Psalm 1:1-3

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Psalm 1:1-3

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.

What does it mean to be blessed or to have a blessed life?  What is it saying when we read the Bible and see blessed is the man, blessed is he or however the term, blessed is used.  We will be looking at Psalm 1 verses 1-3, which will shed some light and answer this question.

 Introduction:

When we discuss the whole book of containing all the Psalms, we call this the psalter.  Old Testament, is comprised of 39 books which were broken into 5 sections dividing the Word of God into books pertaining to their use.  The first 5 books were what is known as the Pentateuch.  The Pentateuch contains Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus Numbers and Deuteronomy.  The focus of these books, also called the Law, was exactly that.  It was the Laws that God gave His people through the writing of Moses.  The next section was known as the 12 books of History.  Following this would be the 5 books of poetry, wisdom and praise.  The next 5 books were the Major Prophets and winding the Old Testament up with the Minor Prophets in the final 12 books.

With a short look at the history of the Old Testament, we have a picture of how these books play into the history of God and His people.  If we look at the books that make up the Psalms, or the Psalter, they are characterized as Poetic but we see all the different types of genres of literature in the Bible.  Such as Historical Narrative, Gospel, Apocalyptic, Epistle, Prophecy, Psalms and the Law.  We will see that the Psalter is divided into 5 different books.

  1. The Book of Psalms is then subdivided into five smaller books:
  2. Book I: 1-41 David’s conflict with Saul 1-41
  3. Book II: 42-72 David’s kingship 42-72
  4. Book III: 73-89 The Assyrian crisis 73-89
  5. Book IV: 90-106 Introspection about the destruction of the temple and the Exile 90-106
  6. Book V: 107-150 Praise and Reflection on the Return and the new era 107-150

 

Since we are looking at a portion of Psalm 1, we should get a general idea about the whole book and its characteristics.  We know that there are 150 books in the Psalms written by David, Moses, Solomon, the sons of Korah, sons of Asaph, Ethan and Ezrahite as well as several other authors who are unknown.

While praise and prayer characterize the Psalms as a whole, they may be categorized as: Praise Historical, Relational, Imprecatory, Penitential, and Messianic.

Psalms are written as poems, songs, expression of worship, prayer and praise.  Psalms serve as doxological writings which are to give God praise and there are praises to God in the end of each Psalm. By reading the Psalms, we begin to see the true perfections of God.

The Theological Principle of Psalms: The Lord, who sovereignly rules the universe, will establish His just rule on the earth in and through his people whereupon the righteous will prosper and the wicked will suffer.  Psalm 1 is the preview of this truth.

Vs. 1.  The Word of the Wicked

What we see here in the very first Psalm is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.  The Psalmist writes this to show the cause and effect of following and not following God’s will.  It is interesting the note here that in the Hebrew text, the first word in this Psalm is asher which begins with “a” meaning happy and it finishes with the last word “tobed” which begins with the letter “t” meaning perish being the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This style of writing is called an Acrostic.  So we see the style of the writer here who writes with some organization with respect to the alphabet order also apparent in the meaning of the words which begins with a positive note of blessed to a negative note of one perishing.

Psalm 1, is the beginning of the Psalter but it was not the first Psalm written.  The first actual Psalm ever written was by Moses, Psalm 90.  Some scholars say this took place while Moses was in the wilderness during the 40 years.  It is also the only Psalm attributed to Moses.  But as it was developed, the Psalms were structured with some sort of organization by a thematic system.  The first 2 Psalms are in Book 1 and these 2 directly are in tune with the righteousness of God.  We will look at Psalm 1.  This Psalm is a Psalm of wisdom.

Let’s look at the first verse.

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!

The first word, asher, has a meaning of happiness or blessedness.  This is used as a particle to describe the man or subject in the phrase.  This describes the man as being happy or having blessing.  We must ask ourselves, what is the author trying to communicate to us?  We must always ask ourselves, the what and the why.  So why is the man blessed?  It says that the man is blessed who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.  We will see why he is blessed as we unpack this verse.

What is the counsel of the wicked?  The word counsel carries the meaning of advice or counsel.  But we need to dig deeper here to fully understand what the intent is.  The counsel here is telling of what advice one receives such as anything that will have influence on that person.  Prov. 12:15 says that a wise man listens to counsel.  Prov. 19:20 says listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.  So when we say counsel we automatically assume it means wisdom is found in counsel.  This verse says that the blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, meaning that the blessed man is to steer clear of the advice of the wicked.

The blessed man should never seek counsel from the wicked.  The wicked described here are those who do not know God and are living by their own worldly standards.  The wretched society outside of the kingdom of God cannot produce anything that is advantageous to a follower of God.  Their advice would be full of ungodly and sinful lusts which they believe brings them happiness.  The only advice or counsel that can come from the ungodly will lead to destruction.

Man, is blessed by not adhering to any advice given by the wicked.  This is a visual concept we have here is of anyone not listening or plugging their ears but more so that it is ignoring or a flat out disassociation with anyone who is not walking with the Lord.  Anyone outside of the kingdom should not have a place with us if we are seeking wisdom.

The wicked mentioned here describes the idea of something loose and unstable without restraints.  When it is said as being loose, it refers to someone with no morals or no boundaries of morality.  There is nothing that keeps them in line.  Therefore, the wicked are doing whatever they feel openly and freely.  There are no guilty feelings.  This behavior is direct rebellion against God.  No just lost souls but those who hate God and openly shake their fists at Him.

The only counsel we walk in should be found only in the Word of God or those who are walking with God.  God has given us His Word in order for us to walk uprightly and to bring Him honor and glory.  Walking or proceeding in the advice from the ungodly will only lead to misery, robbing us of any blessing or happiness we once had in close fellowship with God.

The text continues by saying that the blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners.  First we had “walk” now we have “stand”.  What does this mean?  There seems to be a progression of action here.  Walking now standing?  Stand here in the Hebrew is “amad” simply meaning stand firmly.  It is good to note here the progression as we looked at before.  The walk has turned into a stand, a firm stance.  We see that influence ungodly counsel.  We see as one walks in the poor counsel that was given and received, the behavior or natural tendency is to stand firmly in the path of sinners.  One has begun to show the traits of a sinner by taking the wicked counsel and developing patterns and habits of a sinner.

The path spoken of here is defined as the way, the road or the journey.  The wicked counsel has caused the believer to first walk then to stand in the path or way of the sinner.  The believer is on the same road as the wicked sinner.  Their conduct, behavior and habits are being modeled after the wicked.  They went from thinking like the world by taking worldly advice to the point they are now appearing like the world.

The adjective sinner describes the one who has gone against God, gone wrong, missing the goal or the target.  The target that is missed is belief in God and following His way.  Sinners are those who refuse to acknowledge God and the work of Christ that ensures all believers salvation and righteousness added to their account.  It is a conscious decision that sinners have made to act in regression and rebellion against God.

Now we see the progression has now matured into sitting in the seat of the scornful.  Walking, standing and now sitting.  The use of sitting here describes as one who sits, who dwells, to remain to stay or to tarry.  A sense of comfort has taken place in the believer’s mind.  There is a sense of contentment.

Pastoral Comment:  As we see today in many or most churches, is a complacency a status quo by so the believers.  As the world continues to spiral out of control with the loss of most all morality, believers are caving into what the world deems as the truth.  Post modernism has crept into churches and filled the minds of church goer producing a tolerant, weak, all-inclusive mentality that works in the world but does it fit with God’s Word?

The word scoffer tells of one who mocks, derides, one who scorns.  Truly, we see the one who is constantly complaining about God and His ways.  It is not only a verbal rejection but an outward display of their life filled with hate and anger.  These are those that we may encounter as believers, who ridicule our beliefs by way of comments or actions. This scoffer is the one who is drowning in their own misery but refuse to leave it by following Christ.  They love their sin so much they would rather live with so much misery and hate towards a God who loves them, then turn away from their sins and place their faith in Christ and be filled with joy and peace.

This shows us the true digression of a believer.  If we do not guard ourselves continually, we can be influenced by the world and the wickedness in it.  We must stay in the Word of God to be able to defend ourselves for the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).  We have all we need in His Word to equip ourselves against the world system.  It begins with the mind.  We must protect what we put in it.  We must be reading the right things.  We must be watching the right things.  We must be in fellowship with the right people.  Believers cannot associate for any length of time with unbelievers.  We must reach out to them to fill the Great Commission but we but we need to have safe limits.  What we put in our hearts reaches our hearts.  From the heart, we then act.  If our minds are filled with wicked counsel, we will be filled in our hearts with sinful intentions which we will play out in wicked and evil actions or behavior.  Walking pertains to our minds, standing pertains to our hearts and sitting pertains to our feet or how the pattern manifests itself.

Ephesians 4:17-19 is laid out in parallel and perfect sync with Psalm 1:1.

So, what can we do to possibly avoid this scenario from happening to our own walk with God?  The only wise counsel comes from God’s Word.  We see exactly how one can protect themselves from this pathway of destruction and misery.  Now we can see why he is blessed.

 Vs. 2 The Word of God

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

In verse 2, we see that “his delight is in the law of the Lord”. The word delight also has the meaning of taking delight in, desiring, longing, taking good pleasure in.  God’s children are marked by their desire to learn more and more about God each day.  There should be a hunger being naturally developed in all believers.  This longing only takes place as they are in the Law of the Lord.  The Law of the Lord spoken of here is speaking about the torah which in Hebrew means Law.  The torah is the Word of God.  It was used for instruction and teaching of the Laws of God which are used to guide men by the authoritative principals found within God’s Word.

We know that the Bible is God’s Word.  God inspired writers by the ministry of the Holy Spirit to pen His Words to be given to man.  These words were God breathed, theopnuestos.  All Scripture is insured by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16).  It is our delight that is found when we are engaged in the law of the Lord or the Word of God.  Godliness is a standard that cannot be made by man but it must be the standard that God had revealed to us that we only find in His Word.

Establishing the hunger or delight for His Word can only be done by having the self-discipline to do so.  Having someone who can disciple you is priceless.  The church leader is responsible for the overall care for the flock and it is his duty to feed the flock with God’s Word.  Teaching God’s Word allows the sheep to grow.  Poor instruction, preaching and teaching will keep the flock immature, starving and malnourished.  Just as human life, spiritual growth requires the same necessities.

The word for meditate is hagah.  This verb has a meaning of someone groaning or moaning.  Uttering under their breath.  It is a process of the repetition of an idea over and over again almost talking out loud the point.  We must meditate just as this has been described.  In this prescription, it also gives us the time frame we should be meditating on God’s Word.  Looks to me as twice a day.  Day and night.  Is this a few minutes in the morning and at night?  I believe it is instructing us to meditate all day and all night if possible.  It takes the idea of taking every last drop of truth for each passage of God’s Word.  As a cow chewing cud.  Cows have four stomachs and when they chew whatever they are eating, they transfer the food from each stomach so to fully digest every last drop of nutrition from the cud.  If we meditated on a passage all day and night till we laid down to sleep, the idea of what God’s Word told us would take on a clearer dynamic and have a long and lasting impact on our lives.  Our delight would only grow and our devotion to Him would deepen. We need to approach the study of God’s Word in the same sense as the digestion process of a cow.  Meditate on it as Joshua said:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.  Joshua. 1:8

 Vs. 3 The Word of Life

 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.

 

He is like a tree.  The view of a Christian is given here as being like a tree.  The tree is a metaphor for the walk of a believer.  Think for a minute the characteristics of a tree.  The tree symbolizes stability.  But what is interesting here is that the writer uses the symbol of a tree.  Why?  He does so because the terrain of Israel was rugged and rocky, the tree symbolizes life and a blessing.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 gives an almost exact rendering of this picture of a tree telling of it physical strength where it draws its life giving source from the streams that flow beside it.  Trees are slow growing and in this slow growth, its structure becomes solid and the foundation is set in deep rooting.  Plants are frail and do not have deep strong roots such as a tree and grow fast and are short lived.  Illustrating the growth of Christian using the tree, we can develop a mental image of strength, vigor and growth.

Firmly planted by streams of water that produce fruit in its season.  The word planted in Hebrew is shatal and is translated as transplanted.  The proper rendering of shatal should be transplanted.  Planted does not exhibit the true nature of Christians but transplanted does.  Being transplanted gives a greater detail of something that was once in a specific place being uprooted and transferred to another more desirable place.  This is exactly what happens in salvation.  We were once occupying a dead empty non-fruitful environment but when we came to faith God, by His grace, He transplanted us to an environment, which is in Christ that is more adequate for strength, growth and fruitfulness.  In Christ, we have all we need for growth, He is our strength and the fruits we display are of Him by way of growing in submission, obedience and the knowledge of His Word.  If there is root there will be fruit.  Being firmly planted in Christ is like the tree by the streams firmly planted and growing deeper and deeper only producing rich and plentiful fruit.

We can see the fruits of the Spirit in Galatian 5:23.  It is an impossibility that the fruits of the Spirit can be replicated by our own abilities.  As Christians we should be displaying these fruits naturally.  Just as any fruit bearing plat, complete dependency on the nutrients is the only way the fruit can grow or even be produced.

Using an agriculture illustration.  Fruit bearing plants require water and nutrients to produce fruit.  In the case of a Christian, the nutrients or fertilizer and water is the Word of God.  No tree can even survive without water and nutrients.  Neither can a Christian survive without the Word of God.  If the fruit bearing tree receives ample amount of nutrients it grows and produces fruit just as the Christian.  With proper nutrients trees can fend off attacks from insects and diseases and are able to weather bad climate changes.  The well fed Christian can also do the same when they are experiencing adversities in their life.  The Word of God gives strength and ability to overcome bad circumstances just as a well fed tree.  The fruit of a well fed Christian will grow greater and will be able to be seen by those around them.  This is the character of Christ on display.  The key to the fruit is the root and the nutrients which is God’s Word.  Concerning the fruit, the tree does not bear fruit for itself.  It produces fruit for others.

John 15:1-7 describes God as the vinedresser, Jesus as the vine and believers as the branches.  This illustration tells of how God continues to prune and trim away branches so the vine is producing good fruit.  The branches that are not producing fruit are then cut off and thrown away and burned.  Obedience to Christ results in fruit bearing.  Those who do not will not produce fruit.

And its leaf does not wither.  Producing deep roots, producing fruit are signs of a healthy tree.  Saying that the leaf does not wither reaffirms the good health of a tree.  Leaves wither and fall off trees when the tree does not have adequate water and nutrients in the tree. The point being, the strength of the tree is shown here.  Trees often shed leaves from the older and weaker branches but this is done only to send the energy to the newer branches and leaves which will continue to produce fruit.

In that all he does he prospers.  Trusting in the Lord you are transplanted in Christ.  The Word is the nutrients and water that are required for growth.  All this is producing deep roots which produce good fruit.  The prosperity that is spoken of here does not intend that a Christian will always be prosperous but as the fruit is produced by season, so is the prosperity.  There are times that God will use circumstances that do not feel like prosperity and are painful.  There are seasons when we experience pain.  If we look back at the illustration Jesus gave us in John 15, we see that God does prune and trim and even cut off.  For a season, we may experience some pruning and it hurts.  But we need to keep our focus on what is happening and why it is happening.  No matter what we may be experiencing, no matter how tragic it may be, God is in control.  God is doing a work in us so that we may be able to glorify Him.  The prosperity comes not in the way of money or material things, that is not what is discussed here but the prosperity is our growth in Him.  As we grow we will experience the fruits of the Spirit.  This is joy in our lives.  Our healthy walk with Christ, our provisions being met by God, the joy that we have every day knowing one day we will be in glory worshipping Him, the opportunities we have to share the Good News to a lost soul, these are indicators of our prosperity.  It is not measured by material things.

 

 

Closing and Application:

-Psalm 1 verses 1-3 are packed with a treasury of truths in a Christian’s walk.  We see the awful effects of one who does not follow wise counsel.  There is a regression we see of falling back into the old sinful way of living and thinking leading to destruction and misery.

This is the pathway to destruction

 

 

-We see the pathway to joy and happiness.  Through careful study and mediation of God’s Word we can gain the wisdom that He has given by His Word.  We can align our prayers with His will.  We can draw a close and intimate communion with the Father.

This is the pathway to Joy and Happiness

 

 

-We see what a Christian life looks like.  The illustration of the tree shows us if we are properly feeding from God’s Word and drinking the water of the fresh streams we have been planted by, we will grow producing fruit and able to be witnesses for Christ.  Through the process of God’s pruning in our lives, we must be obedient and submissive to His work so that we can bear much fruit for others to see and enjoy, this is how Christians prosper in their lives.

This is the pathway to Life

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