If you’re like me, you are repeatedly drawn back to the very center of the Bible: the Psalms.
These ancient, inspired songs supernaturally connect our lives with the very heartbeat of our Heavenly Father. They openly express vast ranges of raw emotion, ask difficult questions and invoke intimate conversations with God. They take us on a journey from the cries of our darkest valleys to shouts of joy on the highest mountaintops. Uniting heart and head, they invite us to sing along by lifting our eyes (and emotions) to an Eternal Throne and the unchanging Truth of our Mighty God.
When we open this Hebrew hymnal to Psalm 1, we find only 6 verses. Although deceptively short, it is succinctly provocative and significant. Beginning with “blessed” and ending with “perish,” we should be quick to exclaim, “I want to be the blessed one; not the one who perishes!”
And just like that, we are shown there are only two ways: the way of the righteous/blessing and the way of the wicked/perishing.
Jesus also spoke of these same two paths when He told us about the broad way and the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14) or when He talked about building your life on the Rock, not the Sand (Matthew 7:24-27) or as He spoke about the wheat/tares (Matthew 13:24-30) or the sheep/goats (Matthew 25:29-46) – to name a few.
But with these two ways comes the inescapable call to choose – for the path you walk will determine your eternal destiny.
The path of the blessing is initially described by what it is not. Notice the warning of a slow, downward progression: don’t walk in the counsel/advice of the wicked or you might just end up standing around in the path of sinners and ultimately find yourself sitting down in the seat of scoffers (1:1). What is at first seemingly causal ultimately becomes fixed and final.
Instead, we must cling to the Word of the Lord – and not primarily as a discipline or a duty, but as our “delight” (1:2)!
Think about that! Whatever delights you effects your entire being and gives you great pleasure! In that same sense, if you delight in His Word then you rejoice in reading it and hearing His Voice. Plus, it is Life-giving because of your relationship with the Life-Giver (Psalm 16:11).
And this blessed one “meditates” on God’s Word “day and night” (1:2). You might say, “That’s impossible.” But in the Bible, this Hebrew word is not only used in a good way like “meditate,” but also in a negative sense when someone is “plotting” or “devising” a plan. Most of us can probably recall a time when someone wronged us and, over and over, almost involuntarily, we kept thinking about them while we pondered telling them off or figuring out how to get even!
So how is it we can so easily stew over someone but find it hard to mediate on the Word of God?!
Jesus calls it “abiding” (John 15:5), but either way, we should invite the Word into our hearts every day and nurture an ongoing, delight-full conversation with God. His Word is Spirit and Truth and Life. Breathe deeply and often and allow it to flow through your whole being with its Life-giving power.
And look at the result of clinging to the Word and its Author: You will “be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water” (1:3). More accurately, you will be like a tree that was “transplanted” from one location to another. The Hebrew verb is passive.
In other words, God Himself picked up the tree (that’s you) and planted it next to His streams of Living Water!
This tree is not only firmly planted (gracious, divine intervention), but also:
⁃ by streams of water (reliable, abundant provision)
⁃ yields its fruit in its season (a timely blessing to others, impactful, a heritage)
⁃ its leaf does not wither (drought-proof, a comfort and refuge to others)
⁃ in whatever you do, you prosper (the favor of God, divine purpose/fulfillment)
Now contrast this blessed, fruitful tree with those who choose the other path – those who scoff at God and pursue their own way – the way of sin – the way of the world. They are like chaff which is quickly blown away (1:4).
In those days, the harvested wheat was manually beaten on a windy hillside (the threshing floor) to separate the grain of wheat from its husk/chaff. Then the two were thrown into the air and the inedible part (the chaff) was blown away while the good part (the grain) fell to the ground. Why?
Because the useless, weightless chaff was quickly scattered by the wind whereas the valuable, heavy grain neatly fell in place and was gathered.
So it will be in the Day of Judgment (1:5). The Lord knows, cares for and watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish like chaff on a windy day (1:6). Please note: there is no third way.
By the blood of the Lamb, you can stand before God forgiven and clothed in His glorious righteousness or go your own way only to be scattered in ruin by the guilt of your sin.
This is a call to choose. Choose wisely.
1 How blessed is the man who
Does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
New American Standard Bible®, Copyright ©1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.