Thursday, November 3, 2011

PSALM 1 - Understanding Your Standing

   “The Psalms can and should be part of the constant practice of the presence of God. Regularly read from beginning to end, they lead us again and again to consider aspects of life and of God’s will that we might not otherwise choose to remember or confront—let alone to embody in our living. Memorized in chunks the Psalms can provide ready response to the pressing realities of our days. When I have wakened in a panic in the darkness of the early morning hours—submerged in fear, self-pity, or self-doubt—the Psalms have often provided the assurance that my anxieties are known by God, who enlightens my dark places. So, I encourage you to make the Psalms your constant companion. Keep a copy at hand, and keep their words in your mind and heart and on your lips as you meet the challenges of your days and nights.”

Gerald Wilson, The NIV Application Commentary, Psalms Vol. 1

 

Preliminary Observations

This Psalm divides all of humanity into two categories : the blessed man  and the wicked man .   This is  a  familiar   division in the Scriptures:
·        children of God and children of the devil,
·        saved and lost,
·        light and darkness,
·        sheep and goats

This division is  already seen  in Genesis  3 :  the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman!    We must hold to these two categories in our preaching.  The  people we  preach  to   must be very conscious as to what category they belong to.

The theme of this Psalm  is the present and future blessedness, and the present and future misery of the wicked. 

The structure is very simple: it divides into two parts:  Verses 1-3 is about the blessed man, and 4-6 is a description of the  wicked man .

The word “blessed” carries the meaning of a deep-seated joy, delight, satisfaction, and contentment in God.  It  refers to   a “holy happiness.”

1 . THE BLESSED MAN : 

Negatively:  V.1   What a godly, happy man does not do and  where he  does not go. 
a.  “he does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly-  the blessed man  is not a follower  of the  teaching of the  wicked . The  basis of our knowledge is very important . What we believe leads to what we do and what we become   . (epistemology always gives birth to ethics) .  When we begin in the wrong  place we will end up in the wrong place .  Your starting point is important   .  The  place where the believer begins  is  with the knowledge  of  God’s  Word and not with worldly wisdom  .
b.  “he does not stand in the way of sinners” -  the blessed  man  is not one  who desires to hang around  with  the wicked , the sinners , the scoffers . This does not mean that he   spends no time  in their company  - in that case he would have to leave the world . It  also does not mean  that the blessed or righteous man  refuses to reach out  to sinners with the gospel . No !  It is just that the company of the ungodly is  not attractive to him , and it will not be his first choice .
c.  “ he does not sit in the seat of scoffers-  A scoffer is one who  mocks  and despises  God’s Word,  God’s cause in the world , and  God’s people. A righteous man  cannot be found there . It is impossible  for Him to  do both , bless God and curse God . James wisdom helps us here  :  “ Does a spring  pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water ? “  
Please note that  there  is a downward  progression in verse   1    :  walk , stand , sit .  You cannot help  walking through an ungodly world . You cannot avoid  the wicked man , the sinner and the scoffer . Once you  stand still and sit and  camp among  ungodly people  and when you begin to  take your direction from there ,  then you  have lost your spiritual direction and therefore your experience  of blessedness.
This however , we are assured is  not where the blessed man finds himself  

Positively (v.2)
a.  “his delight is in the law of the Lord-  Again , please note that apart from avoiding the  company of the ungodly  , he also does  not first seek  the company of godly   people; his first companion is the Word of God ! That’s what he delights in; to delight in the Word of God is to delight in the God of the Word. Delighting in the Word of God is essential.  What is it essential for?  For our salvation.   If we do not delight in the Word of God at all, we have no reason to believe that we are saved.  It is essential for our happiness, for our fruitfulness, for our perseverance, and for our prosperity (all in verse 3).   The danger of  camping  in the  company of the godly , without being  a healthy feeder  yourself , is that  you live off the spirituality of others , and the danger is that when they crash , you crash . You must develop a robust relationship with God through His Word  .
b.  “on his  law he meditates  day and night-  His life is clearly directed  by one Word ! All the issues of life are settled for him by this one Word . He makes it his  aim  to  be  a man of one word . When you prick him , His blood is bibline . This was said of John Bunyan  !
c.  “This man  is like a tree planted by  streams of  water….” . He is planted  in  an environment that will produce  fruit  , and this is true biblical  prosperity.

2. THE WICKED MAN

a.  He is spiritually bankrupt :  The wicked  man‘s greatest  deficiency  is not only  in the moral sense  (  he walks in the counsel of the wicked; stands in the way of sinners; sits in the seat of scoffers ) ; his greatest deficiency  is his absence of delight in the law of the Lord ( the Word of God ) .
b. The consequence  is that he has no weight  to hold him down  when  the issues of life  begin to  unsettle him :  “He is like chaff that the wind drives away “ ( v.4) . The  New Testament analogy  may be found  in Matthew 7:24-27 .   His foundations are woefully insufficient to withstand the  real and ultimate  issues of life  . He cannot stand  before  God  by his own wisdom and strength . A man or woman may be naturally strong all their life  , but the day will come when their bodies will become frail , and they will be reduced to nothing , and when they die , they will find themselves woefully unprepared  for  the ultimate questions  of life .  This leads us to the next thought in verse 5 . 
c. The downfall of the wicked man   : “the wicked will not stand in the judgement , nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous “ (verse 5) .  Two things  are worth considering here  :  A  wicked ,  ( better  described as a  godless man )  has no advocate  in the great judgement of the  last days .  He also has no basis  for  entrance into heaven :  the congregation of the righteous  on earth  will be the congregation of the righteous  in heaven . The  blood of Christ  - the  sign and seal of the eternal covenant , received by grace through faith  alone   provides for our access into church membership ( unfortunately   churches  have not been good in discerning this) ; it certainly  will be our only access  into heaven . 

3. THE "BOTTOMLINE"  :

The Lord knows the destinies of both – the righteous , blessed man  and the  wicked , miserable man .
However , experientially , and from our perspective the  basis  of  deciding where  we would stand begins  with  what we make of the law of God .

If you love  worldly ways and worldly wisdom more , that will lead you  to  into an everlasting perishing .  You will not stand in the judgement; you will not be found in the congregation of the righteous . You will not enter heaven  . The law of God will accuse you , and no  attorney will be able to deliver you from its righteous charges . 

But if by grace you love the law of God  ,  you  will  stand in the judgement  . You will not be accused  , and you will stand in the  congregation of  the righteous .You will have  your great attorney , the Lord Jesus Christ  to justify and defend you . But there is more . Through the work  of the Holy Spirit  who is the Sanctifier  you will also be able to  gladly love and obey the  law   , thus showing yourself to be an obedient  child of God . 

Who is shaping your  thinking  ?
Your eternal destiny depends upon  an accurate , honest answer  to this question !

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