The Blessed Man

The Declaration of Independence states that one of the reasons for the formation of this country, this society we call “America” was to be able to engage in the “pursuit of happiness.” And Americans are certainly engaged in that pursuit. Of course everyone seems to have their own twist to what will make them happy. For some it is money, others power, prestige or fame. Some just want a simple life without care, while others want to live in the fast pace life of the Rat Race. Some look for happiness within themselves, and others outside themselves. Some search for it in the accomplishments of man, others in the natural environment. And yet, with all this pursuing of this elusive state of happiness, there are so few who find it.

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

September 3, 2000

The Blessed Man
 

Psalm 1
INTRODUCTION

The Declaration of Independence states that one of the reasons for the formation of this country, this society we call “America” was to be able to engage in the “pursuit of happiness.” And Americans are certainly engaged in that pursuit. Of course everyone seems to have their own twist to what will make them happy. For some it is money, others power, prestige or fame. Some just want a simple life without care, while others want to live in the fast pace life of the Rat Race. Some look for happiness within themselves, and others outside themselves. Some search for it in the accomplishments of man, others in the natural environment. And yet, with all this pursuing of this elusive state of happiness, there are so few who find it.

Why? Where can happiness be found?

Not in the philosophy of men. Voltaire was a very accomplished philosopher, yet he wrote: “I wish I had never been born.”

Not in Money. Jay Gould, the American Millionaire, had plenty of that. Yet when dying, he said: “I suppose I am the most miserable devil on earth.”

Not in Position and Fame. Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both, yet he wrote: “Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, old age a secret.”

Not in Pleasure. Lord Byron, who reveled in pleasure all his days, wrote on his last birthday: “My days are in the yellow leaf; The flowers and fruits of life are gone; The worm, the canker, and the grief; Are mine alone.”

Not in Power. Napoleon Bonaparte was a man that at one time certainly possessed power. Yet, while a prisoner in St Helena, he mused: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires. But on what did we found them? On Force! Jesus Christ alone founded His on Love, and today there are millions who would die for Him.”

Solomon summarized man’s effort to pursue after happiness best when he said, “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” Man’s effort to find happiness by his own means and methods is just so much chasing after the wind. A morning mist, a vapor, that vanishes.

This morning we are going to be examining the “blessed” man. “Blessed” from the Hebrew, ” ‘AshAr” meaning “happiness,” “bliss.” What can bring about bliss in a person’s life. What should man pursue if he is really to find happiness?

We are going to look for the answer to that question this morning by examining the Blessed Man and comparing him in both lifestyle and reward with the Ungodly Man

THE BLESSED MAN’S LIFESTYLE

The psalmist looks at the blessed man’s lifestyle from two vantage points. The first is from what he does not do, and the second from what he does do. First, what does the blessed man not do.

Vs. 1. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” How “blessed,” “happy,” “blissful,” “joyous,” is the man who does not do these certain things. It is well that the proposition is stated from the negative aspect. If the psalmist had said, “walked in the way of the good,” it would have made no reference to the person’s relationship with the wicked. Just because a person keeps some good company does not keep that person from the influence of the wicked company he also keeps. It is not enough for a person to “walk in the counsel of the good,” or “stand in the way of the virtuous,” or “sit in the seat of the faithful” if there is also influence from the wicked. The blessed man must also not “walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” The stress of this proposition is much more strong and forceful by stating it as a negative rather than as a positive. But what does he mean not to “walk in the counsel of sinners, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor seat in the seat of scoffers”?

To “walk in the counsel of the wicked” means to hear and follow the advice of those who do not follow godliness. The starting point is who do you get your counsel, advice, guidance, from. The second part is what you do with it. When you have a problem, to whom do you turn for help? Who do you look to for counsel? Where do you get your advice? “Psychic Live”? “Ann Landers”? Talk-show Psychologists? Non-Christians at work/school? The first part is the source of the council.

The second part is what you do with that counsel. We all hear ungodly advice even when we don’t want it, but we can protect ourselves by not heeding it. Do not follow the wisdom of this world. Look for godly counselors and walk in their advice.

 

The split in the Kingdom of Israel came about because of ungodly advice. 1 Kings 12 records the division of the Kingdom because of King Rehoboam’s foolishness. The people came to him and said, “Your father made our yoke hard; therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you” (vs 4). King Rehoboam wisely decided to get some advice on dealing with this matter. First, he went to those men who had counseled his father. They told him, “If you will be a servant to this people today, will serve them, grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (vs 7). Rehoboam received very good advice, but he rejected it and searched out additional counsel. He finally got what he wanted to hear from the men he had grown up with. They told him to increase the burden on the people (vs10,11). That was the advice he followed with the result being “When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king saying, ‘What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents. O Israel! Now look after your own house, David'” (vs 16) The Kingdom split into Israel and Judah.

How often something similar to this happens to both those outside and inside the church. Even if they hear good counsel, some godly advice, they reject that counsel and instead listen to ungodly advice. They walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and they eventually bear the penalty of it. Have you ever been on the “wrong end of the stick” after someone had already “told you so” and you wished you had listened? How blessed is the man that rejects the advice the ungodly and restricts himself to the counsel of the godly. He will live in righteousness.

The Psalmist went on to say that the blessed man not only does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly/wicked. The Blessed man also does not “stand in the path of sinners.” The blessed man is careful of who he “hangs around with.” He chooses his friends wisely because he is aware of the influence friends have upon us. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.Proverbs 22:24,25 adds to this when it says, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Lest you learn his ways, And find a snare for yourself.” This is not to say that the blessed man does not try to reach out to sinners and he
lp them change their ways. Christ certainly did that. But it is to say that the blessed man does not stand with them. You will not find the blessed man hanging out with the gang every Friday night while they think of some mischief they can get into. The blessed man may talk with them, but they are not his buddies. Who do you count as your friends, your pals, your compatriots? Who do you hang around with?

The Psalmist goes on and says that the blessed man does not “sit in the seat of scoffers.” By Jewish custom, when a person was going to teach, he sat down to do so. David says that the blessed man is not a teacher with the scoffers. The scoffers were men who derided, and ridiculed the godly. If the last is true, then the first two will certainly be true. The man that repeats the words of the scoffers is also someone who stands with sinners and walks in the counsel of the ungodly.

 

The blessed man is careful of who he gets counsel from, he is careful of who he has as his close friends, and he certainly does not espouse the ridicule of the ungodly to others. The blessed man is on the opposite extreme. What the blessed man does not do is “walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” What then does the blessed man do?

Vs. 2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

The blessed man’s delight is in the law of the LORD, and because that is his delight, his joy, he meditates on it both day and night. This kind of delight in the law of the LORD is seen very clearly in Psalm 119. Look at some of the things said there about the Word of God.

Vs 7: “I shall give thanks to Thee with uprightness of heart, When I learn Thy righteous judgements.”

Vs 14: “I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, AS much as in all riches.”

Vs 24 – “Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.

Vs 40 – “Behold, I long for Thy precepts.”

Vs 47 “And I shall delight in Thy commandments, Which I love…”

Vs 54 “Thy statutes are my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.”

Vs 72 “The law of Thy mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

Vs 92 “If Thy law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.

Vs. 103 “How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Vs 111 “I Have inherited Thy testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart,”

Vs 127 “Therefore I love Thy commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold.”

Vs 140 “Thy Word is very pure, Therefore Thy servant loves it.”

Vs 164 “Seven times a day I praise Thee, Because of Thy righteous ordinances.”

Vs. 174 “I long for Thy salvation, O LORD, And Thy law is my delight.”

Why such delight in the Law of the LORD? Because both the nature and effect of the law were very clearly understood. Psalm 19:7-11 speaks clearly to that.

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandments of the LORD are pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether;

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much find gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned;

In keeping them there is great reward.

The blessed man’s delight is in the Word of God. Do you delight in the Scriptures as described here? Do you meditate on them both day and night?

When we speak of meditation in the Bible we are not talking about zoning out and repeating it like a mantra as in Transcendental Meditation of Eastern Mysticism. We are talking about taking the Word of God and mulling it over in our minds. Pondering, contemplating, reflecting, thinking about what it means and how it can be applied in one’s own life. The idea is the same as a cow chewing its cud. You have bitten it off before, and now you regurgitate it and start chewing on it again. You will swallow it and then bring it back at another time to chew on it again. You are seeking to extract every bit of meaning and application that is in the passage you are meditating on.

Example, take John 17:17 and meditate on it. “Thy word is truth.” Think about the context: Jesus is talking about the Law of God in the midst of a prayer for his disciples and us who have followed the disciples. Think about each word and its meaning, reference, and emphasis. It is “Thy” word. It is God’s word, not just any word. It is the word God speaks to us. It is His “Word.” God has communicated to us. God’s word is the Bible. The Bible is God’s communication to us. That word is “Truth.” There is no falsehood in it. If I am to live in freedom, then I must know the truth. If I am in to live in a way that will not end in tragedy, then I must live according to the truth. It is the Word of God that is truth. Therefore I must know the Word of God. I must start diligently studying it today!

The Blessed man’s “delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Do you? If you do, then there is a reward.

THE BLESSED MAN’S REWARD

Vs. 3 “And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

The blessed man is compared to a tree that is planted by streams of water. Notice first that this tree is planted. It is not a wild sprout that happens to come up there. It is placed there on purpose by design. The future of the blessed man is not controlled by happenstance, luck or chance. It is controlled according to the providence of God. God is personally and intimately involved in the events of the blessed man’s life. In addition, the streams of water mentioned most probably refer to the streams of water that occur in the irrigated orchards of the ancient middle east. Summers are long, hot and dry. The rains of the winter would be stored in various manners such cisterns and catch ponds. During the summer, the trees which were planted in orchards would be watered by letting water released from a catch pond or cistern run down ditches dug between them. There would be “rivers” of water between the trees. The blessed man is cultivated by God. God always provides just what the blessed man needs just when he needs it. It is no wonder then that the blessed man does bear fruit at the proper season, and his leaf never withers. That does not mean there cannot be droughts and times when insects and disease will attack. But it does mean that God is carefully watching each event and will provide just what is needed at the proper time so that the blessed man will bring forth fruit. That includes pruning as well as irrigation & fertilization.

It is important to note that the blessed man will bring forth fruit. The idea of fruit is used throughout Scripture. In the New Testament alone, John the Baptist required the people to “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Jesus said that by a persons fruit you would know their character because bad fruit does not grow on good trees (Matt. 7:17-19). There are the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22,23). And Christians are to bear fruit for God (Rm 7:40) which are such things as good works (Col 1:10); righteousness (Heb 12:11) and praise to God (Heb 13:15). But fruit only comes in its season – not before and not after. Apricots come in late spring, peaches in the summer, pears and apples in late summer and fall. Each
needs certain conditions of soil, water, light, and even the amount of cold in the winter. In addition, Jesus said in John 15 that He was the vine and we were the branches. None of these things can produce fruit unless they are connected to the trunk. We cannot produce fruit unless we are connected to Jesus. We must be abiding in Him (John 15:4), and to abide in Jesus means to walk in the same manner as Jesus did. We are to be obedient to Him (1 John 2:6).

If I am cultivated by God. If He is the one that is watching over me, taking care of me – watering, fertilizing, pruning. Then I will bear fruit at the proper season, and I will not wither. What ever the blessed man does, he will prosper in it.

Joshua put it this way in Joshua 1:8 when he told the children of Israel, “this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will have success.” The blessed man’s reward is success. Fruit comes in its season because he “does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” Instead, the blessed man “delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates in it day and night.” He is a planted tree that bears fruit and prospers.

THE WICKED MAN’S LIFESTYLE

The contrast between the blessed man and the wicked cannot be seen more clearly seen than what this Psalm says to describe them. Two simple words in verse 4. The wicked are “not so.” They are the opposite of the blessed in their lifestyle. They do walk in the counsel of the ungodly. They do stand in the way of sinners. They do sit in the seat of scoffers. They do not delight in the law of the Lord and the last thing they would ever do is meditate on it day and night.

The slide into wickedness is a progression. Here is Psalm 1 it starts from getting counsel from the ungodly and following that counsel. It progresses to the point where the person is close friends with those who give such ungodly counsel. The are his buddies, his associates, his comrades. The third step is down is becoming a teacher with those that give such ungodly counsel. He become a teacher of unrighteousness himself. It starts by listening, then goes to following, degenerating so that the wicked are your peers, and finally, the person is not only becomes one of ungodly, but a teacher of wickedness.

Paul shows a similar progression in Romans 1. The ungodly first just fail to honor and give thanks to God resulting in their hearts being darkened. Then they turn their backs on God and worship created things rather than the Creator, and they are given over to degrading passions. Finally, they will not even acknowledge God, and they are given over to depraved minds.

We must be careful when we think of the wicked here because this is not just referring to what our society thinks of as wicked such as murderers, child abusers, swindlers, etc. Paul gives us several lists of what true wickedness – Romans 1:29-31; 1 Cor 6:9,10; Gal 5:19-21. In the list in Romans 1:29-31 Paul sees describes the wicked as those who are “filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving , unmerciful;” Recognize anything you or someone you know struggles with? I do.

What is the result of having such a lifestyle?

THE WICKED MAN’S REWARD

First, (vs. 4) men like that are “not so” – the opposite of the blessed man – “are like chaff which the wind drives away.” Chaff is useless and worthless. It has no strength of its own. A wind comes and it goes where ever the wind takes it. So are the wicked. They are tossed about by every thing that comes down the road. They are affected by whatever new fad comes along. The problem is not fads in clothing, hair, jewelry, diets, places to eat, music, slang, and causes. It is the fads of religious doctrine that are so dangerous. Such is the wicked man. He is useless. He has no reference in truth and so he cannot think for himself resulting in being tossed about by the winds of the opinions of others.

Verse 5 adds, “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” When the wicked stand before God’s judgement seat, they will not endure. They will have judgement pronounced against them. Jesus says in Matt. 25:41, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Revelation 20:15 says, “if anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” The wicked will not make it past the judgement seat to stand with the assembly of the righteous. The sheep and the goats will be separated. The wheat and the tares will be separated. The wicked will go to eternal punishment and the righteous to the blessings of the Father in the kingdom prepared for them from the foundations of the world (Matt 25).

You see, it is all summed up in verse 6. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”

Where do you stand today? Are you one of the ungodly that thinks they are pursuing happiness, but is actually on the path to hell? You need to give your life to Christ today and have your name written in the book of life. Please talk to me or one of the church leaders after the service and get your life right with God today.

Maybe you have made a profession of faith in Christ, but your life is more characterized by the wicked than the Blessed Man. You find that you have been walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, sitting in the seat of scoffers. Paul says in 2 Cor 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” First, you need to make sure you understand salvation. Second, you need to get involved with others who will teach you how to walk daily with Christ. You need to see one of the church leaders today and get your life straightened out.

Maybe you see that you are becoming more and more like the blessed man of Psalm 1 as the Holy Spirit works in you. Take some time today to thank God for what He has done for you. Thank Him that He is the one cultivating you so that you will bring forth fruit for Him at the proper season. That is true happiness. It is a joy that neither the world or circumstances can take away from you.

Sermon Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “blessed” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents the difference between the “Blessed man” of Psalm 1 and the ungodly man.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

Where do different people try to find happiness? How many people to you know are truly content and happy? What does it mean to “not walk in the counsel of the wicked”? Is it enough to get godly counsel? Why or why not? Who do you get your counsel from? Are they a godly person? What happened in ancient Israel when King Rehoboam did not follow the truths of this Psalm? What does it mean to “stand in the path of sinners”? Who are your friends? What influence do you have on them? What influence to they have on you? What does it mean to “sit in the seat of scoffers”? What do you teach others by your words and actions? Do you delight in the Bible? If not, what do you delight in? If so, why? What does the Psalmist mean to “meditate”? Explain how and why of Biblical meditation. Meditate on Matt
hew 6:33 and then write down your thoughts and how the verse can be applied in your own life. What is the blessed man’s reward? How do these rewards come to him? What “fruit” does the blessed man bear? How is the wicked man contrasted with the Blessed man? What defines a person as being wicked? Are these things you have also done? How can you be made righteous? What are the results of living in wickedness? What are the ultimate results? If you are not living in the manner of the “Blessed Man” what needs to be changed in your life? When will you make those changes? Make a commitment today to change and ask someone else to hold you accountable.

 

Sermon Notes – 9/3/2000 A.M.

 

 

 

The Blessed Man – Psalm 1

 

INTRODUCTION

The pursuit of happiness

THE BLESSED MAN’S LIFESTYLE (vs. 1-2)

What He Does Not Do

Walk in the counsel of the wicked

Having some good counsel does not keep a person from the influence of the wicked counsel he also hears

1 Kings 12

Stand in the path of sinners

Proverbs 12:26; 22:24,25

Sit in the seat of scoffers

What He Does Do

Delighting in the law of the LORD

Psalm 119:7, 14, 24, 40,47,54, 72, 92, 103, 111, 127, 140, 164, 174

Psalm 19: 6-11

Meditating Day and Night

The idea is the same as a cow chewing its ______. You are seeking to extract every bit of __________ and application that is in the passage you are meditating on.

THE BLESSED MAN’S REWARD (vs. 3)

Cultivated

The tree is _______________ in its location by _____________.The blessed man is cultivated by God.

Bearing Fruit

Matthew 3:8; 7:17-19; Galatians 5:22,23; Romans 7:40; Hebrew 12:11; 13:15; John 15:4;

Prospering

Joshua 1:8

THE WICKED MAN’S LIFESTYLE (vs. 4)

They are the _______________ of the blessed in their lifestyle.

The slide into wickedness is a_________________. Cf Romans 1

Romans 1:29-31; 1 Cor 6:9,10; Gal 5:19-21.

THE WICKED MAN’S REWARD (vs. 4-6)

Chaff

He has no reference in_______ and so he cannot_________ for himself resulting in being tossed about by the winds of the opinions of others.

Judgement

Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:15