation and righteousness clearly explained and illustrated
In it we find the words that will lead to fullness of joy
In it we find the power that will renew and transforms our lives
In it we find the Savior of the world and the way of eternal peace and life
In it we find thousands of promises that will give you hope and build your faith
In it we find God’s purposes and secrets revealed
The godly sees these things in Scripture and are so captivated by them that he longs to see more of God and Christ every day. He has received and embraced the truths of Scripture and that makes him blessed.
He finds delight in the Word because of whom and what it reveals: God, Christ and his salvation (2 Timothy 3:16; John 15:7)
The only reason ultimately the godly is blessed is because he has found Christ in the Scriptures. He has seen the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, he has seen the salvation in Christ revealed in the Scriptures and he has embraced the precious promises of the Scriptures concerning Christ. He has been born again by the Spirit and because he has life in God he can appreciate the things of God. He has received forgiveness of sins offered and he knows that he is clothed with the righteousness of God. He knows that he belongs to God and God had given him or her His most precious gift, the Holy Spirit, as an eternal inheritance!
He finds delight in the Bible, because of its transformative power (creates faith and repentance and obedience)
And not only that he experienced over time the transformative power of the Holy Spirit at work through the word of God and because he becomes more sanctified and because he experiences the power of God over sin and the purifying power of God in the word, he cannot but help to be addicted to the word. The mark of the godly is not only that he reads the word of God daily, and that he meditates on the word, but that he does it day and night, that he internalizes the word, that he thinks about it all the time and seeks to apply it every day of his life. He is a transformed man who believes the word in its totality to be true and trustworthy and he obeys the word of God. His word abides in him and he obeys the word constantly.
My friend I want to ask you: Do you long for the word?
Do you find more joy in it that in your favorite soccer team or television program? Let’s be honest!
Do you seek to be transformed by it?
Do you read to find God there and His will for your life?
Do you seek to apply the word constantly in your life?
The way of the wicked
He walks in the counsel of the ungodly (he exposes himself)
The way of the wicked is foremost a problem of the heart as we said earlier. But it does not end there. The wicked exposes himself constantly to sin. He walks in the counsel of the ungodly. He is not satisfied with his own ungodly thoughts. He seeks affirmation from his ungodly friends so that he justify himself in his ungodliness. Birds of the same feathers flock together. We will rarely see ungodly men or woman who don’t seek friends with whom they can do ungodly things together. He exposes himself to more ungodly ideas and philosophies.
He considers to do wickedness
Then he considers how he can act in ways that are ungodly without getting caught. Or he would try to find reasons to justify his ungodly line of reasoning. For example: the man who wants to sleep with a woman who is not his wife. Or a man who wants to evade paying income tax or the woman who wants to abort her baby. There are many ways to justify these actions. The wicked not only exposes himself to wicked ideas but considers how to perform them.
He stands in the way of sinners.
He considers and finds delight in sinners and ungodliness. He has committed himself to the way of sinners. He has identified himself as one of them. These people are proud of being sinners. The sense of shame over sin has gradually decreased. Their consciences have been seared with a hot iron. They don’t feel the pain of sin in their consciences anymore. They don’t care about the consequences of sin anymore as long as they can be seen as one of the guys or girls or the “men.” Their eyes are filled with pride over evil deeds and wickedness.
He participates actively and immerses himself in wickedness
He sits in the seat of the scornful or mockers. In verse one we see progression in a lifestyle of sin. Sinners are not as evil as they can be, but sinners become more wicked as days and years pass by. They invent more evil schemes and plans. They sin more and more and delight more and more in evil and in corruption. And in the final stage they become mockers of those who love righteousness and Christ. They start to ridicule and blaspheme the name of Christ, curse the Bible and what it stands for. They become nefarious opponents of Christianity and Christ and the church and many times persecutors of the church. They mock and insult the absolute standards of the Bible and will do this publicly. May God have mercy on the ungodly and the wicked for so was all of us at one point in time and for some, for longer periods of time! May God have mercy on your soul if you are one of the mockers of what is good and right and Christlike!
3. The outcome and goal of the godly and wicked
The outcome of the godly
He bears fruit in his season (John 15:8).
In this psalm we see that a comparison is made between the godly and a fruit-tree that is planted by a river. Now if a fruit-tree is planted by a river and there is enough water this tree will bear fruit in it’s season. In other words, the tree will fulfill its reason for existence: to bear fruit and so be useful to humans and animals and provide them with necessary vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy and prevent sicknesses. When I was in Ghana recently I was amazed when our host, Daniel, who is a farmer, explained to me the healing and nutritional value of papayas, coconuts, bananas, apples and other fruit. I was quite amazed! It made we want to eat coconut, papaya, tomatoes, apples and bananas every day!
The man who abides in Christ, who abides in His word, (John 15:7) is the man who will bear fruit in his season. There is no question about it. It cannot be otherwise. Just as a fruit tree who gets enough water cannot not near fruit. If our lives are anchored in the word of God and in Christ, an increasing amount of love and peace and joy and patience and goodness and kindness and humility and self-control and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22, the fruit if the Spirit) will be on display in our lives. And the more we stay in the Word and the more we abide in Christ more of these things will “hang” from our lives that will benefit and help and nourish the souls of men! It cannot be otherwise.
His leaf does not wither. Photosynthesis.
Now fruit-trees does not always bear fruit, does it? It only bears fruit sometimes in the year. Sometimes it doesn’t bear fruit, but we can say it prepares itself to bear more fruit the next year. But some fruit trees always has leaves on them. Now leaves are of much benefit to the human race. If there were no leaves on any tree in the world life on planet earth will cease to be because the leaves on trees are responsible for the process called photosynthesis. This is the process in which the leaves of the trees absorbs carbon dioxide in the air and releases oxygen in the atmosphere. If there was no absorption of carbon dioxide and no release of oxygen into the atmosphere we would all sooner or later die! This psalm tells us the godly is like a tree whose leaf does not wither. Now I don’t know if the writer who wrote this palm knew this, but God certainly did! And he inspired the writer to write this down. A tree whose leaves do not wither is therefore of enormous value to our planet and for life on this earth. And so is the godly, those who abide in Christ, those who meditate on the word, day and night, and those who repent of being influenced by the evils of the world. What we say and how we say it exudes life, because of the life within us, who is Christ. The gospel we preach brings life and presents life. The Christ we proclaim and the life in us helps people to be cleansed. We are clean through the Word that Christ has spoken to us! The godly’s life has great benefit to the church and unbeliever, even if they don’t know it.
Everything he does prospers
Our text tells us that whatsoever the godly does prospers. Now certainly, this is a wonderful promise to believe. And it can certainly be applied to ordinary things we do in the business world or in our different professions, whether we are doctors, teachers, plumbers, housewives or engineers. And we see examples of this in Scripture. Joseph and Daniël were successful in all they did and were promoted in heathen kingdoms to rule over people because God was with them. But even they had much opposition that they had to face respectively. Look at David and Paul the apostle, David was a successful king and Paul was a successful church planter, but that didn’t mean they didn’t face much opposition and persecution because they abided in Christ and in his word.
But rather, this prospering is meant spiritually. When we abide in Christ and his word abides in us, what we ask we will receive because we ask the things that are on God’s heart and mind. We are more transformed into the likeness of Christ and we increase in the graces and knowledge of Christ because that is what we long for!
He is forever blessed. He has salvation in Christ
And because we repent of sin and abide in Christ we are blessed because we have salvation.
He glorifies God (John 15:8)
And this fruit that we bear glorifies Christ. The fruit of the Holy Spirit.
The outcome of the ungodly
He is like chaff that the wind drives away (verse 4)
Chaff unlike the wheat or the corn that it is separated from in a winnowing trough or machine, has no function. You cannot eat it, it has no nutritional value. It is driven by the wind in different directions. So are the wicked. They are of no use in the end in the economy of God. Their lives have no purpose and meaning because they don’t have the life of God in them. God uses unbelievers for the saints sanctification, but in the long run, they will be thrown away. More than that…
He will not stand in judgement
They will be condemned for their actions, and choices and sins and mockeries. They will be sentenced and the justice of God will be executed on them for not embracing the Word of God, for not fearing its warnings, for not believing in its promises and not embracing the Savior it portrayed.
He will perish everlastingly
And their condemnation will be everlasting and just in hell and then in the lake of fire. Their way will perish, their mockery and scorn will end and their delight in their sin and in wickedness will end. God will reign over them in justice and judgement and so God will be glorified in their destruction.
My friend as you hear these words today:
What is your foundation or source?
The wisdom of the world and sinners or the wisdom of the Bible?
Which way characterizes your life?
Are you delighting and meditating on the word of God day and night? Or are you meditating and delighting on the ways and sins of the wicked?
What will be your outcome?
Will your life bear lasting fruit and will it benefit your neighbor? Will your be prospering in Christ Jesus?
Or will your life be like the chaff in the wind, useless and meaningless?
Will you be condemned with the rest of the ungodly?
May God and his Word, be your source and way and may His glory be your outcome and goal! Amen