Psalm 1:1–2a (NASB)
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! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,”
The first passage we will be memorizing in 2014 is the whole chapter of Psalm 1. We will focus on the first half of Psalm 1 in January and then the 2nd half in February. Okay, here we go!
“How blessed is…”
The psalmist opens this psalm, and the entire collection of psalms, with the declaration that the individual who is blessed or happy, is the one who does not take advice from the wicked nor join in the way of the arrogant. The truly blessed person is the one who delights in the law of God.
Now the Hebrew word for blessed is ashre and it describes the inner state of peace and joy WITHIN a person. It has nothing to do with the idea of receiving an external reward. He’s not saying, “How fortunate is the man who does not…” For to be fortunate is to have good fortune; it’s to receive something good that’s unexpected. But that is NOT the meaning here! When the psalmist says, “How blessed is the man”, he is describing the inner character and disposition of his soul, and not external rewards that he has or might receive from God. He is simply saying, “How truly joyful is the man who...”
“does not walk in the counsel of the wicked”
The Hebrew word for “wicked”, rasha, did not carry the same connotation as the word “wicked” does for us today. For us, the word wicked is reserved solely for people who do heinously evil things. Adolf Hilter is wicked. A serial killer or child molester is wicked. But me? I’m not wicked. I may be ugly but I’m not wicked. ;p
In the Old Testament, the word wicked is contrasted with the word righteous. And since, throughout the bible, the righteous ones are those who live by faith (Hebrews 11), the wicked are simply those who don’t live by faith. The righteous ones are the ones who trust and obey God and His ways. They rely on His goodness, His love and His justice and are suspect of the integrity of their own hearts. The “wicked” are the exact opposite. The “wicked” distrust God and are defiant to His ways and they rely on the integrity of their own hearts over the character and ways of God.
So, when the psalmist sings, “Blessed is the man who does not live according to the counsel of the wicked”, he is declaring that the truly joyful and happy soul is the one who does not live his life according to the counsel of this world but rather he lives it by faith according to the counsel of the Creator of this world.
As you memorize Psalm 1, reflect on what it's declaring. Do you believe that true peace and joy are found in obeying His way above the counsel of the wicked? Remember that the wicked are not necessarily evil people, but simply godless people. People, who may be very intelligent and succesfful, but simply live life without regard for God.