Friday, June 26, 2009

Reflections on Psalm 1

(the following is the message I delivered last Thursday at Friendship Manor during Valley View Baptist's monthly service for the residents)

Psalm 1: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The man who chooses not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly is blessed. Blessed by God. But what does it mean to walk in the counsel of the ungodly? Obviously the ungodly are those who do not follow God. They do not acknowledge him as their Lord or their Sovereign, or their Savior. Such a man follows his own heart to lead him to do what is right in his own mind. But the Bible tells us that man’s heart is not a good or proper judge of right and wrong. In fact it says in Jeremiah 17:9 that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" And yet, if a man does not acknowledge God, then he is left with nothing but his heart to guide him. The man who is blessed will not follow after this ungodly man’s counsel.

This blessed man is one who does not stand with sinners, in fact he will stand against sin. He cannot ignore sin, and he cannot join himself to the scornful, or those who scoff at the idea of an all powerful God. In other words he will not "go along to get along." Why, you might ask? The answer is in verse 2. Because "his delight is in the law of the LORD and in his law doth he meditate day and night." A man that delights in God’s word, and spends his time reading it, pondering it, and reflecting on it, will have little trouble avoiding the pitfall of following after the urgings of the wicked.

This blessed man’s soul will be sustained by that meditation in God’s word. Just as a tree planted next to a river will never be in want of life sustaining water, so too will the blessed man be continually refreshed by God’s word. In John 4:14, Jesus says " But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

One of the signs of a healthy tree is that it bears fruit. This Psalm states that one of the signs of a healthy Christian is that they will bear fruit. He "bringeth forth his fruit in his season." If a Christian is keeping close to God’s word, reading and meditating on it, then he will undoubtedly bear fruit. In fact, in Matthew 13:23, Jesus when expaining the parable of the soils, says "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

"His leaf also shall not wither;" another sign of a healthy tree is that its leaves stay green and healthy. Often withered leaves are a sign of lack of water. The same is true of the Christian. A regular partaking of that life sustaining water, which is the Word of God, will keep the Christian fresh and spiritually healthy.

The ungodly man is just the opposite. He cares nothing for the Word of God, and so without its nourishment, he dries up in short order and is blown away by the wind like chaff.
Because there is no root or anchor to hold him, the ungodly man will not stand in the judgment. He will be found guilty. Since he has rejected God, rejected Christ, he has no righteousness except his own righteousness. But in Isaiah 64:6 it says: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Can you see how well that fits in with Psalm 1?

This Psalm also tells us that sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous. What exactly is this "congregation of the righteous." If we go back to Isaiah we see that our own righteousness is no righteousness at all. But there is a righteousness available to us. Philippians 3:8-9 "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:"

The only ones that can truly be called righteous are those to whom the righteousness of Christ has been imputed. In the same manner, even though we are aware that we are all sinners, in the context of this Psalm, "sinners" is used to denote those who cannot claim Christ’s righteousness.
So you see, "the congregation of the righteous," is an assembly of Christians; a gathering of the Saints. Now this could be a Church, but in this case I believe the Psalm is speaking of heaven. It says that sinners will not stand in this congregation. The New Testament makes it clear that not all who claim to be Christians really are. Jesus told a parable of the wheat and the tares. In Matthew 13:30 he said "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

It seems that at this point in time, sinners do indeed stand in the congregation that we call a Church. But it will not be so in heaven. Those who have Jesus Christ as their Savior will finally be forever free from their sinful flesh, and those who do not will be in hell. There will be no sinner standing in that heavenly congregation! "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish."

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Amen. Well said!