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.
Greetings, readers! It is Thursday again, and I am glad for us to be spending time together in the Word today!
It is always my hope that these Refresh & Restore devotions serve as a reminder to us of Acts 3:19-21: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” It is good for us to repent and enjoy times of refreshment in the presence of God – specifically in His Word and prayer – while we follow Him and wait for all that He promised to take place.
Today, we are going to look at what it is like to follow God and be planted firmly in His Way in Psalm 1. This particular psalm reads a lot like the wisdom writing in the Proverbs. And, in it, we see how God intended for His people to live and be happy in Him.
I know for some people it seems like a stretch to imagine Christians to be happy. It is very sad to think that Christians – church folk, anyway – would be characterized as being anything other than happy because we have more to be happy about in Christ! On Thursday nights at Jesus Saves Bro, Tonya is always reminding folks how good it is to be saved and to be happy and excited about it. If nothing else, Psalm 1 shows us the difference in being saved/happy and lost/wretched.
We start off with a description of the “blessed…man” (or woman). The word translated “blessed” here can also be translated “happy” or “fortunate” – as in those who are saved are fortunate and should be happy in thinking about it. It follows with a description of what this “blessed” person does not do.
The “blessed” do not walk in the counsel of the wicked. This means that the lost world around them does not dictate what they do or how they live. It also means that our response to what happens in the world around us should be based on the Word of God instead of the way that the crowd around us does. The word “counsel” here reminds me how easy it is to have my mind hijacked by worldly thinking.
The “blessed” do not stand in the way of sinners. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 clears up what this means:
(vv. 14-15) “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
Even though we continue to live and minister in a lost world, we must be careful and guard ourselves against the influence of the world. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. Essentially, we guard our minds with the “helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17), guard our hearts with the “breastplate of righteousness” and pull it all together with the “belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14). And, being guarded in this way, we do not need to go in the “way of sinners”; we know the Way (John 14:6).
The “blessed” do not sit in the seat of scoffers. What in the world is a “scoffer”? I am glad you asked. Proverbs 21:24 says, “‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” The “blessed” person does not slump into the role of the arrogance and pride even though it is easy to do. We are instead characterized by the humility of Christ (Philippians 2:5), Him showing through us and not our own pride.
We see a lot of what the “blessed” person does not do, so what does he/she do? The “blessed” delights and meditates on the word of God. The word there for “delight” means to take joy or pleasure in or to recognize as costly or a treasure. Psalm 119:92 attributes this joy because “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Basically, if it had not been for the law – the Word – the “blessed” person would not know what it is to be saved. They also “meditate” on the Word.
We have allowed the word “meditate” to be stolen from us by Eastern mysticism and the world. But it is a spiritual discipline found and highlighted by the Word of God. To “meditate” on the Word of God is to have it dwell in your mind. This may sound odd, but it reminds me of chewing gum, as in – we need to bite off some of God’s Word and chew on it throughout the day. Rather than try to rush through our reading of God’s Word each day or try to just get through the Word, we need the Word to get through us. When we “meditate” on the Word and it gets through us, we walk in the way of the “blessed” and have less desire to be “wicked”.
The comparison of the tree by the stream (“blessed”) and the wicked (“chaff”) shows just how clear the division between the two is. The “blessed” are “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (verse 3). Picture a majestic oak tree with luscious branches and beautiful leaves on the side of a river bank. Drought can hit the land, and many of the other trees around it may dry up, but it will continue to be healthy because its roots have nourishment beyond what can be seen. You see, the “blessed” are rooted in something greater than themselves (Colossians 2:6-7) and what the world can offer. But nourishment, in and of itself, is not enough.
Jesus said that a tree is known for its fruit (Matthew 7:20). Likewise, the “blessed” will be known by the fruit they bear. Again, the difference between the “blessed” and the “wicked” is clear. Jesus explains this better than I could ever hope to in John 15:4-6:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Apple trees bear apples. Orange trees bear oranges. And the “blessed” bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) because they are planted in Christ. Consequently, if there is absolutely no fruit of the Spirit in one’s life the opposite is true.
Roots are important. A tree can only grow so large if its roots are weak or shallow. Shallow or weak roots can cause a tree to fall. A strong enough storm can pluck a tree that lacks strong roots from the ground and carry it away. It is the same for the “wicked”. Without Christ, we are tossed about whenever trouble comes, and, if we remain solid during the storms of trouble, it is only because of Him (Matthew 7:24-27).
Ultimately, the only difference between the “blessed” and the “wicked” is a relationship with Christ. We live in a world that has more than enough trouble – especially in 2020, but we often want to truck on under our own steam and power. Maybe you are toiling away like that today. But, please hear me on this, there is no hope without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I hope that you have a relationship with Him as you read this today, but, if you do not, I would love to talk with you. I want you to be planted by the water and have the assurance and hope that only comes from Him.
If you know Him today, rest assured that whatever storms come and rage against you that He is more than strong enough to hold you and keep you. Maybe you feel like you are hanging on by the roots. But if you are rooted to Jesus, that is more than enough to keep you safe through the storm!