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.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. -Psalm 1
Is it really that simple? I know the running joke in Sunday school is that the answer is always Jesus, but sometimes it really is!
Generally, bible-reading tends to be heavy on practical application. In other words, when we are encouraged to read through the Scriptures, we’re nudged by pastors, elders and others to look for what will change us, or make us “better Christians”. We have to learn to have the faith to step into the challenging lion’s den(circumstance) of our lives, face our “Goliath” problems, or be ready to build whatever “ark” God calls us to build. That kind of stuff. Because of our flawed nature, and need to prove our worthiness, the tendency in general is to read scripture with a lens towards the law, and a modified version of it at that, so we can claim some victory in the idea that you have been faithful in your “doing.”
Even the psalms we tend to read to find where we might be better, stronger and more faithful. We are forgetting to let the redemption story speak before all other things. Is there anything wrong with asking God to, “Make me a man that does not take counsel from the wicked”? Of course not. But, reading this psalm with that purpose only in mind, removes the focus from the Savior, who truly is the one who never walked in the counsel of the wicked. When you start to see things through the lens of Christ, then we ask, “who really is the man that can do all these things?”
Who is the only one who delights in the law of God?
Who honestly meditates on it day and night?
Who is truly a tree planted by rivers and whose leaves never wither?
Who prospers in ALL he does?
Are we starting to see the picture here? No one fulfills this more perfectly than Jesus. No one else is able to. Jesus is the righteous one who fulfills this psalmist’s claim. He is the “Blessed man”, and that is a good thing! Because, we are there in that psalm. We are described perfectly toward the end:
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Now, that’s a little more like it. The psalms reflect the feelings and emotions of the writers. They can be pretty raw, and glaringly honest at times. In the meanderings on my own blog, I often make points about what’s best, but in doing so, I can’t help but be honest about my inability to do it myself. So I look to Jesus, who is my hope despite my often wicked self. Whoever this psalmist was could have been giving instructions, or simply showing us an example of what it means to walk by faith in the God of all creation. But, if I gauge his words against my life, even now as a believer, I fall woefully short. I am like Paul wondering why I do and don’t do things in a godlier manner. I am thinking myself the most chief of sinners. I am a sinner. By my admission, by my actions, and even to my most very basic thoughts, I am condemned. I should perish. That’s where I am in this psalm.
What if Christ is the righteous man in the psalm? What if he is the one who perfectly navigated life and avoided all the sins and struggles? What if he is the one who delighted in the law in such a way that he kept it perfectly? What if he is the one who prospers in all things?
If he is that one, then we know his fruit yielded a harvest. We are that harvest. That harvest calls us righteous despite our often wickedness. We can stand in a congregation of the righteous, because we stand together as Christ’s righteousness, and not our own. Such a precious gift from the seed of the ripest fruit that ever hung from a tree. The gift was faith and its seed came from the fruit that dangled from the cross.
Read the psalms. Just know as you do, Christ is who you’re looking for there. Pray the psalms. Just know as you do, you are not simply asking God to make you a better Christian, but asking Him to conform you to Christ’s own images as displayed in those psalms.
Ultimately, He does that by His grace and in His perfect timing…