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; But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly [are] not so, But [are] like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1:1-6 NKJVIn the Hebrew, the word translated “blessed” is ‘esher; which literally means to be happy. It is, for all purposes, the same as the Greek word makario which we talked about a few weeks ago when looking at the Beatitudes. As I was studying the subject of happiness, I found this passage by David which gives us an Old Testament perspective if you will, about how we can go about achieving it. I also thought it curious that David, a man described as being after God’s own heart, begins his book of Psalms talking about the very same subject Jesus chose to begin His ministry discussing. So I thought today we would look at what David says are the three things we need to do to be happy as believers.
Blessed is the man who;…walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. The phrase, “counsel of the ungodly” is made up of two Hebrew words, ‘etsah rasha’ which literally means “advice from those hostile towards God”. It is probably a given that unbelievers would ignore the advice we find in God’s Word, but how often today do we find those who claim to be in the body of Christ looking to the world for advice and taking positions which are in direct contrast to God’s laws? David tells us the very first thing we need to do as believers is to look to God’s Word and take our positions based upon the laws we find given to us there.
Notice too that David says not to “walk”. I think this tells us that in order to be happy we must at all costs avoid making it a habit to look outside of God’s Word for guidance as to what positions we must hold to concerning many of the positions society is trying to force on us today. Using the term walk certainly makes it appear that many will choose to make it a habit to look to the world for advice before looking to God. As believers, adopting positions contrary to God’s laws is a recipe for unhappiness and guilt, no matter how much you might want to deny it.Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she [is] your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on. Proverbs 4:13-15 NKJV
… Nor stands in the path of sinners. Do you notice a progression here? First we are cautioned to not “walk” in the counsel of the unbelieving world, and next we see we are told not to “stand”. The word for stand is ‘amad which basically means to make a stand, or to hold one’s ground. I think the message is clear here in that what we are being told is that if we first listen to the advice of the world, we next adopt that position as our own. Rather than examining the advice in light of what we are told in God’s Word, we begin to not only consider it but also chose to believe it.The word for “path” is derek which is translated as “journey”. The idea here is that when we choose to align our beliefs with the world’s position, we also begin to join them in spreading the falsehood that their concepts of right and wrong are more to be trusted than the instruction we are given in the Word. Consider that Satan introduced sin into the world by convincing Eve that God’s instruction was not to be trusted, and you can see how the world continues down that same path.
Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips [will come] right things; For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness [is] an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth [are] with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse [is] in them. They [are] all plain to him who understands, And right to those who find knowledge. Proverbs 8:6-9 NKJV
… Nor sits in the seat of the scornful. The last step in the downward progression is found in this phrase where the believer chooses to “sit”. The Hebrew word is yashab which translates as to remain or abide. We see here that Satan’s plan comes to final fruition when the believer makes the choice to take the final step and join the world in spreading the falsehood of a position contrary to God’s revealed instruction. This, according to David, is how the believer loses the happiness God intends for His children to enjoy in this life.
This, according to David, is Satan’s three step plan for stealing our happiness and making us of no use to our Father and His plan for our lives. I think the best illustration of this warning by David is given to us by his son Solomon in the book of Proverbs. Read the following passage and look for the three steps we have just been warned about in the life of the young man who chooses to ignore “understanding”, and notice especially what it costs him in the end.
And saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, A young man devoid of understanding, Passing along the street near her corner; And he took the path to her house In the twilight, in the evening, In the black and dark night…With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, With her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it [would cost] his life. Proverbs 7:7-9,21-23 NKJV