How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psa 1:1-2)Now, clearly, this is not a call to monasticism -- to a retreat from the world. God is abundantly clear that we are not called to avoid "the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world." (1 Cor 5:10) So this isn't a command to exit, stage left, and avoid the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers. On the other hand, there is something we're supposed to avoid doing with these folk. What is it?
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, it appears that we're not supposed to walk in their counsel, stand in their paths, or sit in their seats. Putting it another way, we can interact with their counsel -- to refute it or examine it and such -- cross their paths without accompanying them on it, and visit them where they sit without taking the same position as they have. There are three things. Don't sit, stand, or walk with them.
Okay, so we've agreed that we don't avoid them, but there are things we must avoid. That is, we must avoid living by their version of truth, taking our stand on their values, or making ourselves comfortable with their positions. In contrast, we take a different position that produces delight and stability. What position? The law of the Lord. It is our constant mindset, our ongoing consideration, the thing we constantly think about and mull over. God's Word. It gives the stability of a tree planted by streams of water that bears fruit in season that doesn't wither, but prospers (Psa 1:3).
This has been nagging at me because it seems that I -- we -- are so cavalier about it. We send our kids to their schools. We eagerly ingest their doctrines and messages on television. We seek our entertainment from them, implicitly or explicitly laced with their "counsel". We get our news from them, shaping our views. We don't run across their paths; we immerse ourselves in them. Our churches imbibe them in music and programs. Our social and economic values seem to be pulled right from their playbook. We think, because we stand aloof from their paths in some areas, that we're not running with them, but it seems as if we are far more with them than we are a counterpoint. Are we immersed instead in God's Word, meditating on it "day and night"? Doesn't seem like it.
Am I missing something? Are we modern-day believers doing precisely the opposite of what this text says we should be doing, or is there something else going on here? If we are not to sit in their positions, stand where they do, or walk in their counsel, but are supposed to be deeply invested in Scripture instead, why do we spend so much time soaking up so many of their positions and so much of their counsel rather than immersing ourselves in His Word with His people? See? It nags at me.