Choices | Psalm 1
Choices | Psalm 1
Scripture: Psalm 1
Every day we make decisions and choices in life. Choices are like the fork of a road. On a highway, there comes a point where there is no discernible difference between one road and the other, or like the entrance of a flyover; but once the decision is made and one is chosen it leads off to a different destination. Likewise, we are faced with decisions everyday of our life, and the choices we make determine our destiny.
“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” – John Maxwell
“Choices are the hinges of destiny.” – Edwin Markham
God has given us the free will, but the question is:
- What Determines Our Choices?
- On What Basis Do We Make Our Choices?
- How Can We Make Good Choices?
Psalm 1 1Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. 4Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
HF: This Psalm talks about: Two People – Two Choices – Two Paths – Two Destines
One is the way of the Righteous, the other the way of the Wicked. The righteous will lead to an evergreen tree and they flourish. The wicked are like the chaff and they are not going to endure. Today, we are going to look at these two ways and see how we can make the right choices in life.
Uniqueness of Psalms:
Most chapters in the Bible; 150
The longest chapter in the Bible, 119
The shortest chapter in the Bible, 117
There are said to be 2461 verses in Psalms.
Written by most authors than any other book in the Bible.
Psalms is the most quoted OT book in the NT.
Most prophesies about the Messiah.
Psalms is essentially a collection of worship songs.
Every human emotion and experience find its voice in the book of Psalms.
Theme: “Life is hard but God is good.”
Longest in making, 900-100 years.
Psalm 1 is not the first Psalm to be written. The first Psalm to be written was Psalm 90, a psalm of Moses. Psalm 90 was written at least 400 years before Psalm 1. The last Psalm to be written is Psalm 126, some 600 years later. From Psalm 90 to Psalm 126 is a span of approximately 1000 years. The book of Psalms was compiled in 5 different instalments at 5 different times and it required about 1000 years for it to be pulled together.
Psalm 1 is the most important Psalm of all the psalms. This Psalm is intentionally placed first here so that every time we open the book of psalms, or Israel enters into the public gathering of the worship of God, everyone is confronted with this reality of the life of a blessed person.
Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 actually stand together as a pair. You will note at the end of Psalm 2, the last line of v12 is an echo of Psalm 1:1. This is like bookmark at the end of this big theme.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed Man. The way of the Blessed. What the Blessed one does not do.
Psalm 1:4-5 The Wicked Man.
Psalm 1:6 The Consequence. The consequence of both the blessed & the wicked.
Rhetoric or Structure:
It has the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked in concentric parallelism. The righteous will lead to an evergreen tree and they flourish. The wicked are like the chaff and they are not going to endure.
Important Words From Psalm 1
Many words of this psalm are the running theme occurring all the way through in the Bible. These are very important words it holds some major themes of the Bible.
We shall look at a couple of words from this Psalm:
Word 1: Blessed
Psalm 1 starts in Hebrew as: As-sh/REH-y ha-EE-SH ah/SHEH-R (Blessed is the one who has). The first three words of this psalm.
In Hebrew there are two different words for blessed: Barak and Ashrei
Barak means blessed. Means to be filled with the potency for life, which means the ability to reproduce. When God blessed the creation, it was to be fruitful and multiply. When you come to the NT, Jesus was himself not married. In the NT, it is not be fruitful and multiply physically but be fruitful and multiply spiritually in the Kingdom of God. That is the world barak – to bless.
The word used here in Psalm 1 is for blessed is – Ashrei. That means you have a blessed destiny. It usually refers to the future. That blessed future is based upon your present relationship with God.
A Blessed Person Sometimes Can Be In Deep Trouble In His Life Now.
See the quote from Eliphas from the book of Job:
Job 5:17-18 17“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
God corrects the blessed person. God injures and heals the blessed person. The worldly way of blessing is a person who is having everything going well. So be thankful that you are a blessed person because God is disciplining you to give you the blessed future.
A blessed person can sometimes be in deep trouble in his life here and now.
In the Beatitudes of Jesus, who are the blessed?
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:10-12 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
So the blessed person is the person who has this great reward in the future. That is not translated to be happy now. So to be blessed is not to be happy.
Word 2: Righteous
Righteousness in the book of Psalms and Proverbs is equivalent to the Mosaic teaching or to obey the Mosaic law which is to love God and love your neighbour as yourself (Lev 19:18, Deut. 6:5).
Righteousness vs wickedness is a theme in the book of Psalms & Proverbs: The wicked advantage themselves by disadvantaging others, but the righteous disadvantage themselves to advantage others.
So the righteous give way to the other person on a line to let them, the wicked intervene and they put themselves in for the other person. The wicked disadvantage others to advantage themselves but the righteous advantage others to disadvantaging themselves.
Thomas Creach, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
“He says that the righteous depend on God for protection, plead to God for forgiveness, worship God in humility. They are very God oriented, they call on and align themselves with the righteousness of God himself, they are rooted in the house of I AM, feed on the word, find access to God through prayer. They relate to God as a servant to a King who is their Lord.”
“The stance of the righteous before God sets them apart from the wicked. When the righteous prays to God and praise God when in trouble, the wicked almost always a group, flatter themselves and seek to advance their own cause at any case. Greedy for gain. the wicked renounce God.”
Psalm 1 talks about the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. This difference between the righteous and the wicked in turn produces a way of life that are diametrically opposed to each other.
|Wicked are self-absorbed.||The righteous are God absorbed.|
The wicked are oppressive and violent and take advantage of the righteous.
The righteous are often powerless before the wicked and therefore seek God’s mercy and justice.
|The wicked take matters into their own hands.||
The righteous depend upon God and not themselves.
Word 3: Law
Law is Torah for the psalmist
Torah basically means catechism or instruction. It is not a legal term of the law with penalties. The 10 commandments have no penalties to them. They are a way of life, it is a catechism. This is the way you live because you believe God redeemed you, he brought you out of Egypt. He gave you a destiny and a hope and as a result you live with way which is pleasing to him.
Torah Meaning Teaching
The psalmist delight in the law. He cannot take his eyes off the teachings, the word of God. We are not limited to the Torah of Moses, we have the whole word of God, OT & NT; especially the Torah of our Lord Jesus. We spend there, day and night listening to our God who is so much greater than all.
Contrasting Ways of the Righteous and Wicked
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
A Blessed Person Does Not
A Wicked Person Does
Walk in the step with the wicked.
Walk in the step with the wicked.
Stand in the way that sinners take.
Stand in the way that sinners take.
|Sit in the company of mockers.||
Sit in the company of mockers.
Step – Counsel – It is the way of thinking. It is a way of walking.
Stand – That leads to way of behaviour.
Sit – That leads to identification and leadership, you are in the seat.
See how it progress. It starts with a way of thinking to a way of behaving and you are identified as the sinner or the wicked. You end up as the wicked.
See the pattern: Walking, Standing, Sitting. This is great poetry. You get so influenced by the wicked that you slow down and then sit down and you become a sinner. The way of the righteous leads to everlasting life, the way of the wicked leads to judgement.
Everyone starts off their lives, behaviour patterns, and friendships with good intentions, but somewhere we make a choice of the detour and get identified with the wicked.
Friends, sin is very attractive, it is very good to look at like the fruit in the garden of Eden and it is we who have to take a choice who has to take the way of life than of the evil.
Quotation: “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien (appearance), As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
(Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Man,” epistle 2, lines 217–21.)
I came across a girl who went to school in her 11th standard. One day her mother checked her bag and found a fluid that is used as stationary in her possession. Probing a further she came to know of her addiction to this liquid. When the mother did her research, it was her friends who introduced her to this. This is the same pattern of walking, standing, and sitting.
One Greek myth is about a terrible monster named Medusa who had snakes growing out of her head.
Gazing into Medusa’s eyes could turn a person into stone, so she was very dangerous to be around. People wanted her destroyed, and a man named Perseus promised to do just that. But first he had to figure out how to approach Medusa without looking at her for even a moment. Perseus’s clever solution was to use his shield as a mirror so that he could see Medusa without looking at her directly.
There are medusa in our society, there are medusas in our homes and gadgets. We are looking at all the world gives in full force and our hearts have turned to stone, we are no longer offended by the world. Our hearts are hard due to the world’s influence.
This tells us a lot of the kind of literature we read, the things we watch.
The Righteous Does Not Take the Way Of The Wicked.
Transition: There are some things righteous feed on to keep away from the way of the wicked.
The Righteous Delight in God’s Law
The Righteous Meditates in God’s law
Psalm 1:2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
The psalmist reflects by his delight in the law of the Lord. He cannot take his eyes off the teachings, the word of God. We are not limited to the Torah of Moses. For us as believers, the word of God is both the NT and the OT. We spend there, day and night listening to our God.
He meditates on the word of God.
How Do You Meditate On The Word Of God?
Meditation according to the world is to empty your mind of all your thoughts and just be open to the universe. However, Christian meditation is filling your mind with the word of God, through which God mediates his own presence into our lives.
We understand meditation from the book of Proverbs when the question is asked: How do you find the fear of the Lord? Proverbs answers:
Proverbs 2:1-6 1My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Accept: Accept it: Accept the teaching of God’s word.
Treasure: Treasure it.
Pay attention: Pay attention to it.
Pray: Prays for it. Cry out for it with all your heart.
Seek: Seek it as you would for choice silver and hidden treasure.
That is meditation on the word of God.
Then chew over it, meditate over it.
Have you seen how a dog eats a piece of meat? It just takes it, gulps it and swallows it. How does a cow eat grass? It eats it and then chews the cud.
“He said Meditation is fixing the mind on a particular truth, then it is speaking to your heart about it until God comes near and you sense His presence.” – Richard Baxter (17th Century British minister) in his book called “The Saints Everlasting Rest.”
Meditation is taking the truths of the Bible and pressing it down into the base of your heart until you experience God.
Do it day and night.
Delight in the law of God.
Consequence Of Righteousness/Wickedness:
Consequence 1: Tree planted by the streams of water.
Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
The Righteous become a evergreen green planted by the streams of water.
Streams: The word for streams is canals. What is a canal? Canals are manmade routes of water for irrigation or transportation. The source of the canal is the river.
The word of God is like a river. If we are to be planted by the streams of water, we need to make time to cut those canals in our life on a daily basis where our canals we are fed from the river.
Consequence 2: Chaff
Psalm 1:4-6 4Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Chaff is the husk of corn or other seeds. They have no life, no worth, no root, and no endurance. As a result of that see the consequence of the wicked for the future. The chaff does not stand for time and when the time of judgement comes, it is blown away.
You take all the great people of history and what do they come to? Nothing, a dead corpse.
But even the righteous died but dies to receive everlasting lie.
So the chaff does not stand, but the righteous do endure for they participate in the Spirit of God. God’s Spirit resonates with our Spirit we resonate with him and we say Abba Father.
Two People – Two Choices – Two Paths – Two Destinies
Like a tree
Like a Chaff
Planted by the streams of water
Merely exists in a dry and barren desert.
|Participate in the Spirit of God||
They are dead.
These are the two kinds of people in the entire world.
There is this blessed man and there is this cursed man.
We see male and female, rich and poor, we see Indians and foreigners, educated and uneducated. But God sees only two kinds of people in the world: Those that are blessed by him and those who are cursed by him.
Psalm 1 makes this distinction very clearly.
What Determines A Person’s Way? Three things:
That goes back to your heart, a basic disposition. That God moves our heart, our dispositions to walk in a certain way. The righteous totally depend upon God. That is character, disposition. My heart is inclined toward you oh! God.
The wicked identifies with the character of the wicked person.
We are always living in community and we are in the context of those who are saints. You are separated from the world, living in the context of the saints and you minister to the sinner. The righteous is identified with the saints. Your identity is with the people of God.
So, you live in a certain context. You live in a context of God’s words, you don’t live in the context of the junk on the internet. You don’t live in greed or in violence. We do not get live in additions of the world. We live in a context of faith, hope, and love. That is part of the way. Blessed is the person who has this way of life of life.
The wicked person lives in the context or the community of the wicked. This results in conduct of the wicked. And the consequence following the way of the wicked is destruction.
What do you do on that way? Where do you walk? How do you take your steps? The manner in which this person behaves is righteous and holy.
The righteous company leads to the conduct of the righteous. And the consequence of following the way of the righteous is blessedness. The wicked company leads to the conduct of the wicked which leads to destruction.
So you have this basic nexus of cause consequences.
So blessed is the person who does not walk in the way of the sinners. The righteous person walks in the character, context, conduct of God. Because the Lord is in that same way of character, context, conduct, and consequence. That is where God is. God is that way, God knows that way and therefore because God is there in that way, you are participating in eternal life because you are in with God; His way, his character. That is life. So you don’t ever perish as God never perishes.
So your spirit and God’s Spirit are united whereas in the way of the wicked God is not there at all. There is no presence of God, therefore, it is death. If you have no relationship with God, you are dead, spiritually dead.
So that is where it ends at the end of the psalm.
How Can One Make The Right Choice?
Have A Relationship With God.
Spend time every day to nurture that relationship in prayer. Don’t be a Sunday Christian, but be every day, every moment abiding in God Christian.
Meditate And Delight In God’s Law
Take time to read and meditate the word of God. Have a daily study and meditation of the word of God. Have family prayer time with Bible reading. Be planted in a good word-based church where the word of God is preached. Take your children regularly to Sunday School & Teens. Let them be planted by the streams of water.
Be Careful Of Your Association.
Be careful of your friends, be careful of your choices. Weight carefully as to what you let into your mind; in social media etc. Lot and his family.
In the novel by Mr. Stevenson called “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Dr. Jeyyll a very good man somehow takes a magic portion every night and when he takes that potion he turns into Mr. Hyde who becomes evil/diabolic Mr. Hyde and does evil in the night by taking this potion for a long time. One night he is thinking of taking this magical portion and he does not take it and he turned into Mr. Hyde without even drinking it. Progressive hardening to evil so that evil took over and destroyed him.
This is what is happening to the society and many people. Evil is taking over. The cause is a progressive hardening to sin.
Psalm 1:6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The choice is ours.
“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.” – Neal Boortz
We can either take the path of the wicked or the righteous. Let us be choose with the way of God, the company of the righteous, fed from the word of God that can turn us into a blessed and prosperous person.