(1) Blessed are those who don’t walk in the counsel of evildoers,
and don’t stand in the path of sinners,
And don’t live where mockers live.
(2) Instead they delight is in the instruction of YHWH,
and in his instruction they meditate day and night.
(3) Such people will be like trees, planted by streams of water,
that give their fruit in season,
whose leaves don’t wither,
and whose every action prospers.
(4) Evildoers are not like this,
but are like the chaff, that the wind drives away.
(5) Because of this evildoers will not rise up in judgment,
Nor sinners in the council of the righteous ones.
(6) Because YHWH knows the way of the righteous folks,
but the way of the wicked will perish. — Psalm 1
What are you thinking about? Were you thinking about God’s instructions just before you started to read this devotional? Tough one, no?
There are so many things to think about in a day that it’s very tempting to write off Psalm 1 as just a sort of pious dream, something that’s good for the occasional monk or hermit, but not really something that’s practically important to me.
But if we take verse 6 seriously, then we know that God will be with us if we’re righteous, and our way will perish, a euphemism for failure and death, if otherwise. And the second verse says that a characteristic of righteous people is that they take delight in God’s instruction and meditate in it day and night. I risked some clumsiness in the translation in order to make sure that you realize that both halves of verse two use the same word. It’s an emphasis in the Hebrew text.
So what do I do? Well, let’s start by asking a couple of questions. First, do you know God’s instruction? Do you know what’s in the Bible and what isn’t? It’s a serious question. My personal experience leads me to believe that many people who are very pious about â€œdoing everything that the Bible saysâ€ actually have very little idea what the Bible says.
According to a Washington Post story, based on research collected by Stephen Prothero in his book What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t,
Americans are also the most religiously ignorant people in the Western world. Fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible, and only one third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
So if we have little idea what God’s instruction actually says, we are hardly going to be able to meditate on it day and night, are we?
But let’s look at a different question. When you’re confronted with a difficult decision, is your first question what God would want you to do, or â€œWhat would Jesus do?â€ Is your main desire to walk in God’s paths? I think that’s more important than figuring out your â€œday and nightâ€ time on the clock. In fact, I don’t even think this verse is talking about having a scripture verse in your mind at all times.
â€œIn all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.â€ — Proverbs 3:6
There is nothing out there that won’t tell you something about God if you get your attitude straight by acknowledging God first. I think I feel another series coming on, a good one to follow up on Isaiah 55. How can I be a fruitful, well-watered tree?
Step one: Acknowledge God in everything. If your busy life won’t let you spend all your time on God, then just make everything else be about God!