Devotional Thoughts on Psalm 1
This week I have often found myself meditating on Psalm 1:1-2. It says, “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.”
Every time that I sit down on my couch at home my cat eventually comes us slowly to the couch. I know that she ultimately desires to jump up on my lap and take a nap. But she approaches me diplomatically, knowing that I do not always want her to be there. She initially jumps up beside me and acts like she is in no rush to make a direct move upon my lap. Slowly, however, she begins to sit next to me with her two front paws on my lap to see if I will object. If I allow this to happen then it will be only a few moments before she crawls up on my lap and falls asleep.
What I have just described my cat doing is a small picture of what the psalmist encourages the faithful not to do when it comes to associating with the wicked, the sinners and the scoffers. We are warned about walking upon a situation that is not godly and being influenced by the ungodly counsel that we may hear. If we do this, we will soon enough, find ourselves stands close to sinners and getting more comfortable with everything. Then eventually we will find ourselves sitting down with the scoffers and beginning to sound just like them.
My cat approaches slowly because she knows that I do not always want her on my lap. This is never the case with the counsel of the ungodly, with the way of sinners and concerning taking a seat with the scoffers. Sin always is welcoming, enticing, accessible, and has an open door policy. Sin always greets you with a smile and presents itself as hospitable. Sin always appears to be receptive to allowing you into fellowship, Sin welcomes you warmly until you don’t conform to it in thought, speech and action. But even the door away from sin opens harder than the ease with which it opened up to you.
In Luke 19 there is a story about a man named Zacchaeus. He was a very rich tax collector. He had great wealth and possessions but he was not content and he was not happy. We know this because when Jesus came passing through Jericho he wanted to get to see and know Jesus. He was to small to see Jesus because of the crowd so he climbed a sycamore tree so that he could see him. Jesus saw the man and called out to him by name saying, ‘Zacchaeus, come down from there. Today I must eat with you.’
The crowd, however, did not like the fact that Jesus would go and eat with a sinner. They scoffed at this. But that day salvation came to Zacchaeus. All of us, like Zacchaeus, have walked with the wicked, stood with the sinners, and sat with scoffers. Apart from the sovereign mercy of God we would remain there. But Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And when He finds the lost He calls to them by name like he did Zacchaeus.
It seems unthinkable that Zacchaeus, who was called out by Jesus by name, would have then ignored Jesus’ command to come down. It would be unimaginable to think that Zacchaeus would come down and go to Jesus and then not let Jesus come and eat at his home.
Psalm 1 reminds us that the man is blessed is the person who turns away from the crowd and spends time with Jesus. The man who delights the most deeply is the person who ignores the scoffing of the sinners and wicked and spends time with the Word of God.
Like Zacchaeus, all Christians have heard God call to them by name. Jesus said that His sheep knows his voice and they will not come to another. Likewise, the psalmist says that the blessed man delights in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.
In the ESV Devotional Psalter we read these words, “Will we listen to the voice of life or to the voices of death? Will we breathe in God’s life-giving instruction, sinking deep roots (v.3), or will we breath in empty instruction of those who ‘will not stand in the day of judgment’ (5)?Will the trials still come in our lives prove us to be deep-rooted trees, incapable of being blown over, or will they show us to be chaff, blown away by the slightest breeze?”1
Every day we have a decision to make. We can either choose the one right path or be led onto one of the others? Will we listen to the one true voice or will God’s Word be drowned out by all the others?
We are walking in a difficult and dark world. We are surrounded by sinners, scoffers, and among the wicked, but will we choose to delight in the people of God and will we commune with the LORD instead of these other things?
Recently, I heard a testimony by the teacher and theologian Wayne Grudem. He said that he had been one of the translators of the ESV bible and these people were gathering for several weeks to work on it. They were spending long days looking at the original languages and translating them into the ESV bible. After a week of doing this he started to get tired and he convinced himself that since he was spending his days translating the Word of God he could not do his personal devotions and times of prayer. However, after just a few days of this he began to see a lot of sins coming up in him.
Mr. Grudem then pulled out his journal and began to read a long list of all of the sins that he began to see in his life after only three days of not being in the Word and prayer. One of the things that struck me about the sins he listed is that it was obvious that Mr. Grudem was very sensitive to some sins that most of us simply hardly ever think about. As a result of this, he began to have his time in the Word and prayer each day. He went to everyone that he had sinned against and asked for their forgiveness for his impatience and pride.
Now, if Wayne Grudem can be around other biblical scholars and believers all day but not have his devotions and experience these things, how much more are we susceptible to sin if we are not delighting in God’s law day and night. Most don’t work with other godly men and women. Most work with people who scoff, who don’t believe, who cuss, who say crude jokes, who prefer to talk politics than biblical precepts.
Spurgeon had said something that applies here, “The company of the Lord’s holy servants raises the tone of our thought and makes us aspire after a sanctity beyond what we possess, and therefore we may be sure that communion with their Lord will be still more beneficial to us. If we learn good manners from the man, what may we expect from being with the Master! From Jesus we shall learn gentleness and love, purity and self-sacrifice, and so acquire the courtly manners of the Prince of Peace, shaking off at the same time the boorish ways which cling to us from having dwelt in Mesech and tabernacled in the tents of Kedar. There is no preparation for heaven like abiding with the heaven’s Lord.”2
It is appropriate that after writing these words Spurgeon begins to pray. He says, “Come, my heart, art thou now walking with God? How long since thou hast spoken with the sovereign? Arise and get thee to his royal courts, and, once there, go no more out forever. Thy heaven and thy preparation for heaven both lie in the LORD.”
In Psalm 1:2 we are told that the godly will meditate upon the law of the Lord day and night. In fact, we are told that it will be their delight to meditate upon it day and night.
Let me ask you a question. Is the law of God your delight? Let me inquire once more with a different question. When is the law of the Lord your delight?
My alarm goes off in the morning and I do not always want to get out of bed to go read the bible and pray. I often sit down to have my devotions and I don’t feel like its my delight. But once I begin to read the Word and pray it becomes a delight. Once I tasted the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God it is pleasant to the soul.
Ray Hass, a minister who has helped me in these things, does not tell new disciples that they will immediately come to love the time in their devotions. He simply, and accurately I believe says, ‘It will become your favorite time of the day.’ The more we come to the Word of God the more delightful it becomes. The more we saturate our minds and hearts with the Word of God and prayer the more we will meditate upon it night and day.
Let me make one more brief observation about Psalm 1. The true test of the Word of God in our life is better measured over time and not in a single day. The psalmist says that the man who delights in the Word of God will be like a tree planted by a river, whose leaves do not wither and it produces fruit in its season. The best evidence comes when the drought comes and it endures. The best evidence is seen when the growing season comes and fruit begins to be produced.
I have been trying to lose weight lately. Every day I step on the scale and see frustratingly slow success. I would probably be better off as I do daily what I need to do and only weigh myself once a week. So it is with the Word of God. Do daily what you need to do and measure yourself at the right times.
1ESV Plaster Devotional, Psalm 1
2Spurgeon, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden, p. 157