The Blessed Life
Key verse 1:2
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
A blessed life. Who does not want a blessed life? The dictionary defines the word “blessed” to have a meaning of blissfully happy or contented. That sounds good, doesn’t it? There can be different ideas about how to have a blessed or happy or successful life. A student may think a blessed life is to get straight A’s. A worker may think a blessed life is to climb up the corporate ladder to advance our career. In today’s passage we will study Psalm 1 which tells us the secret to the blessed life. It compares two ways of life: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. Let’s learn how to be blessed by God through delighting in his word and meditating on it day and night.
I. The Way of the Righteous (1-3)
Read verse 1. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” The psalm begins by discussing how the blessed or righteous man conducts his life. We should not walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. These three postures of walking, standing and sitting indicate our life activities. When it says we must not walk in the counsel of the wicked it means we must guard our hearts from what others teach us. For example, in the account of Adam and Eve in the garden, Eve listened to the smooth sounding words of the serpent, “Go ahead, eat the fruit. You will be like God.” But the result was misery, shame and fear when she listened to the devil. So we must watch out for the counsel we get from others.((These days our YDJ group is reading the book Pilgrim’s Progress. One of the characters the main character “Christian” meets is named, “Worldly Wiseman.” He counsels Christian to ease his life burden by avoiding the difficulties that face those who follow Christ. He mocks those who take the Bible seriously and points him instead to Mr. Morality. So Christian was sidetracked from the true way to relieve his burden. You have to keep reading the book to find out what happens.)) Also we are to not stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. Sometimes we think, I’ll hang out with this group. Before you know it, we are sitting with them and mocking what is right and promoting what is wicked. People think it is cool to mock the Bible and Jesus and God. So movies and TV shows often depict Christians as narrow minded simpletons who don’t have a clue. The Psalm begins with the negative example of what not to do. Why is that so? It is because we have a sinful nature that naturally gravitates towards things that sound good and easy and pleasurable. We don’t want things that seem hard and unpopular. We want to fit in with the crowd. What do you want to be: considered cool or a narrow minded simpleton? What attracts us more: Jesus who says “Deny yourself and follow me” or the world that says, “Don’t let anyone tell you how to live- do what comes naturally!” There is a lot of peer pressure and no one likes to look like an oddball. But the Bible says those who follows these wicked philosophies are headed for destruction and they are misleading others toward the way of destruction. We must therefore actively guard our hearts and not walk in these ways. Even those close to us- friends, teachers, family members… anyone who denies God and tempts us to disobey God or Jesus or the Bible is wicked and giving wicked counsel.
Read verse 2. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” After showing us what not to do, the psalmist gives us the positive direction of what we should actively engage in.
First, we should DELIGHT in the law of the Lord. The law of the Lord is another term for God’s words or the Bible in general. The Bible is God’s teaching and God’s good counsel to us. The word delight is defined as “Something that gives great pleasure or enjoyment.” Ps 19:10 says of God’s words, “They are more precious than gold…they are sweeter than honey.” We can take delight in many different things. In Baltimore, many people take delight in Raven’s football. So people are eager to go to the game or watch it on TV. Some people delight in music, so they record thousands of songs on their iPod and listen to them day and night. We can take delight in delicious food, reading good books, our spouse and our children. At our group Bible study, we thought about things we delight in. ((Msy Pauline and me delight in watching good movies. Msy Paul shared that he delights in playing tennis.)) Many of the men here in College Park delight in playing tennis. I hear them talk about it day and night. A good way to know what we delight in is what do we spend our time thinking about? What kinds of things do we look forward to? When Sh. Cyril & Mary were engaged to one another, they called each other constantly. They took trains and paid gas money to see each other since he was in NY and she was in Baltimore. The Bible is saying that if we want to have a blessed life, we should take delight in God’s word in these ways and even more. Where is your delight?
Second, MEDITATE on God’s law day and night. Along with delighting in God’s law the psalmist teaches that we should meditate on God’s law day and night. Sometimes there can be misconceptions about meditation. We may have images of shaving our heads, climbing to the top of a mountain and imagining we are one with nature. But here meditation is not passive but active. It involves a deep, thoughtful, serious consideration and study over the Bible. Jesus said, “Consider carefully what you hear…” (Mk 4:24) Also, it involves frequency- how often we do it. Do we meditate on God’s word once a week for Bible study or SWS? That’s a good start but there’s much more blessings available to us. So later in Ps 119:147-148 it says, “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.” Then how do we meditate. As mentioned, we can study the Bible, as we do 1:1 Bible study. And meditation and study includes preparation. Someone said they hate it when people show up to Bible study and just grab a question sheet and plop down in their seat. Does God bless that kind of attitude? How much better to come with answers prepared already having some personal meditation and ready to share with others. (My ex.) Another thing we do is testimony writing and sharing like we will hear shortly. We meditate on what learned from our study, and think about how to apply it in our lives. And we write it down and can share it with our fellowship members on a weekly basis. Not doing testimony writing is like not doing class assignment. We may be saving a little time, but we’re not going to grow much or learn much. Also, we are not giving glory to God for how he is working in our lives. We also do daily bread- morning devotional Bible reading and testimony writing. There are other, less structured ways. These can include reading the Bible on our lunch break or before bed. It can also include memorization. When we memorize the word of God we have to go over it repeatedly in our minds. It drives out the dark and negative junk from the world and replaces it with God’s words of life. I heard that many years ago M. James P. was working in a Korean store. It was tough job with manual labor with Korean businessman task master boss. But he decided not to complain, but memorize the Sunday passage each week. You know what happened. He began to enjoy his terrible job. At the end of the shift the boss was shocked he did not stop working because he was so happy meditating on the word of God. Then many Bible students came to him- because they wanted to be blessed like him. I heard he’s still memorizing.
Read verse 3. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever he does prospers.” This verse gives a picture of the endless blessing given to the life of someone who delights and meditates on God’s word. We have the picture of a large, fruitful tree (apples, oranges…), spreading branches with bright green leaves, with a thick trunk firmly anchored in the soil by a stream of water. A few weeks ago my neighborhood association sent out a newsletter mentioning that many trees in the neighborhood were suffering due to the lack of rain we had this past summer. They said to leave a hose at the base of the tree running full blast all night long! That’s a lot of water. We are like these trees. We must be planted by meditating on God’s word. If we don’t commit to God’s word, just hopping around listening only to what we like, we don’t prosper. But if we are planted in the word, we are continually nourished, encouraged, recharged and refreshed. God’s word brings revival to our weary souls, gives wisdom to our dull minds, gives joy to our sad hearts, gives light to our dark eyes. Through the continuing flow of God’s word, we come into the relationship of God himself. Sometimes we think, “I am meditating on God’s word, but I still have problems. And I don’t see any fruit.” But God promises, “Whatever he does prospers.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In the trying times, God is still with us and growing us stronger. In the difficult times, our roots need to go deeper into the word for the water and nourishment and we become more stable. The true prosperity and success is not in material and visible things around us. The prosperity is in the relationship and position we have with God and having his love, joy and peace flowing in our hearts. We are a work in progress. Sh. Phillip B. gets a lot of training from God. He may think, “I need a break.” But God is molding him through his word to be a great blessing as a missionary to China for the saving of many souls. May God make us fruitful and prosperous when we meditate on his words of life which are streams of water for our souls.
II. The Way of the Wicked (4-6)
“Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” The end of verse 3 said that whatever the blessed man did prospered because of his love for God and the word of God. But verse 4 takes an abrupt turn- not so the wicked! Whereas the righteous and blessed were compared to a strong and fruitful tree, the wicked are likened to chaff blown away by the wind. Chaff is the protective outer shell of the grain, like wheat or rice. The farmer throws the grains into the air and the lightweight chaff gets blown away while the heavier grain falls to the ground for collection. But the chaff is burned up in the fire. That means judgment, or the wind means judgment. It’s interesting because those who ignore God and live for themselves seem to be very strong. They look attractive and are popular. They speak loudly and boldly and seem to answer to no one. We want to follow them and be like them. But in the end their true character is revealed. They are lightweights. When they deny the truth of God and his word, they have no root. They have no substance of life, not content to their life other that to live and die for themselves.
Read verses 5-6. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Many people live as if there are no consequences to their way of life. But the psalm concludes with two very different ends to two different lives. There are not many different people and many different ends. There is just the righteous and the wicked. Those who stood opposed to the law of God will not stand in the judgment. Those who sat and mocked God and his law and his people will not sit in the assembly of the saints in heaven. In the end, the tables will be turned and God’s justice will be accomplished. The wicked who looked strong will be defeated. Christians who looked weak will be delivered and protected. God is watching over the way of the righteous. God is blessing those who delight in him and his words of life. ((At the summer conf. I noticed that HBF members always sat in the front row. Nobody forced them to sit up close. They delight in God’s law. They always look happy. They are young and prosperous. They are blessed.)) Some of you are returning Bible students. Some are new from the recent First look fair. I too came from the first look fair 19 years ago. My only direction was to graduate and make a lot of money. But when it didn’t look like that would happen, I lost my hope and dream. But God called me from a selfish life to a blessed life in his word with a life purpose to live for God and teach the Bible. God blessed me to share his word with many college students. God blessed me with jobs, a beautiful wife and beautiful children. Everyone who knows me says, “You are so blessed!” Like those who will share their testimonies, I testify that God is the source of my blessings and I give glory to God. I encourage you who are considering Bible study to do so. God promises to bless you when you delight in his word and meditate on it. Take him up on his promise and be planted in his words of life. God will bless your life and make you a blessing to others.
We all want to be blessed. We want to experience true joy. God offers it to us through his word. As we start the new school year, may God make us prosperous and fruitful inwardly and outwardly as we delight in his words and meditate on them day and night.
Read key verse 2