Sermon Titled “Blessed Is The Man” (Psalm 1:1-6) – Sunday 20th July, 2014
- Psalm 1:1-6 1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 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, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The book of Psalms begins with the six verses above. These six verses (and there are only six verses in the first Psalm), essentially spell out two contrasting ideas: a) that those who follow God are blessed, now and into eternity, and b) that those who turn their backs on God are also saying “no” to His blessings and “no” to His offer of salvation. These two ideas (or truths, if you are a Christian), set the foundation upon which all the other psalms are based upon.
Before we delve further into these verses, let’s first consider what it means to be blessed. Warren Wiersbe says that God wants to bless us, but we must be “blessable.” What he means by that, is that we must live by God’s word and be saturated with it, and to be saturated with the word of God is to be situated near His living waters (Ps.1:3). A lifestyle which honors God in this way is one which will also reap God’s blessings. Conversely, a Christian who chooses to disregard God’s commands is probably not going to receive all of the blessings that God desires to give him or her.
Happiness, by the way, is a by-product of righteousness (and therefore a blessing) – we are told in Matthew 6:33 that we ought to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The Barnes’ Bible Notes explains this verse as follows: “Seek first His kingdom; seek first to be righteous, and to become interested in His favor, and all necessary things will be added to you. He has control over all things, and He can give you what you need. He will give you what he deems best for you.”
People are skeptical however about what God deems best for them; most would rather take things into their own hands and pursue happiness directly, leaving God completely out of the equation. The world conditions them to believe that the “blessed” ones among us are those who are rich and successful, and if the rich and successful did it without God’s help then who needs God? Yet the most successful people tend to also be the most cynical about happiness. It’s possible that they have finally learned that happiness, when pursued with self-centered motives, always gets away. They have discovered most likely, that there is always a void, because true happiness can’t be found without first finding peace in God.
So then, the first six verses of Psalm 1 give us valuable insight as to how we can live righteous and blessed lives; let’s take a look at them:
Verse 1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” A few points are made here, but notice how specific reference is made to the words walk, stand, and sit – in other words, we are not to engage in any type of activity that takes us away from our core values.
Looking more closely at the first part of the verse, we can see that any time we need to seek advice, that we should ideally seek counseling either directly from God’s word (through prayerful guidance as we study His word), and if necessary, from other Christians. Advice from non-believers is to be avoided, not because we consider ourselves above them but because our value systems are different and we want to make sure that any decisions we make are in line with God’s will for us.
The second part of the verse, which instructs believers to avoid standing in “the way” of sinners, can best be explained, says Pastor Reimer, by understanding what “the way” is. Most likely, “the way” is referring to a non-believer’s entire mannerisms and way of life, which we already know is very different to ours. We are told therefore, to keep the door closed to any way of life that is not aligned with God’s teachings, and to not open it even an inch.
The final part of the verse, which talks about “sitting in the seat of mockers,” is a warning to be careful about participating in what might appear to be harmless joking and bantering. Sometimes we think it’s pretty funny when people are telling jokes, but when they’re at the expense of others it’s no longer funny. Mockers delight in making fun of others – they have no regard for God or His commands, they enjoy stirring up strife, and they do not respond to instruction. They are, according to the bible, not the kind of people we should spend our time “sitting” around with.
Verse 2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”
There’s nothing difficult about this verse, in terms of understanding it. Happiness, from a believer’s perspective, comes from being saturated in the word of God and living by it. We find happiness when we fully submit to God’s will, and when we allow Him to choose the paths that we are to follow. There will undoubtedly be obstacles and trials along the way, and we can either face them with bitterness and a stubborn resolve to overcome them in our own strength, or we can trust that our Sovereign God has control over our lives and that in due time He will reveal the good plans that He has for us.
Furthermore, meditating on His law does not mean that we are to pursue a life of “religion.” It’s a life of faith that we are challenged to pursue, and that’s a life which presses us to accept that we are fully sinners, who because of Christ’s grace and mercy, have been given the opportunity to prove ourselves “blessable.”
Verses 3 and 4 “3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away”
Verse 3 implies that there may be long seasons of drought (hard times) before the blessings come. This might be discouraging, but maybe you’ll take heart as I share with you Pastor Reimer’s demonstration of what it looks like during difficult times. Using a long strip of hard wood, and a nail and hammer, Pastor Reimer pounded the nail into the wood, deeper and deeper. As he pounded on the nail, he quoted a Christian who had been detained and persecuted in North Korea: “We are like nails – the harder they hit us, the deeper into the cross we go!”
Seeing the nail being driven into the piece of wood, I could easily imagine life’s trials driving me deep into the cross and straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father. I would find refuge in His arms, knowing that the rewards of suffering, and endurance, and patience all come in time. Then, when the trials had subsided and God slowly unfolded His arms, He would gently nudge me forwards and I would feel stronger than before.
With renewed strength and greater wisdom, each trial endured puts us in a position where we are not only blessed, but able to bless others. And that is not an option – God’s blessings are to be shared. The fruit is not for the tree, it’s from the tree – to bless those all around it.
On the other hand, the bible says that those who choose to plant their roots in everything BUT God’s living waters, will eventually wither and turn into waste. He describes such people as “chaff,” and chaff, we know, is no good for anything.
Verse 5 and 6 “5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish”
Whether it’s right or wrong, fair or unfair, these verses tell us that a day of judgment is coming and that God’s wrath is going to fall upon the unsaved (those who rejected God’s blessings and His offer of protection). What it ultimately comes down to is that we all have a choice to make; we can either chase after happiness, as defined by the world’s standards (popular opinion), and do so on our own terms, or we can pursue righteousness and choose to trust God even when it seems that His way requires a much greater sacrifice and far less comfort.
Doesn’t sound like the latter choice offers much incentive does it? Unless you are willing to believe the word of God. And if the word of God is indeed true, then a life of righteousness is the only way to find genuine peace and happiness – and ultimately a life that’s forever blessed and not doomed. You just need to follow the advice of Proverbs 3:5-6, which says,”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”