Psalm 1:1-6 Key Verse 1:2
“…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
When I look back last year, 2014, I could not but give thanks to God for blessings for each one of our members in one way or another, inside and out. Now, each one of our members is praying to find a direction in God for 2015. I have prayed that God may give each a key verse 2015 and wanted to find a passage, explaining why it is important to choose the word of God or guided by the word of God. As we attended Sunday worship service in Chicago UBF last week, God inspired me with Psalm 1. May God bless us with this passage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Psalms mean songs or praises, which are written in poetic expressions or prayers with musical notes. Most Psalms are written by David, especially when he was in trouble as well as in victory; sometimes pouring out his heart with tears, often complaining to God, and sometimes giving thanks to God, enabling him to overcome times of trials and hardship or to see things in God’s perspective or in His sovereign plan. Psalm 1 is like the prelude or summary of all Psalms. This passage teaches how a person can be blessed by God. Apparently the author tells a warning first. May God grant us one word of God, thus be blessed by God in 2015 Again. Amen!
A Blessed One Should Avoid and Do (1-2).
The premise of Psalm is that we recognize that all blessings come from God. God’s blessing is visible and invisible, tangible and intangible. Please, keep in mind that the true blessing is invisible and intangible. Look at verse 1, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” How can we be blessed by God? The author did not start with encouragement but warnings first. In order to be blessed by God, there are three things to avoid for a person and two things to do.
First, a blessed man does not walk in step with the wicked. In Hebrews the word, “wicked” has a few translations in English; evil, criminal, go out, unjust, destructive, lewd and ungodly. Simply speaking the wicked are the people with evil intention, seeking injustice and destruction of others spiritually and even physically, even if doing criminal action. Even if you may not do such a wicked action, we must avoid walking with such people. Do not take their advice at all. Bad friends corrupt good character.
Secondly, a blessed man does not stand in the way that sinners take. Sin separates between God and men. Whatever separates us from God is considered sin. If we stand in the way of sinners, we will be divided into two, between God and sin, sooner or later. Eventually, we have to make a choice, either God or sinful way.
Thirdly, a blessed man does not sit in the company of mockers. Mocking is telling thing that are not true and often convincing them with his or her own logic, thus end up lying. This is what all talk shows are doing, mocking about anything or anyone. Why people enjoy mocking others? Maybe it satisfies their itching ears, raising their self-esteem by mocking others. When you sit in the company of mockers, you will be influenced by them, believing what is not true. Therefore, do not sit there because you will turn out to be a mocker.
The author is saying all these warnings for a believer who wants to receive God’s blessing. He warns where we should not go and/or be with what kind of people. A human being is weak or easily influenced. If we hang out with the wicked or sinners or mockers, we will be influenced by them, believing and saying that is not true and even doing things we will regret. After you said and done, it is too late to take it back and you have to chew the consequences, whether good or bad.
There was one person whose name is Lot, who grew up in a godly environment and learned to have faith in God. His uncle, Abram, urged him to live in the Promised Land, offering him a better land to live in. But he would not listen and moved nearby to wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and later in the city. He tried to live a life of faith among ungodly friends, but he suffered so much so that his soul was tormented. Though he could have enjoyed his sinful life for a short time in Sodom and Gomorrah, he lived in guilty conscience (2 Peter 2:7-8). Even though God answered his uncle’s prayer for him and his family to be saved from destruction, the fruit of his life became a source of curse and finally destroyed.
This is the reason why God told Abram, “Leave your country and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.” His father’s household was pretty good but ungodly, worshiping other gods. God wanted him to separate Abram from ungodly influence and to live a new life with God. When Jesus called his disciples, they also left their old way of life and started following Jesus Christ.
The Bible clearly encourages us to overcome the influence of the world. Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and prefect will.” We used to live according to the pattern of this world, wicked, sinful and mockery. When we lived a life like that, what happened? What fruit did we bear? Not good at all, right? Therefore, we should no longer live our old way of life or go to a place or gather with such people who are leading us away from God. Rather, we must be transformed by renewing our minds. Amen!
I would like to share my testimony. When I started studying the Bible in 1986, two things my Bible teacher encouraged me to do; first, cutting out old friends whom I used to hang out for drinking and going to disco club. They were calling me almost every weekend for a few months, but I refused unless they wanted to come to Bible study. In fact, two of my friends came to Bible study and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Next, he encouraged me to make godly friends, whom I could learn from and share my life of faith and testimonies. In a godly environment, God transformed my sinful and worldly values through the word of God and blessed me abundantly inside with the love and forgiveness of God.
Fourth, a blessed person delights in the law of the Lord. Look at verse 2. “…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” This tells us what the person desires: He desires the law of the Lord. The law of the Lord is his delicacies; delicious dark chocolate or French vanilla coffee smell in the morning or a beautiful music piece like Handel’s Messiah. He wakes up with the smell of God’s word. Whenever he sees it, he cannot but take it. When he listens to it, his heart calms down with full of joy. His delight is in the law of God. How could that happen?
In Psalms, David wrote many times, how he yearned to receive the word of God. One of them, he wrote in Psalm 119:147,148, saying, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” How could he that much yearning desire? It was because he realized that nothing in this world, he could depend on but God’s word. He loved God. He fought the good fight against Goliath and won the victory for God and his people. But he was being chased after. He was running for his life for 13 years. He cried out to God, but he felt even God was far from him. He did not know what to do. Yet he could not depend on his feeling or situation but God’s word. He yearned to listen to God even after shading many tears all night. When he meditated on and received God’s word, his joy was restored. He learned to trust in God Almighty and his promise in all situation.
Where do you put our hope in? What is the joy of my life? What do we delight in? It is acquired taste of spiritual delicacies or disciplined delight or joy from above. Often God puts us in a situation that we have nothing but God and his promise. For example, God trained Moses for 40 years in the wilderness in order for him to depend on God alone not his education or skills he learned as a prince of Egypt. God also led the people of Israel in between the Egyptian mighty army and the Red Sea. May God increase our spiritual desire yearning to receive the word of God more than anything, especially at the time of hardships, like the Psalmist, saying (119:70-72), “Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” Amen!
Fifth, a bless person meditates on his law day and night. In Hebrews the word, “meditate,” is translated to inquire and/or seek. Simply speaking, when we meditate on the word of God, we are inquiring of God deeper meaning of God’s word or seeking God’s will in our lives based on the word of God.
Practically, what does it mean to meditate on God’s word day and night? I would like to compare it to eating food as Jesus said, “man does not live on beard alone on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Just as we eat food every day in order to sustain our physical body, so we need to mediate on the word of God to sustain our spiritual body. Eating food has processes; we are chewing food and swallowing it, which will be broken down through stomach and being digested in small intestines, carrying nutrients to muscles to use as a source of energy. Likewise, we not only hear the word of God and accept in our hearts so that our spiritual muscle can use spiritual nutrients when we need it. But a lot of Christians just listen to the word of God and do not put them into practice. They are chewing food but no swallowing it. They will turn out to be like E.T. with a big head with small body malnourished.
Many people argue that there are too many words to follow. It seems impossible to mediate on all of God’s words and put them into practice. Yes, it is possible to obey one word of God. It is God’s wisdom that God gave Adam and Eve one word of God, his command and promise. By obeying one word of God, God was in their first place. When they kept God’s word, they were blessed to live in the Garden of Eden, the Paradise, God has given them. The Psalmist also learned this secret, saying in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” May the word of God guide us, especially when we feel that we are in the darkness like a lamp. I believe God has given us one word of God for 2015. When we mediate on our key verse everyday, we come to understand the deeper meaning in our practical life, sometimes challenging and sometimes encouraging. In this way, we learn not to live according our own understanding or worldly value and be transformed step by step. Proverb 3:5 and 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Amen!
Consequences of Two Lives (3-6).
First, the consequences of the blessed man. What is the result of the person who meditate on the word of God day and night? Look at verse 3, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” A tree planted by streams of water is always nourished. Have you seen a tree well nourished, grown beautifully? The tree always produces its fruit in time; juicy, large, and delicious. Even at the time of draught, its leaf does not wither because it is planted by the streams of water. Here the streams of water can be compared to the streams of God’s word in a person’s heart and life. When a person is filled with the word of God, he or she will be wise (Ps 19:7-8). The fruit of the Holy Spirit will be present in life, at least one of them; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When the person has the fruit of the spirit, God will bless whatever he or she does. Why? It is because the person is not following his own ways but the way of God; not depending on his ability or situations but on God and his promise.
There was one young man who used to live in depression. When he came to Bible study, God helped him to overcome depression problem. Recently he failed his student teaching class by a small mistake which became a mountain, and thus could not get his teaching job. Even to people without the history of depression, such an event could be sorrowful and depressing battle to fight and last for a while. Of course, he went through emotional turmoil, yet he did not sit down in sorrow and despair. Rather, he has studied the word of God (he also participated and finished reading the book, Purpose Driven Life) and attended Sunday Worship Service faithfully. He not only overcame sense of failure and/or injustice but also applied to a graduate school for the teacher certificate again. God blessed his challenging spirit and he was accepted within two weeks. Here, I would like to emphasize that the true blessing happened in his heart first, the inner strength to overcome, which is unseen but resulted in real life. His life reminds me of John 8:31 and 32, which says, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” May God bless each one of us to be free from anything, at least one problem, as we hold onto the word of God in this year.
2 Tim 3:15-17 says, “…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The word of God is written by the power of the Spirit. The word of God enables the person to be useful for the good work God has prepared for the person to do through teaching, encouraging, rebuking, correcting the way of life and disciplining in the way of God. May God bless each one of us to be like the tree planted by streams of spiritual water as we meditate on the word of God and thus bear much fruit inside and out in 2015. Amen!
Secondly, the consequences of the wicked. Look at verse 4, “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” The Psalmist often wondered why the wicked is living in abundance while the righteous is suffering without reason. They do not fear God and do wicked things but successful with abundant material things. But the author is explaining what will happened to the wicked in the end in three ways. 1) They will become chaff blown by the wind. They are like a foolish builder who built their houses on sand, not on a rock. Though they may have abundant material things now, nothing will be left in the end. They do not know God has been patient with them so that they can repent and turn to God.
2) They cannot avoid the final judgment. Look at verse 5a, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment.” Through they seem doing well on earth, they will be punished for their wickedness at the time of final judgment. They think that no one would know their wicked schemes, trying to destroy God’s people, God knows and everything will be exposed. Romans 2:6-9 says, “God will give each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles.”
3) The sinners will be separated from the godly people. Look at verse 5b, “…nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” Here the sinners are the people who do not repent their sins and continue to live in the life of sin. They cannot be mixed with the godly people. In the end, they will leave the assembly of God’s people. For example, God called Judas Iscariot to be a disciple, and he followed Jesus for three years. Though he listened to the life-giving word of God from the Messiah, he did not repent his selfish way of life to the end. Jesus gave him many chances of repentance even on the day of betrayal, but he would not listen and finally sold his teacher, Jesus, with 30 silver coins. Though other disciples run away but came back through repentance, he did not.
Contrary to the wicked, God blesses those who meditate on the word of God day and night. Look at verse 6a, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous. Here the righteous is those who have right relationship with God through repentance and accepting his forgiveness in Christ. Though the righteous may go through trials and hardships, God is watching over the life of the righteous, who meditates on the word of God and puts them into practice. God is guiding the righteous into the path of peace and protecting him with his mighty hand. When God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Roman 8:35-37) Amen!
Through today’s passage, we learned how we can be blessed by God. A person can be blessed when he or she avoids bad influence from godless people but meditates on the word of God, at least one word of God deeply. The blessing starts from inside bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and thus resulting prosperous life outside. As we live a life of faith, may God help us to trust in God who is the righteous judge who rewards accordingly. May God bless each one of us as we hold onto the key verse and bear much fruit inside and out in 2015.