A young man was learning to skydive and was so excited that he would get to do his first solo jump. Before his solo jump, he was given these instructions, “You’ve seen how this works, jump when you are told. Count to ten and pull the ripcord. In the unlikely event that your chute doesn’t open pull the emergency ripcord. When you get down, a truck will be there to take you back to the airfield.
The young man had these instructions memorized as climbed aboard the plane. The plane climbed to ten thousand feet and the skydivers began to jump. When he was told to jump, he jumped. He then counted to ten and pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened. His chute failed to open. So he pulled the emergency ripcord. Still nothing happened. No parachute. “Oh great” he thought, “And I suppose the truck won’t be there when I get down either!”
I know that we all have had days like that where nothing seems to go right! In Psalm 1 we will see that like a parachute is to a skydiver, God’s word is to His followers, a matter of life and death.
This Psalm is so practical, in a nut shell it shows us two groups of people, going down two separate paths leading to two distinct destinations. Which one will you be, the righteous or the wicked? Which path will you take the one of sin and scorn or the one of blessing and prosperity? Which destination will be yours at judgement, the place of death or life?
When I first read this Psalm as a teenager it spoke volumes to me about the company I kept. My friends determined the path and the person I would become.
Let’s look at it: 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,
Notice the pattern: walk, stand, sit. As we walk with the wrong crowd we begin to be comfortable with it and to sit is to be entrenched their lifestyle. I’m sure that you had an experience or are living an experience like I did in 7th-9th grade. I had some friends who got involved in drugs, they used drugs and then they begin to sell drugs. We rode the bus together, played baseball and were in boy scouts together. As I continued to walk with them what do you think happened to me? You know the answer. As I walked with them, I stood and did drugs with them too, how long before I would sit or be entrenched in that lifestyle and sell drugs too? Because of Christ in my heart, His word in my mind and my parents and other godly influences in my life I was able to change my friends and go down a different path.
I experienced the wrong path and I’m sure you have too. It’s great that God has an alternative path for us!
“Blessed (or happy) is the one whose… delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
God’s word puts us on the right path. I like the word “delight” because it reminds me that Christianity is not a list of “do’s and don’ts.” Walking with Christ is not what we are against its about what we are for. We love Jesus, we love God’s word, we delight in what’s right.
“Meditate” is not something the Buddhist or Eastern religions came up with. It’s biblical. It’s means in the Hebrew to “chew the cud.” It’s a picture of a cow or sheep regurgitating what it ate for breakfast (gross I know) and then re-chewing it to get the most of it. How do we meditate on God’ word? Read it, think about it, talk about it, discuss it with others, memorize it, teach it to others and most importantly do it and live it. That’s why church is so important. We get to do all of the above together: messages, Connect groups, and kid’s classes and youth group.
Our families are also a great opportunity to meditate on God’s word. We have Discussion Questions each week to go with each message on the outline to take home and discuss with your family. I love how God tells us in Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 that we can walk, stand and sit as go through God’s Word together. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Notice the three illustrations that blessing or happiness in verse 3.
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.
Let’s consider each of these:
- “Planted by streams of water.” (We have what we need.)
When I read this I think about the Cypress trees along the San Antonio Riverwalk. Having grown up in San Antonio I love to go back there and walk along the river enjoying the shade, the beauty and the majesty of these trees. I can’t reach my arms around them they are so large. When I look up, they tower into the sky. Their roots are well established with their nobs or knees that pop up along the bank showing their grip.
These trees are a picture of stability, much like the life of Christ follower who lives by God’s word. We are established. We have our needs met, we are satisfied, we are secure. Contrast this with a leaf that is blowing down the sidewalk like verse 4 reminds us.
- “Yields it Fruit” (Fruitful)
If we delight in the Word of God we will be a fruitful people Do you know a fruitful person? They are refreshing and nourishing to be around. You go away from them encouraged. You go away strengthened. Their words are healing and convicting and encouraging and deepening. Being around them is a blessing.
- “Whose leaf does not wither” (Perseverance)
In life we will all experience storms, drought, high winds, sleet, cold and high heat. We all face these hardships, but rooted in God’s word we can persevere. We will not be blown by winds of cultural change. We will hold on when life is hard because our foundation is not in people or money but God’s word.
- “Whatever they do prospers” (Prosperity)
I’m reluctant to even mention prosperity because of the misunderstanding that has been given by some that following God leads to monetary wealth. Part of God’s blessing could be monetary; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Job were all wealthy, but the best definition of prosperity is knowing and living for God. Prosperity is long term as opposed to money that is short term. Prosperity is hearing, “well done my good and faithful servant.”
As we close out this Psalm, I want to share with you something else that jumped out to me as I looked closer at the last two verses. It’s about Jesus!
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
What about Jesus? How does this psalm lead us to Christ?
The word righteous in verse 5 and 6 presses us forward to Christ as our righteousness.
Righteous and righteousness are major biblical words and doctrines listed over 1000 times in our bibles.
Let me share a few.
Jesus lived out righteousness:
When Jesus asked John to baptize him, John objected saying, “no, you should baptize me” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. Matthew 3:15 (NIV)
Jesus said we should seek righteousness:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6 (NIV)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
Jesus says that we can’t earn righteousness by our good deeds:
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 (NIV)
Jesus says righteousness is about believing:
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. Matthew 21:32 (NIV)
Who is righteous?
“There is no one righteous, not even one; Romans 3:10 (NIV)
How do we become righteous?
- By faith
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (NIV)
- In Jesus
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3:22 (NIV)
How does this apply to Psalm 1? We were on the wrong path, walking with sinners, sitting with scorners, being blown away by the wind and heading for death and judgement. Christ takes us, gives us new life by planting us by the streams of water; Him. We find life, peace, fruitfulness, blessing only in Christ.
Thank you Jesus!
Inspiration for this post is from:
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Wisdom and Poetry, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2004), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 85-87.
Rod Mattoon, Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Treasured Psalms, Volume 1, (Springfield, IL: Lincoln Land Baptist Church, n.d.), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 4-19.
John Piper, Desiring God, Summer Psalms