Reflections From the Psalms

Posted on: January 22nd, 2012

Psalm 1 describes the two destinies of mankind. One destiny is to follow the way of wickedness, and the other is to follow the way of God. Life often seems to be so complicated with day-to-day activities, decisions, and experiences. But life really boils down to two, and only two, possible paths – life or death.

In verse 1, the Psalm begins with the word “blessed”, and it describes the person that follows the path of righteousness. “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!” For a person that strives to follow God’s will, and lives a life that is God- centered, Psalm 1, in fact the entire Bible, is a message of hope.

Many people, even professing Christians, often question the practicality of the Bible when dealing with issues of modern day life. Obviously, people tend to focus on the problems they are facing, but how many problems are never experienced because a person followed the teachings of the Bible? The alcohol induced wreck that never happened, the drug addiction that never occurred, and the marriage that was never destroyed due to an affair because people focused their lives on God given principles. So many pit- falls avoided!

In verse 3, the psalmist described such a person as a tree, “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 image is of a tree that is so deeply rooted that storms, drought, and flood do not affect it. This describes a person, whose life is directed by the Word of God. The storms of life will happen, and there are definitely times where the only thing a Christian will have is faith that God will find a solution. And it works! A strong Christians can face, and overcome, terrible trials that would destroy just about anyone else.

Although Psalm 1 was written long before the coming of Jesus Christ, the same principle is repeated time and again in the New Testament. James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jas 1:2-4 NASV) Faith must be exercised to become strong. Every person that has participated in a sport has had to train, exercise, and practice. The first few days of training always lead to sore muscles, but each day finds the person stronger. Likewise, the person that “follows the path of righteousness” will develop a faith that is anchored deep in the soil and rock of the Lord.

The fate of the wicked cannot be more different. “The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” The source of evil is, of course, Satan. He controls any person that is in rebellion to God’s Will. Many people actually seem to embrace a life of wickedness, but allegiance to Satan will result in a life that becomes increasingly dark and miserable. A sinful life will literally suck the spirit, youth and vitality out of a person. It’s no coincidence that people will look at someone and say, “Boy he looks like he’s lived a hard life.” The final result will be the loss of everything and then death. Satan shows no loyalty to his “tools”.

The psalmist wrote, “They are like chaff which the wind drives away”. Too often, the wicked and their activities loom very large in this world. Strength and power seem to rest with those that will not follow the Lord. Yet, how permanent are they? They are “like chaff” – They are like little pieces of trash that are blown about. What is strong or important in the world is not necessarily strong and important to the Lord. By it’s very nature, wickedness is rotten at the core. The title “Caesar” no longer brings fear. Nazi Germany and the USSR are subjects for history tests.

Verse 6 concludes with the final scene, “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Notice how people, who have lived completely worldly lives, try to avoid any sign of aging. As death approaches, they become increasingly desperate to delay the inevitable. The thought of dying and being forgotten is frightening.

But “the LORD knows the way of the righteous”. God remembers His children! The service, the faithfulness, the love, the prayers, and the tears are all remembered. In Christ, a person’s life has meaning, and it is not forgotten! But the wicked will perish, and it will be as if they never existed.

So which destiny will it be? Will it be eternal life or will it be oblivion?

Jim Shelburm