Senior Adult Weekly Devotional Wk.93

By: Noah Barr

Two Ways

Psalm 1

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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 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. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

         A tree has stood by the river for many years. The seasons have come and gone, the wind has blown against that tree, snow has made many blankets on the limbs until melted by the rays of sun. It’s roots have kept the tree in the ground even through strong winds and beating rains. At times the tree may have looked beaten up, but it remained in the ground for many years without movement. Children have played on that tree and even come to pass away before it. Their own children have played on it and many have wondered if it will last forever.

A farmer was out plowing his fields, he was separating the wheat from the chaff. The chaff was the small shell that protected the little grain of wheat, but when harvest came, the shell was no longer useful. It blew away down the path and continued on for a few moments and bit by bit the little shell was dismantled, no longer a discernable piece. It stopped in the mud where it sank, the shell weakened and broke apart, rain came and washed away what was left. In a day the chaff was gone, no one asked about it and on one ever wondered what happened to that small shell, that only for a little while, housed a useful seed.

The Psalms have both puzzled and amazed us. What we see in this first Psalm is riveting, these two people are like night and day. These two people’s lives are totally different. This Psalm seems to blow apart the belief that life has the same lot for everyone. Two lives are stood side by side, one is in utter chaos and the other is basking in prosperity. However, this prosperity is not in a wealth of possessions but in a certain life.

What life is this? The life that is found in the Lord and in the Lord alone. This first Psalm is full of movement and sets the whole trajectory for the whole book of Psalms. What is made very clear from the beginning is that this book is not for the wicked. The wicked who reject the Lord are not going to find life in this book but continual hopelessness. For there is nothing that can remedy their soul but a turning to the Lord of the Psalter. As a man or woman’s heart remains set on rebelling against the Word, there is no hope for them. The Psalms, over and over, lay out the certain doom of the rebellious rejecter. “This is the life of the one who rejects me” says the Lord. In the very first Psalm these two paths are laid out.

Most of life is spent walking, standing, or sitting. Life is really spent doing these three things.  All of humanity has before them two paths. Two choices. “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” (V.1-2). Who is “the man”? It would have referred to any Israelite. But we must understand that the Psalms are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The blessed man is certainly who Christ was. His foot never stepped onto the path of the wicked but He always walked in the law of the Lord. However, we cannot discount ourselves from the Psalms, as this too is our pattern for life.

Charles Spurgeon said of the wicked in this passage: “When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God-the evil is rather practical than habitual-but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who willfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful” (The Treasury of David Pg.2). But we read that blessed is the man who does not do these things!

Blessed is the one who refuses. Refusal is often put in a negative light. Here a man or woman is blessed in that they refuse to walk in their old and sinful ways in rejection of God. The law is their delight! This law was not just the ten commandments but was the whole of the Scriptures. It would have been the first five books of Moses and now for us it is the whole 66 books of the Bible! God’s Word is the key here. Pastor Steven Lawson has said: “Thus, the phrase should read, “O, how very happy” or “the happiness’s!” In reality, this soul satisfaction is pleasure found in the Lord himself. This promise of blessing is precisely what Jesus announced in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12). True happiness is the experience of all who trust in the Lord. The righteous are genuinely satisfied in the Lord (Phil. 4:4)” (Psalms Commentary Pg.14).

God’s Word is what makes this refusal possible. The man or woman who delights in the Word is a blessed believer. To delight means to: “take great pleasure in”. As the believer meditates on God’s Word we also find the pleasure of the Lord and the strength to stand. This meditation is not an emptying of our mind as some think, but this meditation is a filling of our mind with the Word of God. Blessed is the man or woman who fills their mind with the Word of God and thinks deeply upon it. We are not thinking inward about ourselves but our thoughts turn to something outside of ourselves to be changed by His Word.

This delight has a wonderful outcome. The believer who delights in His Word is described in this way: “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” (V.3). The introduction spoke of a tree that withstood all things. This verse likens or explains the Christian like a tree. He or she is like a tree that has roots deep in the ground. We are firmly rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ. This tree is by streams of water that do not run dry. We are always near to the Word of God that is an endless well of nourishment to our souls. This tree always produces in the seasons and never wilts.

As believers, our lives are always used for God’s glory, and he is producing growth in us. He constantly works in our spiritual life that does not wane. This tree always prospers no matter what the circumstances. We are always guided by the invisible hand of the Lord as He is the One who makes our efforts succeed. However, if a person has refused to hear the Word, that is another story.

 “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” (V.4-5). John Bunyan, the great puritan preacher said this about himself before his conversion: “It was my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his will: being filled with all unrighteousness; that from a child I had but few equals, both for cursing, and swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God” (Meet the Puritans Pg.101). To some degree, every human heart desires evil. In Adam, the very soul of every human being is conceived with a heart in rebellion to the Lord, even though some appear to be less rebellious than others. For this reason, everyone must turn to Christ if they are to be saved from the punishment of hell. No one is born with a good heart, but all with an evil one which must be replaced by the Lord. This only happens when we believe the Gospel and turn to Christ.  

This Psalm then, is a call to repentance. However, the wicked are not like those who’s hope is in the Lord. The wicked are like chaff that is blown every which way. The wicked don’t choose their own way, for evil chooses it for them. Their own desires sway them and they cannot turn from those deep desires on their own. The wicked do not walk but are blown along, they won’t stand nor sit in the congregation. They will be face down before the Lord in the shame of their sin. The way of the wicked is the way of death, and this way holds no hope. However, Jesus is the way to escape the judgement.

The supreme tool that God uses to work in us is His Word. This same Word is the hope for every man if they heed the Gospel in it: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). As we read it we are changed by it. As it is preached, the Spirit of the Lord works in us. Our greatest prayer should be our pleading for the Lord to change us into His likeness by the Word. In ourselves is not found strength to obey, but in dwelling upon the Words He has given us. The path of the righteous is the Word of the Lord. For it alone tells us “there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts. 4:12). Walking, standing, and sitting illustrates all of life. And the whole of our lives is either bent on honoring the Lord or walking in our own ways. Blessed is the man or woman who chooses the first.