Lasting Blessedness from the God Who Blesses Eternally – Psalm 1

/////Lasting Blessedness from the God Who Blesses Eternally – Psalm 1

Lasting Blessedness from the God Who Blesses Eternally – Psalm 1

Introduction

There is one question that consumes the hearts and minds of most people in every culture and in every time period.  That question is: How can I be happy?

This week, I typed, “How can I be happy?” into a Google search to see some of the suggestions that people are offering today.  I literally found hundreds of answers online, but I found one article from WebMD that seemed to have a fairly good synopsis of the medical, academic and scientific approach to happiness from a secular perspective.  ON Screen WebMD made these 7 suggestions:

  1. Don’t Worry, Choose Happy. They suggested to make a conscious choice to boost your happiness.
  2. Cultivate Gratitude: Make a habit of daily being thankful for the small things
  3. Foster Forgiveness: Holding a grudge is medically shown to affect mental health, so don’t do that anymore.
  4. Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings: Take control of your own thoughts and feelings and don’t let negative thoughts take over your thinking.
  5. Remember, Money Can’t Buy Happiness: Research shows that once income climbs above the poverty level, more money brings very little extra happiness.
  6. Foster Friendship: People who have a strong network of friends tend to live longer
  7. Engage in Meaningful Activities: Watching TV tends to make people less happy and helping others tends to make them more happy.[1]

I mostly agree with these suggestions.  In fact, there is some Biblical support for each one of them.  There are some unbelievers who seem to have a measure of happiness in their lives.  It goes to prove that our God is so good that He will even offer a level of happiness and pleasure to those who reject Him.

Jesus even said in Matthew 5:45b, “…For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust….”  God in his goodness gives even unrighteous people some good gifts they don’t deserve like rain and beauty and relationships and good food and pleasure.

You could make a good argument that it would be VERY CHALLENGING to find true happiness without Jesus, but– in reality – some people do experience a degree of happiness and satisfaction without Jesus!   The Bible explains that there is a difference between worldly happiness and biblical blessedness.

There is a difference between a degree of happiness and satisfaction that can be obtained by our own effort and the lasting blessedness that God providess to those who delight in Him.  Let’s say for a minute that it’s possible to find a lifetime of happiness without Jesus.  The famous atheist, Bertrand Russel, said, “Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement, effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.”[2]

So, imagine this scenario:  There is a person who follows this advice and they find a degree of happiness that lasts for their entire life and they find this happiness without Jesus.  Then at the end of their life, it’s all gone and they are standing before God on the day of judgement.  What happens then?  Our passage today says that they will “perish.”

So what good is a few years of pleasure if at the end of those years, it leads to “perishing”?  That’s not a very happy thought!  I want – and need – something more than a feeling of pleasure!  I need something that lasts!

God’s is offering something better that a few moments or days or even years of pleasure.  He is offering a blessedness that is real, lasting, eternal and increasing. Today in our study of Psalm 1, we are going to see that God knows the best way and we’ll find this blessedness if we do things His way through the power of Christ in us.

God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we follow Him using the power of Christ in us.

  • When the world offers happiness, they offer a feeling of pleasure or contentment. Often this feeling comes from circumstances and it can last for years or days or moments until it runs out.
  • When the Bible speaks of being “blessed” it refers to an eternal, lasting and increasing satisfaction in an all-satisfying God who never changes.

Psalm 1 starts with these 4 words: Blessed is the man…

Psalms was originally written in Hebrew.  The Hebrew word translated “Blessed” (Esher) can also be translated as “happy,” but the connotation of the word “happy” is not the same as the word “blessed.”  Translating it as “happy” can be confusing.

The word (Esher) is plural in the original language and it can be understood to mean not just one blessing, but blessing after blessing after blessing or blessing that are eternally sustained by God and increasing.  One old time theologian (and Hebrew expert named Ainsworth) translated the word as “blessednesses.” meaning that is it is like a piling up of God’s good gifts in our lives.

“Blessed” is not just referring to a momentary feeling of delight.  When feelings fade (or when pleasure turns into pain), the righteous person is still blessed.  God still multiplies His gifts in a righteous man’s or woman’s life regardless of their feelings.  Blessedness is happiness and then a whole lot more.

It is a delight in God and a joy in knowing Him despite the difficulty of the circumstances we are faced with right now.  Sometimes I’m faced with a very difficult situation, and there are absolutely no natural feelings of delight in the situation itself, but I am still blessed by God.  God is still multiplying His gifts in my life.  That’s why when people ask how I’m doing, I’ll often respond that “I’m blessed.”

For people who might struggle with finding happiness in their lives, the natural question for them to ask is: How do we get some of that blessing?  The psalmist begins by putting up some warning signs to help us avoid the joy-robbing lures of worldliness.

#1 Blessedness is not found in worldliness – Psalm 1:1

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

It is a very popular practice today to for believers to gather council from a number of conflicting sources.  I’ve seen people in the church face a trial and begin to call up all their friends – both Christian and non-Christian – in order to figure out what they are going to do.

Sometimes believers turn to secular counselors or radio psychologists or popular blogs that are offering opinions only based on the world’s wisdom and not on God’s Word.  The world’s wisdom is like the boot they put on a car when it is parked illegally somewhere.   The car has all the power it needs to move forward, but the boot keeps it from getting anywhere.  In Christ, a believer has all the power they need to move forward, but the advice of the world can keep that believer from getting anywhere.  

If you or I find ourselves accepting and practicing the council from the secular culture, we’ll stall out spiritually and eventually find ourselves running with the wrong crowd… Look at the next line…

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,

The Hebrew word for “stands” (amad) means to ‘take a stand,’ or to ‘hold your ground.’  When Christians take a stand and defend the ideology of a fallen world, they join forces with the weakest imaginable ally.  A believer who embraces worldliness is weakened by those beliefs – not strengthened by them.

When a believer takes a stand or defends the methodology of a sinful world, they will be robbed of blessing.  Those who “stand in the way of sinners” will be miserable just like David was miserable when he gave in to either sin.

In Psalm 40:12, David desperately cries out, “For evils have encompassed me     beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me,     and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head;     my heart fails me.” David knew that God knows the best way to do things and when he chose worldliness, he was always miserable. Not only that, but standing with sinners ultimately leads to a fellowship with the enemy.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

There are 3 levels of association here.  When you and I are living in sin, things tend to go from bad to worse.:

  • The first level is to walk with the wicked. We begin to walk in the council of (or to value the opinion of) those who do not care about God.
  • The second level: Taking a stand with sinners. Sin is no longer as offensive as it once was, but it is familiar enough that these believers begin embracing worldliness with their lives.
  • Now the third level: sitting down with scoffers. A scoffer is a person who mocks the things of God.  This verse is referring to believers who have joined the ranks of the ungodly and have become so deceived by the world’s philosophy that they even become teachers, advocates and proponents of sin.

It happens all the time when Christians follow the shifting winds of the culture, depart from God’s Word and become outspoken advocates for things the Bible clear opposes like:

  • abortion,
  • gay marriage,
  • recreational drugs
  • …and so-on.

The psalm warns us that when sin gets a foothold, it becomes familiar.  A professing Christian can begin to use the world’s philosophy to justify their own worldliness.  Before they know it, they are no longer just excusing the sin, but are demanding their rights to live in that sin.

This verse says that this progression of sin will rob believers of blessing and it will erode thier happiness.  If we don’t want to be miserable, then we can’t allow this progression to continue in our lives!  God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we follow Him using the power of Christ in us.  When we face a trial, let’s run to God’s Word and seek godly council so that even in our trials, we know God’s blessing!

#2 Blessedness is found in the pursuit of the Lord – Psalm 1:2, 1 John 5:1-3

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

The pleasures of this world can be very enticing, but the psalmist is arguing here that the pleasures of God are far superior to anything you’ll find here in this dark, broken-down, sinful world.

I love the verse in 1 John 5:2-3 that says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

God gives us guidelines in his Word that are for our good and for our benefit and that are in the best interest of everybody around us.  Listen to these 3 verses about the joy and goodness found in God’s commands:

  • Jesus says, “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
  • Paul said that God’s will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2)
  • David said “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Ps 119:14

When we delight in God’s word, it leads to blessing becasue God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we follow Him using the power of Christ in us. 

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by CS Lewis.  He says:

 “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The pleasures of this world can be appealing, but the pleasures of God are far better and they last forever!  The happiness this world offers is like a mud pie in the slums compared to the blessedness God offers.

I’m not proposing that we rob ourselves of pleasure.  What I’m saying is that the man who is content with the broken things of this world is just too easily pleased!

You can delight in the things of this world that will ultimately “perish” or you can find your deepest needs met in Jesus, the Living Word of God.  God wants to give you good gifts, but you have to let them in by submission to Him as Lord!  People who live blessed lives don’t just avoid evil, but they find their greatest treasure – their greatest delight – in the Word of God and in Christ.

If fact, it is so thrilling to them that they meditate on it.  The fallen man-made religions of the East stole that word from us and I want to take it back.  It is Biblical to meditate… on God’s Word.  The Hebrew word “meditate” (hagah) means to mutter.  It refers to the thing that is under your breath.

The God-follower mutters scripture.  They takes a text and he carries it with them all throughout the day.  It is muttered underneath his breath.  Scripture is at the forefront of his mind.  They look at from every possible angle.  They ponder the text day and night and extract from it a little more and a little more and a little more of its inexhaustible supply each time.

Verse 3 tells us that the person who finds their delight in God and in His Word is blessed in all circumstances

#3 The blessed person prospers in all circumstances

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

He’s not like a wild tree struggling to grow in a desert wasteland with little more than an inch or two of rain each year, but like a tree that has been planted on the banks of the Verde River.  The Amplified Bible translates verse 3a like this: “And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water…”

The person who delights in the Word is like a tree that is constantly nourished by a rich, flowing canal.  Notice that this tree is not just fed by one stream, but fed by multiple streams.  “He is like a tree planted by streams of water”

Although the multiple sources of spiritual nourishment are not defined here, water represents (at least) 3 things in scripture that can feed us spiritually: The Holy Spirit, the Word of God and God Himself.  Let me quickly take you to 3 scriptures:

  • Water for drinking is a picture of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit
    37 
    On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”. John 7:37-38
  • Water for washing is a picture of the Word of God
    25 
    Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word… -Eph 5:25-26
  • A river or a stream is sometimes a picture of God’s provision for His people
    They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights. – Ps 36:8

Just like a tree can’t produce water to water itself, we can’t produce our own spirituality to feed ourselves without drawing from the Lord and His Word and His spiritual power.  God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we draw from Him and delight in His Word. 

This tree in the verse is portrayed as both fruit bearing in season and evergreen.  Seasons or trials or storms don’t destroy the leaves of this tree.

  • (the tree) “yields its fruit in its season,”
  • and “its leaf does not wither”

The first implication is the man who abides in Christ never withers but remains healthy.  Blessedness is not based on circumstances or on feelings but on our relationship with the Lord.

The second implication is that he is fruitful in season.   Just like a tree goes through various seasons, we go through various seasons in our lives as well.  In each season, draw on the Lord for proper nourishment and ask the Lord how to bear appropriate fruit.

God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we follow Him using the power of Christ in us.  In doing that, you remain strong.  Unlike the chaff…

#4 The pleasures of worldliness are temporary – Psalm 1

:4

4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

When it was harvest time in Israel, The wheat and the dry, scaly casings of the seeds called chaff would all be mixed up together.   The farmer would take the grain and throw it up into the air and the breeze would blow the inedible and worthless chaff away from the wheat.  That’s a symbol of the ungodly in scripture.  In contrast to the healthy tree, the chaff (or the ungodly) is dead and unusable.  The ungodly is tossed about by changing wind of the culture and they eventually “perish.”

I’ve never had to separate wheat from chaff before.  However, I’ve seen some insecure things blown about by the wind.  When I lived in Phoenix, on a couple of occasions I experienced what they call a microburst.   A microburst is a severe windstorm that works in the opposite way as a tornado.  Instead of lifting things up off the ground, like a tornado, a microburst is a sudden, powerful, localized downdraft.  It is pretty destructive when it hits.

  • Overturned sheds in the street was a common site in our neighborhood:
  • A severe microburst could flatten steel building, turn over trucks and knock down trees and light poles.

A microburst picks up all kinds of unsecured items – dust, trash, kiddie pools – and blow them everywhere.  Those who reject God’s Word are like those unsecured items.  They are not anchored down to the solid Word of God so they are tossed about my every wind of change.  If a really big storm ever hits, they are destroyed.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

Those who “stand in the way of sinners,” (or who remains with sinners) are not able to stand or maintain themselves when they come face-to-face with God in the day of judgement.  Their pleasure is temporary, but the pleasure of those who are planted in the Word lasts for eternity.

  • They stand strong.
  • They can endure the storms.
  • They are rooted deep and not easily moved.

It’s not because they are strong, but because the power of Christ-in-them is able to endure the storms.

#5 The pleasures of godliness are eternal – Psalm 1:6

Paul says these words about those who endure in the power of Christ in Colossians 1:27-29, “27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

Jesus was and is the epitome of the “Blessed man.”  He is the only one who did perfectly delight in God’s laws and who perfectly followed them.  He is also the only one who can empower us to live in a way that invites more of God’s blessing into our lives.

Do you know Him?  Are you relying on his power or are you still trying to follow a path laid out by the world?

Application: Know and follow the example of Christ – the ultimate blessed man!

To those who are Disciples of Christ and who delight in his Word, David says they are known by God and blessed to the Highest Degree.  Look at verse 6

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

The word “knows” does not just mean that God is aware of their existence.  It means that God is constantly looking their way.  He has chosen them and he providentially watches over them until He finally hand delivers them home to heaven.

 

Lasting Blessedness from the God Who Blesses Eternally – Psalm 1

God knows the best way and we’ll find real, lasting, eternal and increasing blessedness if we follow Him using the power of Christ in us. – Psalm 1:1-6

#1 Blessedness is not found in worldliness – Psalm 1:1

#2 Blessedness is found in the pursuit of the Lord – Psalm 1:2, 1 John 5:1-3

  • Jesus says, “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
  • Paul said that God’s will is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2)
  • David said “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Ps 119:14

#3 The blessed person prospers in all circumstances – Psalm 1:3

  • Water for drinking is a picture of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit
    37 
    On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”. John 7:37-38
  • Water for washing is a picture of the Word of God
    25 
    Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word… -Eph 5:25-26
  • A river or a stream is sometimes a picture of God’s provision for His people
    They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights. – Ps 36:8

#4 The pleasures of worldliness are temporary – Psalm 1:4-5

#5 The pleasures of godliness are eternal – Psalm 1:6, Colossians 1:27-29

Application: Know and follow the example of Christ – the ultimate blessed man! – Psalm 1:6

[1] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/choosing-to-be-happy#1

[2] http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/choosing-to-be-happy#1

By | 2018-09-04T09:23:09+00:00 September 4th, 2018|Old Testament, Psalms, Psalms: Real Comfort from a Powerful God|0 Comments

About the Author:

Pastor Mark Stafford served on staff at Canyon Bible Church of Prescott Valley for almost 6 years. He and his wife, Lara, felt called to church planting and Canyon of Prescott Valley sent them to plant a new Canyon Bible Church in the Verde Valley. Mark is a graduate of the Biblical Studies department at Arizona Christian University with highest honors and has served for more than a dozen years in full-time pastoral ministry. Mark loves music and is an active musician playing electric and string bass, acoustic and electric guitar, & keyboard. He has served with several professional Christian touring groups and has been nominated for a Dove award. Pastor Mark is currently bi-vocational while he plants Canyon Verde. He owns a small printing and design company called Ablaze Media. When he is not preaching, leading small groups, playing music or designing graphics, you might find him in his F250 cruising around the back roads of the local national forests, cycling with his sons on the streets around the Verde Valley, or running in a 10K. Pastor Mark and Lara have 4 children and have been married for over 15 years.

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