A Bible Lesson on Psalm 1, 19:7-9

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This is a lesson outside the current ISSL lesson rotation on Psalm 1 and 3 verses from Psalm 19.  These speak eloquently of the beauty of God’s word and His way.  Psalm 1 is not only first in order of the Psalms, but functions as a worthy introduction to the whole set of Psalms.  It lays out two ways of life (and there are only two) and the end of people who choose them.  Motyer calls it a sort of creed that affirms the blessedness of a righteous man and the conviction that God will see him through.  It’s a beautiful, uplifting statement of the way things really are.

Psalm 1:1 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;

How happy the man, but more than happy that is simply a feeling; how genuinely well off and content; how truly in line with the way things are is the man who walks not, nor stands nor sits.  There’s a firmness and resolve in these expressions. This is a state that’s not come upon by accident, but by clear-headed choice.  This first man purposes to have no part of thinking, behaving or belonging to the system of the world.  The public life of this first man is distinctive.  He differs with the principles of the world, he has no common cause or position with those who are at odds with God’s law, he shuns the fellowship of avowed enemies of God.  He doesn’t accept the advice of the world, he isn’t party to its ways and he doesn’t adopt its damning arrogant attitude of scoffing.  Such a man is truly blessed/profoundly happy.  This is one who marches independent of the world system.

2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Well, if it’s not the standards of the world, what is it?  It’s the word of God that this man esteems.  It’s his delight.  It’s all that makes him happy.  It’s what has captured his heart, not the counsel of the wicked, but the law of God, the Scriptures.  That’s the point around which this blessed man’s life pivots.  And it is his constant focus.  Continually he thinks about it and thinks in its terms.  It governs his thinking, his positions, his attitudes and his fellowship.  He is constantly mulling it over, and as he does so, that is evident in his doing/behavior.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.

He’s like a tree intentionally planted beside God’s irrigation canal.  He’s not some unfortunate scrub tree dropped in the middle of a wasteland by a bird.  Instead, there’s plenty of water and as a result, he’s a healthy growing organism.  There’s soundness and wholeness here.  This is a person of substance.  There’s growth into what God has ordained him to be, and in the proper time, there is fruit from that development, f ruit for God’s glory.  This person doesn’t drop his leaves early.  Drought doesn’t touch him.  That’s not a promise that life is easy for this man, but it’s a statement about the character and fiber of the person.  And it’s a statement that seen or unseen, this person is sustained by water from the Almighty.  This is one solid, attractive picture.  This is a person who will stand in the storm and provide shelter and stability for others.

4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

In contrast is the second man, the wicked, the one who is not steeped in the water of the Word.  Everything the first man is, the second man isn’t.  He’s not of substance.  There’s nothing lasting about him or anything he’s concerned about.  We ought to reflect carefully on what is and is not of any enduring value.  It’s a horrible thing when people God fashioned for eternity choose to squander their God-given breath and energy on things of no substance, on chaff, on straw.  It’s awful when they become themselves like chaff that the wind drives away.  David says there are two paths.  Jesus said there are two paths.  One produces people of substance, the other produces straw.  It makes vain, light and empty persons.  One path is constantly bathed in the Scriptures, the other is not, and finds its direction in counsel of the world system.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

There are only two paths and they diverge.  There is nothing the least bit arbitrary about this.  THEREFORE says the Psalm.  This is logical consequence of taking the path away from God’s law.  And it is serious business.  There will be collapse when faced with God’s judgment and there will be separation from those who are right with God, not at all happy prospects.  Those walking away from God are not only becoming like straw, they have no future.

6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

The LORD, Yahweh/Jehovah/the I AM knows the way of the righteous.  He knows the righteous not only in the sense of being informed about them, but also in the sense of deeply caring about and owning or identifying Himself with them.  He watches over them and approves their whole character and conduct.  That is in contrast to the situation of the other man, the one headed for disaster.  There are only two roads and two destinations.  The one revolves around the word of God.  The other doesn’t.

Consider now the 19th Psalm and David’s words there about the word of God.

Psalm 19:7  The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

The Psalm says “law,” “testimony,” “precepts,” “commandment,” “fear,” “rules.”  These are all different ways of talking about the same thing.  “law” is a comprehensive word for the whole of God’s revealed will.  “testimony” emphasizes that it is attested to by God Himself.  It’s He that authenticates it.  (Who else could be in the position of doing so?)  “precepts” and “commandment” emphasize that God speaks to us with precision and with authority.  He tells us plainly and carefully how things ought to be with us.  He provides definite rules to govern our thoughts and actions.  His word ought to cause us to respond in humility and reverence, in the “fear” of God.  His “rules” or judgments or ordinances refer to His pronouncements as judge over human affairs.   These are all facets of His holy word.  It is all, every bit of it beneficial and desirable.

God’s word is “perfect.”  It is inerrant.  It’s without the slightest flaw, fault or failing.  It’s sufficient and complete.  God’s word is “sure.”  It’s firm and it’s confirmed.  It’s faithful as it reflects the fidelity and loyalty of God Himself.  God’s word is “right.”  It’s straightforward and just.  It’s morally straight.  It’s not crooked or perverse.  It encourages the godly to be upright and morally straight.  God’s word is “pure.”  It’s radiant.  It’s unadulterated and it produces a “clean” fear of the LORD.  It produces a purity of life that lasts.  God’s word is “true.”  It is dependable.  It’s trustworthy.  It reflects God’s own integrity.  It is true in principle and it is verifiable in practice.  It give us an honest picture of the way things are.  And God’s word is “righteous.”  It is righteous every bit of it, all of the same righteous piece.  Contrast these characteristics of God’s word with man’s word, what men say to each other.  Stack them up against the compromise, insincerity, and half-truths that characterize human interchanges.

This wonderful word does wonderful things in those that properly esteem it and make it the delight of their lives.  The word of God revives the soul.  You and I can become sick at heart, spiritually ailing or exhausted.  It’s the word of God that restores us, that brings strength, comfort and health.  Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul.   He does so through the ministry of His word and the ministry of His Spirit.  The word of God makes wise the simple.  You and I are naturally gullible.  In ourselves, we are easily led astray into error and harm by whoever happens to be blabbing.  God’s word matures us and grows us up.  God’s word rejoices the heart.  It produces real peace and tranquility as we mediate on it, roll it around in our minds, savor it.  God’s word enlightens the eyes.  It puts life in the eyes of the believer.  It’s evident that there is “somebody home” in the countenance of a Christian believer.  Walk along the sidewalk and look into the dull glazed eyes of the mass of people who have had no real exposure to eternal truth.  There is no light in their eyes.  But God’s word gives light to the eyes.  And God’s word endures forever.  It is immutable.  It changes not with the time or with human fashion.  There is nothing transitory or passing about it.  It, like God Himself, stands absolutely steady.

Here is a .pdf of this lesson.

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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