1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
The book of Psalms begins with a meditation on the differences between a life lived in righteousness, and one lived in wickedness. The blessed person is one who both avoids the wicked, and (instead) invests himself in the law (or, the written word of God, the bible). This takes place when they meditate on the law “day and night.” What might this look like? I imagine it to be a deliberate act of keeping the Scriptures in front of you, as often and consistently as you can. Some people memorize the Word, some read it as a daily discipline, some write it on 3X5’s and sticky notes that are then placed in places that will result in regular contact, some listen to it on MP3s and discs. Some study the word of God in great chunks, digesting entire books. Others chew on a verse or two, sometimes for days—eager to see what insights the Lord might give them. But my idea here is, the blessed person avoids a certain kind of other person (an evil person), and that person’s ideas and suggestion. Instead, a blessed person takes in the Scriptures in a regular way, making them a part of his or her very life and thought processes. To do so brings the productivity and prosperity so desired by all of us.
The wicked do not prosper in life, and ultimately, they find failure when their lives are judged. In the bible, righteousness is used to describe two conditions in the life of a believer. First, a person is considered righteous by God simply for believing in God’s promises—namely, the promise of forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus. This type of righteous standing before God is not earned, but is simply, wonderfully, forever received when a person believes in Him. Second, all believers are encouraged to work hard to live righteous lives—ones marked by the respectful, fair, loving treatment of others, with a sincere and driving desire to please God. (This aspect of the word is by far its most common meaning in the bible.) So, first of all, let’s trust in the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf, and thereby be forgiven of sin, and forever considered righteous by God. The perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has paid the full price to God for our sins against Him. Then, let’s aspire to choose to live righteous lives today. No one will bat 1.000 on this—we all stumble and make mistakes, mistreat others, and do wrong things. But, the deeper we allow ourselves to become saturated by the word of God, the more certain it is that we will prosper in life, which is really to say, live a life that pleases God.
Father, today please bring this Psalm to mind, and remind me to avoid any thought, ideas, and behaviors that displease you. Instead, help me to plant your word deeper into my heart—and then to enjoy the blessings of having it there. And when You do answer this prayer today and speak to me about my actions, attitudes, and word, please give me the strength and desire to listen to what You are saying to me. Amen