When I was young, I vividly recall the enjoyment that I found from visiting the library or a book fair. The particular genre that I would check out was the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. I was fascinated by these stories that gave you a part in directing the outcome of the events in the plot. For example, it might read, “While hiking down the trail you see a snake moving along a tree crossing your path. Do you pick it up and take it with you or do you wait patiently until it passes before proceeding? I don’t mess with snakes, so I would choose to run. In life we don’t get to choose what we encounter many times (trials, temptations, hardship, loss of a job, house fire, car accident, tornadoes, viruses, cancer, etc.). The fact is we are in a “Choose Your Own Eternal Destiny” book and the story is the Bible where we have already been told that the Lord is going to be victorious and we can spend eternity with Him if only we would choose to follow Him faithfully. Now we make choices along the way that lead us to that glorious ending. You would think it would be easier knowing how it ends, but yet many struggle with their commitment to the Lord and His word. Today we are going to talk about the choice that we all face spiritually…to be blessed or to be lost (cursed).
In the very first psalm recorded in our Hebrew Old Testament, we find what appears to be a message comparable to the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached in his earthly ministry in Matthew 5. He said things like, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those that mourn…Blessed are the gentle…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…”, amongst other important qualities in the so called “blessed life”.
Today we are going to examine Psalm 1 in hopes of discovering how to live the blessed life. Before we begin, we need to define the term, “blessed”. Many of us have been told over the years that the word means to be happy. While happiness certainly comes with living the blessed life, the correct meaning of the word is to be satisfied or contented in the Lord. The word for blessed in the Hebrew is esher and another word closely related is ashar meaning to be straight or to be right. Therefore to be blessed and find true happiness, you must be contented in knowing that you are on the straight and narrow path of the Lord and in a right relationship with Him. Happiness is an emotion that passes with circumstances. Holiness is when we maintain daily a right relationship with the Lord out of which we feel joy, happiness, and contentment. I will also add that these feelings do not change with circumstances for we are told to rejoice in the Lord always and that we are blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake.
People want to be happy. But how many want to be truly blessed? The second paragraph of the declaration of Independence states that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t say happiness is guaranteed, but we have the right to pursue it. Many are pursuing happiness not realizing that being happy is a byproduct of being in good standing with God and having the hope and promises of eternal life.
Let’s read Psalm 1. The text reads:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”
In this lesson we are going to look at three areas in which Psalm 1 directs us to the blessed life. We will also examine many other beatitudes in the Psalms that confirm these three points. By revealing the characteristics of the blessed life we will also expose those outside of the blessings of God and then offer an invitation to be blessed today.
THE BLESSED GET COUNSEL FROM DELIGHTING IN & MEDITATING ON THE WORD OF GOD (vs. 1-2)
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
Blessedness comes first from avoiding the counsel of the wicked (Psalm 119:1-2). It doesn’t take long to figure out that around every corner there is someone offering advice that is ungodly, filled with the ignorance of men corrupted by the world. Everyone has an opinion. We need the truth!
Take note that this verse admonishes us that we should not “walk” in unrighteous counsel. This tells us that we have to be careful who we are associating with, what program we are watching, what radio broadcast we are inviting into our commute, where we go, what we read, etc. This is a major task in and of itself, because whatever voice you listen to will determine how you walk. The Bible admonishes us to walk in step with the Spirit!
It is impossible to walk in the counsel of the ungodly if you refuse to give their foolish words the time of day. Let people talk and spout error but do not pay attention or even consider their ways.
We get into trouble when we subject ourselves to the ways of this world, thinking that we will not be influenced by their wickedness. You are being duped and are naïve if you take this approach.
Blessedness can also be found when not standing in the path of sinners. It is one thing to find ourselves walking by the wicked as a passerby and then refusing to listen, but our downfall is inevitable if we stop and stand in their path. We are now entertaining their vain utterances and behaviors. While evil companions corrupt good morals (I Corinthians 15:33), we also know that to give hearty approval to the error of the wicked is to participate in their sin (Romans 1:32).
Blessedness is ours when we avoid sitting in the seat of the scoffer. Scoffing is what the wicked do toward the righteous. If you spend enough time listening to the errors of sinful men and tolerating their poor behavior, before you are even aware of it, you will find yourself involved in their wrongdoing. To add insult to injury, you will then begin maligning those who choose to continue in the ways of the Lord. These are scoffers who have not only abandoned the good way, but are now advocates for those living in sin by speaking evil of those who continue following the Lord.
Take note of the digression into this low and debased condition. First you walk by the wicked perhaps only hearing their sinful railing. Then you stand in their path to acknowledge them and give them audience. Finally, you take a seat with them to participate in their evil deeds. Then you turn against all of those who stand for the right. This is calling what is evil a good thing and calling what is good, evil.
Blessedness goes beyond avoiding the wicked to finding delight in God’s word and meditating on His wisdom. Where many make a mistake is they are constantly focused on what not to do. They make a concerted effort to keep themselves from doing wrong. The issue here is that they are missing the greatest part of the blessed life in finding the satisfaction of the sustenance of God’s word. It is one thing not to partake of evil, but our life is elevated to another level when we are feasting on the good word of God. Taste and see!
We are told to meditate on the wisdom of God day and night if we want the blessed life. Meditation is a lost spiritual discipline. Meditation is defined as “thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind”. Among the godly, people need to contemplate their readings in the word of God throughout the day and into the night hours. If you are not reading or hearing the word of God, you have nothing to meditate on. You are leaving your mind open to the manipulation of what surrounds you and what you let in. (Psalm 112:1)
Once you read a portion of God’s word, think on those things (Philippians 4:8). When we wake up, as we go about our tasks for the day, as we come home from work and sit down for dinner, even into the night as we lay on our pillow, we need to reflect on the word of God. This is how you can avoid and escape the temptations to do evil. “It is written” should be our response and we should be able to recall the word as it is stored in our hearts from our devotion to studying the Scriptures. Imagine if every time that you faced a trial, you were prepared to face it because you had spent so much time reflecting on the wisdom found in the Bible that the devil would flee from you. Jesus left us this example when enduring temptation. This is truly the blessed life. I hope that it is a life you desire.
Even amongst those who claim to be committed to the Lord, we find people living a good life (not walking, standing, or sitting with the wicked), but very few of them are practicing daily devotion to the book of God. Being a part of a good church that stands for truth, owning a Bible that accurately represents God’s will, and doing our best not to be lost by avoiding sin are all noble qualities, but listening to the preaching, reading your Bible on your own, and meditating or delighting in every word is where we are blessed. Instead of avoiding being ungodly, making progress and becoming more like God is what the blessed life is all about. Meditation is not just about having your “alone time” with God's word. Bible study is not just for head knowledge. Our goal is to be changed and come away from each session more like Jesus.
THE BLESSED ARE STRONG AND PROSPER IN ALL THINGS BY GROWING AND PRODUCING FRUIT (vs. 3)
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The blessed life is compared to a strong tree that is well watered by many streams [canals] (Ps. 34:8). Those that lean on the wisdom of God are planted deep and have firm roots. These are called tap roots that run deep and wide. They cannot be moved from their place by any man and his false doctrines, lies and misleading. Those that are committed to a daily regimen of spiritual nutrients will grow strong and thrive unto maturity.
It is one thing to have a tree planted in the middle of a field where it is dependent on rain or another source for water. It is much better to be planted by streams of water where there is a never ending source of refreshing moisture. When we stay connected to the Lord and His word, we are nourished and flourishing.
This blessed life is a tree that bears fruit and its leaves remain green and healthy. One of the ways that we are able to tell whether a tree is bad or good, is by its fruit. A bad tree cannot produce good fruit and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit.
We need to be evergreens, and even when the storms of life come or a harsh cold winter sets in, we still remain alive and well. Even when we go through a season where we are not producing fruit, by faithful perseverance we will in due time bring forth fruit in abundance. Stay rooted!
We are told that God is glorified by our lives as disciples when we bear much fruit and prove that we are His followers. The branch of the tree that does not bear fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire to be burned. There is no free loading your way into heaven. You have to get grounded in the Lord, take in plenty of living water and fulfill your eternal purpose of remaining strong in the Lord producing the fruit of the Spirit.
The blessed life is a life of prosperity (Ps. 115:12-15). This is not the health and wealth gospel that I am preaching, but rather a godly contentment that will produce a prosperous life spiritually, not only here on earth, but in heaven, where we are storing up treasures for eternity.
The prosperity of which we speak will be reflected by the joy that fills our hearts, the peace that settles our spirit, the love that we share with others, and the faithfulness that shows determination to remain firm in our hope. Using again the illustration of the tree, prospering means being fully grown and reaching maturity. A tree like this indeed lives the blessed life full of vibrant vitality and stability.
THE BLESSED ARE FOUND RIGHTEOUS IN JUDGMENT WHILE THE WICKED PERISH (vs. 4-6)
4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
The wicked will not stand in the judgment (Matthew 3:12; Ps. 2:12; 106:3). The Bible says the winnowing fork is in the hand of the Lord and when judgment commences on the threshing floor, the Lord will separate the wheat (righteous) from the chaff (the wicked) with the wind. They will be driven away from the presence of the Lord to be burned in unquenchable fire.
This psalm started by saying that we should not walk in the way, stand in the path, or sit in the seat of the wicked. He we learn the reason why this is important. When judgment comes, the wicked will not have a place to stand, but will fall into the hands of the living God. This is a very fearful thing to endure. The path that the sinner takes does not lead to the eternal assembly of the righteous but to a lake of fire. They will be separated forever and will be burned in an everlasting torment in hell.
The way of the righteous is known by the Lord (Ps. 144:15; 146:5; 32:1-2). There is a day coming when all the righteous will be gathered together to meet the Lord in the air to share in His eternal glory. The Lord knows those who belong to Him (See I Thess. 4:17-18; II Tim. 2:19). The Lord is intimately acquainted with all of our ways before Him. The reason why the wicked will perish is because their ways are also laid bare before His eyes (Hebrews 4:13).
Are you living the blessed life? If not, how can I help you today?
Perhaps as you were listening to the word of God today and have meditated on it over the last few minutes, you delighted in what you heard about living the blessed life. I am ready to assist you in coming in obedient trusting faith where from this day forward you can live and thrive in the Lord.
It all starts with your acknowledgement that you are lost in sin and you believe Jesus died for your sins. If you believe that, are you are willing to turn from your sinful ways, confess that Jesus is the Son of God and be immersed (baptized) in water for the remission of sins? If you are willing, you can be saved. It is after you come up out of the water that you start your blessed life as a child of God.
Perhaps you have been convicted as a child of God that you haven’t been delighting in the word of God and you prayer for strength or forgiveness of some wrong committed? If we confess our sins to God He is faithful and righteous to forgive us of all of our sins cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He tells us that we should also confess or faults to one another and pray for one another because the prayers of the righteous are able to assist us in being restored.
The lesson is yours to take or leave. I hope you will choose from this day forward to live the blessed life. You will not only find that it is the best decision you have ever made this side of heaven because of all of the spiritual blessings enjoyed by the saved, but as we have stated it is the only way to be assured that you have a home on the other side with the Lord when this life is over.
Please let your spiritual needs be known and I will do all that I can to help you.