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.Psalm 1:1–2 ESV
Do you want to be happy? Of course, you do. Everyone does. The problem is that it’s not so easy to find happiness. For most people, especially in today’s world, it can be very elusive. Fortunately, we Christians do not live in this fallen world. We are only sojourners in this world who are on our way to a much better world, a higher world that will last for eternity. It’ll be a perfect world where the law goes out from Zion, and the Word goes out from Jerusalem. Finally, there will no longer be any heinous sin that pollutes the earth and festers inside of our flesh because the Lord Jesus will personally teach us his law and write it on all of our hearts, allowing us to walk in perfect harmony with him forever (Is. 2:3; Jer. 31:31–34).
We cannot go home to our world yet, but we can have a foretaste of the sweetness that is to come by diving into the Holy Word that the Lord Yahweh has written to us. In the first Psalm, the Lord tells us that we will be blessed if we do not follow this world’s evil customs but rather make his law the foundation and center of our lives by meditating on it night and day. The word for blessed (Hb. ashre) denotes something more significant than mere happiness or being fortunate; it is a heartfelt joy and satisfaction in God. Jesus uses the equivalent Greek word in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–11).
When you draw near to God, God draws near to you, and then you will experience true blessedness, the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and which overflows into praise and worship. This eternal delight awaits anyone who will take God up on his offer. To commune with the Lord and become more like him is the real way to lasting joy and contentment.
The Way of the Unrighteous
Notice that the Psalmist first describes the Blessed Man with a list of what he avoids and that this list is a downward spiral. When a man engages in sin, he goes from bad to worse, diving deeper and deeper into the black cesspool of depravity. At first, he merely walks in the counsel of the wicked, occasionally heeding the advice which tickle his ear just right. So far, his sins are sporadic and not habitual. That is the next step when he stops and stands together with the sinners. Now he is one of them, and he enjoys it there. Finally, he sits down, taking his seat among the scoffers. Now he is the one who publicly blasphemes God and mocks the saints, a diabolical teacher of the worst kind who encourages his victims to follow in his infernal footsteps and abandon the way of the Lord.
There is enormous pressure to go down this path of iniquity. The people of the world love company and hate it when anyone refuses to join them in their sinfulness. So if you try to walk away and do the right thing, they will mock you and call you names. Even if you just want to be left alone, it doesn’t matter. Over and over again, they will accuse you of being hateful by asking leading questions like, “Why are you so mean and judgmental?” (Gen. 19:9; 2 Tim. 3:12). Finally, they will try to help you by telling you that you’re so wrong and that you’re missing out on everything in life. If only you would come over to them and sit down, they will tell you what to do in life. They know what is good and can tickle your ear just right.
If you do sit down with them, they will teach you and mold you into a mocker like them who will scoff at the next righteous man who is trying to do the right thing. And then you can all laugh together at him.
That is the easy path to take in life. You’ll fit right in wherever you go. However, God will be far from you, and he will not share his blessed happiness with you. He does not delight in people who shun him and his commandments in order to chase after men and their wicked counsel.
The Way of The Righteous
If you want to receive the blessing that only God can bestow, you have to shun the ways of the world and go to the law of God. The word translated law (Hb. torah) doesn’t just mean the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch; it could also be understood as “teaching” or “instruction.”
And the Blessed Man loves the Lord’s teachings and instructions. He is not under the law as a curse or burden. No. The law is his delight. He doesn’t just occasionally read a Bible verse or two after work. No. He reads the entire Bible repeatedly. Because he loves to contemplate the will of God, he meditates on it day and night. When he wakes up in the morning, the Word of God is the first thought to enter his mind. When he talks to his friends, the Word of Life is on his lips. When he lies down in his bed, the Promises of God lull him to sleep, like a protective blanket around his soul against the anxieties of the world. It is everywhere in his life, even on his doorpost (Deut. 11:20).
With absolute confidence, he lives biblically and follows God’s commandments, diligently organizing his life around the good precepts of God, making the Holy Scriptures the absolute standard of his life (1 John 5:3). As Jesus put it, he lives “by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). It is his daily bread that sustains his soul and spirit throughout the day.
Perhaps you think he is a bit eccentric for elevating the Bible that much, but I assure you, it is the people who neglect it who are weird. When the Eternal God and King speaks to us through his Holy Word, isn’t it absolute stupidity to ignore him? Who in their right mind would turn away if an esteemed King or President personally came to speak to them? It would be an insult to his character and title to shun him.
Sadly, that is precisely what people do! Rather than listening to the King, they line up to hear from the various jesters online or on TV, with their inane babble that is often less consistent than the scribbles in a children’s coloring book. Even when the absolute, eternal truth is available in the Bible, they favor trivia and news that nobody will remember in a few weeks or a few years at most. What foolishness.
My friend, don’t be like the world. Bow down and listen when the King addresses you. Read the entire Word that the Lord has graciously bestowed upon you. Treasure each jot and tittle up in your heart and become like the Blessed Man of the first Psalm.
In his eternal word, God speaks to us every day, teaching us how to conduct ourselves in this world while preparing ourselves for the next world. There he unveils all the eternal promises that he has stored away for us, his precious children, each promise more glorious than the last, every one a great treasure to store away in our heart.
Go and seek the divine treasures that are waiting for you.