A Story of Two Men Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6).
Title: A Story of Two Men
Theme: Let God Bless You through the Psalms.
Text: (Psalm 1)
1 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.
A study of any portion of God’s Word is profitable, because it is all inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it is designed to communicate the love and instruction of God to the human race. The Psalms, however, are unique within the Holy Scriptures for a number of reasons. But mainly because of the tender and sensitive way in which many of them reveal the human soul in its quest for God. This psalm talks about the blessed man, or the happy man. The blessed man is contrasted against the ungodly. It is also a picture of Christ, the last Adam, in the midst of ungodly sinners and the scornful.
We sometimes think of the Lord as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and for some strange reason, many of the pictures that have been painted reveal Him as a very sad-looking individual. It is true that Isaiah says He is a man of Sorrows, but why don’t you read on. In Isaiah, you will find that Christ did not have any sorrows and griefs of His own. Isaiah 53:4 says, “Surely, He has born our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” It was our griefs, not His own, that He was carrying. He was the happy Christ. The righteous man is the picture of Him.
Psalm 1 sets forth the character and lifestyle of a righteous person. This “good man” described here does not “freewheel”; that is, he has some rules, some standards by which he lives. He doesn’t take his cues from what those about him are doing. Then, by contrast, the “unrighteous man” is also described in the psalm. Consequently, there are both light and darkness, good and evil, cast side by side in this introductory psalm. Today, we will look at these two men, the righteous man, and the unrighteous man, and when we are done, we will see that the righteous man is blessed by God, but the unrighteous man will never be able to stand on the Judgment Day. Remember, Jesus, the only truly righteous man, is our example of the lifestyle we need to live.
1. The Righteous Man
He is found in the first three verses. The psalm opens with a benediction: “It says blessed is the man….” The original word translated “blessed” is plural: “Blessed is the man that walketh not….” The blessings of God upon the person who endeavors to follow in God’s steps are many and continual. In the first verse, we see that the righteous person determines to renounce the companionship of evildoers. The “blessed” or “happy” man does not, “…walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.” The person who does these things is not a happy person. He goes through three stages. First he associates with the ungodly, then he gets with sinners, and finally, he joins in with the scornful. There is definitely regression, deterioration, and degeneration here.
The blessed man does not walk in the council of the ungodly. One’s “walk” is the scriptural way of speaking of one’s daily life and conduct. It entails all of one’s relationships during any given day.
Council means “advice.” He does not listen to the ungodly. Have you ever noticed that even the Lord Jesus never referred to His own reason or his own mind as the basis for a decision? Whatever He did was based on the will of God. He never said to His disciples, “Fellows, we’re going to Galilee again. I have been thinking this over, and I am smarter than you fellows, and I think this is the best thing to do according to My point of view.” That is not the way He approached His disciples. He always
said, “I am going to Jerusalem because it is the will of My Father.” He spent time with His Father and knew what His will was and He moved into certain areas on that basis.
Who are the ungodly? They are the people who just leave God out. There is no fear of God before their eyes. They live as though God does not exist. Around us today there are multitudes of people like this. They get up in the morning, never turn to God in prayer, and never thank Him for the food they eat or for life or health. They just keep moving right along, living it up. They are ungodly; they just leave God out of everything
The ungodly counsels the man, and now we find him standing in the way of sinners. It is the sinner who takes him from there. Sin means “to miss the mark.” They don’t quite live as they should. They are the ones Scripture speaks of when it says, “There is a way which seameth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). In another place, the Scriptures say, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes…” (Prov. 16:2). The sinner may think he’s all right, but he is a sinner.
The next step down from standing in the way of sinners is sitting in the seat of the scornful. The scorners are atheists. Now the sinner gets the young man to sit down.
We are told that the third stage is that he sits in the seat of the scornful. The scornful is the atheist. He not only denies God, but he exhibits an antagonism and a hatred of God. We can see this on every hand today. The scornful are the ones who are absolutely opposed to God. They don’t want the Bible read in Public schools; they don’t want it read anywhere, for that matter. They want to take “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance. They deny the Word of God. May I say to you, there is nothing lower than denying God. The drunkard in the gutter today is not nearly as low as the man who is denying God. And if you want to know what God thinks about that, here it is: “Surely He scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace to the lowly” (Prov. 3:34). God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a very frightful picture, by the way, that is presented here.
Now, in verse 1 we have the negative side; the things the righteous man will not do. But, in the next verse, we see what the happy man does do. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (v.2). This does not mean that he becomes a snob or Pharisee. He still reacts with godly concern and kindness toward all people. His actions are always evangelistic in intent, and his desire is that he might reflect God’s goodness in his life. The law of the Lord is actually more than Moses’ law. It is the same as the Word of God. Therefore, it is in the Word of God that he meditates on day and night. To meditate means to go over what we read.
I want to point out that the positive character of the righteous person is described in verses 2 and 3. He delights to “meditate” upon the Word of God, to read it by day and think on it at night. To know and do the will of God is the spirit of wisdom. Happiness and blessing belong to the individual who delights in and continually meditates on God’s Word. Such meditation is not primarily mental knowledge but a constant yielding to the will of God. Faithfulness and fruitfulness belong to the individual who focuses continually on obedience to God.
Verse 3 says the godly person is like a tree. 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. The word planted indicates that godly men and women did not accidentally, or under their own initiative, take root. They are rooted firmly so that they may bring forth His fruit. The purpose of God’s planting a man in the fertile soil of His grace is always for the purpose of producing fruit. But what does the “rivers of water” mean. That is the Word of God. Those who are not planted by the rivers of water are not saved and therefore are essentially worthless, without substance and easily carried away.