Posted May 26, 2017
 Blessed is the manwho walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners,nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD,and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a treeplanted by streams of waterthat yields its fruit in its season,and its leaf does not wither.In all that he does, he prospers.
The Psalms are essential for anyone who wants to learn to pray or grow in prayer.
Eugene Peterson said, “The great and sprawling university that Hebrews and Christians have attended to learn to answer God, to learn to pray, has been the Psalms. More people have learned to pray by matriculating in the Psalms than any other way. The Psalms were the prayer book of Israel; they were the prayer book of Jesus; they are the prayer book of the church. At no time in the Hebrew and Christian centuries (with the possible exception of our own twentieth century) have the Psalms not been at the very center of all concern and practice in prayer.”
Psalm 1 stands as the doorway into the Psalms as it tells us what the “blessed” or “happy” life truly is. Similar to other wisdom literature, it holds before us two ways of life: one is the way of wickedness while the other is the way of wisdom. The wicked way leads to destruction and separation from God, while the wise way points us toward God and true human flourishing. Our culture this day and age has a hard time stomaching such bold claims and says that there are clearly more ways and paths than these two, and yet the psalmist doesn’t give us this luxury! Choose this day which path you will take: the blessed path or the cursed path.
What does the path of blessing entail?
The Worshipful “No”
We learn right off the bat that the blessed life looks like the rejection of certain lifestyles. By definition, we cannot choose one way without rejecting another. Sam Storms comments, “Believe it or not, happiness or blessedness can be found in something negative! There is joy in saying no. But to whom or what do we respond with a resolute no? According to the psalmist, it is to the counsel of the wicked (a reference to what we believe), the way of sinners (a reference to the way we behave), and the seat of scoffers (a reference to the place we belong).”
If we want to walk in God’s ways, we must learn to worshipfully say “no”. Not self-righteously, not with an air of arrogance, but rather as a declaration of worship towards God! We must learn to say no because we’ve discovered the true worth of God and rejecting the very things that reject His perfect rule and reign.
The Joyful “Yes”
It is not enough for us to say no if we are not saying yes to something or someone else, namely God! We must not simply ask what are we putting off, but also must answer what are we taking up? The psalmist tells us in verse 2 that we are to be a people who delight in the Word of God! Note that heartfelt delight is involved, not just teeth-gritting duty. When you think about the Word of God, what are your first responses? Boredom? Complacency? Apathy? Not for the psalmist! He rejoiced over the word of God… This rejoicing wasn’t just during a slot of time during the day, but rather an all-consuming passion that worked itself out day and night, night and day! We are a people who dwell on the things that we love, and the psalmist loved God and therefore loved His Word. Oh that we would be a people who love God like this!
This delight isn’t just some abstract emotion but works itself out practically in our lives with God. It doesn’t merely skim over Scripture but meditates on it! A casual glance is not enough… It asks, “What is God speaking to me through this passage? What does it teach me about God, about myself, or about my life? What things must I change in order to obey and walk in God’s ways?” We live in an age of fast-paced superficiality and distraction, and meditation on Scripture is a powerful discipline that calls us to slow-down and dig our roots deeper and deeper into the soil of God’s Word. This increasing depth of roots in God leads to true human flourishing!
We are told that the resulting trajectory of this “yes” will lead to us becoming like a tree planted by flowing streams of water… We won’t be a tree that is fruitless and withering, but rather one that bears fruit in season and its leaves do not wither. No matter the season, no matter the external forces, this tree’s roots continue to drink from and find sustenance in the Word of God… In many ways, meditating and living under the rule of God is a picture of a glorious return to the Garden of Eden; here we find true life! No longer separated through a rejection of God’s ways; now we reject the ways of the world and live under God’s kind and perfect reign. This leads to our soul’s true prosperity: union and communion with God Himself.
Jesus ultimately is the one who modeled for us the blessed life found in Psalm 1 and fulfilled it perfectly. Though He spent time with sinners, He Himself was sinless… His true delight was in the Law and instruction of the Lord; He only did what He saw the Father doing.
Christians, may we be deep-rooted trees who drink deeply of God and walk in His ways through the discipline of meditation on God’s good Word!
Song and devotional by Joel Limpic.
Produced by David Wilton and Latifah Philips.
Artwork by David Lipari of Sifu Hotman.