“Look!” exclaimed Tyson as he ran into the house. “I found a bird that can’t fly. Can I keep it, Mom? I found this old cage in the garage.”
Tyson’s mother looked closely at the bird. “It’s a sparrow, Tyson,” she said.
“I suppose you can keep it a few days to see if its wing will heal.”
“Okay.” Tyson nodded. “I’ll let it go soon. Do sparrows sing?”
Mom smiled. “Oh, they cheep and twitter,” she replied.
“Well, I’ll put it right next to Biddy’s cage,” Tyson decided. “Biddy has a beautiful song. She can teach the sparrow to sing.”
A few days later, the sparrow’s wing seemed fine. “Good thing,” Tyson told his mother as he took it out to release it. “Instead of this bird learning to sing like a canary, Biddy’s been starting to sound like the sparrow!”
That afternoon, Tyson’s friend Landon called. After hanging up, Tyson went to find his mother. “Can I go to the mall with Landon?” asked Tyson.
Mom frowned. “I don’t think so,” she said. “What would you do there?”
Tyson shrugged. “Oh, just hang around.”
“Why don’t you ask Landon to come over here to play instead?” suggested Mom. “I think that would be a much better idea. I’ve heard reports about kids getting into trouble at the mall recently.”
“But we wouldn’t!” protested Tyson. “Some of the kids sit outside and smoke, and some of them even steal things. But we just want to watch what’s going on. Besides, maybe we can keep some of them from doing those bad things.”
“Just how would you do that?” asked Mom.
Tyson studied his shoes. “Well, ah . . . just by being with them and showing them it’s better not to do that kind of stuff,” he mumbled.
Mom thoughtfully looked at the canary in its cage. “Remember what happened when you put the sparrow and Biddy side by side?” asked Mom. “The same type of thing often happens when so-called good and bad kids spend too much time together. The bad often influences the good rather than the other way around.” Mom shook her head. “Maybe the Lord will want you to spend a lot of time with undisciplined people some day, but I don’t think you’re ready for that yet. But like I said, you may invite Landon over here.”
Life is a journey that offers two roads for us to take-the wide one of the world that leads to sin and death, and the narrow way that leads to eternal life with God. This is clearly shown in Psalm 1. It expresses praise, prophecy, lament and hope. It moves from the way of the righteous to the way of the ungodly and concludes with their final disposition.
In the words of a famous 18th century British preacher, “The righteous carves his name upon the rock, but the wicked writes his remembrance in the wind. The righteous man plows furrows of earth and sows, and has a harvest here, which shall never be fully reaped until he enters the enjoyments of eternity. But as for the wicked, he plows the sea, and though there may seem to be a shining trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass over it, and the place that knew him shall know him no more forever.”
This does not mean that we are to completely avoid unbelievers. This doesn’t even mean that we can’t be friends with unbelievers. On the contrary, God’s Word tells us to reach out to unbelievers and show compassion to those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Christ set an example by hanging out with outcasts and sinners. We are to be a Christ-like presence by setting ourselves apart so that our presence may be made known.
The word “blessed” means “happy” or “inward joy is theirs”. An exclamation of strong emotion, it results from deep reflection on a subject. The psalmist paints a picture of the gravitational pull of evil. The “counsel of the ungodly” refers to advice that encourages people to live evil lives without concern for righteousness or obedience to God. The ungodly move from counsel to walking on the path to settling into the seat as they embrace an evil way of life.
Heeding the wisdom of the ungodly leads to identification with sinners, which in turn results in being settled and established in the authority of their judgments. This warning is not to stand in the downward spiral. A blessed man is redeemed from this sin-filled world. The right attitude (delight) will lead to the right action (meditation). If we delight with God, we will want to be with Him. If we delight in God’s Law, we will want to meditate on it. That means keeping a disciplined devotional life.
Complete obedience is a choice to follow God regardless of the consequences. It means that we obey God even if our friends choose a different path or when suffering or embarrassment is guaranteed. Our only criteria for making decisions is this: What does God want me to do?
Before we can answer that question, we must take a look at things from God’s viewpoint. We are often caught in the world’s trap of materialism. We put the emphasis on doing: God puts it on being. We put the emphasis on accomplishment: God puts it on character. In God’s eyes, what we are is far more important than what we will ever do. It doesn’t matter if we are the president of a large corporation or a garbage collector. In God’s eyes, being is more important than doing.
Being blessed or prosperous means more than what we have in our wallets, purses or bank accounts. It can also mean growing up, mature, wholeness or completeness, especially when it comes to faith. A blessed person is described in Psalm 1 as a tree that is planted by the rivers of water. These rivers are like irrigation ditches. As a believer meditates on God’s Word he or she will be continually watered by God’s Word. The tree has attributes of strength, stability and endurance. Supplies of grace drawn from the Word of God are what sustain godly people. They put down roots in Scripture and draw strength from it for their lives. Those who are deeply planted in God’s Word may not be wealthy but they will be fruitful in God’s work, which is true prosperity.
To stand in the judgment of God is a desired outcome here, a symbol of divine approval. The phrase “congregation of the righteous” refers to God’s people-those whose faith is reflected by their delight in God’s Word and who live according to it. On the day of judgment, the wicked will not be left standing with those who love God and strive to obey Him; they will be separated and sentenced to eternal punishment. They will have bitter hopelessness. They will be alienated from both God and believers. They will perish.
Psalm 1 promises blessings for those who follow God’s Word. As I said earlier, this isn’t easy to do. The activities and stimuli of the world seldom stop in our busy lives, and we wonder why we’re so tired. God’s Word will give us the strength we need. We will find this strength when we make God the most important priority in our lives and thoughts and tune out the sights and sounds of the world.
Compromise in life is like what happened after a new city hall and fire station were built on one small town. The residents were proud of the new building, especially since it was a long time coming. Shortly after moving in, strange things began to happen. Several doors wouldn’t close completely and a few windows wouldn’t slide open very easily. Cracks began to appear in the walls. Within a few months the front door couldn’t be locked because the foundation had shifted, and the roof began to leak. After some time the building had to be condemned.
The source of the problem was a controversial coal extraction process called “longwall mining” deep in the earth beneath the foundation. Tons of soil, rock and coal had been removed so that the building sat on a foundation that had no support. Because of this man-made erosion, the building began to sink.
So it is with compromise in life. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, one compromise leads to another, which leads to a series of equally damaging compromises in a life that was once stable, strong and reliable. That was the concern of the writer of Psalm 1. He encourages us to resist even the slightest temptation to compromise our convictions.
God wants us to be fruitful. He wants to change our inner lives so much that a godly way of living flows naturally from what God is doing inside of us. God wants us to replace our old way of thinking. The process starts with mental cleansing, and it begins with reading, studying and memorizing Scripture. The Bible is full of powerful ammunition. For example, Jesus quoted Scripture when He was tempted by Satan in the desert. When we come across statements in Scripture that are meaningful to us, we can personalize them by putting ourselves in the pages of the Bible. When we catch ourselves responding negatively or defensively to situations, we should analyze the situation and ask ourselves why we are bothered by the situation.
God knows that we are easily sidetracked. When we eventually come to God’s Word, we will be delighted when we chew on God’s Word and obey it. Only then will we be blessed. We will be connected to a supply line that will never run dry. The world is not our source of strength-God is. He wants to bless us, and He will bless us if we follow Him and believe in Him.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 707)
- Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 13: Psalms 1-72 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1986; pp. 24-31)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles: 2005)
- “Song of the Wild.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- “Delighting in Him.” Retrieved from www.dailydisciples.org
- Victor Robert Farrell, “The Turkish Delight of Listening Obedience.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Steve Arterburn, “Priorities.” Retrieved from www.newlife.com
- Dr. Harold Sala, “The True Mark of a Person.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Joel Osteen, “Whatever You Do Will Prosper.” Retrieved from www.joelosteen.com
- Charles R. Swindoll, “Compromise and Erosion.” Retrieved from www.insightforliving.ca
- Charles R. Swindoll, “Distinction.” Retrieved from www.insightforliving.ca
- “A Matter of Maturity.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- John North, “Psalm 1:3.” Retrieved from Christianity.email@example.com
- Craig Wexler, “Psalm 1.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org