Sometimes one string can be plucked or one chord be plucked long enough that a person thinks that they know it all. I’ve seen this in a number of different areas. One instance is with music. A person who has played guitar in a rock band and knows a total of ten chords on their guitar can walk into a group of trained musicians thinking that they are awesome, but they can’t keep up and this reality is soon shown to be true.
One day I was sitting in Algebra class in High School. For some reason there was a free day in Mr. Nelson’s class and on a good day no one really seemed to care about what was going on in there. On this occasion one guy brought his guitar into the class. The guy who owned the guitar was playing pretty well and a friend of mine asked if he could play on it a little. And he couldn’t. He had only ever played on an electric guitar and couldn’t hold the strings down well enough to play this acoustic. He though he was pretty good, and today he is. But a lesson was learned that day. He had only played on his electric guitar at home and it wasn’t the same. He had not mastered the guitar by any stretch of the imagination.
I also saw it happen in choir when I was in college. I went in with no music knowledge and knew that everything was going to be an uphill battle. There were a good number of people who believed they were decent at music in my freshmen classes at Arkansas Tech. My Music Theory class shrunk from 35 or so students to 15 by the end of the first year, the same was true for Ear Training and really all other music classes. By the time I graduated there were only about seven or eight people who graduated with this music degree. These people had a little success in Junior High and High School and found learning all these things and performing all this music entirely too hard.
I am sure you’ve seen this in other areas. People who claim to be good at doing something, find out they aren’t really that good at it when they have to do more of it than they’ve ever done before.
I am afraid that by playing the same chord over and over we have done a disservice to you and made you think that you are better off than you really are.
The person who enjoys God’s special favor loves and delights in God’s Word.
What Do You Love? (Psalm 1:1-2)
Some people try to say that “blessed” means happy or joyful, but it means much more than that. Blessed means to enjoy God’s special favor.
Read the first stanza, verse 1-2, and what do you see characterizing the blessed man?
The first thing that you notice is that he does not walk-stand-sit, in the way of the wicked. He doesn’t walk “in the counsel of the wicked”. He does not stand “in the way of sinners”. And he certainly does not sit “in the seat of scoffers” (V. 1). There is a progression here. He doesn’t walk where the way of sin would lead him, he doesn’t stop there, and he doesn’t sit down in it. Verse one is the downward progression of sin. Think about what happens when we first consider sin, we do it with the intention of only passing through. We don’t intend to linger here long, but we go there. The second thing we see is standing. The person is stopping here to be in the midst of sin. He is no longer moving and attempting to pass through. The last image we have is a person sitting down, with no intention of leaving. This is not what characterizes the blessed person. The one that enjoys God’s special favor acts differently.
Rather than sitting to enjoy sin the person who enjoys God’s special favor delights in the “law of the Lord” (V. 2). We were teaching this passage to our children and I asked the question, “What does it mean to delight in ice cream?” My daughter threw her head back and said, “You eat it and you love it, it tastes so good, oh goodness and you never want to stop eating it.” I loved the dedication to ice cream. But her description goes a long way in helping us to understand what it means to delight in God’s Word. The person who enjoys God’s special favor delights in God’s Word. They enjoy God’s Word. They love it, reading it is a delight, and not only that they love to walk in its ways, stand in its ways, and sit in its ways, not in the ways of the wicked. Rather than relishing in the ways of the world they love God’s Word.
Charles Spurgeon once told his congregation, “There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write ‘Damnation’ with your fingers.” If you do not care about God’s Word then the dust on your Bible could be a sign of your eternal condition. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you opened up the Bible App on your phone just now and had to reload it because it had been so long since you last opened your Bible. If you don’t care about God’s Word and what it says then your condition is like that of the wicked man who walks in the counsel of the wicked, stands in the way of sinners and sits in the seat of scoffers (Psalm 1:1)
Rather than delighting in sin, the Christian delights in God’s Word. This is what takes up his thoughts. On it he “meditates” night and day.
How Firm Is Your Foundation? (Psalm 1:3-4)
The person who enjoys God’s special favor has something that the wicked person does not. They have a steadiness of life that does not just move along with the wickedness of this world. Instead, they are “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.” (Psalm 1:3 ESV) There is a firmly planted and rooted nature to the person who enjoys God’s special favor. I used to go fishing on creeks a lot and the Buffalo River when I was a teenager. The trees that hang out by these streams are magnificent. Their roots are massive. Their leaves are always green. They are always there doing what they are supposed to be doing and are always supplied with he nourishment that they need. The storms of life come and they withstand it. The droughts come and they withstand it. While everyone and everything else around them is withering away they stand.
I hope that you’ve seen this in the lives of believers before. The storms come, the droughts come, the hard times come and they withstand it all trusting firmly in God and loving His Word. This was the way of Joseph. Even in the midst of slavery, false accusations, and imprisonment, he prospered. He stood fast. This is how it is with Christians, even today. They hold fast to God’s Word and they prosper even in the storms. And they even bear fruit in the midst of the chaos.
It is not so with he wicked person. The person who does not trust or love God’s Word is not fruitful, but like “chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4 ESV). Chaff was seen at the threshing floor. The grain would be brought to a high surface, like a hill top. It would be flat so that work could be done here with the grain. The grain was tossed into the sky with a device that looks a lot like a hay fork and the grain would fall to the threshing floor while the chaff blew whatever way the wind was blowing. Rather than being fruitful and standing firm the chaff just blows away into the wind.
You’ve seen this in your own lives as well. The person who is not firmly rooted in God’s Word is tossed about by whatever sinful desire they wish to partake in. Hey, let’s lie to my parents. Hey, let’s try to get away with…whatever. Friends ask you to do things that you know you’re not supposed to do and you just go. You are carried about by whatever sinful desire you happen to want to take part in today. You are not firmly rooted in God’s Word, you don’t love it, and you don’t want to keep it. So, you live in the sinful desires that bring destruction to all sorts of people around you, but for some reason you don’t care. You imagine that it will go different with you. But it is not so.
The End of the Wicked and the Righteous (Psalm 1:5-6)
The dead chaff that floats around carried off by the wind will not stand in the judgement. They will not be found among the righteous. They will not be there. They were carried away by the winds of their own sinful desire to eternal death. They cared not for God or the things of God in this life and they will be carried far away from God in the life to come. They will not be with the righteous on the day of judgment. There will be a banquet for the people of God and an eternity of bliss that the wicked will not join. They will have been carried off by their own wicked desires and found themselves in the way that will perish.
Are you prepared for that day? Are you prepared to go to your eternity?
JC Ryle wrote in his book “Thoughts for Young Men”
“Surely none are so foolish as those who are content to live unprepared to die.”JC Ryle, “Thoughts For Young Men”
Are you prepared to die?
Here is the good news. One person has come and completely fulfilled all the requirements. Ultimately, He is the blessed man of Psalm 1. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins. If you trust in Him then God will bring you into fellowship with Him and make you a person on whom God’s special favor rests.
R. Dwain Minor