Saturday, November 07, 2009

Two Paths

Psalm 1 describes two ways of living, righteous or wicked, and the consequences for each, blessings or curses.  Which way a person goes will depend on his own choice, and he alone will be responsible for the consequences that he will reap.  His choice will also determine where he will spend eternity.

To be happy and blessed a person must avoid "the advice of the wicked", taking "the path of sinners" and joining "a group of mockers". (verse 1)  To follow the advice of the wicked means to go along with opinions of those who are without God.  To take the path of sinners means to develop the habits and responses of those who deliberately choose to disobey God.  To join a group of mockers means to remain so close with those who actively put down God, either through their words or their actions, that you become like them.  Verse 1 shows the progression of sin through the "three degrees of habit or conduct: walk / stand / sit", "three degrees of openness, fellowship, or involvement in evil: counsel / path / seat" and "three degrees of evil that result: wicked / sinners / scoffers". (Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life A Psalm of Wisdom by J. Hampton Keathley, III)

Verse 1 reminds us that those we choose to spend our time with will have an impact on our lives which can either encourage or discourage our relationship with God.  The reverse is true also -- the amount of time we spend with God will affect our relationships with others.

The person who is blessed will also be the one who takes pleasure in reading, studying and mediating on God's Word continually. (verse 2)  Meditating "is a comprehensive term for the study and application of the Word to one’s life. It involves thinking about what Scripture means and how, when, and where it should be applied. Included with this would be reading, hearing, study, and memorizing so one can accurately think about Scripture and apply it." (Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life A Psalm of Wisdom by J. Hampton Keathley, III)

Verse 3 contains a promise for those who do not do the things described in verse 1 and do the things described in verse 2.  They will:
  • Have deep spiritual roots which will allow them to withstand the storms of life.  They will enjoy stability in their lives because Jesus is their anchor.
  • Bear spiritual fruit.  "Fruit is a proof of the root." (Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life A Psalm of Wisdom by J. Hampton Keathley, III)  The fruit will also be borne at the appropriate time.
  • Be provided the spiritual nourishment they need to grow.  This will occur not only through Scripture, worship and fellowship with other believers, but also through the circumstances that God allows us to experience.
  • Have a visible testimony which will draw others to Jesus.
  • Be ready when opportunities arise to serve God and others because they have been properly equipped and empowered by God.
  • Be successful because they sought God's will in their endeavors and consulted God's Word for guidance and wisdom.  This success is not as the world defines it by material possession and status, but as God defines it.  God is more interested in our spiritual development than our comfort.  "The main thing is we must judge prosperity not by physical wealth or even physical health, but primarily by spiritual growth and capacity for life with people and in service to God.". (Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life A Psalm of Wisdom by J. Hampton Keathley, III)  Laura Krauss Calenberg said, "A successful person is one who uses the gifts and abilities that God has given her to make a difference.  Whatever situation, place, or season she finds herself in, she knows that is the place God has earmarked for her to represent him."
Verse 4 states that the wicked are like chaff.  People whose lives revolve around themselves and their own personal needs and who have no place in their lives for God and the things of God lack a stable foundation, and they bear nothing of value.  On the Day of Judgment, the wicked will have no excuses and will have no basis for an appeal for mercy.  Instead they will be permanently separated from God because they chose to live apart from Him on earth (verse 5).  "A wise person would never choose the kind of lifestyle that ignores God's way." (Explore the Bible Adult Learner Guide, Fall 2009)

Comparison of the righteous and the wicked:  "(a) The righteous cling to God, love His Word, and as a result are restrained, stable, upright, and just. (b) The wicked forsake God, ignore His Word, and as a result are unrestrained, oppressive, and unjust."  "(a) The righteous are stable, fruitful, and will be rewarded. (b) The wicked are unstable, unfruitful, and will be judged." (Psalm 1: Two Ways of Life A Psalm of Wisdom by J. Hampton Keathley, III)

Verse 6 reassures us that God will protect His children, and we can depend upon Him to keep us safe in every way because He cares for us deeply and He is always faithful to keep His promises.  However, for the wicked, destruction is their destiny.

Psalm 1 reminds me of two quotes:
"Do not think you are on the right road just because it is a well-beaten path."  Unknown
This may be true of many who rebel against God.  They may not see anything wrong with anything that they are doing because everyone else is doing the same thing, possibly even Christians that they know.
"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost
I am not sure if Mr. Frost was thinking about being a disciple of Christ when he wrote the above, but it reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14:  "Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it." (HCSB)



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