Summary: The “fork in the road” - decisions that we make - some of them seemingly insignificant and others monumental with lasting impact. Psalm 1 gives us two ways - one leads to destruction, the other to blessing, prosperity and righteousness. What is the path that leads to each?
Each day and throughout the day, we come to many forks in the road – decisions that we have to make. Many of those decisions are we might consider momentary. They won’t have a huge, long-lasting impact on our lives. But other forks are rather monumental because of the impact that they are going to have on our lives or the lives of families. Should I join the military or go to college after high school? Should I start my own business or should I just stay where I’m at? Should we move or should we stay? Should I ask her to marry me or wait? Should I have the surgery or try some other form of treatment? Those are all decisions that I think you would probably put into the monumental category because of the impact that they are going to have on you or others. But there are other times when those seemingly momentary forks in the road turn into the monumental, significantly impacting your life or the lives of others.
Psalm 1 places before us a fork in the road. This psalm is the first of 150 psalms that God inspired its authors to write for God’s people of every time. The topics within these psalms range from prayers asking for God’s deliverance from the enemies of God’s people, to psalms of praise and thanks for God’s protection and goodness. There are psalms of confession of sin that call upon the Lord to grant forgiveness, and psalms that paint stunning pictures of what the Messiah Jesus would suffer in order to secure that forgiveness of sins. While the topics may vary, there is one thing that all of these psalms have in common. They are all the Word of our God, the things that God wants us to hear, to know, to love, to follow. Psalm 1 asks us, “What will you do with these psalms? What will you do with God’s Word? How will you approach it? Will you allow it to guide your life? Or will you try to go it on your own?” There is a fork in the road.
If you’ve ever listened to someone who is an addict and has hit rock bottom – their life is spinning out of control, they’ve lost their job, their family, their home, their health – if you ask them how they got to where they are right now, very rarely will you hear someone say, “Well, about 5 years ago I woke up one morning and I decided that I was going to be an addict and lose everything that I had.” No. Usually you’ll hear stories about how it started out with what seemed to be little things – a couple more pills than prescribed just to get through the day, a few extra drinks to “take the edge off”, a few minutes on a website to satisfy an urge, and before they knew it, the momentary decisions lead to monumental catastrophes.
Psalm 1 describes a road that if followed will lead to destruction, unable to pass God’s judgment at the end of life and being separated from God like useless chaff blown away by the wind. How does a person get to that point? Well, like the addict, it’s not usually the devil walking up to a person and saying, “Give up on Jesus and follow me to hell.” No. It starts with the seemingly insignificant and momentary which then leads to the monumental and eternally significant. It’s the progression that you hear described in the opening verse of this psalm. Did you catch that? It starts with a person who decides to “walk in step with the wicked” then, “stand in the way that sinners take” and finally, “sit in the company of mockers.” Did you the notice the progression that walking down this road takes? It starts with “walk in step with the wicked.” You decide to compromise a little on what you believe, maybe justifying your decision with, “Well, it’s only one time. It’s only once in awhile. Other people seem to be doing it and I don’t see them being all the miserable.” It begins with compromising. And when you’ve compromised long enough then what happens? You begin to “stand in the way that sinners take.” You get comfortable in the sin that you are committing. What you at one time felt bad about, you feel very little guilt over. And then finally what happens? You end up “sit in the company of mockers.” You become committed to that sin. You defend it and see nothing wrong with it. In fact, you become one of the mockers, mocking those who still think that what you’re doing is wrong. You feel right at home, more comfortable with the mockers of God than with the followers of God. How does a person get to that point? It started with the momentary and it led to the monumental.