Spending time every day with the same person changes you.
Psalm 1 | Blessed is the man who 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 tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
You have people who are in your life daily, and you are influenced by them. You may pick up their patterns of speech. You may watch their favorite shows, you may listen to their music. Regardless of how big or small the changes, spending time every day with the same person changes you.
God said it first when He inspired Solomon to write Proverbs 13:20
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
We find this sentiment echoed in the New Testament by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15 verse 33:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Should this influence our choices of companions? Should it affect who we choose to admire, respect, and emulate?
And I believe that is very much what Psalm 1 is about. So let’s go through it.
The original Hebrew word translated here as blessed is esher אֶשֶׁר .
A more literal translation of this word is happiness. Andrew Robert Fausset, Chuck Smith, and the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges all agree that the best literal interpretation of Esher is “Oh the happiness of the man” or “Happy is the man”
Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,..
You will have some people in your life - maybe at school, maybe at work, maybe even at home - who are not awesome. That’s to say, they are pretty much horrible. They may be selfish, mean, petty, volatile, untrustworthy or worse.
If you want to be happy, do not take their advice on how to live your life.
They may be beautiful, popular, rich, successful, influential and powerful. It may look like they have all the things you think you want. That doesn’t make them right and it doesn’t make them trustworthy. Do not follow their counsel. It will not get you to where you want to be.
Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,..
A sinner is anyone who rejects God.
Regardless of whether they sound wise and worldly. Regardless of whether they have articulate and well-reasoned opinions on the important issues that matter to you. A sinner here is anyone who rejects God.
Don’t hate them,
or avoid them,
or pray for them to burst into flame.
Everyone saved by Christ used to be a sinner. The only difference is we have heard and responded yes to the good news of Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life.
But that is a big difference.
The most offensive word in Christianity is the definite article. Most of the contemporary world would have no issue with Christians who say that Jesus Christ is a way to heaven. The offense occurs when we say He is the way to heaven.
If you want to go to heaven, if you want to escape the wages of sin which is death, then you must come to God on His terms. And His terms are few.
Romans 10:9b | “...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Jesus said it himself in John 14:6
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
His apostles echoed it in Acts 16:31
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
We live in a culture where the popular mindset sees everything as subjective;
make your own reality,
live your own truth,
do what feels right,
follow your heart,
Don’t do that.
With grace and love, establish and remain firm in your identity as one who is purchased by the blood of Christ. Cling to Him and not popular opinion. Do not allow your moral integrity to be swayed by those who reject the only One who can save you from death.
Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
If you want to be happy, don’t be a jerk.
A scoffer is defined as: a person who mocks or makes fun of someone or something, often of religious or moral values.
Scoffers are ugly. They belittle others, to cause them embarrassment or shame.
Here is an uncomfortable but unavoidable fact: Christians can be scoffers.
I have heard it. And to my shame I have participated in it. And that shame is well-deserved. By God’s grace I am not crushed by it, but I am corrected by it.
Scoffers do not build people up. They hurt them.
Don’t do that.
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.
Instead, learn the law of God.
“But you’re a Christian!” I hear you cry.
“Christians aren’t under the law!” you say.
This is true, and the bible backs you up on that. Consider Galatians 2:16:
Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
Christians are not under the crushing weight of the law. But the law is throughout the Old Testament and it teaches us beautiful things:
God’s law teaches us about God’s nature, power and majesty,
God’s law teaches us how God wants us to behave,
God’s law teaches us how badly we fall short of His expectations, how often we behave contrary to His Word, how deep in sin we truly are.
Where is the beauty in all this?
God’s law reveals just how precious the gift of Jesus is.
Allow the breathtaking beauty of the gospel to wash over your mind and heart.
All of us have sinned and broken God’s law.
Each of us has independently earned the full and terrible wrath of God.
Each of us on our own is destined for hell.
But the immortal God of the universe descended from His throne,
took on our weakness,
fulfilled the law that condemns us,
paid the penalty for our sins,
and carried us out of our hopelessness to restore us to an eternity with Him.
And that is worth delighting in and meditating on.
What is the result of this meditation?
You end up stripping away the things of this world, the things that don’t matter,
the things that flee and fade, like beauty, and health, and wealth, and influence and power.
Because in a hundred years you won’t have that.
You could develop renewable energy,
solve world hunger,
pay off the national debt,
end child slavery
and cure cancer,
but in a hundred years, none of that will matter to you because you won’t be here to enjoy the statues and hospitals and schools and cities named after you.
God’s law reveals our depravity, and our powerlessness to save ourselves, and so heightens - and makes personal - the grace and incredible glory of Jesus Christ’s saving work.
What is the result of this meditation? What does it do for the blessed man, the happy man? The Psalmist goes on to say:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
This is powerful.
Consider with me the implications of these two sentences.
God’s Word doesn’t say the happy man is like a plant growing by a stream. This is what the happy man is like.
He is like a tree. He is sturdy, strong, visible, upright, reaching toward heaven.
He is like a tree that is planted. He didn’t get there by chance. Someone greater than him took the time and care to plant his seed intentionally in a place he would grow and flourish.
He is like a tree that is planted by streams of water. His Creator made sure to plant him in the presence of a constant flow of life sustaining water.
He is like a tree that is planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season. He bears fruit! There is nothing in him that makes him decide to do it. It is a result of the seasons and the intent of the Creator who planted Him there. He has a purpose, and that purpose is to bear fruit. And so he does, because he is cared for and cultivated by a gardener who is wise and caring.
So here he is, a sturdy, healthy, fruit-bearing tree.
The kind of tree God might use to feed the hungry.
Except he’s not a tree. He’s a man. So what is this fruit he bears?
And who will it feed?
I bet some of you landed where I did, Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I think that’s a good application. But I’m not satisfied with stopping it there. Because as I meditate on this scripture, it occurs to me that there is more here. I believe the gospel is here.
In all that he does he prospers. I think the fruit this happy man bears is the gospel. I think the man who delights in and meditates on the law of God knows how to recognize the Messiah. I think he knows, just as the old testament prophets did, how to point to Jesus. I think that fruit is the good news that the law is precious because it points to Christ.
But even there it doesn’t end.
Besides nourishing the hungry, what else does fruit do?
It makes more trees.
I love the analogy of God’s way of giving. There are a few seeds in an apple, but there are countless apples in a seed.
Is there a better analogy for evangelism than a fruit bearing tree that will feed countless others and whose fruit God can use to make more trees?
But wait there’s more.
God doesn’t need a seed to grow a tree. He can just make a tree. I believe this is also a beautiful picture of how much He loves us and wants a relationship with us; That he uses seeds to grow trees; That He uses imperfect men and women to grow His kingdom.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
In the beginning of this passage, the Psalmist spoke of the wicked and how it is unwise to follow their counsel or example.
How do you suppose the wicked compare to the fruit tree we just described? Can the selfish, the petty, the mean spirited, the law breakers and the abusive mockers offer anything that gives or sustains life?
God’s Word says they are like dried out grass clippings or dead leaves on a hillside. The wind scatters them and they are helpless to control their course.
Terror and destruction await them.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
Sentences like this always used to scare me when I came across them in scripture.
Which leads me to what may be the most important point I have ever gleaned from studying any of the psalms.
When I used to read the bible, the Old Testament especially, I found myself far more often identifying with the wicked and sinful than the righteous and blessed. I wanted to consider myself good and kind and generous and loving. But I knew the truth in my heart. I was guilty of so much of what I learned God hated.
Then I began to read the Psalms through the eyes of one who has been purchased by Jesus Christ.
On my own merit I am exactly the wicked. I am those awful things that God hates. But because I am certain that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, I am covered by His righteousness.
Far beyond my understanding
the miracle in the mirror
I see a man once lost and broken
now beg You to draw near
The sweetest echo of Your glory
throughout creation wild
Is knowing that You know me fully
and still You call me child!
The joy of the believer is that for all of your failings, when God looks at you, He doesn’t see a sinner, He sees His child.
For those who have no relationship with God, they will not stand at all. And when God separates the fruit bearing trees from the dead leaves, they will not be found among those for whom Jesus gave His life.
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The way of the righteous is secure. And it is ever so narrow. It is the life and love of Jesus Christ. He said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me. Jesus is the only Way. There is no other.
The ways of the wicked are many. They look straight and broad and easy to travel. They are well kept by the department of eternal damnation, with many cross streets and forks that promise wonders, wealth and delights… and they all lead to eternal death.
I figure there are two types of people listening this morning, or perhaps in the future online.
For those of you who do know God, whether for ten decades, ten days or ten seconds:
God sees you. He sees what no one else sees. He watches you struggle with your sin. He knows your shame when you fail. He sees when you make the right choice, even when it hurts, even when everyone calls you stupid. He sees the way you live your life and your inconsistent course corrections. He sees you try to express your gratitude and love to Him.
He knows you aren’t perfect.
He knows you can’t do it.
He knows you’re not good enough,
strong enough or
But by the blood of His own son, God declared that you are in fact loved enough.
Live your life in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Constantly surrender control to Him and your happiness will not be a transient emotion that can be blown away by pandemics, politics, social issues or fear. It will become a joy that eclipses your trials, and when the storms of adversity overtake you, when the enemy surrounds you, you can stand firm on the Rock of Jesus Christ and shout into the tempest, that even though you are weak, He is strong. Eventually the storms will fade and the enemy will fall, and you will not.
For any here or online who do not yet know God, or are resisting Him: stop.
“Heavenly Father, You are here. Your Word says the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. I am not righteous, but Your Son is, in His name I pray for anyone here that doesn’t yet have a saving relationship with You. Your Word says that You are not slow regarding your promise but that You are patient, not wanting anyone to die apart from You, but for everyone to come to a saving relationship with you through Your Son. Save us all Father, please. Move among us, Holy Spirit, give us the assurance of Your salvation. Those of us gathered here ask together in the name of Jesus, amen.”
If your attention is still held after all this, God is very likely calling to you right now. I beg you; Answer. Don’t be flowery, or churchy or eloquent. Be honest, be plain, just talk to Him. Tell Him you’d like to get to know Him more. If you’re so inclined, tell Him you want Jesus to be your Lord. That is all it takes to get started
Salvation in Christ is the miracle of a moment. It can feel emotional, fiery, moving, or feel like absolutely nothing at all!!!
It’s the grace of God that saves you, but it's the life of Christ that changes you.
Consider this. You have people who are in your life daily, and you are influenced by them. You may pick up their patterns of speech. You may watch their favorite shows, you may listen to their music. Regardless of how big or small the changes, spending time every day with the same person changes you.
Spend that time with God.