Are you ready to continue our study of Psalm 1? Let’s take a second to read some of the verses:
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3, NKJV)
Last week we looked at verse one, noting three things a blessed man does NOT do. Today we’ll look at what he DOES do, and next week we’ll see the result.
“But His delight is in the law of the LORD…”
Let’s first see what “delight” means. Strong defines delight as something you take pleasure in, something you highly value (#2656). I am reminded of an online acquaintance of mine, named Pam, who lives in southern California. She and her husband have ten children. Several years ago, they lost everything they own in the fires that swept through San Diego. Her family had about two hours of warning time in which to pack what they could and flee the area. One of the hardest parts for her was losing baby pictures of some of her children.
As she cheerfully reminded me, though, catastrophes like these help us focus on the things that really count in life. I’ve enjoyed reading Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, because the first section talks about our priorities. He points out that when we die, life is not over! God has an eternity of purposes for us to fulfill, but this life is a test, a chance to commit ourselves to Him.
When we walk in the counsel of the ungodly (or stand or sit…), one of the first signs is a change in what we delight in. Sometimes we begin to value our possessions above all else. Sometimes we begin to value a relationship. Maybe it is food, or entertainment, or you-name-it. These “delights” become idols to us, taking the place of God in our hearts. You’ll know you have this problem if you say, “I want ___, or I just can’t be happy!”
“…And in His law he meditates day and night.”
In contrast, the blessed man delights in the law of YHWH. When the Psalmist penned these verses, the entire Bible was not yet written. The nation of Israel had the law of Moses (the first five books of the Bible), and God repeatedly commanded them to know the law well. (See Deuteronomy 6:6-9.) Now we are blessed to have many more books, some of which are history, some are poetry, some are for our learning, but “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).
Strong defines “meditate” as to murmur or to ponder (#1897). This makes me laugh, because the picture is of a woman whose husband won’t do what she wants. She pounds out of the room (slamming the door?) and shuts herself into her bedroom. She’s mad, so she works like a tornado, maybe sorting out the sock drawer or reorganizing the closet or throwing out old make-up. The whole time she is “murmuring” to herself, muttering and sputtering. You could even say she is “pondering” just what her husband did to offend her and how she is going to get her own way! 😉
Sorry for such a negative picture, but this is exactly what God wants us to do, in a positive way, in response to the Word of God.
This presupposes that we are reading the Word. In the Psalmist’s time, it probably presupposed that the Israelites were regularly visiting the tabernacle and listening as the Law was read to them. It’s rather difficult to ponder something that isn’t in our heads to begin with! Joshua commanded the people, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it DAY AND NIGHT, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8, NKJV). Notice that I emphasized the words “day and night”. I searched the Psalms for references to “morning”, “noon”, and “night”, and I found MANY verses that reiterated that we should direct our hearts to God at specific times of the day.
A wise father once told his children, “No Bible, no breakfast.” My godly grandparents took time out of EVERY mid-morning to gather in the living room for Bible reading and prayer. Many Christian schools take time after lunch to read aloud from the Bible. Christians in past centuries took time to read from the family Bible after supper, before the dinner dishes were cleared. And many Christian couples seal a day by reading and praying together before they turn off the lights at night.
But beyond reading, we also need to be pondering. Anne Ortlund calls this “walking in the presence of God.” We need to be continually aware of the presence of God in our homes, in our activities, in all we do each day. Awareness of God’s presence prompts us to think of Him, to talk to Him, and to respond obediently to Him. John 15:1-8 tells us that the secret to the Christian life is abiding in Christ. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5, NKJV). John 15:7 says that this is accomplished by allowing His words to abide in us.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Before we close today, let’s get practical.
- What things do you delight in? How would you answer this question, “Only __ can really make me happy”?
- Do you have specific times each day during which you read the Bible? Are you consistent or hit-and-miss? Do you eat one spiritual meal a day — or three — or more?
- What specific steps can you take to walk in the presence of God today? Could you hang Scripture on your walls where it can catch your eye (again, see Deuteronomy 6:6-9)? Could you keep a journal? Any other ideas, anyone?
I hope today’s Bible study was extremely profitable! You see, we have only two choices: we can either walk with the ungodly or walk with God!