I’m going to be sharing my readings from a Bible study titled: “The Way of the Righteous” which reviews object lessons gleaned from Psalm 1:1-6.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:1-6.
Our first question is, how does the book of Psalm open?
Notice the first word.
The book of Psalms opens with a benediction. A word communicating the happiness of persons who receive the favor of God’s grace on their characters. This wonderful lesson will give us a glimpse into understanding the way of the righteous.
“Blessed,” is translated as “the state of being blessed with divine favor.” With this definition in mind, let’s read Psalm 1:1 and notice upon whom this blessing is pronounced.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1.
According to this verse, the blessings of God are poured upon individuals who love and fear the Lord. They trust God and walk in His counsels. In contrast, walking in “the counsel of the ungodly,” or seeking advice from persons living outside of the will of God, is the first step to a backslidden state.
A “backslidden state” is a weakened state of spirituality. The first step mentioned in the verse. Now, let’s take a look at the second clause, “standeth in the way of sinners.” This means, that the individual whose been seeking counsel, or advice, outside of God’s will, from individuals who do not revere God, is now choosing to walk in the path of those who openly transgress God’s law of love.
The third stage for these individuals is to sit “in the seat of the scornful.” This is a person whose departure from God has led him to deliberately choose not to know God. Someone whose heart has been hardened by sin, and who’s chosen to stand with scoffers and mockers, instead of enjoying the wonderful presence of God. Their hearts eventually grow cold, and indifferent, and the pleadings of the Spirit of God fall on deaf ears. Spiritually dead.
What leads to a hardened heart?
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:13.
James tells us that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14.
And the prophet Isaiah compares this spiritual state to “feeding on ashes,” explaining that individuals who’ve chosen a path outside of God’s will, are deceived and unable to deliver themselves.
“He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Isaiah 44:20.
With whom is the counsel of life?
To properly answer this question one must understand how to walk in the way of the righteous. You’ll often hear Christians quote 2 Corinthians 5:7 which tells us we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Or you’ll hear Hebrews 11:1, teaching us how “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1. Anyone who chooses to walk in the way of God’s commandments must make God his strength.
Let’s take a look at Exodus 18:19-20 where Jethro gives Moses counsel saying: “Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: 20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” Exo 18:19-20.
This is key to understanding the way of the righteous. In Psalm 1:1 we see the blessing pronounced upon those who seek godly counsel. Let’s read Psalm 1:2-3.
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3.
This tells us the character of the counsels of God. Individuals that delight in the Word of God and seek counsel from God are as “trees planted by rivers and bring forth their fruit in season,” someone who will prosper in the way of the Lord.
Let’s read Isaiah 25:1; 28:29 which tells us that the Lord’s counsels are faithful, excellent, and truthful.
“O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” Isaiah 25:1.
Isaiah also tells us from his experience with the Almighty God, “whose plan is wonderful and whose wisdom is magnificent” as translated in the NIV.
“This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” Isa 28:29.
We can conclude from our readings that outside of Christ, there is no peace or safety. Consider, the end of those who despise God’s counsel, as mentioned in Proverbs 1:29-32, who will be allowed to follow their counsels, will be destroyed in the process.
“For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.”
The prosperity of fools… conceit, hatred, deceitfulness, and corruption.
If we look a bit further into this, the word “fool” according to the scriptures, are individuals who consider themselves to be wise but are ensnared in their conceit (Proverbs 26:4-5). This is also someone who doesn’t believe, nor understand the Word of God. (Psalm 53:1; Proverbs 10:8, 12:15).
“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.” Pro 14:16.
The Psalmist describes the ungodly as “the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Psalm 1:4.
Matthew Henry comments:
“…they [the ungodly] are led by the counsel of the wicked, in the way of sinners, to the seat of the scornful; they have no delight in the law of God, nor ever think of it; they bring forth no fruit but grapes of Sodom; they cumber the ground… the dust which the owner of the floor desires to have driven away, as not capable of being put to any use… They are like chaff, of no worth at all in God’s account, how highly so ever they may value themselves… They are light and vain; they have no substance in them, no solidity; they are easily driven to and fro by every wind and temptation, and have no steadfastness.”
Jeremiah 17:5-6 assures us that placing our trust in these ungodly individuals will be miserable, cursed.
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” Jeremiah 17:5-6.
In contrast, we see the words of the psalmist telling his readers that:
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8.
Revisiting Psalm 1:5 we see what’s written of the end of the fool.
“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” Psalm 1:5.
The fool will not stand… but the righteous will stand in the judgment. Let’s read Psalm 24:3-5.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm 24:3-4.
Take a brief look at this principle showing us what it means to stand, in Leviticus 10:3. Here Moses tells his brother Aaron that those who are sanctified will be able to approach God. If you’re familiar with the story, Aaron’s sons were wicked and as they approached God, they were burned by His glory. This is why Moses made this statement. Notice: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”
Aaron didn’t argue, because he understood that God is a consuming fire. Someone who regards the way of the foolish practicing iniquity and foolishness will be destroyed by the Glory of God. Only those who’ve formed characters according to the similitude of Christ will be able to stand. “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified…”
Character perfection is attained only through Christ. If you are interested in walking in the way of God’s commandments, consider the following passages:
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” 1Co 1:30.
Christ tells us that He’s the way of attaining everlasting life.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24.
The apostle elaborates on what’s written in John 15:15, where Christ tells His followers that He considers them friends because they know what their Master is doing. Explaining that everything He taught them, He’d learned from His Father in heaven.
“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1Co 2:16.
This gives us a glimpse of the human condition and our great need.
Without the mind of Christ, foolishness lodges in the heart. As we learned from earlier verses, fools will be as the chaff driven to and fro by every wind of doctrine and eventually destroyed by their counsels. It is not in God’s will that we perish, especially when God has provided the perfect solution to help every one of us, attain the ability to stand in His presence, sanctified, and cleansed of all sin.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Note the process outlined in Ezekiel 36:26:
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
For us to receive this blessing, we need to surrender our minds to Him. God will teach us what we need to do to be saved and be able to stand in His presence. Verse 27 continues saying,
“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
This tells us how God regards His law. It’s so important that He will give us His Holy Spirit to guide us every step of the way. He begins by writing these laws in our minds and “cause” us, or “execute” it, for us. This is why it is imperative to obey and surrender our wills to God. To get started, Psalm 1:2 tells us to delight in the words of God and to meditate on them constantly.
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2.
Jeremiah pronounces a blessing upon those who trust in the Lord: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” Jeremiah 17:7. And like the psalmist, he talks about the spiritual state of those who trust in God.
“For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8.
In contrast, we see those who trust their thoughts and are led astray, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer 17:9.
Let’s take a closer look at the prosperity of the righteous.
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3.
God promises prosperity to those who follow Him and keep His commandments.
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.” Isa 58:8.
The Lord will guide His people and provide for all their temporal and spiritual needs, both in times of trial and persecution, as well as in times of comfort and security.
“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isa 58:11.
In this verse, Paul is discussing Psalm 44:22 explaining that although adverse circumstances may arise on our walk with God, we are conquerors through Christ’s love.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Romans 8:35-37.
Lesson 2: The King in Zion – Psalm 2:1-12
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalms 2:1-12
The psalm is divided into four parts.
- A prophecy of the kings of the earth plotting against God’s Christ.
- The Father’s reaction to this foolishness and His address to the nations.
- The Father’s promise to His Son.
- An appeal to the people of God.
Of the nations, around the time of the first advent of Christ, the psalmist’s prophecy asks: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” As the kings of the earth