Psalm 1

Blessed- Happy…

Who does not want to pursue happiness?

The cry of my heart yearns for happiness. I have an unquenchable desire to be happy. I confess when I’m in significant pain, the question that bombards me so often is “Why me?”

 I want happiness- not unhappiness.

The Road to happiness is the choice between two roads.This is the message of Psalm 1 in the book of Psalms in the Holy Bible.

This Psalm, the first of 150 Psalms, holds out the possibility of being happy. It is the one thing we want, isn’t it? The good news is plain- the way is open to those who will listen to wisdom.

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Photo by Ryan Riggins on Unsplash

This Psalm is a wisdom Psalm for God’s people. By that I mean it is considering life, and it comes up with only two options- two roads as it were.

And there is a hidden gem right on the surface of the text. Here it is.

It all depends on whose counsel you seek.

Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

In verses 1–3 consider those whose counsel is from the Lord.

He delights in the revelation of God’s law; he yearns to understand it; it is his daily pursuit. The result of his life is stability, prosperity.

In verses 4–5, consider those whose counsel is from the wicked. 

Who are the wicked?

 The synonyms used right here in the psalm are sinners and scoffers.

They are people who do not seek after God, nor care about his law or his desires.

They have a different agenda. And what is that?

They are guided by their own five senses, bound to this world in time and space, pursuing their own desires and lifestyles. They are people ignorant of the one true God, and the revelation he has given.

The wicked, unlike the righteous, are not blessed- but rather like chaff.

What does this mean?

 Chaff was the leftover husks and rubbish once the crop harvest was gathered in from the fields. This is what the wicked are likened to. Rubbish!

And even though verses 5–6 are not paired together in layout, let me consider them together here, for it seems to me the author is drawing a conclusion.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment

And sinners in the assembly of the righteous,

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous

But the way of the wicked will perish.

The contrast is palpable, don’t you think?

Notice immediately that this psalm is not talking about life as we experience it here on earth for our allotted time.

 Do not limit prosperity to your mortal life alone.

The Psalmist’s gaze is further beyond — yes, much further beyond. He is considering life in view of the judgment to come; in verse 5, he is considering life when God will gather his people, the righteous, to himself.

And don’t miss this: the Lord is intimately involved in the ways of his people. He watches over them. He loves them. He communicates with them through the law he has given. He comforts, instructs, teaches and leads his people- as they meditate upon his law, day and night.

But the way of the wicked will perish.

No, perhaps not right away.

No, perhaps not even tomorrow.

But the psalmist knows it will happen. There is a time coming when the Lord will gather his people, separating them from the wicked.

As a writer, I am drawn to the final verse:

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous

But the way of the wicked will perish.

Here’s why. The author has mixed his verb tenses in this couplet. Notice with me:

 Watches over- present continuous tense, indicating a continuing activity, both now and on into the future.

 Will perish- future tense. Something yet to happen.

I believe this is what the psalmist is making crystal clear:

No matter the riches, acclaim, and opportunities for pleasure of this short life span now, the wicked will ultimately face spiritual ruin.

No matter what life throws at the righteous man now- be it plenty or poverty- he has God’s intimacy today in this moment, and he will be declared righteous by God on the day he judges the world.

Are you righteous or wicked? More importantly for me: Who am I?

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