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.(Psalm 1)
Everyone wants to be happy, but in this fallen world happiness seems elusive, for the most part. But the book of Psalms opens with a Divine description of a truly happy man, and how he attained it. God wants us to be happy, but knows it is only possible on His terms.
But the description starts out negatively, that is the Psalmist tells us first what we must not do , if we want to attain happiness. It’s as though he were saying to us that happiness is possible for us, but not on the path that we are already on.
* Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…The implication here is that it is the counsel of the ungodly that is the prevailing wisdom of the day , and that separation from it is necessary for true happiness.
The ungodly have their counsel, and it is disseminated quite widely through the various media. There is abundant counsel on how to love, how to live, eat, celebrate, how to think about right and wrong, the priorities of life, the human condition, the problems of the world, how to see yourself, the world, religion, God, family, etc.
In short there is an entire worldview that is constantly presented to us by the ungodly.It is the very air we breath, we live in it and don’t even realize it. This counsel is not something external to us, to be avoided, it is more likely that it is something we must come out of, having been raised in it, through education, media, entertainment,and the host of other forms of communication.
Godless counsel has not led to true and lasting happiness. We have seen this in our lifetime, for most of the readers have grown up in a tremendous time of social upheaval, the throwing off of all of the former civilisational restraints, in the interest of “self fulfillment”.
Those former conventions were christian based, our culture was Judeo Christian, our traditions , mores and conventions all came out of that context, but they have been undermined by a literally godless philosophy of sexual humanism. This generation is further from happiness than any other as the sale of prescription drugs illustrates.
* … (who) stands in the way of sinners…We proceed from walking, to standing, for we all end up taking a stand , a hardened position. Happiness is impossible to the one who takes his stand with sinners. This also is so automatic to men, most don’t even realise they have already done such, for standing with sinners is the default position of humanity.
The stance of sinners, is in defiance of the Lord, refusing to humble oneself, to admit sinfulness or the need to be reconciled to God. It is against Jesus, self justifying and condemning of God.
And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.(Luke 7:29-30)
The only real decision is to step “out from among them”, justify God by admitting your own sinfulness, letting Him wash you by the sacrifice of Jesus. And to stand with Jesus bearing the reproach of this world.This is the unhappiness which leads to true happiness.
* Nor who sits in the seat of the scornful… In this picture, the unhappy have walked and stood, but by now they have settled into a seat, and are unlikely to be moved at all.This is a progression, the ever-increasing hold of sin and corruption upon a person’s life.
The final immobility is frightening. When one is walking, he can always turn around, even a stance can be backed off from, but once seated, change is unlikely.
The scornful are what we would call cynical. They had at one time perhaps entertained ideals, but by this stage, they are hardened and bitterly disillusioned in their unbelief. Nothing is real to them, there is nothing to live or die for, there is nothing absolute, they are jaded and resistant to any softening.
Misery loves company, thus the ungodly are plural, so are the sinners and the scornful, but the Blessed man is spoken of in this Psalm in the singular.
This man has separated himself from all of that, he has come out of it at some stage, and drinks from a different fount entirely…
* But His delight is in the Law of the Lord…A man is known by what he loves, and by his pleasures. The truly happy man has found delight in the Law of the Lord. This is not just a reference to rules and statutes, this is the whole Torah of God, the entire teaching of life presented by the God of the Bible through His Holy prophets.
He loves the Word of God, he seeks it and is ever breaking with his former conformity to the world by the renewing of his mind to the Word of the LORD. “Oh How I Love thy Law, it is my meditation all the day!(Psalm 119:97)”
Because of this the blessed man is inwardly guided, and separated from the world. He has a base of conviction, his heart is fixed on truth, he doesn’t shift with the winds of human opinion. In God’s truth he has found something surer, than the opinions of the experts.
Finally , this Psalm tells us that happiness is not to be found by seeking happiness. “His delight is in the Law of the Lord…”. Happiness can only be a by-product of being in right relationship with God.