“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” (See Psalm 1, RSV).
There is serious, specific, simple guidance given in the opening verses of Psalm 1. The writer is focusing on the way to “blessedness.” Blessedness is totally dependent upon our spiritual condition. The world is full of prosperous people who do not lead “blessed’ lives. I remember walking through a beautiful new subdivision when I was a pastor in Dayton, Ohio, and hearing a loud, disturbing argument coming from one of the houses. I remember thinking.
“At least they have a beautiful new home in which to be miserable.” Over and over the scriptures point the way to blessedness.
The blessed man is known by what he says “no” to. We must say “no” to “walking in the counsel of the ungodly.” The reference is to the godless – those who leave God out of their lives. We live in a world and in a society that tries to ignore God. Too often we want him out of our government, our schools, and our private lives. If we are not careful we may even want him out of our churches! We must also say “no” to “standing in the way of sinners.” We must not embrace a pattern of sin as a personal lifestyle. If and when we move from the “counsel” of the ungodly to the actual “conduct” of sin we are in real trouble. We must also say no to “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” Do you know any scornful people? Have you ever met a “blessed’” person who was a real grouch? The two are incompatible. Oscar the Grouch typifies the person who enjoys being miserable. This may be one of the outcomes of listening to the counsel of the ungodly and walking in the way of sinners.
The blessed person may also be known by what he says “yes” to. “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” Right away discipline is introduced. There is no freedom – no blessedness – without discipline. The athlete, the artist and the musician, are all blessed along the lines of their discipline. The way to blessedness is knowing and doing the will of God. The law of God is revealed in the scriptures. The scriptures point the way to Christ, who empowers us to do God’s will. Want to be blessed? Develop an appetite for the “law” (Word) of God. The blessed person also “meditates both day and night” in God’s Word. To mediate is to “mutter/digest.” We are to be thinkers and doers of the word and not hearers only. The appetite for spiritual things must be satiated by the revelation of God. Being blessed in the eyes of God requires saying “no” to some things and “yes” to others. It all begins by saying “yes” to Jesus who said “yes” to the cross for us.
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.