1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his Word he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
As a believer, my struggle for years has been, and continues to be on occasion, my personal time with God…guarding my time with Him alone. It’s a great thing to have other people pour into me, it’s a great thing to have pastor’s pour into me, musicians, mentors, but when I’m by myself, that’s me…the me that must learn how to spend time with Jesus and not just hear from Him through other people.
That’s exactly why I love this verse; “But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his Word he meditates day and night.” You don’t just read it, highlight it and say or think to yourself “I’ve got that one…I’m gonna read a new book or a new blog now and get some more cool stuff” You’re meditating in it…you’re marinating in it. You’re soaking it up until it becomes a part of you. After reading Psalm 1 numerous times, I noticed something perhaps even more profound…something that embraced me in a truly life-altering way. I noticed a correlation between what I was reading and the very dynamic that impedes the progress of being a believer.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers”
First he’s walking, then he’s standing, then he’s sitting. This individual is slowly shutting down.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…”
In this stage, he’s at the beginning of a downward spiral. It all began with his counsel… what he was reading, the music he was listening to, the things he clicked on, the people that he allowed to pour into his life and the people with whom he spent his time and eventually became…the very things he allowed himself to marinate in. I wasn’t aware of any of this. I became this man. Galatians 6:8 states this: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Notice that Paul describes only two kinds of sowing. The Bible speaks of the prepared and the unprepared, the wise and the foolish, the obedient and the disobedient, it also speaks of the spiritually-minded and the worldly-minded. Those who sow to the flesh will reap everlasting destruction; those who sow to the spirit will reap eternal glory. I’ve realized that old life situations or patterns will inevitably surface along the way. However, if I pour new life stuff into me…things that encourage me towards the life I’m trying to live and the insatiable desire to honor God in my life, this new life stuff will invariably come out. What an incredibly amazing thought! Now think about that and how it correlates to the first stage of Psalm 1:1…he walked in the counsel of the wicked. What if he doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked? That’s why this verse is a promise to those of us who do not. So how do you avoid walking in the counsel of the wicked? We guard what we let in our minds…to pour new life stuff into our new lives. This reminds me of a poignant line from the movie I watched a couple nights ago entitled “Luther” with Joseph Fiennes. At one point he states “My mind has been captivated by the Law of the Lord.” If you can embody this choice successfully and consistently, you’re no longer driven by old patterns and old choices.
Now, more than ever, we’re living in an instant-gratification society…full of entertainment, diversions, choices and temptation. We measure progress in chunks rather than in increments. We want overnight prosperity and long-term financing; fast food, instant stomach relief and rapid weight reduction. Every day, our minds are bombarded with messages that not only can we instantly get what we want, but that we deserve to instantly get it. The break we “deserve” is from this instant gratification attitude which leads to an insatiable appetite for instant gratification…dooming you to unpleasant after-affects which frequently outlast the quick fix.
Equally as important is the friends with whom you spend your time. Personally, I’ve had to carefully scrutinize this aspect of my life…those who I allow to pour into me. One of the mistakes I made with this I’ve found is that when I chose to walk with Christ, I immediately chose also to disassociate from certain friends because I wanted to give my life to Jesus and they did not. Instead, I’ve learned that I only needed to limit my involvement with these friends. This speaks to the clarity you are gaining at this point yet the discernment needed to sustain it. I can sit with these people, talk with them over the phone, send an instant message, meet them for lunch…but come Friday night, we’re not getting together because we get into trouble and fall back into the same patterns. With these certain friends (and we all have had them)…we only hurt each other and hinder each other’s progress. At the end of the day these are FAILED friendships. This is true for grade school, college and adult friendships…your weaknesses are not complimenting each other…just pouring gas on a fire. You must discern the time you spend with these individuals and ask yourself ‘are we helping each other in any way?’ If you want to honor God in your life, is it not equally as important to point them to God as well in your decisions and your actions? Your counsel is EVERYTHING. Who and what you allow to pour into your mind is EVERYTHING.
“Blessed is the man who does not…stand in the way of sinners…”
First he’s walking in the counsel of the wicked now he’s standing in the way of sinners. This means the things that were once in his mind…the things he was dealing with and perhaps tormented with because he didn’t have good counsel and he wasn’t spending time with God. At this point, it’s beginning to surface in his life, his decisions and his actions…so much so that people that don’t even know God can see it. The people that are around him at work, at school, at the game or at the mall…they see something that’s not right. They hear him say he’s a Christian but they see his life and they see a disconnect. They want nothing to do with it and they begin to disassociate. I NEVER want to be in a place like that again…where they way I’m living and the choices I make are not only affecting me but are affecting others around me. You don’t just fall by yourself…you don’t simply compromise by yourself. You’re ALWAYS going to take someone down with you. When we’re standing in the way of sinners, we’re affecting other people…we’re affecting people who don’t know God and also affecting those who do know God. That’s what this backward progression does to you. First it takes you down in your mind, and then it comes out in your life and begins to affect other people.
“Blessed is the man who does not…sit in the seat of mockers.”
First he’s walking, then he’s standing and now he’s sitting. He’s numb…he’s bitter. He finds himself in church one day, looks at someone’s hands in the air, their eyes closed, a smile on their face and thinks to himself ‘look at that person…that’s not real…they’re just doing that to be seen.’ At this point, it’s so much easier to say that than to say ‘look at that person…they have something I don’t…they’re in a place I want to be.’ When you’re in this phase and you’re sitting in the seat of mockers, the bitterness becomes pervasive. You want nothing to do with worship…you want nothing to do with prayer…you have shut down.
How can I relate to all of this? It’s because I’ve been there. I’ve been in every stage of this backward progression. I’ve now realized I couldn’t let go of a life without accountability. The going out…the disconnecting from the marriage was because I was simply afraid of accepting responsibility…at times when I didn’t have a choice, I would become responsible long enough to smooth it over and I was back into the same destructive patterns. It can be seen every day in all walks of life and I’m living proof…as an irresponsible, demotivated adult, the behavior can become so ingrained and so systematic that you live in a perpetual state of denial. You become manipulative and dishonest. You become indignant and outright disrespectful. You’ll do or say just about anything to ensure your life without rules, boundaries or accountability is sustained and uninterrupted. The sad part is that subconsciously…it’s tearing at you inside. You constantly move through moments of feeling shame and guilt yet your wheels keep spinning. You’re not happy with yourself and the repeated behavior but you seemingly have no resolve to put an end to it. Those close to you share the consequences as well. They see the patterns and make attempt after attempt to save you and to provide you with a way out. You may see the consequences but you’re completely oblivious to them.
I’ve often described this point in one’s life as the ultimate fight or flight syndrome. You can either lament or remain bitter…or you can replace all the blame, the guilt and the animosity with responsibility, belief, patience and discernment. Use this patience and discernment to pour good things into you. Say what you think but LIVE what you believe. Live your life knowing that faith is substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen.