March 15th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
[Psa 1:1-6 ESV] 1 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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 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. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 1 has long been an important text in my life. Some two decades I memorized the Psalm, but unfortunately I did so in the paraphrastic New Living Translation, a Bible version rarely used today. I had heard that the rosary—popular among Roman Catholics—once had 150 beads correlating to a tradition of reciting each of the 150 Psalms in order. While I did not employ a rosary, I set out to memorize the Psalms. Sadly, I must admit that I did not put in sufficient effort, and managed to memorize only the first three, the latter two of which I have since forgotten! But Psalm 1 remains memorized in my mind, as for many years I would recite it along with the Lord’s Prayer in my own devotions.
In seminary I studied and taught on this passage and concluded that a good title for the passage would be, “The Blessed Man.” And this would be a good title to summarize the passage. But today—without ignoring the rest of the Psalm, I want to focus particularly on the second part of verse three. This verse reads, “He is like a man planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.”
So I shall expounds on this topic, “Yielding fruit in its Season.”
I. THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS
First though, lets look at summarizing the passage.
This Psalm is ultimately about the way in which the righteous and wicked each live and the results that they reap. It is framed in a discussion about the “blessed man.” And we have three things that the blessed man does not do, followed by two things that the blessed man does do. When I outline the passage, I use three negative signs and then two positive signs.
A. Three negatives. How the blessed man does not act.
First, the negatives. The blessed man
1. walks not in the counsel of the wicked
2. nor stands in the way of sinners
3. nor sits in the seat of scoffers
And you might notice the three actions here. Walking. Standing. Sitting. The blessed man WALKS not in the counsel of the wicked, nor STANDS in the way of sinner, nor SITS in the seat of scoffers.
These are three ways in which the ungodly act, and thus three ways that we should not act.
First, we should not walk — we should not live and act — according to the direction of the wicked. We are not to let peer pressure determine our decisions.
Then, we should not stand in the way of sinners. I understand this to mean that we should not join with sinners in their sins. We are not to stand with them, supporting them in their evil. The translation causes some confusion in the English language, because “standing in the way” is not here “getting in the way of” but “standing with.”
And third, we are not to sit in the seat of scoffers. We are not to scoff at those who do DO good. This is often thought of as those who are in the furthest depths of sin. They are sitting in it. Unmoving. And they scoff at those who do not sin! What evil indeed has become those who scoff at good!
B. Two positives. How the blessed man acts.
Then we have the two positives. Two ways in which the blessed man acts.
First, the man who is blessed delights in the law of the Lord. It is not burden to him. It is from the Scriptures that the blessed man finds his grounding and finds happiness in the knowledge of the Lord.
Then, second, much like the first, the blessed meditates on God’s law day and night. And here I like to point out a distinction between Eastern and Western or Christian meditation. I grew up doing the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, and in the Eastern style we would meditate before a class began. But what were we trying to do? The goal of the meditation was to EMPTY our minds. Eastern meditation seeks to empty the mind so that one purely lives in the moment. Christian meditation is something quite different. We seek to fill the mind! Not with the nonsense of the world, but with the Word of God! So Christian meditation is meditation ON some subject, be it a verse or a passage, a story, or on God himself. The Christian meditates upon God’s Word so as to fill up the mind with the knowledge of the Lord. And so the blessed man delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.
Rather than having a song stuck in your head, you should seek to have a Psalm stuck in your head. Then you be meditating on it day and night!
II. THE FRUITS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS
So the passage has described what the blessed righteous man DOES and what he DOES NOT DO.
It then transitions to the results, the fruits of the righteous and the unrighteous.
A. The Unrighteous
Let’s look briefly first and the rotten fruit of the unrighteous. Fruit may even be an unacceptable term. The passage says “chaff.” The wicked are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Chaff is the dry husks or casings of grains. Grain is thrown in the air and the heavy edible parts fall into a pile to collect while the chaff blows away in the wind.
This week I was running a wood planar and it made thousands of small shavings of wood. And it was windy outside. And the shavings, saw dust, etc. blew away in the away. This might be a better modern analogy as few of us are winnowing wheat.
So the chaff is worthless and its time of existence fleeting. It leaves no legacy; it feeds no person. This is what the wicked are likened to.
It is said also that “the wicked will not stand in the judgment.” They will indeed be judged, but they will not pass muster.
And finally, “the way of the wicked will perish.”
We do struggle to see wicked persons having material success on Earth. But in general, there is a trend of evil bringing destruction upon wicked even on the Earth. Those who live evil lifestyles live short lives. Buying and selling drugs is incredibly dangerous and a large percentage of murders are related to this trade. Opposing the Lord’s norms in sexuality is also incredibly dangerous, bringing high rates of death by disease and by suicide. The way of the wicked indeed will perish.
But ultimately this meaning is in regards to eternity. The wicked will not inherit eternal life, but will perish into eternal perdition.
B. The Righteous
The passage, however, focuses less on the wicked and more on the fruit of the righteous. It focuses on the blessing that come to the man (or woman) of God.
In the arid climate of the Biblical word, the blessed man is said to be like a tree planted by streams of water. The blessed man is not dependent on rain that comes and goes, but on a river than flows day in and day out. We can learn from this not to glorify God only in times of harvest, but to praise Him each and every day for all that He gives us each and every day.
Then comes the yielding of fruit in its season. The blessed man is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. The blessed man is sustained by God in all times. The blessed man lives not by bread alone but on the very word of God. His leaf does not wither; he is alive because he is in touch with the Living God. And his happiness does not consist in the abundance of the things in which he possession but in his relationship with the Lord.
The righteous don’t surround themselves with the wicked, or act like the sinners and scoffers, but are blessed with abundance when by focusing their enjoyment on the laws of God because God watches over them.
And that is so crucial to understanding the Scriptures in general. The righteous man is blessed BECAUSE God watches over him. They are not blessed of their own accord, but dependent on God. [REPEAT: The righteous man is blessed BECAUSE God watches over him.]
We see this also in the New Testament passage that was one of our readings today.
Notice the asymmetry in Galatians 6:8.
It says “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Now I said this big word – asymmetry. Here is what I is meant. When we sow evil, we shall reap corruption. Corruption comes from the flesh. It is OUR sins that result in death. BUT, eternal life comes the Spirit. NOT from ourselves. The text does not say that sowing of good things is of our own ability or efforts.
The Psalm does not say “Blessed is the man who walks in the council of the wise, and stands the way of the holy, and sits in the seats of the saints.”
No, blessings don’t came from man, they come from God.
Christians sow TO the Spirit, FROM the spirit. While evil wells up from sinful man, good is from the Lord. That is the asymmetry. Neither is God the author of evil, nor is man is the author of good things but only by the Holy Spirit working in us.
III. THE SEASON THAT COMES
Much like Psalm 1 speaks of the tree that yields its fruit in season, Galatians tells us that “in due season we will reap.”
Since good things come in season, we must have patience. And perhaps this is the hardest in life. Patience. But in our patience we have the promise that the Lord knows the way of the righteous. He looks after us. And he gives us blessing. Fruit that is yielded in season.
What fruit shall we reap? Many good things on Earth indeed, but ultimately we shall reap “eternal life.”
We are blessed BY God with eternal life. And thus do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinner, not sit in the seat of scoffers. But sowing from the Spirit, we delight in the law of the Lord, meditate on it day and night. Then, and only then, is a man like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in its season.
Here we see how great our God is, for He gives us the blessings for the work that he has accomplished in Jesus Christ.
This is a guaranteed fruit. As we are known by the Lord, He promises to us eternal life in Jesus Christ.
We’ve got a lot of uncertainty in the world with the virus going around, but we have certainty in the Lord. The fruit is guaranteed.
This fruit of eternal life is as guaranteed as the successful harvest of the tree planted by streams of water.
And the fruit we receive comes in God’s timing, just as He control the seasons and the time of the harvests. The world watches the media which leads them from one worry to another. But Christians know that God is in control of history and brings all things into his plan. We need not worry about events outside of our control. But we are to meditate on God’s word knowing that the fruit God blesses us with WILL come.