Sunday, September 17, 2023

A Reflection upon Psalm 1


"Like a Tree Planted by the River" by Donald Simpson, contemporary.

Psalm 1:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 

But his delight is in the law of Yahweh,

And in His law he meditates day and night.And 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.

The wicked are not so,

But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 

Therefore the wicked will not rise in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 

For Yahweh knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the wicked will perish.

The Book of Psalms opens by dispelling the common illusion that the sinful life is the good life. Daily the world is being brainwashed into thinking that true and lasting satisfaction is found by indulging the lusts of the flesh. Television, radio, movies, social media, and magazines all suggest that permissiveness is the road to fulfillment. The life of purity is dismissed as "puritanical" or "legalistic." But the psalmist sets the record straight.

Psalm 1:1 The truly blessed person is the one who steers clear of the lifestyle of the ungodly. In his contacts with them he avoids complicity with them or even tacit approval of their sin and scoffing. This does not mean that the happy man isolates himself completely from the wicked. Instead he witnesses to them of "sin, righteousness, and judgment," and seeks to introduce them to Christ, the one source of lasting pleasure. The happy man is a real friend to the ungodly, but he is not a partner with them.

Psalm 1:2 It is impossible to visualize a happy man who is not also a man of God's Book. He has an insatiable hunger for the Word of the LORD. He loves the Bible and meditates on it day and night. By this means his own life is enriched and he becomes a channel of blessing to others.

Psalm 1:3 The man who is separated from sin and separated to the Scriptures has all the qualities of a strong, healthy, fruitful tree:

Planted by the rivers of water—he has a never-failing supply of nourishment and refreshment.

It brings forth its fruit in its season—he displays the graces of the Spirit, and his words and actions are always timely and appropriate.

Its leaf also shall not wither—his spiritual life is not subject to cyclical changes but is characterized by continuous inner renewal. As D. L. Moody put it, "All the Lord's trees are evergreen."

This kind of man shall prosper in everything he undertakes. The reason, of course, is that he is living in fellowship with the Lord, and all his service is therefore guided by the Holy Spirit. The only way to be efficient and successful in the Christian life is to be led by the Spirit of God. Self-directed activity is an enormous waste of time, money, and effort!

Psalm 1:4 The ungodly are not so; that is, they are neither well-planted, fruitful, enduring nor prosperous. Like chaff, they lack body or substance. When the storms of life blow, they prove unstable. A strong wind drives them away.

Psalm 1:5 The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment. They will, of course, appear before God at the Judgment of the Great White Throne. But the meaning here is that they will have no adequate defense. In idiomatic language, they won't have a leg to stand on! Furthermore, they will never stand in the congregation of the righteous; they will be forever excluded from the company of those who are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 1:6 What is the reason for all this? The LORD knows the way of the righteous. He is not only aware of their lives, but He approves them as well. What a contrast with the termination of a sinful life—eternal death!

We cannot emphasize too often, however, that a person's destiny is not determined by the way he lives. The determining factor is whether he has ever been born again by faith in Jesus Christ. The righteous person is the one who has confessed his sin and received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. His righteous life is the result of his new life in Christ. The ungodly person is the one who refuses to acknowledge his need and to bow his knee to the Lord Jesus. He would rather keep his sin than have the Savior, and thus he seals his doom.