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The Road to Life: Psalm 1:1-3

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Three pictures of the righteous path that will direct us to live consecrated lives to the Lord.

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Introduction

In our culture, we use many different labels to define us.
For example, and I’m sure you’ve heard of these before:
Republicans and Democrats.
Conservatives and Liberals.
Blue Collars and White Collars.
Right Wing, Left Wing, and Center Wing.
The 99% and the 1%
And the list goes on.
And what these labels do is tell a story about a person’s life. What are your views on politics, on culture, on men and women, on economics, and so on and so forth? And for better or for worse, these labels exist to identify who you are and how you relate with different areas of life.
What are your views on politics, on culture, on men and women, on economics, and so on and so forth?
And for better or for worse, these labels exist to identify who you are and how you relate with different areas of life.
But while the world operates almost solely on these labels, there is a serious issue.
Who is missing from these labels?
God is. (x 2)
All of the labels that our culture uses have little or nothing to do with the Creator of the Universe.
Yet, the most important question at the end of the day is not how you align with man, but how you align with God.
And that is exactly the question of .
uses labels as well, but these labels pertain to how man relates with God.
Take a look at the text, and we see two major labels: the Righteous and the Wicked.
We can also bring in how the rest of the Bible defines man:
Believers and unbelievers
Sheep and the goats
Light and darkness
Children of God and the children of the devil
The narrow way and the broad way
The saints of Christ and the men of the world
And again, all of these labels are defined by how one relates with God.
At the very end of your life, the ultimate question is not what are your views on politics, or what was your socio-economic status, or so on. The ultimate question is: how do you relate with God?
The ultimate question is: how do you relate with God?
Do you love God, or hate God?
Do you believe in Christ, or do you reject Christ?
Do you live your life by Scripture, or do you live by what the world says?
And this is the matter that I want to bring before you this morning in .
sets us on the ultimate cross-roads, where we are only given two roads to life: The way of the righteous, and the way of the wicked. And that’s it; just two ways of living that will determine your eternal destiny.
The way of the righteous, and the way of the wicked.
And that’s it; just two ways of living that will determine your eternal destiny.
And so for our time together, I want us to carefully consider what says about the way of the righteous. How does one who belongs to God look like?
How does one who belongs to God look like?
So in , we will see three pictures of the righteous path that will direct us to live consecrated lives to the Lord.

The Righteous Are Separated from the World (v. 1)

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the cpath of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

I want to start by pointing out two observations.
First, I want you to to notice that verse 1 starts with the words: "How blessed!"
First, I want you to to notice that verse 1 starts with the words: "How blessed!"
Blessing is the happiness that comes from a right relationship with God. There are 24 other Psalms that contain this blessing, and every one of them describes God’s people in some way.
Blessing is the happiness that comes from a right relationship with God.
There are 24 other Psalms that contain this blessing, and every one of them describes God’s people in some way.
Some Psalms say that God’s people are blessed because He forgives their sins.
Some Psalms say that God’s people are blessed because He forgives their sins.
Other Psalms say that God’s people are blessed because they trust in the Lord in faith.
Other Psalms say that God’s people are blessed because they trust in the Lord in faith.
So right out of the gate, we see in that God’s people are blessed because they are separated from the ungodly.
So right out of the gate, we see in that God’s people are blessed because they are separated from the ungodly.
Secondly, I want you to notice that verse 1 is all about what the righteous man does not do.
Secondly, I want you to notice that verse 1 is all about what the righteous man does not do.
We see that in the three negative actions in verse 1:
We see that in the three negative actions in verse 1: This man does not walk… does not stand… and does not sit. And the force of the Hebrew is that he does not do these things at all.
This man does not walk… does not stand… and does not sit.
And the force of the Hebrew is that he does not do these things at all.
And the main idea of verse 1 is this: God’s people are to be totally separated from ungodliness (x 2).
And the main idea of verse 1 is this:
God’s people are to be totally separated from ungodliness (x 2).
So let's consider these three actions of verse 1, one at a time.
So let's consider these three actions of verse 1, one at a time.
First, the blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
This means that God’s people do not live according to ungodly principles.
Now, we see that in the word "walk."
In the Hebrew mind, walking is a picture of living.
Your walk is your life; and the nature of your walk is determined by the standards which govern your life.
So walking could be positive, such as walking in the Law of the Lord.
But in this case, the Psalmist draws our attention to the counsel of the wicked.
Now the word counsel means advice, or instruction, that comes from some kind of wisdom.
And so we need to consider this question: what does wicked wisdom look like? (x 2)
Listen to :

15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, cnatural, demonic.

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, cnatural, demonic.

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

The counsel that the wicked give is not heavenly, but it is earthly.
It is not spiritual, but it is natural.
It is not spiritual, but it is natural.
It is not godly, but it is demonic.
It is not godly, but it is demonic.
It does not produce holy living, but it produces disorder and every evil thing.
It does not produce holy living, but it produces disorder and every evil thing.It is not God-exalting but man-centered.
It is not God-exalting but man-centered.
It is not God-exalting but man-centered.
This is how the world walks.
Why?
Because it makes perfect sense to those who are in the world.
This is their wisdom.
And this is the very wisdom that the Psalmist is calling us to refuse.
We see this also in : "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
God’s people are Non-conformists.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the cpath of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

We are not to conform ourselves to the wisdom of this world.
Second, the blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners.
And the point is this: God’s people refuse to join the ungodly in a sinful lifestyle.
Notice, first, the word stand.
Now, in the Hebrew the word stand is עָמָ֑ד.
עָמָ֑ד is sometimes used poetically to mean becoming involved with something.
Listen to how this word is used in : "Do not join [עָמָ֑ד] in an evil matter."
And this is what is being said to us here.
Quite simply, you and I are to ensure that we are not united with the world in sin.
Rather, our lives must be like that of Job’s: "blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil" ().
But separation from sin is not just an Old Testament teaching.
The New Testament does not abolish the need for obedience, even after we have been saved by Christ.
If anything, it elevates the necessity for holiness because of the spiritual realities of being in Christ.
, (ESV): “If you have been raised with Christ… put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
The life of a believer, therefore, is one characterized by holiness and obedience to God.
Third, the blessed man does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
That is to say, God’s people are separated from those who mock God.
Scoffers are those who have no fear of God and so mock Him out of their pride, because in their hearts, they are at war against God.
This is pure arrogance and foolishness.
You can see this attitude in our world today.
Just look at the entertainment industry, and see the numerous satires about the Church, the parodies about Christ, and the jokes about God.
Mockery is found even in the academic community.
Just look at Richard Dawkins, celebrated atheist.
Dawkins has written a book entitled The God Delusion, in which he wrote:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak.”
He goes on, but I refrain; I believe you get the point.
Your words truly expose the condition of your heart.
And so here, we have the scoffer, whose words expose a heart that hates God.
Now, it says here that this blessed man does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
The word sit in the Hebrew is יָשָֽׁב.
יָשָֽׁב in this context means to associate, to be a part of.
Listen to :
Psalm 26:4–5 NASB95
4 I do not sit with deceitful men, Nor will I go with pretenders. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, And I will not sit with the wicked.
There, we see a positive example from David, communicating the same idea we have in .
Sitting there is expressing the idea of association.
So in , the scoffer's seat is the setting to associate with the mockers of God.
What is the danger of associating with scoffers?
1 Corinthians 15:33 NASB95
33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
has this principle for us: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
has this principle for us: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”
You see, those who belong in the inner circle of your life have the power to influence you deeply.
The presence of a little bit of rust pollutes all the water which flows from the pipe.
In the same way, the presence of the scoffer can pollute your reverence for your Lord.
So we saw that The Righteous Are Separated from the World.
Let me offer to you just one point of application.
1. Remember your identity in Christ.
As a Christian, you are in the world, but you are not of the world.
You are not to be a lover of the world.
In Christ, you have been crucified to the world, crucified to your sinful passions, crucified to even yourself.
The live you live now, in this world, you live by faith in Christ who gave Himself up for you.
So then, world is not your lord; Christ is.
And Christ calls all of us to walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling.
You and I are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, not the world’s.
But in order to do that, you need to know what the Lord has said to us in His word.
And that brings us to the second picture of the righteous life.
The Righteous Are Satisfied in the Word.

The Righteous Are Satisfied in the Word (v. 2)

Psalm 1:2 NASB95
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
Notice the very first word of verse 2: "but.
This form a contrast.
Now we see what this righteous man does.
Rather than giving in to all that the world offers, this righteous man finds his delight entirely in the law of LORD.
There is such a simplicity here: delight.
This is a window into the heart of the righteous man.
This is speaking of the supreme joy and desire of the believer to hear from God in His Word.
It is the controlling affection to please the Lord by living according to His perfect law.
This is simple, yet significant.
The evidence of your faith in Christ works itself out in sanctified desires. (x 2)
And here in particular, we see the sanctified desire for the Word of God.
Observe that the law of the LORD is repeated for us twice in verse 2.
This is all centered on God’s word.
The word law in the Hebrew is torah; it simply means “instruction,” and more specifically, God’s instruction to His people.
Torah is the way God has instructed man to live, and it is the way of life that God truly blesses.
Now, what characterizes the law of the LORD?
How does the Bible describe the Bible?
Turn with me to , and let me read it for us.
We will see two things: the characteristics of the law, and the benefits of the law.
Read
All of these descriptions are the characteristics of the law of the LORD.
God’s law is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, enduring forever, true and righteous.
This is the inspired, inerrant, all sufficient and authoritative Word of God.
And also tells you about the benefits of God’s law on the lives of those who treasure it.
Do you need restoration for your soul?
Do you need wisdom for your mind?
Do you need joy for your heart?
Do you need knowledge and truth?
Do you need righteous standards for your life?
Then turn to the Word of God.
God’s word is completely sufficient for all of those things.
God has purposed His Word to be sufficient for us to be equipped for every good work ().
Let’s turn back to .
Verse 2 continues: "And in His law he meditates day and night."
The main idea here is that this man is constantly nourishing himself on the Word of God through meditation.
Now when the world thinks of meditation, the first thing that comes to mind is the Eastern form of meditation, like that of Hinduism or Buddhism.
Perhaps you’re aware of yoga, or mystical chanting, or things of that nature.
The goal in that kind of meditation is to empty your mind so that you achieve some kind of inner peace or enlightenment.
But that’s not biblical meditation at all.
No, biblical meditation is not about emptying your mind but filling your mind with God's word.
The word meditate in the Hebrew gives the idea of thinking out loud, speaking to yourself about Scripture.
In other words, meditation is an active, ongoing contemplation on the word of God.
Let me provide you some application here.
You can meditate on Scripture in a variety of ways.
Meditation may involve memorizing Scripture, reasoning through Scripture, figuring out how Scripture applies to your life or considering what Scripture teaches you about God.
You can meditate on a simple verse, like , or a whole passage, like .
You can also meditate on a certain teaching of the Bible as a whole.
For example, you can meditate on Christ and the Gospel.
Or, you can meditate on eternity, the glories of heaven and the sobering reality of hell.
You can meditate on God’s attributes, His works, His commands.
Whatever the subject may be, meditate on God’s word.
And listen, this man in is meditating day and night.
In other words, all the time.
Meditation is not a past-time hobby, but a dominating agenda as Christians.
This is an ongoing, intentional lifestyle.
This is how we make sure that the Scripture we hear with our ears, or read with our eyes, stays in our minds and bears fruit in our hearts.
This is how you can increase your love for Christ.
This is how you can safeguard yourself from sin.
This is how you can strengthen your grip on the Bible.
So let me exhort you this morning.
Meditate on the treasure of Scripture.
Let meditation be your delightful labor, and your laborious delight.
Work on consistently filling your mind with the Word of God, so that the Word of God may permeate into your lives.
So, we saw that The Righteous Are Separated from the World, and They Are Satisfied in the Word.
Now, let's see the third picture:

The Righteous Are Sustained by God (v. 3)

Psalm 1:3 NASB95
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.
Here is a magnificent illustration of being blessed by God.
In verses 1 and 2, the actions are all being done by the blessed man.
When we come to verse 3, now we see God as the One acting.
Acting in His gracious blessing on those who honor Him.
First, notice that this man is like a tree firmly planted.
In the Hebrew, the words “firmly planted” is literally, “transplanted.”
This is taking a tree out of the wilderness and planting it by streams of water.
This is a picture of an irrigated garden.
In ancient Palestine, the climate was very dry and arid.
Trees in the wilderness did not receive a regular supply of water throughout the year.
So what people would do is dig up canals to funnel water into gardens so that the plants would grow and bear fruit.
And this is the picture of the righteous man here.
He is a transplanted tree in the garden of God.
And notice that the action of being transplanted is in the passive.
Who is doing the planting? God is!
This is a great picture for our salvation.
Trees cannot transplant themselves out of the wilderness and into a garden; they need a gardener to do it.
In the same way, believers cannot transplant ourselves out of sin and into God’s kingdom; we need God to do it.
It is as says: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Now, the Psalmist then gives us three results of being sustained by God. (x. 2)
First, this tree yields its fruit in its season;
God Himself ensures that His people steadily bear the spiritual fruit of maturity.
You might think of the fruit of the Spirit in , which is produced in every believer.
This reminds us of the picture our Lord Jesus gave in ; “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit”
Everything the Father does in your life is pruning work, so that you would look more like His Son.
Next, it says that this tree’s leaf does not wither.
God keeps His people from perishing.
This stands in stark contrast to the wicked.
In verse 4, the wicked are like who are like chaff - they are dead.
In verse 6, the wicked ultimately perish.
Not so the blessed!
This tree is an everlasting tree; it lives forever.
And so the spiritual lives of God’s people are ultimately sustained by God.
And thirdly, in whatever he does, he prospers;
God blesses the work of those who walk in His law.
And this is connected with verse 2; this man does what the Law of the Lord directs him to do, and so he prospers in doing so.
And doesn’t this make sense?
Hasn’t God purposed His Word to be inherently wise, inherently good, inherently life-giving?
Doesn’t obedience to God’s word mean that you are living your life according to the perfect wisdom and standard of God.
You see my friends, it is when we doubt the wisdom of God in His word that we gravitate to the wisdom of the world.
It is when we doubt that God’s ways are better than our ways that we find ourselves lost in the sea of wicked counsel.
But those who trust in God and in His Word will prosper.
Now, it doesn’t guarantee that we will be rich in this life.
It doesn’t mean that we will necessarily enjoy worldly success.
But it does mean that our lives, when aligned to the word of God, will be the kind of life that God intends, the kind that He has designed.
You would live the life characterized by the wisdom, righteousness, integrity, and goodness that reflects your God.

Conclusion

So we saw that the life of the righteous is characterized by three pictures:
Separation from the World;
Satisfaction in the Word;
Sustained in God.
But if we are honest with ourselves, our lives fall short of this standard.
We have all walked in the way of the wicked.
says that there is none righteous, not even one.
And that is why we must look to the ultimate Man: our Lord Jesus Christ.
He alone lived in perfect obedience to His Father.
The only way to be on this righteous path is to put your faith in the Righteous One.
For Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
If you are not on the path of the righteous, I plead with you to consider Christ, the only One who perfectly fulfilled God’s law.
He welcomes every sinner who comes to Him by faith.
If you are in Christ, you have been crucified to this world, recreated to be satisfied in His word, and sustained by God.
Therefore, do not compromise with the world, do not tire of God’s Word.
But live in the Word, delight in the Word, meditate on the Word, proclaim this Word.
For the sake of your delight in Christ,
For the sake of those perishing in the Wicked Way,
And for the sake of Christ and His glory in the world, until He comes again to take us home,
when we reach the happy destination of the way of the righteous.
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