Like Button

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Psalmist's Progression

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. (Psa 1:1-2)
It's a well-known Psalm. Pretty clear, too. It precludes three things ... well, only really one. It looks like three: walk, stand, sit. It is a progression.

You see a progression in the actions. You start out walking along. Eventually you become comfortable enough to stop, to stand. Eventually it is "home", a place you can sit, relax, be comfortable. The instruction is, then, pretty straightforward; don't make the world of sin your home.

You see a progression in the people. There are the "wicked", the ungodly, the morally disinclined. They become "sinners", the guilty, those who have missed the mark, who have crossed the line. These become scoffers, openly hostile and derisive of God and His ways.

It's important to notice what it does not say. It doesn't say "Don't walk with the wicked" or "Don't stand with a sinner" or "Don't sit with a scoffer." These would miss the point. Paul says, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world." (1 Cor 5:9-10) You see, not associating with them is not the point. They're everywhere. In fact, our calling is to share the gospel with them.

What's the issue, then? It is their counsel, their way, their seat. It is their worldviews, standards, and positions, their behaviors, their hostility toward God and His Word we are not make our own. We see this clearly presented in the contrast. The one who does not do all those things finds his delight in the "the law of the Lord". The word here -- "law" -- is a specific reference to "torah" and a general reference to God's instructions and precepts ... His Word. This is the defining difference. In this, God's Word, the righteous person "meditates day and night." No, not some mystical chanting. Clearly it is "day and night", meaning continual and habitual. It takes time and effort. And ... well ... why not? It is his "delight". Jesus said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28) Meditating on it makes it part of life, part of existence, part of practice. It is the one-for-one replacement of "walk", "stand", and "sit" -- becoming familiar, comfortable, at home with God's Word, affecting thought and action.

We, of course, are not there in much of our Christian society today. So many of today's professing Christians regard God's Word with suspicion. "You can't be too certain." "You can't be too careful." "You should question authority, including quite specifically the authority of Scripture." So many are drawing their views and values from the counsel of the wicked, taking their stand with way of the sinners and choosing to sit with the scoffers rather than with God's Word.

The rest of the psalm spells out the results for these two paths. The one who finds delight in the Word prospers (Psa 1:3). Those who pursue the alternative, deriving life perspectives and principles from the opposition to God's Word, "are not so" (Psa 1:4). They can expect judgment and destruction in the end. Your choice.


Anonymous said...

It's a fine line we walk, because we DO want to encourage Muslim fundamentalists to question the authority of their Scripture.

Stan said...

There is a difference in category of the Bible versus all other Scriptures since the Bible alone is "God-breathed" and, therefore, true. And we do want to question ourselves in our interpretation of the Bible. It is not, then, the authority of the Muslim Scriptures that I would encourage they question, but the truth. If it is not true, it is not God-breathed and it is not authoritative.