Blessed is the man!
Wow! The first day of the the new year and I cannot think of a better way to start the new year than to have a church service, a worship service. And I am sure you are here because you love the Lord and want to worship Him. You want to walk with Him and you want to work for Him.
I believe that if you are a disciple of Christ - then that is why you are here. I also assume that being a disciple or Christ you would want your life to count for God. You want to make a difference for the Lord. Right? I know I do!
One of the reasons I love about the New Year , the beginning of a new year - it allows us to bring closure to the year before and you can turn a new page so to speak for the year ahead. It is allways good to reflect on the year past, to celebrate the victories and to give thanks for the blessings but also to evaluate the failures and to plan on how to do thngs differently or better next year. That is where New Year’s Resolutions comes from.
So Today is the 1st Jan 2012 – the beginning of a new year and this morning I am asking you – what will be different for you this coming year than last year – If you can choose one thing, if you have to make a one choice . What would you do differently this year than last?
Before you settle on a choice – allow me to propose one to you from the Word of God. One that will literally change your life.
Regardless of where you are, what mistakes you have made in the past. In spite of many previous failed new years resolutions– If you choose to follow what the word of God instructs you to do today – If you stay committed to that. You will be changed and your life will make an impact for the Lord. You will make a difference and even should the Lord decide to take you home this year – If you are in Christ You will hear the words – well done my good and faithful servant.
Today is the day, You can start today, right where you are, unlike the time when we asked for direction to go to Wangara and was told – “No mate, if you wanna go there you can’t start here.”
Turn to Ps 1 in your Bibles
Background & setting
The Book of Psalms is a wonderful collection of heartfelt expressions to God. The Psalms just oozes with real faith as the psalmists wrestle with God in prayer, cry out to Him for help, rejoice in Him and lavish praise and honor on Him for His abundant kindness, grace and steadfast love. Throughout the centuries Christians have turned to the psalms to give words to their expressions of faith. Psalm 1 is the door keeper to the psalms. It is a psalm of wisdom. There are 6 distinct genres in the Psalms, Psalms of Praise, Psalms of Lament, Psalms of Thanksgiving, Psalms of Trust, Psalms of Coronation, and Psalms of Wisdom. The Psalms of wisdom gives instruction in how the believer should live. Here in Ps 1 it encourages the pursuit of godliness by contrasting the blessed man with the wicked. God’s blessings with His judgement. Spurgeon said of Psalm 1 that it is the text and the rest of the psalms are the sermon on that text.
The psalm begins with this opening statement - Blessed is the man
Now there are two words in Hebrew which means “to bless.” One is Barak and the other Asar. Asar is never used by God or for God in the Scriptures – When God blesses the word barak is used and when man blesses God – barak is also used. Asar is used exclusively by man in description of another. It conveys the idea of being envious or to be considered very fortunate. While God can barak (bless) a man while he does’nt deserve it. To be a blessed man or to be asare, man has to do something to be so considered.
Here in Ps 1 we have the word Asare used. Asare is the man = to be most envied is the man – to be considerate very fortunate, very blessed is the man - what man? The righteous man and the psalmist will describe this man for us. The pslam leaves us with the picture that the psalmist is observing the righteous and say – wow – how blessed is the man who is right with God, wow how enviable he is.
This blessed man, this righteous man, this enviable man is considered so because he shuns the counsel of the wicked, He does not stand the paths of the sinner nor does hesit in the seat of the scoffer or the scornful. Instead this man has set his sights on following God, His law. This man is further described in verse 3
He is like a tree –
A tree that is planted by streams of waters - The word planted, has in the original the meaning of transplanted. This enviable man is like a tree that was taken from where it was and then transplanted to another place, a better place, a place by streams of water. The tree does not transplant itself. It speaks of a sovereign act of God, who takes a person and renew his life – Who regenerates him, gives him a new heart. It is a picture of salvation. He transfers one from death and fruitlessness to a place of life and fruitfulness. The same idea is communicated in Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. This tree is transplanted to a place of abundant sustenance – a place of streams of water
The streams of water – literally means -irrigation canals – a popular method of irrigation in the middle east. The enviable man is the regenerate man, the man who was transplanted to a place where He is watered – where he is sustained with life-giving water.
This tree also yields fruit in season – that is the purpose of a tree, to yield it’s fruit, so the enviable man, is a man who has a fruitful life. He fulfills his God ordained purpose in life – God saves for a purpose - Eph 2:8-10 reads 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. The enviable man walks in the good works prepared for him - to fulfill them.
It goes on – and its leaf does not wither – trees lives for a long time- but eventually a tree dies and it’s leaves withers. The blessed man is like a tree whose leaves never withers - this speaks of endurance, of perseverance, of longevity. He is not like the plant of Jonah which came up and withered the next day. He is not the fig tree which had no fruit, Jesus cursed it and it whithered immediately – NO this tree endures. The blessed/enviable man is the one who perseveres, who endures to the end. V 4 tell us that the wicked will not stand in the judgement- but the righteous will. The enviable man will stand, He will endure even in judgement
Back to v3 - He prospers in all He does – Again the original is helpful – The idea here is that he prospers for the Lord prospers Him. The Lord cause him to prosper. He transplanted him, He makes him fruitful, He sustaines him, He preserves Him and He makes him prosper – that is the life of the blessed man, the enviable man – that is why the author exclaim – Blessed is the righteous man – to be most envied is He.
The wicked, the unregenerate, those who live in defiance of God, whose lives are in contrast with the character and attitude of God. They are described as Chaff – the dry, lifeless stubble which remains after all the goodness was trampled out on the threshing floor. The farmer comes and toss it in the air, the heavier grain falls back to the floor, but the light lifeless and dry chaff is blown away.
This picture is often used in scripture and almost always in the context of judgment. Chaff like the wicked is judged as being worthless, not weighty in the eyes of God, useless for anything else but to be burned.
The wicked will not endure, they will not be able to stand in the judgement. Their way is the way of destruction. They will perish. Theirs is a life that comes to nothing.
I am convinced that there is not a soul here present today, who does not want their life to count for God. Who wants to end up as the wicked, dry, lifeless, fruitless and destined for destruction. I know you want your life to count for God – You want to be the blessed man, the blessed woman, the blessed boy or girl.
How then do we become this enviable man? How can we be the blessed man, the fortunate man, the one to be most envied? The Psalm gives us the answer. The enviable man/woman made two commitments
Let me say that again
For you to be the blessed person you need to make two commitments:
The wicked are those who are unrighteous, those who live in defiance of God, and whose lives are in sharp contrast to the character and attitude of God. They are the ones who Isaiah described as calling good evil and evil good (Isa 5:20). David described them as follows in Ps 36 1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.
That sounds very much like our culture today. Now the righteous man, the blessed man does not follow the plans of the wicked, he is not persuaded by their advice and not interested in their schemes. The word Counsel represents a carefully thought out plan together with a procedure for its implementation. Now the blessed man wants nothing to do with it - He does not fill his mind with their ideas, their perceptions and their viewpoints, for it has an ungodly bend to it.
Scripture depict the Counsel of the wicked as folly, as deceitful and empty. It’s lacking insight and understanding. Prov 12:5 - The thoughts of the righteous are just, But the counsels of the wicked are deceitful, and Scripture describes their earthly wisdom as, natural and demonic. (James 3:13-18)
Why? Because it is centred in the depravity of man instead of the doctrines of the divine. So the Blessed man does not relate nor follows counsel, plans ideas of the godless culture.
How may you be tempted to follow the counsel of the wicked?
This is very subtle and most of us do follow the counsel of the wicked, the culture of our day. In the way you wear your hair, in the way you dress. There is nothing wrong per se with how you wear your hair as dictated by the culture - whether it is long or short, in a bop or with bangs. For us men it is more simple – You can waer your hair parted, unparted or departed.
But the more sinister and dangerous counsel comes in the form of various philosophies or worldviews. It is when you allow these worldly philosophies to influence your thinking and your thinking influence your doing. As a man thinks within himself, so he is - Proverbs tells us (23:7). The pervasive philosophies of our day are:
Naturalism, promoting the theory of evolution with relentless tenacity. Sadly, many christians have been influenced by this worldview to the point where they reinterpret Scripture to accommodate this view, believing God used the evolutionary processes to create the universe. That’s not what the Bible teach. The bible seems to go out of it’s way to emphasize a literal 6 day creation.
Humanism – the belief that man is the centre of the universe and everything revolves around him. God is taken out of the picture or He is minimized. It is a philosophy which promotes reason, ethics, justice and morals but spouses that man can achieve these independent of God. Humanism influences Christians toward a man centered theology.
V Man is not as bad as Scripture portrays him to be. God is obligated towards man to save him.
V It leads to the belief that people are actually seeking after Jesus. That is what seeker services or seeker churches are based upon - on this misnomer that people are seeking Jesus. Let me remind you – Jesus is not lost. You are and you were if you are in Christ. He found you. He saved you! Scripture is clear that man don’t and won’t seek after God.
V It is true - much is made of man in the Scriptures but only to highlight, magnify and exalt God as the ultimate One to whom all praise, glory and honor belongs.
What about certain methodologies – based on secular business practices. These prescribe certain failsafe methods to have successful church. These methods are based on secular advice, they are the counsel of the wicked & they’ve had a big influence on Christians.
V Needs Base Ministries - It results in churches which focus on the needs of their community after doing a proper survey of your community about what they want or need.
V Worship Style focus. The true spirituality of the church is measured by their music style and not their lyrics
V Consumer based approach to Ministry - The key to success lies in attracting people, to do that you need to offer a wide variety of ministries, people can shop for what they like.
V Psycology and psychotherapy - Furthermore the Word of God and the spiritually gifted people of God are exchanged for psychology and psycho therapists, for Scripture is not seen as sufficient for life and practice.
Have you been influenced by these philosophies?
The enviable man does not walk in their advice, he does not follow the counsel of the wicked. He shuns it & avoids it. He forsakes it all.
The blessed man furthermore does not stand in the path of sinners.
He Does not Imitate the World
The sinner is the one who has missed the mark, God’s mark, His standard. They are those who have deliberately disobeyed a known command, whether known by decree or conscience.
The key to understanding this is found in the word path. Path or way is used to describe a route between two places. A way which is often travelled. Over the course of time the vegetation is trampled down, the ground is compacted and soon a little trail or path is formed. SO it means a way or parth which is habitually travelled, so it describes a habit, a way of life, a path well travelled. SO the path of the sinner is his lifestyle. It does not speak of the occasional stumbling into sin, but the habitual practice of a sinful lifestyle.
On our last Real Men’s breakfast we did a bit of 4 wheel driving. One of the trails had these massive ruts cut into the soil which is now baked hard by the sun. In order to travel on that route you either followed the ruts or eventually you would slide into the ruts.There was no escaping them.
In a similar way if you stand, or linger on the the path of sinners, you will end up sliding into the ruts of their destructive lifetyle. You will be affected, you will be influenced, You will be desensitized to what they do, for after all everyone is doing it. That is the way to go.
SO - How do you fall foul of this tempttion?
In churches it is what is being allowed in the pulpit. Whne for the sake of popularity & publicity, controversy has become the fodder to feed the people. What is decent and honoring, what is noble and edifying, what is holy and sanctified are being exchanged for the debased and the profane of common life. It is when the shock jocks of the pulpit are allowed to speak in the language of our godless culture in an attempt to be like Jesus who mingled with sinners. It is when those who should know better, leaders in the church exemplify worldliness, instead of godliness. That is sliding into the sinful ruts of culture.
It is when those who profess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord have cleansed the outside of the cup, but their hearts are full of deadman’s bones. When hypocrisy reigns, for the privacy of your home deny the public display of morality. Let me ask you straight - Do you entertain a secret life of shame. If your daily activities were to be recorded and broadcasted, what would that display, what would it expose? A righteous life or a secret life of shame. Well the reality is that God is an all-seeing, all-knowing God and He knows. He knows it all. So there is no point hiding it.
Or maybe you have just become lazy. Battle weary. The daily battle against sin has exhausted you and you have given up on the daily pursuit of godliness. After all, I’m not as bad as others. The Lord understands, He knows I am not perfect and no-one after-all can live a truly righteous life. You start to rationalize your sin. You have been standing in the path of sinners, you have slid into the ruts of the unrighteous.
I want to appeal to you right now - If you lead a secret life of shame, or if you have made peace with sin in your life - brother, sister, fall on your knees and make it right with God, confess it and forsake it, for your life will be useless and fruitless while you wallow in that filth. 2 Tim 2:20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. You who wants to be of use to God – cleanse yourself with the blood of Christ. Peter in 2 Pet 1 similarly urges believers, because you have been called by Christ’s own glory and excellence, to be partakers of the divine nature through His precious and magnificent promises – that you are to apply all diligence in adding to your faith, moral excellence, to moral excellence, self control, to self control perseverance, to perseverance, godliness to godliness, brother affection and to brotherly affection love. For it these qualities are yours and are increasing they will render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or nearsighted and have forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore brethern be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things you will never stumble.
People remember the One who called you, remember his promises, remember your purification from your former sins, do not be blind or nearsighted do not grow weary, but be all the more diligent, to live for Christ.
That means the enviable man/woman – forsakes the counsel of the wicked and He forsakes the way, the sinful lifestyle of the sinner.
Nor does he not sit in the seat of the scoffer.
He Does not Belong to the World
The blessed man, the enviable man does not sit or associate with the scoffer. He does not linger or dwell in their company. This does not mean one breaks off all contact with such people. It means that you are not be associated with them. Seat has the meaning of “assembly”, whether that be an official or social assembly. SO the enviable man does not linger, he does not stay in the assembly, company whether official or social of the scoffer, the scornful.
The scoffers are those who are in open rebellion against God and who openly mocks and derides the things of God – these are the people who are the furthest away from repentance.
Blessed man, blessed woman do not be associated with them!
How can you become assocoated with scoffers? When you regularly meet to discuss the Bible with those who have openly rejected the tenents of the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints for the sake of inclusivism.
When one joins in ministry with another person, group or church with which there are no agreement on the basic doctrines of our faith, in the promotion of ecumenical harmony. When one supports and promotes an author, a pastor or a teacher who has forsaken the authority, the inerrancy and the sufficiency of the Scriptures for the accolades of academic scholarship or widespread popularity.
The blessed man does not sit in the seat of scoffers. Vers 1 paints a very bleak picture of a progressively worsening situation. The one who lends out his ears to the counsel of the wicked will soon follow their ways od sin which ultimately will lead the person away from God to a point where he belongs are at home among those who finds God someone to scoff at, someone to ridicule.
It also instructs us in how diligent we should be combatting the ways of the world. Walking standing and sitting all depict the different positions a person who is awake may assume. So the blesed man , the enviable person needs to diligently forsake the ways of the world in every waking moment
DO you want your life to count? Do you want to be blessed, do you want to be the enviable man/woman? – Then make these two commitments. The first -Commit to forsaking all the ways of the world – starting today. And secondly - Commit to follow the way of God.
The enviable man delights in the law of the Lord. As I said before how a man thinks within himself so he is (Prov 23:7). That which influences your thinking directs your practice. Your thinking affects your doing. The enviable man’s thinking is shaped, molded and influenced by the word of God. By the law of the Lord. The word translated here as law is the Hebrew word torah which has as it’s basic meaning “instruction or teaching” And it was used whether it was the wise man instructing his son or God instructing Israel.
The word was used to refer to a single command, the Ten Comandments, also to the Pentateuch and ultimately it is used of the whole revelation of God – His complete instruction. That is important to note. It is not just instruction about the Lord – it is instruction or teaching of the Lord. It is God’s commands, His decrees, His statutes, His teaching, His instruction, His law!
How blessed is the man whose thinking is informed by the instruction of the Lord. How blessed is the man who delights in it.
Delight + Pleasure and desie – It gives Him great pleasure, fulfilment.
It is also used to express a strong desire a person may have for something. Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba everything she desired – everything she delighted in- same word (1Kgs10:13). An even stronger example is found in the picture of a sailor in the midst of a storm at sea, he strongly desires to set his feet on terra firma, on land agan. I don’t know about you but there are few things as terrible and as frightening as being on sea in a big storm. Ps 107:23 –30 – you don’t have to turn there but it gives us this picture. It reads - Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. – he brought them to their delighted haven – same word – they were seriously desiring land.
Tell me do you have the same desire for God’s word? Do you delight in it as a sailor delights in dry land after a massive storm? Look at Ps 119 and see how the psalmist repeatedly expresses His delight in and desire for the word of God - 119:16; 24; 35; 47; 70; 77; 92; 143; 174.
I can tell you one thing, if you find more pleasure in reading books about the Bible than the Bible itself- you do not delight in the word of God.
If you have greater delight in theological blogs than in your Bible – you are not delighting in the Bible.
If you choose to attend a church where the preaching of the Word is not a central feature of the worship service - you do not delight in the law of the Lord!
But how can you increase your desire for the Word? How do you delight in it? It’s simple - Spend more time in it. Read it, study it, listen to it. Maintaining this spiritual discipline demand diligence. Doing it even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t allow you emotions to dictate your spiritual actions. For those who claim a lack of self –control/discipline – may I remind you that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Yield to His leading. The more you read your Bible the more you will delight in it and the more your desire for it will grow. Why – because it is the revelation of God. We get to know God as He reveals Himself in the pages of Scripture. Delight yourself in the Lord by delighting in His word. It will become a self perpetuating delight, where the doing drives the delight and the delight the doing
The blessed man finds great pleasure, finds his delight in the law of the Lord
V2b And on His law he meditates day and night
Meditation is critical to = Illumination and Application
The blessed man’s reaction to the law is one of delight, and it is one of dedication. He meditates on it day and night – Meditation is to ponder over something. To think deeply about something. Unlike the meditation of eastern religions where the goal is to empty your mind to find inner peace, Biblical meditation is the filling of the mind. It describes the deliberate reflection on the Word of God. A Pondering or a musing on the truths of Scripture. The word contains a verbal element to it, so perhaps it included reading the word aloud to yourself – almost like speaking the law to yourself while thinking and pondering it’s truths. I can see him right now, pacing up and down like a brilliant professor lost in deep thought, muttering under his breath as he plots the course to a fuller understanding, considering every aspect and deliberating every meaning. To meditate on the Bible means to think deeply about what it says. To consider it commands, to investigate the implications of its truths and to evaluate and plan ways to apply it. Why is this so important for you and I to do – to meditate on the word of God? Why because meditation is crucial to the accurate undertanding of the Scripture.
Illumination is the word used to describe the work of the Spirit of God on the mind/heart of the believer when he meditates on the truths of Scripture, to bring him to a fuller understanding. To be the blessed man, to be the man whose life is fruitful and enduring, who prospers in the purposes of God, you need to forsake the ways of the world and follow the way of God. For that you need to love God and delight in His instruction, and be dedicated to understand and obey it.
Meditation is important for it brings us to a fuller understanding but also it marks out the path we should walk. The path of obedience.
You meditate, for illumination and for application- for obeying. The Spirit of God reveals the areas of your life which does not conform the Lord’s law, so that you can change, so you can make the changes necessary.
Meditation takes time and effort, it requires diligence, but the blessed man is the one who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night . It is not just an occasional practice. You will have to be serious about it, to be dedicated to it for it will determine your spiritual convictions and your character. Do not neglect this spiritual discipline!
Conclusion - There has ever only been one man who fulfilled this Psalm. He is the one who said, he did not come not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill it. Jesus Christ the God-man is His name.
V He never followed the ways of the world.
V Instead He truly delighted in the Law, His law and He was made to prosper in all God had ordained for Him. From the cradle to the cross.
V His life has eternal significance, not only few but for the whole world, for He reconciled all things to Himself - Col 1:20 tells us.
If you do not know Jesus Christ, if you do not know Him as your Saviour and Lord, come and speak with me afterwards and I will love to give you the Good News about Jesus, for without Christ, you cannot even begin the live this Psalm.
For those who know Him and love Him and want your life to count for Him. TO bring Him glory and honor and praise. Let me leave you with these words
Today unless you begin this year, unless you begin the race of 2012 without a commitment to forsake the ways of the world and to follow the way of the Lord you will fall flat on your face even before you reach the first hurdle.
The great general of the Israelites, Joshua, when he stood at the doorstep of a new era, a time when Israel was to conquer and take possession of the promised land. At that time the Lord instructed him saying 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. Josh 1:8
Today at the doorstep of a new year the Lord is calling you to a two-fold commitment – Forsake the ways of the world and Follow the way of God. To the extent that you hold to those commitments, to that extent will you be the blessed man/woman of Psalm 1.