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Blessed are the Obedient (Psalm 1)

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Psalm 1 along with Psalm 2 acts like an introduction to the Book of Psalms. It is focused on the Fortune of the righteous as compared with the Poverty of the wicked. This Psalm is an anyonomous stanza poem declaring the propserity of those who study Scripture and how ultimately God will correctly judge the righteous and the wicked.

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Many of you know I like to hike. My family and I are looking forward to the spring so we can enjoy some of the fresh air and beautiful mountains that are around us.
ILLUSTRATION:
As you hike, often you will come across paths that go into different directions. A fork in the road you might call it. And you have to decide which way to go.
The way is not always obvious. I have done a lot of hiking here, but this was especially true in Hawaii. There are some gorgeous hikes, but much of it is in deep jungle. You cannot always see the end of every path because the jungle is just to thick.
One path may send you to a beautiful waterfall, or a gorgeous sea cliff. The beauty of some of these places is just breath taking.
To be able to look down about 3,000 ft over the lush jungle, out to a line of sand that is bordered by a deep blue ocean, which continues to the horizon as far as you can see. It is a gorgeous site.
The second path often does not take you to a beautiful waterfall or a seaclift. Instead, it takes aimlessly through the jungle, often muddy, mosquito covered, whose end turns out to be literally in the middle of the jungle with nothing worth seeing.
The only way to avoid going down the wrong path is to have a map. There are various hiking books and websites that publish directions and maps for going to certain exotic locations. These maps help you avoid aimlessly wondering through the jungle.
Every now and then you will here of some hiker who gets lost in the jungle and search and rescue crews have to help them find a way out.
Why did they get lost?
It is because they either didn’t have map or they didn’t follow the map.
Life is much this way.
Many times we look at the young as being people who have two paths to choose from. One prosperous and one not. One God-dependent and one defiled and self-serving.
However, I submit that the young are not the only one’s on a path. And we are not the only one’s with a fork in the road.
Everyday we are faced with a new path to choose.
How do I know that?
We will see in this Psalm that this is the case. Everyday I wake up, I make a choice of what path I am going to follow.
Let’s read about these paths of life.
Psalm 1 ESV
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.
This text gives us the general idea that there are two paths in life.
- One of the wicked
- One of the righteous.
This text gives us the general idea that there are two paths in life.
- One of the wicked
- One of the righteous.
We will begin focusing on the Path of the righteous.

The Fortune of the Righteous.

Psalm 1:1 ESV
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;

Blessed Man

This psalm begins with the declaration that the righteous is a “blessed man”. The word blessed has two kind of connotations, that of favor and that of fortune.
Does blessed mean favor or fortune?
Given the basic context, which would be your first thought?
My initial thought was this was the idea of being blessed of God. To receive the favor of God.
After all, there is an emphases in the text about the righteous man studying God’s Word. (v. 2). There is also an emphasis of divine judgement in v. 5-6.
So my initial thought was that this was divine blessing. God blesses those who obey him.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Is there another way that God’s word blesses us?
What two ways may God’s word bless us?
There are at least two very broad ways that God’s word blesses us.
The first, is the direct blessing of God.
- In that we are obedient, so as we conform to God, God is able to bless us.
- Because we are what we are supposed to be, God sovereign work extends blessing rather than chastisement.
The second, indirect blessing because it is wise.
This is the idea that God’s word contains deep wisdom for right path living. What it commands is not simply morally right, but wise. The natural effect of applying wisdom is to blessed, to receive fortune.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>The question at hand is, which is meant here?
How is a man blessed by following the path of righteousness?
There are two words in Hebrew for blessing.
One is a word that describes man blessing something.
The second describes God blessing something.
The second describing blessing is baraq. You might notice the similarity to our former presidents name, Baraq. His name Arabic as well as in Hebrew, means God’s blessing.
Surprisingly, Baraq, but the other one. This man is blessed (fortunate), because he applies Scripture.
The Psalmist is describing the blessing, which is not the direct blessing of God, but the indirect blessing of God.
Understand this,
We are generally blessed when we follow God’s word because the path of those who follow Scripture is a wise path. By applying the wisdom of God, we generally, not always, but generally are blessed by wise living. We are blessed in the sense that we are fortunate.
CAVEAT: This is not to say that we are automatically free from suffering if we obey God. In God’s wise rule he does allow those who follow his Word to suffer for our own good and His Glory.
But, Proverbially, in General, the obedient path is a path which we are blessed.
Lets Look back at v. 1, at the description of this path.
What is the description of this path? (Ps 1:1)
To say it another way, what are the turns of this path?
What are the turns or route in the path of righteousness? (Ps 1:1)
ILLUSTRATION:
A map tells you really two things.
The right way to go.
And the way to not go.
V. 1 expands the path that leads to human blessings.
Psalm 1:1 ESV
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;
We are given three mile markers that designate what this path is not.
What are the three mile makers that the blessed path is not? (Ps 1:1)

It is not in the counsel of the wicked.

What does it meant, “the counsel of the wicked”?
What does it mean “the counsel of the wicked”? (Ps 1:1)
There is not a lot of guess work here in the language. It is a straitforward, broad meaning statement.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>What does “the counsel of the wicked” include?
It does not include everything.
Example: Advice on how to fix a car.
I do not believe that if an unsaved mechanic tells you that your head-gasket is broken, you shouldn’t listen. There may be a question over comptency, motive, …, but at the end of the day; an unbeliever can give great car maintance advice.
Should we through that advice out? No
It does include a number of moral decisions:
Context: The righteous as compared the wicked.
We need to be careful who we take moral advice from.
Where do we receive immoral advice?
Where do we receive immoral advice?
What forms does immoral advice come?
What forms does immoral advice come?
Where:
Generally, unbelieving people.
Forms:
Conversations (ex. in town, town/business meetings, unbelieving friends, family)
Entertainment - Through suggestion, moral advice is given. (TV, Radio (shows and commercials), News (Paper, Aps, TV).
Example (Observing the practices of others in various situations)
How do we take the advice of these forms?
How do we take the advice of these forms?
The moment our mind agrees with them. (This shows the danger of the heart).
Whether direct conversation, our enterainment, or examples around us, we take the advice the moment we agree with them.
This should cause everyone of us to be careful about what we expose ourselves to. We cannot pretend as though everything is neutral to our heart. We should not think that it takes something horribly sinful to capture our heart and lead us down the wrong path in life.
It begins with a moral agreement from the advice of the wicked.
This, regardless of age/maturity/Bible knowledge, should caution us.
What to take from this lesson today as we move into prayer meeting.
God’s way is good to us, it is wise for us. God is worthy of praise because he has given us a map to a fulfilling life.
Where would we be without God’s map?
2. We should be cautioned because in a moment we can dart down the wrong path. All it takes is one agreement with the counsel of the wicked. Then our life has left the path of the righteous and is shooting into the middle of no where surrounded by wickedness.
(END OF LESSON 1)
We are continuing our study in the Psalms, and specifically Ps 1.
Let’s read Ps 1 so we can refresh our minds regarding what it says.
Psalm 1 ESV
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.
In Summary, this is what we have said so far.
“A person is blessed because he is following the wise path of righteousness, which God is the standard of righteousness.
"The righteous person avoids all the dimensions of the way of the wicked; therein lies the source of blessedness or happiness."
(Peter Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary)
The Psalmist then gives us three paths which the righteous do not to take.
1. Not to walk in the counsel of the wicked.
2. Not to stand in the path of sinners.
The picture given here is that there is a path of wickedness that sinners follow.
The righteous person, does not stand in that path.
Essentially, the righteous person stands in the path that leads to righteousness. Therefore, this person is not standing in the path that leads to wickedness.
Think of this again as a trail. What trail you stand is what direction you will go.
3. Not to sit in the scoffers seat.
I translated this, “nor sit in the mockers seat”.
The most hardened apostates are the “mockers” (lēṣîm), a word that occurs fourteen times in Proverbs and twice outside of it (Ps. 1:1; Isa. 29:20, a wisdom pericope). The noun, “mocking” (lāṣôn), occurs three times in the Old Testament (Prov. 1:22; 29:8; Isa. 28:14). The mocker is the antithesis both of the wise (Prov. 9:12; 13:1; 20:1; 21:24), whom he hates (9:7–8; 15:12), and of the discerning (14:6; 19:25); he or she is lumped together with fools (1:22; 3:34–35; 14:7–8; 19:29), gullible (1:22); they are proud and haughty (21:24). Their spiritual problem is rooted in their overweening pride (21:24). Supercilious arrogance blocks them from wisdom (14:6). They have a genius for invective and denigration that impresses the gullible as long as they have their way (19:25; 21:11). They open their big mouths and, unleashing the tensions and strains in a community, set the whole community at loggerheads (22:10; 29:8) and destroy it (21:24; 22:10; 29:8). Their bad influence is plain to most (24:9). “No man earns more universal detestation or deserves it more than he who wears a perpetual sneer, who is himself incapable of deep loyalty and reverence and who supposes that it is his mission in life to promote the corrosion of the values by which individuals and society live.” To restore order they must be driven out of the community by force (22:10). God himself ultimately scoffs at them, and so they will disappear (Isa. 29:20). (Waltke)

In other words, the wicked push and shove to get their way

This is almost the idea that they sit in judgement over the righteous.
The righteous do not sit in a chair judging, and cruelly mocking others.
Notice two-fold intensification of these parallel verses.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Show PPT Visual

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

walk, stand, sit
counsel, assembly, Gathering
(WBC)
What is the author communicating by using this pattern?
This describes the progressive nature of sin.
1. It starts with thinking, of the mind.
I spent a fare amount of time, admittedly more than I attended to, on that first part.
The Psalmist is making the point that wickedness and sin starts with thinking, taking the advice of the wicked.
2. It progresses to behavior.
To stand in the way is to act like the wicked.
3. It culminates with identification with evil.
(Point borrowed from Waltke)
You are know one of them. You are sitting with mockers.
The Psalmist is picturing the path of the wicked as following these trail markers.
We ought to be conscious of the path of sin.
In recent years school shootings have become more common. When does a kid decide to go and shoot his fellow classmates?
The reality is this doesn’t happen overnight. It is a progress along the path of wickedness.
Can you think of any Biblical example of someone who followed this path?
The story of Lot in Genesis in many ways illustrates this point.
Lot Looked and desired (Genesis 13:10-11) (Thinking)
Genesis 13:10–11 ESV
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.
Moved His Tent as far as Sodom (Genesis 13:12) (Path)
Genesis 13:12 ESV
Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.
Notice the Parenthetical Comment (Genesis 13:13)
Genesis 13:13 ESV
Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.
Lot finally becomes identified with the wicked.
- "Sitting in the Gate" (Genesis 19:19) (Identified)
Genesis 19:19 ESV
Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die.
How hardened to sin had Lot become?
3 Opportunities of escape
Genesis 19:13–16 ESV
For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
1. Initial warning (Genesis 19:13-14)
2. 2nd Warning (Genesis 19:15)
3. 3rd Warning (Genesis 19:16)
Observations are affirmed in 2 Peter 2:6-10 when he describes Lot as being taken prisoner by the temptation, even though it vexed his soul.
2 Peter 2:6–10 ESV
if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,
We ought to be aware of the trail markers.
Have I:
Agreed with the council of the wicked?
Is my life characterized by wicked behavior?
Can I be identified as a public sinner?
These are three markers of a sinner.
- This ought to caution us about our walk with God.
- How easy it is for our heart to wander from righteousness.
- How much we need to depend on God for our Holy living.
This is all captured in very first verse of the Psalms.
This Ps should remind us that only by God’s grace are counted with the righteous. We are hopeless without his map. Even with his map, it is only by God’s grace we are able to be counted with the righteous.
Galatians 3:10–14 ESV
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
(END OF LESSON 2)
In way of summary, what have we said so far.
A righteous man is fortunate because he avoid the errors of the wicked. (Ps 1:1)
This is observed in the word choice behind what we translate as “blessed.
2. The three paths that a righteous avoids is: (Ps 1:1)
a. Wicked Thinking.
b. Wicked Behavior.
c. Identification with the wicked.
Now remember the imagery that is being used in Ps 1 of walking down a path.
This Psalm sets it up so that it is almost like walking down a trail in the middle of the jungle.
The obvious question, which path do I take?
Ps 1:1 has given us 3 trail markers of paths we are not to take. Now we are going to look at what actual path the righteous takes.
Psalm 1:2 ESV
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Instead of taking the wicked path, he instead takes the path of the Law.
First, I would like to clarify the meaning of the word “Law”.
I have heard men make a big deal that the word Law is used here rather than for example, “the Word of Yahweh”. In their mind, the Law always refers to Levitical rituals such as we find in the Book of Leviticus, and places in Exodus and Deuteronomy.
First, I would like to not that this word is the Torah, which can be used at times to designate the Law. It is not principally the Law.
Further, may I suggest the word “Law” does not have to be thought of in such a Technical sense. It can simply mean “instruction”.
In fact, this is the word to describe the instructions of the Proverbs 31 wife.
Proverbs 31:26 ESV
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
The word translated “teachings” is the word Torah.
In Ps 1:2, the righteous man is not simply delighting and meditating in the Levitical Law, but in all of Yahweh’s instructions. Also remember, this is the introductory Psalm to the entire book of the Psalms.
So in my mind, this word functions two ways. To call us to to all of God’s instructions. The Psalms is a late compilation and so most if not all of the OT has been recognized as inspired. It also challenging us to use this book as form of wise instruction.
Now notice the relationship this believer has with God’s instruction. We are told two disciplines that should be in our lives regarding the Torah in v. 2
1) He delights in it.
2) He meditates in it.
The word delight and meditate appear to be synonymous terms for proper devotion to the Law.
Part of that understanding is carried by the Idiom, day and night.
It does not literally mean that is all he does. The righteous man is not like a monk in a monastery reading the scriptures all day long.
Nevertheless, the Instructions of Yahweh is something that has a permanent focus in his life.
This is not necessarily a routine of devotions, though that may be apart of it.
- But when he goes into the field, he ponders the instructions of His God.
- When he goes to the marketplace, he ponders his God.
- When asked for advice, he ponders the instructions of His God.
Deuteronomy 6:5–8 ESV
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
First, what does it mean to delight in God’s word?
Delight caries the idea of pleasure, Example, 1 Samuel 15:22.
1 Samuel 15:22 ESV
And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
For the righteous man, the instruction of Yahweh is something that brings him joy or pleasure.
Now, we often take the simple concept for granted. But remember joy is a manifestation of value, and what we view as beautiful.
ILLUSTRATION: I remember eating in a restaurant in Hawaii. While sitting there a man walked in who had chains going from his ears to his nose. He had a tatoo in which 1/2 of his face was made completely black. For many of us, this dude was a creepy dude.
Why does dressing that way bring him joy?
It is a difference between what he values and calls beautiful. To him, he delights in the alternative lifestyle because of what he values (what is important to him) and what he calls beautiful.
For you intellectual types, this is what in the philosophy and apologetics call the “Moral Imagination”.
Let’s apply this to the righteous man. The righteous man values God properly, which is reflected in what he calls beautiful, ultimately manifesting itself in joy.
If God’s word does not give us joy, then we need to consider what this says about what we value?
If our devotion’s feel like a routine, than we need to consider what this says about what we value?
Now I do not want to be to strict with that point. We all get off focus from time to time. The Human mind has an incredible ability to become set in a routine. But at the same time, a failure to enjoy God’s word is a reflection of what we value.
The righteous man delights in God’s word.
The 2nd word is meditate.
Interestingly, the primary usage of the word is not to ponder.
Instead, it is related to moaning, uttering. However, there are clear cases that the word is used in a sense of ponder.
An Example would include Joshua 1:8.
Joshua 1:8 ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
This is a similar context to Ps 1:2 and is the idea of pondering Scripture.
The connection is unclear between moaning and ponder, except possibly that meditation also included low whispering, whether prayer or recitation of the verse.
Nevertheless, we are to meditate on the instructions of Yahweh.
Because we value God’s word we both enjoy it’s instruction and ponder it’s meaning and application in our lives.
There is perhaps no greater discipline in the Christian life than the meditation of God’s word.
Why is the righteous able to prosper? Because he is devoted and focused on the instruction of God’s Word.
(3) Idiom for all the time; regularly. Does not literally mean all day and all night. "The “meditation” is fixed in the mind more by speaking or uttering the words, which is what the Hebrew term actually indicates (s.v. Ps. 2:1)" (Allen Ross) Therefore, the focus of these verbs is to take pleasure in the pondering of God's Word.
(END of Lesson 3)
In way of summary, what have we said so far.
A righteous man is fortunate because he avoid the errors of the wicked. (Ps 1:1)
This is observed in the word choice behind what we translate as “blessed.
2. The three paths that a righteous avoids is: (Ps 1:1)
a. Wicked Thinking.
b. Wicked Behavior.
c. Identification with the wicked.
3. The Path of the Righteous: Devotion to God’s Commandments. (Ps 1:2)
I began this Psalm by describing that are choices are like following a path and which we choose leads to a different location.
What is the end of the trail of the righteous man, that is he who is devoted to God’s word.
Psalm 1:3 describes that location.
Psalm 1:3 ESV
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.
We are told that the end of the righteous path is essentially blessing and prosperity.
He is like a tree. Often the location of a tree is important. As I have moved here, I have been told about the challenge it is to have a tree go in the Laramie valley.
- There is not a lot of water.
- The ground stays cold longer then in most places.
- High-winds are common.
Therefore, it is hard to grow a full grown trees in this area.
Now think about that in contrast to what is being said.
“The righteous man is like a tree.” And notice where he is planted.
1. “by streams of water” - The most important nutrient for the tree often is water, and this tree is planted right next to it.
a. Therefore it yields fruit.
b. It’s leaves do not wither.
The point, and in this case, the Psalmist explicitly declares, the righteous person is blessed, he prospers because of the word of God.
In contrast, the wicked man is then compared in Ps 1:4-5.
Notice,

The Poverty of the Wicked.

Psalm 1:4–5 ESV
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;
To connect the two stanza’s, the author begins by contrasting the wicked and the righteous.
First, the wicked are not so.
The righteous are prosperous, but the wicked are in poverty.
And why?
The author gives us a comparative metaphor
The wicked are blown away like chaff.
Chaff is like small pieces of hay or grass that are blown by the wind.
ILLUSTRATION:
We have watched a lot of chaff being blown this week as the heavy winds have set in.
The wind is meant to be in image of something. I think this image is meant to describe the passions of the flesh blowing the wicked almost aimlessly.
Paul makes this point in a number of places. The unbeliever in Romans 1:24-27 (roughly) describes the passions of unbeliever as driving their sin and purpose rather than God.
Now notice, the result of this path.
What is the end of the trail for the wicked?
They won’t stand in God’s judgment.
Proverbs 1:5 ESV
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,

The Surety of the Righteous and the Wicked in Judgment. (Ps 1:6)

In the final verse, we see the comparison of the wicked and the righteous in Judgement.
Psalm 1:6 ESV
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
First, Yahweh knows the choices of the righteous, and in implication the wicked.
Sometimes the seemingly prosperity of the wicked make use question, the justice of God.
We see unbelievers outright scoff and God and blatantly choose wickedness.
We see this in our
politicians at times.
business owners.
People who commit outright crimes
and yet the justice system is unable at times to accomplish justice.
So we wonder about God’s justice.
May I boldly declare that though we may not see justice today, justice will come.
Ps 1:6 is a definitive declaration that God see’s the wicked and the righteous, and both will be judged accordingly.
- The righteous according to the commandments, including the Mercy found in Jesus Christ.
- The wicked according to the commandment, including the warnings of the rejection of the Son, Jesus Christ.
As we began our prayer time tonight, let us praise God for His justice and the surety of it. That the wrongs of the wicked will not go unpunished, and the wickedness of the righteous, also are not unpunished, but paid for by Jesus Christ.
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