Summary: How we approach God’s Word will determine which path we take.
The Old Testament book of Psalms is perhaps the best-known and best loved book in all the Bible. The various psalms describe so many emotions from joy and enthusiasm to depression and discouragement. G. Campbell Morgan once raised the question, "Why is it that this book has been so perpetually used?" And the answer he gives is "First, because it is a collection of simple, honest, human experiences. I very much question if there be any circumstance possible to human life but that some Psalm exactly expresses the experience thereof."
The Jewish hymnal (and that’s what it is) begins with a song that expresses a theme that runs throughout the psalms and really, for that matter, throughout the Bible. That all of us have a choice to make between two ways of life, and only two. There are two attitudes that that we can have that result in walking in two ways that lead to two different destinies. And every one of us finds ourself on one or the other of those two paths.
Jesus talked about the two ways -- he called them the broad way and the narrow way (Matthew 7). He talked about how the Son of Man will separate mankind into two groups, putting the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left (Matthew 25). John wrote in his first epistle about those who walk in the light and those who walk in darkness. And here in Psalm 1, we find those same two ways described. There is the godly life and there is the ungodly life. And, as I said, every one of us finds ourself in one of those two categories. So let’s take a close look at this psalm, which I believe just happens to be one of Park’s favorites.
I. The Godly Life
The first half of this psalm answers the question, "What kind of person does God bless?" In the first three verses, the psalmist describes the person who has chosen to live a righteous life. He begins in verse 1 by illustrating the importance of allowing absolutely no compromise with evil, lest the evil become a habit of life. Then, in verse 2, he shows the positive side of godliness and how we attain it. Then, in verse 3, he uses figurative language to tell what happens when the righteous life is practiced.
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the path of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful."
The psalmist has something here to say about compromise. Now I’m not talking about the give-and-take times that are so necessary to get along with one another. I’m talking about compromise with wrong, allowing that which is evil to work its way into our lives. It often happens so slowly, so subtly, we hardly realize it’s taking place.
There’s an old fable in which a bird meets a fisherman with a can of worms and asks him for one. The fisherman says, "Sure, all I ask in return is one of your feathers." Well, a feather for a worm seemed a reasonable exchange to the bird, so he made the trade. The next day the bird was hungry again. He weighed the inconvenience of searching for food against the expediency of trading with the fisherman and decided in favor of the easier way. After all, it was only one feather. But after a few days of making such a trade, the bird had exchanged so many feathers that he couldn’t fly. At this point, the fisherman picked up the fat, naked bird and cooked him for dinner.