Summary: In Psalms 1 Christians are invited to examine the choices they have made so that they might answer a crucial question: am I living on the path that imitates the wicked ways of this world or the path that is faithful and obedient to God?
ONLY TWO WAYS TO LIVE
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Ever before the Christian is a choice between two distinct and very different ways to live one’s life. Psalms 1 is a magnificent gateway to the extraordinary ancient collection of Hebrew religious verses of the Psalter, often called “the father of all the wisdom psalms.” Psalms 1 divides humanity into two distinct classes that can easily be distinguished and fates easily defined. For those Christians who choose to walk in sync, stand or sit with the wicked of this world then all their attempts to prosper in God’s kingdom will amount to nothing more than chaff blowing in the wind! For those Christians who seek happiness and fulfilment through meditation and delight in God’s instructions, then they will stand firm, yield fruit and prosper. In the first chapter of Psalms Christians are invited to examine the choices they have made so that they might answer a crucial question: am I living on the path that imitates the wicked ways of this world or the path that is faithful and obedient to God’s instructions?
LIVING ON THE PATH OF THE WICKED
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers
Psalms 1:1, NIV
The first verse begins by warning Christians how easy it is to gradually descend and partake in the wicked ways of this world. Since most would recognize and seek God’s help to fend off any direct attack from the Devil, Satan chooses more subtle ways to entice us to be dominated by his worldviews. For example, even though Paul was zealous (Galatians 1:14) to serve God, his love for the traditions of the Pharisees left no room for him to serve Christ who was ushering in a kingdom that did not include the traditional Jewish symbols of national identity, Torah and Temple. Even though Saul was chosen by God to be the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:26), due to the love of his position as king and subsequent fear of losing the armies admiration, he chose to disobey God and take plunder from the Amalekites (1 Samuel 13). While Paul’s descent into evil was eventually corrected, Saul never recovered once enticed. Neither Paul nor Saul woke up one day and said, “I should serve Satan rather than God” and yet both ended up doing so. Psalms 1 is a warning that the descent into evil is gradual and often consists of three stages: 1) walking in step with the ungodly, 2) standing in the way that sinners take and 3) sitting in the company of mockers.
Walking in Step with the Ungodly
Not a single born again Christian starts out being righteous. Satan is fully aware that just because a person is justified (Romans 5:1) and sanctified (Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:11) as a Child of God (Galatians 3:26) does not mean that they have fully put off the old self (Ephesians 4:22-24) and become mature in the faith (James 1:2). As babies of Christ one can be enticed to give into the evil desires that still exists within one’s own heart (James 1:13-15). When the great deceiver Satan tempts a new Christian to sin he must do so subtly or he runs the risk of the person seeing his suggested behavior as sinful and through the power of the Holy Spirit reject his suggestions. Instead of using bold, frontal attacks; the Palmists warns the reader that Satan prefers to lure God’s people to take advice or instruction from the wicked and in doing so join them in their evil ways. The battleground begins first within the mind for the more one sees Satan’s worldview as acceptable Christian behavior, the greater the likelihood one will abandon the ways of the righteous to embrace his worldviews.
Even though a new born Christian is unlikely to “run” away from God’s truth, he/she can be enticed to take gradual baby steps towards thinking that parts of Satan’s way of living as being acceptable Christian behavior. For example, while most Christians believe it is wrong to outright lie, many have been convinced that “withholding” parts of the truth are ok. While one might believe it is wrong to commit adultery, many Christians are convinced that there is no harm in taking a long lustful “peek” or have flirtatious sessions with another person. While one might believe it is wrong to steal, many Christians find it fully acceptable to cheat on their taxes. While one might believe one should follow the laws of the land, many Christians feel it is ok to break the speed limit when running late. While one might believe one should love one another, one might find it acceptable to hate one’s enemies. While each of these small steps of accepting the evil standards of this world might not seem like a big deal, once taken one can quickly find one’s mind walking or dancing in sync with one’s “old self” who glorified the ways of this world!