Today we are going to study a text that highlights the happy life of the righteous person who meditates on God’s Word. Psalm one, combined with Psalm two, form the introductory hymns of ancient Israel’s hymn book (the Psalter). Psalms one and two are perfect introductions whether they were written with that specific purpose or strategically placed at the beginning. Psalm one proves that the Psalms are to be read and sung as inspired Scripture. Every Psalm is intended for instruction, to be a part of the canon of Torah, not simply poetry to be admired or used as entertainment. This Psalm is best categorized as a wisdom psalm. These first two Psalms, of which we will only discuss the first three verses, are contrasting the righteous and the wicked.
I will take each of the three verses as my three main points this morning.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
I. Blessed is the Man
Maybe some of you quickly realized that this is a Beatitude; especially those of you who studied the Sermon on the Mount with me on Wednesdays. “Blessed” can be best understood with a few things in mind: It simply means “Happy…” It can also mean “To be envied…” Also, “how rewarding is the life of…” With that in mind, we can understand that Psalm 1:1 celebrates a life that takes real pleasure in, what we will soon see, delighting in the instruction of the LORD as opposed to the counsel of the ungodly. True happiness comes from choosing the way of the LORD. This reminded me of a ministry that I follow that has as its slogan, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This verse is layered with parallelism, which is characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The parallelism forms a three-fold climax that ruins the happiness of a man:
1. Walking in the counsel of the ungodly.
2. Standing in the path of sinners.
3. Sitting in the seat of the scornful.
You can see that there is a decreasing range of mobility-
Walking to Standing to Sitting.
Also the increasing range of error-
Ungodly to Sinner to Scorner.
The introduction confronts those who may be in one of these places.
1. Are you listening to the advice of ungodly people?
2. Are you putting that bad advice into action?
3. Or are you to the point that you make what is godly a joke?
Any of these three categories could be represented here today.
You may be borderline, struggling as you sit on the fence, weighing the options. Or you may be hiding your sins from everyone and you are here to keep them out of sight, only appearing to be righteous. Or there may be someone here today that is only here so that they can have more ammunition for their scoffing and laughter at the things of God and the people of God. To sit with the scoffers is to finally “dwell” with them and scoffers are the farthest from repentance. Proverbs most clearly defines the condition of the scoffer. I pray that no one here falls into any of these categories and I pray that we all receive this as a warning.
The final point that I would like to make on this verse is-
The process is simply stated as: believing, behaving, belonging.
The first (and priority) is thinking. We go down the wrong road when our thought process is altered by the counsel of the ungodly. We must protect our minds above all else.
Protecting our minds is best done by seeking the counsel of God rather than the ungodly. It is to meditate on His Word.
II. Delighting in the Torah
The three negatives of verse one clear the way for the positive which is to delight. One commentator says, “Even in Eden God gave man a negative to allow him the privilege of decisive choice.” Delighting is to have a “strong desire” for the counsel of God. Delight is not out of a legalistic observance which usually causes one to simply go through the motions. Blessed/Delight is a state of the person. Though we may not feel happy or privileged at a certain time we are blessed in God’s eyes. It is an inner security that we have as believers. And what can we take delight in? The law of the LORD is literally “Torah.” Torah can be a legal ordinance or it can mean Scripture as a whole. Here it refers to the instruction of Scripture. It is the Instruction of the LORD that we delight in and are Blessed by. The one who delights in the instruction of Yahweh meditates Day and Night. Meditate means to murmur or mutter. The Torah was not readily accessible to all people as we have numerous Bibles in many places today. The faithful would memorize Torah and softly recite it to themselves throughout the day and night and their life times. Calling to remembrance or reading a Scripture at a crucial or joyful time in life brings delight and categorizes us as blessed because God is our counsel. It is our spiritual exercise that renews and protects our minds.
That person shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.
III. He Shall Be Like a Tree
The Psalmist now uses a simile to illustrate the life of such a person. Such a man is ‘like’ a tree. A tree is thought of as tall, strong, stable, green, and beautiful. Thus Torah in the person causes the same stability and beauty. In lands without abundant rainfall, vegetation and trees only flourish near natural waters or man-made canals. The language of this text teaches us that the picture is one of a tree planted in a garden were canals have been built so that water may stream directly to the roots of a tree. A garden would suggest that the tree was strategically planted near the purposefully built irrigation channels so that it was sure to have plenty of water supply and, by common sense, the tree is certain to receive the care of a gardener. The closest comparable Scripture would be Jeremiah 17:7-8 which says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Trees produce fruit in their season. “In its season” highlights the distinctiveness and quiet growth of the person. This is a good lesson for us. We do not receive everything all at once it is progressive. Producing fruit is radically different from laboring works of the legal law. Fruit comes from the trees own life (our life comes from God). Fruit comes from the strategy, placement, care, and supervision of a Gardener. The promise of the leaf not withering does not indicate an immunization from the natural rhythm of the seasons, but a freedom from the dangers and damages of drought. Prosperity, which is spoken of here, is not necessarily great wealth, it is great success. Thought we are not to seek great success/wealth, but seek Torah and success will come.
This Psalm points directly to Christ. What man is more Blessed than Christ and who has taken more delight in Torah than Christ Jesus Himself? He is the perfect man and our righteousness!
Christ is our Torah. He has instructed us and continues to instruct us by His Spirit.
Take delight in Christ. Meditate on Torah, God’s instruction, and you will know Him.
Christ will establish us, protect us, care for us, tend the garden of our souls, and produce fruit in us when we delight in His Torah. Let us be Blessed people and a Blessed church.