My hope for this blog is to share what I learn from the scriptures in a simple way so as many who want to can benefit from what is shared. My move has taught me many things- trust, pursuit, passion, readiness- and teaching is something I felt inclined to since my childhood, but always found a way to avoid it. Luckily, I have learned by this time, that a lot of the things I feel like running from are actually things God wants me to tend to. Under the encouragement of one of my good friends I have made in this move, I have agreed to share what I learn on a blog.
I have not selected the Psalms as my starting point because they are ‘easy’. Any book you read can be ‘easy’ if you don’t dig deep enough. And while I am sharing what I have learned from what I read, I hope you will journal alongside and add your own thoughts. The goal here isn’t to build up a blog that puts people down and keeps them out from understanding, it is to build up a community that seeks truth. I have selected the Psalms because in my most recent season, praising God has been a trial. Not that bad things have happened, actually the opposite! Things have been so great, that I feel like I should have more words of thanks on my lips day and night! A song to sing when things are good so when things go bad I still know the song by heart- because my heart knows of God’s goodness when my eyes show me otherwise. (You know Paul? He always had a song on his heart! Acts 16 has the account.)
To begin, I will share that I love using 3 Bible resources for my studies- my top favorite is the Blue Letter Bible (BLB), great for looking up deeper meaning to certain words, comparing different translations, and even has great commentaries! I also love using my ESV journal Bible, which definitely doesn’t have enough space for my writing, but is still nice to carry so I don’t have to take a notebook everywhere too. My newest favorite is a KJV Thompson Chain reference Bible. I love the KJV because I have learned that even my ESV (which I enjoy and don’t find it too different from KJV) can sometimes change a word in a verse and that changes the context drastically. But whichever version you chose should be able to follow along!
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
I like to try reading the Psalms to some tune, but this one is a tough one to sing! Yet it is such a good lesson. We aren’t sure who wrote this Psalm, but it is such a great start to this huge book- the worldy and wicked contrasted with the godly. I think it is worth noting that the writer begins by telling us what things DON’T make a blessed man- walking with the ungodly (wicked), standing with sinners, sitting with the scornful (scoffers). He does not delight in their company. In the second epistle of John, verse 10, we read “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the doctrine of Christ- of grace and love), receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” This was a really life changing verse to me. On the surface, this sounds almost like an excuse to never interact with a nonbeliever. But it’s not. It’s a call for Christians to guard themselves, as temples of the Holy Spirit. Our call will always be to serve, but if we aren’t careful with who we keep most of our company with, that bad seed will come in and pollute our Spirits.
“Walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly”- it is the active verb in the first verse. He does not actively look for ungodly people, people of the world, for his counsel. When a problem arises, he knows better then to follow the advice of these people. I can share a personal example here: I have a dear friend, I call him Songbird for praise is always on his lips and he is a great encouragement to me. Songbird was one of my first friends in my new place, and we did awesome things together- visiting local sites, church hopping, fishing, and my favorite, sitting in the trunk of my car having deep talks about God. But the more I shared these stories about my amazing friend, the more the world poked and jeered at me “Are you all dating yet?” “Don’t you want there to be more?” etc.- And eventually my guard dropped and I wrecked that amazing friendship we had, I felt so awful. Then I realized- this was the enemy- because I understood that this friendship was given to me from God, and such a huge blessing to me that the world could not understand. I had shared my stories, not seeking the counsel of others in this manner, but it ended up breaking me down anyway.
“…nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” These two are more stationary verbs. The blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners. Sinners have a path, and they stand in it, as in they have no escape as they are without God. But the blessed man has a different path! (Matthew 7:13). The scornful love to sit in company of others like them and scoff at the people of God. The blessed man doesn’t have time for these things, though, and knows the righteous path to take. There are some studies that look at “walketh…standeth…sitteth” as a progression of sin, but I am trying to just take them at face value here. It is a good thing to think on in your own study.
But the blessed man delights in the law of the LORD and he is built up by his meditation on these instructions! Who else do we know of who was instructed to know the law well? Joshua! Moses begged for the deliverance of Israel, whom God was prepared to erase from creation, and Joshua was put in charge of these people who were prone to flop from praising God one moment, to idol worship seconds later. Joshua is given charge of these people with a warning- to keep the law always on his lips (Joshua 1: 7-8). He needs it to keep these people in line. I imagine he was grateful for these guiding words, because he was given the arduous task of encompassing a whole city on foot for many days with people who were full of complaints! But he got to witness so many amazing things! I’m sure he walked around reciting the laws and speaking of all these miracles under his breathe through the camps… The blessed man is not bored by following the laws, and he doesn’t find it tedious to meditate on them day and night- he DELIGHTS in these things! These are what give him a song to sing for the Lord! He obeys and follows and is blessed.
The blessed man is also like a tree planted by the streams of water- it has a constant connection to its life-giving source. Roots dug deep into the thing sustaining it. So when its season comes, it always bears fruit. And even in its off season, it does not wither, but stands strong. “…whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Because he has prepared himself, not just for what he is called to do, but also for the times the enemy comes to beat him down; he won’t wither because he has rooted himself to a Life-giving Source and prepared himself. I think of Peter, who spent much of his time with Jesus asking ‘silly’ questions and was never beaten down by others mocking him for it. He was so sure he wouldn’t deny Jesus- SO SURE!- and then it happened and he wept, the one time he let his foolishness overcome him. But Jesus knew Peter would do this, and more then that, Jesus KNEW Peter would turn back to serve him and encourage his fellow brothers- because he had prepared! (And more then that, Jesus had prepared him!)
The ungodly will not prosper. In fact, they are like chaff. I know a bit about chaff having grown up in farmland…It gets in everywhere making it hard to remove, it is itchy and annoying, and it is blown around easily. Chaff is the little organic shell around wheat that pops off when the wheat is ready. But the ungodly won’t stand at judgment, or sinners in the congregation of the righteous. The enemy comes to temp them and they easily are swayed into wickedness, and this pattern becomes their life-style and they are stuck in it. They are unaware and unprepared. Their ways will perish in the sight of the Lord. He will not acknowledge them when they stand before Him. (scary thought!) But He does know the ways of the righteous! He knows our struggles and He knows our desire to pursue Him on a deeper level. The blessed man seeks his counsel, guidance, and company from the godly, the saints. Because he knows where his help comes from.
I pray this has blessed you in some way and that you have added your own thoughts and gleaned your own lessons from this. Songbird and I agreed that the enemy would not have victory over our friendship, and continue to be great friends having deep, intimate conversations without a care for what the world says. And I have been grateful for that perspective and this lesson that goes with it. (and for his extreme show of grace and acceptance. God isn’t finished with him yet!) Feel free to share your own thoughts or questions in the comments!