Two ways

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Psalm 1

1. Which way?

The older you get the more each year seems to fly by. It is hard to believe that 2019 is almost over and 2020 is just around the corner. As you get older, each year seems to go by quicker than the one before. As a child it seemed like it took forever to get from one Christmas to the next, one birthday to the next. But now being older the years seem to have become shorter than they used to be. Of course, there are explanations as to why the older you get the more rapid the years seem to turn over, but that isn’t really my concern today.

a. Your life

Today I want you to think about your life and where it has been heading of the last twelve months. Have you been heading in the right direction? Do you look back on the year that has been and think to yourself that it has been a good year? By that I don’t mean that everything has gone right for you or that there has been no trouble in it. I mean that despite what might have happened during the year that you’ve kept heading in the right direction? Are you still walking in the way of the righteous bearing fruit or has something, this year, really thrown you off balance and shaken your faith so that you’re not walking in the way of the Lord like you once did? Is your life still on track or are you a little lost? At the end of another year how are travelling? Are you where you should be or not?

b. Psalm 1

Today we begin our summer series of Bible talks on the psalms and today we are looking at Psalm 1 which most believe to be the doorkeeper into the rest of the Psalter (the other 149 psalms). However, this psalm is more than just a gateway pointing out how we are to navigate the rest of them, it is also a compass by which we are to navigate life in the coming year. It’s the road map of how we ought to approach life in 2020.

Psalm 1 is a psalm that has a lot of similarities with the OT wisdom books, such as the book of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. It’s sometimes referred to as a wisdom psalm for like the other wisdom book it contrasts two ways that a person can go on in life and highlights the consequences of going each of these ways. The last verse identifies these two ways. We can either follow the way of the righteous or go down the way of the wicked (v6). As we will see the way of the righteous leads to blessing and is the road to life. But, the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

2. The two ways

This psalm commends the way of the righteous to the reader over the way of the wicked. The way of the righteous is described in verses 1 to 3 and the then the way of the wicked in verses 4 to 5 with a conclusion in verse 6.

2.1 The way of the righteous (1-3)

Those who travel the way of the righteous are those who are blessed because God watches over their way (v6). This way is described in verses 1 to 3.

Psalm 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

a. Don’t go down the way of the wicked

The righteous firstly are those who don’t go down the way of the wicked. They don’t follow others down the wrong way.

Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

The blessed are those who don’t go down the way of the wicked. The 3 verbs used in this verse suggest a worsening downward spiral – they go from walking, to standing, to sitting. Firstly, the righteous avoid walking in step with the wicked. They don’t imitate their ways and take on their way of living in this world. For those who do and don’t turn back their position will harden into their disposition. It will set like jelly in the fridge. They will take their stand in the way of the sinners and eventually find themselves sitting with mockers. Mockers are sinners that are so far from repentance that they are contemptuous of God and they mock those who would follow him.

We need to be very careful who we are listening to and following. Whatever you allow to shape your thinking will inevitably shape your life and will affect your heart. We need to be very careful as believers for we have a culture that is in so many ways trying to conform us to its way of thinking. But while we are called to be in the world, we are not called to be of the world (John 17:13-19). Like the apostle Paul told the Romans we are not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we might be able to test approve what God will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

We are not to go along with the way that everybody else might see things or do what everyone is around is doing, just because everybody else doing it and approving of it. This world in its rejection of God, mocks God and it approves of things that are not according to God’s good and pleasing and perfect will. We can’t allow the world to be what shapes us as believers. We can’t keep in step with what everybody else is doing and approving of just because everyone else is going that way. We are always tempted to go the way everyone else seems to be going.

Just after that major storm came through Sydney about a month ago, Kylie and I were travelling up to Belrose to pick something up that we needed for the Sunday. Just after the storm had gone through, I picked Kylie up from work and we headed up north not realising the full extent of the damage that the storm had caused. There were trees down in people’s front and back yards and across footpaths and powerlines and across roads. We should have probably turned back and gone home but we decided to press on and wind our way around the roads that were closed trying to get to Belrose.
Kylie was the navigator and had her phone out with its GPS and map giving me directions, but there were a couple of times that I fell into the trap of ignoring her directions, just because everyone else was heading the same way. You think that if all the others seem to be heading a certain way then it’s got to be the way to go. But, sometimes they’re just heading somewhere completely different to the way that you are meant to be going or you end up following everybody else on a road that leads nowhere and you have to turn around.

The righteous don’t follow everyone else just because everyone else seems to be going the same way together. They don’t keep in step with those who belong to this world, who don’t know God and his ways. They don’t take the way of the wicked and so they find themselves sitting with mockers or scoffers, those who have no place for God in the lives and ridicule those who do.

I want you to pause for a moment and get you to rewind and review 2019 and think for a moment as to who has been shaping you through the course of the year. What’s been setting the direction or the course of your life? Have you been just going along with what everybody else has been doing and getting on with life without much thought of God apart from a Sunday morning/evening which you squeeze into your busy life that is essential just the same as those around you? We need to be careful what we are filling our minds with and what really is shaping us and our lives. The world around us can have subtle but a powerful influence on us and we can adopt its ways and go down the road of the wicked without it even registering.

Sometimes I jump in the car and I’m so distracted that I don’t even think about where I’m heading and what I’m meant to be doing. I drive without thinking. I might be meant to be dropping one of the kids off at a friend’s place at the northern beaches or somewhere like that but before you know it, I’m on the way to Chatswood without thinking because I go there so often. My kids usually pick it up before I do and say, “Dad, where are you heading? Where are you going?” Well today/tonight I want to pose that question for, “Where are you heading? What road have you been on?”
Do you need to turn around and get back on the way that you should be going? Have you been ignoring God and the way that he wants you to live in this world? Have you put aside his good and perfect will for you for and just adopted the way that everybody else does things? Don’t let things get worse. Turn around now before you find yourself making your stand in the way of the sinner and sitting with the scoffers and end up somewhere you perhaps never intended.

b. Delight in the Lord’s instructions

The righteous who are blessed don’t take counsel from the wicked, but rather they delight in the Lord’s instructions.

Psalm 1:1-2
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

The Law (Torah) of the Lord is the instruction that the Lord has written down for his people to follow. It was his revelation of himself and his ways that had been written down so that the people of God might know him and follow him and enjoy life in the Land with him.

But what is involved in delighting in the law of the Lord? It means more than just having God’s revelation of himself around and pulling it on occasions, the psalmist talks of meditating on it day and night. It was this self-revelation of God that was to shape their lives as God’s people. They were to meditate on it day and night learning what the Lord was like and what it meant to live as his people. They were to read it and reflect on it and listen to it and know their God.

What was to shape their lives was not what they saw everybody else doing around about them or what the heard everybody else saying, but rather what the God had said in his world. They were to listen to the Word of God and put their trust in him. They were to meditate on his instructions and live them out. It was to shape their lives and direct their footsteps showing them the way to go. It was the will and purpose of God that was to direct their ways. The righteous are those who delight in the Word of God and know their God and delight in him and his ways.
The righteous delight in the word of God and are blessed because through this word the Lord saves them and then shapes them to be the person that he intended us to be. If we are not where we ought to be its probably because we are not delighting in the Word of God in the way that we ought. We aren’t allowing it to have the place that it should have in our lives. If you want to keep walking in the way that you should go, then you will need to give the Word of God the place it should have in your life. In 2020 you will need to make a place for prayerfully meditation on the word of God – regularly reading, reflecting on listening to it.

c. Are like trees planted by streams of water

The last thing that the psalmist says about such people is that they are like trees planted by streams of water. The image suggests three things about such people.

• Ample nourishment

The first is that have everything they need to be fruitfule. They have ample nourishment. What you need for something to grow is always a good water source. The location of the tree by streams (plural) of water suggest that the tree has an abundance of water. It has all that it needs to live and flourish in this world.

• Fruitfulness

The second thing about this tree is that it is fruitful. It does what it should do and bears its fruit in season. It bears fruit when it is meant to or when it should do so. The righteous whose lives are being shaped by the Word of God bear fruit. Their lives are fruitful having meaning and purpose. The Psalmist wrote in verse 3 that they prosper in whatever they do.
Now this doesn’t mean that they prosper in the way the world thinks of prospering – making money, acquiring wealth or gaining power or making a name for oneself or getting some sort of an advantage over others in life. It means that in whatever situation they face that they bear the sort of fruit that God intends them to have. No matter what they are confronted with, they do things in way that is pleasing to him, honouring him and glorify him in everything they do. The person who prospers isn’t the person who can say he or she did it their way, but the one who can say they did what they did to please the Lord and honour him.

• Life eternal

The last thing to note about these trees is that their leaf does not wither. It doesn’t grow old and fall off, but it goes on and on. The psalmist, I think is saying more than just the tree is amply supplied with water so that it leaves don’t whither on those hot dry days. He is also saying more than these trees aren’t deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter). He is saying more than that they are evergreen trees (trees that keep their leaves all year round). He is perhaps suggested that it is a tree that will go on. It is an everlasting tree and that the way of the righteous leads to life. He is suggesting that the righteous will live and not see destruction.

2.2 The way of the wicked (v4-5)

I think this is brought out in the second part of the psalm where the psalmist has contrasted the way of the wicked with what he has just said about the way of the righteous. He says in verse 4 that the wicked are not like the righteous. Follow along with me in your Bibles as I read what the psalmist says about the way of the wicked.

Psalm 1:4-5
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

• The wicked are like chaff

The wicked are not like everlasting fruitful trees that keep on going. Those who go the way of the wicked the psalmist says are like chaff which disappears with the wind. Chaff is what is left over after you’ve gone through the process of winnowing the harvest and removing the grain. In the ancient world you would separate the chaff from the grain by throwing it up into the air letting the heavier grain fall to the ground and letting the wind carry the lighter chaff away. It was that which you didn’t keep, but was blown away. It was like the wrapping paper of your gifts at Christmas, you kept what was inside, but you threw away the paper that was around them. The wicked don’t last as the psalmist will conclude in verse 6. He wrote that their way leads to destruction. It will come to nothing. It ends in destruction

• The wicked won’t stand in the judgment

The wicked don’t last because they are unable to stand in the judgment. When God’s judgement comes on this world, because the wicked have chosen to take their stand in the way of the wicked they won’t stand when the Lord judges the world. They will fall or stumble and not get up.

• The wicked won’t have a place among God’s people.

They wicked lastly won’t have place among God’s people. They’ll be excluded from the assembly of God’s people. They will be cut off from God and his people. It will be as Paul warned the Thessalonians.

2 Thess. 1:8-10

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.

 

It’s always important to understand where the road is going to take you, if you travel down it. You want to know where you are going to wind up if you keep going down the road that you are on, otherwise you might end up somewhere that you don’t want to be. Jesus said that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of His Father who is in heaven. On that day Jesus says there will be those who will come to him and say to him, “Lord, Lord” telling him what they did in his name, but he will tell them go away that he never knew them.

3. Your choice

What the psalmist has made clear to us all in this psalm is that all our ways just boil down, when it is all said and done, to just 2 ways to live.

3.1 There are only two ways

There is the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked and those who travel these ways end up walking in opposite directions with two very different outcomes.

Psalm 1:6

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

The way of the wicked leads to destruction but the other way, the way of the righteous, is the way of blessing for the Lord watches over that way. He knows those who are on it and watches over them. The question is which way is going to be the way that you will go.

3.2 The choice is yours

The choice is yours and its one that all people make like it or not. The default position is the way of the wicked and it is the way that most people go. The Lord Jesus pointed this out to his disciples telling them that the gate is wide, and the road is broad that lead to destruction and many are on that road.

Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

I don’t know which way you’ve been going this last twelve months. I don’t what road you have been on. I don’t know who it has been that you are listening to and allowing to shape the way that you think and live. But you need to understand that the righteous are those who delight in the Word of the Lord who meditate on it day and night. These are people who just don’t know what the word says, but they inwardly digest the word of God and its shapes them. They meditate on it looking for how it applies to them. You won’t find blessing down any other road that you chose to go down for eventually, all other roads merge into one, the superhighway that leads to destruction.

3.3 Listen to the Son

The righteous are those who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on his revelation of himself day and night. They listen to God and put his words into action in their lives. Ultimately, they are those who listen to his ultimate revelation of himself and put their trust in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to put our trust in him for he is the one who all Scripture ultimately points to him. All God’s promises find their fulfilment in him (2 Cor. 1:20).

3.4 Christ is our wisdom

You and I have turn away from what tries to pass itself off as wisdom in this world. It is foolishness in God’s eyes. Our delight is to be in his instruction which tells us what real wisdom is. It is Christ himself. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians Christ himself has become for us wisdom from God, that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption (see 1 Cor. 1:30). He is the way that the righteous live in this world. The Lord Jesus said that he was the way, the truth and life and no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). It is through putting our faith in him that we can stand on the day of judgment. He is the reason that we can be part of the assembly of God’s people. But we need to listen to him and trust him and follow him.

3.5 Delight in him

We must delight in him who is God’s word to us, and we need treasure the Scriptures that teach us what it means to belong to him and follow him. We need to meditate on them inwardly digesting them making them a part of our lives, day and night. For he is the way for us to go for only in him can we truly find life.